Friday, December 30, 2011

8 Happy New Year Everyone!

Due to illness, the regular Friday round-up won't be posted today. We'll do a double line-up next week though, so please check back. In the meantime, Happy New Year. Have a wonderful (and safe!) holiday.

The Ladies of AYACP

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12 WOW Wednesday: Natalie Parker on the Anatomy of a Good Hook

Today's WOW guest is Natalie C. Parker, a YA writer represented by Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse Literary Agency. Natalie is addicted to her cello and her nail polish collection in equal measure, but isn’t big a fan of jellyfish. She blogs at nataliecparker.com and writes collaborative short fiction with two other YA writers on Tangled Fiction (http://tangledfiction.livejournal.com/).


The Anatomy of a Good Hook

by Natalie C. Parker

If you’re writing a novel (and if you’re reading this, you probably are), there are a few key words and phrases you’re more than a little likely to be familiar with. But there’s one thing we stress over like no other because so much rests on its small and elusive shoulders, one thing that if we don’t get it right, renders the rest of our work irrelevant because it likely won’t get read: the hook.

In June of this year, I signed with my agent. This immediately transformed me from level-headed writer to the sort of crazy that thinks it’s a great idea to celebrate by making a public offer to read and critique the first 5k of any manuscript every written. Within a week, I had 59 submissions and a half dozen people singing, “I told you so.” I spent the next month reading and critiquing work from people I’d, for the most part, never met.

I received all types of writing, and for the purposes of this post, I’ve broken down the numbers by category:

YA, total: 42
- Paranormal/Romance: 15
- Fantasy: 12
- Urban Fantasy: 7
- Dystopia: 4
- Contemporary: 2
- Historical Fantasy: 1
- Science Fiction: 1

MG, total: 8
- Fantasy: 3
- Paranormal: 3
- Contemporary: 2

ADULT, total: 9
- Fantasy: 3
- Urban Fantasy: 3
- Memoir: 2
- Paranormal Romance: 1

(Looking at that still has a dizzying effect on me.)

What I didn’t realize at the time was that this was a very small window into the life of the Literary Agent Extraordinaire, who easily receives this number of submissions in a single day. And even more than that, it was a microstudy on the anatomy of a good hook.

From that collection of 59 very different manuscripts, 7 hooked me so well I did one of two things in my response: offered a critique of the full manuscript or told the author I believed they would soon have an agent (it’s worth noting that at least one of these people recently received representation). If I were an agent, I might have requested fulls and partials from each of these 7. So the question is, what did their hooks have that the other 52 didn’t?

Three things which, taken all together, make up the anatomy of a well-drawn hook: a point, a barb, and an eye.

(If it isn’t already clear, we’ll be using actual hooks as the basis for this metaphor. Any kind will do – fish hooks, grappling hooks, pirate hooks, you name it, they all do what the beginning of your novel should….they hook. … Moving on.)

THE POINT
These manuscripts all had opening lines that made some sort of impression. They weren’t all amazing or heartachingly beautiful or so unique I couldn’t imagine ever reading anything like it again, but they all did something to pique my interest. They were the point of the needle against the skin, the first sensation that there was something there worth paying attention to.

We’ve all heard a lot of “rules” about what should and shouldn’t be found in your first line. I think that nothing is set in stone. Write the opening line that gives us the most intriguing entry into your story.

A first line isn’t necessarily good because it’s mind-blowing in its self-contained awesomeness, but because it’s so sharp the reader didn’t realize they moved past it eagerly.

As an example, I’ll use Beloved by Toni Morrison, which has one of the most plain yet captivating first lines I’ve ever read:

124 was spiteful.

It’s a small statement, full of voice, but it tells me very little about the story to follow. What it does do is raise my curiosity and invite me to ask what exactly is 124? And why is it so spiteful?

THE BARB
You’ve made your opening play and convinced the reader to keep going, but there’s a good chance that your first line has only bought you a short amount of time. This is the point where a reader goes, “Huh, this sounds intriguing, I wonder…” You’ve got to keep convincing them that there’s something worth reading here and your first line wasn’t just a happy accident.

The five or six lines that immediately follow your first are what I’ll call the barb in this metaphor – the small bit of story that gets under your skin, that tugs you forward with just the slightest hints of pressure. They must be tight, intriguing, and they must continue to deliver on the promises made in that first line. The barb is a good place for some hints of exposition, some small reveal of character and voice, some slight gesture of the plot on the horizon, and some sense of what is at stake.

Morrison’s barb is hard to miss. She gives us a sense of the deep meaning behind her opening line, revealing that it isn’t sarcastic or melodramatic, but a reality for the family that lives in the house at 124.

Full of baby’s venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children. For years each put up with the spite in his own way, but by 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims. The grandmother, Baby Suggs, was dead and the sons, Howard and Buglar, had run away by the time they were thirteen years old – as soon as merely looking in a mirror shattered it (that was the sign for Buglar); as soon as two tiny handprints appeared in the cake (that was it for Howard). Neither boy waited to see more; another kettleful of chickpeas smoking in a heap on the floor; soda crackers crumbled and strewn in a line next to the door-sill.

THE EYE
The last piece of the hook in this, perhaps crude metaphor is the eye, which performs the crucial act of connecting your painstakingly crafted hook to the rest of your story. This can come immediately following the barb or shortly thereafter, but certainly should exist within your first chapter.

In the case of Beloved, we get a little more exposition before the eye of the hook shows up a few paragraphs past the barb. But when it does, it cinches tightly around the work already accomplished by the previous pieces and makes additional promises to the reader of what’s to come – Sethe and Denver will confront the spirit in their home that has already done so much to tear their family apart. The eye is a moment of clarity in the story, your promise to the reader that change is coming.

It’s important to remember that your hook isn’t just the first line of a story, but a concert of parts acting together – the first line that pulls you in soundlessly or with a bang, the follow-up that adds depth and meaning to that first line making it as real as the Velveteen Rabbit, and the moment of clarity that connects the starting point to the rest of the novel.

It’s probably also important to remember that you will never write the perfect hook. Like everything else in writing, there’s no perfect formula and no way to ensure you’ve written one that will attract 100% of readers.

But why not give it a shot?

0 Recent Releases For the Youngest Crowd of Readers

Here's a quick peek at some recently released books that are making waves for the smallest readers.

Eco People on the Go! (Teenie Greenies) by Jan Gerardi 
This adorable board book uses a lift-the-flap feature to reveal the many environmentally friendly ways of moving from one place to another.




The Little Composter by Jan Gerardi
This eco-friendly concept book illustrates waste products from food that can used to make compost. It even breaks down the steps of composting, from collecting the waste to spreading it around.


