Announcing The 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest


The annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest, which seeks great new voices in popular fiction, will open to submissions on Sunday, February 16, 2014.

Amazon Publishing is pleased to announce that one Grand Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with an advance of $50,000. In addition, four First Prize winners will each receive a publishing contract from Amazon Publishing with an advance of $15,000.

The ABNA contest is open to unpublished and self-published novels. Authors can submit their work in one of the following categories: general fiction; mystery/thriller; romance; science fiction/fantasy/horror; and young adult fiction. For complete eligibility details, review the Official Contest Rules. Visit the prizes page for the full list of prizes and details.

CreateSpace will host the submission platform for the contest. Visit CreateSpace to learn more about ABNA and create a free account (if you haven’t already) for entry in the contest. You can also find key contest dates and connect in the ABNA community with other authors.

Prepare your entry today! The 2014 ABNA Contest submission period begins Sunday, February 16th.

Kind regards,
The CreateSpace Team

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Member Accomplishment, December 2013

Member Krystal Marusin launched a blog! It is entitled Krystal Marusin: HisStory Transforms Lives.  Go check it out!

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We’re Revving Up for January 14th!

Oh my cow! It’s been a long hiatus, but the new Words for the Journey starts on January 14th, 2014 (a night meeting).

Our new format consists of two W.I.S.E Coffees a month, an evening coffee and a morning coffee. Webinars will be scheduled throughout the year. The exact schedule of the coffees is found here, on our Event Page.

The W.I.S.E Coffee meetings are at local Starbucks coffee houses. The night coffee is meeting at the Starbucks on Yosemite and Maximus (see address here.) The day coffee is meeting at the Starbucks inside the Barnes and Noble on Yosemite and County Line (see exact address here.)

Webinars will be presented throughout the year, but the final schedule for those is not finalized.

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The Webinars

At this point in time, I plan to only do 4 webinars in 2014. Although the coffees are free, the Webinars will cost anywhere from 10-15 dollars. I haven’t decided.

I also intend to occasionally throw in a bonus free Appetizer Webinar.

Right now, I am still researching companies that host distance learning (webinars). Chris is partial to, which is attractive because they have a free option which allows for as many as 200 to log on.

Once I’ve picked the company we’ll be using and understand the procedure, I’ll teach y’all the steps. I know that there’s a mix of those who’ve attended webinars and those, like me, who are clueless, but I promise I’ll try to make it as easy as possible for you.

In 2015, I’m hoping to have a webinar every other month. My biggest criteria in choosing how often we do the webinars is how much time and energy it is to promote them.

Things That Will Stay…

So, we will still have brick-and-mortar events. This coming year, I still intend for us to go to the Broadmoor, have a holiday party, the Blog Recital will remain, and in May, I still want Tim Shoemaker to come speak to us and have lunch with us.

Things that Will Leave…

Dues… paying for the webinars will replace dues

Meeting at Southeast or ORCC unless there is a special occasion

The Fall Kickoff Event

Devotions at each meeting unless it is a special occasion. There will still be a devo in the newsletter, however, which from time to time will be read at our coffees.

Weekly meetings

Meetup–so sorry to our new Meetup members, but sometime in December I am cancelling our account. Only a few Meetup members are regular attendees, and the $144 it costs us yearly is not justified. I will email all of our Meetup members, inform them of the change, and sign as many up as I can to the newsletter.

Things That Will Change…

The Newsletter/Devo will be once monthly. The Newletter (the one that just looks like a letter) will be 1-2 times a month, depending on the month.

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W.I.S.E. Coffees

I will hold the coffees on the  last Tuesday of the month.

One thing I didn’t want was for the Coffees to be about chatting—I wanted them to be writing focused and have a real purpose that justified the effort to come.

So, I and my partner in crime, Mark, sat at breakfast and devised an acronym that embodied my philosophy for the Coffees.

W—stands for Wisdom. The concept is that we teach each other. So, at each meeting some of us will bring something educational to share with the group…craft books, articles on writing or promoting, or something we learned from personal experience. You won’t have to plan–just talk with your friends informally about what you’ve learned.

