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Get Your Wildlife Encounter Published
Get Your Wildlife Encounter Published
Do you have a true story of a Texas wildlife experience or observation that will captivate, uplift, inspire, educate, or is just plain funny?
If you’ve spent very much time in nature, you have probably had an interesting encounter with a wild animal. Perhaps it’s a unique experience that few people, if any, have ever had.
We are compiling a book titled True Texas Wildlife Tales comprised of short true stories about Texas native wildlife. If you have an experience that you can turn into an interesting written story, we would love to include it in the book.
If your story is selected to go into True Texas Wildlife Tales, you get:
- Your name in print! Just think, your name will be published along with your magnificent story!
- At the end of your story, you have the option to write a personal synopsis about yourself, your organization, or business.
- We will send you two complimentary copies of the book when it’s published. We will even pay the shipping charge.
There is NO cost to you whatsoever. There is no entry fee, and we pay for book printing as well as all other costs.
Stories must be true, original, and not published elsewhere.
There is no minimum age requirement. Anyone can enter.
Stories should be between 100 and 1600 words. Microsoft Word automatically counts your words as you type. Word count can be found on the status bar at the very bottom of your MS Word window. If the word count is not visible, right-click the status bar, then click Word Count.
Give your story a title. Underneath the title include your name. If you have a legal name and a nickname that everyone calls you, use the name you want published.
You may get help from a writer or editor – professional or amateur. We don’t even care if you use a ghostwriter. Our goal is to publish a book of well-written, fascinating, true Texas wildlife stories regardless of how much help you get writing it.
Each individual may submit no more than 3 stories. No more than 5 stories can come from your household.
Not all stories that are submitted will make it into the book. Don’t let this discourage you. If you have a great story and can write it well, it will be included. However, if your story does not make the cut, you will receive a $5 off coupon to be used in our online store as a THANK YOU for your effort. (Only one coupon per household.)
What? We are looking for true stories about Texas native wildlife. The stories may be about mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, or even invertebrates such as crabs or insects.
Where? Texas covers a vast area with different geographies and climates; and different animals live in different parts of Texas. As examples, you’ll find pronghorn antelope in the Panhandle that people in East Texas don’t get to see; and Roseate Spoonbills are typically a sighting only for those along the Gulf Coast. Due to the diversity of Texas, please mention the area of Texas where the story takes place.
When? It doesn’t matter when your story took place. If the time frame seems relevant, include it. Perhaps when you were a child in the 60s, you idled the summer away catching horned lizards (you probably called them horny toads). Since horned lizards have all but vanished, a time frame in this story would be a relevant part of the story.
We do not want stories about pets unless a wild animal interacted with a pet, and the heart of the story is about the wild animal, not the pet.
In Texas, as in most states, it is illegal to keep fur-bearing or game animals as pets. Fur-bearing wildlife includes opossums, raccoons, and skunks. Game animals include tree squirrels, Mourning Doves, and deer. Use caution if writing about this. Not knowing 20 years ago is one thing; not knowing wildlife laws today is quite another since this information has been readily available for quite some time. We do not want any stories that glorify wildlife as pets (past or present) so as not to encourage those who are tempted to keep them as pets.
If you are a wildlife rehabilitator, you know that the animals in your care are not pets, however the public sometimes doesn’t understand the difference. If your story is about a wild animal in captivity for rehabilitation, please make a reference to this legal and ethical matter. Something as simple as “As a licensed wildlife rehabilitator…” will suffice, or you can go into more detail.
In general, we are not interested in having hunting or fishing stories included in the book. However, if you have a heartwarming or funny story while hunting or fishing, we will consider it.
You may want to include artwork – a drawing or photo – with your story. This is entirely optional, and not expected of you. Due to the high cost of color printing, the book will be printed in black & white. If you include artwork, make sure it is yours. If it is not yours, you must get the owner’s permission to use it. The artist or photographer owns the copyright, regardless of whether it bears a copyright notice or it’s registered with the Copyright Office. If a friend or relative makes a drawing for you or gives you a picture, get their written permission to use it and let us know their name so we can give them credit.
We want to add as much artwork as possible because it adds interest to the book. However, keep in mind that any artwork that you submit will be included at our sole discretion. We may add artwork of our own to your story if there is room and if we have one that complements your story. This is a joint project between you and us, so we will communicate with you via email regarding artwork.
A synopsis about you at the end of your wildlife tale is your chance to let people know who you are and/or to plug your business or organization. It is part of your word count so be sure to leave room for it. When writing it, consider what you would like people to know about you. Typically, people say something like where they live, hobbies, interests, pets, family, accomplishments, occupation, and/or business. It can be a couple of words or up to three sentences.
Write your synopsis in the third person like this:
Robert has been photographing wildlife since he was 12 years old. He recently discovered the joys of backyard birding and now takes pictures from his back porch.
If you are a child or adolescent, readers would be interested to know the story they read was written by a kid, so please include your age in your synopsis if you’re a young person.
There is a possibility that we will need to edit your story, but we do not want to do so without your permission. It is very important that you have a valid email so we can reach you. If we cannot reach you, your story is subject to being edited at our discretion.
The deadline for story submissions has not yet been set. Get your story written and sent to us before you forget.
Great writing is nothing more than rewriting and rewriting. Write something now; put it away, and then look at it again later. This is the best way to see where changes need to be made. Do this over the course of several weeks instead of trying to write it all in one sitting. Not only will it be much easier, but the quality will be far superior, too. Click here for more writing tips.
This is an example of a story that will be included in True Texas Wildlife Tales.
My Trained Mockingbird
by Jan Smith
“The Northern Mockingbird is known for its intelligence” says Wikipedia. I discovered that fact on my own and exploited it to fool my friends.
No matter where I’ve lived in Texas, I’ve always seen our state bird flashing its white wing patches as it foraged for insects, but I never had one come to my feeders. Then one day, I started putting out mealworms.
A lone mockingbird discovered the crawling little insects in a small dish inside my platform feeder. It became a regular visitor. Every time I went outside, I would take more mealworms.
It didn’t take long before the mockingbird would fly over from the neighbor’s yard anytime I came into my front yard whether I was working in it, just arriving home or leaving the house. It would land in the big live oak tree in my front yard, and patiently wait for the handout.
It never stayed in my yard, probably because I didn’t have much grass. It preferred the yards across the street; more grass, more bugs. It only came to mine for a free meal.
Then I started loudly calling it every time I doled out a handful of mealworms so that my mockingbird would associate the call with getting fed. It didn’t matter if I called or not though. It flew over anytime it saw me.
Soon, I was telling guests that I had a trained wild mockingbird. I would take them outside, yell “Heeere Mocker,” and the little black and white songster would immediately zip over with great flourish. My friends were so awestruck to see a mockingbird come when called they didn’t make the connection that I was putting mealworms out for it.
No one ever mentioned that perhaps the mockingbird had trained me. I’m sure my feathered friend was thrilled it had a “Trained Human” that would feed it a belly full of mealworms simply for showing up. Smart bird!
Jan lives in Houston with her rescue dog, Sammy, and backyard chickens. Her trained mockingbird visits often.
[Your story should be between 100 – 1600 words. For comparison, this story is 343 words (not counting these two sentences.)]
Email your story as a Word doc or a PDF to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a drawing or photo that you want included, email it along with your story.
You will be notified by return email that we have received your story within 72 hours.
We need to be able to reach you if we have any questions about your submission, so include your name and phone number. Be sure to let us know if your email changes.
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