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Broken Promise by Jen Wylie
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Distraction by Angela McPherson
Tainted Energy by Lynn Vroman
By: Kathy Temean,
Blog: Writing and Illustrating
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Agent Alex Slater
, November First Page Critiques
, Thanksgiving Poems
, Two Book Give-a-Ways
, Winner of Halloween Poem Contest
, Add a tag
OPPORTUNITY: TWO BOOK-GIVE-A-WAYS
Gayle Aanensen’s new 88 page novella, GREATER THAN GOLD hit the book shelves this week. It is now available on Amazon and will appeal to anyone who celebrates Christmas.
Greater than Gold is the story of two troubled boys and their two Christmases—Oscar in the present day, and Omar way back in biblical time. A good description would be The Polar Express meets The Book of Luke. After all, if a magical train ride can restore a boy’s belief in Santa Claus, why can’t an angel time-travel Oscar back to Bethlehem, where he discovers the peace, joy (and danger!) of the very first Christmas. Twelve-year-old Oscar Olsen is missing his soldier Dad, and he wants nothing (repeat, nothing) to do with Christmas this year! He acts out his anger on his Mom, his friend, Melissa, and even the strange new kid in church, Albert. A young, inexperienced angel, still struggling to control her wings, appears in Oscar’s bedroom. She tells Oscar that her official alphanumerical name is too long, so he can call her Earth Angel 10. She whirls him back to 2,000 years ago, where he becomes Omar, an orphaned camel-boy, riding with the Magi. Omar is a brand-new person in the traditional nativity story. Young readers will be drawn into the boys’ two parallel stories, told in alternating chapters.
Ten days ago, I featured Margo Sorensen new book, SPAGHETTI SMILES and forgot to offer everyone a chance to win a copy her wonderful book illustrated by David Harrington who was featured on Illustrator Saturday. So we are offering the book give-a-way this week.
So if you leave a comment to this post you will automatically have a chance to win GREATER THAN GOLD OR SPAGHETTI SMILES.
If you reblog, tweet, post on your facebook page you will get an extra ticket with your name paced in the hat. This will definitely up your chances for winning one of the books. You can comment now and then do the other things later, but please come back before the deadline and let me know how many things you did. Both will make a nice gift for the holidays. Good luck!
The Unusual Stew by Robert Zammarchi was voted as the best Halloween poem. His prize is a featured post right here on Writing and Illustrating. He can choose to use it right away or hold on to it for when he wants to talk about something special. Thank you to everyone who submitted poems and to everyone who voted.
I think everyone enjoyed this, so I am going to do the same thing for Thanksgiving. If you have a poem or an illustration inspired by the holiday, please email it to me at: Kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail.com – Please put THANKSGIVING POEM or THANKSGIVING ILLUSTRATION in the Subject Box.
Agent Alex Slater
Remember to submit your first pages for this month. It is the last one for this year.
The four winning first pages will be sent to Alex Slater from Trident Media for critique. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO HAVE YOUR CRITIQUE POSTED.
Here are the guidelines for submitting a First Page in November:
In the subject line, please write “November First Page Critique” and paste the text in the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.
Plus attach your first page Word doc. to email. Format using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines. First page should not be submitted with two pages. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Last month a number of submissions were taken out of the mix, due to not following the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc.
DEADLINE: November 24th.
RESULTS: November 28th.
Filed under: Agent
Tagged: Agent Alex Slater
, November First Page Critiques
, Thanksgiving Poems
, Two Book Give-a-Ways
, Winner of Halloween Poem Contest
Prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, based on the photo on the left.
Remember: You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.
Use the submission form below OR email your submission directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
IMPORTANT: If you experience trouble with the submission form, please email your submission directly to email@example.com within the body of your email (no attachments please).
Unfortunately, we cannot respond to every entry we receive, due to volume. No confirmation emails will be sent out to confirm receipt of submission. But be assured all submissions received before entry deadline are considered carefully. Official Rules
Entry Deadline: January 14, 2015
Your Story Entry Form
Full Fathom Five Digital, an eBook imprint headed by A Million Little Pieces author James Frey, is hosting a fiction contest. One grand prize winner will receive $10,000.
The judges intend to name four finalists; those participants will be offered a guaranteed publishing deal. Depending on the quality of the submissions, the organizers may present a publishing contract to non-finalists as well.
Only manuscripts that contain 50,000 words or more will be accepted; writers can turn in either original unpublished stories or self-published books. A deadline has been set for November 30, 2014. Follow this link to learn about all the rules.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Holy Jack-O-Lanterns, Batman!
Look at me! A mere shadow of my former self!
A pumpkin who has fallen off her creaky broomstick!
Wrung out and harrowed after an entire weekend of trying to decide how to rank the incredible entries y'all submitted for Halloweensie 2014. What a job!!!
It's a miracle I'm even here to tell the tale!
Thank goodness for the sustaining chocolate provided (via Face Book) by Joanna and Kathy :) Thank you both, from the bottom of my chocolate-loving heart! (And no, they did not receive "special consideration" for their entries as a result - they are both just lovely people who didn't want me or my assistant judges to keel over :))
And speaking of the assistant judges, I had to call in a fourth! I'm not kidding!
Because here's the deal: we had the biggest turn out we've ever had in terms of number of entries - 132! - and the overall quality of the entries was fantastic. Really, it is readily apparent that the quality of entries in these contests is improving every time. This means there are fewer standouts, almost none that are easy to cut, and there a LOT of pretty good ones that we have to get very nit-picky over! It is agony, I tell you!
Before we get to the actual list of finalists, I have a couple things to say. (I know you're shocked :))
First of all, I want to thank EVERYONE who took the time and care to write an entry for this contest. You all did a fabulous job and provided great enjoyment for many!
Second, I'd also like to thank EVERYONE - writer, reader, or both - who took the time to go around and read as many entries as you could and leave supportive comments. This means so much to the writers who worked hard on their stories. It helps them see what they did well, as well as giving them the joy of knowing that their stories were read and enjoyed. I hope you all got as much delight and entertainment out of the reading as I did! Plus, we got to meet quite a few new people which was a wonderful added bonus! :)
Third, before I list the finalists, I want to say again how difficult it was too choose! There were so many amazing entries. Really. I could find at least something terrific about every single one. The sheer volume of entries meant that many good ones had to be cut. So if yours didn't make the final cut please don't feel bad. There was a huge amount of competition. Judging, no matter how hard we try to be objective, is always subjective at a certain point - we all have our own preferences for what makes a great story. And the fact that you didn't make the final cut DOES NOT mean you didn't write a great story. Everyone who plonked their butt in a chair and worked hard to write a story for this contest is a winner! You showed up. You did your best work. You practiced your craft. You wrote to specifications and a deadline. You bravely shared your writing with the world. And you have a brand new story that is now yours to expand beyond 100 words if you like and maybe submit at some point to a magazine or as a PB manuscript. So bravo to everyone who entered!
Now. Onto the judging criteria which were as follows:
1. Kid-appeal! - These stories are intended for a young audience, so entries that were well-written but lacked child-friendliness did not make the cut.
2. Halloweeniness - the rules stated a Halloween story, so entries that failed to mention anything Halloween-y did not make the cut even if they were well-written.
3. Quality of story - the rules stated that entries were to tell a story, so if they appeared to be more of a description or mood piece, they didn't make the cut. We looked for a true story arc.
4. Quality of Writing: we took note of spelling, grammar, punctuation etc. In addition, for the rhymers, we looked at rhyme and meter (for which we are sticklers!) We also looked at overall writing quality and use of language.
5. Originality and creativity - because that is often what sets one story above another.
This time around, 5 entries sadly had to be cut because of rule problems: one was 3 words over the word limit (I counted 6 times, by hand and with Microsoft Word's word count tool, because it was otherwise a strong entry! but 131 other people managed to stay at 100 or under so I had to be strict!); two used "broom" but not "broomstick"; and 2 did not use "creak" in any form. (And yes, I checked the word count on all 132 entries and made sure the required words were present.)
After that, the going really got tough. Some of the stronger stories were written in rhyme where the meter didn't work as well as it needed to. Some of the most beautiful rhyming entries with great use of language were more mood pieces than stories. So we had to make some very hard calls.
Without further ado, I present to you the 2014 Halloweensie Contest Finalists. A baker's dozen - 13 for Halloween! :) A mix of poetry and prose, stories for younger readers and slightly older (but still kid) readers, funny, spooky, and cute. Please read through them carefully, take your time, think it over, and vote for your favorite. To help with objectivity, finalists are listed by title only, not by author.
And I'd like to be very clear about the voting process. You are MOST welcome to share a link to this post on FB, twitter, or wherever you like to hang out, and encourage people to come read ALL the finalists and vote for the one they think is best. Please do that. The more people who read and enjoy these stories the better, and the more objective votes we get the better. HOWEVER (and I want to be very clear on this) please do not ask people to vote for a specific number or title, or for the story about the pumpkin ballerina or whatever. Trolling for votes or trying to influence the outcome is counter to the spirit of this competition which is supposed to be based on merit. I thank you in advance for respecting this.