Busy Elephants by John Schindel and Martin Harvey
The gorgeous photographs in this board book are accompanied by simple text that is pleasing to the ear. The rhythm and rhyme are ideal for a young reader.



Grandma Calls Me Gigglepie by J.D. Lester
A variety of animals share their clever nicknames, as coined by their respective grandmothers. The rhyme and colorful illustrations in this board book will make you wish it was your idea to write.


Happy reading!
Marissa

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

7 1st 5 Pages December Workshop - 3rd Round Revisions Up

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Can you believe it is almost the new year already? It feels like it should still be May, right? And have you seen the stores? We went out for some last minute things on Saturday and the stores had Valentine's Day things out on display already. As if time doesn't fly fast enough.

The last round of revisions is up for our December 1st Five Pages Workshop! Please jump in and help polish up these entries.

And don't forget that the next Workshop will begin soon. Our monthly 1st Five Pages Workshops start the first Saturday of every month. We accept the first five middle grade or young adult manuscripts received by email starting at noon. Lisa Gail Green and I will tell you what we see in those first five pages with respect to your voice, plot, characters, setting, pacing and writing in general. If appropriate, we'll try to help you pull your hook forward and strengthen your voice and structure. You'll also get feedback and comments from your peers throughout the month, and have the opportunity to post revisions each week so you'll end up the strongest possible start.

The rules are simple:

1. Manuscripts must be middle grade or young adult.
2. Manuscripts do not need to be completed, but must be your own, original work.
3. Send us the first five pages, with each page approximately 250 words, max 1250 words.
4. Do NOT send any synopsis or summary information.
5. Do include your name and genre at the top as follows:
    Genre
    Your Name
    Revision Number
6. Send the entry in plain text, single spaced, with a double carriage return between paragraphs.
    THIS IS CRITICAL!!!! NO EXCEPTIONS

7. Be prepared to receive honest, constructive feedback.
8. Be prepared to provide honest, constructive feedback to each of your fellow workshop participants in every round in a kind and courteous manner.

You can send your emails at noon (Eastern Time) the first Saturday of the month to kidlit at writeedge dot com. We will accept the first five entries that arrive meeting all the above formatting criteria.

Happy reading and revising!

Martina

3 1st 5 Pages December Workshop - Jones, Rev 3

YA Paranormal Romance
Sandi Jones

Rusty trucks and derelict boats languished in front of houses along
the dark Carolina coastal road. Ever since we’d left home that
afternoon, I’d imagined winding up in the country, far from my family
and best friend, enduring months cramped in a shack with my mother’s
new boss, a reclusive writer who probably hoarded junk and never
bathed.

Inspired by the hardcore music on my IPod, I finished my sketch,
shading the overalls of a cotton farmer fighting to pull a boy’s arm
from the churning spindles of old-timey farm machinery. My empty
stomach clenched at the sight of plasmatic splatters across my page.
Too dark to draw anymore, I snapped the sketchpad shut.

Beside me, Mom’s face pinched with disgust. She’d never understood my
art. Neither did I, really. It was my father’s gift.

The unexplainable image of the farmers’ agony would likely stay in my
head while I tried to sleep that night.

Somehow I’d lost track of time. The car slowed as we neared a massive
stone entrance under dim lighting. I removed an earbud.

“Chelsea, take the wheel. I have the code for the gate on my phone.”
Her blonde ponytail fell over her shoulder as she fumbled in her
purse.

I grabbed the steering wheel just as headlights burst from the open
gate, blinding me in a flash of white as a vehicle suddenly flew out,
headed in our direction. I flinched, cutting a hard right. The
oncoming car hit their brakes and veered to miss us, spraying seashell
gravel onto our Toyota like rain. Mom recovered, swerving to stop on
the shoulder of the private driveway as the other vehicle, a shiny
black Vette with lots of chrome and dark windows, gunned the engine.

“Idiot!” Mom smacked the horn.

My heart thudded. I craned in my seat, watching the guy’s thoughtless
retreat. A license plate reading “GEOFF” in reflective blue letters
disappeared into the gloom.

“You okay? I’m sorry.” She sighed, collecting herself.

Rubber squealed in the distance as the other car spun onto the asphalt.

“Barely.” I scowled at the way she always accepted blame whatever the
situation. My instincts told me to hang my head out the window and
call the driver the name he deserved. However, an awful thought
stopped me. “Was that your new boss?”

“I don’t think so.” She bit her lip as she steered our car back onto the road.

The jerk had left the gate open, so we rolled past the entry’s digital
keypad. The bars closed automatically behind us with a metallic clank
as we moved from the lighted gateway for the black woods ahead.

She offered an embarrassed smile. “Poor guy didn’t expect anyone to be
out here at night. He was probably Ben’s—”

“Ohmigod!” I sat up.

The road curved, and a lighted building emerged at the end of the
driveway where ancient oak trees spread twisting lace-shrouded limbs
of gray Spanish moss. Ginormous pillars surrounded the white house.

Mom’s eyes were hopeful when she glanced at me for my reaction and
parked the car by the brick sidewalk. “This must be Antonia. What do
you think?”

I dropped the IPod and tumbled out the door for a better look.

Burning to draw, I walked backward with my head back so I could take
in the mammoth building. The plantation-style house stood three
stories high with balconies. The downstairs rooms glowed with movement
inside, while the upstairs windows were lifeless and dark. Far above
on the top floor, a single gauzy curtain flew outward, up and down,
waving us away.

Leave. Leave. Leave.

I rubbed at the goose bumps on the backs of my arms, dismissing the
thought as too much like one of Dad’s wild notions.

Mom led us past lighted palmettos and flowering shrubs along the
drive—an impressionist’s dream of soft and sharp textures—up the steps
of the wraparound porch to the double doors of what could’ve been the
set of an old Civil War movie. Except the place didn’t seem old with
fresh white paint. I hoped it was new.

Surely she wouldn’t expect me to sleep under the roof of former slave-owners.

My stomach knotted as she rang the brass doorbell, hands still
trembling after our near miss with the reckless driver. But why did I
dread meeting Mr. Ramsey? I’d never heard anything bad about the
British author. Lots of people I knew read his bestsellers. My
grandma, for one. His readers wanted to know more about him, but for
whatever reason, he couldn’t manage to write his story. Too humble. Or
too boring. Mom had spent hours chatting with him on the Internet
before they’d decided to work on his memoir together in person.

The door opened and a man wearing a blue dress shirt and khakis
blinked at us under metal-rimmed glasses. His expression slowly
smoothed from a look of utter disgust to awareness. “Lori!”

“I’m sorry we’re late, Ben. I should’ve called.”

“Not a problem at all.” His graying brown comb-over and wide smile
erased my suspicion that Mom found him attractive. Too nerdy.
“Dinner’s still warm.”

