Monthly Archives: September 2012
As you probably know, critique partners are important. I’d even say they’re vital, and all of the best authors have them, because honestly, a second pair of eyes on your manuscript is key to good writing. Plus, you can always use the support and advice that CPs (critique partners) give each other. You guys hear me talk a lot about getting critique partners to look over your manuscript, or getting them to fine-tune your first page, or your query, or your dreaded synopsis. Because they are so amazing, so helpful and necessary. But the most common question I get back is: How? How do I get critique partners?
Well, my friends, it isn’t easy. The best critique partner is someone who you work well with and learn to trust, whose writing you love and want to keep working with, who’s honest with you and has the same tastes as you. You really have to “get” each other to make a great CP-ship, and in a way, it’s like this awkward, introverted, writer dating thing-a-ma-jig. (I know, I know, what a great metaphor.) Personally, I think the best way to find CPs is through blogging, or through Twitter. That’s how I’ve met most of mine. But even that isn’t always easy. So today I propose a teen writer CP match-up, which I’m lovingly calling “teen CP speed dating.” (Because let’s face it; that’s exactly what this is.) I have no idea how many people will participate, or if this will be successful at all, but I’m hoping it will. And yeah, I’ll be your best friend forever if you participate. *wink*
- Anyone 13-20 participate, whether you’re serious about writing or doing it just for fun. You may mention your exact age in your entry, or you may not. It’s up to you.
- You don’t have to contact anyone about being CPs if you don’t see an entry that looks like a good match, but you have to participate to contact others. If you see someone who you want to talk more with about being critique partners, contact them in whichever way they say you should in the form below (more on that in a minute), and just tell them (briefly) about yourself, why you think they’d be a good fit, maybe go over what your current manuscript is about, etc. and then ask them if they’d like to swap pages. Please keep it courteous, and respect if they don’t want to swap. It isn’t anything personal. Swapping pages–usually about the first five pages–is a good way to see how you work with the other person, whether you like their writing, whether you like their critiquing style, and vice versa. And if you both agree it will work, you have yourself a new CP!
- If you get contacted by a participant and don’t think they’re a good fit, just politely decline their offer. They’ll understand. If you think they’re a good match, give them more details about yourself and your writing and send them your first five pages to critique, and they’ll send yours in return. Please don’t have them read your whole manuscript until you both agree you should be CPs. Tact is always appreciated.
- CPs don’t have to be purely for critiquing either, and you don’t need a finished manuscript to enter. CPs also make great writing buddies, especially with NaNoWriMo coming up.
- (For what it’s worth, I don’t think you should limit your CPs only to teen writers, though, even if this contest is teen-focused. Remember that adults have great opinions about YA too, no matter how old they are, and a range of input is always good.)
- Most importantly, have fun with this!
Please answer all the questions below as briefly as possible. A few sentences each is good.
Name or pen name:
What you write (i.e. do you write short stories? Full novels? Both?):
Are you serious about getting an agent with your book, or is it just for fun?
Pitch your current book in under three sentences:
Briefly about you and what you like to do/read/write (also include how many books you’ve written):
What you’re looking for in a CP:
Links to blog or twitter (if applicable):
*Note: I know many people don’t like their email addresses published publicly, so if you’d rather not include your email as a means of contact, just ask anyone interested in working with you to comment on your blog (and you can grab their email address from the comment and email them privately), or message you on twitter/facebook/whatever and work it out from there. If you’re fine with having your email in the comment, then include it there, but be sure to space out the “@” and “.com” to avoid spambots. [i.e. TeenRiter(at)gmail(dot)com]
Questions? Comments? Concerns? I’m posting my entry (yes, I’m participating too) in the comment section below to give you an idea of the length and format and such. And just so you know:
All entries most be posted in the comments section below by 11:59 PM EST on October 1st! However, the actual reading entries and contacting participants can go as long as you like.
Thank you! I hope people actually participate in this.
EDIT: To clarify, you can start contacting right away, but you have until Octobeer 1st to put your entry in the comments below.
I feel like I should have a speech prepared.
Because exactly one year ago, two teen writers, after reading each other’s blog post, proposed to start a chain of teen bloggers answering prompt questions, an idea that blossomed into a full-out teen writer blog literally an hour later.
