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Results 1 - 25 of 1,777
1. 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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2. 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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3. 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
              to the rough bark
             of the hackberry

             and farther up
             where I can't 
             ghosts are 

          © 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!

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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4. 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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5. 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.


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!!


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6. 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
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
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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7. 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.


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!
"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."


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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8. 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.


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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9. 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


Broken Promise by Jen Wylie

Coming October 7 2014

Pre-order now on Amazon!  Click here.

Book 3 of The Broken Ones


Check it out on Goodreads!

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

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

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

Now for the Giveaway!

~Open Internationally~


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

1- Awesome The Broken Ones swag pack

Since wordpress hates rafflecopter… go here to enter!


Good luck! :)

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10. Compulsion for Writing Party and Prize-Fest with Giveaway of EIGHT Amazing YA Books, Necklace, Tote Bag and more . . .

It’s a VERY special month here at Adventures, and we’re beyond thrilled to be able to share it with the writers who’ve been with us since the beginning, and with the new writers and readers who have joined us along the journey. And it really is a journey! Four years ago, I started this blog with a friend as we started to think about getting our books published. In less than a month, on October 28th, COMPULSION will finally emerge into the world as a published really-truly book. There are lots of fun things in store to celebrate the kick off, but wait . . . There’s even MORE to celebrate.

Our very own Lisa Gail Green has a fabulous new agent, and a slew of incredibly awesome new book deals, and our lovely Erin Cashman is brewing some wonderful news as well!

In the next couple of weeks, they are going to tell you their stories, and I’m going to tell you mine. What stories you ask? The stories of how we almost quit writing and ended up turning it around.

Have you ever felt like that? Like you were DONE? You just couldn’t face rejection or take coming “close" any more? Have you thought about giving up?

We all have! I did. Lisa did. Erin did.

But we kept going because we loved to write. You could almost say we had a Compulsion for Writing? :D

We’d love to hear about YOUR Compulsion for Writing. We want you to tell us your stories, and we’re going to host a giveaway and a celebration of persistence.

Here’s how it’s going to work.

1.) You write your story — a paragraph, a page, whatever you want — about how your Compulsion for Writing kept you going at a time when you got discouraged and thought about quitting.


2) You write about how to feed your Compulsion for Writing and keep the joy through the hard times.

3) Post what you've written on your Blog, Pinterest, Tumblr or Facebook Page and share it to the contest event page on Facebook, or write it directly on the Compulsion for Writing Party and Prize-Fest event page.

4) Get everyone you know to “Like" the Compulsion for Writing Page and their favorite posts people have shared there. Here's a nifty banner you can use to help spread the word!

We’ll review the posts with the greatest number of "likes" and Lisa, Erin, and I will each pick winners. We’ll send the winners special gift packs, but we’ll also each provide half-hour long phone calls to discuss your writing in general, your book or WIP, querying, agents, the book business, publishing, promotion and marketing, our books, social media, or whatever else you want to talk about.

And, because sometimes all it takes is a bit of a push, but the people who need the biggest push are often the ones who don’t get it by querying or by entering contests, we’ll have some agent critiques for a few lucky winners, too.

On 10/21/28 at 6:00 PM eastern, we will join everyone for a live Facebook Party where we can all trade stories and answer questions. That’s also when we’ll announce the winners and throw in a few extra and spectacular live giveaways as well! So mark your calendars.

Oh, and for those who are voting on stories? We'll add giveaways as we go along, and we'll announce winners for those on the 22nd, too. The first will be posted on the Facebook page later today. Stop by and check it out. : )

More details are posted on the Facebook page, and stay tuned for our stories and prize packages coming in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, here’s a bit of photo inspiration for what can happen if you don’t give up! : ) Last year, I was down at YALLFEST as a fan with some friends. They had stacks and stacks of Justine Magazines with the coolest Teen Read Week feature showcasing some great YA books. And tomorrow, the Justine Teen Read Week issue hits the stands, and guess what's in it?

And did I mention that Melissa Marr and I happen to be doing an event together to kick off the Compelling Reads Tour? That's total coincidence, but it's another example of what can happen.

It CAN happen. You just have to believe! (And be compelled to write!)

And now for the first of the HUGE giveaways! : ) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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11. Sunday caption contest

Here's a photo. Enter your best suggestion for a caption (ie 10 words or fewer) in the comments column below.  Prize to be determined!  Contest closes at 7am on Monday 9/29.

Questions?  Tweet to me @Janet_Reid (but I'm not going be able to answer till later this evening)

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12. Wattpad Contest Invites Fans to Collaborate On a R.L. Stine Short Story

Fear Street ContestWattpad is running “The R.L. Stine Fill In The Fear Contest.” This allows fans to collaborate on a short story called “Let’s Make a Trade” with R.L. Stine.

Stine wrote the beginning and now it’s up to the participants to fill in the middle; Stine will be responsible for the ending. Writers have until October 9th to turn in a submission.

Both the winner and the finished piece will be unveiled on October 31st; readers will be able to access the entire story on Stine’s Wattpad profile. Follow this link to learn all the rules for this contest.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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13. Guess the Book Emoji--And Win!

By Julie Daines

Ladies and Gents, I think it's high time for some fun and games. How about a nice round of Guess the Emoji?

Each emoji below is a clue to a book title. They are all works of literature ranging from middle grade to adult, classic to modern. Remember to think outside the box.

Here they are:











Leave your answers in the comments. You have until Friday midnight to enter, I'll post the answers and the winner on Saturday, September 27.

Good luck!

And since I happen to have a stack of extra books lying around, anyone who makes a guess will be entered into a random drawing to win a book of their choice. If you guess them all right, you will be entered twice. Yippee!

The choices are (And just for clarification, these have nothing to do with the emojis.):

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14. Top Ten Finalists in the Pitch Plus Five Contest!

I'm sure the last couple of weeks have been stressful for our top 25 finalists! I want you all to remember that if you didn't get in to the top ten that doesn't mean you should quit. Far from it. You should be thrilled and give yourselves a pat on the back for doing so well! It was close for a lot of people, but there were in the end, a clear top ten.


According to our esteemed author judges the ten that will go on to our agent round (in no particular order) are:

  1. The Lost Pearls of Indarnini
  2. The Apothecary of Forbidden Clocks
  3. Twice Dead
  4. Timekeeper
  5. The Troll Diaries
  6. Mash Up
  7. The Blood Rose Rebellion
  8. Noble Virtues
  9. The Past Life of Jase Byrn
  10. Phoenix Rising
Congratulations to our winners!! Please send your revised pitch (remember only the pitch part) and first five pages by midnight EST tomorrow, so that we can post them for our Agent Round on Monday.

Good luck!

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15. The elephant is out of the bag...

The gallery for round two of the "Global Talent Search" (GTS for short) is up over on the Lilla Rogers Studio blog, and it's amazing! The assignment was to create an animal character "with personality" for a kids t-shirt.
This little guy is my submission. I've never been to India, but I love color and pattern and animals, and these painted elephants have caught my eye for a while. My kids have always loved to dress up and paint their faces, so I thought that a young elephant might also have fun decorating himself.

To vote for your favorites and check out the rest of the gallery head over here, you'll find some fabulous characters. Have fun, and happy Monday!

