Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

Teens! Here’s an Art Contest for You

6-dates-to-disaster-fc-5x8

Teen artists ages 11 to 18! Enter this contest to win a copy of my new novel, 6 Dates to Disaster (Bird Face series book three). Visit my website www.cynthiattoney.com, subscribe to my newsletter there, and email me (see Contact, under About Me tab on the website) a sketch of your fave character(s) in a scene from one of my first two books.

In the email, tell me which book and which chapter you got your idea from. Contest ends at midnight CST, January 1, 2017. Winner will be notified by 1/31/17 at the email address you use to subscribe to my newsletter. Winner must provide a valid U.S. or Canadian mailing address in a return email.

I can’t wait to see what you draw!

Cynthia

2bookimgh

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Celebrate Your Success and Enter to Win an E-book

balloon.boy

Image courtesy of Morguefile.com free photos

In the early months of the new year, good things have happened to me as an author.

The second book of the Bird Face series, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, is a semi-finalist in a book contest and a finalist in another. A Florida book fair company has acquired copies of both books of the series to sell to schools. I have sorted out some of the problems with my third manuscript and gotten back to writing it.

And I’m celebrating!

Don’t you think the small steps accomplished on any entrepreneurial journey should be celebrated? If you do, I invite you to celebrate yours–with me.

To expand the positive atmosphere I’m breathing, I’m offering a chance for a commenter on this blog post to win an electronic copy of either 8 Notes to a Nobody or 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status.

twobooksH

All you need to do to enter for a chance to win:

  1. Share in the comments about an accomplishment in your particular endeavor (writing or other) that you celebrated or want to celebrate, and how (in a wholesome way–remember that young teens also read this blog).
  2. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter at cynthiattoney.com.

The names of all approved commenters who subscribe to the newsletter will be placed in a hat, and a winning name will be drawn. The prize will be a mobi file of your choice of either of my books, to be read on a Kindle or other device where you have a Kindle app.

After the end of March, I’ll notify the winner at the email address used to subscribe to the newsletter.

So, how about your entrepreneurial successes–in writing (prose, poetry, fiction, nonfiction) or an  altogether different endeavor? Was your poem or short story accepted for publication? Did you open a new online business? Sell your first painting? I’d love to hear about it.

Let’s celebrate those successes together!

 

 

 

 

10 Comments »

Avoid Body Language Weasel Words–Enter for a Chance to Win a Free Edit

I enjoy the study of body language and never thought I’d suggest anyone avoid mentioning a character’s body language in fiction. But if that body language description is ordinary and overused, it’s a weasel word or phrase as harmful to the quality of the writing as any other.

If it can be misinterpreted, that’s even worse.

GirlClosedSmile

Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

In the first draft of a manuscript, I often depend on the verb “smiled.” I’m in a hurry and don’t stop to think of a better description for such a common action. Critique buddies are quick to point out that failing, for which I’m grateful, and I correct the problem on the revise. Or I mean to. Reading over my releases, I still see more instances of “smiled” than I am comfortable with.

You may think, what’s wrong with “smiled”?

As far as body language goes, a smile can convey a lot of things in addition to happiness: deception, nervousness, physical discomfort, romantic or sexual interest, pleasure over someone else’s pain. The meaning of the smile changes when used in context with other body language–movement or position of the eyes or brows, positions of the hands or limbs, or whole body stance.

GuyGoogySmile

Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

Besides, a reader may just-plain-get-tired of reading the same word or phrase over and over. I once edited a political thriller for a gentleman, now deceased. All of his characters—protagonist, antagonist, and minor characters alike—“smiled broadly” or “grinned broadly” no matter whether they were happy about something good or evil or perhaps experiencing a different emotion altogether. After the first few instances, all I could picture in my mind was someone with a big, stupid, toothy grin on his face each time I encountered either phrase. If I had been reading for pleasure, I may have discarded the book.

Merriam-Webster online defines a weasel word as “a word used in order to avoid being clear or direct.” In other words, the use of a word to deceive. For writers, add this definition: a lazy word used because we are unwilling or unable to create a better description. In a way, that’s deceiving—perhaps misleading or cheating—our readers.

Each writer owns a personal set of weasel words—those words used as a crutch to fall back on when we are tired or in a hurry or not at our creative best. In addition to “smiled,”  search your manuscript (or a published novel!) for body-action verbs such as “walked.” More than you would’ve guessed, right?

Choosing more precise body language description reveals much more about a character, his emotions or intentions, and a scene or setting’s mood. As a reader that’s important to me, particularly at the opening of a scene.

Is there a passage from your work in progress that contains a weasel word or phrase to convey body language? Which emotion or intention of the character would you like to express in a better defined and more creative way?

My gift to one reader of this blog post: Subscribe to my newsletter from my website cynthiattoney.com to enter for a chance to win a free body language weasel word hunt-destroy-replace edit of any single 3,000-word segment from your fiction manuscript. After the end of February, I will contact the winner using the email address you provide when subscribing.