“I want you to meet my daughter, Chelsea.” She nudged me.

Ramsey shook my hand in his cool grip. “I’m so very glad to finally
meet you. I’ll wager you’re both exhausted.”

I lifted a shoulder. “It’s not been bad. Well, except for just now.
Who was driving that Corvette?”

Mom touched my shoulder. “Honey—”

“Do come in,” Mr. Ramsey interrupted, widening the door. “We can talk
over dinner.”

Paranoia prickled me as we moved through the foyer, my worn combat
boots clomping ungracefully across the hardwood floor, but I’d save my
questions for later. Unlike Dad.

Dark-veined marble floors chilled the interior while light fanned
through chandeliers. We washed up in a formal bathroom, where I was
afraid to touch anything for fear someone would smack my hand and say
I wasn’t allowed to handle stuff.

An arrangement of fresh flowers sat in the middle of the dining table
before us. God, I’d love to capture those beauties on paper with
gouache paints. However, the aroma of fried food distracted me from
the subject matter as a serving woman wearing a gray uniform brought
in a covered tray, and then lifted lids off the awaiting platters. I
caught her slight frown as she poured water in my glass, eyeing my
hair and the blue streak I’d put in it this summer. I pushed it off my
shoulder.

“It was getting dark when we arrived but we saw lots of young people
leaving Hilton Head Island. It’s a popular place, isn’t it?” Mom said
cheerily.

Ramsey nodded. “Absolutely. I’ve made an appointment for Chelsea to
meet with the director of admissions at the island prep school
tomorrow.” He lifted a piece of something covered in golden cornmeal
batter. “Fried pickle?”

She held out her plate. “Thank you.”

“Wait. A prep school for me? Why?” Alarm twisted the knot in my
stomach tighter.

“Lori—?” He hesitated.

“It’s on the island. Very prestigious.” Mom smiled, but her eyes pleaded.

My fork clattered on my plate. So that was the drawback to this gig?

I’m no Barbie. Hadn’t he seen how I dressed? Not to mention I’d
probably be the only half-black student there. They’d hate me.

“Thanks, but I’ve always gone to public schools.”

“Nonsense. My son will be attending Prep, too. You’ll ride with him so
your mum won’t have to drive you back and forth through the tourist
traffic. Shrimp and grits?”

3 1st 5 Pages December Workshop - Ledbetter, Rev 3

YA Fantasy
Ledbetter

The distance between darkness and light was a nano-moment, my mother once told me. A sliver of space. The breadth of a strand of hair. I hadn’t known what she’d meant until that day. And still wished I hadn’t.

I trudged up the darkened beach, digging my toes in the sand with each step. Visions of pearl-skinned sea nymphs still danced in my head. Their iridescent eyes and seductive charms made me smile.

“C’mon, Zeus,” Anytos called, throwing a stick at my feet.

I held a finger in the air.

"Zeus, seriously!" He clapped his hands once loudly.

"Wait. Hold on." I closed my eyes to enjoy the images of those sea nymphs. Just a splinter of time more.

"Zeus!" His words sliced sideways through my memories. “Sun’s nearly up. We don’t have much time!” Tos stood at the top of a dune calling down.

I sighed. “I’m coming.”

I hated the pre-dawn runs we took every morning. The birds weren’t even up yet. I couldn’t wait to get back to the goats I tended with my mother. Against her wishes, I’d named each one. That’s why she never let me slaughter them for food. Or rather, why I never participated.

There was nothing too terribly stressful about goat herding. They were a self-sufficient lot. Sometimes watching them was like watching the sun crawl across the sky. In those moments, my mind wandered like a stray goat.

I’d always felt like I could do more. Be more. Something inside of me clawed for the extraordinary. Yet I had to face that I’d likely never leave Crete.

I joined Tos at the top of the dune and looked across the dusty Cretan expanse that stretched into low-lying hills. Tos turned to me. "You ready?”

“Let’s do it…”

Before I’d finished, Tos had taken off running, like being shot from a bow. His feet pounded the path as he ran ahead.

I crested a high ridge in pursuit. A burning sensation spider-webbed through my lungs when I saw the sun’s first ray in the east. Pushing onward, I strained to keep pace with Tos, whose legs moved at a pace I simply couldn’t match. Not yet anyway.

“Faster, Zeus,” he yelled over his shoulder.

“We’ve been running non-stop since the southern coast.”

I stopped and clutched my chest. Ragged breaths came in gasps. I placed my sweaty palms on my knees and inhaled deeply. I knew that the daily running would benefit me somehow. But, that didn’t mean I had to like it.

Anytos turned abruptly. “Whose fault is it we’ve been running such a distance, huh? I promised Amalthea I’d keep you safe, Zeus,” he responded.

“You. Here. Not safe. Let’s go!”

"Hmmmph." I stood straight, stretching to one side then the other. I knew he was right. We’d been out way too long. But boy were those nymphs worth it. I took another deep breath as I stared back toward the east.

“I knew I shouldn’t have let you talk me into going to see those sea nymphs again,” Anytos continued. “Shoulda known better than that. The Tribe is gonna be pissed when we get back.”

“Don’t act like you didn’t have a good time.” I managed a half smile despite my fatigue, rustling fingers through my hair.

"That’s way beside the point. The longer we’re away from the cave, the less safe you are."

I totally resented not being safe. I’d watched my mother’s pained expressions over the years. Stress from living in constant fear.

Tos began running again, building another healthy lead. Rocking back on my heels, I resolved to finish. One last push. Come on. Dig Deep.

I lunged forward. Chasing Tos up the next incline, my feet barely touched the ground. I ran so fast, I didn’t even feel the rocks on the tree-lined path. As I reached the next ridge, a ray of sunlight speared my eye through the trees and blinded me momentarily.

I forced my stride farther. Wider. My arms whipped the air at my sides. I grinned as I closed the gap between us.

Ahead, the cave opening beckoned. The Cave. My home. I knew the drill. Get to the cave before someone sees you. Someone like who? I always wondered who’d ever come looking for me?

I saw the dark silhouette of mother sitting on a hillside just above the cave, surrounded by lightly grazing goats. Crouched, her right hand gripped a hooked staff, on which she counterbalanced her weight. Her tunic rustled gently in the thick, salty breeze.

The sun rose faster than usual. Like ridiculously fast. I stopped to look into the sky, marveling at the rapid ascension. Darkness to light. Tos pulled my arm almost from its socket.

“That’s not normal, Zeus. We need to get in the cave!” His face looked like a fig left in the sun too long, wrinkled and severe.

