Tag: Contests

Home > ArchivesTag: Contests

An Interview with Jonathan Maberry by Diane Sismour @dianesismour

October 17, 2017 by in category Interviews tagged as , , , , , ,

Jonathan Maberry | A Slice of OrangeWriting is a solitary profession except when you meet someone like Jonathan Maberry.


JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning suspense author, editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries. Not only is he an exemplary author, he’s also part of a group known as the Philadelphia Liars Club. An organization known for helping writers become authors through workshops and meetings.


Long ago in one such workshop, I met Jonathan and he’s been one of my mentor ever since. I’m pleased to introduce Jonathan to my readers.


Hi Jonathan,

Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to answer a few questions. The Bethlehem Writer’s Roundtable has a Paranormal Short Story Contest starting on January 1st, 2018 and I would like to give my readers and the participants a scope of what to expect from the genre.


DIANE SISMOUR:  How would you describe Paranormal as a genre compared to Horror or Fantasy? 


JONATHAN MABERRY: Paranormal is often confused or conflated with supernatural, but they’re significantly different things. The supernatural refers to things like vampires and werewolves, demons and those kinds of monsters. Paranormal refers to things that may appear to be magical but are likely to be aspects of science as yet unquantifiable, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis, and other kinds of ESP.


The word ‘paranormal’ is frequently misused in fiction, as seen in –say—paranormal romance, in which angels, demons, vampires, and so on are romantic figures. That’s actually supernatural, but try and get a publishing marketing exec to change the wording! Not a chance.


Supernatural elements fit very well with all kinds of fantasy storytelling, because fantasy has always been concerned with monsters, dragons, sorcery, gods, and so on.


Horror is a much broader category and there are no limits to what can fall under that umbrella. Horror can as easily be used to accurately describe a serial killer novel (Silence of the Lambs comes to mind) as a werewolf thriller or a Gothic ghost story.

Rot & Ruin | Jonathan Maberry | A Slice of OrangeDS: There are so many crossover genres in today’s fiction. Do you feel this has helped the paranormal market and why?


JM: The paranormal fiction market was created when romance became heavily associated with typically monstrous elements of fiction. Books like Interview with the Vampire helped give birth to what we now call ‘paranormal romance’. TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Forever Knight, Charmed, True Blood, Vampire Academy, and so on, really propped this genre up; and novels by Laurell K. Hamilton, L.A. Banks, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Rachel Caine and many others have established it as a huge moneymaker.


All trends wax and wane, and one of the ways to keep them fresh is to spice them up with elements of other genres. Buffy is an example, because it is ostensibly a story about teenage angst and social anxiety wrapped up in a heroic battle against monsters. It’s also a coming of age story, an urban fantasy, a dark fantasy, a family drama, an action series, a comedy series, romance, and –well, I could go on and on. Every time they wanted to make it fresh they threw in some other genre elements –even a space alien (no joke). And…it worked.


The fanbase is easily jaded and wants more, which is why those writers who can bring in those other genre elements are the one who most often manage to surprise and intrigue their fans.


One show (and subsequent series of comics, games, anthologies and novels) that has very successfully combined paranormal, supernatural, horror, science fiction and fantasy genres is The X-Files. Week-to-week you never quite knew from which direction the punches would be coming. Which made the original series so much fun; and now it’s back.


DS: What hero and villain would you most like to write a battle about for world dominance?


JM: I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a story in which Nikolai Tesla and Dr. Moriarty team up to conquer the world. That would be a whole lot of fun to write. It would also combine science, science fiction, mystery, thriller, Steampunk, and action into one wild ride.


Patient Zero | Jonathan Maberry | A Slice of OrangeDS: Your paranormal series, Rot & Ruin, gained huge acclaim in the Young Adult market, and the Joe Ledger novels continue as a fan favorite. Which character is your favorite and why?


JM: Actually the Rot & Ruin novels are straight science fiction. There are no paranormal or supernatural elements to them because the cause of the zombie plague is an old Cold War bioweapon based on actual parasites found in nature. I just finished a new novel in that series, which is the first of a spinoff storyline with a Latina bisexual teenage main character, Gabriella ‘Gutsy’ Gomez, who is a hell of a lot of fun to write.


