Friday, December 30, 2011

A Write On! teen shares!

Check out this awesome post by one of our very own Write On! teens. She talks about how Write On! was a big part of her year and what it's done for her as a writer.

If YOU have a Write On! story on your blog, email us a link! We'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Critiques, comments, and feedback!

We've had some awesome comments going on around our eleven Are You Hooked? entries. Thank you to everyone who's given honest, helpful feedback to our brave writers!

Just a reminder not to take any of the feedback personally. Critiques are to help us grow as writers, and have nothing to do with us as people. You all know this already, but sometimes it's good to hear it again, since honest critiques can leave you feeling pretty deflated.

Now go take what you've received and fly with it! We believe in you.

Until next time!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are You Hooked? -- Entry #11

TITLE: Blink
GENRE: YA speculative fiction

Cold potatoes sitting in a pool of butter. Echo pushed her plate away; she never had an appetite when her parents were fighting.

“Fifty dollars!”  That was her father’s voice, coarse and angry. “You didn’t ask.”

Celeste was crying. “Ace, I—”

“FIFTY DOLLARS!” Something shattered in the living room. “You are never to touch my money unless I tell you to buy something.”

“I’m sick of it, Ace!” Celeste’s voice rose shakily. “I can’t even buy a stick of gum without your permission! We are husband and wife—”

“And the money’s mine!” Ace roared.

“So I’m not allowed to buy a dress that I—?” A slap, and Celeste cried out.

“I’m the head of this house.” Something that sounded disturbingly like a body hit the wall. “If you don’t listen to me, I will make you!”

Echo lunged across the table and grabbed little Coraly off the stack of books that served as a high chair.

“Look at me, Coraly,” Echo crooned, aware of the tremble in her voice. “Look at Auntie Echo! That’s my Sweet Pea.”

But Coraly wasn’t listening. Her eyes were large and frightened. “Gamp angry?” she asked, voice soft and tentative.

There was another crash from the living room and Celeste yelled, “Go away! Just get out of here!”

Echo squeezed Coraly tight and whispered, “It’s a game, sweetness. It's only a game.”

Are You Hooked? Entry #10

GENRE: YA Paranormal romance


The rain falls fast, impacting against the metal of the playground with a ricocheting ping. Loud and echoing, it reminds me of bullet casings hitting the ground, like they do in the films my brothers watch. Just as unforgiving; just as final.

There was a time in my life when rain meant nothing much to me. A time where the speed with which it bounced off the ground would not have captured my attention. That was before he came into my life. He took everything I knew, and ripped it up. The way I see the world, my perception of everything, it's all changed. He taught me to see the world through his eyes, and through his eyes, rain fell like bullet casings.

Everything has a violent edge with him. There's always a hint of danger, a gleam of fear. Even the most passionate moments we've shared - our most intense kisses - had an edge of anger to them. Finally, I understand where that comes from. I understand why, in the same moment that he gathers me tenderly in his arms, he’ll be gazing at me with hell in his eyes.

It's all in his mind. It's inside of him. Half of him loves me, completely and utterly. The other half, the side merged with danger and anger, hates me. Despises, loathes and is repulsed by me. By us. By the love we share. The side that torments him.

I stalk him with my eyes, as he does me, from across the empty field.

Are You Hooked? Entry #9

TITLE: Suckered In
GENRE: I'm not quite sure... YA, maybe?

I first met Thomas O’Rourke at the Maidstone Country Club.

I was on the Club’s golf course, about to tee off on the thirteenth hole when he approached by himself, carting around a heavy golf bag. Not being the type of country club to admit any old person off the street, I dismissed him as a simple caddy. I positioned my golf club next to the small white ball, and was about to strike when the caddy spoke.

‘Excuse me, dear sir, you wouldn’t happen to have the time, would you?’ the caddy asked me in a quaint Irish accent.

My own caddy answered for me. ‘Quarter past three,’ he said gruffly. ‘Now move along, go find your golfer.’

‘I am a golfer,’ Thomas O’Rourke replied. ‘I’m here to play golf.’ To me, he asked, ‘do you mind if I play this hole with you?’