We sprinted the final stretch around my guardian tribe, the Kouretes, who danced in a circle. Their chants filled the air. Fully armored, their tunics flapped around their frames as helmets clanked atop their heads. Shouts echoed across the plain, punctuated by the clashing of spears to shields. They always said that they chanted to ward off evil spirits. To protect me. All I heard was constant noise, really.

As we drew closer to the cave, my mother stood suddenly and turned toward the sun. The sky brightened, and the sun’s brilliance grew more insistent. I shielded my eyes but the heat was searing. Spots dotted my vision. I watched my skin darken by the second. Sweat beaded all over my bronzed skin at once.

My heart began to race wildly. “What’s going on here? Why is the sun falling?"

“Remember we kept telling you somebody might see you if you’re out too long?” Tos asked.

I nodded nervously.

“Hyperion’s descending!” He pushed my shoulder. “Get in the cave!”

“The Sun Deity? Why is…?”

“Don’t ask questions. Just do it. Now!” Tos demanded.

The Kouretes’ noise grew louder. But, I still didn’t understand. All that time I thought I’d been hiding from other people on the island, not Deities.

Tos pushed me. “Hurry!”

I took off running with Tos close behind. We’d just reached the cave when I heard my mother yell. I stopped in my tracks and turned. I held my breath and turned to head back into the brightness and scorching heat. Tos’s fingers dug into my arms to pull me back.

I yelled, "I can’t leave my mother out there!" I jerked my arm from his grasp and grabbed my helmet from inside the cave. After grabbing my shield and spear, I ran into the clearing outside the cave. I heard Tos behind me.

"Mother!" I called.

The fiery orb hovered close to the earth. Flames grabbed at the sky in every direction. My mother scampered down the hill as fast as she could. The goats scattered in front of her. The Kouretes took up battle stances, shields folded across their chests, spears ready to throw. My mother ran behind them and I joined her.

“Get back in the cave,” she growled through clenched teeth. She looked over my shoulder as Tos approached. “I thought I told y…”

A loud explosion erupted in the sky that shook the ground with its force. My mother turned around as a figure emerged from the freakishly large ball of fire. The mountain of a man rode a soot black chariot pulled by four ginormous stallions the color of sunsets. I could only assume he was Hyperion.

2 1st 5 Pages December Workshop - Haynes, Rev 3

Amelia Foote Rolls On
Middle Grade
Marilee Haynes


AMELIA FOOTE ROLLS ON

by

Marilee Haynes



Chapter One

Pea Soup and Marshmallows

I hated pea soup more than anything. It smelled like my
brother’s sweaty socks, it looked like baby poop, and I didn’t know
any words bad enough for what it tasted like. But pea soup was how I
felt.

It didn’t matter that I was in my favorite looking at the
world spot – the window seat under the giant picture window in our
living room. And it didn’t matter that I was in my favorite
watching-the-world position – standing on my head with my feet against
the wall for balance. I still felt absolutely, positively rotten.

When my lips started tingling, I lowered myself down and
settled back in with my knees tucked up under my chin. I turned my
head all the way to the left and then all the way to the right.
Upside down or right side up, nothing at all was happening on
Succotash Lane.

I cranked the window open and let the breeze come inside.
It rained last night, so the outside smelled clean and wet. I stuck
my nose up against the screen and breathed in as far as I could,
trying to fill myself up with that clean air.

It didn’t work. My best friend was really and truly gone,
and there wasn’t room for anything but the pea soup feeling that
started in my toes and didn’t end until it got to the top of my head.

Then I heard it. The rattling, banging sound that meant one thing.

I craned my head to the left. Across the street and down
two houses, I could see the tip top of a pile of black hair. It was
Wheeze. His name was Weatherby St. James, but everybody called him
Wheeze. He was sitting on his porch playing Boggle. By himself.
Like he did every single day.

In the middle of me feeling the teeniest bit sorry for
Wheeze for always having to stay on his porch on account of his bad
asthma and always playing by himself because no other nine-year-old
kid – including me – wants to play Boggle all the hours of the day, a
thought jumped right into my head.

It’s not like I hadn’t seen Wheeze playing Boggle by
himself every day that summer. But that was when he was Wheeze and I
was one half of ‘Amelia and Caroline.’ But I wasn’t half of ‘Amelia
and Caroline’ anymore. I was sitting here, by myself, with nothing to
do and no one to do it with.

Just like Wheeze.

Right in the middle of thinking that thought, I made a gasp
so big that it turned into a cough and then a choking fit. The
curtains pulled back and a hand clomped me on the back. I peeked over
my shoulder and saw it was my dad.

“Are you okay?”

I nodded and tried to say, “uh huh,” only nothing but
another choking sound came out. So I just looked down at my feet and
shook my head back and forth.

My dad nudged me over and sat on the window seat next to me.
He didn’t say anything; he just sat there with me and hummed a hum
really soft.

After a couple minutes, I took some extra deep breaths until
I got one to go all the way down and back up without making a hiccupy
noise.

I peered out the window again. I could still see the tip top
of Wheeze’s sticking up hair. And I could hear the rattle clomp of
him starting a new game of Boggle.

“I have a problem.” I said it without turning around.

My dad stood up. “Marshmallows?”

And because he was right and marshmallows were exactly what I
needed, I shuffled along behind him into the kitchen and slumped into
a chair.

My dad rummaged around in the cupboard and pulled out a mostly
full bag of jumbo marshmallows. He tilted his head to the side and
squinted his eyes at me, then pulled four marshmallows out of the bag
and tossed them to me.

Four marshmallows meant a big problem.

After grabbing two bottles of apple-grape juice out of the
fridge, my dad sat down across from me. Then he looked at me with his
whole self and made his eyebrows go up so high they disappeared under
the floppy front part of his hair.

“I don’t have any friends.” After I said it, I stuffed two
marshmallows in my mouth to take away the taste of saying something so
awful.

“Because of Caroline?”

“Kind of.”

My dad’s mouth was full of marshmallows and apple-grape juice,
so he did that sideways wave thing with his hand that meant for me to
keep talking.

“I mean, yes it’s because of Caroline moving away, but it’s not
just that.” I crammed two more marshmallows in and tucked my chin
down so far it touched the top of my t-shirt. “There’s no one else.”

“Amelia?” My dad reached across the table and captured my
hand, the one that was sitting on the table like a dead fish.

“She was my only friend.”

“That’s not true. You have other friends.” My dad’s voice
went up the tiniest bit at the end. I don’t think he meant it to
sound like a question, but it did.

I shook my head and drew figure eights on the table with the
water from the outside of my juice bottle.

“School starts in 13 days.” Starting fourth grade with no best
friend was the worst problem I could think of.

“I know it’s hard when a friend moves away, but I know when you
think about it – really think about it – you’ll see that you have lots
of other friends.”

