Jobs of Bigname Authors Before They Became Famous

Jobs of Bigname Authors Before They Became Famous

I was recently approached by the team at Unplag with their latest infographic. I think it's pretty interesting, and hits on an important topic that will hopefully provide you with some writing motivation.

When we see the names of famous writers we rarely think of them as more than writers. That's what they are known for. They gained fame and recognition due to their talent with words. But what about before they reached success? 

This infographic takes a look at their more humble beginnings and is a great reminder that we all start some where... even in places that have nothing to do with writing at all.

Jobs of Bigname Authors Before They Became Famous 

You can find the original post this infographic is based on at

So if you ever feel discouraged about your writing career as you work your other job, just think about these writers and where they started out. Then, when you finish your shift, go write something brilliant.

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Excerpt: Highway 187 by A.T. KIng

Title: Highway 187
Author: A.T. King

Excerpt: Highway 187 by A.T. KIng

Author Bio:

A.T. King was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico in 1977. He is the youngest member in his family which consists of four other siblings, two boys and two girls. A.T and his family moved to Mission, Texas when he was three years old, and that is where he was raised and has resided since. A.T. began writing in 2007 after going through a divorce. He began writing poetry as a form of self-expression and wrote his first story after seeing horror movies with one of his sisters. A few months later he finished his first story, “CUPID”, and has never stopped writing since. 


     It was a hot and muggy Sunday afternoon, just like every other day in Deep South Texas. I like to think that when Stephen King wrote “ninety degrees in the shade, ninety six in the sun, hot enough that the air shimmers above the pavement as if over an open incinerator” he was thinking of this place we call home. That seems to be the case for us all year round, even during the so-called winter months. It seems that here in South Texas we just have two seasons; spring and summer. We usually get five or six days of what could pass for cold and only nine or ten days that are wet or bearable, if we are lucky. I had just gotten out of work and was about to head for home when my phone rang.  I checked the number but I didn’t recognize it. I thought about ignoring the call, but something told me to answer it.
“Hello?” I answered, hoping it wasn’t a telemarketer of some sort. Those damn bastards have gotten sneakier over the years. Nowadays they actually call your cell phone, and I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with them at the moment.
“Yes, hello, am I speaking with Mr. Dutton?” asked the soft voice on the other side.
“Yes, may I ask who is calling?”
“Mr. Dutton, I am Dr. Keely calling from the Millen Medical Center. I was asked to contact you by one of our patients, a Mr. Nicholas Christie.”
“Nick? I haven’t heard from him in years. Is he ok?”
“I really can’t go into details with you, except to say that he has asked for you to come; he says it is a matter of life and death.”
“Ok, I will be there as soon as I can.” I hung up the phone wondering what was so important that Nick would ask to call me of all people. The last time I heard from him was over a year ago. I could have sworn that he would never speak to me again after what happened between us. 
I was just fooling around and I knew that Nick was afraid of ghosts so I decided to have some fun at his expense. I rigged a few items, including his locker at school and just waited for him to show up. I knew he always stayed late for his extra-curricular activities and he was usually the last one out of school. It gave me the best opportunity to mess with him. I waited patiently until I heard footsteps approach. As I peeked out of a blind corner I caught a glimpse of Nick strolling down the hall towards his locker. He had his nose stuck in a book as usual so I knew he wasn’t aware of his surroundings and that scaring him would be easy. I had employed a few friends of mine to help me in my endeavor. We had cameras set up to capture the moment, plus we had rigged it so that the feed was being sent out live on the internet. 
As he got closer to his locker we began the task of scaring him. One of my accomplices skidded across the hall and ran into a classroom as Nick passed by. Nick being the ever so curious type crept up to the room and slowly poked his head in. He glanced around the room but didn’t find anyone inside. We could tell by his reaction that he was trying to figure out whether he had really seen someone or if it was just his imagination. After standing there for a few seconds he continued to walk down the hall on the way to his locker. 
A few seconds later I set off a series of sounds from a well-hidden recording device. This device contained sounds of someone walking up and down the hallway, which threw Nick for a loop. He quickly swiveled his head from side to side trying to make sense of the sound. He was expecting someone to come around the corner so he stood still, looking down the hall towards where I hid. He took a few steps in my direction and for a split second I thought he had seen me, but then he stopped. I think he would have kept inching towards me if we hadn’t deployed the final act.

