My Novel Won the Pitchwars Contest!


Hey Writers and Readers!

I wanted to talk about the importance of writing communities and participating in contests. But first, I wanted to share my good news with you all:

My novel CALCULATED was one of the lucky winners of Pitchwars!!!! I am now a 2016 Pitchwars Mentee. I’m honored that I get to work with New York Times Bestselling YA Author Pintip Dunn, (The Darkest Lie, Forget Tomorrow, Remember Yesterday).

As Pintip mentors me, I will sharpen my novel even more, sharpen my pitch and query, and then at the beginning of November display (show it off) to participating agents.

So, I’m back to tightening, tweaking, and revising CALCULATED again. I’m reminded of what that old proverb says…”…many advisors bring success.” I’m so thankful for this opportunity.

Now about Writing Communities and Contests: This summer I joined the Camp Nanowrimo Summer Challenge and made the effort to get into a writing “cabin.” There I met authors and writers who were in the same boat as I was – revising their 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th novel, querying, publishing, and also talking a lot about the upcoming contests, including Pitchwars.

Want to know an amazing fact? Three of the 10 girls I cabined with also won Pitchwars (Rachel Griffin, Talynn Ink Girl, and Tracy Gold.) I also had the special chance to meet and write with Christina June, author of It started with Goodbye. I had never tried to enter a writing contest before but I can honestly say, even though I won, IF I had lost, I had already gained SO much by just participating in the process.

I gained: new writer friends, knowledge of the industry and the incredible opportunities going on all the time, met more incredible authors who are in the know and exerting their influence to help more writers, like Brenda Drake, creator of Pitchwars, and Rebecca Sky who are Watt Pad Prodigies, and joined a community who was truly supportive, inspiring, and motivating.

My suggestion to you? Get involved, get in the know, get out there. You just may win!

Nova, signing off from Asia

Hope you can stay with me on this journey!

Follow me on twitter @nova_mcbee and instagram @thespinningpen

How to Market Your Book Online

You finally did it!

You’ve written your first book! There’s been blood, sweat and tears, and now an euphoric high as you hit the final save.


Uh oh.

Now what? You’ve been so focused on telling the best story you know how you haven’t thought much further ahead. In fact, you were only half convinced you’d ever see this day. But you’re a champ and now you’re here. What’s next?

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Meet Noah, Our Teen Contributor

Pen Friends! We are pleased to announce that we have a new member on our team. Noah Dingman will be our first “In House Teen Contributor!” We are honored to have such a young talented writer for The Spinning Pen. Thanks Noah for joining us!



Hi! My name’s Noah. I live in the beautiful state of Washington. Seriously, I could never get tired of all the green (to be fair, it is my favorite color). I’ve loved to read for as long as I can remember and I’ve loved to write for nearly just as long. If I’m not reading or writing, you’ll find me singing, dancing, running, hanging out with friends or watching my younger siblings. If I’m not doing any of those, I’m probably sleeping.


To read some of his writing check a few prompts here:

Prompt Balloon

Prompt Desert

Prompt Stars

Find him on instagram @noah.ryan.99


How to Hold a Reader’s Attention Until the Last Page


It’s one thing to begin with a BANG; to get readers interested in our story, our characters. But what we really want–what every writer desires– is for the reader to keep turning pages, to stay engaged, to follow our characters through every twist and turn until the last page.

Ooh, lets repeat those italicized words: Twists and Turns. Without those, a reader will put the book down.

A compelling story, one where the reader is up all night turning, and burning, and rubbing their eyes to read one more chapter, are those books that create wonder, worry, suspense, tension, questions, answers, new questions, feelings, fear, anxiety, curiosity, need, desire, (you get the picture) within every new twist and turn.

So, practically speaking, how do we create some twists and turns?

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yWriter5 Software: A Review

ywriter_5_icon_by_the_madd_hatter-d49m6thAfter I started taking writing seriously, I decided that looking for better novel-writing software (say, better than Word) would likely help me to stay organized[1] as I tried to complete one of my stories.

I’ve had Scrivener recommended to me multiple times, along with other paid software, but as a mostly-poor working adult, I wanted to find something else that would serve my needs for free. And eventually I found yWriter5.

While the style of the software might not be for everyone, I wanted to give a brief review for those who are looking around for other options.

*The software was created by a writer: Simon Haynes. Thanks for being generous and ingenious, Simon! Continue reading

Author Interview: Christina June


Pen Friends ~ Welcome Debut YA author, Christina June as she talks about her forthcoming book,  It Started With Goodbye (See below for bio and summary!)

