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Colleen Raymond

Colleen Raymond is the oldest of four sisters who, when combined with their mother, have enough spirit to have turned their father into an avid and highly regarded fly fisherman. Her degree in Journalism and her Masters in Education keep each other company in a desk drawer as she raises her two-year-old in an old farmhouse with five cats (or is it six?). While doing this, she somehow even manages to tolerate her husband’s talent for acquiring worthless 80’s sports sedans. Colleen is stubbornly insistent on spending time outside each day despite her aversion to bugs. She also persists in her love of creating recipes and making a real dinner every evening even though she still can’t manage to get it done in less than two hours. Because of all this, she likes to write lines in the wee hours of the morning when the blissful silence is full of all the things that fill her heart and mind throughout each hectic day.

Story: Vanessa and the Milkman


Each week authors will be given a new question to answer which will lend additional insight into their story and writing process. Do you have a question you'd like to see the authors answer? Tweet it to @aNextAuthor!

What is the best writing advice you've ever heard?
Emile Zola speaks to me particularly: “If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” I've made many excuses for why I couldn’t write seriously. Now, I need writing to identify myself to the world.
When you start a new story do you prepare an outline in advance or do you just jump right in?
Usually, when an idea strikes, I write until there’s nothing left. If I put it off and do something else, I lose the power of that moment. However, on longer works a good outline is really crucial to keeping me focused.
How do you deal with writing criticism, apart from just ignoring it?
I equate public criticism with being in a good writing class. Your piece will be ruthlessly torn apart, its merits honestly acknowledged, and you will be better for it every time.
America's Next Author has been running for almost 8 weeks. If you could re-submit now, would you change anything about your story?
I found two grammatical errors that have been bothering me! Also, I think I would introduce dialogue sooner. All in all, I'm still pretty satisfied with Vanessa.



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I loved your story. I could really connect with the MC and her issues. I liked the understated attraction between the two. I did struggle to flow with the dialogue between them, to begin with, but it settled nicely later. I think the chemistry between them was cute. And as someone who likes baking, I perked up with all the cake references. Great writing! If you are able, please check out my story, Double Take, and tell me what you think.

Summer Beth

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This was a great story Colleen. You did a great job developing the main character, I definitely felt Vanessa's loneliness and struggle for a family. The only thing was I felt the dialogue was a little unrealistic, but other than that, great job!

Schrodinger Feline

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Absolutely loved it! Your development of the characters was amazing for such a short piece! I instantly fell in love. Could not stop smiling and pulling for Vanessa throughout the entire story! Never give up Colleen!

Addai Agyemang

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Your story made me happy, I just found myself smiling when I finished it. I loved the interaction between Vanessa and the Milkman, your dialogue is fantastic! The details and descriptions really enriched the small town setting your story took place in. Another thing I loved where the descriptions of the cakes. Yum :) The only thing that felt a bit unrealistic was the way Vanessa's "friends" exiled her for quitting her job. Other than that your story was fantastic. It put a smile on my face and I love when stories can do that! If possible could you please check out my story "The Freedom of the Stars" and leave a review. Thanks so much! By the way three other female siblings, I know how you feel =so much fun and so much trouble at the same time. Except in my case I'm the youngest girl so it's just a lot of trouble :)

M.J. Milner

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Very happy to read this well written story. It reminded me of an award wining one I wrote years ago called The Psychotic Muffins of Calvin Gaston. Sadly we'll never share food but thanks for sharing your writing. excellent character development AND story arc. Happy to see that your characters each have separate voices and that your story structure stands up. All in all a classy piece of writing. Thank you for your effort over the years- its where writers come from.


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Nice story with well written descriptions that make the reader visualize the characters and settings (and chocolate!). Hope to read more soon.

Margaret Alice

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This was such a sweet story. Your writing style is very lovely. I really enjoyed how the writing style and tone reflected the actual heartwarming contents of the story. Could you check out my story, "The Fate Continuum?" Good Luck!


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really well written story, please write more!


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enjoyable read with complex and relatable characters, well done Colleen!


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my favorite author!! can't wait to read a novel by Colleen!


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beautiful story, compelling characters and narrative. would enjoy reading more by this author


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I believe the author has a talent for telling a story and using great descriptive narrative. I could smell the chocolate in the kitchen as she described her baking routine. Quaint, believable and a good read.


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The story held my interest throughout. The descriptions were meaningful, brief, and effective. A common error I find in short stories is overwriting descriptions, but this story moved quickly and was easy to read. I found the story to be uplifting and positive.


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Lisa Rose

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I really enjoyed your story. What I wouldn't give to be Vanessa (social awkwardness and all) and quit my job and stay home. I did notice a few grammatical errors, nothing big. If you have the time please read my story 'Drift Away' and leave a review to let me know if you liked it.


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As an insiring writer myself, I really enjoyed this story becuase of the masterful way that the author described the characters' thoughts and experiences to really make them come alive for the reader in unique and non-cliche manner.


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enjoyable read, very promising author!


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I really connected with this story and was so wrapped up in the characters i really want to read more ...

furman grad

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Very enjoyable read; she writes with such detail that is makes the reading experience much more pleasureable.


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Nice story. I really have to confess that I couldn't get back to my paper grading until I finished it. Yes, I am a teacher. I love teaching but I could relate to Jessica's tough decision and I hope that I would have, (although I would def have been jealous of her decision to quit teaching) supported her decision and remained a friend. Even though cake is my least favorite desert, the vivid descriptions make me want to sample on of those amazing cakes!

Heather Ariel

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Oh my goodness, I literally couldn't 'put it down.' Being a sucker for any romance story, I really enjoyed this one! I really enjoyed the pure and realness behind Vanessa because she is such a relatable character. Being someone who is still searching for a place in this big world but living in a small town as well, I can really relate and understand what she is going through. I also enjoyed how easy it was to distinguish the characters and understand what was happening during the story. It was very well written! Great Job!!

Lori Paris

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You have a very unique writing style that is very heartwarming. It feels like sitting down for homemade cookies at grandma's house. For a short story, though, I need something more to happen than introducing a character and her meeting someone. It seems as if this was taken out of a longer work and doesn't necessarily stand alone, however, the imagery was spot on and delicious! Great job.


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I really enjoyed this story. It is on a par (if not better) than short stories I have read in magazines. You should be earning money doing this, Colleen!


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I was sucked in after the first paragraph. I like how the lead character puts all her insecurities out there, and is struggling with the decisions she's made and is about to make, as life is full of uncertainty and risk-taking. You really feel like this is her crossroads, and you're standing in her kitchen with her. And you laugh out loud when she looks at the milkman's sweater, and is wholly convinced he's 'definitely gay.' I loved this story, and I want to see more from Colleen Raymond!!!

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Not a great read
December 18th, 2012
The winner of America's Next Author 2012 has been announced! [...]
December 7th, 2012
Questions and answers about the Battle Round. [...]
America's Next Author

#ANA2012 | What Fans Have To Say


America's Next Author is the first social writing contest. Friends, family, fans and publishing industry experts will read authors' submissions and nominate their favorite to be America's next major author. Everyone can participate!