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16. Author Interviews! Read about the Road to Publication for Kiki Sullivan, Simmone Howell, Rachel Wilson, Hillary Monahan and Rebekah Purdy Plus Lots of Fantastic Writing Advice! AND the top 25 Contest Announcement!

Lisa here interrupting our usual post to make a BIG announcement! All of our entrants have done an amazing job in the Pitch Plus 5 Contest! I am so happy about the extent of the participation and feedback from everyone involved. You should give yourselves a big pat on the back and remember that everyone is a winner for receiving such valuable critique. Those extra eyes are so important!

I will be sending out emails later today with the judges comments so that you can put them to good use.

I know you're all waiting patiently, or maybe not so patiently. Maybe you've scrolled down already. If your manuscript it named below, please use the same rules you used when you sent your submission and the same email address to send me your 150 word or less query pitch and your revised first five pages by midnight on the 8th so they can be posted on the ninth!


#2 Noble Virtues

#3 Phoenix Rising

#11 Aurora Island

#13 The Troll Diaries

#16 The Past Life of Jase Byrne
#17 Timekeeper

#18 Mash Up

#19 The Lost Pearls of Indarnini

#21 The Blood Rose Rebellion

#22 The Keystone Cure

#23 This Yellow Morning
#25 The River Runners

#26 A Magpie Mind

#29 Queen's Choice

#30 The Secrets We Share

#34 Daughter of the Disgraced King

#36 Freshman Blues

#37 The Runaways

#39 The Only Way to Change

#40 Playing Predator

#41 Incarnate

#43 Twice Dead

#44 Fog and Fireflies

#46 Apothecary of Forbidden Clocks

#47 The Virtue of Sin

*Remember if your manuscript is not up there, you will still have a chance to be chosen by popular vote for some amazing prizes!

AND NOW back to our regularly scheduled post!

Kiki Sullivan, The Dolls

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I developed the idea with Nick Harris from The Story Foundation (which works to turn novels into television shows or movies). We both wanted to create something that mixed a Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl feel with a little bit of dark magic. I’ve always been fascinated by the culture of New Orleans, so setting the book in a fictional Louisiana town just felt wonderfully natural.

How long did you work on the book?

It probably took me four months or so to write a first draft and another few months to revise it with my editor at HarperCollins. I was planning my wedding and writing another book at the same time, so it was quite a busy year!

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I was very fortunate that Sara Sargent at Balzer + Bray took a chance on me with this one. Sara has moved on to Simon & Schuster, and I miss her input on THE DOLLS series, but I can’t thank her enough for getting the ball rolling and seeing the potential of the story. It took my agent and I a few months to find a home for the book once we had an outline and sample chapters, so it was a bit of a rocky road at first, but I’m very, very happy with where we wound up.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I am a full-time writer, and I work at home. I have an office just beside my kitchen, which is wonderful, because baking is my favorite way to counter writer’s block. Seriously, if I’m struggling with a scene, I go make some cookies, and somewhere in that process, all the answers I need come to me. I write in silence, because I find that when I listen to music, I pay too much attention to the lyrics, and I have more trouble finding my own words.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
It’s easy to get into your own head and defeat yourself with negative thinking when you’re working on a book, simply because getting 70,000 or more words on the page seems very daunting. I think it’s very helpful to break the writing process down into small, manageable chunks. I write full-time, so I try to write at least 3,000 words per day (although when I’m on a tight deadline, I generally shoot for 5,000). I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I hit that target, which helps me not to feel as discouraged about the fact that I’m so far from the end. So for those of you who aren’t yet full-time writers, I’d suggest starting off with a very doable goal, such as 500 words per day. That’s about two double-spaced pages on the computer. If you can write 500 words per day, five days a week, you’ll have a 70,000-word first draft in less than seven months. Once you get into the swing of things, you should be able to knock 500 words out in about an hour. So set your alarm an hour earlier than usual each weekday, write a couple of pages, and walk out the door in the morning with a huge sense of accomplishment.

What are you working on now?
I’m just finishing up the sequel to THE DOLLS, which will be out next year!

Website | Goodreads


Simmone Howell, Girl Defective

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I was inspired by a couple of things. There was this article here. And there were the many record shops I worked in through my twenties and thirties. It was also inspired by various Nancy-like friends, who were always entrancing as fantasy figures but quite difficult as real life people. And I was inspired by St Kilda - the suburb where the novel is set, which used to be very down-at-heel and bohemian but has been gentrified.

How long did you work on the book?

I wrote the book on and off over a period of four years.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My road to publication was long and winding! I have been writing since I was a teenager. I started off writing poetry to pop stars, then I wrote my friends essays for them, then more poetry, then short stories ... My first novel Notes from the Teenage Underground was published when I was 34! My second novel is Everything Beautiful.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I have a room at a Gothic mansion - seriously! I share there with other writers and sometimes we talk shop. I always start with coffee. I listen to music - but only on my way to the office. Usually the same thing (at the moment it’s a cd full of songs about hazel bushes and wandering ghosts). I tend to edit as I go, and I sometimes I have to write the whole book before I work out what it’s about and then I have to go back and rewrite with this new knowledge. So, yeah, sometimes it takes a while.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

I try to ‘fill the well’ when the writing’s not happening or I’m feeling uninspired I get out and DO something - visit a gallery, or go feed some ducks in a park. I try to remember that there is more to the world than writing. And that if I don't engage in the world there would be no writing.

Website | Goodreads


Rachel Wilson, Don't Touch

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I dealt with OCD from about fourth grade into high school, so Caddie’s story began as an exploration of that experience. There are similarities between her early history with anxiety and my own, which I’ve talked about at Disability in Kidlit among other places. Over time though, her story took on a life of its own. Ophelia played a big part in that, and I’ve been inspired by so many bits and pieces that have nothing to do with my own life. For example, a couple of swimming pool scenes that are integral to Caddie’s story were inspired by a fortuitous drive I took into old Irondale, AL, where I found that an old swimming pool I used to visit as a child had been abandoned and left full of water and leaves. That became a charged setting in the novel that led to so many other scenes.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I prefer to write first thing in the morning, often in bed, though I’ve been working at a standing desk (aka my windowsill) more lately—it makes my back feel better and keeps me more active and energized. Lately, with the chaos of book launch approaching, I’ve found it really helpful to begin my writing time with meditation. I’ll often start off with a short guided meditation recording, and while I write I like to put on Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s Creative Mind System or nature sounds. Music with lyrics often distracts me while writing, but something more ambient helps me slip into the zone.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Ask for what you want and need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, for support from your publisher, for time off from your job when you need focused writing time. It may not always work out, but even the act of asking sends up a sign that you are putting writing first, that you are open to opportunities. If you take your own career and work seriously and give it all your love, others will want to support that. And of course, when you receive a helping hand, shout-out, donation, etc., try to return that support in kind. Mutual support among writers is a powerful force.

Website | Goodreads


Hillary Monahan, The Summoning

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

The book that landed me (and my best friend/writing partner Lauren Roy) our agent (Miriam Kriss at Irene Goodman) did not sell, but that's also because Miriam pulled it fairly early. It's a paranormal magical academy book and we wrote it too close to HARRY POTTER's heyday. I believe Miriam still plans to put it out on sub when there isn't so much paranormal exhaustion, so while it hasn't really seen the light of day, it will. One day, in a universe far far away. I continue to have hopes for that book, five years later.

