Making Time for Writing Retreats

I had a goal to go on four personal writing retreats this year… It’s not always easy to get away with a full-time job, freelance work, kids, husband, friends… but then again, it’s not always easy to find time to write! I have to guard my writing time closely and short writing retreats give me SUCH a huge head-start on a project.

Well in 2016, I only did 3—but I’m still pretty dang proud of myself considering how busy this year was.

For 2017, I’m going to still plan on doing 4, but I want one of those to be with a group of a writing friends, not just by myself.

So here’s hoping for lots of writing time in that cabin in the woods.img_4497

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My Girls Have Agents!!

Oh y’all, I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of Meghan and Tracie and all their relentless hard work! Because… was it worth it? YES! 

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#TeamDominate TOTALLY dominated!

Within a week of Pitch Wars, Meghan and Tracie had received offers (emphasis on the plural) of representation!

AHHH!

Congrats to Meghan Jashinsky who is now represented by Jessica Watterson at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency!

And congrats to Tracie Martin who is now represented by Lauren Spieller at Triada US!

Lynnette and I had such a fun time finding these ladies in the Pitch Wars slush and working to help make their manuscripts shine! It’s an incredible honor to know I played a small part in helping them get to the next milestone in what I know will be very long and successful careers.

*happy sigh*

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The #PitchWars Showcase Is Live!

I am so thrilled to introduce you guys to our two amazing mentees!

Meghan Jashinsky’s A COURT OF GLITTERING CRIMSON:

Title: Court of Glittering Crimson

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: 75,000 words

Princess Skylla is a nightmare from which her kingdom will never wake. She’ll use their bones to clean her teeth and wear their intestines like ribbons. It’s the least they deserve after what they did to her family the night of the Slaughter.

But the rebel leader Ariadne and her people refuse to continue living in fear. They must overthrow the princess, and this time, they’ll get it right.

It’s THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER meets THE YOUNG ELITES.

Excerpt:

That imbecile got blood on my crown.

I should have Ero’s fingers cut off for this. He’s worked for me long enough to know the consequences. Still, it’d be a shame to disfigure a body that impressive. Besides, this isn’t one of his usual responsibilities. I’ll give him one last chance.

“I’m sorry, your Majesty.” He casts his dark eyes to the blood-stained floors.

“You should be,” I say. “Fix the hem. It’s uneven.”

He stumbles to the back of my train and gives me a look mingled with terror and awe. It sends a thrill down my spine. Days away from turning sixteen, the orphan princess has managed to strike fear into her own Captain of the Guard.

They cower in my presence. I love it.

I grin at my reflection, my teeth brilliant behind my black silken veil. Ero dips a syringe into one of the many buckets stationed around my dressing room, sucking up the thick blood.

And Tracie V. Martin’s THEN BEGGARS WOULD RIDE

Title: Then Beggars Would Ride

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Literary Thriller

Word Count: 64,000 words

Everyone believes Gwen’s boyfriend is a cult leader. After disappearing without a word, he’s resurfaced as the Beggar with a goal to spread “The Message” far and wide. Not willing to lose him, Gwen hits the road to bring him home. But as she and his ragtag disciples trail in the Beggar’s wake, Gwen discovers his mission is much more sinister than just preaching.

Told as a prison confessional, it’s THE WALLS AROUND US meets THE DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD.

Excerpt:

Transcript #1

 First, you’re going to ask how we met. Everyone does. It’s not even the stupidest question people ask. That’s “How did you shave?” Once, I would have fucked with you, pretended that I cared if hair bloomed out of my armpits while I tracked my boyfriend from coast to coast as he meandered his way to hell. But now, I’ve watched people drown and I’ve broken a good man’s heart. I’ve killed someone. It’s no pleasure anymore to waste the few words I have left.

What you really want to know is how a good girl like me could fall for a killer. You’re looking for specific beats in our origin story: he bewitched everyone with his charm, but in hindsight you could see the dark spots. I get this question most often from those with a strong belief that all people have souls, and by ‘souls’ I mean unchangeable cores of either good or evil. I get it. It’d be nice to think that Saul was born black-hearted.

But he wasn’t.

Click on the links above to access the original posting on the #PitchWars site (and see if they’re getting any agent love- pssst, they are!). I’m so ridiculously proud of these ladies and all the work they put into their manuscripts. We asked a lot from them and they TOTALLY delivered. Any agent would be ridiculously lucky to represent them!

Crossing ALL THE THINGS for lots of requests!

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Crafting a Pitch

I’ve been working on pitches this week, trying to get a handle on how we’ll be pitching the #PitchWars books we’ve been working on.

Pitches aren’t easy and I tend to make mine WAY too long that they’re basically summaries instead of pitches.

What I’ve boiled it down to is a pitch needs to do the following:

  1. Name the main character
  2. Set the setting
  3. Give the stakes
  4. Give some comps

But then when I started researching pitches, I found that not all successful pitches had all 4 of the above components. Some just listed comps. Some didn’t include the setting. Some didn’t include the stakes. It was all about how it was crafted.

So is there a right way to write a pitch? YES, absolutely. And guess who can tell you about it way better than I can? Traci Chee, author of the incredible book, THE READER which came out last month.

Take a minute and check it out!

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#PitchWars Picks

So as I’ve mentioned earlier, I am a #PitchWars mentor this year and boy has it been fun!giphy

All in all, we had 141 submissions and of these we requested 28 fulls. You can find the exact breakdown of genre on Lynnette’s blog post HERE.

I was a little nervous going into this because Lynnette and I have never worked together before and all of a sudden, we needed to go through a ton of submissions and find ones that we could both agree on. How were we going to deal with SUBJECTIVITY??

But we had a great baseline: we knew we wanted something dark and twisty (probably in the Fantasy genre) and we both LOVE books. Those two factors were MORE than enough and we had a blast going through all the submissions. I was even able to tap into my nerd and made a Trello board that had 8 designations for requested materials.

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Half of our #PitchWars Trello Board

We were blown away by all the dark and twisty that ended up in our inbox and went through several “THIS IS THE ONE” wait, no, “THIS IS THE ONE” moments.

But then we came across Meghan Jashinsky’s A COURT OF GLITTERING CRIMSON and it was the first one that got an enthusiastic, YES from both of us. But we knew to make it more marketable, we needed to address the magical system which was going to be a big re-write.

We contacted Meghan before the submission period was over to see if she would even be open to making such a big change and she was. THEN came the part where we had to fight off other mentors from offering to mentor hers as well.

Long story short, we were able to snag Meghan’s manuscript and we couldn’t be more happy about it!

But that’s not where the story ends!

Lynnette and I had also loved Tracie Martin‘s THEN BEGGARS WOULD RIDE, a YA literary thriller that has a voice that will keep you up at night. BEGGARS was our #2 pick and we were campaigning hardcore behind the scenes to try to get other mentors to pick it up because it totally deserved some PitchWars love.

Then, the day of the big reveal, I found out I had won a wildcard spot and I could pick one more book to mentor if I so wished (or I could pass it on to another mentor). Due to Lynnette’s active editing business, she knew her schedule would only permit her to mentor one manuscript, but I felt so strongly for BEGGARS that I offered to mentor it myself!

SO there it goes!

I am mentoring both Meghan and Tracie for #PitchWars2016!

These books are high-concept, dark, gory, beautiful, and heartbreaking. You’re going to love them and I can’t wait to see these books shine!

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