Showing posts with label short stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label short stories. Show all posts

Literary Magazines with Themes--On the Premises



If you're looking for a short story contest with no entry free and quite good pay, try On the Premises.

As indicated by the title, this e-zine always has themes.  The current contest, running until March 6, is "More Than One."

"For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words in which one or more characters face this problem:  there is more than one of something that there should absolutely, positively be only one of."

Sounds fun!

Guidelines:  https://onthepremises.com/

They also have mini contests between regular contests.  The mini contests require VERY short prose, and the themes are often quite interesting.  For example, in the fall I entered one about purposely bad world-building.  The results were quite fun.  You can read them here (including my winning entry):  https://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_43/ 



Melinda Brasher's fiction and travel writing appear most recently in Hippocampus, Deep Magic, and Twenty-Two Twenty-Eight.  Her newest non-fiction book, Hiking Alaska from Cruise Ports is available on Amazon.    

She loves hiking and taking photographs of nature's small miracles.  

Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com




How to Use Multimedia Fiction to Market Your Book



Contributed by Silvia Li Sam

Authors must adapt to new technologies and trends to reach their audiences in today's ever-changing world. With the internet, there are so many new and innovative ways to reach potential readers. One of the many new trends in storytelling has been multimedia fiction.

What is multimedia fiction? It's a visual short story that adds images, pictures, or even audio to the written word. Websites like Commaful that are dedicated specifically to multimedia fiction have become incredibly popular, and attract more readers every day.

Is it possible to use multimedia fiction to help market your book? 

Not only is it possible, but it might also even be the boost you need to actually reach the public you've been aiming for.

Extend your novel's universe

Short multimedia stories are ideal for today's fast-paced world. People tend to have a short attention span, and so offering them shorter options to sink their teeth into is a great way of catching their interest. This is especially true for young adult audiences.

Sharing short stories in a multimedia format can both attract new readers to your books and build excitement amongst existing fans. The wait between books can be a long one and short multimedia stories can be a huge boost in excitement and fan engagement.

This can be true even after a novel’s series is over. JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, for example, releases short stories occasionally on the site Pottermore. She has also released multimedia versions of the previous novels, filled with illustrations and interactive elements. 

Multimedia fiction can also help you expand your character's background stories or create new paths and possibilities. Perhaps it could open the chance to write a new book series, if the first one turns out to be a success, focusing on other characters or even new adventures or mysteries altogether. Disney has clearly done well with that with all the spinoff stories and movies they have.

Because many sites that offer micro-stories and multimedia stories are also hotbeds for fanfiction, this is also a great way to get fans to interact with your universe and build fandom around your books. For example, Commaful has a fanfiction page that is dedicated to all types of fanworks around books, movies, and more.

Don't be afraid of trying a new type of storytelling to expand your novel's universe.

Offer snippets from your books

You may also use the material you've already written to promote your books.

Offering potential readers and influencers a sample of your writing can boost your book's sales. This is especially true if you sell an online version since you can add a link directly to the website that offers the full text.

It's essential to select extracts that can immediately catch the audience's attention and make them wonder what will come next. Also, try and use all the multimedia format's benefits to your advantage.

Add eye-catching pictures or photographs, play with the formatting, and make it as attractive as possible. Offering portions of your book with new and engaging short stories can make the potential readers feel a connection to your characters and have them aching for more.

Think carefully about how to integrate multimedia

To really take advantage of the format, aim the pictures you select at the right target audience and genre.

If you write horror novels, then utilize bone-chilling photos and images, to keep the reader on edge.  If it's a romance book, then try and find pictures that will fit your character's appearances and the general tone of the story.

Multimedia fiction is more than just the text people read. It's also about visual and audio elements that make the story a whole new experience than traditional literature.
Examine the audience's reactions.

Don’t be afraid to experiment! If a particular attempt doesn't work out as you hoped, try new ideas and see what happens.

Sharing multimedia fiction is a great way to get quick feedback as the stories are short and fun to view. If you have some followers already, this is a really quick way to test out an idea. This will allow you to adapt and improve your style according to what your core audience enjoys the most.

It's free market research, and it will help you both improve your writing skills and discover what people enjoy and dislike about your style.

So, what are you waiting for? There are readers out there waiting! If you like trying new things, multimedia fiction might be precisely what your book needs to become a huge success.

About the Author

Silvia Li Sam is a storyteller, blogger, writer, and social media expert. You can connect with her on her LinkedIn.

