Happy Halloween!




To celebrate Halloween, I thought I'd post a tiny teaser from Spirits from the Vasty Deep:


As I was drifting to sleep finally, I felt someone sit on the edge of my bunk and heard a woman softly singing in Spanish. "Mamá?" I called sleepily and reached out. But the hand that clasped mine was cold and dripping, and my nostrils filled with the scent of sodden wool and brackish water. I came awake and scrabbled against the wall, my heart pounding.

The dim light from the corridor showed me I was alone in my bunk. A strange sensation crawled across my skin, over the entire length of my body. As if many spirits were trying not just to talk to me, but to grab hold of me as well. Never had the veil between the worlds felt so thin, not since the haunted room back in the boarding school.

That's when Ruby started screaming, in a long drawn-out wail of horror.


Hope you enjoyed it! Any plans to celebrate Halloween?
We don't even get kids coming to our house any more, since it's on a dark country road.

Minoutaur Books First Crime Novel Competition




Minotaur Books, along with the Mystery Writers Association, is once again running a First Crime Novel competition.

There is no entry fee, but there is an extra step of requesting an entry form by sending an e-mail to MB-MWAFirstCrimeNovelCompetition@StMartins.com, with the following information:
Name of Entrant:
Manuscript Title:
Address:
Phone:

All requests for entry forms must be received by Minotaur Books by email by November 15, 2011. DO NOT SEND MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS TO MINOTAUR BOOKS.

Each entrant will receive an entry form by email containing the address of the judge to whom he or she will send (by regular mail or next-business-day delivery service) his or her manuscript. Entries must be postmarked no later than November 30, 2011 and received by judges no later than December 15, 2011. Winners will be notified March 31, 2011.

The winning entrant will receive an "offer to enter into its standard form author's agreement with the entrant for publication of the winning Manuscript. After execution of the standard form author's agreement by both parties, the winner will receive an advance against future royalties of $10,000. On the condition that the selected winner accepts and executes the publishing contract proposed by Minotaur Books, the winner will then be recognized at the Edgar Awards Banquet in New York City in April 2012."

So if you are an unpublished author over the age of 18, here's your chance at a publishing contract! Good luck to those who enter!

Miss Snark's First Victim & the Baker's Dozen


Two posts in one day! I had the MeeGenius one below queued up for auto post, but I ran across a great opportunity through Monica B.W.'s blog that is time sensitive, so I'm posting this too.

Miss Snark's First Victim is running their 2nd annual Baker's Dozen Agent Auction. No, you don't get to bid on agents--it's actually the agents who will be bidding on your work!

The details:

* $8 entry fee

* Submission dates vary for MG/YA and adult titles, so be sure to read those carefully on the page linked above, but YA/MG is set for Nov. 1 & 3

* Submit your logline and first 250 words of your polished manuscript

* The 60 winning entries will be posted for critique, and hopefully requests from agents in which they bid with the number of pages they'd like to see--up to a full manuscript.

Sounds like a fun project to me; even if you don't experience the thrill of a bidding war, you should still come away with some valuable feedback. Monica says the spaces fill fast (and she got her agent through the last one), so don't hesitate if you're interested!

MeeGenius Contest for Children's Ebooks


News of MeeGenius's contest for authors of children's ebooks (ages 2-8) has been floating around the blogosphere, but in case you missed it here are some of the details from their website:

"MeeGenius is searching for the next great children’s book author, and is extending an invitation to aspiring and published authors to submit a manuscript. Winning manuscripts will be beautifully illustrated, professionally edited, and published online at MeeGenius. It’s as simple as writing, submitting, and having MeeGenius’ online community vote."

The process looks like this:
Submit Your Story by November 1, 2011

Manuscript Voting Round
(November 28 – December 18, 2011)
All of the stories will be posted to the MeeGenius website for review by the larger community. There are two ways to advance through the Manuscript Voting Round:

Popular Vote
Next to each story will be a “Like” button for visitors to press. The stories to get the most “Likes” from the community will go on to the Finalists Round.

