I've been busy gearing up for the Pens for Paws Auction that starts on May 7, but wanted to give a heads up on an upcoming contest deadline. Hunger Mountain's Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing offers a chance to win $1,000 and publication in Hunger Mountain.

Here are the quick details from my post last year:

*One overall first place winner receives $1,000 and publication! Three runners-up receive $100 each. One runner-up from the YA (young adult) entries, one from the Middle Grade entries, and one from the Picture Book or Writing for Young Children entries chosen.

*$20 entry fee.

*Entries must be postmarked by June 30th

*Submit one story or novel excerpt up to 10,000 words. You may include a synopsis if your entry is an excerpt, but an excerpt should still work as a stand-alone piece

*Work must be original, written in English, and previously unpublished

*Your name or address should not appear anywhere on the work

*Once submitted, entries cannot be altered

*All entries will be considered for general publication as well as for the Katherine Paterson Prize (My MG short story, Hornworms, was published in Hunger Mountain and it was a genuine pleasure to work with the editorial staff)

*No artwork, or translations please

*Multiple entries allowed—each entry must include a separate entry fee

Good luck if you enter!

Time for Another Peek into the Garden

I realized I haven't done any posts with pictures from my garden in a while, but the warm spring weather has made my shutter finger itchy. Here are a few I've taken over the last few days (hint: click on them to make them bigger in a slideshow):

Hope if you have good weather, you're out enjoying it today!

Your Story Prompt on Writer's Digest

Need a writing prompt--one that may also land you in an issue of Writer's Digest? WD does a Your Story Competition every other month, and the latest prompt is:

Begin your story (must be 750 words or fewer) with the following line of dialogue: “I’ve got to get out of these clothes—fast.”

And here are the other details from their site:

"Every other month, Writer’s Digest presents a creative challenge for fun and prizes. We’ll provide a short, open-ended prompt. In turn, you’ll submit a short story based on that prompt. The winner will receive publication in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.

The Rules:

Judging criteria are inventiveness, creativity and—where appropriate—humor.

One entry per person.

WD retains first-time rights to run the winner (and finalists) in the magazine and/or on our website, after which all rights return to the author.

WD editors will select the top five entries and post them on our Writer’s Forum.

Readers will vote on their favorite to determine the winner. (Remember, you must be a registered member of the Writer’s Digest forum to read and vote in this competition.)

The decisions of its editors are final.

Winners will be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest and on the Your Story winners page at WritersDigest.com."

Good luck if you enter! I could see having some fun writing a story with that prompt . . .

Roseville's Litfest from 2010 came back again this year on April 14, re-branded as the Northern California Storybook & Literature Festival. This was a free event with a few workshops and panels, but was mainly put on to offer local authors a chance to celebrate their books and connect with readers.

My crit partner Rachel Allen Dillon had a lovely booth setup

And gave a wonderful presentation on writing and illustrating her picture book, Through Endangered Eyes

And fellow Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators member Lori Mortensen braved the chilly weather to showcase her picture books

while I went to go watch the Young Adult Fiction panel (left to right: Linda Joy Singleton, Kim Culbertson, and Pamela Johnson [Jennifer Walker was on the panel too but all the pictures of her came out blurry because she was fiddling with her hair--sorry, Jennifer!])

All in all, this was a great local event and I hope they continue to do more of them!

P.S. Rachel Allen Dillon, Lori Mortensen, and Linda Joy Singleton will all have items in the Pens for Paws Auction! Make sure to follow over on the Pens for Paws Auction site if you'd like to bid.

RTW: Photo Essay Question

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 and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What images inspire/ represent your WIP or favorite book?

We did one of these for our RTW in July 2011, so I'll post different inspiring pics this time:

And that's enough inspiration for one post! Don't forget to go to the comments on the YA Highway RTW post to see everyone else's answers!

P.S. I'm still taking donations for the Pens for Paws Auction, so press that purple button in the sidebar to check it out. Thanks!

Teaser Tuesday of a Different Sort

Instead of a teaser from my WIP, I did a teaser of the items that will be up for auction on the Pens for Paws site starting May 7th. Some great swag so far, go check it out!

They say it best, so take it away WOW!

"WOW! hosts a (quarterly) writing contest every three months. The mission of this contest is to inspire creativity, communication, and well-rewarded recognition to contestants. The contest is open globally; age is of no matter; and entries must be in English. We are open to all styles of writing, although we do encourage you to take a close look at our guest judge for the season (upper right hand corner) if you are serious about winning. We love creativity, originality, and light-hearted reads. That's not to say that our guest judge will feel the same... so go wild! Express yourself, and most of all, let's have some fun!


Maximum: 750

Minimum: 250

The title is not to be counted in your word count. We use MS Word's word count to determine the submitted entry's word count."

They've stuck with an open prompt, and entries must be submitted by May 31, 2012, along with your entry fee of $10. Regina Brooks, founder of Serendipity Literary Agency, is judging this round. Good luck if you enter!

(image source)

Pens for Paws Auction

Some of you may know that I volunteer for a great cat sanctuary, Fat Kitty City, in El Dorado Hills, California. This year for my blogiversary, instead of a giveaway I've decided to do a fundraiser for these deserving animals!

The Pens for Paws Auction will start May 7, but I'm starting the call for donations now. What kinds of things am I looking for?

*Books and swag: signed editions, advanced reader's copies, collections of print or ebooks, and swag like bookmarks, tote bags, etc.

*Artwork: prints or custom artwork, or a custom avatar or portrait for use on a website or blog, jewelry, crochet or knitwork

*Critiques for artists or writers, or editorial services

*Your item doesn't need to be cat- or pet-oriented; it's all good!

I'm personally raiding my own book collection and putting up some ARCs and first editions! If you'd like to check out the auction site, it's still under construction, but the form for donating items is up and running. Please consider helping out the kitties!

Thank you!

Left Coast Crime Writer's Workshop

Last Friday was the Left Coast Crime Writer's Workshop and it was a great way to reinforce some of the things I'd learned from Alexandra Sokoloff's book, as well as to get some new information on ebooks from Elle Lothlorien.

Elle Lothlorien
's presentation on ebooks was eye-opening. Some great information on her publishing journey and things that worked (plus things that didn't). Her general advice was to get your book looking as professional as possible if you go the self-published ebook route, and a cool resource for that is CrowdSpring. You can set the fee you're able to pay, upload your book description, and have artists submit their interpretation of cover art. You can turn them all down if nothing captures your interest, but it's pretty incredible to see the wide variety of interpretations.

I won't rehash Alex's workshop since I've already blogged about her book, but as homework she asked us to list the top 10 movies and books that compare to our stories. My list for Crow's Rest was:

Starman (just watched the original trailer for this on Netflix and nearly fell out of my chair laughing, but I stand by it as an example and best parallel for my story)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer series (not a movie, I know)
Harry Potter books and movies (for their allies disguised as villains, and vice versa)
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (for its depiction of faeries as not-so-nice creatures)
Tenth Kingdom (for its fractured fairy tale feel, and the family dynamics)
The Usual Suspects (for characters that aren't what they seem)
Hot Fuzz (same reason as above, as well as an irreverent attitude)
Ella Enchanted book and movie (she doesn't have any powers of her own, but is able to hold her own among those that do)
Shrek movies (fractured fairy tale and irreverence combined, plus my MC can be kind of crude and rude on occasion)
How to Train Your Dragon (for some of its family dynamics, and the obvious hero's journey)

What about you? Have you ever put some thought into which books and movies inspire your story, and why?

(Photo, from left to right: me with a usual goofy expression, Danna Wilberg, Alex Sokoloff, and Nancy Herman)