Friday, March 30, 2012

got winners?

This is a late day post but worth the wait!

In response to our Antagonistic prompt, this gem really stood out! Spot on at exactly 100 words: 

           Ben was running into the forest, from his fear of hurting everyone, and revealing his secret. Only very few knew that the monster within was savage. Then again, only very few knew of this monster. He was cutting it close. The building was only so far away. This antagonistic beast knew just when to ruin everything.
            He had to stop. In a flash, he had taken the long and slender form of the lake, and it smelled its prey. It darted towards the nearest human it smelled and pounced on it, spilling pools of blood. He could not control it.


We loved the internal conflict on this one. Ben's the type of character we want to root for because he's battling uncontrollable demons and deep down he wants to do what's right. 

Well done, SER!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

got giveaways?

Spring Greetings! 
Thanks for stopping by today. 
And thank you on behalf of my blogmates (Did I just invent a word?) Shari, Selene & Joe for all the incredible submissions we receive for our writing prompts. We love pouring over them and sharing our faves with got teen fiction? followers. 
Keep 'em coming!

My first YA novel, A CLOSER LOOK, is about to hit the blogosphere. Follow The {Teen} Book Scene tour and enter to WIN a signed copy of ACL plus a surprise gift--but "Do not open it until page 153."

“…and there were these moments—when we laughed on the phone, or met for a kiss-and-run, when I noticed the sweet way he looked at me—well, I felt so good I could almost forget about my secret. But in the back of my mind, it was like an invisible fist was lurking, one that followed me around, just waiting for the chance to rip out more hair.”

High school freshman, Cassie Donavan, is a stand-out sprinter being considered for varsity track for the Darlington Falcons. Mom, a former teen model and Robin Lakewood, a competitive teammate are more than enough to handle when Cassie discovers her body is turning against her. On New Year’s morning she awakens to her pillow covered with her long hair. Mom and Dad explain alopecia areata—a secret they’ve kept from Cassie since she was three. And now it’s happening again. Cassie is losing her hair. 
Life gets even more complicated when Cassie falls for jazz sax player, Tommy Sweeny. 
Every day Cassie battles with her reflection, desperate to keep her hair loss a secret. Only her family and best friend, Tara Speziale, know the truth. With her rapidly changing appearance, relationships with Mom and Tommy are strained, damaged. And when Tara urges Cassie to race at a crowded track meet, Cassie is trapped in her worst nightmare. Shattered, she hides at home embarrassed and ashamed. Does she dare renew her trust in her family and friends? Will Cassie have the courage to take a closer look?

In A CLOSER LOOK, author Karen DelleCava gives readers a feisty character who deals with family secrets, boyfriend complications, a cruel teammate--and her own body turning against her. Readers will be rooting for Cassie all along, and will want to cheer for the way she proves that losing your hair doesn’t have to mean losing your spirit.”
~~Margaret Peterson Haddix
Multiple award-winning author 
of middle grade and young adult fiction

For details on how to enter to win a signed copy of 
 (plus the surprise gift)

Increase your chances to win by:
Joining this blog and posting a comment. 
That puts your name in the hat twice.

Good luck!
I'll be signing copies of A Closer Look 
Friday, April 13th 6:30-8pm at
Well Read
(New & Used Books)
425 Lafayette Ave
Hawthorne, NJ 
Stop in and say hello :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


It's March Madness time for all of the college basketball fans out there. As we're inundated with images of tournaments past and present, one moment comes to mind-- Duke's Christian Laettner's last minute shot in 1992 to beat Kentucky and head to the Final Four.

With two seconds to go, no one thought it was possible for Duke to overcome their 103-102 deficit. But Grant Hill inbounded down the entire length of the court to Laettner, who turned and made the shot--winning the game.

Nearly impossible odds, right? That feels like publishing some times. But Laettner did make that shot and writers do sell their books/stories/movies/plays, etc.

So don't give up because you think it can't happen--it can and it does. Just ask Christian Laettner and every Duke fan (including me) out there!


Monday, March 26, 2012

got writing?