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The Enchantment Show with New Mexico's SCBWI Chapter

"Up on the Roof," by Eddie Edwards
This year marks the Sixth Annual Enchantment Show for the New Mexico chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI. Illustrators who signed up are given a deadline to complete an illustration of their choice, in their choice of medium. Participating writers are then randomly matched with an illustration, and must create a one-page story to accompany their illustration. This year’s theme is “Serenity.” The stories and illustrations are displayed at a local library in Albuquerque for the month of June, and a reception held to celebrate our members’ creations.

Last year, as a nonparticipant, I attended the reception to enjoy the show and also to see, frankly, if I would be up to the challenge. This year, I am happy I took the leap. Not only was it a challenge to think up a story that would give my terrific illustration justice, but it awakened the desire to create more. The biggest benefit was meeting more SCBWI members, and especially the artist, Eddie Edwards, my illustrator. I had spent many hours dreaming about her illustration not knowing who had created it. To finally get to meet her was a thrill.

So, without further delay, I present:

Stars and Dreams Forever
by Linda Wilson

Hunter pressed his hands over his ears. Luna, his little sister, wouldn’t stop wailing. His dad paced back and forth across the living room, jiggling her in his arms. It didn’t help. And no one had turned down the TV. There had to be a better place to find some peace and quiet than under this coffee table. 
He slid open the patio door and stood by the porch railing. On the streets below, sirens screamed and drivers honked, the sounds tunneling up between apartment buildings. All this noise hammered into his brain. This wouldn’t do, either.

A pot bubbled on the stove. Mmm. Mom’s spaghetti sauce. He slipped into the kitchen. His mom and Mrs. Martinez, their neighbor from the apartment next door, were busy talking and laughing. Supper would be a while. Time enough to escape to his room.

Sitting on his bed, Hunter glanced at the Star Wars posters plastered on his walls. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Darth Vader stared back at him from “Return to the Jedi.” The saying at the top, “Return to a Galaxy Far, Far Away . . .” took him lightyears away, to suns and moons and planets . . . to infinity . . . places beyond his own imaginings. If only he, little speck-on-the-Earth-Hunter, could travel as long and as far as it took to get to other galaxies. The Andromeda Galaxy, maybe? But how could he ever do that?

His eyes shot up to the ceiling. The plain white paint gave him a blank canvas, as an artist would use, to think and dream up his next creation. An idea came to him. He found his dad, now holding Luna fast asleep in his arms, and whispered, “Dad, can I go in the hallway and check out the stairs?”
“Why, whatever for?”

“I want to see how far up they go,” Hunter said.

His dad thought a minute. Hunter held his breath. Then his dad said, “All right, go ahead. I’ll catch up as soon as I put your sister to bed.”

“Thanks!” Hunter climbed the stairs and swung open the door at the top. A cool breeze ruffled his hair. He’d found his building’s roof. It’d been here the whole time, a place on top of the world!
Above, a crescent moon shone, and constellations of stars sprinkled across the nighttime sky, sparkling like jewels. Below, life had quieted down some, the only sounds soft music, soft voices and TVs turned down. Even the traffic had slowed. In a spot that looked just right, he lay back. The door opened. He said, “Hi, Dad.” At that moment, a shooting star streaked across the sky. A spectacle that he and his dad could share, and it didn’t make a sound.
Illustration: I'd like to thank Eddie Edwards for sharing her illustration for this post.
Watch for Secret in the Stars,
soon to be published. Don't worry:
Readers of WOTM will be
the first to know!




Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Using Anthologies to Study the Market

One piece of writing advice I hear a lot, and which I agree with, is that you must read.  But not everyone agrees on the particulars.

Some say you should read like a reader and others say you should read like an editor or a scientist, dissecting what you read to see what works.

Some say read, read, read your genre and then stop reading while you write, so you don't accidentally let whatever you're reading influence your own work too much.

Others say read, read, read all the time, in your genre and others.

I write short stories in a variety of genres, novels (fantasy and sci fi), travel essays, travel guides, and various other types of work.  But I have to admit that my reading habits are a bit more narrow.  I tend to mostly read novels instead of short stories.  I read travel guides to places I plan to travel, but don't read as much other travel writing as I should.  Part of this, of course, is due to limited time.

So, to make my reading of short work more efficient, I use the anthology approach.

