Monday, July 14, 2014

Writers of Chantilly Announce Winners of 2nd Annual Student Writing Contest

Congratulations to the 1st-3rd place winners in the 2nd Annual Student Writing Contest sponsored by the Writers of Chantilly.

Prose winners:

The Mother and Child -- Seungwon B. (Rachel Carson Middle School)
A Conscience's Dream -- Oress Fiona P. (Rachel Carson Middle School)
Unfinished Tree House - Khai N. (Rachel Carson Middle School)
Poetry winners:
Unfinished Stories - Emma V. (Glasgow Middle School)
Untitled poem -- Megan D.  (Thomas Jefferson High School)
Shirley - Caroline D. (Rachel Carson Middle School)

This year’s theme was “Unfinished Business” and we received over 175 stories, poems and essays from middle and high school students all over Fairfax County, VA! Our judges were very impressed with the quality of entries—and the talent of young writers who participated—and had a very difficult time choosing the winners.

The students will be recognized and read their winning entries at an author event and open house on Sunday, September 7, 2014, at the Chantilly Regional Library, 4000 Stringfellow Road, Chantilly, VA, 20151, from 2—4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Please email with questions about the contest or September 7, 2014 event. 

About the Writers of Chantilly
The Writers' of Chantilly meet twice monthly at the Chantilly Library to encourage and support writers 18 and over at all levels—newcomers warmly welcomed. WOC has published several anthologies over the last 12 years, the most recent being Etched in Memory, available on or through the Fairfax County Public Library system. More info:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2nd Annual Writing Contest Now Closed

The 2nd annual writing contest for middle and high school students sponsored by the Writers of Chantilly is now closed. Good luck to all the students who submitted essays, poems and stories this year. Winners will be announced in mid-June.

Check back for contest results and information about our upcoming author event on September 7, 2014, 2-4:30 p.m., at the Chantilly Library (4000 Stringfellow Rd., Chantilly, VA 20151). 
Members of the Writers of Chantilly and aspiring young writers, including winners of this year's writing contest, will read their own stories, essays and poems around the theme of unfinished business at an author reading and open house. Bring your family and support local writers of all ages.

For more details, email:

About the Writers of Chantilly
The Writers' of Chantilly meet twice monthly at the Chantilly Library to encourage and support writers 18 and over at all levels—newcomers warmly welcomed. WOC has published several anthologies over the last 12 years, the most recent being Etched in Memory, available on or through the Fairfax County Public Library system.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Writing Contest for Middle & High School Students Sponsored by The Writers of Chantilly

The Writers of Chantilly, a not-for-profit organization of local professional and aspiring writers in Chantilly, Virginia, is sponsoring a free writing contest open to middle and high school students in Fairfax County.

Students are invited to write an original essay, short story or poem on the theme “Unfinished Business”—about a goal, a regret, or something left incomplete or unresolved in the past.

First through third place winners will be chosen to read their work at an author event held on Sunday, September 7, 2014, from 2—4 p.m., at the Chantilly Regional Library in Chantilly, VA. Winners also will receive a writing prize package, and have their work published in a future Writers of Chantilly anthology.

·         Only one entry per author may be entered
·         Entries must be postmarked/received by May 31, 2014 to be eligible
·         Works must be written by students, and reflect their own original ideas
·         Pieces will be judged on creativity, content and structure (stories and essays should have a beginning, middle and end; poems may be free verse)
·         Stories can be fiction or nonfiction
·         Only unpublished works are eligible
·         Previous winners of a Writers of Chantilly writing contest are not eligible to enter
·         Entries must be typed in English
·         Maximum word count of 1,000

Please include your name, grade, school, mailing address, email address and phone number with your entry (your information will be kept confidential), and note if your piece is fiction or nonfiction. All entries will be acknowledged; winners will be notified by June 16, 2014.

Email entries to:

About the Writers of Chantilly
The Writers' of Chantilly meet twice monthly at the Chantilly Library to encourage and support writers 18 and over at all levels—newcomers warmly welcomed. WOC has published several anthologies over the last 12 years, the most recent being Etched in Memory, available on or through the Fairfax County Public Library system. More info: 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Writers of Chantilly Anthologies Featured at Book 'Em Event in North Carolina

Writers of Chantilly member Denice Jobe represented the Writers of Chantilly at the Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair in Lumberton, NC, on February 22, 2014.

The annual event, now in its third year, brings together authors, publishers and literary agents who sell and sign their books and participate in talks and panel discussions. A portion of the proceeds raised from the event is given to the community - Robeson County and Lumberton, North Carolina - for the purpose of increasing literacy and reducing crime.

A record 4,000 readers and writers attended this year's event.

Copies of The Writers of Chantilly's anthologies, Nana...and Other Grandmothers and A Medley of Mischief, Mayhem and Madness were available for purchase at our table. Nana was very popular, selling out by mid-day!

