Word Weaver 4th Place Winner Carrie Anne Alexis (NOT Honorable Mention)

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your humble host

A great story deserves a great follow up profile.

This week we’re putting a spotlight on all our contest winners.

Carrie Anne has been a friend of the blog for a long time, liking and commenting on posts, supporting contests –  and as such you can start to feel like you are not just blog friends with such a person, but real friends.

Carrie Anne entered our very first Word Weaver Writing Contest with Trip Of A Lifetime, and went home with an Honorable Mention. She followed that up with the bittersweet Sparkles In Time in our second contest, again taking Honorable Mention. Because she’s so talented, she was invited to join our scary anthology, The Box Under The Bed  and contributed the charming Hair Razor, and in our most recent Word Weaver she took home 4th Place with Worth It.

(She is so nice, when I screwed up the title of this post and said she was honorable mention winner again, she was almost too polite to point it out. But it’s fixed now!)

She has consistently produced quality stories and evoked great feeling, which is why, out of the many, MANY contestants that enter these contests, she continues to take home a prize each time.

DAN: It’s my honor to again sit down with Carrie Anne for a brief post-contest chat.

Carrie Anne Alexis: I’m honored to be back as one of the finalists.  Super excited to take 4th place this time around, after having received two Honorable Mentions.  Since I’ve done this before, I’ve answered some of the questions, and added a few from Dan’s interview question page.

  1. Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?

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author Carrie Anne Alexis

I had written this story back in 2015.  Using what I’ve learned from my past critiques, I added to it and edited it. I have learned so much.  There are things now I just know to do as I write, like no dialogue tags and I’m more aware of the length of my sentences.  When I write now, I always have Dan’s voice in my head saying, “show not tell.”  I’m still working on that one though, and know I have more to learn. But seeing my stories improve is very exciting.

  1. Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?

“I did have a writing goal, which I was able to achieve as a result of these contests.”

– Carrie Anne Alexis

I always wanted to have one of my stories published.  That happened after the last Word Weaver Contest, when Dan asked me to submit a story for the Scary Anthology, The Box Under the Bed.  He liked it, and on October 1st, when it was released, I became a published author!

  1. Did you know the piece you submitted was special?

I actually submitted two stories, because I couldn’t decide which one to choose from.  I was leaning more towards this one, so I’m glad I did submit both stories.  Most of the short stories I have written are romance, and I enjoy writing about relationships, which was the theme for this contest.  So, it was extra special for me to actually take 4th place, this time.  This is the genre I enjoy writing.

  1. What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

I not only have a love for words, and a passion for writing, but I also have a passion for bookkeeping, so in that regards, I’m a bit of a numbers person too.

When I was 30 years old, I was working for a large Insurance company when they decided to shut down our office.  Because of that, I was given the opportunity to go to college, which I had not done before, and that is where I found that I really enjoyed bookkeeping and I was good at it after taking an accounting class.  Which was ironic, because back in high school I barely passed my accounting class.

  1. Tell us about yourself. Who IS the real Carrie Ann? And not the typical boring bio stuff. The dirt. Like, when was the last time you did laundry?

I have four 4 kids – I never stop doing laundry.  As a mom, our kids are an extension of us and our proudest accomplishments, so we always want to mention them.  I have 22-year-old boy/girl twins, a 16-year-old son, and a 12-year-old son.  They have all been home schooled from the beginning, and my youngest two now attend a virtual school.  With that, I am no longer responsible for lesson plans, I act as their learning coach, and basically keep them on track.  So that has freed me up to do other things, like freelance bookkeeping, and writing.

I’m not the kind of person that has been writing all my life, it’s just something I thought would be fun to do, but didn’t actually do it. 

As an adult I became an avid reader, and with each book I read, the desire to write grew in me. 

– Carrie Anne Alexis

I did some writing here and there, but it wasn’t until I turned 40 that I decided to do something more and started my blog. That was when “Mommy blogs” were all the rage, and that was my focus, but it really didn’t go anywhere.  In 2015, I stepped out and began writing fictional short stories based on a one-word prompt, which were posted on my blog for anyone to read.  My blog following was small, but the few comments I received encouraged me to keep going. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop.  Since that time, I’ve written about 50 short stories.  So, in 2018 I will be turning 50…I think it’s time for that novel. 

I have come to realize that it’s never too late to find your passion.  Once you find it, and quiet the inner voices to stop you from pursuing it and go for it, anything can happen!

