Thursday, December 31, 2015


If I'm being completely honest, 2015 didn't exactly go as planned. There were bad reviews and cancelled contracts (among other things), so the title of this post was originally going to be "Highs and Lows." But in an attempt to be more optimistic than I naturally am, I'm going to focus on the highs and try to put the lows behind me. I mean, it's not every year that you become a published author.

So without further ado, the highs of 2015!

THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING got a blurb from Tricia Springstubb. Actually, THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING got a blurb from Tricia Springstubb back in 2014, but since it took me several months to appreciate how cool that was, I figured I could get away with mentioning it here:)

There's nothing quite like holding your book for the first time. And there's nothing quite like building a ginormous tower out of them.

Book signings are my favorite. One of the best things about being a published author is having an excuse to hunker down in a bookstore and talk books with fellow readers. I even like passing out bookmarks and accosting innocent bystanders. What can I say? I'm a Mormon;)

School visits are great, too. Especially when they make you awesome signs like this one. (Thanks again, Mr. Scovill and Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School!) Now, I'll admit that schools visits are also kind of scary, but it's a good kind of scary. Where else can you meet so many of the people that we write these books for?

I had two books come out this year. Sometimes I forget it isn't normal to have two books come out in the same year. I'm not going to lie--that was pretty awesome.

And I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store.

Friday, December 4, 2015

And the Winners Are...

THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING goes to Robin, and DON'T VOTE FOR ME goes to Amelia Loken! Please e-mail me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com so I can get your signed copies in the mail.

And for those of you who didn't win (and even for those of you who did), you still have a little time to enter the Goodreads giveaway for DON'T VOTE FOR ME. May the odds be ever in your favor:)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Lady's Laughables

Kids are funny. Lady*, my six-year-old, is downright hilarious. Her outlook on life is, shall we say, unique, and she has this growly voice that makes everything she says doubly amusing. Below are some of her best lines (and some of I-gots's and Monster's, too):

Lady: "Those two cars are faster than a massive sandwich."

Lady: "Daddy, your hair looks like a grandma."

Monster (my three-year-old, after Lady jostled him, quoting Hercules): "Hey, I'm walking here!"

Lady: "This is my first time to finish a real, live piece of cake." (It wasn't.)

Lady (on the verge of tears, after breaking her three-dollar fairy wand): "Will I never cast another spell?"

Me: "You need to clean those toys up sometime between now and dinner."
Lady: "Okay, I'll do it later."
Me (a little later): "Lady, did you clean up those toys?"
Lady (rolling her eyes, quoting The Princess and the Frog): "Mom, when a woman says later, she really means never."

Lady: "Um, Daddy? Monster read my mind. I was just thinking, 'Let's play catch,' and then he said that!"

I-gots (my eight-year-old): "Did you know your heart actually looks gross? They don't look like the hearts we draw on Valentine's Day. If I ever saw a real heart, I think I would barf."

Lady (eyeing Honey Bear's nose hairs): "Daddy, is that a spider in your nose?"

I-gots: "I love Thanksgiving. For dessert, we get to eat pumpkin pie! I don't really remember what it tastes like, but all pies are delicious."
Lady: "It tastes like pumpkin."
I-gots: "No, it doesn't. That would be disgusting."

Happy Thanksgiving!

*Not her real name. Not any of their real names, as a matter of fact, but I'm sure you figured that out:)

Friday, November 13, 2015


To complement the Goodreads giveaway still going on for DON'T VOTE FOR ME, I'm giving away one signed copy of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING and one signed copy of DON'T VOTE FOR ME right here on the blog. To enter, leave a comment below and tell me if you want to win THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING, DON'T VOTE FOR ME, or both. (I'll do two separate drawings, but you can enter both if you want to, which means it will be possible for one person to win both books.) Since I'll have to mail two of the copies currently sitting on my dresser, this contest is open to U.S. residents only (sorry!) and closes in three weeks, on Thursday, December 3, at 11:59 p.m. EST (or 8:59 p.m. PST). I'll announce the winners the next day!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Operation Every Child

The teen blogger over at Bookish Serendipity recently alerted me to a fundraiser she's started that I wanted to share with you. Operation Every Child plans to give each kid at a Toronto women's shelter two new books for Christmas. All proceeds will benefit the shelter, and teen blogger Jessica has organized the entire thing, making it not just a great cause but a great extracurricular activity. I wish I'd had such great ideas when I was fourteen.

(Fellow children's authors, if you're interested in donating books directly, feel free to get in touch with Jessica at contact(at)bookishserendipity(dot)com!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Giveaways Galore

Sourcebooks has been great about sponsoring giveaways for DON'T VOTE FOR ME, and when I spied their latest effort, a twenty-book extravaganza over on Goodreads, I knew I had to join in. While their giveaway plays out over the never couple of months, I'll be sponsoring several smaller giveaways for THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING, and the first one just went up. It's also on Goodreads, so definitely hop over there and get your name into both giveaways. (The one for DON'T VOTE FOR ME is only open in North America, but the one for THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING is open internationally.)

The second giveaway for THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING will be right here on the blog, and the third will follow on Twitter, so keep an eye on both spaces to maximize your chances to win!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bad Mom

I'm not the best mom (or the best blogger, clearly, but that's another post). I yell sometimes. I don't always serve vegetables. I avoid combing Lady's hair because I'm tired of the screaming. On the good days, I shake my head and tell myself that I'll do better, and on the bad days, I dissolve into a puddle of self-loathing who has to convince herself that she's still worth something.

I'll be the first to admit that motherhood doesn't come naturally to me. Well, some things come naturally--I dare you to hold a screaming baby that just got pulled out of your stomach and not fall instantly in love--but before I-gots was born, I'd never changed a diaper, fawned over a newborn, or read a book to a toddler. And I'd never wanted to. I babysat as a teenager because that was what teenagers in my neighborhood did, but the one and only time I had to babysit a baby, my mom had to come over and bail me out halfway through.

Now that I have kids of my own, infants don't intimidate me--but I still won't volunteer to hold them. And even though I have kids of my own, I sometimes wonder what I was thinking. Why I prayed so hard for kids I'm so bad at taking care of. Mothers are gentle, patient creatures who always put their children's needs above their own. They're not chemically unbalanced women who occasionally wish that they could trade their children in.

