Tomorrow starts the A to Z Blogging Challenge, so my regular Teen Tuesday and Friday Five posts will be on hiatus until May. If you are looking for writing opportunities, here are a few places that might help:
If you are interested in productivity tips and making the most of your time, I hope you'll follow my A to Z posts during April. Happy Writing!
I like to feature themed posts of "five" each Friday. This week is a special Monday Five, with a guest post from Jennifer Hubbard, a YA novelist with a new nonfiction book about writing. Here's more information from Jennifer about the book.
Five Topics Covered in Loner in the Garret: A Writer’s Companion by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Sometimes the most difficult part of writing is not coming up with a plot or the perfect turn of phrase. It’s getting motivated to sit down and start, or having the confidence to go forward, or finding the courage to move past the sting of rejection. Loner in the Garret: A Writer’s Companion provides inspiration and encouragement for that mental and emotional journey. Covering topics as varied as procrastination, the inner critic, fear, distractions, envy, rejection, joy, and playfulness, it charts the ups and downs of the writing life with honesty, gentle suggestions, and a dash of humor. Here are five topics covered in Loner:
Since so many of us spend so much time procrastinating, I had to ask myself: Could it possibly serve a real and necessary purpose? Maybe procrastination isn’t always a bad thing. So I explored that idea.
You know I had to go there. Almost every writer experiences it.
The dirty little secret--maybe not so secret anymore, as writers have become more honest about this. It’s not that we wish less success for others. It’s just that sometimes we’d like a piece of the pie. How can we keep from being destructive--to ourselves or others?
The Inner Critic
What is that little voice in the head that slashes a red pen through our words--or maybe even keeps us from writing them in the first place? How can talk back to that little voice?
Writing is not all trouble and sweat. Sometimes it’s downright fun! When I have bonked my head against a dead-end wall too many times, I remind myself to ask: Where’s the joy? Go there.
For more information and buy links, click here.
Jennifer R. Hubbard writes young-adult novels (The Secret Year, Try Not to Breathe, and Until It Hurts to Stop). She spends most of her time writing, reading, or hiking, with a little dark chocolate thrown in.
Blogging. Some people love it. Some people hate it, but many writers consider it a necessary part of their jobs. No matter which side of the emotional fence you're on, here are five blogging tips to help, especially with the A to Z Blogging Challenge right around the corner.
Make sure your subscribe button is easy to find. The blogs people read regularly are the ones delivered directly to their inboxes. Test your subscription process by having someone who isn't tech-savvy (an older relative, perhaps?) try to subscribe to your blog. If it doesn't go well, you can always blog about the possibly humorous results.
Speaking of subscriptions: subscribe to your own blog. It's a great way to make sure the formatting is what you expected. If there's a glitch, you can quickly discover it on your own.
Create an interesting blog post title and make sure it shows up as the email subject line for your subscribers. I recently learned how to customize mine so that it doesn't say Yvonne Ventresca's Blog. Quite frankly, a name-only headline is boring and likely to be deleted on a busy day. It's often the post's title that entices someone to open it.
Most people include graphics or photos to complement the text. My favorite site for this is morgueFile. They offer a wide selection of photos for free. If you can't find the perfect photo, try editing one or adding your own text. I use the free version of PicMonkey for this. Here's an example of one of my creations:
And my favorite tip: keep a log of your blog posts. After a year of blogging, I had a hard time remembering what topics I'd covered and what links I might have already referred to. It took several hours, but I finally created a file that includes the date, URL, blog title, and a summary. Now I update it as I add new posts (which I wish I had done from the beginning!). It's useful to be able to search in a single file instead of scrolling through numerous old posts. Having the log has already saved me more time than I invested to create it. For A the Z Challenge last year, I also made a Pinterest board of posts to help keep them in one place when the month was over.
If you have any favorite blogging tips or resources, please let me know! I also appreciate links to articles about blogging and examples of favorite blogs.
I hope you'll visit on April 1st for the beginning of my productivity-themed month!
The Mark Twain House is sponsoring its second annual humor writing contest.
Deadline: July 10, 2015
Word limit: 7000 words
Prizes: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cash prizes. 1st place for young authors (17 and under) is $600.
There is a submission fee for this contest: $22 for adults (18 and older) and $12 for young authors (17 and younger). These fees are used for the preservation of The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT.
