Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

The writers of Evanston Writers Workshop and the Lake Michigan Writers Collective would like to wish you a very happy and writerly new year! We have lots of things planned for 2011, including a new Editor-in-Chief and story festivals. We hope you'll stay tuned as we launch these events and, more importantly, as we call for submissions. Let's make 2011 the most productive year on record!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We want YOU!

...to attend our First Annual Writing Conference, of course! You asked for it, and we listened. We have a plethora of panels (and found our thesaurus to boot!), but today I want to highlight our Keynote Speaker: Ms. MaryJanice Davidson. You NEED to hear her speak!

Here's why:

She's more fun than a barrel of monkeys! A multiple best-selling author on both the prestigious (and coveted) New York Times AND USA Today Bestseller lists, she really knows the business of publishing from the inside. From the trenches, say! (And our conference theme IS: In the Trenches with the Writer!)

Prolific, funny, and down-to-earth, we have asked MaryJanice to talk to us about the publishing business, keeping the momentum going once you finish one or two novels and are trying to figure out "what next," and her in-general thoughts she would have loved to have someone like her share back when she was first starting out.

She has written a prodigious 66 books so far! Here's the list, from her website:
1. By Any Other Name (1998)
2. Adventures of the Teen Furies (1998)
3. Dying for Ice Cream (1999) (ebook)
4. Secrets 6 (2000) (Love’s Prisoner)
5. Reunions (Too Good To Be True) (2000) (under the name Janice Pohl)
6. Escape The Slush Pile (non-fiction self-help) ebook 2001
7. Thief of Hearts (2001)
8. Naughty or Nice (2001) (Santa Claws, a Wyndham Werewolf Story)
Was originally released as “Nicely Naughty” as an e-book that is no longer available
9. Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul (What I Learned in Spite of Myself)
10. Undead & Unwed (2002)
11. Canis Royal: Bridefight (2002)(e-book)
12. Love Lies (2002) (e-book)
13. Secrets 8 (2002) (Jared’s Wolf)
14. Lighthearted Lust (2003) (There’s No Such Thing as a Werewolf) (e-book)
15. Under Cover (2003)
16. Beggarman, Thief (2004)(e-book)
17. Cravings (2004) (Dead Girls Don’t Dance)
18. Forgotten Wishes (2004) (Love’s Tender Fury)(e-book)
19. Perfect for the Beach (2004) (My Thief)
20. How to Be a Wicked Woman (2004) (The Wicked Witch of the West Side)
21. Merry Christmas, Baby (2004) (Undercover Claus)
22. Men at Work (2004) (The Fixer-Upper)
23. Undead & Unemployed (2004)
24. The Royal Treatment (2004)
25. Bad Boys with Expensive Toys (2004) (The World is Too Darned Big)
26. Bewitched, Bothered, and BeVampyred (2005) (Night Mares)
27. Derik’s Bane (2005)
28. Hello, Gorgeous! (2005)
29. The Royal Pain (2005)
30. Undead & Unappreciated (2005)
31. Undead & Unreturnable (2005)
32. Betsy the Vampire Queen (2005) (first 4 Betsy books combined)
33. Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace (2005)
34. Romance at the Edge: In Other Worlds (2005) (Beggarman, Thief)
35. Charming the Snake (2005) (Savage Scavenge)
36. Kick Ass (2005) (the Incredible Misadventures of Boo & the Boy Blunder)
37. Bite (2005) (Biting in Plain Sight)
38. Really Unusual Bad Boys (2005) (Bridefight, Mating Season, & Groomfight)
39. Wicked Women Whodunit (2005) (Ten Little Idiots)
40. Sleeping with the Fishes (2006)
41. Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light (2006)
42. Undead & Unpopular (2006)
43. Drop Dead Gorgeous (2006)
44. Mysteria (2006) (Alone Wolf)
a. Fangs Again (2006) never got published
45. Surf’s Up (2006) (Paradise Bossed)
46. Valentine’s Day is Killing Me (2006) (Cuffs and Coffee Breaks)
47. Dead & Loving It (2006) (Santa Claws, Monster Love, There’s No Such Thing as a Werewolf, & A Fiend in Need)
48. Swimming Without a Net (2007)
49. The Silver Moon Elm (2007)
50. The Royal Mess (2007)
51. Undead & Uneasy (2007)
52. Doing It Right (2007)
53. Demon’s Delight (2007) (Witch Way)
54. No Rest for the Witches (2007) (Majicka)
55. Over the Moon (2007) (Driftwood)
56. Mysteria Lane (2007) (Disdaining Trouble)
57. Fish Out of Water (2008)
58. Undead & Unworthy (2008)
59. Dead Over Heels (2008) (Undead & Wed: A Honeymoon Story, Survivors, & Speed Dating, Werewolf Style Or, Ow, I Think You Broke The Bone
60. Betsy: Bride of the Vampire (Undead 5-7; Dead & Loving It) (2008)
61. Seraph of Sorrow (2009)
62. Undead & Unwelcome (2009)
63. Faeries Gone Wild (2009) (Tall, Dark and Not So Faery)
64. Undead & Unfinished – to be released July 6, 2010
65. Rise of the Poison Moon – to be released July 27, 2010
66. Me, Myself, and Why – to be released September 2010