SP: Welcome Christina! Can you tell us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?

Sure! I’m a mom, a high school counselor, a wife, a daughter. And a writer! I’ve always been a writer, more when I was younger, but I began writing novels with the goal of publication about four years ago.

SP: So, the book. It’s a spin off of Cinderella. Can you share how the idea took shape from there? 

I saw an abandoned shoe on the side of the road walking into work the day after the Homecoming dance and the idea took hold. I knew I wanted to make my “Cinderella” someone who questioned her stepmother’s rules and stood up for herself.

SP: What was your favorite part to write? The hardest part? ccjune.png

The funny parts and the swoony parts are my favorite to write, probably because those are my favorite bits in other books. There’s nothing like a good kiss or a good laugh. The hardest parts are always the ones outside my own personal experience because even though I do research and talk to a lot of people, I’m never quote certain it’s right.

SP: Which character surprised you the most?

My evil stepmother, Belèn. I knew she had to have hidden depths but the way her back story took shape was really interesting. Let’s just say there’s a reason she does what she does.

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The Essential Guide to Writing Your First Draft


You’ve sat down, know your characters, have a plan for writing, the plot is nailed down, and you’re itching to get started.

The first sentence comes out and…. sounds like a preschooler wrote it.

You try again, delete your second attempt, and then switch to paper and pen. That will help! Several crumpled papers later, your waste bin is starting to fill but not the pages. How do you get that perfect intro sentence? How do you set the mood, capture beauty, or develop your style?

Forget the flowery writing. This is your first draft.

First drafts are meant to be crude versions of your final piece. Your goal is to get through as quick as possible. Few writers can get away with perfecting each sentence before continuing. At that rate, most will give up before reaching the end.

There are some essentials you do need in your first draft though. Here’s the short list.

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New Prompt & Prompt Reply

survivor's club 1

When the boat lands at the shore, a dozen villagers rush over shaking their heads and hands. I pull on my sticky shirt, loosening it from my chest before I jump out. The squawking increases as a crowd gathers. I feign ignorance, but they are all saying that I can’t be here. I play the whole dumb tourist thing again, and hope they buy it like the last village did…


What happens next?

Finish this prompt in 500 words or less. Send us yours at . We will select our favorite to be shared with our readers.



Winner of last week’s Prompt Reply: Rebecca Henry, Alaksa. 12936578_10154091924549084_929372579041132825_n

The Bench

The bench looked deceivingly inconspicuous, like if you sat on it, you could enjoy your brown paper bag lunch, watching pigeons in the park, without any life altering events…

But it can be these simple things that can be deceiving; where no one would expect to find their worst nightmare.

I was the nearest detective on shift when the call came in and so I reached the crime scene first. It was I who wrapped the yellow tape in a ten-foot perimeter around the bench and dead body partially hidden in the bushes.

I debriefed the jogger who found it and wrote down her contact information and then walked the area to sweep for any clues. There was nothing. No sign of struggle, no loose items, just a corpse tossed haphazardly under the leaves, the face hidden in the shadows.

I waited patiently for my partner to join me as he picked up our lunch from our favorite Thai place, just down Central Park Avenue. I paced the sidewalk, checking my Facebook and Twitter. Nothing new. No new messages either. I shoved my phone back into the pocket of my black uniform pants and tapped my boot, glancing down the grassy hill.

When my radio sputtered to life, I answered the captain and told him the scene was secure. I avoided mentioning I was alone. After all, I was still a rookie. I slumped on the bench and wondered what happened to bring the victim here. The business suit and shined black boots were all I could see.

I breathed in deeply. Perhaps this was a test meant for the new detective. Maybe my partner was purposefully waiting to see what I would do. Maybe I could solve this crime before he joined me with our lunch. We could sit on this bench and plan our next course of action, question friends and relatives, make a suspect list, and file the appropriate warrants.

I stood up and neared the body. My steps were hesitant as I blocked out the imagined stories of the victim. Maybe he had a family; maybe she was a successful business CEO. I shook my head, moving to the other side of the bush. I gasped, almost gagging, and stepped back.

I had found my partner.


Also check out:

who participated as well and posted to her personal blog.

Guest Post: Hilary Bowen on Style



As writers, we talk about voice on a regular basis. It’s what makes you, you–unique and individual, separate from every other person who has written about the very thing you are now rehashing.

But what is it about you that makes you wear the red dress with purple tights and galoshes instead of jeans and a pullover? It’s style—you’re not less you one way or the other, but it’s a choice about how you’re presenting yourself to the world—today.

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