January 31, 2006

Locked Away

When I randomly ran across The Game at my local library, by Canadian author Teresa Toten, my interest was piqued. It had been nominated for an ALA Best Book award as well as a Canadian Governor General's award, and I wanted to see what was on offer from our neighbor to the north.

On the surface, this book bears a lot of resemblance to another novel about a young woman in a difficult situation who is being treated at a residential facility -- Cut, a very intense and sensitively written novel by Patricia McCormick. And I wanted to like The Game the way I liked Cut, a novel which surprised and moved me. McCormick's novel has a lot of depth—depth of character, depth of emotional sensitivity, and depth of understanding. The potentially disturbing nature of the subject matter—a girl who cuts herself—is tempered by the sympathetic characters and the powerful moment of redemption and hope at the end.

The Game had a lot of superficial similarities—a girl living in a residential clinic, who is not yet quite ready to face her traumas head-on, who has a protective roommate and various run-ins with other residents of the facility, who must face her own past in order to grow and move past it. Dani, whose family suffers from a terrible secret, used to play a special Game of the imagination with her younger sister to get away from the unpleasant realities of their daily life. Only by cracking the symbolism of the Game and facing her problems head-on can she truly heal.

However, the book seemed a little distant and detached, and the characters didn't quite have the depth that would have made them seem real and fully formed in my mind. The side characters, and even the narrator, were hard to visualize—they just didn't hold together consistently for me--and that really decreased the sense of internal, psychological drama that is such a big part of stories like this. I liked the premise, but it wasn't executed as strongly as I think it could have been.

Interestingly enough, you can get both books together at a reduced price from Amazon. I guess I'm not the only one to see the similarities.

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January 30, 2006

Have You Ever Considered a Career in Writing?

I opened my e-mail box today to find yet another coincidental connection between the various odd things I do in my life (and, of course, coincidences are the stuff of interesting writing ideas...sometimes, anyway).

Back in November, did you ever find yourself curious about the creator of National Novel Writing Month? Who would do such a thing?

I had loved the anthro major as an undergrad, but by 1999 I was beginning to wish my parents had browbeaten me into becoming an accountant. Or a trapeze artist. Or something more practical. Instead, I had become The Creepy Guy Who Graduated Four Years Ago Who Sits Alone in Caffe Strada All Day Reading. Somewhere in that haze of aimlessness and espresso, a very dumb idea was born.

A great article by the amazing individual who managed to turn sitting in Caffe Strada all day into a world-famous endeavor. As for me...I wish I'd had an idea like that four years out of Cal. I'm almost five years overdue. I guess I just left the cafe too early.

January 26, 2006

We interrupt this writing day to announce...

2005 Award Winners in Childrens & YA Lit

Caldecott Winners
Chris Raschka won the 2005 Randolph Caldecott Medal for The Hello, Goodbye Window, written by Norton Juster (Hyperion/di Capua). Raschka had previously won a Caldecott Honor, for his picture book Yo? Yes!

Caldecott Honor Books were named: Rosa, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Nikki Giovanni (Holt); Zen Shorts, written and illustrated by Jon J Muth (Scholastic Press); Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride, written and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Atheneum/Schwartz); and Song of the Water Boatmen & Other Pond Poems, illustrated by Beckie Prange, written by Joyce Sidman (Houghton).

Newbery Winners
Lynne Rae Perkins has won the 2005 John Newbery Medal for her novel Criss Cross (Greenwillow),
Newbery Honor Books: Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Scholastic); Whittington by Alan Armstrong, illustrated by S.D. Schindler (Random/Lamb); Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (Bloomsbury); and Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Hudson Talbott (Putnam).

Michael L. Printz Award
Looking for Alaska, a first novel by John Green (Dutton), won the for excellence in literature for young adults. Four Printz Honors were given: Black Juice by Margo Lanagan (HarperCollins/Eos); I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (Knopf); John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth by Elizabeth Partridge (Viking); and A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Philippe Lardy (Houghton).

Coretta Scott King Awards
Julius Lester won the Author award for Day of Tears (Hyperion/Jump at the Sun), and Bryan Collier won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Rosa (Holt). The John Steptoe Award for New Talent went to Jamie Adoff for Jimi & Me (Hyperion/Jump at the Sun)

The first annual Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning reader books went to Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Suçie Stevenson (Simon & Schuster).

