Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Query for Death God's Apprentice, #pitchwars

Thanks to Brianna Shrum, Brooks Benjamin and Brian Taylor for the help. Here is revision number one:

Death has always been near Ilia. So much that seven years ago her family sent her to study at a remote tower. Now she's learned to shield against the images of death she's bombarded when around people, and is starting down a new path only to have her brother throw her plans awry. He arrives, asking her to use her ability to see how people die to track a bloodmage who has kidnapped his finance. Even knowing this may put her own plans on indefinite hold Ilia agrees. Family, even family she's only head from once a year, means everything to her.

At her first touch of a dead body Ilia realizes the killer has sundered fate, leaving those meant to die alive and killing many before their time. With fate off kilter, Ilia knows there's more at stake than finding the woman, someone needs to stop the madman. She appeals directly to the death god for help. He gives her aid and tasks her with bringing the villain to justice.  But when her brother lives past his time, Ilia's unsure if she can bring herself to end the mage's life if it means he will die too.

The Death God's Apprentice is a fantasy novel complete at 93K (note to critiquers, doing one last round of beta revisions so this number will likely change!). The story is likely to appeal to readers of Tamora Pierce, Sharon Shinn and Sherwood Smith.

Help! Writing a query is (yet another) area where I can see so well in other people's work what needs fixing, but when it comes to my own I'm blind. So any comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Here goes:

Death has always been near Ilia. From the time she was young she could tell from a touch if a person was close to the time fate decreed they would die. Sent away at fifteen when her gift soared to the point she didn't need contact to see oncoming deaths, Ilia's spent the last seven years with the Sisters of the Dancing Wind learning to shield herself and studying the history of death rituals. With only annual contact from her family, she's taken the steps to dedicate herself to the sisterhood, only to have her plans go awry one winter night when her brother arrives asking for her help tracking a murderer.

As she pursues the bloodmage who is killing women, she discovers the gods, too, are interested in the magic user and the power he is building up. Ilia's gift makes her realize the mage has sundered fate, leaving those meant to die alive and killing many before their time.  When the death god tasks her with bringing the villain to justice and restoring fate to its path, she's torn between wanting to stop the killing and not wanting to be a pawn of the gods. The gods have their own plans and Ilia finds herself fighting for her own life and destiny, one which she'll have control over, not the deities.

The Death God's Apprentice is a fantasy story complete at 93K (note to critiquers, doing one last round of beta revisions so this number will likely change!). In the tradition of fantasy stories by Tamora Pierce, Sharon Shinn and Sherwood Smith there is strong crossover potential to the emerging New Adult market. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Getting Ready for #pitchwars on Monday, 11/26, Plus #pitchmas Coming Up

Okay, there's been a lot of twitter chatter on this next contest, so I'm including a bit more detail than usual. However, you'll still need to follow the links for the full details. On Monday, 11/26 Brenda Drake and a team of authors will be hosting PitchWars.
We're extremely excited to announce an upcoming event where agented authors, industry interns, and editors team up with aspiring writers to shine up their manuscripts and pitches to present to some awesome agents.
Here's the deets...
·        The teams will consist of 1 agented author or industry intern or editor (coaches) and 1 aspiring author.
·        November 26: The coaches (listed on the linky below) will post on their blogs what genre/category they want to coach. They'll be very specific genres. Aspiring writers will hop around and decide which coaches best fit their manuscripts.
·       Between November 26- December 5: Aspiring writers will submit 3 "applications" to their top choices for coaches to the contest email (check site for parameters, formatting, etc!) That means, participants will send three separate emails to the contest email addressing each with one of their three top choices for coach.
AND here are the mentors!:
Lots of YA, but some NA and four Adult in there too. A great opportunity to get some feedback on your manuscript AND query and get it in front of an agent. :-) .

On December 4-6, Pitchmas, A Holiday Pitchfest (multi agent/editor) will be happening on Jessa Russo and FeakySnucker's blogs. On December 4th Jessa will be hosting a pitch polishing workshop leading up to the first opportunity to pitch that evening on Tamara (FeakySnucker) Blog. PLUS a list of participating editors and agents is up for anyone who wants to peruse:
This will be a three-day event (you will not have to participate in all three days if you don't want to) where your peers will first help you hone your Twitter/Blog pitches and then you will have the chance to pitch your manuscript to your dream editor or literary agent!!! *All manuscripts must be completed and polished.
With NaNoWriMo winding down I expect there may be a spate of other contests in mid-December, before the holiday lull. In the mean time, if you missed them last week, a bunch of sites have been posting some great writing advice:
Red Sofa Literary Agency, in honor of NaNoWriMo is posting writing and submission advice every day! Day #13 - Best time to Query is good, as is Day #10 - Revise, Revise and  Revise again. Heck all of them are good, go and take a look.
Lit Reactor had a good post recently about Eight Words to Seek and Destroy in your Manuscript. They always have interesting and informative articles as well - from editorials on the Sock Puppet incidents at Amazon (and Amazon's reaction) to grammar tips to a discussion titled "Should Some Books Be Banned?" Not a bad place to check out or subscribe to the 'feed' for. (They also have classes and seminars, however I have no experience with them and cannot personally recommend them, so do your due diligence and ask around, read reviews, etc, before signing up)
Rachelle Gardner is on a roll with posts on What Does Your Online Activity Say About You?, 'The Best Blogging Tip Ever' and Writing a One Sentence Summary.

