Thursday, May 31, 2012


As a certified teacher, I’ve had a lot of experience with books and children.  This is definitely one that will appeal to junior high and high school students.  It has a strong main character – Shamira.  Her love interest, Valens, is equally strong.  He’ll catch the attention of boys reading the story, and girls will be interested in seeing how the romance progresses.  Add in action and revenge; LM has a winning novel!  Not to mention that the cover is certainly eye-catching.  It would do great on a classroom shelf.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Young adult winner: GHOST STORY

Name: Carolyn Chambers Clark


A teen nurses' aide shakes with fear when the man she thinks she killed in self-defense disappears, leaving her to discover if she’s crazy or if an evil force is at work.

Sixteen-year-old southerner, Samantha McQueen, chalks up the murder and disappearance to stress from the death of her Momma. When she sees more murders and a suicide, she consults a psychiatrist, tries rune reading, and even delves into the BOOK OF THE DEAD to find an answer. To complicate things, she's assigned a death and dying school project with none other than the weird, but thrilling, Aiden, as her partner. He tells her the murders and suicides already took place, and they’re the undead, trying to enlist her help.

When Samantha discovers she must help the undead cross over before Christmas, she rushes to understand her abilities before the crossing-over portals close, and Momma and the other undead become eternal wanderers.

I won 1st place for paranormal romance from the Virginia Romance Writers Association and 2nd place for fiction from the Florida State Writing Competition. PALM PRINTS, the University of South Florida's writer's journal, and RIVERWALK have each published one of my short stories. I'm an avid contributor to YALITCHAT.ORG.

First 250 words:

The moon casts eerie shadows through the window of the Georgia State Mental Hospital geriatric unit. I feel a cold chill in my bones and shiver. Something awful's going to happen tonight the way it did last time.

While I finish up my nurses' aid chores, I breathe in the back of my throat so I don't have to smell the pee and rose deodorizer. I dump the soiled linens down the laundry chute and wash my hands before I slide into my chair at my station outside the nurses' office.

Footsteps echo from somewhere down the corridor.

I hold my breath.

That must be Nurse Patchett because we're the only two on duty tonight.  A door slams at the end of the hall, followed by three muffled thuds, and the sound of a medical cabinet crashing to the floor.

"What was that?" I stare into the shadows, then glance back at Nurse Patchett who's somehow appeared. She stands in front of me in her shiny white shoes and starched uniform. I wonder if that's a drop of blood on her collar, but I'm afraid to ask.

"What was what?" She lowers her thick eyebrows so they meet above her death-bright eyes.

Goose bumps march up my arms. "Didn't you hear the door slam or anything?"

Young Adult Dystopian Winner: THIRTY DECIBELS

Name: Margo Rowder
Genre: YA Dystopian

At the ceremony on Ava’s fifteenth birthday, the candle on her cake will determine whether she’s a Whisperer or a Leader.
Though everyone says it’s “written on the wind,” Ava won’t let some weird fairy-tale tradition control her fate. She blows out her candle with a fan hidden behind her back, making herself a Whisperer: one who must not sing solos with the choir, cry or laugh in public, or speak louder than 30 decibels. Because a fearful society is a controllable one.
The Whisper Rules have kept the world quiet, low tech, and catastrophe-free, ever since the social-media spread of food shortage rumors caused the Great Scream and killed half the population. But Ava can’t seem to fit in with any part of this society, so she opts out by not speaking at all. As she looks and listens more closely, she sees cracks in the system and hears rumblings of change to come.
Ava finds a few glimmers of light in the Rules: she can still sing with the town choir, next to a tenor who makes her pulse race and her heart strong. She also escapes regularly to the library, the only place Whisperers can hold authority. While discovering others’ writings and recordings there, Ava finds her own voice. When her mother’s high-powered politico boss plans to silence Whisperers in unspeakable new ways, Ava is ready to come clean about everything– in front of an audience of thousands – and take a stand.
Ava’s point of view, at turns confident and vulnerable, will appeal to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and John Green. My writing has won awards from YALitChat and Chicago’s Printer’s Row Lit Fest, and I’ve written short fiction for Cricket Group’s FACES Magazine. I am a member of the SCBWI and have completed two courses from the ICL. By day, I draw on over a decade of marketing experience and tech savvy to write copy and brainstorm digital marketing solutions for clients like Mastercard, Heineken, United Airlines, and Google.

First 250 words:


When she’s not squealing in my ear, I love Michele Mondale like a sister.

“‘Sunny conditions at 3:46’? How the Helen of Troy am I supposed to believe that forecast?” She gapes down at her gleaming ’ponder, like it might unwrap itself from her wrist and make a run for Port Arthur.

To save my eardrums, I inch away from Michele on the stone bench. Just a little, though. Best friends can be touchy. And tonight is her Fifteen ceremony. Out here in her backyard, her neighbors and extended family will find out if she can keep talking, or whether she’ll have to whisper from now on. The world’s done this for eighty-something years, ever since the Great Scream – something no one wants to talk about, even though it runs our lives.

Every day for the last two weeks, I’ve woken up thinking about this Whisper Rule –the one about the candle ceremony. The one that sets everything in stone. More and more, I’ve been going downstairs just to stare at the page in our dried-out book:

Some will be Leaders: One’s fifteenth birthday candle, when alight for three minutes outdoors, marks one a Leader.

I inch back toward Michele.

“Your party’ll be great. You’ve got a whole team behind it.”

My voice seems to fall flat in the damp air. I bite my lip. Why remind her how many people will be watching? My Fifteen won’t be nearly as big as hers, but just a split second of imagining shrivels my stomach.


Name: Donna Luck-Martin


Having only just passed the 50 year mark in life, I find myself having more time to reflect on my life and the lives of friends and family and the general state of the world we are living in.

Some of these short essays will be comical, some serious, and some laced with advice for the reader, most particularly to help them avoid the pitfalls myself and others have endured over the years.

Why would anyone care to read about me?  Curiosity, for one.  As an avid reader of biographies, I know there is a market for other recounts of real life, and I’d like to think that someone who is from an Upstate New York rural life, a child of adoption who grows up to marry her high school sweetheart and embarks on a life of a military wife, only to be divorced and left to raise her son as a single mom, and in her mid 30’s heads down an entirely new career path (or two) might be interesting to others.  Along the way, I encounter good, bad and definitely “ugly” people and places as well as made many friends from all walks of life. 

I have been published in newspapers, and did some freelance writing in my days as a military wife. My current position as an EMS instructor/clinician requires that I compose and present numerous educational pieces.

First 250 words:




And down I go again, landing face first at the edge of  macadam and gravel, skidding on my outstretched hands.

My first thought is,  “o.k. how many people saw THAT?” and my second is..”damn, that hurts!”

I glance down at my left hand to see blood dripping from the palm and between the first two fingers where the greatest force of my weight had been borne, scraping away skin and embedding small pieces of blacktop. I then realize my hat is about five feet away, and that my left breast hurts where it took the impact of my camera.

“Oh no, not the camera! Oh it’s o.k, not a scratch, whew!”

“Are you o.k?” I hear  over my  shoulder.

“Yes, thank you” I mumble, now doubly embarrassed that I am still seated on the ground.

“Here’s your hat, do you need help up?” she asks.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mystery Winner: HERON PARK

Name: Christine King-Raggio


Detective Cassandra Logan has lived in Long Island, New York her whole life. Homicides were far and few between in Babylon Village, but in the last year two women have gone missing. They went to walk their dogs and never came home.

FBI Profiler Rick Sanders came to New York to see if the missing women were related to an open case in Virginia. In that case the women weren't found either, but their dogs were; ripped to shreds by what the ME called a very large animal. Before Rick can speak with the detectives about any similarities, the carcass of a small dog is found along with a woman's running sneaker covered in blood. The wounds on the dead dog look exactly like the ones inflicted in Rick's Virginia case. This time though, a woman's body is found. She's skinned, gutted and be-headed like a prized stag.