#1 Halloween SMS (Short Messaging Scariness)
#2 Creaky Cackle
Ever since Winnie Witch crashed into a creek, her cackle was creaky. #3 Full Moon Rising
Ah ha ha…hack…cough, cough…
Hallowe’en hijinks were hindered.
Broomstick in hand, she wobbled into the witch doctor’s office.
“Whoa,” said the doctor as she peered into Winnie’s mouth. “It looks like you’ve got a frog in your throat.”
“Chew this pumpkin lozenge,” the doctor decreed.
“Yuck,” Winnie gagged. Splutter, cough, cough…
Out bounded a bullfrog.
“Ba–ruump,” protested the frog and hopped off.
Ahhh ha ha ha ha…Winnie Witch whooped.
“Stay out of creeks,” the doctor yelled as Winnie Witch bounded off on her broomstick.
Full moon rising in the sky,
Owls are hooting, bats fly by.
Mummies moaning in the night,
Goblins groaning give you fright.
Milo walking down the path,
Up the steps, he hurries fast.
Across the moonlit porch.
Past the pumpkin,
Past the cat,
Past the broomstick,
Past the rat.
To the door where spiders lay,
Waiting for their cowering prey.
Milo hears a frightening sound.
He doesn’t even turn around.
Glowing eyes behind him stare.
Ring the doorbell, if you dare!
Door creaks open.
Better not run.
Trick or Treat!#4 Home Alone HalloweenI came home from school very excited. Halloween, my favorite day of the year.
Now, let’s have some fun!
I almost trip over the sixteen pumpkins on the porch.
With a creak, I swing the door open while calling out, “Mom?” No answer.
The aroma of bat stew fills the house.
She’s not in the dungeon, or napping in her coffin. She must be here somewhere.
I look throughout the house, running from room to room.
Suddenly it hits me.
I fling open the broom closet. Empty. Even her broomstick is gone.
“Of course,” I said, hitting my forehead and smiling. “She is working tonight!”#5 Sulky Spider's Spooky Webs
Sulky Spider planned a scheme
For making trick or treaters scream.
Spider silk began to spin
A Jack 'o Web with wicked grin.
"Pretty pumpkin," cowgirls said.
"Pretty?" Sulky hung her head.
"A webby ghost will do the trick!"
She spun a spooky ghoul up quick.
Pirates shouted, "Ghosts are neat!"
She gobbled up her web. "Defeat."
Spinnerets began to twitch.
A princess cooed, "That witch is sweet."
She stomped all eight offended feet.
"I need a buggy snack," she frowned.
Sticky thread went round and round.
She didn't hear the stairway creak.
"A spiderweb!" they hollered, "Eek!"
#6 This Year's Halloween Mascot
Witch School should have been brimming with excitement. But everyone was sick of hearing Broomstick and Pumpkin argue over who should be Halloween mascot.
“No one flies higher,” said Broomstick.
“No Jack-O-Lantern shines brighter,” said Pumpkin.
Black cats cowered, paws over ears. Cauldrons bubbled their disapproval.
C-r-e-e-e-e-a-k-- the courtyard door opened to an assembly of witches.
“The time has come,” Head Mistress said. “The night awaits my decision.”
“This year’s mascot shines the brightest…” (Pumpkin’s head swelled.)
“…and flies the highest.” (Broomstick’s spirits soared.)
“Our Halloween mascot is…”
“… the Moon,” who silently took a bow.
#7 Halloween Chase
The pumpkins were glowing, but I still couldn't see
There was someone or something coming for me
I glanced over my shoulder when I heard the stair creak
My heart leapt from my chest and my legs became weak
I gasped when I saw her, all ghoulish and green
She was staring right at me, eyes angry and mean
Her broomstick was poised to crash down on my head
I wished I could fly, but my feet felt like lead
My fists began swinging, I was ready to fight
My sister took off her mask and just laughed with delight!
#8 Halloween Hide-and-Go-SeekIt’s Halloween! It’s dark, it’s spooky, it’s perfect for a game of Halloween Hide-and-Go-Seek!Blurp! Bloop! Blub!Are you in the cauldron?No, just some toadstool stew.Rustle! Swish! Swoosh!Are you in the closet?No, just an old broomstick.Creak! Crack! Bang!Are you behind the curtains?No, it’s just the wind blowing the windows open and closed.Scritch! Scratch! Raow!Are you behind the chair?No, just the cat settling down.Giggle, GiggleAre you upstairs?Sssshhhhhhh!Are you in the bedroom?Hmmmmm.Boo!There are my little pumpkins!You’ve had your trick, now how about your treat?
#9 The Shadow
Once upon a pumpkin moon
a rocker creaked,
the wind sighed, Soon….A Shadow stole across the lawn
and stopped upon the stair.
Ghosts and goblins roamed the streets.
They rang each bell
for tricks or treats.
As they approached they didn’t see
the Shadow waiting there.
Through the dark the children stepped,
not knowing where
the Shadow crept.
They stumbled over Shadow and
their screeches pierced the air.
Broomstick tail puffed wide with fright,#10 Halloween In A Box
poor Shadow fled
into the night.
On Halloween a small black cat
should NOT sit on the stair!
“Skeleton!! It’s here!” Witch cackled. “Halloween in a Box! I ordered it on the Making Potions and Brew Magic website. ‘Fun Guaranteed!’”
Witch looked inside. “Pumpkin centerpiece? Broomstick garland?? Party plates??? That’s it????” She flopped onto the floor and wailed, “My party is ruined!”
Skeleton picked up the box. “I’ll be back.”
Skeleton returned with the box. “Open it.”
Witch lifted the flaps. Out jumped Black Cat, Ghost, Monster from Under-the-Bed, Zombie, his mother Mummy, and Hairy Spider.
“Now THAT’S a Halloween in a Box!” Witch screeched.
“Fun Guaranteed!” Skeleton said, dancing a creaky jig.
#11 Devious Dads And Halloween
Devious Dads and Halloween
Under the stars,
Mama carves goblins,
Papa carves cars.
Kids from our condo,
Itching for treats,
Bound for the streets.
Roger plays Batdude.
Orville’s a ghost.
Omar rocks Elvis,
Milly is toast.
Sam’s owl is skittish,
Tim acts the clown.
Ike rides a broomstick,
Cruising our town.
Kids in cool costumes
Creep through the night,
Rack up the candy,
Eat just a bite.
After, in jammies,
Kids hide the rest,
Eager to keep
Dads far from the best!
“Nibbles,” sighed Chester Cat. “You’re supposed to carve a pumpkin.”
“They’re too big,” the guinea pig replied. “So I am carving a Halloween-o Jalapeño. Scary, huh? Does it make you want to run away?”
“No,” Chester sniffed. “That wouldn’t make anyone run away.”
They heard the creak of floorboards and the clatter of the broomstick Buster used for fetch.
“I bet it’ll make Buster run.”
“Let’s see,” Nibbles challenged. Then he shouted. “BUSTER! SNAAACK!”
Buster galloped in. He gobbled the jalapeño.
His eyes sprang open.
Yelping, he dashed to his water dish.
“Told you he’d run,” Nibbles giggled.
#13 Snip, Snap, Crack
In a deep dark corner, an old lady sits.
She cackles, and snarls, and frantically knits.
Click clack go her needles.
Snip snap go her bones,
As she rocks and she creaks
and her kitty cat moans.
She conjures up spiders, and pumpkins, and ghosts
All spun from her yarn -
“I’m so wicked!” she boasts.
Don’t dare approach her,
She’s all trick and no treat.
What are you doing??
Come hither, my sweet.
Get away from that broomstick! Skedaddle! Shoo!
You’re tiptoeing closer??
Now that you've had a chance to read through the finalists, please vote for the entry you feel deserves to win in the poll below by 5PM EST Wednesday November 5.2014 Halloweensie Contest Finalists
Tune in Thursday November 6 to see THE WINNERS!!!
Thank you all so much for taking the time to write (if you did), read, and vote! These contests simply wouldn't be what they are without all of you!
I can't wait to see who the winners will be!
Tune in Thursday... same bat time, same bat station :)
(And we will have a regularly scheduled Would You Read It on Wednesday too!)
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a nap.
I'm SO not a napper.
But I might have some leftover Halloween candy :)
Have a marvelous Monday! :)
Studio 360 invites creatives to join in on a “Doodle Dare.” Fun Home author Alison Bechdel drew a doodle to serve as a start point. Participants should use Bechdel’s drawing (pictured on the left) to create a finished composition.
Artists “can use any image-manipulation software, or print it out and go old-school with pens and pencils. The more creative your scenario, the better.” A deadline has been set for November 10, 2014.
