A Writing Contest Tale

This past December, I came across a writing contest run by a local independent publishing company. The contest was open to all fiction. Contestants were to send in their first 15 pages, no query or logline required. The pages were to be anonymous, but the email cover letter needed to have contact information.

The judges would pick their favorites from the initial round, contact the contestants to send in full manuscripts, and they’d announce the top 3 winners in March. Continue reading

Sunday Spin: Kids Saving the Rainforest

Welcome to Sunday Spin, where I draw your attention to a post that strikes me as funny, educational, dreamy, tasty, useful, or just plain fun. You can find all my Sunday Spin mentions HERE.

Recently, my children participated in a writing contest called Find Your Voice!, a letter writing contest run by their elementary school and Seymour Osman Community Center (SOCC). The objective was to find a social topic to research, then write a letter to someone in an authoritative position who would have some sort of experience or knowledge or influence regarding that chosen topic. Riley, my 7-year-old son, wrote to President Obama about saving the rainforests.

Riley was one of the top 3 finalists. (My daughter, Maddy, also won! I’ll write about her in another post.)

The award for winning was a $25.00 donation to a charity that supports his cause. Riley’s money will be donated to Kids Saving the Rainforests, a non-profit organization that was founded by kids.

I did not know about this organization before Riley had decided that he wanted to write to President Obama. In Riley’s online research, he had discovered the website and almost forgot to continue with writing his letter because he had become so absorbed in reading what other kids had to say about the rainforests. There is a lot of useful facts and information, plus neat photos and stories shared by kids. There is an online store, games, activities, and suggestions on ways anyone can help protect one of the world’s most amazing places.

Here is Riley’s letter:

President Obama,

My name is Riley, a first grader in New Hampshire. I am writing to you because I want to save the rainforests. I believe you can help me because you are the President of the United States.

The rainforests are important to me because I love all the animals who live there, especially the gorillas, bats, and snakes. I don’t want them to vanish from the earth. Trees give us oxygen. Did you know that if a tree lives 50 years, it exhales 10,000 pounds of oxygen in its life (about 120 pounds a year). Without trees, our planet is in trouble.

Will you please make people stop cutting down the rainforest. You could talk to all the loggers and farmers and settlers who are destroying the rainforest. You could show them pictures of the animals that live there. You could help them understand that we need the rainforest on our planet.

Thank you so much for reading my letter and thinking about how you can help make a difference. I’m depending on you. And so are the rainforest animals.

Best Regards, Riley

I Won the Writing Contest!

Amazing, but true. I am the grand prize winner of The Accidental Novelist’s Writing Contest! My congratulations go out to the other winners who had participated in the three rounds. All entries were wonderful to read.

In case you missed this latest writing event in my life, I will give you a recap.

In Round 1, we were supposed to write 50 first lines, which I posted here. I picked my top 5 sentences to submit and this one was chosen by the judges to go through to Round 2:

Nobody wanted to claim the abandoned baby on the hill.

For Round 2, we had to write 5 first paragraphs and we could use our first lines. We had to submit our top three of the five, all of which I posted here. One of my paragraphs went through to Round 3:

Nobody wanted to claim the abandoned baby on the hill. Not a single hunter from the King’s clan and not one farmer from the Queen’s clan knelt in admission. That hill, with its concealed scorpion pits and live landmines, was supposed to keep the two clans divided as part of the War treaty. But the baby had all the markings, proof that the hill had been crossed. He had the silvery eyes of the Kings and the ruddy skin of the Queens. His secret will not last long. In time, the family birthmark will bloom. Announcing to which hunter and which farmer the baby truly belonged. And then the spooks will come after them.

Sidenote: I was told that my “Deadly and desirable” paragraph was a runner-up. Very cool…

Finally, for Round 3 we had to take ONE of the winning paragraphs and tell what the story is about. Beginning, middle, and end. Stakes and consequences. And we had to do it in 10 sentences or less.

So, I chose my paragraph to tell the following story:

Sarae, a sixteen-year-old girl of war-torn Queen’s clan, finds an abandoned baby that possesses the features of Sarae’s people and of the enemy, King’s clan. Someone illegally crossed the hill, an act so galling war threatens again.

The prayermasters learn that the baby is part of a long-forgotten prophecy which warns the Queen’s clan is destined to be wiped out forever, unless a Breaker can be found.  Sarae, a Breaker, is her clan’s only hope of survival but she’d have to destroy the King’s clan.