My second book was MARY. The first draft was called THE LEGACY and was completed in January of 2011. It took three or four months to write and went on submission to ten or eleven houses. That incarnation was a historical; the first five chapters of the book were present day and then Mary pulled the main character into the mirror to "experience" life back in Mary's time.
We got precisely one pass on it, the editor saying how much she liked it but it wasn't quite right for her list. Four months later, we got a second pass saying how much the editor liked the style of the book and the premise, but it was too hard to market. It wasn't exactly contemporary, it wasn't historical. He said if I modernized the book, he'd love to take another look.

So we waited. And waited. No passes. Finally, in April 2012, another editor made the same request. "I like this but I would want it modernized." My agent pinged the submission list who had the book, all of whom had read it, and said, "If she rewrote this as a fully modern horror, would you be interested in seeing it?" The majority of editors who'd said nothing for a year chimed in with enthusiastic yesses. Enter Writepocalypse 2012 in which Hillary kept five chapters from THE LEGACY and rewrote the twenty chapters afterward to modernize it in a span of about six weeks. I had no summer that year.

Two weeks after we went on submission with MARY 2.0 we were at multi-house auction and landed with Hyperion.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

That all the "how I got published" stories in the world don't really matter because yours will be different. Some people get a small offer two weeks on submission, some people go to auction after sixteen months. It's a very individualized journey and there's no way to predict how it's going to go. The only thing the writer can truly control is the quality of the work they produce. Focus on that, not what everyone else is doing in the industry for down that path lies madness.

Website | Goodreads


Rebekah L. Purdy, The Winter People

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

Actually, I wrote it as an assignment (or at least a short story version of it) for my creative writing class my senior year of high school. I loved the characters and setting so much, that as an adult, I pulled out the short story and decided to turn it into a full length novel.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published? 

My road to publication was a little tough. I think I wrote like six manuscripts that agents/publishers initially rejected. I had several requests, but just couldn’t get my foot in the door. Then finally, a small publisher (Astraea Press) gave me my first break. The book I wrote after that, I landed my 1st agent with. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out so well and we parted ways, which was devastating after working so hard to get an agent. So I wrote another two books, one of which landed my 2nd agent (who I absolutely love). Then she started selling my books (one of which was The Winter People). We then went on to sell 3 other books (2 of which had been rejected when I started querying years before--so hold on to ALL your books--never know when you might sell one).

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

Welllllll…I usually write during my lunch hours and breaks at work. When I’m under deadline, I’ll write in the evenings at my desk in my room (overlooking some cool Star Wars stuff—LOL). I LOVE listening to music while I write—it really sets the mood (each of my stories has a playlist).

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Three words: Don’t. Give. Up. Seriously, I could’ve given up so many times over the 7-8 years that I got rejections. But I knew that I wanted to write—so I honed my craft, found a crit group, and worked my butt off. I tried to always keep in mind that it had to hit the right desk at the right time, and eventually it did!

Website | Goodreads

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17. Interview: Micol Ostow

micolIn 1974, Ronald DeFeo Junior killed all six members of his family in their home in Amityville, New York. A year later, another family moved into that home only to move out 28 days later, saying they were terrorized by something paranormal in the house. Their story was captured in a book by Jay Anson, then subsequently retold in various films and other adaptations.

In Micol Ostow's new novel Amity, we meet two teenagers who live in Amityville at two different times. This is not time travel; instead, they alternate narrative duties, weaving their stories together chapter by chapter. Inspired by the real story but wholly fictional, this YA book is now available for late night reading. But I promise, this interview is not scary, and neither is Micol.

Do you recall the first time you heard about the Amityville Horror?

The first time I heard about the Amityville Horror was when reading Stephen King's Danse Macabre, where he talks about the components of an effective horror movie. In fact, I didn't realize it was based on a true story (and that there was a bestselling book about the original crime!) until much later. Once I became interested in a riff on Amityville as a possible subject for a novel, I went back and read the original book by Jay Anson, as well as High Hopes, the book written specifically about the DeFeo family (as opposed to the Lutzes, who moved in after the DeFeos' murders and claim to have experienced hauntings within).

When did the seed for your novel Amity firmly plant itself in your brain?

Around Halloween, 2011. My novel Family had come out in April and I was tossing around ideas for the next book under contract. My husband was out of town and I was indulging in my favorite guilty pleasure: horror movies and Red Vines. The Amityville 2005 remake was on, and something clicked. But it wasn't until several months later that I had a pitch to show my agent, and it was a few months after that before we put something together for my editor. I went back and forth a lot trying to decide whether I wanted to tell the Lutz family's story, or the DeFeos' story. Both concepts – the "possessed," murderous son, and the beleaguered, haunted successors to the house – were equally compelling to me. Ultimately that's what led me to tell two alternate narratives, set ten years apart. That way I didn't have to choose!

amityWhen you started writing the book, did you know the ending? (Readers, don't worry - we kept this answer spoiler free!)

I one hundred percent knew the ending, and it didn't change one bit, strangely. Maybe a hint of clarification here and there. Some of the supernatural bits tend to read more straightforward in my brain than on a first-draft page. But it was an interesting process as compared specifically to Family, my first book with Egmont. The ending to Family changed three times, as did my feelings about where the protagonist needed to be, emotionally, by the story's end. This one was much more clear-cut. The two narratives needed to converge and I could only really see one way for that to happen.

Have you ever been to Amityville, New York?

We have family out on Long Island and therefore drive past the Amityville exit on the LIE several times a year, at least. I always point it out, like a huge dork. But I've never visited the house and to be honest, at this point, I probably wouldn't. It's been renovated heavily so specifically, those iconic half-moon “eye” windows are gone. And more to the point, there's also the fact that 1) it's a little icky to make a spectacle of a place where a family was murdered and 2) it's actually a private home, where people live. Personally, I prefer the make-believe versions of the Amityville story and am happier to spend my time there.

You've written for a number of different audiences - kids, teens, adults, fantasy, comedy, mixed media. Do you consciously try to mix it up?

I really don't try to mix it up, believe it or not! It just seems to work out that way! I was fortunate enough to come into publishing through the back door, in that I worked as an editor in the work-for-hire realm. So some of my earlier contracts were the results of editors seeking me out and offering me the chance to work with them. (Note: this is not the typical author's path to publication and I am very, very lucky. Trust me, I know!) The Bradford Novels were the product of an editor's original concept, and Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa came from a publishing friend suggesting I mine some of my own adolescent experiences and pitch her a story. Even So Punk Rock was actually originally conceived of by my brother, David Ostow, who worked with me on the story and illustrated the book.

Family was the first novel I sat down to write, as they say, "on spec." And because it wasn't under contract and was coming purely from me, I was free to experiment. I had no idea when I sat down to my computer that what would come out was going to be such a massive departure from my previous work. But once it was published, it was treated as a sort of literary debut. So for Amity, I was much more conscious of trying to write something that would match Family in tone and audience.

What genre or audiences would you like to write for that you haven't yet?

As far as what's coming down the pike that's different, I have a chapter book series releasing this spring called Louise Trapeze, about a little girl in a circus family who wants to learn to fly on the trapeze but is afraid of heights. Talk about a departure!

