Saturday, January 30, 2010

Newbury & Caldecott Award Winners of 2010

The John Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association (ALA) to the author of the year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." This year's winner is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association (ALA) to the artist of the year's "most distinguished American picture book for children." This year's winner is The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.

Amazon has a great list of award winners for children's and YA books at:

Happy reading!! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Interview with Erica Miner

Violinist turned author ERICA MINER has had a multi-faceted career as an award-winning screenwriter, author, lecturer and poet. A native of Detroit, she studied music at Boston University and the New England Conservatory of Music. After experiencing a variety of highs and lows in her quest to forge a career in New York City, Erica won the coveted position of violinist with the Metropolitan Opera Company, a high-pressured milieu but the pinnacle of her field.

When injuries from a car accident spelled the end of her musical career, she drew upon her lifelong love of writing for inspiration. She is the author of two novels, the latest of which, FourEver Friends, chronicles the coming-of-age of four teenage girls in 1960s Detroit. Erica says,"Writing is my passion, whether it be novels, screenplays, poetry or essays. I have so many stories to tell, and I’m thrilled at the thought of other people enjoying them."

Read on for this talented author's insights about the writing process, life lessons she has learned through writing, and advice for writers of all ages.

How did you get the idea for FourEver Friends?

I originally wrote the book as a "love letter" to my three best friends from high school in Detroit and to the school itself, Cass Tech, which provided us an astonishing education. Back then the "Motor City" was a thriving, vibrant place, with an amazing public education system and tons of smart, talented kids. Of course the city has fallen on hard times these days, and so I thought writing a book about its days of glory and the all-important friendships that were forged there might be a compelling way to let people know about this wonderful place. The book is also a window into the 60s, a time that Baby Boomers look back to with nostalgia and subsequent generations have been curious about – a very timely subject for adults and teenagers alike!

How did you first discover your love for writing?

When I was 7 years old and in elementary school, I was placed in a Creative Writing class in an after school program for gifted kids. This was about a hundred years ago - ! - but I still remember the joy and passion I felt for the writing, even back then. I started journaling when I was 13 and just starting high school. Those journals formed the eventual basis for my novel FourEver Friends, and also for my novel Travels With My Lovers. Since then I have journaled and studied writing, even when I was a violinist with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The love for writing still continues.

What is your writing routine?

I do try to write every day, even if only a few words or sentences. My violin teacher used to counsel me to practice every day, even if I only had 15 minutes. I try to keep to that discipline now in my writing. The best time for me is late morning, after I’ve taken care of all my ‘drudge’ activities and my mind and body are totally free and willing to concentrate on the writing. I write almost exclusively at my computer, which is located in our loft upstairs. That’s where I feel completely apart from the rest of the world, which is what I need in order to do my best work.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self about the writing life? What is your biggest advice for writers just starting out?

That is a wonderful way of putting it – to advise "my younger self." Both she and other writers starting out could benefit from two maxims that I try to keep in mind re: writing. The first is to educate yourself and avail yourself of all the writing tools and wisdom that you can find out there; the web is an enormous resource for this. The second is simply to "KEEP GOING."

What is the editing process like for you?

Brutal. For me it’s like practicing and perfecting a piece of music. I go back endlessly and try to make the language - the "notes" - as beautiful, compelling, and succinct as possible. I try to keep in mind Oscar Wilde’s famous comment about spending an entire day putting in one comma and then taking it out. Every word and punctuation mark will count toward making the writing shine. I just do my best to accomplish that.

What "life lessons" have you learned through writing?

If there’s one "life lesson" I would focus on, it would be that no matter what you choose to do in life, you will experience difficulty. Someone once said anything worth having is going to be some trouble. I try to remind myself that no matter how much criticism and rejection you get, ultimately you need to dust yourself off and KEEP GOING. I learned that as a young violinist trying to make my way in the music world. The same holds true for writing. Have faith in yourself and in your talent, find other people who believe in you, and KEEP GOING.

What's next for Erica Miner?

