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1. Contests! Contests! . . . and some ENCOURAGEMENT

Hello everyone! And Happy New Year!

I know I've been gone a good little while (talk about that later) but I just wanted to let you all know about two writing contests whose deadlines are coming up soon.

Here's the info:

1)  The 2014 Sandy Writing Contest

This contest, sponsored by the Crested Butte Writers Conference, features categories of romance, mainstream adult fiction, suspense/thriller/mystery, fantasy and science fiction, and Children's and YA.

The judge for Children's & YA is Tracey Keevan, Senior Editor at Disney Hyperion. Check out her bio, and interview with the contest coordinator.

Basic entry fee is $30 for Crested Butte Writer members, for all others $35

Entries must be received by midnight, February 10, 2014.
Payments snail mailed (USPS) must be postmarked by February 12th.

And they are only accepting 250 entries so get those entries in soon!

2) 2014 Writers-Editors Network International Writing Competition

For complete guidelines, rules, fees, and entry form go here

Categories include Nonfiction (articles, essays, book chapters, columns), Fiction (short story or novel chapter), Children's Literature (short story, nonfiction article, book , poem), and Poetry.

Entry fee is $5 for members, $10 non-members for each entry under 3,000 words.  For entries of 3,000 to 5,000 words, the fee is $10 (members) or $20 (non-members). For complete  fee listings, see link to guidelines above.

Entries must be postmarked no later than March 15, 2014.
Enter by postal mail or email

LASTLY, check out this wonderful interview with Carol J. Perry who placed 1st in 2013 for her Novel Chapter, which she later sold to Kensington Publishing in a 3-book deal!

GOOD LUCK, everyone!

Getting back to my absence. . . . When I last posted, my family and I were in the middle of a BIG move from New Jersey to Connecticut, dealing with issues of employment and readjustment.  And somewhere along the line I think I lost confidence in myself and my writing, to the point where I couldn't even think about storylines and such.  I think even my two daughters lost faith in me!

I didn't TOTALLY forget about the blogosphere, though.  I still browsed around the blueboards, and a few authors' and agents' blogs and websites.  Now that things are a bit calmer, I am slowly creeping back into the writing life and restarting my journey toward publication.

And so I would like to share links to 2 very encouraging blog posts.  The posts aren't recent but they do give HOPE and ENCOURAGEMENT, which I think all of us aspiring writers need!

The first post is by my good blogging friend, Tess Hilmo, middle grade author of the wonderfully heartwarming historical novel, With A Name Like Love (2011, FSG Books for Young Readers).  It's called "The Quitting Place."  Ever been there?  I have. Numerous times.  But I'm not stayin'!

Thank you, Tess, for your encouragement and this post!   Tess' new book Skies Like These will be released on July 15, 2014, by FSG.  Can't wait to read it!

Next, I want to share this post, "Stinky Self-Doubt," by middle grade author Danette Vigilante. This post really  hit home for me because it pinpoints what I've been feeling: self-doubt.

Many thanks to Danette for this inspiring post!  Danette's a talented writer, too, and uses NYC for her settings.  This brings back many good memories for me since I was born and raised in NYC, too.  :)   Danette's first book, The Trouble with Half A Moon,came out in 2011, and her second book, Saving Baby Doe, is due March 2014 from G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Well, that's it for me right now, guys . . . hope some of this was helpful! :)

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2. Great quote from Steve Jobs

I came across this quote from the late Steve Jobs a few days ago and thought I'd pass it on:

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma--which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

--Steve Jobs

4 Comments on Great quote from Steve Jobs, last added: 10/24/2011
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3. Sunday Musings . . . I'm back, yes, really!

Hi everyone!

Long time, no see . . . yes, I’m back. So sorry I was gone so long but I had to deal with a few personal issues, including unemployment (lost my job in 2010). And with my husband working only part-time, it has been quite stressful to say the least. But I’ve been quite busy, nevertheless, transporting the kids to school and their various activities, doing some freelance proofreading, and of course, working on my middle-grade novel.

