Friday, July 30, 2010

Shaking Up the Death Match!!!

Our first YA Flash Death Match was a great success - far beyond our expectations. In fact, so many people emailed us saying how bummed they were that they didn't get chosen to raise their pens and fight that we've decided to make the competition more about the writing and less about the hype.

While we will still be offering prizes from awesome authors and interviewing them on occasion, Karly & I want to know more about you guys and your writing! So, here's the new schedule - and it's all about you!

Monday, August 1st - open to suggestions for topics
Thursday, August 5th - NOON - topic & writers chosen
Wednesday, August 11th - flash fiction posted, voting opens
Friday, August 13th - MIDNIGHT - voting ends
Monday, August 16th - Winner announced and topics open AGAIN!
Thursday, August 19th - NOON - topic & writers chosen
Wednesday, August 25th - flash fiction posted, voting opens
Friday, August 27th - MIDNIGHT - voting ends

Yes, we are hosting two competitions in ONE MONTH! So start brainstorming and get ready for another round of YA Flash Death Match!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Winners for the First Death Match

Congrats to G.P. Ching - Winner of the First YA Flash Death Match!

As our grand prize winner, G.P. will receive a signed copy of Thief by Sarah-Jane LeHoux and a YA Flash Death Match blog award!!! She will also receive a critique of the first five pages of a manuscript and query letter! Congrats G.P.!

Our runner-up, James C. Wallace II, will receive a signed copy of Panthan's Crucible by Meredith Shea Woods. Congrats James!

We also have three lucky winners for a Mistwood prize pack. Our randomly chosen winners are:

All the winners need to contact Karly for information on how to receive their prizes!

Thanks again to everyone for participating and we'll be posting the schedule for the August edition of YA Flash Death Match this week!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July's Death Match - Read and Vote!

Welcome to the first official YA Flash Death Match.  Our two contestants, G.P. Ching and James C. Wallace II are going head-to-head today in our challenge.  They wrote 2 stories, each reflecting our theme, Urban Fantasy Coming-of-Age.

Click the links below to their stories.  Read.  Comment. Your comment counts as your vote, so only leave a comment on the story you are voting for.  Unfortunately we cannot allow any anonymous comments, being that we have prizes for voters, so we need to know who you are!  We have 3 Mistwood bookmark gift packs from Leah Cypess to give away to three randomly chosen voters. One vote per person, please!  But anyone and everyone can and should vote!  Tell your friends!

The Alley of Oz by James C. Wallace II
The Dwelling Race by G.P. Ching

You have until Friday, July 23 at midnight CST to vote for your favorite story.

As a reminder our two main prizes are:

Grand Prize for Winner of the Death Match:

Critique - of your query AND first 5 pages of manuscript
signed copy of Thief

from fantasy/horror author Sarah-Jane Lehoux
Available here.

....and this awesome blog award...

Runner-Up Prize:

Signed copy of Panthan's Crucible

from YA author Meredith Wood
Panthan's Crucible

The Dwelling Race by G.P. Ching

If I could change one thing about myself, it would be my birthday.  December 13th seems like an innocent enough date, but when you live in The Pod, it’s practically a death sentence.  It means I will be the last to turn fifteen this year and the others have eleven months to claim The Dwelling before me--unless I stop them. 

Heat radiates off the pavement as I leave my parents dwelling and head into the street.  Sabin jogs to catch up with me.  I can see Dante closing the door of the dwelling across from ours. It is midnight on September 20th.

“Nick turns fifteen today,” Sabin says to me.

I caress the hilt of my sword.  “I know.” Of course I know.  We’ve known each other’s birthdays since we could read a calendar.

“Will you kill him, Serena?” he asks.

“Of course I will!” I say, appalled.  “Haven’t I killed all of them?  Scarlet, Penny, Markus, Raven…Do I have to say their names?  One for every month of the year so far.”

“But, you don’t have to kill Nick.  He may choose you as his dwelling-mate and then you’d have a place to live.”

“Not likely.  Nick knows I’ve had his name on my kill list since January.”  I grin at Sabin.  “He could choose you,” I say.  “I think Nick might find it a welcome relief to not have the possibility of a wife and child.”

Sabin sticks his tongue out and makes a gagging noise.

“Anyway, I can’t take the chance.  The dwelling will be mine, which means I’ll have to kill you all.”  I jab my sword toward his face just to make the point.

“Just remember, it’s illegal to kill me on any day but my fifteenth birthday.  You’ll have to wait until November.” I notice he doesn’t mention it will be legal for him to kill me that day too, or that Nick could kill either of us today.

“November then,” I say, but inside I cringe.  I know Sabin better than any of them.  We’ve killed the first eight side by side, knowing that our chances for survival depended on keeping The Dwelling tenant free.  Will I be able to kill him when the time comes?  I’m not sure.

