Wing's World

Will Backpack For Chocolate

Wing's World

And the Winner Is…My Book; Now, How Much Do I Owe You?

What newly-published Young Adult novelist  doesn’t want to see this in her email inbox? 
The DANTE ROSSETTI 2014 AWARDS for Young Adult Fiction Official First Category Winners

dante-rosettiThe Dante Rossetti  Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Young Adult, T’weens, New Adult, & Children’s  fiction. The First Place Category Winners will be recognized at the Chanticleer Authors Conference and Awards Gala held in late September 2015.

The DANTE ROSSETTI FIRST PLACE 2014 Award Winners are:

  • Steampunk: Padgett Lively for Odette Speex: Time Traitors, Book 1
  • Contemporary: Gretchen Wing for The Flying Burgowski
  • CyberPunk: Jesikah Sundin for Legacy: The Biodome Chronicles, Book 1
  • Romance: Roni Teson for Twist
  • High Fantasy: S.A. Hunter for Elanraigh: The Vow
  • Blended Genre: Nely Cab for Fruit of Misfortune: Creatura Book 2
  • Science Fiction: Chris Pawlukiewicz for Dreams of a Red Horizon
  • Dystopian: Scott Smith for  An Outcast State
  • Mythological:  Stephanie Keyes for The Star Catcher
  • Lighthearted/Humorous:  Elizabeth Barlo: Ruth 66
  • New Adult:  Tiana Warner for Ice Massacre
  • Teen Fantasy: Elisabeth Hamill for Song Magick
  • Tweens : Mark Murphy  for The Curse of the Thrax
  • Children’s: Kirsten Pulioff for The Escape of Princess Madeline
  • Manuscript: Ben Hutchins for The Lackawanna Prophecies: Black Shadow  
  • Honorable Mentions:  P. J. Martin for Riding with Crazy Horse (manuscript)

See my book? I highlighted The Flying Burgowski in red just to make her stand out. 

This is great news. I’m totally bragging on myself announcing this to everyone I know.

The email goes on to wish all the winners luck in competing for the Grand Prize, and to invite us to the conference and Awards Gala:

Good Luck to the Dante Rossetti First Place Category Winners as they compete for the Dante Rossetti Awards 2014 GRAND PRIZE position!

The 2014 Dante Rossetti FIRST PLACE category winners will be recognized at the Chanticleer Authors Conference and Awards Gala that will take place in September 2015. The Dante Rossetti 2014 Grand Prize winner will be announced at the Awards Gala.

But there’s a teensy catch: $$$$. I won’t go into details about how much this conference costs, even with the discount given to winners. I can’t fit a weekend conference into my current work schedule, so I’m thinking of just attending the final day, with the cocktail party and awards gala…and even that price tag makes me choke a little. I know, I know, these events are expensive to put on. And I really can’t pass up this opportunity for mainstream exposure for my book. And I’m super excited and grateful for being chosen.

It’s just…yikes. That’s a lot of money for one day. And I can’t help but notice that the organizers have misspelled Dante Rosetti’s last name on their invitation. Makes me a little uneasy.

My question for Wing’s World, then, is: should I attend? Anyone have any experience at these events? Worthwhile? Bad idea to miss? Missable? I would love some input here.

“This Kid Reviews Books”: You Gotta Meet This Cool Kid

OK, I have a slight ulterior motive in choosing this moment to introduce you to Erik, a.k.a. This Kid Reviews Books: he’s just reviewed mine! But I am totally enamored of This Kid’s approach to literature aimed at his age group, and wanted to share him with you anyway. Here’s what he says on his “About” page:

Hi, my name is Erik. I love books, so that’s why I have this blog . The reason I’m doing this is for parents to approve of a book, and for kids to find an excellent book too! Speaking of kids, did you know that I am one too? I am 9 1011 12 years old. I got the idea for this blog when my grandmom told me she was shopping for a book for me and didn’t know what to buy and a kid in the store told her to get me “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda”. He said it was a good book and that I would like it, so she bought it. Well, it is a good book and I did like it. I thought that if my grandmom would take the advice of a kid maybe “this kid” (me) could help other kids and grown-ups looking for books for kids, find books they like. Plus my Mom is always trying to find “appropriate” books for me so I am going to include some of her and my Dad’s thoughts on some of the books I read.
Don’t you love him already? OK–now it’s time to hear from Erik directly:

YA Lit Revisited: What About Old Young Adults? OYA Lit, Anyone?

It’s been almost a year and a half since I first addressed this question: “What is YA, Anyway?”

