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Justin Bieber's PURPOSE reviewed

November 23, 2015 | Teen Blogger | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Review by Belinda, member of the Cedarbrae Youth Advisory Group

Purpose album coverAs most of you may know, Justin Bieber released his newest album Purpose on November 13 and it has since been a huge hit. A few of its singles, such as ‘Sorry’ and ‘What Do You Mean?’ were available to the public before the album release, as a header for the album drop. The album has been somewhat controversial, as some listeners believe it to be the best album he has made to date while others believe the music is not suited to his young fans, since it was made as a representation of his transition into adulthood and maturity.

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Music Video Monday - Julie Brown

November 23, 2015 | Cameron | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Julie Brown is an American singer, songwriter, comedian, actress, writer and director. She was most prevalent in the 1980's and 1990's where she had several comedy albums and also was featured in many mainstream movies. Her music is meant to parody the life of valley girls and the "Hardships" that they face. Her first big hit was "Homecoming Queen's got a Gun":


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The Industry—Part 2: What's a query letter?

November 20, 2015 | E Writer in Residence 2015 — Eve Silver | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Missed The Industry—Part 1: How do I find an Agent? Check it out here. 


A query letter is an introduction: you're introducing both yourself and your manuscript to an agent or editor. The letter needs to grab the reader's attention, make her sit up and take notice. So what do you include in a query letter? 


Before you even start your query letter, there's one essential step to complete: Finish the project! Finish the book before you start sending out query letters.


Essential Components of a Query Letter


1. Target a specific agent.

Many writers target more than one agent at once, sending their query letter to a slew of different agencies at the same time. There's nothing wrong with approaching a number of agents, but there is something wrong with addressing the letter to the wrong person. Check and double check the name. Make sure that you aren't addressing your letter "Dear Mr. Smith" when the agent you're sending this version of the letter to is Miss Jones.


2. The opening lines.

The agent/editor you are approaching with your query gets a ton of them every day. So you need to make yours stand out from the crowd. If you've met the agent at a conference, say so right up front. If you haven't met the agent, mention a reason you are contacting him/her.

If you don't want to lead with an introduction, another option is to lead with a hook. 

In this paragraph you might say something along the lines: In my 90,000 word young adult science fiction manuscript, Rush, a girl who just wants to be normal finds out she's anything but when her alien DNA sees her dragged into a video game where she must hunt aliens or be hunted by them.

That sentence tells the agent how long the manuscript is, what genre it fits into in the marketplace, and what the book is about.


3. The body of the letter.

This is the point that you tell the agent what your book is about. It should be one paragraph (two at most). This is a teaser for the story. Tell the agent who your character is, what obstacles they face, what the stakes are. Entice the reader to want to know more. This isn't the place to give a step by step description of your story from beginning to end.


4. A little about you.

This isn't the place to tell the agent about your pet turtle. But it is the place to claim your bragging rights. Have you been published in the Young Voices magazine? This is where you include that info. Have you been published anywhere else? Brag about it here. Have you won any prizes for your writing? Again, take this opportunity to toot your own horn. This is the place to mention anything writing/publishing related. 


5. Sign off.

Here's where you let the agent know that you have a complete manuscript ready for submission, and be sure to thank them for their time.


Want to know more about query letters?


Check out this blog post on query letters by author Jeannie Reusch. is a free database of literary agents. Check out the post there on How To Write A Query Letter.

Agent Kristin Nelson has a ton of great info about query letters and samples of successful queries on her blog, Pub Rants.


Want to WIN a copy of Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider or 99 Days by Katie Cotugno. Head over to the post on What Does Writing Mean to You? and enter to win!


Got questions about query letters? Leave them in the comments and I'll either answer there or include my replies in the next industry post.




Five Frames From . . . November 20th, 2015 Edition

November 20, 2015 | Cameron | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

What movie are these images from? First to get it right gets a prize.

Lc1 Lc2 Lc3 Lc4 Lc5



All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed. 

Images can be viewed in larger format by clicking on them.

Your Bookmark Here: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

November 18, 2015 | Claire | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...