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Interview with Elaine Viets

Contributed by Deborah Marshall. Writer and journalist Deborah Marshall is a Past President of the Missouri Writers' Guild and Founder of the Warriors Arts Alliance. Her work-in-progress is the first in her Yesterday's Ladies historical novel series. 

Your latest book, Checked Out, is the fourteenth mystery in your Dead-End Job series. Have you always been a series writer? 

Yes, I have. I’ve written three series. The first was the Francesca Vierling series, which was hardboiled. Then there’s the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series, which is a cozy, and the Dead-End Job series, which is traditional mystery. 

When I first started writing novels in 1997, publishers wanted series. They still do, because a series sells in the past and into the future. My books are all written so a reader can pick one up, read it and it’s not a problem. They are not written in any particular order. If someone likes that book, what I hope they’re going to do is buy the others. If you like to read a series in order, you read Shop Till You Drop, then you can read all of the rest by going to my website, where all my books are listed in order. 

Does each series have its own female protagonist? 

Yes. The Dead-End Job protagonist is Helen Hawthorne, who is a St. Louis woman on the run from her ex-husband and she winds up in South Florida in Ft. Lauderdale. There, she finds a home in the Coronado Tropic Apartments. Her landlady, Margery, becomes sort of a mother figure, and there, Helen finds the family she’s never had. She’s a PI working undercover at a different low-paying job in each book, from telemarketer to hotel maid, to name a few in each book. Her new husband, Phil, is also a PI. 

Checked Out is set in a library. Why a library? 

I like libraries. That’s where the readers are. To research this book, I worked as a volunteer at a local library in Ft. Lauderdale, Galt Ocean Mile Reading Center. I was a volunteer shelver, shelving books and DVDs. 

One of the things the librarians shared was about the things people leave behind in library books. You would expect unmailed bills, unused Kleenex, stuff like that. But people left behind a fried egg, a strip of bacon, love letters, and what people leave behind in library books became the basis for Checked Out. I thought, ‘What if someone left behind something really valuable?’ 

In Checked Out, a man who’s quite wealthy, has a John Singer Sargent painting. Most people know John Singer Sargent as the man who painted beautiful society ladies, but in his forties, he had a mid-life crisis and he switched from beautiful women to alligators. 

I have my character’s grandfather winning this John Singer Sargent painting, “Muddy Alligators,” in a poker game and his wife hates it, so she banishes it to the attic. When his son finds it, he’s an old man and he’s getting slightly dotty. He tells the family it’s in a safe place. He puts it in a book and after his death, all his books are donated to the library. Somewhere in these thousands of volumes donated to the library, is a million dollar painting. 

That’s what my character Helen is hired to do. She has to work at the library as a shelver and she has to search through these thousands of books for the painting. 

Photo by Cristiana Pecheanu.
Hair and makeup by Mario Ortega
You're working on a new series? 

Yes. It's currently being shopped in New York. I’m writing another dark series featuring Death Investigator Angela Richman. A DI investigates all unexpected and unexplained deaths that don’t happen under a doctor’s care: accidents, murders, suicides. She works for a medical examiner and is responsible for the dead person. The police handle the scene, all but the bod. In January 2015 I took the MedicoLegal Death Investigators Training Course for forensic professionals at St. Louis University. The series will be as accurate as possible. 

What social media do you use? 

I’m on Twitter @ElaineViets and Facebook, Elaine Viets Mystery Writer. My website is I have a book giveaway twice a month. Just go to my website to enter. I blog at The Femme Fatales, which includes Charlaine Harris, Donna Andrews, Dana Cameron, Toni LP Kelner, Kris Neri, Marcia Talley, Mary Saums, Dean/Miranda James, Hank Phillipi Ryan, and Catriona McPherson at and also at The Kill Zone,, an insider's look at writing by top mystery and thriller writers and winner of three Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers awards. 