Have you always been drawn to the horror genre?

Yes! My mother is a huge horror buff and always had the TV set to old B-movies, and scary-covered novels on her nightstand. They completely terrified me but obviously burrowed into my subconscious.

I've known people who can watch horror movies but can't read horror novels, and I've known people who can read horror but can't watch it. Do you lean more towards one than the other?

Love them both! Although in general, I watch a broader range of horror movies than I read horror novels. The only category of horror I really stay away from is the straight-up torture. The extreme gore really doesn't do it for me. With the books I tend to lean more heavily toward literary horror or dark thrillers as opposed to paranormal... and basically anything in the Stephen King cannon.

QUICK DRAW! Time for simple questions:

First horror story that gave you goosebumps: The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
(Little Willow adds: I liked that book, too!)

First scary film that gave you nightmares: Frankenstein

Horror movie or book that you love but can only watch or read in the daylight: It by Stephen King

Favorite funny spooky story: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Favorite funny spooky movie: Shaun of the Dead

Favorite horror authors: Stephen King, Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, Daniel Krause, Sarah Waters for purer horror. Adele Griffin (Tighter), Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers), Libba Bray (The Diviners), Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls), Mariana Baer (Frost), Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs) for creepy psychological thriller/suspense-y stories. Robert Bloch's original Psycho was great. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg.

Favorite season of American Horror Story: Season One, Murder House, was amazing for just flinging all the fundamental tropes at the wall, and doing something different – and genuinely scary! – on TV. And I absolutely loved that finale.

Favorite Halloween costume you've worn: I'm super boring on Halloween! I love celebrating and decorating and eating treats and watching movies, but I rarely dress up. I'm kind of a party pooper that way. Last year I wore my “Overlook Hotel” tee-shirt and called it a day. But my daughter usually cycles through at least three costumes over the course of the festivities so I think that evens us out.

Ouija board: Wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole or bring it on?
I'm a little superstitious. I'd rather not tempt fate.

Ghosts and/or haunted houses: Believe, don't believe, or open-minded?
I have not had any paranormal experiences myself, but as per the above and being slightly superstitious – I do believe, actually. Kind of. Let's call it open-minded. That works.

Amity Giveaway!

What's your favorite ghost story? EGMONT USA is giving away a signed copy of the finished book to one lucky USA/Canada resident. Leave a comment below with the title of a book, movie, or play that chills you -- or even a personal story! -- along with your email address. You may mask the address, like myname (at) eeemail (dot) com - but we must be able to reach you to get your mailing information. The first comment with the proper info will get the signed book!

Follow the blog tour!

Micol is also visiting the readergirlz blog today. Check out the full schedule at the Egmont USA website.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Micol Ostow (2006)
Interview: Micol Ostow (2007)
Book Review: Popular Vote by Micol Ostow
Book Review: So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol Ostow with art by David Ostow

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18. Contest Entries Up!

Our 50 entries are now posted on the contest website. Please visit, read, and comment. I'm sure I dont have to remind anyone, but please make sure your comments are constructive and polite. This is the best part because we can all help each other!

The incredible blogger judges now have their assigned entries. Each entry has two judges, with a discrepancy judge available for any large difference in scores. The top 25 will be announced on the 6th.

Keep following the hashtag #PitchPlus5 for updates, info, and general chitchat.

- Lisa

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19. EXILE Paperback Release Day Celebration!

You guys! YOU GUYS! 

And I know this probably isn't the release day you're all waiting for (only 91 more days until EVERBLAZE releases--EEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!) But I'm always super excited when my books finally release in paperback, because when I was growing up, paperbacks were pretty much the only books my parents could afford. So it makes me ever so happy to finally have EXILE available at a cheaper price point.

Even better: the shiny paperback only costs $6.99--and considering it's 592 pages that is a HUGE BARGAIN!!!!

Even, EVEN better? Those shiny paperbacks also include THIS, which I KNOW you're all excited about:

 Yes, that's right! 

As if you needed more reasons to pick up a copy, I'm also hosting a special swag giveaway to celebrate, since I don't think hardcover release days should get to have all the fun. So here's how this works:

If you pre-ordered the paperback version of EXILE any time before August 5, 2014--OR if you purchase a paperback copy between now and August 10, 2014--fill out the form at the bottom of this post by 11:59pm pacific time on August 11, 2014, and I will send you these:

(in case you can't tell, that's a signed EXILE bookplate and a limited edition signed Verdi art print postcard)

If you buy more than one copy of the paperback, you can definitely get more than one set of swag. Just make sure you fill out the form separately for each copy, so I know how many to send you. 

And please note, this giveaway is only available for people who buy the paperback during the designated time period. (If you've bought the hardcover or ebook, I've already done giveaways for that--sorry if you missed them!) Also: no proof of purchase is required. I like to keep my contests on the honor system, so if you say you bought it, I trust you. But remember: every time you lie, an alicorn loses its wings, and do you really want that on your head???

International entries also totally count. I will mail swag anywhere you live. But this is only for a very limited time, so don't miss your chance.  And don't forget to fill out the form* (you must fill out the form in order to get your swag).

Also: don't forget, I'll be on tour all next week, so if you're near LA, Fresno, Reno, Portland, or Seattle, check my events page and come see me! And that also means I won't be able to send out your swag until I get back. But I promise they'll go in the mail as soon as I'm home!

And... I think that pretty much covers everything. But if I missed something, let me know. You can ask questions in the comments. Otherwise here's the form you need to fill out: (and if you can't access the form for some reason, you can find it HERE). 


*You must be 13 or older in order to fill out this form. If you're not, please have your parent or guardian fill it out for you.


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20. Enter to win a SIGNED print book of Tales of Ever!

Want to win a SIGNED print copy of Tales of Ever??

Open to USA and Canada. Enter at Goodreads!



~Tales of Ever is an action packed young adult novel, enjoyed by adults and teens yet also suitable content-wise for readers 10 and up. Originally written as a novella series, it has been reworked and is now available as a complete stand alone novel.

Amazon Hot New Release! Amazon Top Reader Rated! Amazon Fantasy Best Seller!

A few months ago, I was a normal girl. Life sucked, and just like everyone else, I took the simple things for granted. At least until I got this new power, a “gift” my mom called it. Apparently, I’m a firestarter. I didn’t want to be. I didn’t ask to be. It would be cool if it wasn’t so dangerous and I knew how to control it. When an uncle I’d never heard of showed up to take care of me after my mom died, I should have been grateful. As it turned out, my whole family isn’t normal and more than a little bit crazy. I thought things couldn’t get any worse. I was wrong.

They banished me to Ever.

* * *

Welcome to Ever.

Ever; a deadly realm where feared, powerful, and dangerous magical beings are banished. It’s not a world, but a magically created prison you can never break out of. Who, or what, made Ever? I’ve no idea. They were powerful, and cruel. That is all I can tell you.

Ever is like, and unlike, every other world. Nothing is safe. Safety is a dream. Ever is a nightmare. Few survive their first day. Nothing is what it seems. If something appears safe, it isn’t. If something appears dangerous, well it is, but probably more than you think.

Ever has no sun, no moon, and no stars at night. Time is told by the ever changing color of the sky where portals open, dropping new inhabitants or new terrors. Time does pass. Don’t worry, you won’t get old. You won’t live that long.