Benefits of Reading Yearly Anthologies


Long-standing, well-respected anthologies are great because they collect some of the (subjectively) best fiction of the year from various magazines.  You don't waste time with mediocre stories.  You get a feel for what's current and what editors are throwing their support behind.  Go ahead and dissect these stories and learn from them.

Another valuable aspect of an anthology is that you see which magazine first published which story.  This is very useful for your own work.  You know the old advice about submitting to magazines:  read a few issues first to see if your work fits.  This is excellent advice.  Unfortunately, we don't always have time to read a few issues of every magazine.  Luckily, anthologies give you a shortcut.  Pick out the stories you like or that could be good matches to yours, then see which magazines they were published in.  Start submitting to those magazines. 

Some Good Anthologies:


The O. Henry Prize Stories, edited by Laura Furman.

The Pushcart Prize; Best of the Small Presses, edited by Bill Henderson.

The Best American Short Stories, edited by Heidi Pitlor and various yearly editors.  Obviously the yearly editor puts a slant on things, so some years may be more "best" than others.

The Best American series has other genre-specific anthologies, such as The Best American Essays, The Best American Travel Writing, The Best American Mystery Short Stories, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, etcLook for your target genre to see if they have one that matches.

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Rich Horton.  Also in the series, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, edited by Paula Guran.

The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow.


Many of these can be found at your local library as well as at online and brick-and-mortar bookstores.



You can read (and listen to) Melinda Brasher's most recent short story sale at Pseudopod.  It's a tale of a man who doesn't believe in superstition...until he has to.  You can also find her fiction in Ember, Timeless Tales, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska this summer, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com








Literary Magazines with Themes: The First Line

Image courtesy of The First Line Magazine
The First Line is a literary magazine where each issue contains stories that all start with the same first line.  

Next year will be their 20th year in print, so they're doing something a little different.  To celebrate all past issues, they're welcoming stories based on previous years' first lines.  For the spring 2019 issue (stories due Feb 1), you can choose from twenty different first lines.

If you're interested in a little inspiration or a fun challenge, take a look:  The First Line

Sample First Lines for Spring:

The rules are clearly spelled out in the brochure.
"Well, there's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back."
My father and I left on a Thursday.
I remember the radio was playing the best song.
Whitney Heather Yates knew she was in trouble from the moment she learned how to spell her name.
It sounded like she said, "Every day when I get home, I find a naked body in the bed."
The party was only the beginning of what would happen tonight.
"Step this way as our tour of Earth continues."
"How did you end up with a nickname like that?"
The first thing I saw when I woke was Chris' face.
"The incident on the island is the stuff of legend, but let me tell you the real story."
Jimmy Hanson was a sallow man who enjoyed little in life save for his _________. [Fill in the blank.]


Guidelines Highlights:

-Stories must be between 300 and 5000 words and unpublished.  Poetry is also welcome. 
-Multiple submissions are fine, so if you find several of these prompts interesting, go to town!
-Pay is between $25-50.
-Submit electronically before February 1 for the spring issue.  Other submission dates and first lines are available on their website.



You can read (and listen to) Melinda Brasher's most recent short story sale at Pseudopod.  It's a tale of a man who doesn't believe in superstition...until he has to.  You can also find her fiction in Ember, Timeless Tales, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska next summer, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com



Literary Magazines with Themes--Fall 2017 Edition

It's time for another of my roundups of literary magazines with themes. Due dates range from the end of this month to January 2018

As always, read website guidelines carefully and have fun!  Entry is free to all the magazines listed below, and all are paying markets.

On the Premises
Theme:  Community
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline:  September 1, 2017
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $60-220
Guidelines: http://onthepremises.com/contest-rules/


Timeless Tales
Theme:  Rumpelstiltskin
Genres:  Fairy Tales--Fiction, Poetry
Reading dates:  August 18-Sept 1
Word Count:  up to 2000, 1500 preferred
Pay:  $20
REPRINTS ACCEPTED
Guidelines: http://www.timelesstalesmagazine.com/submissions


Ladybug
Theme:  Spaceships and Superheroes
Genres:  Fiction, activities, crafts, activities, recipes for kids age 6-9
Deadline:  August 31, 2017
Word Count:  varies depending on type of work, but very short
Pay:  varies by type--professional rates
Guidelines: https://cricketmag.submittable.com/submit/17817/spider-magazine-for-ages-6-9

