When author and founder of ALLEGORY Magazine, Ty Drago, invited me to be an associate editor, I never imagined how much I'd enjoy reading authors' work. The best part, though, is finding those fabulous stories and getting to share with an author that their story is being forwarded on to the next stage. It is almost as exciting typing those words to another writer as it is seeing those words written to me. And now, I've been promoted to Senior Editor. I look forward to many great issues of Allegory
So, if you've got short, speculative fiction (horror, sci-fi, fantasy) with compelling characters and strong narratives, we want them. For more information on our submission process and to read the latest issue, check us out at: http://www.allegoryezine.com/mainpage.htm.
And thanks to Ty for giving me this opportunity!
Hello, Wonderful Writers!
It’s NaNoWriMo time! If you’re a writer and you’re reading this, you probably know what NaNoWriMo is. If not, here goes: November is National Novel Writers’ Month, and each year, all November long, writers all over the world commit to completing the first draft of a manuscript, usually 50-thousand words long, though some of us commit to longer works. The web community around NaNo is super fun, and if you’re a writer who isn’t familiar with it yet, definitely check it out.
I’ve been doing NaNo for a few years now, and I spent the last couple weeks of October getting my next WIP all plotted and set up in Scrivener so I was able to jump in and start writing on November 1st. This process, which is something I do for all new MSs, got me thinking about plotting versus pantsing.
I know this is one of the hottest debates writers can have, and I’m not here to try to lure anyone over to the side of the Jedis (*cough plotter cough*). Seriously, though, as a die-hard plotter, I wanted to share a perspective that has been on my mind for some time. Plotters are pantsers who do their pantsing before they sit down to start a draft.
So, for my plotting friends out there, next time someone asks you the dreaded question, just tell them you’re both. Because plotters are just pantsers who do the pantsing before they sit down in front of that blank page.
Good luck to all of you doing NaNoWriMo 2017. I hope you all “win!” See you on the other side.
And, as always, I will end with the motto spoken to me by my dear friend, who has been gone for over four years now (which I actually can’t believe): You can do it! You can write!
Here's a little sneak peek for you.
Jeb’s voice ebbed and flowed, his fear growing and sending out seedlings of dread to take root in my own chest. He must have woken the entire camp by now. I fumbled open my tent flap, stumbled outside, and zipped it shut with trembling hands. When I turned around, I knew immediately why no one put a stop to Jeb’s calls.
He wasn’t in the normal world anymore.
Neither was I.
Despite not asking for it, something twisted and bitter in this universe had bestowed it anyway. We’d been transported to the astral plane. The world was bathed in dark beauty, like velvety gauze or some tranquil digital camera filter, making everything hazy and wavery with dim blue-white light. I could actually see the air – or matter or ether or whatever it was--that made up the world around me. When I waved my hand, contrails showed its swishing progress long after I’d ceased movement. Like, whatever I was made of in this form could interact with the very construction material holding this universe together. Or, maybe whatever I was made of in this form was the very construction material of this universe.
“Oh God,” I whispered.
That meant, behind me, within the tent I’d just fled, my body lay prone. Not in sleep, and not a trance. Not dead, but not really alive either.
An empty shell.
I stared at the dark green vinyl before finally getting up the nerve to look inside. My body lay on my air mattress, curled up as if I were merely sleeping. My chest rose and fell as my organs responded to signals from the most primitive part of my brain, which kept the basic functions of human life online even though the system user had abandoned the controls.
I breathed in time with my body. I wasn’t sure if I was really moving air around in my spectral form, but the reflex to carry out the action was strong, and it still felt soothing when I blew what might be nothing out of lungs that probably weren’t there anyway. I took another deep, fake breath and closed my eyes. My brain attempted to point out the ridiculousness of this – how I still felt normal even though I was nothing but a ghost now. A spasm of laughter escaped my throat, but I swallowed it down. If I let my mind think too hard about things like where? and what? and how?, I’d crack. Game over.
