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Middle-grade and young-adult novelist Cynthea Liu needs your help creating a title for her new book.  The stories in this series of books feature young girls who travel abroad to study, get the guy, ace the exam, and return home transformed in some way.

The existing titles are puns of instantly recognizable, common phrases.  They typically reveal the country of study, the main character’s name, or the girl’s quest.  Here are some examples from the series:

The Sound of Munich
Spain or Shine
Swede Dreams
The Finnish Line
Now and Zen
Westminster Abby
Getting the Boot

Cynthea is giving away one of her famous free critiques to the person who comes up with a title for her tale of an adopted American girl traveling to China, the character’s birth country.  Ms. Liu even offers a half-page critique if your suggestion is good enough to pass along to her editor.

To read more about her book and the contest rules, please go to!  The submission deadline is Tuesday, February 19th at 4:00pm (CST).

Nathan Bransford’s first page competition was hotly contested, with a multitude of fine, well-written entries.  To demonstrate how difficult it was to narrow down to six finalists, co-judge Holly had initially selected 30 finalists–but only after her third round of review!  The judges deserve our thanks.  And Heather!Anne! deserves congratulations for being voted the most surprisingly essential first page!

For those who were not selected (and there were 639 of us), I remind you that Nathan Bransford is just one agent.  Yes, he has a talented eye, but his is not the only eye.  What he passed over this time might have been picked up by another.  Finding an agent to represent your work or an editor to publish it is a matter of matching interests.  Think of it in no less complicated terms than finding a spouse: you have to sync up on many levels to make the partnership a success.

So to everyone who entered, congratulations for bravely submitting your work.  Just because you didn’t get picked this time, don’t let the word “failure” creep into your vocabulary.  Keep writing, keep working, keep submitting, keep networking.  The successful writer’s most important trait is perseverance.  You’ll find your match someday.

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