For more information and complete guidelines, visit the Mark Twain House contest website.
My theme for the 2015 A to Z Challenge is:
As a self-employed writer, I have a reasonable amount of control over scheduling my time, but I don't always feel like I'm accomplishing enough. This led to a fascination with how to set up better routines and strategies to make the most of my days. Reading about productivity continues to be, in fact, one of my favorite ways to procrastinate. (I do appreciate the irony.) To write April's A to Z posts, I’ve read numerous books on the topic, researched website articles, and conducted interviews with some experts. I hope my upcoming A to Z posts give you the helpful information you would research yourself . . . if you only had time.
If you've read previous blog posts, you might have figured out that I love learning behind-the-scenes stories about book covers. Today's guest post is from author Dianne Salerni.
5 Fun Facts about My Covers by Dianne Salerni
Many thanks to Yvonne for inviting to post here with little tidbits about my covers!
1. I’ll start with the cover of We Hear the Dead, which I admit was quite a shock for me. I wasn’t expecting this for a book about fraudulent spirit mediums in the 1850s. Women’s dresses were extremely modest in that time period, and spiritualists (even fake ones) would have worn somber clothing. This girl is dressed like a circus performer!
The “cover concept” behind the design is that the spooky title and font contrast sharply with the bright colors of the girl on stage. Readers are meant to know that “hearing the dead” is an act. Everybody except me really liked this cover, and I got used to it in time.
2. I loved both the hardback and paperback covers for The Caged Graves, although I think reader response for the paperback cover has been stronger.
Both versions feature this photograph taken by my husband, Bob Salerni. If you look through the caged grave in the foreground, you’ll see the blurred images of my daughter squatting beside another tombstone and me, bending over to look at it with her.
3. The cover for The Eighth Day is the first one of my books to get original artwork, as opposed to stock images. That is always an exciting benchmark for an author!
Freelance artist Mike Heath created a cover that conveys a contemporary--but unpopulated--setting. The boy running through a portal hints at a fantasy or science fiction element to the story (even though there is no literal portal in the book). I adore the colors he used for the sky.
4. Mike Heath also designed the cover of The Inquisitor’s Mark (Eighth Day #2). This design suggests a sinister setting. Look at that plumbing! It reminds me of grasping fingers. The cinderblock basement is a real place in the book, and I love how the abandoned skateboard mirrors the abandoned bike on the first cover, suggesting that the main character has put ordinary life aside for this adventure.
5. I can’t show you the cover of The Morrigan’s Curse (Eighth Day #3) yet, but Mike really outdid himself this time! You can expect the same eye-popping title and the repeated motif of the running boy. But for the first time, there are other characters besides Jax on the cover, and it illustrates a specific scene in the book. I can’t wait to share it (probably this summer).
DIANNE K. SALERNI is the author of the The Eighth Day fantasy series (HarperCollins) and historical novels, The Caged Graves, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and We Hear the Dead, optioned for TV and inspiration for The Spirit Game, starring Charles Shaughnessy, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. To learn more about Dianne and her books, visit her Website, Facebook, or Twitter.
Polyphony H.S. is a literary magazine which publishes high school students from around the world. The annual student-run publication is open to submissions until May 30th. Payment is a contributor's copy, but for teen writers looking for feedback, they seem to have a thorough editing and review process. They accept poetry (up to 80 lines) along with fiction and literary nonfiction (up to 1500 words).
Check out these helpful links:
What sort of feedback will I get on my submission?
Excellent submission advice.
Polyphony H.S. submission guidelines.
How to submit your work.
Today's guest post is by E.R. Arroyo, author of the Sovereign series. E.R. is also the cofounder of the Facebook group, Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans (BOD). If you love stories that are dystopian, apocalyptic, or post-apocalyptic, you should check out BOD.
Five Fun Facts about the Sovereign cover, by E.R. Arroyo
1) My cover was 100% custom. I used a local photographer and a local model/actress (both friends of mine), and we shot in downtown Tulsa in front of a house that had burned down.
2) The "scene" from the novel cover is actually set outside of what was once Pittsburgh, though the novel never actually expressly calls it that.
3) The model, Nicole, was a champ! It was freezing and rainy that day. She rolled around in the mud to look the part. I did Nicole's facial bruising and dirt smudge with makeup.