Enchanted Conversation
Themes:  Godfather death (reading period Sept 1-Sept 30)
      Elves and the Shoemaker (reading Period Nov 1-Nov 30)
Genre:  Fairy Tale, fiction and poetry
Reading Period:  Sept and Nov 2017
Word Count:  700-3000 stories, poems of any length

The First Line
First line must be: "I'm tired of trying to see the good in people."
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline: November 1, 2017
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $25-50
Guidelines:  http://www.thefirstline.com/submission.htm

THEMA Literary Journal
Theme:  Dancing in the Wind
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline: November 1, 2017
  
Shooter
Theme:  New Life
Genres:  Stories, Poetry, Non-fiction
Deadline:  November 5, 2017
Word Count:  2000-7500
Pay:  Up to 25 GBP
Guidelines: https://shooterlitmag.com/submissions/

Ouen Press
Theme:  Taste
Genres:  Fiction
Deadline:  Dec 31, 2017
Word Count:  3000-10000
Pay:  Contest winners:  100-300 GBP
Guidelines: http://www.ouenpress.com/19.html

Pantheon:
Theme:  Gorgon; Stories of Emergence
Genres:  Flash fiction issue--dark, weird, speculative, horror
Reading Period:  Opens January 1, 2018
Word Count:  Around 1000 words preferred
Pay:  $.06/wd
REPRINTS ACCEPTED ($.03/wd)
Guidelines:   https://pantheonmag.com/submission-guidelines/


Melinda Brasher's fiction appears in Nous Electric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines. One of her first sales was to THEMA above.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  

Her newest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide helps budget travelers plan a trip to majestic Alaska.  Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Literary Magazines with Themes, Fall 2016

It's that time again:  my roundup of literary magazines with themes, all with due dates this fall.  Read website guidelines carefully and have fun!

Lackington's
Theme:  Musics
Genres:  Speculative
Dates:  Opens November 5
Word Count:  1500-5000
Pay:  1 cent per word (Canadian)

Tacitus Publishing
Theme:  Shattered Space (Stories taking place in space—with a horror element)
Genres:  Sci Fi
Dates:  October 31,2016
Word Count:  1500-5000
Pay:  1 cent per word

Third Flatiron
Theme:  Weird West/Steampunk
Reading Period:  November 1-December 31, 2016
Word Count: 1500-3000
Pay: 6 cents / word
  
Ouen Press
Theme:  The Journey
Genres:  TRUE travel story
Dates:  October 31
Word Count:  3000-10000
Pay:  Contest winners:  100-300 GBP

The First Line
First line must be:  "In the six years I spent tracking David Addley, it never occurred to me that he didn't exist."
Deadline: November 1, 2016
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $25-50

THEMA Literary Journal
Theme:  The Missing Letters
Deadline: November 1, 2016
Pay:  $25

Pantheon:
Theme:  Janus (Inspired by, not actually about)
Reading Period:  Dec 31
Word Count:  the shorter the better
Pay:  $.01/wd

Sockdolager
Theme:  Women of War
Deadline: November 1, 2016
Word Count: 1000-5000
Pay:  2 cents per word ($15 per reprint)

Enchanted Conversation
Theme:  The New Year
Genre:  Fairy Tale
Reading Period:  Nov 1-Nov 30
Word Count:  700-3000 stories, poems of any length
Pay:  $30

Infective Ink
Theme:  Overheard
Deadline:  October 28, 2016
Pay:  $10 for stories 1500 words and up

Shooter
Theme:  Cities
Genres:  Stories, Poetry, Non-fiction
Dates:  October 16, 2016
Word Count:  2000-7500
Pay:  Up to 25 GBP



Melinda Brasher's fiction appears in Nous Electric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Literary Magazines with Themes--Spring 2016

Here's my spring 2016 list of upcoming themes or prompts for literary magazines.  They're fun to write to, and you may also find that they match stories you've already written.  As always, read guidelines carefully.