And yet they are because I am.

Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. Every time I turn around, someone's peeing/yelling/fighting. There are no sick days, no vacations. Even if I manage to sneak away for a few days, I spend the whole time worrying that my mom won't know how to wrestle them into the bathtub or make their sandwiches just right. But being a mom is also the most gratifying. There is no amount of money/freedom/peace and quiet that can ever compensate for two sticky hands squeezing your cheeks and a slobbery mouth whispering in your ear, "I love you, Mom."

I've never met a mom who thought she was a good mom, but then, I've never met a kid with a hard-working mom who thought she was a bad one.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Recommendation: WHEELZ by Steven C. Fotheringham

When I tell people I write books, a lot of them tell me that they have a book idea or that they'd like to do that someday. No one ever tells me that they're writing one--except for Steve Fotheringham. And when Steve told me that his book was about his crazy-on-a-wheelchair son, I knew I had to read it.

As the father of WCMX (or wheelchair motocross, for the uninitiated), Aaron Fotheringham has done some amazing things. He's successfully landed multiple backflips in competition, served as a wheelchair stuntman in movies and TV shows, and toured the world with Nitro Circus and a host of charitable organizations. But it's his attitude that's truly remarkable. When a well-meaning preacher once assured him that he'd be able to walk after he was resurrected, Aaron's immediate response was, "What makes you think I'll want to?" Other kids had to leave their bikes outside as soon as they got to school, but he got to ride his bike everywhere he went.

Few people have lived a life as interesting as Aaron's, but what makes WHEELZ even more special is that his amazing story is told by his dad. Steve's also uniquely qualified to give us the inside scoop on all of the colorful characters who contributed to Aaron's success. I especially loved learning about Joe Wichert, the visionary recreation leader who brought skate parks to Las Vegas, and John and Mike Box, the wheelchair designers who made Aaron's first custom wheelchair and continue to outfit him with new ones.

WHEELZ affords its readers a behind-the-scenes look at Aaron's life and the rise of this bone-crushing sport. It's a one-of-a-kind book about a one-of-a-kind kid who never thought much of the fact that his legs didn't really work, and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

And the Winner Is...

Ella Zegarra!

Congratulations, Ella! Please e-mail me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com to let me know where I can send your copy of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING. And thanks, everyone, for celebrating DON'T VOTE FOR ME's release day!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Happy Book Birthday, DON'T VOTE FOR ME!

The summer started with a bang with THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING's release, and now it's ending with another bang as DON'T VOTE FOR ME comes out. This book is a lot more lighthearted (though THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING does have its lighter moments, too), but it occurred to me not long ago that, deep down, they're both about finding friends in unexpected places. I guess I feel strongly about that:)


"It's class president election time, and no one is surprised when Veronica Pritchard-Pratt is the only name on the list. She's the most popular girl in school, a social giant who rules the campaign every single year. David, for one, is sick of the tyranny--which he says. Out loud. When Veronica hears about this, she issues a public challenge to David. With his pride on the line, David accepts his fate and enters the race.

"But as the campaign wages on, and David and Veronica are also paired up for a spring musical recital, David learns this Goliath is more than just a social giant--and maybe deserves to win more than he does..."

For a reader's-eye view of DON'T VOTE FOR ME, check out the reviews over at Rebecca J. Allen (includes a hardcover giveaway!), Sahar's Reviews, and the Deseret News. (I used to deliver papers for the Deseret News, so it's like my life has come full circle.) And here are a few one-liners from around the industry:

"A comic romp that's also an enlightening quest for increased awareness and self-understanding"

"Van Dolzer keeps the tone light between David's wry observations, amusing friends, 
and the goofy predicaments he falls into"
--Publishers Weekly

"Readers looking for realistic middle-grade fiction will find David a likable guide
in a balanced lesson about ceding the spotlight"
--School Library Journal

You can order DON'T VOTE FOR ME from all the usual suspects:

And since I promised you a giveaway when THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING came out but still haven't followed through, I'll sweeten the deal. Leave a comment below, and you'll be entered to win a hardcover of THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING--and if you mention that you've already ordered DON'T VOTE FOR ME, I'll give you an extra entry! THIS CONTEST IS OPEN INTERNATIONALLY and closes in two weeks, on Monday, August 17, at 11:59 p.m. EDT (or 8:59 p.m. PDT). I'll announce the winner the next day!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Three Opportunities to Win DON'T VOTE FOR ME

Clearly, Honey Bear should have been an architect.

There are a handful of DON'T VOTE FOR ME giveaways floating around the Internet right now, so instead of tweeting about them one by one, I thought I'd put all the links in one blog post:


Rebecca J. Allen

Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

You can enter the blog contests anytime in the next month, but the Goodreads giveaway ends next week, so don't delay!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: GO SET A WATCHMAN by Harper Lee

It's no secret that I love TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. (Case in point: the street names in THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING are my idea of a tribute.) It's been one of my favorite classics since I read it in the ninth grade, and when I reread it several years ago, my affection only grew. The scene in which Scout stands on Boo's porch and sees their summer through his eyes is one of the finest moments in American literature, and upon rereading it, I was literally moved to tears. So when they announced the publication of GO SET A WATCHMAN, MOCKINGBIRD's long-lost sister story, I felt an odd mixture of excitement, curiosity, and fear. My actual reading of the book stirred up even more impressions, the most pressing of which I've summarized below.

Atticus Finch's Transformation

When the first reviews materialized, I was shocked to learn that the Atticus Finch these reviewers had become acquainted with was a pale shadow of the character that had blazed so brightly in MOCKINGBIRD. But the Atticus Finch I found in the pages themselves was not nearly as terrible as those reviews had led me to believe. Yes, he joined the KKK in his younger years (and may have even been a member when he defended Tom Robinson). Yes, he's on a city council whose members spew hate and vitriol. But his reasons, which I won't spoil here, are much less inflammatory than these reviews suggested, and he lets those members spew their vitriol for one simple reason: because the Constitution says they can.