Where are your books available? 

All bookstores, Amazon and as hardbacks, paperbacks and e-books.
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My Book Project: Now This Is Joy - Giving

My Book Project: Now This Is Joy - Giving, guest post by Kristen Heimerl
I didn’t set out to be a writer. And I am uncomfortable referring to myself as a “writer.” I won’t do it. I know good writers. They are my friends—cultivated through a life of activities enjoyed by an introvert and by participation in writing groups and working for a media company. I am in awe of good writers; their sentences are so technically flawless they impart melody as rapturous as a classical composition, and their words are so powerful they evoke deep, magnificent, and sometimes devastating emotions of a human shattered and cracked open to reveal the tender truth of living inside.

Me? I’m a hack with a penchant for silly, simplistic humor and a glutton for giggles. I am a child writer who never grew up, never advanced her craft. I relish silly words. “Noodle,” “caboodle,” and “doodle,” for example. I can’t even think these words and others like them without entirely cracking myself up! And I surely can’t say them aloud without at least trying to create a rhyming phrase. It’s no surprise then that I would take great time and care to develop an entire vocabulary of “fishy expletives” for my book’s main character, Inspector Dewey. I fancy “Blistering Bass!” this week, but my favorite silly phrase changes with each new reading of the book and each new word combination I create.

I also LOVE alliteration. My poor editor, bless her heart. She’s so kind and patient—I adore her. But I know that, at times, what she really wanted to say to me was “Stop it! Stop it right now! NO MORE ALLITERATION!” Why do I love alliteration? Because it just makes me smile.

I could read Dr. Seuss books aloud all day to my cats. My dream job (for a day) is to be the Minnie Mouse mascot at Disney World, and I can’t even listen to Alvin and The Chipmunks’ Christmas Song without full-on pee-in-my-pants laughter (and a call to my sister, Kelly, to share the moment with me). All of this from a serious intellectual and professional, a woman of academic distinction with multiple degrees, and a corporate scorecard that makes me blush at times. Yep, it works for me!

No, I didn’t set out to be a writer. I set out to be a creator, a builder, and an example. I wanted to build a brand and a business with giving at its core. Lofty, I know, but I wanted to advance a culture of giving and make philanthropy accessible to the proverbial “everyman” by creating an affordable, common product that gave more than just functionality and joy to its users.

And I wanted my level of giving to set an example of giving to others. In short, I wanted it “to hurt” personally—that is, to give at a level that was uncomfortable for even me, a well-trained corporate weenie. So I researched the percentage of profits allocated to charitable causes by our nation’s “most giving” corporations, and I doubled it (and then some!) for my book. I also created what I hoped could be a universal giving standard—that is, the “Half for Health” concept to inspire others to follow, should the spirit move them, to also give 50% of their profits to benefit the health of another living being.

Here’s the part where I’m going to call a spade a spade. I’m not a member of the 1%. I’m not independently wealthy, I don’t have a trust fund, and I haven’t accumulated a massive life savings. I’m a working woman who has invested significant funds in my education, my global worldview, and my dreams. I am also a serial entrepreneurial failure who, like the Energizer Bunny, keeps going and going and going until I have lived all of the dreams that remain inside. I wanted my giving level to “hurt” to prove a powerful point: it doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, the more I give, the more I receive. I think I’m pretty much the luckiest person alive.

I had another aspiration for my book business: I wanted to create art, beautiful art that required the identification, coordination, and orchestration of several artists’ talents (my thinking was synergistic: 2 + 2 = 5). 

My goal from the outset of Inspector Dewey was to create and design a picture book independently as lovely as one of the major publishing houses’ titles. Lofty, again, I know, but shouldn’t one at least try to shoot for the stars?