“Truth is the beginning of every good thing...”

To produce a killer story, you need to start with a killer first line.

Not only to entice the reader to move forward, but also for the more important reason of moving yourself forward.

You are your own first reader. You have to be compelled enough to carry on. If you’re not interested, why on earth would anyone else be?

 Here are three examples of killer first lines:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”-The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" - Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.

Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler’s pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die.” - Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Each of these lines has their own style, but they all capture your attention.

Your first line can be long or short, funny or sad, sarcastic or down to earth...But it must be original and it must contain a hook. my opinion, it must contain a truth.

Here are some first lines I’ve written:

 “Benjamin Tallmadge had never killed before.”
-By the Sword

 “Jesse’s dying.”
-The Girl Next Door

“The taxi’s spinning wheels spit pebbles and dirt as it left me behind at the marina’s gate.”
-Saved by the Music

As you can see, my approach varies. But each of these lines was the thing that propelled me into the rest of the story. And each of these lines reveals some insight: informational, emotional and/or psychological.

What’s your killer first line? Please share it with us at Deadline is Wednesday, April 3. We’ll post our choice for the most compelling line on Friday, April 6.

And hey, if you’re really daring, feel free to send us your opening paragraph!


Friday, March 23, 2012

got winners?

Thanks for all of your submissions! Here are the Scrabble words you had to work with:

omens, ensuring, pare, chew, acid, nova, big, lox, dike, ye, on, doubt, jolt, tire, pies, zest, lint, no, foxy, eon, ad, grove, walked, jar, flap, it, hum, paid, tarots, readied, ewe, slay, queer

Our top pick:

I stood staring at the jar resting on the counter. The acid-like smell radiating from the jar could jolt your immune system awake. I’m standing, frozen with fear, minutes feel like eons. The golden flap peeled back to reveal a grove in the glass. 

Mother said I have to take two full teaspoons in order to get better. The familiar looking spoon seems big compared to normal. I readied myself as the spoon plunged into the queer liquid. It felt odd as I set the cold metal on my tongue. I chew up the jelly like liquid ensuring it goes down my throat. I let out a gasp, “Ewe!” No medicine could taste fowler than this shoe polish smelling one. 
I walk a few slow steps toward the garbage, the fluid threatening to come up. I fear I will get yelled at for not following simple directions, but I doubt I can keep it down. I flip open the lid to the pail to see a pile of lint before I close my eyes. Just before my lips part two hands are around my waist. 
“Don’t go doing that. I’ve paid a lot of money for that medicine for you,” says mother. 
Slowly, I stand back up, slaying my fear of vomiting. Mother begins to hum as she prepares the second spoon. I look at the ad in the paper on the table, ‘Don’t be afraid to try...Buy our fresh pies!’ I think to myself what a stupid thing to be afraid of.
By Amy S. 
Honorable mention:
He wasn’t sure when he heard the tire squeal. All he could think about was the jolt, the sickening crunching sound, and the screams. The people on the sidewalk walked by quickly, not wanting to get caught up in the drama. After all, emergency services would be there soon enough, they would take care of it. It wasn’t their problem, they had lives that had more importance. Jason blinked at them, his eyes heavy, as he waited and hoped someone would help him.
By Kimberly Y.

It was Arianna’s sixteenth birthday and her friend Jamie thought it would be cool to go to a fortune teller although Arianna had serious doubts.
“What if she can really see into the future? Does that mean it’s good to know what’s coming next?” Arianna said as they walked to the door marked Madame Rose, Clairvoyant.
“Wouldn’t you want to know if next week you were going to be slayed by a crazed maniac?” Jamie asked jokingly.
“Aren’t you a big bucket of sunshine on my birthday?”
The girls entered the door and Madame Rose rushed them into a dark, candlelit room.
“I require to be paid in advance.” Madame Rose extended her bony hand.
Her stale breath and heavy perfume made Arianna’s stomach turn. When the girls hesitated Madam Rose continued, “Too many people leave without payment if they do not like what they hear.”
Jamie paid Madame Rose and she spread the tarot cards across the table. Madame Rose’s expression was intense.
“Brett,” Madame Rose said.
Arianna felt a jolt of fear. Brett was her boyfriend. How did she know his name?
“Brett hides a secret from you,” Madame Rose said.
Arianna readied herself to hear the secret. She chewed her bottom lip. 
“Brett do you say it...queer.”
“He’s gay?” Arianna shrieked. “Impossible!”
“It is a secret he has yet to reveal to himself. In the weeks to come, it is you who will tell Brett."
A loud hum filled Arianna’s head. It wasn’t possible--was it?