My caddy began to tell the man to get lost, Lord Charles Hensley didn’t share the green with a common man, but I interrupted with a raise of my hand. ‘Settle down, Jethro, the man only wants to play golf! Besides, it’s a lovely day! You can’t blame a man for wanting to play golf on such a fine Saturday afternoon, can you?’

Of course, if I had known then who Thomas O’Rourke was, I would have demanded Jethro throttle him right there on the field.

 ‘No, sir,’ Jethro said humbly. He moved aside for the man to join me.

‘I’m Thomas O’Rourke,’ the man said, thrusting out his hand. I took it and he shook energetically.

Are You Hooked? Entry #8

GENRE: YA Futuristic Thriller

The Phoenix is watching.  As the walls of the virtual simulation room flicker around its flames, the legendary bird stares me down with its scarlet, ruthless eyes, as if it knows what I have planned.
Quickly, before its image can fade away, I get out my pistol from my pocket and fire, again and again, taking revenge for all those years I spent alone because of it, for all those people that died in the fire it caused. The beast shrieks and takes flight, but despite this reaction, doesn’t seem at all harmed by my flurry of bullets.
I pause, and then continue to shoot at it, aiming at its head this time. The flames that make up the phoenix’s feathers bristle for a moment, crackling like a hungry forest fire before quieting down like nothing happened. The phoenix’s fire somehow absorbs the bullets, just like it absorbed all the heat and energy from the bomb, the grenade, and the rocket that I’d used against it in previous simulations.
The gun had been my last resort.

There’s got to be a way to kill it.  I try to remember the list of weapons in one of the books about primitive warfare that I’d read before entering this simulation. After mentally going through that list, I decide on one of the weapons.
I then do what my weapons-instructor told me never to do in the midst of combat.
I drop my gun, and wait with my hand outstretched beside me.

Are You Hooked? Entry #7

TITLE: Defiance
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Birds are free. Birds go where they want, when they want. Why can't I?

Lexa wished she could stop, unpack her wings, and fly with the flock cruising above her party. Riding north––on a raining horse, of all things––was a miserable alternative.

"Lexa Warbler, you've been chosen as the honored new bride of the recently widowed Thane Jacom, heir to the Isovian throne."

Honored. The perfect word to keep her from arguing with the flock leader's ultimatum. She wouldn't anyway. The leader's word was more than law. It was the way of life. You don't oppose life.

A stab at her side pulled a yelp from Lexa; she instinctively squeezed her legs, forgetting she sat on a horse. It took a moment before she regained control; she shot Palonsy, her nest mother and only companion from Moa, a look.

Palonsy wielded a small branch like a sword, her black eyes gleaming. "We're almost to the human's capital. Why do you fantasize when you should be straightening yourself up?"

Lexa longed to watch the birds more, but she kept her gaze on Palonsy.

"Should you poke me? I hear humans care for some people more than others. When we arrive, we mayn't be on equal footing, you and I."

"Oh, please. I don't care who you're marrying." Palonsy rolled her eyes and stretched, mussing Lexa's hair. "I will always be your nest mother, chick. Where we are is a technicality."

Are You Hooked? Entry #6

TITLE: Bound In Blood
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy


Across the street, blinking red letters glowed in the fogged up window: Open. From my spot on the steps of a building, I had a clear view inside. The long glossy bar and the empty leather stools positioned in front of it; the bartender standing behind the bar, with thick, tattooed arms folded and the man he was glaring at.

I lit another cigarette and waited. Out of all the late-nighters, the man had been there the longest, sitting at a table in the back. I’d lost count of how many refills he’d ordered, how many hours he sat there, frozen, with a tumbler of amber liquor in front of him. I only knew that it was long enough for my legs to grow stiff, for rain to come and go, and for the evening sun to fall out of the sky.                                                                                                            

Now, the street was dark. The street lamps lining the sidewalks were either broken or flicked at intervals, leaving the sidewalks shadowed except for a circle of golden light that spilled out of the bar window.