I was fortunate enough to find a publisher, Twilight Times Books, who believed in my story for a suspense novel, Murder In The Pit. The book is coming out this May, and I want to share my excitement about it with your readers. Information about the book will be posted on my website,, as it becomes available.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Writer Advice Flash Fiction Contest

WriterAdvice is a wonderful resource for writers and a great supporter of Write On!

The editors seek flash fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction that mesmerizes the reader in 750 words or less.

DEADLINE: April 15, 2010.

Entry fee: $10 per submission.

First prize: $150.

Former prizewinners are the judges.

You can find complete guidelines, mailing address, and prizes listed at

Monday, January 25, 2010

Interview with Young Author Taylor Probst

Taylor Probst is twelve years old and in junior high. She loves reading and writing and is currently focused on fantasy. One day, she says she would like to try writing a story that takes place in another world. She is the author of Buffy and the Carrot, xxxxx.

Tell us about Buffy and the Carrot. What was your inspiration/motivation behind this book?

My inspiration to write this book was my two little sisters and my two cousins who begged me to tell them a funny story. I wanted to make them laugh, so I made up the story of Buffy and the Carrot. They loved it and started to spread the story around. Then my aunt encouraged me to make it a real book so we can share it with other children.

What have you learned through writing this book?

I've learned how hard it is to write a book and that it doesn't happen overnight. Writing and getting a book published is a lot of work!

How did you get started writing?

I always loved hearing and listening to great stories, and like to make them up. I'm always begging my parents or aunt/uncle to tell me stories about when they were young, especially the mischief they got into! This led me to wanting to make stories of my own up and write them down.

What is your writing process like? Do you write on a computer? In a spiral notebook? Do you draw illustrations?

I usually make up a story in my head and if it sticks with me, then I write it down. I use a notebook or talk into a tape recorder. I'm not the best artist but I like to draw pictures to match the story also.

How do you get ideas for what you write?

I look at pictures and things happening around me. All the sounds and sights around me can inspire a story. I start with a character that is interesting and try to make a story around that character.

What is your biggest advice for other young people reaching for their dreams?

Go for it. If you have a great sotry, just try. If it doesn't work out, at lest you get to say you tried.

What are some of your favorite books?

I love Judy Blume. It's Not the End of the World was a great book since my parents are divorced. And I love Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I also love fantasy and am currently reading The Crystal Shard by R. A. Salvatore. It's wonderful.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

If a twelve year old can write a book, anybody can accomplish a goal or a dream. Never give up and don't be afraid to ask for help along the way.

Interview with Marvin Wilson

Marvin D. Wilson is a writer, blogger, and author. He enjoys delivering spiritual and inspirational messages in his own inimitable humorous, poignant, oftentimes irreverent, at times shocking way, through the spinning of an entertaining tale. He took the time to speak to me about his latest novel, Owen Fiddler -- which is available online at -- and about his life as a novelist.

How did your latest novel, Owen Fiddler, begin? What was the writing process like?

Marvin: Owen Fiddler was first a short story I wrote in one long sitting, a little over three years ago. It was a Christmas story, actually. I didn’t publish it, but I posted it as a holiday post on my blog and also emailed it to friends and family and printed out some copies to mail to some folks. So many people expressed how much they liked it and encouraged me to lengthen it, I decided to write more and turn it into a full-length novel. Once I started on the manuscript, I got into this blessed “writer’s zone” where I could not key the words in as fast as the inspirations were coming. I would wake up in the early morning with one or more of the characters urging me to get up and write something they had to say or do. It was incredible, like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I wrote the full 65,000+ words in about five weeks. Then I spent three months doing the self-editing, revisions and rewrites, polishing it up as best I could. After that, I sent it in to my editor, Peggy Ullman Bell, who is a real task-master and demands the very best from me. The back and forth with her, all the rewrites, rearranging, revisions and changes she demanded, took another month. So all told, it was about a six month process before it was ready to submit to the publishing house.

Award-winning author and professional book critic Lisa Haselton says: "Whether or not you believe in God, a higher being, heaven, law of attraction, or any type of life after death, you will walk away from this novel having at least been inspired to glimpse the possibility that there is more to life than a simple daily existence." Was this your purpose in writing this book?

