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Shalanna Collins

Denise Weeks (Shalanna Collins), a lifelong writer from Dallas, Texas, has been writing since she could hold a crayon. Like many homegrown Texas humorists, she is not funny. Novelist, pianist, belly dancer, baton twirler (but no fire batons ever again, by order of the Renner, Texas, Volunteer Fire Brigade), and amateur radio operator, she has published many fascinating short pieces and has placed in the Robert Benchley Essay contest several years in a row. A graduate of SMU many years after Laura Bush, Denise has worked as a software engineer, Dairy Queen soft-serve cone maker (she perfected that little twirl on the top of the dipped cone), and math tutor. She and her husband live happily in a northern suburb of Dallas, Texas, with their two beloved pets: a yappy Pomeranian and Denise's elderly mother. ~ She went to New York City in December 2008 as one of eight finalists in the Scotch Brand Most Gifted (Gift) Wrapper Contest and participated in the final rounds held at Rockefeller Center. Her favorite foods are curried yak and French fries. She doesn't do Twitter. ~ As Denise Weeks, her mystery NICE WORK won the Dark Oak Mystery Novel contest and was released by Oak Tree Press in September 2012. Her novel DULCINEA (written as Shalanna Collins) was the first runner-up in the original 1996 Warner Aspect First Fantasy Novel contest. ~ Denise's Amazon author pages: Blogs:

Story: The Splatterfairies' Halloween


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?
Speak the truth. Nothing's worse than a phony or imitator. Speak YOUR truth as YOU see it from your perspective. That's the contribution you have to make to the world. And you're worthy of making it. Let your voice be heard!
When you start a new story do you prepare an outline in advance or do you just jump right in?
I'm mostly a "pantser," not a plotter. My books begin with a character. A bit uncertain, about to step into a sticky situation. Much of the backstory, plot, and so forth will develop as I reach the point where it's needed.
How do you deal with writing criticism, apart from just ignoring it?
I learn from it all. Sometimes t's valid, such as pointing out "weed words" like just, very, or really. But criticism from someone who doesn't "Get Me" at all, who prefers a no-style style instead of a strong individual voice, may not be useful.
America's Next Author has been running for almost 8 weeks. If you could re-submit now, would you change anything about your story?
No. Readers who "get it" generally love the tale. It's FUNNY--and it challenges you. It's genre-bending. Try it! I might change one line of dialogue that has a slight anachronism in it. If you spied it, you already know which one it is.


Susan Gale Wickes

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This is a very whimsical tale and I love the unique personalities of the fairies. It is original, well thought out and very enjoyable. It took me a moment to get used to the dialogue, but then I realized it really suits this story well. Good job!

Addai Agyemang

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What a funny tale about mischievous fairies! I liked the characters, especially Jinx, I thought he was the funniest of them all. I really liked Pyx as well. The way she reacted to Jinx’s antics had me laughing the whole story. The dialogue also worked very well in the story. Great story! If you have the time could you please check out my story “The Freedom of the Stars” and tell me what you think? Thanks :).


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Shalanna has created a delightful alternative to the usual fairy tales. the story is well-crafted and the dialogue is appropriate for the genre. The ending is great as well. Nice twist


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Very entertaining story!


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I haven't read a fairy story since I was a Brownie, but this was cute...even when the fairies turned out to be psychopathic. I don't know that this piece turned me on to the fairy subset of fantasy writing, but I did enjoy this one glimpse into that literary culture.


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This is a twisted fairy tale. Absolutely hilarious. I like this author's style, and the fairies' antique style of speaking is very Shakespearean and charm-filled. You won't guess the trick ending on this one. Really good. Well done!


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Funny and refreshing! Original concept. It is one of my favorite stories in this contest. I did wish one thing could have been different, but it had to be this way for the artistic vision and integrity. Bravo.


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A modern day fairy tale, this story is not only clever and imaginative, but outright funny! The fairies mild Halloween (very topical) pranks go wildly astray and there will be to pay, The old-fashioned fairy language is a delight, and through the story, the various fairy personalities emerge, from concerned to well, rather naughty. I don't want to provide any spoilers, but I recommend you read the story for yourself, and today, being Halloween, would be the perfect time!


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Hilarious! How is this little gem being overlooked? It's a cross between a "fractured fairy tale" (remember that?) and an episode of the original "Twilight Zone" with Rod Serling intoning, "Somewhere in the Universe, this is happening." The cats were surprised because I laughed out loud. Recommended.

L.J. Lenehan

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I really enjoyed this story, but I am life-long fairy fan!! It would never have occurred to me that you could have a murdering fairy!! Well done...

Frances Bell

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Quite charming and a refreshing change of subject; fairies. I enjoy this and thought the characters and dialogue worked well although the ending didn't satisfy completely. I do however, like this writers' style.

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December 18th, 2012
The winner of America's Next Author 2012 has been announced! [...]
December 7th, 2012
Questions and answers about the Battle Round. [...]
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#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!