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The Writer's Voice

Wahoo! I'm happy dancing that I made it into The Writer's Voice and could have the opportunity to work with the amazingly talented coaches Brenda Drake, Mónica Bustamante Wagner, Elizabeth Briggs, and Krista Van Dolzer. Thank you all for putting this contest together, and a huge congrats to all participants. Fingers crossed that this contest will lead to many agent requests!

Here's my entry:


Eleven year-old Ruby Bella Brown creates comics to cope with her wacky family, bullying ex-best friend, and a special needs little sister she’s determined to protect, even though she says the most embarrassing things. Still stinging from the day her best friend ditched her and killed all her friendships and beloved comics, Ruby keeps secrets from her new best friend, Julia. But when Julia discovers the truth about her crush, bra-tastrophes, and other humiliations, it looks like Ruby might lose her, too. The only thing Ruby wants as much as a forever friend is to go to art camp so her favorite cartoonist can help make her comics so amazing, even her ex-best friend can’t destroy them. Just as her dream is about to come true, Ruby needs to summon her inner superhero to protect her sister and Julia. But while trying to defend Julia, the special necklace she inherited from her grandmother breaks. Now, Ruby is forced to choose between the two things she wants most—art camp, or using the money she earned to help Julia, hoping she’ll be her forever friend.

The Comic Adventures of Ruby Bella Brown is a 35,000 word contemporary middle grade novel—Dork Diaries meets Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

I’m proud to have several pieces published in Highlights magazine, my humorous middle grade novel Mom Wars won an honorable mention in the 2014 Rate Your Story contest, and two of my manuscripts placed in the 80th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition. I'm the SCBWI FL Newsletter Editor and Critique Group Coordinator, an Administrator on the SCBWI Blueboard, and a founding member of From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle-Grade Authors.


First 250 words:

I’d eat worms or kiss Stinky Gorman to make sure my eleventh birthday won’t be another suck-a-rama. Good thing I won’t have to do anything that awful. Now that Julia is my friend, this will be my best birthday ever. There’s only one thing that could ruin it...

Daisy smirks at me from across the room, making me cringe. There’s no way I’ll let my evil ex-best friend destroy another birthday. As the bell rings, I zigzag through the cafeteria and bolt into the hallway.

Wahoo, I did it. I head toward my first class.

“Ruby! I found you just in time.” Julia runs over and hands me a bag of jellybeans tied with a sparkly silver bow. “It’s 7:52. Happy birthday.”

“Aw, that’s so sweet.” I pop a cotton candy jellybean in my mouth, then tip the bag toward Julia. She eats a handful, and a blue chunk gets wedged in her braces. I point at the same tooth in my mouth and scrunch my nose twice. Our secret signal. A second later, the blue blob is gone.

Julia smiles and jumps around. “I got a letter from camp saying they changed the musical to Wicked. I can't wait! Did your parents sign you up for comic-drawing classes yet?”

I twirl a piece of hair tighter. And tighter.

“You’re going, right?”

“Well…my parents said it’s really expensive, but they know I want to go more than anything in the world. I’m pretty sure it’ll be my birthday present.”

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( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 21st, 2015 02:42 pm (UTC)
Good luck!
Good luck in the competition!

Edited at 2015-05-21 02:44 pm (UTC)
May. 22nd, 2015 12:01 am (UTC)
Re: Good luck!
Thanks, Annette. :)
May. 21st, 2015 02:51 pm (UTC)
Awesome! :)
May. 22nd, 2015 12:02 am (UTC)
Thank you, Robin. :)
May. 22nd, 2015 02:55 am (UTC)
Looks Fantastic!
Loved your first 250 words! Good luck to you in the contest!
May. 25th, 2015 10:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Looks Fantastic!
May. 22nd, 2015 03:20 pm (UTC)
Awesome Query and 250!
I loved it!! You have a great voice! Best of luck in the contest! :)
May. 25th, 2015 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Awesome Query and 250!
Thank you so much. :)
May. 22nd, 2015 09:17 pm (UTC)
Good Luck!
Loved this! Voice, pacing, typical school setting turned into the battle zone of sorts with her ex-best friend--all so great. I so want to read more. Good luck in the competition!
May. 25th, 2015 10:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Good Luck!
Thank you for your sweet comment. :)
May. 23rd, 2015 01:33 pm (UTC)
Loved your 250. Good luck! :)
May. 25th, 2015 10:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
May. 23rd, 2015 09:23 pm (UTC)
I don't read much middle grade, but this has a really sweet voice--good luck!
May. 25th, 2015 10:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
May. 24th, 2015 02:41 am (UTC)
No one took me up on my twitch offer, so I figure I'll just do them for as many people as I can. PitMad is June 4, use this one, change it, or don't use it at all, but make sure you tweet something! If you do use this one, please pay it forward and support your fellow writers by retweeting all the good pitches you see (I’m @JD_ODonnell ;) )

11y/o Ruby’s new best friend needs her just as she’s going to art camp. Now she must choose: her bff or her favorite cartoonist #PitMad #MG
May. 25th, 2015 10:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks, JD. :)
May. 24th, 2015 11:05 am (UTC)
What a funny, voicey beginning! Love the title, too. Good luck to you and Ruby!
May. 25th, 2015 10:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your sweet comment. :)
May. 24th, 2015 07:00 pm (UTC)
Great letter—the voice really comes through. I would be careful about using "bra-tastrophe" twice, though. It's such a distinctive word, the repetition draws attention to itself, nor does it really lend itself to understanding why Julia might abandon her as a friend. (It's easy to imagine a wardrobe malfunction leading to an almost unbearable humiliation at that age, less so to see losing a friend who wasn't there.)

The pages back up the query, too. Good luck
May. 25th, 2015 11:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for your sweet comment and helpful advice. I really appreciate it! You're so right about the double bra-tastrophe. I love being able to make my pitches and manuscripts stronger--thank you again for your suggestions.

I'm off to take a peek at your entry. Good luck!
Rena Ford
May. 29th, 2015 04:04 am (UTC)
I love the voice in your query! Good luck in the competition

I offer everyone a query crit, and if you’re daring, how I would have voted if I were a judge. Just give me a holler at DrFaerieGodmother.blogspot.com (entry number 42) with your email (you can use the name (at) server dot com method if you like), and I’ll email you a crit with some specifics. if you don’t like having your email on the interwebs, just say so in the comment, and I’ll delete the comment before the bots can get it!
May. 30th, 2015 01:30 am (UTC)
What fun!
Great opening--love bra-tastrophes! Good luck in the contest!
May. 30th, 2015 05:48 am (UTC)
Re: What fun!
Thank you. :)
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
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