Semi Finalists announced for Once Upon a Time

Hello again from the Towers that are A Word with You Press. (Actually, these towers are the Sully Castle on the Loire.  Field trip?  Anyone?)

A word with you about this contest.

The purpose of Once Upon a Time, and the reason the editor-in-chief (Moi) and a rotation of volunteers have produced over forty contests over the past five years is to cajole, intimidate, co-erce, bribe, and even INSPIRE anyone who enters this website to tell their stories. Our common bond–that which exists between those who create this site and those who feed it with their submissions is that we are all enameled–oops!–enamored –of the beauty and power of the written word.

But to what end? Each one of us is a nationality unto ourselves.  Each person we encounter is a foreign country with a language all their own. Our words, written down, are really just the translations of thoughts, feelings, and experiences that are wordless. We invent and fabricate words- crass, cruel, and rudimentary as they might be- in order to be better understood, and accepted into that foreign country that is another person’s heart, mind, and soul.  The better the translation, the more likely a visa will be granted.

Writing, or course, is therapeutic, but with repetition of the endeavor, and with intent, the therapy becomes art. A Word with You Press exists to provide a canvass to allow you to paint and exhibit the landscape contained under your own skin. You are artists; language is your box of crayolas. Administering this website keeps me poor, and keeps me rich.  Thank you all for being a part of it.

Once Upon a Time is our first contest that is/was without any guidelines what-so-ever: no word limit, no prompt, no borders. Those who entered were charged to submit a prologue, and to use their own judgment to even decide what a prologue is, and what length it should be.  Once the prologue was written, a wanna-be writer could no longer say they were gonna write a book; they had begun.

I have selected five semi-finalists. Three I picked because their stories appealed to my own subjective values, and two drawn from a hat. In the past, randomly selected stories have gone on to win the over-all contests. Semi finalists must now submit within five days the first chapter that follows their prologue. Three finalists will be selected by some process other than my own personal tastes and propensity to extract bribes.

Also worth noting:  Mike Casper would have been on my list, but as I am also his editor, the scandal that might ensue if he won might result in my never get elected to congress. I have asked Mike to submit chapters one and two anyway, In fact, all of you are invited to submit your followup chapters to have me post just because.

And so, here are the people who will not hate me for the rest of the day. If you are on this list and submitted more than one entry, feel free to follow through on your favorite.

Madam Parisianne Modert

Laura Girardeau

Michael Dilts

Wendy Joseph

Robert Marazas

best of luck!





18 thoughts on “Semi Finalists announced for Once Upon a Time

  1. Thornton says:

    To clarify: the five semi finalists must submit (ahhhh! submission!) by Monday morning, 8 o’clock, June 16th.

    Everyone else is encouraged to submit your first chapters by the as well. All semi-finalists should also indicate if they would like a generic Barnes and Noble gift card or for which independent books store of their choice

  2. Parisianne Modert says:

    Thank you for the personal honor of being chosen to move on into the semi-finals. “Once Upon A Time” has been another success set of stories thanks to the hard work and family atmosphere that is A Word With You Press. I am humbled by the quality of entries of those chosen and unchosen as semi-finalists. For those who weren’t chosen, but entered such talented, written prologues my sympathies, because your entries were brilliant. To those whose prologues were an inspiration to read, but were not eligible for consideration, I wish to thank you for how much I have learned from your examples of fine writing. I also wanted to acknowledge the artistic impressions and behind the scenes work of my friend in life, Mr. Billy Holder who brings an unvarnished truth without apology to me which I often need.

    I also want to give a special thank you to Mr. Fred Rivera for his belief and personal courage in “Raw Man” which I long to read upon well deserved publication. You have given us Fred, a work which deserves national recognition for the merit of its context, a place in all peace loving people’s hearts and an implanted memory for all of us who write. As writers we need to remember that our words can change this troubled world. For this, you are my hero of this contest and beyond.

    I thank you Mr. Editor-In-Chief Thorn, for tolerating and good humor offered in counter-balance to my often scandalous behavior in written word as well as projected into my life (or is it the other way around?). O, well! Thank you Thorn for your many generous gifts of heart and time to all of us.

  3. Thornton says:

    I am sure you have delighted a lot of people by making it into the semi-finals! Thank you for giving each writer such personal attention in your critiques of their work. I wish we had a hundred like you on this site!

    the thornicator

  4. Mike Casper says:

    Well, I am honored at the disqualifying honorable honor, disappointing as it is. Thorn and I worked long hours on my book and I certainly understand his stance. Kudos and ‘Grats to those who made the semi finals cut.
    Even though I am not eligible for the prize, would you peeps mind iffen I submitted my first chapter anyways? I could use the exposure and your feedback would be invaluable.

  5. Michael Stang says:

    A hearty good cheer to all the semi artists for flashing their skirts high enough for the editor to notice. In this contest, we see that takes some doing.

    Parisianne, your thoughts about your last entry fees right to me. The mesha-metz: emotion on the table, love lost an found, disgarded and adored. I gotta tell you, babe (sorry, know you hate that word) you are the Queen. Very best of luck.