TCWT was born.
I’m not going to say anything deep or cliche, but I do want to thank all of you for sticking with us. You guys are the reason TCWT is growing so rapidly. You guys are the reason this random blog idea has is still alive and better than before. You guys are the reason why I’m here, and I am so grateful to have met so many talented teen writers in the past 12 months. You are all amazing, and I can’t wait to read your published books. (I also expect an ARC. Really. I’m not even joking. I want ALL TEH ARCS.) We have followers here who write just for fun, and others who are trying their hand at a first novel, and others who are querying, and even others who have agents.
I’m so thrilled about how far TCWT has come in only one year and about where we’ll go in the future, and because it’s all of you teen writers who make this blog happen, I’ll let you take it away with your teen writer blurbs:
(Note: Announcements and a giveaway are at the end of the post.)
My Goodreads profile goes something like this:
“ I’m in that stage of life when everyone assumes that people my age are angsty. With that in mind, let me list all the angsty things that I do:
-angsty book reviewing
I am so angsty that it’s ridiculous. (I’m joking.)”
There’s a certain way that teens should be- angsty, obsessed with love, rebellious, etc, or at least that’s how teens are always portrayed in the media and I suppose in a way, I wanted to prove people wrong by writing. I’ve actually hated writing for a long time, which is funny because I started blogging because of something related to writing. It’s been four years (audible gasp) and I’m amazed that I’ve lasted that long. I recently only liked writing so I don’t really know how I managed to blog for three years without liking it.
I tend to separate blogging away from writing (weird, I know) but both activities are incredibly therapeutic. Writing allows for an outlet to describe the complexities and incredibility of life that’s just not possible with anything else. It’s a stress reliever.
I used to turn to books when I was annoyed or frustrated but now I find myself writing. It’s a weird feeling because writing was an activity that was on my “will never do” list. Weird. But hey, that’s life right?
I’m working on a MS right now (another thing I never imagined myself to do) and I do short stories on my blog every other Friday about a girl who experiences a lot of things. I don’t know how to describe it. But yeah.
I don’t know where this journey will take me (cliché alert, LOL) but it’s going to be interesting!
I like to write, which goes without saying, but it must be mentioned. I’m not a serious die-hard 50,000 wordcount novel writer, because, really, I don’t have the patience for that. It is quite unlikely you’d see a book by me on a big-fat-book-shelf in a bookstore someday. I might be somewhere else, though. Probably with something entitled Some Really Awesome Short Stories. I really love to write short stories, a number of which are published on my blog. I enjoy writing these, because it’s a story that you can plug a great idea into, but not spend hours upon hours editing. (I’m not really, um, into that part.)
You know, to me, being a teen writer just means that if writing is what you are cut out for, you’ll just have more years to do what you enjoy doing best. Instead of starting your epic novel series or whatever in your late forties, you have lots of time to write it. Who cares if you’re fifteen? As long as the book is read, and enjoyed by the readers, they are so not going to care how old you are. They’re going to care if you make a sequel.
So I guess what I want to say is that if you are a writer, whether you’re a shorter writer like me, or a long story writer like some other TCWT’ers I can mention, enjoy the ride
To me, being a teen writer means a lot of awesome things, but the best thing about it is sites like Teens Can Write Too! where you get to meet a whole load of amazing people. Us teen writers all have a main interest (writing) and to be able to talk about that and then get to know other things about those people is great. I don’t really like others reading my writing (which I know is a pretty crucial thing about being an author but I’m working on it) but I’m fine about showing other teenagers because we’re all kind of similar and trying to find out what works for us. This is my favourite thing about being a teen writer and I hope others will see this and think of what theirs is.
For me, being a teen writer means writing another few thousand words after finishing my one-thousand word history essay. It means not going anywhere–class, car rides, and the bathroom–without a book on hand. It means befriending people I made up. It means befriending people who befriend people that THEY make up.
I had a revelation today. All my life, I’ve been nervous about how serious I am about my writing. It SCARED me. Because I didn’t think anyone would take me as seriously as I took myself. But I realized today that something had changed. I’m proud of my obsessiveness. I’m thrilled about it. Because if I hadn’t taken myself so seriously, whether it’s five, ten, fifteen years into the future, I would still be scared. Writing is hard. Writing is addicting. And the only thing I’m still scared of now is losing it.
