The 2016 Write Well Award is underway with a deadline of March 31 for magazines to submit their entries for this year's award. Winners will be announced around the beginning of August.

To date we have 41 entries, and this year we asked the editors of several of the magazines who had winning entries later year if they would like to be guest judges this year. Four of them agreed to participate in the judging.

Welcome to our February newsletter. The doldrums of winter are almost behind us and the seasons of new life and new adventures await, and I sincerely hope Silver Pen Writers is part of your plans.

To learn how we're doing at the Silver Pen Writers site, we have a very short survey we'd love for all of our members to take, whether you have been active at the site or not. Please click on the link below and answer the questions to add your voice and opinions as we develop an even more useful website. All survey results are anonymous.

Click here for link to Silver Pen Writers site survery

We also have two great articles by well-published authors that we hope you find useful, and an announcement of the upcoming QuickSilver Flash Contest. So keep on reading for all the details.

To assist you in accomplishing your SMART creative writing goals, in particular, your publication efforts, remember to follow the submission guidelines to the letter because not adhering to them is the number one reason for rejection. (SMART is mnemonic for setting goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Realistic, Time-limited.)

With the hundreds (and likely over a thousand) literary and genre magazines available, both print and online, it’s simply a matter of matching up your work with the publisher. But finding the right market(s) requires some effort. If you choose a “scatter gun” approach where submissions are blindly sent to multiple markets, then expect very poor results. However, if you use a targeted approach, then you can maximize the chances of getting an acceptance.

Here is a general outline to help you find markets to which you might subsequently submit work:

The best reviewers and critics may allow time for a story to bite. Novels are like marlin: big, feisty, formidably entertaining, and bring considerable monetary gain if you land one. It is only proper, then, that a proportionate amount of patience and effort is expended upon this potentially profitable catch by those who undertake the challenge.

Short stories however, are like trout: small, snappy, and seldom more than a snack. Anyone willing to stand all day waiting for a particular one to bite is a martyr with nothing better to do, and would be well to move upstream.

Obversely, where the reader is the fish, there is never a good reason for keeping them waiting while flies are tied and worms impaled. All the best novelists hook the reader as quickly as possible. Once they are captured, they may be played; filling in on the history of characters, providing some background for the plot, or letting them run through descriptive passages; reinforcing control with captivating action sequences when interest wanes. This is the nature of a great novel: it entertains, builds up suspense and does not reach the climax too soon. I'll avoid the obvious analogy here.

Punctuation can often be tricky, particularly when used in a sentence with a tagline. Taglines are part of the sentence, so don't use a period to separate it. Use a comma to connect it. Take a look at the following examples:

"Linda, I'm not talking to Tim." I said. WRONG

"Linda." I said. "I'm not talking to Tim. WRONG

"Linda, I'm not talking to Tim," I said. RIGHT

"Linda," I said, "I'm not talking to Tim." RIGHT

The first two examples are wrong because they're broken into fragments.

"Linda, I'm not talking to Tim."/ I said.

"Linda."/ I said./ "I'm not talking to Tim."

Starting March 1, Silver Pen members are invited to submit original flash fiction stories for the first writing contest of 2016. This time, stories will be posted by the administrator - with no bylines - in a special forum reserved for this purpose. Members may view and comment on the stories, and contestants will be allowed one revision after reviewing members’ comments, if they so desire. The submission deadline is March 15, 11:59 PM, MDT.

Voting will take place after the contest is officially closed. The finalists will be selected as follows: the entire popular vote will constitute 25% of the total, and each of the three judges’ votes will count for 25%. Judges will be announced shortly.

What’s a contest without prizes? The winner will receive a badge for their profiles and 20 points will be added to their Silver Pen Writers accounts. In addition, CJ Alexander, managing editor of the Whitesboro Writers Group, will publish the winning stories on their Plotters Ink Fiction Writing blog. This online publication attracts international readership as well as contributors, some of whose names you will recognize. Additional prizes are under consideration and may be added to sweeten the pot.

Interested? Here are the contest rules.

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