Finally one several of my friends (an myself as well!) can relate to: Writer Beware Blogs  Guest Blog Post: Mustering the Courage to Turn Down a Publishing Contract. While the hosts of all these contests I link to do their best to provide clear and unfettered access to publishers and agents, you still need to do your due diligence and check out each one. I'd suggest you do it prior to entering so if there's a request for more information you can go in eyes wide open and not just in a heady rush. To be clear, I'm not saying there have been any publishers which are on any of the 'beware' lists, or anything of that nature, in any contest that I am aware of, just that it make sense to not automatically assume a publisher (or agent) is in 'good standing' because they are taking part in a contest. (and that was clear as mud, but hopefully you get the point)

Along the same vein, Sarah LaPolla's blog post on 'Shady Business' ties in well with the above post. She talks about 'new' agents who have no experience as well as new (e)publishers and has EXCELLENT advice on what to look for (and what to watch out for).

Happy reading, and to those people participating in NaNoWriMo, go, go go! Fingers crossed you make your goal. (Making a note to myself, if I ever organize a pitch contest, I might want to run it the last week of November. People should be over their exhaustion from the explosion of  Fall contests. Maybe a 'black friday' one. Liking this idea! Something to mull over for next year).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Post, The Second

Well clearly I should never sign up for a blog hop where I need to post daily updates the week before I'm helping out with a large art show! Uber bad timing on my part. So right now what I'm most I'm thankful for is everyone's understanding for the long delay between posts. :-)

This post is dedicated to my critique groups and partners. I've been a few over the years and they've really helped me grow as a writer. Plus I've made some great friends. Through them I've been exposed to a wide variety of writing, which is always a good thing. And been pushed and prodded to finish and submit. And been part of a discussion on... hmm, given the number of YA authors on this blog, probably should skip that one. :-)

So, thank you RWU - Romance Writers Unlimited (now defunct, :-( ), Critique Circle, (and, um, one which Daw used to sponsor but I can't remember the name of...) and ERA (Erotic Romance Authors - who are looking for members if you're interested!) plus my new partners who are helping me out (you know who you are).  Getting non-family, non-judgmental feedback is so important.

Which leads me to my writing tip:
Learn to take criticism. Seriously, if you can't take criticism as a writer you're in the wrong profession. Because with a good critique you will have, NEED to have, people point out what's not working so you can fix it. And sometimes, no matter how much you think it's just fine, it isn't.

I'm not saying it doesn't hurt sometimes. It can be quite painful. But you need to step back, look at what they are saying, read what you wrote *through their eyes using the filter of their comments* and figure out a) what you need to fix and b) how to fix it.

The other thing you need to do is not think your work is awful because someone points out an area which needs work during the writing process. Holy cow, everyone revises and edits. EVERYONE. Steven King, JK Rowling, John Green, Herman Wouk. Just because someone thinks you need to clarify/boost/skip an area, work on a character, evaluate the story arc, rethink your conflict doesn't mean you're a terrible writer. It means they want to help you make your story even better. And you can do it! So go forth, find someone to give you feed back and write an even better story!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thankful Post, the first - My Kids

Yes, it's cliche. That doesn't make it any less true.

I am very thankful for my kids who really ground me. As a single parent I am the sole shuttler, the sole feeder and the sole advisor/disciplinarian. With all these hats, and more, my kids understand that people have many different roles in life and totally 'get' that sometimes, particularly when I am caught up in a scene, I am a writer and support me in my role. Okay, maybe not so much when my older teen complains that he needs to eat now!, (working on that self sufficiency thing) but generally, particularly as they've hit their teen years, they leave me to do my thing when I tell them I'm sitting down to do some writing.

And that ties into my writing advice. Make your characters multi-dimensional. No one has just one role in life, they are a son or daughter, a person within a community, they are what people see them to be and they are what they see themselves to be. Show them in these roles, have them act in slightly different ways around different people. Are they less likely to curse around their parents? Are they going to be more patient with kids? Plus try to avoid cliches, find the unique, unexpected aspect of their personality, the person no one expects them to be, and show us that too.

This is part of a series of post for a blog hop started by Brenda Drake. Please be sure to visit the other participants!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Two New Pitch Opportunities & Updates on #Bakersdozen2012

I found two new pitch opportunities by reading through my Submit that Story Already feed (a copy of the feed is up there under my name). It's true! Not sure what I did to make it work so well, but I'm happy with whatever it was!