Their killer has accomplices. A pack of highly trained dogs. He uses them to distract, abduct and torture his victims. With each body, his pack advances in their training and his boredom grows. He needs new ways to amuse himself and turns his sights on the people sworn to find him.

Cassie and Rick fight to pull a step ahead of their killer, but the body count continues to climb. How do you catch a predator that's intent on making you their next prey? A chameleon that doesn't want to be found? It all seems impossible. Time is running out and now Cassie must fight for not only her own life, but for the lives of the people she loves the most.

Chapter 1

He remembered every scream. Each woman's whimper and shriek. A symphony of voices begging him to spare their miserable lives. He hunted them when they felt the most safe and secure, then stripped them of their freedom when they least expected it.

Goosebumps rose on his arms, a cold shiver slid up his back. Torture was such a thrill.

The time had come. He needed another, to relieve the growing emptiness. This one would be different than the others. He wanted an audience; for the entire world to know there was hunter among them.

He'd planned it all out. The desolate area, the weather, the time of day. Women unaware of their surroundings were chosen. Women who were selfish and so consumed by their own lives that nobody else mattered.

He had a list of ten women he'd followed at the park. They came often. They walked, or jogged with their pets, ear pods in, music so loud he could hear it. Some stared into space. If they didn't have dogs to warn them of his presence, he'd be able to trail a foot behind and they'd never think to look back.

He took a deep breath and pulled the hood of his hunting jacket lower over his face. His muscles twitched with anticipation and he lengthened his stride. He brushed branches from his path and moved behind the cover of the trees. Now he waited. She'd come to him.

Historical Fiction Winner: THE OTHER CHOSEN ONE

Name: Marilyn Pontuck

Genre: Historical Fiction

Query: The Pharaoh Akhenaton introduced the concept of a single universal God and fundamentally changed the religion of Egypt. He failed.

First 250 words:

You know, of course, that you cannot keep the infant.

That was not well said, thought Amonhotep. It’s difficult enough for Tiy and there is no reason to make it more so.

He was out of sorts when he said that although that did not excuse him. Aside from a brief visit to Tiy at the start of her ordeal, he had been waiting outside the birthing pavilion and listening to her anguish for hours. When not pacing, he sat, his hands forming fists with each cry that came to him on the evening air.

The sky wore reds and purples as Ra prepared to depart the sky and make his way into the body of Nut. But this day has been much more trying for Tiy than for me. She had already been laboring when Ra appeared in the sky.

The birthing pavilion was located on a far corner of the royal palace grounds of Malkata, separated by dense vegetation and many sacred trees. The four wooden pillars that supported its roof were carved into flowers and painted in yellow for long life and green for fertility. The design of the matted roof showed representations of the gods who protected childbirth -- Hathor, Bes, and Taweret -- rendered in various grasses against a palm leaf background.

The birthing stones at the center of the pavilion had been oiled and scented with exotic musk and essential wood oils in preparation for the birth of a royal child.


Name: Mary Vettel

Genre: Middle Grade

Query: GATSBY DELANEY - 7TH GRADE IMPRESARIO is the story of twelve-year-old Gatsby Delaney, the son of ├╝ber frugal hippies who run an indie bookshop. A recent growth spurt has left him looking like a scarecrow and there’s a school dance looming. Desperate for more money than soda can recycling brings to buy some new clothes, and at his eight-year-old sister Zelda's suggestion, Gatsby lists F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Muse for sale on eBay.

Gatsby survives a frenzied bidding war and discovers the winning bidder is not a kook but a legit author wrestling with writer’s block who desperately needs to channel Fitzgerald’s Muse to finish his book on Zelda Fitzgerald.

Just when Gatsby thinks he’s in the clear without his parents finding out, he learns that the author is coming to Gatsby’s parents’ bookshop for a book signing. And a recent blog on the author’s website reveals he can’t wait to meet and thank the person who sold him Fitzgerald’s Muse. Not wanting to disappoint his parents and be the brunt of teasing at school when his Muse scheme is exposed, Gatsby must devise a plan - short of burning down the bookshop - to squelch the publicity machine that's gearing up for this story.

