{book birthday giveaway: six word family stories}

Dess knows that nothing good lasts. Disappointment is never far away, and that’s a truth that Dess has learned to live with.

Dess’s mother’s most recent arrest is just the latest in a long line of disappointments, but this one lands her with her baby brother’s foster family. Dess doesn’t exactly fit in with the Carters. They’re so happy, so comfortable, so normal, and Hope, their teenage daughter, is so hopelessly naïve. Dess and Hope couldn’t be more unlike each other, but Austin loves them both like sisters. Over time their differences, insurmountable at first, fall away to reveal two girls who want the same thing: to belong.

Tanita S. Davis, a Coretta Scott King Honor winner, weaves a tale of two modern teenagers defying stereotypes and deciding for themselves what it means to be a family.

9780553512816-3 copy

In honor of PEAS AND CARROTS’ book birthday February 9th, I’m out and about in the blogosphere, talking about hiding (@B&N’s OPEN MIC Project – do check out the other pieces), writing about divine (every) bodies (@STACKED BOOKS, and thanks to Kelly for inviting me), and tomorrow I’ll be at John Scalzi’s blog, sharing the BIG IDEA – or one of them – behind the book. At some point, I’ll also show up in The Horn Book blog. I have two copies of PEAS AND CARROTS left to share, and I thought I’d give someone a chance to win one… by sharing a six word family story.

Hemingway’s famous six-word tale, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” inspired the “six word story” meme, and has served as a writing prompt for decades, challenging writers’ ability to create an entire narrative arc in just six words. Having a topic may – or may not – make it easier… give it a shot and see!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Create an original six word story – funny, poignant, etc – describing your family, whether chosen family, foster family, or the one you were born with. Submit this story, between NOW and midnight February 9th (PST) via the site’s contact form, with the words “Six Word Story” in the subject line. I’ll be sharing some of these as I receive them, and will throw the very best of them in a hat and select two. Winners to be announced February 10th, and personal details, mailing information, etc., will be requested then.

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Good luck! Remember you have between now and midnight (PST) December 9th.

{december (de)lights}

Lafayette 57

The house down the street (and around the corner) has what appears to be aliens arriving on the lawn around the Holy Family. I suspect they meant to make trees, but somehow, the lines of lights on wire frames look like aliens landing – or taking off – in wedge-shaped streams of coruscating light. It is my yearly giggle, as I drive down the hill: Ecstasy to the Orb – it’s Aliens.

Clearly, it’s too early for me to be taking Christmas lights seriously.

With the exception of our wee creche, we don’t usually decorate for Christmas. In the last few years, it’s been because we’re in the process of moving, thinking about moving, preparing for moving — and now, for the first time, since we’re staying put for more than a single year, it’s …. a little… noticeable. Hey. We don’t have any Christmas decorations, having gotten rid of them, oh, maybe six moves ago. Time to go thrifting.

(What? You buy your ornaments new or make them by hand? And pass them down for years and years, and have MEMORIES attached to them? Yeah, yeah, it must be nice, in Normalsville.)

Nutcracker x4

The weather has finally started to think about what “normal” might be for December. I can no longer run errands in a T-shirt and jeans, as it is at present 29°F/-2°C. Bring on the scarves and gloves! There’s snow in the northern part of the state, and after this weekend’s weather system, we’ll be able to see it on our very own, nearby peaks. Somehow, that makes it Official: it’s the time of the season for joyful freezing and teeth-chattering songs.

I don’t actually blog much, normally, during December, but I’m trying to be better about just getting here and being present in my …churlishness and general cranky moodiness. This year, I’m going to try to be… I don’t know, pleasant through December. Big job, I know, since usually I’m overbooked and übercross and up to my oxters in Good Cheer and it’s usually a very thin veneer over generalized rage. This year, I’m morphing my Thanksgiving thoughts into December delightedness. Taking joy in a month that’s going to come anyway is the best way to chill out with the crazy and stay grounded.

To that end, I thought I’d share that there are Christmas giveaways going on all over. No – I don’t mean the ones hosted by talk show hosts; you won’t find the Mighty O or Ellen here. I mean, in the litosphere and foodie blogosphere — the places where you’re always browsing anyway.

Got Books? Want more? [email protected] in Kidlit are helpfully giving one a day away. If you’re in the UK, Book Bird Fiction Blog has your books. English indie publishers, Alison and Busby are also having a giveaway. If you’re good at book quotations, – hurry over, it’s already started. (Also, if you’re in the UK? DO NOT MISS Tinned Tomatoes’ annual 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. Some SERIOUS swag to be had there for foodies and cooks.)

