Apparently, this is my week for stories coming out, because my first ever paid published story “Bruises” has just been re-released in 200 CCs’ Year One Anthology! It looks like a great collection and I am really excited to be a part of it. What a lovely way to end the year.
Tag Archives: Updates from the Writer’s Studio
Pitch Wars, for those who don’t know, is a yearly contest run by author Brenda Drake. To get in, you submit in a sample chapter and query letter for a completed novel to four different mentors in your target age bracket and genre. Mentors then choose one mentee to help polish up and present to agents. I applied to this year’s contest and didn’t get any manuscript requests at all. And while that was a blow to my ego, it definitely taught me some good lessons.
Don’t write ‘New Adult’ in your query letter when you’re only applying to Adult mentors.
While this seems like common sense, it was still a bit of a shock to realize I had made this rather careless error–about five minutes after submitting.
How to write a query letter, twitter pitch, logline and synopsis.
Though I didn’t get in, this contest was nevertheless a great dry run for the submission process. Before it, I had never written any of these and Brenda Drake’s site had some great resources and examples. For those that don’t know, a query letter is the first impression an agent/editor gets of your novel and it’s your chance to hook them into reading your sample.
A twitter pitch and a logline are similar to each other. Both are quick hooks to get a reader interested in your book. They vary only in length: a logline is 35 words while a Twitter pitch is, well, Twitter length.
Rewriting a 700 page novel in a month is brutal–but it can be done.
Of course, now I don’t want to even look at the damn thing, but that’s not unusual after diving into something so intensely. The point is, I did it! I corralled my beta readers’ suggestions and reconciled them with my own changes and made something better than I had. Sure, I shaved off 200 pages, some of which I might just have to work back in. And sure, I spent so much time at my desk covering it with paper that the people I live with had to consult old pictures to remember my face, but I got it done, in time for the contest too!
But that doesn’t mean it will be perfect, or even submission worthy.
This, I knew going into the rewrite. I figured I could further polish it during the contest, which while that thought kept me plowing through, probably wasn’t the best mindset to go in with. It probably is also why I don’t want to open the document for a couple months. Which is just fine. It will give me the distance to make the necessary changes and let me build up my enthusiasm again. Writing is a process, not a race. Which is what I will keep muttering to myself on those nights when my doubts demand to know why the hell I’m not a publishing prodigy.
You just need to keep going.
The bottom line when it comes to rejection, as any writer worth your time will say, is to shake it off and keep going. Though I am leaving my most recent draft to marinate in the recesses of my hard drive, that doesn’t mean I’m not writing. I’m still keeping up my W1S1 challenge and I’m transferring my long-term attention to another novel that has been languishing for a while.
So to all my fellow rejects (and Pitch Wars is popular so there are a lot of us): don’t give up. Not getting in will not destroy your career, but never writing again will kill it before it has a chance.
I have, admittedly, been lax about posting lately. This is in large part due to the fact that my beta reader critiques have come in and I am in the process of doing the fastest revision of my novel I’ve ever done, in an effort to be done for Pitch Wars. Pitch Wars is a fantastic contest where you send in a sample chapter and query letter to four mentors and can possibly be picked to get your (completed) manuscript shined up and submitted to agents. The application is open from August 3rd to 5th.
Anyway, I have, of course, been juggling my W1S1 challenge during this as well. To give myself an easy win last week (because sometimes we all need one) I did this month’s Visual Verse. My story ‘One Step, Two Step‘ is now up!
And now back to the grindstone.
I am debuting a new page today! Resources contains free (and legal!) media sites, help for writers, grammar guides, and various sources in between. I will be updating it as I find new sites to add and I am open to suggestions. If you have any sites you think I am missing, please let me know in the comments either on this post on the page itself.
May is upon us and for those of us doing Story-A-Day, the exciting terror of challenging ourselves to finish one short story a day has begun. You won’t be seeing much of me for the next month for obvious reasons, so for a little dose of inspiration, I leave you with the awesome Elizabeth Gilbert and her TED Talk*.
Good luck and Happy Writing to all of you doing Story-A-Day!
*Found through Austin Kleon’s newsletter.
Continuing on the theme of jumpstarting one’s creativity with great and unnecessary side projects, let’s talk about Story A Day. Story A Day is a challenge, often called the Nanowrimo of short stories, that dares you to start and finish one story everyday of May (and sometimes September). There are no word limits on the stories and no pressure to publish them. These kinds of challenges are great for loosening up your writing, getting away from the editorial voices in your head, and exploring some of the ideas simmering in the back of your head. Additionally, founder Julie Duffy provides prompts before and during May to keep your ideas flowing. Interested? Me too. Find out all about it here.
I stumbled upon Story A Day through DIY MFA founder Gabriela Pereira’s podcast interview with Duffy. DIY MFA is another great way to jumpstart creativity, by as the name suggests, giving yourself a Do It Yourself Masters of Fine Arts. The self-driven program focuses on this simple equation: Writing + Reading + Community = MFA. It gives writers the building blocks to educate themselves the way they would be in a MFA program, but for free! It’s great if you have good self-discipline or want to direct your writing life with more purpose. I have been trying it for myself and so far I am enjoying reshaping my life to be more constructive for my writing career. It has been especially great for helping me read more around the genre I’m writing in (sci-fi), see what the competition is up to, figure out how I measure up, and what I can compare my book to when I’m ready to query agents. Conversely, Pereira’s advice to read short story anthologies in order to study aspects of storytelling in a more condensed format has gotten me to read more broadly. In all, it’s a great program and writers at any level can gain a lot from it. Learn more here.
I’m going to give Story A Day a whirl as well (wish me luck) and I would love to hear advice from anyone who has done it before as well as anyone who plans to do it this May so drop me a line in the comments below.