An Innocent Soldier by Josef Holub, translated by Michael Hofmann (Scholastic/Levine), won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for best work of translation.

The Robert F. Sibert Award for the most distinguished informational book was won by Secrets of a Civil War Submarine by Sally M. Walker (Carolrhoda).

The Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime contribution in writing for young adults was given to Jacqueline Woodson, and Kevin Henkes was chosen to deliver the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture.

Of all of the books awarded, I've read only one! I have a lot of catching up to do! These are authors to watch... and I will, at some point. In the meantime, the only author nearby is me. Back to the keyboard.

January 24, 2006

Brilliance in iambic pentameter

I have a stack of the novels of Sarah Dessen sitting next to my bed, and wanted to do a mass posting/reading on the theme of girl's friendship novels... but, before I got into that, a slim volume by Ron Koertge snuck up on me. Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, a novel in poems, is probably the smartest and most polished Boy Book I've read this year. Man. If I ever have the chance to hear Koertge speak, I'm going to do my best to go. Who knew the man was also a poet?

There's nothing I can tell you about this novel that you won't pick up better by reading it yourself. It's short, it has sestinas -- and how often do you run across a pantoum? Definitely, definitely check it out.

January 20, 2006

LBD: Les Bambinos Dangereuses

"Mean girl" books, my Secret Agent Man tells me, are falling out of vogue, and stories of happy girls are all the rage. My cheerfully melancholy soul sort of blanches at that, but I suspect that "happy" is less a state of mind in fiction and more an absence of deliberate character malice. Cool, I thought, I can live with that.

I was a little unsure of my brave assertion when I picked up Grace Dent's novel LBD - it's a girl thing. First, this book packs more whacked out adults into the first three chapters than I have ever met, or I could ever dream up. The girls are written as helter-skelter 'scamp' types in a happily broad UK style, and there is page upon page of witty banter simply for the sake of witty banter, clueless teachers, impromptu screams, text messaging and girls wearing thong underwear above the waistline of their jeans, (and I tell you I was millimeters from flinging the book across the room just for that) and more stuff that is designed to notify the reader of the characters' cool quotient, and purposefully annoy any adults in the vicinity and in the story. I couldn't get any kind of depth from the stupid creatures, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't. They weren't 'my' kind of girls, and I about abandoned them... then suddenly... there was a flicker. They'd been dealt a disappointment, and found a creative and very cool way to counter it! Wow! That little flicker of real character was quickly followed up by more and more sense, and I was relieved. Yes, there was life beneath that carefully cultivated air of air-headedness. The girls are very young, for all that they're dying to be snogging and tearing down the town, and their immaturity suddenly becomes understandable. I found this a very satisfying read, as yet another 'girls' friendships' book found its mark. I have its sequel, LBD: live and fabulous on my nightstand, and expect that it will be equally entertainingly escapist YA girls BritLit.

Jodi Lynn Anderson has penned another 'girly' friendship novel called Peaches, which is her first for the YA audience. The friendships in this novel start out slowly and uncertainly. Birdie is boring and timid and, actually, kind of fat. She lives on a peach farm that is temporary home to migrant laborers, herself, and her father. Temporary, because the farm is failing, and Dad is going to sell. Birdie has never known life anywhere else, nor does she truly know herself.

Birdie's perfect swan of a cousin, Leeda, is beautiful, effortless, and graceful. Her teeth are professionally whitened, and she lives a perfect country-club existence in the shadow of her sister, Danay, of whom she is painfully, horribly jealous. Painful, horrible jealousy, though, is unattractive. Leeda does nothing that is not attractive, so her feelings for her sister, her mother and father who love her best, and the world around her are distant specks on her horizon. She is well bred and as polite as her hyphenated last name. Birdie makes her tired just to look at her. She doesn't want to spend her Spring Break on a peach far at the edge of the known universe, visiting her lame, broke uncle whose wife just left him... but it isn't gracious to say so.

Murphy is trouble. Everyone knows her mother's a slut, and most people think Murphy's pretty fast and loose too. She gets caught breaking into Birdie's house, and is sentenced to work on the peach farm during Spring Break.

A volatile mix of personalities, issues and realities blends and diffuses the characters in this tale. There's no reason for these girls to like each other, much less trust each other, but against the backdrop of a beautiful peach orchard that changes throughout the seasons, these girls go through a metamorphosis that is realistic and heartening. A quieter novel that begins slowly, it's well worth following the peaches from blossom to their fragrant fruiting stage, and eventual harvest.