In my mind, Atticus's comments on African-Americans, which multiple reviews reported, are the most troublesome, for they reveal his personal beliefs. Do I agree with them? Absolutely not. But do they contradict the Atticus we came to know and love in MOCKINGBIRD? Unfortunately, I have to say no again. We get a fuller picture of his character in this follow-up, and it seems like he enjoys playing the part of benevolent protector. It's not bad to be benevolent or even to protect underrepresented people, but when you think these qualities make you better than the poor, dear souls you've taken it upon yourself to shelter, you run into trouble.

Of course, I can't complain too loudly, since I suspect that revulsion is just what Ms. Lee wanted us to feel. To make the point she ultimately wanted to make, Atticus had to fall.

From Contemporary to Historical

The book never mentions the year or even the Supreme Court case that has everyone up in arms, but based on context clues, I suspect the case in question was Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which was handed down in the spring of 1954. Since MOCKINGBIRD was published in the summer of 1960, it's safe to assume that WATCHMAN is set sometime in this six-year interval. In other words, if WATCHMAN had been published shortly after it was written, it would have been a contemporary, but like MOCKINGBIRD, it makes a lot more of an impact as a historical.

History, as we know, is fond of repeating itself, and it's easier to swallow medicine in the past than in the present. Integration has strong parallels to the charged political issues of today, including and especially the issue of same-sex marriage. One conversation in particular between Atticus and Jean Louise had just as much to say on same-sex marriage as it did on integration, and I thought Jean Louise made important points on both sides of the debate. It goes to show that issues are issues precisely because there are thoughtful arguments on both sides, and yet we get so caught up in fending off the other side's attacks that we often forget to listen to what they have to say. (Even Jean Louise admits that her initial response to the decision was one of disagreement and defensiveness.)

Sequel or First Draft?

This has been perhaps the most contentious issue surrounding the publication of the book. Is WATCHMAN a sequel to or a first draft of our beloved MOCKINGBIRD?

In my opinion, it's neither.

To be fair, my judgment may be a little clouded, since I happen to think MOCKINGBIRD is one of the finest standalones ever penned, but hear me out. Sequels are continuations of a character's ongoing story, but it's clear that Ms. Lee never came back to WATCHMAN after she finished MOCKINGBIRD. As other reviews have pointed out, there are inconsistencies between MOCKINGBIRD and WATCHMAN, including one glaring difference in the description of the trial (which would have had a major impact on the final sequences of MOCKINGBIRD). To be a true sequel, WATCHMAN would have had to have been revised or at least proofread to match the narrative fleshed out in MOCKINGBIRD.

That raises the question of whether WATCHMAN is a draft of the novel that became MOCKINGBIRD, and though I believe it was a necessary stepping stone, I don't see it as a strict first draft. The story arcs bear no resemblance to each other (though WATCHMAN does include quite a few flashbacks to Jean Louise's days as Scout), and they're also separated by nearly twenty years. (Some might argue, as this article  does, that Tay Hohoff, Ms. Lee's editor, helped her craft the story she meant to tell all along, but since I don't know what goes on in Ms. Lee's head (and since Ms. Hohoff died more than forty years ago), I think it's impossible to say what Ms. Lee did or didn't intend.) Furthermore, I don't know about you, but I don't attach the first drafts of my manuscripts to the final proofs and stick both in a safety deposit box, which, according to multiple sources, is where WATCHMAN was discovered. First drafts are for obliterating, not for putting under lock and key.

(I should add the WATCHMAN is a lot less polished than MOCKINGBIRD, which adds credence to the theory I rejected above. WATCHMAN was quite tell-y, and while it's clear that Ms. Lee can write, it's also clear that her grip on craft wasn't as strong when she wrote WATCHMAN. If Ms. Hohoff encouraged Ms. Lee to show all the things she told in WATCHMAN, MOCKINGBIRD easily could have been the result. WATCHMAN also owes its emotional punch to MOCKINGBIRD, as the former's climax would have fallen flat without the latter's character development.)

If you feel squicky about reading a book Ms. Lee might or might not have sanctioned, I can respect that decision. But if you're basing your judgment on other reviews (including this one), I highly recommend you let the book speak for itself. I liked it much more than I thought I would, and it clearly got me thinking. And isn't that exactly what a book is supposed to do?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What I've Learned from My First Few Author Events

Jennifer got the last copy at my first book signing ever.
I've been a published author for a little less than two months now, so I've had a chance to do my first few author events. I've done book signings at my local Deseret Book and Barnes & Noble, had a launch party at a popular independent closer to my hometown, and participated in a panel discussion at a nearby high school. Several people have asked me how those went, so I thought I'd put together a short list of things I've learned.

1. Foot traffic is your friend. The launch party was a more structured event, with a formal reading and question-and-answer period, so I didn't have as much of an opportunity to reach out to individual patrons. Also, the store was kind of out of the way, so they didn't get as many people who were just passing through. Structured events have their strengths--I could see a more established author doing really well in that environment--but I've found that I prefer the less structured stuff. I like being able to greet people as they come in and talk books with random strangers.

2. Stand, don't sit. These are few things less approachable than a forlorn author sitting behind a stack of books. There's something awkward about it that people naturally shy away from, so don't be that forlorn author sitting behind a stack of books! Stand up, stand out, say hi. The least they'll do is smile back and continue on their way, but they just might stop to chat.

3. Bookmarks break the ice. I know, I know, I get it--hand-selling your own book is one of the most uncomfortable experiences on the planet (though slightly less uncomfortable than sitting behind a hulking stack of them). A great way to break the ice is to have something small and inexpensive to hand out to the store's patrons. Bookmarks are the perfect something, since most of the people who frequent bookstores are, you know, book lovers. Now, some people will decline, but most people will take one, and some of those people will stop to ask what your book is about.

4. Be a guide, not a drill sergeant. So let's recap: When someone walks by in a bookstore, you smile, say hi, and offer them a bookmark. If they don't take it, you're done. But if they do take it, your pause and keep smiling your friendliest smile. If they walk away, you're done. But if they don't walk away, you tell them about your book. If they wish you luck and walk away, you're done. But if they don't walk away, they're probably about to buy your book.

