09 July 2012

Conferences, Contests and Challenges

As you know from my previous post, I've had a pretty full to-do list lately. I haven't been very active on any of my social media accounts, and I've recently discovered that I apparently don't know how to schedule a blog post in advance, because the book review I tried to schedule didn't go up.

I'm pleased to report, however, that I'm making great progress on my writing goals, and I hope to be able to report on Friday that I've finished all of the projects I'd hoped to complete before the SCBWI MD/DE/WV regional conference this weekend. I promised myself (and my family) that starting next week, I'll cut back on the writing time slightly to focus more fully on our move. I've decided that, if I can get all of these polishing revisions finished by this weekend, I can designate my writing time for the next several weeks, until we're settled in Albuquerque, to sending out query letters, entering contests and accepting a (small) writing challenge or two. I'll let my other established works in progress wait until the dust settles a bit.

Of course, there were a few contests and challenges I couldn't let go until next week.

At the end of June, I entered my YA contemporary novel, KISSING FROGS into Brenda Drake's Doggone Voice Workshop, and I've received some valuable critiques from that. I can't wait to polish my manuscript a little bit more with these responses in mind!

This morning, I woke up before my alarm and submitted my polished picture book manuscript to the Christmas in July agent blog contest, sponsored by Michelle Krys and Ruth Lauren Steven. I'm determined not to obsess (much) about the results, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. (That's the benefit of an overflowing to-do list. No time to think!) - Update! I got an honorable mention on Michelle Krys' site!! Yay!!

I've also entered for a chance to win one of THREE chapter critiques from Lisa Burstein (and her editor, Stacy Cantor Abrams!! and her agent, Susan Finesman!!) in celebration of her newly-published YA contemporary novel, Pretty Amy.

And I put my name in the virtual hat for a chance to win a query (or first page) critique from Agent Amanda Lewis on the I Write for Apples blog.

Of course, I'm still working on the Pre-Conference challenges on the SCBWI MD/DE/WV blog as well. (Update! I finished all 8 challenges!! Yay!!) In fact, I finished up #7 (of 8) this morning. (I still haven't tackled #6, but I'm going to do that as soon as I post this - I promise!) Challenge #7 was to write several ho-hum sentences to describe your 4th of July celebration, and then rework those sentences into vibrant, active paragraphs for a sparkling mini-story.

My sentences:
* The streets were packed with people waiting for the parade to begin.
* The sun was hot.
* We had no shade, other than the umbrellas we brought.
* The parade was long, but it was fun.

Boring, right? Hopefully, this is much better:

Chairs popped up along the sidewalks in the second week of June, patiently waiting through rain and shine to reserve the best spots for viewing the Catonsville 4th of July parade. By the time we arrived downtown, fifteen minutes before start time, we were already two weeks too late to grab a good spot. The sun blazed overhead and not a single cloud took pity on us. Even the shadows cast by our umbrellas offered little relief from the sweltering heat. Sweat trickled down my back, drenching my shirt, and the slight breeze that danced through the flags hanging from street lights wasn't enough to cool my skin.

"Maybe we should go out for ice cream instead," I thought. "I've seen parades before."

But before I could say anything, with a flash of lights and the scream of sirens, a line of firetrucks rumbled down the street. Marching bands, classic cars, bagpipes, stilt walkers and even a drag racer paused to entertain us as they passed by our chunk of sidewalk. Handcrafted floats, led by tired but enthusiastic elementary school students promenaded past our little corner. As the sun dipped below the roof line of the downtown Catonsville buildings, casting long shadows over us, the final parade performers marched past. Two and a half hours sweltering in the sun was never quite so satisfying. Nothing beats the Catonsville 4th of July parade!

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