More books? Suzanne Wardle, a book blogger and book review editor for the Roanoke Times is giving away six holiday-related books just because… reasons. Gotta love that. Drop a comment, and be part of the drawing. A few clicks away, Entangled Teen has 12 Days of Kickass, where twenty-four authors put out deleted scenes, villainous scenes, and give away the books in which they appear (or, you know, don’t). Book Hounds follows up with the 12 Days of New Adult Giveaway, which, if you’re not familiar with the sub-genre, is YA fiction for the post-high school crowd. I’m not yet sure how I feel about it… if you’re not either, this giveaway is for you – read, then make up your mind!

There are probably more giveaways out there, but I hope you check these out. And, hope you’re well on your way to finding the delights of the day today.

Hayford Mills 176

If the sun is shining, it isn’t actually cold. Right?

Sunday Silliness

The prompt today at Sunday Scribblings is “pilgrimage,” and that’s what I did this weekend.

Those of you who participate in the WBBT/SBBT know that sometimes you JUST LOVE an author, so the format of the Summer/Winter Blog Blast Tour enables you to ask them to talk to you — about their books, about their lives, what’s playing in their iPod, and what authors they’re reading. Barring MotherReader’s unfortunate restraining order1 for the Mo Willems incident(s), (*!!!*) most of us keep our fangirling and stalkerish tendencies under wraps. *cough* You’ll be gratified to hear that I have taken stalking to a whole new level! Wonderland had so much fun interviewing her for WBBT this past November that yesterday I stalked author Elizabeth Wein all the way to her change ringing rehearsal at an ancient cathedral, and then to her house! And she’s very, very funny!

Okay, it was supposed to be a short visit — as in, I’ll just hop a train early in the morning and bring her a few goodies from the United States. After all, those of us who live abroad have to keep each other in Hershey’s, right? But the short visit turned into two meals and a 12-hour tour of Perthshire, conversing on a whole wealth of topics that continued until literally minutes before the doors on our eight o’clock train closed.

Of course, there were the whole “Liz Is Trying To Kill Me” episodes, which included a dizzying spiral stairwell that was exactly as wide as my shoulders — and getting more narrow as it rose, a river so high she called it a “death trap” and wet rocks slicked with moss, but I bribed her with 20 pounds of candy to let me live, and so we went home. We will just draw a veil over how dorky I looked crawling up the rocks on my hands and knees. Yes. Drawing a veil. Now.

Ahem.

To conclude: real life authors are lovely people, and should you have a chance to meet one in his or her own home environment, they will often feed you, and let their children take blurry, close-up pictures of you. It’s a lot of fun. (Pictures to follow; Flickr is uploading at the speed of a wheezing asthmatic camel in a sand slide.)


Reminder via Children’s Writers & Illustrators Market newsletter:

It’s the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition! Submit your children’s or young adult fiction! The reading fee is GRAND PRIZE: $3,000 cash and a trip to New York City to meet with editors or agents. Writer’s Digest will fly you and a guest to The Big Apple, where you’ll spend three days and two nights in the publishing capital of the world. While you’re there, a Writer’s Digest editor will escort you to meet and share your work with four editors or agents! Plus, you’ll receive a free Diamond Publishing Package from Outskirts Press.

Entry Deadline: May 15, 2009.

The most fun about this contest is that it’s open to everyone. Check out the small print at Writer’s Digest.


  1. We all know that’s a joke, right? RIGHT!?!?

Students of History, Unite and Write!

Toon Thursday, pie makers, is all about you. And you know your love for nutmeg. Every once in awhile, though, you can take a breather from your deathless prose, and write something a little more immediate — or encourage the writers in your family to do so. If you’re a high school or college student — undergraduate or graduate — attending an American high school, college or university, you’re in luck.

NLS Publishing is excited to announce the 2008 Students for Change Essay Writing Contest. The contest is open to high school seniors, undergraduate and graduate students who will attend a regionally accredited college or university in the United States in the Fall of 2009.

Students wishing to enter the contest are required to submit a 1000 to 2000 word essay describing “what the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American President, means to you and your family.” Students are encouraged to discuss this historic event with their parents and grandparents, and to incorporate these discussions into their essays. Students may submit up to three (3) photos with their essay.

The top three (3) essay contest winners will receive a $1,000 scholarship towards tuition at a regionally accredited college or university for Fall 2009. Essays will be reviewed by a group of judges selected by NLS Publishing. Selection criteria will include:
• Organization
• Content
• Quality of Writing
• Originality
All entries MUST be accompanied by an Official Entry Form (which will come up as a .pdf), including the signature of the student (and parent, if the student is under the age of 18). Only one essay may be submitted per student. Essays must be postmarked / received no later than January 20, 2009, before 12:00 midnight.

Essays must be typed, double-spaced, and in MS Word format. Essays can be submitted via email, file upload OR U.S. Mail. Here you can find:
the Requirements for essay contest entries via Email ,
Requirements for essay contest entries via File Upload , and
Requirements for essay contest entries via U.S. Mail

If you’re going to take part, r.s.v.p. so that you can receive updates and additional scholarship information from the company. This sounds like a great little project for Christmas break!

*Essay contest winners will receive notification by April 30, 2009

Toon Thursday: The Truth Comes Out

Yes, much as I would like to have a personal assistant on hand to pour me champagne when I write my daily masterpieces, that’s not usually how it goes. However, if you DO find yourself with a few masterpieces burning a hole in your desk, there are a few contest deadlines coming up–Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award competition for this fall closes on Sept. 30, and the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards have a closing date of Nov. 1 (and some excellent prizes, including manuscript critiques). Go to it! I might go for Glimmer Train, though I had sworn never to enter another contest of theirs (only because I kept entering and getting discouraged). However, for the first time, I entered an audio contest recently, which was interesting. We’ll see how that goes. Writers, don’t be shy–get your work out there!

Tidbits

Just a couple of quick gems I ran across and forgot to mention: one, the Something About Me book challenge beginning the first of August is a great opportunity not only to share a little something about yourself, but it’s a chance to read and discuss yet more books you might have missed. The originator of the project’s personal blog is titled Breaking the Fourth Wall, which sounds quite gutsy. Thanks to LW, who is playing along.

At the Blue Rose Girls a fantastic conversation days ago was on how authors felt on receiving editorial letters. I know I have often whimpered about receiving red-marked notes from my agent — who is, I swear, pickier than my editor. And my writing group is pickier than that! But I have appreciated the feedback on my work so much… it’s daunting and sometimes makes me need to lie down, but it’s all a matter of clarification; if people don’t “get” me, knowing it and being able to reflect those changes onto a manuscript will push it toward excellence. This is not to say that I don’t need to shred tissues and weep into my laptop first, but usually… once I figure out that neither my agent nor my editor hate me and want to ruin my life, usually it’s a good thing.

Heads up! It’s a Book Launch! Bay Area YA aficionados will want to get out and celebrate at the book launch for Not Like You, Tuesday, July 31st @ 7pm at Cody’s in Berkeley. Those of you who can’t make it will want to know about the Not Like You book contest. Since the novel is about the ties that bind and gag in a mother-daughter relationship, author Debbie Davis is sponsoring a contest, based on mother-daughter stories. Poignant, funny, tragic or outrageous, bring ’em on!

Oh, and hey — have you ever visited the contest page at TeensReadToo? It’s a fun site where each month books are profiled and you can win a copy. Some fabulous choices there. Be sure to check back after August 1, too — there’s a whole lot of book-giving away going on!

Nope: Not in Bed With HP

It’s a slow news day, but I’ve just discovered a couple of gems:

Stories for Children Magazine is a small, free children’s story ezine, associated with KidMagWriters.com that just came on-scene in April of 2007. They feel that love of reading in adults is fostered by having access to good stories as kids.

SFC is having a contest for all ages – this means that kids can enter, too. Simply go to their site and look over the contest rules and information, and also at the illustration story-starter upon which all stories in the contest must be based. Then, ready, set, write. The story will need to be between 500 to 750 words.


New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez (aka A-Rod, for those not in the Yankee-lingo-know) has written his second children’s book. Okay, so having it come out the same day as the last Potter book might not have been as auspicious a day as it could have been, but apparently… apparently he’s gained quite a fanbase and not just for his sports prowess. Since I haven’t read either of his two books, I will… just… hush. But, HMMM!


Occasionally, I flit past Smart B**ches Who Love Trashy Novels because it is tear-spillingly funny with its mockery, snideness and generally snappish rants. Mainly, I went by because I had to do a little happy dance that Cybils Nominee and YA author Caridad Ferrer won a major coup with the Romance Writers of America® (RWA®) for All content (unless otherwise attributed) is © Copyright Tanita S. Davis and may not be reproduced in any form.