I—stands for Inspiration. These coffees will be Christ centered. We’ll begin with prayer, and during the meeting we’ll share spiritual insight to stay on track for God’s Calling. Occassionally, I will read the devo from the newsletter.

SSocializing. We all need friends who will have fun with us, so I intend to laugh at these coffees and I hope y’all laugh with me. Keeping our community is important. We are not alone.

E—All of us get discouraged in our Calling, so we all need to be there to encourage each other. Even the most experienced writers need Encouragement at one time or another.

.The W.I.S.E. Coffees will be on the LAST TUESDAY OF THE MONTH from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., which is our normal time of day for a day meeting.

I plan for us to meet at a Starbucks around Park Meadows Mall (see our About Page for locations, addresses, and maps).

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On November 12th, I made a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT to the group about WFTJ’s restructuring. This is the intro:

I am sure you’ve all been wondering what the big secret is that I’ve waited to tell you. This is a secret even I didn’t know until mid-October and I made the decision very fast.

The biggest thing I want you to know is that WFTJ isn’t ending, but it is being RESTRUCTURED.

There are three main reasons I am making changes to the way WFTJ is structured—

  • One is that, over the last year, attendance has declined significantly—I know that the last 2 weeks we’ve had well-attended meetings and a powerful Sack Lunch Tuesday, but overall throughout the year, attendance to lessons and sack lunches has declined.
  • Secondly, related to the first reason, many have given me feedback about why they’re not attending and it seems the “the drive” is a factor for many. The two new elements that I’m adding to Words will help many of you concerning the drive.
  • And lastly, I am personally running out of energy keeping the weekly schedule in play.

One of the dilemmas of a leader is deciding whether it takes more energy to do a task yourself or to delegate, because, even if you delegate a task, you have to support that person in what you’ve asked them to do. And, if they haven’t done the task before, you have to mentor them.

There are other energy issues with the weekly schedule. Another example is the fact that when you have scheduled lessons and events, you have to promote them. And with weekly lessons, that means you are constantly promoting upcoming lessons and events. When a lesson is coming up, I usually invent a title, even if it’s a guest speaker, and write up the lesson description, but first I have to get the speaker to give me the gist of the lesson and their bio—which can take a lot of asking and reminding.

When you realize that I have that kind of energy expenditure with LOTS of things concerning WFTJ, it all adds up quickly.

With the new format, I will still be promoting, but about half as much as I am now—which gives me time and energy to write.

So, when I talked to Chris in October, I told her that I had a plan to increase attendance, it was all written out, but after looking at it, I realized that I didn’t have the energy to implement all the things I would have to do to promote WFTJ in its present format. AND, I was very much realizing that the last 2 years I’ve had almost no time or energy to write.

So while we were talking, Chris told me that what she would miss if WFTJ ended is the experience of community. And I said that I felt the same way, that WFTJ is my main source of friendships and community.

So I suggested that maybe we could retain the community portion of the program by having one or two coffees a month at Starbucks that were writing focused.

Chris mentioned to me that she had a dream about conducting a webinar. I asked her how one would go about doing that, and she shared that there’s a website called “anymeeting” and the service is free. I always thought that webinar companies charged, so I was intrigued. And on the way home, my mind put the webinar idea together with the coffees, and BOOM, I had the whole concept.

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Word Count: It Matters!

On August 27, 2013, Words for the Journey had a Fall Kickoff Event and we had a blast! Assistant Director Chris Richards led us in a game that was both informative and fun. One of the things we learned was that word count matters!

For those of you who are planning to write a novel, short story, or worse :0, it’s nice to know the word count of what you plan to do.

Short story – up to 7,500 words
Novelette – 7,500 – 17,500 words
Novella – 17,500 – 50,000 (some say 40,000) words
Novel – 50,000 – 100,000 words
Super novel – more than 100,000 words

These are averages. If you are writing with a particular publisher in mind, you’ll need to know the word count they are expecting for your piece.

When you get into “novel” territory, certain genres demand certain word counts.