But enough about me . . . what I really want to focus on with this comeback post is the DEBUT PUBLICATION of my long-time blogger friend, TESS HILMO’s middle-grade mystery, WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Macmillan, Margaret Ferguson Books, 2011). The excerpts I read on amazon had me wishin’ I had a Kindle to download the story right away. With a Name Like Love received 2 fantastic STARRED REVIEWS—from Kirkus and the esteemed School Library Journal—before it’s publication date (Sept. 27, 2011). That is a HUGE accomplishment! Congratulations, Tess!

You’ll find a wonderful interview with Tess on Robyn Campbell’s blog, Putting Pen to Paper (Hi Robyn!), as well as this interview with Tess over at CYNSATIONS, the blog of well-known author & resource of publishing info, Cynthia Leitich Smith. (And speaking of Cynthia, you have got to check out this inspiring guest post she wrote over at Adventures in Children’s Publishing, “Your Only Real Competition is Yourself.” Doesn’t she speak the truth?)


IN CASE YOU’RE INTERESTED, you can win a copy of TESS HILMO’s With A Name Like Love by leaving a comment at Mother Daughter Book Club.com under the post Book Review and Giveaway: With A Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo. THE CONTEST ENDS OCT. 12th midnight (PDT). Good Luck!

AND, don’t forget to read Tess’ guest post at this same site, where she offers great writerly wisdom on The Power of Words.

You know, there’s been so, so many great blog posts this past year. Did anyone see the wonderful Tribute to Rita Williams-Garcia (author of the 2011 Scott O’Dell and 2011 Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel, One Crazy Summer) by her editor Rosemary Brosnan? This greatly inspiring read is in the July/August 2011 issue of The Horn Book magazine. I think most writers would give their right arm (and leg!) to have such a wonderful author-editor relationship as theirs!

Another great motivational read I came across was a post back in June entitled 3 Comments on Sunday Musings . . . I'm back, yes, really!, last added: 10/5/2011
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4. Back to Blogging

Hi all!

I know, I know . . . long time no see!

Sorry I was gone so long! So much has been happening, both in my own life (no, no, I didn't get an agent if that's what you're thinking--oh how I wish that had happened!) and around the blogosphere (I'll cover writing/publishing news SOON in a later post). I think, though, I've finally realized why I just stopped blogging (and also writing/revising my MG wip) cold. Now, I'm not a psychologist or anything like that, but I do think that it may have been from grief and/or shock. You see, my last post was April 2nd. The very next day, April 3rd, a close cousin of mine (who I grew up with from, like, the toddler stage) passed away. Yesterday, she would have been 43, just a year older than myself (my birthday is on the 27th). The family knew she didn't have long for she had been sick quite a while. But still. For me, it was like losing an older sister. And I think, now, I've finally been able to come to grips (somewhat) with this loss.

So, slowly but surely, I'm creeping my way back into blogging and the blogosphere (and back to working on my wip) . . . I've missed you all! :)

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5. Better late than never . . . First Page Blogfest

*entry coming*

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6. "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest reminder

Hi all!

Most of you know this already. Just a reminder that the 2nd "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest being held on the Guide to Literary Agents blog ends this coming Sunday, February 21, EST. The category this time is Kids Novels (Middle Grade and Young Adult).

To enter, you must submit the first 150-200 words of your unpblished, book-length work of middle grade or young adult fiction. Entry must be e-mailed with no attachments. Also, you must submit the title of your work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with your entry.

***To be eligible to submit, Chuck (the GLA editor) asks that you do one of two things: either mention & link to this contest TWICE through some type of social media (blog, Twitter, Facebook), OR mention the contest once & add Guide to Literary Agents Blog to your blogroll.

FIRST PLACE winner --- critique of 25 pages of your work by your agnt judge, a query critique, and 2 free books from Writer's Digest Books (you get to choose from several choices)

SECOND & THIRD PLACE winners --- critique of 10 pages of your work, and 1 free book from Writer's Digest Books

For complete details & guidelines, click here

Oh yes, the judge for this contest is Jennifer Laughran of the esteemed Andrea Brown Literary Agency

GOOD LUCK to everyone who enters! :)

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7. Contests! Contests! Contests!

