Posts Tagged ‘Contest’


Lazy Thursday: We Don’t Write the Posts, You Do

March 25, 2010

It’s Thursday. You know what that means? We’re too lazy to blog.

Don't bother me...I'm lounging.

But hey, check out these cool posts happening at an interwebz near you.

The last in YA-writer-on-sub Corrine Jackson’s How Writers Do it Series. Read about how nine writers (some of them OPWFTers) pull stories out of their butts plan their stories. AND WIN BOOKS!

Check out twitter-friendly agent Kathleen Ortiz’s blog, for chances to win A FREE 8 MINUTE SKYPE SESSION with her and her partner in crime agent friend, Suzie Townsend. (If you win, maybe they’ll even tell you what they have against multiples of five. )

Oh, and AW member and YA writer Marilyn Almodovar actually thought one of our own was cool enough to interview (yes, I’m totally writing this about myself.  Am feeling weird now, in a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest kinda way.)

Happy Thursday, and check back in tomorrow for your regularly scheduled bloggy goodness.

Sparkle Out.


Shiver Contest Winner!

December 18, 2009

And our $25 gift card and book contest winner is…

Drumroll, please…….

JESSICA YOUNG!  Jessica, you get to choose from either Shiver, Thirteen Reasons Why, or Tricks, AND a $25 gift card to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

WOOT!  Thanks to everyone for entering and re-tweeting us!


SOSN Contest 1 – The Underdog

December 15, 2009

People can’t help loving an underdog. Sure millions of girls wear Team Edward shirts but is it really all that fun cheering on the guy you know will get the girl? Maybe that’s why the romantic underdog is a staple of YA (and other) fiction–we know he probably won’t win but we can’t help cheering him on because, gosh darn it, he’s not so perfect. Whether it’s Miles “Pudge” Harper in Looking for Alaska or Alec and Simon in City of Bones, these poor guys (and sometimes girls) tug at our heart strings.

Want to win the above vintage Hungarian postcard? (In case it’s not clear: pseudo-Jake is on his knees and pseudo-Bella is making faces at him) Tweet the phrase below with your answer to @OPWFT.

My favorite YA underdog is:

You have to be following @OPWFT to play. Full contest rules can be found here. The contest closes at 10:00PM AST, so you have almost eight hours to narrow down your choice.

Follow OPWFT on Twitter


Don’t Got Shiver? Come Hither! Shiver Agent Laura Rennert’s Five Writing Do’s and a Chance to Win Books and More!

December 14, 2009


Saying the Andrea Brown Literary Agency plays an important role in young adult literature is like saying chocolate plays an important role in chocolate chip cookies (and, like most writers, you probably know the significance of a daily dose of chocolate). Twice a year, the agency helps host the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop. For one blissful, glorious, worth-eating-three-months-of-Mr. Noodles-to-get-there weekend, children’s writers attend lectures, work on their novels in critique groups, and yes, have cocktails with other writers, editors, and agents.

 This year was my first year to go, and I have to say: it was well worth its weight in noodles. With clients like Ellen Hopkins (Crank), Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why) and Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver), Super Agent Laura Rennert has represented some of the most talked about titles in YA. During our workshop, we had the chance to listen to Laura to speak to us about Five Writing Do’s. And without further, ahem, ado, I’ve summed up what she had to say (with my own twist).

1. Craft

Laura says to make sure you have a fresh and compelling voice, and that the voice is authentic to your specific character. Use the POV that works best for your story. To work on your voice, interact with the age group you’re writing about. Or, barring that, eavesdrop on them at the local mall (just try not to look like a stalker).

Also, read your writing out loud to really hone in on what’s working and what’s not in your sentences. After attending the workshop and having to read my writing out loud to strangers—MEEP!—I can tell you this really does make a world of difference in how you hear your own words.

2. Create Memorable and Dynamic Characters

 Know your characters. Laura believes in the iceberg analogy: 9/10 of what makes a character tick remains under the surface. And guess what? If you, the writer, only know the top 1/10—like, say, your MC Suzie loves ponies and ice cream sundaes—your can bet your novel will be lacking in depth (yeah, I went for the pun there. Deal with it.)

Also: the more stress you put your characters under, the better. Basically, Laura was too kind to say it, but I’m not—torture your little sweeties until they cry and need a heavy dose of therapy. No, seriously.

3. Coherent and Satisfying Narrative Structure

Capture your reader’s interest from page one, and never let the forward momentum slack. Laura’s example: if your very first scene involves a party, don’t begin your novel when the party starts. Jump to the middle. My elaboration on how not to start:

“Yo, Joe, what’s shaking?”

“Nothing much. You?”

“Aw, nothing much. Hey, did ya catch that Lakers game last night?”

“No, man? You?”

“Uh uh. So, how come you missed it?”

 “Oh, well—I was taking a nap.”

Um, guess what? At this point, your reader is probably nodding off, too. Instead of beginning at the, well, beginning, start in the middle of the scene, when the action is already getting underway. Leave your hello’s’ and nap talk for offscreen. And then, since you’re off to such a great start, don’t back off. Keep the tension mounting from there. You know that old David Bowie and Freddy Mercury song “Under Pressure?” Make it your writing motto. By putting your characters under pressure, you’ll keep the reader reading—always a good thing.