When I peeked up at my dad through my too long bangs that were
the same dark brown as his hair, he was smiling a smile that looked
like it hurt.

Instead of trying to smile back, I took four more marshmallows
out of the bag, stuffed them down into my side pants pocket, and
shoved my chair back from the table.

“I’m going for a skate.” My brain did its best thinking when I
was skating.

“Good idea.” My dad started cleaning up our mess. I was
almost to the back door when he said, “Do me a favor?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t forget about the marshmallows in your pocket. It’s my
week to do the laundry.”

I turned and grinned my dad a real grin. “Promise.



Chapter Two

Unlucky Number Thirteen

When I stepped into the garage, I saw my skates were
flopped over onto their sides and there were clumps of dirt and grass
stuck to them, especially the pom-poms.

My lamebrain brother Teddy, who I wasn’t supposed to call a
lamebrain but sometimes I couldn’t help it because he was one, had
dumped his soccer cleats on top of my skates. Again.

I dug my special pom-pom fluffing comb out of the side
pocket of my pants that wasn’t full of marshmallows. The grass and
dirt came off the skates with some swiping and a little spit and,
after a thorough combing, the pom-poms looked as good as new. Still,
I stuck my tongue out at my brother’s stupid cleats and then knotted
the laces together so it would take him forever to get them undone the
next time he wanted to play.

Once my skates were on, I shimmied between my mom’s
minivan and my dad’s truck and swooped down the driveway. I swerved
right without slowing down, my skates carrying me faster and faster
down the street.

My favorite feeling was my eight wheels on the sidewalk,
that great ba-bump, ba-bump noise that they made going over every
crack in the sidewalk. And the way skating felt was the best. It made
the bottoms of my feet tickle and, when I kept my teeth sandwiched
together, it made a zinging, singing noise in my head, like music.

As I skated, I thought about the number 13. School
started in 13 days, which meant I had 13 days to make a friend.
Because the only friend I did have moved away. To Santa something,
California. But her moving away wasn’t even the worst part.

The worst part was that she was excited to go. Okay, they
were moving to California and she was going to be able to see the
actual ocean from her new bedroom and go to a special school for kids
who were really good at art, which she was.

But I was going to be here, in boring old Grand Hills,
Michigan which wasn’t very hilly and wasn’t even a little bit grand.
I thought that anywhere your best friend lived was a better place to
live than anywhere else. But I guess my forever and always – at least
until she moved away – best friend, Caroline McPhee didn’t think so.

3 1st 5 Pages December Workshop - Christina, Rev 3

Revision #3
Christina B.
YA Urban Fantasy

When night fell, Lily prepared to escape.

Silence suffocated the air as the moon bathed her neighborhood in an eerie glow. There was no life here—no tethered pets, no passing cars, no city lights. Everything was dead or dying. Even the grass in her front yard was a dull yellow.

Of course her mother loved the solitude. Nothing could bother her in the middle of nowhere. Nothing could distract her from the myriad art projects. Nothing except Lily, and she had long learned her lesson.

Her fingers itched for her violin, to play a melody that would pervade the emptiness surrounding her house, but she resisted the impulse. Neither Josh nor Jolie, her two best friends, wanted to drive the many miles to pick Lily up. Instead she had to take the bus which stopped at her neighborhood once per night, and she had just ten minutes to catch it. Otherwise she would be stranded, with only dreams to keep her company.

Looking at her vanity mirror assured her that everything remained in place—no stray hairs, no smudged makeup. Excitement loosened her nerves, replacing the loneliness. She was a star, beautiful and shining, happy to leave home for one night.

Lily closed her bedroom door and trudged past the crooked paintings that decorated the hallway. The smell of fresh paint grew stronger until it reached its crescendo at her mother’s room. Lily stayed at the threshold and watched her mother paint.

Mireille was hunched over, working on the mural that spanned the entire bedroom wall. Her short hair bent around her chin, like the broken strings on a violin, twisted, rough, and abandoned, and her cheeks caved inwards, emphasizing the angular juts of her face. At forty-five years old, she carried a wild beauty which Lily could never have with her carefully applied makeup and polished shoes. She was the artist and Lily the musician. No matter what, their voices would sing to different harmonies.

Lily could tell that Mireille was aware of her presence: her hands shook and her back sagged so much that it was a wonder her head didn’t hit the wall, yet she didn’t acknowledge Lily. After Lily had cleared her throat and fidgeted a few times, her mother returned her gaze.

For a moment, Lily wondered if her mother could see her as she was. Then her mother’s gaze flickered over her—dress, hair, and all—and Lily found her answer. All Mireille would ever see was her own sadness and disappointment. The mistake that took her away from her one true love.

Glancing at the dark crescents beneath her mother’s eyes, Lily vowed to never depend on someone that fully. Unlike her mother, she would not be left behind.

“You look nice, mon ange, but that dress… is it not too low for a respectable young woman?” Her mother’s expression remained neutral—well, except for the slightest raise in her brow, a sign which Lily had trained herself to see. Without it, there’d be nothing.

“Hey, you can’t complain. You chose not to come with me when I bought this. But feel free to join me next time.” The idea of her mother shopping was so ridiculous it brought a smile to Lily’s face. The few times Mireille left the house were to sell paintings for their scant supply of money, and even then, she wore overalls with paints crusted in the denim edges. Lily wondered if Mireille cared about anything besides work.

“You may buy an inappropriate dress but that does not mean you have to wear it.” Her mother’s eyebrow rose with each word.

Lily closed her eyes. The dead grass, the smell of paint, these little comments–she had to leave now. “Well, I’m not going to change. Any other objections?”

Her mother didn’t need to say anything. When she returned to her work without another word, the silence rang with her disapproval. The swish of paint dribbling off the brush beat in Lily’s ears like a drum mirroring each thump of her heart, slow and powerful. She had the sudden urge to bite her nails.

“Nothing? Good.” She tapped her non-existent watch. “Time’s a-wasting, and I’m leaving…” She trailed off, wondering why she had bothered.

Retreating from the room, Lily welcomed the clanking of her heels on the tiled floor of the hallway. Closer and closer she moved towards freedom, to the biting air of a cold and open night made warm by the laughter shared with her friends. She smiled, thinking of all the opportunities stretched ahead.

As she opened the front door, the phone rang.

Lily considered not answering, letting her mother ignore yet another call, but the caller could be Josh, canceling their plans. With a sigh, she picked up the phone.

“Hi?”

“Hello.” An unfamiliar male voice greeted her. “Am I speaking with Lily Napier?”

“Who’s asking?”

He laughed, and the sound grated against Lily’s patience. “How strange,” he said, drawling the words; she considered leaving again. “I would have never expected John’s daughter to be brash.”

