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Introducing the newest LTWF contributor…Susan Dennard!

27 Oct

So, in case you missed the chat last night, we have a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

After many weeks of deliberating, we’re beyond thrilled to welcome Susan Dennard to our ranks! We were blown away by Susan from the moment we read her application–she’s funny, smart, and all-around awesome. From her first email, she gelled with us so well that it actually was a bit of a shock! Not to mention she lives in Germany and can see a freaking CASTLE from her window (we all died of jealousy when we heard that). Susan also recently signed with Sara Kendall at Nancy Coffey Literary & Media (after only querying for two weeks)!

We don’t want to hog her intro post, so we’ll end this here, but we just wanted to extend a HUGE welcome to Susan! We can’t wait for you guys to get to know her, too!

-The LTWF Team





by Susan Dennard


I am so excited to be writing this intro I have to force myself to avoid all-caps, italics, and clapping with giddy joy.

My hands tremble as I type.

I’m Susan. I’m a 26-year-old American living in Germany. I have the luxury of writing full-time, eating wiener schnitzel to my heart’s content, and listening to alpine yodeling on the radio (no joke).

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and though I went to college to study creative writing, I foolishly dove into marine biology and statistics as majors. Then I went to the Arctic to do my M.Sc. research. Yeah, I lived in a tent on the sea ice while catching sharks and halibut (there’s actually a Dirty Jobs episode about our research!).  Then I even more foolishly fell in love with a Frenchman, got married, and moved to Germany last year. That move prompted me to hunker down and learn to Write For Real.

Many nibbled-nails, revised drafts, and beta readers later, I finalized my young adult steampunk novel, The Spirit-Hunters. I sent it out to agents’ inboxes a few weeks ago, and I was lucky enough to garner a lot of interest in a short amount of time. Two weeks later, I had several offers of representation, and just last weekend, I SIGNED WITH NANCY COFFEY LITERARY! (Sorry about the all-caps – the excitement just couldn’t be contained.)

The Spirit-Hunters is about Eleanor, a high-society 16-year-old in 1876 Philadelphia, who — to save her brother from a necromancer — must join forces with a rag-tag spirit-hunting team.  Now, Eleanor has to kick undead butt and deal with her growing attraction to the team’s exasperating but gorgeous inventor.  You can learn more about it here.

While I’m polishing Eleanor’s story for submissions, I’ll also be NaNoWriMo-ing (don’t you love how I just created a verb?) with a YA sci-fi.  Screechers tells the tale of Echo, a 17-year-old on death row who is the only survivor after “screechers” — government created monsters — attack her outpost.  But when Echo sets out to warn the other outposts of impending doom, the government and the screechers set out to kill her.

I look forward to getting to know the other ladies of LTWF, and more importantly, all the readers! It’s a pleasure to “meet” you, and if you ever have questions about writing, living in Germany, or fish (I am still a marine biologist, after all), don’t hesitate to ask.  I’ve been following LTWF for a while — absorbing their words of wisdom, words of comfort, and words of AWESOME.  I can’t wait to give back in the same way.

One final thing before I go: I’m having a Giant Giveaway Extravaganza on my blog! This entire week, I’m giving out free stuff for readers and writers alike. It’s to celebrate signing with NCLit, to celebrate my introduction to LTWF, and to help everyone prepare for NaNoWriMo.

As we say here in Deutschland, auf Wiedersehen!


Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She recently signed with Sara Kendall of NCLit. You can learn more about her writing process, crazy life-thoughts, and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog or twitter.

Winners of the Anniversary Giveaway!

16 Oct



In honor of LTWF’s 1-year anniversary, last Saturday we announced that we would be giving away gift baskets custom-made by the contributors of LTWF. We received over 125 comments from readers, and have been absolutely blown away by everyone’s support for our blog and our continuing mission: to be a resource and community for new writers on their paths to publication.

The following readers were selected as recipients of the custom gift baskets, using a random name picker:

(We’ve linked names to the comment that was selected as a win, so if you see your name please check the comment to make sure you’re the right person)



Laura E. Wardle

Rosie G








If the winners could please email us at letthewordsflowblog AT gmail DOT com, we’ll have your gift basket sponsor contact you to coordinate shipping.

(please make sure you email letthewordsflowBLOG).

If we do not receive addresses by next Saturday, we will choose alternate winners, to be fair to the rest of our readers.