And, according to Laura, another cool thing about upping the stakes? You—and your reader—will get to know your characters better. Laura’s example: If your character tells the truth when nothing is at stake, so what? But if your character’s life or reputation is at stake and they still tell the truth, well—that is truly noteworthy information to have.

A final tip: the main character should change over the course of the novel. Metaphorically speaking. I mean, she or he doesn’t have to morph from human to vamp—although, we’ve heard rumors that maybe that method does work on occasion <grin>.

4. Explore the Universal and the Idiosyncratic

 According to Laura, this means that within universal themes—such as conflict with friends—give us particular and concrete examples that are specific to your world. Feel free to give us the same old, same old—but with your own unique take or spin.

5. Literary Voice and Commercial Conception

Have a great, strong storyline along with a strong voice. And in case you were wondering if Laura was serious about stakes? She mentions them here again. She says use ordinary experiences but elevate the stakes.

Her example? Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher—a book that looks at teen suicide in an unusual and compelling way.

So, those are the five writing do’s that agent Laura talked about.  But, wait– don’t run off to write just yet!  Why not enter a contest that showcases the very authors exemplifying those do’s? Comment below to win your choice of Thirteen Reasons Why, Shiver, or Tricks, PLUS a $25 gift card to either Barnes and Nobles or Amazon.

In your comments, tell us either what you consider your writing strength or your weakness, or both. We’ll do a random drawing on Wednesday night, December 16th, at ten p.m. Pacific Time, and announce the winner the following day. Anyone who re-tweets our contest on Twitter? Feel free to DM us and let us know, and we’ll enter your name twice. (Sorry, but the contest is restricted to those with a Canadian or United States address).

Good luck, Happy Holidays, and of course—Happy Writing.

By Debra Driza


Something Old and Something New…

December 13, 2009

As you may have inferred from our name, most of us remember the days before mass email and Google. The days when you actually had to write letters and put stamps on them.

To celebrate the old (us–though we’ve been assured that twenty-eight is the new sixteen) embracing the new (Twitter), we’re launching a Twitter contest.

The old? Cool vintage postcards. The New? You win them by tweeting.

Here’s how it works. Watch the blog for vintage postcards. Each postcard will be accompanied by a question.
Tweet your answer to the question to @OPWFT by 10:00PM AST that evening and you’ll be entered to win that postcard.

Only one tweet per twitter user will be eligible. Residents of US and Canada only. You’ll also have to be following us so we can send you a direct message if you win.

Follow OPWFT on Twitter


Got flair? (Kathleen wants to give you some)

December 8, 2009

Just before Thanksgiving (Canadian, that is), I was shopping for books in a city a few hours from my own. I found myself waiting in line at the local big box bookstore, holding a copy of Goodnight Nobody—a book (not YA) I had quite liked and wanted to share with a friend.

When I got to the register, the clerk squealed and grabbed my purse. I dropped my book, wondered if she was having some sort of fit, and tried to figure out if the bag would fly back and hit me in the face if I yanked it out of her grasp.

“WHERE did you get THIS?” she asked, running her hands over my small, black “got books?” pin. She was Gollum and it was Precious.

“An independent bookstore back home.” I was scared to tell her how far away home was: she looked like she might snatch the precious off my bag at any provocation.

“What’s the name of it?”

“It’s, like, and hour and a half away,” I hedged.

She turned to the clerk next to her. “Did you see this?” she asked, lifting the purse. “Do you feel like going on a roadtrip?” The other girl grinned.

Yes, these two crazy clerks in their late teens/very early twenties were prepared to drive an hour and a half to get a button that said “got books?” It was glorious, awe inspiring, and a little nutty. And it reaffirms my hope that, with the explosion of the YA genre, reading (for teens) is more acceptable—if not, even, dare I say, cooler—than it was when I was in my teens.

And that little story, my friends is the inspiration behind this particular giveaway.

From now until December 12, you have a chance to win an “I Love Books” gift pack. The rules are simple: just leave a comment on this entry letting me know what book (YA or otherwise) you hope to get this holiday season. Only one comment per reader will be eligible. Since I’m the lone Canadian of OPWFT, this contest will be open to BOTH residents of the United States and Canada. It will close at midnight AST.

Here’s what one lucky comment giver will win:

A set of 3 pins (“got books”, “Books Kick Ass!”, “One person can only do so much”)
A set of 3 magnets (“I READ BANNED BOOKS”, “Orwell as an Optimist”, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes”)
A William Shakespeare bookmark with info about the bard on the back.
A bookmark of a Will Barnet’s The Caller (otherwise known as the pretty picture of the woman reading)
A pocket calendar you can use to track release dates and library due dates (Don’t anger the librarian! Get those books back on time!)


Watch and Win this December

December 7, 2009

Congrats to Lilliam Rivera who won Holen’s books giveaway. We’d have entered if we were eligible (and if we didn’t already own all three books). Holen’s contest was the first of a few we’ll be having in December.

All month long, watch OPWFT for great giveaways. Contest rules and regulations differ by contest and will be posted when each contest is announced.