Marvin: One of them, yes, and I was elated when she read the book and wrote that, because it let me know I had accomplished one of my objectives. I like to deliver spiritual and inspirational messages without coming off as “preachy” – I am a Christian, but I don’t write books in the “Christian Book” genre because I don’t like the limitations imposed in that arena, and I’m not one for “preaching to the choir.” I’m more of a Maverick loose cannon kind of Christian spiritualist author who tells it like it is and relates to all people, not just the religious.

You are a self-described "realist." How does this influence your writing?

Marvin: This sort of ties into my last answer. As I said, I prefer, even though I am a Christian, to publish my books in the general fiction genre - “spiritual/inspirational” category. There I am not restricted with what kind of language my characters can use, what kinds of graphic scenes I can “realistically” portray, etc. Although I’m not a “potty mouth” author, I will use occasional cuss words if I’m writing a badass character, and while I don’t get into pornographic sex scene depictions, my characters do have sex, just like “real” people do, and I will write those scenes as well. Also, I tackle some topics that most religious people would rather not talk about or even recognize as being worthy of discussion. I’m not a religious person at all, and I love to stir up controversy for the sake of whipping up healthy debate.

What drives you to write?

Marvin: My favorite answer to that is to quote Thomas Berger: "Why do writers write? Because it isn't there."

What's next for Marv Wilson?

Marvin: Oh gosh, lots! I have three Works in Progress, in various stages of completion. One is a sequel to Owen Fiddler. It’s a comedic mystery whodunit, titled “Detective Snoop” and will be a lot of fun with some spiritual messages thrown in to boot. Another is a romance, featuring a female main character who is an avid mountain climber and a best-selling author, married to a traveling rock star. That book is titled “Heaven’s Slope Ascended.” And the third one, which is only about two chapters long right now but my favorite, is about – well, here … I’ll paste the blurb I wrote for it for promotional purposes:

What if a homeless, smelly, ugly unkempt old man had a hug so powerful it could cure cancer? Cause a prostitute to stop hooking and seek true love? Shake the demons of addiction free from a junkie? Make a Christian want to hug and love a Muslim and visa versa? But rare is the beneficiary of his divine hug – nobody wants to come near him out of fear.

That one has the tentative working title, “Beware the Devil’s Hug.” So I have all that to write - I want to have at least one, hopefully two new releases by the end of the year, and I also do a lot of editing. I’m on staff with All Things That Matter Press and I do freelance work as well. I usually have two books I’m editing at any given time. Call me crazy, I just can’t get enough of reading, writing, and editing books. Love it. Oh, and again call me maniacal, I also publish a new blog post every day on The Old Silly’s Free Spirit Blog, where I have hundreds of regular readers stopping each day from well over a hundred countries around the planet. Can’t let them down, hmm?

Hey thanks for having me on your blog, Dallas. I enjoyed composing the answers to your questions, and I’ll be stopping in several times today and into the early evening to interact with your readers if they wish.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vote for Write On!!!

Hi everyone! I have some VERY exciting news, and a favor to ask of you:

My literacy organization Write On! is up for a $5,000 grant from Glamour Magazine/Sally Hansen! Now is voting time, and votes are a big factor. Each person can only vote once.

I'm really trying to spread the word because this would be SO huge for Write On! It would help us create more Holiday Book Drive Chapters, award more scholarships, and get more kids excited about reading and writing!

Here's the link to vote:

You have to give your name and contact info so they can make sure each person only votes once. They say they won't use your info or give it to anyone, but of course if you don't want to, I understand.

However, if you do feel comfortable voting, and spreading the word to your friends -- even to just two or three people who you know would vote -- that would be fantastic!!!

Here's the link again:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Annual "Let's Write!" Literary Contest Now Accepting Entries!

Contest opens -- January 15, 2010
Entries must be postmarked no later than -- April 15, 2010

All categories--Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction are open to all writers, published or unpublished. We will accept most genres, except pornography, erotica, graphic violence/horror, or anything racial or biased toward any religious or moral preference.