 When brilliant young visual and performing artist Addison Stone falls to her death while installing a new art project over a bridge at night,  everyone has lots of questions.  Was she killed by one of her two boyfriends?  Did she jump on purpose?  Was it an accident?  To answer these questions, writer Adele Griffin (who slyly makes herself a character in her own novel) interviews Addison's friends, teachers and family members, and discovers that the most compelling thing about Addison is not how she died but how she lived her tumultuous, flamboyant, glamorous, and somewhat ungrounded life. 

Adele has spoken to Parade magazine about some of her many inspirations for this story, among them Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, Rolling Stone interviews, and model  Giza LaGarce, who posed for  photographs of the fictional Addison  (that's her in the paint-covered shirt up above).

What I love about Addison's story is how the interviews, faux news articles, and snapshots keep building up a richer and richer portrait of this artist/celebrity. I especially love how the book is illustrated throughout with "Addison's" artwork (mostly portraits of the people we meet in this book). This is actually the work of four different artists, each clustered together to evoke a sense of Addison's evolving style. They add a real punch to Addison's story, and they're often striking in their own right.  The later ones are quite mature, which is funny, because I never got the sense in the interviews that Addison had totally grown up.  All in all, a great read whether you're into art, celebrity or both!


Self-Portrait by Addison Stone, one of many portraits in The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone.  



What Does Writing Mean To You?

November 18, 2015 | E Writer in Residence 2015 — Eve Silver | Comments (8) Facebook Twitter More...

Today's post has three parts: an answer to the question "What does writing mean to you?", a link to a writing contest and a book giveaway!


What does writing mean to you?


I asked the question—"What does writing mean to you?"— and Terese Mason Pierre answered. Terese is a writer, poet, student, musician, and member of the Editorial Youth Advisory Board for the Toronto Public Library's Young Voices magazine.


To a humble university student in a sea of rough lawns and Neo-Gothic labyrinths, writing is an escape. For a few hours, I can empty my mind of essays, research and lectures, and instead fill it with the idiosyncrasies of my characters, the vivid canvas of my setting, and the ever-forking track of my plot, however unfinished these elements may be. In writing, I find a purpose that surmounts external loci, the fly-by-night job market and resume padding. In writing, I find an opportunity to be a creator, a controller, an explorer—to invent universes of my fiat via channels in my brain I am not yet educated enough to comprehend.

Furthermore, in writing, I find a mirror—through my works, I see revealed aspects of my own comprehensive moral doctrine, my own anima, that other spheres in my life had either left clouded, limited or discarded. Thus, in writing, I find a medium through which I express myself and my goals. Unlike beauty, I can unabashedly and unquestioningly call myself a writer, and I feel comfortable in my conscious competence. Through my writing, I aim to educate and evoke others around me, and I will continue to seek opportunities to better my craft. Indeed, writing is so much more than putting pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard. To me, writing means a particular way of life—if I am not writing, I am not living.

—Terese Mason Pierre



The Ontario Writers' Conference Story Starters Contest


There's still time for you to enter the Ontario Writers' Conference November Story Starter Contest. Just head over to the entry page, use the posted image as inspiration to start your story, enter 100 words and you're in! Your entry can be prose, poetry, haiku...whatever grabs you. No entry fee. Details and entry here.



Book Giveaway!



Today, I'm giving away TWO books!


The first is Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider.





The second is 99 Days by Katie Cotugno.




To enter to win one of the books, just post a comment discussing Terese's thoughts on what writing means to her and/or your thoughts on what writing means to you. There will be two (2) random commenters chosen to win!



1. To enter, just leave a comment with your thoughts on what writing means to you. 

2. You must live in Toronto to win this contest. 

3. You must provide a valid e-mail address so you can be contacted if you win a prize, and you must be able to come to a TPL branch to pick up your prize (see privacy statement below for more information).

4. One entry per person per Contest - you can leave more than one comment, but only your first comment will count as a contest entry. 

5. Contest ends Thursday November 26, 2015 at 11:59 pm. 

6. Winner will be contacted on the following Friday.

Personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the Public Libraries Act, s.20 (a) and (d) and will be used to administer the Library's TPL Teens contest. Questions about the collection or management of personal information should be directed to library manager Jayne Delbeek-Eksteins- 416-396-8858.


Thinking of submitting your work to me for feedback? Contact info and details here.