But my all-time favorite character to write is Joe Ledger. His novels are predominately science fiction with some paranormal elements, and (in some books in the series) a taste of the supernatural. Ledger is a character I can throw into any series or any story. Between the ten novels in the series, two collections of short stories, a guest appearance in a comic book (V-Wars) and an upcoming anthology with original Ledger stories by my writer colleagues, Ledger has faced corrupt scientists, terrorists with cutting-edge bioweapons, secret societies, genetically-engineered vampires, werewolf super soldiers, changelings, ghosts, alien space spiders, and even H.P. Lovecraft’s elder god, Cthulhu. And he guest-stars in the Rot & Ruin novels.


DS: You have written short story fiction and novels. What elements should a short story contain compared to works of longer fiction?


JM: Short fiction is often similar to the third act of a novel. We typically hit the ground with events already in motion and don’t always pause to explain everything. Much is implied. There are fewer character and the character relationship arcs are less deeply explore, though again, much can be implied to suggest greater depth of that relationship. In a novel, for example, you might explore how a couple falls in love, some highs and lows of that budding relationship, interactions with other people, and view the whole process through the filters of different scenes that put different kinds of stress on those two characters. In a short story we might step in when one of them is lying in an empty bed; or driving away from a burning house; or trying not to sign the divorce papers; or at a funeral; or in the delivery room. We join their lives in progress.


My personal style for writing short stories is episodic. I break my short fiction into several mini-chapters. Micro-chapters, really. These allow me to build scenes and then jump to the next important story moment without having to write the transitional material between scenes. I also use those mini-scenes to allow me to establish dramatic beats even within a larger overall scene. In that way I’m using a condensed version of the same style I use for my novels.

Unstoppable | Jonathan Maberry | A Slice of Orange

DS: What pitfalls should a writer avoid when editing the final draft?

JM: It’s never a good idea to rewrite anything before a first draft is done. It packs on time, frequently derails the whole project; shifts focus from one skill set (storytelling) to another (revision), often to the detriment of mental focus and overall momentum; and often results in an uneven story, with the early sections more overwritten then the later.


I advise my writing students to draft the story out into a logical plot outline. However I remind them that it’s illogical to assume that you’re going to have all of your best story ideas the day you write out that plot. So, be flexible. Allow for organic growth in both plot and character evolution. Having the plot roughed out, though, is smart. Plots are the mathematical equation of cause and effect that establishes the internal logic. Without knowing how a story ends you can properly foreshadow, built tension that supports the conclusion, and so on; and you often waste time writing scenes that don’t serve the story and will likely need to be cut.


DS: Which authors most inspired you, and why?


JM: I have the great good fortune as a young teen to meet, get to know, and be mentored by Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson. They were very kind and generous with their support and advice. They taught me to make serious studies of both the craft elements of writing as well as the policies and practices of the business of publishing. They also advised me to be generous and compassionate –both to other writers and in general. That was key advice for a troubled teen who need a gentle nudge in the right direction.


DS: What’s new that you’d like to share with us?


JM: I’m in the middle of one of the busiest years of my career. I’m about to start writing my third novel this year (#33 overall). I have a standalone novel, GLIMPSE, coming out in March that is getting a lot of advance buzz from folks like Clive Barker, Scott Smith, James Rollins, Charlaine Harris and others. And it’s being considered for TV. A couple of my other projects are also heading to film or TV. So that’s exciting. I just finished writing Broken Lands, the first of a new spinoff of my Rot & Ruin series of post-apocalyptic novels for teens. Next up is the 10th Joe Ledger thriller, and then I jump in to writing the first in a new teen series of mystery thrillers. I’ve also got an anthology, JOE LEDGER: UNSTOPPABLE, debuting Halloween day, with original stories using my characters written by a slew of other authors. And just after that my dark fantasy/urban fantasy/mystery genre-mashup anthology, HARDBOILED HORROR debuts. Really looking forward to seeing that launch. And I’m editing KINGDOMS FALL, an anthology of epic fantasy. So…I’m driving in the fast lane and having a hell of a lot of fun.

Readers will find a selection of Jonathan Maberry’s titles below:


Buy now!


Buy now!


Buy now!


Buy now!


Diane Sismour | A Slice of OrangeJonathan Maberry was interviewed by Diane Sismour. Diane has written poetry and fiction for over 35 years in multiple genres. She lives with her husband in eastern Pennsylvania at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Diane is a member of Romance Writers of America, Bethlehem Writer’s Group LLC, Horror Writers Association, and Liberty States Fiction Writers. She enjoys interviewing other authors and leading writer’s workshops.  Diane’s shorts stories are available on A Slice of Orange

Her website is www.dianesismour.com, and her blog is www.dianesismour.blogspot.com. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter at: http://facebook.com/dianesismour, http://facebook.com/networkforthearts, https://twitter.com/dianesismour


We would like to thank both Jonathan and Diane for contributing to A Slice of Orange.

Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2018 Short Story Award
Opening on January 1, 2018
Bethlehem Writers Roundtable is looking for unpublished stories of 2000 words or fewer on the theme of Tales of the Unexplained.
Contest closes March 31, 2018

Interested writers can find more information in The Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Fall issue.

0 1 Read more

Let me TELL you something…

June 12, 2017 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as , , ,

Let Me Tell You Something | Denise Colby | A Slice of OrangeI took a long walk this morning.  Wrote an awesome blog post in my head.  The entire time I wished I had my laptop to write down my thoughts.  Let me tell you, it was awesome.  Of course, as soon as I got home and started to actually write it, well…..the words came out differently.  Not as witty.  Not as eloquent. My punctuation was off.  But trust me. The original in my head?  It was awesome.  I’m telling you.

See, my blog post was all about my feelings on the subject of telling vs showing.  One of those things every fiction writer needs to learn to write a well-written novel.  I apparently haven’t been able to figure it out yet.  At least that’s what the latest round of contest remarks tell me.

Of course, I can’t show you their comments, so you’ll have to trust me when I tell you this.

So I took my walk to clear my head because somehow these comments have rattled me. I feel (again I’m telling you here) like giving up, stopping, throwing the entire book away.  And I’m not sure what to do about it.

I’ve received lots of feedback over the past four years on my writing journey.  I’m usually really good about taking it in stride and learning from it.  But this time around it has punched me in the gut and taken all the motivation out of me.

And I’m not sure why.

Ironically, most of the feedback I’ve received, has been over the same set of pages.  So really, the feedback isn’t just on my writing, it’s on the however many other contest evaluators and writer friends who have taken their time to give me their honest feedback.  Each time I’ve made adjustments and changes, I’ve felt like I’ve gotten closer and closer to a solid beginning.  So I find it interesting that what’s been pointed out makes my pages sound worse than where I was before.

I’m telling you, it’s enough to make me really confused.

So as I wallow in my own negative emotions, I reflect back to how I got here.  Even in high school my English wasn’t great.  I scored higher on my math portion of my SAT then my English.  I can spell like the best of them, but making sure I’m staying in either present or past tense throughout the entire sentence is a challenge for me. As well as telling vs showing.  That’s what I’m being told.

You’ve probably noticed it all in this post.

I do have a BA in Communication.  I landed a great job out of college and my first two bosses were previous English teachers.  Go figure.  Every assignment I turned in came back with red marks everywhere.  But I learned.  By the time I went to graduate school to get my MBA, I scored higher on the English then the math.  But since I embarked on this fiction writing journey I’ve learned something.  Let me tell you – copywriting and fiction writing are two completely different things.

The writing I did in the business world mostly came in bullet points.  I told people why they needed to buy a certain product.  What that product could do for them and how it would benefit them.  In catalogs, flyers, packaging, presentations and brochures.  We had to be succinct and to the point.  A customer needed to be able to know within a few seconds what this product was and what it could do for them.  No room for interpretation, no room for feelings or fluff words as we called it.  Just the point.

I was in charge of writing, proofing, and editing our products within our customer catalogs – for thousands of products.  To create consistency with my team, I created a catalog copy strategy.  Here’s what I instructed them:

For the actual copy block:

  • Concise, no fluff words
  • Benefit statements
  • minimum 2 sentences, maximum 5 sentences
  • Doesn’t have to be complete sentences

Example in bullet form of copy block:

  • Benefit statement that helps to explain the product concept overall.
  • Describe how the product is used.
  • Suggest applications for the product.
  • Other descriptions of the product including other features, color, size, quantity.

Now here I am writing a novel and my mind is trained in a completely different way.  I’m having a difficult time writing the showing parts.  I’m pulling my hair out trying to get it.  I’m crying over the fact that I have 350 plus pages to go back and redo and think I have it correct, but then find out I don’t.  (Did I do it?  Showing? Wrong tense, though.  Sigh.)  I’ll keep trying but the task feels daunting.

So, I need someone to tell me what happens next?  I’m stuck.  Frozen.  Not sure if I can keep going.  I know, I know.  I just need to keep plugging along.  I guess that’s why I wrote this blog post.  I needed an outlet to process things.  And to write something that’s in my own words, my way and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.  And when I circle back around to accept things and move on, I still have a manuscript where apparently I’ve been told I’m telling too much.  I guess only time will tell if I can show them they were right or wrong.


