Aiming For The Prairie Schooner Book Prize

This week I got a post card in the mail for the Prairie Schooner Book Prize Series that will be accepting contest submissions for a collection of short stories (150+ pages) and poetry (50+ pages) between January 15, 2010 and March 15, 2010. The entry fee is $25. The grand prize is $3,000 and publication through the University of Nebraska Press. I’m planning to enter my short story collection. This is a strong motivator to polish off all my short stories from the last four years that are languishing in the slush piles.

If you search the Internet for how to put together a short story collection, you won’t find much information. Most articles start off with the caveat that publishers won’t accept a short story collection unless you’re a well-established author, and even then somewhat reluctantly. Surprisingly, The Wall Street Journal reported that short story collections are breaking out this year and e-readers might make short stories a viable form again. I found this article and the arrival of postcard to be most encouraging for my own short story collection.

Since I had four short-short stories accepted for an anthology that I wrote after looking at the submission requirements two months ago, I started looking at the submission requirements of various anthologies and publications to match up with the short story ideas that I had previously thought up or recycling the ones that I started but never finished, letting the deadlines determine my writing priorities for the next three months.

My first non-fiction essay, “The Cabbage Patch Doll Fight,” about how my mother got a Cabbage Patch Kids doll for my baby niece by punching out two other mothers in a Toy “R” Us brawl in the early 1980’s, was accepted for publication in a special Christmas issue of Soft Whispers Magazine. I originally threw this story idea out on the Editor Unleashed forums since I didn’t think I had the time to write anything new when I got my hands full with revising my first novel and a short story with a submission due date at the end of the month. The editor wanted the story and I found the time to write. This became my fifth accepted story in the last two months and I have seven stories appearing in the next six months.

I’m going to be busy during the holidays. I’m wrapping up and putting aside my first novel after cutting 30,000 words from the 125,000-word rough draft and splitting the novel in two volumes. I got four short stories I’m writing to submit to different anthologies. I write on average eight short stories a year, but I’m on track to write 13 or 14 short stories this year. I’m revising my 20,000-word vampire novella for submission to an ebook publisher. The New Year will begin with me polishing off the 27+ short stories in my collection to submit to the Prairie Schooner contest by March 2010, and working on the next draft of volume one of my first novels.

Maybe I should find time to look for a job since I‘ve I been unemployed from non-writing work for the last nine months. Rejection slips and contributor copies don’t pay the bills, which is why I put a PayPal donation button my author website. If you got some spare change, please help out a busy writer get ahead financially. The grand prize from the contest is still a long ways off.

NOTE: This blog post was first published on Once Upon An Albatross… blog.