Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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! :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Better late than never . . . First Page Blogfest

Hi all!

I know, I know. I've been a bad, bad, blogger. Sorry guys! And I can't really blame it on any one thing in particular, except perhaps sheer laziness or . . . maybe procrastination? I dunno. I mean I work full-time and have 2 kids (and sometimes a third, if you count my husband--sorry, hubby!). But I know that's true for so many of us--we all have things/people that we have to write or blog around. So I'm starting back (to blogging) and workin' on the time management (I found some great links on this that I'll put in another post later). I'll also be posting links to some really interesting witer/publishing info that I've come across in the last month or two.

For today (or what's left of it), I'm posting below my entry for Kelly Lyman's "In the Beginning" Blogfest . . . it's from the first page of TRAIN WATCH, my middle grade work-in-progress. I've never participated in a blogfest before so I'm a bit nervous, and I also haven't posted any excerpts in quite a while either! Anyways, here it is . . . let me know what you think (especially if anything strikes you as unclear).

Wishing you all a happy & blessed Easter weekend! :)

And, of course, THANKS FOR READING!

Chapter 1

Letter to Mama

April 10, 1941

Dear Mama,

I hope you are doing well. PLEASE COME GET ME AND OTIS! I’m tired of working in the field picking cotton and corn and tobacco and whatever else Grandpa Lum grows for the Boss Man. I thought slavery was over! I want to come live with you, Mama. Now! And Mama, you’re not going to believe this, but yesterday, when me, Hattie, and Otis were out in the cotton field pulling weeds, Grandma Jenny hit me over the head with a hoe! She said I was too slow. Mama, I was just tired. Tired from walking the mile home from school. Tired from the heat. Tired


Oh no. Someone’s coming up the ladder! Grandpa Lum will skin me alive if he finds me up here writing to Mama.

Shoving aside the worn notebook she was writing on, Cleo Holmes swung her brown, mosquito-bitten legs over the side of the bed, narrowly missing the jagged metal springs poking through the thin mattress.

With the nearly-finished letter still in her hand, she hurried across the room and quickly pushed aside the dark sheet of the makeshift closet. Pulling down an old, tattered shoebox from the back of the top shelf, she placed the letter in the box alongside her blue ribbon ink pen (won in a most-books-read-over-the-summer contest). She scooted to the middle of the room just as Hattie, her twelve-year-old aunt, appeared at the top of the ladder, sweat streaming down the sides of her pecan-tanned face.

Cleo raised her eyes to the ceiling. Thank you, Lord. Grandpa Lum hasn’t reached the house—yet.

"Whoo-weee! It’s . . . some . . . kinda . . . hot . . . out there!" Hattie huffed, as she pulled herself up and over the ladder. She wiped the steady drip of water off her dirt-streaked face with the back of her hand and down the sides of the faded, dust-covered overalls she wore. Catching her breath, she continued, "Papa says you better hurry on down. He don’t want anymore dilly-dallying from you." She focused more clearly on Cleo. "You still in your school clothes?"

"Hattie," Cleo begged, shimmying out her knee-length plaid skirt, "tell him I’m coming. Please?" She forced her clammy legs into the new pair of blue jeans her mama had sent last month. "I just have to finish something first."

"Papa don’t care ’bout none of that. You better get a move on or he’ll be up here with a switch—or a belt." She looked over her shoulder, then back at Cleo.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"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! :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

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 Competition
(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:
For a fiction/non-fiction entry under 3,000 words, the entry fee is $5 (members) or $10 (non-members)
For entries of 3,000-5,000 words, the fee is $10 (members) or $20 (non-members)
For poems, the fee is $3 (members) or $5 (non-members)

Click here for complete information & guidelines.

Click here for their 10 Tips on Winning Writing Contests.

And you can click here to see their past winners. Interesting note: aspiring author/blogger, Suzette Saxton won 10th place honorable mention last year in the Children’s Literature division.
The entry deadline for this contest is March 15, 2010.

4) Willamette Writers 2010 Kay Snow Writing Contest

Folks, for this contest, both adults AND children can enter in their respective divisions. So if any of you know or have any budding writers . . .

This contest accepts adult fiction, adult non-fiction, poetry, juvenile short story, novel excerpt or article, and complete or partial scripts (for the screenwriting category).

Students enter under grade divisions (grades 1-5, grades 6-8, grades 9-12) and are limited to 1 entry. Also, there is no entry fee for students.

For us adults, though, there is a $10 entry fee for members and a $15 entry fee for non-members
Adult categories: 1st place, $300
2nd place, $150
3rd place, $50
Students: 1st place, $50, 2nd place, $20, an 3rd place, $10

The entry deadline is April 23, 2010.
Click here for complete guidelines

Click here to read a Kay Snow Award success story by Rosanne Parry, author of Heart of a Shepherd (Random House, 2009).

5) Houston Writers Guild Spring 2010 Writers Contest

This contest is open to novels and screenplays, any genre. You must submit the first 10 pages of your novel, book, or screenplay, plus synopsis.

The entry fee is $20 for members and non-members.
The deadline is February 28, 2010.

Click here for complete contest rules & guidelines, and here for the entry blank.

Lastly, don’t forget it’s just a few more days to enter Andrea Brown literary agent Mary Kole’s Kidlit Contest. Entry has to be for a FINISHED children’s novel (only MG or YA), and must be under 500 words.
Grand Prize: a 15 page critique
1st prize: a 10 page critique
2nd prize: a 5 page critique
3rd prize: a 2 page critique
Honorable Mentions: critique of 1st page of your novel
ENTRY DEADLINE is January 31, 2010 at 11:59 p.m., Pacific Time
Click here for her complete guidelines.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

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 writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience

Winner: Return to Sender, by Julia Alvarez. Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

Honor Books:
Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz. Marshall Cavendish Children

Federico Garcia Lorca (Cuando Los Grandes Eran Pequenos/ When the Grown-Ups Were Children) by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro. Lectorum Publications Inc.

2010 Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award--presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience

Winner: Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day; Celebremos El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros illustrated by Rafael López, written by Pat Mora. Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Honor Books:
Diego: Bigger Than Life illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. Marshall Cavendish Children

My Abuelita illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Tony Johnston. Harcourt Children’s Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Gracias Thanks, illustrated by John Parra, written by Pat Mora. Lee & Low Books

2010 Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences

Django written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen. Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press. Award for best young children ages 0 to 10.

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Award for middle grades (ages 11-13).

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Arthur A. Levine Books (imprint of Scholastic) Award for teens (ages 13 -18)

2010 William C. Morris Award honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens

Winner: Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan. Houghton Mifflin

Ash by Malinda Lo (Little, Brown)

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown)

The Everafter by Amy Huntley (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

hold still by Nina LaCour (Dutton)

2010 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for most distinguished beginning reader book

Winner: Benny And Penny in The Big No-No written and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes. TOON BOOKS, a division of RAW Junior, LLC.

Honor Books:
I Spy Fly Guy written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold. Scholastic

Little Mouse Gets Ready written and illustrated by Jeff Smith. TOON BOOKS, a division of RAW Junior, LLC

Mouse & Mole, Fine Feathered Friends written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day written by Kate McMullan, illustrated by R. W. Alley. Dial Books for Young Readers

2010 Robert F. Sibert Medal for most distinguished informational book for children

Winner: Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. Candlewick Press

Honor Books:
The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani. Charlesbridge

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca. Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose. Melanie Kroupa/Farrar Straus and Giroux

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults: Jim Murphy

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award--recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site: Lois Lowry

For a more comprehensive listing of all the national awards (ALA & otherwise) given to 2009 books for children and teens see this article by Elizabeth Bluemle on Publisher Weekly's Shelftalker blog.

Congratulations also & again to Kekla Magoon and Tanita S. Davis for their NAACP Image Award nominations!

Click here to see how Rebecca Stead and Jerry Pinkney reacted to news of winning the top awards when ALA called

Has anyone read any of the winning titles? So far I've read When you reach me, and The Rock and the River is in my to-be-read pile.

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 . . .

Monday, January 11, 2010

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

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! :)