Category Archives: Writing Challenges

I’m Down for the Count, but I Won’t Leave the Ring

Writing contests… What compels me to set myself up repeatedly for an emotional one-two punch? That is my initial reaction anyway, after the rejection comes, or the silence when my beloved story is knocked senseless to the mat after all the arduous work.

Eventually, after much moaning… ahem… soul searching, reason returns, and I take away the valuable lessons and start my next story.

How about you? Do you submit to writing contests to hone your skills? Are you a writer who thrives in that environment or shuns it? Share your highlights, successes, and best lessons in the comments.

Artwork by 0Q . at

My Pod People Had Their Own Plans for NaNoWriMo – My Decision to Unpublish

What a surprise this November is turning out to be. The best laid plans… as they say. But I have never been one to stick with plans if something tells me I need to mix it up and to go a different direction.

For NaNoWriMo this year, my Pod People (aka characters seeded in my brain by aliens) spun me around blindfolded under a pinata and after bashing away, I’ve made all sorts of turns and transitions in my writing career.

And I’m totally thrilled and surprised by the results.

In the first week, I changed my project three times. Then, I had an epiphany. I needed to unpublish my novels. Books One and Two in The Starlight Chronicles were languishing, loveless in the nether regions of the Kindle Universe. I’m still working on the conclusion and thought at one point that would be my focus for November.

But the pressure of completing my series has been weighing on me. I decided that getting them off the market, using the time to finish and polish them, finding a book cover artist for a cohesive professional look, and launching them with a fresh marketing campaign might be exactly what they, and I need.

An exhilarating freedom resulted. I’ve been infused with new energy. There are three other novels in the works that are getting the attention they deserve. I made one of them my focus for November but decided not to worry about hitting my goal if I want to write on other projects. What a relief that has been, and I’ve made progress with them all.

I have also allowed myself to participate in various flash fiction and short story competitions, which have been more enjoyable without the pressure of getting that third installment done.

And I’ve spent much time this month giving renewed love to The Starlight Chronicles. My Pod People have spoken, and I listened.

Other factors played a huge role in my rejuvenation. I belong to a writer’s alliance and the support I got for this crucial decision was phenomenal. A Twitter post by a member of the Writing Community about deciding to unpublish was ever so timely. And advice on holding onto the joy of writing while letting go of the drudgery of marketing sealed the deal. You can join that discussion in my recent interview with Sci-Fi author, Kent Wayne.

The month is not over folks… I wonder what other surprises might be in store. And please. Tell me how your November is shaping up.

The Death’s Head Omen is a recent micro fiction story I entered in a contest. Results in January.

Best AutoCrit Score Ever!

I can’t deny I was pleased with this summary. I worked hard on polishing my first microfiction 24-hour submission to NYC Midnight’s 250-word Microfiction Challenge 2022, and maybe… just maybe, this will mean something in the judging. We will see (but not until January!). These events are amazing for anyone who wants the challenge of getting a complete story into a tiny format. And for those of you who are participating with me, the best of luck!

Check out AutoCrit if you haven’t already. I recommend it as a great writing resource with powerful analytics.

My story hint image provided by

My Pod People are Gearing up for a Month-long Marathon!

NaNoWriMo starts in three days! I’m ready, I think… At least my characters are poised at the starting line. I highly doubt I’ll make the 50,000 word count because my project is finishing Book Three of my series, The Starlight Chronicles. I hope I don’t have 50,000 words left to go, because I’m at 80,000 already! But you never know.

What I do know is that November is a great month to set everything else aside and focus on writing… every day. I also lost my head and signed up for a few sprints and competitions. Hmmm… It will be interesting to track it all.

There are still so many plotlines to be wrapped up in Tigris Vetus, and a lot going on in my conclusion to Selena Aires’ story. Which means so many beginnings for other novels. But I must finish this one to start more stories about all the great characters, aka Pod People, who found their beginnings in this series. Another great reason to participate in a month of daily writing.

Good luck to all you who will be participating! You can find me on at DLLewellyn if you want to buddy up.

Here is a little art inspiration from Alexander Danailov, Hermes crossing the finish line.

My Pod People Like Getting Aired Out… anyway they can – Let the Games Begin

Artwork by Leon Tukker

How’d You Like my Dramatic Intro? The Games in Question? Writing Challenges…

Are you addicted to entering writing contests? I think I might be headed that way. And I think it’s because they punctuate my ho hum life with bursts of pure adrenalin pumping excitement. But it’s excitement I can engage in without leaving my studio and keyboard, so it’s still within my comfort zone.

If nothing else comes from the frantic writing, editing, and finishing it all on a deadline, and the nail biting as I hit the submit button, there is that… nice comfortable excitement. But my pod people (characters who live in my head, aka transplanted alien pods) keep urging me to do this because they want a chance to be heard. My book sales don’t really achieve that on a great scale.

I should clarify that I haven’t entered many yet. A lot of them I’m still investigating. My very first one this summer was a free challenge that rewarded ten chosen stories out of 300 submissions with publication in a trophy anthology. I was blown away when mine was selected, and I got hooked on the process.

Then, a friend told me about NYCMidnight competitions. If you want a thrilling way to hone your writing skills on a tight deadline with a genre that’s a mystery until the moment you’re scheduled to start writing, click on the link. There are multiple rounds to strive for, so multiple chances at untried genres with random objects and places thrown in. Can’t get more exciting than that!

My next goal is submitting to magazines. I’m excited about the anthologies planned over the next year with Dragon Soul Press and hope to try for a few. I did go for the competition offered by Uncharted Magazine seeking up to a 5,000-word novel excerpt. I have two novel WIPS I’m excited about that I submitted. By now I think you get that I’m excited about writing challenges.

And of course, there’s the big one looming in November, the free challenge that really gets those novels primed, NaNoWriMo. This year will be my second. No nail biting involved, just lots of writing and counting words. Totally fun.

Now, the downside to entering contests and challenges. I thought hitting the submit button was the most nerve-wracking part. Nope! It’s the waiting. But waiting means anticipation and anticipation means excitement, so you really can’t lose, if you like writing with a side dish of hurry up and wait, and wait some more. But hey, there’s always more stories to write and submit while you hunker down and wait for the email that might change your world. Hmmm. I think I just hit on the recipe for getting addicted to submitting to writing contests and challenges.

So far, I’ve also found that opting for the feedback, when it’s reasonably priced, makes the whole experience well worth the long process, however it ends. And really, the process is worth the process. I’ve learned tons for every submission.

Let me know what contests and challenges you enjoy, and how often you like to submit, and you don’t even have to confess to an addiction.

One of my novel excerpt submissions. So loving this story… Click here for my books and projects.

Below is another exciting opportunity for a short story contest.

I belong to a great group of global writers in the Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance. We just developed a short story contest for our members. Click here for information and how to join.