Friday, April 15, 2011

Spilling Ink Writing Contest for Young Authors

It's The 2nd Annual SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST for Grades 4-8

It's spring and we're jumping right into a writing extravaganza  using  the fabulous book SPILLING INK co-authored by the dynamic writing team, Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter. SPILLING INK is a humorous and inspiring book of advice, questions, and writing prompts for young writers. I'm holding a copy in my hand right now that's been donated by Anne and will be sent to the 1st place WINNER of the Contest (along with other prizes). YOUNG AUTHORS can purchase a copy of their own through Scholastic at a very affordable price!
You'll definitely want to check out the web-site for the book. Here's the link:   Just click and go! By the way, even if you're not a teen or tween, you'll find a lot of good advice in Spilling Ink that will inspire you. Ever have trouble with sub-plots? Need I say more?

First, you'll read about the authors who are participating, and then you'll learn all the prizes and how to enter this fabulous contest!
Just in case you don't already know the FANTASTIC authors who have donated books for the contest, here's a little bit about them:

Anne Mazer is the author of over forty books for young readers, including the award-winning The Salamander Room, the Sister Magic series, and the bestselling The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes series. Her favorite thing about being a writer is being able to write in the middle of the night in her pajamas. I've known Anne for twenty years, and she is amazing and lots of fun. She sparkles!

Learn more about Anne here:

Ellen Potter is the author of the award-winning middle-grade Olivia Kidney series, as well as the middle-grade novels Pish Posh and Slob. Ellen's favorite thing about being a writer is that she gets to spend the day with Mongolian yak herders, psychics, and bank-robbing wood sprites without ever leaving her house.

Learn more about Ellen here:

K.L. Going is the award winning author of numerous books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association, and was included on YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults list and their list of Best Books for the Past Decade.  K.L. began her career working at one of the oldest literary agencies in New York City. She lives in Glen Spey, NY where she both writes and runs a business critiquing manuscripts. She’s also a mom to the world’s cutest child.
To visit KL on-line go to

Wendy Townsend, a graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program, teaches workshops for children’s writing at Empire State College and at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. She is a lifelong lover of animals and nature and has shared her home with many large lizards since she was eight years old. In 1993 she co-authored and illustrated Iguanas: A Guide to Their Biology and Captive Care. Her first novel, Lizard Love was published by Front Street Books in 2008. Her latest title, The Sundown Rule, was published by namelos this spring!

Clara Gillow Clark--That's me! I write, teach, blog, and make cloth dolls. I studied writing at New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village and SUNY Binghamton. I'm the recipient of  International Reading Young Adult Choice Award and Bank Street College Best Books 2004. Read my bio here:  It's a little out of date, but some things don't change! In case you didn't guess, I LOVE kids!

 Now, onto the SPILLING INK CONTEST!!!

To celebrate young authors, I'm sponsoring a Writing Contest for grades 4-8. If you know of a young writer or if you are a teacher, librarian or interested parent, please pass this information along.  Thank you!
The contest will run from April 15th until May 1st. The winner will be announced on May 7th. Anne Mazer and Wendy Townsend are acting as judges this year.All cash prizes are donated by me!

First prize: $25 Cash prize and autographed books by Anne Mazer, Ellen Potter, and Wendy Townsend, plus publication on my blog.
2nd prize: $15  Cash Prize, and autographed books by Anne Mazer, K.L.Going, and Clara Gillow Clark, plus publication on my blog.
3rd prize:  $10 Cash  Cash Prize, an autographed book by Clara Gillow Clark (that's me), and publication on my blog.
All entries must be sent directly to me  If you attend a private/public school,
the entry must include the name of your school and your Librarian or English Teacher or Reading Specialist or Writing Teacher. (They may enter for you if your school computers don't allow access) You may enter more than once, but your entry must use one of the writing prompts below in about 200-300 words. Longer entries will be automatically disqualified.

Writing Prompts from SPILLING INK the Book:
Writing Prompt #1: I DARE YOU Rewrite a scene from your life. Think of something that happened today. Something that wasn't perfect--maybe something that was even downright mortifying--and rewrite it as you would have wanted it to happen. (Tip from me: Remember that scenes have a beginning, middle, and end!)

Writing Prompt #2:  I DARE YOU Think of two people you admire. Now think of the thing you admire most about each of them. Combine those two qualities into one person and write about that person in the following situation: She or he is walking down the street and a strange man hands your character a small sealed carton and says, "Don't let anything happen to this!" Then the man sprints away. What does your character do next?
Writing Prompt #3 from Wendy Townsend and ME: Is there a pet you wish you could have? Is it a wild animal? Maybe a goldfish, cat, dog, white mouse, a lizard or a snake? Perhaps, your pet is imaginary? You really really want this pet. Write about all the ways you might go about getting this pet. Now write a scene where you put that plan into action.

