3 Tips on how to spot profitable writing contests

I receive several newsletters and many include contests.

Here are three tips on how to spot profitable contests.

Tip 1: Look for contests that offer a good spread of prizes.

A good spread might be a top prize of $150, 2nd prize of $100,  3rd prize of $75, plus five to ten runner-up prizes of $10 each. Such a contest gives you eight to thirteen opportunities to win.

If you enter a major contest that offers just one top prize and no other prizes, your chances of winning are slim.

Tip 2: Look for contests that offer cash awards and where contestants must meet specific criteria.

The criteria might insist the author falls within a certain age range, ethnic group, gender, occupation or nationality. Provided you truly fit these criteria, you stand a better chance of winning than if you enter a contest that places no restrictions on the entrant.

Why? The number of entrants should be fewer and the judges will be looking for elements in the story that illustrate the criteria of the contest. If all the elements of the criteria are not followed, your story will likely be tossed into the trash heap.

Note, it would be unwise to fake your identity to enter such contests.

Organizers of such contest will more than likely want to publicize their winners to support their agenda.  It would be quiet embarrassing if you won and were asked to give a media interview. Especially, if the criteria were to encourage female writers and you turned out to be male. If you are a male who writes under a female pen name, contact the award organizers to see if you qualify. They may allow it or they may not.

Other criteria of contests may deal with the story itself. Several years ago I ran a contest and ask for three things to appear in the story. Over half of the contestants failed to include these elements and those stories (many of them were very good) were then deemed ineligible for the contest.

So be sure to follow the criteria, closely.

Tip 3: Seek out contests that ask for a small entry fee.

A fee of say $10 – $15 is a reasonable price if the top cash prize is in the three figures. A fee of $30 or more is probably not. For a weekly investment of $160 and an entry fee of $10 you could enter sixteen contests a week and have a good chance, not only of recouping your investment, but also making a profit. At $30 per entry, with your budget of $160, you could enter only five contests per week and would stand very little chance of winning.


Go forth and enter contests and Good Luck!

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Do you make notes while you read?

Aaron Sorkin stated, “Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from the outright.”

I keep a notepad and pen handy while I am reading a physical book and I keep notepad open while reading an e-book so I can make note of  a sentence that sparks an idea for the story I am working on.

Let me know in the comments if you too make notes as you read.

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Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809-October 7, 1849)

Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday.

Here are some Edgar Allan Poe quotes.

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary.”

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”

“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.”

“Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of the intelligence.”


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Happy Birthday A. A. Milne

Alan Alexander Milne was born on this day in 1882 in London, England. He was an English author, best known for his Pooh (Winnie-the-Pooh) books and a boy named Christopher Robin after his son Christopher Robin Milne (1920-1996).

Pooh first appeared in the London Evening News on Christmas Eve, 1925 in a story called “The Wrong Sort of Bees.” Winnie-the-Pooh  was published in 1926 followed by The House at Pooh Corner in 1928.

Today is Winnie-the-Pooh Day!








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Filed under Animation, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Genre

Do you use a Thesaurus?

A thesaurus is a reference book that lists words in groups of synonyms and sometimes antonyms.

Do you keep a Thesaurus on your desk or have the link open on your laptop, tablet, phone (whatever you use for writing) when you are writing?

A thesaurus helps you to stop repeating the same words over and over.


Some synonyms for describe: call, characterize, chronicle, construe, define, depict, detail, express, illustrate, interpret.

Some antonyms for describe: conceal, confuse, distort, hide, ignore, listen, misunderstand, suppress.

Let a Thesaurus be your friend!


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Filed under Authors, Books, Writing

Will this make its way into your mystery novel?

On January 6, 2020, the Carrollton, Texas Police Department tweeted “YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY! Today we learned two things: 1) Covering cars in cheese slices is apparently the new trend in criminal mischief. 2) Cheese slices produce GREAT fingerprints.”

I am not making this up! You can check out the Carrollton Police Department on twitter – @CarrolltonTXPD

Or read the story here.

Will your main sleuth, detective, police officer, etc. crack the case/solve the murder/solve the mystery because of fingerprints left behind on a slice of cheese?

Yes, this is cheesy!