I am a member of SCBWI. I was a founding member of the Writers Alliance of the East End (of Long Island). A number of my short stories have been published and The Naked Stage of Guild Hall, in East Hampton, NY produced a comedic play of mine (adapted from my novella) in 2010. I was a guest on The Play’s the Thing on LTV to discuss my various projects.

First 250 words:

Seventh graders Gatsby Delaney and Mugsy Tremaine hurried from their last period classroom, jostled through the crowded corridor and out of the building. They waited off to the side for Gatsby’s eight-year-old sister Zelda to arrive from her third grade class.

Mugsy gave her friend a quick once-over. “Dude,” she said quietly. “I’m not even kidding; you look like a scarecrow.”

“Gee, thanks.” Gatsby looked down at his high-water jeans and three inches of forearm exposed by the frayed edges of his shirt. His ears reddened as he pushed his sleeves up to his elbows and attempted to shimmy his jeans down a bit, but they were too snug. “It’s no use.”

“Wow, remember how you used to be shorter than me?” Mugsy held her hand up to the top of her head as though she were saluting, and then moved her hand upward to Gatsby’s forehead. “You’re mad taller than me now. Gats, your parents have to buy you some new clothes,” she whispered.

“Easier said than done. You know how tight they are with a buck; saving for Zelda’s and my college fund and a rainy day.”

“Gats, this is not a good look,” Mugsy assured him. “Listen, they're the ones who named you after some well-dressed rich dude. Remind them you've got that image to uphold. If they wanted you to look like a hobo they should've named you after some Dickens character. No offense."

Gatsby hung his head. “This is beyond embarrassing,” he mumbled.

Dystopain Winner: POWER'S PAWN

Name: Raluca Balasa

Genre: Dystopian


Ebony Arden never imagined she’d see the light of day again, let alone   hold the fate of the country’s most hated leader, General Lucian   Devereaux, in her hands. Both things happen when Ebony’s breakout from   the state-run concentration camp is engineered by an enemy of   Devereaux’s to look like his idea.

Finally, Devereaux’s rivals have the perfect pretext – treason against   the state of Durus Archos – to turn the army against him. Ebony, now   imprisoned at his estate and first on his to-kill list, knows she’s   the only one who can prove the wretched man guilty. Oh, she plans to;   the only problem is that the more time she spends with Devereaux, the   less convinced she becomes that he’s the cause of the war. Worse   still, she forms a fragile bond with the man she’d written off as   heartless.

But Devereaux’s rivals need him gone to release a new biological   weapon that he refuses to condone. Fearing their rule might not be any   better than his, Ebony’s suddenly not sure she wants to prove   Devereaux guilty of treason – but continuing to play house with a man   who may or may not be using her seems equally dangerous. Only one   thing’s certain: placing her trust in the wrong people could ravage   the world her ancestors had worked so hard to rebuild.


First 250 words:


General Lucian Devereaux strode the Cliffhanger’s halls with anger   pulsing in his temples, paying little attention to the two men in   black and their captive who hung his head and dragged his feet. The   men saluted, then continued to a winding stone staircase that would   take them to the dungeons. As they passed, Lucian caught a whiff of   something metallic in the air.


He’d let nothing distract him thus far to the conference room, but   this made him pause. He closed his eyes for a moment and exhaled a   long sigh through his nose. “Wait.”

 Both men stopped on the first step, turned. “Sir?”

 Lucian approached them with his hands clasped behind his back, his   gaze travelling down to the prisoner’s swollen, mangled leg. Blood   streaked the entrance hall’s marble floors where the prisoner had been   dragged.

“What happened?” Lucian demanded through clenched teeth.

The taller of the men grunted. “The scum put up a fight, General.”

“I need my prisoners healthy enough for experimentation. This man is   in septic shock.”