Congratulations to our winners, and thank you everyone for reading and participating!

Anniversary Giveaway!!

9 Oct

We’ve been utterly overwhelmed by the response you guys have given us the past few days. Your stories and congratulations mean so much to us, and we mean it from the bottom of our hearts when we say that Let the Words Flow would not be where it is today without all your wonderful support.

To show just a little of our appreciation, we’re having a great big international giveaway!! Nine of us are going to be putting together special packages and sending them off to nine of you. Included will be a book we love, a moleskine journal, and other little items depending on which of us is sending the package! And as a special bonus, freelance editor CA Marshall is including a $35 gift certificate with each package!! This is good for a ten page critique or a four page synopsis edit. The money can also be put toward any of her other editing services. Huge thank you to CA Marshall!!!

To be entered for the giveaway, please just leave a comment below. To be completely fair to all our readers, we’re not going to do the usual points system–though we do love all our subscribers, fans on facebook, and followers on twitter 😀

This contest will end on Friday October 15th and we’ll announce the winners on Saturday!

Thanks again for all the support, guys. We hope for many wonderful years to come!


Banned Books Week – Support a Challenged or Banned Author & Giveaway!

25 Sep

Today marks the beginning of banned books week, which runs until October 2nd. Lately, challenged books have been talked about all over the blogosphere and twittersphere – especially concerning YA titles. From Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK being deemed pornographic, to Sarah Ockler’s TWENTY BOY SUMMER and Sherman Alexie’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, there’s no doubt about it: we’ve seen quite a bit of censorship going on. (Heck, even the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has been banned from a school this year – no lie!). 

In this day and age, you’d think we would all be a little more open; you’d think that we would all respect the right for people to choose what they want to read. You’d think people claiming rape to be pornographic wouldn’t be taken seriously (I mean, really? That’s horrifying). It’s bad enough that there are issues of white washing on covers – now we’re going to try to censor books with minority protagonists? We’re going to ban books because it contains homosexuality? Because they look at the human condition and point out our flaws, our shortcomings, our problems?

The reasons people choose to challenge (and try to ban) books is numerous. And here at LTWF, we believe that books being banned is equivalent to them being burned. We should be able to freely choose the books we want to read, and the books we want our children to read. To ban a book is to take away the choice from someone else –someone who has the right to choose.

So if you agree with us, we’re asking that you join us in supporting banned books and their authors by purchasing (or by borrowing from your library to tote around in public) a banned or challenged book. And if you can, we’d love it if you could also show your support by sending us a picture of yourself with a banned book you have chosen – and next Saturday, we’ll post your pictures on the blog. We want to visually show our support for banned and challenged books – so please, go out and buy a book (or even if you already own it – chances are you do!), and take a picture. Own more than one banned book? Take a picture of yourself with all of them!

And If you’re on Twitter, join the #SpeakLoudly movement.

So just to help you out (for those who aren’t as aware of what books have been banned), here is a list of the Ten Most Challenged Books from 2009 according to the ALA:

1. “TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality
3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

(also check out the 200820072006, and 2005 lists and decade lists for the ’90s and ’00s)

The most frequently challenged authors of 2009:

Lauren Myracle, Alex Sanchez, P.C. Cast, Robert Cormier, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, Stephen Chbosky, Chris Crutcher, Ellen Hopkins, Richelle Mead, John Steinbeck

And if that wasn’t frightening enough, take a look at the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st Century.

And want to know some of the more recently challenged books? Here is a list of all the challenged and banned books of 2009-2010.

So, tell everyone you know; help make others aware. Those of us against banning books can speak our minds just as loudly as those who are for it. We will not be silenced – we will Speak Loudly. So stand up, be proud, and tell people why book banning is just plain ridiculous.

~ The LTWF Team




As we said in the article above, we are asking our readers to take a picture with their favorite banned book(s) and send it to us (letthewordsflowblog AT gmail DOT com). We will post your pictures (and our own) next Saturday, and choose one lucky reader who sent us a picture to receive a giveaway prize!

We are giving away this bracelet from Carolyn Forsman. OR, if you don’t want it/don’t wear jewelry, we will ship you one banned book of your choice!

Plain Kate / Erin Bow Blog Tour: Interview and Plain Kate Giveaway!

19 Sep

by Vanessa Di Gregorio


As you all probably know, I absolutely loved Erin Bow’s YA novel, Plain Kate (which again, I highly recommend!).

