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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: writing contests, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Border-patrolling us. Fabulist fiction contest. Hard SF contest. L.A. latino sci-fi workshops.


Border Patrol Nation

Most U.S. citizens tend to think stopping undocumented workers at the border is a good thing that won't affect them. They should check out Todd Miller's new book about what militarization has done to the Land of the Free. It's entitled Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security and here's some facts from it.

"The U.S. borders have long been Constitution-free zones where more or less anything goes, including warrantless searches of various sorts. In the twenty-first century, however, the border itself, north as well as south, has not only been increasingly up-armored, but redefined as a 100-mile-wide strip around the country.

"Our “borders” now cover an expanse in which nearly 200 million Americans, or two-thirds of the U.S. population, live. Included are nine of the 10 largest metropolitan areas. If you live in Florida, Maine, or Michigan, for example, no matter how far inland you may be, you are “on the border.” You can be stopped, interrogated, and searched “on an everyday basis with absolutely no suspicion of wrongdoing.”


See a bigger No Constitution map.


Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Chapbook Contest

I own a copy of a previous winner, In A Town Called Mundomuerto, and love the magical realist writing of author Randall Silvis. Anyway, the submission period for this contest doesn't begin until August, but this posting will give you speculative fiction writers time to get manuscripts prepared. There is a reading fee.

From the Omnidawnwebsite:
The winner of the annual Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction Chapbook Competition receives a $1,000 prize, publication of their chapbook with full-color cover, 100 copies, and display advertising and publicity.Fabulist Fiction includes magic realism and literary forms of fantasy, science fiction, horror, fable, and myth. Stories can be primarily realistic, with elements of non-realism, or primarily, or entirely non-realistic.

Open to all writers. All stories must be original, in English, and unpublished. 5,000 to 12,000 words, consisting of either one story or multiple stories. Online entries must be received between Aug. 1 and Oct. 22, 2014. Reading fee $18. We expect to publish the winning chapbook in August of 2015. 

About Omnidawn: "Since 2001, we publish writing that opens us anew to the myriad ways that language may bring new light, new awareness to us.
We began Omnidawn because of our belief that lively, culturally pertinent, emotionally and intellectually engaging literature can be of great value, and we wanted to participate in the dissemination of such work. We believe our society needs small presses so that widely diverse ideas and points-of-view are easily accessible to everyone.”


Issues Science Fiction Contest

If you're more into writing "hard" sci-fi, here's a contest with a $1500 honorarium and only requires one-page about what you would write! No reading fee.

"Authors should submit a précis or brief treatment (no more than 250 words) of a science fiction story idea that explores themes in science, technology, and society. Submissions must be received by June 1, 2014.

"Stories should fall into one of the following five theme areas: Big data / artificial intelligence / brain science; Education / jobs / future of the economy; Defense / security / privacy / freedom; Biomedicine / genetics / health / future of the human; Future of scientific research / automation of research & discovery. IST will select up to five semi-finalists for each category. Authors will have 3 months to submit their story, between 2,500 and 5,000 words. Winning stories will be published in IST, and authors awarded a $1,500 honorarium. Read all the details."

Issues in Science and Technology (IST), a quarterly journal that explores the intersections of science, technology, society, and policy. The editors of IST believe science fiction (SF) can help to bring key challenges and dilemmas in science and technology to an influential readership in new and compelling ways. Scientists, engineers, researchers, and policymakers often only see small pieces of an issue. SF writers can imagine entire worlds. By fully thinking through how today’s critical issues will play out, science fiction inspires, cautions, and guides those shaping our future. Throughout 2015, IST will publish one SF story per issue, on topics of broad societal interest.


Denver Museo's children's summer camp




Latino Science Fiction Explored

And if you haven't heard yet, I'll be in L.A. next week and hope to meet and talk with everyone who can attend. This is a precedent-setting gathering of 6 Latino sci-fi authors! What could happen? Quién sabe, pero vamos a ver.

The Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program at University of California, Riverside will host “A Day of Latino Science Fiction” next Wednesday, April 30, to be held in the Interdisciplinary Symposium Room (INTS 1113). Free and open to the public.


The morning author panel will feature 1. Mario Acevedo, author of the bestselling Felix Gomez detective-vampire series (The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, chosen by Barnes & Noble as one of the best Paranormal Fantasy Novels of the Decade, and finalist in the Colorado Book Awards and the International Latino Book Awards.

2. Science-fiction and cyberpunk novelist Ernesto Hogan (Cortez on Jupiter); the co-authors of Lunar Braceros 2125-2148, 3. Rosaura Sánchez and 4. Beatrice Pita. The afternoon panel features writer and director 5. Jesús Treviño (Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Babylon 5 and the book The Fabulous Sinkhole); and Michael Sedano, La Bloga Latino lit blogger; as well as Ph.D. candidates Danny Valencia, Rubén Mendoza and Paris Brown.

6. I'll be there talking about my alternate-world fantasy novel The Closet of Discarded Dreams (and about sci-fi stories) that took honorable mention in the International Latino Book Awards’ Fantasy/Sci-Fi, last year.

Come and find out about getting your spec lit published, the market for Latino sci-fi, the state of Latino spec lit and what the future might hold for our obras. It should be a chingón time, and we hope you come to add your voice and opinions. Check the details, especially about parking.

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG

0 Comments on Border-patrolling us. Fabulist fiction contest. Hard SF contest. L.A. latino sci-fi workshops. as of 4/26/2014 10:51:00 AM
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2. Contests

Two contests crossed my desk that I thought might be interesting. The first is for anyone. Chronicle Books is looking for a new humorous book, of any length or genre, to publish as their second (annual?), The Great Tumblr Book Search. Unpublished writers are encouraged to submit a story.

GTBS_eblast14sm.1

For every hit, there has to be a sequel. The Great Tumblr Book Search is back and the search for the next big humor book is on! Last year, Chronicle Books partnered with Tumblr on the first-annual Great Tumblr Book Search. The winning Tumblr was Sht Rough Drafts by Paul Laudiero. Chronicle offered Laudiero a publishing contract and now Sht Rough Drafts the book is coming to a bookstore near you on April 15th. And YOU could be next!

How to Enter:  Use Tumblr to explain your humor book idea. Then our editors will judge the entries and choose a grand-prize winner whose idea will be considered for publication. You may use an existing Tumblr or create a new Tumblr to illustrate your book idea. Just make us laugh!

Contest Details at Chronicle Books Tumblr

Hurry, the contest ends 3/31/2014Read the official rules and submit your Tumblr entry now! Winners will be announced by April 30th.

1 Grand Prize:

  • Book idea considered for publication
  • $300 of Chronicle books
  •  Feedback session with a Chronicle Books editor

3 Runners-Up:

  • $100 of Chronicle books
  • Written critique from Chronicle Books editors

Questions? Email contests@chroniclebooks.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“The second contest is for kids. Peachtree Publisher is asking kids to write an essay in celebration of the April release of Charlie Bumpers and the Nice Gnome (reviewed here). Mrs. Burke, Charlie’s teacher, will explain.

You vs. Who? Contest & Giveaway

Mrs. Burke“Since the title of Teacher of the Year was bestowed upon me, I’ve received a number of inquiries on an array of subjects.

“What is my first name? What activities are best for fourth graders? Did I suffer any lasting effects from the flying sneaker incident? How is my snap so impressively loud?

“I’ve been asked to answer a few of those questions here today.

Snap Fingers

“The Snap”

“The snap, I’m afraid, is one of the most fiercely guarded secrets of the Empire—Mrs. Burke’s Empire, that is. The technique was passed down in a sacred trust from my mother, and I couldn’t possibly divulge it here.

“Actually, I suppose I could, but my hood of ninjas would instantaneously escort every person reading this post to a remote island surrounded by man-eating octopi. I doubt the secret of the snap would do you much good in such an exile.

“Activities, however, I am happy to share!

“1. Plays:  Each year, the citizens of Mrs. Burke’s Empire perform a play. I’m not given to bragging, but this year’s—The Sorcerer’s Castle—might be this director’s masterpiece. I’ve found that my students learn quite a bit about themselves when they’re forced to play someone else.

“2. Writing:  I suggest having your students write about their own experiences. Here’s a prompt that works well with my own students: You vs. Who?

“Students must write a story about a time they faced some sort of obstacle. Stories can be silly or serious; true or fictional; about school, home, or extra-curriculars! Give it a title like Suzie Rice vs. The Vacuum of Suction Destruction or Mrs. Burke vs. The Slippery Ramen Noodle.

“3. Contests:  When all other hope is lost and mutiny seems inescapable, make it a contest. In fact, let’s do just that! Have your child, student, or library patrons answer the You vs. Who? prompt.

“You (the teacher, librarian, parent, etc.) must send the stories to the folks at Peachtree Publishers via e-mail or snail mail before the deadline. (March 26, 2014) See details below. Win a glorious prize and bring honor to your own empire!”

Charlie Bumpers Gnome Title

CONTEST DETAILS

PRIZE: Peachtree Publishers is giving away ten (10) Charlie Bumpers prize packs!

Nine winners will receive one (1) hardcover copy of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year, (reviewed HERE), and one (1) galley of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Really Nice Gnome (April 2014!).

One Grand Prize winner will receive one (1) hardcover copy of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year, one (1) hardcover copy of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Really Nice Gnome, and one (1) Audio Book CD of Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year (performed by author and Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Bill Harley!).

TO ENTER: Students must write a story about a time they faced some sort of obstacle like Charlie does. Adult must send the stories in to Peachtree Publishers via e-mail or snail mail. Stories can be silly or serious; true or fictional; about school, home, or extra-curriculars!

E-mail Address:  publicity(at)peachtree(dash)online(dot)com

Snail Mail Address:

Peachtree Publishers

Publicity Dept.

1700 Chattahoochee Ave.

Atlanta, GA 30318

DEADLINE: Contest ends March 26, 2014, at 11:59 pm EST

OPEN TO: US Addresses Only

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, what are you waiting for? Get those sharp pencils or fully charged computer out and get to writing. Imagination encouraged!

 


Filed under: Contests, For Writers, Interesting Links Tagged: aspiring authors, Charllie Bumpers and the Nice Gnome Contest, Chronicle Books, contests, Peachtree Publishers, The Great Tumblr Book Search, unpublished authors, writing contests, writing contests for kids

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3. New Voices Award Winners: Where Are They Now?

New Voices Award sealLast month we brought together past New Voices Award winners to see what it was like to publish their first books. Today, in our final installment in the series, we ask these talented authors to share what they have been doing since entering the contest. guest blogger

This year marks our 14th annual New Voices Award writing contest. Every year, LEE & LOW BOOKS gives the New Voices Award to a debut author of color for a picture book manuscript. The submission deadline this year is September 30, 2013, so get those manuscripts in!

Q: What have you been up to in the time since your book won the New Voices Award or Honor?

