Thursday, December 06, 2012

 

Do You Know all that the Center for Writing Excellence Offers? Read On!


Today on The Muffin we welcome Janie Sullivan, one of the founders of the Center for Writing Excellence (C4WE), which was started in November 2009, as one of four divisions of the Institute for Instructional Excellence (I4IE). The C4WE offers writing contests and a free monthly e-newsletter written by contributors who can advertise their own websites along with their articles, and free classified ads are available to all subscribers. They have webinars and some online writing classes that are currently being revised and will become available later in the year 2013.

Janie says, "My business partner, Sheri Schmeckpeper, and I had always wanted to run our own school; so when we realized that our jobs, which were funded by a government grant at the local community college, were going to end, we decided it was time to start our school. The other divisions of I4IE are The Center for Teaching Excellence (C4TE), The Center for Excellent Living (C4EL), and the Center for Learning Excellence (C4LE). The C4WE has grown from a simple blog to a very functional website offering services like editing, writing, and ghost writing."

WOW: Welcome, Janie, to WOW! We are excited to have you with us today and talking about all the Center for Writing Excellence has to offer, so let's get started. Let's start with your Fiction in Five contests. You just had one at the beginning of December, and the next one is scheduled for February. How do these work?

Janie: The Fiction in Five contest is a prompt driven flash fiction contest. Writers can enter anytime up to the deadline, which is always the Friday before the first Monday of the month. The contest runs the first Monday-Friday (five days) of every other month. I send three prompts and a list of six random words to the writers at 9:45 a.m. on the first morning of the five-day contest. The contest officially starts at 10:00 a.m. The writers choose one prompt and use it along with all six random words in the story. Sometimes I use a picture as one of the prompts. The writers then have five days (until Friday at 10:00 p.m.) to write and submit their 700-1,000-word story based on the prompt. There is a $5 entry fee, which I use to pay for the cash and other prizes for the winners.

Right now, first place is $25, second place is $15, and third place is a mouse pad and note pad. All winning stories are published on the website and in the annual anthology. Honorable mention winners are mentioned on the website and published in the anthology. All winners get an e-copy of the anthology when it comes out. All winners also get a nice certificate. The idea is to grow the contest to the point, where I can offer bigger cash prizes. The judges all volunteer, but I do share the profits with them at the end of each contest year.

WOW: This is a great idea--writers will have a finished story in a week! It's kind of a like a shortened version of NaNoWriMo for short story writers. I love it! How does this contest help writers?

Janie: The thing I hear the most from the writers is the challenge of the contest. They like the prompts and the random words, plus the discipline of having to meet a word limit and a time limit. As with any writing contest, this is a great opportunity to hone skills, learn to work under deadline pressure, and explore new ideas through prompts.

WOW: It sounds great! But this is not the only contest you offer. The historical fiction contest is currently going on with a January 1 deadline. Tell us about this contest and how writers can enter.

Janie: This one is a bit different in that writers can enter any time after the genre of the contest is announced (usually two months before the deadline). They can submit their story with the entry fee ($10) or enter the contest to hold their place and submit the story before the deadline. The contest deadline is always the first day of every other month (opposite the Fiction in Five months). There is a different genre for each contest. The first one was Spiritual Fiction, and then we had Young Adult Fiction, then Crime Fiction, and now Historical Fiction for January.

WOW: Great, so basically, you are offering some type of contest each month, and it sounds like you appeal to a wide range of writers! What are the prizes like for the genre contests?

Janie: The genre contest is a bigger contest in terms of words (1500-2000) and prizes. First place wins $50, second place is $25, and third place is $15. There is also a limit to how many entries we will take in this contest. We feel that with only fifty slots available, the writers will have a better chance of winning. And as this contest grows, the prizes will also grow. Winners are also published in the anthology and on the website.

WOW: I know a lot of writers love the prize of money and publication! How can you beat that? For many writers, it is one of their first publications. For others, it's a chance for their shorter works to appear in print. I think all these opportunities you are giving writers is WONDERFUL!  So, you have an anthology published each year? What types of material are in it?

Janie: The anthology comes out every summer. All the winning stories from the previous contest year, plus author bios and photos, are published in the anthology. The anthology coming out next summer will be the third annual publication and the biggest one yet. Winners get a free e-copy of the anthology, plus a substantial discount if they want to purchase the hard copy. It is available on Lulu Press as well as at Amazon.

WOW: Great opportunities for writers--tell us about the cover art contest.

Janie: Several of the writers have mentioned either knowing artists or being artists themselves, so I thought it would be fun to have artists submit their original, writing-themed artwork for the cover design. The way this one will work is anyone interested can enter anytime between now and June 1, 2013. At that time, I will publish all the entries on the website and set them up for voting. People can come in and vote (once a day) for the cover art they like the most. The designs will be posted for one month and on July 1, I will announce the winner. There is a $5 entry fee and the winner will get 80 percent of the entry fees as the prize. The winning entry will be published on the cover of the Third Annual Center for Writing Excellence Fiction Anthology, along with a bio and photo of the artist.

WOW: How cool and what a great idea! Anything else you'd like to share about the Center for Writing Excellence?

Janie: Just that this is the most fun I have ever had. I have always been a writer as well as a teacher. I am able to combine my love for both in the Center. It has grown and evolved a lot in the past three years. I have met writers all over the world through the newsletter, contests, and blog. I have been able to share the lives of some of my writers through editing their books (one was just recently published) and reading their stories. While I don’t judge the stories in the contest, I do read them all. And I do owe WOW! a bit of credit for getting me started. I was one of the first teachers when you started offering writing classes. I had so much fun doing that it inspired me to start my own website. In fact, one of my students in that first class at WOW! is now a regular contributor to my newsletter!

WOW: Well, Janie, you are welcome. You are offering some wonderful opportunities for writers, and we can't wait to see how much the Center for Writing Excellence grows!

Now writers, what are you waiting for? Get your historical fiction short stories written and mark your calendar for the Fiction in Five February contest! Or sign up for the FREE newsletter, where you can also advertise your writing business or book for free! 

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4 Comments:

Blogger BECKY said...

Great information! Thanks!

3:19 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Thanks, Becky. I've known Janie for a while, but while interviewing her, I couldn't believe all the things that C4WE is doing for writers. I'm glad we did this. :)

10:34 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Wonderful interview, ladies! Awe, Janie, that is SO awesome that WOW played a part in inspiring C4WE! =o) I love all you're doing over there and that you offer prompt-based contests to motivate writers. That's cool about your student, too. I subscribe to your newsletter and it always provides great info, a nice variety of content, and interesting tidbits to pick out. I love your classified section too.

12:39 PM  
Blogger JanieWrites said...

Thanks Angela and Margo! The interview is great and I am so glad I a part of the WOW world!

1:06 PM  

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