4) Nicole was holding an airsoft gun which belonged to the photographer. We were all terrified to be in that part of town with that gun... But we lived.
5) I went into this process with this cover concept because I knew a cover too girly or artistic wouldn't do justice to the lead character, Cori. There are a lot of amazing covers in my genre, YA Dystopian, and it's pretty impossible to 'compete' but the least I could do was serve Cori well.
More about Sovereign: Chemical warfare has obliterated most of the world, including America, and the survivors have turned into feral beasts, save one colony, Antius, the last remnant of civilization. Seventeen-year-old Cori (aka Citizen 1206) only longs for wide open spaces and freedom. But Antius has no use for such things, just mindless drones to serve in a place with walls, fences, and laws. A lot of laws, which Cori constantly breaks. So she’s spent years plotting her escape, which is the only thing that will save her from the colony’s deranged leader, Nathan. She isn’t looking to be a hero, and she certainly isn’t looking to fall in love, but she just might do both.
About the author: E.R. Arroyo is the author of YA Dystopian, The Sovereign Series, and co-founder/owner of Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans, a Facebook community, blog, and company that champions dystopian, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic fiction. E.R. is passionate about books, music, and her family, and she loves to talk shop with other authors and with her readers.
Learn more about E.R. and her books:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Band of Dystopian | Goodreads
If you have story under 1000 words written and ready to submit, consider this contest sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. To enter, you must be 18 or under. There is no entry fee. The first-place winner will be get bragging rights and publication in an upcoming issue of their magazine, Imagine. The deadline is this Friday, March 13, at 5 pm EST. For more information and complete guidelines, visit the Creative Minds Fiction Contest website. Good luck!
Today's Friday Five is a guest post from Hilary Thompson, author of Justice Buried.
Justice Buried (Starbright, Book One): 5 Facts About the Cover by Hilary Thompson
Justice Buried was my debut novel, and I was obsessed with finding and creating the perfect cover images. After all, I judge books by their covers, and I know lots of you do, too.
I’m on Tumblr and Pinterest a ton for inspiration, and one day I found this photo. It sparked the idea that became my cover, through the talented work of my cover designer, Najla Qamber.
The cover was truly an international collaboration. Najla lives in Bahrain, but she hired a photographer and model here in the US to re-create the look.
The model was actually naked, so Naj had to add the floaty-looking fabric on her shoulders! Digital magic at its best, folks.
The stars at the top are the constellation Aries, which is the main character’s sign. In the Starbright series, the citizens of Asphodel use the zodiac to determine each aspect of their lives, from clothing colors and activities to jobs and partners! This is a problem for the main character, Astrea, whose particular birthday fulfilled a prophecy she wants no part of. She is supposedly the Starbright maiden of Justice, but the responsibility of dispensing Justice is not something she’s ready to accept.
The title placement was designed to enhance the way the girl looks buried underneath something - she is symbolically separated from her stars, or her destiny, because she refuses to give up her free will.
About Hilary Thompson
Hilary Thompson was born to parents who made a habit of taking roads less traveled. But she was also a Libra, a first child, and an independent, willful child, so she has made a habit of taking a few roads on her own.
After trying on hats made for artists, architects, restaurant and retail workers, landscape designers, legal secretaries, and professional students, she retreated back to her first loves of education and writing.
Hilary now teaches high school full time, writes whenever and wherever she can, and reads as much as her eyes can handle. She also tries not to spoil her own independent, willful children or neglect her wonderful soul-mate of a husband too much. She tends to ignore laundry baskets and dirty dishes.
Connect with Hilary: Newsletter, Facebook, Goodreads, Website, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube
More about Justice Buried:
The people need Justice, but she's not listening.
One hundred years before, the Great Sickness reduced the world to three cities. Now the community of Asphodel is trapped underground, waiting for the prophesied maiden of Justice to return and save them from their Fates.
Sixteen-year-old Astrea is supposed to be this savior - too bad for them she isn't a believer.
Trea fights against her false destiny: she rebels against her family and friends, then refuses her arranged marriage to the charming but deceitful Lexan.
Learning her life is in danger, Trea is forced to trust Lexan - until she discovers a power she never knew she had, and one he already knew he did.
As betrayal closes every door, Trea decides she must submit to her stars and accept her fate. Then a handsome stranger offers her an unexpected escape and the chance to create her own destiny.
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