Writing is one of the first things people learn about me, whether because I happen to mention a book I’m working on or because somebody else does that for me. They’ll meet me at an archery club or in a ballet class or in orchestra rehearsals and they’ll think, “That’s her hobby.” But by the time they walk out of there they’ll know that I’m a writer, because it’s not something I can hide. It has stamped itself onto every facet of my personality, turned me from the cowardly 13-year-old wannabe I used to be into the cowardly 16-year-old novelist that I am now. Somehow, every conversation always comes back to writing.
Through writing, I’ve made some of my closest friends. Internet friends, mainly, but it’s helped me grow closer to real life friends when I discovered that they wrote, too. It’s three years, one month and just over two weeks since I joined the writing website Protagonize and started to write on a regular basis. This November will mark three years since I completed my first draft of a novel. In those three years, writing has changed my life.
Last October, somewhere in North America, a short, brown-haired girl with glasses is going insane. “How will I write 50,000 words in a month?! I don’t even think I can do 25,000!” Cue panicking and staying up half the night trying to think of a plot. Almost a year later, unfortunately still in North America and not in some awesome place like Australia or the UK, a short, brown-haired girl with glasses has had the idea for her NaNoWriMo novel for over a month. Cue working and staying up half the night to write down as much character information as she possibly can.
About a year ago, I loved writing but wasn’t doing much of it. I had this vague plan to become an author, but I hadn’t practiced by actually writing something not related to an assignment. And then I did NaNoWriMo. As it turned out, I did reach 25,000 words. I’ve participated in Script Frenzy and both Camp NaNoWriMos. I was delighted to discover others like me from the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain. I now have a blog that is actually updated frequently. Sometimes I look back and marvel at how different I was then; at how one month and one very short novel helped me to decide what I was going to do with my life.
I’m not a published author yet, but I’m so much closer now compared to where I was last year.
My writing journey has been a long and tough one, but I believe, it only goes up from here. Writing a book at 13 is hard, but its not the writing part I’m talking about, that was easy. I’m talking about the people who tell me I can’t do it. When I first decided to start my book “Tamarisk”, I was very exited, because I’ve never taken on the challenge of writing a whole book before! As I got farther in, people sometimes underestimated me. I got in touch with lots of people through the internet, and they seemed to think that just because I’m only a 13 year old student that I can’t write a book, or get it published. Usually, I just ignored these messages, but really, It put a lot more stress on me. I knew that if my book wasn’t good, that I would be shut down. I knew people would say: “Well, I knew she couldn’t do it.”. I didn’t want that. I remember getting a message one day, like any other, simply saying the usual, that I couldn’t do it. That day at school, I had my head down on my desk the whole day, not taking in any lessons, or holding any conversations. That day I wanted to give up, to quit everything. I’m so glad I didn’t.
I left school that day with a whole different mind set, I knew I could do it. I got right to writing, I wrote every day. I started considering publishing, and decided to self publish. My friends and family are all very proud of me and honestly, I’m quite proud of myself as well.
I don’t know where I would be now if I gave up that day, probably sitting watching T.V. Since then, I have had no comments about my age, only good ones of corse.
I have finished my book, only needing to do some final touches. It is being published as well.
I can finally say proudly:
To all the adults who brought me down and told me a kid my age could never do something like this, well, I just proved you wrong.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to make up stories, playing with infinite casts of characters in my own private worlds. But I had never before finished a written story outside of school assignments when I signed up for NaNoWriMo in Grade 10.
My schedule that fall was crazy, and just the thought of having to write stressed me out. But something magical happened on November 1st. Suddenly I wasn’t an overburdened student anymore – I was a writer, I was a novelist! I wrote at lunch, in class, when I should have been doing my homework, and late into the night. I wouldn’t let myself go to bed until I had my daily 1667 words written. I don’t remember sleeping so little ever before or since.
It was a grueling month, but on November 29th, 2009, I finished my first novel. While I was incredibly proud of myself, the strongest feeling was of profound relief: the ordeal was over! As it turned out, that feeling lasted about a week before excitement for NaNoWriMo 2010 set in.
