Writing Tip Tuesday: Handling S~x

I want my book to be appropriate for my potential readers, but my main character is having a problem with a person who is s~xually harassing her. It is driving me crazy trying to figure out how to hint that this problem is happening without it sounding either prudish or too loose with my language. I really like how you handled the swearing situation when it comes to writing and being LDS. PLEASE HELP.

Dealing with s~xual situations in an LDS market is like walking a tightrope. We all have different comfort zones. Personally, I can handle it if characters go into the bedroom and close the door, but I don't want to watch. As for s~xual violence—and I include harassment in that category—I need to know what's going on, but subtle is better.

One of the best ways I've seen this handled is in Josi Kilpack's book, Sheep's Clothing, about an Internet predator who kidnaps a teenage girl. Josi writes, "The first time he touched her..." That's all I needed to know.

Keep in mind that if you're writing the scene in real time with sensory details, it's going to draw the reader in, which will be offensive to some readers. If you have your character tell someone about the it, it allows for some distance between the reader and the event. This is one case where, in my opinion, telling is better than showing.

One thing I do when I'm going through a book that deals with possibly offensive material is to imagine my mother reading it. She's your average LDS Relief Society sister and the target audience for most of the novels I work with. If I think she'd be offended and put it down, I lighten it up.

My best advice is to write your scenes the way you feel it best serves your story. If it's too harsh, your publisher will let you know.

Readers, authors: How do you handle these types of situations? What advice to you have?


Query Critique: YA Teen Pregnancy

Dear Deseret Book, [it would be better if you addressed it to a specific person but if you don't know the person's name, go with Acquisitions Editor; this is a minor point.]

My 92,000-word novel, XXXX, is a message-driven Young Adult romance in the vein of Jack Weyland and Kay Lynn Mangum that depicts the emotional consequences of sexual assault on a teenage girl and those who love her. [good first paragraph; has all the vital info—length, genre, author styles to compare it to; and a short description of the plot. The only question I have is how much of a romance is it really going to be?]

From the moment she arrives in small-town Virginia, Emily Page is attracted to the introverted Joshua Cade. They fall in love and become the ideal high school sweethearts, but everything changes the night that Josh’s basketball team wins the state championship—Emily is brutalized that same night by Drew Fuller, who threatens to hurt Josh if she tells anyone what happened. [needs a paragraph break here] Traumatized, Emily tries to cover up the incident but her world comes crashing down when she realizes she is pregnant. Knowing that she won't be able to hide the pregnancy, Emily breaks Josh’s heart and leaves without telling him why. She moves to Northern Virginia to live with her brother and sister-in-law who are recent converts to the church [LDS Church]. There she is introduced to the only thing that can heal her heart —the gospel of Jesus Christ. Following her heart and overcoming her fears, she places her baby for adoption through LDS Family Services. The story concludes when Emily returns to her hometown to testify against Drew. In the courtroom, Emily finds herself unexpectedly face-to-face with Josh, the one person she has been trying to protect with her silence. [good description of content]

XXX portrays Emily’s adoption experience in an uplifting, healing manner. Many young girls keep babies born out of wedlock out of a desperate need to love and be loved. I feel confident that Emily’s example of choosing adoption will show them that having the faith to give their baby up to a good LDS home is sometimes the most loving decision. [Good first sentence; that's what I want to know about a story like this. However, it goes a little off point after that because most girls who have to make this decision weren't assaulted. Perhaps an acknowledgment of that along the lines of: Although most LDS young women who find themselves pregnant and unmarried are not victims of assault, I feel confident that Emily's example ...]

I would be proud to be a part of the Deseret Book tradition of offering thought-provoking, testimony affirming and heartfelt stories. I hope you agree that this is the right place for a story as important as Emily’s. Per Jamie Barrett’s instructions, I have included three chapters and a preface to each; [I don't know what this means. Why do each of your chapters need a preface?] the full manuscript is ready for review upon your request. I look forward to hearing your response. [Good; this tells me you understand the DB's mission and also that the book is finished. Also, I think it's always a good thing to identify the people whose names you drop, for example: Per your assistant, Jamie Barrett's instructions... or whatever.]

