Anthology Contest Feb. 1-28, 2013

Creative Writing Institute’s Spring Fling Anthology Contest – No Entry Fee!

This is a themed contest.  Stories must be between 1000 and 1750 words and may be any genre, but the following sentence must appear in the story:Tonight we re-write the rules… ”


CASH PRIZES!  Three cash winners and seven additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our first anthology and Ebook, entitledOVERRULED!We will endeavor to sell the anthology for ninety-nine cents. Proceeds will benefit Creative Writing Institute, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity that sponsors cancer patients in writing courses.

Accepting submissions from February 1, 2013 through February 28, 2013.
Entries must be received by midnight, February 28, 2013, USA Eastern Standard Time.


Learn more at Hurry! CASH prizes. No entry fee. See your story in an anthology! Ends Feb. 28, 2013.


Secrets of Mistletoe

The Traditions of Mistletoe
by assisting staff, Julie Canfield

Who would dream that a parasitic plant would be so venerated throughout history? Legends have been built around it since druids roamed the Celtic lands. It’s been called magical, mystical, and sacred. It’s been considered an aphrodisiac, a foreteller of marriage, fertility, prosperity, but also poisonous. The druids collected hung mistletoe outside to welcome fertility, health, and prosperity in the coming harvest

The ancients believed in its ability to both heal and ward off evil spirits. This continued into the middle ages when witches were unpopular, but mistletoe continued for the dual purpose of health and prosperity, craved by all.

The first recorded kiss under the mistletoe took place in England sometime in the sixteenth century, but a Norse myth goes back further. It claims Freya, or Frigga, the Norse Goddess of Love, declared no harm would come to those who stood under the humble plant and kissed, as a token of love.

This may be true because the Scandinavians considered mistletoe a peace plant. Enemies that stood under it must lay down their arms. Arguing spouses caught beneath the mistletoe were compelled to kiss and make up. Perhaps we should all partake in this tradition.

The mistletoe myths combined in the eighteenth century when the proper, fun loving English created a decoration made from ribbons, evergreens, and of course, mistletoe. Known as a kissing ball in those days, a young lady who stood beneath it could not refuse a kiss. The kiss could mean friendship or a deep romance. A girl who stood beneath the mistletoe and didn’t receive a kiss could expect to spend the next year making everything but wedding plans.

The English killjoys added an etiquette that said participants must remove a berry from the mistletoe and when the berries were gone, the kissing must stop.

Some parts of England burned mistletoe on the twelfth night to ensure that all who kissed beneath it would get married the next year, while the French kissed beneath the mistletoe only on New Year’s Day. Who would have thought that the French, who greet one another with a kiss and are known for their, shall we say, “loose ways,” would only choose one day to frolic beneath the mistletoe?

Although the myths and stories that surround this humble yet nutrient sucking plant have all but faded from our minds, we still hang mistletoe and try to catch someone beneath it.

To the writers out there, I say hang up a magical branch and see what unfolds. Allow the parasitic strands of the mistletoe to root in your imagination and sprout into a marvelous romantic tale, a twisted fiction, strange mystery, or an entertaining nonfiction. Your next story might begin under the mistletoe.

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And don’t forget our CHRISTMAS SALE – an 8-week privately tutored class for only $169. Sign up at our regular price and receive your $31 rebate check immediately at

Interesting Christmas Facts

by Victoria Pakizer, Volunteer Staff

Snow is falling. People are placing statues of a fat man dressed in red on their lawns. The streets light up at night, and if you’re quiet, you may hear a distant carol. This can only mean one thing. It’s Christmas!

Christmas brings parties and friends and family, some of which you haven’t seen in a long time. Use these interesting Christmas facts to jump-start conversations.

Why do we celebrate Christmas December 25? Almost everyone knows we celebrate Christmas to honor the birth of Christ, but Pope Julius I, a bishop of Rome in 320 A. D., chose December 25 as the official date.

When did it become an official holiday? Americans have always celebrated Christmas, but it didn’t become an official holiday until June 26, 1870. The first state to recognize it officially was Alabama in 1836, and lastly, Oklahoma, in 1907.

The abbreviation – Xmas: Some people are offended by the abbreviation X-mas because it takes the word “Christ” out of Christmas. However, the abbreviation has a religious root. In Greek, the letter X stands for chi, which means Christ. Before the printing press was invented, people used the abbreviation “Xmas” to save ink, space, and time.