Linda BoydenLinda Boyden, The Blue Roses  (our first New Voices Award Winner)

Winning the first New Voices Award for The Blue Roses gave me something I didn’t have before: confidence in myself as a writer. I had had a distinguished teaching career, but as a fledgling writer, it seemed I’d never get out of the slush pile. After the New Voices Award, my book also garnered the Paterson Prize and Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Children’s Book of the Year. Buoyed by this incredible good luck, I wrote more and queried more. Though not represented by an agent at that time, I was lucky again and found a publishing home with the University of New Mexico Press for my next two picture books. The UNMP editor I worked with, W. Clark Whitehorn, convinced me to do my own illustrations for both Powwow’s Coming and Giveaways: An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas. Recently I’ve written and illustrated my fourth picture book, Boy and Poi Poi Puppy from Progressive Rising Phoenix Press and signed with Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary for my YA novel. I’ve been very lucky and thank Lee & Low Books for believing in me and for the wonderful jump-start!

Paula YooPaula Yoo, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story

I won the New Voices Award in 2003 for Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story. Since then, I have had the honor of having two more books with Lee & Low Books. My second book came out in 2009. Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story, illustrated by Lin Wang, was a biography about Chinese American Anna May Wong’s rags to riches life from a laundryman’s daughter to an international Hollywood film star. I also have a third book picture book biography coming out with Lee & Low soon, too. Stay tuned for more details! I also had a YA novel published in 2008 (Good Enough from HarperCollins) and I’ve worked on a bunch of TV shows as a TV writer/producer, most recently with SyFy’s EUREKA. But most exciting of all… ever since winning the New Voices Award, I adopted three cats. Hmmm… now how can I sneak my three cats into my next Lee & Low book?

Glenda ArmandGlenda Armand, Love Twelve Miles Long

Since I won the Award, I have retired from my “day job” as a teacher and school librarian. While working part-time, I have been able to spend a lot more time writing.  I love it. I am also happy to say that, next year, Lee & Low will publish my second book about a very talented man with an unlikely dream who I discovered while researching Love Twelve Miles Long.

Don TateDon Tate, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw

As a longtime children’s book illustrator, I have several new books out that I painted. But winning the New Voices Honor award launched my writing career. Winning the award boosted my confidence with words. Since then, I’ve written several more picture books. My next authored book will publish in 2015. I will also illustrate this book. I have another authored book under contract, and I can’t wait to share that news, too. I’m thankful that Lee & Low recognized and nurtured my writing talents.

Jennifer TorresJennifer Torres, Finding the Music  (2011 New Voices Winner)

The most significant thing I’ve done since my book won the New Voices Award was have a second daughter! Soledad Daisy was born in March of this year. She and her big sister, Alice, are truly delightful people and it is a joy to watch them grow.

I’ve also been working hard at editing and revising my book, Finding the Music. Though it can be challenging, this is honestly one of my favorite parts of the writing process. To hear a professional’s insights on what you’ve written is illuminating and so helpful. I’m really proud of the way the book is shaping up and of how far it has come since I submitted the manuscript.

Otherwise, I continue to write – I am finishing a book for middle-grade readers, and I contribute regularly to newspapers and magazines as a freelance journalist. I also work for University of the Pacific, helping to lead an early literacy campaign. This is exciting – and so important. We know that the ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade is a make-or-break benchmark in a child’s education. Kids who aren’t strong readers when they leave third grade tend to fall behind, and it can be very difficult to ever catch up. Unfortunately, in my community, only 34 percent of third graders can read at grade level. For children of color, and for kids whose first language isn’t English, that percentage is even smaller. That’s one of the reasons it’s such an honor for me to work with Lee & Low – it’s crucial for all of us to support the literacy of all children.

More from our past New Voices winners:

Advice for New Writers from our New Voices Award Winners

New Voices Award Winners: “How I Started Writing”

New Voices Award Winners: Publishing Your First Book


Filed under: guest blogger, Musings & Ponderings, Resources Tagged: children's books, lee and low books, New Voices Award, writing, writing contests, writing resources

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4. A Few More Words about Contests

I have the pleasure of wrapping up this series of posts about writing contests. Unlike Mary Ann, I've never won any money in a writing contest, but several of my entries, including the first two I submitted way back in high school, did lead to publication. The poem April shared in her post perfectly captures the sense of elation those publications gave me. In fact, it was that feeling that inspired me to want to become a writer.

As Esther mentioned in her post, I've updated our Links page to include a section on writing contests. I've added a few more since Esther's post, including the Shabo Award for Picture Book Writers. Entry deadline for that one is August 10 this year, so if you're interested, don't delay. And if you know of any contests I missed, please share the information as a comment below.

There's one contest I'd like to discuss here that I couldn't provide a permanent link to because it changes every year, and that's the fiction contest associated with the annual SCBWI Midsouth Fall Conference. Last year, I entered the YA category and was fortunate to receive an Honorable Mention. While that hasn't led to publication (yet), I believe that mentioning the honor has brought more attention to my queries--at least I'm getting personalized rejections. :-) I also know that one of the agents attending the conference went up to a contest winner and asked if she was seeking representation. When the winner said "yes," the agent asked to read her winning manuscript.

Unfortunately, the 2013 SCBWI Midsouth Fiction Contest is already sold out, though there are still openings to attend the conference. But there are plenty of other SCBWI contest and grant opportunities. For example, last year, SCBWI-Illinois offered a contest as part of the annual Prairie Writer's Day. I don't know if that contest will be offered again this year, but you can watch for details on the Illinois regional events page at SCBWI. And there are all sorts of awards and grants available through SCBWI, which you can read about on the official website.

As my fellow TeachingAuthors have already mentioned, one of the benefits of entering a contest is that it provides a deadline as motivation to finish a project. I have also entered contests where, even if you don't win a prize, you receive a critique of your submission. This is true of many of the contests offered by individual chapters of the Romance Writers Association. Author Stephie Smith regularly updates an online list of such contests, including those for young adult literature. Two other contests I've entered that offer critiques and that are open to YA and/or children's literature are the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association Literary Contest and The Sandy.

If we haven't given you enough reasons for researching and entering writing contests, read this blog post at writers-editors.com. And for tips from former contest judges, see this contest tip sheetalso from writers-editors.com.

Do keep us posted if you enter any of the contests we've mentioned in this series, whether or not your entry wins. And good luck!

Happy writing!
Carmela    

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5. Writing Contests: You Can't Lose

     As a kid, writing was the one thing I knew I could do well.  There weren't many opportunities for me to shine, until I discovered writing contests. 

     Ironically, (for some whose first published book was a historical fiction set in Civil Rights Era Mississippi), my first writing award was courtesy of....of all things....the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  In eighth grade I came in second place in a city-wide essay contest. The subject?General Peter Alexander Stewart, a fairly obscure Confederate officer.  Trust me, in those pre-Interenet days, it took several weekends of camping out in the reference section of the library before I dredged up enough information for a 500 word essay. On Awards Day, I proudly skipped to the auditorium stage to collect my five dollar prize.

     Five dollars equaled ten hours of babysitting.

     Winning was good.   I was hooked.

      I was blessed to have grown up when Mississippi had an annual state Arts Festival.  Along with a multitude of other arts related events, there was a statewide junior writing contest for high school students.  I won the short story contest  my sophomore year. My prize?  Fifty bucks and lunch with Willie Morris. I had no idea who Willie Morris was other than the former editor of Harpers.  (Later he would write My Dog Skip and I would come to admire his talent.) Then I just knew he was an Important Writer from Mississippi.   I later found out that my hometown writing idol Eudora Welty had been one of the writing contest judges.

     Fifty bucks = One hundred hours of babysitting.

     Winning was good.

     Winning gave me confidence.  Having conquered Mississippi, I didn't think twice about entering a contest sponsored by the Girl Scout magazine, American Girl (not to be confused with the magazine sponsored by the Pleasant Company and the American Girl dolls.) Winning the top short story prize made me positively cocky. I actually got some fan mail, plus a strange phone call from a Baptist youth group in Florida, who wanted to know the "story-behind-the-story."

      The prize? A ridiculous amount of money (to a sixteen-year-old) for something I banged out in study hall one day.  My math skills could no longer translate it to babysitting hours.

     From American Girl it was a short hop to the Grandmama of junior writing contests...the Seventeen Magazine short story contest.  Seventeen Magazine was our fashion-beauty-dating bible. In between the  pictures of Christie Brinkley in hot pants and floppy hats and the Bonnie Bell Lipsmackers ads, there were at least two short stories per issue by nationally recognized authors. (One that made a huge impression on me was by Pulitzer winner, Annie Proulx.)  I entered the contest, hardly believing my own daring.  these girls were good.  They went to fancy Eastern private schools.  Could I compete? I could and I did.  I came in second behind a teenage Joyce Maynard who had just published her first book at 19.

     So what's my point?  My point is that I was allowed to experience early success and gain confidence through these contests.  Even those there was a decades long gap between winning my last contest and selling my first book, I never lost that winning feeling, that confidence that deep down, I had what it took.

     I no longer enter contests.  Most of them aren't open to me as a published writer.  The last one I entered was 25 years ago when Delacorte Press still had their First Middle Grade contest.  However, I recommend entering contests for several reasons.

     1.  A deadline.  When you ares till a pre-published author, writing is can get shoved to the bottom of your priority list. After all, the only person who expects you to write is you. There isn't a publishing deadline, no editor emailing you for revisions.  A contest deadline makes you accountable for getting the work done.

     2.  Honing your craft.  Contests not only have deadline, they have rules. Word counts. Specific genres, formats, subject matter.  Working within contest parameters disciplines your writing.

     3.  Winning.  Winning isn't always about publication or money.  Sometimes the prizes are a conference scholarship or a free critique.  Whatever the prize, it is usually something that will help you in your quest to become a better writer.  (A caveat: I am wary of contests from entities I don't know that charge an entry fee.  Some of these are just plain scams.  When in, doubt check Predators and Editors.)

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman



   

5 Comments on Writing Contests: You Can't Lose, last added: 7/23/2013
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6. Where Can A Young Writer Get Published? Happy Poetry Friday!

. ~
Howdy, Campers and happy 

...which is over at Check it Out today ~
thanks for hosting today, Jone!
.
We've returned from our blog-cation tanned and rested.  Esther kicks off this round's topic about contests with her post on Lee and Low's New Voices Contest, including several juicy tidbits (did you know that an early version of Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go to Birmingham lost a contest before it went on to win the Newbery?) 

Jeanne Marie continues the discussion, touching on Las Vegas, mowing lawns, selling one's first born, her years as a Hollywood scriptwriter, and winning Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's scholarship.

On today's TeachingAuthors menu:
  • links to contests for young writers;
  • a poem about the delicious feeling when you learn you're going to be published;
  • the secret about entering contests.
Links to contests for young writers:
Here's the page on my personal website which lists a few select contests (including a peace poetry contest), and here, on the TeachingAuthors website, Carmela has compiled a ton more.

My poem for Poetry Friday:
I vividly remember learning I'd won a writing contest when I was in second grade.  Winning came with a fancy bookmark(!) and a certificate to Martindale's Bookstore in Santa Monica for any book in the entire store!  I was intoxicated.  Any book! 