* Maximum entry length: 36 lines (poetry), 2500 words (fiction and non-fiction).
* All entries must be original, unpublished, and not under consideration for publication during this competition, (this includes submissions to our Magnolia Quarterly Magazine) and submission must not have been a winner of a previous "Let's Write" Literary Contest.
* All entries must be typewritten, 12 pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced, poetry may be single-spaced, on one side only of 81/2" x 11" white paper.
* For each entry, include a COVER PAGE. (See Cover Page requirements below)
* On each entry, put title only on the first page, then title and page # in the upper right hand corner of each additional page. Please put No Other identification on your entry.
* Keep your originals. Send only copies. Entries will not be returned. GCWA cannot be responsible for entries lost in the mail or damaged due to natural catastrophe.
* GCWA retains the rights to publish the winning entries in the Magnolia Quarterly and on the web site.
* Multiple entries in all categories are welcome and may be mailed in one envelope.

Include $8.00 for each Fiction or Nonfiction entry
Include $5.00 for each Poetry entry
Include $8.00 for each Photo entry

PRIZES (for each category):
First place: $80.00
Second place: $50.00
Third place: $20.00

Visit for more information and to enter online!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Children's Books With a Message

This inspiring video shows the power of reading to connect, inspire and empower. Thanks to for the link.

(Warning: grab the tissues!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book Bites for Kids

It was such a pleasure to be a guest on the radio show "Book Bites for Kids." You can listen to my interview here:

Also be sure to check out The National Writing for Children Center:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Contest for Young Writers in Arizona

Thanks to Amara Edblad for informing me of this contest for young writers!

Children's Fiction Contest, Arizona Consortium on the Arts

Submission deadline: January 31, 2010
For more information, or to mail submissions, please contact:
Writing Contest
Attn: Melanie Tighe
16428 N. 32nd Street
Suite 111
Phoenix, AZ 85032.

This contest is open to writers residing in Arizona. All submissions must be appropriate for children, 5000 words or less. Poetry or Short Stories with or without illustrations. Multiple submissions are acceptable.

Submissions must be:
Double spaced (except for poetry)
- 12 point Times New Roman font
- Pages must be numbered
- Title should appear in header on right side
- Do not put name on pages

Include a cover page with your name, email, mailing address and phone number along with the title of the story and the age group for which you are writing. If you are under the age of 18 please include your age on the cover sheet for the “by children” portion of the contest.

Ages Groups are 3-5, 6-8, 8-10, 10-12, 12+

Make sure you keep a copy of your story, do not send originals they will not be returned. Submissions will be judged on originality, writing and professionalism so send your best work.

There is no entry fee. Winners will be announced February 28, 2010 on the Arizona Consortium of the Arts website Winners will be published in the first issue of the Blue Guitar Jr. online magazine and will receive an award certificate.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Glass Woman Prize

An amazing woman named Beate Sigriddaughter is making a difference in the world by giving women writers an opportunity to support each other and share their work. How? She created the Glass Woman Prize, an award she funds with 10% of her own income.

As she says in her own words, "I want to help along the cause of women expressing themselves authentically and fearlessly and passionately. It has something to do with a contribution to justice and soul growing in the world. One of my ex-husbands once said that women don't support each other. I want to either change that or prove it wrong. This is my small gesture of changing the world."

I am very proud that my story "Three Sundays at The Grove" was awarded eighth place in the Sixth Glass Woman Prize. Beate is now accepting submissions for the Seventh Glass Woman Prize. You can read previous winning stories and find information about how to enter your work at

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Boysenberry Jam" Published in Debut Issue of New Literary Magazine Eclectic Flash!

I am thrilled and honored to announce that my flash fiction story "Boysenberry Jam" has been published in the debut issue of the wonderful new lit magazine Eclectic Flash.

Here is the opening:

A place for everything, and everything in its place – though her rationale behind the placement of each item was a mystery to him. It all seemed haphazard, random. Cans of tomatoes and corn and peas stretched back into the darkness. Cereal boxes stood guard beside the Ritz crackers and hot chocolate mix. Tins of tea rattled beside plastic jars of peanut butter, store-bought, and glass jars of jam, personally canned. Some she had canned herself, others were gifts from friends. Raspberry, strawberry, boysenberry.