The landscape changes without reason from desert to jungle. The flora isn’t safe at any time. There is food, if you can find it without getting eaten yourself. Most plants and animals are poisonous. So is the water.

Are you afraid? You should be. This is the end. It gets worse of course. Remember the portals? Do you think angels come through? Innocent people rarely do. Mostly, it is evil people, people too powerful to kill. Their magic works here. The creatures are worse.

Do you understand? Well, you will eventually, or you’ll die. There is no escaping Ever.



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21. ALA Amazing ARC Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to the ALA Amazing ARC Giveaway Winners: Erin D. Tracy B.  Devera N. Look for an email from me requesting your address so I can mail your prize to you! Thanks to everyone else who entered! I hope you'll come by the blog often for book reviews and librarian writer musings.

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22. Announcing Our Biggest Contest Ever!

I, Lisa, have taken over this regularly scheduled post to bring you a very special announcement.

One week from today, August 24, we will open submissions for our most spectacular contest yet – The Pitch Plus Five Contest!!!

Not only do we have 27 AMAZING judges, including incredible book bloggers, best-selling authors, and fabulous agents from some of the best agencies out there, but we’ve upped the ante.

This isn't just a contest to enter if you're hoping to get an agent. The whole philosophy behind of our contests is that we want to pay it forward by helping newer writer get meaningful feedback from experts (as well as peers) to tell you how close you are to submission-readiness and to guide you in revisions you may need.  As readers as well as writers, we want to foster good manuscripts because there can never be too many good books!!


We’re accepting not the first sentence, not the first page, but the first FIVE pages of your manuscripts so that you can get feedback from these amazing people and make your work that much better. AND if you make it to the author round? You’ll get to include your query pitch as well! Pretty amazing, right?

Now get in gear and spit-shine those manuscripts! Because one week is when we open the proverbial doors. We’ll have two windows for submission to try and help out those in other time zones, and we’ll be taking the first 25 MG, YA, and NA entries in each window that meed all of the submission guidelines. I will post the full guidelines on Thursday along with the bios of all the incredibly generous judges. There will also be prizes. I’m talking agent and author critiques and even a free query pass to a mega-agent currently closed to queries.

In that vein, I’d also like to announce the Twitter hashtag for this event so we can all communicate with each other between announcements and posts. #PitchPlus5

Are you ready? We can't wait to see your work!

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23. #PitchPlus5 Writing Contest! 7 Agents plus 10 Bestselling & Award-Winning Authors Provide Feedback on Your Work!

Here is the big contest info post I promised you. But remember because of the sheer size of this endeavor we have a separate website for all contest posts. So I recommend you go ahead and add http://adventuresinyacontests.blogspot.com to your favorites!


  • We will take the first 25 Middle Grade/Young Adult/New Adult entries submitted in the correct format after NINE AM EST on 8/24 and the first 25 MG/YA/NA entries submitted in the correct format after 9PM EST to the email AYAPcontest@gmail.com. Please remember that we have many teen readers on this blog who are under 18, so keep the first pages rated PG. (I'm the last person to suggest any kind of censorship for ANY reason, but there is a level of expectation based on what readers are used to seeing here at AYAP.) 
  • Only one entry per person to make sure everyone has a shot at feedback. 
  • Entries will consist of the first five pages of a COMPLETED manuscript, which should not exceed 1250 words (but please feel free to complete the sentence). Please use single spaced text, no indentations, one space between paragraphs. 12 point font. Please make sure to include your name, email, manuscript title, word count and genre/subgenre. For example:
    IDA Luv Anoffer
    78,000 words
    YA Magical Realism
  • The accepted entries will all be posted on AdventuresInYAContests.blogspot.com by 6AM EST August 26.
  • We will invite reading, comments, and love from anyone who wants to participate — until 6:00 AM ET on 9/4. By noon on 9/6 we announce the top 25 entries as judged by our respected blogger judges, who will score the entries according to a standard scale with two bloggers reading each entry and a third blogger serving as a discrepancy judge if there is a wide disparity in scores.
  • The top 25 entries will then be invited to send their query pitch (of no more than 150 words) and a revised first five pages by Midnight EST 9/8, to be posted the next day no later than NOON EST. These entries will be judged by our amazing author judges, who will also score the entries according to a standard scale with two bloggers reading each entry and a third blogger serving as a discrepancy judge if there is a wide disparity in scores.
  • The top 10 will be announced on 9/20 by NOON EST and will have until MIDNIGHT on 9/21 to send in their revised entries in order to move on to the agent round beginning 9/22. 
  • Winners will be announced on 10/3/14. 
  • All feedback, from the public, bloggers, authors, and agents will be posted as comments on the entry or emailed on score cards, but the identity of the judge making the comment will not be revealed. You'll just see Judge 1, or Judge 2, etc. You will, however, have a bio for all of the judges involved in that round. This will give all participants the opportunity to receive feedback that they can apply immediately to their work, and give anyone who is inclined to watch the process the ability to learn vicariously.

Boy do we have PRIZES. So many that the top FIVE entries as judged by our esteemed agents will receive something priceless:
  • 4 Runners Up will receive one of the following: A one chapter critique from Agent Christa Hescke, Agent Jordy Albert, Agent Victoria Lowes, or Agent Alex Slater!
  • TWO Grand Prize Winners will receive one THREE Chapter Agent Critique from either Melissa Nasson of RPC or Lara Perkins from Andrea Brown AND a free query pass to the also amazing (and currently closed to queries) Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency!
  • AND if that's not enough - we will have a poll near the end of the contest for YOU to pick your favorite two entries that did NOT make it to the finals. Those entries will win the following:
  • Runner Up: One chapter critique from the AMAZING Angela Ackerman (co-author of the can't do without writer's tool: The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writers Guide To Character Expression).
  • First Place: One chapter critique from New York Times Best Selling Author, Jen Nielsen!


Not everyone will get the critiques offered above, however EVERY participant will receive copies of the score sheets from our awesome judges, presented anonymously. These score sheets are standardized and rated on a scale across a spectrum of different areas from likability of characters to story question to premise, freshness, and quality of writing. Even if you don't win, you'll get information you can use to take your writing up a notch.


To keep up with the contest, follow hashtag #PitchPlus5 on Twitter!


Third Round - The Agent Judges

Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Literary Agency

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

Jordy is looking for stories that capture her attention and keep her turning the page. She is looking for a strong voice, and stories that have the ability to surprise her. She loves intelligent characters with a great sense of humor. She would love to see fresh, well-developed plots featuring travel, competitions/tournaments, or time travel. Jordy is looking for: *ROMANCE (contemporary, New Adult, erotica, or historical--soft spot for Regency). * YA: Open to pretty much any genre; however, she's looking especially for YA that has a very strong romantic element. *Middle Grade (action/adventure, contemporary).

* * * 

Jess Dallow of New Leaf Literary

Before moving back to her home state of New York, Jess Dallow spent eight years working at a talent agency in Hollywood. Deciding books and cold New York winters were more her speed, she became an intern at New Leaf Literary before being hired as the subrights and film/tv assistant. She is looking to build her list with strong character driven stories, dialogue that can play out like a film in her head and something that will make her laugh and cry (maybe even at once.) Specifically in YA she's looking for something with heart, friendship and romance. In adult, she's looking for new adult, romance, and crime fiction. In her spare time, Jess can be found at either Sprinkles or Dylan's Candy Bar, stuffing her face with cupcakes and gummy bears. 

