Critique Corner, Holidays

Happy New Year 2015!

Bring on 2015! Are you ready for it? I am so ready. I’m ready to say goodbye to the old and in with the new. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. 2014 was a good year, but I’m a sap for new beginnings in any shape at all. That’s why I love January so much. I love starting fresh. I love taking showers first thing in the morning. I love making fresh tracks in the snow. I love watching the sunrise. I love new notebooks and new sharpened pencils. I love making plans. I love making lists.

So here’s a list of what I have planned for this website and blog in 2015.

More books highlighted in the Book Nook

More books listed in my To Be Read Pile

More short stories posted in Writer’s Showcase

More participants in our Critique Corner Rounds

More posts about getting published on the blog

So here’s the thing. I’ll take care of the Book Nook, Writer’s Showcase and the blog, but all of you can help me with Critique Corner. Please. Pretty Please! Help me spread the word about our virtual critique rounds. I’d love to reach as many writers as I can. That way we’ll all make our writing better.

Our next round is at the end of January. What better way to ring in the New Year than to submit your work and let the rest of us help you polish it up? I’m accepting submissions right now, so get yours in! The details can be found on the Critique Corner tab and right here.

And new for this round, I’m bringing in a special guest to provide feedback too! My amazing new critique partner, the Fabulous Melyssa (aka Mel) will be critiquing all the entries! Believe me. You want her to critique your words. She and her purple highlighter have done wonders with my manuscript. On the merit of her middle grade manuscript, Mel was one of the chosen participants in last fall’s PITCH WARS on Brenda Drake’s website. Yeah. She’s good. 🙂 I’m so excited to have her help. Thanks, Mel!!

As far as the blog, I’m going to be posting more about the process of getting published. Query Letters. Submitting. Agents. There’s so much to getting published and based on feedback I’ve gotten on the blog, I think some posts on this subject might be helpful to many of you. So stay tuned!

January is a time to start fresh and who knows what the new year will have in store for any of us. The unknown can be exciting though and I’m choosing to embrace that fact. Happy New Year and cheers to all of us. May we all make each day this year all kinds of amazing!

Critique Corner, Holidays

Critique Corner Update

In honor of Thanksgiving, we won’t be holding a critique round in November. Instead, I’d like to turn the blog into a collection of thank you notes!

Writing is a gift and that warrants an entire blog post, don’t you think?

Starting today, you’ll have a chance to write about something or someone you’re thankful for. Whether you’re a writer, simply love books, or just like to visit this site, I’d love to hear from you! You may be thankful for something related to your writing, or you may be thankful for something else. Whatever that is, go ahead and write about it! Then email me at I’ll post your message and everyone else’s on the blog the day before Thanksgiving.

So, what are you thankful for this year?                           

A favorite book?

When your favorite book is made into a movie?

Quiet time spent writing in your journal?

The fact that you finally finished writing your first short story?

When your mom says, “Yes,” after you beg for just 5 more minutes to finish a chapter before bedtime?

Or even just your mom?                                                      

Whatever it is that you’re thankful for, why not write about it? We all have so much to be thankful for, but we’re not always comfortable saying it out loud. (We are writers after all, right??) So what better way to say it, then to write about it on swirl and spark?

So please send me your messages. Grab a pen and paper, turn on your computer, or open up your Plain Text app. Then write your message. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to share when you’re truly thankful for what you’re writing about. 🙂

Book Nook, Critique Corner

Are You a Bouque?

You just might be.  If you can’t get enough of your favorite books… you know, if your nose is stuck in a book kind of a lot, then yup—you’re  a Bouque.

So what’s a Bouque?

The French word, Bouquiner means to read—or loosely translated, to have one’s nose stuck in a book.  So that’s what I call myself.  A Bouque. I may like to write, but I like to read too. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. The single best thing you can do to become an amazing writer is this…

Read a lot of books!

