Friday, March 18, 2011

CRITIQUE CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT...With Awesome Prizes! (And Show Me the Voice Contest Entry)

It's been a long time since I've hosted a critique session here at Random Thoughts, so I thought it was time to do one again.  This time we have a special prize.  Judith Engracia, Literary Assistant at Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency is going to judge your entries and choose at least two winners.  The two winners will receive a ten page critique from Judith!  How awesome is that!!! 

I adore Judith and am sure you will too...

Judith is a literary assistant at Liza Dawson Associates, handling audio rights and digital publishing. She graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University with a B.A. in English and History on a full presidential scholarship. Prior to joining Liza Dawson Associates in 2010, she interned at Random House and a number of literary agencies, including FinePrint Literary and Nancy Coffey Literary Management. She is currently building her client list and looking for all types of fiction, especially middle grade, young adult, urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance. When she's not reading, she is either training for her next martial arts test or causing mischief with her Siberian Husky, Grendel.

Here are the rules...

Your manuscript must be a complete mg, ya or fiction novel.  You must email me the first 100 words...more or less, don't end in the middle of a sentence.  I will take the first 50 entries and then close the contest.  You may submit one piece to be critiqued.  If you enter, I hope that you will take the time to critique at least 10 other people's submissions.  I'll post the entries on Monday. 

Email your submission to me at skmayh at q dot com in this format:

First 100 words

Good luck everyone!

In case you hadn't heard Hilary Wagner's wicked cool book, Nightshade City made it to the final round of the SCWBI Crystal Kite Awards.  If you are a member...Please hop over and give her your vote!  Nightshade City is an awesome book!

YIKES!  I forgot that I had entered Brenda Drake's Show Me the Voice Contest!  Here's my entry...Any input will be appreciated.  :)


David jumped in front of the shopping cart.

Mom stopped abruptly.

“Can I get new sneakers?”

“You can wear the ones you have until the end of the summer. We’ll get you a new pair, right before school starts.”

David tossed a box of chocolate Pop Tarts in the cart. “But Mom, school doesn’t END until tomorrow! I hafta wait all summer to get them?” David squeaked.

Mom didn’t answer, which meant she DID expect him to wait all summer.

“Oh well at least I know what kind I want. I want a pair of black and white Ninja Heelys.”

Mom continued reading the label on a box of Cap’n Crunch. Then she looked over the top of her glasses. “I can’t see the point in spending sixty dollars on a pair of sneakers that turn into roller skates when you already have roller blades.”

“But, Mom, they’re wicked cool! I have to have them or everyone’ll think I’m a loser.”

“If you save your allowance and earn the rest of the money you can buy them yourself.”

“Awe, Mom, how can I earn sixty dollars plus tax this summer? I only get two bucks a week. Summer vacation is only ten weeks, so if I save everything I’ll…” David paused, “only have twenty bucks.”

“You’re right,” Mom said. “Ten weeks times two dollars is twenty dollars, but your birthday’s in July. Grandma Pat and Uncle Ken always send you money.”

“Oh yeah, they send me however old I am in dollars.


Have a great weekend! Don't foget to vote for the Crystal Kite Award and to send my your first 100 words of your completed manuscript by Monday...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm throwing my hat in the ring...Are you?

Have you seen the A-Z Blogging Challenge banner everywhere?  I have.  It's being hosted by some of my favorite bloggy friends.  (*waves to the gang*) After a little lot of coaxing I joined.  I'm number 583!  Can you believe it?  Last year there were about 100 participants.

Here's the scoop...
The goal of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something every day in April except for Sundays. You will have 26 blog posts--one for each letter of the alphabet. Each day your post will be related to the letter of the day.

Use your imagination if you join the challenge. You can post essays, short pieces of fiction,  a poem, a recipe, a drawing, or anything else that represents the letter of the day. You don't have to be a writer to do this. You can post photos or samples of your own art or craft work. Everyone who blogs can post from A to Z.

