IAW 2015 Get to Know the Judges: Elizabeth Wein

Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of narrowing down our contestants. Our next judge is Elizabeth Wein.

Wein's name may be familiar to you, or at least her big hit CODE NAME VERITY (2012) might be. An Edgar Award winner and a Printz Honor Book, CODE NAME VERITY is about a WWII-era spy codenamed "Verity," whose plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France, where she is captured by the Gestapo. To save herself from a grisly end, she agrees to confess her mission, and draws out her life story and the deep friendship with the pilot Maddie that led her to this point. The second book in the series is ROSE UNDER FIRE (2013), and the third book, out later this year, is BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN (2015). In BLACK DOVE, 1920's stunt pilots Rhoda and Delia perform masterful feats in the air together but face mounting prejudice, as one of them is black and the other is white. When Delia dies, Rhoda takes her own child, Em, and Delia's child, Teo, to Ethiopia in an attempt to live a normal life. When Italy threatens an invasion of Ethiopia, the emperor calls on the famous pilot for help, and the children find themselves swept up in the crisis. Wein has also written a series of books (available now as ebooks) called THE LION HUNTERS, which draws on Arthurian legend and the historical Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum.

Wein has lived in New York, England, Jamaica, Pennsylvania, and most recently in Scotland. She is intensely interested in flying (a theme you may pick up from her books) and has a private pilot's license. She also has a PhD in Folklore and has published several papers on the topic.

Get to Know the Judges: Len Vlahos


Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of narrowing down our contestants. Our next judge is Len Vlahos.

Vlahos is the father of two boys, an insomniac (those two things related, perhaps?), and a big fan of naps, John Green, the music service Pandora, and indie book stores and record stores. His debut book THE SCAR BOYS came out last year and was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award. The book is one that Vlahos calls "quasi-autobiographical" and is the coming-of-age story of Harry Jones and the power of music and friendship to heal wounds. Written as if it were a college admissions, THE SCAR BOYS looks back with humor and heart on Harry's life, starting from the incident when he was eight years old that left him scarred and ostracized, to middle school when he starts up a band with the guy who saved him from bullies, and up through high school when he experiences first love.

Vlahos's second book, HOUSE OF STONE, was recently acquired for publication by Bloomsbury. The tentative publication date is winter 2017.

Get to Know the Judges: Erin McCahan


Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of narrowing down our contestants. Our next judge is Erin McCahan, an author born in our own beloved Michigan (East Grand Rapids)!

McCahan grew up in Ohio and is very proud of her Irish heritage. She's particularly interested in Victorian and Colonial history. Her published works include I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE (2010) and LOVE AND OTHER FOREIGN WORDS (2014). LOVE is a comedic coming-of-age story in which gifted teenager Josie must contend with the upcoming nuptials of her sister to an insufferable fiance and the mixed emotions involving her boyfriend, her crush, and her best friend Stu. Josie's genius-level IQ can't help her out when it comes to mastering the languages of familial, romantic, or platonic relationships, but one way or another, she has to figure it out.

IAW 2015 Get to Know the Judges: Cyn Balog

Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of choosing the top three contenders in each grade. Up first is Cyn Balog, who also writes under the name Nichola Reilly.

Originally from New Jersey but now in Pennsylvania, Balog has written a number of paranormal and post-apocalyptic young adult novels, including FAIRY TALE (2009) and DROWNED (2014). Her books have been translated and published in Germany, Italy, and Hungary.

DROWNED is an unusual post-apocalyptic book (the first in a series) that takes place on an island where the tides routinely swallow up the land, and the only thing that saves the inhabitants is the creaky wooden platform they must stand on for hours at a time until the tides recede. Coe, the one-handed teenage protagonist, has always felt unwelcome among and reviled by her people. When the king who rules them falls ill, however, it's up to Coe to find answers to secrets long buried and to find a way to save everyone before the waters swallow them all whole.

Interesting facts about the author: She's obsessed with all things Disney, she once had a crayfish named Harry as a pet, and her favorite book is Charlotte's Web.

It's All Write: The Countdown Begins!

Short story writers, if you haven't written a story for the 2015 It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest, now's the time to get started! The deadline for submission is March 13, which means you have one week in which to write a totally awesome, amazing, incredible, hilarious, jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching, inspired story! Don't have time to write a brand new one? Dust off and spruce up that draft you've got sitting around on your hard drive!