Follow this link to learn all the rules. Studio 360 has unveiled a few of the submissions in two posts. What do you think?
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
The New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library teamed up for the 4th Annual Battle of the Book Sorters. The two New York City organizations went up against the Washington state-based King County Public Library.
Here’s more about the contest: “New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library share a state-of-the-art, automated book sorter (as well as all book delivery operations), so they form one team. King County, which has its own book sorter, won last year, and is currently leading the annual contest with two wins to New York’s one.”
In one hour’s time, Team New York sorted 12,570 items and emerged victorious. The winning competitor received the “Lyngsoe Sorting Cup” prize package which includes beans from Seattle’s Best Coffee and salmon. If the King County team had won, they would have collected cheesecake from Junior’s and pastries from Ferrara’s.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Random House has released Margaret Atwood’s new short fiction collection, Stone Mattress. One of the nine tales, “The Freeze-Dried Groom,” has been posted on Wattpad. This particular piece leaves the reader with many unanswered questions.
Some of these queries include “Will Sam be a killer or a victim?” and “What are the other characters’ versions of events?” Fans are invited to take part in a writing contest to answer these questions. Follow this link to learn about all the rules.
The deadline has been set for October 31st at 11:59 p.m. EST and a winner will be announced on November 18th. The grand prize winner will receive a signed Stone Mattress anthology, a tweet from Atwood, and loot from Wattpad. Two runner-ups will also receive autographed of copies of Atwood’s book.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
By: Carmela Martino and 5 other authors
Blog: Teaching Authors
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, books for boys
, Carmela Martino
, children's poems
, Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM)
, David Harrison
, Poetry Friday
, reluctant readers
, Teacher Resources
, Add a tag
Happy Poetry Friday, Everyone! Today I'll be sharing a fun, "spooky" poem by David L. Harrison. But first I'll tell you about my latest publication, an article in the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (Writer’s Digest Books), edited by Chuck Sambuchino. Then, at the end of this post, you'll find instructions for how to enter to win your very own copy of the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market!
If you're not familiar with the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market
(also known as the CWIM
here's an excerpt from the book's blurb.
"If you write or illustrate for young readers with the hope of getting published, the '2015 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market' is the trusted resource you need. Now in its 27th edition, 'CWIM' is the definitive publishing guide for anyone who seeks to write or illustrate for kids and young adults. Inside you'll find more than 500 listings for children's book markets (publishers, agents, magazines, and more)--including a point of contact, how to properly submit your work, and what categories each market accepts."
In addition to the market listing, the CWIM includes great articles, interviews, and success stories. This year's edition features my interview roundup article, "Writing for Boys (and other 'Reluctant Readers')." The piece contains advice and insights from four award-winning authors known for writing books that appeal to reluctant readers: Matt de la Peña
, Lenore Look
, David Lubar
, and Steve Sheinkin
Although these authors write a wide variety of books, and everything from picture books to young adult novels, there was one bit of advice they all agreed on: If you want your writing to appeal to boys and other reluctant readers, don't try to target this particular audience. That's right, DON'T target them. Instead, write what moves, excites, or interests YOU. Then, "revise it over and over until it hums," as Matt de la Peña said. All four of the authors shared additional, specific advice on how to reach reluctant readers, especially boys. So be sure to enter our giveaway below for a chance to win your own copy of the CWIM!
In researching "Writing for Boys (and other 'Reluctant Readers')," I discovered some very discouraging statistics about boys and reading. Not only do girls, on average, score higher on reading tests than boys, but the gender gap is widening. Fortunately, the news isn't all dire. As Jon Scieszka
, the first National Ambassador of Young People's Literature
and founder of Guys Read points out on the GuysRead website
". . . the good news is that research also shows that boys will read—if they are given reading that interests them."
Poetry can be a great way to hook boys (and other reluctant readers), especially if it's short, funny, and/or focuses on boy-friendly topics, such as sports, adventure, animals, and the supernatural. You'll find some wonderful books that fit this bill on the GuysRead list of poetry books
. I also recommend just about anything written by David L. Harrison. His book Bugs: Poems about Creeping Things
(Wordsong), illustrated by Rob Shepperson, is chock-full of poems with lots of boy-appeal. Here's one example:
Haunted skins cling emptily to the rough bark of the hackberry tree,
and farther up where I can't see, ghosts are buzzing eerily: zz-zz-zz-zz zeeeeee! © David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
If you'd like to see the wonderful illustration that accompanies this poem in Bugs: Poems about Creeping Things
, visit this page on David's blog
(after you enter our drawing below!).
Finally, before you head over to check out these resources or the other great poems in this week's Poetry Friday
round-up at Today's Little Ditty
, you'll want to enter to win your own copy of the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market
. You can do that via the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post. You may enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options. For option 2, "Leave a Blog Post Comment," you must share a comment to TODAY'S blog post and include your name!
(If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com
The giveaway ends on Oct. 31.
Good luck and happy writing!
P.S. If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway
and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address. Email subscribers
: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.
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Writing a book is hard. Getting published is hard. Most writers (myself included) have several manuscripts that will never see the light of day, and enough rejection letters to wallpaper the entire house. And so when Martina and Lisa asked me to join them for the Compulsion for Writing Party, I immediately said yes. I love the idea of encouraging and supporting other writers. And like Martina and Lisa, I have thought about throwing in the towel on this whole writing business, and am very glad that I didn’t! Why did I keep writing? Because I am a writer. I am not a writer because I am published. Being published was a dream come true, but even if someone could tell me for certain that I would never be published again (and I hope that’s not true!), I would still keep writing. Publication is the goal of many writers, but it isn’t why we write. Publishing is a business. Writing is not a business. It is a passion. It is a compulsion. We write because we can’t not write. How do you know if you’re a writer? Writers wake up in the middle of the night when a story hits them – or they finally know how to resolve a dilemma or a plot twist. Writers listen to the voices inside of their head – characters shouting at us tell my story! Writers talk to their family and friends about an idea or a character until those people’s eyes literally glaze over. And writers write. They sit down with a notebook, pen perched in hand, or at the computer and bang away at the keyboard, staying up late into the night or getting up in the wee hours of the morning, skipping gatherings and favorite shows because they just need to finish that scene. About a year and a half ago, I had an idea for a novel. As I walked the dog, these two characters kept talking to each other in my mind – arguing, no less. When I closed my eyes at night I saw images of a fog-covered lake and a dark impenetrable forest. I dreamt about it. I talked about it. I drew (well, scribbled) it. I simply had to write it. I discussed it with my agent, and she told me that a fantasy novel would be hard to sell. She wanted me to write a different kind of book in a different genre which was highly in demand. I put aside the fantasy, and tried to write that book. But my heart wasn’t in it. It was a chore. Usually when I work on a manuscript I can’t wait to find time to write. I go through my day, eager to finish work and whatever else I need to do and eek out time at my laptop. Instead I was folding laundry and vacuuming, because I didn’t want to work on that book. I hate laundry and vacuuming. Months went by. My house had never been cleaner, but I had written very few pages. I started to wonder – am I really a writer? Wouldn’t a real writer be able to write in any genre? I went back to my WIP and took another look at it. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. It wasn’t. It was worse. If I wasn’t excited about my manuscript, how could I expect a reader to be? How could I finish it? And then I had an epiphany. I needed that love of writing, that passion, to spend the hours upon hours required to finish and revise a novel. If I didn’t have it, I couldn’t do it. I sat down and started working on the book that I wanted to write. The story that filled my head. I talked to my agent, who was kind and supportive, but again told me she didn’t think she could sell it, but she would try. I realized that if she wasn’t excited about my book, she couldn’t possibly sell it. Terrified, I thanked my wonderful agent for all she had done for me and terminated my contract. I went from being agented back to square one, even knowing how long it had taken me to find an agent the first time around. But I kept working on that fantasy novel. I sent it to my fabulous critique partner and wonderful writing group. I revised, and revised, and revised. Was it hard? YES! Did I love it? YES! (Well, mostly yes. I could not whip one pesky character into shape until draft 7 or 8.) I wrote it knowing it might never be published or maybe even agented. But I was okay with that. I’ve grown as a writer through the writing, and as Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time once said, “You have to write the book that wants to be written.” I finished revising Uncharted and sent out a dozen queries. Within a couple of weeks I had an offer of representation from Amaryah Orenstein, who recently left the Laura Gross Agency to establish her own boutique firm, GO Literary. We talked on the phone for over an hour, and she loved the manuscript. She “got” my writing. We talked about genres and trends and my current fantasy WIP. I felt confident that she would be my toughest critic and my fiercest champion. (And, if that wasn’t enough, she’s a very lovely person!) I am thrilled to announce that I accepted her offer, and look forward to going out on submission soon. But, no matter what my future holds, I will keep writing, because I am a writer.
|Amaryah Orenstein|If you’re a writer, and you need some encouragement, or you want to give some, please join us at our COMPULSION FOR WRITING PARTY AND PRIZE FEST! There will be fabulous prizes, including agent and author critiques, but more importantly it’s a really nice place to share an inspirational quote or thought or story. My prize package will be yummy chocolate and tea, gourmet treats, a big mug, a pretty journal, a gift card and I will read and comment on 3 chapters of a manuscript. In addition, my lovely agent, Amaryah Orenstein, will read and comment on a query and the first 10 pages on a manuscript. Thanks for reading my compulsion for writing story. What’s yours? Put it up on the Facebook event page anytime between now and October 22nd to be entered to win!