So...Are you in??? (You can sign up here.)

I have a little confession...
I've been saving awards.

Bluestocking presented me with this delicious award.  She's such a sweetie and we've "blog" known each other for at least a year!  With this award I'm supposed to tell you about four guilty pleasures I indulge myself in....So here it judgment please...
  1. I take 4 pieces of hard candy to bed with me every night, so I can eat them while I'm reading.
  2. I have a signature scent. I only get one bottle a year, so I"m careful with it,but I LOVE Channel No.5!
  3. I love a nice strong cup of coffee!  I love it so much that I am giving it up for Lent.  (Wish me luck
  4. Sleep is one of my favorite things.  I can comfortably sleep 8-12 hours a day. 
I'd like to pass this award along to Beth who has a wonderful blog and sometimes posts delicious recipes.  I'd also like to pass it along to my Canadian friend Catherine.  Catherine befriended me when Stripes died and we've been buds ever since.  She has a way with words, photos and paper!  Finally I'd like to pass this award to Jennifer, you might know her as Old Kitty.  She has to be one of the sweetest bloggers around.  She leaves wonderful positive comments all over the blogging community.
My bloggy friend turned critique partner, Melissa Sarno, presented me with the honest scrapper award.  HMMM, I wonder if that was before or after I critiqued a piece for her???  I'm supposed to share ten things about myself.  Since I've already shared four things already, I'm going to share six more...

     5. I was born in England and moved to American when I was eight.
     6. I wear my heart on my sleeve.  
     7.  Boston Bibb lettuce is my favorite type of lettuce.  I adore the texture of the leaves.
     8. Basil is my favorite herb.  I think everything tastes better with basil on it.  (Well, not cake.)
     9. My Grandad reads my blog.  I have to tell you, when he told me I burst out in tears.  He and my
         Nanny are so special to me.
   10. I'm going to see Nanny and Grandad this fall and I'm super excited.  I didn't get to go see them in

I'd like to pass this award along to a few bloggers that have been around for a while and have made a lasting impression on me.
~Shannon O'Donnell who has a way of making me feel special as I'm sure she does to so many others.
~Jackee and I met through my long time friend Susan Fields and last summer Jackee and I teamed up to do a months worth or random questions and prizes.  It was a blast! 
~Kelly Polark is a rock and roll princess at heart.  We met last spring through Mark McVeigh, she's one talented writer.

I was presented with this award by Lindsey  and Reenie.  They are two of my new bloggy friends.  I thought I would present it to some of my new bloggy friends.  :)

I'd like to pass this award along to Claudia Del Balso, who shares a wealth of knowledge on her blog;  Brenda Drake who has some wicked cool critique contests on her blog; Angela Felsted who has a beautiful poetry blog and to Judith Engracia who just started blogging might remember her from last fall when she was around the blogging community...Hopefully you'll welcome her back.  :)

I hope that you'll hop over and meet some of my old friends and some of my new friends...and perhaps even join me in the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

Friday, March 11, 2011


One of our bloggy friend's names showed up on the list of nominees for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award!  If you are a SCBWI member please log in and check who is up for the award in your region.  You never know when one of your bloggy friends might show up on the list.  I was so excited when I saw our buddy Hilary Wagner was on the list!

So here's the scoop...
Tuesday, March 15th is the final day to cast your vote in Round 1 of the 2011 SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards! Round 2 voting starts on Thursday, March 17th.

How to vote!
1. Log in at
2. Click on the "See what's going on in your region!" link on your Member Home Page.
3. Click on the tab that says "Crystal Kite."
4. Browse through the nominated books and authors from your Regional Division and vote for the book of your choice.

If you haven't voted and you are a SCBWI member, please hop over and vote!


Did you meet your goals for this week?  I didn't, I got a bit distracted by Katherine's birthday.  Then my car got sick...very went into limp mode.  Thankfully it was easily quickly fixed.
What are your goals for next week? Next week is a new week and I have new goals, plus my revision goals from last week.

