StoryWorldCon: Find Your Cabin!

It’s orientation at StoryWorldCon! Which cabin do you belong in?



I’m still working on curriculum for the StoryWorldCon courses, but in the meantime, check out the campsite, meet and mingle with other campers, and start asking your questions about the courses in the free forum!

If you’ve ever wanted to go to a writing conference but didn’t have it in your budget, this is for you. If you’re a conference junkie, this is for you. If you want to meet other writers and find critique partners, this is for you.

The campsite is only as good as its campers, so tell your friends to join! The forum is going to be year-round, but workshops will happen based on interest and enrollment.

Find out more about StoryWorldCon here. To receive updates on the conference and when the workshops will be available, make sure you subscribe to this blog!

pg70pit writing contest logo

(2015) #pg70pit Adult Winners

Thanks for visiting our Adult winners! These seven picks are just half of the top-rated entries judged by voice. We looked for thoughtful word choice, appropriate rhythm, and evocative imagery. Don’t forget to see the next top 7 entries, featured on cohost Elizabeth’s blog!

Code Name: I’m the Best Mistake You’ll Ever Make

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words): The woman was waiting for him outside his tenement, hands folded primly over the handle of a lace parasol.

Anton stopped, shuffling his feet and glancing up beneath his eyelashes. “Sweet of you to check up on me.”

An indulgent smile tugged at her wine red lips. “You know you really oughtn’t walk around so late alone. Someone might get the wrong idea.”

Anton swallowed. He didn’t much mind other people’s ideas. It was his own that concerned him. “You said you had names. I want one.”

“I thought you might.” From the breast pocket of her greatcoat, she withdrew an envelope. “I’ll give you two, free of charge. They’re quite good at what they do.”

“I don’t want a sell-sword.”

“Smart boy. A poisoner would be more prudent.”

“No,” Anton said. “I want you to give me the name of the Phantom.”

“The Phantom,” she repeated, her face carefully blank.

“I know you know what I’m talking about.” The woman had eyes in every back alley from Copenhagen to Casablanca. Of course she knew of the Phantom.

“Perhaps I’ve heard the tales,” she said, twirling the parasol idly. “But what makes you think I have his name?”

“Her name,” Anton corrected. The deliberate error didn’t fool him. “You know it’s a she. And you know how to find her.”

The woman hesitated. “I can’t help you with this.”

“Can’t? Or won’t?”

Her dark-rimmed eyes narrowed. “Even if you do manage to track her down, what do you think you can offer her? She’s not for hire.”

Word Count: 135K

Genre: Fantasy

7-word description for your MC: Clever, secretive. Hiding unwanted magic, scrupulous streak.

Code Name: But Darling, Stay with Me

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“You don’t look okay,” Rich said as he untied my wrists and ankles and pressed his dry hands against the friction burns. Thanks, Pastor Obvious. “What happened?”

I shrugged off his question and jerked away. I wasn’t in the mood to indulge him, and I really wasn’t in the mood to let him see me at my worst. I climbed off the bed and turned my back before pulling on my clothes.

“Where’s your mom?” he asked.

I whipped back ’round. I’d assumed she’d greeted Rich after he let himself in. It wasn’t like her to leave the house so early in the day, even if it was afternoon.

Somethin’ was off. I got this feeling, this deep ache in my gut that yelled worst-case scenarios at me. I zipped my pants and ran into the hall.

It didn’t take long to find her.

You can probably guess what we found. Mom was sprawled out on her bed with a kitchen knife near her right hand. The blood flowing out of her left arm had soaked into the sheets, creating a dark round stain underneath and around her. Her head was tilted to the side, her eyes closed. Strangely enough, she looked peaceful.

Rich didn’t seem all that surprised. I wasn’t, either.

I knew she wasn’t dead. I mean, I didn’t know for sure ’til I found her pulse. But I knew. If the pain had been rough enough to kill her, she would’ve looked angrier, more distraught.

Instead, her face proved she was pleased with herself.