I am moved by the idea of moving others through story, through words, through images, evoking universal emotions and fulfilling fundamental human needs: Laughter. Escape. Comfort. Hope. Dream. Love. Adventure. My business is the joy business—and for good reason. I worry about our world. Our families. Our children. The mother who has no hope. The child who has no dreams. And the home that has no comfort. I know that a book—however sweet—cannot address systemic problems in our society. But maybe, maybe for just a moment, my silly little book could encourage a parent to give the gift of reading aloud or provide a child an escape from bullying at school or inspire another child to be a great illustrator, a pet lover, a crime-fighter, a leader, or a best friend someday. I dream of others dreaming and, more important, living those dreams.

All of the foregoing points to one broad yet deeply inspiring concept: art as the conduit to change. Personal change. Organizational change. Social change. Art + philanthropy, art + literacy, art + whatever. Art has the inherent ability to influence emotions and, consequently, human behavior, individually and collectively. It’s gentle. It’s soft. It’s impactful. It’s me.

My Book Project: Now This Is Joy - Giving, guest post by Kristen Heimerl
Kristen Heimerl Marketing Officer, Strategy Expert, Innovator and Brand Builder, Kristen’s business career spans 20+ years serving the biggest brands in industry and the biggest hearts of start-ups and entrepreneurs. Kristen revels in bringing compelling products and services to life and helping leaders and individuals with big dreams realize their big goals.

Kristen’s life joys include her 2+ year obsession creating the most beautiful self-published picture book possible, the breathtaking forests and lakes of her Minnesota birthplace, the family that really does love her no matter what, and her three magnificent Norwegian Forest Cats who together, with Kristen, helped catch the bad guy on their block that inspired her upcoming book (stake out and high speed chase included!)

She holds a master of science in eCommerce from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas. As the great transformer in her life, Kristen supports others’ education and literacy as an adjunct professor of business and strategy and, more recently, through her children’s book, Inspector Dewey (Available September 2015).

Connect with Kristen:   Website  ~   Facebook Author  ~   Facebook Inspector Dewey  

My Book Project: Now This Is Joy - Giving, guest post by Kristen Heimerl


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How to Get Your New Book Reviewed

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and contains sponsored links.

So you authored a book or some type of report writing. And it is really a thing of magnificence. It's refined to brilliance; you have adoringly written your work of genius in the stolen minutes surrounding a difficult schedule or you had the help of a professional service like where you can do more than just buy a book report. 

You have commissioned probably the most tasteful of covers, paid for a professional editor and meticulously modified the inside formatting to guarantee the fragile sensibilities of your readers won't be suddenly jarred with dodgy font pairing or flawed folios. 

It is now the time. Time for you to share your development with the world. Time for you to get the review of the book. 

Here are some tips:

Begin Early. 

Begin right now, prior to your custom book report or book’s launch. It will take time to develop the contacts and relationships you will want to get the high quality and amount of reviews which will have an effect on your gross sales. Waiting around for your book to get published almost always means rushing-and rushing usually means lower quality, unless you work with thepensters.

Email or Call First. 

If you can, email or call a reviewer first to check if they even have an interest. You will save money and time if they should they say no. Furthermore, make certain once you have received the okay to deliver it that you send it to the particular person you spoke with and write ‘Requested Material’ on the exterior of the package.

Target Sites and Publications that Review your Genre

Sending out for review writing without sufficient research in advance will probably lead to your book being thrown in the wastepaper container without even being read. 

Search for sites with related subject material of your book, and then verify if they do book reviews. Take a look at other books inside your genre and their sites to see whether or not they have published reviews. Get their contact information and names, and then send an email or letter to compliment them about their positive, stimulating reviews, requesting if they would be willing to review your new release. 