Have a safe and happy weekend and don't forget to vote!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sharing Goals For This Week

Last week I submitted two to Highlights and one to Children's Writer's Kindergarten Story Contest.  I haven't submitted anything for a while.  I loved both pieces and am feeling pretty good about them.  (Cross your fingers and toes for me, please.)

My goals for this week are to do revisions on a beginning chapter book called BEG, BORROW, AND EARN. 

What did you do last week? 
What are your goals for next week?

Have a wonderful week! (Happy writing, reading, walking, singing, purring, taking photographs, dancing, going to work, mothering, fathering, running, talking, playing, blogging or shopping.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Cultural Experience in The Dominican Republic...Part 4 of 4

 This will be my last post on the Dominican Republic (unless I think of something else to share).  We saw a couple interesting forms of transportation there.  Notice the taxi in the picture above...with three people on it!  I also saw a man riding a horse down the street with three big bags of what appeared to be coconuts in them.  It was a beautiful sight, like something out of the movies.  Sadly, I was on the wrong side of the bus and couldn't get a picture. 
 Isn't this a cool fence? 
 I loved how festive all the buildings were.
 There were loads of "taxis" everywhere.  I was shocked by the number of motorcycles on the roads and virtually no one wore helmets.

 Another thing I found interesting was that you would see big open spaces like this and then you would see someone walking across the middle of it talking on their cell phone.
 I went on a shopping excursion with a group of people who went on the trip with us.  We had three different shopping experiences.  The first stop was kind of like a strip mall, but the owners sat outside their shops and asked you to come in and you had to negotiate the prices.  The above photo was our second stop and my favorite.  It was on the beach.  Almost all of these shops were run by handsome young men.  They were more like stalls than shops and everything was negotiable....very negotiable.  The third shopping experience was a lot like a mall here, without the food court.  It was fun experience!
 Faceless pottery dolls are made in the Dominican there were all kinds of them.  I bought this one because I liked the red hair and that you could tell it was handmade.
 This is probably my favorite purchase.  I was told by one of those handsome young men in the beach shopping market that when you have a baby in the Dominican you hang a painting with these symbols over its bed to bring it good luck throughout its life.  A cool thing about the painting is if you look at the back, the artist used reclaimed wood to make the frame and used regular cotton as the canvas.  I absolutely love this and every submission I make from now on will be rubbed on my good luck painting!


 Then we tried something new.  We went on a snorkeling cruise. And OMGoodness it was fun fun fun!

 Then we swam to this penned in area and swam with nurse sharks and sting rays!  They were too quick for pictures though.  My hubby even dove down to the bottom to photograph a shark, but when I developed it, he had taken a photo of the sea floor and no shark.
Then we were allowed to hold a sting ray if we wanted to...Guess who's hand went up?  His face was lovely and he felt soft like thick wet craft foam.  This experience was way out of my comfort zone, but I was so excited by the snorkeling that I felt like I could do anything...The lesson here is once you try something new and exciting it leads to you wanting to do more new and exciting things.

I hope you have enjoyed my posts about our trip to The Dominican Republic.  It was an amazing experience! 

When have you pushed your limits and done something that made all the cells in your body come to life?

Thanks for stopping in and have a wonderful weekend...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Hard Rock Punta Cana Experience...The Dominican Republic Part 3 of 4

 This was our first all inclusive vacation.  When we arrived at the Hard Rock Punta Cana they presented all the ladies with a pink carnation  and everyone got a festive drink.  They also had  table set up with snacks in the reception area for us, which was really nice.  Everyone was so friendly, all smiles!  We had a little look around the main building while we visited with the rest of our group.  (It was a business trip for my brilliant hubby.)

 How cool is this?  Gene Simmons played this axe bass in Council Bluffs Iowa!  We were totally impressed by his guitar case!