“Last one,” the bartender reminded the man, his voice a deep bass that reverberated through the window and into the still night. My hand brushed over the knife sheath strapped to my hip. I wouldn’t kill the bartender, not if I didn’t have to. It was more of an instinct, like my body recognized the warning and tensed for a fight. But at this point, if I had to choose, I’d probably kill the man. He was just in the way.

Are You Hooked? Entry #5

TITLE: A Cursed Performance
GENRE: Horror


Janik walked down the hallway, looking to the left and right anxiously. In her hands was a sword of pure gold. Her footsteps echoed loudly as she tried to creep through the darkened corridor.

Why did this have to happen? She thought. All I tried to do was write a play, better than I have ever written before. And, in addition, I just happened to unleash a demon! I never wanted this to happen!

Her thoughts went back to the happiness that she had felt the night she had finished. She had finally been able to write something she was proud of. She never imagined that the deal she had made in order to do so would unleash a demon. Her guilt grew as she thought about that fateful night, the night before the performance. They had just been finishing up the final dress rehearsal when HE came. SKARTRIST, the Soul Stealer, the demon she had unleashed upon the world. He killed everyone, all of the cast members … All except her.

Her quaking hands tightened their grip on the golden sword. It was the only thing that would kill a demon, if it was weak enough. If they were too powerful, it would only wound them. Janik hoped that SKARTRIST wasn’t too strong. Otherwise, she would have to use her OTHER plan. The one that was risky, but might have to be done.

Suddenly, creaking sounds and footsteps were heard as Janik's breathing became more erratic.

Are You Hooked? Entry #4

TITLE: Spider Silk
GENRE: High Fantasy (mostly; think Narnia -- Earth kid goes to another world)

I slouched in my chair and stared at the puckered white line on the back of my hand. The clock ticked. Rustling pages chased each other across the therapist’s desk. Every so often, a pen squeaked against Dr. Rush’s lined yellow notebook.

We looked up at the same time; the doctor’s glasses reflected my eyes, and his greying eyebrows arched above the frames.

I dropped my gaze to the stack of paper on the desk. A hundred forty-two pages of memories no one believed.

“Well,” Dr. Rush said.

I didn’t say anything, which happened at a lot of my therapy sessions.

“Well.” Dr. Rush leaned his seat back and propped his feet up on the desk. His bony ankles peeked out from his old-man shoes. He pursed his lips. “It’s done then."

I half-shrugged a shoulder. “Five years… Don’t know what more I can do with it.”

“Ah, yes.” The old-man shoes bobbed up and down on the desk, ruffling the top sheets on the pile. “Today is the anniversary. Five years since…”

 “Since that,” I said through gritted teeth, nodding at the stack of paper.

 “Right,” said Dr. Rush. “Not your kidnapping. Your disappearance into another world. The ‘Toppling Kingdom’. And David, I’m not being condescending. If you believe this…” He gestured at the papers. “I’ll believe too. However, this account did leave me with some questions.” He smiled thinly. “Do you mind?”

 “Of course not,” I said under my breath. “You’re a shrink. I expect it by now.”

Are You Hooked? Entry #3

TITLE: The Slavemaster
GENRE: Epic YA Fantasy

Mahran dropped the dagger from the throat of his invisible opponent, hiding it behind his back as the scuff of footsteps entered.

Kessa rolled her eyes.  "You are such a child."

‘You are such a child.’ So what does that make you, little girl?”

She grabbed the sack of clothespins off the wall and left the shed, muttering under her breath.

Mahran returned to his battle—the enemy he’d killed had allies, and they wanted revenge. He slashed through the humid air, dodging their nonexistent attacks, and his short blade connected with the center post, metal biting deep into its wooden victim. Tugging the dagger out, he examined the edge for injury.

“Rajmahran, son of Rajmah, you get here now!” Ma called.

He sighed and sheathed the blade, trudging outside. The sun pounded his head immediately after leaving the shelter of the storeroom, and he squinted to see his ma hanging a pair of trousers on the clothesline.


“You were being—” Kessa began.

“Kessati, quiet. Both of you, be good to each other. What does the Great God want us to be?”

“Good,” Mahran muttered, Kessa echoing him.