I chose Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham, much to my father's disappointment. 
(He had his heart set on The Big Book of Japanese Fairy Tales.)

Winning a contest, getting something published...the POW! of this is experience is indescribable. And no matter how many books you have published, or how many of your poems are in magazines and anthologies, most writers will tell you that an acceptance is an acceptance--the ZING! is as powerful each time.

And so, Campers: get out of your comfort zone and enter a contest or try to get something published (which is the same thing, if you think about it). 

Which brings us to today's poem. It's in my verse novel, Girl Coming in for a Landing--a novel in poems, illustrated by Elaine Clayton (Knopf, 2002).  It can be performed by one, two, or three people.  

PUBLISHED!
by April Halprin Wayland

A letter in the mail!
They're going to PUBLISH my poem.
In their magazine.
In June.

My brain is exploding!  I can’t sleep!
I woke up early,
my body buzzy
like a playground ball boing-ing down a long hallway.

THEY'RE GOING TO PUBLISH MY POEM!
I won’t tell anyone. 
I’ll wait until the magazine comes out.
How can I wait that long?

I won’t tell anyone.
I’ll just casually hand them the magazine
or wait
until someone at school sees it.

What will Carlo think?
What will Frank think?
What will Yen-Mei think?
What will Leslie think?????????

I won’t tell anyone.
I won’t tell anyone
and boy,
will they be surprised.

They’re going to
publish my poem!
My poem!  My poem!
Who can I call at 5:30 in the morning?

 
So, teens, 'tweens, ten-year-olds, scribblers...all: go forth and enter!  


Because here's the secret:
whether or not you win, 
you've won.
poem and drawing © April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Today's post is by April Halprin Wayland who thanks you from the bottom of her sandy toes for reading this far.













































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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7. A Winning Writer's Jump-Start: Lee & Low's New Voices Contest



Today’s post not only officially restarts our TeachingAuthors blog after a brief Summer Hiatus.
It jump-starts our writers’ engines with a winning opportunity: Lee & Low’s New Voices Contest.
That’s right: jump-starts.
IMHO, a Writing Contest serves as the perfect external battery to get any writer goinggoinggoing and moving forward.

Think Motivation – i.e. publication, prize money, a publisher’s attention, for example.
Think Focus – i.e. a specific format, theme or subject matter.
Think Opportunity – i.e. a guaranteed reading and audience!
And don’t forget DEADLINE – in this case, September 30, 2013.
(Deadlines excel at keeping writers writing.)

For those unfamiliar with this independent publisher, Lee & Low Books focuses on diversity, specializing in high quality multicultural children’s books.  The company’s mission is “to meet the need for stories that all children can identify with and enjoy.  They pride themselves on books about everyone, for everyone.

Established in 2000, the annual New Voices Award is given to a writer of color of a children’s picture book manuscript. The Award winner receives a cash prize of $1,000 and Lee & Low’s standard publication contract, including the basic advance and royalties for a first-time author.  An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500.

Check out these published winners that went on to win – other - awards: Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The SammyLee Story and TheBlue Roses.


Writers who have published other work in venues such as children’s magazines, young adult or adult fiction or nonfiction are eligible.  Only un-agented submissions will be accepted.

Work that has been published in any format published online or independently is not eligible for this award.

To click on the previous years’ winners and learn more about embracing this winning opportunity, click HERE. 

As luck would have it, in her recent June 27 blog post, Anastasia Suen interviewed Pamela Tuck, author of AS FAST AS WORDS COULD FLY which won the 2007 Lee & Low New Voices Award.  This debut picture book tells a story based on Ms. Tuck’s dad’s journey of desegregating the Pitt County School System in Greenville, NC in the 1960’s.

Of course, when it comes to Writing Contests and external batteries, it goes without saying: one might lose the Contest but still drive away a Winner.

Just last month, one of my students shared her Good News that while she hadn’t won the Highlights Fiction Contest this year, the magazine wished to purchase her story in rhyme for publication!

And two months ago, another writer’s Honorable Mention in a themed blog’s picture book contest kept her believing in and submitting her original manuscript.

I love sharing with Young Writers how Christopher Paul Curtis’ college manuscript became the novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham which eventually lost out in the no-longer-offered Delacorte Contest.  But he did win an editor (Wendy Lamb) plus the chance to revise, allowing the book to go on to win a Newbery Honor.

So,
TeachingAuthors is up and running again!
Stay tuned for more Contests to jump-start your writing.
And be sure to check out our newest Writing Contests Links page.
 
Good Luck!
(And keep us in the Loop.)

Esther Hershenhorn

3 Comments on A Winning Writer's Jump-Start: Lee & Low's New Voices Contest, last added: 7/18/2013
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8. Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part V: Diversity in Genre Fiction

New Visions Award sealIn January we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the last few weeks, we’ve highlighted these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

Previously, our New Visions finalists shared their experiences as young readers, and whether they saw themselves represented in books.

In this last post, they share their final thoughts on diversity in genre fiction for middle grade and young adult readers:

Ailynn Knox-Collins

I applaud the efforts that publishers like Tu Books are making to bring diversity into children’s lite  rature. I am humbled and grateful to have been given a small part to play here. I may not ever be published but I will always be writing and will most certainly be a reader for the rest of my life. As a teacher of children from all over the world, I am excited to introduce them to a new stage of diversity in books, where they may find themselves reflected in the stories.

From where I stand, the future of children's fiction is looking up.From where I stand, the future of children’s fiction is looking up. They will see more and more books where the covers feature people like them, of all races and creeds, beliefs and lifestyles. Everyone will have a chance to be a hero and every reader will find a place for themselves in the thrilling worlds of mystery, fantasy and science fiction. I can’t hide the huge smile on my face because the child in me is thrilled. I am so proud to be a part of this movement. I hope more writers of color will be encouraged to write from their cultural backgrounds and enrich the book world with new ideas. It wouldn’t surprise me that although the names and settings have been changed, in the end, we’ll discover that there is much that we share with each other; that we have more in common than we realize.

Valynne E. Maetani

Somewhere out there are children just like me. They use reading as a way to escape life’s obstacles. They enjoy being sucked into magical worlds that challenge their imaginations. Sometimes books help them realize their problems are not as bad as they seem. They realize through characters that difficulties are a part of the human experience, but there are others like them who feel and react the same way they do.

In other ways, those same children might be not like me. They are children who might know little about Japan and its foods or customs. They may not have any idea what’s it’s like to grow up Japanese-American or understand how deep-rooted our traditions are.

For all children, books are a way of making connections and allowing them to experience something new. Diversity in middle grade and young adult literature enriches the reading experience by increasing the breadth and depth of what our children have access to, and because of this, there is also an increased chance for children to connect and learn. Both characters and authors of color can provide an introduction to unique perspectives. I find that most intolerance stems from a lack of understanding, and books are one forum which can equip children with information. I’m not naïve enough to think diversity in genre fiction will change everything, but every time we connect with a child, we open doors, and that makes writing worth it.

Rahul Kanakia

In any discussion of diversity, the shadow constituency is white people. Obviously, it’s really nice for teens of color to see depictions of themselves in the media that they consume. But unless those depictions also appeal in some way to white people, then those depictions will not get the major play People don't consume media because it's good for them. They consume it because they want to be entertained.that they need in order to be published and widely distributed in a way that makes sure they get into the hands of people of color.

And, of course, we all know that it’s good for white people to see the diversity of the world. But that also doesn’t matter. People don’t consume media because it’s good for them. They consume it because they want to be entertained.

So the challenge is to create depictions of PoC that are also entertaining to white people. It’s hard. And it’s often a bit unsatisfying. Writing for an outsider audience means including explanations and “authentic” detail that insiders don’t necessarily need, or want, to see. And if you veer too much in that direction, then you alienate people of your own culture. And that alienation can often be good business, actually, because those people are actually just a tiny fraction of your audience and in terms of getting fame and book sales it makes a lot more sense to feed the preferences of a white audience that hungers for PoC characters who hang around in this tiny sweet spot where they’re alien enough to be picturesque but also relatable enough that they don’t pose a serious challenge to majority culture.

Akwaeke Emezi

I’m curious about what effect it would have had on me as a child and young adult to have had access to more fiction with characters that looked like me, or that came from cultures that I could have related to with more ease. I’ll never know, but I believe that kids nowadays should definitely have access to all that material and I am grateful for all those who are working to make this happen.

Disclaimer- I’m not very immersed in the writer world so this conversation is somewhat new to me. However, it seems to me that diversity in genre fiction (or the lack thereof) is essentially a race issue- who is considered the default race and the limited range of cultures, descriptions, etc that spring forth from that. It’s just not representative of the real world and it does people and children of color a disservice. Stories help people relate to whatever they’re reading about- I had no problem as a child believing that pixies lived in my compound or imagining that the tree in our backyard was The Faraway Tree even though all Enid Blyton characters were white. All children (all people, actually) would benefit greatly from having access to diverse fiction and being exposed to different cultures and people.

Ibi Zoboi

Culturally relevant stories will equip these students with the level of critical thinking skills the standards are asking of them.I teach in New York City public schools as a writer-in-residence.  So I have a pretty good idea of what inner city children and teens are dealing with in terms of literacy. These new Common Core Learning Standards are asking students to read broadly and deeply—more informational nonfiction texts.  And part of my job entails listening to teachers complain how this is a huge leap for many of their students. They’re being asked to argue these complex ideas and think critically, yet they have very little sense of themselves, their world and their place in it.

When I teach fiction in places like Brooklyn and the Bronx, I’d get so many blue-eyed, blonde-haired characters in these stories you’d think we were in Norman Rockwell’s America.  They’re emulating what they have to read. Reading the classics is a good thing. But culturally relevant stories will equip these students with the level of critical thinking skills the standards are asking of them.  A great number of sci-fi classics can be paired with well-written YA dystopian novels, for example.  And what if they can see themselves and their culture in these books?  Orwell’s 1984 then becomes that much more relevant.

Underrepresented students who experience school closures, substandard housing, and violence need to be able to think critically about a genre MG or YA novel and how it relates to them.  They need to see themselves taking center stage in heroic stories before they can begin to affect change in their own communities.

Further Reading:

Meet Our New Visions Finalists I: How we got involved in the New Visions Award

Meet Our New Visions Finalists II: How we got involved in the New Visions Award

Meet Our New Visions Finalists III: Writing for people of different backgrounds

Meet Our New Vision Finalists IV: Your relationship to books as a young reader


Filed under: guest blogger, Musings & Ponderings, Tu Books Tagged: diversity, New Visions Award, Power of Words, promoting diversity, Race issues, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Teens/YA, Tu Books, writing contests

3 Comments on Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part V: Diversity in Genre Fiction, last added: 3/14/2013
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9. Just CLICK and CONNECT!


When it comes to celebrating Teen Technology, I feel Mary Ann’s and Jill’s pain.
I don’t exactly qualify as a Teen. 
(Click HERE to see just which high school Reunion I’m attending this May.) 
And, this is the book I’m currently reading.
I also boldly revealed my Inner Luddite in a post last March.  (Click HERE.)