January 19, 2006

FURTHER Procrastination

You know, I was going to shoot an email today to Secret Agent Man, and tell him that I just can't, can't, simply can't, no way, fugheddabouddit, or whatever his Bronx ears need to hear that conveys to him that no, No, NO, I can't possibly 'edit' an entire story by taking out a major plot element, that I'm dying, that I've worried my husband by sobbing in the bathroom at five thirty on a SUNDAY morning, that it's ruining my health, my writing career, my alleged sanity, my life, blah, blah, blah, blah (or, yadda, yadda, which is apparently more acceptable on the East Coast)...

And then I checked my email, and got my monthly eZine from SmartWriter.com and read the most beautifully and unbearably optimistic editorial by editorial director Roxyanne Young. There's a lot more to it than this, you should go to the website and check it out, but here's a quote:

"We have a motto here at SmartWriters: Dream it. Do it. Write it now.

I have another writer friend who quotes Rita Mae Brown at the bottom of her email signature: "Don't hope more than you're willing to work." Candie's first novel is coming out in June. She calls herself at 25-year overnight success. She took a long, round-about trip to publication writing everything from résumés to business profiles to articles about construction for a Tennessee magazine, but she made it.

Believe in yourself. Don't give up. You can do this, and we're here to help. Set some realistic and achievable goals for yourself. Set up milestones to measure your progress.

Here's my new favorite quote:

"Imagination is stronger than knowledge. Myth is more potent than history. Dreams are more powerful than fact. Hope always triumphs over experience. Love is stronger than death. It's been said that each of us can influence up to 250 people in our lifetimes. How will you be influential? Be bold, and mighty unseen forces will come to your aid." - Robert Fulgham

Be bold."

In further news, Roxyanne has already started stumping for the next SmartWriter's W.I.N. contest:

"Are you ready to W.I.N.? The 2006 Write It Now! Competition is open for entries!

Discover how to increase your confidence and sense of accomplishment as a writer in the prestigious Write It Now! Competition. In just two years, over 40 of our W.I.N.NING writers and illustrators have had their work published or put under contract and this year you could be one of them. There’s $1,495.80 in cash and prizes up for grabs, two new categories and 5 special bonuses just for entering now, including access to great educational teleseminars. Because each entry is given careful consideration by two first round judges I’m limiting the number of entries I’ll accept, so don’t hesitate. Go to
W.I.N. at SmartWriters Pro right now and reserve your spot."

Well, that's it for now. Nailing my bold butt to a chair, and getting on with it.

January 18, 2006


I am procrastinating heavily right now. Sometimes it's very hard to get started on a new piece of writing. I have many notes for a short story I plan to submit to my writing group this week, but I'm having trouble actually opening Microsoft Word and settling in to create.

So, instead, I wanted to remind you all to go to the post office and buy the stamps with picture-book animals on them, including characters by Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, Leo Leonni, and others. They're just cool is all. Thanks to the SCBWI e-mail newsletter for the tip.

January 12, 2006

Is it Friday yet?

The more I read Non Sequitur, the more I just love it. It may be too small for you to read, but the signs say Meet the Author vs. Meet An Actor Who Plays A Minor Role In The Film Adaptation Of The Book.

You can see who has the longer line.
Ah, the glamour of writing. Sigh.

A discussion on one of SCBWI's boards recently dealt with how much, if anything, children's lit/YA writers should charge for doing presentations for schools and other venues, and it was almost embarrassing how little we as a group respected ourselves. Overall, people seemed to feel that the more books they had published, the more of a right they had to not only charge, but to speak. Judging from some of the people I've met at Conferences and just the fact of human nature that some people really like to claim expert status when they know nothing, maybe that's a good rule of thumb for some people to sort of wait awhile before they start talking about their craft. On the other hand, there were a bunch of people who had been writing for years, had had a few poems or articles published, had taken myriad writing classes and still felt unworthy.

Creative work is so hard to quantify, and it's so difficult to find self respect and motivation in it that any time someone offers to take us seriously, perhaps we should make it more of a business arrangement. Should we give something for nothing until we "pay our dues?" Who makes the rules in this kind of thing?

