American Vignette: Insects and Arachnids. A Writing Challenge.

American Vignette Show Us Your State Writing Challenge badge on andreareadsamerica.com

vignette¹  (vɪˈnjɛt)
– n.

1. a small illustration placed at the beginning or end of a book or chapter
2. a short graceful literary essay or sketch

I am reading my way around the United States in three books per state, and as I read, I am continually confronted by how little of my home country’s landscape and culture I have experienced. When I read a book set in a state I have lived in or traveled to, I can relate to the sense of place, and I love writing about the memories the author’s words evoke. For states I’ve never lived, though, I have no stories to share, and I am at a loss.

This is where you, dear writers, come in. I am seeking guest contributors to share scenes of life from your home states here on Andrea Reads America. I want this site to have more personal touches than just a series of book reviews, and I would like to publish your voices: young, old, gay, straight, white, black, rainbow striped. On the first Wednesday of each month, I will post a prompt to help get your writerly juices flowing. I invite you to write a piece on your own blog using the prompt, or if you do not have a blog, you can email your entry to me (email in the submission guidelines below). I will enable pingbacks so any entries that link to the prompt post will appear on this page for all to read.

The Prize(s)

A state is a big place with many ethnicities, landscapes, subcultures, and city streets, so on the Tuesday before the next prompt is posted I will publish a roundup with links to some of the best place-based pieces. If there is enough participation in the challenges these roundups will reflect the diversity inherent in even the smallest of states, so please, share your stories. When I come across entries that are scene-rich, or culture-rich, are well written, and that capture an atmospheric sense of place for a particular state, I will reach out to authors and ask permission to republish their works here on Andrea Reads America as accompaniment to the write-ups I post for that state’s literature. All re-publications will be credited to the original author and will include an author bio, a link to the author’s website or blog, and links to any social media the author participates in (or whatever information the author would like to share).

This week’s prompt: Insects and Arachnids

Some of the most distinctive memories of a place are evoked by the critters that populate it: mosquitos, butterflies, spiders, scorpions. After living in Georgia and Florida all my life, one of my favorite things about Minnesota was that in the three years we lived there I never saw a single cockroach. Their absence was almost worth the long winters. For this month’s challenge, tell us a true story about insects or arachnids in your state.

Submission Guidelines

  • In fewer than 800 words – in a “short graceful literary essay or sketch” – describe a scene that captures a sense of place in your home state (home may be your childhood home, your current home, or anywhere in between). The sense of place may come from landscape, food, culture, ecology, colloquialisms, or any distinctive element of the state you call home.
  • Your vignette must be set in a state you have lived for a minimum of three months.
  • Tag your piece with American Vignette and with the state it is set in, and use hashtag #AmericanVignette on social media.
  • Please specify in your tags whether your piece is fiction or creative nonfiction. (note: fiction is welcome for the roundups, but only nonfiction will be considered for publication)
  • Deadline for possible inclusion in the “Insects and Arachnids” roundup is July 31, 2014.
  • To create a pingback, feel free to use any or all of the following blurb (remember to check that the link works): Reader, blogger, and essayist Andrea Badgley is collecting “Show Us Your State” stories for her Andrea Reads America website. This is my entry for her American Vignette: Insects and Arachnids writing challenge.
  • If you prefer graphic pingbacks, please link the badge at the top of this page to create the pingback for your entry.
  • If you would like to submit your piece via email, please cut and paste into the body of an email (no attachments) and send it to editor [at] andreareadsamerica [dot] com. A couple of notes about emailing submissions: if you email your piece it has less of a chance of making it into a roundup; remember to title your piece, check your word count, and provide the name of the state in which your vignette is set.

Have fun, and I look forward to escaping into your state!

¹ “vignette.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 05 May. 2014. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vignette>.

American Vignette: Pie. A Writing Challenge.

American Vignette Show Us Your State Writing Challenge badge on andreareadsamerica.com

vignette¹  (vɪˈnjɛt)
– n.

1. a small illustration placed at the beginning or end of a book or chapter
2. a short graceful literary essay or sketch

I am reading my way around the United States in three books per state, and as I read, I am continually confronted by how little of my home country’s landscape and culture I have experienced. When I read a book set in a state I have lived in or traveled to, I can relate to the sense of place, and I love writing about the memories the author’s words evoke. For states I’ve never lived, though, I have no stories to share, and I am at a loss.

