Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category


In Writing on May 24, 2013 at 11:38 am



“Pick up the phone.”

“This phone?”

“It’s ringing.”

Colin listened a moment, to the far-off sound of the freeway and cars driving through the mist.

“Is not.”

The stranger made no reply, simply inclining his head toward the phone. Colin shrugged and grabbed the broken receiver.

“There’s not even an earpiece on it, mate. How’m I supposed to hear?”

The voice that replied sounded digital and broken, like a recording from some earlier era, but the feeling of hot breath as the stranger whispered in Colin’s ear was distinct:

“The better question is: How am I speaking without a voice?” Read the rest of this entry »


Short Story Contests: May

In Off-Topic, Writing on May 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I’ve been bad, reader friends, and waited too long to get my list of May short stories together. Consequently, the May 1st deadlines are out the door. My apologies!

There are still a few chances to submit though, so let me lay the sweetness on you:

Crab Orchard Review Dyer Fiction Prize
  • Deadline: May 4
  • Guidelines: 6,000 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $20 (by mail) $22.50 (online)
  • First prize: $2,000
Writer’s Digest Annual Competition
  • Deadline: May 6 (early bird deadline)
  • Guidelines: Dependent upon category
  • Entry fee: $27
  • First prize: $3,000 (grand prize) or $1,000 (first prize)
Carve Magazine Raymond Carver Short Story Contest
  • Deadline: May 15
  • Guidelines: 6,000 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $17
  • First prize: $1,000
E.M. Koeppel Short Fiction Award
  • Deadline: May 15
  • Guidelines: 3,000 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $15 (additional stories $10 each)
  • First prize: $1,100 Read the rest of this entry »

Short Story Contests: April

In Writing on April 1, 2013 at 10:34 pm

April contests bring May winnings – that’s how it goes, right? Well, that’s how it should go, but the only way to find out for sure is if you enter some contests!

So you should, you know, do that.

The Gemini Short Story Contest
  • Deadline: April 1, 2013
  • Guidelines: No restrictions on length or style
  • Entry fee: $4
  • First Prize: $1,000
The William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition
  • Deadline: April 1, 2013
  • Guidelines: 10,000 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $30
  • First Prize: $1,500
The Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest
  • Deadline: April 2, 2013
  • Guidelines: 6,000 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $24
  • First Prize: $1,000
The Short Grain Writing Contest

Short Story Contests: March

In Writing on February 27, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Beware the Ides of March! After all, when they’re upon us it means there’s only 15 more days to get your stuff together and submit to these contests. If only there were 23 contests here instead of 15… you know, one for each of Caesar’s stab wounds.

That would make for some powerful symmetry right?

The Cutbank Montana Prize in Fiction
  • Deadline: March 1
  • Guidelines: 35 pages or fewer
  • Entry fee: $17
  • First Prize: $500
The Pinch Literary Awards
  • Deadline: March 14
  • Guidelines: 5,000 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $20
  • First Prize: $1,000
The Bellingham Review Literary Awards
  • Deadline: March 15
  • Guidelines: 6,000 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $18
  • First Prize: $1,000
The Colorado Review Nelligan Prize
  • Deadline: March 15
  • Guidelines: 50 pages or fewer
  • Entry fee: $15
  • First Prize: $2,000
The Enizagam Literary Awards

Pinionpost Gets Resourceful

In Writing on February 20, 2013 at 9:46 pm

A picture of a dictionary viewed with a lens o...

It’s been a pretty long time coming, but I’ve finally started building out the Writer’s Resource section of the site. It’s in the early stages, but hopefully you’ll find a few useful things there.

What might those useful things be, you ask? Let me tell you!

  • Links to writing exercises, prompts and my favorite weekly challenges
  • Dictionaries, thesauri and guides for grammar and usage
  • Links to online collaboration tools
  • Resources to help you in both traditional and self publishing
  • And quite a bit more… Read the rest of this entry »

Short Story Contests: February

In Writing on January 31, 2013 at 10:34 pm

If your New Year’s resolution was to write more (and I’m sure, like me, you’ve stuck with your resolutions with steadfast determination) it may be just about time to send some of that new material out into the world.

Submit, I tell you, submit! Just, you know, in a good way…

The Madison Review Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction
  • Deadline: February 1
  • Guidelines: 30 pages or fewer
  • Entry fee: $10
  • First Prize: $1,000
The Nelson Algren Short Story Award
  • Deadline: February 1 (you have until midnight Friday, so get on it!)
  • Guidelines: 8,000 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $0 (seriously)
  • First Prize: $3,500
Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award
  • Deadline: February 15
  • Guidelines: 2,000 words or fewer on the theme of “A Winter’s Tale” or “A Spring Story”
  • Entry fee: $10
  • First prize: $200
    Read the rest of this entry »

Short Story Contests: December

In Writing on December 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm

A new month is upon us and, with NaNoWriMo safely behind us, we turn once again to submissions of our not-so-novel-length works (that is, short stories).

