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The Short Story Challenge 2017

January 20, 2017, 11:59pm - January 28, 2017, 10:59pm

The 11th Annual Short Story Challenge is open to writers around the world and includes 3 rounds of competition. In the 1st Round (January 20-28, 2017), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment for which they have 8 days to write an original story no longer than 2,500 words. The judges choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 2nd Round (March 23-26, 2017) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have just 3 days to write a 2,000 word (maximum) short story. Judges choose finalists from the 2nd Round to advance to the 3rd and final round of the competition where they must write a 1,500 word (maximum) story in just 24 hours (May 5-6, 2017). The winners share in thousands in cash and prizes and feedback from the judges is provided for every submission. Sound like fun? Learn more, register, and read previous winning stories at Good luck writers!

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Weekly Red Shoes Update

October 31, 2016

It’s been three weeks since my last “weekly” update, but they can be summed up in three things:

  • Politicstrumphillarysnl
  • Nerdcon:Stories
  • Nanowrimo

Politics has whipped up a frenzy across the nation and among friends. You’d have to either be living under a rock or completely unplugged from any kind of media to not beware of the dichotomous tug-of-war that has come to be Election 2016. I’m tired, I’m cranky, I’m stressed out. I’m also trying to transcend the national stage and focus on maintaining and building positive relationships in my own community because frankly – no matter who wins – the supporters of the losing presidential candidate believe that shit’s going to hit the fan. And I want to let them know that what happens locally is up to us.

Nerdcon:Stories 2016

nerdconstoriesI learned many things at Nerdcon. What struck me first was how casually dressed everyone was. This dress code violates my stay-at-home mom logic, which is simply, I should dress up if I have an opportunity to “go out.” Not that Nerdcon can be necessarily equated to the kind of “going out” like to a club, dinner or for drinks with girlfriends. But, for me, anything that doesn’t involve children is considered “going out” and warrants a dressing up for the occasion.

The writers, illustrators, performers et al., who presented had a relaxed fun-ness (hey, my update, my words, okay?) about them that was refreshing and invigorating; reminding me of how serious I’ve been lately when I work on “the work.”

There was no talk among this crowd about “the next great American novel” who didn’t seem to worry themselves with the burden of said “next great American novel.” Maybe Nerdcon organizer and author John Green has in the past, but since he’s already done that (see The Fault in Our Stars) maybe his mind’s on other things. In fact, here’s a video on that very subject.

This is a marked contrast to other writerly activities I’ve participated in where authors, aspiring or otherwise, seem to be genuinely concerned about writing something that is worthy of greatness. The Nerdcon speakers, mostly sci-fi, fantasy and YA authors, seem to be more interested in exploring new worlds, using this world to talk about themes, topics, people that are interesting to them and being genuinely adventurous and curious in a playful, yet sometimes philosophical, way.wearemadeofstories

And my biggest takeaway from Nerdon:Stories was that stories matter.

Simple yet profound. Whether they are in book form as fiction, nonfiction, comic book or shared orally at an open mic night, story circle, or just between friends over coffee, stories matter. Your story matters. My story matters. The stories we create around themes that are important to us matter.


So, politics are pissing me off, Nerdcon is inspiring me and since November starts tomorrow, I figure I might as well jump into the insanity and make some serious word count headway with National Novel Writing Month, aka Nanowrimo.

The first time I did Nanowrimo, I tackled Elevator Girl, which I not only finished but published.

The second time, I petered out at 25,000 words, realizing I had funny lines and an interesting subject, but no plot.

The third time, I technically won. I wrote 50,000 words, but then realized the story hadn’t actually started yet. The upside is I now have a very developed backstory I can use when I come back to this book.

Tomorrow I will begin my fourth Nanowrimo adventure. I’ve taken Nano Attempt #2, fleshed out my characters and developed the plot. While still terrified at the prospect of writing 1,666 words a day, I’m feeling a sense of delusional optimism. No, I take that back. I’m mostly just terrified. I’ve done this before, remember? I know what I’m getting myself into.

Despite this, I’m doing it anyway. In the past, Nanowrimo has helped to still the schizophrenic voices in my head, get away from the external audience and focus on quantity (50,000 words in a month) versus quality.

Any experienced writer knows that quality is overrated in the first draft. The priority is to, first, get the damn thing written.

Keep writing and get your word count in!

– Kimnanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-150

*Two thousand six hundred and forty-four real words, because I’m not counting the stuff I didn’t actually put in, which technically makes my word count way higher.

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