ALL READERS: Leave a comment here to win an autographed copy of any one of my books--your choice!
YOUNG AUTHORS: Enter the writing contest for a chance to win a $$CASH PRIZE, autographed books by the featured authors above, and a GUEST SPOT on my blog by submitting your writing here:  Good luck writers! I look forward to hearing from you soon. Remember the deadline is May 1st!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interview with SPILLING INK CONTEST judge, Wendy Townsend

Dear Readers,

Please join me in welcoming one of the judge's for the contest, my good friend and esteemed colleague, Wendy Townsend. Wendy was recently featured in Kirkus Book Review Journal. Her book garnered a starred review, a personal interview, and her book jacket on the cover of the journal! Congratulations, Wendy! You'll learn more about Wendy in the SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST coming up right here on Friday! Wendy is donating an autographed copy of her book, SUNDOWN RULES for the Spilling Ink Writing Young Author Writing Contest for grades 4-8.

Your comments are always appreciated! Thanks so much for joining us for this mid-week post!

The Lure of Bare Feet in Mud

by Jenny Brown on March 25, 2011 | Children's
Wendy Townsend spent her childhood summers near Michigan’s Marl Lake, home to 12-year-old Louise, the narrator of her latest novel, The Sundown Rule. Louise is inseparable from her cat, Cash. She also provides food to the nearby crows and rescues baby animals. When her father leaves Brazil on a nature-writing assignment, Louise must spend the summer with her highly allergic Aunt Kay and Uncle Jack in the suburbs—and leave Cash behind. Like Louise, Townsend finds solace in nature. Here the author discusses nature’s profound effect on humans and the dangers of severing that connection.
Check out more books about children and the wild world.
Louise tells readers what she’s thinking through her observations and her senses. Do you naturally write in such a spare way?
I haven’t always liked to write. I started out writing articles for nature magazines and co-authored a care guide [for iguanas] with a veterinarian. I’ve kept large iguanas since I was 8 years old. I thought fiction would be a better way to say what I wanted to say about the value of animals to us as human beings. [My editor] Stephen Roxburgh is a great teacher in terms of economy of language. I wanted to step inside the child character and write as a witness of what was going on—to get out of my head, into a place of seeing and smelling and hearing.
You’re also nonjudgmental when it comes to animals. Louise knows, for instance, that crows steal other birds’ hatchlings but “loved the crows anyway.”
I want people to rethink how they look at animals, especially crows, snakes, bugs and spiders, as if there’s no sentience there and no society. They do have society. They have a lot to teach us. I found my grounding and my security at a very early age with those animals and in nature. When you’re standing in a pond with your bare feet in mud, that’s about as good as it gets and as safe as you can feel.
When Louise becomes friends with Sarah, Sarah’s father also becomes an important ally for Louise. He has that insightful response when Louise describes missing Cash: “Animals give us something special, don’t they? Something people can’t.”
It is an inchoate thing. The word that comes to mind is “wonder.” Animals do look at us as much as we look at them. Maybe even more. As a species, we are alone on the planet in many ways. We’ve put ourselves there. People who have pets or working farms do have companionship with nature. John Berger wrote an essay called, “Why look at animals?” He says that “With their parallel lives, animals offer companionship… to the loneliness of man as a species.” That has always resonated with me.
Louise hints at the spirituality that grows out of her love of nature. One of the great moments in the book is her conversation with Sarah about whether animals have a soul.
When I had the relationship with the real friend [who inspired Sarah], the wonderful thing about this person is that she was able to manage her mother’s extreme religious fanaticism and still go on these turtle walks and frog hunts with me. In my family we weren’t churchgoers. My grandmother was a bird-watcher and gardener, and believed in Mother Nature. I think that what I was pondering was, I was seeing what Sarah gives to Louise in terms of companionship, but what does Louise give to Sarah? I feel like Louise gives Sarah this window into nature.
Louise is as comfortable in solitude as she is in the company of those she loves. Do you think that’s something our society is giving up? Is it a challenge to seek out those stretches of solitude?
Children are used to stimuli, and what happens if they don’t get that stimulus? They have to learn how to be quiet and still and alone. I don’t know how else you can feel grounded and steady with yourself. Nature has that to offer us. It’s emotional safety to be still and quiet, and feeling everything and seeing everything is calming. It’s very hard to find that today.
What’s next for you?
My third novel will center around an incident in May 2008 in the Grand Cayman Islands: people broke into the Blue Iguana Recovery Program and brutally murdered eight of the primary breeding adults. They haven’t caught them yet and they don’t know why. Blue Iguanas are incredible, they’re in the same genus as the [West Indian rhino iguanas] my husband and I have. Blue iguanas are functionally extinct, and there’s been an effort to keep them alive. For me it tipped it, I see snapping turtles who’ve been run over, and I’m heartbroken when an animal is hit and didn’t need to be. I needed to write a book about coming to terms with cruelty to animals. It’s also a road not taken, because I almost became a marine biologist, but realized I’m more of an artist than a scientist. It feels like an important story for me to tell.
Pub info:
The Sundown Rule
Wendy Townsend
Namelos / March / 9781608980994 / $18.95
(Ages 8-12)

Congratulations, Wendy,on all the great reviews for your new book, SUNDOWN RULES!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Who is the Lucky Winner of BLUE -- Plus Upcoming Spilling INK Writing Contest

Dear Readers, 

Announcing the winner is always an exciting moment for me, but first I'm announcing the long awaited for news of the 2nd Annual Spilling Ink Creative Writing Contest for grades 4-8. Last year was such a successful and satisfying event, that we're doing it again. All details about the contest, the judges, and the MANY prizes will be announced on Friday, April 15th, right here on my blog. Hope you'll spread the word to the budding authors in your life!

