Writer's Support Room - Getting Started

October 30, 2014


The Institute of Children's Literature

This week's enews is the YOUNG ADULT CONTEST WINNERS ISSUE! Check out the list of winners and the winning story below.


2. Online in Rx

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2. In Rx
Institute of Children's Literature
Young Adult Fiction Contest Winners
First Prize
"Joey Gets a Gig"
Michele Meloche
Windsor, ON

2nd Prize
"Second Time's a Charm"
Rebecca Muscaro
Apex, NC

3rd Prize
"Stop the Bus!"
Pat Decker Nipper
San Jose, CA

4th Prize
"How Jane Eyre Saved My Cousin"
Eric Thomas Riley
Joppa, AL

5th Prize
"Wisdom Teeth"
Brock L. Fisher
McHenry, IL


3. Red Leaf Lane
Picture books that take place in group-care settings and reflect developmentally appropriate practices and research-based standards.
Accept proposals via postal mail


4.Beyond the Book: Thinking About Nonfiction Styles

In light of the end of our Writer's Retreat discussion on nonfiction, I thought you'd enjoy this fantastic post by Melissa Stewart.


Young Adult Winning Story
by Michele Meloche

"Joelle, we need to talk."

Joey closed her mother out and retreated into the music. The complicated fretwork came easily today and she flew through the cords seamlessly. Sun fingered through trees outside the music room windows, splaying warmth across her back and scattering tiny spotlights across the carpet beneath her feet. She imagined herself on a star-lit stage, wowing the audience with her gleaming Gibson. Erm would be so proud.


Joey looked up, annoyed at the interruption. "Just let me finish this, okay?"

"Honey, we really need to discuss something."

"I'm meeting Sara in a few minutes, Mom. Can't it wait?" When her mother used Joelle, it meant something was up. Lately, it was always bad news.

"No. We'd better get it over with." Her mother's grim look seemed to suck all the sunshine from the expensively furnished room. "Things are getting tougher by the week, Jo. We've had no offers on the house and we really need to--"

Joey cut her off. "Yeah, yeah. We need to give up the luxuries, tighten our belts, blah, blah, blah."

"Joelle, this is serious. We've had to make some hard decisions and one of the things we can't pay for anymore, at least for now, is your guitar lessons."

A punch in the stomach would have shocked Joey less. Her eyes burned with tears and disbelief. "Please, Mom. Anything but that. It's my dream. My life."

Tears shone in her mother's eyes too. "I'm so sorry, sweetie. I'm afraid our priviledged lifestyle has crashed as hard as the economy. Until your father finds a way out of this mess, we'll be making some tough choices."

"No way! I'm not quitting now. Erm Stokes says I have rock star written all over me. He's famous, Mom. A teacher like that comes once in a lifetime."

"I know it's hard. It is for me, too. We just have to pull together until we get through it."

"This isn't fair. It's not my fault Dad lost his company. Why does it have to ruin my life?"

Joey arrives at Sara's in a huff. She flopped down on her friend's bed without even a "hi" and poured out her anger. "Why do I have to make all the sacrifices? First my credit cards, then my cell. Shopping in New York for my birthday -- not going to happen. And now, they have totally squashed my dream."

Sara put the finishing touches on her goth look. Adding black earrings, she turned to Joey. "Does this look okay?"

"Get serious, Sara."

"What do you mean?"

"My shot a becoming the greatest female lead guitarist ever has been officially flushed down the toilet. No more lessons with Erm."

"Geez, Jo, that really sucks. I guess your mom's job at the Video Barn isn't helping out much."

"Video Barn? Right. Like my mom would work at a video store."

Sara stared. "You didn't know? Dad returned some movies last week and saw her there. I guess she looked pretty embarrassed. We saw an ad in the paper for her BMW too."

Joey was silent for a while. "Well, Dad can't be too worried," she said bitterly. "He spent the whole day golfing yesterday. How lame is that? Five lessons with Erm would cost less."

"It can't last forever. Come one, let's go cheer ourselves up at the mall."

Joey shot her friend an evil look.

"Oops, sorry. I guess shopping's on the endangered list too."

A block from home, Joey spotted her father in the driveway. He was tagging items for his ridiculous yard sale. How embarrassing. The whole neighborhood would know they were going broke. With a quick left, she cut through the Foster's yard and followed the path to the lake. She just couldn't face going home yet.

As she neared the shore, a flock of startled ducks took flight. Hundreds of clattering wings beat the water's surface and filled the air with an applause-like sound. Joey was overcome with sadness. Her chance to become a great musician had just flown away like the ducks. She closed her eyes against the tears as the birds moved off and the applause faded.

Her favorite rock was warm and comforting as she lay on her back to welcome the late spring sunshine. Cotton-ball clouds scuttled overhead, shifting and changing like Joey's thoughts. The events of the morning replayed in her mind and unexpected guilt grabbed her insides whens he realized what her father had been doing in the driveway. He had been tagging his golf clubs for the yard sale.

He loved golfing nearly as much as she loved playing guitar. He had considered going pro before he discovered he was about to become a father. His cherished 9 iron was autographed by Tiger Woods. She now understood that yesterday's golf game has been his last. She imagined her favorite guitar sitting in the driveway with a price sticker on it and felt sick. Her parents were sacrificing more than she realized.

Erm's advice from last week whispered through her thoughts. Greatness, to him, was not a gift. He believed you had to earn it. "You gotta do the work, little chickie. It's your dream, so it's up to you whether it happens or not."

His words circles her mind like a sign urging her to action. Joey sat up, suddenly filled with a new sense of possiblity. "I got it, Erm," she said aloud, "and I know exactly what I need to do."

Beathless from sprinting six blocks, she knocked on Mrs. Warren's door.

"Well, hello, Joelle. What can I do for you, dear?"

"Mrs. Warren, do you still need someone to type your manuscripts?"

"I'm absolutely buried. Have you changed your mind about the job, then?"

"You bet. When can I start?"

Working for Mrs. Warren would pay her enough to cover lessons each week, with some left over for picks and strings. She started home, relieved, but still stinging over the vision of Dad's clubs in the driveway. It would take more than a part-time job to save those. They were probably worth more than her Stevie Ray Vaughn Stratocaster. Joey ran that thought by her brain again. That was it. She would sell the Stratocaster. How many guitars did an up-and-coming rock star need anyway?

Feeling somehow lighter than she had in days, Joey sped back home along the lake's edge, prompting more applause from the ducks. She couldn't resist stopping to take a bow. "Thank you very much," she said, bowing a second time. "Sorry, no time for autographs today -- got a gig at a yard sale and I don't want to be late."



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