**This is a long post so you may want to look this over a bit more on the weekend, you know, when you can sit back & relax (I hope!) with a cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate), and read at your leisure . . .

Are you in the mood for a contest or two (or three)?

Now, practically everyone knows about the Annual Writer’s Digest Competition (their 79th is now underway). If you don’t, you can click here for more information. The Grand Prize is $3,000 plus a trip to New York City to meet with editors & agents. There are also 1st through 10th place winners as well as Honorable Mentions (11th through 100th place). It ends May 14, 2010 (late entry deadline is June 1, 2010).

BUT . . . do you also know about these contests?

1) 2010 PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writers Association) Literary Contest
There are 12 contest categories including YA (submission is first 28 pages & synopsis), Children’s PB or chapter book (first 14 pages), as well as Adult Fiction & Non-Fiction. According to the guidelines, there will be 8 finalists in each category.
First place winners receive $600
2nd place: $300
3rd place: $150
The entry fee, though, is a bit steep: $35 for PNWA members & $50 for non-members. The good news is that every entry accepted in the contest will receive 2 critiques.

The entry deadline is February 19, 2010.
Click here for complete information & guidelines.

2) 2010 Sandy Writing Contest
This contest, sponsored by the Crested Butte Writers Conference, also includes Children’s (no PB’s) & YA as well as Adult Fiction, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Romance, & Suspense/Mystery. It is open to all authors unpublished in novel length fiction.
Submission requirements are the first 20 pages of a novel & up to a 2-page synopsis.

Final round judges include:
Christine Pride, editor, Random House (mainstream adult fiction)
Ginger Clark, agent, Curtis Brown (fantasy/science fiction)
Julie Scheina, assistant editor, Little, Brown BFYR (children’s/YA)

1st place: $50 & a certificate
2nd place: $25 & a certificate
3rd place: certificate
The entry fee is $25 for Crested Butte Writer members & $30 for non-members.
All entries must be received by midnight, February 15, 2010
Click here for complete information & guidelines.

3) 2010 Writers-Editors Network 27th Annual International Writing Competitin
(Formerly CNW/FFWA Florida State Writing Competition)

For children’s writers, this contest has a Children’s Literature Division that includes submission of either an unpublished short story, non-fiction article, book chapter, or poem. For all other writers, there is a Non-fiction Division, a Fiction Division, & a Poetry Division.

1st place, each category: $100 + certificate
2nd place, each category: $75 + certificate
3rd place, each category: $50 + certificate
Honorable Mentons are also awarded certificates

The entry fees seem pretty reasonable: <

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8. And speaking of DREAMS . . . the ALA Awards

Quite a few dreams came true on Monday with the announcement of the ALA Awards. CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners!

Here are a few:

2010 John Newbery Medal for most outstanding contribution to children’s literature

Winner: When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. Wendy Lamb Books (imprint of Random House Children’s Books)--LOVED THIS, it took me back to my own childhood days in NYC

Honor Books:

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose. Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux (imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. Henry Holt and Company

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick. The Blue Sky Press (imprint of Scholastic)

2010 Randolph Caldecott Medal for most distinguished American picture book for children

Winner: The Lion & the Mouse, illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers--LONG OVERDUE, imho.

Honor Books:

All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, written by Liz Garton Scanlon. Beach Lane Books

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

2010 Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults

Winner: Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

Honor Book: Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis. Alfred A. Knopf (imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

2010 Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award

Winner: My People illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., written by Langston Hughes. Gineo Seo books, Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Honor Book: The Negro Speaks of Rivers, illustrated by E. B. Lewis, written by Langston Hughes. Disney - Jump at the Sun Books (imprint of Disney Book Group)

2010 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award: The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. Aladdin (imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)

2010 Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement: Walter Dean Myers

2010 Pura Belpré (Author) Award--presented to a Latino/Latina writ

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9. Happy (Belated) Birthday, Dr. King!