BUT…

I sure do love to CLICK, then follow the links to CONNECT with all sorts of wondrous People, Places and Things.
Oh, the Possibilities!
Sigh.
Ah, the Opportunities!

For instance, there I was,
letting my fingers stroll the Internet on behalf of a writer with a UK-suited book,
and what did I come upon but

That’s why I’m wishing you a belated Happy World Book Day!
This site is ripe with new books, authors and curriculum connections for readers, writers, teachers and librarians.
(And yes, I found three, count ’em, three publishing possibilities for my writer.)

Booklist Editor Gillian Engberg sent me a lovely Quick Tips email, calling my attention
to Writing Resources for the Common Core Classroom.
Clicking and connecting I came upon a terrific timely opportunity for Kiddos co-sponsored by DC Comics and Capstone – The “Be a Super Hero, Read!” Writing Contest.  Running through April 15, the Contest encourages kids in grades 3 through 6 to write about a real-life superhero in their lives. 
Click HERE for the Rules.

And speaking of writing Kiddos, how could I not click on the Denver Post’s Next Gen, the online newspaper for youth-written stories.
I’d met several middle school reporters during my visit to the Colorado International Reading Association Conference in February.
Click HERE and connect to Collin Colaizzi and his write-up of author and Writing Guru Ralph Fletcher’s talk on the importance of a Writer’s Notebook.

It turns out that, despite my long-gone teenage years and my lack of Tech savvy, my  Inner Luddite and I have had One Swell Time CLICKING and CONNECTING this past week, occasioning numerous opportunities to showcase our gelasins.

(Click HERE if you’re eager to learn last week’s A.Word.A.Day.)

Who knows?
Maybe someday soon I’ll be CLICKING and MANUFACTURING, thanks to the opportunities and possibilities of  Tech’s newest child, 3-D Printing!

(Oy!)

Happy Clicking and Connecting!
Esther Hershenhorn
P.S.

Be sure to click HERE to enter to win Tamera Wissinger’s Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse. You only have until 11 pm, Wednesday, March 13.

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10. A SUPER Writing Contest for Kids

If you are in grades 3-6, you can enter the BE A SUPER HERO, READ! contest sponsored by Capstone Publishing and DC Comics. All you have to do is write about a super hero in your life--a real one, that is.

Winners get an exclusive tour of DC Entertainment Offices, a tour of Warner Brothers Animation Studio, and a set of Capstone Man of Steel chapter books.

Who is the Wonder Woman or Man in your life? Write about him or her and you may have the chance for some SUPER prizes.


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11. Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part IV

New Visions Award sealIn January we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

Previous posts by our New Visions finalists:

Q: What was your relationship to books and reading as a child or teenager?  In what ways did you see yourself represented in books?

Ailynn Knox-Collins

I was seven when I attended my first boarding school. Determined to hate the experience, I succeeded at being miserable. Over the next few years, I changed school six times. I was always the new kid, but I wasn’t the nice one. I got into fights, defied teachers and even started a gang to beat up boys (I didn’t actually beat up anyone). Adults whispered about me when they thought I wasn’t listening. I was the poor child whose parents were getting a divorce. Because of that, I got away with everything which just made me more miserable.

Then one day, a teacher introduced me to CS Lewis and his worlds brought a spark into my self-imposed misery. Books became my escape. I devoured every story, mostly fantasy at first. I began to write as well, putting myself in places where I could be somewhere or someone else. Meeting Austen, Hardy and the Bronte sisters began my love affair with classical English literature. Those were wonderful years. Finally, Asimov came along and that opened the world of science fiction to me. Life became hopeful even while aliens were invading and snatching bodies, because the heroes always triumphed. And that’s where I kept seeing myself, whether or not the characters looked like me or spoke like me. They came out on top at the end and in my darkest moments, that was what I needed the most.

Ibi Zoboi

I was one of those statistical kids who did not own books. My mother worked two jobs to send me to Catholic school and we lived in a part of Brooklyn where little girls did not skip to the library on their own.  We did own encyclopedias, though, but not novels and picture books.  This had more to do with culture rather than economics.  For students in Haiti, reading was more for rote memorization of textbooks. That’s what my mother made me do with the encyclopedias.

I was dealing with some q3serious identity issues by the time I got to high school.  We’d moved to suburban Queens and I went to a mostly white Catholic high school.  I desperately wanted mirror stories but I’d settled on having some sort of movie star idol instead.  Halle Berry was just starting out then and she had starred in the TV movie Alex Haley’s Queen.  That’s what led me to reading the actual book. Then I read Alex Haley’s Roots and looked for other titles in that section of my high school’s library—slave narratives (which at some point led me to Octavia Butler’s Kindred).  Then I got mad at the world and worked in a bookstore all throughout college and read everything I could afford on my employee discount (RIP Waldenbooks).

It all started with wanting to see an image of beauty and success that was real to me. Halle’s hair was short and she was black and she’d been a heroine. I don’t think I would’ve been so superficial if I’d seen some of those images in books as a child.

Rahul Kanakia

My mom gave me Isaac Asimov’s Foundation when I was around 10 years old. She’d first read it as a kid in Mumbai in the 1960s. I loved the book’s thought-provoking premise and epic scope and I knew that I wanted more of that. Until I went to college, I only read science fiction and fantasy novels: mostly hard science fiction, space operas, military SF, epic fantasy, and swords and sorcery.

All of these subgenres are largely comprised of adventure stories. They’re about heroes who triumph over tremendous obstacles. And, because I read hundreds and hundreds of these books, I wanted to grow up and become a hero. Many SF fans of color go through a period of disillusionment when they realize that the genre doesn’t care to represent them. That did not happen to me. For whatever reason, I had no trouble identifying with the square-jawed white protagonists.

My disillusionment arose when I realized that heroism is a bit of a sham. It doesn’t exist in real life. Or, at least, not in the way that they write about it in the stories. Of course, everyone realizes that eventually. And, after growing up, some people are still able to find value in the metaphor: the hero represents some spiritual transcendence or state of striving. But I was never able to get over my disappointment. To this day, I find it difficult to read a traditionally-structured SF novel.

Valynne E. Maetani

In the third grade, I skipped recess so that I could read a series of non-fiction books. Each detailed the life of someone famous in history. Only one of those books was about a woman: Marie Curie.quote2 Shewas smart and brave, and I wondered if I could ever be like her. Often, my father would surprise me with books. Each had strong female characters like those in Little Women or The Good Earth. In our Asian culture, where emotions are rarely exposed, this was his way of telling me that he believed I could be brave and strong like Madame Curie, the March women, or O-Lan.

At some point, I fell in love with mysteries, devouring Encyclopedia Brown and eventually books by Agatha Christie. Yet I realized there were rarely characters of color. So a few years ago I decided to write a book for my youngest sister’s eighteenth birthday. I had a vague idea of the storyline but knew it would be a mystery; the protagonist would be a strong young woman; and she and her family would be Japanese. What I wanted to share through my writing is that as much as we try to fit in with those around us, we will always be different. I realized, once I was older, that being different is the precise thing my friends loved about me and my family. At the heart of it, we are all humans at the mercy of human experiences, and our differences should be embraced and appreciated rather than dismissed.

Akwaeke Emezi

My relationship to reading has always been a huge part of my life and luckily, both my parents were avid readers who happily loaded me up with books. I read everything I could find; my favorites were authors like Lewis Carroll, Kipling, James Herriot, Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, etc. I also reaquote1 smalld several classics as a child/teen simply because they were in my house and I needed things to read: Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, The Odyssey, A Tale of Two Cities, etc. I remember reading Flowers in the Attic before I was ten…that was quite an experience!

I was always reading at the dinner table, at school while on break, by candlelight because the power was always out, in the bathroom- I was insatiable and churned through books quickly. We had an outdoor book market at the Post Office in my town in Nigeria, where you could bring second hand books and swap them out for more, which was a great resource.

As a child/teen, I always felt there was a place for me in all the books I read because that’s what fantasy and fiction had taught me, that I could belong anywhere because everything was possible.

Further Reading:

Meet Our New Visions Finalists I

Meet Our New Visions Finalists II

Meet Our New Visions Finalists III


Filed under: Awards, guest blogger, Musings & Ponderings, Tu Books Tagged: diversity, New Visions Award, Power of Words, promoting diversity, Race issues, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Teens/YA, writing contests

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12. Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part III

New Visions Award sealLast month we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

Q: What has been your experience writing from a different cultural background that may be unfamiliar to most young readers? 

Ibi Zoboi, Haiti.

While most readers are familiar with Edwidge Danticat, there are, of course, other Haitian and non-Haitian writers telling stories about Haitian children. M. Sindy Felin’s Touching Snow was a National Book Award Finalist.  The recent winner of the Printz Award is In Darkness, a story about a Haitian boy during the earthquake written by Nick Lake. One of my favorite Haitian YA books is Taste of Salt by the late Frances Temple.

Haiti has an amazing literary tradition and under a brutal dictatorship, writers either risked their lives or were sent into exile. So, for me, writing about Haiti is very political.  Though, my stories are cloaked in a world of magic.  What better way to convey Haiti’s complex history and mythology than in a young adult fantasy novel?  This simply adds another layer of depth to what young readers already know about Haiti, or any given culture.  They must know that culture is multi-dimensional and is not regulated to the superficial “facts” in the media. This is why mythology breathes life into everything I write.  While the names and magical systems differ, there is an interconnecting power in world mythology that can resonate with any reader.

Ailynn Knox-Collins, Earth.

I’ve lived in six countries and been a citizen of three, so it’s hard to decide where my origins lie. I immersed myself into the language and culture of each of the lands that have housed me and made me feel welcome. Yet, I belong to none in particular. Many people live in a culture different from their ancestors or like me, have ancestors from all over. We learn to hang on to the crucial values and adapt to others within our environment.

As a child, for example, I learned to ‘chameleon’ my accent simply to fit in. I write to discover who I am and I believe I’m not alone in this journey. In my books, I place my characters in almost sterile environments just to see what happens, so what is truly important can bubble to the surface. It seems appropriate in my form of science fiction, where the story is set in space, and humanity must rebuild itself by deciding what to keep and what to leave behind. I pepper the stories with values and beliefs I’ve picked up on the way, hoping that many of these are universal, since in the end, we are all but citizens of this one tiny planet.

Valynne E. Maetani, Japan.

Though I am fourth-generation pure Japanese, there were many traditions that my family maintained.  As a child, I removed my shoes before I entered the house, ate certain kinds of foods on holidays, and threw salt over my shoulder on New Year’s Day. But I had no idea why we did the things we did. For me, writing about the Japanese culture has been a way of sharing and understanding the meaning and purpose behind the traditions.

I like writing for young adults because it’s an age where kids no longer do things just because their parents tell them to. It’s an age where they begin to question why on a much deeper level. In order for traditions to be preserved, I think it’s important to first understand the why and the rich history behind those traditions and second, important to share that knowledge with others.

Rahul Kanakia, India.