Instead, I chanted Jeb’s mantra: “Just go with it.” Then I turned to face the astral plane.
BROKEN CHORDS launches with Leap Books in TWO days! In honor of the release, I'm holding a giveaway for a free copy and some swag.
Happy September, Wonderful Writers!
Before I get started, a HUGE thanks to Amber Gregg for hosting my It's a Writer Thing series on her lovely site.
It’s been a whirlwind this summer, what with my first time as a Pitch Wars mentor and all the work I’ve been doing on my own books. I finished my second manuscript for the year in August, which was my 11th book in total. Holy moly! But, finishing my latest MS got me thinking about productivity.
I acknowledge that I’m a fast writer, but I owe my productivity to something more important: I practice finishing books.
There's so much to learn.
flirting with us from across the coffee house. Keeping us up at night. So how can we be blamed for jumping ship on the current work in progress? I get it. I love all my new ideas, and boy do I have a to-be-written-list burning a hole in my brain. But let’s not forget what comes after the tough middles: the alluring endings! They deserve to be written. We owe it to them not to lose steam halfway through.
But if we let new ideas seduce us, we’ll never learn our process for finishing. I will repeat that and turn it into a statement: All writers need to learn their own process for finishing books. Here’s why.
Think like a marathon runner.
And it must be practiced. The preparation is part physical but it’s also hugely mental. As a result of this mental Cross Fit, something very important happens: They learn what to expect.
Why is that important?
When they get back out there next time, and when it gets tough, they have figured out what to look out for in their bodies, how to harness their bodies’ power, and how to focus their brains.
They have a Not-Quitting Process. A Finishing Process. They can say to themselves: This is just like last time, and last time I got it done. I can do that again.
Writers need that too.
We need to practice starting, middling (Is middling a verb? Well it is now!), and finishing. And we need to do it with more than one book. Inevitably, the current WIP will start to feel boring. The shine will be off. Maybe we’ll write ourselves into a corner or a whole maze of corners. And, lo and behold, there’s Shiny New Idea winking at us all sultry and pretty. But, like a marathon runner who can predict his rhythms during a race, we need to predict ours when it comes to the marathon of writing a book.
you they were running a marathon today and they’d never trained a day in their life, you’d be like whaaa…? And if they couldn’t do it, you’d be like: “Uh, buddy, you’ve never done this before. Go easy on yourself.” So, why beat yourself up for not finishing a manuscript when that’s a skill that takes learning, too? Don’t beat yourself up; practice.
The learning process, the stamina-building is normal, natural, and necessary.
Therefore, my biggest motto is: Finish what you start. Everything you start. Then, one day when you’re all successful professional authors and you have deadlines or an editor waiting for an option book, your game will be in place. You’ll be able to say, Yes, I can get that to you INSERT YOUR DEADLINE DATE HERE. I’ve got a process. I’ve done this before. Deep breath. Here goes.
Today I found out that BOTH my upcoming books are available for pre-order. You can now purchase TEN AFTER CLOSING (notice the new name?) and BROKEN CHORDS. Click the images and see for yourself!
Hello, wonderful writers!
I wrote about the Big R—rejection—several months back, but as we get closer to Pitch Wars, I find myself reflecting on the OTHER Big-R: revision. That’s what Pitch Wars is all about, after all. Revision Warriors!
Many authors dislike revisions, but I love the process. And I’ll emphasize that last word: process. So, in order to help inspire everyones’ Revision Warrior Mojo, I thought I’d address some myths about revision.
MYTH 1: The most important part of writing is the drafting process.
A couple years ago, I responded to a poll that asked what authors preferred: drafting or revising. I replied that I liked drafting better, and I meant it, but that was before I wrapped my brain around revisions and the magic that happens during the process. The best parts of my books arise during revisions. I’m a plotter, so I have a strong concept before I start, but revision is where I really see my work for the first time. For that reason, I visualize character and theme in a whole new light. Things emerge that I was too close to see during drafting. Each pass allows me to think about a different aspect of my MS.