Hi all!

Last week we had some electrical trouble (bad wiring, as determined by the fire dept.--yeah, we called them around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning because lights were flickering on & off, and well, we just wanted to be SAFE). So they had to turn half our electric power off so as not to overload the circuits. Finally, this past Monday & Tuesday, an electrician came out & installed a new fuse box & fixed the wiring outside our house. And all is back to normal--my computer is up!

So with this post I just wanted to offer my belated birthday wishes to the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I found these AWESOME quotes from Dr. King over on Tee Brown's blog, PEN TO PAGE. Like his wisdom, his DREAM is timeless and continues on in our generation . . .

6 Comments on Happy (Belated) Birthday, Dr. King!, last added: 1/21/2010
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10. Happy New Year!

Hi all!
Hope everyone had a good Christmas and a restful New Year’s day! Mine was pretty peaceful, and the kids & husband were happy with what they received (even though the budget was a little tight this year). I love giving & getting books as presents, so my oldest daughter, who’s 10, received Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (book 4 in the series—she’s absolutely hooked on this series & can’t wait to see the movie in April), and my youngest daughter, who’s 6, got a Princess & the Frog picture book.

Didn't 2009 go by FAST? There were so many things I planned on doing writing-wise that I just never got around to (okay, yes, I procrastinated A LOT). But this year I resolve to accomplish what I didn't in 2009. I must say, though, that my hands down BEST accomplishment writing-wise was the creation of this blog. With my 10-year-old's encouragement (she kept saying, "Mommy, just DO it!"), I took a leap of faith and created Crystal's Bookmark. And I AM SO HAPPY I DID! I have met so many aspiring (and a few published) writers this past year that have been such a wonderful source of encouragement & inspiration. THANK YOU ALL so much for stopping by in 2009 for my not-always-weekly sporadic posts on writing & publishing info, and the occasional teaser excerpt. I wish all of us the best of luck in accomplishing our writing goals for 2010! Here's to a FANTASTIC New Year!! :)

Coming soon: Some goals, some resolutions . . . and a few contests

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11. CONTEST ALERT!!! Miss Snark's First Victim Secret Agent contest starts in less than 1 hour (EST)

Hi all!

So sorry for the rush alert on this (forgot about it over the weekend!), but, if you're interested, Miss Snark's First Victim is back with her first Secret Agent contest of the year . . . and email submissions start at 12 noon (EST). The rules are to submit the first 250 words of a COMPLETED manuscript. Here's the link to find out the rest of the details! Good luck!!

Ooh, I forgot to mention: this month's entries for the Secret Agent contest calls for MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, all genres, & YOUNG ADULT FICTION, all genres! Whoo-Hoo!

I'll be back later today with an official New Year's greeting . . . and more news about other contests going on around the blogosphere and elsewhere (where you can win MONEY as well as critiques!)

See you all later! :)

10 Comments on CONTEST ALERT!!! Miss Snark's First Victim Secret Agent contest starts in less than 1 hour (EST), last added: 1/12/2010
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12. Teaser Tuesday

Hi all!

I haven't done a teaser for a while and thought I'd post one today. If I'm not careful, I'll probably end up posting my whole book (just kidding . . . I know my chances for publication would be pretty much nil if I did that!). But seriously, I do so love the feedback from everyone. It's very encouraging!

Today I'm posting from TRAIN WATCH (yep, I'm still revising it, adding scenes here & there, etc.).

Here's the setup for the scene: Cleo, my protagonist, is on her way to the train station in Winston-Salem, NC, with her mother, brother, & grandfather, as well as the kind schoolteacher that she & her mother befriended at the previous station in Hamlet. (And just a reminder, the year is 1941)

Cleo looked up from her book, wondering why Mrs. Grissett was frowning so. Mama also noticed.

"Is there anything wrong, Mrs. Grissett?" Mama asked.

"Why, no dear, not especially. I was just thinking about your Cleo's big dreams is all." She tried to face Cleo but could only turn halfway as they jammed so tightly in the old Roadster. "It's a beautiful thing to realize such big dreams as yours, Cleo, but don't forget to look back every now and then. There are others dreaming right behind you."

"Yes, ma'am," Cleo said, heat rising to her cheeks.

Turning back to Mama, Mrs. Grissett continued, "You know, the young ones today don't realize that good, qualified Negro teachers are still needed down here, as well as up North.

Cleo dropped her chin and closed her book. She blinked back the tears that threatened to drop any second. Maybe she did read too much like Otis said. She really hadn't meant to sound so self-centered. And it wasn't that she had anything against working in the South--okay, she was against working in the fields--but it was just . . . just . . . that she knew, no felt, something bigger was in store for her in New York.

"Cleo! Cleo!"

Mama was shaking her shoulder so hard she thought her collarbone would come unhinged. How long had she been lost in thought? "Yes, Mama?"

"Didn't you hear me calling you, girl? What's wrong with you?"

"I'm fine, Mama. I was just thinking is all."

"Well, child, that's the saddest look of "fine" I've ever seen." Mama shook her head. "Cleo, this here's a mean, hard world. And I don't mean just here in the South. The North has its problems, too."

Well, that's it for today. Thanks so much for reading!

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13. Thankful Thoughts

Truly, this year, there is SO MUCH to be thankful for:



INTERNET ACCESS (without which I could never have created this blog and met all of you, my writer friends)

Thank you all for following . . . see you next week!

Have a great THANKSGIVING DAY (& weekend)! :)

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14. A little writing Inspiration . . .

Hi all!

I came across a few posts/articles over the last couple of weeks that I thought were SO INSPIRING, that I just had to share them with you, my writer friends.

1) From the Writers First Aid blog author Kristi Holl asks,"How Does Your Talent Grow?" Choose an attribute (one per week, she says) and watch your talent grow in the coming months! Love her list, don't you?

2) Novelist Alexander Chee, a graduate of my alma mater, wrote this inspiring essay for The Morning News, recounting his studies with Annie Dillard. After I read this, I could have kicked myself for not having signed up for her class (especially being an English major)! Ah, well . . . I am grateful still that he took the time to write of his experience in her class. I especially like the part where she told his class, "If you're doing your job, the reader feels what you felt. You don't have to tell the reader how to feel. No one likes to be told how to feel about something." And that's just one of the nuggets of writing wisdom she shared with the class . . . imagine a whole semester's worth! Like I said, I could kick myself . . .

3) Lastly I just wanted to share (and many of you have probably seen this already), posts from two newly agented writers on a timeline of their writing journey thus far:

From Shelli at Market My Words: What a difference a Year makes


From Caroline Starr Rose at Caroline by line: My agent: Michelle Humphrey of Sterling Lord Literistic

ALSO--I'm going back a few months here--just thought about the writing journey of Tess Hilmo, one of my first blogging friends, and wanted to include it here as well. It's wonderfully inspiring! (Tess is repped by Steven Chudney of The Chudney Agency.)

I so love reading about a writer's journey . . . it gives me so much hope to think that if they can do it, I can, too!

So here's to all of us on the writing journey . . . be INSPIRED!

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

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15. Monday Musings

*post coming*

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17. Sad day in Children's Lit

I don't know if anyone's heard about this yet, but I just read on Elizabeth Bluemle's Shelftalker blog that children's and young adult author, Norma Fox Mazer has passed away. You can read Elizabeth's tribute here.

I know Ms. Mazer will be sorely missed in children's litearture. I remember her as one of the first YA authors I read as a pre-teen, around the age of 11 or 12, I guess. She was an amazing author, to say the least. Among my favorite titles by her were (and I know this is going back aways): The solid gold kid, Taking Terri Mueller, and When she was good.

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18. Fabulous Friday Links :)

Hi folks!
Hope all is going well with everyone. Haven't posted much news lately (not that there hasn't been lots in the last month or two!), so I thought I'd offer up a few links/posts that you may or may not have discovered. Hope they help!