For more information on MaryJanice, check out her awesome website.

And to meet MaryJanice in person, and hear all about her writing process, sign up for the conference! What are you waiting for? Space is limited. Come visit the conference website today! 10% discount for EWW members.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January's Stories Are Here!

It is with great excitement and honor that we present to you our entries for January’s challenge, “New Beginnings.”

As you read, please remember to leave a comment or two for the authors. For those who write on their own blog, feel free to comment there; for writers who post in the entirety here please feel free to leave a comment here. Be pleasant and constructive – remember, this is a labor of love. We all want to know our work is appreciated, so comment with that in mind.

If you have some ideas you’d like considered for upcoming prompts, please let us know in the comments as well! We look forward to hearing from you.

Now, for what we’ve all been waiting for – the stories! Read on!

Darla M. Sands: “The Flight of Rac’na”

Tom Brennan: “Prairie Wedding” and “Happy New Year”

Liza: “A New Family” (please see below for story)

Erkki Nyman: “News Beginning…” (please see below for story)


“A New Family”
by Liza

Germaine sat on the big front porch missing the sounds of the city. It was too quiet here for her blood. She missed their drafty old apartment. She missed her cat Raymond. Germaine even missed her annoying little brother, Jack.

She knew she was only there for the summer, while her parents were in China, but it still sucked bad. It wasn't fair that Jack got to stay at his best friend Stuart's brownstone overlooking Central Park, while she withered away in the land of farms and threatening ominous blue skies and wide open, unmarred landscape.

Her Aunt May wasn't horrible, she was polite and spoke in a soft way, not like the New Yorkers Germaine was used to, who sounded angry even when they weren't. Aunt May didn't get angry, not even when Germaine broke her bed because she was jumping on it too ferociously. It wasn't her fault she was jumping on the bed. There was nothing else to do here. There was one movie theatre in town, and it was three long miles down a dirt road and they had movies from three months ago, all of which sucked. Germaine wondered often if a person could actually die of boredom, and feared that she might.

The problem was that Germaine had New York in her, and it made her itchy for action, and not country, kick the can action. She craved real live throbbing pulsing New York City action. She was not a girl with a largely developed inner life. She never needed to delve too deeply into the world of imagination, her real life being so richly woven with dramatic moments. Her father was a chef at a four star Manhattan restaurant, and her mother worked in the Welfare office as a counselor. They would often marvel at how different their worlds were. Her father fed succulent morsels of expensive and artfully prepared food in tiny portions to the rich and famous, while her mother spent her days making sure that her clients got their food stamps and knew the locations of all the local food pantries. Germaine was an after school activity girl, due in part to her parent's work schedules. She took karate, ballet, and violin (which she had accidentally on purpose left in the trunk of the taxi on move in day), and she was on the school swim team. There was no local public pool, so her Aunt May promised that today they'd make the twenty minute drive to the next town over so she could swim. She was there only five days, and already Germaine's muscles felt soft and malleable.

She felt a pang of longing for her mother, and Wang's Chinese take out, which was the closest thing to homecooked meals when her father was at the restaurant. They'd gobble moo-shoo pork and cashew chicken, and talk about their day, she and Jack interupting each other and bickering. Her mom always put Jack to bed first, and then they watched old movies together in mom and dad's bed. Her mother even let her eat popcorn in bed, even though her dad would complain good naturedly about the popcorn kernels peppering his side of the bed, where Germaine snuggled and ate.