Everyone who reads my blog knows I love creative reality TV. So, this time, I’ll draw from cake decorating shows (which I can’t watch too often because, OMG, cake cravings are evil!). You know how they get the cake to a certain point, and it looks really good? The shape is there, the fondant is in place, some detail work has been done. It looks like it’s ready to hand over to the customer. Then the chefs take that foundation and go to town, turning the creation into something truly breathtaking. That’s how I think of revision.
A first draft a cake with the layer of fondant but no detail work. The shape is there and the base color, maybe some embellishment, but that’s nothing compared to what it will be when we’re done.
MYTH 4: Revision=singular.
I usually use the plural because, for me, it’s a multi-step process. I do a pass for big stuff—plot holes, inconsistencies, and scenes I forgot to show. Then there are character passes. Passes for theme, etc. Not to mention the fact that as we really immerse ourselves in revision, we sometimes get the best ideas ever—maybe inspired by something our CP said or from our very own heads.
Now, this is the part you may not want to hear, but these shiny new ideas often require us to go back and do a major overhaul to our books. But don’t panic, because it’s totally worth it.
My debut novel, TEN PAST CLOSING, is a great example of this latter point. When I was accepted into Pitch2Publication in 2016, my mentor pointed out that some of my chapters weren’t working. Initially, I had many POVs (and I love multi-POV books, don’t get me wrong), but she felt they diluted the story of my two MCs too much. Interestingly, I knew there was a problem with the book; the romance between my MCs wasn’t working. Her input helped me see that I could make better use of that word-count real estate and write in scenes that supported the chemistry between my MCs. This was an exciting revelation for me, because the romance was literally one of my magic cookies. Though it meant swallowing some hard feedback and a commitment to a ton of work, I know that she gave me the input I needed to bring out the best in my book.
MYTH 5: Revision is about finding what isn’t working.
Revision is partly about finding what isn’t working, but it’s also about finding the magic, keeping an open mind and letting the insights wash over you. Remember that beautiful cake that needs all the final detail?
Some people really stress over getting their first draft just right, but I don’t. Though there are stories about authors who plotted so thoroughly they drafted their book in a finished form, this is something that maybe .1% of authors can do. But we don’t need to. (That sounds like an awful way to write a book. I mean, let’s talk about pressure. Right? To aim for perfection right off the bat…) I love knowing I’ll have plenty of shots making my book everything I want it to be. It prevents me from getting too hung up on something that’s not working right at this very minute. I’ll have another chance to nail it, and I trust that the right idea will come to me as I continue to work the process.
Trust the process.
It may be messy, but it always gets me there. Even if I’m not having any particular challenges with an MS, I know I’ll be doing a lot of rewrites because I always come up with exciting new ideas once I dig into revisions. Even if I think I’ve just written the best book of all time, and I can’t imagine changing a thing, it happens. Every time. Heck, in my most recently-revised book, I did 3.5 major revisions. So, I start each draft with a mindset of acceptance toward all the extra work I’m going to do, and I don’t sweat it when that work arrives.
MYTH 6: I need to figure out the whole thing myself.
I had the utmost pleasure of hearing my editor, Alison Weiss of Sky Pony Press, speak at an SCBWI Metro NY workshop this past winter about the beauty of the collaborative relationship. She said that when she’s choosing projects, she specifically looks for ones where she can make a contribution. I love that idea. The incorporation of outside input is an inherent part of the process. It’s supposed to happen. Our editors aren’t cursing the authors whose books need their expert feedback; they want to share in this with us. Once I heard that, I went from being excited to work with her to wanting to jump up and down in the middle of the workshop audience. (I didn’t, though. Dignity remains intact.) And the same thing goes for input from critique partners or workshop leaders or whoever helps you. We need that fresh set of eyes, and it’s fine that they raised questions we never thought of. That’s the whole point; they’re going to see things we didn’t.