Staff Favorites
In addition to the books chosen by the larger community, “Staff Favorites” will be picked by MeeGenius to enter the Finalists Round.

Finalists Round
(January 31 - February 21, 2012)
If you are one of the authors to get into the Finalists Round, your book will be professionally edited, and illustrated, and produced for the final round of voting! Again, your story will be voted on by your peers, fans and family — but this time everyone will see your book with illustrations and showcased on the MeeGenius website, and vote on whether you will be the Author Challenge 2011 Winner!

Winners Announced!
March 7, 2012
Prizes include a publishing contract+cash prize+collection of MeeGenius's ebooks for the school library of your choice

This sounds like a great opportunity to get your ebook published, or at least get some feedback on it! Good luck to those who enter!


Inspired by the myth and reality of Steve Jobs's adolescent years, Andrew Carre has opened for submissions of MG and YA novels about the young entrepeneurial and inventive spirit:

"So, I’m open to novels with main characters who personify this spirit. YA or older middle-grade. No biographies, no thinly-veiled novelizations of biographies. No books that extend into adulthood. Standard genre rules apply. Offer ends 11/7/11. Void where prohibited."

Guidelines are here. This is another very specific "want", but maybe someone has something that's nearly ready to go.

RTW: Writing Travelogue

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination through the YA Highway site and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?

My writing journey has definitely had some roadblocks and detours, but the most frustrating part is when I chug chug chug up that hill.



Finally get to the top, start to celebrate, and then realize there's another hill just beyond it. An entire mountain range with meadows dotted with flowers and gamboling critters



and impossibly sheer rock faces with jaggedy bits



But I'm close enough to see the Promised Land off in the distance



What about you? What has your writing journey looked like? Don't forget to go to today's YA Highway RTW post and follow the links in the comments to see everyone else's answer!

P.S. In case anyone was curious, these pix are all my own artwork.

Character Inspiration in My WIP Crow's Rest

A few of YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesdays have asked what kinds of things inspire your writing. I've done a few of those for setting, but not for characters yet. So here's a picture of one of the characters from Crow's Rest:



This is how I picture the character of Bobbin, a Corgi mix. Bobbin has some pretty crucial parts in the book, so it was worth nailing down the details of his appearance and personality. This is actually a dog that was up for adoption earlier this year at The Grace Foundation, one of our local rescue groups. His real name was Sinatra, and this photo captured his look of intelligence, determination, and bounciness so well. Doesn't he look like a dog that could be described as "all wiggles and yelps" like Bobbin?

I'm not going to put any pictures up of how I picture the human characters from Crow's Rest; I really like to give clues but let the reader picture them for themselves. But this dog picture was too cute to keep to myself! What about you--do you "cast" minor characters as well as the main ones in your books?

Contest for Chilling Winter Tales


The Toasted Cheese Literary Journal's Dead of Winter Contest for short horror fiction opened October 1 (with no entry fee, yay!). Here are some particulars, but go to the guidelines page for full details:

*Stories submitted to the 11th Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2011) must use the theme SKULL AND BONES

*The word limit is 2000–3000 words.

*Stories MUST be set in winter.

*Stories must fall in the horror genre. As to subgenres, any is allowed but note that the judges prefer gothic, dark fantasy, erotic horror (PG-13 max), noir, psychological horror, quiet/soft horror, and suspense horror. The judges tend not to like sci-fi horror, extreme/splatter horror, Lovecraftian, etc. Please no creepy children, people who don't know they're dead or overdone "monsters" (vampires, were wolves, sasquatch, etc.). As to gore level, we'd far rather know what's going on inside a character's head than to see it on a pike. We want to be disturbed, unable to shake your story and compelled to leave on every light in the house after reading it.

*The contest opens October 1, 2011 and the deadline for submission is 11:59 PM ET December 21, 2011.

*Email entries to dow2011[at]toasted-cheese.com with the subject line: Dead of Winter Contest Entry

Good luck to all who enter!