 Both men blinked. “Forgive us, General, we weren’t aware –”

 Lucian’s fury intensified like a fist to the stomach, and judging by   the men’s paling faces, they saw it in his expression. “It would be   wise,” he warned them, keeping his voice soft, “not to make such a   mistake again. Ensure that he dies quickly and painlessly.”

He tightened his grip on the parchment in his hand and swept from the   hallway before they could start their witless utterances of apology.

Fantasy Winner: EYES OF STONE

Name: Becky Regalado

Genre: Fantasy


Anaiiya always believed she was human, despite the feuding natures at war within her. One compels her to protect others from harm, no matter the cost. The other fills her with an ever-increasing lust for violence. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but sometimes giving in just feels so good... Then she witnesses an unprovoked attack against the city’s gargoyle tribe. Her contrary instincts work together for the first time, and she awakens covered in blood with no memory of how she killed the men sent to destroy them. Impressed, the gargoyles offer Anaiiya a home in their Tower in exchange for her continued protection during the day, while they are incapacitated by sunlight. But they don’t know about her bloodthirsty compulsions—or the way stone crumbles into powder at her touch or how the river boils when she sings—which grow stronger and more irresistible with every drop of blood she spills. The next time she kills someone, even in defense of her tribe, she could lose control of the demonic heritage uncoiling within her. And if she loses control, she could kill her new family herself. Now a group of pro-human fanatics has targeted the gargoyles and the strange young woman who protects them. An army of men prepares to storm the Tower, and Anaiiya's only hope to save her beloved tribe is to give in to the darkness—and hope it doesn’t destroy them first.

First 250 words:

Anaiiya had approached the Tower many times—always prior to sunset, while the beasts slept. To venture near the monolith at night was foolish. Suicidal, even. But if she wanted the gargoyles to chase her, she needed to get their attention...and the best way to do that was to threaten them. A dangerous idea; an insane idea.

Well, who would miss her if the worst should happen? Beggars were mourned by no one.

The gravel in the courtyard skittered before her bare feet as she approached the Tower, the cool spring wind howling through the courtyard. Grit sliced through her threadbare clothing and stung her skin. Pebbles cut her bare feet, hardened though they were from years of scrambling through stony streets. She bit her bottom lip and wrung the sacks in her hands, sweat trickling down the back of her neck as she watched the balcony three hundred feet above. No challenge came. She swallowed and hurried onto the ancient stone steps.

Anaiiya set the sacks down and reached out to touch the door with one hand, amazed at how smooth the petrified wood veneer felt beneath her ragged fingertips. In truth, the door was eight inches thick and cast from solid iron, its rotted appearance merely an illusion to keep the occasional curiosity-seeker at bay.

As she drew her fingers down the stony planks, a sudden vision flashed through her mind of a monster pressed against the other side, watching her with shining teeth and barely-contained rage.

Romance Winner: THE LIES THAT BIND

Name: Christine Canada

Genre: Romance


Blackmail isn’t the best way to start a relationship. When honor student, Haley Patterson, hears that school hottie, Bryce Colton, is telling everyone they hooked up over the weekend, she discovers it’s a case of mistaken identity. The girl he hooked up with gave Haley’s name to hide the fling from her cage-fighting boyfriend. With her reputation at stake, Haley gives Bryce an ultimatum. Either he pretends to be her boyfriend for a few weeks, or he faces his own personal death match with the cage fighter.

The plan to save her reputation backfires when Bryce’s ex-girlfriend spreads rumors about Haley. Bryce does his best to protect Haley from his ex and the new rumors, but that’s as far as his interest goes. He has no desire to date Haley for real. She isn’t his type. He prefers tall, curvy girls who nod, smile and agree with everything he says, not short, opinionated girls who are quick to argue and have two older brothers who threaten to feed him through a wood chipper feet first. Haley sees glimpses of a decent guy under Bryce’s detached elitist attitude, and if she can bring him out they might have a chance at a real relationship. Can a relationship based on lies turn into true love?

The Lies That Bind placed second in the Windy City RWA Four Seasons Contest. I’m a member of RWA and SCBWI.