Getting feedback and jumping into revisions is challenging, but it is also the most exciting part of the process. It’s where everything can literally change. It’s where the magic happens. So, whether you’re undertaking the process as part of a competition like Pitch Wars or in response to input from an agent you met at a conference, or a CP, remember: The fact that they came up with stuff you hadn’t thought of doesn’t mean you didn’t do it right the first time. This is a process. It will take several passes to get you there, but that’s just fine. That’s the way it goes. We don’t need to nail it the first time, and we don’t need to do it alone. We shouldn’t go it alone.
By this time next month, I’ll be elbow deep in MG submissions in Pitch Wars, and I can’t wait.
Until then, remember: You can do it! You can write!
Stock images by: Laura Ockel, Marcie Douglass, Isaac Chua, & Alice Achterhof on Unsplash. Edited by Jessica Bayliss.
Holy moly, I can’t believe it’s Pitch Wars Blog Hop time! I’m super excited to be mentoring in Pitch Wars this year in the MG category. It’s my first time, so I know that means it will be the BEST!
If you’re still new to this whole Pitch Wars thing, let me give you a little info. This is an awesome competition where you enter your manuscript for a chance to get paired with a mentor who will help you get your book into the best shape possible. Then, you get to go to the agent round where a captive audience of agents (not literally captive, though, because that would be creepy—in a bad way) reviews all the subs and requests fulls. In other words, if you get chosen in Pitch Wars, you have an excellent chance of getting an ADVANCE TO FULL REQUEST card. And even if you don't sign, there's a lot you will LEARN, so let's get started.
For more information about Pitch Wars, click HERE.
So, who am I & why you might want to choose me as a potential mentor?
Here are the top 11 reasons.
1. 11 is my lucky number.
2. I’m a new mentor this year, but I was selected as a MENTEE in a very similar competition last year, Pitch2Publication. As a result of that, I signed with my dream agent, Dr. Uwe Stender, president of Triada US Literary Agency. He went on to sell my P2P book, TEN PAST CLOSING, which will be published next spring by Sky Pony Press.
Because I’ve been in YOUR shoes, I know how nerve-wracking and exciting and scary and hard this whole thing is. I’ve been on the receiving end of a massive edit letter and line edits up the wazoo. I worked my butt off and then worked my butt off some more. And a little more. Then I waited. OMG, I waited, and I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. But. I. Survived. (So will you.) And I want to be there with YOU when it's your turn.
This is going to be awesome!
3. I love MG. (Here’s a secret. Even though my debut is a YA, my first ever book was a MG portal fantasy; my heart lives there still). I’ve also published a (silly) horror short in an MG anthology.
4. No one wants a crabby mentor. If you check out my blog, you’ll see I strive to inspire and motivate writers. My Number 1 Motto is: You can’t fail if you don’t give up. I believe 100% that if you want to be a published author you will, as long as you keep at it. That’s the spirit I’ll bring to this competition.
5. Because I’m a psychologist, one my strengths is in creating authentic, realistic characters that drive the action of the story. Being EITHER a character-driven or plot-driven author is so last year; I want to help you be both.
6. This is my dog. He’s not going to be helping out with mentoring this year (which is a very good thing because he can't read no matter how much he fakes it), but he’s a cute little bastard.
7. But seriously, I work really hard at being a writer. I’ve written ten books (in addition to my official debut, I have YA horror coming out with a small press in the fall) and nine short stories (six of which have been published). My Number 2 Motto is: Finish what you start. Revise what you finish. Then revise it again. And send it out there into the world. I’m also an Associate Editor for Allegory eZine, so I’ve gotten to practice looking out for gems hidden in the slush.
9. I’m looking to develop a real relationship with my mentee. Our friendship won’t end when the competition is over. Once I work with you, I’m going to be so excited to hear about all your doings and happenings. I hope to be a resource for the long-haul. (And don’t be surprised if, down the line, I bug you to be a resource for me. It’s all about writers helping writers.)
