I won!!!! My fairy tale retelling entry won this week!

I can't believe it. I won the fairy tale retelling contest this week.The judge was Mette Ivie Harrison. My daughters and I love her books. I went to a break-out session she gave about fairy tale retellings at a BYU conference many years ago. I think it might have been my first Children's Literature Conference I attended. I came home from that and told my husband that I really wanted to write.

And I'm shocked by the entry that moves to Play-at-Home because it was complimented many times in the comments and was very smart and clever.

I'm actually on vacation this week for spring break, but I'm going to the library with my daughters to check out a Mary Higgins Clark mystery to get some ideas for the next contest: a 750 word beginning of a murder mystery book.

You can read the contest results here: Throwing Up Words.

This is my entry from last week.

Storyteller

In my tree high above the forest floor, a fluff of snow drifts through the barren branches and settles on my hand, soft as a swan’s feather, cold as loneliness.
I sew and wish I was playing at hide-and-seek with my brothers.
They would count. I would run until my breath tore at my chest, then climb a tree until the branches were no thicker than my finger. With my cheek pressed against the rough bark, I waited to hear their song.
“Six brothers catch little sister.”
I would shriek when a brother climbed and caught my ankle.
“Did you see me? How long did it take? Let’s play again,” I said as my brothers covered their ears.
If only I could sing now.
Cold drives through the branches I’ve lodged as a roof between the limbs. The slanted floor is a shingle from the robber’s den where I found my brothers before they flew away.
I huddle over my precious shirts.
Ice bites at my neck, burning with its cold cruelty.
If I could laugh, I would repeat my brothers’ joke.
“Why did the swan cross the road?”
“To peck off your head.”
That was a good one. I keep the laugh in my belly.
If I could speak, I would count aloud my stitches. Three shirts are done. Half of what is needed to free all my brothers. Half plus the ultimate sacrifice for a chatty sister.
I stitch the seven petals using Poppa’s reel of thread. With the end knotted, the blood-red stitches transform to the pure white of the star flower.
A limb whips across my back and flies away.
Where do my brothers fly? Surely they do not miss my chatter.
Chase never said, “Stop talking.”
He found me in a tree where I’d fallen asleep, my legs swinging off a limb.
“Are you all right?”
I shrieked, a high piercing pitch with a drop like the scream of an eagle.
“I won’t hurt you,” he said.
I didn’t know what he would or would not do.
He waited below and whistled, mimicking my scream. I stayed until my legs and bottom were numb. As I descended, my gown caught on a jagged limb and tore.
“I’m Chase.” The young man stood and bowed.
“Anice.”
“Your dress is torn.”
“It is.”
“You don’t say much.”
My laugh burst out of my mouth.
After that, when I hid from my brothers, I whistled and if Chase answered back, we met and talked until I heard my brothers’ song.
If only I could laugh now.
Hiss. Crack. Roar. Wind flies down in a fury and seizes the shirts. I snatch at a sleeve, a collar. One flies over my shelter.
I can’t lose it. A shirt takes an entire year to sew. I stuff the two shirts, star flowers, and reel into my bodice.
With one foot, I search for a foot hold. I hear a whistle: high and sustained with a drop.
Chase.
I must not answer.
I slip, my bodice catching on a twig. The last two shirts fall out.
I clutch at the tree.
“I hope this is not all you were wearing.”
I must not speak.
“Anice? Is that you? You know I won’t hurt you.”
The reel of thread bruises my chest. Of course. A way to stay silent.
I pull myself back onto the floor of my shelter and with shaking fingers, thread the needle. I pierce my flesh. The bottom lip. Then the top. The stitches disappear as I tie the knot at the corner of my mouth.
I descend.

From Romance to Fairy Tales

On to the next challenge! There are five of us for the next challenge of Project Writeway which is to write a 600 word scene of a fairy tale retelling. What I'm trying to decide at this point is if I should use a scene from a novel I've already written or come up with something new. Another trick is to choose a fairy tale that hasn't been retold to death but is still recognizable to the judges and you. But for now, I will post my entry from last week: the romance/kissing scene. This scene is from a novel I'm currently working on called, Not of This World, about Marti, a high school junior who wants to be drum major for marching band during her senior year. She struggles with voicing her desires. When her parents announce that the family will be spending the summer at a cabin in Island Park to help her older college-aged brother recover from depression and anxiety suffered at college, Marti's dreams of attending drum major camp seem unattainable. She must speak up and choose between her family and being a normal high school teenager, all while discovering that the world may really come to an end.