In other words, it's like one of those old choose-your-own-adventure stories, but you're just the page-turner (or, more precisely, the instructions at the bottom of the page). You don't have to be pushy or obnoxious; you just have to give people a chance to keep reading the story with you. And some of them will. Then you'll finally get to take a seat so you can sign their book:)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Team Maries Wins "The Writer's Voice"

#TheWVoice wrapped up earlier this week, and I'm pleased to announce that #TeamMaries won with 21 official votes! Here's how those votes broke down:

#1: AN ADAGIO DARK AND LOVELY Lauren MacLeod, Erin Harris, Caryn Wiseman, Carrie Pestritto, Andrea Somberg, Kathleen Rushall, Courtney Stevenson
#2: WHISPERMAGE Carrie Pestritto, Andrea Somberg
#3: THE DREADFUL GOOD Caitie Flum, Erin Harris, Carrie Pestritto, Andrea Somberg, Courtney Stevenson
#5: TRUE NORTH Courtney Stevenson
#7: THE SHAPE OF THE MANGO Mollie Glick, Carrie Pestritto, Andrea Somberg
#8: THE LAST PAPER DAHL Erin Harris, Kathleen Rushall 

And THE LAST PAPER DAHL also picked up a request from NinjaHulk. Congratulations, Kristin!

To those of you who didn't get a vote--or didn't get selected by a coach--I just want to say that subjectivity is a huge part of this business and that everyone's tastes are unique. I know you know that, but it bears repeating. Writing is such a solitary pursuit, and at first, it feels like the only person who believes in you is you. But if you keep at it, if you keep taking those punches and dragging yourself back to your feet, you'll slowly find like-minded people who believe in you and your writing. I just found eight new people to believe in, and whether they got no votes or seven, I look forward to seeing their names on books someday.

Last but certainly not least, thanks to Anna-Marie McLemore, my wonderful guest coach, for helping me put together a great team and offering thoughtful feedback on their entries. Thanks to my indefatigable fellow coaches, Brenda Drake, Mónica Bustamante Wagner, and Elizabeth Briggs, for their hard work and dedication over so many weeks (and years). And thanks to everyone who participated, especially my awesome teammates, for taking a risk and putting yourselves out there. It takes a lot of courage to face rejection and keep coming back for more, and I admire your fortitude. Truly, I do.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Agent Round Starts NOW

#TheWVoice is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Brenda Drake, Mónica Bustamante Wagner, Elizabeth Briggs, and me. We based the contest on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice, so the four of us selected projects for our teams based on their queries and first pages and coached the talented writers who wrote them as they polished their entries.

And TODAY we get to post our team members’ finished entries on our blogs!

Twelve amazing agents are going to read these queries and first pages, then vote for their favorites on Tuesday, June 23. Each vote will count as a partial or full request depending on how many votes the entry receives. If an entry receives 1 or 2 votes, those votes will count as partial requests. If an entry receives 3 or more votes, those votes will count as full requests.

Voting will stay open until noon EDT on June 24, at which point we’ll determine which coach’s team received the most votes (and let at least one ninja agent take a crack at the entries). That coach will win bragging rights for time immemorial, and everyone who received requests will be able to submit their materials to all the agents who voted for them. These votes represent serious interest in your project, so PLEASE DON’T ACCEPT AN OFFER OF REPRESENTATION BEFORE GIVING “THE WRITER’S VOICE” AGENTS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A COMPETING OFFER.

Our twelve amazing agents:

Caitie Flum of Liza Dawson Associates
Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media
Erin Harris of Folio Literary Management
Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency
Sara Megibow and Renee Nyen of kt literary
Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency
Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency
Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc.
Courtney Stevenson of Pippin Properties
Caryn Wiseman of Andrea Brown Literary Agency

And my eight amazing teammates' entries:

#TeamMaries #1: AN ADAGIO DARK AND LOVELY (YA historical)
#TeamMaries #2: WHISPERMAGE (YA fantasy)
#TeamMaries #3: THE DREADFUL GOOD (YA mystery)
#TeamMaries #4: JETSTAR FIGHTER PILOT (YA science fiction)
#TeamMaries #5: TRUE NORTH (MG contemporary)
#TeamMaries #6: MONTANA GOLD (YA adventure)
#TeamMaries #7: THE SHAPE OF THE MANGO (Literary fiction)
#TeamMaries #8: THE LAST PAPER DAHL (MG fantasy)

To read the other teams' entries, please use the following links:

Lastly, cheerleading is allowed, but only until Monday! We want to leave the comments free for the agents to vote on Tuesday. (Also, we will only allow, well, cheerleading and/or positive feedback. Please don’t critique the entries before the agents vote. On the flip side, please don’t try to convince the agents that they want to vote for one of your favorites or, you know, threaten to douse the agents in silly string if they don’t vote for your critique partner. This is a silly-string-free site.)

Happy reading!


Genre: MG fantasy
Word count: 63,000


Not long ago, eleven-year-old Cecelia Dahl had a little brother who was alive, a mother and father who didn't blame her for his death, and a pleasant house in Hungrig, Norway. She had a soul that lived inside her body, not a miserable blue one that ran out through a door in her chest. Before Tuesdays turned evil, Cecelia was made of skin and bones and happiness, not the crackling paper and sorrow now ripping her life to shreds.

Cecelia’s mother has left for The Land of Yesterday to find her ghost brother. Her house, a dark and crooked thing called Widdendream, absorbs her father into its walls as punishment for making her mother leave. Just before it eats her as well, two mischievous gnomes whisk her away in their hot-air balloon. The gnomes, soul-catchers by trade, claim they know the way to Yesterday, and also how to capture her runaway soul. Its absence is why she’s turning into a paper girl, but finding it won’t be easy. Now Cecelia must survive the harrowing voyage in order to find Yesterday and bring her mother and ghost-brother home. If she doesn’t, Widdendream will never give her father back, and Cecelia’s transformation to a full paper Dahl will be irreversibly complete.

First page:

On Monday of last week, Cecelia Dahl understood the world. She resided in Hungrig, Norway, in a crooked house called Widdendream. Daisies that bloomed in both grass and snow circled the shimmering lake outside her window. Sharp mountains loomed over her town. Dogs barked. Cats meowed. Cecelia’s midnight blue hair grew long and fast and cantankerous. Her skin was dark and bronze and oddly freckled, just like her mother’s. Widdendream loved its residents, as all good houses should, and Cecelia’s family loved her unconditionally. Indeed, on Monday of last week, these were all hardboiled facts.

