Monday, October 16, 2017

8th Annual YA Discovery Contest!




No query? No pitch? No problem!

 Get in front of top YA Editors and Agents
with only the first 250 words of your YA novel!

Serendipity Literary Agency is hosting our eighth annual Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest.

Do you have a young adult novel—or a YA novel idea—tucked away for a rainy day? Have you been putting off pitching your idea simply because you’re not sure how to pitch an agent? No problem! All you have to do is submit the first 250 words of your novel and you can win exposure to editors and a critique of your manuscript by one of New York’s TOP literary agents Regina Brooks.
Regina Brooks is the CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency and the author of the award-winning book Writing Great Books For Young Adults, now available in its second edition.

In honor of National Novel Writing Month (—an international event where aspiring novelists are encouraged to write an entire novel in 30 days—this contest is meant to encourage the aspiring YA author to get started on that novel by offering an incentive for completing the first 250 words.

You too can join one of the many contest finalists who have gone on to get a top tier agent and an amazing publishing deal!

“I never had much luck with query letters. Writing about my book was harder than writing the book itself! So, when I saw the Discovery Contest, I jumped at the chance to let my book speak for itself. I was thrilled when I won…but not as thrilled as I was when I was offered representation. Getting my agent was just the start: what followed was invaluable revisions and development that transformed my book from a great story into an unforgettable journey. Shortly afterward, The Whitecoat’s Daughter was sold at auction, and is now due for publication with HarperCollins in 2018. We’re beginning work on foreign rights and talks with film agents and it’s hard to believe that all this started with winning a contest. I always said I just needed someone to read the book—not a query letter: the book­—and it turned out I was right. The Discovery Contest gave me the chance I needed, and I will always be grateful.” 
—Olivia Cole, “The Whitecoat’s Daughter”
(retitled "A Conspiracy of Stars")
(Garnered a two-book deal at auction with Katherine Tegen Books)


Great Prizes
The Grand Prize Winner will have the opportunity to receive a full manuscript critique from YA literary agent Regina Brooks, plus a collection of gourmet teas from!
The Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize Winner) will receive a 15-minute, one-on-one pitch session with Regina Brooks, one of New York's premier literary agents for young adult books.  They will also receive commentary on their submissions from editors at HarperCollins, Little, Brown, Macmillan, Skyhorse, Simon and Schuster, Abrams Books, Penguin Random House, Disney, and James Patterson’s new imprint, JIMMY Patterson.  In addition, they will receive a year's subscription to The Writer magazine!

First 50 Entrants receive a copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.

Here's How It Works 

Entering the contest is easy and the rules are simple. Entries are to be submitted via the contest website at Valid entries shall include the title and ONLY the first 250 words of your manuscript.
One entry per person; anyone age 14+ can apply. There is a $15 entry fee.  Open to the U.S. and Canada (void where prohibited).  Entries for the YA Novel Discovery Contest will be accepted from 12:01 am (ET) November 1st, 2017 until 11:59 pm November 30th, 2017 (ET).

YA literary agent Regina Brooks and her team will read all of the entries and determine the top 20 submissions.  These submissions will then be read by the following editors: 

Hannah Allaman (Disney)
Tiffany Lao (Henry Holt BFYR/ Macmillan)
Sasha Henriques (Little Brown, JIMMY Patterson Books/ Hachette)
Courtney Code (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
Kate Meltzer (G.P. Putnam's Sons BFYR/ Penguin Random House)
Sarah McCabe (Simon Pulse/ Simon and Schuster)
Alexa Pastor (Simon and Schuster BFYR/ Simon and Schuster)
Becky Herrick (Sky Pony Press)
Christine Krones (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR)
Lauren Smulski (Harlequin Teen/HarperCollins)
Alex Ulyett (Viking Children’s/ Penguin Random House)
and more...

These judges will whittle the top 20 down to five winners, including a Grand Prize Winner.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Maine Women's Sailing Team World Champions!

All-Women Sailing Team From Maine

For the first time, an all-women team of sailors from Maine won first place for all-female finishers in the 2017 J/24 World Championship in Mississauga, Canada. The J/24 World Championships included qualified J/24 racers from all over the world. The championship consisted of ten races over five days of racing, the whole event spanning September 15-23, 2017. The Sea Bags Women’s Sailing Team finished in 39th place out of the 63 teams that competed in the World Championship.

While Sea Bags has a long history of supporting sailing regattas and sailing teams, including the 2016 Atlantic Cup, 2015 J/24 World Championships, 2009 J/24 Nationals, 2013 J/24 North Americans, the Offshore New England Championships, and the 2007 Horton/Nichol Olympic Campaign, this represents the first time the company has sent an all-women’s team to a World Championship race for competition on this scale and came back with quite an achievement.

Beth Shissler, President and COO at Sea Bags, says, “We could not be more proud of Erica and Jessica and their all-women’s team. They have worked so hard individually and together to win the Jager Women’s Trophy. “

Erica Beck Spencer, Skipper of the women’s sailing team says, "Our goal was to be the top women’s team and to reach that goal felt surreal.”

Accomplishing their goal was not an easy task as there were many obstacles they had to overcome. “We started off the event as the top team, but that is almost harder than coming from behind, as the other women’s teams were steadily getting better as the week went on,” added Spencer.

The above excerpt was taken from the Sea Bags press release on the team.


This is an absolutely incredible feat! These women over came some incredible odds and brought home the J/24 World Championship in sailing!

They competed against the best sailing teams, from all over the world! This is the first time EVER that an all women's team from Maine has competed in the championship. And they brought their A-game! This is something that the team of 11 has worked towards since Erica Beck Spencer and Jessica Harris started the team three years ago.

I am truly amazed and proud to post this. These women are truly amazing! I cannot think of a more empowering group of ladies. After reading this myself, and reading blog posts on the team from the Sea Bags blog. I decided to expose my 7 year old daughter to the team and stories as well.

Well it has now been decided that my daughter Maddie now wants to be a sailor! When asked why she wanted to be a sailor now, she states " Mom, look at them! They are so strong, why wouldn't you want to be a sailor? I want to be just like them! Strong and powerful! Can we go sailing this weekend? I need to start now mom!"

We are now looking into sailing classes for my mini me. She gave a very convincing argument. Why wouldn't she want to be empowered by such an amazing team. It showed her that girls and women can accomplish anything when applying a lot of hard work. Isn't that what we want all our daughters feel? Accomplishment, empowerment, and that they can accomplish incredible things?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Keto Response

     I have had many inquiries between Facebook, Twitter and my email asking about my recent posts and recipes for the Keto Diet that I have been on recently. I am going to try and answer some of your questions and put some light on why you are seeing this lately. 

     I don't usually post very personal things on my blog, as I am a firm believer that your private life should be just that, private. But I am also aware that I am in front of a lot of people daily and that you may be curious as to what exactly is going on. 

     Recently I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme disease and Lupus. These are both things that I had no idea about. Neither are something that anyone in my family, to my knowledge have. With that being said I also have never met my biological father, so I am unsure if Lupus may run in his side of the family. Both of these conditions come with some pretty intense pain and some not so great days. 
  While going through testing and treatments for both conditions, I luck out and have a doctor that is very open minded to alternative treatments. I am not the type of person that runs toward anytime of prescription treatment. Yes I do understand that in some cases medication is a must. And with my initial diagnosis of Lyme I was treated with a run of antibiotics over a span of four weeks. But if I can avoid taking any type of medication I will. I have a great relationship with my doctor, as she has been my doctor since I was 10. So I have no problem approaching her about possible alternative options to help treat different ailments. When we went through all of my symptoms, we noticed that inflammation was a large issue, and was causing additional strain on my joints, causing pain that I didn't really need to have. 

     My doctor and I did a lot of research on alternative ways to deal with inflammation and pain receptors. This is when the Keto diet was presented to me by my doctor. And I was honestly willing to try just about anything to get this craziness under control.

     What is Keto?!? This was my first question, as I hadn't heard anything about it before. I had no idea what Ketosis even was or how it effected the body. I also didn't know that many of the items I was eating was contributing to me feeling horrible. I was basically being my own enemy. The more I would eat, and the different foods I would eat the worse I would feel. I had no idea what I was doing to myself. 

     My doctor explained to me that Keto is a diet/ lifestyle that combines a low carb and high fat diet. It helps place your body into a ketosis state so that fats and carbs are used in a different way. Which can assist with pain, and inflammation symptoms. As I said above, I was willing to try anything that wasn't a prescription if I could. If I had to or have to end up taking medication I will, but I really want to try and avoid that for as long as I can. 

     Since being on the Keto diet, I have much more energy. My pain is limited, yes I do still have pain, but it isn't anything like it was before starting Keto and now is much more easily controlled that it was before Keto. My inflammation has been reduced to an extreme minimum, and I have lost some weight as a bonus. Not to mention I have an extreme increase in energy and I am sleeping so much better than I was previously. I went from about an hour to two hours of sleep per night, to sleeping a solid 6 to 8 hours per night, without the sleeping medications that I used to have to take.

    The Keto diet may not be for everyone, and mine is monitored by a doctor and nutritionist. My nutritionist was extremely skeptical when I started, and even stated that she is going to start suggesting this diet to her other patients due to the results that I have had while on it. 

      I have received so many questions, at least 500 or more between email, Facebook and Twitter about products that help me maintain Ketosis, and which products I would suggest to someone starting the Keto diet. This answer isn't an easy one, as your experience, isn't going to be what I have experience. As of right now, I haven't used ANY products to help me maintain Ketosis, but I have looked into a number of items, as well as read your requests for reviews on Keto products. I am working on pairing with a couple companies to bring you some reviews and experiences from their Keto products. Stay tuned as there is more to come soon! 

If you have suggestions or questions leave me a comment below, email me or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter, I always personally reply to each person! Or if there is a certain product you'd like to see featured on the blog, let me know!


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fun With Dips Review and Giveaway

Fun With Dips

      Fun with dips is a small, family run company that also offers affiliate opportunities at low cost (as low as $5 to start). The company projects a family type image through their affiliates and are very customer driven.

     The owner mixes up each mix in small batches, to guarantee freshness and a quality product. Most mixes are vegan friendly and can be adapted to meet most dietary needs.  One thing that I absolutely love about this company is that there is not one ingredient in the mixes that you cannot pronounce. And only fresh ingredients are used to make each mix. 

    I don't know about you, but my family is dip obsessed. Anything to make it a little bit easier to have an amazing dip or an easy dessert, I am all about it. Fun with Dips doesn't just have dips, they also have some great mixes as well. Like No Bake Cheesecake!

     Their cheesecake mixes come in a variety of flavors. I have made them for work before and I continuously have co-workers asking me to bring some in. 

     Also each packet comes with an ingredient list, and a recipe on the back. You can also get more recipes that reach beyond dips and desserts, to make something phenomenal with very little effort!  

     Fun with Dips mixes are a must have in my busy household! They are literally liked by everyone living in my house, and its always an easy delicious snack. Also they are great to add to pasta and potato salads, also to many dinner and lunch dishes. I add the Roasted Garlic Butter dip to egg salad for unbelievable egg salad and have also added it to deviled eggs to take to a work function. You just can't go wrong!

I wanted a lucky winner to have a change at trying two Fun with Dips mixes. Just enter below to win! The winner will be given their choice of which two mixes they would like!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hello. Its been a moment!


     Hey Everyone! It sure has been a while since I have seen you all. Many things have happened over the last year that has kept me from you, but here I am raring and ready to go! 

     Over the next few weeks you will see a difference in the blog, as we are working on updating the look and feel of Sparkling Reviews. I will have the same type of content. Including lots of giveaways, and information where you can find some great giveaways. Product and book reviews and so much more!
      Let me know if there is anything you'd personally like to see on the blog, and I will do my very best to make it happen, including if it is a certain giveaway! Let me know what type of content you'd like. You can do this by shooting me an email. My email is located on the left hand side, or you can email me at or comment below with what you'd like to see!

     I can't wait for what Sparkling Reviews has in store in the near future!
Imagination Designs