Write-On! July Submission Criteria 7/3 – 7/20/11

Alright everyone, here we go; the inaugural edition of Write-On! the literary contest that strives to get you the exposure we all need, as well as some very valuable advice along the way.

For July, being that it is our very first contest, and to generate as much interest as possible, I am using a very broad genre but accepting all fiction up to 10,000 words.

All types and genres are acceptable for submission, even erotica or horror, however, if any of those genre pieces win, the excerpts used for publication with the reviews will have to be rated ‘PG’ at worst.

To submit:

1. Subscribe to this blog, ensuring I have your email contact information.

2. Email your submission to: dorianscontest@gmail.com between now and 11:59:59 EST on July 20, 2011. (late submissions will be disqualified).

3. Enjoy chatting with the other entrants and contest participants in our Facebook and LinkedIn group forums as you all await the results!

The forums will be closed to all not registered members of my blog, therefore, the only people in the group will either be active contest participants, or at least eligible contest participants.

Write-On! Contest Rules & Disclaimer

Each month, Dorian will select a genre and allow open submissions from anyone wanting to participate.  Entries will be judged solely by Dorian until additional judges can be added.  All judging decisions are final.  All entrants must subscribe to Dorian’s blog to be eligible to enter a submission.  Three winners will be selected from each group of entries.  Contest prizes and rules are subject to change without notice.  Current contest prizes are:

3rd Place –  A formal review of the submission which can be distributed in any way the author of the piece sees fit.   Both the review, and an excerpt of the work  (to be selected by the contributor unless Dorian cannot establish contact after winners are determined) will be posted in the “Vault of  the Unknown Author” page on this blog.

2nd Place –  Receives everything the 3rd place winner receives, PLUS, a link to the review as it is posted within this blog will appear on Dorian’s Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn profiles as status messages to promote the review to any and all who may happen to peruse it.

1st Place – The Grand Prize Winner receives everything the 2nd Place winner receives, PLUS, a more detailed review/critique of their piece provided to them AND posted in each of the locations mentioned before.  Each grand Prize Winner will also receive a personal interview by Dorian which will appear with the winning piece and Dorian’s review or the winning piece.  All of the aforementioned will also appear in Dorian’s Featured article postings on the global blog/article sites technorati.com and blogcritics.com.

There is no cash or other award of monetary value either offered or implied, nor does any submission necessarily or directly increase the submitters’ chances of earning money for their work.

All submissions remain the exclusive property of the author.  No transfer of rights is intended or implied beyond the submitter granting Dorian Lassiter permission to post his review along with an excerpt of the submitted work to be determined by the author.  Dorian will select the excerpt to be displayed only if contact with the author of the piece cannot be reached once they have been determined a winner.

All submissions will be entered via email to: dorianscontest@gmail.com and MUST EXPLICITLY meet all submission criteria as set forth in the contest rules for each month’s contest.  Submission criteria will change from month to month as far as format, genre, length, style, or any number of other criteria.

Entries to this contest will be graded on creativity, originality, voice, technique, grammar, diction, syntax, spelling, punctuation, ebb and flow of storyline, plot development, plot execution, overall strength of story, creativity of ending, and power of beginning, or any combination thereof. 

Winning this contest, receiving a review of your work, and being personally interviewed for an article which appears on a globally read blog/article site not only lends tremendous credibility to your work, but publication on sites such as technorati and blogcritics also count as  legitimate publishing clips, suitable for inclusion as evidence of previous publication when seeking representation by traditional publishing sources.

 Good luck to all participants and let’s have some fun!

Raising The Debt Ceiling – The Real Facts

Looks peaceful enough, doesn't it?

“The Debt Ceiling: from ‘We The People’, to ‘We The Suckers’.”

A comprehensive, mildly humorous look at the latest financial crisis to envelop our country.


Like most Americans (hereinafter referred to as ‘We The Suckers’) who actually give a damn, I’ve spent my last few days trying like hell to understand all this crap about whether or not we should support raising the national debt ceiling another $2.4 trillion from $14,000,308,000,000.00 (that’s 14,300 billions, or 143,000 millions for those of us who never cared for math), to 16.7 trillion.

These figures come directly from a 30 page .PDF report issued by the Congressional Research Service on May 16, 2011. While hardly an edge of your seat-type read, it does promise to cause some of us Suckers to lose sleep, so I’ve included a link to view it at your own discretion.

Now that I don’t have to numb your minds with crazy numbers that look like they were plagiarized from a  Steven Hawking essay, we can move on to more important things (but for you stats geeks that want to analyze the grim details, click the link; you just hit the mother load).

In my not so humble, ‘Sucker’ opinion, these are the top 10 relevant facts we Suckers should know about our government’s current disgraceful stalemate; just without the political BS:

1. Since 2001, the debt ceiling has been raised (by both political parties) 10 times; (74 times in all, since its creation in 1917).

2. The bickering now is NOT all about raising the ceiling another 2.4 trillion, from 14.3 trillion, to 16.7 trillion (remember all those zeros?). Both sides agree it needs to be raised, that is NOT the issue.

3. The Elephants want to implement mandatory immediate cutbacks and future spending restrictions on the government along with the increase,

4. The Jackasses (at least some of them) want none of that and an unconditional increase.

5. The unconditional increase bill was voted on by congress on May 31, 2011 – It was voted down zealously by a vote of 318-97.

6. There are NOT 318 Elephants in congress, therefore, this in NOT strictly Elephants vs. Jackasses.

7. The Elephants won’t approve the raise even though The White House doesn’t carry a US Treasury checkbook, and congress has to approve the spending of every penny anyway.