Today I got an email from Secret Agent Man, who casually suggested I remove an entire element from my novel. It was like, "Oh, and I thought you might actually consider killing off one of the major characters." It wasn't exactly that, but it was close.

Why does today feel so much like Monday?

Breaking the Rules

My mother and I were talking about books – as we often do, since I'm a writer and she's an English/Humanities teacher – and she pointed out how odd it is that there aren't many fiction books of note dealing with the topic of the September 11th attacks. It's almost, she said, as if people are scared to go there. And heaven forbid that anyone should write a YA piece dealing with such abhorrent subject matter.

Well, at least one author was unafraid to tell the story of a young adult against the backdrop of September 11th, and in an almost entirely politically neutral way. However, you probably won't find Joyce Maynard's novel The Usual Rules in the YA section of the library. Why that is is up for debate, but I'm guessing that—at least for the adults who purchase and shelve books—there hasn't been quite enough distance, perhaps, for us to call it history and deem it "safe."

But let's face it—nobody lives in a completely safe world, and it's when you're a young adult that this really starts to become clear. In Maynard's book, thirteen-year-old Wendy's life changes forever when she loses her mother in the tragedy at the World Trade Center. Her relationships with her stepfather and little half-brother are irrevocably altered, and nobody seems to know how to react now that the rules of the world—and their own lives—have been broken.

The amazing part about this book is that it is not a political novel. I don't remember politics being mentioned even once. Rather, it is a novel about personal loss, about family tragedy, and about healing and growth in the midst of it all. Wendy makes a difficult decision to leave her little brother, who is just coming to understand that his mother isn't coming back, and her stepfather, who has been a wonderful father to her for five years, and she goes to California to spend some time with her estranged biological dad. There, she meets a handful of new people, each with their own personal, isolating sadness. In a way, they all need each other to heal.

Though in certain respects, the needy characters' coming together was a bit easy and convenient, it was still touching and, by that point in the story, I needed and wanted to believe it could happen. Maynard's skilled writing and clear prose made it easier to overlook parts that seemed less believable. And though the Amazon.com critic felt that her use of September 11 as a backdrop was a hindrance, I felt that her treatment of that event as a human tragedy rather than an opportunity for a political polemic was entirely appropriate and very much needed.

There is a catharsis in this book, and it's found in healing oneself and helping others heal—in whatever way is most appropriate to the individual. We all have different ways of healing—and we all have different ways of dealing with tragedy in writing. Maynard's way might break some rules, but as Wendy observed numerous times in the book, sometimes the usual rules just don't apply any more.

January 11, 2006

A light in the closet: Narnia

Contrary to columnist Mark Morford's rather dim view of the Narnia Chronicles, our intrepid writing group determined this week that Narnia still holds a beautiful, breathtaking wintry magic for us. After choosing to reread the series this past month (some of us beginning with The Magician's Nephew, the first book, and others of us going with the more traditional entry into Narnia via the second book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), we found that there was a lot we had forgotten.

The brooding background of the World War which was the dim and grim reality on the other side of the wardrobe doors hadn't made a big impression on our childish minds, the strong flavor of allegory, the strange Professor Digory with his tricky ways and Edmund's annoying condescension hadn't really impacted us quite as much when we were children. But what kept us reading was the clean, spare beauty of the story, with its and straightforward simplicity of tone combined. This, combined with the lush imagery allowed our imaginations to take over and infer. And imagination is the truest treasure.

We'll be chatting about our further forays into Narnia, critiques we've read (did you know that Phillip Pullman thinks the series is racist and misogynistic? What say you?) and more. Welcome. Feel free to join Lucy by the lamppost!

January 10, 2006


Yet another pseudo-celeb is on my $@#% list -- but in a funnier way than usual. My girls at Mean & Catty are reporting that everyone and his dog is publishing children's books. Seriously. I'd laugh, but then I'd have to laugh at everyone else crowding the field. I mean, it wasn't just Tookie, people. John GOTTI tried. Geez. Some of it is really worthwhile writing. But a lot of it...

As Jane Yolen was quoted as saying, "Celebrity children's books eat up all the available oxygen." I'm going to add to that, and say that oxygen deprivation usually leads to brain damage. The idea of the money that could be made is obviously blowing many editor's minds.

Lies, Liars and Literature

I think it's time to revisit the meaning of the word 'fiction.' Seriously.

