America's Next Author background
Rick Iekel writing contest
Rick Iekel wants to be
America's Next Author!

Rick Iekel

Rick Iekel - husband, father of four, grandfather of ten, is currently enjoying the benefits of retirement. Though writing was always in his blood, there just wasn’t time. During a 35-year career in aviation as airline agent, assistant airport manager, director of aviation and trainer/facilitator, writing came only in spits and spurts during quiet Sunday afternoons and peaceful summer vacations. With a folder full of literary starts, he ponders the possibility of finishing undone stories or, maybe, of committing some previously unknown thoughts to print. Raised on a farm in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, he now resides with his wife of 42 years in Rochester, New York.



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?
I'm pretty new to this, but the best, I think, was to stop using "ly" words and show instead of tell.
When you start a new story do you prepare an outline in advance or do you just jump right in?
I'm in the process of writing a biography now, my first. I wrote an outline that consisted of concepts I thought might be individual chapters.
How do you deal with writing criticism, apart from just ignoring it?
Oh, I like to hear it. I feel like I'm being corrected by my high school English teacher, but I know its valuable and I try to listen and use the advise.
America's Next Author has been running for almost 8 weeks. If you could re-submit now, would you change anything about your story?
After I submitted, I found out one "goof". I began my story with a telephone call, then forgot he was on the phone and made a comment about "the look on his face". I would change that, but otherwise I still like what I submitted.



Rating starRating starRating starRating star
I enjoyed seeing what you wrote. Thanks for the invite to comment. The best part of your writing seems to be creating vivid pictures of the events. Your writing does a good job of puttting the reader into the scene. For me, you seemed to spend too much time in the beginning developing the moral. I would have probably got the story going (probably where you wrote: "Nestled in a wooded valley"), and then describe the characters as they enter the story and add depth as events unfold. Let the moral come out in the events of the story. I agree with the one reviewer who said this was like a parable. Jesus didn't precede his parables with the moral. He just told the story, and if the disciples needed it explained he shared that later. Otherwise it leaves you feeling preached at and the reader starts making assumptions about the story before they actually read it. Just my thoughts, but I'm not the one writing :-)

Jimmy D

Rating starRating starRating starRating star
A different kind of sci-fi story. A great first story by a new author. I definitely liked the message and the approach to a new kind of alien visit. Keep writing!

Jim W

Rating starRating starRating starRating starRating star
Rick, I read science fiction for entertainment and found this to be easy to read and very enjoyable.


Rating starRating starRating starRating star
good story


Rating starRating starRating starRating star
Great job, Rick. Well written story that left me thinking about our society's issues about how we treat and respect with each other as we enter this holiday season.


Rating starRating starRating starRating star
I found the story to be enyoyable and thought provoking.The prologue is a bit long and confusing. I spent too much time trying to keep the characters straight. The fact that Ted and Ken were talking on the telephone, Ted was able too see Ken's expressions was confusing. It seems to me that if there were more paragraphing it would have been easier to keep the speakers straight. All in all it is a good read.

Linda S

Rating starRating starRating starRating star
I liked this story. The beginning was a bit confusing but as my reading continued, the message it gave was very rewarding. Nice job.

Fred Ruark

Rating starRating starRating starRating star
Rick: What I read was an intriguing tale trapped inside way too much unrelated verbiage. Your prologue (first four paragraphs), although nice thoughts, in my opinion add nothing to your story. Your fifth paragraph starts with 'the story I'm about to tell'. BY that time your piece had lost momentum for me as a reader. Short stories need to grab and hold a reader. I do not need to be told that the sun was warm and bright. Living in New York, you might have done a little research to determine what tribe Katherine would belong to and not repeatedly say "Native American" And like your response to the first interview question, your tale might have been more intriguing if you could 'show' what happened to Katherine on the initial encounter, and then fast forward to show why the social scientist was so important to the action. I know he wasn't a mind reader, even though you attributed that skill to him when he could "see he was mentally watching the scene over again". Sci-fi is a tough market to break into, and your story has potential, it has a different spin, but needs to move faster . There are a lot of sci-fi stories of alien visitors who abandon Earth when they see we are going to destroy it by ourselves.