Years full of writing – novels and otherwise – passed, and when I had to decide what to do after high school, I was torn between the sensible and the sensational. I wanted (and still want!) to write for a living, but being an engineer (my second choice) pays the bills a lot more reliably – at least until I write that best-seller. Writing is my dream and my passion and I will never give it up.
But for now, I am an engineering student. Every day I work with people who got accepted into my highly competitive program yet struggled to make the 70% cutoff mark in English. And I just don’t get it, and in some ways that means I just don’t fit in. Because while I think numbers are pretty and I love making them dance for me and trig identities are my idea of fun – I will just as happily spend an afternoon wrestling with a tricky plot problem.
Being a teen writer has helped me find a community of people like me. When I come online or go to a NaNo write-in, I am reminded that I am far from alone.
I am a teen, a student, an athlete and a writer. There are not enough hours in a day – but I’d love to meet more teen writers anyways!
(And then of course I had to add my blurb into the mix at midnight a few hours before actually posting this.)
I’m a writer.
I’m a teen.
And I love it.
Writing is not just what I do; it’s who I am. It’s how I come to terms with everything in my life and in others’ lives, it’s how I let me creativity run wild, it’s how I be me. Writing is fun. Writing is stressful. Some days, writing makes me want to jump up and down and parade around the house with my childish grin. Other days, writing makes me want to pull my hair out and just give up for good. I’ve loved writing, I’ve hated writing, and in the end, this journey has been so worth it.
And that’s it. It’s done. TCWT is one year old now. I’m so excited for our future, and I hope you all will continue this journey with me.
To celebrate our birthday, we’re giving away Helen Boswell’s awesome debut, MYTHOLOGY!
When a girl with the power to know everyone’s darkest secrets meets a boy who is inescapably cursed, it’s a match made in heaven that brings one of them to The Land of The Dead.
To enter, all you have to do is comment below! The winner will be chosen and emailed a signed eBook copy tomorrow night. You have 24 hours.
Announcements and Stuff:
- The top ten contest entries are up! Agents will be lurking on the blog soon, so be sure to read the entries if you haven’t already.
- I mentioned a Chatzy chat tonight a few times, I know, but I’ve decided not to do an official one as I don’t really have time. Sorry! I might do a small Chatzy chat sometime this weekend; I’ll tweet/Tumblr/FB it.
- For my friends on Twitter, I have another mini-Twitter contest and a book to giveaway planned for tomorrow.
- And, of course, thanks to everyone who submitted their teen writer blurbs.
- If you want to comment but don’t want to enter the giveaway just say so in your comments, or else I’ll assume you’re entering.
Aaaaaand now it’s time to PARTY! *blasts music* *flails about*
Well, the top ten entries in our agent pitch contest are now up! Congrats winners!
If you didn’t make it in, don’t be discouraged. A lot of you were very close. Plus, you’re welcome to reply to your pitch email and ask for my brief critique; I’ll give it to you, but be prepared to handle the brutal truth. (In most cases, it probably won’t be so bad because all the entries were good, but still.) So, only ask if you’re genuinely interested in improving and can handle criticism.
And now that the entries are posted… guess what that means? Yes, you called it. It means that our awesome participating agents will be lurking on the blog, reading the entries, and possibly requesting more of your manuscripts! *muppet flail*
Quickly, here’s how it’s going to work:
- The agents have from now (9/20) until Sunday night (9/23) to read all the entries and request more from their favorites. They will do this in the comments section, so if you made it in, be sure to check those comments. Also, if they request, the agents will specify how much of the manuscript they want and whether they want a query letter/synopsis/whatever accompanied with it. When the contest ends, I’ll send you the agent’s email so you can forward the pages on to them. Finally, I’ll try to post a pitch contest wrap-up on Monday.
- Followers, you’re also welcome to make critiques of the entries in the comments, but please keep them civil and helpful. Participants, cross-critiquing is also encouraged, but please also be polite.
- We might have some lurking agents/editors who aren’t technically part of the pitch contest here, too. If you’re a lurking agent/editor and see a pitch that catches your interest, email me at TeenRiter(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll get you in touch with the author. Thanks.
