Openings Critique Offer

In today’s Journal

* Short Story Contest Winners
* Openings Critique Offer
* An Updated Look at Free Writer Resources
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Short Story Contest Winners

I mentioned before that I received only ten entries in the recent contest, but every one of them was a good story. And I do not blow smoke. Consider…

Some were first-ever short stories by brand new writers or folks who usually write novels. In one short story by a new short-story writer, I found one of the most excellent turns of phrase I’ve ever seen. Her story was also filled with excellent description. As a fiction writer, if she wants to, she will go far.

Other stories were from more seasoned writers. The first prize winner and one writer whose work didn’t quite place this time were both published in a StoneThread Publishing anthology several years ago.

So even with only nine writers submitting stories, I had a great spread of skill and talent. I enjoyed reading every story. Every story was compelling and conveyed relatively well.

  • 1st Prize: Lance J. Mushung “Last Month”
  • 2nd Prize: Adam Kozak “Send My Regrets”
  • 3rd Prize: KC Riggs “Jai’s Treasure”
  • 4th Prize: Blas D. Laider “Impossibles”

I advise everyone to look up works by these writers. (Though I believe Blas D. Laider’s work is currently published only in Hungary.) In fact, the stories by the first three prize winners would have beaten-out a story I read two days ago by Jeffery Deaver.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest for trusting me with their work. All of the writers who entered have a future in writing short stories if they want it.

There will not be an anthology.

As one astute reader and friend pointed out (not one entered in the contest) I did not offer up front to pay cash for tying up FNASR for any stories I included in the anthology. He is correct.

Paying only in contributor copies (or in exchange for a critique) is like paying a plumber with a photo of the pipes he worked on. My apologies.

All of that said, I really do want to help cut the learning curve of your writing career, so—

Openings Critique Offer

Depending on your current skill level, this could help leap your writing forward.

The Rules

  • Between now and May 31, you may submit up to three openings (written into the dark, please) for different stories.
  • Each opening can be as long as it needs to be, say from 300 words up to 1000 words or so.
  • They can be openings for short stories, novellas, or novels. (An opening is an opening.)
  • Any genre is fine.

These can be openings from stories you’re currently writing or openings from previous stories, as long as they’re unpublished. (I recommend letting what you’ve published stand as a testament to your skill level at the time.)

I will read your opening and offer a thoughtful critique. NOT OF CONTENT, but of the whole point of an opening:

  • Does it pull me into the story and make me want to read more?
  • Specifically how, or why not?

That will be the limit of the critique.

The Cost

The cost is $15 for the first opening and $5 for each of the other openings. So if you send two openings, your cost would be $20. If you send three openings, your cost would be $25.

If you want to submit your opening for critique, please click the Donate Here link at the end of this post and send the appropriate amount.

Current Donors or Paid Subscribers who’ve  donated or subscribed prior to this announcement may send up to three openings for a critique without any additional payment. Thank you for your support.

NOTE: Believe in yourself. If you submit an opening and I write back to say it’s good as-is and doesn’t need improvement, that will be true and I’ll refund all but $5 of your donation.

This is a great deal.

Your donation helps cover the time it will take me to read your opening and write your critique.

But I will also add you to the list to continue receiving the Journal after May 31st.

As I often say, my opinion on your opening is only one opinion. But it’s an opinion from a guy who’s written a boatload of novels, novels in series, and short fiction.

The deadline is May 31 at midnight Arizona time. I will begin reading openings and offering critiques as I receive them.

Again, believe in yourself, folks. You know Story. You’ve been absorbing it all your life. You only need to learn how to effectively convey it to others.

Some of you have expressed an interest in mentorships. This is as close as we’re going to get to mentorships for at least a while. I urge you to take advantage of it.

I’m sure this admission will amaze you, but the fact is I don’t think of everything. Any questions, please leave a comment or email me.

An Updated Look at Free Writer Resources

For those of you who don’t know, there are several free resources listed on my Journal website.

To see those visit the Gifts & Archives tab on

In addition to several free, downloadable PDF documents, I recently added two more gifts. One is a link to my series of posts on Microsoft Word for Writers. If you want to learn how to format your paragraphs, the many, MANY uses of the Find & Replace function, and a great deal more, click the link to that series.

I also added a link to More Free Stuff. That will take you to a page on that is chock full of links and more that will enhance your writing. All at no cost to you beyond the time it takes to read them.

You’re also welcome to copy-paste any Journal entry for your own use. If you talk with anyone else about it, I ask only that you mention my name and tell them you got it from the Journal.

Of course, you can also download the archives from the Journal since I started it in 2014. Each download is a fully searchable PDF file.

Take advantage of this while you can. Contrary to popular belief, I and the Journal will not be here forever.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

3 Book Marketing Misconceptions and What to Do Instead I have not read this but thought some of you might find it useful or of interest.

August 5, 1948 Story ideas abound. Horror? SF? Coming of age? etc.

The Numbers

The Journal………………………………1080

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. To date…… XXXXX

Fiction for May…………………….….… 9734
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 313519
Fiction since October 1………………… 616577
Nonfiction for May……………………… 9650
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 163990
2024 consumable words……………… 477509

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 8
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)……………… 90
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……… 239
Short story collections…………………… 29

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing are lies, and they will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

To be sure you continue receiving the Journal after May 31, subscribe free, then click the Donate link at the end of this post and make either a recurring donation of $3 per month OR a one-time donation of at least $36. In doing that, you’re effectively paying me 5 cents per hour to provide you with the Journal every day. Donate Here. Thank you!