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1. The Winners of the Pitch Plus One Contest!!

We are proud to announce the winners of the Pitch Plus One Contest!! We hope all of our entrants feel as though they've had a great experience and have received valuable feedback along the way. The scores were very close, but here are the five prize winning entries:

Third Place Prize

FIGHT FOR THIS

You've won a one chapter critique from Agent Melissa Nasson!

Third Place Prize: 

RIVETED

You've won a one chapter critique from Agent Jordy Albert!

Runner Up 

THE SINNER ROSE

You've won a two chapter critique from Agent Danielle Barthel!

Runner Up

IF ONE OF THEM IS DEAD

You've won a two chapter critique from Agent Victoria Lowes!

And the GRAND PRIZE goes to

XAVIER AND THE MYSTERIOUS BLACK SPACESHIP

You've won a three chapter critique from Agent Christa Heschke!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest and to all of our wonderful judges. 

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2. Top 25 Pitch Plus One Entries

You've ALL been amazing and we hope you've learned from the feedback the process provided. But here are the top 25 titles you've been waiting for! Congrats. If you find yours below you should revise and get your pitch and first page back ASAP! You have until February 27th at 3PM EASTERN. Then I will begin posting the pitch and first pages for each of you. If you choose not to revise, I will post the same entry as last time with a new random number. 

If you are following along and want to read the amazing work of our contestants you can find it posted at http://adventuresinyacontests.blogspot.com


ANYTHING BUT ALIVE
CHILDREN OF TOKUA
COWARDS AND CAPES
FIGHT FOR THIS
IF ONE OF THEM IS DEAD`
LISTEN TO ME
MUSE POWERS IN DANGER
NIKITA WHITFIELD AND THE BUTTERFLY EATER
RETTA VS. MUTANTS
RIVETED
THE BATTLE OF WONDERLAND GARDENS
THE CHRONICLES OF WHAT HAPPENED, BY CAM HANSON
THE GREAT WOODS
THE HUNT FOR THE HEAVENLY HORSE
THE KIDNAPPER'S CONUNDRUM
THE LAND OF JOY AND SORROW
THE LEDGE
THE MIDNIGHT FLIGHT OF THE SALEM MAGI
THE OTHER SIDE OF NORMAL
THE SECRETS WE KEEP
THE SINNER ROSE
TRACKER 220
WHATEVER IT TAKES
WHO IS BERKLEY ADAMS?
XAVIER AND THE MYSTERIOUS BLACK SPACESHIP

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3. 5 Secrets I Learned While Waiting to Be Published Plus WIN 8 Signed Books, $25 Gift Card & More

Lisa Gail Green was one of the first and best people I met in the blogosphere. She was a badass writer, already agented by a badass agent, and I remember being so excited when she did a guest post on Adventures. We got to know each other and started exchanging manuscripts, and the very first thing I read was the book that she is releasing tomorrow. That was years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just finished reading PARANORMALLY and PERSONAL DEMONS and Lisa's book blew me away. I loved it. I loved the humor and the romance, the originality of her story. The way her brain works humbles me--she's amazing.

And guess what? SOUL CROSSED is coming out tomorrow! Squeee!!! I'm so, so honored to turn today's post over to her to share her incredible story and insight. Also? There's a pre-order link at the bottom just above the incredible giveaway. Hint, hint! : )

Five Secrets I Learned While Waiting to Be Published 

by Lisa Gail Green

In honor of SOUL CROSSED's release tomorrow I'm doing a SUPER giveaway, including SEVEN SIGNED books by authors like Ally Condie, Jennifer Armentrout, Ellen Hopkins, Jennifer Donelly and Maggie Stiefvater. Is that enough? NO. I also am giving away a giftcard, swag, and another book! So don't forget to enter!! Am I crazy? Well, that's besides the point. The thing is I value all of YOU and I want to honor all the readers out there. Now to the post!

Tomorrow my baby is out in the big wide world, but guess what? It didn't happen overnight. Shocked? Probably not! Most of us are familiar with the torturous wait and seemingly inescapable lessons in patience associated with writing.

Five years ago I had an agent (and I mean uber agent) and had every expectation that I'd soon be hearing about an offer from one of the "big five". Ha! Lesson number one - just because you have an agent, there's no guarantee of publication. Things kind of went South from there instead North. My agent and I split amicably and I was faced with starting "all over".

Skip ahead to this past year and you will find that I signed with an agent working with my previous agent AND sold not one, but several manuscripts previously shopped to the most enthusiastic editor that I could imagine. Oh and did I mention that I'm a lead title?

What happened in between though? What the heck was I doing for those *missing* years? I'll give you a hint -- I wasn't sitting around waiting for everything to turn around. Were there ups and downs? Mostly downs! I was diagnosed with RA (rheumatoid arthritis), which made me nervous about my writing future, had a baby who stole my heart and a TON of time, and was so close to throwing in the towel it's not even funny.

BUT I also continued working on my craft and poking around social media, though I admit I let that fall behind a bit with everything else going on. And while that was happening I learned a few things. Things that made a HUGE difference in the work I do now versus the work I originally tried to sell. So have my manuscripts changed since they were shopped and then picked up by FFF? *nods* You betcha. And I'm going to share those tips with you! In an easy to follow guide that you can use right away. You're welcome. ;D


1. Connections are important.  

I already mentioned letting social media fall by the wayside. That's okay if you do it the smart way. I loved my little blog I used to post on twice a week. But when Martina mentioned the possibility of joining her here I knew it was the right move for several reasons.
A.  It was an established blog with a huge following.
B.  I could concentrate on something new and interesting that was relevant to where I was in the journey -- i.e. agents and contests.
C.  I knew I would learn a TON from Martina and everyone else here and I haven't been disappointed!
     
Not everyone has access to publishing on an amazing blog like AYAP I get that, but here's my advice to you: Don't start a blog unless you KNOW it's something you love. Same with FB and Twitter and any of the other sites out there. You WILL burn out eventually but if it's what you love then the time commitment is worth it. I concentrated on the social media that I love and used shortcuts like IFTTT to help me post across platforms. And I found as I always did in the past that when I engage others with what I truly enjoy I find followers and make real connections with people.  So by being in that somewhat humbled position I found that it was even more important to me to keep up with what meant the most to me and the interactions, in my opinion, are what it's all about.
     
2. You are never above the basics.

Think you've seen it all? The blog posts, the workshops, etc.? Not true. Sometimes all it takes is someone repeating a single thing in a unique way that give you that aha moment. It's true that we grow as writers the more we do, but do you know how many adverbs I STILL have in my gosh darned manuscripts?? Grrrr. Yes, I catch a lot of them the first time through now, but they still sneak in there.

So if you're having a tough time one of the best things you can do is go back and re-read some posts or a book that was there for you in the beginning. Sometimes something new will even leap out. You can even get something new to you, but on a subject you've seen so many times. Example? I re-read James Scott Bell's book PLOT AND STRUCTURE. I must have wanted to smack my forehead fifty times because of a simple thing I'd forgotten to pay attention to in my work.

3. The industry keeps moving, don't let it pass you by.

I went through a period where I couldn't read. That makes me very sad. I LOVE READING and that's what inspires me to write. I felt some part of me was missing. Thankfully I read again now, just a bit slower than I used to. But it's SO important! I learn through, let's call it osmosis, while reading more than anything else I do. And new books in YA come out all the time. For a short while I didn't familiarize myself with the new ones, which is bad. Bad bad bad. You have to know what's out there in your genre. You have to know what's being done and what works and why. Why did you like it? Why DIDN'T you like it?

4. Be wary but not cynical.

When you are "desperate" to get your work noticed you find all sorts of people ready to help. Do you hire an editor? Do you enter contests? Do you take any agent that offers? The answers are: Maybe, maybe, and NO.

Hiring an editor is a personal decision. It's something that has helped many of my friends, but it's also expensive. My advice? If you decide you are stuck, meaning you don't have anyone else to ask and you don't know what's wrong but you're convinced either by rejections or your gut that you're missing something important then you are at a good point to potentially hire an editor. Before you do make sure they are reputable by asking for references and exchanging a bit of work to make sure their comments resonate. Try to find someone, if you're going to splurge anyway, that has professional experience with a publishing house under his/her belt.

Contest-wise? Well, we're running Pitch Plus One right now! There are many online pitch or opening pages contests that are worth a look or a try. I myself got several requests a while back from Pitch Madness by Brenda Drake, who by the way got started on a contest here that I helped judge! Be careful. My advice? Never enter a contest that asks for money. Why? Not because they may not be reputable. Many are. Some aren't. But why do that if you don't have to? There are free resources out there if you search. Take advantage of our very own First Five Pages Workshop, for example. We never charge and have amazing mentors, including an agent, for every manuscript every month.

