Thursday, October 13, 2011


It's hard to ask for reviews from people who don't know me. Those are the ones that I expect to be the most honest. They don't have a relationship with me. They don't care what my reaction will be. They don't have to listen to me gripe and complain about the state of the publishing industry. They don't know how much their words mean to me.

So when I get two reviews from two people who fit all of the criteria above and they both didn't say that Saving Redwind sucked, I'm pretty happy. I'm a rather insecure writer. If you know me or attended one of my writing workshops, that statement might seem odd. I'm very comfortable as an editor. I can see the strengths and weaknesses in others' writing. And the fact that I've worked on almost 30 books (many of them award winning) makes me feel safe and secure with my editing hat.

But as a writer, not so much. Especially a writer who decided to self-publish. Other than my agent (who is awesome), there wasn't a panel of people that said, "KRIS YANKEE!! YOU ARE THE BEST. WE MUST BUY YOUR BOOK AND PUBLISH IT!"

My point: all writers need validation. Here's some of mine:

From Simplistik Halloz Books

Saving Redwind – Kris Yankee

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Saving Redwind (Wallpaper Adventures) Saving Redwind by Kris Yankee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having moved to a new place, Nick Stevenson yearns for adventure. To see new sights and more of the world just like his father. But sometimes things don’t work out the way he wants them to.
When things start happening and his ceiling starts turning into some sort of storm, Nick wonders if he’s losing his mind. Perhaps he’s asked for more than he’s bargained for in wanting an adventure. As he ponders this thought, a boy shows up asking him for help in saving his world – one known as Redwind. While everything inside cries out that the boy’s request is completely unbelievable, Nick agrees and is sucked into the very wallpaper within his room. Thrown into an extraordinary world that takes him by surprise, Nick tries to grasp the meaning behind the boys odd request.
Having always considered himself as no one special, he’s completely blown away by the fact that the people he comes to meet are relying on him to set all wrongs to right. With time being of the essence, Nick does his best to do as he is asked, praying that he’ll have enough time to complete the objectives that have been set out before him.

Battling his doubts and insecurities, as well as the obstacles that have been strewn across his path, Nick finds it within himself to give it his all while trying to save a world that has come to mean more to him than he ever imagined. A world that seems more real as the minutes pass by.

While this is a children’s book, it’s truly an enjoyable read. So much so, that once you start, it’s hard to put down. Kris weaves such a delightful tale that you find yourself wanting to know more about what happens to Nick and the friend’s that he’s made along the way. I truly recommend reading this book.

Midwest Book Reviewers: Reviewer's Bookwatch, October 
Saving Redwind
Kris Yankee
Privately Published
9781463616670, $8.95,

Wallpaper doesn't seem like the most exciting thing, but for Nick Stevenson, it may as well be. "Saving Redwind" follows eleven year old Nick finds something unusual beyond his bedroom's wallpaper, and finds himself in another world. Finding an adventure of his own, he finds that their continued existence may just rely on him to succeed. "Saving Redwind" is a fine read, not to be overlooked for young fiction readers.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Confessions of a Contest Judge

I've only entered two contests. One of them I placed. The other, I received no feedback. Come to think of it, the one I placed in never sent me feedback either. Hmph. I bet they still don't have their judging sheets from 2004.

I don't remember how I got involved with contest judging. I think maybe back when I was writing women's fiction and was frequenting the Romance Divas. I probably offered to judge and was taken up on it.

I've judged the same contest - I won't tell you which one because, well, you know - for many years now. Last year, I changed my email address and forgot to tell the coordinators. I found one of their messages while cleaning out my inbox and gave them my new email address. Voila, I'm back in their queue again.

This year I'm judging YA. And, it's interesting......yeah, let's go with that.

Why am I being so vague? Or maybe you can't tell, but I sorta am.

Let me tell you first off, I like YA. I don't really like the whole dystopia, end-of-the-world drama, but I like the freedom that YA authors have in certain aspects that MG writers don't have. That being said, though, it doesn't matter the genre, the rules of writing still apply.

Even though I'm given a judging score sheet, here are the things that I look for when judging a partial (I wonder how closely it resembles to what agents and acquiring editors look for...):

  1. Does it grab me from the beginning?
  2. Can I relate to the characters?
  3. Is the storyline fresh and intriguing?
  4. Is the story beliveable?
  5. Do I care about what happens to the characters?
  6. Are the basic mechanics used correctly (point of view, scene/sequel, character and setting development)?
  7. Have I already figured out what is going to happen?
  8. Am I still interested after the first page? the last page?
  9. Can I visualize each character, maybe even the cover of the book? (that last part is a weird one, but if I can, then I know I've got a great story in my hands)
  10. Is there an audience for the storyline?
  11. Does the story have value?
Do you ever ask yourself these questions after you've finished a manuscript? Are you even able to - meaning, are you too close to the story to be able to judge it for yourself?

Being an editor and a contest judge hasn't gotten me any closer to real publication (and I say real meaning NYC publication. I can attest that the Saving Redwind books I have next to me are VERY real.) But I do think it gives me a unique perspective on the mechanics of my own writing. Hey, I'm not saying I'm anything special. No way, no how. Just that with all of the editing practice I get, I can actually distance myself from my manuscript to see if there is value.

So, if I can tell you anything from being a contest judge, it's this:
Have a keen eye when you are reviewing your manuscript. If you can't distance yourself from it, give it to a good critique partner or beta reader for their comments (not their changes, but their comments) and not a family member, friend, or someone who swoons because you've written a book. Someone who is also a writer.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I've been splattered on a Graffiti wall!

Sheri Larsen of Writers' Ally has graciously let me visit her graffiti wall. Come on over and see what all the splat is about!