Kelsey Sandy
One of my professors once told me to never pass up a free contest. She started her career by winning a book contest, and now, not only has she been teaching Creative Writing for over 20 years, but she is the author of two novels, three short story collections, two chapbooks of poetry, one play, and many essays.

Contests are a great way to get your name and work out and add another line to your Author Bio (not to mention that constantly entering contests means that you are constantly writing!).

I came across this free contest today: the Your Story Competition at Writer's Digest

Every other month, Writer's Digest posts a short prompt. In response, you submit a short story. There are currently two contests open.

(1) Write an opening sentence to a story, 25 words or less, based on a photograph. This contest ends Sept. 10.

(2) Write a short story of 750 words or less (that's a really short story!) in response to the following prompt: "After being pulled over for speeding, your character finds something important while looking for her registration in the glove compartment." This contest ends Oct. 10.

The grand prize? Publication in the next Writer's Digest! Talk about getting your name and work out there!

Best of luck to everyone, and keep writing, fellow writers!
Jessica Leake

I just finished reading ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis. It had been on my TBR list for awhile, and I finally got the chance these past few days. It was fabulous, just like I knew it would be. As Kiersten White says about it on the cover: “A horrifying and deliciously claustrophobic masterpiece that’s part sci-fi, part dystopian, and entirely brilliant.” The sci-fi element was very well done, and is in fact why I held off reading it for so long. I’m terrified of space. I don’t know why. It’s not like I can’t watch Star Trek or Star Wars, but if I let myself really think about it (like this book forces you to do), I get creeped out. It really does make you claustrophobic and appreciative of being able to walk outside and enjoy the sunshine and breeze (even if it is 100 degrees out).

The part that interested me most was how Beth Revis showed in brilliantly thought-out detail, what would happen if free speech, individuality, and emotions were all taken away at the whims of a dictator. “Differences” are cited by Eldest as a cause of discord. Which, when you think about it, is true. Differences have caused war, do cause war. But what Ms. Revis encourages you to do is think about what our lives would be like if we had no differences, no individuality. In her dystopian world, the Hitler-esque dictator succeeded in creating his Master Race. Everyone was the same, and things were peaceful. Peaceful because the people had become zombie-like. It was either that, or become suicidal. We need differences, individuality, free speech and thought. Without them, creativity and progress come to a screeching halt. Everything that makes life worth living, really, disappears.

It was disturbing to see the people with no emotions. Even though I would hate to be stuck on a space ship for centuries, I would still want to be able to feel. As the MC Amy said: “In amongst all this sorrow there is also joy. You can’t have one without the other.”

Life under a communist regime wasn’t the only controversial issue tackled in this book. The impact of euthanasia and genetic engineering was also portrayed. It seemed to be a natural progression because of the lack of respect for human life.

I love books that make you think—even if the thoughts are disturbing. Anyone else read this book? What were your thoughts?