Christmas vs. the Government: Today’s politics are making an effort to remove the name of Christ completely. No more prayers in public schools. The government bans nativity scenes on public property. We now have holiday trees, holiday sales, and happy holidays all over the place. What happened to good old Merry Christmas? The shocking truth is many news and store employees admit they have been instructed not to use the term.

Tradition of Tree Decorating: Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, seems to be responsible for this. As he walked home, he saw stars shining through an evergreen tree. He thought it was so beautiful that he wanted to share it with his family so he copied the effect by placing candles in an evergreen tree. The tradition grew.

Santa Claus: The legend of Santa Claus was based on a real person named St. Nikolas of Myra. He doesn’t appear in the Bible, but this popular saint has been painted more than any other, with the exception of Mary. However, Nikolas represented discipline, whereas today’s Santa spreads joy. St. Nick is the patron saint of many things including pawn broking, butchery, sailing, royalty, orphans, thievery, pirating, banking, and New York City.

Christmas Favorites: It’s a Wonderful Life is the most shown Christmas movie on television. “Jingle Bells” was not written for Christmas, but Thanksgiving. It only took six weeks for Charles Dickens to write “A Christmas Carol.” As writers, we can say from experience, that’s fast!!

Numerical statistics: Grab your pencil and paper!
• Seven out of ten dogs will get a gift from Santa
• One in three men will not get their Christmas shopping done until Christmas Eve
• Only 45% of the world celebrates Christmas

Do you like this article? Then please click “like” below and rate it. Thank you – and MERRY CHRISTMAS from

Christmas Tree History

The History of the Christmas Tree
by CWI volunteer, Victoria Pakizer

The tradition of Christmas trees did not appear suddenly, but rather arrived gradually through a long line of traditions. The ancients hung evergreen boughs over doors and windows. They chose evergreens because they stayed green all year and it reminded them that the sun god would return. Egyptians worshipped the sun god, Ra. The Romans worshiped Saturn, the god of agriculture, and the special plant for the Scandinavian Viking’s sun god, Balder, was… you guessed it… an evergreen.

Germany started the tradition of decorating Christmas trees in the 16th century. Protestant reformer Martin Luther was walking home one night when he saw the stars shining through an evergreen tree. He found the scene so beautiful that he re-created it for his family by placing candles in an evergreen tree. Bet that was a nightmare for Smoky, the Bear, who must have been only a cub at the time.

America didn’t accept the Christmas tree right away. Even as late as the 1840s, many Americans rejected it because of the evergreen’s pagan roots. However, German colonies, such as Pennsylvania, continued the tradition.

The first recorded Christmas tree in public display was in the 1830s, and in 1846, a painting of the beloved Monarchs, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, illustrated by the London News, showed the royal couple standing around a Christmas tree with their children. Their popularity influenced Europeans and Americans alike, who decided they wanted a tree as well.

Americans selected larger trees that stretched from the floor to the ceiling, while Europeans chose smaller trees, about four feet tall.

At first, people used food to decorate trees, such as apple and nut ornaments, and popcorn garlands. Homemade ornaments were also common before Germany introduced ornaments around the 1890’s. When electricity became common in households, people started decorating their trees with Christmas lights, and finally, publicly decorated trees became a tradition.

The Brits and Irish decorate their Christmas trees nearly the same as Americans. In Mexico, a pine tree is usually too expensive, so they use smaller artificial trees, a single branch of a copal tree, or even a shrub. Greenland has to import their trees, and in Guatemala, only children can open presents under the Christmas tree. Adults have to wait until the New Year.

Brazilians use cotton to resemble falling snow on evergreens and Swedes wait to decorate their trees a few days before Christmas. The Christmas tree is fairly new to Norway. The parents decorate the tree and the children wait to see it in full décor. The Spanish use Christmas to turn the tree trunk into a piñata. Children hit it with sticks to discover the hidden candies. They call this celebration Catalonia.

South Africa seldom uses Christmas trees, but they decorate windows with cotton wool and tinsel. Christmas lights are forbidden in Saudi Arabia, but a few rebels decorate trees within the privacy of their homes. The Philippines make their trees out of bamboo sticks covered in colorful paper and tassels. Chinese and Japanese don’t typically celebrate Christmas but on occasion you’ll find trees decorated with paper ornaments and lanterns.