Full Mailing Address
E-mail [I'd get another email account with a more professional sounding address, like JaneDoe@yahoo.com]

Overall, a solid query. Not hugely gripping, but given the content of the book, I wouldn't expect it to be. It contains all the info I need to make a decision on whether or not to read more—and yes, I would read your chapters. If they were good and I was looking for a book that dealt with this topic, I'd ask for more. If I already had a recent release or one in the works on this topic, I'd pass.


Which Book Would You Pick as the 2009 Best Mystery/Suspense

Another Friday — another chance to state your opinion on which book YOU think should win a Whitney on April 24th

[Once again, yes, I am part of the Whitney Academy and will be casting my vote. And no, your opinion here, no matter how cleverly worded, will not sway my vote.]

The finalists for MYSTERY/SUSPENSE are :

In the comments section, state which book you think should win 2009 Best Mystery/Suspense and why.

Or, if you have another favorite that didn't make the list, you can go ahead and tell us about it too.

(And I'd love it if you'd repeat your comment over on the LDS Fiction post for that book.)


A Memoir is Non-Fiction

Is a memoir fiction, since it's written like a story? Or non-fiction, since it's based on true events? Do I have to write the whole thing before submitting? Or do I write some samples and an outline and query, like a non-fiction book?

A memoir is non-fiction. It's often shelved in its own section, or with autobiographies, but never with fiction.

However, submission requirements for memoirs are usually the same as for fiction—meaning, you send your query and/or cover letter, synopsis and/or outline, and the first three chapters or sample pages (in order, not random chapters), as requested by the publisher's guidelines.

Some publishers have separate guidelines for memoirs, but most don't.


First Three means FIRST THREE!

This may be a really stupid question, but when a publisher or agent asks for three chapters, do they mean the first three chapters? Or three random chapters? If my book has a prologue, is that considered the first chapter? Or do I send the prologue plus three chapters?

You send the first three chapters. Always. [Unless specifically instructed otherwise by the agent or publisher.]

If you have a prologue and it's absolutely critical to understanding what is happening in the first three chapters, then call it chapter 1 and send the next two chapters (renumbered as 2 and 3). Most of the time, however, you do not send the prologue.

This is only a stupid question if you ask me after you've sent in three random chapters.


Writing Tip Tuesday: It's "Piqued"!

Over and over I see this error:

His comment peeked/peaked/piquet my interest.

I see it a lot on blogs. I've also seen it recently in a couple of published books.

The correct spelling of this word is piqued, meaning, in this case, that his comment created an interest or curiosity in the listener's topic.

Pique can also be used to indicate irritation, resentment, frustration, but this usage is less common in America English.


Good Queries

I posted some query no-nos last week. One of the commenters commented in the comments:

Perhaps you could do a feature sometime on the things that stood out to you in a positive light, like good examples from actual queries. Thanks!

Unfortunately, I can't post good examples because part of what makes them good is their idea—and since I'm only the first reader of the queries, it would be a sticky situation if I said here that a particular query was really good, and then it got rejected at the next rung up the ladder.

But what I would be willing to do (and have always been willing to do) is query critiques. If a reader sends me their query, I'll post it with commentary on what makes it good and what doesn't quite work.

Also, read this: 10 Steps to a Good Query.

PLEASE NOTE #1: I will assume that ALL QUERIES sent to the LDS Publisher email addresses are intended for critique. I do not accept queries for publication through this site.

PLEASE NOTE #2: DO NOT send your query as an attachment. Post it straight into the body of your email.


Which Book Would You Pick as the 2009 Best Romance

The Whitney awards aren't being announced until April 24th, but I thought it might be fun to get your opinion on who the winners should be. We'll do this every Friday until they winners are announced.

[And yes, I am part of the Whitney Academy and will be casting my vote. And no, your opinion here, no matter how cleverly worded, will not sway my vote.]

So let's get started. The finalists for BEST ROMANCE are:

In the comments section, state which book you think should win 2009 Best Romance and why.

Or, if you have another favorite that didn't make the list, you can go ahead and tell us about it too.

(And I'd love it if you'd repeat your comment over on the LDS Fiction post for that book.)


A Funny Thing Happened While I Was Reading Queries

I've been assigned to go through a batch of queries at my day job. One of the companies I freelance for asked me to take a look at them. They are just swamped and they trust my judgment.