Then on Tuesday of last week, Cecelia did the bad thing, and the world narrowed down to this: Tuesday hated Cecelia and Cecelia hated it back. 

Now that Tuesday had arrived once more, Cecelia couldn’t help but look over both shoulders as she sank into her desk. It felt like something terrible had its eyes focused on her.

“Cecilia?” Miss Podsnappery pushed up her horn-rimmed glasses. “Whatever do you call that instrument in your hand?” 

Every eye in class turned on Cecelia. Expressionless gazes traced her charcoal sweater and the black-and-gray-striped dress beneath it, judging her frayed tights and scuffed boots too, no doubt. Her teacher, bewildered as always, cast looming shadows. Cecelia forced a smile. She must keep her answer as succinct as possible, forgoing any miscommunications. Teachers were simple creatures, after all, and easily confused.


Genre: Literary fiction
Word count: 100,000


Samira Ali’s love life was mapped at birth: Finish graduate school, let her parents find her the perfect Pakistani man, and learn to love him while rearing a houseful of beautiful Muslim babies.

American-born Samira never expected to find true love that way, but neither did she expect to careen so far into forbidden territory. Less than halfway through her doctorate program, she’s not merely embroiled in a clandestine love affair with wildlife photographer Gary Rosenthal; she’s internalized the cadence of his voice when he lights his Hanukkah candles. But before she can admit that she’s fallen irrevocably in love, Samira learns that her father is dying. Rather than destroy his hope that she’ll find the perfect Muslim man, Samira leaves Gary--only to discover that she’s pregnant.

Unable to think straight in the days following her father’s funeral, Samira flies to Pakistan on the pretense of helping her grandfather. She tells herself that she’ll have a plan by the time she returns to her small Florida hometown, but being in Lahore complicates everything. As Samira struggles to conceal her pregnancy from a gaggle of nosy aunties, she learns that she’s not the only Ali woman who has had to choose between love and the culture and faith that define her. Samira’s mother is hiding a past that could make the blended family Samira dreams of possible (if Gary will take her back) or force Samira to choose between the one parent she has left and the love of her life.

First page:

Samira swung her leg over her bicycle seat and leaned into the pedals. In seconds, the rusty green dumpsters and dull gray gravel of the alley were behind her, and she was jumping the curb at Carolina Street. She crouched low over her handlebars as she rode deliberately through the shadows that draped her hometown, softening everything she passed: the park where she had broken her arm when she was six, her high school home economics teacher’s house, the azalea-ringed yards of two aunties, the police chief’s stucco rambler.

She pedaled fast, her legs moving like pistons as she headed west, away from the beach, away from her childhood home, away from her still-sleeping mother, mentally mapping the shortest route to the next town. At her fastest pace, it would still take more than a half hour each way.

She needed a car.

“Don’t be stupid, Sam,” she said, her voice lost beneath the whir of her bike.

No one drove through Carlysle, Florida, at four thirty in the morning.

If she were driving, the chief would have gotten in his cruiser and followed her to make sure she was all right. With Samira’s luck, he’d have had a half dozen of the aunties trailing him, or--at the very least--reaching for the telephone.

Samira could almost hear the aunties’ voices as one, husky with concern, sleep, and unflinching Pakistani accents:

“Nasreen-behen, so sorry to call at this hour, but everything is okay, nehi? Samira just drove by...”

Team Maries #6: MONTANA GOLD

Genre: YA adventure
Word count: 85,000


For perpetual slacker Simon, graduating from high school just means his parents are going to force him to stop playing video games and actually make decisions about his future. When he finds a map his miner great-great-great-great-uncle left to a hidden cache of gold, he decides getting out of town--and putting off any major decisions--sounds like a good idea. He cashes in his graduation checks and hops a plane to the wilds of Montana, but it doesn’t take him long to realize he’s in over his head.

Savvy local Maggie takes pity on the city boy, but not because she finds Simon's snobby Eastern accent charming. Finding the gold is her last chance to pay off her father’s crushing debts and stay in the town she loves, and she doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process.

As Simon and Maggie follow the clues, what started out as a fun adventure turns serious when they’re stranded in the woods and word of the gold gets around to the wrong people. But Maggie’s warming up to him, and Simon starts to wonder if his future might just include her--not to mention the rugged beauty of Montana. They’ll have to outsmart a crazed mountain man, drug smugglers, and the wilderness itself if he wants to live to find out.

First page:

The day Simon found the letter with the first clue to his great-great-great-great-uncle's gold started out just as dismal as most days. In the morning, he graduated from high school. A class of three thousand, seven hundred, and forty-one pretty much guaranteed a comatose audience by the time they got to Wexler, Simon.

Afterward, instead of giving Simon a break, maybe a little time to shower off the rented gown stink, his parents informed him that he was having a surprise graduation party. Simon's former classmates must have been more impressed by his Dartmouth-professor parents than he was, because there were over a hundred people at their house by four thirty. He escaped to the backyard and was sitting on the edge of the pool with his shoes off and dress pants rolled up when his best friend found him.

"This party blows chunks," Matt said, flopping down beside Simon.

"I had nothing to do with it," Simon said. "I take no responsibility for its vomit-inducing properties.”

"MageWars later?”

"Definitely." A few hours of the best online game in the universe would go a long way toward erasing the suck of the day.

The porch door whacked open behind them. Simon kept his eyes forward. If he had any luck at all, it would just be someone coming out for a smoke.

Team Maries #5: TRUE NORTH

Genre: MG contemporary
Word count: 50,000


Makenna Reid has never had a best friend, finished two grades in the same school, or lived in a house without wheels. In her eleven years as a Coast Guard brat, Mack has learned not to get too close to anything or anyone--until her family is transferred to Seward, Alaska, and she moves in across the street from Travis O’Connell.

Travis and his sisters are living Mack’s worst nightmare, a parent lost at sea. When Mack overhears a fisherman who survived a terrible accident raving about “the seal people,” she suspects the icy waters of Resurrection Bay are hiding a secret--one that may be connected to the disappearance of Travis’s father. As the two friends search for answers together, Travis and the other residents of Bear Lake RV Park help Mack tear down the walls around her heart and carve out a place in the world for herself.

When tragedy threatens their new lives, Mack and Travis realize too late that the father he needs and the home she has always longed for were both right in front of them all along. They will need a little magic--and a lot of faith in each other--to attempt the daring rescue that can set things right.