 Not that either of these are huge, well one has the potential, but as I said last week things (except Bakers Dozen) are definitely slowing down for November.  Not a bad thing given how many people are doing NaNoWriMo, or at least seem to be doing it from my twitter feed! If you're just jumping in and haven't done a query contest before, Sticking To The Story has a wonderful post on what to expect and how to get ready. Even if you've done them before there's LOTS of helpful information there.

Short list right now. Here are the multi-agented contests:

First our newbie, multi-agent contest. Or at least it looks like it will be at the end. Ink in the Book is holding Operation Agent Ink which combines a workshop to help polish your manuscript followed by an opportunity to pitch your story to agents. DEADLINE TO ENTER IS NOVEMBER 7:
That's right! This workshop will help aspiring authors get on the list of an agent's WISH LIST! When the workshop is over, your manuscript will be ready to view by a group of AMAZING agents who are dying to see what you've written because it's exactly what they wanted to read. In content anyway! The workshop will consist of agent interviews describing in detail what they would like to see.

There will be daily tips, advice, mentoring and even writing exercises for those who may need them. Target dates will be set for those who need the motivation. Schedules will be made to help you get your novel finished and ready for an agent to view. There will be writing assignments to help manage your WIP.
Followed by a chance to pitch, but you have to be in the workshop in order to pitch! AND there's already a list of agent's 'wants' so you can see right now if the manuscript you are working on is a good fit. Yes, that's right, this is IDEAL if you've got a work-in-progress that you want help with finishing up and polishing, and oh, at the end, you'll have agents to pitch it to!
We will have an inside peek at what the agents really want to represent, and then we'll take your manuscript and WIP it into shape for the agents. The workshop is open for sign ups now and will remain open until the 7th of November. The agent pitch is scheduled for February 8th and 9th, just in time for some awesome valentines to land in your email from the perfect agent looking for a manuscript they are crazy in love with:) Only those who sign up for the workshop will be eligible for the Pitch Opportunity. There will be a limited amount of spots available. This will be determined by how many agents sign up.
Would love some feedback from someone who enters to let me know how this works out. Sounds like a great concept!

 On November 6  and November 8, Miss Snark's First Vicitim (MSFV for short) will have the first entry windows for the YA/MG authors who want to try to get in to Baker's Dozen.  Here are the windows for Bakers Dozen entries (be sure to go to the site for all the details!). Plus, with so many possibly not being able to enter due to power, etc, she is definitely toying with having an emergency third window (still no word on this). This is one place there is a cost to enter to offset the expenses of running such a large program.
ADULT ROUND 1: Tuesday, October 30 (100 entries)ADULT ROUND 2: Thursday, November 1 (100 entries)YA/MG ROUND 1: Tuesday, November 6 (150 entries) YA/MG ROUND 2: Thursday, November 8 (150 entries)
AFTER NaNoWriMo, December 4-6, Pitchmas, A Holiday Pitchfest will be happening on Jessa Russo and FeakySnucker's blogs:
This will be a three-day event (you will not have to participate in all three days if you don't want to) where your peers will first help you hone your Twitter/Blog pitches and then you will have the chance to pitch your manuscript to your dream editor or literary agent!!! *All manuscripts must be completed and polished.
I'm keeping an eye on  Cupid's Literary Connection, I'm guessing they'll have a contest announcement before the end of the month.

The other 'new' contest! I found a single agent contest occurring this week, category specific. NA Alley, 'bridging the gap between young adult and adult fiction' is having their Agent in the Alley contest this week.
We'll host another Agent in the Alley on November 7th and agent Julia Weber (website | twitter) has agreed to be our judge!
You'll need to go to the site (true for any contest listed here!!) for full details. 

Later in the month, right before Thanksgiving for those of us in The States,  MuseTracks (link over there on the side) is having their Agent Editor Shop. They'll be holding it on Nov. 18th 2012 and featuring Melissa Jeglinski w/ The Knight Agency.
What’s  ‘Agent/Editor Shop’  you ask? How many of us wish we could pitch to an industry professional? That is, without the frills? No parties, no travel, no conference costs, no hectic schedules? Don’t get me wrong, the conferences, promos, signings and parties have their place and time, but what about in between? Here’s what we’re going to do. This isn’t a contest… there aren’t any winners… just a chance to put your pitch in front of agent/editors(s) who are interested in shopping a bit. They’ll read the pitches and request more - IF – your pitch grabs their attention. What they request is up to them. We do not guarantee anything.
As always, just a little teaser of information, you'll need to follow the link for the full details.

 So, while I realize the feed I set up, Submit that Story Already, does have duplicate posts from day to day, new things are showing up! I set up the 'online paper' to pull contest, agent news and publishing opportunities and it does seem to be working Plus it's easy to check and subscribe.  You'll also find links to several blogs which host pitch and tagline type contests over on the side bar. Wishing every who enters the best of luck, whether entering contests or diving into NaNoWriMo!