Denise Colby |The Writing Journey
Denise M. Colby loves learning about history and reading fun, uplifting, encouraging stories that cherish and warm the heart. Combining two of her loves, she is working on her first inspirational historical romance, featuring Olivia Carmichael, a young lady who loses everything, including her faith, travels to California to teach and finds love in many different forms along the way. Passionate about all types of stories – whether they are from songs, theatre, movies or novels, Denise loves sharing these passions with her husband and their three boys. You can follow along with Denise on her writing journey at www.denisemcolby.com


Website: www.denisemcolby.com

Blog: www.denisemcolby.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/denisemcolbywrites/

Pinterest: pinterest.com/denisemcolby

Twitter: twitter.com/denisemcolby

6 0 Read more

Things That Make Me Go Mmmrrh … My Hero

May 23, 2017 by in category Things That Make Me Go Mmmrrh . . . by Geralyn Corcillo, Writing tagged as , , , , , , , , ,

Things that make me go mmmrrh ... | Geralyn Corcillo | A Slice of OrangeLast week, I blogged on a special day to introduce you to Arlen Black, the hero of my romantic comedy Queen of the Universe. He was one of 30 contestants up for Book Boyfriend 2017. I am blogging again today on a special day to announce …

Arlen won!!! ARLEN BLACK won the title of Book Boyfriend 2017!


At my very first RWA meeting over a decade ago, I won that month’s first chapter critique from the incomparable Susan Squires, and when they called my name in the meeting, I screamed out from the back of the room, “Oh, my God!”  It was my first meeting and I learned in later meetings that the drawing for 1st chapter critique is usually a bit more sedate. But I was EXCITED! And I was just as excited when I got the news about Arlen Monday morning. “Ron, Arlen won! Arlen won!!” In my exuberance, I spilled my coffee all over my cat, Debbie. I cleaned her up, but she kept her eye on me.

Thank you to you all! To everyone who voted for me, cheered me on, and everyone who’s been loving book boyfriends over the years. This award thrills me because I have been loving books and book boyfriends all my life, and to have written some books that others find delightful just makes me so happy! Who are some of your favorite book boyfriends? Nat Eaton? Captain Wentworth? Michael Moscovitz? Ranger? Mmmrrh …

To see the Slice of Orange post that won Arlen the title, click here.



First and foremost, Geralyn Corcillo loves reader reviews! In other news…When she was a kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Geralyn Vivian Ruane Corcillo dreamed of one day becoming the superhero Dyna Girl. So, she did her best and grew up to constantly pick up litter and rescue animals. At home, she loves watching black & white movies, British mysteries, and the NY Giants. Corcillo lives in a drafty old house in Hollywood with her husband Ron, a guy who’s even cooler than Kip Dynamite.

And she loves to connect with Readers! Check out her monthly post here on A Slice of Orange and drop by to see her daily posts on Facebook and Twitter where she would be thrilled to comment back and forth with you. And you can sign up for her RomCom Alerts emails to get access to exclusive content, deals, freebies, contests & more!


10 1 Read more

Contest Deadlines

February 20, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as

Updated and all sites tested…Compiled by Donna Caubarreaux and Pepper Phillips….May be forwarded with credits.


Fabulous Five
Received by 11:59pm, March 1, 2012
First 2500 words.

Great Beginnings Contest
Utah Chapter RWA
Deadline: March 1, 2012
First five pages.

Inspirational Readers Choice Award (P)
Faith, Hope & Love RWA Chapter
Deadline: Midnight, March 1, 2012
Copyright of 2011

More Than Magic Contest
Entry Deadline March 2, 2012 – Book received by March 7th.
Copyright of 2011

The Carol
American Christian Fiction Writers
Postmark Deadline: March 10, 2012
Copyright of 2011

CNW Contest
Postmarked by March 15, 2012
Max length of 5k words.

Dauphne du Maurier for Excellence – Published Division
RWA Mystery & Suspense Chapter
Received by Midnight – March 15, 2012
Copyright of 2011

Dauphne du Maurier for Excellence – Unpublished Division
RWA Mystery & Suspense Chapter
Received by Midnight – March 15, 2012
Enter first 5k words, plus synopsis of no more than 625 words.

Spring into Romance
RWA San Diego
Postmarked by March 16, 2012
First twenty-five pages.

