Revision Techniques for Students!

December 23, 2013

Winter Wordplay: Revision Results
4:30-6:00 p.m. at The Storyteller Bookstore, Lafayette, CA
Ages 9-up

Submit up to a 10- page story (double-spaced, 12 pt. font) or stand-alone chapter by January 11.

Students will receive a portfolio with copies of each of the stories to discuss and edit. We will focus on various elements of the revision process and work toward sculpting a story into a final draft.

$30/each class or $75/series

January 18: Shaping Characters

February 1: Developing Themes

February 8: Refining Language

Questions and help with registration: wordplayworkshop@hotmail.com

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December 21, 2013

Apologies!  I’ve written the last couple of posts to this blog and non-techie me has pushed the incorrect button.  I THOUGHT I saved my edits of the posts, but I didn’t.  Ugh.  And I’ve been doing this blog for HOW long?

Just goes to prove that I’ve been rushing too much, as usual. 

Hope you take time to enjoy this month and don’t do as I do, but do as I say!

How One Girl Promotes Change Through Writing – You Can Too!

December 21, 2013

Thanks to Rich Freedman of the (Vallejo) Times-Herald, word has spread about a youngster who channeled her anger into writing.

Diagnosed with leukemia this past year, ten-year-old Monica Romo wrote an essay detailing how “Wonder Woman” (Monica!) would rid Vallejo, in Northern California, of hate and evil. In her City Hall appearance, 125 people shared her hope. Receiving a Solano Hero’s Certificate, Monika received a Solano Hero’s Certificate.

Congratulations, Monika!

Writing Prompts:

1. Use your passionate feelings about an issue to inspire art or writing. How will you choose to express yourself? Which cause incites your emotions?

2. Pretend you are a superhero. Write a graphic novel or comic strip expressing your passion for change.

How Poetry Inspires Writers and Artists

December 18, 2013

Quote for today: “Lose your mind and come to your senses.” Fritz Perls

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From the book, Poems of Sleep and Dreams Everyman’s Library, 2004, Richard Wilbur’s “Walking to Sleep” holds a truth that speaks to falling asleep and creative pursuits:

“Step off assuredly into the black of your mind. Something will come to you.” 

Writers and artists! Present an open mind without fear. 

Trust your imagination. 

Writing Prompt:  Open a book of poetry at random.  Which poem stares back at you?  Read it slowly, soaking up the words.  Which line speaks to you?  Let that line become your muse for the day.  Create your work inspired by the meaning of the poem’s powerful words. 

Teens Get Published Now!

December 10, 2013

One Teen Story is a literary magazine for young adult readers of every age. Each issue will feature one amazing short story about the teen experience.

Contest submission will be accepted from May 1st to June 30th, 2014.

One Teen Story will consider original, unpublished fiction written by teens ages 14 – 19. We are interested in great fiction of any genre — literary, fantasy, sci-fi, love stories and horror. What’s in a great short story? Interesting characters, a unique voice, and of course, a beginning, middle and end.

The winning story will be published in the May 2014 issue
. Contest winners will receive $500, 25 copies of the magazine featuring their work, and a 28″ X 20″ poster of the cover featuring their story. The winner will also have an opportunity to edit his/her story for publication with a One Teen Story editor.

*To enter, you must be between the ages of 15 and 19 as of May 31, 2013.

Short stories should be between 1500 – 4000 words and be the writer’s own original, unpublished work.

Previously published stories and stories forthcoming at other publications cannot be considered.

No entry form or fee is required.

Only one submission per person.

One Teen Story reserves the right to publish the story in the form we choose. A parent must sign a consent form for One Teen Story to publish the names of the winner and honorable mentions on our website.

You must submit through our online Submission Manager.

Questions? Visit oneteenstory.com for more information.

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YARN
is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry and essays for Young Adult readers, written by writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices . . . including teens!

YARN is of particular interest to and for young adult readers, 14 years and up. We have no restrictions for authors (fogies over the age of 18 write YA too) and no genre restrictions. (if you’ve got a story set in 2060, bring it on!) We only ask that the writing you submit be original and publishable, with some literary merit. (In other words, if you’ve written a slasher thriller with lots of smooching and slaying, we recommend sending it to Hollywood and not to us.) Send us only your very best.

Submit online to the email address appropriate to your genre. For information on how to do this, visit yareview.net/

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And finally, for your holiday entertainment, this video promoting books and bookstores by Arthur A. Levine, an editor at Scholastic:

Get Your Memoir Published by Simon and Schuster!

December 8, 2013

Are you born before December 31, 1964? A resident of the United States? Want to have Simon and Schuster publish your memoir? The Huffington Post and AARP are offering a memoir contest NOW! Entries may be submitted through February 15, 2014.

Upload a synopsis and the first 5,000 words of your memoir written in English.

Entries must be written by the entrant and cannot have been previously published in any manner. Entries should include entrant’s name, date of birth, mailing address, email address and telephone number. Limit one per person.

Entries may be posted on the Contest Website after being submitted. Having an Initial Entry posted on the Contest Website does not constitute that the Initial Entry has met the submission requirements listed in these Official Rules.

Judges will select ten finalists based equally on originality, appeal, and the power of the storytelling.

Confirmed Finalists will be required to submit their original memoir by 11:59 pm ET on June 15, 2014. Memoirs must be 20,000-50,000 words in length and in English. Memoirs must be written by the entrant and cannot have been previously published in any manner.

Memoirs will be judged based equally on originality, appeal, and the power of the storytelling. One Grand Prize Winner will be selected.

One Grand Prize Winner will
(1) receive $5,000;
(2) receive a book publishing contract with S&S for publication of Winner’s Memoir in hardcover, trade paperback or ebook format (in S&S’s sole discretion). The approximate retail value of the book publishing contract is a book advance of no less than $5,000;
(3) be featured in The Huffington Post online site; and
(4) have an excerpt of the winning memoir printed in AARP The Magazine and posted on AARP’s online website. All components of prize, including but not limited to, publication, online feature, and excerpt publication are in Sponsors’ sole discretion.

For Contest results, send a hand-printed, self-addressed, stamped envelope to: AARP & Huff/Post 50 Memoir Contest Winner’s List Request, 601 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20049. Requests for the winner’s list must be received by December 31, 2014.

Or visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/22/memoir-contest-rules_n_4317794.html

Are You Writing a Novel? Or Should it be a Short Story?

December 5, 2013

I love this writing advice from Elizabeth Sims in her recent Writer’s Digest article, “Miscalculations & Missteps.”

In both children’s and adult writing contests, I’ve read many short stories that try to become novels, and writing that someone identifies as a novel but it REALLY should be a short story. How to tell if your characters/theme/plot is suitable for which genre?

“Take two unrelated heart-clutching moments, or two unrelated story points, or even two unrelated characters, and challenge yourself to come up with a way to link them.”

Do you have enough complexity to hold a reader’s interest for a novel? This exercise will help you discover the layers or depth you need for a longer work of fiction.

Holidays Zap Your Writing Time? Discover How to Write during December

December 5, 2013

Looking for the perfect gift for Aunt Edna, Uncle Irving and your mother? Search no more!

Write individual poems, stories or create personal art work for your friends and relatives. A gift made especially for the recipient will be long-appreciated.

In my circle of friends, K crochets me beautiful scarves; W makes jewelry. My son oil paints and takes photographs.

Which creative endeavor will you choose for each person on your list?

**Another creative idea for the people on your list: an autographed copy of an author’s book. If you can’t attend the author’s talk or book signing, find contact information on the web and ask if the author will sign a label for your recipent.

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Visit this site for a definition of modern authors!

http://nyti.ms/IegLmn

What secret elements make a quest/adventure book great?

November 25, 2013

If you’d like to read a great new middle grade, choose Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early, a quest adventure story about a boy dealing with his mother’s death after WWII. Sent to a Maine boarding school, protagonist, Jack, is unhappy and feeling friendless until he’s intrigued with Early Arden, a unique character with a fascination about pi, who leads him through Appalachia.

Vanderpool’s poetic style lures the reader forward. Here is a scene where they fish with Gunnar, a minor character they meet on their journey. Gunnar carries an emotional, heart-wrenching past.

“You have a fine cast,” called Gunnar.

“I know. My brother taught me before he went to the war.” Early swished his line back and forth. The motion seemed to take him away somewhere.

Gunnar’s expression registered what he knew, what we all knew, of the fate of so many of those brothers who went to war. He looked at me, asking the question he didn’t want to say out loud. Did Early’s brother make it back?

I shook my head in answer. No, Fisher was dead.

Gunnar allowed the quiet to take over as Early moved farther out into the water and into his own thoughts.

Finally, Gunnar spoke, his voice so fluid and moving, it could have come from the river itself. “I once hear a poem about angling. It say when you send out your line, it is like you cast out your troubles to let the current carry them away. I keep casting.”

I liked the sound of that. The river pressed and nudged, each of us responding to it in different ways, allowing it to move us apart and into our own place within it.

Notice the unique dialogue of Gunnar, creating a fully formed person in just a few lines and a second layer of meaning within the words, so you’re not just reading a scene about fishing.

Another aspect which is fascinating about this book is how this Newbery Medal-winning author broke the rules. (In order to break the rules, you must first establish that you know them.) Although in writing adult novels (and nearly always in the movies), authors (and screenwriters) are allowed to fictionalize history for the sake of character and plot. In children’s books, this has been a distinct no-no. Why? We don’t want to confuse nonfiction facts with untruths for kids. But at the end of this book, Vanderpool has a page: PI: FACT OR FICTION? Here she lists the truths about this captivating number, since she has bent the truth within her story.

Writing Prompts:

1. Write a quest/adventure short story with the above elements in mind. Before you begin, think and wonder about your story, developing the plot and characters within you. Daydream, jot notes, and free write about the back story of each character first.

2. Can you write a quest poem? Any style you choose!

3. Create a piece of art with a quest/adventure theme.

4. As you begin reading a book, use post-it notes to mark the scenes that are evocative. Why do they work so well?

Question about California Writers Club Mt. Diablo/Young Writers Contest

November 20, 2013

Hi, I am wondering about next year’s contest: are we allowed to resubmit entries that we have already entered in last year’s competition? Even winning entries? When will the submissions for next year’s contest start? Thanks!

AlexandraHi Alexandra

Great question! Thank you for writing. A winning entry from last year would not win the following year. It would be disqualified. I’m sorry. (Yes, we do save the the winning entries.)

For the best chance at winning, you should begin a new piece, but if you really like an idea from a non-winning story/poem/essay last year, start fresh! Don’t even LOOK at your old draft. Hopefully, you are now a different, stronger writer and will write something so fun and terrific, it will surprise you and the judges! We can’t wait to read the entries!

You may submit as soon as the new guidelines are posted. I’m hoping this will be soon. I do know there will be a new award for humor writing. I will post the guidelines here as soon as I get the “A-Okay” to do so. Hope you’ll join our writing workshop at the Walnut Creek Library on Feb. 1, 2014. Ask your teacher for extra credit if you attend!

In the meantime, keep writing!