As I’m sure every pre-published author has, I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and pretty much every other autobiography of successful novelists I could get my hands on. The majority started out writing and selling short stories. So, I prepared to do the same thing. I have written some flash fiction (short, short stories of 1,000 words or less) which I have posted on this blog. I know I need to post some new flash, as my friends keep reminding me.

Right now, my focus is on writing something I can sell. Besides the fact that money is helpful when one’s family has grown accustomed to eating, for me it’s also a form of validation. Yes I know we are supposed to write for ourselves, to nourish our souls, and all that. I read my Bible and pray to nourish my soul. I write because I have stories to tell and experiences to share. If I don’t get my stories published, how will anyone hear or learn from my creations? Additionally, I am one of those competitive types. Shhh…don’t tell anyone.

I have a short story that has been written, revised, critiqued, revised, professionally edited, and again revised. I think it’s ready to fly and leave the nest. The next logical step was to find magazines to submit it to. Then I learned that with all the changes in publishing over the last five years, there aren’t many magazines still open to unsolicited fiction. Perhaps I should have looked into that sooner. Or remembered the publication date of King’s On Writing.

I discovered that there are now a huge number of  contests for writers to submit to.  There are databases that will seek and find these contests and return to you the basic requirements and due dates. I also discovered that these contests have entry fees–that’s how they come up with the prize money I guess. I did my due diligence and researched many contests to see which ones were more respected and which ones were legitimate. I have narrowed down the list to my top three. So, praying my chances are better than playing the lottery, I will be submitting over the next three months to see what happens.

It can go one of two ways. If my story is accepted and I “win,” then I will be ecstatic that my brain still works after five strokes and that others appreciate my art and craft. This option will definitely spur me on to continue writing that great American novel, or in my case the best-selling whodunit that will keep you up all night.  Dreams are free…let a girl dream big!

If it goes the other way and I get a rejection slip, I will not have lost, but will know I have more to learn about the art and craft of storytelling and writing fiction. I know once upon a time I could write non-fiction since pre-strokes I was published in newspapers and magazines and paid for the privilege. Either way, I will continue reading, learning, and writing. But I really want to win!

Here goes. Most contests say it takes up to three months to get a response. I am not the patient type. This is going to be a very long three months. I’ll keep you posted, and I’ll keep writing. And if you have any experience or suggestions that might help me sell or publish my stories, please comment. I would love to find out what you learned.