    I have commented on everyone’s entry at their own space, except that I wanted to additionally mention Mr. Marazas’s effort. Here is a true spirit of the heart. Shaking the coins and throwing them on the table. Best of luck to you Robert.

    Can’t tell you how it makes my heart feel seeing all this talent, new and revised, come forth.

  6. Parisianne Modert says:

    Dear Michael,

    I am such a strange kettle of fish when I am in my Brit mood that I absolutely adore being called any form of “baby” by a man (or woman or anything remotely human actually). While I hold dear to the line, “I bet no one has ever called you Baby, Theodora.”, from the classic screwball comedy of 1936, “Theodora Goes Wild” starring Irene Dunne as Theodora Lynn, I’ll have you know that it took me over 60 years before a man called me, “Baby”. I melted when he did, because…well, I retain a certain small crush on the gentleman.

    As I was saying about not playing cricket. I didn’t? Well there you are, but does anyone understand rules on a publishing site anyway? I’m the kind of lady who draws two aces in blackjack, pulls another out of her garter and triples down daring the croupier to not take my stretched bet while I bat my eyes at them. That’s what I did if anyone was paying attention while my skirt was being lifted. I know which of the three aces will have chapter one sent in, because I am in an extremely dark mood these days. Anyone checking out my Facebook page profile picture should get an instant answer to which I am choosing to submit for the semi-finals. Let’s say that I am gambler at heart with a fondness for the Sydney, Australia football team. Enough clues for now, so dare to be surprised by the semi-dare I will be answering with chapter one of…ooops, almost let the swans out of the bag.

    Hmmm…I also say…”God save the Queen” within my prayers, so no offense taken. In fact, when the comment of flashing my skirt nearly high enough for my knickers to let a gent get a glance, o, my, is rather dishy is it not?

    I wish the other semi-finalist and other submitters both excellent writing inspiration and clear editing. We are all winners in this community of talented and inspired writers who love the printed word. Tah tah!

  7. Robert Marazas says:

    To Michael Stang,

    Thank you for the kind words. I’m honored to be a semi-finalists, and doubly honored to be in such a group of professionals.

    Regards, and luck to all.

  8. Parisianne Modert says:

    Friday the 13th – 11:15 pm…Chapter One of my “Smoke Veil Bridge” has been entered into the semi-finals of “Once Upon A Time” at A Word With You Press. The chapter’s name is “Underwater Swan Song”.

    Within the chapter we are introduced to three main characters, one of which will not see Chapter Two, teased with a fourth that will be more prominent in Chapter Two and learn more about my two main ladies which were in the prologue I chose out of the three prologues I originally entered. There are two minor characters which I haven’t decided what to do with yet.

    Chapter One received its final edit just this evening. Chapter Two is written, but has many, many edits to go before it sleeps. One of the painful lessons I have learned as a writer is that 90 percent of story telling is in the editing process which includes beta testing.

    I again wish the other four semi-finalists as well as the other Chapter one entry writers good writing, good editing and good cheer, because we are all winners and privileged to share our talents with one another.

  9. Shawna A Smart says:

    Congratulations everyone on your selection!

    Well written and well deserved.

    I just wanted to make a late note of apology for not being able to comment earlier on the entries. I had a bit of something in my eyes, and so all my work the last six months has been in the dark, dictating, with no way except the torture of my tired husband to tweak anything:)

    However, my sight, weak and blurry as it is, has been restored. I miss my typos some, and typing is shaky but hey, I thank the stars for modern medicine, 99 percent bull____ and 1 percent vital. I just got my 1 percent.

    Fond regards,


  10. Laura Girardeau says:

    Thanks also to the contest creator, Thorn, for challenging us. Many of us get stuck in our ivory towers in terms of genres, lengths, and plans for our pieces. Probably most of us did not see ourselves as novelists before this contest! This shakes things up a bit, and the multiple tiers of competition keep the spark going and boost our learning in the “writer’s workshop”.

  11. Parisianne Modert says:

    Unlike most of you perhaps I began with a novel being my first, second and so forth attempts to write and write well. It took 1 million words before I became less than mediocre and another million before I became an artist by getting tired of writing novels and turning to poetry.

    These contests therefore have been throwback experience for me exposing my roots with a lot of touching up to do with the first two novels offered up in chapters one and two and the experience of challenging myself to dare to complete novel number 13 having left several incomplete after number 12 was completed.

    As unconventional as my writing style is, I can claim it for my own. “Once Upon A Time” has allowed me more in editing than original creation which is 90 percent of writing to me. First drafts of novels can be wretched creatures full of illogical conclusions, lack of continuity and character and plot inconsistencies. They are creatures requiring trimming and firming up as well. Yes, novel writing is too complex and lively to flowchart, yet they require a sense of beginning towards ending. How many cliffhangers can I fall from let me count the ways, dear Elizabeth, God bless your rest, and all of us who dare to dream of plopping down a 300 page nightmare on an editor’s desk or desktop.

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