We pass the oxygen generators on our way to Nick’s dwelling and I look skyward toward the dome that shields us from Earth’s foul atmosphere.  It’s the reason for The Dwelling race.  Environmental control is essential for survival in The Pod.  Limited resources mean limited dwellings.

“Come out, come out wherever you are,” Sabin chants in the direction of Nick’s window.

We climb the stairs towards his parent’s door.  Dante nods in our direction, moving around the back of the dwelling, sword drawn. 

“Happy Birthday Nickolas!  Time to race.  The Dwelling is just waiting for you,” I taunt.

A voice rings out from behind us.  “You guys are so damned predictable,” Nick yells from the roof of the food dispenser.  “Do you think after killing with you for nine months, I would wait in my own house?”  He laughs.  I eyeball his location in comparison to ours.  The only rule is that we have to start the same distance from the dwelling.  Nick made a smart choice.  We’re even but his height is to his advantage. 

He takes a step toward The Dwelling and the race begins.

Nick takes off, jumping from rooftop to rooftop.  I follow but resheathing my sword slows me down.  I’m faster than he is but he’s able to put some space between us while I react.  Once I hit my stride, I grab the bow from my back.  I am closer than Sabin and have the best chance of taking Nick out. 

At a full out run I release my arrow.  Nick dives to the left and it skims his right shoulder.  There’s blood but it’s not enough to take him down.  I curse because we’re close, a few hundred yards from The Dwelling.  Dante has climbed to the roof and is firing at Nick with his slingshot.  He’s lost too much ground climbing the stairs and his stones drop far from their target.  Sabin is shooting arrows as well, but the height of the buildings make a clear shot nearly impossible.

The door to The Dwelling is on the second floor.  Sabin and I race up as Nick races down.  I release arrow after arrow but none do any more than bloody his ankles.  The only shots I can get are through the gaps between the stairs. 

Until we reach the landing. 

Nick dives for the doorknob of The Dwelling and I release my arrow aimed at his heart.  The door falls open and he hurls his body inside.  I narrowly miss my target. My arrow clips his flank, pinning his shirt to the door.

It’s too late.  He’s inside.  Nick rips his shirt from my arrow, raises his arms toward the dome and releases a howl of victory.

Sabin falls to his knees, weeping as the Pod Enforcers come.  Dante tries to run but they have him before he can make it to the stairs.  I make them force me to my knees.  I feel cold steel on my neck but no matter.  I am prepared to die.  I’ve been prepared since I found out about The Dwelling race and my inauspicious birthday.

Nick is still in the doorway.  Will he enjoy watching my fate? 

“I choose Serena as my dwelling-mate, “ he says and the look on his face is positively gloating.  I glance toward Sabin but dare not say his name as the Enforcers usher me into The Dwelling.

Nick closes the door behind me.  I drop to the floor, squeeze my eyes shut and place my hands over my ears.

I try not to think about the death outside.