There is a lot of literature about the Indian diasporic experience. And, when I was around fourteen years old, I went through a phase where I read a fair amount of it.

And I hated it.

The standard Indian immigrant narrative is about the angst and the pain of being trapped between worlds. It is about attempting to assimilate and finding that assimilation was impossible. It is about attempting to recover an Indian cultural identity and finding that to be impossible as well. It is, fundamentally, about always feeling alone in the world. Kind of a grim future to outline for a fourteen year old who just wants to, you know, experience the world and make friends and write books and be happy.

So I try to write stories where Indian protagonists aren’t oppressed by their heritage. I think part of the reason I like writing science fiction is that in an SF novel, there’s always something else going on. You might be struggling to fit in…but you’re also struggling to fight off the zombie hordes.

Akwaeke Emezi, Nigeria + Malaysia.

My cultural background is blended- I was born in Nigeria and lived there until I left for college, so I identify very strongly with being Igbo. I was also raised with my mother’s Malaysian culture, so although I can’t cook Nigerian food to save my life, I tie my own saris, wear jade, and ritually stockpile Baba’s Curry Powder. However, moving to the States brought my nationality to the foreground as an immigrant, and that was when I realized how much growing up in Nigeria impacted my identity.

I deliberately reached for what felt like home and birthright while I was writing Somadina. I was born where my father was born and his father before him, so I constructed a fantasy world around Igbo culture and traditional religion. Other than Nnedi Okorafor’s delightful work, I hadn’t seen my culture represented in speculative fiction, so I saturated this story in it.

I also write from different points of myself outside of my ethnicities, but elements of my cultures often seep through in a name/food/phrase. After all, where I come from shapes who I am now, with half a body in the otherworld, stories coming through my teeth, and all.

Further Reading:

What brought our New Visions finalists to Tu Books and to the New Visions Award competition in particular?

Ailynn and Valynne answer

Ibi, Rahul, and Akwaeke answer


Filed under: Awards, Musings & Ponderings, Tu Books Tagged: cultural diversity, different cultures, diversity, New Visions Award, Power of Words, Race issues, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Teens/YA, Tu Books, writing, writing contests

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13. Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part II

New Visions Award sealLast month we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

Q: What brought you to Tu Books and to the New Visions Award competition in particular?

Rahul Kanakia, Baltimore, MD:
My novel has a number of autobiographical elements. I mean, obviously, I didn’t grow up in a plague-wracked authoritarian dystopia, but I did share many of the troubles and experiences of the character in my novel. I went to Catholic school and I was confused regarding my sexual orientation and I had body image issues. And when I started the first draft of my very first YA novel, all of that came out of me in a crazy rush. Nothing was filtered. Everything was on the paper. Never before nor since have I experienced that kind of pure mind to keyboard translation.

quote 2Except for one thing. The protagonist of that first draft was white. That’s because (kind of funnily, since I’m currently enrolled in an MFA program that’s more-or-less devoted to the creation of fine literature), I’m relentlessly commercial. I can’t ever get up the motivation to write something that I don’t think will sell. And, you know, I believed it was possible to sell a YA novel with a queer protagonist. And I believe it’s possible to sell a YA novel with a protagonist of color. There are (a few) examples of both of those things. But I just was not at all sure that it was possible to sell a YA novel with a protagonist who was both. Somehow, the intersection felt too narrow. I don’t know. Perhaps I was the unimaginative one there. Perhaps I didn’t give the publishing industry enough credit. But before I could even start to write that book, I felt like I had to choose one identity and discard another.

Fast forward a year. I’d had a story appear in Tu Books’ Diverse Energies anthology of YA dystopian fiction. And, because of that, I got forwarded an email where Tu called for submissions to their first contest: they actually wanted novels about people of color. I had this YA novel, which still hadn’t really been marketed to publishers, and, after thinking about it for awhile, I decided to go back in and rewrite it to fit the vision that I hadn’t originally been courageous enough to realize. Because of this contest, my novel exists in a form that it wouldn’t have otherwise had: I was able to overcome that mental block and write that book about a queer Indian kid that I always should have been writing.

I think that’s the benefit of having a publisher for books about and by people of color. It doesn’t only publish diverse and inclusive books…it also widens the entire marketplace. Just knowing that there is a potential home for books that explore all kinds of PoC experiences will do a lot to foster the writing of more and broader types of books.

Rahul Kanakia is a science fiction writer who has sold stories to Clarkesworld, the Intergalactic Medicine Show, Apex, Nature, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. He currently lives in Baltimore, where he is enrolled in the Master of the Fine Arts program in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. If you want to know more about him then please visit his blog at http://www.blotter-paper.com or follow him on Twitter at @rahkan 

Ibi Zoboi, Brooklyn, NY

I’ve known about Tu Books since its Kickstarter campaign.  I did get a little teary-eyed watching that video because a whole world had opened up for me.  Not just for me as a writer, but for me as a reader, educator, and parent.  I was probably one of Tu Books’ first contributors, having prematurely sent an unpolished manuscript.  I’ve been at this writing thing for quite some time—submitting, revising, re-submitting—all while reading the online conversations around diversity in children’s books.  There were some good discussions but they were just that—discussions.  I was doing my part as a writer by working on my craft and submitting work.  What were agents and editors on the other side of the gate doing to actually shift the dynamics and raise the number of books published for children of color?

Lee & Low Books was one answer.  Tu Books was even better by filling the humungous need for genre MG & YA books featuring characters of color.  This was actually doing something!  The New Visions Award was a huge clarion call for us writers of color to step forward and shout like the Whos in Whoville, “We are here!”

I would’ve been first in line sending my manuscript off by Owl Post Express the day the contest was announced, but I’d just gotten into an MFA program and was at the mercy of my adviser.  I planned to work on my manuscript the whole semester and if she said that it needed work, I wasn’t applying.  I’d made a commitment to really learn the craft and wouldn’t dare send out work that wasn’t ready (I’d done that too often).  But she told me, “Get your application in yesterday!” And “yesterday” ended up being almost at the last minute on the heels of Hurricane Sandy.

I’d agonized over whether a story about a Haitian girl was good enough, whether I should send one about a regular black American girl instead and not dig so deep into culture and mythology.  It’s one thing to write fantasy as a person of color, it’s another thing to write as an immigrant and pull from your own culture to tell a story that can resonate with anyone.

There are lots of us writing, and it would be such a disservice to children who are desperately in need of mirrors and windows to not provide resources for writers of color to hone their craft. Prizes, awards, grant money, scholarships—just about anything that would close the gap in some way.  Yep, the New Visions Award is one step towards that, and SCBWI did something similar with their On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award.  Hopefully, with time, more avenues will open up.

And yes, congratulations fellow Whos!  I’m honored to be a finalist and in such great company.

Ibi Zoboi’s short stories have been anthologized in The Caribbean Writer, Dark Matter 2,  and Haiti Noir edited by Edwidge Danticat, among others.  She’s received grants in Writing from the Brooklyn Arts Council and is studying Writing for Children & Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  She’s a mom of three, married to a visual artist, and teaches writing in New York City public schools. You can find her at www.ibizoboi.com.

Akwaeke Zara Emezi, Brooklyn, NY

I came across Tu Books by chance, while going through the contest listings on the Poets & Writers website. The New Visions Award struck me because of how specific its guidelines were, and as a writer of color, I leapt at the opportunity to be part of something geared specifically towards children of color. I’m the Igbo and Tamil child of a Nigerian man and a Malaysian woman, and I grew up in Nigeria, straddling cultures like most mixed kids do, marked as ‘half-caste’ and essentially a foreigner in my home community. Finding places where I belong has always been important to me.  quote 4

Both my parents loved reading and made sure I had a constant supply of books as a child growing up in Aba. Most of these books were written by authors such as Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis, and they all featured white children as the characters. Therefore, when I started writing books as a child (here’s one of them), all the people I created in my make believe worlds were also white and with Western names, even though I was born and raised in a deeply Igbo region of Nigeria. The books I’d read were the usual portal into other realities, which I ruthlessly applied to my childhood, convinced that pixies lived in the patch of grass in front of our house and that fairies filled my bedroom, entertained by my sister and I playing. It was easier to fit into these imaginary places.

My love for speculative fiction developed from this, and the chance to develop a fantasy world for the New Visions Award was a perfect match for me. I actually wrote Somadina specifically for this award after I found out about it, penning down a few chapters to meet the submission deadline and drawing heavily from Igbo culture and history to craft a world that I would have liked a portal to myself. I wrote with young adults in mind and worried that perhaps some elements of the story would be a little too dark, but I kept reminding myself that the reality for many young adults of color is that they are likely to personally witness or experience the ‘dark’ themes that are present in my narrative. I had to stay true to the story and tell it the way it was insisting on being told.

All in all, I’m deeply honoured to be a finalist with all these other amazing writers, and extremely grateful to Tu Books for its existence and for this opportunity.

Akwaeke Zara Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer who was born and raised in the south of Nigeria. She started writing at five and in the succinct words of her seven year old self- “Her ambition is to be a world famous writer and artist. She has a family of 5 and loves art and books. Her hobby is writing.” Akwaeke now lives in Brooklyn and can be found online at www.azemezi.com.

Meet Our Other Two New Vision Finalists


Filed under: Awards, Musings & Ponderings, Tu Books Tagged: diversity, New Visions Award, Power of Words, Race issues, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Teens/YA, Tu Books, writing contests

2 Comments on Meet Our New Visions Finalists, Part II, last added: 2/28/2013
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14. Meet Our New Visions Finalists

New Visions Award sealLast month we announced the finalists of our first New Visions Award, a new writing award for a debut author of color for a middle grade or young adult science fiction, fantasy, or mystery novel. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting these talented finalists on our blog as they answer questions about what inspires them, the writing process, and more. Perhaps among these five finalists you’ll find your next favorite author!

Q: What brought you to Tu Books and to the New Visions Award competition in particular?

Ailynn Knox-Collins. Redmond, WA:

I came across Tu Books when I bid on a copy of Tankborn for a charitable cause. Soon after, I had the good fortune to sit next to the writer, Karen Sandler, at an SCBWI conference in LA. I was delighted to find an imprint that is dedicated to putting books out there that are written by and feature characters of color.

Why is it important, you say, that there be this need to highlight multi-ethnic writers and stories? Because to me the world is colorful and always has been, but many of the books I love haven’t always reflected it. Too much of my own childhood was spent thinking that to be a hero or heroine, I had to look a certain way, and mostly not like me. Yet, when I look at the amazing people in the world I grew up in, they came from all sorts of backgrounds, colors and cultures.

So I had to be a part of this endeavor and I congratulate Tu Books on their first ever New Visions Award. I submitted my science fiction story and (wow!) now I’m a finalist. The other finalists are remarkable writers from excitingly varied backgrounds. I am honored to be in this group with them.