* * * 

Christa Heschke of McIntosh and Otis

Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade, and young adult projects. 

She is a fan of young adult novels with a romantic angle, and strong, quirky protagonists. Within YA, Christa is especially interested in contemporary fiction, horror and thrillers/mysteries. As for middle grade, Christa enjoys contemporary, humor, adventure, mystery and magical realism for boys and girls. For picture books, she’s drawn to cute, funny, character driven stories within fiction and is open to non-fiction with a unique hook.

* * * 

Victoria Lowes of the Bent Agency:
I was born and raised in Queens, New York and graduated from the City University of New York, Queens College. Before joining the Bent Agency, I completed internships at Serendipity Literary and the Carol Mann Agency. In my spare time I can be found teaching dance classes for young students or watching re-runs of The Office. I love books that teach me something, whether it be about a culture I don’t know, event in history or about the dynamics of a tumultuous young romance. I want to root for your characters -- connect with them and the problems they face. I'm looking for characters as complex and interesting as those I meet in real life.

* * * 

Melissa Nasson of Rubin Pfeffer Content: 

Melissa Nasson is an associate agent with Rubin Pfeffer Content. She is also an attorney and contracts director at Beacon Press, an independent publisher of non-fiction. Melissa is currently accepting submissions, and she is actively seeking MG, YA, and NA fiction in all genres (though she has a soft spot for fantasy and sci-fi). She will also consider fiction intended for the adult market, particularly edgy speculative fiction and gothic/horror novels. She is not considering non-fiction at this time.

* * * 

Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown Literary
Lara Perkins represents all categories of children's literature, from picture books to young adult. Lara works closely with Executive Agent Laura Rennert, with whom she jointly represents a number of clients, in addition to building her own list. She is also the agency's Digital Manager. Lara is a fan of insightful, page-turning, voice-driven young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as quirky, witty picture books. For middle grade, she's particularly looking for compelling, unexpected mysteries, stories set in fascinating, unexpected worlds (real or imagined), and stories that hit home in their depiction of ending/changing friendships or family shifts. Humor is always welcome. For young adult, Lara is looking for heart-breaking but very funny contemporary (or contemporary with a fantasy or paranormal twist) novels. She loves a bittersweet romance when it's solidly grounded in reality between believable, memorable characters. She's also drawn to character-driven fantasy with striking world building, and whip-smart, page-turning psychological mysteries. In the picture book realm, Lara is drawn to picture books that take a small but universal experience of childhood and draw out something beautiful or hilarious, and an endearingly flawed main character is central for her. She loves working with author/illustrators, and she's drawn to a wide range of illustration styles. Some of Lara's recent titles include THE FANTASTIC FAMILY WHIPPLE by Matthew Ward (Razorbill/Penguin)*, A MILLION WAYS HOME by Dianna Dorisi Winget (Scholastic Press), IF YOUR MONSTER WON'T GO TO BED by Denise Vega (Knopf/Random House), THE STEPSISTER'S TALE by Tracy Barrett (Harlequin Teen)*, and I'M NEW HERE by Anne Sibley O'Brien (Charlesbridge). Noteworthy deals include a two-book, six figure deal to Razorbill/Penguin and a two-book deal to Harlequin Teen (*together with Laura Rennert). Lara has a B.A. in English and Art History from Amherst College and an M.A. in English Literature from Columbia University, where she studied Victorian Brit Lit. In her pre-publishing life, she trained to be an architect, before deciding that books, not bricks, are her true passion. She spent over a year at the B.J. Robbins Literary Agency in Los Angeles before coming to Andrea Brown Literary. She is a frequent speaker at conferences nationwide, and currently is based in the SF Bay Area.

* * * 

 Alex Slater of Trident Media:
When asked how he became an agent at Trident, concentrating in the expanding children's, middle grade and young adult businesses, Alex simply replies, "It was only natural.” While karma is not an established business concept, it is clear that Alex's career arc led him in this happy direction. 
Start with Alex's love of fiction, and in particular the stories that captivate the minds and imaginations of young people, from those so young that books are read to them, to young adults who get captivated by creative fiction. "I love to let myself go, and become the reader, whether the story is directed at a ten-year-old or a teenager," says Alex. 
Next is Alex's experience at Trident, where he has been since 2010. He became a very successful agent representing the company's children, middle grade and young adult authors in many licensing arrangements in the global marketplace for translation and in the English language in the U.K., having placed books with publishers in dozens of countries. Alex was Trident's representative at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy, as well as the broader-based London and Frankfurt book fairs. His experience in representing fiction in these areas showed him what elements in stories work well, and how to maximize the value of what an author has created. 
Alex's plan is to, "Look for stories that will rise above the rest with characters that will be remembered well past childhood, with the potential to cross over to other media and formats," such as programming, games, motion pictures and merchandise. "Trident is the leader on taking advantage of the latest opportunities presented by changing technology," says Alex, and, "I will be there to help make the latest innovations happen for my authors." 
"I believe that the most successful writers have a bit of the dreamer in them." And Alex passionately believes that he can help turn their dreams into reality.

Second Round - The Author Judges

Kelly Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of twenty-one books for adults and young adults. She has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. 

Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.

Her work includes the Otherworld series, the Cainsville series, the Darkest Powers/Darkness Rising series, and Sea of Shadows, this year's stunning first installment in the Age of Legends series.

* * * 

Erin Cashman
I have been writing for as long as I can remember; in grade school usually from my perch near the top of our maple tree (much to my mother’s displeasure!) With three kids and a career as an attorney, I often wrote late at night, or stolen hours here and there. I wrote a previous middle-grade novel about a treasure, and could wallpaper a large room with all of my rejection letters! But within a few weeks of sending The Exceptionals to Pam Glauber, an editor at Holiday House, she called and told me that they wanted to publish it! I was thrilled and very fortunate to work with such a brilliant editor.  The Exceptionals is a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.

My mother was born in Galway Ireland, moving to America when she was about twenty. She believed in angels, fairies and leprechauns, and loved to tell the most imaginative (or who knows – real!) stories. I inherited my love for books from my father, who ironically dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen, joined the Army and eventually went back and finished high school and then graduated from Bentley College, going nights. I grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Bates College in Maine and from Boston College Law School. I live in Massachusetts with my husband, three children, and our dog. 

Delilah S. Dawson is a writer, a geek, an artist, an adventure junky, and a coffee and cupcake connoisseur. She writes books for young adults and mostly-adults that range from whimsical to dark to sexy to horrific to adventuresome. She can occasionally be NSFW, but when she is, it's usually because she's ranting about writing or sexism or talking honestly about her experiences with rape, depression, and suicide. Delilah loves having adventures, playing on the trapeze, horseback riding, seeing superhero movies, going to cons, traveling, reading, tacos, the ocean, pretty boots, eating weird animals, tattoos, vests, cosplay, The Cure, painting, narwhals, octopodes, crows, cheese, drinks made with elderflower, dark chocolate, cold sheets, Boyd Crowder, and shows like Justified, Firefly, Venture Bros., Community, Adventure Time, Arrested Development, TWD, and Frisky Dingo. Please geek out with her on Twitter for full SQUEE. She is also an Associate Editor at Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech and can teach you to wear a baby on your back so you can pretend to be Luke Skywalker toting Yoda.