Questions? Comment below!
And in TCWT-related news, our one year anniversary is TOMORROW! (Woot!) Please send me your teen writer reflections/blurbs by tonight for me to post tomorrow (if you want to participate). I’ll also include info for tomorrow night’s Chatzy chat in that post. In addition, I’ll post the roundup of Tuesday night’s Twitter chat with Pam van Hylckama on Saturday.
Aaaand that’s all for now.
Alex is one of the lennán sidhe, fated to love those condemned to die, and Jennie was chosen by the Dagda – the king of the fairies –as his next victim. Unlike those Alex failed to save in the past, however, she believes his warnings, and with the help of a terrorist, a thrill-seeker, the Dagda’s daughter and Alex’s former Minder, they prepare to fight against the king. But the Dagda is powerful, and in the end the rebellion will cost them everything.
First 250 words:
I woke up somewhere that definitely wasn’t where I’d fallen asleep, and groaned aloud.
“Too soon,” I told the empty air, and opened my eyes a little wider to take in my surroundings. Town or city, at a guess. By the phone number on the scaffolding that surrounded me, it was London. Probably a suburb. And I …
I was in a skip.
Cursing whoever had placed me this time, I rolled over and pushed myself upright. Though uncomfortable, the contents was harmless enough, but I was covered in plaster dust. Still, it could hardly make my clothing look any more disreputable, and I was in luck: there was nobody in my immediate vicinity. Just as well. I’d have had to explain why I’d been sleeping in a skip for however long I’d been out this time, and I knew from experience how those conversations usually went.
My first job would be to find a clock, and then to find her. The Watcher. At least, I assumed it would be a girl. It always had been until now, but I wouldn’t put it past the Dagda to throw another complication into the mix.
The lack of clocks in publicly visible places always struck me as an unfriendly gesture by town planners. Everybody, they assumed, would be carrying a phone or wearing a watch. It was as though the town itself was taunting me, telling me I couldn’t possibly be normal or human because everyone else knew what the time was and I didn’t. I wasn’t like them.
Title: SUMMER RUSH
Word Count: 92,000
Lexus Breckerson has to “behave herself” this summer if she wants to stay out of boarding school, but her arch-nemesis since birth, Rush Santorini, isn’t going to make it easy. He has a knack for making her do stupid things, and this summer he’s spending so much time around her that he might commit the ultimate unforgivable act: make her care about him. But old habits die hard, and before the summer’s over, someone’s going to get hurt.
“I’ve been considering different ways to kill people without leaving any evidence,” I told my best friend, Tasha. “It can’t be that hard, right? As long as you plan carefully?”
Tasha blinked at me. “You’re kidding, right? Has it really come to this?”
I laughed. There was nothing like the last day of class to lift a girl’s spirits. All around us, the halls of Lincoln High were filled with rushing students decked out in school colors. Laughing and talking, everyone surged towards the big metal doors that led to summer and freedom.
“You are kidding.” She let out a sigh of relief, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”
“I’m not kidding entirely.” I tucked my arm into hers. “Something has to be done about him, and I’m sure I could do it if I wanted to.”
“You’d just have to remember not to leave fingerprints, or hairs, or skin cells. Heck, you better not breathe, because they can probably match breath samples nowadays.” Tasha grinned. “And you should probably do it barefoot, or else you’ll get incriminating dirt or carpet fibers on your shoe treads or something.”
“I could wear scrubs, like what nurses wear in surgery, and then burn them afterwards.” She had to admit that was genius. “And yes, it’s come to this. I have a lot at stake this summer, and he’s not going to ruin things for me.”
Tasha scoffed. “You are such a drama queen.”
Title: MAYBE FOREVER
Word count: 64k
Keller’s father dies in a car accident predicted by his Clock—a device which foretells the exact second you will die and counts down like a bomb. To push the pain away, Keller makes a list of rebellious acts she wants to do with the mysterious and dark Sebastian. But Keller doesn’t know that Sebastian’s keeping a secret, a secret that has to do with the Clocks, and it could ruin the relationship that’s begun to blossom between them.
The bourbon-spiked punch in my cup fails to warm the numbness inside me. The whispers creep in—family members talking behind their hands, eyes on me.