Links:

www.carrieannalexis.com

Facebook: @CarrieAnnAlexis2017

Twitter: @carrieannalexis

Gang, I know you’ll all join me in congratulating Carrie Anne for her amazing piece in this contest, and to wish her well in her future writing endeavors – which I hope we are reading soon!

Wanna get YOUR story critiqued by a bestselling author and have a shot at winning a real live writing contest with awesome prizes?? Check out the NEXT Word Weaver Writing Contest that starts in March 2018! 3000 word approximately per submission, NO limit on the number of times you can enter, and the winner will be published in an anthology we release in 2018.

Click HERE for full details and to enter NOW!

THEME: mystery/murder/ and or suspense – and you can get started right now. Early bird fee of $15 locks in your spot – click the CONTACT ME button to register early and save $$$ plus ALL entries will be critiqued BY ME. Early Bird discount ends soon!

What Do YOU Think?

I’m interested in getting your thoughts about stuff I see and hear, quotes I read, stuff that passes as knowledge – and starting an authorey conversation.

01 (11)

That’s a great way to go through your first draft, with that in mind. Honestly, whatever you feel inclined to skim, take out.

What are YOUR thoughts on this idea?

Word Weaver Profile of Third Place Winner Laura Holian

Merry Christmas!

Running this profile of Laura Holian today is my Christmas present to myself. She says so many nice things about me in this chat, it would seem self serving to run it any other time. Besides, some of you need stuff to do on Christmas. You can read this. (I’ll be reading it again!)

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your humble host

A great story deserves a great follow up profile.

This week we’re putting a spotlight on all our contest winners.

 

Born and raised in South Texas, Laura Holian had the unique privilege of growing up in an area rich with the convergence of two cultures.  Surrounded by a family of teachers, Laura developed a love of learning and a passion for reading.  But the greatest lesson she ever learned came from her mother who taught her the value of an education, “It’s something that no one can ever take from you.”

As a child, one of her fondest memories was when her aunt, who was a librarian, would come home with a tote full of books for her.  As a teenager, Laura would raid her sister’s closet for more books to read.  And in high school, she was fortunate enough to have an eccentric teacher, Sir Novo, who introduced the class to the joys and challenges of creative writing.  His enthusiasm for learning, writing and life was contagious.  His teachings encouraged her to stretch beyond the hum drum book reports and delve into the heart of a story.  Encouraged to excel in school, Laura graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University.  After graduation, she worked as a cost analyst for over ten years before resigning her position to stay home and raise her children.

Moving from Texas to Colorado and most recently Florida, Laura uses social media to connect with her friends sharing amusing posts of life with her family.  Their positive feedback inspired her to continue and even use writing as a catharsis for her personal life.  She hopes that through her writing journey, her children will be encouraged to venture out, try new things and keep reaching for those stars.

Laura is currently working on a memoir while pursuing her goal of becoming a published author.

“Come follow my writing journey on Facebook!” Laura Holian – Author

Here’s my chat with Laura Holian, 3rd place winner in our November Word Weaver Writing Contest for her story Sick Day

Enjoy!


DAN: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?

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author Laura Holian

Laura Holian: This story was written for the contest.  I saw the pieces of my story come together in my head.  I had never experienced that for a short story before.

 

Writing 3,000 words was unchartered territory for me.  Would I be too wordy?  Was my story too short?

About a week earlier, I had read the email regarding the writing contest, so I had the relationship theme running in the background of my thoughts.  Life continued and then a few days later I could see the conflict themes I learned about at one of the writer presentations I had attended.

“I knew how I wanted the story to begin and end, then I realized I inadvertently had what I needed to write the story.” 

– Laura Holian

The timing, the theme, the story idea, it all worked out in the most amazing way.

Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?

Once I came up with the idea, my writing journey was to sprint upstairs to my office and start writing as soon as I dropped my kids off to school.  I wrote for a few hours taking only essential breaks for about two days.  I wanted to get it written before I forgot anything.  In the following days, I would alternate between editing it and leaving it alone.  Then

“I mentally debated on whether to submit it or not. 

It would be my first time writing a short story and my first time submitting to a writing competition.”  

– Laura Holian

The idea was both exciting and nerve wracking.  In the end, I took a chance and submitted it.  I am so glad I did.

Where do you do your writing?