Thought you might like to see some of the no-no's I've encountered while doing this. While I've reworded them to hide identities, all of these "types" of mistakes showed up in more than one query. (Keep in mind, these were submitted to a mainstream LDS publisher with clear submission guidelines posted on their website.)

I queried you last year and you rejected me, but here's a great story I think you'll love.

Right. You've already pre-conditioned me not to like it by reminding me that I didn't like your previous stuff. Don't do that. Write your query as if you've never sent me anything before. Let it be a fresh start for both of us.

Please consider my xxx word YA paranormal fantasy about XX, the daughter of the bishop, Laurel class president—and a vampire.

No. First, while I might entertain a novel about a bishop's daughter/Laurel prez who SLAYS vampires, I'm not going to look at one that IS a vampire. And vampires in general? Yawn. You better have a really original take on that.

I served an LDS proselyting mission in Guatemala, then returned there for another two years work with a charitable organization establishing health care in poorer areas...[followed by a rather lengthy description of what he did there]

Okay. That's nice. But what does it have to do with your book? Your query is to sell your manuscript. I'll get to know you as a person after I accept it.

In lieu of the usual query (which I'm sure you get tired of reading), I'm sending you the first 500 words of my novel. After reading, could you give me some advice on whether I should craft this more as a YA adventure? Or as a more literary coming-of-age novel?

What?! No. I never tire of well-written queries. They are the highlight of my day. What I do get tired of are people who, for whatever reason, have decided to break the requested submission guidelines and who think that's a good thing. Never is. And no, YOU decide what your book is before you send in the query. If you need help, find a critique group or take a writing class.

Now I'm off to go through a few more Book of Mormon stories with a fine-toothed comb.


Great! But how do you get in on those signings?

That's what Brenda commented about this post.

First, talk to your publisher. Sometimes they will set these up for you. I understand Valor did an amazing launch with five of their authors last night. Or, if they don't usually do this, they might be willing to give it a try, especially if you do a lot of the legwork for them.

If your publisher is not at all interested, then this is when NETWORKING really earns back all the time and energy you've put into it. Hopefully you're part of some writing associations (if you're not, join some). Many of these associations sponsor a yearly conference and have author signings during the event. See if you can get in on that. Then, while there, get to know the other authors. Find who you really click with and those who have books that will complement but not compete with your book.

Talk to all your author friends and get a group of 3 to 5 authors committed to doing a group signing. It helps if one of the authors is established and has a name that pulls people in.

Designate the author with the best verbal/social/business skills to contact bookstores and set up signings. Pick a theme—these signings work best if you can turn them into a party. Have posters and bag stuffers made for the store. Do door prizes, maybe even cookies. (I always bring special treats and small gifts for the bookstore staff.) Brainstorm and come up with some fun ideas.

Then get the word out: blog, facebook and tweet yourself silly.

When it's over, be sure to THANK the bookstore. Then build on your success. If your group of authors can pull in 100 people and sell books to all of them (or most of them) then the bookstore is going to think you're the best thing since sliced bread and they'll love working with you in the future.


Little Fish?

It is so hard to get back into the swing of regular posts after the story contest. Especially since I'm eyebrow deep in reviewing and commenting on those stories, and reading Whitneys, and a few other things I've volunteered to help out with.

So today, I'm going for an easy question:

1What do you think of those giant book signings at Barnes & Noble and Borders, etc. where there are as many as 30 authors there at one time? 2Is that a good thing for a debut author? 3Wouldn't my book be overshadowed by all the competition?

1. Love them!

2. Yes.

3. Maybe. But in reality, no matter how many authors are at your signing, your book is still competing against EVERY BOOK IN THE STORE. On the plus side, at these big events you're going to get a lot more traffic at your table than you could generate by yourself. More traffic = greater potential to sell books. Yes, you may be a little fish but swimming in a bigger pond means you're getting exposure. So dress nice, put on a smile, and go for it! (What have you got to lose? It's not like those bigger fish will eat you!)


