And Here. We. Arrrre!

I can’t believe the weeks are rolling past like this.
But they are.
You know what this means, right? A couple of someones are getting closer and closer to a look-see by an agent.
And we’re all getting older and older.
So there.

This past week’s guest judge is Laurel Brady author of Say You are My Sister, Dancing with the Sun, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Sweet Sixteen. Laurel was the Mayor of Mapleton, UT, she works for BYU and she’s the mother of 7 kids. She’s fostered more than a million (I mean, lots!) children (adopting a few) and she’s one of the kindest people I know.
And here’s what Miss Laurel has to say about a thang or two.

The winner of the historical fiction contest.
Ann Dee, please get the flashing lights going.
Chris, Blow out those soap bubbles.

This week’s winner is Anna Elliot.
The hot-house roses Freddy Leveson brought for my sister were red, like blood. A strange color for a debutante, but then Freddy—Lord Edward Frederick Leveson-Gower—wasn’t exactly conventional.
Neither was I. When Freddy knocked on our door, I was supposed to be in the nursery, working on my sketching while James studied his Latin. Instead, I lingered—Mother would say loitered—in the lower hall, watching the servants scurry back and forth with their brooms and buckets and cleaning cloths, in feverish preparation for Elizabeth’s ball tonight. Upstairs, my sister was resting. Were this my ball, I would not be so calm.
When Barton opened the door, I crept forward to see the visitor. I heard Freddy’s voice and saw Barton take his small white visiting card. Then, before I could let myself think, I slipped forward into the opening.
“Why, Lord Freddy!” I said, smiling up at him. “Won’t you come in?”
I didn’t have to look at Barton to know that his eyebrows were lowering over his eyes. Barton disapproved of forwardness in general and me in particular.
Freddy smiled back, a slow smile that started at the corner of his eyes and suffused his face with light. “Thank you, Miss Anna. Only for a moment. I don’t want to leave the horses standing for too long in this wind.”
He stepped into the hallway.
“Your sister is well, I hope? I brought these for her.” Freddy handed me the roses.
I did not want to talk about my sister. “Yes,” I said, pretending to study the flowers. Their red was so deep that the centres were almost black.
“And you?”
Was I imagining that his voice changed when he asked about me? I looked up at him, my gaze direct, not veiled by my lashes as it should have been. “I am happy to see you, my lord.”
Freddy’s gloved fingers played with the end of his cravat. “Will you be at the ball tonight?”
I kept my eyes on his, feeling bold. “I am not yet out,” I reminded him. And Elizabeth is afraid that I will outshine her.
So swiftly I almost thought I imagined it, Freddy leaned forward and whispered, “Then meet me. Tonight. In the gardens, at midnight.” Then he straightened, re-adjusted his top hat, and bid me good-day.
As the door slid shut behind him, I smiled into Elizabeth’s roses.

This is what our judge said about Anna Elliot: “It’s not my usual cup of tea, but I love that it circles back to the roses. Good detail, good flow, and the character and potential are too deliciously naughty.”
Anna Elliot, you have immunity next week! And don’t you forget it!

A hearty congrats to Juliet Nebraska. You are safe. We loved your dress. I mean, story. Our judge said this about your work– “It’s clean and simple, easy to read and with no “stumbly” passages that get in the way. No TMI and the ending says it all. (It’s not just because I’m a sucker for anything set in the 40’s, honest.)”

Joan Astley, I’m sorry, but you have been eliminated. Please slip on over to the Play at Home side of things.

This is what Laurel said to everyone–
“There was really great writing in all the entries. Some of the settings and circumstances were too complex to do adequate justice in 400 words. A little too much telling as opposed to showing, a few abrupt transitions, but good period detail, and almost everybody wrapped their entries with terrific last lines that guarantee you’re going to keep reading.”

From our Play at Homers our winner is Gabi Vivaldi. Send us your address so we can pop a book in the mail to you.


Get ready everyone.
This next week we have a tough challenge.
We want you to write a TRUE middle grade voice. Your scene must be contemporary. Please use 400 words or less for your entry.
 Again, this is a scene. Just like last week, we’d like there to be a character, sense of place, dialog and the hint of a problem. 
What’s hard about this? We want true middle grade feeling, thoughts, and situation.

And that can be hard.
No writing down to your audience.
No silliness.
No adult voice winding up on the page–or old men/women thoughts.

You might want to look at a few mid grade novels before you leap into this because we’re judging hard on voice! (Ann Dee’s books are middle grade, so are some of mine, Tim Wynne-Jones has a beautiful mid grade voice as does Rita Williams-Garcia [she just won TONS of awards], Claudia Mills, Hilary McKay, and Betsy Byars–just to name a few off the top of my head–and Ann Dee’s head, too. Do be careful here because these writers also write others aged-voiced. Pick wisely!)

Remember to use a new name, and don’t tell anyone until after the judging is over.
The contest closes at five (5) pm on Wednesday, February 22.

You may vote for two (2) people now!
Judging will be on Thursday and Friday and will close midnight.
Follow the rules, exactly!

So there you go Project Writeway Writers.
You are amazing!
And Ann Dee and I are thrilled with the work we’ve seen.
Good luck!



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4 responses to “And Here. We. Arrrre!

  1. What should we put in the subject line for this challenge?

  2. Kim Woodruff

    Question: No silliness? My middle grade kids are pretty silly sometimes. And some of my favorite middle grade books reflect the silliness of the age group. Do you want all the entries to be completely serious?


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