Third Flatiron
Theme:  Keystones
Genres:  Speculative
Reading Period:  April 15-June 15, 2016
Word Count: 1500-3000
Pay: 3 cents / word

Lackington's
Theme:  Animals (see more detailed description in guidelines)
Genres:  Speculative
Dates:  Opens May 10
Word Count:  1500-5000
Pay:  1 cent per word

The First Line
First line must be:  "By the fifteenth month of the drought, the lake no longer held her secrets."
Deadline: May 1, 2016
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay:  $25-50

THEMA Literary Journal
Theme:  Second Thoughts
Deadline: July 1, 2016
Pay:  $25

Grey Wolfe Publishing
April Prompt:  "Every morning at 9:00 a.m. sharp, you get a call on your cell phone. The speaker says 'I know what you did' and then hangs up. This has been going on for two weeks straight. What did you do and how do you react to these calls?"
Deadline:  April 30, 2016
May Prompt:  You’re sitting at the breakfast table one morning, looking at the top news stories while drinking your coffee. The top story this morning is a crazy fan who was arrested for breaking into a local bookstore and stealing all of YOUR books! He’s quoted as saying “I just want to be their best friend!” Your first crazed fan. What do you do?
Deadline:  May 31, 2016
Word Count:  up to 2000
Pay:  $25 to contest winner

Enchanted Conversation
Theme:  Summer Solstice and Mid-Summer
Genre:  Fairy Tale
Reading Period:  May 1-May 30
Word Count:  700-3000 stories, poems of any length
Pay:  $30

Infective Ink
Themes:  Dear Diary—due April 27, 2016
The End of the World—due May 28, 2016
Pay:  $10 for stories 1500 words and up

On the Premises
Next theme:  TBA
Word Count:  up to 5000
Pay: $60-220 

Timeless Tales
Theme:  The Snow Queen
Genre:  retelling of fairy tales—various styles and genres, poetry
Word Count:  up to 2000, 1500 preferred
Pay:  $20

Story
Theme:  Identity
Genres:  Stories, essays, poems
Word Count: up to 2500 for prose
Pay: Unclear



Melinda Brasher's first fiction sale was in THEMA, one of the magazines above.  She has other stories published in various magazines, including On the Premises.  Visit her online at www.melindabrasher.com

Submitting to Fiction Magazines with Themes--Spring 2015

From The First Line Magazine
Looking for writing inspiration or a new writing challenge?  Check out these upcoming themes from short story magazines.  Find one that strikes your fancy, write your best story, and send it in.  

Portals--Submissions accepted April 1-30
2065 (the year)--Submissions accepted May 1-31
Sport--Submissions accepted June 1-30
Crossed Genres.  (Science fiction or fantasy only, 1000-6000 words, Pays $.06/wd)
Submission Guidelines.

Lost in the Zoo--Due July 1, 2015
THEMA Literary Journal  (Print, Reprints accepted, Fewer than 20 pages prefered, Pays $25)
Submission guidelines

"Laura liked to think she was honest with herself; it was everyone else she lied to."--Due May 1, 2015
"The old neighborhood was nearly unrecognizable."--Due August 1, 2015
The First Line Literary Magazine.  (Print and PDF, 300-5000 wds, Pays $25-50, stories must start with the given line)
Submission Guidelines.

Nyx (the ancient goddess of night)--Due April 30, 2015
Monsters (dark fantasy and horror)--Due June 31, 2015
Pantheon.  (Mythology, The shorter the better,  Pays $.01/wd)
Submission Guidelines.

Dear Diary--Due March 28, 2015
Telling your kids about 'the birds and the bees' is always a difficult task--Due April 27, 2015
Modern spins on common fairy tales--Due May 28, 2015
Memory Loss--Due June 27, 2015
Infective Ink.  (Pays $10)
Submission Guidelines.

Learning--Due March 6, 2015--THIS FRIDAY
Check the website later for the next theme
On the Premises.  (1000-5000 words, Pays $40-180)
Submission Guidelines.

Perseus and Medusa--Due March 23, 2015
Timeless Tales.  (Fairy tales and myths retold in any genre, 2000 words maximum, Accepts reprints, Pays $15)
Submission Guidelines.

Un/Natural World (exploring natural and built worlds on Earth)--Due July 15, 2015
Story  (Pays $20/pg up to $200)
Submission Guidelines.

Kenya--Due April 7, 2015
The Dominican Republic--May 5, 2015
National Parks around the World--Due June 2, 2015
The Olympics--Due July 7, 2015
Faces (World culture and geography for ages 9-14, 800-word retold legends, folktales, stories, and original plays from around the world, Pays professional rates)
Submission Guidelines

Also consider Cobblestone's other magazines accepting 800-word stories based around themes:  Cobblestone (American history), Dig (archeology and history), Odyssey (science). 
Submission Guidelines


Themed magazines can also be a good way to find homes for your trunk stories, but be sure that the theme is a close fit, or you'll disrespect the magazine.  As always, pay close attention to the writers' guidelines.