Celebrity Instagram Photos of the Week

November 18, 2015 | Claire A | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

@abelxo @kourtneykardash @elizabethbanks

Music Video Monday - Pink

November 16, 2015 | Cameron | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Alecia Beth Moore (stage name: Pink) is an American singer/songwriter who rose to fame in the early 2000's with her album "Can't Take Me Home". Naming herself after her chosen hair color, Pink is an artist who has managed to avoid being labeled or boxed in. Her first album was very pop and then with her second album she started to write more political songs and to develop her writing styles to examine contemporary culture. Our first video is her first video: "Most Girls"


Continue reading "Music Video Monday - Pink " »

The Industry—Part 1: How do I find an agent?

November 13, 2015 | E Writer in Residence 2015 — Eve Silver | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Some questions I hear often are: Do I look for an agent or an editor? How do I find an agent? How do I approach an agent?


First off, check out the interview with awesome agent Beth Miller of Writers House and amazing author Kelsey Sutton who started working with Beth when she was in her teens.


Next, some answers.


Finish the book.


One of the most important things an author can learn is BICHOK—Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard. Writers write. So get your fingers flying, or your pen scratching on paper, or record your story as you tell it to yourself and then transcribe it as you play it back. Whatever style works for you, use it to finish the project. You can't sell the book unless you finish the book. So BICHOK and get it done.


Agent or editor?


Should you approach an agent first or contact editors at publishing houses? Most publishing houses do not accept unagented submissions. This isn't a hard and fast rule. There are exceptions. For example, if you've met an editor at a conference and they invite you to submit directly to them, then you can send in your project without an agent. But generally, you find an agent first and they send your book out on submission to editors.

But there's another type of editor, one who looks at your project and makes suggestions to help you strengthen it before you even send it to an agent. Do you need to hire a freelance editor to look at your work before you submit? Not always. But if you know your grammar is weak, or if you feel your story is good but isn't quite where you want it to be, then hiring a freelance editor to help you whip it into shape might be an option you want to pursue.


How do I find an agent?


There are many literary agents out there, some good, some great, some not so good, and some are not even agents but are scam artists out to get your money. So how do you know if you're approaching the real deal? 

There's a fantastic site called Preditors and Editors that has detailed information about how agents work and also posts information about agents and agencies, indicating if the agency has verified sales and noting if an agency is not recommended.

Okay...but how do I find an agent?

Go into a bookstore or library. Find a dozen books (or more) that are in the genre/subgenre that you write. Check the acknowledgment page. Many authors thank their agents on that page. You now have a starting point. Google the agent. Check the website for submission instructions and follow those instructions to a T. If the agent wants only a query letter, send only that. If the agent wants a query letter and the first ten pages of the manuscript in the body of an email, send only that.

Check the hashtag #MSWL on Twitter. MSWL stands for manuscript wish list; agents and editors tweet about what they're looking for. That can give you an idea of an agent you might want to approach. Do not pitch them on Twitter. Google the agent. Follow the submission instructions on the website.

There's also a Manuscript Wish List website where the wish lists are compiled in one easy-to-use place.

Another source of agent info is the Absolute Write Water Cooler, a forum where you can find all things writing related. Established authors, new authors, agents, and editors roam the discussions at Absolute Write and you can glean a ton of info.


How do I approach an agent?


Google the agent. Visit the agent's website. Follow the submission/inquiry instructions posted on the site. Sit back and wait...and wait...and wait. Agents receive a ton of inquiries. Some never respond. Some send a generic email/letter saying "no thanks." Some (if your inquiry really stands out from the crowd) might send a personalized rejection letter, or ask for some updates to your work and invite you to resubmit (which is a huge step!). Or an agent might ask to see more of your project if they are intrigued and they feel your work is a good fit.


Remember this: rejections aren't personal. It isn't a judgment of your work or your talent or you. Agents reject a project for a variety of reasons. Maybe they already have a similar project on their list. Maybe they don't represent what you write (which is all the more reason to do your homework and try to find an agent who does represent what you write.) 


Got questions? Leave them in the comments and I'll either answer there or incorporate my replies in my next industry post.


**Note: yes, I know that my use of the singular they-their-them in this post is grammatically incorrect. 



Five Frames From . . . November 13th, 2015 Edition

November 13, 2015 | Cameron | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

What movie are these images from? First to get it right gets a prize.

If1 If2 If3 If4 If5



All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed.

Images can be viewed in larger format by clicking on them.

Young Voice Electronic Writer in Residence. My Curved Border

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