I do most of my writing in my office upstairs.  It has a window which lets in great light and is reasonably quiet.  I’d like to be able to write anywhere.  I did try to write once in the waiting area of my kid’s dance studio.  Sitting on a hard bench, elbow to elbow with other parents, surrounded by fussy, little, bored siblings mixed with the background music of dancers was quite a challenge, but after a while I got wrapped up in my story and I wrote despite the chaos around me.  Not sure I am ready to do that on a daily basis, but it’s nice to challenge oneself every now and again.

 

Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?

My current writing goal is to be a traditionally published author.  My main objective for writing is to elicit an emotion from readers.  I’d like to give them a story they will remember.  With my short story, Sick Day, I felt people could relate to it because it depicts the struggles busy spouses face.  I also thought it was relatable to parents because parents do not get Sick Days.  Parents are on call 24/7 and sometimes it’s overwhelming.

What helps you the most when it comes to writing?

Google and life.  In regards to the internet, it’s amazing how much the world wants to share its knowledge.  Thank you.  Our lives are remarkable and ideas are all around us.  We just need to keep something handy to write our ideas on when they decide to spontaneously occur.

What does writing success look like?

If you read a story and you go through your day and you continue to think about it, unbidden, that is successful writing.

“Writing that stays with you.

Like a glow after a fist kiss.”

– Laura Holian

Might sound cheesy, but it’s true.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I am working on a memoir.  Originally, I was trying to make sense of the chaos of my past, but the writing process has taught me that at the time it wasn’t chaos, it was life.

There are a lot of writing contest out there. What drew you to this one?

I attended a presentation by Dan Alatorre at the Florida Writers Conference. I could relate to his process and his recommendations.  It also helped that he presented with a great sense of humor.  I signed up to receive his emails and learned about the contest.  The theme of the writing competition was a large factor.  He made it easy because it wasn’t limited to anything too specific, in fact, it was the opposite, he gave great examples of how far we could stretch the theme.  In the end, I chose human relationships.  It worked well for my story.

Have you ever entered a writing contest before?

This was my first writing contest.  Submitting a story was quite intimidating.  I am a novice writer and opening myself up to let someone read my work was akin to exposing my soul.  But I think that is a good thing because it means I put real emotion into it and I hope readers can feel that.

Will we see you again in the next Word Weaver Writing Contest?

Hopefully, yes.

Did you know the piece you submitted was special?

Yes and no.  I had just attended several workshops at a writer’s conference and I could now identify a lot of the essential elements in this particular story.  It felt special to me, but I did not think it was special compared to what I imagined my competition would be.  It’s like when you sing in the shower and you think you sound great, but you might hesitate to sing in front of others.

What’s next for you?

Continue writing in a more disciplined manner.  I am learning a great deal and I want to continue to gather information and improve.

Turns out, that’s not all that’s next for Laura. She’s been invited to participate in our 2018 anthology!


Gang, join me in congratulating Laura for a terrific contribution to our contest!

Wanna get your story critiqued by a bestselling author and have a shot at winning a writing contest? Check out the NEXT Word Weaver Writing Contest that starts in March 2018! 3000 word approximately per submission, NO limit on the number of times you can enter, and the winner will be published in an anthology we release in 2018.

Click HERE for full details and to enter NOW!

THEME: mystery/murder/ and or suspense – and you can get started right now. Early bird fee of $15 locks in your spot – click the CONTACT ME button to register early and save $$$ plus ALL entries will be critiqued BY ME. Early Bird discount ends soon!

 

Merry Christmas… Eve. If you are alone, leave a comment and I will reply.

Some of our friends on the blog are already celebrating Christmas day, and some are well into their Christmas eve, but over here we’re just getting ready for dinner.

If you’re alone and lacking the holiday cheer, feel free to leave a comment. I will be checking in all night. Tomorrow too.

Merry Christmas!

My friends are never alone.

Word Weaver Profile of Third Place Winner Frank Parker

 

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your humble host

A great story deserves a great follow up profile.

This week we’re putting a spotlight on all our contest winners.

A former Engineer who spent most of his working life in England, Frank Parker moved to Ireland upon retirement in 2006. Since then he has attempted to fulfill a long held ambition to write.

Like most people, he began with a few self-indulgent memoir pieces, but quickly discovered an interest in the history of Ireland and began researching and writing about the people and events that shaped the island’s relationship with its neighbor, and with the places to which Irish people migrated.

