Sunday, March 4, 2012

Writing Contest

I hope my fellow writers are as excited as I am, because…

The Utica Writers Club is constantly seeking ways to help writers expand on their craft and to help authors reach a greater audience. So, may I present the club’s first Critique Contest! For those of you interested in learning more about the Utica Writers Club, you can reach us via our website at:

The first pages of your story of your manuscript are the most important – you need to hook your readers! Wouldn’t you love professional help on your first five pages? Five awesome authors have agreed to offer just that.

To enter the Utica Writers Club’s Critique Contest, email your query and first 250 words to me, the club’s co-vice president, at The contest closes on May 20th, so make sure to get your entry in before that. Only three entries per person, though! In the subject line, write: Critique Contest – your name – genre. (For example, I would write Critique Contest – Jordan Mierek – Young Adult if I were entering) I will send you a confirmation email so you know I received your entry.

Your email should look like:





First 250 words:

The Utica Writers Club will select a winner from each genre. I will email the winner to request his or her first five pages. Then, the corresponding author will critique the pages (Dennis will critique the mystery winner, etc).

Let’s make this helpful and fun. Email me if you have any questions.

Happy Reading!


The winner of the Fantasy category will be critiqued by L. M. Preston. LM. Preston has worked in the IT field as a Techie and Educator for over sixteen years. She started writing science fiction under the encouragement of her husband who was a Sci-Fi buff and her four kids. Her first published novel, Explorer X - Alpha was the beginning of her obsessive desire to write and create stories of young people who overcome unbelievable odds. She loves to write while on the porch watching her kids play or when she is traveling, which is another passion that encouraged her writing.

The winner of the Middle Grade Fiction category will be critiqued by Dorothy Stacy. Dorothy Stacy is the author of the Erie Canal Cousins Series (Erie Canal Cousins, Three Weeks in Utica-Book 2, Albany Homecoming-Book 3, Canal Town Christmas-Book 4, and Stars Over Buffalo-Book 5). They are available at , her website: and from her distributor, . Barnes and Nobel store in New Hartford has them in stock. Readers have told her that the stories make them feel excited, happy, like they are part of the story, and many times, make them laugh. She loves researching her books since they involve local history, a subject very dear to her heart. She was born in Utica and now resides in Sauquoit. Stacy is now researching Town of Paris history for a new series to come out in 2013.

The winner of the Young Adult category will be critiqued by Sherry Soule. Indie author, Sherry Soule is a writer blessed with a vivid imagination and lives in San Francisco, California. Sherry is a former Acquisitions Editor for Crescent Moon Press. She also briefly owned an online publishing company, and has a blog devoted to encouraging unpublished writers to find success. In her spare time, Sherry writes supernatural tales of romance, magick, and demon slaying. Her debut novel, Beautifully Broken [] was published August 2011 and is nominated for best paranormal romance (Wizard and Witch 2011) by The Romance Reviews (TRR).

The winner of the Young Adult Dystopian category will be critiqued by Oliver Neubert. Oliver Neubert is the author of the "Chantel's Quest" series and "The Wind of Life" trilogy, available at, Barnes & Nobles, and all bookstores. "The Wind of Life" trilogy is also available as e-book. The stories are written for middle grade and YA readers, but even adults have commented positively about the fast paced, highly entertaining fantasy stories. The author tries to combine real life issues and tangible events in a world of fantasy with unusual characters and heroes. His thought provoking topics and ideas allow the reader to engage with the characters. He draws his inspiration from his own experiences and his wonderful surroundings. Readers have told him that his characters are fabulous, his stories are action-packed and very refreshing without a lot of teenage drama or romantic triangles.

The winner of the adult dystopian category is Paul Nandzik. Paul Nandzik, a born and bred upstate New Yorker, was drawn to the brutal and twisted soap opera style drama inherent in Greek and Norse mythology from an early age, where he was fascinated by the pillars of dystopia in Olympus and Asgard, where so-called higher beings bickered and fought, often vain and petty, while calling their macabre and savage homes paradise. Twombly McGreen vs. The Mean Steam Machine, a poetry anthology with many verses adapted as lyrics for American and European bands, was Paul's first serious publication, which came in 2004, just one month after earning his B.A. in English from SUNY College at Fredonia. Later, Paul became a journalist for In Good Health newspaper and M.D. News magazine. In 2009, he contributed a short story to the compilation, Adirondack Mysteries and Other Mountain Tales, as well as to its sequel, due out in Summer 2012. Currently, Paul is in the pre-production phase of his graphic novel, Gods and Devils: The Riddle of Mortality, and is developing several screen and teleplays. In what little spare time Paul has between his writing and his family, he is also a non-union film stunt performer, and has worked on such independent and Hollywood films as Razor Days, One Shot, and The Dark Knight Rises. Paul has also proudly served as member, webmaster, and president for the Utica Writers Club, which is easily the best writing club he has ever had the pleasure of being part of.

The winner of the Adult Fiction category will be critiqued by Joan Oblinsky Sharf. Joan Oblinsky Scharf is the author of "Hanging on a Twisted Line", a book of snappy, sassy, short shorts. She writes in a variety of genres, mystery, humor, ghost, romance, literary, all with unexpected twists and turns, in the style of O. Henry. "Hanging on a Twisted Line" is available at, Barnes and, and through other bookstores. Some of her stories also appear in anthologies: "Slices of Life" published last year, and "Fandamonium" to be released this April. Her short stories and/or poetry have been published in: The College Crier; The Waterville Times; Village Walk Life; The Queen of All Hearts, and more. Her shorts are entertaining satisfying reads for today's busy lifestyle, leaving readers asking for more....

The winner of the Paranormal/Urban Fantasy category will be critiqued by Darke Contour. Darke Conteur is the author of The Watchtower and Under the Cover of Wicca (the first two books of a paranormal series), available at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and BN. Her short stories have been published with Bewildering Stories, Aphelion, and Brave Blue Mice and she was a member of the Online Writers Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror for three years. She loves to write and read about things that go bump in the night, but nothing too scary, as she also likes her sleep.

The winner of the historical fiction category will be critiqued by Donna Fletcher Crow. Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 38 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener. Her newest release is A Darkly Hidden Truth, book 2 in her clerical mystery series The Monastery Murders. She also writes the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. To read more about these books and to see book videos for A Darkly Hidden Truth and for A Very Private Grave, Monastery Murders 1, as well as pictures from Donna’s garden and research trips go to:

The winner of the romance category will be critiqued by Nicole Green. Nicole Green lives in Virginia. She published three novels with Genesis Press: Love Out of Order (February 2010), The Davis Years (February 2011), and Holding Her Breath (July 2011). She recently self-published a novella entitled Pink Champagne. She is hard at work on her next two novels, and she hopes and plans to write many more. She most enjoys reading and writing love stories. She also writes young adult stories, and she hope to publish those one day as well. For more info, please visit her website: or her blog: She also blogs at: Links to the books: Love Out of Order ; The Davis Years ; Holding Her Breath ; Pink Champagne

The winner of the mystery category will be critiqued by Dennis Webster. Dennis Webster is a paranormal investigator with the Ghost Seekers of Central New York and is the author of Haunted Mohawk Valley, Wicked Mohawk Valley and Daisy Daring. He's the editor and story contributor of the Tommy Award Honorable mention Adirondack Mysteries Volumes 1 & 2.


  1. Very nice contest! Thanks for the heads up!

  2. I was asked: Should we round up to the nearest sentence or paragraph? Or is it better to stop short of 250 than go over?

    Answer: It is better to stop short of 250, rather than rounding up. The members of the Utica Writers Club are busy, and one writer's paragraph might be a page long, as opposed to another writer's two sentence paragraph. To keep it fair for everyone, try to stop short of 250.

  3. The deadline for submitting has been extended from May 1st to May 20th.