Talk to other writers to learn how they received their reviews. Don’t Make it Easy for Reviewers to Disqualify you

. There are a great number of books competing for attention with limited time/space in a reviewer’s schedule. They're looking for ways to reduce their submissions; ensure you don’t hand them over a reason to disqualify your book right from the start. Follow their instructions thoroughly. If they request a press release, be sure you send one. If they desire completed books, do not send galleys. Ensure they even review your book genre before you submit. Stick to their publication-date deadline. Most importantly, be sure you include all of your contact information such as: name, mailing address, site address, number and current email address. Likewise incorporate book details such as: ISBN, number, price, how many pages and genre. 

And lastly, send hard copies of your book in boxes or in padded envelopes. You do not want them destroyed before they are seen and possibly risk the editor passing them up because they don't look professional.

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Interview with Jeanette Watts

Interview with Jeanette Watts
In what genre do you write and why?

The book I’m currently talking about, Wealth and Privilege, is Historical Fiction.  History is my playground and I love research, so that’s why I’ve written more books in this genre than any other.  But I’ve also written stage melodramas, and marketing materials, and a textbook on waltzing, and a screenplay for a romantic comedy about the sport of fencing, and a modern-day satire on Jane Austen.  Ever since Fifty Shades of Gray came out, I’ve been wondering about writing in that genre.  I have an idea that I think would be both sexy and thought provoking.  But I also have a children’s book I’d like to write, about my guardian angel.  My brain doesn’t sit still much.

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?

“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”  That’s obviously an old quote.  I first heard it in college, when we really did write with pen and paper, and then typed everything up before turning it in.  My other favorite quote is the end of the first sonnet in Philip Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella:  “Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:  ‘Fool,’ said my Muse to me, ‘look in thy heart, and write.’ ”  In a way, both these quotes are saying exactly the same thing.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

One of my favorite characters is George.  It’s a bit part; he’s my hero’s coachman.  He sees much, but says very little.  He is the soul of dependable.  He’s that quintessential always-there-when-you-need-him kind of guy.  It’s very much in the background, but I left hints.  When the hero’s father dies on Christmas, George is still around to take care of the hero.  Now, most of the household staff is very devoted and thoughtful, but George always goes the extra mile.  (Yes, pun intended.)  He is to Wealth and Privilege what R2-D2 is to Star Wars.   Plucky and resourceful and helpful.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

I put a lot of care into making the history seem real.  My characters go through big crises of the Industrial Revolution, like the Railroad Riot in 1877 and the Johnstown Flood of 1889.  My accounts of those events are taken from newspapers and eyewitness accounts and biographies. The water tower my characters climb when they witness the massacre is right there on the maps.  The hourly descriptions of events are straight out of the accounts at the time.  They are immediate, and heart-stopping.   I also want readers t to know what everyday activities felt like, smelled like, tasted like.  So I talk about the clothes, the dancing, the food, the extracurricular activities of the time.  I always want the reader to feel like they’re inside the story, inside the locations.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Ten years!  I started, then stopped, then picked it up again, then six months would go by before I wrote any more, then I needed another research trip to go get answers to a bunch of questions.  Back then, I couldn’t get online and look up the census records for Johnstown in 1880.  I had to go to Johnstown and look them up in the library!  The change in available resources is huge.  I also learned to spend less time on the laundry, and email, and lawn mowing, and other distractions, and put more time into writing.  I got this book finally finished because my best friend would call me up every single day and ask, “Have you worked on your book today?”  After three days of saying “no,” my conscience would kick in, and I’d let the mundane tasks slip to a lower priority, and I’d get some writing done.

Interview with Jeanette Watts
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?

Fishing was a big sport for rich men in the late 1800s.  That was probably the most astonishing thing I learned in my research.  When I was little, my dad fished because if he didn’t, we wouldn’t have anything to eat for dinner that night.  So, for me, the idea of fishing as something millionaires did to relax took me a while to absorb.  I found lots of surprises in history.  Unions and management were not actually enemies in the 1870s.  They respected each other, the battles came later. I love sharing these things that challenge our assumptions.  History is always more interesting and more complicated than we think.

Who inspires you?

People of courage and tenacity.  Edward R. Murrow.  Ulysses S. Grant. Grace O’Malley.  And, in her own way, Alva Vanderbilt.  They all lived in “interesting times,” and in their various situations, had to face down very powerful enemies.  They had to use what resources they had to the best of their abilities.  Failure was always a danger, but fear didn’t stop any of them from doing what they thought was right.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.

When I finished writing Wealth and Privilege, I thought I was done with that world and the characters.  And readers kept approaching and asking, “You ARE writing a sequel, right?”  I wasn’t planning on it.  Margaret Mitchell never wrote a sequel to Gone With the Wind.  And then I realized I knew where I wanted to go with it.  And then the characters started beating on the inside of my brain.  At that point, I didn’t have a choice anymore.  Since I knew the characters and the research is so much easier now, it isn’t going to take me ten years to write the sequel.  I’m calling it  Brains and Beauty.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?

Traditional publishing is a mystery to me.  I read terrible books, poorly researched, poorly written, that were able to get an agent and a publisher.  Someone gave this writer money and put it in print?  And then I’ll find some self-published work that is brilliant, but the author couldn’t even get an agent, much less a publisher.  There’s a bias that anyone with a little money can be in print with a book full of poor grammar, but I see traditionally published works that are full of typos.  If traditional publishing is not there for quality control, what are they there for?

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I’m a dance instructor.  I teach college students, elementary school children, senior citizens, church members, the LGBT community, etc, etc how to dance.  It is one of the most joyous things in life, helping people connect with other people in the form of a tango, or a polka, or a waltz, or a schottische.  I am the pet caller for a Civil War brass band, and I call set dances.  I teach couples to dance for their wedding.   Besides that, I run a Cancan troupe and a belly dance troupe.  I love being in motion!

Interview with Jeanette Watts


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Finding an Audience

Wow! My first book came out in 1999. I’d love to be able to say that writing has gotten easier, the publishing community more open and friendly, editors and agents knocking each other down to find and publish new writers . . . but I’d be telling a bit of a fib. Actually, a whopper!

In sixteen years, writing, publishing, and staying in the game has become very difficult. For starters, Indie bookstores were my mainstay way back when. I signed at wonderful small mom and pop stores across the country. Even as a newcomer I was able to draw crowds of fifty people or more and sell a like number of books. They got the word out in newsletters and posters and word of mouth. I even dedicated a book to those Indies who supported me. Last week I heard that my favorite Indie, Moby Dickens Books of Taos, New Mexico had closed its doors. Just one more of hundreds. And even though I’d characterize myself as someone never living in the past, I admit to a sadness and longing for something that will never be again.

Of a consequence book signings have taken on a new “look”. Not so much the cozy glass of wine and nibbles while you draw deep-cushioned chairs in a semi-circle for a somewhat intimate discussion of your masterpiece.  If a writer chooses to sign in the flesh, he or she is often given a card table by the door in a warehouse-sized store and must “hawk” his wares.  Not fun and not very productive!

So, what’s the alternative? Where do we find an audience? There are probably not that many fewer readers today—though I could make a case for the age demographic to be creeping up a bit. Mystery readers especially seem to over fifty. If you want to “press the flesh” and talk with real people, I’ve found book clubs to be a goldmine—followed by libraries, holding workshops and blanketing the earth (especially art galleries) with flyers and announcements. I just moved to Florida from New Mexico and have had to establish my “reputation” all over again.

Of course, I’ve saved the biggest audience until last. The vast, faceless, nameless hordes that frequent Amazon and live by social media. The blogs, twitters, dedicated Face Book pages, not to mention personal web sites and virtual book tours . . . this is a writer’s audience today. You hear stories of name authors turning down a NY publishing contract to self-publish. Very lucrative if you are established. And the E-book . . . I’d be the first to say I live and die by my Kindle. And I’d be the first to say that I’ve needed help getting up to speed “electronically” . . . webinars, local web gurus—and just about any book for dummies on a pertinent web topic that I can get my hands on have helped get me up to speed.