10. I love to eat. Pizza (as above), ice cream, donuts, cheese. All the cheese. And coffee. I make a MEAN pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. But, most of the time, I’m into eating healthy. I’ve tried at least half the recipes on Skinnytaste.com, and I’m huge into working out. It’s my foundation. Finally, thanks to a friend in my writing group, I recently got into Bullet Journaling because colored markers and stickers and washi tape, and OMG, it’s so fun.
11. I did NOT start out as a writer. I DO NOT have an MFA. I didn’t study writing in college or grad school. But writing a book was something I always wanted to do, and one day, I said: Let me see if I can do it. And that started me off. I’ve been writing for only seven years, so I know what it’s like to be a constant learner. I’m still learning. So, unless you’re Shakespeare (you're not are you? Because if so, OMG, vampire), I totally expect that you’re still learning too.
I’m a practicing, licensed clinical psychologist. I work with people every day on figuring out what their strengths are, understanding their barriers & things that limit them from reaching their potential, and setting the kind of goals that work. On the education front, I’ve been teaching and mentoring students at all levels (from college to post-grad) for over ten years. My Number 3 Motto is: It’s not about being good. It’s about getting better.
What can you expect if you work with me?
- Kindness and honesty. I’m the person who’s not afraid to tell you that you have broccoli in your teeth (and if I do, PLEASE tell me, okay?). You can expect a collaborative experience where I’ll tell you all my thoughts, but work with you to make your book the best it can be no matter what.
- When I read your book, I’ll be looking to understand the book as you envision it, then work with you to further hone the things that are already working well and identify places where you can bring out the heart of your vision even more.
- You can expect a combination of questions to help you think more deeply about your plot and your characters along with actionable items--specific, concrete ideas of things you can try.
- Speaking of character, it's one of my specialties. I may even share my special Character Map with you. (Who am I fooling, I'm totally going to share it.)
- Once I’ve read the whole thing, I’ll send you an edit letter with all my thoughts on what I love, your characters, character interaction, pacing, plot weaknesses/inconsistencies, etc. I’ll give you some time to read through it, then we can communicate about it (video chat, phone, email—whatever) and come up with a solid revision plan.
- Once you complete your revisions, I’ll read through the book again and give you comments in the margins.
- We’ll pay extra attention to your first chapter and your query; I’ll also do a line edit of your first 50 pages, and then you can take those suggestions and carry them through the rest of the book.
- I’ll be here to cheer you on the whole way, including providing support during the hardest part of the competition—the waiting phase. We’ll get through it together with pizza, donuts, wine, and all the cheese.
My wish list (Yay! This is the best part.)
- I’m definitely looking for genre books, but within that context, I’m excited to read stories with diversity of any type, including #ownvoices books.
- Voice, voice, voice.
- My number 1 request is some good MG horror or anything creepy/scary/eerie.
- I’m also looking to see contemporary books full of thrills.
- My favorite type of horror is paranormal/supernatural, so bring on your ghosts and demons.
- Witches in contemporary settings are great too.
- I’m a SUCKER for a haunted house story. (My secret ambition is to write the world’s best haunted insane asylum book, but if you beat me to it, send that baby over here please.)
- I’ll take my horror with a dose of silliness or keep it straight. I love HECK, WHERE THE BAD KIDS GO (by Dale E. Basye and Bob Dob) and THE MONSTER SQUAD, so feel free to send me your humorous horror.
- I’m open to MG horror with a more literary vibe too, like A MONSTER CALLS (by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd).
- I’m all about seeing creepiness in the mundane, so more subtle stories or MAGICAL REALISM are very welcome (e.g., DOLL BONES by Holly Black).
- I’m open to portal-style books like THE SPINDLERS or LIESL AND PO, both by Lauren Oliver. Books like the SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (Holly Black) would be great.
- Adventures and thrillers? Yes, please. I’m dating myself here, but I’d love to read the next GOONIES. OMG, if you wrote STRANGER THINGS for MG, that’s for me. Or STAND BY ME. Or something like CLOAK AND DAGGER.
- Scavenger hunt stories would be fun (especially if there’s a creepy element).