Today, we’re the third stop in Erin Bow’s blog tour – and we even have a copy of Plain Kate to giveaway, courtesy of Scholastic Canada.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Bow, and I must say, I am INCREDIBLY excited to share her answers with you! For those of you who don’t know her, Erin Bow is the author of two books of poetry and a memoir (published under her maiden name, Erin Noteboom) – and Plain Kate is her first novel. She also studied particle physics and worked briefly at CERN (European Centre for Nuclear Research), but left in order to pursue her passion for writing. And she’s  married to YA novelist James Bow.

For those who aren’t familiar with Plain Kate (or just need a refresher), here’s the description from Goodreads:

Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square.

For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can’t live shadowless forever — and that Linay’s designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

If you want to know more about Plain Kate, check out my review for it here. And now, onto the interview!


Vanessa Hi Erin! Thanks so much for joining us. Plain Kate, your first novel, draws a lot from Russian folklore. Does it draw from any one in particular? What was it about Russian folklore that inspired you to write Plain Kate?

Erin Bow: Right before the beginning of PLAIN KATE came to me, I read this huge collection of Russian fairy tales.  I love fairy tales and I thought I knew them, but the Russian ones blew me away.   They’re full of white nights and strange transformations, villains that read as tragic heros, doomed heros that still stand tall.  When I read the Grimm fairy tales, they often seem familiar, as if you’ve heard them or part of them, as if you’ve been to that Kingdom.  The Russian tales aren’t like that.  They come from just over the edge of the map; they are wilder and darker.

There’s no one tale being retold in Plain Kate.  In fact the only thing explicitly Russian in the final draft is a rusalka — a sort of vampiric ghost — and the setting is more Eastern European than anything.  Still,  I hope I got some of that wildness and darkness, some of that sad triumph.

V: It took you six years to write Plain Kate. Did the story change drastically over time?

EB: Oh, yes. I remember having vague ideas about Linay going to see a king to have a wish granted, and Kate having to stop him with some heroic act of carving, such as making a statue of the King’s dead son. There was this bit of magic, you see, where if you could make the king cry he would grant you a wish, but he was rather mad and didn’t cry, and Linay needed Kate’s shadow to weave into his violin to make his music sad, but Kate’s carving trumped that by getting at the root of the king’s madness: grief.

Well.  It’s not a bad story, but you can see that I didn’t exactly have it flushed out.  And in the end, none of that turned out to be right: there was no King, and it was Linay that was mad.  This is often the way with me: I have only the vaguest notion of where I’m going, and I usually turn out to be wrong.

Even in this iteration of the story – the Roamers, the fog, the rusalka, the journey to Lov — I went through four different versions of the ending before settling on this one.  In fact I sold this book to Scholastic with a radically different ending.  Thank heavens my editor called me out on it.

V: You’ve said on your site that of all writing, you like poetry and children’s stories best; that, “they have in common mindfulness about the magic of language”. Why do you think most stories for adults lack that magic of language?

EB: As a reader, I like YA best, but I also do read a lot of literary fiction for adults.  I am often disappointed with it in a particular way.

If a piece of writing is magic, is a spell, then too much literary fiction is a spell that does nothing.  It gives us exquisite characters, wonderful prose — and then no story.  You get to the end of a book and think: that was beautiful, but what was the point of it?  The individual words have  this tremendous power but the spell as a whole just fizzles away.

In a YA book you can’t get away with that.  Young readers know all about potential and many secretly dread that growing up means fizzling away.   So they won’t put up with it in their books.  A YA novel will, therefore, never be a spell that does nothing.   The spell may not come off, it may blow up in the author’s face, but it won’t do nothing.

I also think young readers — along with poetry readers — are more willing to fall under the spell of a book than the average adult reader.  Think about it:  is there any book we love like the books we love as children?

V: What are some of your favourite children’s stories?

EB: For children — as opposed to tweens and teens — I love E.B. White’s stuff.  Trumpet of the Swan was my favourite book when I was eight or ten; it’s about a mute trumpeter swan named Louis (that went right over my head) whose father steals him an actual trumpet.  Now I like Charlotte’s Web better.  It’s got one of the great opening lines in fiction:  “What’s Pa going with that axe?”