What does all this have to do with writing? I don’t have a clue. Just a few Christmas facts for you to mull over. Maybe you can weave them into a Christmas story.

Creative Writing Institute takes this opportunity to herald the celebration of our King’s birthday with gifts and worship. Pass the gift of kindness on to others. We live in a hurting world.

Like this article? Please click like and rate it! And by the way… Merry Christmas!

Join our once a year Christmas $ale. Eight great weeks with a personal tutor for only $169 USD! Sign up at the regular price, begin any time within 12 months, and receive your $31 rebate check immediately. Ends. December 31, midnight, EST. Hurry! Sorry, no refunds at this price.

Recipe for a Story Cake

How to Bake a Story Cake
by CWI Volunteer, Ariel Pakizer

Warning: This is a complicated recipe. It does allow a little room for change, but if you miss a basic ingredient, the results could be disastrous.

3 cups of passion
1 cup perseverance
1 cup discipline
3 cups focus
Preventing air bubbles
2 ½ cups criticism
1 cup knowledge
Emotion to color
Pour gently
Fold in imagination and depth
Let ripen overnight and taste for flavor
Garnish, and enjoy!


Find a quiet place to work. Baking a story cake requires time and concentration.

Locating the first ingredient: shop for the best idea in likely places, such as a beach, or a photo album. Reminisce with old songs. Think about family, friends, or pets. Don’t look for an idea – let the right one come to you.

When you’ve chosen the right idea, stir 20 minutes or until it becomes pliable and tangible. Add at least 3 cups of passion. More, if needed. Too little will make it dry.

Add patience, 1 teaspoon at a time and stir gently. If you rush this process, the story cake might fall. In due time, add 1 cup of perseverance, 1 cup of discipline, and 3 cups of focus, mixing well after each addition.

The best bakers are critical of their own work and willing to listen to suggestions. To keep your storyline from puffing air bubbles, let a friend check it. After consultation, blend in 2 ½ cups of criticism. Add 1 cup knowledge and stir well to form solid characters filled with gusto.

Now that you have the basic story dough, add just enough emotion to color it well. Be careful. Too little can make a dry plotline, and too much will make it frothy.

Blend, set aside, and let ripen three days. No peeking.

Now it’s time to pour your story cake into a mold. Arrange by layers and garnish with imagination and depth.

Let the finished product set one more night. In the morning, unveil your masterpiece! There it is. A story cake to be proud of, well measured, well blended, bursting with plump characters and filled with zest. Maybe you should sell it.

Like this? Then please rate it. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

*Practical Christmas Gifts for the Writer*

by Annie Evett, Creative Writing Institute Editor

Writers the world around want relevant gifts to encourage their hearts, make creative writing easier, prevent writer’s block, and increase their stash of writing tools. Sit on old Ho Ho’s knee and ask for these cool items:

1. A personally tutored writing course, at
2. The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago, about $35 on, or The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., $10 and up. These are excellent reference books that will answer all your questions about grammar and offer guidance in literary composition. A must have for any writer.
3. The Writer’s Market – Learn the latest from editors and those in the know! The best marketing tool ever. Easy to understand, easy to use, offers a variety of support tools, names the editors, and points you to the right market to sell your work. Ask for the online edition because they update it monthly whereas the book is updated yearly. Find it at for $30-$40, depending on which one you choose. A must have!
4. The Writer Magazine< – highly recommended. Stay up to date on trends at
5. A writing journal to record the events of your life.
6. Business cards – tell Santa what color you would like and what you want them to say – or make your own on good card stock!
7. Personalized stationary for that “special” correspondence – or – make it yourself!
8. Great books on writing: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (for ideas and motivation); Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (highly recommended); <On Writing by Stephen King (half autobiography and half lessons for writers); On Writing Well, The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser (lots of non-fiction writing tips). Buy used books on
9. A ream of paper to print your creations (specify exactly what weight you want)
10. Printer ink – Oh yeah!
11. A gift certificate
MONEY to enter writing con from a bookstore.tests!

Don’t forget to LIKE US and RATE US before you leave! Thank you.

Get more writing tips in Creative Writing Institute’s newsletter, The Writer’s Choice, at, and watch for our Bonus Bargain Christmas $ale.