First 250 words:

 “Tell me it’s true,” Jane demanded.

I’d just stepped out of my yellow Volkswagen Bug, in the Greenbrier High school parking lot, when my best friend descended on me. “What are you talking about?”

She jumped up and down in her brown, furry Uggs. “Everyone’s talking about it, Haley. It’s so exciting.”

I placed one hand on her shoulder to make her stand still. Merry-go-rounds make me sick. Watching her bounce after I scarfed down an Egg McMuffin on the drive to school wasn’t a good idea. “What are you talking about?”

“Bryce Colton is telling everyone you hooked up after the bonfire Friday night.”

“What?” Okay maybe I said that a little loud since everyone in the parking lot turned and stared. I hooked my arm through Jane’s and steered her toward the sidewalk. “I went to the bonfire with you. Do you remember seeing me naked with Bryce Colton?”

She pouted and kicked a rock off the sidewalk. “I thought maybe you went back after you dropped me off.”

I stopped walking. “Why do you sound disappointed?”

“It would be nice if one of us had a sex life.”

I laughed so hard I snorted. That’s one of the reasons I’m best friends with Jane. You never know what she’s going to say.

“Sorry to disappoint you. My life is as boring as ever.”

She tugged me toward the main entrance of the school. “That’s not true. You’re the talk of the school.”

Urban Fantasy Winner: THE WAITING ROOMS

Name: Derek McFadden

Genre: Urban Fantasy


Fifty-five-year-old Terrence McDonald is shocked when the doorbell rings and his mother, dead twenty years, announces she’s come to help him move into the afterlife. There, Terrence meets his panel--three beings charged with deciding how and where he’ll spend eternity.

Before the panel can make their decision, Terrence is called away for an interview with God, referred to as “The Boss”. Terrence uses this opportunity to confront Him about being born with cerebral palsy. In the course of his dialogue with God, Terrence is given a brief reprieve and is returned to his life so that he may keep a promise to his beloved wife. Terrence and those around him learn all of life is interconnected. And no one is perfect--not even God.

This is a story about the universalities that bind us and make us human, and the differences that make each life unique.

I have published in Cerebral Palsy Magazine and the online Audacity Magazine. I was born with cerebral palsy, and I used how palsy helped shape my life to offer a viewpoint few have seen in adult fiction.

First 250 words:

Chapter 1, Death, Part 1

Terrence McDonald is 55. The year is 2045.

The TV is on, and I lie on the couch half-watching, half-listening to a football game on a bitter Sunday afternoon. The doorbell rings.

“Who is it?” I call out, expecting to hear my daughter Chloe’s voice. She’s the one person who visits me. The only person who knows I’m making my home in this little oasis fashioned from wood felled by my own hand.

“Terry, it’s Mom. I’m here to help you move.”

My mom? That’s not possible. She’s....

Wait, to help me move? Oh, God.

I rise from the couch and glance back at my lifeless body, slumped over, grayish-blue.

Shit. I still had more I wanted to do, damn it!

My mom is now inside the cabin. I didn’t invite her to enter. She just materialized, a concerned look on her face.

“Are you okay?”

“No, of course not!” I scream. “So is that it? I’m dead. Just like that?”

She doesn’t say anything, but her silence does.

“How? How did I die?”

Mom puts her hand on my shoulder like she always did when I was a kid and I was upset and needed some time to calm down. “You don’t remember?”

“No, Mom. If I remembered, why would I ask?”

She is silent for a beat. “If you don’t remember… it’s probably best that I stay quiet for now. My job is to take you Home.”

Winners of the Writing-Critique Contest

Last night, the Utica Writers Club judged the Writing Contest.  The members were thrilled by the amazing entries – unfortunately, only one could win for each genre.  We all wish to congratulate those winners:

  • Adult Dystopian – POWER’S PAWN by Raluca Balasa
  • Fantasy – EYES OF STONE by Becky Regalado
  • Urban Fantasy – THE WAITING ROOMS by Derek McFadden
  • Romance – THE LIES THAT BIND by Christine Canada
  • Historical Fiction – THE OTHER CHOSEN ONE by Marilyn Pontuck
  • Young Adult Dystopian – THIRTY DECIBELS by Margo Rowder
  • Young Adult – GHOST STORY by Carolyn Chambers Clark
  • Mystery – HERON PARK by Christine King-Raggio
  • Adult Fiction – MUSINGS FROM MIDDLE AGE by Donna Luck-Martin
I will be posting the winning entries.  Please feel free to comment on the entries and offer your own feedback.  A new pair of eyes is always helpful to writers! 

The winners will each receive a five-page critique from a published author.  The club wishes to thank those authors who have contributed their time to critiquing.  This contest wouldn’t have worked without you guys!  The Utica Writers Club hopes to host future contest.  We’re eager to hear your suggestions. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I received a copy of ANGEL EYES by Shannon Dittemore, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  It is her first novel, about a young woman named Brielle, which is short for Gabrielle.  She has always loved to dance, and happened to be discovered by a talent scout.  Using a scholarship, she left her country town for a boarding school in the city – and found deep tragedy.  I won’t ruin the surprise for you by telling you what the tragedy is, but I was disappointed in how long the secret was dragged out.  It felt like a writer’s ploy to keep the reader reading, rather than important to the story.  Knowing the tragedy right away might have enhanced my enjoyment of the overall book, but instead, I was a little irritated by how long it took before Brielle revealed it. 

Back to the story, Brielle returns home.  Her father is her only living parent, and does his best to make her feel better.  He felt a little too lenient for me.  Maybe I just have overprotective parents, but it seemed like he gave her a little too much space, acting more like a neighbor than a dad. 

Brielle meets the new boy at school, Jake.  He’s hot and warm, something she needs because she feels so cold.  His guardian turns out to be an angel.  He gives Jake his halo, which allows Jake to heal people.  When Jake gives it to Brielle, she gets to See.  I really enjoyed the angel aspects of the story.  They reminded me of the television show, Supernatural.  Then, there is a fallen angel, mysteries from her life in the city, and inner struggles.

Overall, I enjoyed this young adult novel.  Shannon Dittemore’s storytelling voice is hard to resist.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


May 20th is the deadline to submit to the writing contest, so make sure to email me your submissions as soon as possible!  The Utica Writers Club will judge on May 23rd and the winners will be notified soon after.  The winners from each genre receive a 5 page critique from a published author.

Submit your fist 250 words and query letter for the chance to win! 

More information can be found on this previous post:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I received a copy of SWIPE by Evan Angler from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. It is juvenile fiction – a mixture of middle grade and young adult. As I read, I couldn’t decide which age group it leaned toward, but I think thirteen and up would be best. Some of the topics, such as the oppressive government, might be too mature for children, even though nothing in it was really inappropriate.

In SWIPE, whenever someone turns thirteen, the government gives him or her a Mark. This Mark, imprinted on their body, allows them to be “free.” For example, they can buy ice cream. Logan, however, is dreading his Mark – when his sister, Lily, was Marked, the government told his family she’d died. Now, he’s petrified of the dark and feels that something is watching him. Enter Erin, a Marked girl who recently moved to the city. Her dad works for the government. According to Erin, as soon as her dad solves his case, they can go home. The case leads her to Logan and the Markless, those who strive to live without the Mark.

The story explores an interesting take on a futuristic world. Most of the country is hard to live in and the West Coast has been destroyed by an Earthquake. The world leans toward a Global Union. Although I don’t normally read dystopian novels, this kept my attention from the first chapter to the end.

While I did enjoy SWIPE, a few points felt awkward. The prologue was confusing and didn’t really pique my interest. After reading the entire novel, the prologue made much more sense. Some sentences felt too 2012, such as “That’s neat.” I would have liked to see more futuristic terminology. Also, the kids in the story seemed too old for thirteen, or almost thirteen.

I recommend SWIPE to dystopian fans, as well as youthful readers. It offers an interesting take on what the world might become.