She is unwilling to destroy the enemy, for at one time they were all one region, friends and family. Sarae knows there is a chance to unweave the prophecy, but it means a treacherous journey being hunted by spooks and the risk of being stoned for treason.

In her quest of unweaving the prophecy she makes unlikely bonds who share her cause of bringing peace between the two clans. One of Sarae’s scouts brings her the devastating news that the abandoned baby’s birthmark has bloomed, revealing it as belonging to Sarae’s family.

Sarae soon discovers that her own family was responsible for the clan war from the very beginning. Sarae makes the choice to destroy her family so that she can bring peace back to the clans.

And I won! Yippee! There are actually PRIZES that go along with this, so that makes it even more fun-pendous. I get a copy of a print or ebook version of either Book One or Two of the Faerie Tales from the White Forest series, written by The Accidental Novelist herself, Danika Dinsmore! Plus, I get a special, secret prize. Aaand…not only was this a brilliant, helpful writing exercise but I actually created a storyline that I could turn into a STORY!

Wow, thanks, thanks, and more thanks to all involved including Danika and the judges (I only know them by first name): Tod, Jennifer, Natalie, and Yvette.

This is way too much excitement for me in one day, honestly. So, I need to end it here.

5 First Paragraphs Contest-Round 2

The Accidental Novelist has announced the finalists for the first round of the 50 First Lines Contest. One of my 5 lines made it through: Nobody wanted to claim the abandoned baby on the hill.

Woo hoo! Now it’s on to the second round. We have to write 5 first paragraphs from the 5 first lines we entered. Then we have to pick our favorite 3 and enter those. Below are my paragraphs, with the first three the ones I entered into round 2:

1. Nobody wanted to claim the abandoned baby on the hill. Not a single hunter from the King’s clan and not one farmer from the Queen’s clan knelt in admission. That hill, with its concealed scorpion pits and live landmines, was supposed to keep the two clans divided as part of the War treaty. But the baby had all the markings, proof that the hill had been crossed. He had the silvery eyes of the Kings and the ruddy skin of the Queens. His secret will not last long. In time, the family birthmark will bloom. Announcing to which hunter and which farmer the baby truly belonged. And then the spooks will come after them.

2. She and the horse eyed each other with suspicion, remembering how one tried to kill the other. Fifteen-year-old Violet circled the mare, hoping to gain some advantage. The darn animal matched her moves, step for step, nostrils flaring. Neither was going to break soon, Violet could see that. But with the Red Hawk Cavalry hot on their trail, they didn’t have time for this foolishness. She shielded her eyes against the Danger Zone. One hour before the gates closed. If they were locked out of Mark 1 they’d be imprisoned again. Together. Violet really wasn’t sure what would be worse. Sleeping in a snake-infested dungeon, or being stuck there with that stupid horse.

3. Deadly and desirable, that was the heading on my business card. So, why am I surprised when Seven Mendoza, aka Blood God, saunters into my office? His latest tattoo covers his forehead and when I look closer, I see that his eyeballs are inked also. I pretend I’m not repulsed and offer him coffee. He accepts, then slips out a vial of a thick, maroon substance. He pours it into his coffee, smirking at me. Somehow I know it is the remnants of his latest kill. Now I know why I’m surprised with his visit. If he’s still the top marksman of the Huntings, then what does he want with me?

4. Seven deadly sins have become eight now that I returned home. Admittedly, I’m entertained when I see all the citizens of Ferrytown running into their houses, locking their doors, turning out their lights at the sight of me walking down the street. That’s fine, actually. It’ll be much easier to find out the truth if everyone leaves me alone. But when I see Lacey Martin hurry up the farmer’s porch and disappear into her father’s home, I am upset. Even she believed it? That’s a shock. I really thought that out of anyone I’d grown up with, she would know I didn’t murder Bruce Dobbs.

5. She glared at the wheelchair knowing if she ever used the damn thing, it would be to commit suicide. That’s exactly what they want, Barbara reminded herself. Just three more days, and you’ll be free. Barbara’s scheme to break out of the retirement home was in its final stages. She learned the schedules of all the people she’d have to avoid: the pimply boy who mowed the lawn, Mrs V. and her dog Frenchie. She kept track of the nurses’ round-the-clock routine. She kept all her notes in a leather journal. No one would ever be able to crack her coded messages that she devised with letters and words she cut out of AARP magazines. Barbara’s next step was to bribe Zoe, her twenty-five-year-old granddaughter. Somehow she had to convince her to defy her father. Help her make the slickest escape in the history of the Baldwins.