) The National Book Award Finalists have been announced! As reported by Publishers Weekly, the nominees in the Young People's Literature category are:

Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith (Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Davd Small, Stitches (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen)

Congratulations to all!
Click here to see the complete list of nominees

I've got JUMPED in my to-be-read pile . . . just wondering, has anyone read any of the others (in the Young People's category)?

2) Yesterday, Casey McCormick over at Literary Rambles, shone the Agent Spotlight on Michael Stearns of Upstart Crow Literary.

And in case you missed it, here are a few more that were "spotlighted" these past few weeks:

Beth Fleisher, Barry Goldblatt Literary
Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc.
Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary Agency
Joe Monti, Barry Goldblatt Literary
Merrilee Heifetz, Senior VP, Writers House
Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio, LLC
Bill Contardi, Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, Inc.

3) In the mood for a contest or two?
New Associate Agent Mary Kole, of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency is running a QUERY Contest at Kidlit.com. The query must be for a finished children's book manuscript (YA, MG, or picture book) and must be under 500 words. It must be either pasted in the comments field (she explains how on her blog) or emailed to her by October 31st at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.

The prize? --- A critique of the first 30 pages of your manuscript


For the next contest, hop on over to new blogger and aspiring author Sheri Rosen's blog, The Worries and Triumphs of an Unpublished Author. Sheri's giving away a FREE, SIGNED COPY of Michael Grant's GONE. What do you have to do? Become a follower of her blog and/or refer someone to her blog. That's it! Click here for more info on this contest. Oh yes, it ends on December 1st!

AND, while you're there, check out her notes from a talk given by AnnMarie Harris, series editor at Scholastic Trade Paperback, at an Editor's Day event sponsored by the Orange County chapter of SCBWI. AnnMarie's topic: middle grade paperback series for boys & girls. Sheri took some awesome notes, folks!
Also (yeah, she's got more!), for all you aspiring historical fiction writers (myself included), be sure to check out Sheri's Editor's Day Part 2 post on a very interesting talk by Alexandria LaFayette, winner of the 2005 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction for her novel, Worth.

4) Ooooh, just remembered! Debut author Cynthia Jaynes Omololu is giving away postcards, bookmarks, & business cards celebrating her YA novel, Dirty Little Secrets (Walker, February 2010). Check it out here!
She also recently published a delightful, multicultural picture book entitled When It's Six O'Clock in San Francisco (Clarion).

5) Want the last word on Word Count for Novels and Children's Books? Peep this definitive post by Guide to Literary Agents' blog editor Chuck Sambuchino.

6) Are vampires on their way out? Check out this article on the presumed rise (or fall, depending on the story) of angels posted last month on the Publishers Weekly website!

7) Lastly, for those debut authors coming out with books in the next year or two, and even for us aspiring authors, you may want to take heed of these New Rules for Authors courtesy of Stet!, the Backspace writers' blog. I guess it's never too early to start planning . . . :)

And for a cozier, more personal take, Kristin Tubb, author of Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different (Delacorte) shared, earlier this week on her blog, Do Things Different, what she's learned in her first year as a published author.

Happy Writing!

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19. Fabulous Friday!

Well, there's been some interesting discussions going on in the blogosphere. Here are a few, if you haven't come across them already:

1) On her blog Brooklyn Arden, senior editor Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine Books posted this Open Letter to Agents. The comments, by both agents and bloggers alike were very interesting. Also, Michael Bourret posted a very thoughtful response on his agency's blog here. As for me, while I can clearly see cases for both sides, I think I lean a bit more toward Cheryl's perspective as I said on her comment page that giving ALL interested editors sufficient time to read a manuscript & get their respective houses on board would really be the best means of matching the right editor to the right manuscript. Because working with an editor is usually a long-term realtionship, isn't it? A good 18 months or more, right? I know, personally, that I'd rather be hooked up with someone who was compatible, both editorially & personality-wise.

What do you think?

