Prize for Unpublished Works

tidewater-banner-newIt’s difficult for authors to break into publishing, and while many now turn to self-publishing, the tasks involved can be daunting and without reward. But there is a new competition for unpublished manuscripts by Canadian authors that offers a prize of book cover design, editing and layout assistance, as well as a debut at the Whistler Writer’s Festival in the fall of 2017. Could there be a better prize?

The WIBA Manuscript Competition began only recently, offered originally to self-published books in Canada. But the organizers said that many of the entries, while showing great merit, needed a lot of work. They decided that an earlier approach would allow the best books to really shine, and give them a chance to grow once in bookstores.

There is just over one month left to submit an entry to the competition, and the rules and requirements can be found right here.  If you have a finished book, you can submit the first 5000 words and a full synopsis (up to 500 words), to the competition for adjudication. What a great opportunity!

Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury Announced

gillerThe jury for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize has been announced, and it’s going to be another interesting year! The 2017 jury consists of Anita Rau Badami, Lyn Coady, Andre Alexis, Nathan Englander, and Richard Beard.

gillerjury2017The Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist will be announced in September, the short-list in October, and the winner will be announced in November. This is the largest literary prize that celebrates the best Canadian novel or short story collection of the year, and is worth $100,000.

Who do you think will be on the list?

The Lightning Thief, the Musical

28187It’s another book made into a musical! This time, it’s Rick Riordan’s THE LIGHTNING THIEF, the first in the Percy Jackson series about a boy who discovers he has ties to the Greek Gods he has been learning about in school. While this series has been made into several movies, Riordan hasn’t backed those ventures, but whole-heartedly supports this event off Broadway.

You can hear one of the songs from the original play here, sung by Chris McCarrell who will star. While it doesn’t debut until March of this year, I’m sure fans are already clamoring to get tickets!

BEFORE I FALL

9780062656322_25b35Lauren Oliver‘s BEFORE I FALL, was one of the first Young Adult novels I ever read (after TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES, of course), and I’m excited that the movie version now has a trailer!

The book has a really unique premise…about a teen who dies in a car crash, but relives that last day seven more times, each time changing just enough to (hopefully) learn something. It had such a unique voice, and interesting character development, that I hope the movie will do it justice.

You can watch a little teaser right here, starring up and comer Zoey Deutch as Samantha Kingston.

Let me just say the book bloggers of the internet are already losing their minds. 2017 can’t come fast enough!

Have You Read a Picture Book?

blue2As someone who sees a lot of picture books come through the library, I can tell you—there are good picture book authors, and those who haven’t quite figured it out yet. While most of the picture books out there that get published have fantastic stories, or amazing illustrations, it’s often the language that gets overlooked. And language is everything, especially when a book is geared toward small children who have attention spans of about three seconds.

So, when I came across an amazing post by Tracy Marchini, who is a literary agent, an editor, and a picture book author herself, I knew that she “got” it. Her post, “How Can You Tell If You’re Using Picture Book Language?” hits all the high points. Seriously, I think this should be required reading for anyone out there who is considering writing a picture book. It’s one of the MOST difficult things to do, even though it seems like it would be easy. The concepts not only have to be large and exciting, the language must cover no more than the anticipated reader can handle. With 40+ listeners all under the age of five at our library each week, I can tell you that a book must grab the child from word one, or you’ll lose them. And while a sleepy child on your lap might sit through a long drawn out descriptive book, most kids want to get in and get out. Tell them the story, make it entertaining, and sneak in a lesson if you can. That’s it.

So, what are some of the great concepts Marchini discusses in her post? Minimal dialog, minimal descriptions…basically, minimal everything. While it’s fine to write a book that you think will suit Kindergarten to Grade 2…keep in mind that most kids reading picture books are heading out of that age group. They’ll be wanting to read books on their own, and heading into chapter books. Your prime audience, then, is age 4 and under.

If you’ve ever contemplated writing a picture book, you’ll be wise to read the article. Not only will it save you the heartache of rejection when it comes time to try to publish, but you will set yourself apart from all of the other would-be authors out there who haven’t figured out the concept yet. And maybe I’ll end up reading your book at storytime one day!

Iraq in 2103? Imagine it!

downloadWe’re often so focused on the news that we can’t see beyond the present. But when award-winning Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim and Bristish publisher Ra Page asked Iraqi writers what they thought their country would look like one hundred years from now, the results were part sci-fi, fantasy, fairy tale and even satire.

The resulting anthology of stories was published in the UK, entitled IRAQ + 100, and sounds like a fascinating mix. It is hard to imagine how people in country so embroiled in warfare right now could be anything else, but leave it to the people with imaginations to see a different view.

You can read the article on the BBC website about the concept, and what the authors came up with right here. Maybe we could all take a page out of this book and open our minds to a different world.

Goodreads Choice Awards!

choiceIt’s that time of year again...the Goodreads Choice Awards! The lists are up, and you’re encouraged to vote for your favourite books in twenty different categories! If you’re a reader, hopefully you’ve been through the books from 2016 in your favourite genre and have a good sense of what’s out there. And now you can have your say in what you think are the best books of the year.

I’ll admit, I only voted in one category this year, although a lot of the books in other categories were ones that I wanted to read. Where did the time go? November 1-6 is the opening round, so you only have a few days to vote. Sign in, and make your vote count! It’ll be a lot easier picking a winner here than in the U.S. election next week!