Tag Archives: writing contest

YA Writer Contest: Flaunt Your Comps


search-2 Hi, Linda’s intern Tara here! So, we’re having a YA Comp Contest! (I’m doing YA again because not only am I most familiar with YA books, but we have a great YA book as a prize!) The winner will receive an Advanced Reader Copy of Carl Hiaasen’s new book, Skink No Surrender, plus a copy of Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein’s must-read guide for children’s book writers, Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults. SecondSightFinalCover-9

Making a comparison of your manuscript to another book can tell a lot about your work. It makes it easier for an agent or editor to imagine who your reader might be. Your manuscript doesn’t need to be identical to a book for you to compare the two. You don’t want it to come off sounding like your manuscript is the doppelganger of another title. Instead, pick a few aspects of your work that compare to those same aspects in another book. This demonstrates that yours has some really great qualities that have worked for other writers. Thinking about the books that are similar to your work is a healthy and helpful exercise. Then when you write your query letter you can include your comp, if you like.

searchHere’s an example of what I mean:

Four teenaged girlfriends spend their first summer apart, yet are still connected by their deep bond of friendship and a magical pair of pants that brings luck to each of them in unexpected ways. SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS is like a teenaged version of DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD in a light-hearted way showing how strong female friendships can impact our lives.search-1

Here are the Comp Contest rules:

  • Write a logline for your YA novel. (If you’re not sure how to write a logline, refer to my post about them.)
  • Pick one YA book that you think is the best comparison for your work. In one-to-two sentences, describe how your manuscript is similar to that book. Don’t forget to include the title and author of the book you’re using.
  • Post your entry into the comment box below.
  • Entries must be submitted before midnight (EST) on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.
  • Only one entry per person (and sorry, but Linda’s clients may not enter).
  • This contest is open to U.S. & Canadian residents only, due to the high cost of international shipping.
  • Winners will be posted here on Friday, August 8th.

Now, put your YA book knowledge to the test and find your perfect comparison!


8025427_1Tara Slagle is Linda Epstein‘s intern and is working toward her M.S. in Publishing at Pace University. After completing her degree she would like to work in the publishing world as either an acquisitions editor or literary agent, focusing on YA and (the emerging) New Adult titles. 



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True Story Flash Fiction Contest: When a Lot of Nothing Happens

Silhouette-policeofficerEarly yesterday morning,  I was still in bed in my pajamas, and my teenaged kids were still in their pajamas, and my son tentatively knocked on my bedroom door.

“Mom,” he said, “there’s a police officer outside the house.”

Curious, I went downstairs to see what was happening outside. I live in a very quiet, suburban neighborhood, where a lot of nothing happens. But what my son meant was that there was a police officer at our front door! My heart started beating faster as I opened the door.

“Can I help you?” I said.

I hadn’t heard a siren and the light wasn’t flashing on the top of his car. What was wrong? Did something happen with one of the neighbors?

He said, “I found this on the sidewalk in Sea Cliff and it has your name on it.”

Oh shit. What did I do? What was he handing me?

“Did you write this check?” he said.

A check? Did I write a bad check?

I took the check he was handing me and looked down at it.  I had indeed written this and given it to somebody the day before.

“Um, yes,” I said. (As you can see, first thing in the morning I’m  loquacious and bodacious in my verbal skills!)

I felt the blood pounding in my ears as I looked back down at the check.

“They must have dropped it,” he said.

I don’t know why, but I blushed as I looked up at the tall uniformed police officer.

“You drove from Sea Cliff all the way to my house, to give me a check that you found on the sidewalk?” I said.

He said,  “I thought it was the easiest way to get it back to you.”


“Um, thanks.” I said (still astounding everyone with my verbal skills).

“No problem,” he said, “Have a nice day.”

And he turned and went back to his police car. I closed the door and faced the group of pajama’d teenagers who were now clustered behind me, trying to hear what was going on.

“He drove from Sea Cliff to our house, to give me a check I had written to somebody yesterday, which they had apparently dropped on the sidewalk.”

There was a moment of silence as we all just stood there taking it in.

Ok, writers and kibbitzers and know-it-alls: How would you have written this true story? E-mail me your version by noon Friday (EDT), July 19th and the “winner” will have the pleasure of having their story posted on my blog on Monday! Must be 400 words or less and please include a 3 sentence bio with your entry. (E-mail entries only. Don’t send me a story in “comments.”)

Thanks to all the people who played with me! The contest is now closed.

Check back on Monday, July 22nd to see who won! 


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FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: The fate of Helga and Wolfgang

Two weeks ago, in one of client Joe McGee’s guest posts on dialogue, he used the following bits of dialogue, as different examples of what dialogue can accomplish:

“Honey, it’s a boy,” said Helga.Helga

“I’m so happy, I could raid a village,” Wolfgang said.

“Good, because we need milk.”


“Are you serious?” said Helga.

“Completely serious.”

“I don’t believe you,” she said.

“I’m serious,” said Wolfgang, “I drank all the milk…and ate their cows.”



“Busy!” He planted his axe in the giant’s foot.

“That’s no excuse,” said Helga.

“No excuse? I’m fighting a giant!”

“And I’m nursing a baby.”


“Milk. Now,” said Helga, slamming the shutters closed.


“So…” said the giant. He looked down at the axe in his foot. “Here we are.”

“Here. We. Are,” said Wolfgang. He smiled up at the massive creature. “Don’t suppose you’d like to help me with my axe? It appears to be stuck.”

“In my foot,” said the giant.

Wolfgang nodded. “Yep.”

“Not particularly,” the giant said. “I’d much rather squash you.”



“Wolfgang” by Joe McGee

But wait! What? That’s it!? What about Wolfgang? What about his axe? What about Helga and that baby? Will Wolfgang get the milk or will the giant squash him? I need to know!

So, that’s NOT it, my friends… YOU are challenged to pen the ending to Joe’s story. Be funny, be epic, be gritty, or romantic. Whatever you do, be creative. The story is yours!

Here are the rules to this FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE (and here, there be PRIZES):

1. You have 1 week to post your entry. The contest closes at 7am on May 1.

2. 650 word max.

3. Only 1 entry per person

4. Please post your entry as a comment to this challenge

5. The judges will be looking for creativity, good dialogue (this did start as a dialogue post after all), and a compelling/satisfying ending to the tale.

6. The judge’s panel consists of: Joe McGee, R.L. Saunders, and M-E Girard. They tell me they cannot be bought, bribed, or otherwise coerced… but wait! Is that bacon? Bacon wrapped in cheese? Joe, step away from the bacon…

8. A first place prize and a runner up will be awarded, with first place winning a first page critique of your manuscript by me and the runner up getting a book on the craft of writing (I’ll make sure it’s something you don’t already have).

9. The winner & runner up will be announced on Wednesday, May 8.

So, have at it! Let’s see what you come up with. The fate of the milk, axe, and our Vikings is in your hands. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

**If you are one of my clients you can enter for fun but you are not eligible to win one of the prizes.


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