I hope by now you all know about our fantastic COMPULSION FOR WRITING PARTY AND PRIZE FEST!
I also hope you'll all attend because not only are there going to be ah-maze-ing prizes, including agent critiques, but also because it's our way of supporting each other.
See, several of us here at AYAP have been sprinkled with pixie dust - or at least that's my theory - and have incredible news. But we've also had a long, twisted road to travel to get here. We KNOW how hard it is to keep going sometimes and that's what we want to share with all of you. That we are living proof that if you persevere through the hard times, you can accomplish your goals.
Today I'm sharing my story with you. The REAL story. And my hope is that it will inspire you to persevere. I'll also be revealing my big prize pack that I'll be giving away to a lucky winner who shares his/her own story or advice at the FB party (so go click and attend if you haven't yet).
About six years ago, give or take, I decided to go for it and take writing seriously. I started by joining SCBWI, which I can't recommend enough, so I could learn the business side of things. I also sat down while the kids were at school and wrote. Soon enough I had my first novel. An actual completed novel. Which, as you may well guess, will never see the light of day. BUT I did it. I knew at that point that I was capable of it.
So what did I do with my *cough* masterpiece? Why I queried of course! Yup, full of typos and the most confusing pitch ever.
Then I joined a critique group. Some of my best friends are still with me from that. The group though is long disbanded.
Meanwhile I kept writing and by my third novel I somehow (through a connection so there was no formal query or I never could have done it at that point) landed an uber agent! WOW! I had it made, right???
Nope. Rubin was WONDERFUL. Don't get me wrong. Heck, I'm still with his agency, just not him. But we eventually realized that as much as we respected each other, we weren't a good match. So with many tears from me we separated and I felt like a total failure.
What I thought was my happily ever after turned out to be a detour that sent me back to the beginning. BUT the thing was it didn't. I'd grown so much, learned so much, shared so much, and kept writing. My friends tease me: "I blinked and Lisa wrote another book." But each one gets better. I keep challenging myself and I know I could never stop.
So I ate lots of chocolate and started querying for real. And guess what? I started getting full requests! But guess what else? Paranormal was no longer in style. DOH!
Then other things happened that I wasn't expecting.
I had a baby! I have three kids. Fifteen, Eleven, and TWO.
I was (and this is still hard for me to say to the world) diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My finger swelled and hurt. But I type constantly, right? Then it got worse. I was misdiagnosed, I was allergic to meds, one hand wouldn't close all the way, the other wouldn't open all the way. I couldn't get off the couch. I was sleeping: All. The. Time.
Still I kept trying. I kept blogging, querying, writing, reading. I don't know how except to say I NEEDED to.
Then I found the right doctor. The right diagnosis. The right meds. And I'm almost normal again. PHEW. Also - Dragon software is great for emails and things. There are ways around things. Guess what else? My daughter is in preschool!
But at my darkest point, I was soooooo close to throwing in the proverbial towel. I was afraid to share my problems because who would want a writer that can't type? For the first time in forever I put something slightly negative on FB! That's big for me, because I believe in being supportive and positive no matter what.
The VERY NEXT DAY I found out that the editor from Full Fathom Five's new digital imprint remembered me from submissions long ago. In fact, she once worked with my agent and helped me with my book, THE BINDING STONE, which is out with a small indie press. We worked so well together and now she was in charge of this new imprint that wants prolific writers. Writers like ME.
Samantha called me and we talked for about an hour and half and I heard the words I've dreamed of: "We want to publish Lisa Green."
About the same time I was put in contact with Melissa Nasson, Rubin's newest addition. I sent her my work and she read EVERYTHING in a matter of days. We also scheduled a phone call and we were completely honest and answered each other's questions and I knew from that that I loved her. We clicked! She was everything I wanted in an agent and she LOVED my work! She offered representation. I'd come full circle in a way and time that I least expected.
And if you want to know more about Melissa, check out our agent post tomorrow because she'll answer some great questions and tell you all what she thinks of me. ;)
So now I feel better, I have my dream agent, my dream editor/deal, and have some time again to work. But I wouldn't have had all that if I'd given up at my darkest moment.
So DON'T GIVE UP. NEVER GIVE UP.
Oh yes - and prize pack!!!! I'm going to share my Support for Miserable Writer's Package. CHOCOLATE, a B&N gift card, journal, writing utensils, an iTunes gift card, and a secret uber cool bag to put it all in. I might even throw in a few more inspirational things as I find them!
I'll also be offering along with the others here, a half hour phone call so we can talk about whatever YOU want.
AND *drum roll* Melissa, my amazing agent, has graciously offered a chapter critique for someone who hasn't been so lucky and needs a pinch of pixie dust.
Thanks for listening to my story. I look forward to hearing YOURS. So join us for the party!!
Please welcome author Julie Sternberg to the blog! Julie writes very funny books for middle grade readers and they include fantastic illustrations. I asked Julie to talk about what it's like working with an illustrator with her books since her books are such a big combination of pictures and text.
I am embarrassed to admit this, but here goes: I did not instantly love the illustrations for my first book, LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE.
I love them wholeheartedly now. I can’t imagine better ones. And a framed copy of this one is the first thing I see when I walk into my apartment. It makes me very happy:
But, in the beginning, I found the illustrations jarring, for this reason: Although the PICKLE JUICE story is fiction, it is based on a moment in my life; and I had a clear picture in my head of most of the characters. The book’s immensely talented illustrator, Matthew Cordell, has never met me (authors and illustrators don’t typically meet) or the people I had in mind when I wrote the story. The illustrations show his vision of the characters, not mine. That can be hard, especially for a first-time author.
But I adjusted! Matt made it easy for me, with pictures like these:
I skipped the startled phase with Johanna Wright’s illustrations for FRIENDSHIP OVER, the first book in THE TOP-SECRET DIARY OF CELIE VALENTINE series. I’d gone through the process before, and the story and characters are farther removed from my life. So it was easier to simply enjoy Johanna’s vision.
Our process for the FRIENDSHIP OVER illustrations was particularly fun for me, too. Usually authors are urged to include very few, if any, art notes for the illustrator. The general rule is that an art note is only appropriate if the text requires a particular image—and one that isn’t clear from the text itself. (For example, the author might want to make a joke that the text sets up and the illustration finishes. In that case, an art note can set out the punchline for the illustrator.)
I can’t remember including a single art note for Matt. But, in FRIENDSHIP OVER, Celie is supposed to be drawing the pictures in her diary. They are very much a product of her thinking. So I was able to include many art notes, saying, essentially, this is what Celie wants to sketch here. It was astonishing how well Johanna translated those notes into pictures that absolutely could have been drawn by Celie herself.
Just as one example: The art note said, “insert dispirited doodle by Celie, maybe of a very small Celie on very large sofa,”and Johanna drew:
I want to emphasize that I have NO visual artistic ability. I struggle with bubble letters (particularly S and N). Yet all of my stories have been enhanced by remarkable art. I feel very, very lucky.
Follow Julie's blog tour for Friendship Over:
Mon, Sept 29
Mother Daughter Book Club
Tues, Sept 30
5 Minutes for Mom
Wed, Oct 1
Thurs, Oct 2
Fri, Oct 3
The Hiding Spot
Sat, Oct 4
Mon, Oct 6
Ms. Yingling Reads
Tues, Oct 7
Wed, Oct 8
Great Kid Books
Thurs, Oct 9
Teach Mentor Texts
Fri, Oct 10
Sat, Oct 11
Want to win a copy of Friendship Over? Leave a comment below!
One entry per person, contest ends October 14, ages 13+, US address only, contest thanks to Blue Slip Media
Clearly there are a lot of you dying to get your mitts on WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE by Jeff Somers (pubbing tomorrow 10/7/14 in fact!)
Here are the results of the contest:
Special recognition for a great phrase:
"the smile slips from her face; splattering as it hits the floor."
Jennifer Deane 11:07am
Special recognition for a great line:
Succss smelled of patchouli and incense
D.B. Sundstrom 7:04am
"The Underpants Avenger spoke."
Kim English 2:15pm
"In the morning, he would be just another hangover."
"It’s right here in Diabetic Witch Today."