- I’m a sucker for kids getting stuck somewhere and having to survive something (lost in the woods, stranded on a desert island, accidentally locked up somewhere—OMG, if they’re accidentally locked somewhere and there also happens to be a ghost or monster, that book is for me. Clearly there’s a theme here.).
- I will take fantasy if it’s rooted in the contemporary world (e.g., SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES by Holly Black).
- I’m open to some SCI-FI, but again, rooted in the contemporary world.
- Detective stories, especially with humor. My favorite movie of all time is CLUE. If you’ve written CLUE for MG readers, me wants…
That's it for me. You can read ALL the MG mentors' bios and wishlists at the bottom of my page.
Please read my WHAT I'M NOT LOOKING for list below.
What am I looking for in a mentee?
- flexible and open-minded about revisions? Listen, when you sign with your agent (and you will, I know it), you’re going to continue to get tons of feedback on your work. Then you’ll sell your book (totally, it will happen), and your editor is going to have a ton of changes for you to make too. So, revisions are a normal and natural part of the writing process. (Personally, my favorite parts of all my books are born in revisions). So, if you’re open-minded and willing to do an overhaul if it’s in the service of your vision, I really want to work with you.
- not afraid to work hard? There’s a timeline in Pitch Wars, and you will likely be eating, sleeping, and breathing your book. Are you reading this saying: Bring it on!—good!
- serious about your writing career? I can’t promise that if you work with me you’ll get an agent and a book deal. I can promise you’ll learn from this experience, and your book will be better than when you started. So, if you don’t sign, are you still going to be as motivated to keep trying as you were the day you entered this competition? Will you keep querying that book until you find your dream agent? Will you write a new one and query that if this one doesn’t get you there? Yes? Then send me your submission, my friend.
Let’s get to work!
What I'm NOT looking for.
- Anything that’s NOT MG. I love books for all ages, and even though my forthcoming books are YA, I’m only mentoring MG this year.
- Quiet books. I’m a genre girl, so I’m looking for books with thrills and scares.
- Pure contemporary. I love these books (think BFF BUCKET LIST by Dee Romito or THE SLEEPOVER by Jen Ramone), but I’m not looking for that this time around.
- High fantasy.
- No vampires or werewolves (UNLESS it’s a silly take on the trope. Think FAT VAMPIRE for MG or THE MONSTER SQUAD.)
- No space stories.
- No dystopians, please.
- Books full of grammar errors and typos and that are overall poorly written. Pitch Wars is for books that are complete and somewhat revised (but perfection is not expected, so don't worry if there are some errors). If your book requires too many basics to get it into shape, we just won't have the time. So please, read and edit your book now before the submission window opens.
There's still some time before the submission window opens. until then...
Read ALL the MG mentors' bios and wishlists right here.
First off, I just want to state for the record (my husband loves to make fun of me because I state many things "for the record,") that I can't believe this post is #15 in the It's a Writer Thing Series! When I first decided to start this, I wasn't sure I'd have enough in my brain to share to keep it going. I know I have at least one more post in me. Next time, I'll be writing about the OTHER r-word: revisions. So check back next month for that.
Secondly, THANK YOU to Amber Gregg for hosting my post on her awesome site about all things reading & writing: Judging More than Just the Cover. She hosts author interviews, posts book reviews, and other articles about writing. It's a great resource.
Now, on to today's post. I will give you a heads-up--it's a longish one this month--but I had 2 goals for this post. 1) to provide inf on the parts of Pitch Wars that people might overlook in the rush to get their submissions ready (e.g., the live calls and the Pimp My Bio) and 2) give some input on participating the competition from someone who's been on the inside.
As a former Pitch2Publication success story, I KNOW what it feels like to be short-listed. I KNOW how amazing it is to read the words: And the next mentee is (YOUR NAME HERE). I want YOU to have that too. So please, do everything you can to help yourself before the submission window begins.
Make it impossible for us to not choose your submission.
