Army 101 / Autobiography / Coping mechanisms / Promotional

I want YOU for the Social Publishing House memoir contest

DISCLOSURE: I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own, and not those of Social Publishing House or its affiliates, unless otherwise stated. Click here for more on my policies.

To enter your memoir short story of 1,200 or fewer words into the Social Publishing House contest, visit the SPH Writing Competition page. The competition deadline is May 31, 2104, and entry is free. Scroll to the bottom of this post for more details.

When Jonathan and I first started dating, it took a lot of time for the dust of our relationship to settle; I was a would-be writer/actress with fresh delusions of post-liberal-arts-college grandeur, and he was a nearly-fresh-from-basic Army Joe barreling at full speed into his first deployment. Each of us, to the other, was basically a martian. We spent those first few months enjoying the shock value of our star-and-continent-crossed romance, and making a game of translating our very different jargons into the same basic English.

When the initial intrigue wore off, the reality hit: Although our temperaments and senses of humor meshed nicely together, we had few interests in common; I had few interests that collided with military life at all. It was a dark cloud that hung over our relationship through our engagement. How, once we were married, would I adapt to a new lifestyle that was so foreign and (in honest hindsight) unappealing? How would I fit in?

What I’ve discovered about love, and duty, since then is that there is a necessary level of selflessness in both.

My journey into military life is still in its infancy, and it will never be the military’s job to accept or coddle me; it is my job to support a lifestyle that supports our country, regardless of personal insecurities. And it’s still a semi-daily struggle to find a foothold in the military world for my strangely-shaped feet. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a website that combined a love for writing with a desire to support the military: Social Publishing House.

Before Jonathan returned from his second deployment and whisked me away on our first PCS, I worked for a magazine in Washington, D.C. It was a legal magazine, and the content was not tailored to young editorial assistants without law degrees. But it was a real-life, peer-reviewed, expertly edited magazine, and it was my first, lifetime-awaited leap into the publishing world. The decision to leave this job for military wifedom (though I do not regret it) stung a bit, because jobs in publishing were–are–getting harder and harder to find. At the legal magazine, even, the flesh-and-bones, glossy-papered monthly issues were supported by an iPad-friendly online edition, a semi-weekly e-newsletter update, and several other specialized publications, some of which were distributed exclusively online. The industry is changing. It is becoming paperless. It is competing to gratify faster in a world where gratification is growing constantly more instant (ignoring, of course, those first five or six seconds before you can click “skip” on your YouTube video ad).

When Brian M. Gilb founded Social Publishing House in 2013, he must have been perfectly aware that 2013 was a crazy, what-the-hell-are-you-doing time to open a publishing house. But Brian Gilb was used to taking a chance on crazy, what-the-hell-are-you-doing decisions and coming out alive and ahead. Because Brian Gilb was a Marine.

Military life, in at least a dozen ways off the top of my head, is about adapting quickly to difficult or unforeseen situations, overcoming obstacles, and wading expertly through inauspicious circumstances to reach an important goal. When my husband is faced with a challenge, he does not back slowly away from it, bowed slightly in submission, muttering quiet apologies under his breath. And when Brian Gilb wanted to share his story and his gift for writing by publishing a book, he refused to cower to the dissipating state of the publishing industry. He decided, “in true Marine Corps fashion,” to push the publishing industry into a new mold.

Social Publishing House (SPH) is a new kind of publishing house–“a hybrid of the traditional publishing and self-publishing model that produces high quality EBooks for readers while keeping the majority of the profits in [the author’s] pocket.” Under the philosophy that “if you have the ability to write, you deserve the opportunity to make money off of your work,” SPH provides authors with resources to have their books published and marketed, such as access to hand-picked editors and fellow writers with whom to form a publishing team. SPH has also created a streamlined EBook publishing process that works with the times instead of against them, and guides authors from their draft to a publishable manuscript in an impressive average of six months.

This struck an immediate chord. I discovered SPH’s current memoir short story competition, and I quickly prepared and submitted a manuscript, leaving their website open in a tab for later browsing. When the submission confirmation email chimed, I expected the usual canned response. What appeared, instead, was a personal message from the Social Publishing House founder and CEO, with thoughtful words about the submission and a Facebook link that promised updates. I clicked back to that SPH tab open in my browser to read more about the company and realized, in disbelief, that the competition was actively searching for and committed to helping military writers.

I developed a bashful, love-at-first-sight crush on Social Publishing House that has left me still somewhat giddy and butterflies-sick.

You do not have to be an active duty military member or veteran to enter the memoir contest, and I am encouraging all of you who love to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to submit your stories. But I am especially encouraging all you fabulous military-life bloggers and your military spouses and friends to share your short stories through this competition. Here are the details:

  • Where to submit: Social Publishing House Writing Competition (scroll down/click to view the competition rules and submission guidelines)
  • Genre: memoir short story (1,200 word limit)
  • Entry fee: Free!
  • Competition deadline: May 31, 2014
  • Total entries accepted: 45
  • Prizes: $100 for first place; $50 for second place; $25 for third place; introduction to editors for possible publication; excerpt featured on SPH blog; feedback sheet for all entrants
  • Competition broadcast video, including words from SPH founder Brian M. Gilb and what the judges are looking for, in their own words

If you are an active duty military member or veteran who has a short story to tell but you would like to work with a writer/editor to make sure it is competition ready, please email me at and I will offer my editing services for free to help prepare your piece for the competition.

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