Word Count: 58K

Genre: NA LGBT Contemporary

7-word description for your MC: Gay Appalachian undergrad escaping abuse, navigating love

Code Name: The Same Old Thing Since 1916

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words): Dana leaned out of the cockpit and shouted back, “Is that everyone?”

I should bloody well hope so. Aloud I said, “That’s it. Weigh anchor and get underway.”

She nodded and turned back to the helm.

“You can let go now,” I said to the diminutive woman clinging to my back.

Kaitlyn’s fingernails retracted from my neck as she lowered herself onto the slick metal deck. If the ringing in my ears were any indication, she had not enjoyed the ride. She slid past me and joined Matthew at the rear of the cockpit without another word.

“Another satisfied customer,” I muttered.

The boat juddered as the anchor finished retracting into the hull.

“How do you feel about a speedy exit?” Dana asked, already starting to accelerate. I could scarcely see the buildings on either side through the driving rain.

I glanced back toward the rear of the cockpit. Our Vietnamese passengers seemed fine; jovial, even. Matthew and Kaitlyn sat on the bunk behind them, eyes distant, towels draped around their shoulders. I should check in with them before we hit full throttle, make sure Kaitlyn was well enough for a bumpy ride.

Then I glanced down at the Doppler radar. Shite. That damned bridge had cost us too much time. Even at full power, we’d be lucky to escape before the full force of the typhoon returned. So much for trading speed for comfort.

“Patrick?” she asked again.

“Just get us back in one piece.”

Word Count: 85K

Genre: International Thriller

7-word description for your MC: Rescue specialist drawn into global antiquities trade

Code Name: And for one second, I understand

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

I know instantly something is wrong: my rooms are not empty.

“Show yourself!” I draw my sword.

A girl appears from the bedroom and curtsies timidly. There’s a blush on her dark cheeks.

I sheath my sword, not my expression. “Yes?”

“I…er…I…” She swallows, looking at the floor, hands tucked behind her back. “My name is Emily, my Lady. I am your maid.”

A maid? I have no need for one, especially a little mouse like her. I’m about to tell her so, but her expression stops me. It’s a perfect blend of hope and fear.

“Sorry, that wasn’t much of a welcome.” A job in the keep is probably something she can’t afford to lose. “It’s been a while since I had a maid.”

“I’ll be no trouble, my Lady.”

“Call me Lavie, or Miss Lavie if that’s too much,” I add, seeing the look her face. “You can start by making my bed; I shouldn’t sleep on the floor anymore.”

“Yes, my… I mean Miss.”

She disappears into the bedroom, then comes back. Her scuttling motions reinforce her mouse-like image.


“Yes, Squeak?”

The girl blinks, as if trying to determine if she is being addressed. “I heard men talking…They said you were a knight and that you’d chopped off a man’s…” She swallows again and the next word comes out a whisper. “…Unmentionables.”

My reputation precedes me. “Maybe I have. Will that be a problem?”

“No, Miss,” she says more firmly. “In my opinion, there are a few men who could do with losing their unmentionables.”

Word Count: 103k

Genre: Fantasy (lgbt)

7-word description for your MC: War damaged hero struggles with peacetime identity

Code Name from Song Lyrics: There’ll Be Just One Survivor

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

Lacey was right. The gray line in his hair had grown to a quarter inch thickness overnight. It was a stunning streak, parting his red hair like a curtain.

Another dream, another stripe.

The terror of the night before came back to him with the force of an anvil. His hands shook, and he dropped to his knees as he smelled the stink of the creature and felt its bony lips on his. Three, he heard it whisper again in his mind.

Three years. If Alex was telling the truth, if the creature was real, he’d lost three years of his life already. A wave of nausea gripped him.

He stayed crouched, breathing deeply for several minutes, letting the fear work its way through. Finally, he pulled himself upright and took the phone out of his pocket. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he rested it on his leg, trying to steady his hands. Then he thumbed through until he found one of the emails Alex had sent him, one of the emails he’d ignored. He hit reply.