Is it just me, or does anyone else just completely not care about the lying literary person of JT Leroy?? Every time something like this comes up it just cements for me the reasons I only write YA fiction. Because truly? I just don't really get so-called adults.

Literature is about becoming someone else, albeit briefly, to tell a story, and since we all know that stories are not always factual, and that this Leroy person has been deliberately murky on his/her story from the first, it's obviously a publicity stunt/spin, and the "mystery" doesn't merit as much ink as it has been given. All writers are liars, and all of us constantly don myriad personas to see how they fit. Of course, most of us don't try taking our personas outside to party with them, (Maybe that's an adult lit. thing. I've managed to get over the fact that I'm not sixteen.) but... either way, it just seems like a great, big, DUH that Leroy doesn't and never did exist. And the question du jour is: SO!?

Meanwhile literary lying continues. The Smoking Gun is allegedly outing another writer on the details of his last book. James Frey's, "A Million Little Pieces, an Oprah Book Club pick, has been disputed by several sources. I guess could appear to be a lot more serious, since the novel was written and marketed as a memoir, which is supposed to be completely autobiographical. If I were his editor and found that his story had conflicting police reports, I'd kick myself in the butt for not checking before it was printed and the movie rights were optioned. As for whether Frey is yet another liar? -- his novel is a story about himself based on his memories of a time (and during that time Frey was allegedly a drug addict. Hello?). Talk to any family members about a past memory and you'll find that no one agrees on what happened exactly, because everyone's point of view differs. Frey's reflecting on his life events rather than actually getting them down factually certainly blurs the genre lines, but does anyone believe that everything that Dave Eggers or David Sedaris write in their witty little memoirs actually happened that exactly as they say? Maybe that's what all of this is about: drama, because if one person's word is questioned, then it calls into question the work of the 'literary giants' among us. And how high does our reach extend if we're all brought down to the same size? Hm.

January 09, 2006

Monday Resolutions

Okay, for most people, vacation ended long ago, but I've been in a weird state of mind that has mostly prevented too much work going on. A phone call with Agent Action, though, has kicked me in the bum, and I'm... here. Upright. Staring at the screen.

One thing that gives me a little boost is occasionally reading the Washington Post Style Invitational archives. I can't waste the time reading them daily or I'd never get anything done, but when I get stuck on a chapter, I'm always a bit amused to go back and read the twists of the minds of thinkers who play with words. I also appreciate reading The Word Detective and dreaming of the day when I become that linguistically adept. And then, I get up for one last cup of tea, sit down, and really get back to business. Seriously. Which I am going to begin... now.

More on Blooming Tree

On Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog Cynsations, there is an excellent, in-depth interview with Miriam Hees of Blooming Tree Press. Though it seems as if Blooming Tree is inundated for the time being, it's a very informative piece.

One highlight: they try to focus on new writers, to give them a leg up in a difficult industry. Hooray! And for a double hooray, check this out:

All of our authors are provided, shortly after their publication, with a marketing and publicity binder. These binders are personalized with data of local stores, schools, libraries, book awards, specialty stores and reviewers that will help us and them make their book a great success.

Help with marketing? In this day and age of hands-off publishing companies? Sounds like a breath of fresh air. (Whether I'll get one of those wonderful little binders for the anthology, though, is unclear. :) )

January 08, 2006

Comic Relief

I read a lot of really crappy comic books growing up. I mean really crappy. If it had Betty or Veronica on the cover, I gravitated towards it like a moth to a, um, really crappy flame. I wanted to be the skateboarding, cool-headed Betty Cooper like nobody's business, while still envying Veronica Lodge's wardrobe.

Then I hit fourteen or fifteen and discovered Neil Gaiman and The Sandman comics—a modern, gritty fantasy with excellent artwork and writing. That series opened my eyes to the idea that comics could be more than just kid stuff or superheroes, because the amount of imagination that went into it was above average, too.

Probably about a year ago, while doing nerdy shopping in a comic store, I caught sight of an issue of something called Marvel 1602, also written by Neil Gaiman. I hadn't heard anything about it, but the woodcut-style artwork on the cover looked intriguing. So when I happened to see Marvel 1602 in the local library last month in complete graphic novel form, I jumped on it.