Karen McCoy 1:39am
Special recognition for entries that weren't quite stories, but if they were
the start of novels, I'd want to read on:
french sojourn 7:07am
Jennifer R. Donohue 1:40pm
Jennifer Moorhead 10:37pm
A cameo for Gossamer the cat!
Mark Songer 10:19 am
A cameo for a gun wielding shark!
Special recognition for why JedCullan is now dead to me TWICE!
Maligning Reacher! The nerve! Poor Dead Jed.
Every Saturday librarian's secret wish
Christina Seine 4:54pm
Best non-fiction story
Too horrifying even for me:
"In a bookstore in Tel-Aviv, the saleswoman is clueless about Roxane Gay's "Bad Feminist," and she doesn't know who Patrick Lee is."
Lilac Shoshani 7:00am
And here are the semi-finalists:
D.B. Sundstrom 7:04am
The sign on the door read EDIE'S MAGIC SHOP with no posted hours. She tried the handle anyway. Success smelled of patchouli and incense. She walked toward the psychic's booth in the back, admiring the caricatures of past patrons on the wall, when she spotted her own.
"I've never been here before. Is that, blood?"
The occupants of the past tried to warn her. Their sketched eyes fixed on the door.
But she drew the connection too late.
She found herself looking at the door with the other spirits. One eye drawn slightly larger than the other.
Sunday, under a big tent, Preacher Dan was busy cleansing spirits, urging followers to drink the blood of Christ. His gospel invoked speaking in tongues, a yielding of souls, complete and utter faith.
Doubters whispered, “Its black magic!”
He adjusted his ill-fitting pants, lifted a venomous snake in one hand while waving the other in its face.
He stood firm, unwavering, and caterwauled, “A miracle! A message from God himself!"
Believers now, the crowd surged forward, coins raining into his little collection basket.
Only when he headed to the next town, would he remove the prosthetic hand.
First time Steve wore the magic pants, it rained cats for a week. No kidding! Fur balls everywhere. And dead birds! He swore he'd put them away, but there's some people...it's in their blood, seems like. Ain't nothing like the spirits of your ancestors in a pair of brown corduroys.
Anyhow, he got antsy and dragged them out again. Couldn't help it, I guess. Folks set out milk and litter boxes. Just to be ready. But they were wrong. Dead wrong. A bit macabre for my taste, but they could have used those cats when the cockroaches showed up.
How I Became A Man, by Luigi Abbadelli
"Wearing short pants when you're ten is embarrassing. It dispiritsthe soul," I told Mama.
"Che cosa è dispirits?" asked Nona.
"He wants to wear long pants," Mama said.
Papa was reading the paper. I needed him on my side, so I said, "They're old world."
Mama and Nona gasped because they're still hot-blooded Italians. But Papa was now an American. His framed naturalization certificate was proudly displayed below Pope Pius's picture. "Old world" worked like magic.
Papa stood, straightened his shoulders and categorically declared, "My son will wear long pants!"
Old Fogey 2:21pm
After I finished with April’s cat, Magic, I put the shovel in the shed. I washed blood and mud off my hands and poured some spirits. Knob Creek is my libation of choice. Lately, finances dictated house brands, but tonight my shaking hand found joy.
The only thing magic about that late animal? She’d only peed, pooped, or clawed things belonging to me. That yellow puddle on my novel—stored for safety on a high shelf--had been the last straw.
April entered, yawning. “Blood on your pants,” she said.
“And poison in the bourbon.”
Spirits of dark rum took the blood off those pants like magic. Run away, little hemoglobin molecules, run away! He'll never find out unless he digs up the azalea in the front yard. Ah, I think I hear him now.
"And how's my dollbaby this evening?"
"Sweet and high, my love."
"And where's my little kitty?"
"Out scouting the voles. Back soon."
"What were you gardening, honey, honey, honey?"
"Gardening?" I say. Maybe he knows. Is my face red? I frowned. The shovel! My God, the shovel!
"Oh there you are!"
I stared, slack-jawed. The cat was back.
J.D. Paradise 3:31pm
"Blood Spirits Pants Magic!" Cat chanted, cranked up to 11, laughing in the thrashing crowd. Onstage the Chili Peppers bounced, socks flapping. It was 1996 and I loved a girl who would never love me back.
"Let's run away together," I said later, tangled in dormroom bedding that smelled of Coors and Parliaments. Propped on elbows, inches apart, Cat looking past my shoulder.
Cat, remorseful: "I'll never be that girl."
"I love you anyway." Desperately. "Always."
She tugged the sheet higher. "We shouldn't have done that."
But we had. And just before sunrise, we moved the hitchhiker to the landfill.
Alex King 4:17pm
"Pants? Really?" Ted asked.
The cat looked down at him. "Could be worse."
"Could be bloody pants."
"Could be," Ted agreed. "Depends if you're British or not."
The spirits were to blame. He'd distilled them himself, poured some in the cat's bowl for kicks. Now his cat was magic and Ted was a pair of pants.
"Some bad trip," Ted said.
The cat jumped down, onto the floor where Ted lay, limp and hanger-less. "For you, maybe." He unsheathed his claws. They were pale in the moonlight, bleached bone, not keratin. "Abracadabra, now you're a mouse."
Just Jan 10:44pm
"Fisher, most likely," Doc said, probing my cat's jugular wounds with a pudgy finger. "She's lucky; a coyote would've killed her."
"Can you work your usual magic?"
"Maybe." He leered at me over the top of his bifocals. "For a price."
"I can pay," I assured him, glancing down at my ratty t-shirt and sweatpants.
He reappeared an hour later, smelling strongly of spirits. "Couldn't save her. Lost too much blood." He lurched toward me. "Time to pay the piper, sweetie."
"It wasn't a fisher," I said, revealing my fangs, "and it isn't me who's going to pay."
And here are the finalists:
“Mommy, do cats go to Heaven?”
“God will take good care of Jinxie.”
“Can He do magic and unsquish him?
Maybe he can put some blood back in?”
“Honey, sometimes spirits are better off being free.”
“Is that why Jesus didn’t wear any pants?”
“How about we go to the pet store tomorrow and buy a turtle?”
“Ooh! Okay, Mommy. Don’t worry. I will teach him how to cross the street really fast.”
Michael Seese 9:56am
by Michael Seese
"Sorry, cat," I said to the lifeless mass at my feet.
"Mom will be home soon. Get some paper towels."
It was a mess. Lots of blood.
"What are you going to tell her?"
"If we clean up, nothing," David said.
"Can't you tell her the truth? That you heard you could see spirits?"
"Bad idea. You'll understand when you're older."
David was right. There's a lot that's confusing to a six-year-old.
"We're in trouble, aren't we?"
"We'll be fine."
“OK.” Big brothers are magic.
"Hurry. Throw the pants in the fireplace. And her name was Kate, not Cat."
Calorie Bombshell 3:36pm
The vehicle’s occupants didn’t move a muscle as I approached with my flashlight and violation book. Seven years crunching the midnight gravel on Highway 85 and I never clocked a Jaguar doing 140mph before. An $818 magic ticket was one week’s salary, enough to keep my spirits high and mind off the woman who refused to vacate my spare bedroom although I kicked her no good Trickster son out three months ago.
“License and registration, please.”
The antique German Luger leveled at my chest was his, a wedding present from an old college buddy.
The bloodcurdling scream was mine.
Jo-Anne Teal 3:09am
In September, a tenement fence became castle wall to our cat and to my sister’s boyfriend, Geraldo. The cat was best at gaining entry. Neighbors weren’t eager to open the door to human wildlife, particularly someone wearing a blood-stained Nehru and drawstring cotton pants. Too weird even for the East Village.
So while like magic my sister’s stomach expanded, Geraldo waited across the street: sitting cross-legged in front of Renaldo’s grocery, playing broken sitar, drinking spirits from a bottle ineffectively covered by brown paper.
In October, my sister went outside to tell him there was no reason to wait anymore.
And the winner is Ruthy 9:06am! Ruthy, please email me your mailing address so we can send you your prize. If you've already read or bought WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE, we'll find you something else that's delicious to read.
Thanks to all the entrants; it was a great round of submissions! Y'all amaze me every time with your diabolical plotting and clever writing!
First I want to offer my congratulations to ALL of the Pitch Plus Five participants! You've all done an amazing thing by entering and opening yourself to comment and critique. Those who didn't win, or didn't make it past round one or two, remember that it's nothing a bit of hard work and perseverance can't change.
I'd also like to offer congratulations to Kristen Scheer, author of LEGAL MOXIE which was withdrawn early on. Kristen signed with the amazing agent, Laura Bradford! Always great to share good news. :D
A huge THANK YOU to all of our amazing blogger, author, and agent judges who took time from their hectic schedules to help out our fifty writers.
The four runners up are:
- THE TROLL DIARIES by Jennifer Park. Jennifer has won a one chapter critique from Christa Heschke of McIntosh and Otis!