Knots strung her stomach as if it were time for a concert. Her father, her father, the mantra reverberated in her bones, blood, everywhere. In her mind’s eye, Mireille whispered, “He left because he didn’t want a child.”

Did he regret that? Could he take her away?

The desire stole through her like she was ten years old again, looking at her mother with hope etched into her soul and finding it crushed within minutes. She shook off the memory but couldn’t control her breathing. Possibilities whirred through her mind, making her pace the length of the room. The man waited on her response, but this silence she couldn’t fix with music and this time she was seven years wiser.

“You know my father?” She tilted her head to the side and waited and waited and waited. She snapped, “Well, do you?”

“He needs you, Lily.”

She clutched the phone tighter, ignoring the clenching in her stomach. Those words—she had dreamed of hearing them so many times that they now seemed unreal. “Yeah, he needed me so much that he left before I was born.”

“Is that what your mother told you?”

“Answer me this and then maybe I’ll tell you.” Her hands, sweaty and cold, slipped on the phone. “Who the hell are you?”

He continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “Mireille left John. He was not aware that he had fathered a child.” His stilted manner of speaking reminded her of someone, though she couldn’t remember who. He didn’t have an identifiable accent. “John was—”

“Stop, just stop.” She collapsed onto a couch. Thinking of the woman splattered in paint a few rooms away. Remembering the haunted look in those eyes as she explained what had happened to Lily’s father. Lily didn’t want to believe the man, but his lies were already working their way into her mind, making her doubt her mother. Her mother. The word promised more than Lily’s memories suggested. She put her head between her knees. “How did you get this number? And if my father needs me so much, why are you the one calling?”

Another pause. “I am truly sorry for the pain this must be causing you—”

“Like hell you are. If you cared, you wouldn’t have called.” Her breaths sounded unnaturally loud. Everything about this screamed hoax, but she wanted it to be real so badly that she could taste the freedom, the life she would have away from this hell-hole. It was not real though. She stood and took a deep breath, yet her voice still shook. “And here’s a tip for you. Don’t call again.”

2 1st 5 Pages December Workshop - Shelley, Rev 3

Chapter one-revision 3
Shelley/YA/Mystery/Suspense

I didn’t actually see Lucky get stuffed into the trunk of the cop car.
But Greer did.

“Kenny, get up. Come on.” She tugged on my right hand where the
knuckles were scraped raw from the parking lot pavement. I could see
Greer’s cheeks, shiny with tears, from the streetlight. The smell of
exhaust still hung above us and I could hear light rustling in the
bushes from the field mice collecting their dinner.

“Ow! Ow!” I was pretty sure I had a couple of cracked ribs.

“Will you get up? They took him. I saw them. Did you see them?” She
paced above me her voice a tinny wail in the dark. I rolled over onto
all fours, and accessed new pain points. Then Greer’s voice came low
and soft. “They put him in the trunk.”

She wasn’t making sense. But then she was Greer, and Lucky wasn’t
going out with her for her sense-making.

I pulled myself up using the handle on my brother’s Dodge truck. The
truck the three of us had been “borrowing” all summer. “I wonder why
they took Lucky and not all of us?” I said, still digesting the small
marijuana cigarette I’d swallowed when the police car first pulled into
the empty parking lot.

“It wasn’t like that. Like a real arrest. Something’s wrong.” Greer
was like a frenzied shark in a tank. Back and forth, back and forth.
She was making me dizzy.

The cop who’d made a dent in my kneecap with his boot had asked me,
“What do you know?” And I began to wonder if there was more to that
question.

“Get up. We have to follow them,” Greer stomped her sandaled foot.

“Oh, yes. So they can finish what they started with the rearrangement
of my face.” Luckily I’d left my glasses back at work and wore my
contacts, or I’d be blind and broken. This way I was just broken.

“Kenny!” Greer’s voice bordered on hysteria.

“Listen, if he’s been arrested then we’ll just go down to the police
department and get him. Okay?”

But what Greer said kept echoing in my mind. Something didn’t fit with
her words. Greer’s words. The word: trunk.

Cops arrest people and put them in the back seat, not the trunk. And
cops don’t beat teens up just for hanging out at Strathmen Park on
Labor Day weekend, right?

“Right Kenny?” Greer hadn’t stopped chattering. Or moving.

I spewed saliva on the pavement below me, the unmistaken taste of blood
on my tongue. “Listen, are you okay?” I remembered seeing Greer
shoved up against the door of the Dodge by one of the two cops and
hearing him suggest they needed time “alone.” “I mean really okay?”

She ignored me. “Where’re the car keys?”

“Truck.”

“Huh?”

“It’s a truck, not a car.”

When I finally teetered to a standing position, I grabbed her and held
her close, feeling her body wiggle and squirm. “Look in my eyes. Are
you okay?”

She wasn’t. Greer slumped against me, and if I hadn’t been holding her
she would have fallen to the ground. I hugged her for a long time.
Until she was quiet and stopped moving. Finally she looked up into my
face. “What just happened?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know. But you’re right about one thing.
Something is wrong.”

“Maybe they’re not real police?” Greer moved away from me, calmer now,
and leaned against the truck.

“Maybe,” I said. I remembered at the restaurant earlier, where Lucky
and I both worked, that he had said he had something to tell me. I
didn’t think much about it at the time, but now I wondered if I should
have paid closer attention.

“Listen,” I moved toward Greer. “Did that cop, you know, touch you?
Like, should we go to a doctor, or, I don’t know, something?”


The corners of her mouth actually turned up in a tiny smile. “I’m
fine. He was definitely stepping over the line, but, nothing I can’t
handle.” Greer retrieved a cigarette from her shoulder bag, which
she’s never without, lit it and took a deep drag. She shrugged. “We
have to go to the police station and get Lucky.”

“Yeah, but will he be there?”

Frogs bellowed their loud croaks from the small pond inside Strathmen
Park. I’d been coming to this park my whole life and now it looked
totally different. Forever.

“We have to try.” Greer dropped the practically whole cigarette on the
ground and twisted her foot on top of it.

“Yeah, sure. We have to try.” It felt like I might be broken in half,
and a knot on my head ached.

“So, let’s go,” Greer said putting the shoulder bag strap over her head
and across her chest.

“It’s just,” I felt my chest wall throb. “I should take a shower, you
know?”
Greer’s face crumpled and her eyes narrowed. “You should do what?
You’re best friend just got kidnapped, and you want to freshen up?”

I knew she was right. I knew it was lame. “Yeah, it’s, let’s think
about this just a little. Kidnapped is a strong word. And if he did
get kidnapped, he’s probably not at the cop shop, and if he’s not,
where is he? And,” I could feel the momentum of my confusion gathering
inside me. “And if they aren’t cops, who are they? And if they are
cops, even worse for us.”

