It starts at midnight in honor of WAKE coming out in paperback, yay!! The Fund Your Dreams essay contest is for U.S. teens ages 14-18 (as of the day you enter - see official rules), 500 words or less, answering the question found on the contest page on my website. Just follow the FUND YOUR DREAMS link.
The prize is ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS to further your life goals, courtesy of Simon and Schuster and yours truly.
ONE. THOUSAND. DOLLARS.
This was a contest that I've wanted to do since before WAKE came out, because I believe in giving back to readers.
Growing up, my parents did all they could for us kids but times were a bit tough financially. I started working odd jobs at age 11 and from that time on, I bought all my own clothes, school books, and put myself through college. It took ten years after college to pay off those loans.
If you've read WAKE, you know what Miss Stubin gives Janie, and also what Captain does at the end. I would have given anything as a teen to have that kind of opportunity. But now I have an opportunity to be on the giving side of things, and I am so honored to have a publisher who understands this passion and was willing to envision it and get behind the idea.
We ran into some problems last year when we were trying to put this project together and I thought the idea was dead. However, a few months ago, my awesome marketing director and team at Simon & Schuster revived it and surprised me with this new concept.
In this crazy economy, I know there are teens out there who could really use some cash to fund a dream. Or maybe you need a little help buying your own clothes and books for school, or you're heading for college someday and are trying to save for that. Or maybe you can't find a part-time job because there just isn't any work out there for teens right now, and your family needs help. Whatever the case, this contest is for you. I wish there could be more than one winner.
Now. I am one of the judges, and I want to suggest a few things:
1. Don't hurry to enter. You only get one shot at it, so make it good. Here's how I'd do it -- I'd think it through for a couple days and then write the best essay I knew how to write and edit it a few times, and then I'd show it to a teacher to get a good critique. Then I'd fix it and put it away for a couple days to get some distance from it, then read through it one last time and fix anything else I wanted to fix before submitting it. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are all important.
2. Please, please, please read the directions very carefully before entering. You are smart and you know how to do this. I trust you and I have faith in you. All questions you have should be answered in the rules. If you don't find the answer, read the rules again.
3. This is a personal essay contest. An essay is not fiction. I want to read about real things -- about one real obstacle you've overcome in your life.
I can't wait to read them and learn more about you. Really. I'm getting all teary-eyed just thinking about it. Happy writing!