Prism 2011 Contest for Published Authors
FF&P Chapter of RWA
Received by March 20, 2012
Copyright of 2011

Touch of Magic
Central Florida Romance Writers
Received by March 20, 2012
First twenty-five pages plus up to three page synopsis.


The Magic Moment Contest
Heart and Scroll RWA
Postmarked by April 1, 2012
Ten pages where the H/H first meet.

First Page Contest
Begins on April 2, 2012
Enter first paragraph on 4/2 – check details on website.

The Shelia Contest
Valley Forge Romance Writers
Deadline: April 7, 2012 – 11:59PM
Beginning of manuscript + synopsis (5 page max) total entry not to exceed 35 pages.

Orange Rose
Orange County RWA
Deadline: April 14, 2012
Beginning and synopsis not to exceed fifty pages.

Duel on the Delta
River City Romance Writers
Received by Midnight CST – April 15, 2012
First twenty pages plus one page optional synopsis.

Check out Contests and Contest Winners on: http://contestdivas.blogspot.com/
Check out the Award Winning Romance Books on: http://awardwinningromances.blogspot.com/

Contest Alert-All the news on upcoming contests, plus Finalist & Winner listings, questions, etc. Sign up now! ContestAlert-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Announcement only list: ContestDeadlines-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

For Published Authors ContestAlertPublished-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

If you’re a Contest Judge, join ContestsJudges-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Donna Caubarreaux is a member of Coeur de Louisiane, Scriptscene Chapter, NOLA Stars, Heart of Louisiana, ESPAN and EPIC. She received a RWA Service Award in 1997.

Pepper Phillips is the author of “The Devil Has Dimples”.

0 0 Read more

Contest Deadlines

January 20, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as ,

Updated and all sites tested.  List compiled by Donna Caubarreaux and Pepper Phillips.  List may be
forwarded with credits.
EA = Electronic Format Available
EA/Non US = Electronic for Foreign Entries
EO = Electronic Only
MO = Members Only
U = Unpublished
P = Published
P/3 = Not published in three years
Pnr = Published, but not by RWA standards
PC = Not published in category selected


Fire and Ice Contest
Chicago North RWA
Received by February 1, 2012
First 25 pages.

Laurie Contest
Smokey Mountain Romance Writers
Deadline: February 1, 2012
First chapter not to exceed 25 pages.

The Sandy (EO)
Crested Butte Writers
Received by Midnight February 12, 2012
First 20 pages and up to a 2 page synopsis for a total page count of 22 pages.

Between the Sheets
Greater Detroit RWA
Deadline: February 14, 2012
Ten-page love scene (sweet to erotic) and a one-page unjudged set-up.

Cleveland Rocks Romance
Northeast Ohio RWA
Deadline to enter: February 14, 2012
First 7K words, one page synopsis optional.

Merritt Contest
San Antonio Romance Authors
Received by Midnight CST, February 14, 2012
First twenty-five pages plus synopsis, five page max.

Readers’ Crown for Published Authors
Submitted by February 14, 2012
Copyright date of 2011

PNWA Literary Contest
Deadline Febryary 17, 2012
Send one page synopsis + beginning with 28 page max.


Fabulous Five
Received by 11:59pm, March 1, 2012
First 2500 words.

Great Beginnings Contest
Utah Chapter RWA
Deadline: March 1, 2012
First five pages.

Inspirational Readers Choice Award (P)
Faith, Hope & Love RWA Chapter
Deadline: Midnight, March 1, 2012
Copyright of 2011

More Than Magic Contest
Entry Deadline March 2, 2012 – Book received by March 7th.
Copyright of 2011

CNW Contest
Postmarked by March 15, 2011
Max length of 5k words.

Handy Links 

·         Check out Contests and Contest Winners on: http://contestdivas.blogspot.com/
·         Check out the Award Winning Romance Books on: http://awardwinningromances.blogspot.com/
·         Contest Alert-All the news on upcoming contests, plus Finalist & Winner listings, questions, etc. Sign up now! ContestAlert-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
·         Announcement only list: ContestDeadlines-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
·         For Published Authors ContestAlertPublished-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
·         If you’re a Contest Judge, join ContestsJudges-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Donna Caubarreaux is a member of Coeur de Louisiane, Scriptscene Chapter, NOLA Stars, Heart of Louisiana, ESPAN and EPIC. She received a RWA Service Award in 1997.

Pepper Phillips is the author of “The Devil Has Dimples”.
0 0 Read more

Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM