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1. 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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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. Happy Birthday Angela, and Merry Christmas Everyone!

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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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6. 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.

0 Comments on News to Share: An Interview With Contest Winner Rosalyn Eves and Her New Agent, Josh Adams of Adams Literary! as of 12/22/2014 2:28:00 AM
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7. 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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8. 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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9. 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...

0 Comments on The EVERBLAZE Superfan Giveaway!!! as of 12/3/2014 1:05:00 PM
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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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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13. 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

[contact-form-7]

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14. 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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15. 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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16. 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?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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17. 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.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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18. 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.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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19. Broken Promise Release Giveaway- Win signed books!

In Celebration of the Release of Broken Promise

Book 3 of The Broken Ones by Jen Wylie

Runs Oct 1st-Nov 1st 2014

brokenpromise

Broken Promise by Jen Wylie

Coming October 7 2014

Pre-order now on Amazon!  Click here.

Book 3 of The Broken Ones

Fantasy

Check it out on Goodreads!

A year of turmoil takes its toll on Arowyn Mason and her companions. After delivering the Elven prince to his homeland, they decide to ride out the winter in the city of Westport before starting their quest to heal the Fey. Like most things in Aro’s life, nothing goes according to plan.

As Kei struggles with the prophecy bound within him, his sanity begins to unravel.  A prophecy and a promise are broken, and forgotten threats resurface with dire consequences. The Dragos is watching and the Were king is displeased with the disregard of Were law. Aro scrambles as yet another threat emerges. The Elves, displeased with their prince, exploit his only weakness…her.

Aro is forced to find a new ally, a cold-hearted, ruthless pirate named Roan. He is more than he seems and Aro must learn who she can trust, or it will cost more than just her life. She has grown stronger, but is it enough to save herself, her family, and the Elf she loves?

Now for the Giveaway!

~Open Internationally~

Prizes:

1- Signed paperbacks of Broken, Aro, Broken Prince & Broken Promise!

1- Awesome The Broken Ones swag pack

Since wordpress hates rafflecopter… go here to enter!

CLICK!

Good luck! :)


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20. Pitch Plus Five Contest Winners!



First I want to offer my congratulations to ALL of the Pitch Plus Five participants! You've all done an amazing thing by entering and opening yourself to comment and critique. Those who didn't win, or didn't make it past round one or two, remember that it's nothing a bit of hard work and perseverance can't change.

I'd also like to offer congratulations to Kristen Scheer, author of LEGAL MOXIE which was withdrawn early on. Kristen signed with the amazing agent, Laura Bradford! Always great to share good news. :D

A huge THANK YOU to all of our amazing blogger, author, and agent judges who took time from their hectic schedules to help out our fifty writers.

Now...

The four runners up are:


  • THE TROLL DIARIES by Jennifer Park. Jennifer has won a one chapter critique from Christa Heschke of McIntosh and Otis!
  • TWICE DEAD by Caitlin Seal. Caitlin has won a one chapter critique from Alex Slater of Trident Media!
  • NOBLE VIRTUES by Ashley Horn. Ashley has won a one chapter critique from Victoria Lowes of the Bent Agency!
  • APOTHECARY OF FORBIDDEN CLOCKS by Carolyn McDowell. Carolyn has won a one chapter critique from Jordy Albert of Booker Albert!

The GRAND PRIZE winners are: 

  • THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION by Rosalyn Eves. Rosalyn has won a three chapter critique from Melissa Nasson of RPC and a free query pass to the currently closed Ammi-Joan Paquette!
  • TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim. Tara has won a three chapter critique from Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown and  a free query pass to the currently closed Ammi-Joan Paquette!

And I haven't forgotten our two winners from the first the first rounds by popular vote! 

The runner up is: REGINA'S HEIR by Rachel Green! Rachel, besides having a fabulous last name, has won a critique from Angela Ackerman!

The winner is: THE SECRETS WE SHARE by Laura E. Adams! Laura has won a critique from the New York Times best selling author, Jennifer Nielsen!

It's been a fabulous contest. I've loved interacting with all of you on Twitter and seeing everyone being so supportive of one another. That's what this is all about.


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21. WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE flash fiction contest results

Clearly there are a lot of you dying to get your mitts on WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE by Jeff Somers (pubbing tomorrow 10/7/14 in fact!)

Here are the results of the contest:

 
-->

Special recognition for a great phrase:
"the smile slips from her face; splattering as it hits the floor."
Jennifer Deane 11:07am


Special recognition for a great line:
Succss smelled of patchouli and incense
D.B. Sundstrom 7:04am

"The Underpants Avenger spoke."
Kim English 2:15pm


"In the morning, he would be just another hangover."
raisedareader 1:49pm

"It’s right here in Diabetic Witch Today."
Karen McCoy 1:39am


Special recognition for entries that weren't quite stories, but if they were
the start of novels, I'd want to read on:
french sojourn 7:07am



boblozzia 11:48am



Jennifer R. Donohue 1:40pm



Jennifer Moorhead 10:37pm

A cameo for Gossamer the cat!
Mark Songer 10:19 am



A cameo for a gun wielding shark!
BonnieShaljean 11:07am





Special recognition for why JedCullan is now dead to me TWICE!
Maligning Reacher! The nerve! Poor Dead Jed.
JedCullan 1:23pm

Every Saturday librarian's secret wish
Christina Seine 4:54pm

Best  non-fiction story
LynnRodz 5:11am


Too horrifying even for me:
"In a bookstore in Tel-Aviv, the saleswoman is clueless about Roxane Gay's "Bad Feminist," and she doesn't know who Patrick Lee is."
Lilac Shoshani 7:00am


And here are the semi-finalists:

D.B. Sundstrom 7:04am
The sign on the door read EDIE'S MAGIC SHOP with no posted hours. She tried the handle anyway. Success smelled of patchouli and incense. She walked toward the psychic's booth in the back, admiring the caricatures of past patrons on the wall, when she spotted her own.

"I've never been here before. Is that, blood?"

The occupants of the past tried to warn her. Their sketched eyes fixed on the door.
But she drew the connection too late.

She found herself looking at the door with the other spirits. One eye drawn slightly larger than the other.



donnaeverhart.com 9:34am
Sunday, under a big tent, Preacher Dan was busy cleansing spirits, urging followers to drink the blood of Christ. His gospel invoked speaking in tongues, a yielding of souls, complete and utter faith.

Doubters whispered, “Its black magic!”

He adjusted his ill-fitting pants, lifted a venomous snake in one hand while waving the other in its face.

It struck!

He stood firm, unwavering, and caterwauled, “A miracle! A message from God himself!"

Believers now, the crowd surged forward, coins raining into his little collection basket.

Only when he headed to the next town, would he remove the prosthetic hand.



Shaunna 9:39am
First time Steve wore the magic pants, it rained cats for a week. No kidding! Fur balls everywhere. And dead birds! He swore he'd put them away, but there's some people...it's in their blood, seems like. Ain't nothing like the spirits of your ancestors in a pair of brown corduroys.

Anyhow, he got antsy and dragged them out again. Couldn't help it, I guess. Folks set out milk and litter boxes. Just to be ready. But they were wrong. Dead wrong. A bit macabre for my taste, but they could have used those cats when the cockroaches showed up.



Kitty 9:41am
How I Became A Man, by Luigi Abbadelli

"Wearing short pants when you're ten is embarrassing. It dispiritsthe soul," I told Mama.

"Che cosa è dispirits?" asked Nona.

"He wants to wear long pants," Mama said.

"NO!"

Papa was reading the paper. I needed him on my side, so I said, "They're old world."

Mama and Nona gasped because they're still hot-
blooded Italians. But Papa was now an American. His framed naturalization certificate was proudly displayed below Pope Pius's picture. "Old world" worked like magic.

Papa stood, straightened his shoulders and
categorically declared, "My son will wear long pants!"



Old Fogey 2:21pm
After I finished with April’s cat, Magic, I put the shovel in the shed. I washed blood and mud off my hands and poured some spirits. Knob Creek is my libation of choice. Lately, finances dictated house brands, but tonight my shaking hand found joy.

The only thing magic about that late animal? She’d only peed, pooped, or clawed things belonging to me. That yellow puddle on my novel—stored for safety on a high shelf--had been the last straw.

April entered, yawning. “Blood on your pants,” she said.

A smile.

“And poison in the bourbon.”




Gail 3:26pm
Spirits of dark rum took the blood off those pants like magic. Run away, little hemoglobin molecules, run away! He'll never find out unless he digs up the azalea in the front yard. Ah, I think I hear him now.
"And how's my dollbaby this evening?"
"Sweet and high, my love."
"And where's my little kitty?"
"Out scouting the voles. Back soon."
"What were you gardening, honey, honey, honey?"
"Gardening?" I say. Maybe he knows. Is my face red? I frowned. The shovel! My God, the shovel!
"Meow."
"Oh there you are!"
I stared, slack-jawed. The cat was back.



J.D. Paradise 3:31pm
"Blood Spirits Pants Magic!" Cat chanted, cranked up to 11, laughing in the thrashing crowd. Onstage the Chili Peppers bounced, socks flapping. It was 1996 and I loved a girl who would never love me back.

"Let's run away together," I said later, tangled in dormroom bedding that smelled of Coors and Parliaments. Propped on elbows, inches apart, Cat looking past my shoulder.

Cat, remorseful: "I'll never be that girl."

"I love you anyway." Desperately. "Always."

She tugged the sheet higher. "We shouldn't have done that."

But we had. And just before sunrise, we moved the hitchhiker to the landfill.




Alex King 4:17pm
"Pants? Really?" Ted asked.

The cat looked down at him. "Could be worse."

"Worse how?"

"Could be bloody pants."

"Could be," Ted agreed. "Depends if you're British or not."

The spirits were to blame. He'd distilled them himself, poured some in the cat's bowl for kicks. Now his cat was magic and Ted was a pair of pants.

"Some bad trip," Ted said.

The cat jumped down, onto the floor where Ted lay, limp and hanger-less. "For you, maybe." He unsheathed his claws. They were pale in the moonlight, bleached bone, not keratin. "Abracadabra, now you're a mouse."

Eek!



Just Jan 10:44pm
"Fisher, most likely," Doc said, probing my cat's jugular wounds with a pudgy finger. "She's lucky; a coyote would've killed her."

"Can you work your usual magic?"

"Maybe." He leered at me over the top of his bifocals. "For a price."

"I can pay," I assured him, glancing down at my ratty t-shirt and sweatpants.

He reappeared an hour later, smelling strongly of spirits. "Couldn't save her. Lost too much blood." He lurched toward me. "Time to pay the piper, sweetie."

"It wasn't a fisher," I said, revealing my fangs, "and it isn't me who's going to pay."









And here are the finalists:

Ruthy 9:06am
“Mommy, do cats go to Heaven?”

“God will take good care of Jinxie.”

“Can He do magic and unsquish him?
Maybe he can put some blood back in?”

“Honey, sometimes spirits are better off being free.”

“Is that why Jesus didn’t wear any pants?”

“How about we go to the pet store tomorrow and buy a turtle?”

“Ooh! Okay, Mommy. Don’t worry. I will teach him how to cross the street really fast.”


Michael Seese 9:56am
“Big Brother”
by Michael Seese

"Sorry, cat," I said to the lifeless mass at my feet.

"Mom will be home soon. Get some paper towels."

It was a mess. Lots of blood.

"What are you going to tell her?"

"If we clean up, nothing," David said.

"Can't you tell her the truth? That you heard you could see spirits?"

"Bad idea. You'll understand when you're older."

David was right. There's a lot that's confusing to a six-year-old.

"We're in trouble, aren't we?"

"We'll be fine."

“OK.” Big brothers are magic.

"Hurry. Throw the pants in the fireplace. And her name was Kate, not Cat."


Calorie Bombshell 3:36pm
The vehicle’s occupants didn’t move a muscle as I approached with my flashlight and violation book. Seven years crunching the midnight gravel on Highway 85 and I never clocked a Jaguar doing 140mph before. An $818 magic ticket was one week’s salary, enough to keep my spirits high and mind off the woman who refused to vacate my spare bedroom although I kicked her no good Trickster son out three months ago.

“License and registration, please.”

The antique German Luger leveled at my chest was his, a wedding present from an old college buddy.

The bloodcurdling scream was mine.


Jo-Anne Teal 3:09am
In September, a tenement fence became castle wall to our cat and to my sister’s boyfriend, Geraldo. The cat was best at gaining entry. Neighbors weren’t eager to open the door to human wildlife, particularly someone wearing a blood-stained Nehru and drawstring cotton pants. Too weird even for the East Village.

So while like magic my sister’s stomach expanded, Geraldo waited across the street: sitting cross-legged in front of Renaldo’s grocery, playing broken sitar, drinking spirits from a bottle ineffectively covered by brown paper.

In October, my sister went outside to tell him there was no reason to wait anymore.


And the winner is Ruthy 9:06am!  Ruthy, please email me  your mailing address so we can send you your prize. If you've already read or bought WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE, we'll find you something else that's delicious to read.

Thanks to all the entrants; it was a great round of submissions!  Y'all amaze me every time with your diabolical plotting and clever writing!



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22. Author Guest Post: Julie Sternberg PLUS GIVEAWAY

Please welcome author Julie Sternberg to the blog! Julie writes very funny books for middle grade readers and they include fantastic illustrations. I asked Julie to talk about what it's like working with an illustrator with her books since her books are such a big combination of pictures and text.
Credit:Meredith Zinner

I am embarrassed to admit this, but here goes:  I did not instantly love the illustrations for my first book, LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE. 

I love them wholeheartedly now. I can’t imagine better ones.  And a framed copy of this one is the first thing I see when I walk into my apartment. It makes me very happy:


But, in the beginning, I found the illustrations jarring, for this reason: Although the PICKLE JUICE story is fiction, it is based on a moment in my life; and I had a clear picture in my head of most of the characters. The book’s immensely talented illustrator, Matthew Cordell, has never met me (authors and illustrators don’t typically meet) or the people I had in mind when I wrote the story. The illustrations show his vision of the characters, not mine. That can be hard, especially for a first-time author. 
But I adjusted! Matt made it easy for me, with pictures like these:  

I skipped the startled phase with Johanna Wright’s illustrations for FRIENDSHIP OVER, the first book in THE TOP-SECRET DIARY OF CELIE VALENTINE series. I’d gone through the process before, and the story and characters are farther removed from my life. So it was easier to simply enjoy Johanna’s vision.  
Our process for the FRIENDSHIP OVER illustrations was particularly fun for me, too. Usually authors are urged to include very few, if any, art notes for the illustrator. The general rule is that an art note is only appropriate if the text requires a particular image—and one that isn’t clear from the text itself. (For example, the author might want to make a joke that the text sets up and the illustration finishes. In that case, an art note can set out the punchline for the illustrator.) 
I can’t remember including a single art note for Matt. But, in FRIENDSHIP OVER, Celie is supposed to be drawing the pictures in her diary. They are very much a product of her thinking. So I was able to include many art notes, saying, essentially, this is what Celie wants to sketch here. It was astonishing how well Johanna translated those notes into pictures that absolutely could have been drawn by Celie herself. 
Just as one example:  The art note said, “insert dispirited doodle by Celie, maybe of a very small Celie on very large sofa,”and Johanna drew:

I want to emphasize that I have NO visual artistic ability. I struggle with bubble letters (particularly S and N). Yet all of my stories have been enhanced by remarkable art. I feel very, very lucky. 

Follow Julie's blog tour for Friendship Over:
Mon, Sept 29
Mother Daughter Book Club
Tues, Sept 30
5 Minutes for Mom
Wed, Oct 1
Sharpread
Thurs, Oct 2
KidLit Frenzy
Fri, Oct 3
The Hiding Spot
Sat, Oct 4
Booking Mama
Mon, Oct 6
Ms. Yingling Reads
Tues, Oct 7
GreenBeanTeenQueen
Wed, Oct 8
Great Kid Books
Thurs, Oct 9
Teach Mentor Texts
Fri, Oct 10
Unleashing Readers
Sat, Oct 11
Bermuda Onion

Want to win a copy of Friendship Over? Leave a comment below!

One entry per person, contest ends October 14, ages 13+, US address only, contest thanks to Blue Slip Media


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23. Agent Critique, Prize Pack, and Lisa's Compulsion for Writing Story!

I hope by now you all know about our fantastic COMPULSION FOR WRITING PARTY AND PRIZE FEST! I also hope you'll all attend because not only are there going to be ah-maze-ing prizes, including agent critiques, but also because it's our way of supporting each other.

See, several of us here at AYAP have been sprinkled with pixie dust - or at least that's my theory - and have incredible news. But we've also had a long, twisted road to travel to get here. We KNOW how hard it is to keep going sometimes and that's what we want to share with all of you. That we are living proof that if you persevere through the hard times, you can accomplish your goals.

Today I'm sharing my story with you. The REAL story. And my hope is that it will inspire you to persevere. I'll also be revealing my big prize pack that I'll be giving away to a lucky winner who shares his/her own story or advice at the FB party (so go click and attend if you haven't yet).

About six years ago, give or take, I decided to go for it and take writing seriously. I started by joining SCBWI, which I can't recommend enough, so I could learn the business side of things. I also sat down while the kids were at school and wrote. Soon enough I had my first novel. An actual completed novel. Which, as you may well guess, will never see the light of day. BUT I did it. I knew at that point that I was capable of it.

So what did I do with my *cough* masterpiece? Why I queried of course! Yup, full of typos and the most confusing pitch ever.

Then I joined a critique group. Some of my best friends are still with me from that. The group though is long disbanded.

Meanwhile I kept writing and by my third novel I somehow (through a connection so there was no formal query or I never could have done it at that point) landed an uber agent! WOW! I had it made, right???

Nope. Rubin was WONDERFUL. Don't get me wrong. Heck, I'm still with his agency, just not him. But we eventually realized that as much as we respected each other, we weren't a good match. So with many tears from me we separated and I felt like a total failure.

What I thought was my happily ever after turned out to be a detour that sent me back to the beginning. BUT the thing was it didn't. I'd grown so much, learned so much, shared so much, and kept writing. My friends tease me: "I blinked and Lisa wrote another book." But each one gets better. I keep challenging myself and I know I could never stop.

So I ate lots of chocolate and started querying for real. And guess what? I started getting full requests! But guess what else? Paranormal was no longer in style. DOH!

Then other things happened that I wasn't expecting.

I had a baby! I have three kids. Fifteen, Eleven, and TWO.

I was (and this is still hard for me to say to the world) diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My finger swelled and hurt. But I type constantly, right? Then it got worse. I was misdiagnosed, I was allergic to meds, one hand wouldn't close all the way, the other wouldn't open all the way. I couldn't get off the couch. I was sleeping: All. The. Time.

Still I kept trying. I kept blogging, querying, writing, reading. I don't know how except to say I NEEDED to.

Then I found the right doctor. The right diagnosis. The right meds. And I'm almost normal again. PHEW. Also - Dragon software is great for emails and things. There are ways around things. Guess what else? My daughter is in preschool!

But at my darkest point, I was soooooo close to throwing in the proverbial towel. I was afraid to share my problems because who would want a writer that can't type? For the first time in forever I put something slightly negative on FB! That's big for me, because I believe in being supportive and positive no matter what.

The VERY NEXT DAY I found out that the editor from Full Fathom Five's new digital imprint remembered me from submissions long ago. In fact, she once worked with my agent and helped me with my book, THE BINDING STONE, which is out with a small indie press. We worked so well together and now she was in charge of this new imprint that wants prolific writers. Writers like ME.

Samantha called me and we talked for about an hour and half and I  heard the words I've dreamed of: "We want to publish Lisa Green."

About the same time I was put in contact with Melissa Nasson, Rubin's newest addition. I sent her my work and she read EVERYTHING in a matter of days. We also scheduled a phone call and we were completely honest and answered each other's questions and I knew from that that I loved her. We clicked! She was everything I wanted in an agent and she LOVED my work! She offered representation. I'd come full circle in a way and time that I least expected.

And if you want to know more about Melissa, check out our agent post tomorrow because she'll answer some great questions and tell you all what she thinks of me. ;)

So now I feel better, I have my dream agent, my dream editor/deal, and have some time again to work. But I wouldn't have had all that if I'd given up at my darkest moment.

So DON'T GIVE UP. NEVER GIVE UP.

Oh yes - and prize pack!!!! I'm going to share my Support for Miserable Writer's Package. CHOCOLATE, a B&N gift card, journal, writing utensils, an iTunes gift card, and a secret uber cool bag to put it all in. I might even throw in a few more inspirational things as I find them!

I'll also be offering along with the others here, a half hour phone call so we can talk about whatever YOU want.

AND *drum roll* Melissa, my amazing agent, has graciously offered a chapter critique for someone who hasn't been so lucky and needs a pinch of pixie dust.

Thanks for listening to my story. I look forward to hearing YOURS. So join us for the party!!

-Lisa

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24. Agent Critique, Prize Pack and Erin’s Compulsion for Writing Story

Writing a book is hard.  Getting published is hard.  Most writers (myself included) have several manuscripts that will never see the light of day, and enough rejection letters to wallpaper the entire house.  And so when Martina and Lisa asked me to join them for the Compulsion for Writing Party, I immediately said yes.  I love the idea of encouraging and supporting other writers.  And like Martina and Lisa, I have thought about throwing in the towel on this whole writing business, and am very glad that I didnt! 

