What Do You Know by Peter J Foote

Proud to have been asked to be a guest in this blog.

No Wasted Ink

The laziest answer given to the aspiring writers during Q&A’s or interviews when asked for advice is: “Write what you know”, but what does that mean?

It’s the trite answer given when vision is lacking or the author is keen for the day to finish. BUT there is a pearl of wisdom in there and I believe we should examine it together, so buckle up.

Though before we start I should caution you, nothing you read in this article will be earth-shattering or groundbreaking. Others have trod this path before, and will again, but I believe my unique perspective adds something to the question.

That’s right, I said unique, in that each of us has our unique memories and encounters that molded us into who we are now. My childhood on an apple farm, studying archaeology, or that unfortunate zipper “incident” when I was six may turn up in a…

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Sorry for the radio silence…

…but I’ve been too busy writing to keep up with my blog.

Summertime in my world leaves me with fewer writing hours than the colder months and something had to be left behind. But fear not, I’m back and plan on making semi-regular posts again.

So what was I writing? Mostly drabbles, which are 100 word stories for various submission calls, and a couple short stories that have been half done since the spring. I’m happy to say that several of my drabble and a couple of my short stories have found home, the majority with Black Hare Press of Australia. They’re a small publisher, but hard-working and are loyal to their authors, I hope to work with them again.

Until next time!

“Worlds”Sci-fi anthology is live!

Summer weather has meant less writing for me in the past, but I was determined to change that this year.

While I may not have the time/energy for larger projects, I’ve found that flash fiction is a great way to keep the wheels turning. As such, I’ve cast my net wide, and the good people at Black Hare Press have done me the honour of accepting several of my “drabbles”.

Today “Worlds” is live across the globe and looking to invade your home!

Production Description: Stories of new worlds, new creatures, alien colonisation, humanity’s new home, space accidents, alien snackcidents, evil planets, military mashups, alien autopsies, and much, much more.

What miracles can more than one hundred debut to bestselling authors do with 100 words?

More than three hundred 100-word drabbles from around the world.

What do these three writers have in common? | LeDrew’s Blog

Honoured to be in such amazing company, the Engen talent pool keeps on getting stronger and stronger.

Engen Books

They are, collectively, the only people who will ever be able to say they’ve been featured in every From the Rock collection: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Chillers, Dystopia, and now Flights from the Rock.

Over the last five years, the From the Rock series has become one that is routinely among the bestselling anthologies in Canada. It has become a series that makes authors bestsellers. With that success has come increased competition: the first volume, Sci-Fi from the Rock, featured many reprints from previous defunct Engen volumes, as we only received a dozen or so submissions. Now we routinely receive over a hundred, typically 300,000 words worth of submissions.

To put it bluntly, the competition has gotten fierce.

Which makes it all the more impressive that there are three authors who have made it into every, single, collection: Ali House, Peter J Foote, & Matthew Daniels.

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Should authors judge other authors?

Recently I had the honour to be a judge in Engen Books monthly flash fiction contest (Engen Books/Kit Sora: Flash Fiction/Flash Photography), and this led me to thinking of the process I go through when judging other authors.
Judging fellow authors is both a privilege and a chore, and not one to be taken lightly.

Reading the creative work of others is always exciting, seeing how a group of writers using the same photo prompt in different ways can open your eyes and lead you down roads you didn’t know existed. The flip side is reading stories you know someone has put their heart and soul into, but didn’t grab you in the same way, and you are contributing to their sting of rejection.

Saying all that, would I do it again? Absolutely, and for one simple reason, judging a writing contest makes YOU a better writer. It forces you out of your little bubble and opens new vistas that until now you didn’t know you were missing.

So, if someone gives you the chance to judge a writing contest, how do you go about it? Well, all I can do is tell you the way I do it, what I look for, what I hope NOT to see, and how to keep an open mind.

One of the nice things about judging the Engen Books Flash Fiction contest is that the same photo prompt created by the talented Kit Sora is used by all the authors. If a contest doesn’t have a photo prompt, they usually have a theme/setting/word to guide the creations. Whatever the prompt is, make sure you have it firmly in your mind when reading the submissions. One of my favourite stories I read for this contest had only the tiniest connection to the prompt, and I didn’t rank it as high because of that reason.

As a writer, I love a good title. I’d like to think its something I’m good at, that’s why I was disappointed when I realized a handful of the submissions for this contest had no title whatever. While I didn’t penalize for lack of title, authors are missing an excellent chance to grab their reader, and set the tone for their story.

I prefer contest such as this that have the author’s name scrubbed from the stories, that way there is no chance for unconscious bias to creep in, thankfully Engen Books did all that hard work for me.

I’m a tactile reader, so I printed out all the submissions, got comfortable and read each piece of flash fiction start to finish keeping the photo prompt firmly in my mind. Since this contest had a 250 word limit, it didn’t take long to read each story. For me, first impressions are important, so each story went into one of three piles, Yes/No/Maybe, as soon as I finished it. Once all the stories were read, I walked away from them and let them stew in my hindbrain for a while. When I came back to the stories, I read them all again, and some stories ended up in a different pile.

Things I look for:

Strong title, this is the first thing your reader sees.

A complete story, I want a beginning/middle/end.

I like strong action and/or dialogue, so stories with that ranked higher than others.

Did the story fit the photo prompt? If so, did the author do it in a way I won’t have thought of?

Story mechanics, how was the sentence structure/spelling/grammar? Since all writers make mistakes, and I know my own weaknesses, I don’t judge this harshly, though I look for “filler words”. Every “seems, like, that, very” takes away from your valuable word count when writing flash fiction.

The last thing I do is ask myself if I enjoyed the story? For me, a flawed story I enjoy, ranks higher than a perfectly crafted one that didn’t grip me. The author and/or publisher can polish a gem, but it’s not as easy to light a fire without a spark.

When I was all said and done, I had read each of the submissions at least three times before I ranked them from my most favourite to least. Then I sent them back to the publisher for their consideration and final verdict. I’d read stories that touched and moved me, ones who had gone in a direction I’d never of thought of, and consider myself lucky for the opportunity.

Returning Rocker: Prize-Winning author Peter J. Foote announced as returning for ‘Flights from the Rock’!

Proud to be included in another Engen Books anthology.

Engen Books

Engen Books is proud to announce the triumphant return of author Peter J. Foote to this year’s From the Rock collection, Flights from the Rock.

Peter J. Foote is a bestselling speculative fiction writer from Nova Scotia. Outside of writing, he runs a used bookstore specializing in fantasy & sci-fi, cosplays, and alternates between red wine and coffee as the mood demands.

His short stories can be found in both print and in ebook form, with his story “Sea Monkeys” winning the inaugural “Engen Books/Kit Sora, Flash Fiction/Flash Photography” contest in March of 2018. As the founder of the group “Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada”, Peter believes that the writing community is stronger when it works together.

You can visit him at www.facebook.com/peterjfooteauthor/, and @PeterJFoote1 on Twitter.

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