I also know all the negative thoughts that go through the authors’ minds during this process. P2P wasn’t the only competition I entered. I entered several over the years that I was not chosen for, so I know that feeling too. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but I firmly believe that we MUST put ourselves out there, and I also believe the stress is totally worth it.
So, in the spirit of combating those negative thoughts now, I’ve listed out the ones that I had back in the day in the hopes that they will help you.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT #1: I won’t get chosen, so there’s no point in doing ___________ (insert phrase as applicable: writing a synopsis, reading through my manuscript one more time, writing a 35-word pitch, etc.)
Get your submission materials ready NOW.
What do you need?: 1) query letter and 2) first chapter (please see Brenda Drake’s blog for more guidelines on short chapters & prologues). You should also prepare: 1) a 1-3 page synopsis and 2) a 35-word short pitch. These are things a mentor may ask for to help with their decision.
Yes, synopsis. I know. They’re evil and torture, but they’re the only way to get a feel for the full plot of your book without actually reading the whole book. And I’ll be honest with you, when I entered FicFest, I did not follow this advice. Why didn’t I have a synopsis ready? Because I didn’t think there was any chance in hell that I’d get chosen, and yet one of the mentors loved my submission and wanted to read my synopsis. Oops.
YOUR MS SERIOUSLY MIGHT BE CHOSEN.
Don’t be like me. Get your materials ready now and you won’t have to frantically throw it together at 11:45PM on a Thursday while trying to scoop frozen cookie dough out of a container. (Don’t judge. I needed something to strengthen me.)
NEGATIVE THOUGHT #2: They’re just going to have me revise it anyway.
Please be sure your MS is ready. Yes, your whole manuscript. Listen, I know you’re busy. Believe me, I get it. You’ve got lots of obligations, and you may be saying: Why bother killing myself? I won’t get picked. I’ll just get the first few chapters ready to go and call it a day.
My response to that, a strangled GAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! The mentors you submit to may want more chapters to help them decide. If your first chapter rocks, but the rest are super rough, they may determine that, though they love your concept, your book as a whole needs too much work to get it ready in time for the Agent Showcase.
Not to mention, no one wants to get a request for the first 50 pages and come to realize they never wrote X, Y, or Z pivotal scene. (Clears throat.) That’s a surefire way to find yourself frantically writing away at 11:45PM on a Thursday trying to jam a spoon into a frozen container of cookie dough.
So do that work UP FRONT and make it easy for us to pick you.
We want to pick YOU.
And yes, your mentor will ask you to revise it, but the better a MS is when we start working, the better we can make it by the end. Worst case scenario: your MS isn’t selected, but you have a newly-revised MS that will blow the agents away when you query.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT #3: I don’t need a frozen container of cookie dough because I’ll get all my materials totally set to go. BOO-ya!
Listen, cookie dough comes in handy for many life situations. I highly recommend everyone keep some. Just in case. (For example, it’s a great way to celebrate when you get that request for a synopsis.)
NEGATIVE THOUGHT #4: I don’t know who to pick as a prospective mentor. There are so many. I can’t do it. Eenie-meenie-miney-mo.
Do your research on the mentors. The number of writers who donate their time is astounding (it sort of makes my heart glow & my eyes get all watery). While they’re all great, there will definitely be some who are better matched for you and your work than others.
The Blog Hop starts on July 19th, which gives you two whole weeks to check out all the mentors’ bios, wish lists, and info on their approach to mentoring. Brenda and the other organizers of the competition have made it super easy for you to jump from blog-to-blog. At the bottom of each mentor’s Pitch Wars Bio post, we’ll include links to all the other mentors’ pages (for that age category). They’re numbered with our pictures so it will be easy for you to keep track.
Seriously, give your MS the BEST chance of getting chosen by really taking the time to visit each mentors’ blog. Not only that, but come and say hi on Twitter. We want to get to know you. That’s a huge part of the fun. You can join the #PimpMyBio Blog hop and tell us all about yourself. (Do it! It’s fun!) Also, check out the #pitchwars hashtag and look out for the live chats (July 17th through August 1st).