I’m a person of mixed ethnicity. My Chinese mother married an Englishman at a time when that act alone could get you disowned by your quotefamily. I grew up in several countries from England to Singapore. As a child I had my hair stroked by strangers (“Interesting color.”), my nose pinched (“Your ‘bridge’ is so high” or “flat” depending on the country) and my eyes commented on (“Ooh! Double lids.”). I got used to being asked, “What are you?” and my answer eventually became a feisty, “Human!”

When I began writing seriously a decade ago, my fictional worlds reflected how I see the real world. My characters naturally look like people I’ve encountered in my life, and they are of all colors. In GENERATION ZERO, my entry to the New Visions Award, everyone happens to be of mixed ethnicity for a horrid, sinister reason — “Mixed breeds are sturdier, like mongrel dogs”. Strangely, someone actually said that to me long ago. Astonishing, isn’t it?

I am so excited to play a small part in bringing attention to something that has been close to my heart for so long. I fell in love with books the day a teacher sat our class under the shade of a giant Raintree and read to us from CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I longed to be one of the Pevensies, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that they, and many subsequent heroines I loved, looked nothing like me. I did my best to ignore descriptions, but I couldn’t help feeling left out. If, as a writer, I can make one child imagine herself the heroine of a story, and know that nothing, especially not the color of her skin, can stop her from achieving her dreams, then I will be satisfied and incredibly humbled.

Well done, Tu Books for your vision and congratulations to all the finalists of the New Visions Award.

Ailynn Knox-Collins is a mother and teacher, as well as a ‘crazy dog lady’ with four great rescues who slobber all over the furniture (well, what else is it for anyway). She is an unashamed Trekkie and is learning to speak Klingon to add to the other 6 languages she  already speaks. She loves to read everything and has been inspired to write science fiction so that young people today can experience the same wonder she did growing up. Please visit her at www.taknoxcollins.wordpress.com  and follow her on Twitter @talkc 

Valynne E. Maetani, Salt Lake City, UT

Initially, I heard about Tu Books when it was still Tu Publishing, and I was ecstatic about its mission . . .  and a little dismayed that I didn’t think my book qualified for submission.  At the time, I thought they were only interested in fantasy and sci-fi.  While my book had a fantasy fairy-tale element, it would definitely be classified as a mystery.

Imagine how excited I was when I heard about the New Visions Award given to a fantasy, sci-fi, or mystery novel.  Unfortunately, it was three weeks before the submission deadline.  With so little time and a manuscript in dire need of revisions, I realized I couldn’t make it.  block quote

Determined to support their mission, I told myself I would send a manuscript in through their regular submission process at some later date.

But then someone replied to the announcement for the award with the following response:  “I was slightly concerned to see that this publisher was seeking submissions for a contest, but only from writers ‘of color’ . . . It appears that the means to the laudable end of  ‘true diversity’ in YA/MG lit is more submissions by ‘authors of color.’”  The person went on to ask why it mattered if the writer was “white.”  S/he suggested they get rid of the term “of color” from all the fine print of their website.

I am the first to say that I have read many wonderful books, with diverse characters, written by authors who are not “of color”—books that were meaningful and shed light on different cultures such as The Good Earth by Pearl Buck or Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury.   But to me, underrepresented voices are just as important.  This award matters.  I am a Japanese-American writer, who grew up in Utah, surrounded by people who looked nothing like me, reading books about people who looked nothing like me.  I am an author of color.  Our voices matter.

And so I worked hard to get my chapters ready for submission.

I truly appreciate that Tu Books seeks to encourage diversity in children’s literature as well as diversity in the authors who write these books.  I am humbled and awed by the talent of the other New Visions Award finalists, and I am proud to have my name listed with theirs.

Valynne E. Maetani received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.  She has managed script editing for stories for disadvantaged youth and has edited several screenplays, including My Little War in Juarez, the winner of the 2010 Creative World Award. She can be found at www.valynne.com and on Twitter @valynnemaetani

Stay tuned tomorrow for part II as we hear from our other three finalists!


Filed under: Awards, Musings & Ponderings, Tu Books Tagged: diversity, New Visions Award, Power of Words, Race issues, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Teens/YA, Tu Books, writing contests

4 Comments on Meet Our New Visions Finalists, last added: 2/27/2013
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15. Check Out Winning Writers: Contests and More

I'm really excited to introduce you to Adam Cohen and his wife, Jendi Reiter, from the website, Winning Writers. Like WOW!, it has been voted by Writer's Digest as being one of the 101 most useful sites for writers. After reading the interview below with Adam and discovering all this site has to offer--from contests to free newsletters, from tips and contest insider information to an inexpensive subscription to a searchable database of over 1250 contests--you will be checking out Winning Writers today. This is one interview and website you won't want to miss! 

WOW: Welcome Adam, to The Muffin! We are happy to have you here today. Let's start by telling us a bit about your site, Winning Writers, and why you created it.

Adam: My wife, Jendi Reiter, and I started Winning Writers in 2001. Jendi has extensive knowledge about literary contests, which ones are good and how to win them. We wanted to make this information available to the public online at a reasonable price. We also wanted to warn people about certain contests to avoid. We call them "vanity contests." They tend to be unselective and most interested in selling products, like expensive anthologies.

WOW: That sounds like a terrific service for writers. So, when a writer goes to your site now, there are a lot of opportunities available to him or her. Let's start with the contests. What are a couple upcoming contests that you have going on?

Adam: All four contests hosted at Winning Writers are open now. We directly sponsor the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest (no fee) and the Sports Fiction & Essay Contest. We assist Tom Howard Books with their Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest and their Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest.

WOW: After reading the guidelines for all of them, they sound like great opportunities for writers--especially the humor poetry category--no entry fee and $1000 top prize. In order to enter contests, what does a writer need to do?

Adam: All four contests accept entries online at WinningWriters.com. The Tom Howard contests also accept entries by mail. Before entering, we encourage contestants to read previous winning entries published on our website. We have also made years of judges' comments available, so contestants can understand what makes an entry stand out.

WOW: That is a great idea to allow writers to read previous winners AND judges' comments! What is Literary Contest Insider? [new name]

Adam: Literary Contest Insider is our online database with 1,250-plus detailed profiles of poetry and prose contests. It represents years of distilled knowledge and research to help you find the best contests for your work--fast! Search and sort contests by prize, fee, type, and many other criteria. We suggest specific contests for beginning, intermediate, and well-established writers, and estimate the potential impact each contest might have on your career. A contest we highly recommend will probably have much more impact than a contest we're neutral about.

We love it when good writers not previously "plugged into the contest circuit" begin to get recognition because we guided them to the contests that are effective for them. Access to Literary Contest Insider is $9.95/quarter, with a 10-day free trial period at the start. You can start a trial at http://www.winningwriters.com/lci

WOW: This database sounds fantastic for writers interested in contests and at a very reasonable price! Besides contests, you also offer a free newsletter. What type of information is in the free newsletter and how do writers sign up?

Jendi and Adam
Adam: Our free e-mail newsletter is built around the best free literary contests--profiles of contests in our database that have no entry fees. Every month you get a heads-up on free poetry and prose contests whose deadlines are approaching. There are over 150 of these. Subscribing to our newsletter gets you instant free online access to The Best Free Literary Contests. We have over 40,000 newsletter subscribers. You can subscribe at http://www.winningwriters.com/free

WOW: There's also a section of Winning Writers, titled "What's New?" What will writers find on this page?

Adam: This is where we announce useful resources for writers and news about new and changed contests. Entering new contests can be a good strategy--they are less likely to be swamped with entries than well-established ones.

WOW: That's a great tip! What about under the "useful resources" section?

Adam: Here we organize our directory of resources into categories like "Markets and Contests," "Resources and Contests for Students," "Literary Societies," and "Exotic Forms." We also provide a large library of poetry critiques--a place to learn about a wide range of techniques, plus suggestions on where to submit various styles of poems.

WOW: It sounds like you could spend hours on your site, finding useful tips, ideas, and contests for a writing career! Anything else you'd like to add about Winning Writers?

Adam: We have a rapidly growing Twitter feed with links to contest news and award-winning poems and stories. Follow us @winningwriters.

WOW: Thank you, Adam, for sharing all of this information with our readers today. You have a wonderful site, and I hope that many of WOW!'s fans and followers will become yours, too. 

WOW! readers, don't forget to check out Winning Writers by clicking here.  

Interview conducted by Margo L. Dill, author of Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg.


4 Comments on Check Out Winning Writers: Contests and More, last added: 2/8/2013
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16. Announcing our New Visions writing contest finalists

This year our Tu Books imprint established the New Visions Award, an annual writing contest for a middle grade New Visions Award sealor young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. The award was started to encourage new voices of color in genre fiction, in response to the low number of writers of color working within these genres.

We’re very excited to announce our finalists! They are, in no particular order:

Bandit by Ibi Zoboi

The Ark Chronicles: Generation Zero by Ailynn Knox-Collins

Remnants of the Rising Sun by Valynne E. Maetani

Somadina by Akwaeke Emezi

This Beautiful Fever by Rahul Kanakia

Congratulations to all our finalists! Their novels will be reviewed and the winner announced by March 31.

Lee & Low Books is committed to finding talented new authors of color through our writing contests: the New Visions Award for middle grade and young adult genre fiction, and the New Voices Award for picture books. Please help us by spreading the word to anyone you know who may be interested in submitting!


Filed under: Publishing 101 Tagged: New Visions Award, New Voices Award, writing contests

6 Comments on Announcing our New Visions writing contest finalists, last added: 2/23/2013
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17. Check out BlogNostics: Poetry, Art, Contests, and Amazing Opportunities

Jessica Brant & daughter
If you haven't heard of the creative site, BlogNostics, for writers and artists yet, then you are in for a real treat today. BlogNostics is one of a kind, and we have Jessica Brant with us today to tell all about it, what you can do there, and the contests they are now offering. I won't waste any more of your time with a boring intro because Jessica has a lot to tell us!

WOW: Welcome, Jessica, to The Muffin. On the "About" page for BlogNostics, it states, "BlogNostics is for readers, writers, artists, and followers to get together, share, be supportive, and have some fun creating excellence." So, is this a membership site? Tell us a little more, including your role with BlogNostics.

Jessica: We want our readers, writers, and artists to feel like they are in a community, where they can socialize, making it feel like a growing art commune. As for membership--no, you don't have to have a membership, though it is best to sign up, otherwise it is like cheating yourself if you don't. What I mean by that is that you won't get the full exposure needed to get your work out there if that is what you so desire.

As for me, I am the mom of the house, supporting where I can to show off these amazing and talented people that arrive, attempting to help everyone grow with the site. I see so much unsung talent out there. Just like a proud mother, I want to see our artists create their dreams.

WOW: Okay, Mom (smiles), then let's learn more about how BlogNostics works. Once people create an account, what should they do next and how do they do it? (And is it free?)

Jessica: Creating an account on BlogNostics is completely free and fairly easy to do. I think the easiest, most effective and painless way is by signing up and then login in using one of the social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin. If you do not subscribe to signing up via social media, that's okay; it is just as easy to create your own account with your name, personal e-mail, username, and password.