He lives in the Irish Midlands with Freda, his wife since 1963. Having dabbled in politics during the 1980s, Frank still maintains a strong interest in current events in the UK and elsewhere. This is sometimes reflected in the posts on his website, https://franklparker.com, alongside articles featuring the background to his research and writing projects.

Frank’s story, The Fourth Option, tied for 3rd place in our November Word Weaver Writing Contest.

Pull up a chair as we chat for a moment with Frank Parker.

Enjoy!


  1. DAN: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?

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author Frank Parker

FRANK PARKER: As it happens 3 contests became open for submissions in November. I had 3 stories I thought would be worth entering after a bit of polishing. The question was, which was most suited to which contest? When I read that one of your judges liked stories with a dark ending it was a no brainer!

 

  1. Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?

I belong to a “flesh and blood” writing group where we often end the meeting with a prompt for the following week’s “homework”. A lot of my short stories begin that way. “The Fourth Option” did, although I seem to remember that “What am I going to do about you?” was my suggestion – I like the way it hints at a guilty secret.

Longer works, my novels, usually start from a real historical event. I research the place and the period, then try to imagine what it would have been like to have been one or two of the people caught up in it.

 

  1. Where do you do your writing?

I often write in bed accompanied by my morning “cuppa” (cup of tea for non-UK readers, and actually a mug!) before breakfast. Then it’s the kitchen table later in the day.

 

  1. Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?

It would be wonderful to leave behind a body of work that informs and entertains.

 

  1. What helps you the most when it comes to writing?

Reading! You cannot write unless you also read – and not just for research. You can learn so much about the craft simply from reading the work of the acknowledged masters/mistresses.

 

  1. What does writing success look like?

FP_&_PoMA body of published work that readers appreciate. Messages like the one I got the other day from someone who had read the digital version of “A Purgatory of Misery” and asked if it is available in print because she wants to use it as a text when she is home-educating her child.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

Having completed and published my non-fiction book about the famine that afflicted Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century, I am now attempting a historical novel based on the life of two men who were actively involved in the situation in one of the worst affected districts.

 

  1. There are a lot of writing contest out there. What drew you to this one?

“I’d entered the previous Word Weaver and was impressed by the quality of the critique I received.

Getting that, even though I didn’t win, made it well worth entering.”

– Frank Parker

 

  1. Have you ever entered a writing contest before?

A few. This is the first time I’ve been in the “winner’s Enclosure”. I expect to do so again when I have a story I deem good enough.

 

  1. Will we see you again in the next Word Weaver Writing Contest?

If you’ll have me. Some contests don’t let previous winners enter the next contest, in order, they say, to give new writers a better chance.

 

  1. Did you know the piece you submitted was special?

We all think our work is special. But I worked hard on polishing the original draft to make it even better.

 

  1. What’s next for you?

I need to finish that historical novel set in the Famine. Then I have several abandoned projects lurking on my hard drive that I need to re-visit. I also need to work harder at marketing my already published work. Success in this contest will help with that and I’m truly grateful for the encouragement and support I’ve received from you.


Thanks, Frank!

Gang, join me in congratulating Frank for a terrific contribution to our contest!

Think you could win a writing contest? Wanna get your story critiqued by a bestselling author? Check out the NEXT Word Weaver Writing Contest that starts in March 2018! 3000 word approximately per submission, NO limit on the number of times you can enter, and the winner will be published in an anthology we release in 2018.

Click HERE for full details and to enter NOW!

THEME: mystery/murder/ and or suspense – and you can get started right now. Early bird fee of $15 locks in your spot – click the CONTACT ME button to register early and save $$$ plus ALL entries will be critiqued BY ME. Early Bird discount ends soon!

 

Word Weaver Special Honorable Mention Winner Tekoa Manning

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your humble host

A great story deserves a great follow up profile.

This week we’re putting a spotlight on all our contest winners.

Tekoa Manning is a prolific writer with a passion for the brokenhearted and a desire to awaken readers to the Truth. Her non-fiction and fiction books address and answer controversial topics, while her blog, devotional and websites uplift and encourage.

Manning’s fictional works Polishing Jade and Walter the Homeless Man are inspirational faith-based books that touch on women’s issues, integrity, forgiveness, and redemption. Tekoa brings characters to life that soon feel more like family members.

Her non-fiction tackles topics that have divided believers for centuries, including heaven and hell, spirits, Satan, salvation and the feast days. Her popular three-part series Doctrines of Demons specifically unravels the traditions of man from the truths of God.