And now, announcing the winner of BLUE by  Award Winning Joyce Moyer Hostetter:


Joyce Moyer Hostetter
The LUCKY Winner is:
***Lorrie Ziemba***


Lorrie, Please e-mail me: claragillowclark(@)gmail(.) com with your mailing address ASAP, and Joyce will have your book in the mail to you this week!

Be sure to check out Joyce's wonderful blog and web-site if you haven't already!

Watch for the details of  the Spilling Ink Writing Contest coming your way on FRIDAY, April 15th! 
Please take a moment to congratulate the WINNER of BLUE.  THANK YOU!  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Part VIII Interview -- Discovering America's Past through Historical Fiction

Dear Readers,

Wasn't Joyce's confession of  her research feeling deliciously sinful a treat? She's back now with more delicious insights about her writing and research process. Joyce learned this past week that her book, Comfort, is being released in paperback this fall! Congratulations, Joyce!

Be sure to check out her links and books at the end of the interview, and please take a moment to post a comment about her interview or to congratulate her on Comfort going to paperback this fall. I know that a lot of you are history lovers, so we'd also love to learn what children's book written or set in the 1940's is a favorite with you!  Thanks so much! The WINNER of  the autographed copy of BLUE will be announced next week along with details for the "2nd Annual Spilling Ink Writing Contest". Now, here's Joyce . . .

Joyce Moyer Hostetter
1.  What drew you to this time period—WWII on the home front? In the American South?  
 I was raised in the American south so I think it was inevitable that I would eventually write a story set here. But I was actually working on a 19th century Hawaii story when I met Editor, Carolyn Yoder at a writing conference. After getting her feedback on that manuscript, I signed up for a history writing workshop with her (one of those fabulous Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops!). Before going, I received an assignment to research and begin writing about local history.  I contacted my county’s history museum for some ideas, discovered the polio epidemic, and as a result, BLUE was born.

I also have an affinity for the ‘40s.  I think that’s because it is the era of my parent’s marriage and the establishment of our family so even though I wasn’t born in the 40’s I do feel rooted in them.
2. What were some of the challenges you encountered when researching and/or writing about a time period that encompassed a World War, a polio epidemic, and racism?
I think my biggest challenge was getting past my own fear of the process.  It takes a certain amount of courage to contact total strangers and probe into their painful life experiences.  And at that point I didn’t have a strong book to put into people’s hands to demonstrate that I could actually write.  I believed I could do it but I wasn’t sure they would have reason to bother with me. From researching BLUE, I learned that people are typically eager to share their experience and knowledge with anyone who will listen. I realized that my interest in their stories is validating for them.  Since then, I have practiced probing more deeply and casting my research net more widely.  The research trail is endless and I could travel it forever!

3. How did you find your emotional connection (13 years old?) to Ann Fay and the story of polio?
I think it is called Arrested Development! Remembering how I felt at 13 is not all that hard for me. Like Ann Fay, I faced things that were bigger than I was. I felt some of the same social pressures she did. I worked in the family garden.  I was part of a strong family and caring rural community and church group. Those are the things I brought to the story.

While working on BLUE and thinking about whom my character would be, I remembered that a friend told me that when he was 14 years old his father died.  At his father’s funeral a woman told him, “I guess you’ll have to be the man of the house now.”  This friend told me “I didn’t want to be the man of the house. I wasn’t ready for that responsibility.”

So you see I also drew on my friend’s emotion.  I wanted to create a character who faced incredible challenges and discovered unexpected inner strength. Maybe that is the part of me that is still like Ann Fay.  I want to know if I can do hard things. She now inspires me!

4. Can you offer any research tips or insights into your writing process?
I begin my research by reading as much as I can on my topic and all related areas that might influence my story. This gives me ideas for possible plot points.  It also leads me to much more research as one resource tends to lead to another.  It’s very much like going down a trail. I just follow along totally delighted by each new discovery. I meet great people who know things I want to know and are pleased to share them with me. I visit fun places, read great books, and watch fascinating movies. I visit museums and dusty archives. If possible, I walk the land where my story takes place. I try to get as close to the subject of my story as I can. I want to feel that I am there and I always find amazing spiritual connections that take me there.

5. What was your favorite book as a child?  Hmmmm- I really have trouble choosing one favorite anything. When I was younger I loved Heidi.  A few years later I read Anne Frank’s diary and it has remained a very strong favorite.  I believe Anne is why I explore tragic themes and why I write historical novels today.

6. What can you share about your current project? I can tell you that it is the story of a German immigrant family to America.  That it takes place over a long period of time and that I am going to Germany in a few weeks to get up close and personal with parts of the story that take place over there.  Oh, and I’m learning German! I forgot to mention language study in that question about research. 

Thanks for leaving a comment!