Her eyes opened wide. “This is just like you, Kenny Panteria. Always
worrying about yourself.”

“Well, excuse me. I just got the crap beat out of me, can we take a
moment to process what just happened?” She adjusted the shoulder strap
about eight hundred times. “I just think we need a plan, that’s all,”
I said.

“Okay. As long as you’re not ditching on your best friend.”

“Me?” Ever since last year when Marty Carter got caught smoking dope
outside the gym, and I didn’t go and defend him, telling Principal Lyon
that Carter was holding it for someone else (like anyone would believe
that!) I’d been tagged a wuss and someone “not to be trusted.” It’s
true; I don’t like to get involved. But this was different. I think.
“Look,” I brushed gravel and twigs from my hair and shirt. “We go
home. I take a shower. And we form a plan. Because if those weren’t
real cops, and Luckys not at the police station, we need to figure out
where he is. Right? And we can’t just go marching into something
without a plan. Right?”

Greer paced. Four steps forward, turn, four back. “Wait, what about
your Mom?”

Greer didn’t ask about my father because the entire town of Walburn
knew he sat in a jail cell for the murder of a policeman in our
restaurant eight years ago.

“Mom’s at the hospital with Ben. House is empty. Of course, if you
don’t trust me alone with you,” I spread my hands. Greer and Lucky had
been going out for about six months. She drove me crazy with her
constant talking and asking questions, and I wasn’t sure Lucky was in
it for love. But Greer was cute. She had long dark, almost black hair
that made her skin look like cream and bright blue eyes. She was more
than cute. But the chatter was definitely a drawback.


“You? What’s not to trust? Besides, I’d tell Lucky if you tried
anything,” and as soon as she said it we became quiet.

“Let’s go,” I said, digging the keys out of my pocket. Greer went
around to the passenger side and pulled the door open.

We drove down the streets of Walburn without talking, which for Greer
was a pretty amazing feat. Tomorrow it was back to school, and I would
face it with a body of bruises, and maybe no Lucky.

“Maybe I should go back to the restaurant and make the night deposit
now?” I said, idling at a stop sign four blocks from home. I’d left
all the money from the weekend in a drawer in dad’s desk.

But when I turned to look at Greer I could see that was not at all a
good idea. She grabbed the door handle and I had to grab her and pull
her back into the cab. “Okay. Okay, I get it.”

Our house was dark when we pulled into the driveway and I began to
worry. Were the cops here waiting for me? Maybe they’d meant to take
me at the park, had to leave quickly, so they came to get me at home.

My head throbbed, and I was tired of working the broken flap of skin at
the corner of my mouth. “You know, you can lay down in my brother’s
room and rest while I take a shower and get cleaned up.”

Greer nodded but her eyes were shiny and I think we both knew she
wouldn’t be able to sleep. “I just can’t get that picture of him being
thrown in the trunk of the car.” She shivered.

I shivered, too. “What do you know?” The cop had asked me before
grazing my cheek with his fist. What do I know?

Friday, December 23, 2011

10 This Week for Writers 12/23/11: Our Favorite Articles and Blog Posts

Thanks to everyone who entered our 15 Books for 1500 Followers Giveaway. The winners are posted here.

Check back next Friday for a brand new giveaway. Meanwhile, Happy Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday, everyone. May every moment be filled with friends, family, warmth, love, and laughter!

Clara's Favorites

Martina's Favorites


Book Reviews and Giveaways


Craft of Writing, Self-Editing, and Critiquing


Inspiration and Smiles


Issues, News, Trends, and Congratulations


Social Media


To Market


Other Weekly Round-Ups:
Did we miss anything? Anyone? Please leave a comment!

Happy reading and joyous writing,

Clara and Martina

Thursday, December 22, 2011

11 1500 Followers 15 Book Giveaway Winners

We have some winners from our 15-Book 1500 Followers Thank You giveaway. Scroll down, and you'll see the name beside the book.

Thank you all!

Martina

On behalf of the Ladies of AYACP

THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES by Carrie Ryan - WINNER NATALIE AGUIRRE



There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.

But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?(

THE HUNGER GAMES COMPANION by Lois H. Gresh -- WINNER CAROL RIGGS








With a bio of the author, fascinating facts, and insight into the three-book series and its main themes--from the nature of evil, weaponry, rebellions, and surviving the end of the world--this companion guide will give millions of readers the insider information that they've been waiting for since book one! New York Times bestselling author of the Twilight Companion, Lois Gresh, once again gives readers the opportunity to go beyond their favorite novels and learn the fascinating facts behind the fiction.


EMPIRE OF RUINS by Arthur Slade -- WINNER TRICIA CONWAY








Secret agent Modo's next assignment? Find ancient Egyptian ruins hidden deep in the Australian jungle and the mysterious God Face, rumoured to be a powerful weapon—anyone who looks upon it will be driven mad. And he must find the God Face before the evil Clockwork Guild does!


SCORED by Lauren McLaughlin -- WINNER Jessica Naccari









Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their recorded actions and confessions plugged into a computer program that determines their ability to succeed. All kids given a "score" that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above. Scored's reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend's score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? Friendship, romance, loyalty, family, human connection and human value: all are questioned in this fresh and compelling dystopian novel set in the scarily forseeable future.

MY NAME IS MINA by David Almond -- WINNER Jemi Fraser









There's an empty notebook lying on the table in the moonlight. It's been there for an age. I keep on saying that I'll write a journal. So I'll start right here, right now. I open the book and write the very first words: My name is Mina and I love the night. Then what shall I write? I can't just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I'll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or a beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line?

And so Mina writes and writes in her journal, and through her stories and poems there grows an opus of her life - her lessons, heYr loves, her beliefs, her mum, her dad, her thoughts and her dreams.

In this stunningly designed book, David Almond revisits Mina before she has met Michael, before she has met Skellig, in what is a thought-provoking and extraordinary prequel to his best-selling debut novel, Skellig.

From the winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award the Carnegie Medal and the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Award comes the extraordinary prequel to the award-winning Skellig


YOU HAVE SEVEN MESSAGES by Stewart Lewis -- WINNER Angela Ackerman








It's been a year since Luna's mother, the fashion-model wife of a successful film director, was hit and killed by a taxi in the East Village. Luna, her father, and her little brother, Tile, are still struggling with grief.

When Luna goes to clean out her mother's old studio, she's stunned to find her mom's cell phone there—charged and holding seven unheard messages. As Luna begins to listen to them, she learns more about her mother's life than she ever wanted to know . . . and she comes to realize that the tidy tale she's been told about her mother's death may not be the whole truth.