“Can we talk?” He typed. “About what you told me at the coffee shop?” Roth hesitated. Then he added, “I’ve been having nightmares. Call me.” He hit send.

Roth clenched the phone in one hand and gripped his leg with the other. It sounded crazy. It was crazy. But so was gaining streaks of gray overnight. He needed to talk to Alex. To learn the truth.

Word Count: 90K

Genre: Thriller

7-word description for your MC: Self-centered entrepreneur must grow heart or die

Code Name: Where is my mind?

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

I lifted the back of my shirt. “See? This is where I should have been stabbed. But…nothing. Not even a scratch.”

He dragged his fingertip across the line of my ribs, and it sparked against my skin like a striking match. My nervous thoughts vanished, kindling to his incendiary touch, and for an instant all I wanted was more of his skin on my own.

“Someone here wished you dead,” he said.

I fought off a shiver and turned to him. In the dream of this past life, Emily had always been a passive participant, but now the man who’d once been Emily had intent. He’d wanted to kill me. “Maybe he still does.”

“You needn’t be scared.” Roberts protected me since the second I’d arrived here, but this time his concern didn’t come from chivalry or duty. It was genuine and gentle, and sitting so close to him, breathing his comforting scent of the afternoon ocean and sharp tea leaves, I wanted to believe him.

“You try to hide behind all your bravado. But deep down you’re a big sweetie, aren’t you?”

He chuckled, and the tense lines of his face eased. “No wonder you continue to tell me to shut up, throw pillows at my face, and generally fail to defer to my imposing authority. Who would be afraid of a man such as you think of me?”

I jabbed him with my elbow. “So…five minutes is all you could muster, huh?”

“Six months at sea, Fox. Six months.”

Word Count: 103,000

Genre: Historical Fantasy

7-word description for your MC: accidental time traveler, searching for her sister

Code Name: Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

I wet my lips. “How long have I been asleep?”

“Two nights and a day,” Heera said. “Jigar Khan brought you here that afternoon from khalajan’s rooms. He hasn’t left your bedside except to snatch a few hours’ sleep each night.”

“Oh?” I had a hard time matching the kind actions that she described to the eunuch.

“He regularly applied the salve the hakim gave him on your wounds. Thank Allah, your back won’t scar.”

God forbid my skin get puckered and ugly. Wouldn’t that disgust the Emperor! I shook my head. It wasn’t my friend’s fault that she thought this way. This was the only life she knew. “The khanum didn’t punish Aslam, did she?”

“He’s well,” she whispered and turned away.

I laid a hand on her shoulder. “What is it?”

She swallowed and wound her veil tightly around her shoulders. “It’s Chaman. The night she gave you a beating, khalajan had my pet goat added to the stew pot.”

Cold fingers clutched at my heart and squeezed until I couldn’t breathe. It was my fault. Rua Khanum had warned me that Heera was responsible for me. Poor Chaman, I’m so sorry!

“She had the stew served to the entire zenana. Then … then …” She trembled, tears coursing down her cheeks. “Khalajan made me eat each morsel she served me.”

My stomach heaved. I doubled over and vomited, the acrid aftertaste scorching my throat. “Forgive me, Heera, forgive me.”

I threw my arms around her, and the two of us huddled together, weeping.

Word Count: 95K

Genre: Historical Epic

7-word description for your MC: Hindu girl surviving in Muslim Emperor’s harem

>>Click here to see more Adult Entries

Click here to see MG Entries

Click here to see YA entries

Are you an agent who would like to request more from these writers? Comment below with the code names, how many pages you’d like to see, and your contact information. Alternatively, you may email veritylanelaraATgmailDOTcom with your requests.

Winning entrants, it’s your responsibility to vet agents and see if they would be a good fit for you.

Writers, go cheer each other on with the hashtag #pg70pit on Twitter!


Friday Reads is a new series on Write, Edit, Repeat. I’ll only be blogging about my favorites (no room for negativity here), and I’ll end with a writing prompt. Be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already, and then you won’t miss out. Adult fiction, YA fiction, MG, graphic novels, picture books—I’ll cycle through them all, sometimes posting monthly, sometimes weekly.