This scene was adapted from when Marti was supposed to go to prom with Dallin, but her parents leave to rescue her older brother from college, and she is left home to babysit. I changed Marti's name to Cassie for the scene so I wouldn't have to take the time to explain that Marti is a nickname for Martha.

Cassafrass

            Dallin stands on my front porch with a boutonniere box. Inside is one white rose surrounded by carnations the same color as my dress. The sun is setting behind the two story house across the street like an orange half peeled.

            “Dallin.” I don’t know what to say. I thought Mom told him she changed her mind about prom, that I had to babysit Sam instead. And my makeup—it’s run off my face from crying.

            But I’m still wearing my pinkish-melon dress with a full skirt to the knee, wide straps for sleeves, and of course, a sweater to cover my shoulders.

            “Wow, Cassie,” Dallin says. “You look…Wow.” He’s in the doorway. Sam wraps his arms around Dallin’s leg.

            I notice now that he’s not in a tux. He’s wearing a white dress shirt with jeans and one button undone. His white undershirt shows at the top. I want to give him a hug but not with Sam around.

            I try to pry Sam off Dallin’s leg.

            “I just came to give you these.” Dallin shakes the flower box. I reach for it, but he pulls back.

            “I get to put it on you.” He walks into the house, sets the box on a bookshelf, and pops off the top. Sam continues to hang onto Dallin, but tilts his head back to watch.

            Dallin’s fingertips brush the inside of my palm as he slips the flowers on my wrist. I get warm shivers.

            He smiles, showing straight teeth except for the middle top one that’s at a slight angle.

            “I should leave.” Dallin backs up.

            “You could…” My voice cracks. “Stay.”

            “Are you sure?”

            “I’m sure.”

            Mom would not approve. Except why should I do what Mom wants when she made me miss my prom?

           

            After three stories, a trip to the bathroom, and two drinks of water, Sam is in bed and Dallin is sitting next to me on the worn love seat.

            “Cassie?” Dallin fiddles with my fingers. I think he’ll hold my hand. He doesn’t.  

            “Yeah.” I keep my voice at a whisper so I won’t scare him away.

            Mom says the surest path to sex is being alone with a guy, taking clothes off, and being horizontal.

            Dallin leans forward until our foreheads touch. “When your mom called, she made it sound like you changed your mind. That you didn’t want to go.” His warm mint breath tingles against my lips.

            I almost stop breathing. “I wanted to more than anything.”

            “I hoped…That’s why I came over,” Dallin says.

            “I’m glad you did.” I close my eyes.

            “Me too.”

            My chest is tight.

            Now.

            My lips open a bit.

            He’s so close. If I move we’ll bump noses.

            I take a quick breath and his lips are on mine. Soft. Warm. Sweet.

            I may not know how my mom could make me miss prom. I may not even know exactly how it works when in a horizontal position. But I know I like kissing.

Phew! I made it through. My dystopian scene.

It's been a tense couple of days. The results were posted this afternoon for the dystopian scene. I've made it to the next round. I was very worried about this last challenge. After I submitted it, I thought about all the things that were confusing in the scene. The next challenge is to write a romance scene with one kiss. Voting will be Thursday and Friday. We all like kissing! So this should be fun. My husband is disappointed I didn't pull out the Bombshell Bra. But the kids are home from school and I don't own one. Too bad.

 

Will I. Am     

 

            I am no longer Will.

            My teeth vibrate from the tremble in the earth and the cold. The wool blanket the man-lady threw at me last night won’t cover my toes and my chin.

            And Rissa is gone.

            I should have thrown a punch, kicked a groin, yanked that man-lady’s rifle out of her hands before I let them separate us.

            Yet that animal carcass hanging outside my jail—no, holding room—of the main lodge and the five or so women I’d seen, gave me hope that this community would be safe—at least for Rissa.

            We left the last community in the middle of the night. As soon as Rissa started strutting and bending over and using that breathless voice around the food guard, I knew we had to leave. Sure, she got us stockpiles of beans and creamed corn and oatmeal packets, but that guard was looking for something other than food.

 

            The door bursts open. I jump up from the mattress, my hands in fists, my jaw tight.

            A body slams into me, then arms are around my waist and this person, this girl is soft and trembling.