And then an interesting thing happened. Thinking I was writing about Greyhounds because I like dogs and Florida just happens to have over fifty per cent of all dog racing tracks in the US, Hair of the Dog, the latest Dan Mahoney mystery, has developed quite a following among greyhound rescue groups—an entirely unexpected audience! I have the first of several track signings beginning next week. It’s old, but tried and true—take your subject matter to the subject!  I’m hoping racing fans will be drawn to the cover of Hair—a particularly gorgeous head shot of a greyhound holding a bloody latex glove in its mouth. Ah, the mystery beckons.

Finding an Audience, guest post by Susan Slater,
Susan is the author of the Ben Pecos series (Pumpkin Seed Massacre, A Way to the Manger, Yellow Lies and Thunderbird), a stand-alone (Five O'clock Shadow), a women's fiction novel (0 to 60), a para-normal short story in Rod Serling's commemorative Twilight Zone Anthology (Eye for an Eye), and the Dan Mahoney series. Susan lives on the Atlantic coast and writes full-time.

Catch Up:
author's website​ 
author's twitter​ 
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The Writing Competition that’s Planting a Forest in Africa

I love writing competitions. I love it when people pay it forward and help our planet. This competition is all that and more.

The Writing Competition that’s Planting a Forest in Africa

The Magic Oxygen Literary Prize is a truly unique writing competition. The inaugural contest took place last year and the organisers, Magic Oxygen Publishing, planted a tree for every entry and gave away £3,000 in prize money. They also started building an urgently needed classroom at Kundeni Primary School in Bore, Kenya. 

There are around 1,500 trees in the Word Forest so far and things are about to get busy once more as the Dorset based publishing house open the door for entries to this year’s competition. Tracey and Simon West are the drivers behind this prestigious annual prize for literary excellence in short stories and poetry. Just like last year, its impressive prize fund comprises £1,000 1st, £300 2nd, £100 3rd and two Highly Commended prizes of £50 in each category, kindly sponsored by Pilgrim. 

The Writing Competition that’s Planting a Forest in Africa
As well as nurturing fresh literary talent, they also hope the contest inspires others to help reduce the world’s carbon footprint. The location for the word forest was chosen by forestry expert, Ru Hartwell, founding director of Treeflights the first carbon offset planting project of its kind. He’s also actively involved in several other worldwide planting projects, including Size of Wales, Tree­Nation and Carbon Link amongst others. 

Ru explains, ‘This unique Word Forest is actively reintroducing tropical biodiversity and helping to keep us all a little bit cooler because trees planted near the equator are best placed to draw carbon from the atmosphere. It’s also providing a long­term income stream for the community and will eventually provide them with an urgently needed new classroom for 300 Kenyan children too.’ 

The Writing Competition that’s Planting a Forest in Africa
Alex Katana is the planting and building manager based in Bore. He adds, ‘The whole community are incredibly grateful for the investment in the village and the teachers and I were very happy to receive a copy of the book. The people of Bore really appreciate the effort Simon and Tracey are making to change the lives of Bore people. Everybody wants to read the book and we are going to share it happily. On behalf of all members here, I say thanks abundantly.’ 

Visit to submit your entry and to find out more about the Word Forest. Ongoing details about the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize and plans for the Word Forest will be posted on the Magic Oxygen blog. 

Competition In Brief: 

Prize fund: £3,000 

Short Stories: up to 4,000 words 

Poetry: up to 50 lines 

Entry fee: £5 per submission Entrants to receive GPS coordinates of their tree via Google Earth link Global entries invited from writers age 16+ 

Open for Entries: 1st July 2015 

Closing Date: 31st December 2015 

Shortlist Announced: no later than 14th February 2016 

Winner Announced: TBC 

Review & Media: High res images of the Word Forest and further quotes from Magic Oxygen, Ru Hartwell and the community in Bore are available upon request. 


Simon West: Editor, Magic Oxygen Publishing 
Telephone: 07896 884 114 

Ru Hartwell: Magic Oxygen Word Forest Coordinator 
Telephone: 07773 001 132 

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