By Dina M.

Congrats, Amy, Kimberly & Dina! NICE WORK!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Got Authors? An Interview with Margie Gelbwasser

Today we welcome my friend, Margie Gelbwasser. Margie's first book, Inconvenient, is being followed by her newest book, Pieces of Us, which is out this month from Flux Books. I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of the book--it's raw and real and an amazingly powerful read.

If you are in the Northern NJ area, come celebrate the publication of Pieces of Us tonight, March 22nd at the Paramus Barnes and Noble at 7:30pm. Margie will be signing copies of her book.

Here's a summary:

Two families. Four teens.
A summer full of secrets.
Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives.
Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it.
Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.

We asked Margie a few questions about her life as a writer and she graciously answered them for us:

1.      What inspired you to write Pieces of Us?
There were a few things, but one inspiration was what happened to me in high school and college. A few boys thought it fun to call me a whore and a slut. My friends said it shouldn't bother me because it wasn't true. It bothered me anyway. Eventually, they grew bored and moved on to other things. A year or two later, I went to college and kissed a few boys. Next thing I knew, someone asked a friend back home if it was true that “Margie had become a real slut now.” Again, my friends told me to not let it get to me. Who cared what these people thought? It passed and I let it go, but when I began writing Pieces of Us and Katie's story I thought about how much worse teens have it these days. Unlike my experience in the '90s, the bullying of today's teens is much harder to let go. These days, someone would have taken a picture of me kissing a boy or two. They could have just doctored the photo too. The photo/video would have been sent to hundreds of cell phones, posted on FB walls, sent in e-mails. The victim would wake up and go to sleep to texts. Bullying these days has reached new heights and it is much harder for a victim to escape.

2. Any advice for writers starting out?
Just write. If you don't test out ideas or keep waiting for “the one”, you may miss a great novel opportunity.

3. Besides your main character, who do you find most intriguing?
Kyle is my favorite character in Pieces of Us. I just want to hold him and protect him and tell him everything will be OK. I feel he is the character in the novel who has the least choices, but I also have most hope for his future.

4. Is Pieces of Us auto-biographical in any way?
I used my own bullying experiences as springboards but what happened to me is on a FAR lesser scale than what happens to Katie. Also, the story of Alex and Kyle was based on two brothers I knew in the bungalow colonies (lake houses in the book) my sister and I went to every summer. The older brother was a player and all the girls wanted him. He was fourteen. The younger one was five. Whenever the older one got a girlfriend, he encouraged the five year old to grab her breast or hit her on the butt. The girls thought it was funny. The younger brother thought it was funny. I was nine and thought it was strange. When I started writing PIECES OF US and about the lake houses, those brothers popped into my head. I wondered what would happen if the situation escalated through the years, if it was darker.

5. What’s the best email or review you’ve ever received from a teen reader?
I have read reviews for POU that have really touched me, but I'm not sure of the age of the reader, so I'll stick with an encounter I had with a teen who read Inconvenient. I attended a book club of INC, and there was a teen there who spoke about her experiences and how thankful she was to me for writing INC so accurately. She also told me how she appreciated the ending because everything doesn't get all wrapped up, which was her reality. Knowing she found the book helpful meant so much.

6. Are there any lines in your book you had to “fight for” with your editor?
I've heard about this happening with people, but I never had this issue with my editor, Brian Farrey, or my copy editor, Sandy Sullivan. However, I trust them when it comes to seeing what my books need so I would be very willing to take their advice. If anything, I reread lines I've written and go back and ask them if they're sure the words/sentences are good enough and tell the story in the best way they can.