Writing Prompt Friday: Info Dumps

Info-dump: Large chunk of indigestible expository matter intended to explain the background situation. Info-dumps can be covert, as in fake newspaper or "Encyclopedia Galactica" articles, or overt, in which all action stops as the author assumes center stage and lectures. Info-dumps are also known as "expository lumps." The use of brief, deft, inoffensive info-dumps is known as "kuttnering," after Henry Kuttner. When information is worked unobtrusively into the story's basic structure, this is known as "heinleining."

from Bruce Sterling, "The Turkey City Lexicon", Paragons iteration.

Perfect examples of info dumps done wrong can be found on CSI shows—where one character explains the scientific details of an experiment to another character who should already know that information.

Sometimes you have vital information that you need to weave into a story. The temptation is to just tell the reader the details and get if over with. This can lead to long passages that stall out your story. Too many of these, especially in the beginning, will stop the reader completely and they'll never get around to finishing the book.

The trick is to determine which details are vital and which are fluff, and to weave those details into your story in a way that moves the plot and action along.

Here is a good example of how to do that.

Another good discussion of how to avoid info dumps is found HERE. I recommend you read the entire article because she has some good ideas on avoiding the info dump. However, I'm reposting an excerpt as your writing prompt/excercise for today:

Too much background? Do the Q&A test.

A test to find out if you've put too much data in the story is to read it yourself and, paragraph by paragraph, underline any background information and write in the margin what question it's intended to answer.

After doing this, look through the questions. Are some listed more than once? If your protagonist keeps flashing back on degrading episodes he's suffered because he's illegitimate, perhaps most of those flashbacks can be taken out -- your reader is screaming, "I got it, already!"

Also, are all of the questions important to the story? The history of the Fifth Dynasty may be a fascinating tale in itself, but perhaps all the reader needs here is to see a portrait of Emperor Archibald IV hanging over the current emperor's throne, a daunting presence overlooking an insecure ruler. (Question: Why is the protagonist's father unwilling to admit he made a mistake?)

from Finessing the Infodump by Paula Fleming


Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research

I mentioned the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research back in January and I know it's been there, tickling at the back of your mind ever since. (Don't try to deny it. I know it's true!)

So for those of you who have been waiting for more details on how to donate: CLICK HERE to go to the revised and updated original post.

Thank you so much to those who've already donated. If you've sent me the information and your item is not yet listed, don't panic. It takes the auction staff a couple of weeks to get everything up there.

Also, if you're listed with no images, don't worry. They're working on it.

So everyone, go take a peek at what's already posted in the LDS Publisher category.

LDS Board Books

How well have children's board books performed in the LDS market? Is this an area for which publishers would like to see more submissions?

I don't have any figures on this but yes, I think there is a market for it and I think the larger publishers will consider board books.

If they're not selling well and/or LDS publishers aren't looking at them, in my opinion it's because:
  • Board books are expensive to make due to their construction, the board, full color images and the gloss on the pages to protect them.

  • Limited audience = small print run = less mark-up = higher risk.

  • Some of the board books I've seen look like they've cut corners with the illustrations. They just aren't attractive. Ugly pictures = low sales.
That said, as a consumer, I would LOVE to see more LDS specific board books (with CUTE pictures) that I could use during Sacrament meeting to keep the kidlings quiet.

Go to your local LDS bookstore or look at their websites and see who's doing board books right now. Then send them a query.


Writing Tip Tuesday: It is NOT "all of THE sudden"!

In the past month, I've read two books that use the phrase "all of the sudden" as opposed to the correct version, "all of a sudden". In one book, the girl is young and a bit backward so I suppose I could give the author the benefit of the doubt and say she was speaking in the girls voice, so it was legit to use the incorrect variation which is sadly gaining way too much popularity. But in the other book it was narrative, not dialog.

What the heck? Both times it yanked me right out of the story!

I was all poised to write a scathing commentary on this but decided to Google it first and make sure I was still in the majority position. (Not that it matters, because I am still right and they are still wrong—but I wanted to impress you with the strength of my rightness.)

First link, I found this perfect article saying exactly what I wanted to say. So here it is:

It Is Not "All of the Sudden"!

by Tina Blue
at http://grammartips.homestead.com/sudden.html
March 30, 2002

Put simply, the idiom is "all of a sudden," not "all of the sudden." That may be all you need from me on this matter, so if it is, feel free to click on out of here.