            “Chris.” Her voice is high, over loud. She pushes away.

            When Dallin found Rissa and me huddled in a demolished gas station, licking out the glop from a can of chili, he said family members could join their community. I had to pretend to be his girlfriend’s missing brother and Rissa had to be his sister.

            The man-lady stands in the doorway. “This is Chris?” A gun rests in her arms like she can take me down between the eyes before I blink.

            “I’m sorry, Chris. This is Leah.” The girl holds onto my arm and her hand chills me through my jacket. She faces me. Her eyes are warm and brown and wet with tears. “We help each other. We have to.”

            We walk past the man-lady—excuse me, Leah—with her gun, past the carcass, and away from the lodge where they’ve got Rissa. I stop. But if I’m this girl’s brother, Rissa means nothing to me.

             “You’re home,” the girl says, loud again, and then leans into my arm, her chest brushing against my jacket. “Dallin sent me. Rissa, your sister. She’s there.”

            Now I want to be Will. Not this girl’s brother. And I don’t want to owe her boyfriend anything.

Read, wRite, Revise: Annual Children’s Literature Writing Conference

Do You Write for Children?

BSU Literacy Department   Utah/Southern Idaho SCBWI

Annual Writing Conference—April 20–21, 2012

Read, wRite, and Revise

A conference for readers, writers, teachers, and librarians of children’s literature

Speakers include:

Literary agent Kate Schafer Testerman
BSU Literacy Department educators Sherry Dismuke and Susan Martin
Established authors Alane Ferguson, Gloria Skurzynski, and Matthew Kirby
Debut authors Kate Kae Meyers and Sarah Tregay

  • Get tips on improving your writing from established and upcoming authors.
  • Learn new techniques for teaching students to write.
  • Discover publication paths from current YA, middle grade, and non-fiction authors.
  • Earn graduate, undergraduate, or in-service credit through BSU.*
  • Participate in an intensive writing workshop.
  • Hear manuscript critiques from a literary agent or peer group.
  • Register by PayPal or at the conference.

WHEN:

Saturday, April 21, 2012
8:00am to 5:30pm
Rediscovered Bookshop

WHERE:

Boise State University
1910 University Dr
Boise, ID 83725
Student Union Building
Lookout Room

*Attendees seeking college credit must pay BSU for credits ($60 for inservice credit OR the tuition fee for one graduate/undergrad credit) AND pay student conference registration fee of $75 to SCBWI.

Visit scbwi.org to register or to get more info.

**Attendance at Friday book signing is mandatory for in-service or BSU credits.

Download print-ready flyer here

On to the next round and double elimination, Dystopian scene

I'm in the top 8 of the Project Writeway Challenge. This next week the challenge is to write a 400 word dystopian scene. Voting will be on Thursday and Friday until midnight and you may vote for your favorite two. I've got to invent a dystopian society and characters and a problem all while my children come home and I fix something for dinner. Here's my entry from last week. Thank you for voting and for your continued support.

CeeMee Right

 

            “Can teenagers love?” asked my oldest daughter. She’s dated a young man for over a year. I loved a boy in high school. He proposed. I said no and left for college where I met my husband.

            I write to be forgiven.

            After a three hour elementary school concert, we found my second daughter hiding under a table, crying. When classes weren’t performing, the rest of the school waited together in a large room. The noise, the bodies, the smells were all too much for her. At other times, the seams of her socks, the buzz of fluorescent lights, lumpy oatmeal on her tongue, my anger, her tantrums, me shoving her out the door to get to school…

            I write to understand.

            My son worships his dad. They wrestle, joke, torch a stripped lug nut to change a tire. To become a man, my son sleeps in a tent on the frozen snow, endures his dad tickling him for an entire minute, and hauls himself up on his chin-up bar when he goes in or out of his room.

            I write to relate.

            I review Shakespeare lines with my fifth grader, proofread papers for my 9th grader, sort through pennies with my son for a merit badge, write down my five year-old son’s stories about monsters, and relive moments of my senior’s life as she prepares for college. I listen to my children’s successes, failures, heartaches, joys. I teach them that the only person they can control is themselves. Still, there are suicide bombings, earthquakes, sexual abuse, cancer.

            I remember the pain of a broken heart, the rage of childhood, being left out of wrestling matches between my dad and five younger brothers. I write because I remember. I write to fix a world I can’t control.