7. Are there any lines in your book that were edited out but you wish had made the cut?
Nope. With Sandy, there was an issue of headers. I really thought more of them would help readers better understand the flow in the story. She disagreed. We went back and forth on it a few times (mainly because I worry about how well I convey time when I write). Then, she sent me two versions of POU—one with the extra headers, one without—as her last plea for her case. She said if I still felt as I did, she would let it go. I am SO SO glad she did not let it go and went so far as to show me both versions. She was so correct and the book is so much smoother and less cluttered this way. Sandy's suggestions and line edits are always so spot on, and I am so glad I listen to her. :-)

8. When did you figure out the title for you book?
I'm trying to remember what the original title of an early draft was, and I can't. By the time I finished, it didn't quite fit anymore and Brian and I went through a few choices. We thought of Pieces of You, Pieces of Us, and a few others. I love the Pieces of Us title. I think it's so appropriate as the book tells about the broken lives of all the characters.

10. How much do you rely on your critique group?
I don't have a group but I have two main readers, who are also very good friends of mine—Shaun Hutchinson and Vinessa Anthony. They are awesome about reading early drafts, later drafts, latest drafts, even later drafts—you get the picture. :-) They truly help me see how to expand characters if I'm stuck, providing big picture critiques as well as line edits, and are phenomenal for bouncing off ideas.

11. Were there any characters who showed up unexpectedly who became critical to the plot?
Kyle. He was always there, but originally the story was more Katie's. As the plot evolved, both Shaun and my editor kept saying they really saw this as Kyle's story. I began to see that too and expanded him more.

12. Did your children, spouse or significant other read your novel? Their reactions?
Well, my son is only four-and-a-half so this is a little out of his league. :-) As for my hubby, he has a superb brain when it comes to numbers, but he's not much of a reader. But I know he's proud of my accomplishments anyway.

13. What was the most challenging part/scene to write and why was it so challenging?
A lot of this book was challenging. There is a lot of abuse and graphic material and it often took a lot out of me to write about these things. To be in a dark mindset for that many months was a little draining at times, but the beauty of writing in multiple points of view is that I had the freedom to jump around and work on a new character if one's circumstance got to be too much.

14. What was your road to publication like?
Much easier than with the first one. I got a two book deal with INC, so there was a lot of comfort and relief in knowing I just had to write another novel and (assuming my editor liked it) it would get published.

15. What advice do you have for teen authors when it comes to writing a novel?
Don't limit yourself to writing it how you THINK it should be written or how others tell you a novel HAS to be structured. It's ok to jump around, to write parts that interest you then go back and put them where you see fit. Also, revisions are so important so find a trusted reader or two and give them your novel when you are ready for feedback. On that same note, don't get feedback too early on or you may get discouraged. Give yourself the opportunity to feel out your story and characters. Write at least 1/2 of your book before you ask for extensive critique. If you're stuck before that point, opt for discussing the book and its problems as opposed to giving a reader everything you've written. I firmly believe allowing others to critique your work too early is a recipe for destruction. However, I see no problem with sharing pages just to show what you have. Just don't ask for a critique of those early pages yet.

16. What writer’s maxim have you found to be either true or false? What happened to make you believe it?
There were two. 1) The idea that you have to write every day or for a certain amount of time each day was really daunting. Yet, many interviews I've read with writers, stressed how important that was. It was a lot of pressure and I'd often end up not writing at all because I did not have the needed time. Now, I write once or twice a week, sometimes more. I don't create a set number of words I need to get through but I do follow an outline and attempt to finish an x number of scenes. That works for me and makes me feel accomplished when I've done something. Which brings me to 2). I used to scoff at people who said “real writers” outlined. I tried outlining and it never worked for me. Then I started working on novel number 3 (I'm only 10K words in). It's very structured and told in two POV, which each person's story very dependent chronologically on the other's. It was very hard to just start writing and not know where it was going so I outlined. And, OMG, it was like a whole new world opened up. I love it!! Writing is so much more productive because I know where each chapter is headed and I can make the most of my writing time. So I'm a convert. HOWEVER, I still don't believe outlining makes one a “real” or “good” writer. Everyone has his/her own way of creating a successful story.