Most of you probably don't make this error, but I know you have seen it and heard it. What surprises me is not only how often I encounter this butchered idiom, but where I encounter it. I have read it in papers by graduate students in English, and I have heard it from the mouths of pretentious and pedantic newscasters and talking-head pundits on television.

It is difficult for young people to learn the proper forms when so much of the language they hear comes from the mass media, and the mass media so regularly offer up the wrong forms.

Even those young people who read are likely to do much of their reading in mass circulation newspapers and magazines. Unfortunately, those who write for such publications are often not well-versed in matters of grammar and usage, and even those who edit their writings--if indeed much editing is done at all, which I am beginning to doubt--may not be quite as knowledgeable in those areas as we might wish.

"All of a sudden" is an idiom. There is no logical or grammatical reason why we say "all of a sudden" rather than "all of the sudden." It's just that, until recently at least, no native speaker of English would say "all of the sudden," just as no native speaker of English would say "She was hit with a car."

True, idioms are shaped by widespread usage, so that if enough people over a long enough period of time say "all of the sudden," eventually that will become the preferred idiom, and someone many years hence will write an article deploring the fact that some benighted speakers and writers don't know any better than to say "all of a sudden."

But that day has not yet arrived, and until it does, the proper phrasing remains "all of a sudden," and those who use "all of the sudden" will be marking themselves as imperfectly educated, or at the very least as careless in their use of language.

Here are other people who adamantly agree with me and Tina:
  1. WSU (See their whole list of common errors HERE)

  2. Grammarphobia

  3. The Grammar Logs (scroll down about mid page)

  4. and lastly, Urban Dictionary (where I get all my most valuable grammar information)

Update: Thanks to Th. for THIS LINK. My idiom can beat up your idiom any day! (You have to click the blue "Make a Fight" button for the really fun part.


Using Copyrighted Church Materials

Where do I go or who do I see if I have an idea about an LDS book? Well its a combination of a book and LDS primary songs.

Thanks in advance for your help.

First, because it uses Primary songs—and those are copyrighted—you'll need to apply for permission to use them. CLICK HERE for Copyright Guidelines and contact information.

My understanding is that they are pretty tight about permission to create songbooks. If you're quoting songs as part of a novel, that's a little different.

And for those who want to quote General Authorities, start with the Intellectual Property Office, same as with songs.


Better Than an Oscar!

So I, in my alter-identity, was catching up on a back-log in my Google Reader when I came across this:

Finding GOOD LDS Fiction...Enter, LDS Publisher

And, no. I didn't have to pay her for that. I didn't even know she was going to post about me.

(Thanks, Josi. You and all of your commenters are my new BFFs.)


Writing Prompt Friday: Showing

The two main weaknesses in the stories submitted for the Book of Mormon contest were too much telling and info dumps.

This week let's focus on showing vs telling. (Next Friday, we'll deal with info dumps.)
  1. Go read this short tutorial on Showing vs Telling.

  2. Rewrite the four sentences at the end of the tutorial and post one of them in the comments section.

  3. Find a paragraph in your current WIP. Rewrite it using what you've learned.

If you need more practice, continue to go through your WIP to find telling sentences and add specific sensory detail.

One note: Not every single sentence in your story or book has to be jam-packed with sensory detail. That would be hard to read and extremely annoying. However, as a general rule, the more you show, the better.


New Feature: Recommended Reads

Announcing, LDS Publisher's Recommended Reads!

(See sidebar, second item from top.)

dit...dot...dit...We interrupt this announcement with an important message...

After much consideration, I've decided to discontinue the LDS Fiction Review site.

I had the best of intentions when I started the review site but... I just don't have time to review books and apparently my volunteer reviewers don't either. It probably has something to do with the fact that I expect them to work for free—and I am a harsh and demanding task-master.

For those of you still anxiously awaiting a promised review, I have made arrangements for other reviewers at other sites to do those reviews—by the end of this month. (They've promised.)

I will notify you when the reviews are posted and add review post links to the LDS Fiction post for your book.

(Authors not waiting for my review may send me a link to ONE review and I will add that to your post.)

And now back to our announcement...dit...dot...dit...

Missing the LDS Fiction Reviews?

Never fear.

