The past few months have been an eye-opening experience, discovering how many resources are available for someone like me, who is as green as can be when it comes to writing and publishing. I suppose it all goes back to National Novel Writing Month and their incredibly helpful community, but onward I've plunged into finding what else is out there.
Yesterday evening I joined in an online chat over at She Writes, which is a pretty cool site for networking with other women writers. The topic was Young Adult fiction, and the atmosphere was inviting, collaborative and friendly. I bookmarked half a dozen new websites for future reference. It felt nice to have that comradarie among other women.
One thing that has newly piqued my interest is short story contests. I've stayed away from them since I was primarily working on my novel, but I have a few short stories I wrote the last couple of years that I thought I could revisit. One of the stories takes place in the same universe as my novel, and since I wrote it before the novel, it's kind of funny to see how I imagined things would work. I found a contest through Women on Writing, which seems fairly approachable and not too intimidating. It is for flash fiction, which they define as between 250 - 750 words. I'm telling you, that is short. I had to hack up my short story pretty good to get down to 690 words or so, and it's now kind of a mess. I have until the end of May to submit it.
Which brings me to my next new discovery, a local writing critique group. My friend Catherine invited me, and we both made our initial visit in January. The group meets twice per month, and we just went back again at the end of March, this time picking up submissions to review for the next meeting. The group skews older in age, I think we may be the youngest ones there. They are professional, give constructive criticism, and the leader is excellent. He's a teacher, and you can tell. The group has a topic for discussion to start off the meeting, and I've learned quite a bit just from the two meetings I've attended.
I am timidly getting my flash fiction piece in decent enough shape to submit to the critique group. I figure it's a good start with something so short. The leader of the group submitted a few flash fiction stories for review back in January, which was my first exposure to that type of writing. If it's done well, it's pretty cool. If I don't feel confident enough I'm not going to submit, but I'm going to use the next few days to research flash fiction a bit more to see if I'm getting the right elements put together. Depending on how the critique goes, I will decide if I am going to submit to the contest.
To those of you reading who are writers/writers-to-be, are you part of a local critique group? Or, have you found a place online that works for you?
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