Fiction Word Counts

General Fiction, Commercial and Literary  80,000-90,000*
Women’s Fiction                                              80,000-90,000
Western                                                            50,000-80,000 (many are 60K)
Chick Lit                                                           70,000-75,000
Category Romance                                         40,000-75,000
Short Historical Romance                             40,000-95,000
Long Historical Romance                              95,000 plus
SciFi and Fantasy                                          100,000-115,000
Young Adult (YA)                                            55,000-70,000
Middle Grade
(Middle Reader)                                               20,000-45,000

*General Fiction includes literary, mystery, horror, thriller, and suspense.

ALWAYS check with the potential publisher for word count for your genre. The ranges will probably fall within the ranges above. But, check to make sure. Harlequin, for instance, has a different range for every imprint.

Non-fiction Word Counts

Articles                                                                up to 2,000
Long Form                                                          2,000-30,000
General Non-Fiction and Memoir                  80,000-90,000

Again, you will need to investigate what your publication wants.

In case you don’t know what Long-Form journalism is, think “novella” but non-fiction. They are articles that are longer than most articles, but shorter than most non-fiction books. They originated in the oldie times when people thought deeply, and now the newspapers and magazines that used to publish them are too cramped for space to do so. The form has now found a home with e-publishers, such as Amazon Kindle.

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Finish Your Writing Projects: Make a Plan!

By Denise Miller Holmes, Director, Words for the Journey

I had an epiphany over the summer: I was tired of not finishing my projects, and I was lamenting my blogs that lay derelict along the roadside.

How could I change things?  I saw two things that I could do immediately that would revive my writing and make sure I finished my projects. Here they are:
Make a Plan
As soon as I realized my problem, I made an inventory of all my writing projects and blogs. There are a lot. I also had to add writing lessons for my writers group –at least one a month.
Whew. The list looked daunting, but before I caved to feeling overwhelmed, I saw one bright dot on the horizon–I could make a schedule.
Okay, for some people that’s a no-brainer, but I had gotten out of the habit of scheduling my time, and was letting life take over. I felt like I was just putting out fires.
Books, short stories, and blogs do not write themselves. You must plan them.
In order to make yourself feel like you can breathe, make sure you make a schedule that allows you to accomplish your goals for that day.  In other words, don’t over-pack your time. Give yourself realistic goals for each day.
In that vein, when you work your schedule, pay attention to what feels like too much. For instance, I found out that on several of my blogs, weekly blogging made me feel overextended, so I’ve reduced one blog  to twice a month and one to once a month. The main blog I will write for weekly.
So feel free to test your plan, but once it’s right, stick to it like tar on a roof.
Write First Thing in the Morning!
I read an article over the weekend about what successful people do first thing. First of all, statistically, successful people get up early. It’s just a fact. The next thing they do is exercise. And the next thing they do is…work. They start right away tackling their projects.
Now here’s an important detail–what successful people don’t do when they first get up is check their emails or Facebook or Twitter. They delay those tasks and instead they work on their projects!
I see why this makes people successful. Those other things are time suckers that take away the time we can be writing. And yet, when I make sure I write first and delay emails/Facebook until later, I somehow get my writing done and all the emails and Facebook tasks as well.
Just Do It!
Both the above points together say one thing: make your writing a priority. If you don’t, it won’t happen. As writers, we all need to combat the mystical force of Resistance, sit our butts in our chair, and quote Captain Jean-Luc Picard when he said, “Make it so!”
This blog post was originally posted on Red-Hot Writing Tips under the title Just Do It: Make a Plan and Stick to It
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Member Accomplishments, June 2013

Member Terri Michel has just released her book Tales in a Bottle. Congratulations Terri. You can go to Amazon and buy her book there.

Also, Terri is hosting a book signing of her new book this Sunday, June 9th, 2013, at the 8th Annual Taste of Puerto Rico at Stapleton Central Park, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Terri would love to see you come to her book signing and to experience the exotic atmosphere of the festival. She would also appreciate your prayers for good weather and lots of sales!

For general info and parking instructions for the festival, go here

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Member Accomplishments, January 2013

Congrats to Diane Shaw for her story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels Among Us. This anthology is available on Amazon right now!

And many kudos to Bonnie Doran for her book trailer for her new book Dark Biology, now posted on YouTube!

We are all so proud of both of you! 

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