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Filed under Cozy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Writing

Best of 2019 Giveaway Hop


Below is a list of bloggers participating in the Blog Hop.  Go forth and visit the blogs and sign up for whatever they are giving away!

But, before you do…click here to subscribe to my newsletter.


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New Release – Freedom in the Mountain Wind

Genre: Christian historical romance

Title: Freedom in the Mountain Wind

Author Name: Misty M. Beller

Release Date: January 14, 2020

Series Info: (Call of the Rockies, Book 1)






Back cover blurb:

The last epic journey before her life changes forever.

Susanna Wilkins will do anything to make her father’s final dream come true, including a trek along the path Lewis and Clark explored into the untamed wilds of the Rocky Mountains. Every mile is more crucial now that lung cancer is stealing Pa’s last days faster than she can come to terms with losing him. The journey becomes harder than she ever expected, but paddling upriver through fierce rapids and fighting hungry grizzlies isn’t what terrifies her the most.

Beaver Tail endured more than he can stand from the women in his Blackfoot camp, but the last disaster gave him the final shove he needed to join this band of brothers searching for one of their group who’s gone missing. The last thing he expected was to find a white woman and her sick father stranded at the base of a massive waterfall. His plan is to help them carry their oversized canoe and supplies, then leave them to their strange mission. Yet, the more he learns about the pair, the more he realizes his life is about to be derailed—again.

From a USA Today, the bestselling author comes another epic journey through breathless landscapes and adventure so intense, lives will never be the same.


Author Bio:

Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and children now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

 Author Links:








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1 Book Marking Tip – Add Sparkle to Your Book Covers

As authors, we must promote our own books, whether we are traditionally published or self-published.  So, why not add some sparkle to your book cover (s) when you post them on social media.



Filed under Authors, Book Launch, Books, Marketing, Quotes

A New Year and New Beginnings

Guest post by Dianne Harman

Let me start out by saying the paranormal world of witches, werewolves, and vampires has been one I’ve always avoided. I really knew nothing about it other than book covers that featured men with fangs with their mouths near some woman’s neck. Didn’t interest me at all!

My daughter-in-law is an avid reader of books in a number of different genres and knowing that I also read books in various genres, she recommended a couple of paranormal books to me. I told her I wasn’t interested, but she persisted.

Guess what? I read the books and loved them. They weren’t all gory or scary, but fun. And the next step was obvious. I wanted to write a fun paranormal series!

Little Feather is the first book in the series, and I consider it to be kind of an introduction to the paranormal world for those of you who are new to it. It’s also a cozy mystery in that there is a mystery to be solved, and it has no violence, sex, or swearing.

I knew there was a lot I didn’t know about the paranormal world, so I engaged the help of an author who knows it well, Krystal Doolittle. The finished product, Little Feather, is being published January 10, 2020 (TODAY!). It’s available for preorder at this link: http://getbook.at/MLF

I hope you have as much fun with the read as I’ve had with the write!


A bit about me:

I’m a two-time USA Today Bestselling Author and seven-time Amazon All-Star Author. I’ve had a rather diverse business and personal background from which I draw my stories.

I was the owner of a national antique and art appraisal business for many years, left that industry, and opened two yoga centers where I taught and certified yoga instructors. I’ve traveled extensively throughout the world, and I love nothing more than cooking, playing backgammon with my husband, Tom, and throwing the ball for our dog, Kelly.

Being a dog lover and having attended numerous cooking schools, I couldn’t resist writing about food and dogs. I’m the author of several cozy mystery series: Cedar Bay, Liz Lucas, High Desert, Midwest, Jack Trout, Northwest and Cottonwood Springs. Each of these books contains recipes from my travels. I’m also the author of the award-winning suspenseful Coyote Series, Midlife Journey Series, and the Slade Kelly Suspense Series.

I recently published my first cookbook, A Cozy Cookbook, with some of the recipes from my cozy mysteries at the request of my readers.

To get free books from me, just cut and paste: http://ow.ly/wgVG304NU9N


You may follow me on social media at:

Web Site http://www.DianneHarman.com

BookBub: http://ow.ly/NDaE30m1lTU

Amazon: http://ow.ly/b6Bn30m1m8v

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2RXVf92



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