Along with books for sale, several of our earlier anthologies were on display, and Denice handed out promotional fliers about our most recent anthology, Etched in Memory, to all who stopped by to check out the books and to learn about the group.

Overall, it was a fun and successful event, and a wonderful opportunity for The Writers of Chantilly to reach new readers.

Writers of Chantilly member Ruth Perry created this eye-catching wall poster that really made our table stand out at Book 'Em

A selection of Writers of Chantilly anthologies on display at Book 'Em

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Journey to Self-Publishing

By Kalyani Kurup

Excerpt from the personal narrative ‘A Journey to Self-Publishing’

Meanwhile, while I was writing facts for others and fiction for myself, my personal life had taken some unexpected detours. After a life that had taken me through every corner of India and given me experiences of scorching summers, bone-freezing winters, billowing dust storms, and earth-drowning rains, I found myself catapulted onto a new continent. Courtesy of my daughter, I ended up in the USA, and found myself trying to fathom the esotericisms of a new country.

Near the apartment in which I live in Fairfax, there is a library called Chantilly Regional Library, one of the many Fairfax County library branches. I had been there now and then to take books and to participate in book discussions, but it was only in the middle of 2012 that I stumbled into a writers’ organization called ‘Writers of Chantilly’ which meets there twice a month.

‘Writers of Chantilly’ is a motley crew of people who are in love with words and sentences. I found that some of them were established writers glowing in the happiness of the checks they regularly received. Some had just managed to leapfrog into the world of published authors and were exploring the wonders of their new world. Some others probably had, like me, the experiences of chasing agents or sweating it out in post office queues with their manuscripts on their head. The important thing was that they understood each other’s hopes, dreams, fears, dreads, needs, and yearnings.

I asked if I could join their group and they readily let me in. There was no formal interview and no filling up of forms to declare my age-gender-height-weight-sugar-cholesterol-father’s name and records of lawbreaking. They accepted me as if they were expecting me to drop down from heavens into the library’s conference room in the spring of 2012, even though I am visibly incompatible with the rest in height, weight, accent, and skin color.

Empathy is the true union on which ‘Writers of Chantilly’ revolves. Exchange of ideas and constructive criticism are the fabrics that hold the members together. They turned out to be the support system that I had always yearned for but had not found till then.

For anyone who is interested in writing, there is an indefinable ease and comfort in being part of a writer’s group. When I joined, WOC was on its way to publishing an anthology on grandmothers, and as a member I was eligible to contribute. I was hesitant in the beginning because I was not sure of their selection criteria.
I did, however, try. And they did, instantly accept. I felt almost as if I was back in those early days of freelancing in the mid-1980s when I just wrote what I liked and sent it to magazines and they published it. Life seemed to have come full circle.

‘Writers of Chantilly’ introduced me into the world of self-publishing. I had heard about the alternative world of self-publishing even before I became a part of WOC. But I had then believed it to be a sort of shadowy underworld where anemic souls rejected by publishing companies went to build their nests. But the new company made me wiser on the nitty-gritty of self-publishing. I realized that it was no longer an inferior world populated by discarded souls. Self-published authors were apparently giving big publishing companies a run for their money. Self-publishing had introduced a new world order where you were doomed only if readers handed out a negative verdict and not if established publishers rejected you.

All that information was a fresh gust of wind for me. I decided to publish my accumulated material – two novels and many collections of stories nestling in attics and lofts and hibernating CDs and thumb drives….
Self-publishing is no easy trapeze, and does not in itself solve all of a writer’s problems. It is still a long road ahead, but every journey has to start with a small step. I am ever grateful that ‘Writers of Chantilly’ helped me take this tiny first step.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Achieving Success and Fulfillment as a Writer—Without Being Published

Thanks to Denice Jobe, a long-standing Writers of Chantilly member who provides our latest post!  DENICE JOBE'S features and essays have appeared in The Washington Post and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More,among others. She lives in Centreville, Virginia,with her husband, Steve, and twin boys, Nick and Henry. 

Achieving Success and Fulfillment as a Writer—
Without Being Published            

In fifth grade, I wrote and illustrated my own series of children’s books. Spooky, about a ghost who liked chocolate bars, was my favorite. Spooky was never officially published. It didn’t win a Newberry Medal or earn royalties. It didn’t have to. Finishing the story—showing it to my mother—was reward enough.      
Fast forward decades later and most of what I write is intended for eventual publication to a wide audience. I’ve even scoured my journal for ideas. Whenever I’m writing my thoughts, there’s always a question, can I expand this into an essay or article? Is there a market for this?
Many authors start out writing for fun and self-expression but get caught up in the idea that they have to be published to be successful as writers.
We can’t deny the lure of publication. Seeing our name in a national magazine or on a book cover—and getting paid—does for writers what the Super Bowl does for football players. It may seem that publication is the ultimate achievement. But there are rewarding alternatives to traditional publishing.
Can you be a successful writer without being published? Absolutely! Here’s how:

Writing serves a need in each of us. Do you write to express yourself? To work through crises? To connect with others? To make a difference in the world? To leave a legacy? To tell a story?
Once you figure out your reasons for writing, it’s possible to come up with alternate ways to satisfy those needs, without having to publish in the traditional sense. It might be that you don’t have to write a bestseller after all.

