ages 11-18

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge #11: Ben Stroud

Are you ready to hear about the last author to round out the entire team of this year’s judges? Introducing: Ben Stroud!

Ben Stroud recently published his first book, Byzantium, in 2013. He is best known for writing literary short stories, as featured in several anthologies, Harper’s Magazine, Boston Review, and The Literary Review. He has lived in Texas and Ann Arbor, and currently teaches creative writing at the University of Toledo. In an interview with One Story, he gave the following advice to other writers: “There’s so much we can’t control as writers, no matter what stage we’re at…We can sit down, we can work, we can write our stories. If we remember that, and remember why we started doing this in the first place—not for all those other things but for that magical feeling of stringing words together into a story—then the rest will take care of itself.”

Stay tuned for more information about the “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest and the upcoming Awards Ceremony on Saturday, May 10!

Teen Fiction Picks: Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood

Have you ever dreamed of being related to a celebrity? Riding in limos and mingling with the glitterati? Abby Spencer never has, until now. But it’s not a dream -- it’s reality. In Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj, thirteen-year-old Abby bugs her mom to contact her father, who she’s never even met, to track down her medical history after nearly dying from a surprise allergy. When she finds him, she discovers that her dad is a Bollywood film star in Mumbai, India! It isn’t until he asks her to come visit him in Mumbai that Abby’s life starts getting flipped upside down. Join Abby, a hilariously witty character, for a crazy adventurous summer dodging paparazzi and experiencing Indian culture in ways she had never dreamed of.

Teen Fiction Picks: How My Summer Went up in Flames

How My Summer Went up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is about a girl named Rosie whose summer is not off to a great start. Her boyfriend cheats on her, resulting in her accidentally setting his car on fire when she tries to burn a box (full of all of the mementos he has ever given her during their nine-month relationship) in his driveway. This results in a temporary restraining order. Naturally, Rosie is depressed and still hung up on her ex. As a result, her parents get the bright idea of sending her out on a road trip with her nerdy best friend Matty and two of his equally-nerdy friends who are all obsessed with Star Wars. Despite Matty’s friends’ interests, Rosie starts to think that tagging along on this roadtrip might not be so bad afterall, as a new budding romance starts to take shape…

In this hilarious coming-of-age story, Rosie is obsessed with her ex-boyfriend, who despite being a terrible human being for cheating on her, is still the object of her affection. She’s just so caught up in their romance that she feels lost after their break-up. Fortunately, Rosie is a smart girl with lots of spark, and throughout the roadtrip, her eyes open and she comes to know herself better, regaining the strength and self-confidence she needs to get over this relationship.

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge #10: Douglas Trevor

Douglas Trevor has been writing throughout his entire life. As a child, Douglas Trevor wrote stories about a caveman named Cowwow Bowwow and has since achieved great success as an author and professor.
Trevor’s short stories have appeared in several publications, including Fugue, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Paris Review. He is best known for his work of short stories, A Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space, which received the Iowa Short Fiction Award. He recently published Girls I Know, his first novel.

Trevor currently teaches creative writing and poetry at the University of Michigan, and resides in Ann Arbor. He is a fan of the Denver Broncos, Joyce’s Dubliners, and studied in France.

Stay tuned to find out who is the 11th and final judge for to the “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest!

Meet “It’s All Write!” Judge # 9: Sandra Neil Wallace

Sandra Neil Wallace is a true-blue nature lover: when asked what literary world she’d like to live in, she responds with “Little House on the Prairie.” Wallace grew up on a farm surrounded by horses and rabbits, and still finds great solace in taking long walks in the wilderness. Before becoming a writer for kids and teens, Wallace worked as a sports journalist covering the NHL and NBA. Now she writes full time, and loves to hear from her readers and aspiring writers.

Wallace is best known for her teen novel, Muckers, based on the true story of a high school football team in Arizona. “Muckers” was named a Booklist “Bookends” Best Book of 2013. She also just released “Babe Conquers the World”, a biography about a determined woman entering the world of sports, which she coauthored with her husband, Rich Wallace.

To learn more about Sandra Neil Wallace, visit her website. Stay tuned for the rest of the “It’s All Write!” judges in forthcoming blog posts!

Birding by Ear and Beyond

The Environmental Interpretive Center is partnering with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to "Celebrate Urban Birds." On the morning of May 17, at 10am, they will be meeting at Gallup Park Canoe Livery in Ann Arbor. The day will be filled with birding along the shore of the Huron River and for an extra opportunity to hear waterfowl they will be canoeing on the river. Lunch will be provided in the park while celebrating urban birds through art and song until 2pm. This free event is sponsored by the Center's "Birding by Ear and Beyond" program, which offers an auditory experience for blind and visually impaired individuals. All are welcome to join. For further information contact Donna Posont at (313) 220-8140 or dposont@umich.edu.

A Story Reminiscent of Mad Men

The Lost Chapters is the true story of a Madison Avenue advertising man who experienced the glamour and success of the industry's heyday while ultimately being destroyed by it. Author Lisa Anderson's (she goes by Lise, locally) attempt to unravel her father's story comes from the manuscript he left behind before his mysterious death in Tokyo decades ago. Join us as we hear readings from her book on Wednesday, April 23rd from 7:00-8:30 in the Multi-Purpose Room downtown. Anna Byberg, Program Coordinator of Dawn Farm, will speak about the alcohol addiction that ultimately took Dick Anderson's life and will answer questions. AADL has a robust collection of books on the subject of alcoholism and addiction. Read more about the author's fascinating quest on her website. Her book will be on sale & Lise will be available to sign them.

Audiobook for Broadway Lovers: Better Nate Than Ever

Read by the author (who happens to have been on Broadway himself), Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle offers an insider’s look into the world of Broadway auditions from a kid’s point of view. Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster is tired of being bullied and misunderstood in his hometown so, with the help of his best friend Libby, this Broadway-musical lover concocts a plan to run away to New York City and audition for E.T the Musical (inspired by Steven Spielberg’s E.T., of course). The adventure that follows is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and the narration is spot on through every emotional twist and turn.

The audiobook was a 2014 Odyssey Award Honor, an award given to the best audiobooks for children and teens.

Its sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! is also available in print.

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything

I became a fan of Barbara Ehrenreich after reading her 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America. Her latest book, Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything is currently at the top of my to-read list, based on a review I just read in the April issue of the monthly journal BookPage. Ehrenreich, a scientist who has described herself as a "fourth-generation atheist," is a leading thinker and fabulous writer. Her book, a blend of memoir and metaphysical reflection, is reviewed under the headline "An atheist reconsiders the human 'situation.'" In the book, Ehrenreich writes about her childhood quest to find answers to universal questions such as "Why are we here?" As a middle-aged woman, she revisits her childhood mission and tells BookPage that yes, she believes that she has risen to the challenge made by her 1958 self, "What have you learned since you wrote this?" You can pick up a free copy of BookPage at any library location. You can place a hold on Living with a Wild God here. There currently are 24 requests on 5 copies.

2014 "It's All Write!" Contest Finalists!

The finalists of the “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest have been decided! This year was particularly difficult for our dedicated readers, who reported that all of the stories were incredibly creative and a pleasure to read. This year was also the most competitive year ever, reaching an all time record of 358 submissions!

Are you ready to find out who will make it to the next round? Finalists’ stories will be passed on to the Panel of Judges, who will carefully select the 2014 Winners. Click here to see the list of finalists!

Congratulations to all of the chosen finalists, and a hearty “THANK YOU!” to all the talented writers who contributed their stories to the “It’s All Write!” Contest this year! Let’s also give a round of virtual high fives to the readers- they put a lot of time into this process, and loved reading each and every story. Stay tuned for more judge blog posts, and see you at the awards ceremony on May 10!

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