And keep on creating!



Melinda Brasher's first fiction sale was in THEMA, one of the magazines above.  She has other stories published in various magazines, including On the Premises.  She also loves to travel and is currently writing a budget traveler's guide to cruising Alaska. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com/

Take a Break, Write a Short Story

Happy Halloween! Photo by Linda Wilson
Taking regular breaks from your WIPs to write short stories and articles can be a great enhancement in many ways. First, it's fun and exhilarating. It takes less time than long-term projects. It's a great way to sharpen your skills. And publication can be a teensy bit faster than book pubbing. The benefits of writing articles, in the words of a nonfiction writer, name unfortunately lost to me now but her words never forgotten: you become an "expert" on a topic then get to move on. And short stories? Research is just as important, of course, but birth to submission can run in the fast-er lane: oh joy, fewer words, quicker results.

Birth of an Idea
This year once October 1st rolled around, I got the itch while grocery shopping to browse the neat, fully-stocked, yet as yet untouched Halloween section at our local super store. With notes in mind that I keep in my back pocket (files) at home, of clever costumes and fun activities from years past, I suddenly hungered for a fresh, new trend.

Here is a short list of what I found:
Tear-away masks: a scary partial mask that can be torn off to reveal an even scarier inner mask
Giant mad baby mask
White skull mask
Maniac's skull mask
Undertaker mask
Ghost face mask
Zombie gas mask
Hockey mask
Creepy clown mask
Spider mask
Skeleton mask
Mullet wig
Raggae wig
Hooded death helmet
Frightful accessories:
Zombie blood
Vampire make-up kit
Snake eyes
Cyborg make-up
Costumes:
Neon zebra
Ninja
Skin suits
Monk
Pirate
Inflatable steer; inflatable shark to wear as a shirt

But wait, Something's Missing
Particularly intriguing were the skin suits. You know the kind: the plastic tuxedo, black, red and blue skin-tight suits that incredibly, cover the entire body, head included, which can turn any ordinary soul into a pseudo-ninja with elusive precision. Haunted by visions of faceless skin-suited trick-or-treaters knocking on my door, I finished my shopping trip and hurried home.

Back in the safety of my office that I pretended even skin-suits couldn't penetrate, I sorely missed one of my all-time All-Hallow-Eve favorites: mummies. I'd been to Egypt, seen real mummies in their native land way before anyone thought to show off their stuff on road trips to museums around the world. So I asked myself, where were the mummy costumes? Hidden underneath the skin-suits?

Story Starts to Form but Wait, there's More
While skin-suits and mummies stalked around in my head, I hadn't yet explored the Internet for more ideas. See if a story-starter doesn't pop up in your mind while you browse this list, found by a Google search in under a minute:

Hooded huntress with bow & arrow                    The Mad Hatter
Robin Hood                                                          Purple Jester
Flirty Flapper                                                       Pirate Captain
Cave Girl                                                             Mime Girls
Egyptian Princess                                                Crystal Ball Gypsy
Jewel of the Nile                                                  Polar Princess
Cleopatra                                                             Blue Peacock
Forest Bandit                                                       Honey Bee

Give yourself a Timetable
Now it's time to narrow down and choose the spark that can turn your research into a full-blown story. For now, I'm content playing around with the possibilities brought by skin-suits and mummies. With so many choices, you could almost close your eyes and point to any one of the costume ideas and see where your imagination takes you. Once an idea jumps out at you, give yourself a month to write, edit and put away your story. November 1st while you look into a holiday story, revisit your Halloween story, take it to your writer's group, polish it and submit it.

Anytime you need a break from your bigger projects try writing a short story or article. Submit ahead nine months or more, if possible, to give your magazine choice the time it needs to publish your story for the next seasonal go-around. You will go back to your other projects refreshed and safe in the knowledge that your story soldiers are out there working to give you shorter-term rewards for all your hard-earned efforts, while keeping your sites set on the big picture.

Coming soon: Great advice and words of wisdom from writer, editor and teacher Joyce Sweeney


Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, recently completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction and picture book courses. Spooked by a recent move, once settled she will forge ahead with big writing plans and resume work on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Honoring Your Voice

As a writer, your voice is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, novels, screenplays, marketing copy, y...