Go to the It's All Write page to find writing guidelines and the submission form.

Happy writing!

Friday 2/27 - Last day to submit stories for the "Write On!" Short Story Contest for 3rd to 5th Grade!

Don’t worry - there’s still time! You can submit a story at the Downtown Library Youth Desk (343 S. Fifth Ave) or email it to youngwrite@aadl.org through February 27th! Check out the contest guidelines for details.

Remember, the top three stories will be chosen from each grade and every writer will receive a certificate of participation! Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony held on Sunday April 19th, 2015 from 2 - 3 pm in the Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room.

Still working on your story? Try some of these writing resources if you need help!

My Weird Writing Tips by Dan Gutman. The author of the “My Weird School” series gives advice on writing, finding your big idea, and provides a checklist to help young writers develop all the important parts of their story!

Just Write: Here’s How by award winning author Walter Dean Myers. Get suggestions for story ideas, characters and plot as well as advice for dealing with helpful criticism.

826michigan
Ann Arbor’s own center for great creative writing workshops. All workshops are free, some require registration. Ages 8 to 18.

Brainfuse Writing Lab
Get live online help from writing tutors 2-11pm, seven days a week. No appointments necessary. Log in to an aadl.org online account and go to http://www.aadl.org/research/browse/studentpapers to use this service for free!

"Write On!" - Let's Get Started!

Thinking about entering this year’s “Write On!” Short Story Contest for 3rd-5th grade, but not sure where to start? What are short stories supposed to be about, anyway?
Good news! That's the fun part about writing - YOU get to decide. It can be scary, funny, silly, or sad. All you need is an idea! Now... where can you find one of those?!

These short story collections should get you thinking:
Ribbiting Tales: Original Stories About Frogs
Sports Shorts: An Anthology of Short Stories
Breaking the Spell: Tales of Enchantment

For some spooky ideas, try:
That’s Ghosts for You: 13 Scary Stories
Beware! : R.L. Stine Picks His Favorite Scary Stories

To find out more about the "Write On!" Short Story Contest, check out the contest home page!

Let the "Write On!" Contest Begin!

All third, fourth, and fifth grade writers may now submit their stories to the third annual "Write On!" Short Story Contest! Just type up your story and either send it to youngwrite@aadl.org or bring it to the Youth Desk at the Downtown Branch! Story submissions will be accepted 2/9-2/27. Check out the guidelines and contest website for more information!

If writing a story straight from your head seems tough, try out a couple of these goofy story-starters to get your ideas flowing!

The only thing worse than stepping in grape jelly is...
This morning I woke up and thought, "Aw pickles."
Dragons don't make very good pets...
When I walked into science class today, I didn't expect...
Something sounded like two million cats practicing karate...

Happy writing!

Emerging Writers: Writing & Review Meetup

Thursday May 21, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for adults and teens grade 6 and up.

This is a monthly meetup that welcomes all writers to ask questions, connect with other writers, or simply have a dedicated time and place to work on their projects.

Local authors Lara Zielin and Alex Kourvo will be on hand to offer encouragement, answer questions, and point writers to resources.

These open houses complement the Emerging Writers Workshops. These events feature perspectives from both traditional publishing and indie publishing and considerations of fiction and non-fiction writing.

Emerging Writers Workshop: Beta Readers and Beyond: How To Build Your Writing Community

Thursday May 7, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for adults and teens grade 6 and up

Writing is sometimes a lonely business, but it doesn’t have to be. This workshop will cover the basics of finding your literary tribe, whether online or face to face. Authors Lara Zielin and Alex Kourvo will show you how and when to share your writing, how to make deep online connections, and how to find (or start) a writer’s group that’s just right for you.

This is part of a monthly series of writing and publishing events called the Emerging Writers Workshops, featuring perspectives from both traditional publishing and indie publishing. Considerations for fiction and nonfiction writing will be covered.

There will also be an opportunity for workshop attendees to meet up at the Traverwood Branch on Thursday, May 21 to discuss their works-in-progress. Both Lara Zielin and Alex Kourvo will be on hand to offer advice, tips and review. These open houses will be a wonderful time to meet your fellow writers and potentially create your own writing group.

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