10 Comments »

Winner Announcement

surprisebaby  The winner of a critique by author Sara Ella is Rachel Day! Congratulations, Rachel! As a new writer, I’m sure you’ll glean a lot from Sara’s comments and advice.

Thanks again to Sara for her appearance here and her fabulous offer.

How do you like this surprised baby?

Leave a comment »

Contest Tips–plus Enter to Win a Free Critique from Sara Ella

To celebrate the New Year, I’d like to introduce you to Sara Ella, a brand new author of a soon-to-be-published YA novel.

Sara has a lot of experience entering–and winning–fiction writing contests, so I thought you’d enjoy the advice she has to offer. Take it away, Sara!

SaraEllacropped

The last thing I ever wanted to do was become an author.

Actually, not really. I’ve always wanted to be an author. But if I began my post that way, it wouldn’t hook you, now would it? However, starting my post with a contradiction piques your interest, doesn’t it? You probably wondered how I ended up becoming an author if it was the last thing I ever wanted to do, and thus you continued reading to find out how it happened.

And that is what “contesting” is all about, my friends.

Contests rely on first impressions. You may have the most stellar fiftieth page ever in your unpublished manuscript, but no writing contest judge will ever know that (nor will an agent) if you don’t hook them from page one, sentence one, word one! Because this is what they see. So it really doesn’t matter if your ending rivals Gayle Foreman’s “What just happened?” last page or Mary Weber’s “Aha, I got you!” final sentence. What matters is opening strong and ending your entry at the perfect place to leave ’em wanting more.

When I entered my first contest, I had no idea what I was doing. The truth is, even now that I can say I won an ACFW Genesis Award, I’m still learning, still growing as an author (and boy, do I have a long way to go). However, I have learned a few things in my two years of entering writing contests and in my more recent excursion of querying agents. I’m no expert, but I am going to share some things I’ve discovered along the way.

  • Just because the entry limit is fifteen pages doesn’t mean you have to end it exactly at that point. Sure, you want to give the judges the biggest bite of your work as possible. After all, many contests cost money and you want as much feedback as you can get. But you also have to end your entry on a strong note. What if page fifteen ends with something like, Jack walked into the house? Now, if the fate of the world rests on Jack’s entrance into that house, go ahead and end it there. But, more often than not, this will not be the case. Always make sure to leave the judges wanting more. That may mean ending on page fourteen, thirteen, or twelve. Whatever the limit, there is no rule saying you have to enter the full amount. Go it?
  • Even if you happen to be the next John Green or Cassandra Clare, readers are still subjective. Your story will not be loved by everyone (sorry to break it to you). There are books I LOVED that other people hated. Judges are advised to be kind in their critiques, but there will be comments and scores that will sting (I know from experience). Just take it with a grain of salt and move on. It’s one person’s opinion, not the end of the world.
  • Which brings me to this next point—if you get the same feedback from more than one judge or contest, take it into consideration. Yes, it’s your story, but judges do know a thing or two about writing. They’re experienced authors, and, if you make it to a final round, agents and editors (as in the Genesis contest). After receiving similar feedback across the board on the original prologue for my YA fantasy BLEMISHED, I decided to chuck that opening and start in a different place. And I am so glad I did. My novel is stronger now. Thanks, Judges!!!
  • If at first you don’t succeed…I know, it’s so cliché, but it’s totally true. J.K. Rowling received tons of rejections for Harry Potter before landing an agent, and even more before getting a book deal. Don’t let a few low scores or silence from the agent gallery get you down. Keep studying the craft. Revise, revise, revise. And seek help from other authors you know personally. This is probably the biggest and best advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The worst they can say is no, right? And some might say no if they’re on deadline or have too much on their plate, but most (in my experience) are glad to help. If I hadn’t asked for help with my Genesis entry, there’s no way I would have won that award. So join organizations like ACFW, RWA, SCBWI, or others suited to your work and get involved in critique groups. Support and encourage other authors in their success. If you do, they’ll more than likely be happy to return the favor.

Thank you for the great advice, Sara. So happy you could join us today!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Cynthia! I’m glad I could share my experiences with your readers.

Fiction writers, don’t miss this opportunity to enter to win a critique from Sara. She is giving away a critique for the first 15 pages (or less, remember?) of one reader’s novel, novella, or short story. 

To enter, place a comment below telling Sara why you’d like a critique from her. Please provide a website, blog, twitter, or email address where she can contact you if you win. Deadline is January 31, 2015. 

Sara’s Bio: Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince (just call her Mrs. Charming) and live in a castle (aka The Plaza Hotel). Her fairy tale didn’t quite turn out as planned, but she did work for Disney—and her husband is far more swoony than any cartoon character could ever be. She now throws living room dance parties for her two princesses and conquers realms of her own imaginings. She is represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary. Visit her website at http://saraella.com, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

 

 

 

13 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: