Bird Face Wendy

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

Book Award Competitions, Part 2 (the second scoop)

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If you’ve landed here, you may be familiar with my post from December 5th,  The Real Scoop on Book Award Competitions, Part 1. If not, be sure to take a look and see why and how I began entering award contests for my historical novel, The Other Side of Freedom.

One thing I didn’t mention then but will share with you now is that I had unexpectedly received opportunities to earn a little extra money by editing others’ work. Divine providence, perhaps? They were small assignments, but I saved the money. Instead of spending my fund on travel, I chose to invest in the possibility of receiving an award for my book. Some might call it risk, LOL.

So, in Part 1 you learned about what happened with my first entries. Not all bad. And here are the rest!

Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest Before I even considered entering the contest, I had requested and received a free review for one of my other books. (Be sure to look into that on the website.) For the contest, I entered The Other Side of Freedom in the category Children – Pre-teen, submitting a mobi file online and paying a fee, to which I chose the option of adding $1 donation to St. Jude’s Hospital. To my disappointment, Readers’ Favorite did not announce the results by email, but I knew approximately when they were due. I searched every few days until I found them, and my book had won! Gold-medal Winner for Coming-of-age. This contest has perhaps the greatest number of categories and winners, but the prizes give the books good exposure. Some winners are considered for representation by Folio Literary Management and some for film production by Wind Dancer Films. Other winners are receiving publicity or marketing from a number of companies. There’s a lot of information to absorb, so plan to spend a while on the website.

Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards I entered this 2017 contest in December 2017 and still can find no results a year later. (See the 2016 winners at the link.) I was allowed to enter past the deadline because I emailed the address provided and was told they “need more YA.” I had to not only pay the entry fee but priority-mail three books. I cannot give this contest a recommendation.

Eric Hoffer Book Award Described as an “independent book award for the small press, academic press & independent press, including self-published books,” this one had one of the moderately-priced entry fees among those with fees. My book was a finalist, for which I was notified by email. The category was YA, which includes juvenile and teen.

Book of the Year Awards (Independent Author Network) This competition attracted me because of the categories, cash prizes, and gala awards ceremony. I paid a very affordable fee for the first category and a reduced fee for the second category. I entered my book in Historical and Juvenile. It won Outstanding Fiction Children/Juvenile and Second Place Book of the Year. It was also a finalist in Historical fiction. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the ceremony in Miami. You don’t need to be a member to enter this contest, but I joined after winning.

The Christopher Awards (Catholic, family literature) I almost forgot about this one! Presented to TV and cable, feature films, and books for adults and young people, it was established to “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” Although achieving this award would be a long shot, I entered my book. If nothing else, it would be seen and perhaps read by other Catholics who recognize good Catholic literature. As you can see, only six books for young people received the award. I had to mail three books, but there was no entry fee.

Children’s Literary Classics Book Awards Earlier in the year, my book received their Seal of Approval. I took that as an indication I should enter. I uploaded one ePub book, mailed one book, and paid a fee. I entered in the upper middle grade level for ages 11 to 14 years. I chose Historical as a category, plus got a free entry into the Eloquent Quill Top Honors award for youth books. The results? Gold Winner in two upper middle grade categories: General and Historical. The awards ceremony will be in Rapid City, South Dakota in May, 2019, and I plan to attend.

Catholic Press Association (CPA) Book Awards I cherish the certificate I received for Third Place, Children’s. I have a newspaper background, and I know how greatly such awards from press associations are coveted. It being an award from within this Catholic sphere makes it even sweeter to me. As a non-member, I paid a higher entry fee than a member.

Catholic Writers Guild’s Catholic Arts and Letters Award (CALA)I am a Catholic Writers Guild member, so I was aware that competition would be fierce, especially because  there is only one category for books for young people: Children’s and YA (Young Adult). One of my familiar colleagues was bound to win, and one did! My book had to have received the CWG Seal of Approval. The fee was low, and I mailed three books.

Purple Dragonfly Award (Story Monsters, Inc.) This is a competition open to any year of publication, which is different from the other contests.  I entered an ebook instead of going for the print competition. I got the Early Bird special fee. Results will be known in June, 2019.

Best Indie Book Award With about a dozen categories total and few where my book would fit, I took a chance and entered my book in the category of Literary/Mainstream because a book with a young boy character had previously won in that category, and the Children’s category seemed won mostly by picture books or early chapter books. I did not win, and I don’t believe finalists were recognized. The entry fee was in the moderate range.

There were two other competitions I considered entering. One was Christian Indie Awards, formerly Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) Awards. I didn’t enter because, based on past winners, I couldn’t decide between Children’s and YA categories. I wish now that I had made a decision and entered.

Another was the Benjamin Franklin Awards (Independent Book Publishing Association). The author’s indie publisher must be a member, and mine wasn’t, so my fee would’ve been $225 instead of $99. That placed it out of my reach.

I hope I’ve provided some useful information for new and established authors. In addition to these contests, look for those open only to authors in your city, state, or country or to authors of your particular ethnicity.  So many opportunities to win exist. You just have to find them and enter!

 

 

 

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Inspiring, Motivating Fiction for Teens

boy.green.eyes As I suspect is probably the same for teens today, my teen years were the period when I was most reluctant to venture outside my comfort zone. Whether to say hello to a newcomer or try a new craft or sport. Even to help in a way I’d never helped  before.

To trust—in myself, in family, in God.

Adults often find it difficult to encourage—let alone convince—teenagers to trust, to reach out, branch out, think courageously or outside the box. But story can sometimes do the job we are unable to do.

This holiday season I recommend a few books that might help. Most are newly released novels, and one is an anthology of short stories in case a teen won’t sit still long enough to read a novel. 🙂

I’ve read and enjoyed them all. Full disclosure: The anthology contains a short story of mine, and all its stories contain strong Catholic elements. One of the novels is mine as well, and the character lineup includes deaf and Jewish teens.

All these books can be enjoyed equally by boys and girls. So, take a look. You might find the right gift for a teen you know this Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah.

First up: Roland West Outcast (West Brothers series) by Theresa Linden, who was raised in a military family, where she developed strong patriotism and a sense of adventure.42190134

Shy Roland West, who fears speaking up, attends high school with gossips and troublemakers. After panicking in speech class and becoming the subject of gossip, his best friend, Peter, pushes him to uncover the vandals of an outcast’s house before they strike again.

My review: How I rooted for Roland to find his voice in this book! But Peter . . . he surprised me by becoming my favorite character of the West Brothers series. To quote him: “You can’t act on your impulses just because you love someone.” Therein lie the strength and beauty of the story message. Sometimes, like some of the characters in Roland West Outcast, young people believe that their feelings justify their actions. The results can be harmful to themselves or to the ones they love. Both Roland and Peter prove what pure, unselfish love can be. And they are put to the test in defending their faith and demonstrating it, in spite of strong criticism, while solving a mystery and righting a wrong committed against a new girl at their school.

Next: Where You Lead by Leslea Wahl, who strives to write fiction that will inspire readers to use their own talents and gifts to glorify God.

41153270 Sixteen-year-old Eve’s lonely existence changes in an instant when visions of a mysterious stranger haunt her. Certain God is calling her for a mission, she bravely says yes and begins her quest to meet this young man. Thousands of miles away, Nick has been dealing with his own unusual experience, an unwavering certainty to convince his father to run for political office.

My review: This is my favorite of Leslea Wahl’s novels so far. The setting of this mystery is Washington D.C., and the historical and geographical references flavor the backdrop in just the right amounts. I immediately connected with Eve, and both Eve and Nick are not only likable characters but endearing. The balance of description, narrative, and dialogue makes this novel a smooth read. This story could be the start of a good series. It is clean with Christian/Catholic elements that are used in a natural way for the characters.

And: 3 Things to Forget (Bird Face series book four) by Cynthia T. Toney. That’s me! 3TTF Final Cover In Alaska, Wendy thinks she’s left behind the problems resulting from her mistakes in Louisiana, at least for a while. But starting the summer at her friend Sam’s house and volunteering with wildlife conservation bring not only strange surroundings but also strangers into her life. And those strangers have a secret involving a troubled girl who threatens Wendy’s friendship with Sam. As Wendy struggles to understand the Alaskans she meets and gets to know, will she be able forget what she hopes to, or will her new challenges teach her the importance of remembering the past?

The anthology: Secrets: Visible & Invisible by seven authors of CatholicTeenBooks.com. 40689696 This fiction anthology is a great way to get a taste of seven very different authors and their writing styles. It includes contemporary, dystopian, historical, mystery, romance, and more. Here are the nutshell descriptions of the stories:

1. In a dystopian future, an innocent picnic turns deadly!
2. Elijah knows nothing of the elderly stranger’s secret past–until her disappearance changes everything.
3. A mysterious, ever-changing painting alarms a group of teens.
4. The cannonball took Dario’s legs . . . Will he lose his soul too?
5. The arrival of a mysterious girl challenges everything about Jason’s life.
6. An unlicensed driver. His dad’s truck. What could possibly go wrong?
7. An old tale of murder and forbidden love leads to a modern day treasure hunt.