Why did I keep writing?  Because I am a writer.  I am not a writer because I am published.  Being published was a dream come true, but even if someone could tell me for certain that I would never be published again (and I hope thats not true!), I would still keep writing. Publication is the goal of many writers, but it isnt why we write.

Publishing is a business. Writing is not a business. It is a passion. It is a compulsion.

We write because we cant not write.

How do you know if youre a writer? Writers wake up in the middle of the night when a story hits them or they finally know how to resolve a dilemma or a plot twist. Writers listen to the voices inside of their head characters shouting at us tell my story! Writers talk to their family and friends about an idea or a character until those peoples eyes literally glaze over. And writers write. They sit down with a notebook, pen perched in hand, or at the computer and bang away at the keyboard, staying up late into the night or getting up in the wee hours of the morning, skipping gatherings and favorite shows because they just need to finish that scene.

About a year and a half ago, I had an idea for a novel.  As I walked the dog, these two characters kept talking to each other in my mind arguing, no less.  When I closed my eyes at night I saw images of a fog-covered lake and a dark impenetrable forest.  I dreamt about it. I talked about it.  I drew (well, scribbled) it.  I simply had to write it.

I discussed it with my agent, and she told me that a fantasy novel would be hard to sell. She wanted me to write a different kind of book in a different genre which was highly in demand. I put aside the fantasy, and tried to write that book. But my heart wasnt in it. It was a chore. Usually when I work on a manuscript I cant wait to find time to write. I go through my day, eager to finish work and whatever else I need to do and eek out time at my laptop. Instead I was folding laundry and vacuuming, because I didnt want to work on that book.  I hate laundry and vacuuming.

Months went by. My house had never been cleaner, but I had written very few pages. I started to wonder am I really a writer?  Wouldnt a real writer be able to write in any genre?  I went back to my WIP and took another look at it.  Maybe it wasnt as bad as I remembered.  It wasnt.  It was worse. If I wasnt excited about my manuscript, how could I expect a reader to be? How could I finish it?

And then I had an epiphany.  I needed that love of writing, that passion, to spend the hours upon hours required to finish and revise a novel.  If I didnt have it, I couldnt do it.  I sat down and started working on the book that I wanted to write. The story that filled my head.  I talked to my agent, who was kind and supportive, but again told me she didnt think she could sell it, but she would try.  I realized that if she wasnt excited about my book, she couldnt possibly sell it.

Terrified, I thanked my wonderful agent for all she had done for me and terminated my contract. I went from being agented back to square one, even knowing how long it had taken me to find an agent the first time around.

But I kept working on that fantasy novel. I sent it to my fabulous critique partner and wonderful writing group.  I revised, and revised, and revised.  Was it hard? YES! Did I love it? YES! (Well, mostly yes. I could not whip one pesky character into shape until draft 7 or 8.)  I wrote it knowing it might never be published or maybe even agented. But I was okay with that.  Ive grown as a writer through the writing, and as Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time once said, You have to write the book that wants to be written.  

I finished revising Uncharted and sent out a dozen queries.  Within a couple of weeks I had an offer of representation from Amaryah Orenstein, who recently left the Laura Gross Agency to establish her own boutique firm, GO Literary. We talked on the phone for over an hour, and she loved the manuscript.  She got my writing.  We talked about genres and trends and my current fantasy WIP.  I felt confident that she would be my toughest critic and my fiercest champion.  (And, if that wasnt enough, shes a very lovely person!) I am thrilled to announce that I accepted her offer, and look forward to going out on submission soon. 

But, no matter what my future holds, I will keep writing, because I am a writer.

Amaryah Orenstein
If youre a writer, and you need some encouragement, or you want to give some, please join us at our COMPULSION FOR WRITING PARTY AND PRIZE FEST!  There will be fabulous prizes, including agent and author critiques, but more importantly its a really nice place to share an inspirational quote or thought or story.  My prize package will be yummy chocolate and tea, gourmet treats, a big mug, a pretty journal, a gift card and I will read and comment on 3 chapters of a manuscript.  In addition, my lovely agent, Amaryah Orenstein, will read and comment on a query and the first 10 pages on a manuscript. 

Thanks for reading my compulsion for writing story.  Whats yours?  Put it up on the Facebook event page anytime between now and October 22nd to be entered to win!

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25. 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.


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