The pantry door squeaked slightly when opened. It sounded like an admonishment. After all, he wasn’ t hungry. But he stood there, in his threadbare socks and drawstring pants, staring at the life she had accumulated for them. No matter how angry she was at him, no matter how badly her third-grade class had behaved that day, no matter how many ragamuffin friends (or, later, ragamuffin boyfriends and girlfriends) the kids brought home with them after school to eat their food, she never complained. She always had the pantry stacked to overflowing, and she always had dinner ready on the table at 6:00 sharp, after Wheel of Fortune. They ate together, as a family, during Jeopardy. The volume muted, they guessed at the answers, shouting to blank-eyed TV contestants who never heard them.

He took a jar of jam off the shelf and studied the label. Boysenberry. For Ida Jean, With Love, Carlotta.

You can read the rest of the story -- as well as numerous other provoking, humorous, chilling, delightful fiction, nonfiction and poetry pieces -- at this link:

You can also order print copies of the journal here:

Thank you to editor Brad Nelson for all the hard work he put into this
terrific first issue! And thanks for letting me be a part of it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Listen to My Interview on SFSU's Radio Show "The Word" with Jon Becker

Lately I've been frequenting the airwaves, which has been absolutely delightful. To continue with this theme: a few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be a guest on the popular San Francisco State University radio show "The Word" hosted by Jon Becker. He was kind enough to upload the show online as a podcast, so it is available for anyone to listen to.

And here is the link for you to download the podcast:

Thanks again, Jon, for having me on your show!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Guest on "A Book and a Chat" Radio Show

On December 28th, I was fortunate enough to be a guest on the radio show "A Book and a Chat" with Storyheart, a.k.a. Barry Eva, who himself is the author of the wonderful book Across the Pond. It was such a pleasure to chat with Barry about the writing process, finding inspiration, and giving back. You can listen to my show here.

January is Young Adult Literature Month on "A Book and a Chat" -- Barry has lined up all sorts of wonderful YA authors to come on the show! You can find a complete schedule at As Barry might say, grab a cup of tea and enjoy!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wow, I can't believe it's already 2010 -- not just a new year, but also a new decade! It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the new millennium. Who knows what joy, hope, creativity and new connections the next ten years will bring?

I celebrate each new year by reviewing what I accomplished in the past year and setting new goals for the upcoming year. I've found that writing down my goals is a rewarding way for me to take steps towards leading my best life and becoming my best self. A helpful way I break things down is to set goals for different aspects of my life: Writing Goals, Write On! For Literacy Goals, and Personal Healthy Life Goals.

Here are a few of my highlights from 2009:
  • I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Creative Writing and Entrepreneurship.
  • I created a new website for my foundation Write On! For Literacy:
  • I held the second annual Write On! Summer Writing Camp and had the pleasure of working with 24 amazing young writers.
  • My short story "Numb" was published in Monkeybicycle and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for the Dzanc Books "Best of the Web" anthology.
  • I became a contributing writer for the websites and; other new markets I broke into this year include iMediaConnection,, Attribute Magazine, and True Love Magazine.
  • I became Youth Director of the national organization SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network) -- check out the newly revamped SPAWN website for loads of resources and information on how you can join this wonderful writing community!
  • I was a guest on more than a dozen radio shows and spoke to nearly two dozen classrooms and community organizations.
  • I was fortunate to meet many amazing and supportive friends who greatly enrich my life!
And here are some of my goals for 2010:
  • Publish the first Write On! Books anthology of work by young writers.
  • Build partnerships with other literacy and youth organizations.
  • Expand and improve the Write On! website. (Any suggestions? Let me know!)
  • Complete my second novel manuscript.
  • Enroll in an MFA program.
  • Exercise three days a week.
  • Learn to play the guitar.
  • Do at least one act of kindness every day.
What are some of your goals? In what ways do you wish to improve your life or better yourself? What incredible things does 2010 hold for you?