For the archive of Friday Reads posts, visit

I also allow guest reviews! Today I’ve got Caitlin Vanasse reviewing The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs.

Read her review, then enter for a chance to win a copy of the book!

First Impressions

The Cover


The Blurb

Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom.

With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.


First, thank you so much to Lara for letting me borrow on her blog today to review The Fangirls Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Geek Girls by Sam Maggs.

When I heard that Sam Maggs, editor of The Mary Sue, was writing a guide to girl-geekdom, I was quite intrigued. As a girl who grew up watching Captain Janeway on Star Trek Voyager, borrowing my brothers Nintendo Power, and reading every essential comic collection my library had, Ive considered myself a geek girl (or a nerd) for quite sometime. When I had the opportunity to request a copy for review from Quirk Books, I was more than a little excited. (Disclaimer: I requested and received this book from the publisher, Quirk Books, for review.)

The Fangirls Guide to the Galaxy is a reference book in four sections: An introduction to different fandoms, an introduction to girl geek spaces on the internet, a guide to conventions, and a section on geek girl feminism. Interspersed between each section are super short (3-question) interviews with prominent women in geekdom.

I found this to be a good reference; there were definitely things I already knew, which I think will be true of most readers, but there was plenty of new information and things well said in a way that I found really helpful for figuring out how to express them myself.  My personal favorite section was the one with advice for conventions (probably because Im at a point where Im just starting to think about going to conventions, and so it was the most helpful personally), but I think depending on where the reader is, different sections might be more useful.

Right before picking this up I saw a review mention that the feminism section seemed a bit tacked on.  I think the meat of that section was actually really great. It contained an extensive list of recommendations of great female characters in various forms of media (books, movies, television, anime, comics, and manga) and a short section on being critical consumers of the media we love, both of which I think any geek girl would be interested in. But I think the transition to that section was really poor. Rather than suggesting that Fandom can, in some ways, be what we want it to be, it felt pushy rather than convincing. It was really a disservice to the chapter and ill-fitting considered with the tone of the rest of the book.

I also felt that the interviews, although a nice element to break up the chapters, were too short to really provide much substance. They werent really personalized, were fairly superficial questions, and were less than a page each. They function more as a list of interesting women in geekdom to follow than interesting content on their own.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book and could see myself referencing it or lending or gifting it to friends.

But, because I received this finished copy from the publisher Id like to give you an opportunity to have it.  Im giving away the finished copy I was given. I did read it, so its gently used, and Ill be shipping from the US, so this giveaway is only open to US shipping addresses. But if youre interested and eligible please do enter below!

About Caitlin

Caitlin Vanasse was raised on StarTrek Voyager and Bill Nye as well as princesses and puppies. Never afraid to call herself a nerd, you can find her on the internet talking about books on Youtube at BookChats and retweeting all manner of things on Twitter @CaitlinVanasse.


Follow Caitlin’s YouTube channel, BookChats, for plenty of book recommendations from this geeky girl reviewer, or read The Fangirl’s Guide for recommendations. Also read the comments here for favorite female

Writing Prompt

Two options today:

A. Write a short creative nonfiction story or poem about a geeky experience you’ve had.

B. Choose two fictional females and write a short story or scene in which they meet.


If you live in the US and would like the chance to win a copy of The Fangirl’s Guide, please click here to go to the Rafflecopter page. There are many ways to enter!

Cover Reveal: MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I know the protocol for offering cover reveals is to make you read through a bunch of text in anticipation and finally reveal the cover at the end.

Well, I’m a graphic designer and reader, and my first encounter with a book is usually with its cover. So I’m starting there, with my first impressions, just like I did with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s After I Do. Then we’ll talk about the story.

First Impressions

The Title

“Maybe in Another Life” is another great title from Reid. Seriously, this woman should teach a class on evocative titles. To me, it sounds like something any woman might say while daydreaming. “I’m unsatisfied with my current life. Maybe in this other, hypothetical life, I’d be more satisfied.”