It turned out to be an alternate-history version of the Marvel universe—what would happen if an array of the classic Marvel superheroes, like the Fantastic Four and the Daredevil, to name a few of the better-known ones, inhabited the late Elizabethan time period rather than modern days? This is a fun, imaginative romp with a plotline that is, in some ways, classic superhero, and in other ways, classic Neil Gaiman.

Pair that with above-average artwork in a style very fitting to the storyline and time period—dark interior moods, occasional judicious use of Old English calligraphy—and you've got a very enjoyable way to get in your comic book fix. Although the plot does wrap up rather neatly and quickly, and it's got its fair share of deus ex machina to make everything work out just so, in superhero comics that's both expected and relatively forgivable. I know vacation's almost over, but it's a good vacation read. Betty Cooper has been officially replaced as my idol by Susan Storm, or maybe Virginia Dare. You'll have to read it to find out why.

January 05, 2006

Momus - he's the man. Or something.

A little while before the holidays, I was watching some television special about Mardi Gras, and heard that there was a Greek god of writers. I looked it up on handy Wikipedia, and found, to my amusement, that Greek deity is called Momus, and he was kicked out of the Greek version of heaven on Mt. Olympus -- for being a pain in the butt.

"Momus was the god of mockery, writers, poets, a spirit of evil-spirited blame and unfair criticism. Hesiod said that Momus was a son of Night (Nyx), in Theogony, 214. He mocked Hephaestus, Lucian of Samosata recalled (in the extended dialogue Hermotimus, 20), for having made mankind without doors in their breast, through which their thoughts could be seen. He even mocked Aphrodite, though all he could find was that she was talkative and had creaky sandals (Philostratus, Epistles)."

Heh. The god of writers is a pain in the butt who hangs out at Mardi Gras and drinks. Coincidence?

January 02, 2006

One Sarah Dessen deserves another

A. Fortis first described Dessen's compact and powerful prose, and I took another gamble on this writer with a serious book about a love story gone horribly wrong. Dessen's novel, Dreamland, contains one of the best emotional descriptions of an battered woman I've ever read. Dessen describes Caitlin's helpless, sort of dreamy sensation of floating internally as a dreamland from which she only awakens when her boyfriend calls her. It is his voice which makes her snap to -- or else.

Protagonist Caitlin is losing herself. Since her sister ran away from home, she's been dancing double-time to fill in -- to be the daughter that her parents miss, but also to be the self she's longed to be without the shadow of a brilliant and perfect elder sister. Caitlin's connection to the world around her grows hazier and hazier and she finds first her teachers, then her best friends and finally her parents voices growing fainter and fainter. It's like she's drowning -- and the hand she's straining for belongs to someone who just might pull her up -- or may be the one who has pushed her down to begin with.

An ugly topic and an important read. It's not how it happens for everyone, but it's one explanation of how a girl could get into a battering relationship, something that seems inexplicable at times to outsiders.

Twenty-Ought-Six Rolls On

A few bits of news from the writing front -- an SCBWI board has a new note from a Blooming Tree editor in search of middle grade stories:

I am now an assistant editor with Blooming Tree Press http://www.bloomingtreepress.com, and I am looking for manuscripts which meet the following criteria:

Contemporary middle grade fiction under 30,000 words with a male main character.
Humor or adventure stories especially wanted.
No grossness.
No historical fiction.

Please send e-mail queries to lillpluta@gmail.com.
Include the first chapter in the body of the email (no attached files please).
Please pay attention to the above criteria. I am not interested in girl stories or historical fiction at this time. It is fine if girls are characters in the story, but the MAIN character(s) should be boys. We are trying to round out our list.
If you have other types of manuscripts you are interested in submitting to Blooming Tree Press, please follow the directions under Submissions on our web page. At this time I am ONLY interested in the above.

Kay Pluta, Assistant Editor
Blooming Tree Press

Meanwhile, 2006 looks to be the year of Making Better Writers -- or else. According to the latest Poets & Writers ...

Disappointed with the quality of entries for its First Fiction Award, Winnow Press decided to return the entry fees, postage, and manuscripts to all the writers who entered the contest.
(From News & Trends, a feature of Poets & Writers Magazine.)

I imagine the contest participants are bitterly disappointed -- and somewhat humiliated as well! To 'winnow,' however, means to sort the bad from the good, by shaking and wind. If anyone ever does get published by Winnow Press (and will anyone else enter a contest of theirs ever again?) they should be quite, quite honored.

Yes, indeed. Happy New Year.