- TWICE DEAD by Caitlin Seal. Caitlin has won a one chapter critique from Alex Slater of Trident Media!
- NOBLE VIRTUES by Ashley Horn. Ashley has won a one chapter critique from Victoria Lowes of the Bent Agency!
- APOTHECARY OF FORBIDDEN CLOCKS by Carolyn McDowell. Carolyn has won a one chapter critique from Jordy Albert of Booker Albert!
The GRAND PRIZE winners are:
- THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION by Rosalyn Eves. Rosalyn has won a three chapter critique from Melissa Nasson of RPC and a free query pass to the currently closed Ammi-Joan Paquette!
- TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim. Tara has won a three chapter critique from Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown and a free query pass to the currently closed Ammi-Joan Paquette!
And I haven't forgotten our two winners from the first the first rounds by popular vote!
The runner up is: REGINA'S HEIR by Rachel Green! Rachel, besides having a fabulous last name, has won a critique from Angela Ackerman
The winner is: THE SECRETS WE SHARE by Laura E. Adams! Laura has won a critique from the New York Times best selling author, Jennifer Nielsen
It's been a fabulous contest. I've loved interacting with all of you on Twitter and seeing everyone being so supportive of one another. That's what this is all about.
In Celebration of the Release of Broken Promise
Book 3 of The Broken Ones by Jen Wylie
Runs Oct 1st-Nov 1st 2014
Broken Promise by Jen Wylie
Coming October 7 2014
Pre-order now on Amazon! Click here.
Book 3 of The Broken Ones
Check it out on Goodreads!
A year of turmoil takes its toll on Arowyn Mason and her companions. After delivering the Elven prince to his homeland, they decide to ride out the winter in the city of Westport before starting their quest to heal the Fey. Like most things in Aro’s life, nothing goes according to plan.
As Kei struggles with the prophecy bound within him, his sanity begins to unravel. A prophecy and a promise are broken, and forgotten threats resurface with dire consequences. The Dragos is watching and the Were king is displeased with the disregard of Were law. Aro scrambles as yet another threat emerges. The Elves, displeased with their prince, exploit his only weakness…her.
Aro is forced to find a new ally, a cold-hearted, ruthless pirate named Roan. He is more than he seems and Aro must learn who she can trust, or it will cost more than just her life. She has grown stronger, but is it enough to save herself, her family, and the Elf she loves?
Now for the Giveaway!
1- Signed paperbacks of Broken, Aro, Broken Prince & Broken Promise!
1- Awesome The Broken Ones swag pack
Since wordpress hates rafflecopter… go here to enter!
Good luck! :)
It’s a VERY special month here at Adventures, and we’re beyond thrilled to be able to share it with the writers who’ve been with us since the beginning, and with the new writers and readers who have joined us along the journey. And it really is a journey! Four years ago, I started this blog with a friend as we started to think about getting our books published. In less than a month, on October 28th, COMPULSION will finally emerge into the world as a published really-truly book. There are lots of fun things in store to celebrate the kick off, but wait . . . There’s even MORE to celebrate.
Our very own Lisa Gail Green has a fabulous new agent, and a slew of incredibly awesome new book deals, and our lovely Erin Cashman is brewing some wonderful news as well!
In the next couple of weeks, they are going to tell you their stories, and I’m going to tell you mine. What stories you ask? The stories of how we almost quit writing and ended up turning it around.
Have you ever felt like that? Like you were DONE? You just couldn’t face rejection or take coming “close" any more? Have you thought about giving up?
We all have! I did. Lisa did. Erin did.
But we kept going because we loved to write. You could almost say we had a Compulsion for Writing? :D
We’d love to hear about YOUR Compulsion for Writing. We want you to tell us your stories, and we’re going to host a giveaway and a celebration of persistence.
Here’s how it’s going to work.
1.) You write your story — a paragraph, a page, whatever you want — about how your Compulsion for Writing kept you going at a time when you got discouraged and thought about quitting.
2) You write about how to feed your Compulsion for Writing and keep the joy through the hard times.
3) Post what you've written on your Blog, Pinterest, Tumblr or Facebook Page and share it to the contest event page on Facebook, or write it directly on the Compulsion for Writing Party and Prize-Fest event page.
4) Get everyone you know to “Like" the Compulsion for Writing Page and their favorite posts people have shared there. Here's a nifty banner you can use to help spread the word!
We’ll review the posts with the greatest number of "likes" and Lisa, Erin, and I will each pick winners. We’ll send the winners special gift packs, but we’ll also each provide half-hour long phone calls to discuss your writing in general, your book or WIP, querying, agents, the book business, publishing, promotion and marketing, our books, social media, or whatever else you want to talk about.
And, because sometimes all it takes is a bit of a push, but the people who need the biggest push are often the ones who don’t get it by querying or by entering contests, we’ll have some agent critiques for a few lucky winners, too. On 10/21/28 at 6:00 PM eastern, we will join everyone for a live Facebook Party
where we can all trade stories and answer questions. That’s also when we’ll announce the winners and throw in a few extra and spectacular live giveaways as well! So mark your calendars.
Oh, and for those who are voting on stories? We'll add giveaways as we go along, and we'll announce winners for those on the 22nd, too. The first will be posted on the Facebook page later today. Stop by and check it out. : )More details are posted on the Facebook page, and stay tuned for our stories and prize packages coming in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, here’s a bit of photo inspiration for what can happen if you don’t give up! : ) Last year, I was down at YALLFEST as a fan with some friends. They had stacks and stacks of Justine Magazines with the coolest Teen Read Week feature showcasing some great YA books. And tomorrow, the Justine Teen Read Week issue hits the stands, and guess what's in it?
And did I mention that Melissa Marr and I happen to be doing an event together to kick off the Compelling Reads Tour
? That's total coincidence, but it's another example of what can happen.
It CAN happen. You just have to believe! (And be compelled to write!)
And now for the first of the HUGE giveaways! : ) a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here's a photo. Enter your best suggestion for a caption (ie 10 words or fewer) in the comments column below. Prize to be determined! Contest closes at 7am on Monday 9/29.
Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid (but I'm not going be able to answer till later this evening)
Wattpad is running “The R.L. Stine Fill In The Fear Contest.” This allows fans to collaborate on a short story called “Let’s Make a Trade” with R.L. Stine.
Stine wrote the beginning and now it’s up to the participants to fill in the middle; Stine will be responsible for the ending. Writers have until October 9th to turn in a submission.
Both the winner and the finished piece will be unveiled on October 31st; readers will be able to access the entire story on Stine’s Wattpad profile. Follow this link to learn all the rules for this contest.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Submissions are now closed! Thanks to all who entered. Best of luck to everyone and there are always more chances for learning, improving, and making connections with other writers.
We will now be accepting the second 25 correctly formatted MG/YA/NA submissions according the rules listed on the page above. Please put everything in the body of the email. Good Luck!!
You will get confirmation, but I will personally be checking things over so please do not worry if I don't get to you immediately. Try to take a deep breath and if all else fails eat some chocolate!! That's my cure for everything.
If you do NOT make it in, please don't despair! There will be more chances in the future, and you can still learn so much by watching the comments and the revisions as they go up. If you want to succeed you have to use every opportunity to learn. Don't forget to participate in the conversation on Twitter with #PitchPlus5
Our 50 entries are now posted on the contest website. Please visit, read, and comment. I'm sure I dont have to remind anyone, but please make sure your comments are constructive and polite. This is the best part because we can all help each other!
The incredible blogger judges now have their assigned entries. Each entry has two judges, with a discrepancy judge available for any large difference in scores. The top 25 will be announced on the 6th.
Keep following the hashtag #PitchPlus5 for updates, info, and general chitchat.
In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Junior killed all six members of his family in their home in Amityville, New York. A year later, another family moved into that home only to move out 28 days later, saying they were terrorized by something paranormal in the house. Their story was captured in a book by Jay Anson, then subsequently retold in various films and other adaptations.
In Micol Ostow's new novel Amity, we meet two teenagers who live in Amityville at two different times. This is not time travel; instead, they alternate narrative duties, weaving their stories together chapter by chapter. Inspired by the real story but wholly fictional, this YA book is now available for late night reading. But I promise, this interview is not scary, and neither is Micol.
Do you recall the first time you heard about the Amityville Horror?
The first time I heard about the Amityville Horror was when reading Stephen King's Danse Macabre, where he talks about the components of an effective horror movie. In fact, I didn't realize it was based on a true story (and that there was a bestselling book about the original crime!) until much later. Once I became interested in a riff on Amityville as a possible subject for a novel, I went back and read the original book by Jay Anson, as well as High Hopes, the book written specifically about the DeFeo family (as opposed to the Lutzes, who moved in after the DeFeos' murders and claim to have experienced hauntings within).
When did the seed for your novel Amity firmly plant itself in your brain?