That’s right. Reading will help you to write better stories. Read as much as you can. Read whatever you can. It really doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you read something.  I read many different types of books. I read books for grown- ups. I read books for kids. I read books for teenagers. I read magazines. I read realistic fiction. I read historical fiction. I read mystery stories and fantasy stories. I read ghost stories. I read biographies. And of course I read fairy tales. I mean who doesn’t like a good fairy tale?

I don’t have a favorite type of book. As long as the characters are amazing and their adventures take me someplace I’d love to go, I’ll give it a try. I’ve been surprised lots of times by the books I’ve chosen.  Right now I’m reading Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu.  It’s the story of Hazel and Jack. I’ve only read three chapters so far, but I can’t put it down. I have to find out what happens to them! That’s the thing about a good book. You can get carried away into their story and travel to places only your imagination can take you.  But be careful. If you’re a Bouque like I am, your nose might just get stuck in that book!

So all you Bouques out there—what books are you reading? I’m always looking for suggestions. If you’ve read a something great lately, post it in the comment box below.  If you liked it, I bet other kids would like it too. Are you looking for a book to read in your free time or for school? Just click on the BOOK NOOK tab.  One of my favorites might become your favorite too!

So go on. Read a good book. After all, that’s the very best way to become an amazing writer.  🙂

And speaking of writing…

It’s time for the October Critique Round!    

For details head over to Critique Corner. I will accept story submissions for the next 6 days and then the samples will appear on the blog next Wednesday, October 30th!  If your story appeared in the September Critique Round, you are still eligible to participate. So be daring. Submit your work. We can’t wait to read all about it!

Critique Corner

Critique Corner is Open!

If you’ve written a story, here’s your chance to get it critiqued…

So what ‘s a critique?

A critique can be many things, but in this case a critique is when a person writes down their thoughts about another person’s story.

Critique Corner is where we’ll hold our monthly critique rounds.  Writers can submit the beginning of their story (50 -100 words) in order to find out what other writers think of it and what they can do to make it better. The story sample will appear on the page with the title, the screen name, and a comment box.  Other writers will read it, tell what they like about it and offer suggestions on how to make the story even better. The comments will be monitored by swirl and spark. Only positive comments will be allowed. Remember, it takes courage to share our stories with other people. We want Critique Corner to be an encouraging place where writers can share their writing and gain valuable tips from other writers who do the same thing!

So here’s how it works…

If you are 16 years- old or younger and have a story you’re working on, please email me at  starting today. Please include:

Title:          The Amazing Adventure of Wendy and Will

Author:      Your name (first name with last name initial or a made up screen name)

Underneath, also in the body of the email, type the first 50-100 words.

Please do not attach it. If you write your story in a Word document, the words will be counted for you. If 100 words happens in the middle of a sentence, please include the rest of the sentence. It’s okay to go over by a few words.  It’s also okay if your story sample is less than 50 words.

I will accept the first 10 submissions. If we don’t have that many, then we can critique the stories we have.  I will email a response to you so you’ll know if your story was chosen to appear on the website. If it isn’t, you can try again next month. On the day the critique round begins, in this case next Wednesday, September 25th,  I will post each entry with it’s own comment box.  That’s when the fun begins…

But first, we have some rules…

If your story appears on the site, please make comments on each of the other stories posted.  That way each writer will receive a lot of feedback and encouragement! Swirl and Spark will comment on each entry as well. If your story is not chosen, please feel free to comment on as many as you can. The more comments, the better!

So how do you make a good critique comment? In the comment box below the story sample:

  1. Tell first, one reason you like the sample.
  2. Next, give the author a  positive suggestion: One thing you think the he or she could do to make their writing even better.
  3. Last, tell one more thing you think is great about their story. Give some encouragement!

So polish up your stories and tell your friends to do the same.  Critique Corner is ready and waiting!!

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comment box below.  If not, go work on your story. Go on.  Detectives. Fairies. Ex- Best friends. Whatever your story is about, we can’t wait to read all about it! 🙂