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UPDATE: I was chosen as the alternate for TEAM KRISTA! *squeals*

Eeep! After a near-death experience with my trusty Mac, I managed to secure a spot in The Writer’s Voice contest, hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda of Brenda Drake Writes, Monica of Love YA, and Krista of Mother. Write. (Repeat.). Sooo thrilled! Without further ado, here’s my entry…

TITLE: CHRONICITY

ENTRY NUMBER: 101

GENRE: MG Fantasy

PLOT SUMMARY FROM QUERY:

Thirteen-year-old Grim Grinnert has no idea how he got stuck as an Apprentice in Chronicity, the Town of Time. All he knows is that he wants to go home, because there’s something wonky about this place where HoroHounds are used to search the centuries and a class assignment can send you to the Peloponnesian War. Even his mother’s stale-pizza-and-flat-soda suppers would be an improvement on the Count, who’s keeping him under lock and key, or his TimeWheel teacher, who’s trying to off him.

But the Watch, the robotic police force of Chronicity, has other plans for Grim. He’s missing the hourglass birthmark that’s supposed to brand everyone who enters Chronicity, and they’ve given Grim one month to convince them he’s not a Timbukker – an illegal. With the help of his two best friends and a 400-year-old girl he may or may not have a crush on, he sets out to determine how and why he stumbled into Chronicity. If he fails to prove his innocence before the Watch watch they’ve strapped to his arm hits zero, they’ll send him someplace horrible… like 1932. Forever.

Tick tock, says the clock. And in Chronicity, time is the one thing Grim doesn’t have.

CHRONICITY, a MG fantasy, is complete at 54,000 words.

FIRST 250:

Grim hated his name. It wasn’t short for Griffin, or Grissom, it was just Grim, and he’d never understood why his parents called him something that meant “extremely unpleasant”. Some kids at school, mostly girls, thought it sounded mature, but to him it just sounded depressing. Why couldn’t he have had some nice, normal, average name, one that didn’t make him stick out like a sore thumb?

But then, his parents never had been exactly average. And although the Grinnerts lived in an average town, on an average street, in an extremely average house, it only took one peek inside to see that they were anything but.

The front foyer was filled to overflowing with every sort of gadget, gizmo, and useless doodad imaginable. There were machines that paired socks and threw away the strays, prototypes of vehicles that ran on powdered Tang, and widgets that molded earwax into jewelry (this last had been a pretty profitable business until someone at Broadbend General Hospital got curious as to why all the patients had such impeccably clean ears, and discovered Grim’s dad posing as a nurse and Q-tipping everyone in sight).

Every room in the Grinnert house was as cluttered as the foyer, with one exception. Grim’s bedroom was as neat as the rest of the house was jumbled. Only two things proved that someone actually lived there: a coat rack that held one windbreaker and a tattered baseball cap, and a single homemade picture frame on the nightstand.

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It pretty much goes without saying that if you’re a writer, you’re probably a dreamer. I know I am. And that’s why things like the contest I’m about to tell you about get me all pumped up. I just KNOW I’m going to be the winner… every single time. 
 
If you’re a dreamer like me, you’ll definitely want to throw your hat in the ring for this.
 
Writer’s Digest has 1 free pass to give away for a full registration pass at the 2012 San Francisco Writers Conference (Feb. 16-19, 2012). To enter, you will need to comment on their post, and spread the news a bit via social media.
 
Go here to enter. Maybe one of us will win!

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So, as part of this super-amazing contest from Beth Revis, I’m going to share the book I’m most grateful for. I’ve been procrastinating doing this for several days, because seriously, how do you choose just one? *breaks out in hives* Are we talking books that shaped me, like The Babysitters’ Club series? Or books that reshaped me, like Walden? Books that opened my eyes to the world, like Bridge to Terabithia, or that helped me escape it, like Harry Potter? Lord, help me. This is hard.

I closed my eyes and grabbed something off my can’t-live-without-it shelf carefully considered the books that have most changed my life, and I’ve decided that I have to go with Jane Eyre.

I have loved reading since I was a geeky, bespectacled girl, and I’ll love it until I’m a geeky, bespectacled old woman. But I have never loved reading so much as the first time I experienced the genius that is Charlotte Bronte. I loved the sprawling descriptiveness, the intense pain, the fierce passion for life. (I have goose pimples even now.) The characters are flawed, and palpable, and real. I wept for Jane, and for the first time in my reading life, I wept because I saw so much of myself in her. Charlotte went all Killing Me Softly on me, and in those moments I truly understood what great writing could do.

Thank you, Charlotte. You are my hero.

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Hey, check out my new header, courtesy of Jess over at Jest Kept Secret. You like? I do!

In other news… I am SO CLOSE to finishing an enormous revision on my WIP. It’s gone from 98K to about 55K (Yes! Really!) and I’ve totally slashed the last third and rewritten the entire ending. So. Much. Better. I can’t wait for everyone to read it… it’s actually sort of good now. 🙂

So if you don’t hear from me for the next weeks, it’s because when I’m not a) at work b) spending time with my child c) at a camp, I’m holed up typing my fingers off.

Self imposed August deadline, I’m coming for you.