NEGATIVE THOUGHT #5: There’s no way THAT AMAZING MENTOR will want to work with ME.
But we do! We do!
There are some seriously talented and successful writers in this mix. And, I can tell you from experience getting to know them over the last few months, they’re all wonderful, down-to-earth people. We’re just as excited and nervous as you are.
Your submission will literally make our day.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT #6: If I don’t get chosen, that means I’m not good enough.
Not at all! Please don’t self-label. If your MS doesn’t get chosen, that means nothing about YOU. Maybe your MS wasn’t ready, but you—as a person and writer—are good enough. Even if you still have room to grow (and who doesn’t?) as long you keep working, practicing, and getting better, then you ARE good enough.
NEGATIVE THOUGHT #7: If I don’t get chosen, that means my MS isn’t good enough.
My agent recently did a Twitter Poll, asking the worst news a writer can get from their agent. I selected the option Being Told a MS is Truly Bad. But I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve changed my mind.
No MS is truly bad. Why? Because a MS that’s not ready NOW can always be improved. Some writers go so far as to literally open a new doc or Scrivener file and rewrite the whole thing. (I’m not saying you should do that!) My point is, no MS is beyond hope if an author is committed to their concept and is willing to do the hard work to make it awesome.
So, maybe your MS isn’t ready YET, but it still may be “good enough” with more work. It may take longer than we have in this competition to get it ready for the agent showcase, though. Or, the mentor may just not be confident they understand what your MS needs to bring it to the next level.
Sometimes manuscripts aren’t chosen for other reasons.
It may not be quite right for the mentors you sub’d to. You know, that whole subjectivity thing. Sometimes mentors pass on a submission because they happen to know something about trends in publishing at the moment, and they worry that concept might have a rough time in the Agent Showcase. Trends change all the time, though, so a book that might be a tough sell today can be an easy sell in 6 months. I’ve also seen cases where a mentor feels the book is ready now. Remember, this competition is about mentorship; if your MS can’t be improved upon, then go query.
Finally, the mentors you sub to may LOVE your book, but they may love another MS too, and at the end of the day, they can only pick one. (That said, it’s not unheard of for a mentor to be so undecided, they opt to take TWO mentees. I’m not saying it will happen, but you never know...)
NEGATIVE THOUGHT #8: If my MS isn’t chosen, there’s no point in keeping up on what’s going on with Pitch Wars.
Submitting to Pitch Wars isn’t just about a chance at nabbing a slot, it’s also about learning and building your community. Even if your MS isn’t selected, you still come away with something from being here.
Mentors will post on the #tenqueries hashtag, giving tips and suggestions based on the submissions they receive (anonymous, of course).
I met a bunch of authors every time I entered a competition. I followed the mentors even when I wasn’t selected. Connecting with other writers is literally the most important thing that helped me progress. There are so many opportunities I wouldn’t have known about (calls for submissions, competitions, resources to become a better writer). Pitch Wars is also hosting a webinar series with tons of different topics on writing.
And, don’t forget, if you aren’t selected for Pitch Wars 2017, you can participate in PitMad, a Twitter pitch party, on September 7th.
So, your mission (if you choose to accept it):
1) Get those materials ready.
2) Create a kick-ass affirmation for this process. Need some help? Here’s one you can use: My MS has just as much chance of being selected as anyone else. I will approach this as if I know my MS will be chosen. Pitch Wars Mentors, here I come!
3) Check out the mentors' bios and wish lists in the Blog Hop starting on July 19th, come say hi on the #pitchwars hashtag, hang with us during the Live Chats, maybe join a webinar or two. And don’t forget the #PimpMyBio Blog Hop!
4) Buy some frozen cookie dough OR make some cookie dough and stick that bad boy in the freezer.
5) Eat said cookie dough.
6) Repeat Steps 4 & 5 as necessary.
7) And HAVE FUN!
And, as always, You can do it! You can write!
Jessica Bayliss Blogs about reading, writing, & other fun stuff