First page:

I have the weirdest feeling that we have driven through a portal into a black-and-white movie. All the color has somehow leached out of the world, leaving everything varying shades of gray. Gray streets lined with gray buildings slope down toward the icy waters of Resurrection Bay. On every side, slate-colored mountains rise against the cloudy sky, and all over the ground the remains of the winter snow slump into heaps of grimy slush. Welcome to Seward, Alaska, population 1,863. It definitely does not look like the brochure.

I pull off my headphones and let them dangle around my neck. "No way," I say. "I am not living here."

Daddy turns around in the driver’s seat. “Why the attitude, Makenna? Five moves in eleven years, and you’ve never complained before.”

“We’ve never had a whole country between us and civilization before. I mean, look at this place.” I sweep my hand at the car window. “It’s like the armpit of the universe. I thought Alaska was supposed to be beautiful.” 

All those things may be true, but none of them are the real reason I’m being such a brat. Seward is the kind of place where Coast Guard dads get killed.

"Don't panic yet," Mama says. "Maybe the campground will be nicer."

Doubtful. I can tell from her strained smile that she doesn't really believe that, either.

The gravel road the GPS wants us to take does not look promising. It looks like something a bunch of teenagers would go down in a scary movie.


Genre: YA science fiction
Word count: 80,000


Reeka Pendleton and her brother Dek have three rules: stick together, trust no one, and always go back for each other. When Dek is recruited for the fighter pilot program at the JetStar Academy--the toughest all-male school in their galaxy--Reeka grudgingly lets him go. But when he disappears, she vows to jump a transport from her home space station and find him.

However, several failed attempts have left her with a few broken ribs and more than a handful of enemies. Worse, her options are running out. Regulations on all space stations have increased due to the threat of the Iorge, a rogue organization determined to create super soldiers by erasing emotions from the main population. Their constant attacks have driven the stations to the brink of war.

But Reeka won’t let even a war get in her way, seizing an opportunity to be one of the JetStar Academy’s four female recruits. As Reeka battles chauvinistic classmates and dives into the secrets of Dek’s actions at the Academy, she discovers that her commanding officer knows more about Dek's disappearance than he's willing to reveal--and that Dek may have a more significant role in the impending war than Reeka ever expected.

First page:

I collapsed in an alley as the fiery whip of pain in my ribs threatened to burst out of me. I barely had enough strength left to tap a message to Ari on my ion5:

: Are you up?

Several excruciating moments passed, the hot jolts in my ribs acting as much more than a distraction. Finally, instead of a message, Ari sent me a vid-chat:

“Reeka, where are you?” she asked, her voice cloudy with sleep.

“Downtown?” My head throbbed as I tried not to slip further down into the void.

“Wait, what time is it?” Ari’s eyes flashed over to the digi-time. “Reek, it’s three AM! Why the hell are you out?”

Her cursing made me laugh, but doing so made my ribs hurt. “Goozer,” I said, wincing. “I tried going after Dek. Didn’t make it.”

“You are so stupid, Reek. Why would you leave without telling me?” Ari sat up and turned on her bedroom low light. Her eyes were big behind the specs that she shoved up the bridge of her nose.

I braced myself against the wall so that I wouldn’t pass out. “I don’t know. I had to go after him, Ari.” I closed my eyes. “But you’re right, it was stupid.”

Dek and I had made three rules for survival when we were kids: stick together, trust no one, and always go back for each other. I’d been having a rough time with that third one since he’d been officially classified as MIA. But I couldn’t leave my brother out in the purple. He wouldn’t leave me if I was the one missing.


Genre: YA mystery
Word count: 70,000


Seventeen-year-old Kat is an undercover agent for the Institute, a secretive UK organisation dedicated to preventing violent crime through surveillance. When its system flags a teenager for posting dangerous material online, it sends Kat to befriend them and ascertain their risk to society.

Her latest assignment is Audrey Foreman, a girl who hallucinates monsters. A girl the Institute deems on the verge of a breakdown. Kat must gather enough proof to justify an arrest before Audrey commits a crime, but there’s a problem: all evidence says Audrey isn’t actually dangerous, and the Institute doesn’t care. When Kat finds traces of a mission that imploded two years ago in the same town, she suspects she's actually there to tie up loose ends.

Working to uncover Audrey's connection to the old case, Kat begins to doubt the Institute's infallibility--especially when she examines the private jobs it sometimes accepts. But this is a dangerous time to have a moral crisis. The agent involved in the original case is still undercover at the local high school, eager to report back on Kat's changing priorities. And he won’t leave until Audrey has been silenced. If Kat doesn't help him, she could lose her job, her friends, and if she keeps seeing Audrey's monsters, maybe even her mind.

First page:

It starts like any other case. I get a file, AUDREY FOREMAN, and by the time I finish reading, it's midday. There's a sticky note on the last page: See Cas. So I phone the office.

“Cas?” I say. “Why not Robin?”

“He's busy. Cas has this one.”

“But, Robin’s my handler.”

The line goes dead. I just stand there, trying not to grin. I know what this means. When they give you a job with Cas, they’re announcing your promotion. 

Bee comes into the room with a box of pens and her sketchpad. “Hey,” she says, emptying her arms onto the table. “What's up?” 

“I have to see Cas,” I say.

Cas?” She stares at me but doesn’t ask the question--not yet. 

I take my jacket off the back of the chair and plait my hair in the elevator. Cas is in her study with her door open, so I walk on in. 

“Kat,” she says without looking up. “Darling. Take a seat.”

You’d expect us to be cutting edge here at the Institute, but the offices are very nineties. A tiny cactus sits on the desk and there’s a motivational poster on the wall--INTEGRITY, it reads, in block caps. There’s a rip in my chair, and I pluck at it while I wait. Some mix of fear and euphoria bubbles up my throat.

Team Maries #2: WHISPERMAGE

Genre: YA fantasy
Word count: 95,000


The city of Durn is haunted by the Mists, a fog that rises from the cobblestones and robs people of their sanity--or so Kaede was raised to believe.