Here they ate fresh salads from the garden, and shelled peas. Germaine just about lost her mind when Aunt May handed her a big yellow bowl full of peas, and showed her how to coax them out of their green coccoons. She rolled her eyes, but wasn't comfortable enough with her Aunt to say, "No way!!". By the end, she didn't mind the task, and she actually fell into an odd sense of calm companionship with her Aunt, as they worked in silence.

She missed her father's off-key singing as he created his menu each week. He'd give her bits and pieces of new dishes he was trying out. As a result of his samplings, Germaine had an adventurous palette. She was proud of this fact about herself, and was known to brag about the more exotic things she had tasted, like snails, and sweetbreads, which tasted nothing like their name, and everything like what they were, cow's brains.

She missed her brother Jack's long and rambling stories that usually made her scream, "Will you get the the point already?"

Germaine found it funny that the life that surrounded us every day, that we hardly notice, was so full of things we'd miss if given the chance. That made her think about her mom and dad again. She couldn't figure it out. There were so many questions that hadn't been answered adequately in a way that she liked, and no one to ask now. Like, why did mom and dad have to adopt a baby in the first place? Wasn't one perfect daughter and one slightly defective son enough for them? Apparently not. She asked all these questions of them before they left her, but all they said was, "Blah blah blah, we'll have a new family, a new beginning, and wasn't that great?" Germaine thought their old family was perfect, and she told her parents so, but clearly it hadn't worked.

Oh, and why did they have to make China way at the other end of the world like that? She figured that with everything being made there, it should be closer, and then wondered if she was the only one who had those kinds of thoughts. She didn't have much time to ponder that revelation, because Aunt May was calling, "Time to go swimming Germaine." So she grabbed her swimsuit and a towel, slid into her flip-flops, and ran to the car. She was ready.



“News Beginning…”
A Short short by Erkki Nyman

with whatever is said to be said by the faux elite.

“Ah, shut yer trap,” Marty answered my question before I could ask it.

“Couldn’t we just this once start a conversation without insults and slams? I mean we’ve never done this before. Putting out a new newsletter for a new field is a double challenge, especially when you’re not a professional journalist. I need some guidance, I said, hovering between irritation and bewilderment.

Marty never did have a diplomatic style. I thought that was outrageous for a psychologist. Of course, he was a researcher, not a clinician. Now he seemed to be imagining himself the managing editor of a great publication.

“I knew what you were going to say,” he replied. You want a reasonable suggestion about what the experts are saying to begin your article. Well, there ain’t no experts. It’s a brand new field, and besides, behavioral economics is about all the irrational things people do in supposedly their most rational activity. So, you need to get used to irrationality. So I started you off with a little… you know, irrationality.”

“O K, I took the first item on your list to mean I should quote people who are publishing on B-E now. That stuff like how if you remind people of something valuable and then ask what they would pay for a new kind of soap, they would pay more than if they had first been reminded of something cheap, even when there was no connection between the products.”

“Yeah, that’s the idea… what I said. Give ‘em the news, starting with the dramatic stuff. Let them quote each other until they look like the fools they are.” He slammed down the cover on his cell, and I was on my own. I leaned back in my swivel chair, as far back as I could in this closet newly designated the “press room.” There was no window. There were two empty water cooler jugs on my right. The desk was just big enough to hold my lap-top, printer and space to spread out journals and notes.

“Hi doc, I got two new web sites of people in Behav-Ec,,” Emily’s ever-cheerful mien popped around the corner, followed by the gorgeous boobs she paraded like a pair of champion show dogs.

I felt my face burning like the hell fires pastor Lukens used to threaten in catechism class if we didn’t immediately pray away adolescent, unclean thoughts.

“For heavens sake, Emily, come in before you lose your balance peaking around the corner like that. And I’m not a doc, yet.” She laughed, sounding like a group of songbirds in spring. I was a third year graduate assistant, my thesis almost finished. Emily was a first-year grad who thought teaching assistants were, “so intellectual.” I was never sure whether “intellectual” was a term of subtle derision or worshipful esteem. I was also unsure whether she had a crush on me or whether I was projecting my secret desires on to her lusty approach to people in general.

She parked on the only clear corner of the desk—there was no side chair—and leaned down, her face close to mine, and said in a conspiratorial tone, “Isn’t this exciting? You being the department’s first journal editor.”

“Umm, Emily, it’s only a newsletter, not a journal.”

“I heard the dean said we are going to dominate the field in a couple of years. That’s how it begins, give it a little time.” She leaned closer. I felt my face heating up again. Almost whispering, she continued, “Professor Marty thinks you’re a natural… I just know it.”

“Emily, he thinks I’m a natural all right, a natural goof up.”

“No, no. I heard him telling prof Goldberg that the department is blazing a new trail, or field, whatever. He said the assistants are the most creative bunch… umm, I can’t remember the rest. I’m sure I heard your name, well almost sure.”

“What he wants from me, actually, if I understand him, is to debunk most of the studies that have been pouring out ever since Kahneman won the Nobel for applying psychology to economic behavior. That started a trend, a torrent actually. People have been publishing stuff… it’s mostly garbage. Look at this report I was just critiquing. Guy had twenty subjects and asked them a set of questions supposedly testing whether they would be influenced by background thoughts. Twelve of the twenty showed no sign of it at all, but the eight who did got scores high enough to bring the average above the middle. So he wrote it up as if the average applied to all twenty. What a con, but that’s typical in psychological research.”

“Oh, you’re so magnificent when you get indignant. Do you know that the top of your ears turn bright red, and your brows turn up and your eyes shine, like a wolf’s at night.”

My face was boiling again. I imagined it must be red as a steel smelting furnace. Inside, however, I was “tickled pink” as they say. “Emily please. I feel like you are buttering me up. You don’t have to, you know. You got a ninety seven on your essay all by yourself.”

“That was because of your help. Oh, you are so smart.” She leaned until our faces were almost touching. My heart was pounding. I knew something was expected by those quivering lips. In the back of my mind I elbowed Pastor Lukens out of the way. I didn’t know what to do next. In a flurry of desperation I blurted out, “Say, it’s almost quitting time. Would you like to go for dinner?” For the first time ever, I had gotten carried away and threw caution to the winds.

“I thought you’d never ask.”

As we headed down the street, Emily pushed her arm through mine and said, “Oh, I just love these new beginnings. Don’t you?”

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Congratulations!!

We have several terrific stories to share. Behind the scenes, we're formatting everything to post. Check back in the next day or so for a reading festival!!

Thank you to all the entrants for your hard work. If you wanted to submit something, but didn't have time, rest assured we will be announcing a new topic shortly. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Announcing the First Flash Fiction Festival!

(Which is really F4, but shh.)

How to play: write a story of up to a thousand words (1,000) to a theme we give you. Post your story on your blog or, if you don’t have one, email us and we’ll post it here. Each of the participants agree to visit each others’ blog and leave at least one comment. Positive and constructive comments are welcome, flames are not. (Meaning, if you hate it, just say “thank you for writing” and move on.)

Our first theme… drum roll please… NEW BEGINNINGS!

Deadline: Friday, 01/15/2010

Email your permalink (the link to the specific post on your blog, not just a general blog address) to us, or email the story in the body of your email: lakemichiganwriterscollective@gmail.com.

What kinds of stories are welcomed? Anything under a thousand words, poetry, fiction, narrative non-fiction, plays, etc. The only restriction is keep it PG-13 as this site has no age restriction. If your own blog does and you wish to write adult material, please email us in advance.

Please send us any questions you may have. We look forward to seeing your submission.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Flash Fiction Festival

In the spirit of the Flash Fiction Carnival and other such story roundtables, the Lake Michigan Writers Collective is pleased to introduce F3: Flash Fiction Festival.

Each period, we will announce a prompt. Writers will have a couple weeks to craft a story in response, no more than a thousand words, incorporating the prompt in some way.

Stories can either be submitted via a permalink to the writer's blog or, if the writer does not have one, then in full text format. Contributors are asked to visit each of the submittals and leave positive and constructive comments for the writer. Remember that writers work hard on their stories, so please make your comments substantive.

We will announce our first topic for the month of December. If you have a particular prompt you'd like to submit for consideration for this or upcoming F3 events, please email us at the following:

lakemichiganwriterscollective at gmail dot com (replace the at symbol and dot when emailing).

Happy writing!