Channel your talent and creativity into something worthwhile. If you want to make a difference in the world, start locally. For example, a playwright/scriptwriter can partner with a community playhouse, high school drama club, or student filmmaker to see her vision on stage or screen. A poet can share his work in classrooms or mentor aspiring poets—children, adults, seniors—and arrange community readings. Authors can write for church newsletters, neighborhood aid groups and nonprofit organizations.
There are ways to satisfy a need to connect with other people and share ideas without joining the publishing rat race. A blog is just the thing for authors who like to write opinion or humor pieces. If you are involved in a hobby or club, start a newsletter or website. If you’re a novelist, write down your stories for friends and a family, or record it on a CD they can listen to while driving. A romance writer can pen steamy stories to share with his or her partner.
Look for writing opportunities at work with your company’s public relations or communications department. Volunteer to write content for their publications or website. It might lead to a paying position. By the way, if you’ve been putting off quitting your “dead-end” job until after you’ve sold your first novel, it’s time to find new employment where you can write every day and shine at it.  
Many authors have a powerful need to tell their personal stories but believe they’ve failed as writers if they can’t sell them to a publisher. Unfortunately, there are more of us writing our histories than publishers can accommodate. All the same, your stories are worthy and deserve to be shared.
Compile them along with photographs into a book for your family. There are online publishers such as that you can use to create beautiful and lasting keepsakes that will be handed down for generations.
I enjoy writing personal essays with a humorous slant. These are notoriously hard to sell. That doesn’t mean they are not important works. I’ve decided to collect them into a book for my children. They will enjoy reading them when they’re older.
If you believe that the only way for you to leave a lasting legacy is to be published, consider this: a newspaper story is gone in a day, a magazine article in a month. Very few books achieve bestseller or classic status. We read them, learn something from them—or not—and move on to the next. But think of all the old letters that people have saved over the years. They weren’t published at the time they were written or read by anyone but the recipient. Does that make them any less historically significant?
Letters and photographs, family stories, children’s artwork…these are what people treasure.

That’s inspirational and all, but I want a book I can hold in my hands. Self publishing using services like may be an option for people who want to do more with their manuscripts than keep them in a three-ring binder. There are countless resources online to guide you through the process if you decide self publishing is right for you. It comes down to your goals for your work and whether they will ultimately be met by self publishing. We've all heard stories of people whose self published books have gone on to become commercial bestsellers. Even if your book does not achieve that level of success, self publishing can help you produce a quality piece to share with people you know.

If you’re already caught up in the harsh cycle of submissions and rejections STOP! The reality is that often, no matter how hard we work, or how skilled we are, or how great our idea is, we just can’t break in. Frequent rejection is an occupational hazard for writers who shop their work. 
Isaac Asimov wrote, “Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them.” In fact, there is a way around them. It’s called don’t submit. Why suffer rejection if you don’t have to? Choosing not to write for publication is a valid option. It can even be liberating.
If you are fixated on publication—if you can’t remember why you got into writing in the first place—it’s time for an intervention. Take a scheduled break during which you write nothing, or if that’s too extreme (some of us can’t not write) write with no thought towards publishing.
Try this: write for an hour on any topic and destroy the results. Delete it. Shred it. Repeat the exercise until it’s no longer uncomfortable for you to write just for yourself.
Experiment with new forms. For instance, if you typically write fiction, write an opinion piece. Step out of your comfort zone. Take risks. Expand your range of skills.
If you’re feeling beaten down by rejection, try another type of self-expression like painting or go on an adventure to rekindle your spirit.
The point is to challenge yourself. Growing as a writer and a person—learning something new—can generate feelings of excitement and accomplishment.

A Successful Writer is a Fulfilled Writer. When I became preoccupied with getting my work published I stopped writing for the sheer pleasure of it. Me, write a poem? Please. There’s no market for it.
What I realized after some serious soul-searching is this: there are many paths to success and fulfillment for a writer. Being published is just one of them. It might not even be the right path for some writers.  
That’s okay. We don’t have to be professional, published or paid writers to be real writers. Using our talent in other ways—writing for ourselves, for work, for our children, for our communities, for the hell of it—are all satisfying options.
It’s your choice. It could be that writing not for publication will make you happier than you’ve ever been as a writer.