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Here it is! The amazing Shelley Waters is hosting a contest with agent Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson and Associates, and we writers have been counting down the days. Over the next few days, many of us will be hopping around the blogosphere and critiquing the other contestants’ first pages. My first page is below… so critique away, fellow Made of Awesome Contesters! I’m looking forward to reading all of your amazing work.

Title: Chronicity

Genre: MG Fantasy

Word Count: Currently 92, 000 (Yikes!) Soon to be 70,000

First 250 words:

Grim hated his name. It wasn’t short for Griffin, or Grissom, it was just Grim, and he’d never understood why his parents called him something that meant “extremely unpleasant”. Some kids at school, mostly girls, thought it sounded mature, but to him it just sounded depressing, and he usually thought about it on days like today, when he was supposed to be having one of the best days of his life. Why couldn’t he have had some nice, normal, average name, one that didn’t make him stick out like a sore thumb?

But then, his parents never had been exactly average. And although the Grinnerts lived in an average town, on an average street, in an extremely average house, it only took one peek inside to see that they were anything but.

The front foyer was filled to overflowing with every sort of gadget, gizmo, and useless doodad imaginable. There were machines that paired socks and threw away the strays, prototypes of vehicles that ran on powdered Tang, and widgets that molded earwax into jewelry (this last had been a pretty profitable business until someone at Broadbend General Hospital got curious as to why all the patients had such impeccably clean ears, and discovered Grim’s dad posing as a nurse and Q-tipping everyone in sight).

Every room in the Grinnert house was as cluttered as the foyer, with one exception. Grim’s bedroom was as neat as the rest of the house was jumbled. The bed, dresser and walls were bare, with not so much as a knick-knack or trophy in sight.

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To celebrate Candor week, I:

1. Yelled truthful things at a coworker.

2. Yelled truthful things about a coworker.

3. Made brutally honest remarks to a friend.

… wait, what? I missed the point?

Candor week, more than any of the others, confused me. There’s a fine line between honesty and rudeness, between candid and inappropriate, and it’s sometimes hard to tell where one stops and the other starts… especially for a Christian woman in the deep South, where we’re taught that you never, ever say anything that wouldn’t melt the sugar right out of your mouth (unless, of course, you add “bless her heart” to the end, in which case you can be as vile and uncouth as you like).

It’s also hard for me to give examples, since some of the people who gave me candor-licious food-for-thought this week may very well read this.

Now, posting those conversations would be a true exercise in candor! That blog post would be epic, and I did write it. In my head. But alas, I’m not brave enough to post it here.

Suffice it to say that what I want is to be somewhere in the middle. To be truthful without being vengeful. And to be honest without being hateful. I find this especially difficult in my job as a PR Director. When someone isn’t pulling their weight, or when someone makes a particularly asinine decision, it’s hard for me to handle that in a direct, honest, and yet kind way. It reminds me of the foot-high concrete rail around my elementary school track. Every day I attempted to tightrope walk it, but no matter how hard I tried to stay balanced, I kept toppling off.

Just yesterday, I read a facebook post written by a woman I barely know. In it, she swerved right off the edge of honesty and straight down into nastyland. When someone called her out on it, she went for the standard “I was only telling the truth.” (Even worse, it was combined with the ever popular “I’m praying for you for judging me.”) It was sad to watch, because it only made her look foolish. And the more she tried to defend herself, the more foolish she looked.

Truth is good. In fact, truth is essential. I believe in absolute truth, not some relative your-truth-is-not-my-truth mishmash. But truth without love only has the power to harm.

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Amity-Less

Well, it’s the second week of the Faction-of-the-Week Challenge, where we’re putting Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT factions to the test. This week… amity.

AMITY is the faction of: 1. friendship; peaceful harmony. 2. mutual understanding and a peaceful relationship, especially between nations; peace; accord. 3. cordiality

Easy peasy. Everyone likes a heapin’ helpin’ of hospitality, as those famous philosophers The Beverly Hillbillies would say.

I thought this challenge would be a piece of cake because my already-set-in-stone schedule would be a surefire slam dunk of amityness. Monday night we had plans to go out with some of the college kids for the amazing Emily’s birthday. The rest of the week was taken up with planning and prep, because tomorrow is the ginormous Benefit Concert for tornado victims that has been planned by our teenagers and…ahem… overseen, as it were, by the hubby and me. So, to rehash, a night with friends + helping out our neighbors? Yep. Amityland here I come!

But here’s the thing. My six-month-old screamed/cried/whined through the whole birthday dinner, so I spent the whole time bouncing, sighing, and telling the hubby we needed to go. When we left, I told him that I was officially declaring myself a hermit and not coming back out again until Bren had cut every last one of his teeth. Amity fail #1.

As for the benefit concert planning, I’m not sure it was as bad as I imagined, but in my mind it went something like this… Random Teen: Do you think we should sell brownies? Oh, thinking of brownies, today at school the snack machine… Me (interrupting): CAN WE GET BACK TO BUSINESS?!??! Random band: We can’t make it after all. Me (not to their faces but, worse, to everyone else): WHATEVER HAPPENED TO RESPONSIBILITY?!?!? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!??!!? Repeat a variation of these conversations 487 times. Amity fail #2.

The life lesson here is that Amity is less about your actions and more about your attitude. Mine could use some work. What about you?

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