“Yes, good. Now go—visit your friend down in the village. I have a box of needles for you to play with if you run out of dangerous things to do.” She paused. “Go on—go.”

Mahran groaned and started walking. “Come on, Kessati. Do you have money?”

“Yes. You could pay for once.”

“Aph is my friend. That would be…weird.”

Kessa said something he didn't hear and followed.

Are You Hooked? - Entry #2

TITLE: Extraction
GENRE: Ya dystopian

When Logan finally arrives, he's holding a flower that could kill me.

I stop tapping my nails on the fence and stare at the green stem, at how the petals glint silver so they almost look like metal.

“What the hell's wrong with you?” I shove his arm away and back up so fast I ram into our shack's windowsill, but the pain doesn't faze me 'cause I've felt worse.

It's been eleven years since I've seen petals like that. Silver aster flowers are genetically manipulated to calm the mind, but I’m severely allergic to their pollen.

Logan chuckles.

Leaning down, I sift my fingers through the dirt, find a rock, and throw it at his shoulder. Hard.

His laughter dies. “Jeez, Clementine.” He lifts a calloused hand and tears off a flower petal. Thin silver wrappings fall away, leaving behind the blackening blue of a common aster. It’s grimy, of course.

Everything’s covered in grime on the Surface.

My cheeks grow hot.

He smiles. “You didn’t seriously think I’d sneak into the Core to find a silver aster for you? God.”

“Oh shut up, Logan. You’re such an idiot.”

He tosses me the perfectly ordinary flower. I scowl, but sniff it. Smells like dust, same as everything.
“You ready to go?” he asks.

I snort and flick a red-orange curl out of my eye. Of course I’m ready. I’m wearing my only dress, light blue with faded pink flowers speckled across its fabric. I’m even wearing shoes.

Are You Hooked? - Entry #1

Title: Sparked
Genre: YA Science Fiction

The only thing that stood between me and absolute, unhindered freedom was one thousand miles of desert and mountain in every direction. Aside from that little geographical obstacle, I was practically home free.

A hand touched my shoulder. I turned and saw Aunt Beverly standing there, wearing a housecoat that might have once been a shade of lavender but was now sunbleached white. “Daydreaming again?” she asked, brushing a wisp of blonde hair back.

I nodded. “As always.”

She sighed. In the distance, I saw huge black masses floating, suspended in thin air--or space--looking curiously flat and obtuse. The planes--giant steel behemoths--often liked to ruin my view. When you live in the realm of space that I do, though, the view is the last thing you worry about.

Aunt Beverly crossed her arms. I glanced over my shoulder to see her, her eyes focused far in the distance and mouth drawn tightly. After a moment, she said, “Your aptitude results arrive tomorrow. Are you nervous?”

I shrugged, “No. They don’t determine anything. They’re a compass, not a predestination.”

She smiled, her eyes sparkling from the setting sun. “True.” she paused. I could sense that she wanted to say more, but didn’t.

We stood and watched the sun slowly slip beyond the boundary of the earth. When it passed, she touched my shoulder again, “I need to deal with some dough. Come in before it gets too dark--there’ve been rumors of Duskers sneaking around lately.”

Friday, December 16, 2011

ARE YOU HOOKED? -- Entry window CLOSED!

The entry window is now CLOSED! Thank you everyone for your submissions! Entries will be posted on the blog tomorrow morning. 

Please remember that we ask all participants to critique a minimum of 3 other entries. 

Have fun!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tiny change

There's been a slight modification to the rules for the ARE YOU HOOKED? crit round. You must now include your AGE beneath your screen name, just so you can verify that you are among our awesome teen group. It won't be posted on the blog.

Happy entering!


Ready to get some feedback/critiques? ARE YOU HOOKED? critique round entries are NOW OPEN! Take a moment to review the rules and then GET SUBMITTING!