Around Halloween, 2011. My novel Family had come out in April and I was tossing around ideas for the next book under contract. My husband was out of town and I was indulging in my favorite guilty pleasure: horror movies and Red Vines. The Amityville 2005 remake was on, and something clicked. But it wasn't until several months later that I had a pitch to show my agent, and it was a few months after that before we put something together for my editor. I went back and forth a lot trying to decide whether I wanted to tell the Lutz family's story, or the DeFeos' story. Both concepts – the "possessed," murderous son, and the beleaguered, haunted successors to the house – were equally compelling to me. Ultimately that's what led me to tell two alternate narratives, set ten years apart. That way I didn't have to choose!
When you started writing the book, did you know the ending? (Readers, don't worry - we kept this answer spoiler free!)
I one hundred percent knew the ending, and it didn't change one bit, strangely. Maybe a hint of clarification here and there. Some of the supernatural bits tend to read more straightforward in my brain than on a first-draft page. But it was an interesting process as compared specifically to Family, my first book with Egmont. The ending to Family changed three times, as did my feelings about where the protagonist needed to be, emotionally, by the story's end. This one was much more clear-cut. The two narratives needed to converge and I could only really see one way for that to happen.
Have you ever been to Amityville, New York?
We have family out on Long Island and therefore drive past the Amityville exit on the LIE several times a year, at least. I always point it out, like a huge dork. But I've never visited the house and to be honest, at this point, I probably wouldn't. It's been renovated heavily so specifically, those iconic half-moon “eye” windows are gone. And more to the point, there's also the fact that 1) it's a little icky to make a spectacle of a place where a family was murdered and 2) it's actually a private home, where people live. Personally, I prefer the make-believe versions of the Amityville story and am happier to spend my time there.
You've written for a number of different audiences - kids, teens, adults, fantasy, comedy, mixed media. Do you consciously try to mix it up?
I really don't try to mix it up, believe it or not! It just seems to work out that way! I was fortunate enough to come into publishing through the back door, in that I worked as an editor in the work-for-hire realm. So some of my earlier contracts were the results of editors seeking me out and offering me the chance to work with them. (Note: this is not the typical author's path to publication and I am very, very lucky. Trust me, I know!) The Bradford Novels were the product of an editor's original concept, and Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa came from a publishing friend suggesting I mine some of my own adolescent experiences and pitch her a story. Even So Punk Rock was actually originally conceived of by my brother, David Ostow, who worked with me on the story and illustrated the book.
Family was the first novel I sat down to write, as they say, "on spec." And because it wasn't under contract and was coming purely from me, I was free to experiment. I had no idea when I sat down to my computer that what would come out was going to be such a massive departure from my previous work. But once it was published, it was treated as a sort of literary debut. So for Amity, I was much more conscious of trying to write something that would match Family in tone and audience.
What genre or audiences would you like to write for that you haven't yet?
As far as what's coming down the pike that's different, I have a chapter book series releasing this spring called Louise Trapeze, about a little girl in a circus family who wants to learn to fly on the trapeze but is afraid of heights. Talk about a departure!
Have you always been drawn to the horror genre?
Yes! My mother is a huge horror buff and always had the TV set to old B-movies, and scary-covered novels on her nightstand. They completely terrified me but obviously burrowed into my subconscious.
I've known people who can watch horror movies but can't read horror novels, and I've known people who can read horror but can't watch it. Do you lean more towards one than the other?
Love them both! Although in general, I watch a broader range of horror movies than I read horror novels. The only category of horror I really stay away from is the straight-up torture. The extreme gore really doesn't do it for me. With the books I tend to lean more heavily toward literary horror or dark thrillers as opposed to paranormal... and basically anything in the Stephen King cannon.
QUICK DRAW! Time for simple questions:
First horror story that gave you goosebumps: The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
(Little Willow adds: I liked that book, too!)
First scary film that gave you nightmares: Frankenstein
Horror movie or book that you love but can only watch or read in the daylight: It by Stephen King
Favorite funny spooky story: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Favorite funny spooky movie: Shaun of the Dead
Favorite horror authors: Stephen King, Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, Daniel Krause, Sarah Waters for purer horror. Adele Griffin (Tighter), Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers), Libba Bray (The Diviners), Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls), Mariana Baer (Frost), Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs) for creepy psychological thriller/suspense-y stories. Robert Bloch's original Psycho was great. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg.
Favorite season of American Horror Story: Season One, Murder House, was amazing for just flinging all the fundamental tropes at the wall, and doing something different – and genuinely scary! – on TV. And I absolutely loved that finale.
Favorite Halloween costume you've worn: I'm super boring on Halloween! I love celebrating and decorating and eating treats and watching movies, but I rarely dress up. I'm kind of a party pooper that way. Last year I wore my “Overlook Hotel” tee-shirt and called it a day. But my daughter usually cycles through at least three costumes over the course of the festivities so I think that evens us out.
Ouija board: Wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole or bring it on?
I'm a little superstitious. I'd rather not tempt fate.
Ghosts and/or haunted houses: Believe, don't believe, or open-minded?
I have not had any paranormal experiences myself, but as per the above and being slightly superstitious – I do believe, actually. Kind of. Let's call it open-minded. That works.
What's your favorite ghost story? EGMONT USA is giving away a signed copy of the finished book to one lucky USA/Canada resident. Leave a comment below with the title of a book, movie, or play that chills you -- or even a personal story! -- along with your email address. You may mask the address, like myname (at) eeemail (dot) com - but we must be able to reach you to get your mailing information. The first comment with the proper info will get the signed book!
Follow the blog tour!
Micol is also visiting the readergirlz blog today. Check out the full schedule at the Egmont USA website.
Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Micol Ostow (2006)
Interview: Micol Ostow (2007)
Book Review: Popular Vote by Micol Ostow
Book Review: So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol Ostow with art by David Ostow
Lisa here interrupting our usual post to make a BIG announcement! All of our entrants have done an amazing job in the Pitch Plus 5 Contest! I am so happy about the extent of the participation and feedback from everyone involved. You should give yourselves a big pat on the back and remember that everyone is a winner for receiving such valuable critique. Those extra eyes are so important!
I will be sending out emails later today with the judges comments so that you can put them to good use.
I know you're all waiting patiently, or maybe not so patiently. Maybe you've scrolled down already. If your manuscript it named below, please use the same rules you used when you sent your submission and the same email address to send me your 150 word or less query pitch and your revised first five pages by midnight on the 8th so they can be posted on the ninth!
|#2 Noble Virtues|
|#11 Aurora Island|
|#13 The Troll Diaries|
|#16 The Past Life of Jase Byrne|
|#18 Mash Up|
|#19 The Lost Pearls of Indarnini|
|#21 The Blood Rose Rebellion|
|#25 The River Runners|
#29 Queen's Choice
|#34 Daughter of the Disgraced King|
#36 Freshman Blues
|#37 The Runaways|
#39 The Only Way to Change
#43 Twice Dead
|#44 Fog and Fireflies|
|#46 Apothecary of Forbidden Clocks|
|#47 The Virtue of Sin|
*Remember if your manuscript is not up there, you will still have a chance to be chosen by popular vote for some amazing prizes!
AND NOW back to our regularly scheduled post!
Kiki Sullivan, The DollsWhat was your inspiration for writing this book?
I developed the idea with Nick Harris from The Story Foundation (which works to turn novels into television shows or movies). We both wanted to create something that mixed a Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl feel with a little bit of dark magic. I’ve always been fascinated by the culture of New Orleans, so setting the book in a fictional Louisiana town just felt wonderfully natural.How long did you work on the book?
It probably took me four months or so to write a first draft and another few months to revise it with my editor at HarperCollins. I was planning my wedding and writing another book at the same time, so it was quite a busy year!How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I was very fortunate that Sara Sargent at Balzer + Bray took a chance on me with this one. Sara has moved on to Simon & Schuster, and I miss her input on THE DOLLS series, but I can’t thank her enough for getting the ball rolling and seeing the potential of the story. It took my agent and I a few months to find a home for the book once we had an outline and sample chapters, so it was a bit of a rocky road at first, but I’m very, very happy with where we wound up.What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I am a full-time writer, and I work at home. I have an office just beside my kitchen, which is wonderful, because baking is my favorite way to counter writer’s block. Seriously, if I’m struggling with a scene, I go make some cookies, and somewhere in that process, all the answers I need come to me. I write in silence, because I find that when I listen to music, I pay too much attention to the lyrics, and I have more trouble finding my own words.What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
It’s easy to get into your own head and defeat yourself with negative thinking when you’re working on a book, simply because getting 70,000 or more words on the page seems very daunting. I think it’s very helpful to break the writing process down into small, manageable chunks. I write full-time, so I try to write at least 3,000 words per day (although when I’m on a tight deadline, I generally shoot for 5,000). I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I hit that target, which helps me not to feel as discouraged about the fact that I’m so far from the end. So for those of you who aren’t yet full-time writers, I’d suggest starting off with a very doable goal, such as 500 words per day. That’s about two double-spaced pages on the computer. If you can write 500 words per day, five days a week, you’ll have a 70,000-word first draft in less than seven months. Once you get into the swing of things, you should be able to knock 500 words out in about an hour. So set your alarm an hour earlier than usual each weekday, write a couple of pages, and walk out the door in the morning with a huge sense of accomplishment.What are you working on now?
I’m just finishing up the sequel to THE DOLLS, which will be out next year!Website
~~~~Simmone Howell, Girl DefectiveWhat was your inspiration for writing this book?
I was inspired by a couple of things. There was this article here. And there were the many record shops I worked in through my twenties and thirties. It was also inspired by various Nancy-like friends, who were always entrancing as fantasy figures but quite difficult as real life people. And I was inspired by St Kilda - the suburb where the novel is set, which used to be very down-at-heel and bohemian but has been gentrified.How long did you work on the book?
I wrote the book on and off over a period of four years.How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
My road to publication was long and winding! I have been writing since I was a teenager. I started off writing poetry to pop stars, then I wrote my friends essays for them, then more poetry, then short stories ... My first novel Notes from the Teenage Underground was published when I was 34! My second novel is Everything Beautiful.What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I have a room at a Gothic mansion - seriously! I share there with other writers and sometimes we talk shop. I always start with coffee. I listen to music - but only on my way to the office. Usually the same thing (at the moment it’s a cd full of songs about hazel bushes and wandering ghosts). I tend to edit as I go, and I sometimes I have to write the whole book before I work out what it’s about and then I have to go back and rewrite with this new knowledge. So, yeah, sometimes it takes a while.What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
I try to ‘fill the well’ when the writing’s not happening or I’m feeling uninspired I get out and DO something - visit a gallery, or go feed some ducks in a park. I try to remember that there is more to the world than writing. And that if I don't engage in the world there would be no writing.Website
~~~~Rachel Wilson, Don't TouchWhat was your inspiration for writing this book?
I dealt with OCD from about fourth grade into high school, so Caddie’s story began as an exploration of that experience. There are similarities between her early history with anxiety and my own, which I’ve talked about at Disability in Kidlit among other places. Over time though, her story took on a life of its own. Ophelia played a big part in that, and I’ve been inspired by so many bits and pieces that have nothing to do with my own life. For example, a couple of swimming pool scenes that are integral to Caddie’s story were inspired by a fortuitous drive I took into old Irondale, AL, where I found that an old swimming pool I used to visit as a child had been abandoned and left full of water and leaves. That became a charged setting in the novel that led to so many other scenes.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I prefer to write first thing in the morning, often in bed, though I’ve been working at a standing desk (aka my windowsill) more lately—it makes my back feel better and keeps me more active and energized. Lately, with the chaos of book launch approaching, I’ve found it really helpful to begin my writing time with meditation. I’ll often start off with a short guided meditation recording, and while I write I like to put on Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s Creative Mind System or nature sounds. Music with lyrics often distracts me while writing, but something more ambient helps me slip into the zone.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Ask for what you want and need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, for support from your publisher, for time off from your job when you need focused writing time. It may not always work out, but even the act of asking sends up a sign that you are putting writing first, that you are open to opportunities. If you take your own career and work seriously and give it all your love, others will want to support that. And of course, when you receive a helping hand, shout-out, donation, etc., try to return that support in kind. Mutual support among writers is a powerful force. Website
~~~~Hillary Monahan, The Summoning
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
The book that landed me (and my best friend/writing partner Lauren Roy) our agent (Miriam Kriss at Irene Goodman) did not sell, but that's also because Miriam pulled it fairly early. It's a paranormal magical academy book and we wrote it too close to HARRY POTTER's heyday. I believe Miriam still plans to put it out on sub when there isn't so much paranormal exhaustion, so while it hasn't really seen the light of day, it will. One day, in a universe far far away. I continue to have hopes for that book, five years later.
My second book was MARY. The first draft was called THE LEGACY and was completed in January of 2011. It took three or four months to write and went on submission to ten or eleven houses. That incarnation was a historical; the first five chapters of the book were present day and then Mary pulled the main character into the mirror to "experience" life back in Mary's time.
We got precisely one pass on it, the editor saying how much she liked it but it wasn't quite right for her list. Four months later, we got a second pass saying how much the editor liked the style of the book and the premise, but it was too hard to market. It wasn't exactly contemporary, it wasn't historical. He said if I modernized the book, he'd love to take another look.
So we waited. And waited. No passes. Finally, in April 2012, another editor made the same request. "I like this but I would want it modernized." My agent pinged the submission list who had the book, all of whom had read it, and said, "If she rewrote this as a fully modern horror, would you be interested in seeing it?" The majority of editors who'd said nothing for a year chimed in with enthusiastic yesses. Enter Writepocalypse 2012 in which Hillary kept five chapters from THE LEGACY and rewrote the twenty chapters afterward to modernize it in a span of about six weeks. I had no summer that year.
Two weeks after we went on submission with MARY 2.0 we were at multi-house auction and landed with Hyperion. What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
That all the "how I got published" stories in the world don't really matter because yours will be different. Some people get a small offer two weeks on submission, some people go to auction after sixteen months. It's a very individualized journey and there's no way to predict how it's going to go. The only thing the writer can truly control is the quality of the work they produce. Focus on that, not what everyone else is doing in the industry for down that path lies madness. Website
~~~~Rebekah L. Purdy, The Winter PeopleWhat was your inspiration for writing this book?
Actually, I wrote it as an assignment (or at least a short story version of it) for my creative writing class my senior year of high school. I loved the characters and setting so much, that as an adult, I pulled out the short story and decided to turn it into a full length novel.How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
My road to publication was a little tough. I think I wrote like six manuscripts that agents/publishers initially rejected. I had several requests, but just couldn’t get my foot in the door. Then finally, a small publisher (Astraea Press) gave me my first break. The book I wrote after that, I landed my 1st agent with. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out so well and we parted ways, which was devastating after working so hard to get an agent. So I wrote another two books, one of which landed my 2nd agent (who I absolutely love). Then she started selling my books (one of which was The Winter People). We then went on to sell 3 other books (2 of which had been rejected when I started querying years before--so hold on to ALL your books--never know when you might sell one).What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
Welllllll…I usually write during my lunch hours and breaks at work. When I’m under deadline, I’ll write in the evenings at my desk in my room (overlooking some cool Star Wars stuff—LOL). I LOVE listening to music while I write—it really sets the mood (each of my stories has a playlist).What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Three words: Don’t. Give. Up. Seriously, I could’ve given up so many times over the 7-8 years that I got rejections. But I knew that I wanted to write—so I honed my craft, found a crit group, and worked my butt off. I tried to always keep in mind that it had to hit the right desk at the right time, and eventually it did!Website
By: Tatjana Mai-Wyss,
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, animal character
, mixed media
, Add a tag
The gallery for round two of the "Global Talent Search" (GTS for short) is up over on the Lilla Rogers Studio blog, and it's amazing! The assignment was to create an animal character "with personality" for a kids t-shirt.
This little guy is my submission. I've never been to India, but I love color and pattern and animals, and these painted elephants have caught my eye for a while. My kids have always loved to dress up and paint their faces, so I thought that a young elephant might also have fun decorating himself.
To vote for your favorites and check out the rest of the gallery head over here
, you'll find some fabulous characters. Have fun, and happy Monday!
I'm sure the last couple of weeks have been stressful for our top 25 finalists! I want you all to remember that if you didn't get in to the top ten that doesn't mean you should quit. Far from it. You should be thrilled and give yourselves a pat on the back for doing so well! It was close for a lot of people, but there were in the end, a clear top ten.
According to our esteemed author judges the ten that will go on to our agent round (in no particular order) are:
- The Lost Pearls of Indarnini
- The Apothecary of Forbidden Clocks
- Twice Dead
- The Troll Diaries
- Mash Up
- The Blood Rose Rebellion
- Noble Virtues
- The Past Life of Jase Byrn
- Phoenix Rising
Congratulations to our winners!! Please send your revised pitch (remember only the pitch part) and first five pages by midnight EST tomorrow, so that we can post them for our Agent Round on Monday.
By: Julie Daines,
View Next 25 Posts
By Julie Daines
Ladies and Gents, I think it's high time for some fun and games. How about a nice round of Guess the Emoji?
Each emoji below is a clue to a book title. They are all works of literature ranging from middle grade to adult, classic to modern. Remember to think outside the box.
Here they are:
Leave your answers in the comments. You have until Friday midnight to enter, I'll post the answers and the winner on Saturday, September 27.
And since I happen to have a stack of extra books lying around, anyone who makes a guess will be entered into a random drawing to win a book of their choice. If you guess them all right, you will be entered twice. Yippee!
The choices are (And just for clarification, these have nothing to do with the emojis.):