Capable of silencing any noise by temporarily trapping it in a bell, Kaede earns herself the name Whispermage as a thief in the slums. With her unnatural silence present at every major crime in the city, she becomes Durn’s most wanted criminal. But everything changes the night she helps a fellow crook sneak into the jungle beyond Durn’s protective wall. Before he escapes, the man reveals a secret that unravels the fabric of Kaede’s world: the Mists are a lie, no more likely to drive a man insane than the jungle's daily rain. 

Durn’s ruler hoards the city’s wealth, sent Kaede’s father to die at the claws of the murderous beasts in the jungle, and stole Kaede’s mother away with the lure of riches, but this final injustice is too much. She refuses to stay trapped in the slums while the highborn live free of fear higher up Durn’s slopes. To spread the truth about the Mists and end the ruler's reign, Kaede teams up with Durn’s most powerful criminals. After all, if the Mists aren’t real, maybe nothing is--maybe not even the reason her mother left her.

First page:

The Mists eddy about my boots, curling fingers around the laces and twining up my legs. Pale moonlight paints the cobblestones in tones of gray. I tug the hood of my cloak more firmly over my head and quicken my pace.

Two watchmen, clad in their signature indigo cloaks, patrol Monger’s Way, clutching magefire torches. The purple fire burns away the Mists. I duck into an alley to avoid the men.

The passage is little more than a gap between two sagging buildings. My boots squelch in muck I dare not identify, and I retch at the stench. A beggar hunched atop a heap of refuse, just above the Mists, grabs at my cloak, but I dart past him onto Broad Street.

I pause in the shadows, scanning for watchful eyes. Across the street, the Wall rises so high I must crane my neck to see the top. Purple torches flicker along the Wall’s base, keeping the Mists at bay, but on the walkway above, the torches burn with true fire, the orange lights mere pinpricks from the street.

Tucked into the Wall’s shadow is a one-story gatehouse enclosing stairs to the Wall’s walkway. The staircase sprouts from its roof. Within lies an iron portcullis. Our target.

I suck in a breath and back into an alley. It’s wider than the last. Cleaner, too. I glance at the moon, but clouds obscure the sky.

How early am I?

The others should be here.


Genre: YA historical
Word count: 73,000


All seventeen-year-old Angelique Saint-Clair wants is the freedom to choose her own fate. But to guarantee protection for herself as a free woman of color, she has been taught that she must sign a contract with a wealthy Creole gentleman--not as his wife, but as his mistress. Her mother has trained her well for her first quadroon ball, where Angelique meets the kind and wealthy Monsieur LeBlanc. Unfortunately, at the same ball, Angelique discovers the depth of her feelings for another man, who happens to be both LeBlanc’s half-brother and her impoverished piano instructor.

Determined to secure her daughter’s future, Marguerite Saint-Clair encourages negotiations with LeBlanc, forcing Angelique to choose between protection and love. Just when Angelique decides to follow her heart, yellow fever strikes, threatening her mother’s life. Angelique’s dream of pursuing her music with the man she loves burns up with the fever ravaging the city. To provide for her mother’s care, Angelique takes the contract to LeBlanc, only to discover he has already left New Orleans. Now Angelique’s survival depends on the one person she’s never fully believed in: herself.

First page:

New Orleans, 1825

Masks cover only so much. I twirl the silk-wrapped stick and watch the attached mask circle above my hand like a bird. Flawless dove feathers rise from the right corner, but when I brush my fingertips along the edge, the feathers just itch instead of tickle. I raise the mask over my face, peering out through eyeholes that once seemed so much wider. It has been years since I believed I could be anything if only I imagined it.

I try to pretend I am at the piano instead of surviving another fitting, but the seamstress pushes a pin through the satin covering me and traps me in reality. My fingers clench, and the stick cracks in two.

“Angelique,” Maman says as she accepts the broken pieces. Her pinched lips relax as she turns back to the seamstress and waves her other hand toward the dress. “It looks exquisite.”

Maman requires no mask. She has perfected the art of pretending we are better off than we are.

Thick raindrops plunk on the wooden banquette that lines the street. I hear more than see them beyond the front window of our cottage on Dumaine. The walkways have soaked up so much water lately that they have warped in the perpetual humidity. At least the afternoon showers relieve some of the stench that covers the city at this time of year. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

In Which I Introduce Team Maries and Share Some General Thoughts

The teams are set, and #TeamMaries is looking pretty great:

Clarissa Hadge and JETSTAR FIGHTER PILOT (#109)
Fataima Ahmad and THE SHAPE OF THE MANGO (#169)
Katelyn Larson and WHISPERMAGE (#29)
Kristin Reynolds and THE LAST PAPER DAHL (#69)
Maria Hebert-Leiter and REVELATION (#81)
Sarah Adair and THE DREADFUL GOOD (#67)
Triona Murphy and MONTANA GOLD (#140)
Wendy Daughdrill and TRUE NORTH (#159)

And last but not least, the other half of #TeamMaries, Anna-Marie McLemore, my brilliant guest coach!

That gives us two MGs (a fantasy and a contemporary), five YAs (a sci-fi, a fantasy, a historical, a mystery, and a romantic adventure), and one adult project (which is literary fiction). I always try to spread my teammates' entries out on the age/genre spectrum, but I was especially pleased with how this group turned out.

Before I go any further, a disclaimer: I'm not an agent, so I'm in no way an expert on queries, the market, or publishing in general. In other words, please take all these thoughts for what they are--my thoughts. These are just a few of the things I noticed as I whittled down my list:

1. A good comp title can signal that you know the market, but an overused one may do just the opposite. Quite a few of the YA fantasies in this batch compared themselves to GRACELING or THRONE OF GLASS, so it wasn't long before my eyes glazed over every time I spotted one of those titles. The best comps aren't so obscure as to be unheard of, but they probably also aren't the best-selling books in your genre.

2. It's really easy to sum up your characters or underscore your themes at the end of your query, but resist the temptation! If your summary's done its job, you won't have to tell agents what your story's really about. You might also want to avoid laundry lists of plot points. If we can't tell how the pieces will fit together, we probably won't care about them as much as you think we should.

3. I thought there was a ton of intriguing sci-fi in this bunch. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's good to be aware of what other people are writing so you predict how the market might shift.