LDS Publisher's Recommended Reads was developed just for you!

Every week, I'll post images of books that IMNSHO are guaranteed to please.

Click HERE for more details.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Yes, you can still put ads in the sidebar, but they need to be 125 x 125.


March 2010 Prize Sponsors

Last month's prize winners announced HERE.

Please take a moment to learn more about our wonderfully generous sponsors.

Servant of a Dark God by John Brown

Young Talen lives in a world where the days of a person’s life can be harvested, bought, and stolen. Only the great Divines, who rule every land, and the human soul-eaters, dark ones who steal from man and beast and become twisted by their polluted draws, know the secrets of this power. This land’s Divine has gone missing and soul-eaters are found among Talen’s people.

The Clans muster a massive hunt, and Talen finds himself a target. Thinking his struggle is against both soul-eaters and their hunters, Talen actually has far larger problems. A being of awesome power has arisen, one whose diet consists of the days of man. Her Mothers once ranched human subjects like cattle. She has emerged to take back what is rightfully hers. Trapped in a web of lies and ancient secrets, Talen must struggle to identify his true enemy before the Mother finds the one whom she will transform into the lord of the human harvest.

John Brown is a novelist and prize-winning short story writer. This first book in his epic fantasy series was published October 2009 by Tor Books. It’s set in a world where beings of immense power ranch humans for their souls and is called Servant of a Dark God. Other forthcoming novels in the series include Curse of a Dark God, and Dark God’s Glory. He currently lives with his wife and four daughters in the hinterlands of Utah where one encounters much fresh air, many good-hearted ranchers, and an occasional wolf. Brown’s agent is Caitlin Blasdell of Liza Dawson Associates.

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

Finding your one true love can be a Grimm experience!

After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.

Janette Rallison is old. Don't ask how old, because it isn't polite. Let's just say she's older than she'd like to be and leave it at that.

Janette lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five children and enough cats to classify her as "an eccentric cat lady." She did not do this on purpose. (The cats, that is; she had the children on purpose.) Every single one of the felines showed up on its own and refuses to leave. Not even the family's fearless little Westie dog can drive them off.

Since Janette has five children and deadlines to write books, she doesn't have much time left over for hobbies. But since this is the internet and you can't actually check up to see if anything on this site is true, let's just say she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, horse back riding and long talks with Orlando Bloom. (Well, I never said he answers back.)

CLICK HERE for details on how to win these books.

CLICK HERE for details on sponsoring the contest.


AML Award Winners Announced

The Association for Mormon Letters (AML) just posted their awards for 2009.

Their fiction winners are:

Todd Robert Petersen for Rift

Novel Honorable Mention
Jamie Ford for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Young Adult Literature
Carol Lynch Williams for The Chosen One

Click HERE for the full list.

FYI: The AML takes a more literary approach, while the Whitney awards (the winners will be announced in April) are more consumer driven.


2010 Book of Mormon Story Contest Winners

Are you ready for the winners?

Readers' Choice Published Author Category:
Song of Saphir by David J. West

Publisher's Choice Published Author Category:
Once a Gadianton... by Brenda Anderson

Readers' Choice Unpublished Author Category:
The Bright Sword Covenant by Krista Lynne Jensen

Publisher's Choice Unpublished Author Category:
Like Rachel by Susan Auten

Over the next few weeks, I'll do in-depth critiques on every story and send them to the authors. I'll also post shorter critique and commentary on the story posts. Be patient. These are long stories and it will take me some time to get through all of them.

As for the book. . .I need to finish the critiques first to see if we have enough stories to make a book. My guess is we probably will, but some of the stories will need a bit of re-writing first. I'll post the list of stories that made the cut when I have it ready.

Thanks to everyone who submitted stories—and to all those who took the time to read, comment and vote for them.

Now, for the poll in the sidebar (scroll down to see it)—what other types of story contests do you want to do? Go vote.

We'll definitely do another Christmas contest in a few months, so get started on a story. Word length: 2,000—3,000.

P.S. If you're an author of a story and you want to take credit for it, you can either post your ID in the comments or send me an email and I'll put your byline at the top of your story and link it to your blog/website.

I will not post your identity unless you tell me to do so or you divulge it in a comment.