EVERY YOU, EVERY ME by David Levithan -- WINNER Sandi Jones








In this high school-set psychological tale, a tormented teen named Evan starts to discover a series of unnerving photographs—some of which feature him. Someone is stalking him . . . messing with him . . . threatening him. Worse, ever since his best friend Ariel has been gone, he's been unable to sleep, spending night after night torturing himself for his role in her absence. And as crazy as it sounds, Evan's starting to believe it's Ariel that's behind all of this, punishing him. But the more Evan starts to unravel the mystery, the more his paranoia and insomnia amplify, and the more he starts to unravel himself. Creatively told with black-and-white photos interspersed between the text so the reader can see the photos that are so unnerving to Evan, Every You, Every Me is a one-of-a-kind departure from a one-of-a-kind author.

UNFORSAKEN by Sophie Littlefield -- WINNER Taffy Lovell







Hailey Tarbell is no typical girl. As one of the Banished who arrived from Ireland generations ago, Hailey has the power to heal—and, as she recently learned, to create zombies if she heals someone too late. But now, Hailey is finally getting a chance at a normal life. After realizing the good and bad sides of her power, Hailey has survived the unimaginable to settle with her aunt, Prairie, and her little brother, Chub, in the suburbs of Milwaukee. Finally Hailey has a loving family, nice clothes, and real friends. But her safe little world is blown apart when she tries to contact her secret boyfriend, Kaz—and alerts the incredibly dangerous man who's looking for her to her true whereabouts.

ALL THE EARTH THROWN TO THE SKY by Joe R. Lansdale -- WINNER Sheri Larsen







Jack Catcher's parents are dead—his mom died of sickness and his dad of a broken heart—and he has to get out of Oklahoma, where dust storms have killed everything green, hopeful, or alive. When former classmate Jane and her little brother Tony show up in his yard with plans to steal a dead neighbor's car and make a break for Texas, Jack doesn't need much convincing. But a run-in with one of the era's most notorious gangsters puts a crimp in Jane's plan, and soon the three kids are hitching the rails among hoboes, gangsters, and con men, racing to warn a carnival wrestler turned bank robber of the danger he faces and, in the process, find a new home for themselves. This road trip adventure from the legendary Joe R. Lansdale is a thrilling and colorful ride through Depression-era America.

PAINTINGS FROM THE CAVE by Gary Paulsen -- WINNER Jude Griffin








Meet Jake who lives in a neighborhood controlled by street violence and fear. He meets a sculptor across the street, and his eyes are opened to another world. Or Jojo,who's closer to her three dogs than to her foster family. When Jojo tries to help another girl who needs a friend, the dogs know what to do. Or Jamie, Erik, and Grandpa, who make up an unusual family.

CATWALK by Deborah Gregory -- WINNER Jen Stayrook


In Catwalk, DEBORAH GREGORY creates a new YA series that takes her famously upbeat urban voice and combines it with the appeal of Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. Catwalk follows Pashmina, Felinez, Angora, and Aphro, four best friends at Manhattan’s Fashion International High School who are about to enter the contest of their lives. Each year, students split up into Fashion Houses and compete to design, produce, and show fully original fashion lines. The winner gets a scholarship, a professional show, and a real shot at a career in fashion. Bouncy, smart, and nearly irresistible, Catwalk is a fierce introduction to a fashion world where fabulosity trumps waist size, and there truly is room for everyone.


PAST CONTINUOUS by K. Ryer Breese -- WINNER Tiffany Drew










Ade Patience has done what he was told he couldn’t. He’s broken the rules, used his powers to save a life. And no good deed goes unpunished. . . .

Senior year finds Ade and his girlfriend, Vauxhall, deeply in love, indulging themselves with wild dates and exploring their newly strengthened abilities. Only Ade isn’t as happy as he should be. He’s got an itch that he can’t seem to scratch and it has everything to do with his joining the Pandora Crew, a group of radical oracles hell-bent on disturbing the peace, performing Jackass-style stunts, and spreading the mayhem.

When Ade realizes that his involvement with the Pandora Crew is due to his absorbing some of Jimi Ministry’s abusive childhood, he discovers that the only way to rid himself of the infectious memories is to erase his past. And it just so happens that the one guy who can do that lives a few blocks down the street.

The procedure works. The “Jimi cancer” is cleared out. But when Ade returns to his life, he finds that changing the past has changed the present. Vauxhall has no idea who he is and he has to woo her all over again. And it won’t be easy. There are three other people vying for Vauxhall’s attention. Three other guys he has to literally battle to win her back. The worst part: they’re all twisted versions of Ade.

Erasing the past has dramatically altered the present and Ade must join forces with his former rival to defeat . . . himself.


THE HUNT OF THE UNICORN by C.C. Humphreys -- WINNER Jessica Silva


Elayne thinks the old family story that one of her ancestors stepped through a tapestry into a world of mythical beasts makes a great fireside tale. But she lives in the real world. In New York City. And she's outgrown that kind of fantasy.

Until she finds herself in front of a unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters museum and sees her initials woven into the fabric. And hears a unicorn calling to her. And slips and falls—into that other world.

Suddenly the line between fantasy and reality isn't so clear. But the danger is real enough. Almost before she can think, Elayne is attacked by a ferocious beast, rescued by a unicorn, and taken prisoner by a tyrant king. Each of them seems to have an idea about her—that she's a hero, a villain, dinner!

But Elayne has a few ideas of her own. She wants to overthrow the king; she wants to tame the unicorn. She wants to go home! And she's willing to become both hero and villain to do it.


MASTIFF by Tamora Pierce -- WINNER Mary Collier



The Legend of Beka Cooper gives Tamora Pierce's fans exactly what they want—a smart and savvy heroine making a name for herself on the mean streets of Tortall's Lower City—while offering plenty of appeal for new readers as well.

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal.



UNDERCURRENT by Tricia Rayburn -- WINNER Marcie Turner



Nothing has been normal since Vanessa Sands learned that her sister was murdered by sirens—femme fatales of the watery depths—and that everything she believed about her family was a lie.

Her boyfriend Simon’s been the only person Vanessa feels she can really trust. But now there are some secrets she can’t tell even him. And when Vanessa finds herself in the sights of Parker, Hawthorne Prep’s resident charmer, she needs someone to confide in more than ever. Doubting her relationship with Simon, unsure of Parker’s intentions—and of her own—and terrified by what she’s learned about herself, Vanessa has never felt so alone.

But personal problems must be put aside, because the Winter Harbor sirens are back for revenge. Now, Vanessa must face her past and accept that she is just like her enemies—every bit as alluring, every bit as dangerous.

The eagerly anticipated second novel of the Siren trilogy, Undercurrent is a seductive paranormal romance that will leave you breathless.