The Alley of Oz by James C. Wallace II

The large leather shoe came down perilously close to the waving tail of the Queen of the Field Mice.
Her Majesty looked about and found something that would do nicely.
Picking up the nearby dime which was lying on top of the sewer grate, the diminutive, yet regal mouse heaved it with all her might.
The trajectory was perfect and the speed just about right.
Moments later, the dime found its mark and left a sharp mark on the back of the target’s ear.
“Outsiders!” screamed the little mouse, her voice barely reaching the now-throbbing ear of the target.
The Outsider walked away, rubbing her ear and wondering what just happened.
It had been one month since the Queen of the Field Mice had come looking for Dorothy.
For over a hundred years in Oz, Dorothy had been content to be a ten year old girl in a fantasy land. Then came time and biology and Dorothy yearned to “grow up a bit,” as she called it. 
“It’s not a matter of happy,” she had explained to the rodent ruler as she stepped through the green wooden doorway that Princess Ozma had created for just this purpose. “I just need to grow up a little.”
Now, four years after leaving Oz and one month after Dorothy’s plea for help had brought the royal rodent to the Great Outside, the Queen of the Field Mice had nearly completed her task.
The alley in which Dorothy had spent many an evening was as empty as ever. The human who had nearly crushed the Queen was the first one she had seen since sundown.
When Dorothy had explained to Her Majesty the facts about a young man who was causing a great deal of trouble for her and her friends, the royal rodent spent several weeks devising a plan to put the young man in his place.
The Queen of the Field Mice had found a box lid lying in an adjacent alleyway and it seemed to provide a blueprint for a perfect trap that a mouse could build.
Her Majesty found numerous rodents, cats, dogs and a snake or two living in the nearby urban landscape of the big city Dorothy had called home for nearly four years.
Each animal recognized that the diminutive mouse was royalty, even if she was from Oz and they all vowed to serve her needs. They knew instinctively who Dorothy was and that the mouse was here to help.
It took weeks to build the contraption of the box lid from all sorts of objects, scrap and trash that the animals scrounged wherever they could. It filled the entire alley but looked like it belonged there… even the bathtub.
Dorothy was impressed and decided the Queen of the Field Mice had done well.
On the night of the full moon, Dorothy knew the time had come to deal with the young man who had been causing trouble for everyone in the little alley.
Now, both Queen and Dorothy waited for trouble to arrive, and they didn’t have to wait long.
The young man of trouble sauntered into the alley, acting all cocky and rude. He was accompanied by another young man, very similar in appearance to him. Both looked around as though they owned the alley and the gathering of girls, including Dorothy were a nuisance to deal with.
In no time, the young man of trouble was in Dorothy’s face and grabbing hard on her arm. He threw her back into the three other girls that always hung out with Dorothy.
Dorothy backed away towards the large wooden thing by the fire escape ladder.
She grabbed the handle protruding from the wooden thing and turned the large pegged gear clockwise one full turn.
High above, the streetlight shook gently and a long metal rod with a shoe on one end swung down and kicked a bucket which was sitting on the top step of the fire escape.
Both young men watched in fascination as the bowling ball poured out of the bucket and rolled down the metal steps, one by one, turning the corner on each flight down until it found the rain guttering lining the side of the building. It came to rest hard inside another metal bucket, which swung around to the bathtub mounted above the fire escape on the other side of the alley and directly over the heads of the two young men.
The bowling ball came out of the small metal bucket, then rolled around the cast iron tub and fell through a hole down onto the head of the young man of trouble. He promptly fell over, knocked out by the perfect strike. His friend promptly ran away as the girls laughed loudly at the unconscious young man.
 Just then, a metal cage came crashing down, trapping the young man of trouble inside.
The gathering of girls cheered loudly, not noticing the diminutive rodent near their feet.
“How did you build all of this?” Dorothy asked her good friend from Oz while the other girls went to examine their catch.
The royal rodent whistled sharply and a dog appeared from the shadows with a box lid grasped firmly in its jaws.
“I think Princess Ozma sent this,” she said to Dorothy.
Dorothy took the box lid in hand.
“Are you ready to go?” inquired the royal rodent of Dorothy, now that her task was complete.
“No. I’m not done growing up just yet,” she declared.
“Very well,” the Queen said as she tried to understand. She clapped her paws and a doorway of green mist appeared, then opened slowly.
Her Majesty, the Queen of the Field Mice stepped into the doorway and back into Oz as Dorothy looked over the box lid the dog had given her.
Dorothy began laughing as she looked over at the strange contraption in the alley.
“Mousetrap!” she exclaimed as all four girls now examined their catch and wondered what to do with him. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Get to know the contestants: G.P. Ching

G.P. Ching is our second contestant for the July YA Flash Death Match!  Get to know her and stop by Wednesday to read her entry and vote vote vote!  There will be some prizes for voters as well!

G.P. Ching's past professions include ice skating instructor, flower salesperson, accountant, systems analyst, business architect, portfolio manager, and registered nurse.  Today, she's a writer who's work has appeared in Muse Literary Journal, Flashquake, Everyday Fiction and Western New York Family Magazines.  Muse granted her the Spring 2010 Award for Short Fiction.  She is currently seeking representation for her first YA novel titled "The Soulkeepers".  G.P. Ching lives in Bloomington, IL with her husband and two children.

Check out G.P. Ching's blog at:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Get to know the contestants: James C. Wallace II

Michelle and I are excited to introduce the first of our contestants to you! 

James C. Wallace II, originally a native of West Virginia, currently lives in Terre Haute, Indiana with his wife Amanda. They have been married more than 26 years, with a herd of 5 children and 12 grandchildren.

His background covers over 26 years in children's education, including experience working for the world's largest children's museum; The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, where he was the Planetarium Educator for SpaceQuest Planetarium.

In addition to children's books about Oz, he is recognized by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a leading developer of web-based educational games, educational exhibit design, curriculum development and implementation.

He is also involved in the DiscoverHover program, which is an educational program developing and utilizing hovercraft in a unique and fun way.

James C. Wallace II now serves as the Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma, Sovereign Ruler of Oz and endeavors to fulfill her royal command to tell the tale of her newest Royal Magician to the children of the Great Outside.

Be sure to check out James' website!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Competitors, Start Your Engines!

Karly & I are proud to announce our first two YA Flash Death Match competitors (chosen by a random numbers generator at!

James C. Wallace II
G.P. Ching

Topic: Urban Fantasy Coming of Age contributed by:
Amanda Heroman.Congrats on winning The Espressologist, Amanda!