So, I hope you or a teen you love finds inspiration or motivation within one or more of these books. Have a beautiful holiday season!

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Can You Predict Your Own Winner?

C-JFWinner The Other Side

If you are an author, artist, or craftsperson, you probably have one project among many that is nearest and dearest to your heart.

For me, that project is my first historical novel, The Other Side of Freedom. I started writing the story while I waited for the first Bird Face book to be published—the very first one, when only one manuscript existed, with no future for a Bird Face series.

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From the beginning, I had a good feeling about this story (with a different title then) about a boy who was the son of Italian immigrants in 1925 America. The writing of it was easier than that of any of the Bird Face books. The Other Side of Freedom became my favorite among my works, and it was also my husband’s favorite book, too. I thought it stood a better chance of placing in a contest than any of my other novels had (although I had entered each of those in at least one or two contests).

Still, when I received an email announcing The Other Side of Freedom had won first place in the Children’s/Juvenile Fiction category of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, I could hardly believe my eyes. Then a second email announced it had also won first place in the Grand Prize for Fiction.

GRANDPRIZE First FIC The Other Side

A strange sound erupted from my throat—a combination of laughing and crying—and continued until my husband entered my study to see if I was okay. We squeezed each other as I said things like “Is this real?” and “I can’t believe it!”

The next morning when we woke up, he asked with all seriousness, “Did your book win an award last night, or did I dream that?”

I checked my email again to be sure the awards committee had not sent another email telling me they had made a mistake! No, my husband assured me. They would not have sent out emails telling me I had won two awards unless they were absolutely certain.

So, the book I believed was special was also special to others outside my personal sphere. How affirming was that?

The Next Generation Indie Book Awards was attractive in a number of ways: suitable categories, cash prizes, real award medals, and a gala/reception at a luxury hotel. But it was not the only contest I entered for The Other Side of Freedom.

I had researched a lot of book awards programs and had chosen several to enter. I had decided this particular book was worth spending the time and money to enter it into as many book awards contests as seemed reputable and appropriate for it. Some contests were out of my reach, requiring the book to to be nominated by a librarian in the ALA or to have a minimum number of Goodreads reviews.

Because of this win, my next blog post will likely be about all the awards contests I entered for The Other Side of Freedom and why I chose them from among many I learned about.

If you have several published books, fiction or nonfiction, and one in particular seems to stand out as that special book, I recommend you give it every chance to become a winner. It might not need to have been published within the past year. A number of contests include a range of eligible publication years.

Here’s hoping you can predict your own winner!

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It’s Release Day and I awoke to a nice surprise!

This morning I awoke to find The Other Side of Freedom at #9 in its category of books for children in Mysteries & Detective stories. So I’m very excited today for a number of reasons. 🙂

This is the book I wrote while waiting for publication of my very first book, Bird Face, which later became 8 Notes to a Nobody and started the Bird Face series.

My inspiration for The Other Side of Freedom:
“Possibly orphaned but definitely impoverished, one of my great-grandfathers journeyed from Sicily to America as a young boy with a family not his own, and he grew up with their children. He established the strawberry farm that inspired the setting for this novel.”

If you are a fiction writer, my advice to you is: Always have a manuscript in progress as you work to get another book published. You never know which one will become your favorite or the favorite of your readers!

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Historical Novel for the Whole Family at Pre-Order Prices!

Do you like stories with characters who demonstrate courage? Are you interested in 1920s historical fiction with an unusual twist? Do you enjoy The Godfather movies but would like them better without the graphic adult scenes?

The Other Side of Freedom is a book the whole family can enjoy. Right now, it’s discounted for pre-orders. Only $9.99 for the paperback and $2.99 for the digital book on Amazon. Check Amazon in your country for equivalent prices where available.

 

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Coming Soon! 1920s Historical Novel for Tweens and Teens

Something new is coming in October, and it’s

  • My first historical novel
  • My first crime drama
  • My first novel with a male protagonist

When the reward is the most costly sacrifice of all …

In a southern farming community in 1925, thirteen-year-old Salvatore and his Italian immigrant father become involved against their will in a crime that results in the murder of an innocent man and family friend. Will Sal keep the secrets about that night as his father asks, or risk everything he and his family cherish in their new homeland, including their lives? 