* * *

Christine Fonesca
Critically acclaimed and award-winning nonfiction and fiction author Christine Fonseca is dedicated to helping children and adults find their unique voice in the world. In nonfiction, she delves into the world of giftedness, resiliency, and temperament, offering children and adults a no-nonsense, how-to approach to facing the world head on. In fiction, she explores the more complex aspects of humanity through sweeping romances, Gothic thrillers, and psychological horror stories. Christine's words have been heralded as "thoughtful", "Lyrical and poetic", "gorgeous writing that pulls you in", and "a great voice for teen girls" by editors, critics, book bloggers and readers. She was awarded 2013 Special Achievement Award from the Surrey International Writer’s Conference for her body of work and efforts to give back to the writing community and was a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Book (YA) for her thriller, Transcend. Her 2013 titles include The Girl Guide, Quiet Kids, and the final installment in the Requiem Series, Dominus. Collide, a YA paranormal thriller, is her most recent release. Christine lives in the San Diego area with her husband and children. When she isn't crafting new books, she can be found sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes at the local coffee house, or exploring the world with her family.

* * *

Shannon Greenland

You name it and I’ve pretty much done it. Hiking, rafting, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, mountain biking, spelunking, canoeing, power lifting, running, camping, para sailing . . . well, you get the drift. 

I’ve been all over the world, use my crazy adventures to spice up my writing, and I’m always on the lookout for the next best thrill. 

My award winning teen spy series, The Specialists, was an ALA top pick and a National Reader’s Choice Recipient. Killer Instinct marks my debut into the world of thrillers. Believe it or not, I dreaded reading and writing when I was a kid. So it’s pretty ironic I’m now an award winning author.

* * *

Nancy Holder
New York Times Bestselling author Nancy Holder was born in Los Altos, California. A navy brat, she went to middle school in Japan. When she was sixteen, she dropped out of high school to become a ballet dancer in Cologne, Germany. Eventually she returned to California and graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a degree in Communications. Soon after, she began to write; her first sale was a young adult novel with the unfortunate title of Teach Me to Love. Nancy’s work has appeared on many bestseller lists. A five-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association, she has also received accolades from the American Library Association, the American Reading Association, the New York Public Library, and Romantic Times. She and Debbie Viguié coauthored the New York Times bestselling Wicked series for Simon and Schuster. They have continued their collaboration with the Crusade and the Wolf Springs Chronicles series, and are hard at work on a teen thriller. She is also the author of the young adult horror series, Possessions, for Razorbill. She has sold many novels and book projects set in the MTV Teen Wolf, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Saving Grace, Hellboy, and Smallville universes. She has also sold approximately two hundred short stories and essays on writing and popular culture. Her anthology, Outsiders, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in 2005. She is an editor and writer of comic books, graphic novels, and pulp fiction for Moonstone Books, where much of her work centers around Sherlock Holmes. She writes a column for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Bulletin. She also teaches in the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Program, offered through the University of Southern Maine. This summer, she will serve as the Writer in Residence at Odyssey, a six-week summer intensive workshop at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. She and her daughter Belle, have sold two short stories together. Their cats, dogs, and leopard gecko allow them to live with them in San Diego. She loves Castle and Firefly, is attempting to catch up on Dr. Who, and firmly believes that nothing says breakfast like really strong coffee and potato chips.

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Brendan Kiely
Brendan Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York. His writing appeared in Fiction, Guernica, The AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. 
Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.

His 2014 debut novel, The Gospel of Winter, received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly. 

Brendan Kiely has written a novel that is both unflinching and redemptive.” — Colum McCann, NYT Bestselling author and National Book Award winner for Let the Great World Spin

“The Gospel of Winter marks Brendan Kiely’s auspicious debut as a novelist.”— A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven and winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction

“An emotional coming of age story that you won’t soon forget.”— John Corey Whaley, winner of the Printz and Morris Awards for Where Things Come Back

“The Gospel of Winter comes to us in full flower, a rich, complex, wise, beautifully written novel and a compelling read.”— Frederic Tuten, author of Tintin in the New World
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New York Times Bestselling author, Jennifer Nielsen, was born and raised in northern Utah, where she still lives today with her husband, three children, and a dog that won’t play fetch. 

She is the author of The Ascendance trilogy, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE; the forthcoming A NIGHT DIVIDED, and the forthcoming MARK OF THE THIEF series. She loves chocolate, old books, and lazy days in the mountains.

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Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce was born in South Connellsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. She began telling herself stories as she did dishes, and her father suggested that she try to write some of them down. The next year, as she was still scribbling her own stories, her English teacher introduced me to The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein. She got hooked on fantasy, and then on science fiction, and both made their way into her books. 

She wrote her way through college at the University of Pennsylvania, and has continued writing ever since. Her work includes more than six series and numerous short stories, and she is the 2013 winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for her "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature"

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Diana Renn
I write contemporary novels for young adults featuring globetrotting teens, international intrigue, and more than a dash of mystery. TOKYO HEIST (Viking/Penguin) is my first novel, and I have two more novels coming out from Viking: LATITUDE ZERO (2014) and BLUE VOYAGE (2015). When I was five years old, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I always loved writing in school, and I was fortunate to have had many encouraging teachers. I also knew that in order to be a good writer I needed to be a good reader. I majored in English at Hampshire College, and earned my M.A. in English and American Literature from Brandeis University. Over the years I’ve juggled all kinds of jobs in the word business to support my writing habit. Among them: a college writing instructor, an ESL teacher in South America, an editor in educational publishing, a textbook writer, a script writer for language instruction videos, a bookseller, and a comic book shop salesclerk. (Can you guess which was the most fun?) I love to travel, and I’ve enjoyed teaching students from all over the world, so international experiences are a large part of my fiction. I grew up in Seattle, and I now live outside of Boston with my husband, our young son, and a moody cat. In my spare time I love taiko drumming, bike riding, and, of course, traveling.

First Round - The Blogger Judges

Alyssa Hamilton of Swept Away By Books & Adventures in YA Publishing

Alyssa Hamilton is a twenty-something English and Publishing student who hails from Vancouver, Canada. When she is not in class, she is at the bookstore where she works—whether or not she is on duty. 

Her passion for reading started at a young age and has continued to grow, so most of her pay cheque goes toward buying books to fill her already overflowing bookshelves. Her favourite genres within YA are dark and gothic, paranormal, contemporary, high fantasy, and retellings. When she doesn't have a book in hand, you can find her hiking, picking out her next tattoo, or enjoying the outdoors.

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Amanda from Of Spectacles and Books

Amanda earned a BA in English from a small university in Texas. She is currently getting her Masters in Creative Writing and hopefully go on to obtain her PhD. She dreams of becoming a published author and writing of great adventures and daring sword fights. 

One of her main goals in life is to own a library with a ladder and backpack across Europe. Amanda also enjoys the smell of old books, wearing scarves, social networking, glasses rather than contacts, and boys who can play acoustic guitar. Talk King Arthur or in a British accent and she just might swoon.

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Angela Ackerman of Writers Helping Writers
Angela is a newly-minted forty year old writer living in Calgary, Alberta, which is nestled close enough to the Rockies to go on a day jaunt, but not so close as to be pummeled by snow and excruciating cold temperatures in the winter months. Despite being Canadian, she lives in a house, not an igloo, she refuses to wear toques and she generally travels by truck, rather than moose or ATVs or beavers or whatever other things the outside world suspects. Angela’s husband and two kids are beyond awesome. The former rarely complains about the hoarder-like piles of books and paper surrounding her desk, regardless of being a self-professed neat freak. Her kids, both teen boys, have inherited Angela’s interest in All Things Strange, and are great to bounce off apocalypse theories and freaky ‘what-if’ scenarios that are common in Angela’s books. Angela often writes about mythology in the real world, but twists everything so that it’s much darker and interesting. Bad things happen, but her teen and pre-teen characters always rise to the challenge in impossible situations. This is no surprise, because kids have internal strength that represents the best qualities in all of us. They struggle, adapt and survive. This is why she writes for this amazing YA & MG audience. Another passion of Angela’s is helping writers succeed. She enjoys working with writers on strengthening their craft and helping them find the tools and resources they need to take their writing to the next level. She teaches workshops on writing and social media, belong to SCBWI and is a strong believer in paying it forward. Along with Becca Puglisi, she is the author of popular brainstorming tool, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writers Guide To Character Expression.

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Becca Fowler of Pivot Book Review
My name is Rebecca, but I think that sounds like an old lady name, so I go by Becca :) I am 22 going on 23 (that doesn't have quite the ring to it as it does on The Sound of Music) I live in the great state of Oklahoma (where the wind REALLY does come sweeping down the plain) I live with who I've dubbed The Parentals (who are, not-so-secretly, the BEST) I have one older sister who is married, and has two girls (which means I get to play the Coolest Aunt Ever) I am convinced I will be the old cat lady (minus the cats, because I heart dogs) Speaking of dogs, I have two! An Aussie named Dixie, and a Sheltie named Gentry! I work for my family's business. We rent out inflatables, aka Bouncy Houses, and MORE! I aspire to be a Young Adult author! It is my dream!! My favorite hobbies include: Reading (duh) Writing Skating Drawing I am a total introvert. I would much rather stay home than go out. I am, also, horrible at talking about myself, because I can't think of anything else at the moment!

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Brenda Drake of Making Connections
Brenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school until her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brenda’s fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with a bend toward the fantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

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Brooke DelVeccio from the Cover Contessa
Brooke is the creator and owner of The Cover Contessa. She is a book lover for as long as she can remember. She used to pass her evenings in high-school reading books on her bed with a good friend and comparing how far they'd get in a certain amount of minutes. She started this blog a few years ago with the intention of sharing her reviews with people. It blossomed from there and now she includes interviews, release blasts, cover reveals, guests posts, and just about anything else you can think of that applies to books. She has been working as a nurse since 1997 and can truly say she really loves what she does. She's married to her soul mate since 2001 and has three beautiful and active boys! Though she i will always consider herself a Brooklyn girl, she currently lives in Northern New Jersey. As a side job, she works as a publicist for Spencer Hill Press where she currently represents four authors. Her preference in books is MG, YA and some NA, and she'll read almost any sub-genre except horror. But she'll try out any book if it comes highly recommended from a most trusted source! She has dabbled in writing, but has not come away with anything serious, YET!

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Hafsah at Icey Books
Girl. 21. Sister. YA writer. Reviewer. Book Blogger. Blog Designer. Maybe more than that. Hafsah began IceyBooks in late 2010 after many months of reviewing for her local library’s teen blog. What started as just reviews has now expanded to interviews, giveaways, cover reveals, and blogging tips. Aside from blogging, Hafsah is also an author. Her debut YA science fiction novel, UNBREATHABLE, which takes place on a planet much like Mars, released on October 29th, 2013. In addition to being an author, Hafsah has been designing blogs and websites since the age of thirteen. In late 2011, she opened IceyDesigns and began professionally designing blogs, websites, print work and providing social media/marketing solutions to clients – both authors and bloggers alike.

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Julie Musil - Writing and Blogging Between Carpools

Julie Musil is a children's writer, wife, and mother. She lives in a rural California town amid hiking trails and dirt bikes with her high school sweetheart, John. They have three amazing sons, two cute little doggies, and one menacing kitten.

Julie is the author of The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire, and she is on the Faculty of The Fiction University.

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Nichole from YA Reads

Last year Nichole graduated from a local community college with her AA. She is currently a Junior at the Evergreen State College. She is currently working on her BA with an emphasis on English/Literature. She is planning on applying to the MIT (Master’s In Teaching) program for her MA in hopes to become a high school English teacher.

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Sheri Larsen from Writers Alley
I write fantasy, romance, and paranormal adventures for young adults and middle graders. I also write sweet picture books for the youngest of children. ~Daily News~ For everyday Sheriisms, visit me at WRITER’S ALLEY, where I explore the joys & angst of writing all that’s KidLit, the publishing world at-large, motherhood, and parenting with all its humor. ~Recent News~ After near misses and almosts with literary agents, I submitted my YA novel to smaller publishing houses, which vetted me multiple offers for my YA paranormal fantasy MARKED BEAUTY, including three offers for a sequel. This led to my signing with senior literary agent Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary. {She’s amazing!} We spent the next months making the manuscript shine, deciding to submit to larger publishers, while still considering my current offers. The manuscript is currently on submission. The hope is that a deal will be reached later this year. Here’s my most recent school visit, teaching a writing workshop to some of the most amazing elementary school kids from the Oak Hill Writers Club.

Discrepancy Judge

Martina Boone

Martina was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them. She’s the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a two-time Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site devoted to encouraging literacy and all this YA Series.

Her Southern Gothic romance, Compulsion, the first novel in the Heirs of Watson Island series from Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse, will be published October 28, 2014. 

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24. #PitchPlus5 Agent and Author Judged #Writing Contest: First Submission Window Open!

First Submission Window Full. Try again tonight!!!

You ready?

We will now be accepting the first 25 correctly formatted MG/YA/NA submissions according the rules listed on the page above. Please put everything in the body of the email. Good Luck!!

You will get confirmation, but I will personally be checking things over so please do not worry if I don't get to you immediately. Try to take a deep breath and if all else fails eat some chocolate!! That's my cure for everything.

 There will another window of opportunity if you don't make it in this time, so keep an open mind and don't forget to try again tonight at 9PM EST.


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25. #PitchPlus5 Agent and Author Judged #Writing Contest: Second Submission Window Open!

Submissions are now closed! Thanks to all who entered. Best of luck to everyone and there are always more chances for learning, improving, and making connections with other writers. 

We will now be accepting the second 25 correctly formatted MG/YA/NA submissions according the rules listed on the page above. Please put everything in the body of the email. Good Luck!!

You will get confirmation, but I will personally be checking things over so please do not worry if I don't get to you immediately. Try to take a deep breath and if all else fails eat some chocolate!! That's my cure for everything.

If you do NOT make it in, please don't despair! There will be more chances in the future, and you can still learn so much by watching the comments and the revisions as they go up. If you want to succeed you have to use every opportunity to learn. Don't forget to participate in the conversation on Twitter with #PitchPlus5


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