Here, then, is a list of writing contests you can enter in the month of December — happy submitting!

Phoebe Winter Fiction Contest
  • Deadline: December 15
  • Guidelines: 7,500 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $15
  • First Prize: $1,000
The Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition
  • Deadline: December 17
  • Guidelines: 1,500 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $20
  • First Prize: $3,000
MERIDIAN Editor’s Prize in Fiction

Short Story Contests: November

In Writing on October 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Another month, another list of short story contests for you to try your hand at. Even though it’s not exactly a short story contest, no November list would be complete without a mention of NaNoWriMo (That’s National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated) — so there’s your obligatory mention.

Anyway, even if you’re doing NanoWriMo, these contests could be well worth your time if you’ve got a few shorter pieces prepared. Good luck everyone!


Amprosia – The WCDR Prose Competition
  • Deadline: November 1
  • Guidelines: 1,000 words or fewer
  • Entry fee: $20 (Canadian), $25 (International)
  • First Prize: $1,000
The Briar Cliff Review Fiction Contest

The Wednesday Wiki-Prompt

In Writing on October 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm


People who read this website know I often write stories in response to weekly writing prompts like Madison Woods’ Friday Fictioneers, Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction and the Trifecta Writing Challenge (more accurately, people who read this site are often reading it because they, too, participate in these very same prompts).

Well, in the last couple of weeks, while working on my stories for these prompts, I’ve found myself turning more frequently to a new source of inspiration: Wikipedia. Something about the process of learning something new – call it flash research – gets my creativity going and I end up really enjoying the pieces that come out of it.

My stories Pietro Barbino and Przypadek, and yesterday’s The Battle of Bicocca all had roots in quick Wikipedia research, and this got me thinking – why not use Wikipedia to start a brand new writing prompt?

Are You Up For (Another) Challenge?

So I’d like to propose an idea to you, my readers and fellow writers: how about a new weekly writing challenge where we take the day’s featured Wikipedia article and write a short story off of it?

Say Say Say (1983, Paul McCartney & Michael Ja...

These sad clowns will be even sadder if you’re not into this idea… just Say Say Saying

I’m going to start doing it anyway, based on whatever article is featured each Wednesday. Today it’s an article on “Say Say Say” – a song written and performed by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.

There will only be a few rules. First, the stories should be 500 words or fewer. Second, they should be done by the following Wednesday. And third – there is no third!

So what do you think? Will you join me? Do you even have time in your schedule to fit in another writing prompt? It might be slow to build at first, but I think a weekly prompt that involves a little bit of research could be useful (and knowing some of the Fictioneers and FSF-ers, I’m already really interested to see what you might do with this week’s prompt).

Let me know below – I’d love to have you on board!

The Battle of Bicocca

In Writing on October 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm

It’s week three (for me at least) of the Trifecta Writing Challenge, and this week the prompt is uneasy. The idea for this came to me pretty easily though, with a little help from Wikipedia (more on that here ). Give it a read, leave your comments and criticism below, and then think about jumping into the fray for next week’s prompt!
Map of Lombardy in 1522, at the time of the Ba...

The Battle of Bicocca

Albert had wept as he crossed the field — in full view of his men, he had wept like a child — but it didn’t matter, for all his men were dead. Now the blood clung to his hands and face and ran down his chest in sticky gobs.

Alone in his tent he lit a long match, and then a candle, and then a dark-leafed cigar. He rolled it above the flame, drawing carefully to perfect the burn, and still he wept.

How will I tell them?” he whispered.

He had lost men before – not these numbers, perhaps, not thousands – but he had lost them. He had seen men with pikes through their necks, men trampled by horses, men destroyed by the fierce blast of the arquebus, but…but that smile, that uneasy smile, was what unraveled him now – that terror worse by far than all the death and misery he’d ever witnessed.

“Trust me,” he said to himself, remembering. “Trust me.”

And Michel had trusted him, not as his commander, but as his brother – and so deeply that all those years, all those years since they had been young together, had flashed with hope in that one smile, shaded though it was by doubt.

Now, in the darkness of his tent, Albert wrote his letters home – one announcing his brother’s death, and one that he had not yet decided to send.

Related Stories: Pietro Barbino and Przypadek, with an ever expanding collection of the flashiest of fiction on my (gasp!) fiction page.