There is a lot to do, see, and read on BlogNostics. Once you step into our little world of creativity, we have a vast array of contemporary artists and writers from around the world who contribute their works of passion to BlogNostics. We recently added a Poetry Corner, where Willow, our Poetry Aficionado, divulges how to write poetry and prose, in addition to lending guidance to writers that are new to poetry and just need some helpful hints or just a sounding board.

WOW: It sounds great--the free aspect and the support and creativity going on there! Another thing advertised on your home page is Lines Vol. 1. Tell us all about Lines!

Jessica: Lines is our first digital publication and truly a labor of love. We were kicking around the idea of getting into the digital publishing arena for a while but kept putting it on the back burner. We were catapulted into taking action after the sudden untimely death of one of our most beloved poets, Sancheeta Biswas, who passed away on April 6, 2012, leaving behind her young daughter Tua. As a hamlet of talented up and coming contemporary writers, BlogNostics made a call to action to some of our members. Our poets, Lisa Brandel, Neil Chatterton, Ron Reed, Willow, and my father Mickey Munday were saddened by Sancheeta's story and collectively decided to dedicate Lines to the loving memory of Sancheeta. Part of the proceeds from the sale of Lines is going into an educational fund for Sancheeta's daughter Tua (age 9).

We went on a frantic search to find a platform that would deliver more than just the run of the mill, static, black and white e-book. We found a platform that complemented our writers' words with the ascetics that BlogNostics is known for. Lines the publication is an interactive collection of twenty-five poems, stunning graphics from today's most talented photographers and digital artists. The majority of the poetry has been digitally recorded by the artists themselves. making Lines accessible to those who are visually impaired or for those who would simply like to sit back, relax, listen, and enjoy. We were lucky enough to have world renowned, Emmy award-winning producer Carlos Alverez help us with the audio production of Lines. We have included seven spoken-word videos, clickable links, and more. It is truly a revolutionary way to read, listen to, and watch today's most talented, modern day poets. It really is a stunning work of art for the digital world. For now, Lines is available on Amazon for the Kindle Fire as well as Android systems.

WOW: What a beautiful idea to honor a writer's life and her daughter. It sounds amazing! You are offering some contests, which writers can submit to before April 10.What are the categories that you are looking for in this contest? Do you need to be a member of the site to enter the contest?

Jessica: First off let me say, we are so excited to offer our first writing contest, and we are honored that we have an esteemed panel of enthusiastic judges.

We have four categories that writers can participate and they are in: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Prose.

Within the category of fiction, we seek the work to have: a strong character, authentic voice, originality, boldness of form, pushing the boundaries of contemporary fiction. The bn~Expressions in Fiction will be judged by Ray Garton who is the author of over sixty novels, novellas, short story collections, movie novelizations, and TV tie-ins. His work spans the genres of horror, crime, and suspense. Fiction has a limit of 10,000 words.

Lisa Brandel
In Nonfiction, we seek from all works: an authentic voice, originality, boldness of form, pushing the boundaries of contemporary nonfiction, good story telling in things that sound authentic and speak to the human condition or the world. Judged by Lisa Brandel who is known best from her successful blog the WidowLady. She began telling her story only weeks after her husband died and had only posted three times before her father died. Through the pain of losing her father, and then aunt, paternal grandmother, another aunt, and finally her uncle to suicide, she has continued to write not only her story, but also ideas and philosophies about how to make life happen against the odds. She also has a daily inspiration on her “Widow Lady” Facebook page and is currently in the process of editing three books for publication, the first to be published is Every Day Inspiration expected to be released in mid-2013. She is making it her life’s work to inspire people through words and images. Nonfiction has a 9,000-word limit.

bn~LINES in Poetry, seeks from all works: an authentic voice, originality, boldness of form, pushing the boundaries of contemporary poetry. Judged by Lana Hechtman Ayer who works as a poetry manuscript consultant and writing workshop facilitator. She runs two chapbook presses, Concrete Wolf and MoonPath Press, and is an editorial consultant at the literary journal Crab Creek Reviews. Lana is the author of two chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections. Her most recent collection, A New Red (Pecan Grove Press), is a contemporary re-imagining of the Red Riding Hood fairy tale. Lana’s latest work “The Ugly Pregnant Woman,” which is currently in the California Quarterly, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Poetry has no word limit.

Pamela Rossow
bn~LINES in Prose, judged by Pamela Rossow who is the co-author of Mind Over Body. Pamela writes for a variety of genres including, business, journalism, and higher education. She is an established blogger and is committed to integrity and excellence in her writing. Pamela’s poem, "Nothing Good About Good-Bye," was published in the 2010 issue of Coastlines Literary Magazine. The word limit for Prose is 3500-words.

To enter the contests, being a member of BlogNostics is not a requirement, but it is suggested. We would like for those who participate to register first with us on the site.

We are a community of artists and writers with a common goal in mind; becoming a member is a way to stay informed about up and coming events on BlogNostics. It is also required in order to have any works published on the site as well as in future publications.

WOW: The judges are wonderful. What a panel! Thanks for explaining the entire contest to us! What are a couple tips you can give writers to help them be successful in your contest?

Jessica: Whatever you write… be authentic to your own voice. Don't try to be anyone but you. I think the general feeling by the judges is they want strong characters and the ability to push the boundaries of contemporary literature.

WOW: Next let's discuss your various "rooms" and poetry events. It looks like you have a "room" for Beat Poets, Artists, Haiku, and Color Poetry. How does a writer visit and take part in a room?

Jessica: I'm smiling from ear to ear at the moment. Yes, we have "rooms," but we like to call them our bn~BeatRoom, bn~Lounges, and bn~Galleries. Let me start off by saying the General bn~BeatRoom, bn~Galleries, Haiku, and Colour Concatenation are completely free areas of creativity and by that I mean anyone who is registered on BlogNostics can submit their works to those individual "rooms," although we had to put a limit on the amount of submissions we accept to the General BeatRoom. We put a cap of three poems (prose, pieces) to be submitted for publication in the General BeatRoom. There are many reasons for this--the number one reason is that often times we have a single artist submitting four to six poetic pieces, and the General BeatRoom then tends to look as if it has been taken over by one person. We listened to our members who suggested we start individual areas for those writers wishing to submit more than three pieces; and so the Personalized BeatRooms were created for those writers dedicated to their love of writing, where they can shine as bright as they want and get just a bit more personalized attention that does not take away from the other writers. These personalized "rooms" also take a lot time for our "Elves" to design, making sure the writers' personal bio, website, social media information is on their personal page (room)--also frantically finding artwork for each poetic piece. As you can imagine, this is all very time consuming, so we find many of our Elves have coffee intravenously served, saves on washing up I suppose. Our editors also take time out to make sure each piece is up to par; and if it looks like the writer needs some assistance editing, our editors are there to help them out. Visiting the individual areas on the site is easy as a click of a button, and voila--you are there.

Now that we have these Personalized bn~BeatRooms, it has given a few of our poets an incentive to step beyond publishing a few of their works in our General BeatRoom and thereby have made the choice to upgrade to the personalized BeatRoom or Beat Lounges, where a vast collection of poetry and prose from some of today's most talented contemporary writers are housed. There is a small fee involved for those members who wish to have their own Personalized BeatRooms and Beat Lounges--as mentioned, the Elves need feeding. The bn~Arts Gallery is the same, where we showcase photographers, digital artists, and illustrators.

WOW: I just love this idea. How creative! I can't wait to go to BlogNostics and check out some of these rooms! What are Word Scrambles? How about Montages? Can anyone do these?

Jessica: We have fun impromptus to get writers and those of poetic aptitude to get their creative juices flowing. We were sitting around one day trying to figure out how to get people more engaged on BlogNostics, so we came up with the idea of doing a Word Scramble. It is where we at BlogNostics brain storm and choose twenty-three words of which you the writer has to make something poetically amazing for us to read. It really is just a quick, fun, little thing to get us as writers unstuck. Montages are the same, but done with images in which the writer again can create what he or she sees within the images and tell us a poetic story. It seems the Montage tends to be a bit more controversial than the Word Scramble because everyone sees something completely different within an image.

WOW: Sounds interesting. Yes, we try all sorts of things to get people more interactive on our Facebook page. Now, I'm brainstorming thanks to you! How does someone become the featured BN poet?

Jessica: Hummmm, Good question! We take a look at the body of work. It's not about the number of hits your poem gets, or how supportive you are towards other people on BlogNostics, it is simply based on the quality of work a poet has submitted. Does it capture the reader's attention? Does it evoke emotion? These are some of the questions we ask as we look for our featured poets.

WOW: Anything else you'd like to add about your site that we haven't covered?

Jessica:What we really want to be and where we see ourselves going in the future is seeing our members becoming the next generation of celebrated artists, the voices of their generation. It's a lofty goal; but with all the unknown talent we are gathering, I think it is ivery reasonable for Blognostics to obtain this goal.

It is refreshing to find such creative and supportive people all in one place, working for a common goal both individually as well as collectively as a community of artists.

WOW: Thank you so much for sharing your creative and wonderful site for writers with us today! Readers to find Blognostics on Facebook, go to: http://www.facebook.com/BlogNostics.

To find them on Twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/BlogNostics

9 Comments on Check out BlogNostics: Poetry, Art, Contests, and Amazing Opportunities, last added: 1/26/2013
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18. Don't Forget The Writing Budget!

So you've had a couple weeks to firm up your 2013 writing goals. You have a handle on what you hope to accomplish, and if you’re the really industrious type, you've hit the page running. It’s all good, as my kids are fond of saying.

But I've noticed that whenever my kids say, “Calm down, Mom. It’s all good,” it’s invariably not all good. They've forgotten something (something that’s usually terribly important). And so I thought I’d ask: Have you remembered your writing budget?

Your writing budget is just as important as your writing goals, especially if your goals tend towards the general rather than the specific. For example, let’s say that your 2013 goal is to focus on children’s writing, and to that end, you've decided to write every day, and read more in the children’s genres you’re targeting. That’s terrific, and you will be a better writer by the end of the year.

But if you have a writing budget, you can rev up your goal. With less than a hundred dollars, you can join a professional organization like SCBWI and reap the benefits of membership. With less than two hundred dollars, you can take a class in the children’s writing field you enjoy. Or you can attend a conference, and connect with other writers in your area. You can skip the expensive coffee a couple times a month and use that money to enter a few children’s writing contests. Contests are wonderful motivators, particularly later in the year when your writing get-up-and-go is threatening to get up and leave.

So it doesn't take an accountant to see that a writing budget will pay dividends down the road in your writing career.

But maybe you’re not a fiction writer. Maybe you’re a freelancer, or a poet, or working on your memoir, and you can’t see any benefits in joining a professional organization or attending a conference. But you still want to take your writing to the next level. Yep, you’re going to need a budget.

For less than a hundred dollars, you can set up your own website and jumpstart your online presence. If you can find two hundred dollars, you can take classes on freelance writing, memoir writing, even poetry writing. You might want to join a freelance job opportunities site; these sites can range from free to forty dollars a month. You could research mentorship, wherein writers set their own fees for what will help you the most.