17. What do you do when you get writer’s block?
I make myself write anyway, even if it's just a few sentences. They don't have to be related to the last chapter I've written; they can simply be a scene I have in my head I've been dying to write. Just writing through the block is helpful.

18. What are 3 things you have on your desk/in your office?
I don't have a desk or office. I write in Panera, Starbucks, or on my couch. So I only have my laptop and power cord. Can't go anywhere w/out the cord because my battery is terrible.

19. What is the thing that has surprised you most about publication?
How the heavens don't open up and your whole world doesn't change. :-) It's kind of like before you turn a milestone birthday, you think the next day is going to be so different, but it isn't. One day you're 29. The next day you're 30. Life goes on. Also, how little control you have over the process of book-selling. For example, you can't control how long it will be before the book is bought or published or even IF it is bought/published. You also can't control how others interpret your words. You can't control A LOT. That's been hard for me since I'm very type A.

Thank you so much for having me!!

Thanks for joining us!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

got inspiration?

"Success comes to a writer as a rule so gradually, that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed."
P.G. Wodehouse 

Reach a little further, dig a little deeper.
Here's to reaching great heights in YOUR creative journey!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Got Writing?


In writing fiction, conflict is an absolutely necessary ingredient. No one wants to read a story about two people getting along perfectly. One of my professors at Duke University, David Ball, wrote a writing guide called Backwards and Forwards that talks about the use of conflict in propelling your story forward. When writing books or plays, each conflict should contain a resolution that launches you into the next conflict, whether chapter by chapter or scene by scene. This continues until the climax and the final resolution.

According to, "antagonistic" means:
1. acting in opposition; opposing, especially mutually.
2. hostile; unfriendly.
Having someone who is antagonistic in your story guarantees you conflict.

For today's prompt, write a 100 word story that contains conflict and uses the word "antagonistic" in it somewhere.

Send all entries to Deadline for entries in Wednesday, March 28th.

Good luck!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Got Winners, Triffids, or Tribbles?

File:JohnWyndham TheDayOfTheTriffids.jpg
Your quest for the Triffids to Tribbles Writing Challenge last week was to, in no more than 100 words, begin a story by introducing us to a creature that lives in the world that your story inhabits. Give us a sense of what the creature is and what its place is both in the world and in your narrative (is it protagonist? antagonist? secondary character?). We had a number of good entries but the one that stood out the most was this one, weighing in at exactly 100 words...

The Maigra are a group of people that live in the outskirts of civilized areas. It's said that they were once a powerful nomadic people that traveled the entire Michtan continent. However, a great famine came across the land, leading to the decline of the once thriving people. As their food ran out, so did their humanity, until they were little better than beasts. In the current age of man, the Maigra scavenge for food and have been known to attack and subsequently eat lone travelers. They have become a nuisance that plagues nearly every town in the Micht Empire.

- by Charles DeMoss

Nice work, Charles. It makes me wonder who the main character will be... a Maigra or a human? Will one be food for the other? There are lots of wonderful ideas here waiting to be taken to the next step.

If you haven't had a chance to look at this weeks writing prompt from Monday take a look at Karen's scrabble writing prompt and see if you can exercise some writing muscles and use five or more in a paragraph that includes some reference to the sense of smell. I love Scrabble, even if I lose at it most of the time. It's the spelling that gets in the way. But that's another tale for another post. Have a great weekend everyone.
- Joe

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bitter and Sweet

"There's a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on the earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You can see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same.

A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet." Pema Chodron, from The Wisdom of No Escape.

As a writer for a long time I found it to be easy to write away from pain and towards comfort. I wrote far from the core of what was me. Then a writer, Alan Barnett, author of The Body, It's Dangers, and other stories, told me once that if I was going to write something of merit I would have to go deeper in my work. I still remember his words as we walked around a lake upstate New York at a health conference we were both attending. He was ill and would die from AIDS related causes within the year at the age of 36. His words stuck with me. I would have to go deeper

I had no idea what he meant. Seriously. I thought I had gone pretty deep as it was. 

So I wrote more and tried not to avoid the pain of darker subjects, or the truth of the world that I lived in. It took me years to realize what Alan was trying to explain to me. 

It is easy as a writer to get comfortable with what we write. But it is so much more gratifying to head into dangerous territory not knowing whether it will be bitter or sweet. 

Now, what are you waiting for? Go deeper. Search for the bitter and the sweet.

Monday, March 12, 2012

got writing?

Back by request...another Scrabble prompt!

Years ago I attended a conference and an editor had said that the sense of smell is the most overlooked in writing. Use at least 5 of these words in a paragraph and be sure to incorporate the sense of smell. 

omens, ensuring, pare, chew, acid, nova, big, lox, dike, ye, on, doubt, jolt, tire, pies, zest, lint, no, foxy, eon, ad, grove, walked, jar, flap, it, hum, paid, tarots, readied, ewe, slay, queer

We'll take submissions till March 21st (my birthday!) and post our picks on March 23rd.


Friday, March 9, 2012


Thanks to everyone who entered their stories for the picture above. They were fun to read. One stood out, so congrats to Zoe Temco for this terrific entry!

                  The two girls continued to stare at each other, faces inches apart. Their breathing was audible over the din of slamming lockers and teens running to class.
                  Amy was the first to speak, her chest rising and falling with her quick breaths. “You did it.” Her brown eyes were moist. She still felt wounded and unconfident, but mostly, she felt alone.
                  Beth was still wide eyed, not understanding Amy’s remark. But as the realization dawned on her, she felt like a deer caught in headlights, or child caught snatching from the cookie jar. Her voice shook as she spoke. “Yes, I did.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Although I usually prefer to read fiction, once in a while a non-fiction book comes along that I adore. This was the case with The Girls From Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty Year Friendship. Written by Jeffrey Zazlow, a Wall Street Journal columnist, who was also the co-author of The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch, it was the wonderful showcase of the enduring friendship these women had and, for some reason, really resonated with me.

Jeffrey Zazlow was killed in a car crash a few weeks ago on the way home from a book signing, his death overshadowed by Whitney Houston, who passed away the same weekend.

Yesterday, I was doing my usual on-line morning news reading and I stumbled across this column about Jeffrey Zazlow. It talked about his incredible work ethic and how he could often settle for phoning it in, but rarely did--he always went the extra mile, sometimes literally as when he drove 5 hours each way to hear Randy Pausch's Last Lecture at Carnegie-Mellon.

Writing is about talent, but it's also about persistence--about going that extra mile. The world lost a terrific voice, when it lost Jeffrey Zazlow, but I hope that his spirit, determination and commitment to putting in maximum effort inspires others to do the same. I know it did for me.

Here's a link to the column about Jeffrey Zazlow: "Jeff Zazlow's last lesson"


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

And the lucky winner of Hope In Patience is...

K. L. Gore!

Thank you Beth Fehlbaum for a great interview 
and providing a signed copy of Hope in Patience 
to our lucky winner. Best of luck placing 
the "Patience Trilogy" in a new home.
Congratulations K.L.!

Scroll down to the February 27 writing prompt--there's still time to submit your work.

Have a blast with March 5th's prompt, too!


Monday, March 5, 2012

From Triffids to Tribbles

File:JohnWyndham TheDayOfTheTriffids.jpg
"For the short time the scene was on I stared at it, fascinated. There was our mysterious rubbish-heap plant grown to a height of seven feet or more. There was no mistaking it - and it was walking!" 
- The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Writer's create worlds, whether they are recreations of the real world, fantasy worlds never seen, or supposed worlds beyond our planet in other galaxies. And in each world there are creatures of intelligence and instinct whose stories breathe life onto our pages. Some are human and some are far from humanity.

I recently read Return to Exile by E.J. Patten and his ability to create unique creatures in a world similar but different to the one we live in today is an awesome accomplishment. But what I liked even more from a writer's perspective is how he used the creatures to tell his story. The creatures are the fabric, the lifeblood of his narrative. From their names - Shadow Wargs to Echos - to the roles they play - villains to main characters - Patten uses them to propel his story to new and dizzying heights.

But first he has to have a reason for their existence in his world. A niche that they fill - an ecosystem they are a part of. In Patten's world, there are monsters and monster hunters. One without the other would leave his world in chaos.

Your challenge for this week is as follows:

In no more than 100 words begin a story by introducing us to a creature that lives in the world that your story inhabits. Give us a sense of what the creatures is and what its place is both in the world and in your narrative (is it protagonist? antagonist? secondary character?). Send it our way and we'll put up the best on March 16th.

- Posted by Joe Lunievicz

Friday, March 2, 2012

got winners?

Thanks again for all the cool submissions! Here's that skateboarder prompt again and our top two picks. Great work guys!

     Devon and his buds had finally found a sweet skate spot behind a random warehouse on the edge of town.
     "Two hours and not one cop," Devon said.
     "Yeah," Skunk said. He sucked the last drag off his cigarette and flicked the butt away. "But I'm starting miss Officer Corrigan."
     "Nothin' like the thrill of the chase," Wes said.
     Devon set up behind the guard rail for a trick he'd been trying to land even though his hip was screaming from his last crash and burn. He pushed toward the edge, trying to keep his legs relaxed. He pumped harder, picking up more speed. I'm going to nail it this time, he thought. He was in mid air when he heard Skunk's voice.
     "Oh, crap. Dev!"
     It was Derm, the town's toughest rollerblader, skating in with his muscles bulging out of his nonexistent shirt. "Hey, this is my spot, kids", he said as he lit a cigarette off the ember of his last one, "Don't you see that 'no skateboarding' sign on the building?"
     "Yeah, I do. It also says 'no rollerblading',” barked Wes.
     "Lucky for me I can't read, but you guys won't be so lucky if you stick around."
     Just then, a patrol car shot out from the side of the building. It was Officer Corrigan with a smirk on his face. Everyone skated toward the fence that separated the warehouse complex from the forest. They knew Corrigan was too fat and lazy to climb over it and chase after them.
     They all raced toward the fence and hopped over it. Well, almost everyone. Derm couldn't manage to get over the fence with his roller blades. The boys could hear Corrigan's obese chuckle as they ran through the forest.

By Eric D.
               Dev looked at Skunk and he lost his focus.
  When his skateboard landed, he fell on his right hand too hard and broke it. On top of that, he had a strained ankle. He had lost all feeling in his body from waist down. 
          Dev moaned and said "What the hell, man?" 
  "Officer Corrigan is here!" 
  This is bad, thought Dev. "Go on without me."
  "I can't just leave you like this!" said Skunk
  "I said, shoo, you smelly rodent!"
  Why did our luck have to run out now? Skunk thought. 
  "We have to leave now, Skunk!" said Wes 
  Smell ya later, thought Dev, right before he blacked out.
  When Dev woke up, he was on a hospital bed with his mom by his side crying, and he saw his dad with eyes burning with a mix of anger and sadness. He still had no feeling from his waist down. 
  "Officer Corrigan found you lying on the pavement with a broken hand and shattered part of your spinal cord. You may not walk again, much less skateboard," said his dad.
  "Why did Corrigan come to arrest us anyway? Skateboarding is not a crime!" cried Devon. 
  "He did not come to arrest you for skateboarding. He came to arrest you for trespassing on private property. He also gave a warning of getting arrested for this, " and then dad held up a cigarette. 
  Devon thought about ratting out his friends, but he was the one who brought them there in the first place. "My life is ruined," said Devon.
  "You had to learn your lesson the hard way. Now, you know that you have to make the right decision. It's not like you have a choice any way now," said Devon's dad. 

By Andrew P.