But then we see the cover…

The Cover


So what does the cover tell us? It’s all in the subjects and the symmetry. This book is about a classy lady with a decision between two parallel choices, either one of which you, Reader, would probably love to escape to.

Take away the aqua and the modern font (which hearkens to style magazines), and this might be a memoir or a stuffy novel about a museum curator. With the typeface and color choice, we know it’s Women’s Fiction.

How efficient is that? I’d like to give the highest of fives to the designers that work on Reid’s novels. Every one of them seems to say “Women’s Fiction is legit Lit, y’all!” (and it’s true).

And just in case you didn’t get the gist of the contents from the image, there’s a tagline which, yet again, is evocative and ties everything together.

Are you excited for this book? Because I am. I’m ready to preorder right now …


IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Apple | Blio | Google

But if you really want to read the blurb before ordering, then …

The Blurb

From the publisher:

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college, but on the heels of a disastrous breakup, she has finally returned to her hometown of Los Angeles. To celebrate her first night back, her best friend, Gabby, takes Hannah out to a bar—where she meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

It’s just past midnight when Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. Ethan quickly offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay.

Hannah hesitates.

What happens if she leaves with Gabby?

What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into surprisingly different stories with far-reaching consequences for Hannah and the people around her, raising questions like: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

Let’s break this down.

“Hannah Martin” Anybody else think Hanna Marin from Pretty Little Liars? Just me? Okay.

“high school boyfriend … Hannah hesitates” The fact that she hesitates tell me there’s still something there between Hannah and Ethan. I’m not a fan of on-again, off-again relationships, so I’m hoping that the “something there” is mostly attraction with some underlying drama that will give off plenty of heat, but no HEA for those two.

You should all know by now that I’m not super into romance, and that my favorite movies have “happy for now” endings rather than “happily ever after” ones. But I do have a not-so-secret affinity for Hilary Duff movies. So if these two end up together, I want it to be Sweet Home Alabama style, with a clear, good reason they broke up and an ending that’s a no-brainer that they need to be together. None of that “we couldn’t handle being apart from each other for more than a month, so we broke up” nonsense.

“In concurrent storylines”. Aww yiss. I love me some nonlinear storytelling.

with far-reaching consequences” Double yesss. Fiction without consequences is just irresponsible. Curious George is horrible. But seriously, I am a fan of chain-reaction plots. Just because I don’t believe in love at first sight—attraction, OF COURSE. Have you seen my husband?—that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy stories about fate. The fact that this is a cause-effect sort of plot lets me know there won’t be random coincidences.

“soul mate” I’ll buy it. “The One”? No. I’ve known too many widows. But I like to think that my husband and I are linked more than just mentally, socially, and physically.


You’ll have to wait until I read it for me to give a review! But now you know what kind of expectations I have going into it.

Author Chat

You can follow Taylor Jenkins Reid on Twitter @tjenkinsreid. I’m sure she’ll be interviewed about Maybe in Another Life soon.


I haven’t read it yet! But Reid herself recommended books by Emily Giffin or Amy Hatvany after I enjoyed After I Do.

Writing Prompt

Write about a decisive moment in your life, and what happened as a consequence. Turn it into a story, a short blurb of a memory, or a flow chart. Or ask a friend or relative about a seemingly insignificant choice they made that ended up changing their or someone else’s life.

An example: A man switched from a music major to a history major, which meant he spent five years in college instead of four. His fifth year was the first year a “colloquium” class was offered—an independent study tied to a spring break trip to Ireland and the UK. It was my freshman year, and I also signed up for the trip. We were low on numbers, and needed a couple more students to sign up before the trip could be booked. He invited his brother, a Junior history major, whose topic of choice was the historicity of King Arthur. My topic was Arthurian literature. We became study buddies, then friends, then more than friends, and now we’re married. I introduced my now-brother-in-law to one of my college roommates, and they were married last November.

So there you have it. A “major” change that didn’t actually affect his career at all, but certainly affected his family. Now he has a wife, a sister-in-law, and two nephews because of it.