2) Elizabeth Bluemle of Publishers Weekly's online column Shelftalker: A Children's Bookseller's Blog posed a question yesterday, garnering a multitude of thought-provoking comments. The question (and article) was Where's Ramona Quimby, Black and Pretty? And in light of the recent Bloomsbury cover controversy, I don't think it could have come at a better time. Although I LOVED reading the Ramona series growing up, this is something I really didn't wonder about until years later. I guess at the age 8 & 9, I mainly read stories that interested me, not really taking note of the main character's race. I mean I read Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Louise Fitzhugh as easily as I read Alice Childress and Rosa Guy. All I cared about then was a good story. It was only till years later when I really paid attention to the craft & business of writing for children that I wondered about this issue. And even now, with the arrival of such chapter books as Ruby and the Booker Boys and the Keena Ford series, I still think there is room for much more. Who know, I may even try one, one day . . . :)

3) And finally, last month I read an enlightening letter (to all kids' book publishers) by a school librarian in the online issue of School Library Journal. I found it quite interesting. here's the link.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

4 Comments on Fabulous Friday!, last added: 8/31/2009
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20. Thoughts on a Thursday

Books on Writing for Children

Hi all!

Yesterday, I was rummaging around my bookshelf and noticed I had accumulated quite a few titles on writing for children. So I thought I'd list them. Now those of you who've been writing for some years probably already own many of these. But for the newer writers out there, I hope these books will offer the same hope, direction, and inspiration that they have provided (and still provide) me along my writing journey.

Here they are (in no particular order):

1) The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb

2) Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

3) How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published (3rd ed.) by Barbara Seuling

4) Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin

5) How to Write and Sell Children's Picture Books by Jean E. Karl

6) Writing Fiction for Children by Judy K. Morris

7) Writing for Children & Teenagers (3rd ed.) by Lee Wyndham

8) Writing & Publishing Books for Children in the 1990s; the inside story from the editor's desk by Olga Litowinsky

9) The ABCs of Writing for Children; 114 children's authors and illustrators talk about the Art, the Business, the Craft, & the Life of Writing Children's Literature; compiled by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff

10) How to Write a Children's Picture Book; learning from The Very Hungry Caterpillar . . . and other favorite stories by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock

11) Origins of story; on writing for children; edited by Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire (NOTE: this is a collection of lectures presented at various symposiums sponsored by Children's Literature New England, by such authors as Ursula K. Le Guin, Katherine Paterson, Maurice Sendak, Susan Cooper, Sharon Creech, Margaret Mahy, Tom Feelings, Jill Paton Walsh, and Virginia Hamilton)

And, of course, the ANNUAL directory no children's writer should be without: the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM). I believe the 2010 edition is now available!

And if you have any particular book(s) on writing for children, or writing in general, that you refer to often please feel free to share them here. Thanks! :)

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21. Five on a Friday

2 Comments on Five on a Friday, last added: 9/14/2009
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22. The Big 3-0

No, I'm NOT turning 30 (unfortunately!), just celebrating the fact that I now have 30 followers! And, even though I'm not (yet) consistent with my posts, I just wanted to say thank you(THANK YOU!) to all who still follow my blog (or even just pop in occasionally) for sticking with me.

And so, taking a cue from this post by Karen Strong over at Musings of a Novelista, I am going to list 30 things you may, or may not, know about me:

1) I have 1 brother who is 6 years younger than me.
2) I wear glasses (mainly when driving).
3) I wore a uniform for 12 years.
4) No, I wasn't in the military, just Catholic school (1st thru 12th grade).
5) I am not Catholic, though.
6) I grew up in New York City, specifically upper Manhattan, and more specifically the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem.
(If you're interested in this section of Harlem, wikipedia explains it much better than I ever could.)
7) I am often mistaken for being Hispanic.
8) Unfortunately, I do not know any Spanish.
9) However, I did take 3 years of French in high school, which still doesn't help because I've pretty much forgotten all of it. So . . . I would still need a French dictionary if I ever went to France.
10) Facts of Life was a favorite show as a kid. AND so was Diff'rent Strokes, Brady Bunch, Wonder Woman, The Jeffersons, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and . . . I could probably go on & on . . . brings back great memories of childhood, though!
11) I graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
12) My majors in college were English & Economics.
13) However, I did not get a job on Wall Street.
14) I did get a job in reference publishing.
15) I have an ancient computer. No, seriously, it is ANCIENT, like the monitor has the huge back to it circa the 1990s. I know, I know, it is definitely time for a new one.
16) My husband is a cook/chef, and yes, he can cook much better than me, thank the Lord!
17) We have 2 daughters.
18) AND my mother and grandmother live with us. Yes, you heard, er, read that right.
19) Which is why I mainly write late at night when EVERYONE is asleep.
20) Love Your Life by Victoria Osteen is a favorite inspirational book.
21) And also Reposition Yourself by T.D. Jakes
22) I don't drink. (Well, ONLY socially--and even then I mainly favor margaritas & daiquiris)
23) I don't smoke, and have never tried. Nope, not even once!
24) I can't swim.
25) My favorite pastry is a chocolate croissant.
26) And I LOVE white chocolate in practically any form.
27) I am also partial to lemon meringue pie.
28) I got my first library card when I was 8 years old.
29) I first found out I had somewhat of a talent for writing when I was 16 years old during a semester of creative writing in high school. I'd often receive a fiction writing assignment handed back with "Is this real?" or "Did this really happen?" jotted at the bottom of a story.
30) But I did not seriously think of writing for publication (or even writing children's books at all)till 20 years later.

17 Comments on The Big 3-0, last added: 10/2/2009
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23. Teaser Tuesday

Hi all . . . I haven't posted a teaser in quite a while and just wanted to run this by folks . . . it's a relatively new scene I've been trying to develop.

Just to set up the scene for you: my main character, Cleo, has gone to visit her great-grandmother (Ma Murr), a former slave, who lives a bit farther out in the country.


Ma Murr said, "Do it, chile! Run for your life!" She got a faraway look in her eyes. "Yes, yes." She nodded. "Just like I ran for mine. Mmm. hmm. You want to be free. Lum and Jenny ain't free 'cause they still working for Boss Man. But you, chile, you has a chance to be free. Grab it!"
She twisted around, causing Cleo to abruptly stop combing her silvery, waist-length hair. "You hearin' me, chile?"

Cleo blinked. "Y-Y-Yes, Ma'am." Ma Murr always gave her the willies with that piercing stare.

Ma Murr smiled, content with her preaching. "Good. Good. Go on home, now. We's finished for today."

Thanks for reading!

6 Comments on Teaser Tuesday, last added: 10/2/2009
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24. Teaser Tuesday

Hi everyone!

Well, I'm back with another "teaser" today but it's not from my middle-grade work-in-progress. No, this time it's a very brief snippet from one of 2 picture books that I'm working on. It's about a young duckling who, while out on a stroll with his family, gets separated from them as he tries to chase a rabbit.



Last in line behind his brothers and sisters, Little Duck Devin turned to see . . . a rabbit, munching on a carrot. It hopped right past him and his family. Little Duck Devin flew fast behind it.


Little Duck Devin rubbed his beak. Where DID that rabbit go?

YIKES! What was THAT he heard? Oh! It was just his stomach grumbling! He waddled on until he came to . . .


Little Duck Devin waddled and hopped, first this way, then that. But the cars and trucks zoomed right on by.

Would he ever see Mama and Molly and Holly and Tevin again?

I welcome any criticisms/suggestions/feedback as picture books are NOT my strong suit but I love the challenge of writing them anyway.

Thanks for reading, guys! :)

**Oh yes, if anyone's interested in reading the whole thing (about 5 pages), you are more than welcome. I'll swap you for another PB or a 1st chapter of your MG. Just shoot me an email! :)

11 Comments on Teaser Tuesday, last added: 10/10/2009
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25. Fabulous Friday Links

*post coming*

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