8. The Jackasses are shamelessly telling us Suckers that if this increase isn’t passed and our government goes into ‘default’ (a word undoubtedly chosen to evoke thoughts of repossessed cars, foreclosed homes and nagging credit card companies), that the cuts they make to keep the government functioning will have to be to Social Security, pensions, and other programs which directly support We The Suckers.

9. The Jackasses refuse to approve an increase that has any cutbacks or spending limitations affixed to it.

10. As usual, ‘We The Suckers’  suffer, regardless of who wins the ultimate debate.

Who should ‘We The Poor Suckers’ trust?

True, The Prez was elected to run the country, but we also elected each of those 318 men and women that said: “not no, but HELL no”  so how do we justify the opinion of one guy over the opinions of the 318 people who got there the same way and who’s very job description is to keep him in check?

Well, here’s the way I see it: Their BOTH wrong.

When you look through the federal budget for fiscal year 2011, (link provided and not exactly a page turner either, I might add) ,  the 136 page document is riddled with bequests of billions, if not trillions of dollars of money for foreign contributions and non-emergency aid.

Look folks, charity is a wonderful thing, but can anyone rationally justify donating money to help foreign exchange students when our economy is plummeting by the day, and our government keeps crying that they need to borrow more money (from those same countries) to pay our monthly bills?

Would you donate your hard earned money  so foreign exchange students could have cheaper housing while your house is foreclosure, your car could get repossessed any moment, and the credit card companies are calling you for money 16 times a day?

Of course you wouldn’t. Nobody would.  Just because we’re Suckers, doesn’t mean we’re Idiots too.

I’m sorry, but my response is:  quit making us Suckers suffer while you spend our money on frivolous crap as you see fit.

The proof is in the budget.  No, cutting those extravagances won’t prevent us from ever having to raise the debt ceiling again (our government will find something else stupid to spend our money on) but it will eliminate the urgency and fear of those who count on government programs and who paid into those programs with their lifeblood for many many years, from having to living in panic.

Isn’t that more important than cheap housing for Chinese school kids on va-ca from Beijing?

Can’t Figure Out How To Start That Book?

By far, the most common question I get asked by authors working on their first pieces specifically written for publication is: “Where do I start?” or, they will say something to the effect:

“I have the idea in my head…I mean I know where I want
the story to start, where I want it to end, and the
main points of the story I want to include, but I just cant
seem to figure out how to start writing…”

Sadly, because each of us has our own style and methods, there is no clean-cut single answer that will work for everybody experiencing this problem. However, I will supply you with a method that has worked for me numerous times, and which other authors, some bestsellers, have said works for them yoo when they ‘hit a literary wall.’

In short…outline. Construction workers and general contractors can’t build a house without a blueprint and a floor plan and many writers can’t either. Keep in mind though, just like in construction, there is always the possibility that the project grows and develops in ways that were unexpected during the  planning phase. The same is very true when you write. Never lose sight of the fact that your outline is just a guide and isn’t carved in stone.

So now you’re ready to get started. If you know where you want your story to start, write a sentence or two explaining the opening setting at put it at the top of a clean page. If you know how you want the story to end, write that at the very bottom. If you don’t know how you want it to end, that’s okay, just skip that part for now. All you really need right now is a starting point, but if you know where you want it to go, placing even a tentaive ending can be a big help in crafting the events of the story to ultimately lead where you want them to go.

Just a quick side note here; it’s sometimes better to use index cards instead of listing ideas for chapters on a sheet of paper. Index cards will allow you to re-order and interchange the positions of ideas over and over without erasing or playing a full four quarters of trash can basketball with your draft ideas. If you have a cork board and a few pushpins, so much the better.
Next, visualize your characters as they move on their respective journies through your story. For Each key experience your characters face, write another sentence on your page between the beginning and ending (if you listed one) or make a new index card and insert it into the outline where you think it makes the most sense at that moment; and don’t worry about the order of the cards making sense yet. As long as it makes sense to you during the draft process, that’s all that counts. No matter what order you place them in, at this point, I can tell you from experience, they will almost certainly change later in the actual writing process.
Once you’re satisfied that you have listed all the key scenarios you want your character(s) to experience, arrange your cards or make a final draft outline on your paper. Now is when yo uwant to make sure they read like a sensible, chronologic timeline of events which naturally progresses any reader from the beginning, through their journey in the middle, to the end — yes, it is going to change (several more times) before your manuscript is ready to be submitted to anyone for publication. Nevertheless, if you want your creative juices to start flowing now, you’ll have to be able to visualize the story as a complete thing now, otherwise you still may freeze up and block when you arrive at a gap in your outline.   Your whole objective at this juncture is to display the key points of action that occur throughout your story, roughly in the order you intend them to transpire. The exact order may yet still change many times before the final copy is made because, as you write, your characters experience things you never initially expected them to. this has a tendency to wreak havoc upon a predetermined timeline.
Now you’re ready; you have a complete blueprint. Rather than writing a novel-length book, now you can write a series of short stories. Each story, an individual chapter that, once placed together in the final order (like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that will only make sense when set in once specific way) you will have a naturally flowing story with many individual action sequences that keep the plot flowing and keep your readers turning pages well into the night.
The practice of outlining will benefit you as a writer in more ways than you can imagine. One of the truest tests of a great author is when you can arbitrarily pull any chapter from one of their books and it will tell a complete story, with a beginning a middle and an end. No, this doesn’t hold true for every great book or even for every great author, but it does more often than it doesn’t. Becoming adept at this will will help you to increase the arsenal of tools you use as a writer to continuously hone your craft and get your work the literary credibility it deserves.