  • The submission window is now open! It will close on Friday December 16th at 7:00PM EST or when we have 15 entries--whichever comes first. (We'll be sure to notify you via a blog post.)
  • You may only submit if you're 13-19 years old. Sorry, grownups!
  • You may submit the first 250 words of your novel, whether it is a completed work or a work-in-progress (WIP).
  • You may only submit one entry.  Subsequent entries will be disqualified.
  • All entries will be posted anonymously.  (Your age will not be included, either.)
  • By entering this critique round, you are giving implicit permission to have your work posted and publicly critiqued.
  • By entering this critique round, you agree to critique a minimum of 3 other entries.
  • Send your submission to
  • You will receive a reply email with your post number.  Please be patient; unlike the critiques on Miss Snark's First Victim, this contest is NOTautomated.  Mad will be taking care of submissions by hand.
  • Format your entry EXACTLY AS FOLLOWS:
SCREEN NAME: (type it here)
YOUR AGE: (type it here)
TITLE: (type it here)
GENRE: (type it here)

(type your first 250 words here)

Good luck!

Friday, December 9, 2011


I learned a lesson this week, when my GED results came back, and I think it resonates very well with us as writers.

Here goes…

I’ve been waiting for my GED for months. I took it mid-October, and here it is, early December. Needless to say, I was biting my nails over it all, because even though I had taken my time, and at the time of the test, I’d felt pretty good about how I’d done, during the waiting period, I let that little voice get the best of me.

You know. We all have one. It’s that voice that says we didn’t do well, that we’re not good enough. It’s that voice that tells us that we’re foolish to think we’ll ever make anything of ourselves.

That has been my pitfall since I got my scores back. I walked around thinking I was going to have to retake the tests. I thought I didn’t do very well. I was really depressed about it. I was beginning to doubt my intelligence, and trust me, you don’t want that. (No one is stupid. I don’t care what anybody says.)

Then my scores came, and I realized that my worries were unfounded all this time. I passed everything; I had worried too much, and it was a worry fueled purely by my lack of confidence, and the ever-encroaching doubt I had in myself.

I felt so good about how I did that I stuck a copy on my fridge and I still find myself stopping in front of it many times a day just to look at my scores because I’m proud of how I did. But, I also know it makes me no better than anyone else; test scores aren’t everything. That’s where the keeping-yourself-in-check part comes in.

So I think there’s a real delicate balance that we need to strike between being confident in ourselves, and being proud of our accomplishments, and letting our egos taint that. Everyone should be able to feel good about times when they do well.

The trick is not letting it go to your head, and I think if we, as writers, constantly try to keep our heads on straight, and stay humble throughout the praise we’ll all get eventually if we keep working hard, we’ll have better careers and we’ll be setting better examples for everyone around us.

That’s my two cents. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Second In-House Critique -- ARE YOU HOOKED?

Are you ready for some honest feedback? Want to know if your opening paragraphs are strong enough to draw in a reader, make them crave more? 

Now's your chance to find out! Get some feedback/critique on the opening page of your novel in our second Write On! ARE YOU HOOKED? critique round!

  • The submission window will open on Monday December 12th at 7:00AM EST, and will close at Friday December 16th at 7:00PM EST or when we have 15 entries--whichever comes first.
  • You must be a teenager! 13-19 years old.
  • You may submit the first 250 words of your novel, whether it is a completed work or a work-in-progress (WIP).
  • You may only submit one entry.  Subsequent entries will be disqualified.
  • All entries will be posted anonymously.  
  • By entering this critique round, you are giving implicit permission to have your work posted and publicly critiqued.
  • By entering this critique round, you agree to critique a minimum of 3 other entries.
  • Send your submission to during the submission window.
  • You will receive a reply email with your post number.  Please be patient; unlike the critiques on Miss Snark's First Victim, this contest is NOT automated.  Mad will be taking care of submissions by hand.
  • Format your entry EXACTLY AS FOLLOWS:
SCREEN NAME: (type it here)
YOUR AGE: (type it here)
TITLE: (type it here)
GENRE: (type it here)

(type your first 250 words here)

There will be another post on December 12th to repeat the rules and announce the start of submissions. Any entries submitted before 7AM on December 12th will be deleted. Please only submit within the timeframe given!

Any questions? Leave 'em in the comment box below.

Happy manuscript-preparing!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We need your vote!

Take a minute to share! Your feedback is super helpful for planning future Write On! chats.