Retired and Happy

Rating starRating starRating starRating starRating star
Although I'm not qualified to be much of a literary critic, I must say that I thought the piece was wonderfully inspired! Love the imaginative narrative and the message of the story. Leaves the reader with something to think about as we enter the Christmas Season. Peace on Earth and Good Will to all Men and Women and anyone else listening.

Breakfast Club

Rating starRating starRating starRating star
Excellent moral science fiction. Kind of a modern parable. Perhaps we will see each other as the same race by the time intelligent life from the Andromeda Galaxy visits again. It may take 2million light years for Asian, Black, white, and native peoples to overcome our Combative Judgmental nature.


Rating starRating starRating starRating star
It's Almeta Whitis. Nefermeta is my pen name. First, may I say that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and holding an engaging conversation with you at the LCRW Conference. Thank you, Rick for writing a sobering and rather detailed sci fi story. It begs to be expanded into possibly a novella or even a series where the aliens return to teach us how to behave better toward each other. Your premise of an alien invasion that is not an invasion, but more of a social intervention is intriguing. The Walter Cronkite-like quality of "that's way it is" reporting appeals to me. Your story is well written, held my interest and leaves me wanting more. It could, however, benefit from some copy editing, which is why I could not give you a "Masterpiece" rating. Your idea is certainly masterpiece quality. I agree with others who commented on Ted and Ken's "seeing" each other during a phone conversation. That can be cleared up quite easily. In keeping with contemporary racial preferences, I suggest that you change "Oriental" to Asian. oriental sounds too neo-colonial. Did you mention Mexicans when you described the percentages of the town demographics? I only ask because of your later reference to Mexican kids hanging out in the work. Also, you may want to use a word other than "jokester" to describe Katherine.Her pun about racial expectations is quite good, Rick. I would rework the entire paragraph about Katherine, but that is just me. All in all you have written a fine piece of work that has the potential of bringing the desire of harmony and balance that the aliens desire us to manifest.


Rating starRating starRating starRating starRating star
Easy read, very enjoyable.


Rating starRating starRating starRating star
Yes! Thought-provoking for such a short story (I generally love novels for the way they pull me in), but even in this length I have a beginning sense of the characters and the place. Very nice.

Elle A. Rose

Rating starRating starRating starRating star
I enjoyed this piece. It was well written and had a good story-line. Nice work! I found it to be a easy to read and the ending left me wondering 'What if?'


Rating starRating starRating starRating star
I must admit that I'm not a fan of science fiction, but the theme of this story is so good that I got over view. I found some of the early part hard going, but as the heart of the story unfolded, I was touched. The story has such an important message.


Rating starRating starRating starRating star
Science fiction is not always my favorite. This was fascinating. It took me some time to get into it, but the ending still has me thinking. Great story. Loved the little details that made it feel real.

The Foxlady

Rating starRating starRating starRating star
This is a well written piece that brings up a possible future few have presented. I think it gives a perspective we should aspire to. I was quickly drawn into the story and hope the author expounds on this as it would be a very uplifting read. A prize winner and a great read.

Bill Knittle

Rating starRating starRating starRating star
Very well done. Enjoyable and a easy read. Great message.


Rating starRating starRating starRating starRating star
I don't care much for science fiction, but this is a great story. The set-up was very good, the characters played their parts well, and the ending was perfect. I gave it my vote.

Lisa Rose

Rating starRating starRating star
Welcome to the contest. I enjoyed reading your story, it was very interesting. Don't we all wish that we had the proper time to devote to writing? I just jot down a few words whenever possible, on my lunch break at work, at home while doing chores or stay up into the wee hours when I really should be in bed. We do it because we love it. Just a few notes to help you with your story. When you change speakers you should start a new paragraph. It helps the reader differentiate between characters. Also watch your quotation marks, you tend to leave out the last set. In your story Ted and Ken are talking on the phone, right? If they are how can Ted 'see the concerned look in Ken's eyes'? I don't remember reading where they met to discuss the events so they can't see each other on the phone. Still all in all a good story. If you have the time please read my story 'Drift Away' and leave a review to let me know if you liked it.

Leave a review

You have to be logged in to comment. Log in
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!