Agent wise? Don't just take anyone that will have you. Take your time to research and ask questions. Ask for references. You are hiring them too. Get Publisher's Marketplace (or ask someone who knows) what their recent sales are like. Make sure you feel comfortable with them and understand their policies and procedures when it comes to communication, editing and submission. The wrong agent is worse than no agent. For reals.

5.Write.

You can do all of the above, but if you are convinced your first manuscript has to be the "one" and you can't move on then you are far more likely to fail. You have to write. You have to write even if you are sad or doubtful or don't know what you're going to say. Take out an old manuscript that's been sitting for a while and read it through. Do you see errors you wouldn't make anymore? I did. Fix them. Can you think of something that would make it stronger? Add it! Do you see scenes that are superfluous? Chop 'em. Open a new document and start something new. Outline if you outline, start writing if you don't! The more you write, the better you will get. AND the more options you will have to offer a potential agent or editor. Pick what you think your weakest attribute is (writing wise, silly) and focus on it while you write or re-write a chapter.

These tips may sound simple, but they sincerely saved my writing career. They work. So DON'T GIVE UP. Focus on your craft instead. There is always more to learn and do.

* * * 

Soul Crossed 

(Of Demons and Angels #1)

by Lisa Gail Green

One Demon. 

One Angel.

One Soul.

Josh lived a reckless, selfish life, so upon his death, escaping the eternal torments of Hell by assuming the role of a powerful, soul-corrupting demon is an easy choice. His first soul assignment doesn’t seem too hard: the mortal Camden is already obsessed with weapons, pain, and torture. If only Josh wasn’t distracted by Cam's beautiful friend, Grace.

Grace never expected to die violently at age sixteen, but now she’s an Angel, responsible for saving a soul. She can already see past Camden’s earthly flaws, so the job should be be easy. If only that handsome, playboy Josh would stop getting in the way.

It’s forbidden for an Angel to be with a Demon, so if Josh and Grace stop resisting each other, the results would be disastrous. 

And only one can claim Cam’s soul.

"A wickedly romantic story that will have you cheering for Lisa Gail Green’s addictive storytelling. SOUL CROSSED is devilishly delicious!" — Martina Boone, author of COMPULSION and the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy

"Soul Crossed blurs the lines between good and evil with addictive characters and plot that will have you eagerly turning the pages." 
— Kelly Hashway, author of the Touch of Death series.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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4. Top 50 Pitch Plus One Pitches

We are so proud of all of you for being brave enough to enter your work and hope you've already gotten something out of the contest. But we had to pick the top 50 and here they are.

If any of the titles below are yours, please send your revised (if you choose to do so) pitch and first page (no more than 250 words, without cutting off a sentence) in the same format as you sent your initial pitch. Do so by 6PM EASTERN. You will have 12 hours to revise and send. I'm sorry our schedule is a little off, but one of our judges was ill and could not comment until today.

I will then post the top 50 pages/pitches on our contest website as soon as possible for comment.



A SIGN OF MAGIC
ANDARI
ANYTHING BUT ALIVE
AURUM: BOOK ONE OF THE GOLDEN REBELS SERIES  
BIXBY TIMMONS AND THE GRAND MASTER'S RIDDLE  
BLUE GENES
CHILDREN OF TOKUA
COWARDS AND CAPES
DAMSEL IN DISTRESSED JEANS
DARCY TOWERS
FIGHT FOR THIS
FOREST OF SHADOWS
HERITAGE OF HATE
IF ONE OF THEM IS DEAD
IMPERFECT LIVES
INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE – THE GHOST OF EDINBURGH CASTLE
LISTEN TO ME
LOST PEARLS OF INDARNINI 
MUSE POWERS IN DANGER
MYSTERY AT GEEK CAMP
NANNY MORTO
NECESSITY
NIKITA WHITFIELD AND THE BUTTERFLY EATER
RECRUITED
RETTA VS. MUTANTS
RIVETED
SEARCH FOR THE SAMPO
SUMMER THUNDER
THE BATTLE OF WONDERLAND GARDENS
THE CHRONICLES OF WHAT HAPPENED, BY CAM HANSON
THE DARKADDERS
THE FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHT CLUB
THE GREAT WOODS
THE HUNT FOR THE HEAVENLY HORSE
THE KIDNAPPER'S CONUNDRUM
THE LAND OF JOY AND SORROW
THE LEDGE
THE MIDNIGHT FLIGHT OF THE SALEM MAGI  
THE OTHER SIDE OF NORMAL
THE PRINCESS AND THE PEASANT
THE SECRETS WE KEEP
THE SINNER ROSE
THE SIX
TRACKED
TRACKER 220
VANISHED
WHATEVER IT TAKES
WHO IS BERKLEY ADAMS?
XAVIER AND THE MYSTERIOUS BLACK SPACESHIP

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5. Ready? Set? Go! Pitch Plus One is Now Open for Submissions!


PLEASE double check the rules before submitting. Remember this round is pitches only! Questions? Support? Check out our hashtag #PitchPlus1 on Twitter.

Only send submissions to AYAPContest at gmail dot com NOT the other AYAP account or your entries will be deleted without being read and that will make us SAD :(.

Don't forget to check for updates on our official contest website.

Not sure what Pitch Plus One is?? Check out this post that includes both rules and AMAZING judges!!

Good luck, everyone!!!

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6. Announcing the Pitch Plus One Writing Contest: Will YOU Win an Agent Critique?

Who’s ready for another AH-MAZE-ING writing contest?? Pitch Plus One is almost here so get those manuscripts and pitches polished. We will open submissions one week from today at 9AM Eastern.

Scroll down for the rules and the amazing list of judges we have lined up! As usual we at AYAP want to help writers with their craft so we’ve gone all out, with FOUR agent critiques to give away to the winners. So read the rules carefully because you don’t want to be excluded because of a silly mistake (and I don’t want to do that to you either).


RULES:


•    We will take the first 100 Middle Grade/Young Adult/New Adult entries submitted in the correct format after NINE AM Eastern on 2/12 to the email AYAPcontest@gmail.com. *If I receive your email at 8:59 on my computer's timestamp I CANNOT accept it. Please remember that we have many teen readers on this blog who are under 18, so keep the first pages rated PG. (I'm the last person to suggest any kind of censorship for ANY reason, but there is a level of expectation based on what readers are used to seeing here at AYAP.)

•    Only one entry per person to make sure everyone has a shot at feedback.
•    Entries will consist of the PITCH for a COMPLETED manuscript, which should not exceed 150 words. Please use single spaced text, no indentations, one space between paragraphs. 12 point font. Please make sure to include your name, email, manuscript title, manuscript word count and genre/subgenre.
             E.g.,
             IDA Luv Anoffer
             Sillymadeupemail@ayap.com
             BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN
             78,000 words
             YA Magical Realism

•    The accepted entries will be judged by our first round of craft bloggers, who will rate and choose the top 50 entries, which will then be notified and asked to send the first page of the manuscript in addition to the pitch and will be posted on AdventuresInYAContests.blogspot.com by 6AM EST February 19.

•    We will invite reading, comments, and love from anyone who wants to participate — until 6:00 AM ET on 2/28. By noon on 2/27 we will announce the top 25 entries as judged by our respected book blogger judges, who will score the entries according to a standard scale with two bloggers reading each entry and a third blogger serving as a discrepancy judge if there is a wide disparity in scores. This is amazing news, since these are the people that will someday be reading and reviewing YOUR books.

•    The top 25 entries will then be invited to send their revised pitch (of no more than 150 words) and a revised first page by Noon EST 2/28, to be posted that evening. These entries will be judged by our amazing author judges, who will also score the entries according to a standard scale with two bloggers reading each entry and a third blogger serving as a discrepancy judge if there is a wide disparity in scores.


•    The top 10 will be announced on 3/5 by NOON EST and will have until Noon on 3/6 to send in their revised entries in order to move on to the agent round beginning 3/7.


•    Winners will be announced on 3/14/15.


•    All relevant feedback received, from the public, bloggers, authors, and agents will be posted as comments on the entry or emailed, but the identity of the judge making the comment will not be revealed. You'll just see Judge 1, or Judge 2, etc. You will, however, have access on our Judges page to a bio for all of the judges involved in that round.


This will give all participants the opportunity to receive feedback that they can apply immediately to their work, and comments along with the revisions posted will give anyone who is inclined to watch the process the ability to learn vicariously.


And yes, there will be prizes.



Good Luck!


*You can follow along with hashtag #PitchPlus1 on Twitter!


Judges:


Round One: Craft Bloggers



Claudia Arroyo Valdez:



Claudia Arroyo Valdez is a writer of realistic YA fiction and short stories, an English literature student at Cal Baptist University, and a fan of literature paired with indie rock (she blogs about it frequently). She and her writing are represented by Robin Mizell LTD.

She can be found on Twitter as: @arroyoclau

Tracy Banghart:




Award-winning author, Army wife, and mom Tracy Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an unhealthy affection for cupcakes. Her quiet childhood led to a reading addiction, writing obsession, and several serious book boyfriends. She is the author of the Rebel Wing series (Alloy Entertainment).

You can also find Tracy on:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/tracythewriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tracytheauthor?ref=bookmarks

Kate Brauning:





Meet Kate Brauning.

YA author extraordinaire and a damn fine editor, too.
In her debut novel, How We Fall, Kate drives us through the scenic routes of a small town, focusing her keen eye on its passions, its friendships and the secrets that could burn it to the ground. She sees the subtleties that the rest of us often miss; the gradations of emotional color that can be so elusive to writer and reader alike. And she gets on a gut level the swollen, hammering hearts of the young, because her own heart continues to beat with the same relentlessness.
You can find Kate:
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateBrauning
FB: https://www.facebook.com/KateBrauningAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21865261-how-we-fall


Jake Kerr:





After fifteen years as a music industry journalist Jake Kerr’s first published story, “The Old Equations,” was nominated for the Nebula Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America and was shortlisted for the Theodore Sturgeon and StorySouth Million Writers awards. His stories have subsequently been published in magazines across the world, broadcast in multiple podcasts, and been published in multiple anthologies and year’s best collections. His debut novel Tommy Black and the Staff of Light is out now.


A graduate of Kenyon College, Kerr studied fiction under Ursula K. Le Guin and Peruvian playwright Alonso Alegria. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife and three daughters.


Connect with Jake:

Web: www.jakekerr.com
Series: www.tommyblackseries.com

Kimberley Griffiths Little:





When Kimberley was a kid she read a book a day, scribbled stories, and dreamed about having her very own book on the library shelf. She grew up in San Francisco, but now lives in an adobe house on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and three sons. She thinks she’s drunk so much Land of Enchantment water that some of that ancient magic got into her blood and now spurts out her pencil--she means ergonomic keyboard.


She adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell, and makes way too many cookies when she’s writing.


Awards: Southwest Book Award, Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel, Bank Street College Best Books of 2011 & 2013, Crystal Kite Finalist, and New Mexico Book Award Finalist.


Connect with Kimberley: Kimberley's Website / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Tumblr / Youtube


Must-see book trailer for FORBIDDEN. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3ncXetDyG8


Hannah Martian:








Hannah Martian is a reader, writer, blogger, and loves baseball. She plays on her school's Hi-Q and Knowledge Bowl teams, and is chock-full of lots of information on books and baseball. Her blog, The Perspective of a Drama Queen, is based on those two things.


Susan Sipal: 




Susan is a writer, editor, and speaker.  Best known as an analyst of the Harry Potter series, she's presented dozens of workshops based on her Writer's Guide to Harry Potter to help writers improve their craft.  Her next book, Southern Fried Wiccan, a YA contemporary, will be released from BookFish Books in March 2015.

You can find her on Twitter at @HP4Writers and at SPSipal.com

Victoria Strauss:





Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the Way of Arata fantasy duology (The Burning Land and The Awakened City), and a pair of historical novels for teens, Passion Blue and Color Song. She has written hundreds of book reviews for magazines and ezines, including SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer's Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards. An active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America,Victoria is co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that tracks and warns about literary fraud. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website, Facebook page, and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009.


You can find Victoria: Website: http://www.victoriastrauss.comWriter Beware: http://www.writerbeware.comTwitter: https://twitter.com/victoriastrauss



Kiki Sullivan:





Kiki Sullivan is the author of The Dolls series from Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins. Like the main character Eveny Cheval, Kiki used to live in New York and now calls the American South home. Unlike Eveny, she finds it impossible to keep her rose garden alive and has been singlehandedly responsible for the unfortunate demise of countless herbs. She may or may not have hung out with queens of the dark arts, strolled through creepy New Orleans cemeteries at night, or written the first book of this series with a red-headed Louisiana voodoo doll beside her computer.

You can find Kiki:
Web: www.KikiSullivan.com
Twitter: @sullivan_kiki

Ellie Sipila:




Ellie Sipila attended Ryerson University for copy, stylistic, and substantive editing. She has a specialization in editing books intended for young readers (picture books, middle grade, young adult, and new adult...if such a genre really exists). She is a member of the Editors' Association of Canada and SCBWI. She has edited the work of scholarly writers, fiction and nonfiction novelists, short story writers, nonfiction essayists, and bloggers. Ellie is currently an in-house editor at BookFish Books LLC., where her primary tasks include acquiring fiction (she has a special interest in middle grade stories) and line and copy editing all upcoming releases. She is a mother, a wife, and a mega book and music nerd. When she is not reading or writing, she can usually be found playing her cello or sleeping (likely dreaming about reading, writing, or playing her cello). To learn more about Ellie, visit her website at www.movetothewrite.com.



Round Two: Book Bloggers


Amber:






My name is Amber, I’m an avid reader and participator in the book community. I run a book blog called Cosying Up With Books where I talk about and regularly review Young Adult and New Adult books.

Find Amber:

Hafsah Faisal:





Hafsah Faizal is the founder of IceyBooks, a young-adult book blog that features reviews, interviews, exclusive reveals, and blogging tips and tricks. In 2013, she released her debut, UNBREATHABLE, a YA space opera. She's also the designer behind IceyDesigns, where she primarily focuses on designing and branding personalities online—author websites, book covers, blogs, social media, and more. Last May, she spoke at the BEA Bloggers conference about the importance of good design and taking your blog to the next level.


Jennifer Bardsley:





Jennifer Bardsley is The YA Gal on Facebook and the "I Brake for Moms” columnist for The Everett Daily Herald. On November 11, 2014 Publishers Marketplace announced Jennifer’s two book deal with Georgia McBride at Month9Books. BLANK SLATE will release in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The sequel will come out in 2017. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @JennBardsley.


Kristie Matheson:




Lost in Ever After is a blog owned by Kristie, you'll find book tours, concert posts, reviews with other music and book related news. Host of Music Monday.

Liz Maguire:





Liz Maguire is an avid reader, marshmallow enthusiast and is known by her close friends as an "amused romantic". She is always looking for something new and different to add to an ever mounting T.B.R. pile by her bed. Operating from her Twitter and Tumblr accounts, Liz regularly shares reviews and publishes once monthly "Interview with an Author" posts with her followers, other bookish sorts.

Nicole Brinkley:





Nicole Brinkley has blonde hair and a love of dragons. The rest changes without notice. She is the editor of YA Interrobang and a part-time bookseller. You can find her on Twitter or Tumblr.


Nori:





My name is Nori and I have been blogging at ReadWriteLove28.com for over 6 months. I started my blog because I wanted a place where I could share my passion for reading with the rest of the world. In addition to blogging, I also am a beta-reader and offer developmental editing services. I love reading Young Adult and New Adult books, especially fantasy and contemporary. My dog Ellie Mae is the mascot of my blog!



Octavia:





 Quite simply I’m Octavia. I speak fluent sarcasm, am a renowned smart ass, and here’s a surprise, I worship books. I wish I was joking but I seriously have a bit of an unbalance and possibly disturbing love of books. Three in my purse (always), one under my pillow, two on my nightstand, one in my desk at work and on my dinning room table. See what I mean? But it doesn’t end there. I love reviewing books almost as much as reading them. I’m not a literary genius but I can get a tad carried away with my reviews and I can’t think of a better way to spend my spare time.

Octavia blogs at Read Sleep Repeat

Sofia Li:




Sofia Li is a teen-aged Book Blogger and YouTuber that has been avidly reading since Kindergarten. Blogging and YouTube allow her to discuss her passions with other people and allow her to put her introvert qualities to good use. She enjoys having a place to be heard as well as all of the friends, and additions to her TBR she has gotten out of blogging. In her free time, she enjoys writing Young Adult Fiction (surprise surprise), cross country, and photography.


You can find Sofia:

Blog | http://lovingthelanguageofliteracy.blogspot.com
YouTube | https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCodtdymv5Nv0xUZHZefwShg
Twitter | https://twitter.com/sslluvsbooks
Goodreads | https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6724989-sofia-li

Shelly:





When she's not formatting the lovely interviews hosted here, she can be seen blogging at Read.Sleep.Repeat. , reading, writing and goofing off on the internet.


You can find her on twitter @shellysrambles. She is usually found yelling at her friends to read her favourite books and flaunting her Hufflepuff pride.


Round 3: Author Judges


Cindy Callaghan:





Cindy Callaghan grew up in New Jersey and attended college at the University of Southern California before earning her BA in English and French, and MBA from the University of Delaware.


Cindy is the author of JUST ADD MAGIC (2010), LOST IN LONDON (2013), LUCKY ME (2014), LOST IN PARIS (2015), and LOST IN ROME (2015).  All of Cindy’s novels are published by Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin M!x.


In January, Amazon Studios released the pilot for a live-action series based on her debut novel, JUST ADD MAGIC.


She recently exited corporate America after nearly twenty years, and is now fully entrenched in business consulting, writing, and family.  She is very involved with her children’s activities, including coaching the occasional soccer team. Cindy lives, works and writes in Wilmington, Delaware with her family and numerous rescued pets.


Website - http://www.cindycallaghan.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cindycallaghanauthor
Twitter -  https://twitter.com/CindyCallaghan


Sarah Fine:





I’m the author of several books for teens, including Of Metal and Wishes(McElderry/Simon & Schuster) and its sequel, Of Dreams and Rust (coming in August 2015), and the Guards of the Shadowlands YA urban fantasy series (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing). I’m also the co-author (with Walter Jury) of two YA sci-fi thrillers published by Putnam/Penguin: Scan and its sequel Burn (which will be published in 2015). My first adult urban fantasy romance novel,Marked, will be published in January 2015 by 47North/Amazon Publishing, with the sequel, Claimed, coming in March 2015. When I’m not writing, I’m psychologizing. Sometimes I do both at the same time. The results are unpredictable.

Lori Goldstein:





Born into an Italian-Irish family (hence the short temper and the freckles), Lori grew up on the Jersey Shore and now makes her home outside of Boston in a place close enough to the ocean that on the right day, she can smell the sea from her back deck, and yet it still takes an hour to get to the beach. Having earned her bachelor's degree in journalism, she worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before embracing her love of fictional people.  Her debut novel, the YA Contemporary Fantasy BECOMING JINN, releases April 21, 2015 (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan). When not writing or reading (preferably from a sandy locale), Lori can be found chatting books and perfecting the art of efficient writing through Twitter. Find her at @loriagoldstein.


Find Lori here:

Web site: www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com
Twitter: @loriagoldstein
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LoriGoldsteinAuthor
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/LoriGoldstein
Tumblr/Instagram: lorigoldsteinbooks

P.J. Hoover:





After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer, P. J. Hoover started writing books for kids and teens. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her middle grade novel, Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life (Starscape/Macmillan, September 2014), tells the story of a young immortal King Tut, who's been stuck in middle school for over 3,000 years and must defeat an ancient enemy with the help of a dorky kid from school, a mysterious Egyptian princess, and a one-eyed cat. Her first novel for teens, Solstice (Tor Teen/Macmillan, June 2013), takes place in a global warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website www.pjhoover.com.


Lydia Kang:





Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her debut YA novel, CONTROL, was a Top Pick by RT Book Reviews and a YALSA 2015 Quick Pick. The sequel, CATALYST, releases on March 24, 2015.

Find Lydia:
Website: http://lydiakang.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LydiaYKang
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lydiakang

Nikki Kelly:







NIKKI KELLY was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. Lailah was first launched to wattpad, an online readers and writers community. Within six months, the novel had over one million reads. Lailah is Nikki’s debut novel, and the first book in The Styclar Saga. She lives in London with her husband and their dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a Chihuahua).

Catherine Linka:





Catherine Linka is the author of A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS, winner of the SCIBA Young Adult Novel Award 2014, and an Indie Next Pick. A frequent speaker at writer and teen conferences, Catherine received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. During the seven years she worked as a YA buyer for an indie bookstore, Catherine read and evaluated hundreds of young adult novels. A GIRL UNDONE will be published in June.


You can find Catherine:

cblinka@msn.com
www.catherinelinka.com
twitter: @cblinka
FB: catherinelinkaauthor

T.A. MacClagen:







T.A. Maclagan is a Kansas girl by birth but now lives in the bush-clad hills of Wellington, New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, a little hobbit and four fur babies. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer.  It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. They Called Me Alexandra Gastone, a YA spy novel, is coming June 2015 from FFF Digital. 

Find her on her blog at tamaclaganwriting.wordpress.com.

Gretchen McNeil:





Gretchen McNeil is the author of YA horror novels POSSESS, TEN, and 3:59, as well as the new mystery/suspense series Don't Get Mad, beginning in 2014 with GET EVEN and continuing in 2015 with GET DIRTY, all with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins.  In 2016, Gretchen will publish two novels: RELIC, a YA horror novel, and MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL, her first YA contemporary.  Gretchen also contributed an essay to the Dear Teen Me anthology from Zest Books.


Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.


Find Gretchen:

http://gretchenmcneil.com/
https://twitter.com/GretchenMcNeil
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gretchen-McNeil/195705662028

Laurisa Reyes:





Laurisa is the author of four novels, including The Crystal Keeper, Contact, and The Rock of Ivanore. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Middle Shelf Magazine and the Senior Editor/Publisher of Skyrocket Press. She lives in Southern California with her husband and five children.


Find Laurisa:


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laurisa-White-Reyes-Author/148553665188339

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lwreyes
Blog:  http://laurisareyes.blogspot.com
Website: http://www.laurisawhitereyes.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/lwreyes

Discrepancy Judge:

Martina Boone:



Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them. She’s the author of Compulsion, book one in the Southern Gothic trilogy, the Heirs of Watson Island, which was a Fall ’14 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Bookstores Alliance, a Goodreads Best Book of the Month and YA Best Book of the Month, and an RT Magazine Best of 2014 Editor’s Pick. The second book in the trilogy, Persuasion, will be published in October 2015.
She’s also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site devoted to the discovery and celebration of young adult literature and encouraging literacy through YA series.
From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, and Auggie the wonder dog, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.




 Round 4: Agents


Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency:





Jordy Albert is a Literary Agent and co-founder of The Booker Albert Literary Agency. She holds a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University, and a M.A. from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She has worked with Marisa Corvisiero during her time at the L. Perkins Agency and the Corvisiero Literary Agency. She enjoys studying languages (French/Japanese), spends time teaching herself how to knit, is a HUGE fan of Doctor WhoSherlock and Supernatural (#Superwholock)!!! And loves dogs.


She is looking for stories that sink their teeth in, leave the reader wanting more, and gives her all the feels. She loves books that make her laugh out loud or tear up (or in some cases wanting to throw the book). She is interested in Middle Grade contemporary or action/adventure (think Indiana Jones, Goonies, Labyrinth and other awesome 80s movies). In YA and New Adult, she is looking for sci-fi/fantasy (romance), contemporary romance. She’s also always looking for characters with strong, authentic voices. Jordy loves an awesome kick butt hero/heroine, especially when they have to work their way out of a tight spot. While it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, she tends to shy away from novels with trigger topics, such as suicide and any type of abuse. As for adult works, Jordy is looking for smart, sexy contemporary romances that leave her breathless, and where the chemistry between the characters sizzles right off the pages. She is also looking for Historical Romances (she definitely has a soft spot for Regency). Like Brittany, Jordy is a sucker for a HEA! Some favorite authors include Sabrina Jeffries, Teresa Medeiros, Karen Marie Moning, Kresley Cole, Lauren Layne, and Gena Showalter.


Danielle Barthel of New Leaf Literary:






Following her completion of the Denver Publishing Institute after graduation, Danielle began interning at Writers House. While there, she realized she wanted to put her English degree and love of the written word to work at a literary agency. She worked as a full-time assistant for three years, and continues to help keep the New Leaf offices running smoothly in her role of Coordinator of Team and Client Services.

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7. Guest TeachingAuthor Interview and Book Giveaway with Sherry Shahan

I've enjoyed reading my fellow TeachingAuthor' posts on plotting and planning. That series ended with Esther's post on Monday. Today, I'm presenting a new topic: a guest TeachingAuthor interview and book giveaway! But first, I want to share some updates regarding our blog. The next few months will be a busy time for me due to a variety of personal and professional commitments. (If you live in the Chicago area and you're looking for a writing class, I hope you'll check out my class offerings, including one tomorrow on "Great Beginnings.") So, while I'll continue to work behind the scenes here, I'll be taking a blogging break. And I'm THRILLED to announce that the talented Carla Killough McClafferty will be blogging in my place. If you don't know Carla, do read her bio info on our About Us page. I hope you'll give her a hearty welcome when she makes her debut here three weeks from today.

Now, for today's guest TeachingAuthor interview, let me re-introduce you to Sherry Shahan, author of picture books, easy readers, and novels for middle grade and young adults. You may recall that Sherry contributed a terrific Wednesday Writing Workout back in July. I began that post by saying:

>>Sherry and I first met virtually, when she joined the New Year/New Novel (NYNN) Yahoo group I started back in 2009. I love the photo she sent for today's post--it personifies her willingness to do the tough research sometimes required for the stories she writes. As she says on her website, she has:

 "ridden on horseback into Africa’s Maasailand, hiked through a leech-infested rain forest in Australia, shivered inside a dogsled for the first part of the famed 1,049 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, rode-the-foam on a long-board in Hawaii, and spun around dance floors in Havana, Cuba."   
<<

Sherry's most recent young-adult novel, Skin and Bones (A. Whitman) required a different kind of research, as she shares in her interview below. According to Kirkus Reviews, she did her work well::
"Shahan tackles eating disorders in a fast-paced, contemporary coming-of-age novel. . . A quick read with a worthy message: We are all recovering from something, and the right companions can help you heal. The wrong ones can kill you."

The paperback edition of Skin and Bones will be released in March. Meanwhile, Sherry is generously contributing an autographed copy for a  TeachingAuthors' book giveaway. To enter, see the instructions at the end of this post. First, though, be sure to read the following interview:


Sherry, how did you become a TeachingAuthor?

In the 1980s I lived in a small town and didn’t know anyone who was a writer. I hadn’t even heard of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). I heard about a local Writers Conference and signed up. At the end of the workshop focusing on children’s books, I asked the instructor if she’d critique my middle-grade novel manuscript. She agreed. Soon thereafter she told me she’d shared it with her editor (a school book fair publisher). They bought that novel and I worked with them on five more.
Fast forward: After graduating from Vermont College of Fine Arts (MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, 2007) I was brimming with enthusiasm about writing. My friends soon tired of discussions of emotional subtext, objective correlatives, polyphonic elements, etc. When I heard that UCLA was seeking teachers for online writing courses I sent the department chair my resumé. I’ve been teaching for them ever since.

What's a common problem that your students have and how do you address it?

It’s simply the overuse of passive verbs—and that’s across the board, no matter what the person’s writing experience. As an exercise, I post a short paragraph that’s riddled with ‘was,’ ‘seems to be,” ‘must have been,’ ‘would,’ ‘had,’ etc. I then ask them to reconstruct the paragraph using active verbs. Happily, writings submitted after the exercise shine with lively, active language.

Back in July you shared a terrific Wednesday Writing Workout with our readers and talked a bit about Skin and Bones. You mentioned then that the novel started out as a short story. What inspired that original story and how did you expand it to a novel?

I had a crazy idea about a love story from the perspective of a teen guy with anorexia, which I set in an Eating Disorders Unit of a hospital. The short story sold right away to a major literary journal. Later, a London publisher included it in their YA anthology, and after that it appeared in their Best of collection. So far the 1,400-word version of Skin and Bones has appeared eight times worldwide.

My agent kept encouraging me to expand the story into a novel. But I wasn’t ready to spend a year (or more) with young people in the throes of a life-threatening illness. I weighed the pros and cons.

Pros:
* The short story would serve as an outline since the basic story arc was in place.
Each character already had a distinctive voice.
The hospital setting was firmly fixed in my mind.
The subject matter had proven itself to be of interest to readers.
Proven ground is attractive to editors and publishers, as long as the topic is approached in a fresh way.

Cons:
* The story would require an additional 60,000 words.
I would have to create additional characters.
Every character would require a convincing backstory.
I would need compelling subplots.
Every scene would require richer subtext.

Well, the "Pros" obviously won out.J We don’t often hear or read of boys having anorexia. How did you go about researching this story? What kind of response has it received from readers and teachers?

My primary research was memoirs about teens with addictions. There were striking similarities between the mindset of say, someone with anorexia or bulimia, and a young person addicted to drugs. Shame and guilt effected both addictions. I wasn’t prepared for the skillful manner in which teens—males and females—manipulated friends, family, and the environment in order to keep their obsession secret.

I’ve been visiting high schools and libraries talking about Skin and Bones and the dangers of eating disorders. Many people have known a male with anorexia. According to N.A.M.E.D. (National Association of Males with Eating Disorders) approximately ten million males in the U.S. suffer with this disease. Sadly, there are too many heart-breaking examples on the Internet.

Do you have any suggestions for teachers on how they might use one of your books in the classroom?

My Alaskan-based adventure novel Ice Island (Random House/Yearling) is used as part of the “IDITA-Read” program, a fun reading race from Anchorage to Nome.

Goal:
Read *1,049 minutes or pages appropriate to student’s reading level.

Procedure:
1.  Explain to the students that they will compete in their own Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Their race will be a reading race.
2.  Each student draws a musher from entries on the Iditarod website (which includes trail maps, mushers’ diaries, etc.). Students try to read faster (pages or minutes) than the distance their musher travels on the trail.
3.  Teachers track each student’s progress on a large map of Alaska by daily visits to the Iditarod website.
4.  Students select their books before the “vet check.” (Dogs are checked before the race to make sure they’re healthy.)  Teachers decide if students’ books are “healthy” (grade/ability level).
5.  As students read their way to each checkpoint, they are responsible for logging in their time and having it checked by a race marshal (teacher or librarian).
6.  Provide prizes or special recognition for those who compete in the reading race.

Materials:
1.  Large map of Alaska with Iditarod Trail & checkpoints clearly marked.
2.  Legend listing distances between checkpoints.
3.  Name pins/tags to mark students’ reading progress on the trail.
4.  Sleds or dogs (felt or construction paper) to mark progress of mushers.
5.  Iditarod “Reading Log” for each student.
6.  Lots of books!

Objectives:
1.  Encourage recreational reading.
2.  Develop an interest in history and geography of Alaska.
3.  Encourage completion of a project.

Wow, what a fun activity! I hope some of our blog followers who are teachers will give it a try and report back to us. Finally, Sherry, what are you working on now?

I’ve just finished a very rough draft of a YA novel that explores the emotional and psychological trauma of abduction. My protagonist is a sixteen year-old girl who’s kidnapped on her way to meet her boyfriend. The kidnapper isn’t someone the readers will suspect.

Sounds like a real thriller, Sherry. Good luck researching that one! And thanks again for today's interview.
Readers, here's your opportunity to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Skin and Bones (A. Whitman). Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options specified. If you choose the "comment" option, share a comment to TODAY'S blog post answering this question: 
What will you do with the book should you win: save it for yourself or give it away?

If your name isn't part of your comment "identity," please include it in your comment for verification purposes. Comments may also be submitted via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com

If the widget doesn't appear for some reason (or you're an email subscriber), use the link below to take you to the entry form.

The giveaway ends on Feb. 6. 
After you've entered, don't forget to check today's Poetry Friday roundup over at A Teaching Life.
Good luck and happy writing!
Carmela

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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8. 100K Book Milestone: Celebrate With Us & Win

Well, it happened. Our small, unusual trio of writing books have officially sold 100,000 copies, which is so freaking incredible. When we launched The Emotion Thesaurus in May of 2012, and then followed up with The Positive and Negative Trait books in October of 2013, we never expected this to happen. (In fact, I remember telling Becca when we wrote the Emotion Thesaurus, I would be happy if it sold 50,000 copies in our lifetime!)

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But it did happen, and all because of you. So thank you so, so, SO much–for your support, for recommending our books and website to other writers, agents and editors, and for of course buying our resources yourselves. We hope they are helping you write deep, compelling characters and stories that readers will love!

Becca and I have a very exciting year ahead, and more content planned to help strengthen your writing. We have two Setting Thesaurus books on the go which should be ready later in the year, and one exciting new project that we hope will knock your socks off. We are still finalizing everything as we head in an uncharted new direction, but as soon as we can share, we will.

Now…let’s talk Celebration!

Becca and I are giving away 10 print copies of our books, winner’s choice. This is a great time for you to snag one of our books if you don’t yet have it, refresh a well-used copy that is worn around the edges, or win a book for a critique partner as a gift. The choice is yours!

HOW TO ENTER:

All you need to do for a chance to win is fill out THIS FORM. Easy Peasy. AND, if you email me a picture of one of our books with you, in your workspace, or some other crazy place, you will earn 5 bonus entries! We would love to see pictures of your marked up/notes in the margins/color tabbed to death/etc. copies, too! Just make sure that if you send me a picture, you also provide your full name so I can find you on the form & add 5 bonus entries.

This giveaway is open Internationally–how cool is that? As always, Random.Org is what we use to select the 10 winners. Contest is open until January 18th.

Emotion Amplifiers High ResONE LAST THING…

This might also be a good time to remind everyone that there is now a FREE EBOOK Companion for The Emotion Thesaurus. If you haven’t yet grabbed Emotion Amplifiers, JUST GO HERE to download your copy.

Social Sharing is always appreciated. Good luck to all!

 

The post 100K Book Milestone: Celebrate With Us & Win appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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9. Your Story 64: Submit Now!

Photo by Lindsay Hiatt Photography (lindsayhiattphotography.com)Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo to the left.

Remember: You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Paste your story into the form below or email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com within the body of your email (no attachments please). Don’t forget your name and mailing address. One entry per person per contest.

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: February 23, 2015

Your Story Entry Form

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10. Poet in TedX Talk. Next Year in Havana. Content Creator Contest. 2014 Through a Keyhole

Guest Columnist Raúl Sánchez: Poet's TedX Talk

Raúl Sánchez was surprised to learn that the Yakima County Dream Team was using poems from his poetry collection, All Our Brown-skinned Angels, at immigration rallies and assemblies. He did not realize that had launched a thirst for his, and related work, in the local communities. He was invited to present at TEDx Yakima Salon on October 24. 

Here is Raúl’s account of the presentation at the Yakima Valley Museum.

The process of preparation began by watching the videos already available from other local conferences and cities in order to get the idea of the flow, intent, punctuation and impact to be delivered to the listener.

The theme for the event was “Growth”. The organizers picked that name based on one of the poems in my book titled “Dandelion”. They told me that the metaphor of the fuzzes like words flying in the breeze and landing in the ear of those who listen thereby growing and developing into a new idea, a new poem to heal, moved and inspired others.

I started by describing the genesis of the original idea. On a walk with my daughter, she picked the biggest dandelions and blew the fuzzes with her breath ,watching them fly in the breeze. I immediately thought: What if those fuzzes were the words in a poem and what impact would those words have on people far away from me?

All of us have experienced these feelings when we read poems other poets have published. That was precisely the experience some of the folks in the Yakima Valley experienced when they read or heard the poems at those Dream Team assemblies. I was honored to learn of their response, that my work had an effect on people I’ve never met.

I organized my talk about the experience of creating a poem and how the idea shapes up into a compact story by “using the best words in the best order.”

My presentation highlighted words from W.B. Yates, Philip Larkin and Martín Espada. I was careful to use images the audience would find easy to see in their minds’ eye. I enhanced the pieces using rhythmic alliteration, metaphor and mystery.

I made a point of exactness and slowing down to see what is always there but which remains unappreciated because we are always in a hurry to appreciate other people or the nature around us. That had a tremendous effect as part of the message in the presentation as well as the tenderness expressed when my daughter and I write poems together.

The TedX talk experience brings satisfaction from knowing that my work is appreciated somewhere else, even though I may not have first hand knowledge of the effects of my work. It was a significant honor, being on that stage. It magnified and encouraged me to write poems that seek to inspire and move others, like “Dandelion,” one of my favorite poems in All Our Brown-Skinned Angels.

Dandelion
by Raúl Sánchez

My daughter and I wrote a poem last night
We picked ideas and objects to write about
We mixed them up
in a salad bowl
carefully tossed

We picked funny words
to make happy sounds
We added, repeated, deleted

We laughed and fell to our toes
pretended to be dandelions
waiting for the wind
to shake us up

We acted like daffodils
and tulips soaked in rain
We opened ourselves in the morning
and closed our petals
when the sun ran away

We agreed that our poem
should be like a dandelion
so when shared with others,
the words will float to the ears
of those who listen

Carried by our breath
like the dandelion fuzzes
in the breeze
and so, my daughter and I
wrote a poem last night



Raúl Sánchez comes from a place south where the sun shines fiercely. He is a translator currently working on the Spanish version of his inaugural collection All Our Brown-Skinned Angels that was nominated for the 2013 Washington State Book Award in Poetry. He is also working on a Long Poem Memoir a project for the 2014 Jack Straw Writers. He is a mentor for the 2014 Poetry on Buses program sponsored by Metro King County and 4 Culture. http://beyondaztlan.com and http://moonpathpress.com

Brown-Skinned Angels was published in March 2012 by MoonPath Press a small press, Kingston WA.

 Pres. Obama's Cuba-U.S. Initiative Also Means: Read About Travel In Cuba

The New York Times and The Daily Beast both chose La Bloga friend Tom Miller’s book about Cuba among the best reads about the island.  Miller's book, Trading with the Enemy: A Yankee Travels through Castro’s Cuba, was called “fun and engaging,” one that “introduces readers to the country’s intellectual elite, criminals, and ordinary citizens.” Miller has long conducted literary tours of Habana and environs. This year's journey lifts-off on January 3. For details, click here.

March Deadline Looms for Content Creator Contest
The National Hispanic Media Coalition, teaming with BabyFirst TeeVee network, announces annual opportunities for gente without Hollywood or industry conectas to see their childrens programming idea come to fruition. From the NHMC's press release: 


BabyFirst, the TV network devoted to delivering high-quality child development programming to tots and their parents, announced has teamed up with NHMC to launch an annual Latino-themed programming competition.

Called Rising Creators Project, the competition invites emerging talent - writers, musicians, animators and producers - to submit their idea or existing children's TV series for consideration.

An esteemed panel of media executives will select one winner whose show will appear on BabyFirst for two years, reaching 41 million households throughout the U.S.

Entries can be submitted now through March 15, 2015 at www.risingcreators.com.

A panel of judges will review the submissions and select finalists and, ultimately, a winner. The winning producer will then work with the network's production team to create their content or fine-tune their existing work before it premieres on BabyFirst.

The winner will fully own the rights to the series and will be entitled to 50% of revenues the series directly generates across platforms other than the BabyFirst television network.

All submissions must be suitable for children 2-4 years old, and should have an educational basis for early childhood learning. Acceptable content includes music, animation, scripts, show concepts and existing works. The content should embody and embrace Latino culture. Judges will consider educational and entertainment value, ingenuity, age-appropriateness and cultural relevance.


Michael Sedano's Highlights of the year--2014

La Bloga reached our Ten Year Anniversary in November. Earlier this year, our one millionth reader visited La Bloga. Thank you for reading La Bloga, for your Comments, for recommending La Bloga to friends and colleagues.

Over the course of a year, La Bloga's eleven writers, plus guest reviewers, present book reviews, new books, foto essays, interviews, original fiction and poetry, loads of literary news, food news including The Gluten-free Chicano's Celiac-friendly recipes, tips and techniques for reading your stuff aloud, and a host of diverse cultural updates.

July was a bummer. Two of La Bloga's writers had medical emergencies in July. Melinda Palacio, who shares Friday with La Bloga co-founder Manuel Ramos, fell down a flight of stairs, bringing horrid pain and a foot that pointed backwards. La Bloga-Tuesday's Michael Sedano had two emergency surgeries, one of which sent him to The Other Side where his ancestors told him to get out of line and burn sage. Whew. Both are back on their feet. Next week, will be Sedano's final column for a while as he returns for more surgery.

Medical highlights aren't the only ones La Bloga notes today. But because so many media produce lists of top ten, top twenty, top N of this and that, today La Bloga highlights three significant 2014 events.

Big screen: they didn't do well but they did it, Chicano filmmakers. Cesar Chavez and Water & Power came and went. With audiences rushing to suck down an outlandish tale of assassination to the tune of a couple million dollars in a few hours, it's a crying shame the box office combined for two Chicano movies with substance won't be as rewarding. The take-away: raza doesn't support raza film. Punto. Here's to 2015 changing that as gente acquire DVD copies of the two movies.

Novels: Poetry continues to be the most productive literary genre for raza writers. But it's novels that bring the big audiences. In 2014, feminist eroticism rubbed me the right way with Ana Castillo's Give It To Me. Castillo's wondrously funny and provocative novel is on those Top- lists, so if your Xmas stocking didn't come with Give It To Me, buy copies for yourself and all your friends. The take-away: give it to your friends.

LA Poetry scene: A generally high level of expertise among Los Angeles presenters continues with literary events ranging from Eric Contreras' garage in Bell to LA's newest public park, to important art galleries like Avenue50Studio. As in past years, many readers remain in their comfort zone, stuck to the page, minimal eye contact, limited personal contact with the audience. The take-away: Poets, your art deserves better readings. In a notable and wonderful change, the year ends with Luis J. Rodriguez giving an SRO audience a fabulously energized presentation.

In other poetry news, La Bloga's On-line Floricanto became a monthly feature after four years going weekly. Poetry is current events; we share our sorrow and outrage que faltamos 43. The emotions of Vivos los queremos will outlive 2014.

¿What are your 2014 highlights in Chicana Chicano Latina Latino literatura, cultura, life, y más? Leave a Comment to share two or three of your personal 2014 highlights.

See you next week, next year, same difference. And when you wish your friends a happy new year in Spanish, don't forget that tilde.

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11. Happy Birthday Angela, and Merry Christmas Everyone!

birthday-109971_1280

Pixabay

Happy Birthday, Angela! I am SO glad that you were born on this day only 29 years ago ;). Sleep in, eat some extra chocolate, and take it easy today! And if anyone else would like to congratulate the birthday girl, you can do so here in the comments, on her Facebook page, or on her Twitter account.

Now that Christmas is upon us, Angela and I are getting ready to take our annual blog-cation through the end of the year. But because I like to hear myself talk, I need to leave you with a few final words before signing off:

First of all, the 25-page critique contest is now closed. We’ll be randomly drawing two names after the first of the year and will announce the winners when we return on January 5th. Thanks for entering, everybody! I’m SO excited to dig into some good reading in the new year.

Emotion Amplifiers High ResSecondly, I hope you all are enjoying your (mostly) free copy of Emotion Amplifiers. Some day soon it will be free at Amazon, but if you just can’t wait or would prefer it in a different format, you can also snag a copy at

KOBO

Barnes & Noble and

Smashwords.

Lastly, Angela and I would like to thank you all so much for your continued support this year. You all are honestly the most encouraging, uplifting, helpful, and FUN bunch. We’re so grateful to everyone and wish all of you happy holidays and a spectacularly successful New Year! We’ll see you all January 5th!

Christmas Continued

Jeff Golden @ Creative Commons

 

The post Happy Birthday Angela, and Merry Christmas Everyone! appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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12. News to Share: An Interview With Contest Winner Rosalyn Eves and Her New Agent, Josh Adams of Adams Literary!

You may all remember a little contest we did a few months back called Pitch Plus Five. Well, we have some good news to share! Grand Prize Winner, Rosalyn Eves, went on to receive multiple offers of representation. And since we always enjoy sharing the love,  we've asked both Rosalyn and her new agent, the amazing Josh Adams of Adams Lit, to join us for an interview. 




1. Rosalyn, How long have you been seriously writing?

That’s kind of a hard question to answer. I first started thinking of myself as a writer when my fifth grade teacher told me I had a talent for it. I wrote all kinds of things through junior high and high school (including an inflated fantasy trilogy that is now safely trunked), but in college I got sidetracked by academics. After I graduated with a BA in English, I continued on, earning an MA and a PhD, also in English. These degrees required a lot of writing, but very little of it was creative. It wasn’t until about three years ago that I started writing fiction again. My sister was writing, and watching her made me realize that my goal of publishing a book wasn’t going to happen unless I started now.

2. Did you ever have a moment when you thought you were going to give up?

A few—I imagine most writers do! One of those moments, oddly enough, was shortly before I got my first call offering representation. I just felt overwhelmed and discouraged by recent rejections. I think sometimes we can’t see how close we are to success until it happens. Luckily, most of those moments don’t last long for me. One of the nice things about having finished a lot of degrees is that I’ve learned I’m stubborn: I have a hard time letting go of things once I start them. I might not reach my goal as quickly as I’d like, but I do eventually get there.

3. How did you decide to enter Pitch Plus Five? What was the contest like?

I saw an announcement on twitter and thought it sounded interesting. I’d recently had a little bit of luck in one of Miss Snark’s First Victim’s Secret Agent contests and I was waiting to find out the results of Pitch Wars (I didn’t think I had much hope of getting in), so I entered. I was hopeful of making it into the second round, but I didn’t really expect to get past that—I was mostly looking for feedback on my opening pages: what worked, what didn’t.
I had a great experience: I got some positive feedback from readers and other contestants, and several of us connected on twitter. Honestly, I think getting to know other aspiring writers is one of the best parts of contests like this!
I was excited to make it into the second round, thrilled to make it into the top ten, and stunned to actually win—much less get serious requests. I think I wound up with requests from six of the participating agents.

4. Tell us about your offer(s).

Here, I need to back up just a little. In addition to Pitch Plus Five, I wound up getting into Pitch Wars, and between the two contests I had over a dozen agent requests. I queried some as well. Just before Thanksgiving, I heard back from one of the agents from Pitch Plus Five: she’d loved my manuscript and could we talk?
I have to admit that I was really anxious going into that talk: I wasn’t sure what to expect, and part of me was afraid she’d admit she made a mistake if she actually talked to me. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Instead, we had a delightful conversation. She was smart, savvy, and incredibly, she loved my book. So I sent out emails to the other agents who had my manuscript—even just those who had my query.  This last turned out to be a good move, as I ended up with more full requests (even a couple of offers) out of those queries.
Then came the hard part. This is the dark side of getting an offer that not very many people seem to talk about: I had to make a decision. I ended up with five offers (two of them from PP5!)—and every one of those agents was a terrific individual who loved my book enough to want to represent it. I talked to their clients, scoured information about them and their agency, and agonized over which agent to go with. I’m confident that I could have had a good career with any one of them—but I could only pick one. Turning down nice people who loved my book was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
In the end, I went with the agent I personally connected with the most—I think it helped that I’d met him at a conference earlier that year, and he represents a good friend of mine so I knew what I could expect of him. I accepted an offer of representation from Josh Adams, of Adams Literary (http://www.adamsliterary.com/).

What’s next?

Josh has already gotten back to me with some suggestions to strengthen my manuscript before we go on submission, so I’m tackling those revisions and writing up synopses for possible sequels. I’m also trying to get started on an entirely new manuscript.
I’m a little sad that my contest days are over—I had a lot of fun with them—but I’m excited to move on to the next stage of publishing.

Josh: what was it about Rosalyn and her writing that made you decide to extend an offer of representation?

I had the opportunity to meet Rosalyn last April at the LDStorymakers conference—and the chance to read the opening chapter of her novel, THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION. I was immediately taken with the strength of her writing and the concept behind the novel. The world she created was intriguing, atmospheric and fresh, and the writing lush, lyrical and engaging. It seemed to be the perfect blend of the type of YA I love to read—at once literary and commercial, with a setting I hadn’t seen before and a pace that made me want to keep turning the pages. I remember clearly that I struggled to come up with constructive feedback on the first chapter, as it was already in such great shape. When we discussed the manuscript in an open critique forum, and I learned that Rosalyn was a professor, it reinforced what I could already tell from her writing: that she’s a smart person and a conscientious writer.
When Rosalyn queried six months later, I was excited to read the full manuscript, as the opening chapter had lingered with me all those months. It didn’t surprise me when she wrote back a few days later to let me know she already had an offer of representation (which would ultimately turn out to be many offers of representation). The novel didn’t disappoint, but continued to impress page after page until its satisfying conclusion. Speaking with Rosalyn on the phone, I was equally impressed with what an intelligent, well-spoken and thoughtful person she is, and I could tell not only that she was committed to her craft, but also willing and able to make her work as strong as possible, with an eye toward a longterm career—exactly the things we look for in an author. I thought we’d be an excellent fit, and it didn’t hurt that she’s friends with some of our extremely talented authors in her area, so I felt confident we’d also be a good personality match.

I am incredibly thankful to be working with Rosalyn, and look forward to sharing her debut with editors—and helping her launch what I believe will be a spectacular career. Rosalyn is someone special—and I know her writing will find a dedicated following who, like me, will both savor and devour every page of her work.

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13. Indie Bookstores Compete to Win a Visit With Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman OceanA group of independent bookstores are competing against one another to win a visit with Neil Gaiman. The shop that sells the most copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by the end of this year will come out on top.

According to Gaiman’s Tumblr page, the actual event will take place in February 2015. The participating stores include: 57th Street Books, The Book Cellar, The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Anderson’s Bookshop, Bethany Beach Books, Chapter One Book Store, Eagle Eye Book Shop, Green Apple Books, Kepler’s Books, Village House of Books, Main Street Books, Watermark Books & Café, Maria’s Bookshop, Moravian Book Shop, Mostly Books, Octavia Books, Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop, Old Firehouse Books, Over the Moon Bookstore & Artisan Gallery, Rediscovered Books, St. John’s Booksellers, and the Strand Book Store.

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14. No Fee Short Story Writing Contest Seeking Boy Adventure

lidiasnow in the park

The snowy illustration above was sent in by Lidia Gurling-Mielcarek to help us celebrate this time of year that brings in the cold. Brrr! 

Lidia is an freelance illustrator from Poland. She works in traditional and digital medias and loves to create children’s illustrations.

Call for:

Kudos for Friday post

Holiday Illustrations (at least 500 pixels wide)

Christmas Poems

Hanukkah Poems

New Year Poems

Send to Kathy.temean(at)gmail.com Put December Illustration or December Poem in subject area. Thanks!

Last week I pointed out that the 7 Point Story Structure System could work even with short Stories. Here is an opportunity to try it out with this no fee short story contest. Here are the details:

2014 NIGHTLIGHT READING WRITERS CONTEST

Nightlight Reading is requesting submissions for our 2014 Nightlight Readings Short Story Writers Contest that is geared to at-risk boys in the 10-12 year age group who often stop reading for pleasure.  Nightlight Reading’s goal is to fund and promote literature that appeals to boys and keeps them engaged and reading.

  • The 2014 CONTEST THEME is ADVENTURE.
  • The written piece should be considered a SHORT STORY with a MAXIMUM COUNT of 5,000 WORDS.

JUDGING
The 2014 contest entries will be pre-screened and read by a jury panel who may be scholars, librarians, teachers, and special guests who will decide on 10 semi-finalists.  Then, a jury of young readers selected from our target readers will read all 10 entries and vote on the winners.

PRIZES
Prizes will be awarded for First, Second, and Third Place as follows:

  • First Prize: $1,000 award plus certificate and publication of the story.
  • Second Prize: $500 award plus certificate and publication of the story.
  • Third Prize: $300 award plus certificate and publication of the story.

All award winners will be publicized nationally by Nightlight Reading.

OWNERSHIP
The authors will retain ownership of the stories, but Nightlight Reading will have the right to publish and distribute the story without compensation and in ways consistent with its mission for up to 2 years from the date of the awards are announced.

RULES
The Nightlight Reading Writers Contest is open to anyone who loves to write stories for boys, and may be a professional writer, student or budding writer.

Submissions must not have been previously published or won any other writing contest.  However, simultaneous submissions to other contests are acceptable.

DEADLINE
Deadline for submission for the 2014 contest is December 31, 2014.

Use this link to enter: http://www.nightlightreading.org/contest-entry-form/ Good luck!
Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Contests, opportunity, Places to Submit, Win, writing Tagged: Lidia Gurling-Mielcarek, Nightlight Reading, Publication, Short Story Writing Contest

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15. The EVERBLAZE Superfan Giveaway!!!

IT'S HERE, IT'S HERE--the giveaway you've alllllllllllllllllll been asking me for. The time I give away THESE:


In case you can't tell, those are six (yes, SIX) signed hardcovers of EVERBLAZE, all featuring original black swan drawings done by me. Which means there will be SIX winners who will get one, (and yes the books can be signed and personalized if you would like)

Since these are very special, very time consuming prizes for me to make, I want to make sure they go to true fans of the series. So like I've done in the past, I'm going to make you guys put in a *little* extra work to enter--but I've still done my best to also keep it as simple as possible. AND, the advantage to this is, if you really really really want one, there are a lot of ways for you to get a TON of entries and increase your chances of winning.

So here's how this works.

To enter, you MUST complete these two simple steps.

STEP NUMBER ONE:

You must either:

  • Post a review of EVERBLAZE on amazon / goodreads / B&N / youtube / your blog or website / ANYWHERE ELSE YOU POST YOUR REVIEWS. And no, this doesn't mean you have to write a glowing, five star review (though of course you are WELCOME to). All that matters is an honest review.
  • Tweet / Instagram / FB / tumblr / pinterest / google+ / or ANY OTHER WAY YOU ATTACK THE INTERNETS with a photo of EVERBLAZE somewhere in the wild (could be your own personal copy in your hands at home, or a shiny copy on display in a store or library--doesn't matter to me. And if the store you go to is sold out, you can always request they bring in another copy. In fact, I would love you FOREVER for doing that because it helps get books back on the shelf faster!)*
  • Tweet / Instagram / FB / tumblr / pinterest / google+ / ANY OTHER WAY YOU ATTACK THE INTERNETS with your own KEEPER series fan art (Anything goes here--feel free to be as creative as you want. You can post drawings, quotes, crafts. baked goods, anything you dream up.)*
You only have to do one--though you are welcome to do as many as you want. I'll reward you with an extra entry for everything you do (and every social media platform you post it on--each one counts for an extra entry). The only requirement is that it must be NEW. If you've posted fan art, photos of the book, or reviews in the past--thank you! But if you want it to count for the contest you'll need to do something new during the contest time period (December 3-14, 2014).

*feel free to tag me in any of these things, to make doubly sure I see them.

Once you've done whatever you'd like to from the list above, you'll need to let me know what you did so I can count your entries accordingly. Which brings me to:

STEP NUMBER TWO: 
  • You MUST fill out the form at the bottom of this post, along with links to anywhere you posted the pictures/reviews. Form must be filled out by 11:59 pm pacific on Sunday, December 14, 2014

Step two is an absolutely essential step, because it's the only way I will see your entry. So don't forget to fill out the form. And International entries ARE accepted. 

Winners won't be posted anywhere, nor will they be contacted prior to mailing. You'll know you're a winner when your prize shows up. So triple check to make sure you enter your mailing address correctly because it'd be a shame for your prize to get lost in the mail.

I'm pretty sure that's everything, but if I missed something you are welcome to ask in the comments. 

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd--here's the form. (if it doesn't load for some reason, go HERE)


Loading...

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16. Riverdale Ave Books to Host 2nd Annual NaNoWriMo Contest

Riverdale Ave. BooksRiverdale Avenue Books will be hosting its second annual National Novel Writing Month contest. The publisher invites NaNoWriMo participants to send in 50,000 to 80,000-word manuscripts to submissions@riverdaleavebooks.com.

The books can come in a wide variety of genres: erotica, erotic romance, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and LGBT fiction. The submissions should sent as word documents; contestants should also include a short author biography and a book synopsis. The deadline has been set for February 15, 2015.

Here’s more from the press release: “Later this month, the winner of Riverdale Avenue Book’s National Novel Writing Month contest book, Untrustworthy by Janet Gershen-Siegel will be published on Riverdale’ Avenue Book’s HSF and Magnus imprint…Winners will be notified by email by March 15, 2015. Each book chosen will be eligible for standard contract terms, including publication as both print and ebook. The winning books will be published in 2015.”

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17. Enter now to win signed print books!

Don’t miss out on your chance to win a

signed print copy of Broken Promise!

~Goodreads Giveaway~

brokenpromise

Broken Promise by Jen Wylie

ENTER NOW

Check out more Untold Press books with

Goodreads Giveaways going on!

Don’t miss out on the chance to win a signed book!

On each Goodreads book page just scroll to below the blurb for the Enter to Win section!

Distraction

Distraction by Angela McPherson

ENTER NOW

Tainted EB

Tainted Energy by Lynn Vroman

ENTER NOW


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18. Free Fall Friday – Two Book-Give-a-Ways & Poem Winner

OPPORTUNITY: TWO BOOK-GIVE-A-WAYS

greaterthangoldGayle 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.

spaghetticove2r

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.

Alexander Slater

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.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Contests, illustrating, inspiration, opportunity, Poems Tagged: Agent Alex Slater, November First Page Critiques, Thanksgiving Poems, Two Book Give-a-Ways, Winner of Halloween Poem Contest

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19. Reaching Reluctant Readers, Poetry Friday, and a CWIM Giveaway!


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: 

              cicada ghosts

              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!).

For additional resources on poetry and reluctant readers, see the Poetry Foundation article "Against Slogging: Engaging Poetry in the Classroomon" and the WBEZ piece, "Writing Poetry Improves Reluctant Readers." If you're a parent or teacher, you may also be interested in Literacy Connects compilation of activities to use with reluctant reader

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!
Carmela

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.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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20. Margaret Atwood Fans Invited to Take Part in a Wattpad Writing Contest

Stone MattressRandom 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.

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21. 2 NYC Library Organizations Team Up to Win the Battle of the Book Sorters

NY & BK library book-sortingThe 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.

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22. Alison Bechdel Creates Drawing For The Great Studio 360 Doodle Dare

The Great Studio 360 Doodle DareStudio 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?

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23. The 2014 Halloweensie Contest Finalists - VOTE For Your Favorite!!!

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)

Halloween SMS

#2 Creaky Cackle

Ever since Winnie Witch crashed into a creek, her cackle was creaky. 
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.
#3 Full Moon Rising
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.
Floorboards creaking,
Milo’s sneaking,
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!
Now, let’s have some fun!

#4 Home Alone Halloween
I came home from school very excited. Halloween, my favorite day of the year.


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 warty-broomstick-riding-witch!"
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
“Me!”
“No, me!”
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-Seek
It’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, Giggle
Are 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,
poor Shadow fled
into the night.
On Halloween a small black cat
should NOT sit on the stair!
#10 Halloween In A Box
“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
Pumpkin creations
Under the stars,
Mama carves goblins,
Papa carves cars.
Kids from our condo,
Itching for treats,
Navigate hallways
            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!
#12 Snack-O'-Lantern
“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.”
“No way.”
“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??
Snip
Snap
Crack
BOO!


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 FinalistsTune 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.

Okay.

Not really.

I'm SO not a napper.

But I might have some leftover Halloween candy :)

Have a marvelous Monday! :)









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24. Full Fathom Five Digital Hosts Fiction Writing Contest

Full Fathom Five DigitalFull 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.

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25. Your Story 63: Submit Now!

Lost key setPrompt: 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 yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com.

IMPORTANT: If you experience trouble with the submission form, please email your submission directly to yourstorycontest@fwmedia.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

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