I could name many more books, but E.B. WHite has a special place in my heart.  I loved him as a kid, and I still love him now.   He tells wonderful, deeply human and humane stories with his animal characters.   Yet he doesn’t write down to kids the way, say, C.S. Lewis sometimes did. As a kid, you just know it’s a magical, wonderful story.  As an adult you can read it aloud and marvel at the rhythmic beauty of the sentences.

V: Taggle was my favourite character in Plain Kate; he made me laugh, he made me cry, and he had a wonderful personality. How did his character come to be? Was he your favourite character to write?

EB: From the moment I wrote the first sentence, I knew PLAIN KATE contained a talking cat. I really don’t know where characters come from; they seem to be gifts from some great giver.

Taggle got away from me, though.  He was meant to be a sidekick, but he grabbed himself a character arc, and made a pretty good bid at being the hero.  There’s a scene in the middle where he tells Kate “I can’t cry,” and then cries, that made me cry too:  I could suddenly see all the possibilities for where he was heading.

And, yes, Taggle was my favourite character to write.  He’s so honest, and everything he does is so outsized.   He was break from writing the small, subtle reactions of dear Kate, the hidden ones of Linay.  And his body language was fun to do — I got to spend time watching cats and consider it part of my job.

V: Who was the most difficult character to write, and why?

EB: Kate herself was the hardest to write, because  when she feels things strongly — particularly if she’s angry or afraid — she shuts down.  The more she feels, the less she shows.  That’s tricky to portray on the page.   Just when your editor wants you to ramp things up, the character wants to harden herself away.  Then the editor writes “but what is she feeling?” in the margin, and you want to say, “she doesn’t know, and if she did she wouldn’t tell you.”  But you have to find a way to show it anyway.

V: What are you reading right now?

EB: I am reading NICKLE AND DIMED, a non-fiction book about living on near-minimum wage.  I want to read STARCROSSED or THE REPLACEMENT or MOCKINGJAY next!

V: Last question! What are you working on now? Can you share a bit?

EB: I’ve been telling everyone on the internet about SORROW’S KNOT, my work in progress that’s almost done.  Would you like to hear about THE TELEPORTATION OF GILBERT PEREZ instead?  I’m just getting started on it.  Here’s the first page.

On October 24, 1593, a young soldier named Gilbert Perez was found wandering dazed in the Plaza Mayor in Mexico City. On being told where he was, he insisted that he had just been on sentry duty in the governor’s palace in Manila ― and indeed he was uniform of the Philippine regiment — and offered the news that the governor had just been murdered.
He was arrested for desertion and on suspicion of witchcraft.
It’s in the history books.  Look it up.
About all that’s left of me — of the boy who staggered beside the ruins of the serpent wall  in the blinding sun, covered in blood, clutching his head – is the boots.  They just don’t make boots like they used to.  These days it’s all steel reinforced toes and orthopediac arch support.  Give me cross-bound leather any day.  And dye it red.
Blue jeans, now, blue jeans I’ll take.
And the name, Gil.  I’ve tried to hold onto that.

(It really is in the history books.  Look it up.)

V: I definitely will be looking that up in the history books! Thanks so much, Erin!


Giveaway Details:

Want to win a copy of Plain Kate? Here’s the scoop:

Contest is open to Canadian residents only (sorry all you non-Canucks!), and will be shipped directly from the publisher (much ❤ to Scholastic!).

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment with your thoughts on the interview.

For extra entries, you can do any (or all!) of the following:

+1 for following LTWF on Twitter (add your twitter name to your comment so I know you’re following)
+2 for commenting on my review of Plain Kate
+1 for following Erin Bow (@erinbowbooks) on Twitter (let us know if you do)
+1 for following Scholastic Canada (@scholasticCDA) on Twitter (let us know if you do)
+1 for being a fan of LTWF on Facebook
+2 for following this blog – (if you don’t, just subscribe to us with your email!)
+1 for sharing this contest on Twitter – (please provide the link of your tweet in the comments)
+2 for sharing this contest on your blog – just be sure to leave a link (so that we know who you are, and how you’re sharing it!)

There are 12 entries in total. Don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts on the interview, otherwise your extra entries won’t count. And don’t forget to add your email so that we can contact you!

The contest ends at noon EST on Saturday, October 2nd. The winner will be picked using, and will be announced on Sunday, October 3rd.


Blog Tour details:

In case you’re interested in following the blog tour (which I suggest you do!), here is a list of all the stops (including past ones and those upcoming):

September 17th:

September 18th:

September 20th:

September 21st:

September 22nd:

September 23rd:

September 24th:


Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program. Currently, Vanessa is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.

Saturday Grab Bag: Mashup

4 Sep


Here are some great links on writing, the industry, and all things book related. We highly recommend you read them!

    -Wonder what the covers for this series look like in Japan? Germany? Italy? The UK? The US? (hint: they’re VERY different!)

  • US Covers vs. UK Covers
    -Often, the same book released in the US and in the UK has two very different covers. One site analyses dozens of books and their alternate covers.




August 1st – October 31st, 2010 (it’s been extended!)

Hosted by:

Jillian @ Random Ramblings
Linna @ 21 Pages
Raila @ Books Out of the Bookshelves

Donate some money to charity and you’re entered for a chance to win an amazing giveaway (I mean, just look at this prize list!)

There are 6 prizes, plus a 7th “word-spreading” prize – so if you’ve been tweeting or blogging about this giveaway, you can win a prize as well too!


Share any cool links you’ve come across in the comments!

And have a great weekend!

Winner of the THE WORST THING SHE EVER DID Giveaway!

29 Aug


Jill Jones!

Jill will receive a copy of Alice Kuiper’s, The Worst Thing She Ever Did!

But first, here’s a description from Goodreads:

“My New Year’s resolution: I’m moving on from everything that’s happened. I’m not going to talk about it, think about it, let the memory pounce upon me like a waiting tiger, nothing.”

All Sophie wants to do is forget. But it’s not easy now that everything’s changed. The house feels too big, school drags on for too long, lights are too bright, the room spins, and her hands get sweaty for no reason. And she can’t remember why she was ever best friends with Abigail, who is obsessed with parties and boys. Only the new girl, Rosa-Leigh, with her prose poems and utter confidence, might understand. But talking to her seems impossible.

Lost in memories of the life she once had, Sophie retreats into herself. But there’s only so long she can keep everything bottled up inside before she explodes. Maybe by confronting the tragedy of her past she’ll figure out how to fix her future.


[Description from Goodreads]

Congrats Jill!

Moleskine Notebook Giveaway Winners!

15 Aug

Last month, we started our Moleskine giveaway (for a pocket-sized Volant notebook) as a thank you for helping us reach 300 Twitter followers and 100 Facebook followers! Which meant we were going to have 2 winners!

But since then, we’ve actually reached 400 Twitter followers! Which is insanely awesome! So, we’ve decided to give away 3 more pocket-sized Volant notebooks! For a total of 5 winners!

That’s right. 5! Because we can’t say thank you enough to all of our wonderful followers! You guys rock! Thank you for all your wonderful comments, and for your continuous support; thanks for making things like our CP page and Worst Writing Week a success; thanks for leaving us QOTWs to answer; and thanks for just being AWESOME.

So without further ado, the winners of our Moleskine Notebook giveaway are:




Fleur Ang

& Alexa!

Congrats guys!

PARANORMALCY Giveaway Winner!!!

7 Aug

The winner of the PARANORMALCY giveaway is…

Brittany Landgrebe!

Brittany will receive a copy of Kiersten White’s amazing YA debut, PARANORMALCY!

Sixteen-year-old Evie’s job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone–or something–starts taking out the vamps, werewolves, and other odd beasties she’s worked hard to help become productive members of society, she’s got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal.

Normal is so overrated.


[Description from Goodreads]

Congrats, Brittany!


For those of you who didn’t win, be sure to pick up a copy of PARANORMALCY when it hits shelves on August 31st! You can pre-order it here.

The Foretelling Giveaway Winner!!!

1 Aug

The winner for The Foretelling Giveaway is…

Alison (aka lostinbelieving)!

Alison will receive a copy of Alice Hoffman’s, The Foretelling!

A stunning tale of primal power and mythic beauty from a New York Times bestselling author. Rain is a girl of the Amazon tribe of women warriors, the daughter of Queen Alina, living in a time of blood and fear. As the future leader of her people, she must seek and hold fast to her inner warrior. But amid the horrors of the battlefield, Rain is startled and mystified by the first stirrings of mercy towards the enemy–men–within her. What she encounters along the poignant and harrowing path toward her destiny–a kind young man, a strange recurrent prophecy, and a condemned baby brother–lead her, against odds, to forge mercy, love, and peace.


[Description from Goodreads]

Congrats Alison!