I slide my trembling hands over my tulip-pink skirt and tuck them into the pockets. My fingers curl around my father’s timepiece. The digital countdown at the center of its face has reached zero, along with my father’s life.
I zone out as someone introduces himself. His name is Marcus or Malcolm, and he tells me how sorry he is for my loss. I finally look at him. He says he’s my father’s cousin, but I’ve never seen him before.
Marcus-Malcolm shakes my hand. His wife gives me a soft hug and her weak body trembles. Her obvious wig brushes against my cheek. When she pulls away, I notice the chain around her neck, the Clock ticking there.
“Eight days,” I say, reading the numbers counting down.
She looks startled—whether because I’ve finally spoken, or because I’ve mentioned her Clock, I’m not sure.
“I’m sorry?” She asks.
She presses the timepiece against her chest. Her eyes shine with tears.
“Eight days,” I say again.
Marcus-Malcolm’s eyes narrow. He pulls his frail wife away by the arm while she strains her neck to look at me, her eyebrows furrowed.
People don’t usually mention other peoples’ Clocks. Death is a touchy subject, especially now that it can be predicted. Regular Keller wouldn’t blurt stuff like that. But right now, I’m not me.
Title: MAD AS A HATTER
For fourteen-year-old Emil Aleric, the series of ‘Wonderland Murders’ ravaging London mean only one thing: his former abductor, the Hatter, is back. Seven years ago, the man took Emil to a place called Wonderland, murdered Emil’s sister, and barely missed Emil himself. Emil knows he won’t be able to hide forever—until his best friend is taken by the madman, and Emil’s not sure he wants to.
From the warm floor of his sitting room, Emil Aleric glared out the window. It was late afternoon, and the crisp wind had left the streets of Belgravia empty, save for a couple climbing out of a carriage, followed by a butler carrying a dozen gifts. Probably some last minute Christmas shopping.
Emil scowled. He hated happy families.
He looked away from the window, took a gulp of tea, and winced. He’d always thought that Earl Grey was some disguised form of dishwater, but every adult he knew drank it, and his mother said it was an acquired taste. He forced himself to take another sip, and looked down at the table in front of him.
One, two, three newspapers lay strewn across the mahogany table. The first newspaper, dated December 16th, 1882, was flipped to the obituaries, where a small paragraph about a girl named Daphne Bell could be found. It was only a few lines, something about her family and “may He bless her immortal soul,” or some such rubbish.
She had been the first to die.
Three days after going missing, she’d apparently fallen from the twentieth building on a wealthy street around Kensington Gardens. Her bashed up, bloody body was spread-eagled on the ground, with glass protruding from it at the oddest angles.
The funny thing was, all the windows on that street were perfectly intact.
Seventeen-year-old Mia left her small Minnesota hometown two years ago, after a rumor spread that she was in love with her best friend, Emily. But when she receives news that Emily has killed herself, Mia decides to return home to search for answers behind her friend’s death. In a narration addressed to Emily, Mia alternates between remembering the past and exploring in the present––and ultimately, she must come to terms with the twisted relationship the two girls shared.
You jumped first, and I followed. Just like always. Me after you.
The roar of the train filled my head, and wind rushed at my back as I leapt. Adrenaline shot through me in cold bursts.
Time caught me in mid-leap, suspending me in the moment. You were a few feet in front of me––flying, golden hair streaming behind you. You were the light at the end of the tunnel, the promise of safety.
But I felt as if the monster train was still chasing me. Its deafening growl still rang in my ears, and I could feel its breath against the back of my neck, before it turned away. I imagined how it would feel to fall backward, to be crushed under those wheels and reduced to blood and broken bones.
Maybe I hadn’t made it, after all. Maybe this was all a dream, a vision flashing before my eyes after death. But I felt the sharpness of oxygen in my lungs and the pulses of my heartbeat through my ribcage, and I knew I was alive.
We collapsed and rolled on the ground. The train sped by, sideways in my vision. It went by without stopping, never knowing we were there.
As the rattle of the wheels faded into the distance, I turned over to look at you. You lay on your back, pale hair streaming through the dark grass, arms spread wide to hug the sky. A hint of pink dusted your cheeks, and you grinned at me.