When Alex approached me about doing a segment for his uber-popular blog I knew right away I wanted to talk about WRiTE CLUB, but wasn’t sure how to go about it in a fresh way. I thought about it for a good long while, and then finally decided to ask for help. What I did was ask our 2011 WRiTE CLUB Champion -- Tiana Smith, and the 2012 Champion – Mark Hough, to interview me so I made sure to cover the things that really stood out in their minds. Here is the result.
Tiana - I know things have changed a lot since I won the first WRiTE CLUB competition. Could you explain a few of the changes and how you think they'll make it a better experience for everyone all around?
DL - Well, I’m completely bald now and the acid my stomach produces could probably qualify as industrial strength. Oh, you mean changes in the actual contest. WRiTE CLUB was a hit right out of the gate, but last year the interest was so great that I had to put measures in place this year to keep things manageable but fair. The preliminary rounds will last just 8 weeks (shorter than last year) with two bouts per week (three last year), but the biggest change is that this year the submissions will be pre-screened by a panel of ten judges so that the best 32 make it to the ring. Another change is that every vote cast will have the voters name thrown into a hat for the chance at a $75 Amazon Gift card or a ten page critique by each of the submission judges.
Mark - I'm sure you've received a ton of emails or comments about the WRiTE CLUB competition, and it's easy to see how it's surged in popularity since it began. What do you think makes WRiTE CLUB so different from other writing competitions?
DL - One thing is that you can participate at whatever level makes you feel the most comfortable. You can simply vote for your favorite submission...or you can vote and leave a brief critique...or you can go whole hog and send in an anonymous writing sample to compete. Everything is done in a very low-key fashion, which makes the whole contest a lot of fun whichever way you choose to participate.
The second thing is the anonymity. We have had participants who are published authors pitted against aspiring wannabe's, and the wannabe's have won. Persona's have no place in WRiTE CLUB, and people love that!
Tiana - I'm incredibly excited to help judge the final round! Who are some of the other industry professionals you have lined up for judging the final showdown?
DL - I’m really pumped about this year’s stable of judges, and it really demonstrates how popular WRiTE CLUB has become. Besides you and Mark, there’ s Kendare Blake, the author of the highly acclaimed Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares teen horror series. Then there’s Katie Grimm, agent for Don Congdon Associates since 2007, where in addition to maintaining her own client list she also acts as business manager. Next is Alice Speilburg -- founder of the Speilburg Literary Agency. And finally there’s this certain science fiction writer on a journey of discovery...who’s a blogger extraordinaire! Online he is known as Captain Ninja Alex – our own Alex J. Cavanaugh! Oh yeah, I’ll be announcing more celebrity judges as the contest goes on.
Mark - Obviously my win last year was a huge confidence boost to my writing, but I found that the best thing about WRiTE CLUB for me was the practice of regularly critiquing other writers' entries. As the moderator, have you noticed any certain aspects of WRiTE CLUB which help you most as a writer?
DL - Absolutely! Working with 500 word submissions forces you to realize the value of every single word and helped me learn about word economy. It's also a lesson that needs to be continually reinforced, and critiquing is an ideal way to accomplish that.
Tiana - Since the first WRiTE CLUB competition, things have grown a lot. How big has this thing become? How much participation (views/comments/etc.) do you anticipate for this year?
DL – To give you a sense of scale, last year the first couple of bouts drew over 2,100 site hits and garnered almost 100 votes apiece. Over the course of the entire contest my blog received 30,000 hits. I’d be satisfied if we were able to maintain that level of participation again this year. It’s really gratifying to see our submissions receiving that much attention and feedback.
Mark - Since I only hopped aboard the bandwagon last year, I'm curious: how did you come up with the idea for WRiTE CLUB?
DL - First and foremost I wanted to come up with something that would shine the spotlight on other writers and provide them a way to get their work in front of a lot of people in a non-threatening way. That's actually the reason for the small i in WRiTE CLUB, because it wasn't about me (or I). So I thought, some sort of contest would do the trick. As coincidence would have it, while I was trying to come up with the rules for this yet to be named contest a TV commercial for FIGHT CLUB hit the screen...and the rest (as they say) is history!
Tiana - I know when I participated, I was a little scared to submit my writing sample, but the fact that I'd be using a pen name gave me confidence to put myself out there. Was that what made you decide to keep things anonymous?
DL – Believe it or not, there are other versions of WRiTE CLUB out there and while I was researching them I discovered that all of the others involved regular LIVE readings in gathering spots like bars or coffee shops. I knew that there was no way I could get up in front of a group of relative strangers and read my work, and a lot of people felt the same way, so why not do an internet version where submissions accepted anonymously? All of our submissions go to my wife first; she logs them in and removes the real names, so she’s the only person who knows the real names. I don’t even know them. The anonymity of it all is what makes our contest so special. All of the concentration is on the writing alone!
I want to thank Mark and Tiana for helping me out today. Hopefully the three of us tweaked the interest of some of you, and if that's so, HERE is where you should go to find out more.
On July 8th..."Let's Get Ready To RUMMMMBBBBLLLEEE!!"
Crystal Collier is featuring book releases/cover reveals for YA fatansy-esk genres every Wednesday on her blog and is looking for people to fill the calendar. Get details HERE.
Patsy Collins’ latest book is available, Up the Garden Path. Congratulations, Patsy! You can purchase it at Amazon. And if you want to check out the funny trailer for it, go to You Tube. Patsy really can run!
Heist by Laura Pauling
Genre: YA Psychological Thriller
Can one decision change the past?
Coming later this year – find it now on Goodreads.
Find Laura here: Blog, Goodreads, Goodreads, and Twitter
Apocalypse Now, surprised his wife with something really unique. He’d met Mary Montagues Sikes (whom I featured earlier this month at the A to Z Blog) and was impressed with her daily paintings for the Challenge. He sent a photo his wife had taken of a sea turtle and Mary created the amazing painting you see here. Now, is that not just awesome?
If you are looking for writing competitions with no entry fees, check out WritersViews.
Name the director:
1 – The Untouchables 1987
2 – Groundhog Day 1993
3 – The Usual Suspects 1995
4 – Hugo 2011
5 – The 13th Warrior 1999
6 – Rango 2011
Answers on Monday!
Are you ready for WRiTE CLUB? Participating this year with an entry? Ready for some new books? Want Mary to paint a picture for you? Know the directors? And who else is seeing World War Z this weekend?