Amidst bigotry, bootlegging, police corruption, and gangland threats, Sal must discover whom he can trust in order to protect himself and his family and win back his father’s freedom. Sal’s family, their African-American farmhand, and the girl who is Sal’s best friend find their lives forever changed as dreams are shattered and attitudes challenged in a small community called Freedom.

 

Let’s visit the 1920s like you’ve never seen them before! I hope to meet you there!

 

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10 Steps to Girlfriend Status is 99 cents!

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC Med   Through July 31st, my favorite book of the Bird Face series, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, is on sale for the first time! Even if you have not yet read book one (8 Notes to a Nobody), pick up the Amazon digital book two at 99 cents while you can! You will easily become familiar with the return characters and will understand the ongoing plot threads of the series.

And if you live outside the US …

Australian, Canadian, and UK friends, catch the equivalent sale price on Amazon for your countries. Please keep US time zones in mind before the sale ends.

I hope we become friends! Wendy

 

 

 

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Starting July 4th: Only 99¢ for 6 Dates to Disaster

6 Dates to Disaster FC 5x8   While you enjoy a Happy Independence Day this July 4th, grab the Kindle version of 6 Dates to Disaster on Amazon at only 99 cents. It’s a lot less expensive than barbecue but just as delicious!

This special first-time sale runs July 4 – 10, 2017. Visit Amazon for your copy.

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Release Day! First Scene Preview: 6 Dates to Disaster

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My publisher featured 6 Dates to Disaster today on the Write Integrity Press blog with the first scene for your convenience. I hope you enjoy reading it!

This is the third book of the Bird Face series, and Jennifer is back in Wendy’s life, although not shown in the first scene. The story addresses honesty and how dishonesty can damage a teen’s relationships and future.

Be sure to check out all three of the books so far in the series on my Amazon author page! (The original Bird Face book, which is out-of-print, is still listed there, too. That story became 8 Notes to a Nobody.)

Thank you for reading.

Cynthia

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Give Fiction Readers What They Want: Someone to Care About

 

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Credit: Vlad Kryhin, courtesy of Snapwire

I read a lot of novels, usually at least one per week. And I get asked by a lot of authors to read their new releases.

I feel honored and privileged to be asked, so I read as many as I possibly can while not neglecting the titles I select for myself. But I have become very picky.

Besides being an author, I am a reader desiring quality entertainment just like the rest.

While attending to a good plot, or a good personal problem to solve in a character-driven novel, a few authors ignore this duty: to give the readers the emotional connection they want. And only those important to the story, if you please.

From my experience as a reader, that has everything to do with point of view.

I need a single POV (point of view) character, or at most, two POV characters. I enjoy getting into one or two main characters’ heads and viewing or feeling everything as though I’m in their skin. That’s deep POV, and I crave it, particularly in contemporary fiction. I find it jarring to jump around among several characters’ POVs, whether it’s for each scene or each chapter. Just when I get emotionally attached to a character—BAM!—the door slams shut and I have to get used to someone else. I only have the time and emotional energy to connect with and care deeply about one or two characters, not three, four, five, or six. And yes, sometimes authors use that many POVs.

The justification by the author for multiple POVs is typically that he or she wants the reader to know what all those characters are thinking. But why? Is every thought in their heads important to the advancement of the plot? Most often, I find that they are not.

And there’s the problem—the author is writing what the author wants. Not what the reader may want. The reader may not care what each and every character who appears more than once in a story is thinking. And may not have time to care.

In YA (young adult) fiction, where the focus of the story and the POV character(s) should be the young people, why would an author want to place the reader inside a parent’s or other adult’s head? And yet I see that sometimes, when it adds nothing to the story.

I appreciate the skill of an author who can tell me everything I need to know about the story through the eyes of one character. Maybe two, as in a romance or possibly a crime thriller.

Like me, readers want to feel a strong emotional connection that will carry them throughout a story. They want to care what happens to the main character(s) in the end, even if they want the bad guy to get his just desserts. My feeling is, that level of caring does not apply to every POV character in some otherwise good stories.

So please, have mercy on my tired reader’s brain and my emotional health. Place me inside the heads of only the characters that truly need to tell me their story.

Cynthia T. Toney

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