A New Batch of Little Gems

The results are in for the RWA Little Gems contest, the competition to earn a place in our annual short story anthology.

Once again the Little Gems was a hard fought contest with entries requiring a score of at least 92.7% to gain a place in the Anthology. This year we were able to take 15 stories from the 69 entries with a good mix of historical, contemporary and paranormal. Something for everyone. Congratulations to:

First: Jean Versace

Second: Emmeline Lock

Third: Patsy Poppenbeek

And our other successful contributors:

Cheryl Baker
Gabrielle Battistel
Harriet Jarvis
Delwyn Jenkins
Cathryn Jones
C.A. Main
Dorothy Martin
Jennifer Rae
Ute Rozenbilds
Shayne Sands
Jacquie Underdown
Vanda Vadas

Thanks, as always to Lis Hoorweg, our volunteer judges and everyone who makes our contests possible.

Little Gems 2012 Author – Vanda Vadas

Little Gems welcomes back Vanda Vadas.

The name of her 2012 Diamond Edition story is: Queen of Diamonds


What challenges you most in writing a short romance story?

Coming up with an idea that is a little outside the square. Given that this year’s gem is DIAMOND, I wanted to steer away from the obvious…that being a story that revolves around diamond jewellery (although, I do allude to it in my story).

My tip: In last year’s Little Gems Garnet Blog Bites, I mentioned that my stories are inspired by location. My characters evolve as a result of the chosen location. I worked through the same process this year.

Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?

Yes…there is a part in the story where the heroine is fishing for information from the hero with regard to what he considers to be his perfect type of woman. It is her response to his reply that I had fun with. I won’t quote it here. It needs to be read in context.

What was you inspiration for the story?

I have my husband to thank for this one! We live on the beautiful Gold Coast and we were taking a walk along the beach one day before Christmas. I was telling him about my story ideas, that I wanted to come up with something a little abstract. He suggested setting the story (location) in a casino. I thought this a brilliant idea! Jupiter’s Casino in Surfers Paradise came to mind. Talk about an excuse to do some creative research! We spent time with family in Sydney over Christmas and whilst driving back home, I put pen to paper and did the first draft of QUEEN OF DIAMONDS.

What are you working on now and what are your writing goals for the future?

A Scottish Historical. Goals? To finish the book and to ultimately see it (and my other books) published.

How can people find out more about you/your writing? Do you have a website or blog?

I don’t have a website or blog. However, I’ve had some articles published on Suite101.com and also in a College bi-annual publication. I’ve edited two non-fiction books (published). I’ve been a finalist in national (RWAust), international (RWAmerica) and online writing competitions and have had success with three Little Gems Anthology publications.

Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA National Conference in August?

Most definitely. I’m looking forward to being around people whose passion it is to write wonderful stories and create lasting memorable characters.

Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).

The Big Tip About Little Gems

Don’t YOU miss out!

Orders now open for the 2011 Little Gems Anthology – Garnet Edition.

Sixteen superb short stories nestled between an amazingly beautiful cover.

To order, visit the RWA website.

NB: ordering now will help us determine our print run and while we do print some spares, they are usually snapped up fast.

So take a tip from me – avoid disappointment by pre-ordering NOW!

Your copy/copies can be mailed out or collected at the RWA conference. NOTE: Books will not be available until RWA conference time (August)

Little Gems Anthology ~ Garnet ~ 2011 

Cover design by Sheridan Kent

Lynne Kokshoorn—Love and All That Jazz
Cara Gabriel—The Real Me
Lilian Begelhole—The Sixth Garnet
Jenn J McLeod —Swept Away
Nea Bovill—Cabin Fever
Miranda Knight —The Talisman
Jennifer Hoff—The Spanish Boy
Fiona Kekic—Blue Garnet
Dorothy Martin—Just Imagine
Shauna McConaghy—Keeper Of the Dragon’s Heart
Helena Morrison—Time After Time
Astrid Quiller—Portrait With Wine Stains
Louise Reynolds—The Xianjing Garnet
Pam Swain—It’s All In the Name
Penny Swingler—The Replaying of ‘Worth It’
Vanda Vadas—A Passionate Love

BLOG BITE with…Vanda Vadas

Vanda is another author in our special Little Gems feature Blog Bite and following her 2009 (Turquoise) edition placing we asked her to share her tips and her inspiration when it comes to writing a winning short story….

So firstly, Vanda, tell us about writing short stories …

In 2009, Little Gems (Turquoise) was the first short story competition I’d ever entered, and I was fortunate enough to place third with UNBROKEN BONDS.

This year was my second attempt and I’m thrilled the judges liked my story, A PASSIONATE LOVE, enough to see it published in the Garnet edition. And what a cover! Absolutely gorgeous. 

Both of my stories were inspired by location: outdoor locales that have left an indelible imprint on my memory and in my heart. Secondly, the characters evolved as a result of emotions inspired by the location. I draw on memories, personal photographs and picture books to help with tactile relevance, be it landscape, seasons, night or day, or using the five senses etc. Then I try to marry the descriptions and background information with compelling characters and what their point is in being there.

The reader might twig early in the piece as to what is going on beneath the surface of my stories. If not, then all the better. I’d like to think they are pleasantly surprised and that the ending has a feel-good, lasting romantic impression on them.

On a final note, whether meeting the maximum word count, or falling just shy of it, I prefer not to compromise quality for quantity. Padding out a story simply to get words on the page does not guarantee a satisfying read. Better to maintain the integrity of the story, it’s characters and the message within. 

Three words to describe me…

Hmmm. My adorable husband of 22 years threw a few words in the ring, yet we agreed on the following…

I’m loyal to the nth degree. Family and friends know they can count on me and I’ll go out of my way to support, assist or ‘be there’ for them. The same can be said for my work ethic. I can thank my parents for that.

Compassionate, sometimes ridiculously so, even when  viewing a commercial for a teary Disney movie.

Orderly. I’m talking ‘methodical’ and ‘tidy’ here. If my physical surrounds are a mess, then I don’t think straight. I remember as a school and Uni student, I couldn’t study or do assignments effectively unless my room was tidy. To this day, if our study is not reasonably tidy, the writing doesn’t flow so well.  As for my husband’s habits? I guess you could say opposites attract.

It’s a bit daggy but I love…

Astro Boy. At the age of six, he was my first real character ‘hero’. And Marine Boy came a close second. The fact that they are cartoon characters had no impact on me. They had super powers and they righted wrongs. I use to wish I could fly like Astro and swim under water like Marine Boy. I’ll even confess to owning a beach towel with none other than Astro Boy on it. Daggy, I know!

Saving for…

A family holiday. Skiing sounds good. We just have to organise work and uni timetables.

Three things people might not know about me are…

How’s this for some random facts… I was born in Papua New Guinea, played violin (many years ago) in Sydney with the Kuring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra, and I have a red belt in Karate.

Favourite genre…

Historical: Jane Austen, Pirates, Native American (just love The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day-Lewis) and Paranormal: Vampires (enjoyed watching the TV series, Moonlight).

Currently reading… 

I’ve just bought MY RECKLESS SURRENDER by Anna Campbell, even though I’m 50 pages into A YEAR AND A DAY by Virginia Henley (Scottish Historical).

Plotter or pantser…

Being ‘orderly’, I do like to plot, however my stories evolve from ‘scenes’. It’s like watching a movie in my head and then I piece the scenes together to complete the plot/story.

I would most like to meet…  

OK, so I’ll put it out there. I’d love to meet Jon Bon Jovi. When my husband and I lived, loved, and laughed our way through Europe back in the late 80’s, we had to manage on a lean daily budget. I’m certain Bon Jovi’s song ‘Living On A Prayer’ was written for us. I’m still a fan of theirs. See? Loyalty. 

I write…

Mainly historical. I’m currently working on one with a Scottish flavour. Both my Little Gems short stories blend the past and the present.

GIVEAWAY – Vanda has a special A5 Lined Journal (gorgeous red material cover with heart on it) and a 3-in-1 pen to give to one lucky commenter. She hopes it will encourage the winner to jot down their ideas for the next Little Gems comp, or for creative writing thoughts, or perhaps use it at the conference (if they intend going).

GIVEAWAY WINNER: Congratulations Suzanne Brandyn who wins that special journal.

Thank you, Vanda, for letting us know a little more about one of RWA’s Little Gems authors.

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