Samantha Rill and Kathy Fenton White were also randomly chosen to receive a Mistwood gift pack just for participating. Congrats, Samantha and Kathy!

James and G.P. are competing for the top prizes by writing a 1,000-word or less piece of flash fiction. The stories will be posted on July 21st and voting will continue through July 23rd.

We'll be giving away two more Mistwood prize packs to random voters, so make sure you come back and vote for your favorite story!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Let the YA Flash Death Match begin!!!

We're thrilled today to bring you the very first YA Flash Death Match!  You will have until Tuesday, July 13th at 12 noon CST to post your name and topic here.  Every person who posts a topic will be automatically entered to compete in the first YA Flash Death Match.  If you would like to contribute a topic, but would NOT like to be considered for the competition,  please start your post with 'NOT COMPETING' so we know to exclude you.

Those of you not chosen for the competition or those that are just contributing a topic, will be eligible for the 3 bookmark gift packs from Author Leah Cypess.  These three prizes, plus the winning topic and prize winner, as well as the first 2 contestants will be announced on Wednesday, July 14th.  Contestants will have until July 20th to email us their completed Flash, a piece of writing of no more than 1,000 words.  It can be a complete story OR a scene, and please be sure it's for a YA audience.

As for topics, you can enter something like 'Paranormal Romance' or even be more specific, like 'zombies riding unicorns to the grocery store.'  We're looking forward to some extremely creative writing!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Interview with Fantasy and Horror Author Sarah-Jane Lehoux

This is our final author interview, with Fantasy and Horror author, Sarah-Jane Lehoux. She was kind enough to answer some questions about her book, Thief, which is featured as a prize for July's Death Match. She is also providing the Grand Prize winner with a critique of your query letter AND the first 5 pages of your manuscript. That's quite a prize!  Be sure to come back next week, on Wednesday, July 7th, when the contest kicks off!  We'll be picking our topic and two writers!  You could be the first to win YA Flash Death Match!

Who are some of your favourite authors?

I absolutely adore the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz. I also enjoy Diane Setterfield, Emma Donoghue, Gregory Maguire, Jane Austen, and Lucy Maud Montgomery. That being said, most of what I read is non-fiction. I love books on cryptozoology, the paranormal, folklore and mythology.

What is the main thing you hope readers will gain from your book?

I’m not labouring under the assumption that Thief is going to change anyone’s lives or go down in history as a classic or anything like that, but I’m hoping I’ve created something that people can enjoy. If they need a bit of escapism, then I hope they’ll be able to use Thief for a bit of excitement and fun. And maybe if I’m really lucky, Thief will be memorable enough to make readers think about the nature of good and evil, and how the world isn’t nearly as black and white as we sometimes believe it is.

What inspired Thief?

The initial idea came to me in a dream. I often take singular elements of dreams and expand upon them. In Thief’s case, the image I used was that of a woman rushing to the scene of her lover’s murder. Having this little bit of a story-less character floating around my head prompted me to take part in an online writing exercise, where a group of people took turns telling a story. That initial story died out, but by then I had grown to love Sevy even more. I decided to tell her story from the beginning, never expecting to be able to write an entire novel (plus sequels!) about it.

Where can our readers find you on the web?

If you visit to my website at, there is a page for contacting me through email, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace. You can also check out my blog at

How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed writing as a hobby. I used to write stories for my teachers to read to the class during free time, and English was always my favourite class. That being said, I never really considered myself a writer until after I had written the first draft of Thief. It was then that I realized that I could make a career out of something that I had always loved.

Where is your favorite place to write?

At my desk, with a pair of headphones on and music blaring.

Do you have any upcoming books or projects?

My debut novel, Thief, was just released by Mundania Press, and while I’m still in the process of promoting that, I’m also gearing up for the release of Thief’s sequel. Shades of War will be published in Nov/Dec of 2010. In addition, I’m working on Masquerade, the third in the series and a comedic fantasy novel called Red Rover.
What is your favorite book?

Next of Kin by Roger Fouts. It’s a sort of biography of Washoe, a chimpanzee capable of sign language. It’s a wonderful albeit heartbreaking book that really made me think about what it means to be human. I highly recommend it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Treat writing like you would any other career. That means researching the market, constantly improving your skills, and maintaining an air of professionalism in all of your correspondence. Look into getting a website built and become an active blogger and social networker, even if you don’t have a single publishing credit to your name. These are all things that potential agents/publishers look for when they are considering your work.

Above all else, be patient and stay positive! Getting rejected is all a part of the process. If you believe in yourself and your stories, you will achieve your goals.

Many thanks to Sarah-Jane for participating in our very first YA Flash Death Match!