James Patterson’s Co-Author Finalists

We are thrilled to announce the 3 finalists who are one step closer to becoming James Patterson’s co-author. The following finalists will receive a prize valued at $2,500 and will submit outlines for their book ideas. James will review their submissions and select one grand prize winner to be his co-author.

Congratulations to the following 3 finalists! (listed in alphabetical order) 

Check out these selections from their written interviews to learn more about their writing experiences and inspirations.

MaryBeth Yates Florida, USA

What drives you to write?
I’ve always had a love of telling stories. I write to share those stories with others, and hopefully bring them some entertainment/enjoyment in the process.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from James’s class so far?
OUTLINING!! I have always been horrible at this, and for some reason Mr. Patterson’s approach just clicked with me. It has really helped me on several projects already.

Tammy Vaughter Nebraska, USA

What drives you to write?
There’s just this amazing feeling that comes with expressing, and creating a connection with my characters. I love creating characters in a world I can imagine, develop and control through words and scenes, and then watch a story unfold. This drives me to write. My parents shielded my siblings and I from television and influences they felt may steal our innocence and hamper our spiritual growth. Instead we were herded outdoors, into nature and traveled for a time in a gutted out school bus. We grew up poor, but I didn’t realize this until early adulthood. We lived along the flanks of the Verde River in Arizona in a tent. I feel like my parents decision to isolate my siblings and I for a time, fueled my creativity and imagination. This opportunity to live free inspired me to read and write at a very early age. And I must admit as well, acknowledgement in my writing is also a driving factor.

Who has been the most supportive in your writing? How do they help you?
My family has been the most supportive, especially my husband of 30 years, TJ. He has never let up with encouraging me to write. He reads anything I put in front of him and he offers honest criticism. I value his support. He is the one who gifted me the awesome James Patterson MasterClass and strongly urged me to enter the contest. I live in a very small community with a small circle of friends and family. My mother and my 4 grown children all love to write as well, and are very supportive of me.

Tucker Edward Axum III Texas, USA

What drives you to write?
I grew up in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun country. Storytelling over delicious cuisine was a daily pastime for us. I learned early on that people yearned to be inspired and transported to other locales and eras, and writing has been my preferred tool for storytelling. Writing allows me to take loved ones and strangers on adventures around the world. Whether bringing a World War II soldier back to life, nursing an injured plane to terra firma, or walking the somber grounds at Auschwitz, words touch our hearts and minds. They remind of us our common humanity.

How do you plan to keep readers engrossed in the story?
People love a great story, and one with the right amount of suspense. I think of it as making a gumbo. Don’t worry about the recipe—just cook with your heart. Pour in a bottle of imagination, a hint of realism, sprinkle some humor, a dash of drama, and toss in some dialogue. Let it all boil together and stir it occasionally. The aroma excites you and makes you impatiently crave the finale. Your and my gumbo probably won’t taste the same, but they should both nourish the body, and make people wanna come back for seconds.

Visit our previous post to learn more about the 10 semifinalists – here

Meet The James Patterson Co-Author Competition Semifinalists

Thank you to everyone who participated in the James Patterson Co-Author Competition and congratulations to the semifinalists! We had the opportunity to learn more about our 10 semifinalists. Check out the following selections from their written interviews to learn more about their writing experiences and inspirations (listed in alphabetical order).

Blake Northcott Ontario, Canada

What drives you to write?
Writing is in my blood! My grandfather was a bookbinder in pre-war Czechoslovakia, and my ancestor wrote one of the first books about settling here in Canada during the 1830s – her book is still taught at universities to this day.
Aside from my lineage, I just love the craft. I get a buzz of excitement when I read a great novel, and it inspires me to put words of my own on a page. I can’t read an exciting book without sitting down to write something immediately afterward!

What is the most important thing you’ve learned from James’ class so far?
That perseverance is ultimately the key to success. Hearing that he was rejected by publishers so many times and never let it defeat him was so uplifting. I’ve probably seen that lesson fifty times, and I still go back to it for inspiration!

Jack Mathers Pennsylvania, USA

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from James’s class so far? From the Passion and Habit lesson, it’s not even James Patterson’s quote, it’s his grandfather’s: “When you go (over the mountain) to work in the morning, you gotta be singing.” I think I actually teared up when I heard this. This is how I need to live my life. I need to sing. This was my favorite chapter. I have heard many people say many motivational things, but in this lesson, JP was speaking directly to me. I learned a lot of good techniques in the other chapters, but THIS one is the one that shook me.

Who has been the most supportive of your writing? How do they help you?
My wife for sure. I would not have even thought of taking this class if not for her. She has continued to believe in me despite my own (nearly constant) self-doubt. She is my biggest cheerleader. Not only has she given me encouragement, but she is my number one person to go to when I am working out an idea. Sometimes she has input, other times, she just listens. It’s usually perfect, even if she gets me fired up about something, I probably needed it.

Javier Sanchez Ohio, USA

Which writers do you aspire to be like?
I’m not going for brownie points when I say James Patterson. I struggle with reading and the psychology behind making short chapters and the rush of endorphins that come from the “mini accomplishments” every 3 to 4 pages really works. I was thankful when I discovered his style. I also enjoy the writing of Malcolm Gladwell. Every time I read one of his books it’s like peeling back a layer to humanity and seeing a perspective you wish you would have thought of yourself, but are still thankful that you were exposed to it through him. I’d like my writing to do the same.

If you could take a MasterClass from anyone, who would it be?                                    Tom Burrell. He is a marketing communications pioneer who revolutionized the use of positive and realistic images of African Americans in television advertising. He practically invented marketing to urban minority populations.

Jessica Goeken Illinois, USA

What drives you to write?   
What drives me to write is knowing the person that I want to be. I enjoy writing, I love the way words go together and create something beautiful. I like to think that I’m talented, and I can’t imagine not writing and wasting whatever talent I have. I don’t want to look back on my life and wish that I had pursued something that I was passionate about, rather than what was simply available at the time.

Which writers do you aspire to be like?
I aspire to be like Tolkien. The depth and complexity of his characters and the world that he created is, to me, unmatched. I want to be able to think like that, to weave that kind of a story.

Jule P Miller III Mississippi, USA

If you could spend 5 minutes with James, what questions would you ask him?
I would like to know what he dreams about, what he still wants to do in his life. I would like to know what he thinks of science fiction, and whether he would like to co-write a science fiction piece. Finally, I would ask him if he wanted to drop by and have a bowl of gumbo sometime.

Who has been the most supportive of your writing? How do they help you?
In the more than 30 years of our marriage, my wife has always been encouraging of my desire to write. This past year and a half she has taken on the burden of being the sole breadwinner of our family so that I could develop my writing skills. Without that help, my writing would only ever be a hobby.

MaryBeth Yates Florida, USA

What drives you to write?
I’ve always had a love of telling stories. I write to share those stories with others, and hopefully bring them some entertainment/enjoyment in the process.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from James’s class so far?
OUTLINING!! I have always been horrible at this, and for some reason Mr. Patterson’s approach just clicked with me. It has really helped me on several projects already.

Matthew Trafford Ontario, Canada

If you could spend 5 minutes with James, what questions would you ask him?
Other than spoilers for what might happen in the next season of Zoo, I would want to hear about any times he thought he might have to give up on writing a particular book or story, and how he overcame that feeling.

How do you plan to keep readers engrossed in the story?
If you want to know that, I would encourage you to take James’s class and pay particular attention to lesson 13, Writing Suspense. In all seriousness, the best way to keep readers engrossed is to tell a fantastic story, the kind I would want to read myself. If I’m not bored, the readers won’t be.

Michael Jaoui New York, USA

If you could spend 5 minutes with James, what questions would you ask him?
Is there a story that got away? A story that’s great but you just can’t find the right way to get it on the page? I have a few of those, and I’m curious if a writer as accomplished and skilled as James Patterson does too.

What’s your favorite book?
That’s a tricky question. There are so many books that I love, and it’s hard to pick one. If I have to, I’d say All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, because it has something for everyone and is beautifully written. It’s got political intrigue, family drama, twists, turns, and action. It’s a timeless masterpiece.

Tammy Vaughter Nebraska, USA

What drives you to write?
There’s just this amazing feeling that comes with expressing, and creating a connection with my characters. I love creating characters in a world I can imagine, develop and control through words and scenes, and then watch a story unfold. This drives me to write. My parents shielded my siblings and I from television and influences they felt may steal our innocence and hamper our spiritual growth. Instead we were herded outdoors, into nature and traveled for a time in a gutted out school bus. We grew up poor, but I didn’t realize this until early adulthood. We lived along the flanks of the Verde River in Arizona in a tent. I feel like my parents decision to isolate my siblings and I for a time, fueled my creativity and imagination. This opportunity to live free inspired me to read and write at a very early age. And I must admit as well, acknowledgement in my writing is also a driving factor.

Who has been the most supportive in your writing? How do they help you?
My family has been the most supportive, especially my husband of 30 years, TJ. He has never let up with encouraging me to write. He reads anything I put in front of him and he offers honest criticism. I value his support. He is the one who gifted me the awesome James Patterson MasterClass and strongly urged me to enter the contest. I live in a very small community with a small circle of friends and family. My mother and my 4 grown children all love to write as well, and are very supportive of me.

Tucker Edward Axum III Texas, USA

What drives you to write?
I grew up in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun country. Storytelling over delicious cuisine was a daily pastime for us. I learned early on that people yearned to be inspired and transported to other locales and eras, and writing has been my preferred tool for storytelling. Writing allows me to take loved ones and strangers on adventures around the world. Whether bringing a World War II soldier back to life, nursing an injured plane to terra firma, or walking the somber grounds at Auschwitz, words touch our hearts and minds. They remind of us our common humanity.

How do you plan to keep readers engrossed in the story?
People love a great story, and one with the right amount of suspense. I think of it as making a gumbo. Don’t worry about the recipe—just cook with your heart. Pour in a bottle of imagination, a hint of realism, sprinkle some humor, a dash of drama, and toss in some dialogue. Let it all boil together and stir it occasionally. The aroma excites you and makes you impatiently crave the finale. Your and my gumbo probably won’t taste the same, but they should both nourish the body, and make people wanna come back for seconds.

 

James Patterson’s 2017 Co-Author Semifinalists

Once again, we were blown away by the quality of submissions for James Patterson’s second co-author competition! As the enthusiasm within the student community grows, we are thrilled to make this opportunity possible for a second time.

After careful review and consideration of every submission, we’re excited to announce the following top 10 semifinalists. These 10 semifinalists will receive a prize valued at $1,000. Then, three will move on to the final round where they will receive a prize of $2,500 value and submit an outline for a chance to become James’ co-author.

.Top 10 Semifinalists (listed in alphabetical order)

  • Blake Northcott
  • Jack Mathers
  • Javier Sanchez
  • Jessica Goeken
  • Jule P Miller III
  • MaryBeth Yates
  • Matthew J. Trafford
  • Michael Jaoui
  • Tammy Vaughter
  • Tucker Edward Axum III

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the competition and congratulations to the our semifinalists! Remember to check back next week, as we will be announcing the top 3 finalists on April 13th.

Announcing the Second James Patterson Co-Author Competition

When we first introduced the James Patterson Co-Author Competition, we had no idea we would receive such incredible submissions. We were blown away by your passion (and your writing)! We weren’t the only ones. James Patterson was so impressed, he wants to do it again. So, we are!

The competition is only open to MasterClass students. So if you haven’t already, enroll in James Patterson’s MasterClass.  After taking the class, you can submit a two sentence book hook for your idea (maximum 100 words) and a sample chapter (maximum 1,000 words). Patterson himself will hand-pick the top 3 proposals. There is no additional fee after enrollment and submissions are limited to one per student.  The competition opens February 1, 2017 at 9:00am PST. The submission period ends March 1st, 2017 at 11:59pm PST.

The top 10 semi-finalists will be awarded $1,000 and from there, the selected 3 finalists will be asked to provide an outline for the story by April 13th and will receive an additional $2,500. The final winner to co-author a book with James Patterson will be notified by May 31, 2017, and we will officially announce the winner in June of 2017.

You can find all the details of the competition at www.masterclass.com/co-author

Good luck!

Meet Semifinalists EJ Flynn & Veronica Forand

Thank you to everyone who participated in the James Patterson Co-Author Competition and congratulations to the semifinalists! Today, we’d like you to meet MasterClass students and semifinalists EJ Flynn and Veronica Forand!

EJ Flynn
Mamaroneck, NY

EJ FlynnHow long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was fifteen, so nearly thirty years. I started writing because I wanted to imagine my life as an adult, so I wrote about myself and my best friends in our late twenties.

Which writers do you aspire to be like?
My favorite authors (other than Mr. Patterson) are Stephen King, John Saul, Dean Koontz, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Michael Connelly and Danielle Steel. If I could be half as talented and find half as much success as these authors, I would be blessed.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from James’ class so far?
The most important thing I’ve learned is to write everyday. Find a way, no matter what, to write for at least an hour every single day.

Who has been the most supportive of your writing? How do they help you?
My family has been the most supportive of my writing. My sister Lisa gifted me the James Patterson MasterClass because she truly believes in my writing and encouraged me to enter the contest. My cousin Patti is my fellow writer. She and I send each other our work for critique and motivation. My husband and my eight year old daughter support me the most everyday.

Veronica Forand
Newtown Square, PA

What drivVeronica Forandes you to write?
I love thinking up ideas for books I’d love to read. If I don’t enjoy reading my own book, no one else will either. Once an idea takes hold in my imagination, I sit down and plot out the story. Plotting a thriller is my favorite intellectual activity; a puzzle that has an infinite number of solutions, but only a few possibilities that will engage a reader all the way through. After I write the dreaded first draft, I dive into the language. I rewrite often so the words flow, allowing a reader to become absorbed in the story and not be bogged down by vocabulary or grammar.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from James’ class so far?
His focus on hard work and creating habits that will enhance his career really made sense to me. He spoke about writing at five am while working in advertising full-time. No excuses. By making writing a priority every day, my productivity has increased, but even more important, my enjoyment of writing has increased. This is not a chore, nor is it a hobby that I fit into a busy  schedule. This is my passion, and I take all the time I need to create stories others will want to read.

How do you plan to keep readers engrossed in your story?
My story follows two completely different women investigating a murder. One was raised on  Southern manners and charm, while the other is a gritty New Yorker who has no problem breaking the law to solve a crime. They need to work together despite their mutual hatred for each other. I hope the conflict between them and the outside forces working against them will  create a story that is hard to put down.

Who has been the most supportive of your writing? How do they help you?
My biggest support is the romance writing community. As a brand new writer, my local writing group, the Valley Forge Romance Writers, offered advice, looked over my early manuscripts,  and offered a shoulder to cry on. These remarkable women are always available to celebrate  successes and to commiserate over failure. I love them all.

Meet Semifinalists Kecia Bal & Lynette Eason

Thank you to everyone who participated in the James Patterson Co-Author Competition and congratulations to the semifinalists! For the rest of the week, we will be featuring two of the ten semifinalists each day, so that you can get to know them and learn about their backgrounds as writers. Today, we’d like you to meet MasterClass students Kecia Bal and Lynette Eason!

Kecia Bal
Somerset, Pennsylvania

KeciaWhat drives you to write?
A desire to make people care, make them feel something. And stubbornness. I’m going to show up and write, even when it’s not flowing because I know the reward: that rush that comes when something aligns – in a way that feels like magic – and it is working and I’m there, ready. There’s nothing like that.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing stories since I was able to draw pictures. Professionally, I sold my first story (a piece for a travel website) at age 17 for $50. I was a newsroom intern by 19 and a full-time journalist by 21.

How do you plan to keep readers engrossed in your story?
I’ll keep a heart-racing pace with high stakes, swift twists, compelling questions, and, eventually, satisfying answers. I want readers to feel bound to the characters, and I want to surprise them – or scare them or charm them – on every page and keep them guessing until the last page.

Who has been the most supportive of your writing? How do they help you?
I am blessed with loving, supportive family – but you never really know whether you’re on to something until someone who doesn’t have to love what you make says you’re on to something. I have honest teachers and friends who helped me most by being editors – telling me what’s not working and where to cut to let what is working shine. My sons remind me daily that playfulness and curiosity are what shine brightest.

Lynette Eason
Simpsonville, South Carolina

LynetteWhat drives you to write?
Writing started out being a way to ease the loneliness that was the result of a hard-working and traveling husband. Since then, it’s become my passion. It’s my job, and I love it.

If you could spend 5 minutes with James, what questions would you ask him?
What’s the one book that’s been written that you wish you’d thought of?

Which writers do you aspire to be like?
I admire and have learned from John Grisham, Debbie Macomber, Lee Child, James Patterson, Terri Blackstock, Dee Henderson and others. I don’t really aspire to be like them. I want to be myself. 🙂

Who has been the most supportive of your writing? How do they help you?
My family has been super supportive. I’m so thankful for their understanding when I need to write–and the fact that they like take out, know how to do laundry, and don’t hate me when I forget they’re in the room.

James Patterson’s Co-Author Semifinalists

“There are a lot of people who have the talent, but haven’t been shown the door to walk through.”—James Patterson

James Patterson has been so impressed by students in his MasterClass that 8 weeks ago he announced that he would pick one student to become his newest co-author.

We received thousands of submissions for the James Patterson Co-Author Competition. We are blown away not only at the quality of the submissions, but even more importantly the encouragement, advice, and collaboration we saw in the class community.

Today, we’re excited to announce the 10 semifinalists who have been selected based on their submissions. These semifinalists will receive a $1,000 cash prize and 3 will move on to the final round where they will receive $2,500 and submit an outline for a chance to become James’ co-author.

So, without further ado, here are the ten semifinalists for the James Patterson Co-Author Competition!

  • Kecia Bal
  • Lynette Eason
  • EJ Flynn
  • Veronica Forand
  • Jeff Gunhus
  • Michael Hilliard
  • Ellery Kane
  • Theresa Schultz
  • Sarah Smothers
  • Jacob Turner

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the competition and to our semifinalists! It was an incredibly difficult decision, and we’ve been amazed by the number of great submissions. Be sure to come back to learn more about the semifinalists. Tune in on April 12th when we announce the top three finalists and on May 24th when we announce James’ newest co-author!