50 First Lines Contest

The Accidental Novelist (Writes Again) is holding a 50 first lines contest. I wrote 50 first lines in about two hours (I got interrupted twice by my lovely children), and I picked my top 5 lines to submit to the contest. Further instructions included posting the 50 lines on my blog (if I so chose). I chose. So, here they are. All 50. The first 5 are the ones I thought were the best (if I can go so far as to say that).

  • 1. Deadly and desirable, that was the heading on my business card.
  • 2. She and the horse eyed each other with suspicion, remembering how one tried to kill the other.
  • 3. Seven deadly sins have become eight now that I returned home.
  • 4. Nobody wanted to claim the abandoned baby on the hill.
  • 5. She glared at the wheelchair knowing if she ever used the damn thing, it would be to commit suicide.
  • 6. I kneeled down, accepting the knighthood, knowing I wasn’t the one who’d saved the king.
  • 7. The tide ebbed just enough to show me the last of his footprints.
  • 8. The remains of the village smoked for three months after the Ravage Killings.
  • 9. When our prayermaster rolled her stones and gems to see the prophecy of the village, she saw a horse and its rider coming to save us.
  • 10. Mud Dwellers kill for information, but they’re the only ones who can read the broken slate trail.
  • 11. I am not supposed to climb the great oak because, they say, it is neutral territory.
  • 12. As he walked through town, he watched people turn out lights in their houses for fear he’d ask them for help.
  • 13. The morning is pink and clouded when I decide to buy the gun to kill my husband.
  • 14. Too many mountains were in the way, and I had to think of another way to outrun the beast.
  • 15. I have no idea where time went other than to know she died when I wasn’t paying attention.
  • 16. I loved him once when the moon was just a shadow in the water.
  • 17. Grabbing the key, I knew there was no chance to unlock it before she sliced my hand off.
  • 18. Riddled with bullet holes, the door was useless and I looked for another source of protection.
  • 19. She waited by the tree, the one with the dead limb that refused to fall in a storm.
  • 20. He had blown up into a lump of lard, probably because that’s all he ate.
  • 21. When he showed me the picture I knew that my secret was out, but I continued to lie.
  • 22. The broken glass glinted in the sink, but I sifted through it anyway, desperate to find my wedding ring.
  • 23. After everything that he did for me, I still couldn’t tell him I found the book.
  • 24. The sky swelled open with a flurry of stars, and I saw the trail my sons took to find their father.
  • 25. I am too young to be this sad, and too old to worry about it.
  • 26. He came for me, like a beast on the prowl.
  • 27. I had to leave her for dead if I wanted her to survive, and I cut myself free.
  • 28. Quietly, the child slipped out of the shack and raced out to find a better place.
  • 29. The bird visited again, this time in the dead of night, and I knew it was my turn in the pit.
  • 30. The tower rose out of the mist, giving her the one push she needed to seal her fate.
  • 31. Seven rubworts glowed through the water as she silently led the Dog Angel across.
  • 32. The only sound in the room was the raspy wheezing of the dying man in bed.
  • 33. She spit at my feet, and I knew I’d found the right place.
  • 34. Clanners of the East don’t get a chance to apologize for not knowing the rules.
  • 35. The clouds spelled trouble, and I was heading straight for them.
  • 36. All Creatures of the Dark Sun were forced to give up one prized possession.
  • 37. A dewmist is what she needed to save her family, but it meant releasing the plague again.
  • 38. The people of the town prayed quickly for the marked baby, and then they abandoned it on Peak Hill.
  • 39. My father illegally brought my grandmother to the ward, so I have to break her out.
  • 40. This time I will not let him go, I vowed, and prepared the ritual of death-love.
  • 41. He buried his daughter under the large oak wondering if she and her mother will meet again.
  • 42. The meadow glittered with moondust, and I longed for him to come back.
  • 43. Red is a good color for her, she thought, as she dressed her cold body.
  • 44. I don’t have a lot going for me, other than a cannon for a left arm and the ability to pace off 100 yards blindfolded.
  • 45. The moon is wedged in the sky like someone had thrown it up there and it got stuck.
  • 46. I can barely make out the pair of silver eyes through the clumps of rhododendron blossoms, eyes that used to be mine.
  • 47. My big break into show business came at the expense of my childhood best friend, Serena Barnes.
  • 48. I fantasize more about my sister’s husband than I probably should.
  • 49. I grew up in a farmhouse where it sits at a lopsided angle in Bailey, New Hampshire.
  • 50. My new hometown is smaller than Dover and shouldn’t have its own township except it’s the birthplace of a founding father or something.