A graduate of Jefferson College, Manning began writing when a neurological illness left her disabled and eventually homeless. It was during this time, she devoured the Bible and gained a desire to share spiritual truths.

As a former prayer director and counselor, Manning remains a passionate minister to those in need and also hosts Obadiah’s Cave, where she uses her gift of dream interpretation to help others.

The mother of three amazing sons and the wife of a retired police chief, Manning and her husband reside in Kentucky.

Here’s my chat with Special Honorable Mention Winner Tekoa Manning for her story Paisley’s Plight.

Enjoy!


 

  1. DAN: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?

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author Tekoa Manning

Tekoa Manning: I wrote the story for the contest at the last minute. I normally just start writing and never know where my characters will end up. This works well for novel length but with a short story, it can leave me with loose ends.

 

  1. Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?

My writing process is probably not the best. I usually have several works going at once and many different types of genres. I forget the characters and their voice and have to reread much before plunging in to something I’ve laid down too long. I also am an active blogger so that takes up plenty of my time.

 

  1. Where do you do your writing?

I mostly write in bed. A habit I’m not happy about but when I became sick with several autoimmune disorders, it just became a habit.  My ultra-thin laptop usually rest atop my mid-section and I prop pillows up behind me. A nice cup of coffee on the end table and Facebook breaks in-between.

 

  1. Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?

I have several goals but at times my health has prevented it. I want to create a series out of my two published fiction works, Polishing Jade and Walter the Homeless Man. Using a gemstone name such as Jade’s. I hope to do something with Ruby and Emerald. I’ve started a sequel to Walter the Homeless Man entitled Elmer the Rich Man and hope to follow that up with Titus the Last Man. I’m also looking to add some children’s books to my works since I recently was blessed with a new grandson, my first.

 

  1. What helps you the most when it comes to writing?

I get creative ideas in spurts. I do my best writing after everyone’s asleep and the house is quiet.

 

  1. What does writing success look like?

Weighing my writing success for me is about the fans. When I receive cards or emails from those who were inspired or changed by one of my books, it’s encouraging. Many women who have suffered abuse have reached out to tell me Polishing Jade helped them heal or they made peace with their abuser. That’s always the golden ticket for me.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

Right now I am finishing up a biblical teaching book, Part #3 of a series entitled Doctrines of Demons. I’m also working on a YA novel for my great niece who has been begging me to place her in a book. I have a memoir that I’ve been musing over for a couple years. Each time I think it’s completed, I realize it isn’t.

 

  1. There are a lot of writing contest out there. What drew you to this one?

“I actually decided to start entering writing contest this year.

“I randomly typed in ‘writing contest’ on WordPress and out popped Dan Alatorre.”

– Tekoa Manning

I researched his books briefly and read a couple blogs. The contest perked my interest, so I thought what the heck? I added it to the other two and here I am.

I also plan on submitting some of my work to a few publishers.

 

  1. Have you ever entered a writing contest before?

The only writing contest I can remember entering was in my freshman year of college for women’s history month. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned I had won. I was a High School dropout and a late bloomer, who started college at the age of thirty.

 

  1. Will we see you again in our next Word Weaver Writing Contest?

I think it’s possible!

“This has been a pleasant experience, and I have enjoyed reading previous contest winners and runners-up.”

– Tekoa Manning

I’m also looking forward to reading some of Dan’s books.

 

  1. Did you know the piece you submitted was special?

I can’t say I thought my piece was special. I felt like the characters were interesting and the plot was good enough.

 

  1. What’s next for you?

What’s next? Hopefully a year of getting my name out there and some of my books into the hands of the right people. I’m feeling like a change is coming for me and my pen, and I like that.


Gang, join me in congratulating Tekoa for stepping out of her comfort zone and joining our contest, and for doing so well!

You can see what I enjoyed about her story – and I hope to see more writing from her soon!

Think you could win a writing contest? Wanna get your story critiqued by a bestselling author? Check out the NEXT Word Weaver Writing Contest that starts in March 2018! 3000 word approximately per submission, NO limit on the number of times you can enter, and the winner will be published in an anthology we release in 2018.

Click HERE for full details and to enter NOW!

THEME: mystery/murder/ and or suspense – and you can get started right now. Early bird fee of $15 locks in your spot – click the CONTACT ME button to register early and save $$$ plus ALL entries will be critiqued BY ME. Early Bird discount ends soon!