Here’s what I had to say in July of 2013:

In libraries it’s still called “Juvenile,” but everywhere else in the world of books you see this label: YA. It stands for Young Adult. Problem is, YA Lit seems to include everything from Judy Blume’s finding-out-about-your-adolescent-emotions books to some pretty dark, vampiry stuff, not to mention drugs, sex, and language that sounds like plain old Adult, without the Young. So what, exactly, qualifies a book as YA?

Sometimes publishers will subdivide YA into Middle Grades, meaning “Tweens”–11 and 12, I guess–but there’s still this question: what defines it? Is it a book where the main character is 12? Or one which mostly 12 year-olds read? Under that definition, the first two Harry Potter books both would and would not qualify. When those books first came out, I knew as many grownups in love with young Harry as I did kids. (I was one of ‘em!)

Or maybe the definition of YA/Middle Grades is silly, and who cares? Well, I do, but only for this reason: there seem to be certain rules about what you can or can’t publish under these categories. In later posts, I’m going to examine this question, and I’m going to be asking for your input. Whether you are a young reader, a parent, a teacher, a librarian, or all of the above (?!), your opinion is valuable to me as I wend my way through the thickets of YA publication.

Stay tuned.

Still tuned? Good.

It’s now November, 2014. In the past nine months I’ve published two YA/middle grades books–to give them the label that would seem to qualify best, based on genre, story content, age of heroine. Problem is, I keep getting excited, “can’t-put-it-down, when-is-Book-Three-coming-out?” reviews from people in their 30s, 40s, 50s…on up through 70s. (And one 84 year-old, but yeah, my dad doesn’t count.) So IS this YA?

Young people seem to like my first book too–phew!–but I haven’t heard from very many. Clearly, it’s not the “grabby” kind of book most teens and tweens have become accustomed to. It contains no wizards, vampires, zombies, werewolves, nor boyfriends. (Book Two has one of those beings, but it’s only been out for ten days, so I haven’t heard the results yet.)

I’m not complaining. I wrote the story I wanted to write. But I’m still scratching my head over what to call it.

What genre is THIS? (Courtesy Pinterest)

What genre is THIS? (Courtesy Pinterest)

“YA lit for young adults of all ages” is what I find myself saying more and more these days. “A coming-of-age story.” Or, if I’m feeling a little snarkier, “I don’t know–what would you call To Kill a Mockingbird? Is that Tween lit? Well–there ya go.”

Disclaimer: in no way am I claiming to be a writer on par with Ms. Harper Lee. But the point is still valid, right? Can’t you have a story about a young person without it being a story FOR young people?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this–especially that last question. Anyone?

The Kindle Giveaway is Live

I don’t often reblog. In fact, I think I’ve only done it once. But this is too good to pass up. In one post I can promote my fellow Indie authors of middle grade fiction AND offer my fellow readers (or parents of readers) a truly magnificent deal. Take it away, Michelle Isenhoff of Emblazon!

…and for my 200th Post, I Give You: Book Two!

Didn’t plan it this way, but you gotta love the symmetry. Are you ready to get back into the sky with Jocelyn Burgowski?

What if someone hated you just for who you are?

I came around the house to see my brother picking something up from the back steps. “Is that a doll?”

Michael held the thing up. It was a doll, sort of. A soft, shiny one, dressed in a little red toga. With wings made of silvery fabric. “Oh, it’s a Cupid! For Valentine’s Day.”

“Duh,” said my brother. “But what’s it doing on our doorstep? And—oh, man. Look at that. That’s just not right.”

It wasn’t. Cupid has arrows, right? To shoot love through your heart? And this cute little Cupid doll had arrows too, a tiny plastic one set in his plastic bow, and two more in a quiver on his back…plus a fourth one, stuck right through the glossy fabric of his wings.

The chill of the air swooped into my stomach. I couldn’t stop staring at the fake-feather end of that little arrow, its point buried in the silvery wing-sprouts.

Because that was no valentine, to Michael or anyone. That doll was shot through the wings, not the heart.

On tiny Dalby Island, fourteen year-old Jocelyn Burgowski has a hidden enemy. Her flying power is no longer joyous and free—somebody wants to bring the Flyer down. But can Joss fight a force she doesn’t understand? Can she protect her powers without revealing her secret? And can she open her heart to the promise of real love when love itself could be her enemy?

(image by Lanphear Design)

(image by Lanphear Design)

Official Book Launch: October 25th! Stay tuned for more details.

And till then…keep flying!