4. I'm still leery of anything that smacks of dystopian. If your futuristic thriller mentioned a revolution, it probably didn't make it onto my lists. Which isn't to say futuristic thrillers can't sell-- they've just got to bring a new hook to the table. It seems like a rebellion should immediately raise the stakes, but because we've seen so many, they typically serve to LOWER a story's stakes. There are a thousand and one other ways to inject conflict into a plot, so at least for the time being, pick one of those. Seemingly small, deeply personal stakes can often end up being the biggest stakes of all.

5. There were quite a few entries I was really excited about--until I discovered that they'd been in three other contests. Overexposure is real--agents get ornery if they have to keep reading the same entries over and over--so picking and choosing your contests might be a good idea.

What stood out to you as you went through the entries?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Madcap Retreats' Winners

Without any ado, the e-winners of Natalie C. Parker's BEWARE THE WILD:

Paola B

Congratulations, winners! Please e-mail me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com so I can pass your information along to Ms. Parker. And keep an eye on Madcap Retreats' Tumblr, since you're now entered to win the grand prize, a three-hundred-dollar discount on an upcoming workshop and a short stack of ARCs!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

We Interrupt This Contest to Bring You a Word from Madcap Retreats

People like to ask me to plug their products on my blog: "We really think your readers will want to hear about our latest gadget, the three-in-one nose hair trimmer."

I really think it's safe to say you don't.

But when Natalie C. Parker e-mailed me about her latest venture, I immediately saw the benefit. I've never been on a writing retreat myself, but I've been on plenty of trips, and the hardest part is always finding time to do the research and coordinating all the plans. That's where Madcap Retreats come in, so without further ado, I'll turn the blog over to Natalie (who's sponsoring several giveaways in conjunction with the launch of her new business, so don't miss those details at the bottom!).

Nothing has changed my career so much as writing retreats. 

In the winter of 2011, I was invited to attend a large retreat in Branson, Missouri, at which there would be twenty-five established YA authors. I was unagented at the time and though I found the idea of joining such a gathering an intimidating one, I also found it was impossible to pass up. 

The experience was a game-changer. Not only did I meet a group of authors who were as encouraging as they were successful, but I sat in a room in which those same authors opened laptops and worked quietly together. There were headphones and tea and snack breaks and chat breaks and there were word documents that looked much like my own, growing one word at a time.

I left the Branson retreat with a new network of contacts who would guide my career in different ways, determined to repeat the experience as quickly as possible. Only this time I wanted to be the one issuing invites. One year later, that’s exactly what I did: I made my first retreat of eleven authors on the side of a mountain, in a house that also had a turret. 

Since that time, I’ve hosted one or two retreats every year, always with the goal of bringing authors together to create the kind of community we just can’t get in 140-character bites. I’ve hosted authors in turreted mansions in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in French Quarter apartments, in the Texas Hill Country, in historic Savannah townhomes, and in the sleepy Smoky Mountains. And here are the top three lessons I’ve learned from organizing retreats for writers:
  1. Internet. There must be Internet. It does not matter if you write to your group ahead of time and say the words “there is no Internet in this mountain chateau IS THAT OKAY?” It does not matter if they uniform answer is, “Yes, Natalie, we are not so addicted to the Modern Age that going without Wi-Fi for three days will kill us.” I promise you, none of that matters because when you get to the house someone will build an antenna out of aluminum foil and desperate tears and stand on the roof searching for a signal.
  2. Bathrooms. Never underestimate the importance of every bedroom having its own bathroom. End of explanation. 
  3. Scenery. You may begin the adventure with plans of leaving the house, but trust me, this will not happen. To appease any group of authors, I advise picture windows and something that suggests power and mystery. Mountains are an obvious choice, but lakes work very well as do abandoned sugar plantations, rolling hills, and oceans. This way, even if you get snowed in after throwing out all the perishable food so that all that remains are Oreos and a handle of gin, no one will ever complain about the view!
I love retreats. They’re fun and exciting and sometimes lead to creating things like Sh*t Writers Say. But I started this by saying that retreats have altered the course of my career in significant ways and that is absolutely true. 

After Branson in 2011, I had half a dozen authors willing to weigh in on my query and help me cull my agent list. 

After the Wi-Fi-less chateau in 2012, there were authors ready to blurb my first book.

After the Hill Country in 2013, I received crucial advice on how to develop a retreat business.

But more than that, I’ve seen anthologies born over the course of a retreat, I’ve seen mentor and critique relationships gain footing, and I’ve seen the direction of manuscripts shift dramatically and to great effect. And I know there’s even more I haven’t seen. 

Like so many writers, my writing time is bound and hedged in on all sides. My writing time is also my “down” time, my “free” time, my “in between this and that” time.” It’s a challenge to find hours that flow from one into another with nothing binding them except the promise of words. Madcap is one way I can offer time and opportunity to myself and to others, and I’m truly excited to be able to do that.

Madcap is for writers at any stage in their career--aspiring, agented, and published. My goal is to continue what was done for me at that first Branson retreat and create the kinds of opportunities it’s nearly impossible to create for yourself. Welcome to Madcap Retreats, join us for an adventure.

MADCAP RETREATS: Web | Twitter | Tumblr 

And now we come to the giveaway portion of this post!

I’ve asked a few amazing bloggers to help me spread the word of Madcap far and wide via a Blog Hop. Each participating blog will be giving away two e-copies of my debut novel Beware the Wild. And each of those winners will be entered to win one of two grand prizes! They are:
  • A $300 discount on the upcoming workshop--The Anatomy of Publishing: Story & Marketing, August 27 to 30. The workshop will be lead by Courtney C. Stevens and will feature a few fancy guest authors who will workshop pages and queries one-on-one! (More info can be found here). 
  • A short stack of ARCs including: JUBILEE MANOR by Bethany Hagen, DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy, and THE ANATOMY OF CURIOSITY by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, & Brenna Yovanoff.
The contest is open to US/Canada ONLY. You may enter via each blogger if that pleases you. Contest closes at midnight on Sunday, June 7. Winners will be announced by noon on Monday, June 8.

Additionally! If you’d like to stay up to date on all retreat and workshop offerings by Madcap, you can subscribe to the mailing list by visiting this page. The first fifty subscribers will be offered a free download of either:
Thanks, Natalie! To enter her giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment below. That's it. I like to keep things simple. And definitely check out the giveaways on the other participating blogs: