Writing Contests

AGENTS KNOW BEST

(Originally posted in 2015)

A long time ago, a creative genius decided to start the #PitMad contest. If you’re not sure what that is, check out this link – http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/.

Short version – Twitter pitch contest for aspiring writers.

Confession time. After the amazing time I had with #PitchSlam, I have become a writing contest enthusiast, and I just had to enter #PitMad. Great decision.

First of all, I think it’s the largest pitching event on Twitter (don’t quote me on that). Someone actually said 31.4k tweets invaded the feed in a 12-hour period. 31.4k. To put things into perspective, San Marino has a population of about 33k. A small European country’s population rivaled the number of tweets in a feed. That is all.

I got 4 favorites (plus one from a spam account that wanted to know if I wished to be well-hung and offered a very financially reasonable solution, but that’s a different story). And the professionals who actually thought my small pitch was worth a second look are some of the most appreciated in the business. Talk about a confidence booster right there.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut….it also showed me that I have a long way to go before I start thinking like an agent. I had a total of 5 different pitches prepared in advance and I thought one of them was the sure winner. To me, it had everything – stakes, character, flavor. I was sure that one was the show stopper right there.

It didn’t get a single favorite for it. Nada. Zilch.  Not even a re-tweet from my fellow hopefuls lurking on the feed alongside me.

The most popular pitch was actually the first one I had written – and wasn’t in love with. I didn’t think it would go very far. And yet, it was the only one who managed to grab the agents’ attention. Talk about an underdog.

Looking back, I saw why. I put my advertising student cap on and analyzed it as objectively as I could. It managed to condense my 90k novel into 139 characters. My quiet baby turned into the prom queen and I couldn’t be prouder.

And yes, agents know best.

Checking out other popular pitches, seeing how agents think, cheering for your fellow writers. It’s a fun experience, where you can learn so much about your strengths and weaknesses as an author. Y’all shouldn’t miss it.

Be sure to get your manuscript ready for the next #PitMad. Trust me, it’s something you’ll want to be part of.

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publishing, writing

OFFICIALLY PUBLISHED

(Originally posted in 2015)

If you’re in the mood for a steamy read and a little Christmas cheer, look no further than this year’s Fuse Publishing romance anthology, THE STOCKINGS WERE HUNG.

And you know what the best part is? The profits will be donated to the UNHCR, the UN agency leading and coordinating international action to protect refugees.

Yours truly has a sexy Christmas story

giphy
Source: media.giphy.com/media

One of the goals I set for myself in 2015 was to get something published (not self-published, because I’ve decided a long time ago that isn’t an avenue I want to pursue right now – or maybe ever). And I’m glad I took this step for such an amazing cause.

ramblings, writing, Writing Contests

MY 2015 #PITCHWARS EXPERIENCE

(Originally posted in 2015)

Note: Spoiler alert, I didn’t get in that year. 

So. Whether or not I get a mentor (though we all know what I’m crossing my fingers for, right?), I decided to make a little #PitchWars daily diary.

I. Thank the Twitter gods I remembered when this contest is being held. With everything going on in my life right now, losing the deadline was a very real probability. Buuuut I even managed to remember the contest before the mentors’ bios went up. Yey me, all adulting and stuff.

And the best part of it is that I managed to find an awesome CP. I have someone to critique my work AND go through the #PitchWars jitters with me.

Also, I got a bit of fabulous advice that I should change my NA into an A submission. I’ve been seeing a lot of tweets that also give me pause. What to do, what to do, and what ice cream to eat while deciding.

II. The mentors. My God, the mentors. So many to choose from. I think I have a list of about 20, but it largely depends on whether I submit my MS as A or NA. Some of my favorites accept both genres, but three of them don’t. And I thought writing the damn novel was the hard part.

III. Tweeting like mad on the #PitchWars thread. Got to talk with some amazing mentors and I even found out a potential mentee is visiting my country. So if anyone has any doubts about this contest being about community first and foremost, I’m the perfect example right here.

IV. I think I might have overtweeted my share and I’m starting to annoy some of the mentors I like. Time to scale it down and relax. Breathe.

On the plus side, my wonderful CP has sent me her notes on my query and first chapter. I can’t believe how many things I overlooked the first time. I’m still waiting to hear from my beta on the full MS (second round and all), but I don’t think the feedback will arrive in time.

I also participated in the #WWWriting live twitter chat. I’m going with A. Hope I’m not making a huge mistake.

And editing is kicking my butt. I now realize that the first edits I did were superficial at best. I guess I always knew, in the back of my mind, but being confronted with that reality is kind of hard to swallow. However, even if I don’t get picked, my MS is going to be stronger. That’s the point of the whole thing, isn’t it?

Also found out what a beat is. I’ve been using them for years but had no freaking idea what people were talking about. Hey, I’m already learning some new stuff.

V. Finally have my short list. So many amazing mentors had to be cut simply because my MS didn’t fit their wishlist. Once again, hope I’m not making a huge mistake. They all seem like amazing people to work with, but if they don’t want romantic suspense, well, they don’t want it. I hope I get to interact with some of them after the competition’s over.

VI. Starting to doubt my decision.

I don’t know if I should enter or not. I’ve been seeing a lot of #PitchWars games, like #firstline, #lastline, the song that embodies your MS. For the life of me, I can’t think of ONE song that’ll fit. I have about five that I keep using while editing, but none of them capture the entire feel of the MS. Does this mean mine’s fragmented? That it’s not cohesive enough? That I have this huge glaring problem that I just can’t see and that my CP is too kind to point out?

What.Is.It?

I’m also starting to doubt my voice. I checked my MS. None of my first and last lines seem strong enough. I know I have a few good turns of phrase here and there, but I don’t think it’s enough.

With that being said, I added a few new pages to my MS. Needed to hash out some things and I think they work.

VII. Reading other potential mentees’ first lines and realizing mine sucks.  Golly gee, ain’t I the smartest pea in the original pod?

VIII. Is it okay to freak out that I’m gonna miss the 12-hour submission window because I might miscalculate the time zone differences? No? Just me? Alrighty then.

IX. One of the scenes between my MCs is giving me a headache. I’ve edited it 5 times. I don’t know what’s not working. And for a romantic suspense, this is problematic.

X. Holy crap. The window opened earlier. That’s the best news an anxious writer can ever receive. I’ll wait a day and then buh-bye MS.

XI. Sent.

Time to start eating shitloads of chocolate and brainstorm the next WIP.

XII. Requests!!!!!!!!!!!!!

XIII. Okay. I kinda wanna interact with the mentors, but I’m afraid they’ll think I want to suck up or something. Decisions, decisions.

XIV. Interacted with some great writers. Possible CPs. Life’s good.

XV. Okay. Some of these teasers from potential mentors are so freaking far away from my MS that….I don’t think I’m getting in. But it’s fine. It was fun.

Got to meet some great people. Found some awesome books, films, and gifs.

XVI. *Sigh*

Next year it is.

publishing, writing

DON’T FEAR THE SHARK

Okay, I went for the snazzy title, and yes, a specific Shark will make an appearance in this post, but it’s not about the ocean’s most deadly killer (apart from those jellyfish, I hear they’re vicious).

 

No.

 

This post is about a topic that’s sensitive, but shouldn’t be.

 

Letting people see and critique your query.

 

For those of you still with me after that revelation, I think some writers (2010-me included), might be a tad reticent to have their work, the words they’ve slaved over for weeks, months, years (?), ripped to shreds by strangers.

 

But it’s what pushes you forward. Unless you’re Kafka and have a very nosy friend who finds your brilliant work and pesters you into publishing it (according to urban legend, at least), you need to get yourself out there.

 

It hurts. It’s more brutal than not.

 

But if you want an agent, you gotta have a killer query. And, thanks to the Internet, now we have countless sites, blog posts and Tweets dedicated to this very topic.

 

I learned how to write queries by having them critiqued. And the best critiquer out there is Query Shark. (Though I haven’t been fortunate enough to have my query reviewed on there)

 

Yes, the dreaded site where queries either go to die or rise like Fawkes. Trust me on this one. Go through the archives, see what worked for other people–and what didn’t–and make changes accordingly.

 

Submit your own.

 

Go forth and swim until your fins drop and every word shines.

 

You can also check out some of Kristin Nelson’s successful queries (and read her amazing blog, PubRants). I also recommend Kyra M. Nelson’s site, as well as the Absolute Write forum.

 

Oh, yeah. And all these resources are 100% free.

ramblings, writing

“REAL WRITERS”

Current mood:

annoyed-dogSource: barkpost.com/shiba-proves-whining-everything-life

 

If you’re in the writing community–or got dragged into a conversation about Puşkin–you’ve probably heard of the dreaded “real writers”.

The elusive expression that leaves writers in silent tears and online bullies with a sense of purpose in their lackluster lives.

Well, I got dragged into such a conversation by accident. Video games led to films inspired by video games (anybody else excited for the Warcraft film?) which inevitably led to books. Right around this moment in our impromptu online discussion, a French gent proudly exclaimed that one can consider himself a “real writer” if, and only if, they reach the NYC* list.

First place.

At least two weeks in a row.

*And yes, he actually thought it was NYC, not NYT. In which case, maybe I misunderstood the whole ten minute monologue?

Now, when I meet ignorant people on the interwebs, my strategy is to either ignore the dormant troll in them, or to push back. I was getting ready for the second option when said gent mentioned he was actually writing a book (“or maybe memoir, je ne sais pas”) about his life–love life, I might add–and that he’d reach that list in the next five years.

Well, my good man, I wish you all the best. I do. That’s a kind of ambition I’m scared to encourage in myself.

But I realized that some writers have a very grave misunderstanding of what a writer is. I only have two rules, which seem to be echoed around the writing community.

Writers:

  • Write
  • Strive to get better at it

That’s it. If you only write for writing’s sake and you think you’re mankind’s gift to the ignorant masses, that’s a problem that needs to be taken down a peg or two. If you only want to get better without, you know, actually doing the work, that’s a problem you, and you alone, need to deal with.

If you manage to follow those two rules, you’re golden. You’re a writer. Can’t wait to read your work.

And please, please don’t let your worth be dictated by arbitrary goals. As a nifty Google search will tell you, the NYT bestseller list isn’t the most reliable. And never, ever forget that a lot of amazing books don’t get agented/published/millions of copies.

And just like I thought the gent’s opinion was pretentious crap, you’re free to view my take on this topic in the exact same way.

writing, Writing Contests

July 2015 Critique Blog Hop

Because Michele Hauk is a genius, she’s started a really exciting and very useful critique blog hop. Basically, you post your query and first 250 words, get critiqued by other writers (hello y’all!) and do some critiquing of your own (which is extremely helpful for everyone involved).

So, without further ado, here is my entry for the 2015 Critique Blog Hop:

Title: BEWARE OF BOLTON MANOR

Name: Amelia Creed

Genre: NA Romantic Suspense

Word Count: 70K

Query:

Junior estate agent, Olivia Abate, the walking cautionary tale for fresh starts, has one goal – to get the Bolton Manor listing before her dolt of a coworker. Their unethical rivalry takes a grim turn when the old woman who owns the property suffers a mental breakdown, and Olivia must spend a week at the manor if she wants a signed contract and the coveted promotion.

Ignoring her hesitation, Olivia deals with quaint guests fond of collecting serial killer memorabilia, perpetually hung-over nieces, and apathetic servants, one rehearsed smile at a time. Her only escape is the dry-humored heir of the estate, Thomas Bolton, who appears to be as starved for companionship as the manor is for renovation. His odd disdain for newcomers and Olivia’s fear of gaining an unjust advantage barely keep them from crossing the professional line.

Her moral dilemma vanishes along with her coworker, and Olivia faces the gut-wrenching possibility that she might lose not only her career and the promise of an uncommon relationship, but also her life.

BEWARE OF BOLTON MANOR is complete at 70,000 words and is a standalone novel with series potential.

250:

The faux leather on the backseat was peeling off and Olivia Abate’s best stockings already had two holes in them. Served her right for cheaping out on her last shopping trip and fidgeting since she had jumped into the cab. The driver’s road manners didn’t help either.

“Is there any possible way we could go faster?” she asked. The driver looked at her in his rear-view mirror, using his tongue to clean the remnants of his lunch from his teeth. Olivia pretended she didn’t notice. “Or find a shortcut?”

“No can do, Miss. We’re on the shortest road and I ain’t keen on getting a flat tire,” the driver said.

Olivia nodded and looked over her shoulder in the rear window, biting the inside of her cheek. Still no sign of another car. That could only mean two things – either her coworker had gotten lost on the muddy roads or he had already arrived at the manor. Or maybe he had given up on the challenge altogether.

Gazing down at the single sheet of paper in her file, marked ‘Bolton Manor – potential listing’, Olivia tried to find some sort of detail that could give her an advantage. Apart from specifying the size of the domain, the number of rooms and adjacent dwellings, such as the boat house, and the current owner, there wasn’t much written down. Not even a picture of the estate.

And for a junior estate agent, such as Olivia, that meant trouble; taxing, exciting, and career-defining trouble.

Thank you to all the writers who will take the time to critique my work. You guys are awesome for doing this and for having the courage to put your work out there and receive feedback.

And have an awesome day!

ramblings, writing

BAD BLOGGER, DECENT WRITER

The past month has been beyond hectic. A new word needs to be invented (where art thou, Shakespeare?’) to fully describe how frantic I’ve been every waking hour trying to finish a project.

So I had a decision to make. Either I’d write a blog post every week, or I’d spend time working on my next novel.

Guess which one won?

As a writer, I have my priorities. As a former advertising student, I am ashamed of my lack of blogging. There, I said it. Past me is shaking her head and her chopped bangs are getting in the way of her glare.

And, unfortunately, the next month looks exactly the same. One good thing came out of this – I’ve been munching on almonds every day while I’ve been glued to my computer (eating normal meals is for the weak!!!) and my skin looks amazing. And the good news is that I won’t ever have to go through this again. Yey adult me!

‘Till next time.