Going to the Dark Side: Why I Miss Working With–gasp!–Teenagers

“Wow, you’re brave.”

That’s the most common reaction I used to hear when I told strangers that I taught high school.

I knew the images they were reacting to: sensationalized news bits about school shootings or violently defiant juvies. Welcome Back Kotter sweathogs. Or maybe just the mouthiness or sullenness or SOMETHING-ness of their own kids at home.

“I could never deal with that.”

My standard response, laughing: “Oh, the kids are fine. It’s the parents that you should be scared of.”

Kidding–sort of.

It has been three years and ten months since I left the other Wing’s World, my classroom in Tacoma (Room 1603), and I. Miss. Kids.

Has rosy nostalgia clouded up my memory, blotting out all the frustrations with ____, who was obviously brilliant but only ever turned in one piece of writing (about ComiCon, which his mom pulled him out of school for a week to attend)? Or ____, the cheerleader who helped me understand the finer points of what it means to be a Mean Girl? (The secret is in the curl of the lips when saying apparently sweet things.) Or ___, who was such an uncontrollable chatterbox I made him sit at MY desk just to get him far enough away from any potential gossip-mate? (He tried texting.)

(Oh, and don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten their names. I not only remember those, I remember where they sat in my room, and what their handwriting looked like.)

So…is nostalgia distorting my memories of my old career? Of course! Isn’t that nostalgia’s job? Who would do anything hard if the positive memories afterward didn’t outweigh the pain? (Tempted to use the childbirth parallel here…)

I’m riding that wave of nostalgia for real this week, because I GET TO WORK WITH TEENS AGAIN! Well, “work” is an overstatement. And only for a few days.

Next week is the official Launch Party for my YA novel, The Flying Burgowski. And since it’s a book about teenagers, I figured, why not spice up the Author Reading with…teenagers? So I invited four of Lopez Island’s finest young actors (whose work I’ve seen in our Community Shakespeare performances–but that’s another post) to join me in a dramatic reading. We got together twice last week for a read-through. I’m still a little giddy. Call it a contact high from all that open-endedness that teens emanate.

It’s not “energy.” Most normal teenagers, before noon, have less energy than your average banana slug. What draws me to that age group is their sense of possibility. They are walking intersections–the kind with a gazillion roads crossing over each other, some with turns so sharp they appear to be going the opposite way from what the sign indicates. Sullenness might be quiet superiority. Cheeriness might be fear. Inappropriateness might be hope. (Of course it could also just be inappropriateness. Teens are teens!)

(orig. image courtesy

(orig. image courtesy

You may, at this point, be wanting to ask the obvious question: Gretchen, if you like teens so much, and there’s a high school on your island, why don’t you go teach there? Or at least sub? Or tutor?

It’s a damn good question, although one my husband hates to hear. (He once famously told me, “I’d be more excited to see you without essays than without clothes!”) 

My answer is: When we moved here, I promised myself writing time, which does NOT fit with a full-time teaching job. (Believe me, I tried it.) As for subbing or tutoring: I know myself too well. I am #1, really bad at being peripheral–I like to be in the middle of things, if not running them. And #2, I’m horribly susceptible to being needed. So if any kid came to me saying, “I HATE history–Mr. So-and-so is BORING! Why don’t YOU be our teacher?” Ohhh…I’d be toast.

So I’ll make do with four kids reading aloud the various parts from Chapter Five of my novel. But inside, I’ll be soaking up those possibilities.

What do you think of my teenager metaphor? Do you have one of your own? (I mean metaphors, not teens–but you can share about that too.)

Wing’s World Welcomes a New Arrival: The Flying Burgowski

Road Trip IV, Days 14-16 : Dallas to Natchez Trace State Park, Tennessee.

We interrupt this travel blog to bring you an important announcement:

The Flying Burgowski is launched!

Folks, I have so much I want to talk about. The metaphor of birth that keeps surfacing as I bring my “baby” forth into the world. The gratitude I feel toward all the friends who have helped me turn a manuscript into a Book, and toward my wonderful husband for putting up with my distraction as we travel. The difficulty challenge joy of bringing a book to publication via iPad while on the road. And then there’s all this lovely scenery we’re passing through, and the fact that we camped last night in an Arkansas campground that was so deserted even the rangers abandoned us. (The Mate and I were TOTALLY tempted to take off all our clothes and camp in the nude just for the novelty of it, but it was too cold.)


But today is Jocelyn Burgowski’s day. So I’m going to close here with the link where you can check my book out further.

And this question: do you think a book IS like a baby? Why/why not?

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