This is where you, dear writers, come in. I am seeking guest contributors to share scenes of life from your home states here on Andrea Reads America. I want this site to have more personal touches than just a series of book reviews, and I would like to publish your voices: young, old, gay, straight, white, black, rainbow striped. On the first Wednesday of each month, I will post a prompt to help get your writerly juices flowing. I invite you to write a piece on your own blog using the prompt, or if you do not have a blog, you can email your entry to me (email in the submission guidelines below). I will enable pingbacks so any entries that link to the prompt post will appear on this page for all to read.

The Prize(s)

A state is a big place with many ethnicities, landscapes, subcultures, and city streets, so on the Tuesday before the next prompt is posted I will publish a roundup with links to some of the best place-based pieces. If there is enough participation in the challenges these roundups will reflect the diversity inherent in even the smallest of states, so please, share your stories. When I come across entries that are scene-rich, or culture-rich, are well written, and that capture an atmospheric sense of place for a particular state, I will reach out to authors and ask permission to republish their works here on Andrea Reads America as accompaniment to the write-ups I post for that state’s literature. All re-publications will be credited to the original author and will include an author bio, a link to the author’s website or blog, and links to any social media the author participates in (or whatever information the author would like to share).

This week’s prompt: Pie

I grew up in Georgia where we ate pecan pie and chilled key lime pies, but rarely the warm bubbly pies you associate with autumn. My husband’s Ohio family, on the other hand, eats cherry, apple with lattice, apple with crumble, pumpkin, mincemeat, pecan, chocolate pecan, strawberry-rhubarb, lemon merengue… The list goes on. Write about pie in your home state. Is pie a given? does your aunt keep emergency pies in the freezer? What kind of pie is your state known for? Can you capture your state’s personality in a piece about pie?

Submission Guidelines

  • In fewer than 800 words – in a “short graceful literary essay or sketch” – describe a scene that captures a sense of place in your home state (home may be your childhood home, your current home, or anywhere in between). The sense of place may come from landscape, food, culture, ecology, colloquialisms, or any distinctive element of the state you call home.
  • Your vignette must be set in a state you have lived for a minimum of three months.
  • Tag your piece with American Vignette and with the state it is set in, and use hashtag #AmericanVignette on social media.
  • Please specify in your tags whether your piece is fiction or creative nonfiction. (note: fiction is welcome for the roundups, but only nonfiction will be considered for publication)
  • Deadline for possible inclusion in the “Summer Garments” roundup is June 29, 2014.
  • To create a pingback, feel free to use any or all of the following blurb (remember to check that the link works): Reader, blogger, and essayist Andrea Badgley is collecting “Show Us Your State” stories for her Andrea Reads America website. This is my entry for her American Vignette: Pie writing challenge.
  • If you prefer graphic pingbacks, please link the badge at the top of this page to create the pingback for your entry.
  • If you would like to submit your piece via email, please cut and paste into the body of an email (no attachments) and send it to editor [at] andreareadsamerica [dot] com. A couple of notes about emailing submissions: if you email your piece it has less of a chance of making it into a roundup; remember to title your piece, check your word count, and provide the name of the state in which your vignette is set.

Have fun, and I look forward to escaping into your state!

¹ “vignette.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 05 May. 2014. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vignette>.

Tuesday News and… Two Polls!

Andrea Reads America Connecticut ? book map sans titles on andreareadsamerica.com
What will Connecticut bring?

I finished reading my third Connecticut-set book last night and am now working on my fourth (I can’t seem to stop at three titles). I have been consuming words instead of writing them, so thank goodness for all of the American Vignette contributors who have sent work: you’ve kept the site going while I kicked up my feet and read.

This week on the site readers can look forward to guest posts set in California, Michigan, and West Virginia. Beyond that we will have New Jersey, Utah, Oregon; Texas, Illinois, Vermont. The response to the American Vignette call for submissions has been overwhelming, and I’ve got creative nonfiction shorts lined up for weeks.

The series has gotten so much love, in fact, that I am going to scale back to posting one prompt per month instead of two. The roundups and prompts are taking up valuable real estate on the site that could be filled with stories, essays, and literature capsules. There is still time to contribute to the Summer Garments writing challenge, and once that one is wrapped up I will begin posting prompts only on the first Wednesday of the month. The month-long submission period will give writers more time to work on craft and pull a strong piece together.

I hope you have been enjoying the addition of these guest posts as much as I have. As I incorporate this new creative nonfiction component into my Andrea Reads America project, I have a couple of questions for both writers and readers. I would love your feedback to help make this site what you want to write for and read:

These polls will be open for one week (they will close on June 2). Thanks so much, and stay tuned for the Connecticut literature capsule and more great shorts.