So before your 2013 resolve fades, get out the calculator and work those numbers. Figure out your writing budget and stick to it. Then you can tell me, “It’s all good, Cathy.” And I just might believe you.

~Cathy C. Hall

3 Comments on Don't Forget The Writing Budget!, last added: 1/22/2013
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19. Forget About Your Name in Lights! Get Your Name in Cheerios Boxes!

Laurie Isop is one lucky woman. Then again, luck has nothing to do with it. It’ more like skill, talent and persistence.

Who is Laurie Isop? She’s the first winner of Cheerios’ annual New Author Contest, which she won in 2009. Her book HOW DO YOU HUG A PORCUPINE? will appear in a million Cheerios boxes and the hardcover will be released with Simon & Schuster in July.

So how did Laurie get so lucky? (Err, I mean, how did she win?) Luckily (and this time I mean it), she agreed to an interview! Today she shares her journey with other aspiring children’s authors.

So go grab a bowl of the famous breakfast O’s and read how you, too, could have your name in boxes.

When did you first hear about the Cheerios contest and what made you decide to enter? How long had you been writing for children?

I’d been trying to crack the children’s market for about 10 years when I heard about the contest. I had drafted the story, “How Do You Hug a Porcupine?” prior to learning about the contest. My sister owns a bookstore in Stoneham, Massachusetts (shout-out to The Book Oasis!) and she sent me a link to the contest and encouraged me to enter.

How did you get the idea for your story HOW DO YOU HUG A PORCUPINE?

We were sitting around the dinner table talking about “warm fuzzy” people vs the “cold prickly” types, and the idea was born from there. I wanted to do something with animals to make it more age-appropriate. We had such a good time, talking about the different animals and envisioning all sorts of ways for the porcupine to win his hug. I probably revised my story eighteen or twenty times before I submitted it.

How did you find out that you won? What was your reaction?

I was having “one of those days” last October 2009. You know, one of those self-fulfilling prophecy-type days your mother warned you about when you were twelve, and again when you were thirty? The sky was ashen, the roads slick with the endless, penetrating drizzle of fall in the Pacific Northwest. Paul and I were several hours behind schedule, and I was eying the front door of a house I knew contained a bathroom in desperate need of cleaning. Lucky me, I sulked, my hand poised to open the door.

And then the phone rang.

I looked at Paul, sighed, and pasted an I-love-my-job smile on my face. “Studio 6 – this is Laurie!” I gushed, expecting a bride-to-be on the other end (our ‘real’ jobs are with the wedding studio).

“Is this…Laurie Isop?” queried the lovely voice on the other end. I rolled my eyes. Darn solicitors, I thought. They aren’t even sure how to pronounce my name!

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Then I cried a little, and called my mom and sister.

What was the process like to produce the book? Did you make revisions? Did you have a hand in selecting the illustrator, Gwen Millward (whose illustrations I loved in 7 Comments on Forget About Your Name in Lights! Get Your Name in Cheerios Boxes!, last added: 5/27/2011

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20. Three minute fiction contest

NPR is holding a three minute fiction contest. What a challenge! Write a story in no more than 600 words, that can be read in three minutes. This time, the story must feature someone leaving and someone arriving.

I have entered these before. It's a great exercise in getting just to the core of a story. No extra stuff. Every word must move the story forward.

Go to the NPR website for full rules and instructions. Only a short time to enter.

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21. Last call! Can you write an opening sentence to this story? (Chance to get published in Writer’s Digest)

 

Write an Opening Sentence | Free Writing Contest

From hardboiled detectives to murderers, leprechauns, spies and even giraffe narrators, when it comes to the diverse and unique entries in our free Your Story contest, the gang’s all here.

If you have a spare moment this weekend for a writing challenge, take five minutes and give it a whirl.

Basically, in every issue we give our readers a chance to get published in Writer’s Digest by running a prompt and asking them to do one of two things in response to it: Write a full short story, or write a one-sentence opener to a short story.

For our March/April 2012 issue, we invited our readers to go the one-sentence route for this writing prompt:

Write the first line to a story incorporating these three words: Cinderella, midnight, and behave.

Want in? Post your entry in the Comments section of this post, and it’ll automatically be entered in the competition.

The rules:

  • Your sentence (just one!) must be 25 words or fewer. Entries of 26 words will be DQ’d (even though it’s my lucky number).
  • The deadline is April 10, 2012.
  • One entry per person, please.
  • How it all works: We’ll select the top 10 entries and post them here. In mid-April, readers will vote for their favorites to help rank the winners.
  • This is a free writing competition. The prize is publication in WD.
  • You can also submit your sentence via the form here.
  • Finally, as we say about this publication contest in the magazine: “You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc. It is, after all, your story.”

Good luck! One of the most fun things we get to do around here every issue is read them all, and we appreciate every single word that comes in.

I’ll be back next Friday with my series on vintage discoveries from the WD archives—and some free books. Stay tuned.

(And if you landed here looking for general advice on submitting short fiction to publications, check out my colleague Scott Francis’ excellent post on 10 rules for submitting short stories.)

Happy Friday.

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22. SundayMorningReads

I was in Mexico this time last year!

I sure was going to stop after posting my review of Perfect Shot, but then I started reading the blogs, tweets and newspapers and I just had to reflect on my SundayMorningReads!

I have to say goodbye to Amy at Bowllan’s Blog on the SLJ website. I met Amy through her Writers Against Racism series where I posted my own story. I actually met Amy and presented with her at the National Diversity in Libraries conference back in 2010. She’s one of my few online friends that I’ve actually met in person and that makes her quite special to me! Her energy, intelligence and charm will be missed!

When you reflect on what you’re doing and start to feel like you’re preaching the same message to the same choir and getting no results, one has to wonder who has to make some changes? My blog feeds been given quite a transformation lately, along with a resolution to post comments more often. Who knows what the results will be!

We lovers of books talk about inspiring young people to want to read, but I know firsthand that all it takes is the right reading material matched to the right reader. We honest to goodness have it so easy! Imagine if we were math teachers and had to inspire students to like math! I’ve been thinking about this since responding to a comment lately, how easy it is to get students to read if they’re given the right stuff to read. All they need is the freedom to choose and that comes from availability not only in terms of representing the vast diversity of people who read but in realizing the vast diversity of what teens want to read: magazines, newspapers, manga, non-fiction, graphic novels, almanacs, books of records… They’re not all into novels!

Hey, if you’re a librarian reading this and looking for diversity in what you do, why not try writing about librarians in a non-librarian publication? Let the world know what we do! Enter your piece in the Great Librarian Write Out and win some cash!

Summer for you means hot fun but it’s back to work for me! This week, I’ll begin working at Indiana State University as an Asst. Reference Librarian.   Summer for bookies means ALA , BEA, Comic-Con,  ChLA, SBCWI  or the Mazza Conference in Findlay, OH??? Perhaps you’re a bit more international and headed for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content ? What conferences will you be attending? How do you anticipate them upping your game?

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23. First Page Contest

It's time for one of my freaking favorite things to do on this blog: run a contest!

The rules are simple:

  • Send me the first page (250 words) of your chapter book, middle grade or YA manuscript (any genre) to buriededitor @ gmail dot com (obviously make that into a workable email address.)
  • Get me your first page by Thursday 10/4 at 11:59pm CST.
  • I will read these and Friday morning I will post my 2 favorites.
  • Then, you all will get to vote on your favorite over the weekend. The winner will be announced on 10/9/2012.
  • The winner gets a 15 page Conference Style Critique (minor detail: You have to get your pages to me by Thursday 10/11.)
  • The runner-up gets 2 books from Pyr, finish copies of Ian McDonald's 2 books. (These were sent to a friend of mine as review copies. Pyr is not sponsoring this post in any way, and they'll probably be surprised when they come across it. However, I see no reason not to share a little smaller press love around.)
I do reserve the right to suspend or cancel this contest at anytime, and it is void wherever prohibited. But, I think this will be fun, and I look forward to reading everyone's entries!

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24. How to Submit Your Novel in the New Year

Want to make a potentially life-changing New Year’s resolution? Resolve to submit your novel to a writing contest or digital imprint this year.

Here are three ways to get your book out there right now…

How To Submit to Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Award Contest: Categories include general fiction, romance, mystery/thriller, science fiction/fantasy/horror and young adult fiction.

How To Submit Your Work To Random House’s New Digital Imprints: Genres include “romance, new adult, mystery, thriller, science fiction, fantasy and horror.”

How to Submit Your Romance Novel to Avon Impulse: “We encourage creativity, so feel free to impress us with what you’ve got! We also have our eye out for great submissions in the following subgenres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Futuristic, Ghost, Gothic, Historical, Magical, Time Travel, Western, Shifter, Small Town, Steampunk, Suspense, Vampire (and others).”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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25. Win Writing Contests! (Or What I Learned From My Mistakes)

I've always loved contests. Though technically, what I love is winning contests. So imagine my surprise when, as a newbie writer, I found writing contests! I couldn't wait to enter all of ‘em! My little eyes lit up and my fingers flew and I sent in my scathingly brilliant entries and fees, and waited to see the word I knew would pop up in my email subject line: Congratulations!

Er...it didn't happen quite that way. In the beginning, I made a lot of mistakes. (But I learned valuable lessons.)

1. One of the very first contests I entered involved a HUGE payoff and a fun prompt. Terrific, right? Only it was a very specific (as in “incorporate these specific characters and this name-brand product into your story”) prompt. I spent hours, HOURS, writing my witty story, and not to brag, but it was pretty darn witty. Imagine my surprise when I did not win. All those hours, and all I had to show for my effort was a story that I could never submit anywhere else. That’s when I learned not to expend too much time writing a story to a limiting prompt.


2. Also among my list of first contests entered was a very literary, la-ti-da contest wherein I sent in a not so literary la-ti-da story. I would have known that my story didn't fit the contest if I’d spent just a little time, researching to get a feel for the contest. I suppose I was too busy researching how I was going to spend my winnings. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I did not win. That’s how I learned not to skip my homework before submitting my entries.


3. And speaking of that literary contest, I paid a hefty entry fee, too. And it was one of those contests like the Highlander: there could be only one. Winner, that is. It just goes to show that possibly, I could’ve used a little humility where my writing talent was concerned, and definitely, I could've used a little lesson in figuring odds. (Just one more reason why one should pay attention during math class.) I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I did not win that one, solitary prize. But I did learn to pay attention to numbers, whether it was the entry fee, the prizes, or both.


If I’m being perfectly honest, I made more writing contest mistakes than the three I listed. But eventually, after learning a thing or two (or twenty), I spied that email subject line that read “Congratulations!”

Imagine my surprise when I finally won.

(Now that you've learned from my mistakes, you’re ready to try a writing contest! Check out WOW!’s Winter Flash Fiction Contest—an open prompt, twenty prizes, and info about the guest judge provided. Perfect, right?)

~Cathy C. Hall

9 Comments on Win Writing Contests! (Or What I Learned From My Mistakes), last added: 1/14/2013
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