 Is this Bon Jovi?
 Very cool, huh?
 There were quotes all over the place, including our room...I liked this one enough to take a photo of it. 
There were wonderful portraits everywhere!
 When we were ready they drove us to our suite.  We had a suite because Katherine was with us.  Here you can see the entry, the bar, the hall closet, a powder room and part of the dining room.
 This turned into Katherine's homework station....
 You stepped down into the living room...
 Check out the cool coconut sculpture and funky chair!
 This was our room...
 It was pretty big...
 Okay, it was really big!
 Those double doors lead to a bathroom that is bigger than my kitchen!
 And now to reveal Thursday's mystery....This is the lampshade on the wall beside the bed.  Pretty cool huh?
 When it came time for sleeping or afternoon napping the beds were awesome and more importantly...
 the pillows were rockin!
 I spent quite a bit of time out here...lounging and reading.  This is half of the patio.  I could see the pool and chat with everyone as they walked to the pool while Katherine was working on her school work.
 This little guy came to visit us at night.
 The Hard Rock was full of wonderful shops, bars, and restaurants.  We took the opportunity to try something new.  This is passion fruit.  It looks a little strange.  It has a very intense flavor.  To me, it was like sucking on a crunchy lime x 100.  Katherine really liked seed at a time.  We ate mangu, which kind of looks like mash potatoes and is a traditional staple in the Dominican.  It is made of plantain.  I liked it a lot.  I was surprised that most of the food at the resort was geared towards tourists.  Our wonderful waiter Hector said that on Monday one of the restaurants had traditional DR food. 
 The beach was my favorite part of the resort.  One of the cool things about this resort was how much personal attention we were given.  You see the two girls in the sand with white tank tops?  They were there to make sure we were having fun.  They did sand sculptures where we were sitting watching the volleyball game.  Then when the game was over the girl with the long hair took us out in the ocean further than we would have gone by ourselves.  She showed us how much fun it was to go way out and jump in the crashing waves. 
 This is my brilliant hubby who saved us from the winter for a week... (Thanks honey!)
 This was another one of my favorite spots at the resort.  It was just a few yards from our room.

There were so many things to do at the Hard Rock, but I did a couple things I had never done before.  I went to a disco...and danced with my brilliant hubby! So did some of our wonderful friends that were on the trip with us.  On the second night we were there a lovely lady in our group asked my hubby if he would do karaoke with her, he said no, but he promised he would find someone to do it with her.  So of course he searched high and low...LOL, he asked me...and how could I refuse after he brought me to paradise?  So every night  went to the Karaoke Bar and watched and on the last night I got up twice and sang two songs with her and another friend.  Sadly, you can only see a bit of my shoulder.  I must say it was so much fun!!!

This vacation was like stepping into another world.  It was very luxurious.  I felt special.  It amazed me that so many staff members in this 2,000 room resort knew my name or recognized me when they saw me.  A few times I was asked or my hubby was asked where the other was if we weren't together.  We all had an exceptional time.  I'm usually ready to come home at the end of a holiday, but I was sad to leave on this one.

I have one more post on the DR.  I'll show you a bit of our shopping adventure into a local village and our snorkeling trip.

(Thanks for sticking with me through all the pictures....I'm really using self control, even though it doesn't seem like it....)

If you happen to have a minute and thirty-five seconds to view my lovely daughter's first every youtube video, she would really appreciate it.  It is an original poem, set to music and pictures with her's wonderful!  (Not that I'm bias.)

Thanks, soooo much!  I <3 all of you!
What holiday have you taken that you didn't want to end?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Worth Getting Up For...The Dominican Republic Part 2

 I'm not an early riser.
 But when Katherine asked if we could get up to watch the sun rise over the Caribbean Sea, what could I say?
 We all got up at 5:45 and were out on the beach by 6:30.
 It was a bit cloudy, but it was worth it.  LOVELY!

 Foot prints in the sand...
Toes in the sand...
 Some resort wildlife.
 Some beach wild life... (Not me)

This is something we saw on our trip...What do you think it is?

Have an awesome rest of the week and weekend!