Thursday, April 17, 2014

In the words of Ice Cube...

Yes, a very good day.
Why, you ask?

Because my manuscript, THROUGH THE WOOD, was chosen by Aussie darling Sharon Johnston for #TeamEpic in #NestPitch.

You can find out more about #NestPitch here

The short version: Writers submit a 35-word pitch and the first 300 words of his/her manuscript. The submission then goes through several rounds of slush readers and industry professionals.  Finally, the 9 host bloggers each choose 8 entries to post on their blogs. 72 entries are displayed for a panel of top-notch literary agents.

My manuscript is 1 of 8 on Sharon’s blog. Here is her blog. And here is my entry.

So yes, it was a good day. I can’t imagine what could’ve made it better. 
Except maybe this:

Fun fact: Tim Riggins, aka Taylor Kitsch, was my inspiration for Nik.

It is so hard to put your work in a stranger’s hands and ask them to love it. So hard. 
Especially after giving it to beta readers who champion it from day one. 

I finished the rough draft of this manuscript a year ago, and I was completely clueless about how to get an agent to care about it. I made a lot of rookie mistakes, like querying it before it was ready. 

What do you mean 180k words is too much?! 

Surely the agent wants me to include information in the query about stories I wrote when I was in third grade, which my teacher said were extremely promising! 

I re-read some of those bomb queries the other day and considered legally changing my name. 

With no positive responses, I decided it was time to revise. I ordered Writer’s Market, I renewed my Writer’s Digest subscription, and I started reading literary agent blogs. 
I cut 50,000 words.
Which meant choosing between editing and showering most days.

I entered #PitchWars in December, another great writer’s competition hosted by the lovely Brenda Drake.  
I felt confident. 
With that 50k word cut, I would surely make it in!

Insert whammy noise here.

Then I got an email from real-life ninja Tina Moss, one of the mentors I queried for the competition. 
(She co-wrote a sizzling book called A TOUCH OF DARKNESS. Run, don't walk, to buy it!) 
Her feedback was that my word count was still too high, and my query stakes weren’t clearly defined. 
Finally! I knew what to work on!

Even though I didn’t make it in, that was a turning point for me. I started networking with other writers via Twitter and Facebook. I gained 10- yes, TEN!- critique partners.

For three months, those CPs helped me revise and revise again. My fabulous CP Sonia Hartl said to me, 
“You’re starting this at the wrong place.” 
Then Janet Wrenn said the same thing. 
That suggestion kept playing on repeat from the others.

So I started in the thick of the action, removed an unnecessary character, and cut another 30k words. 
Which hurt. Cutting those precious words are like trying to decide which toes you want to keep.

Then Janet forced me, at gunpoint, to write a synopsis.

It sucked.
But amazingly, I figured out what was wrong with my query after I wrote it. 
Have I mentioned how valuable CPs are? Seriously, mine are the shizz. I'm not even sure what I bring to the relationship except dirty jokes and great memes.


I started getting positive responses to queries! Requests, even! Feeling good about things, I entered #PitchMadness back in March. 
I started seeing the blog hosts tweet hints that sounded like my story. 
I was convinced that I was IN!

And then…. 
I later found out I was a close call, but no dice.  
So what did I do?

“I suuuuuuuck! Nobody wants to read what I write! It’s time to just go back to my job as a nurse, where I can do something more pleasant than write!” 
Like insert suppositories into a fanny so big it has its own orbit. Or chart for hours on end. Or never get a break because the unit is short-staffed. Again.

Then I remembered. 
Wait a minute, you beautiful words!

I can’t stop writing. It’s who I am. It’s who I’ve been since I wrote my first short story in third grade (which I’m told showed incredible promise). 
Stories swirl in my head and my characters won’t leave me alone.

So I sucked it up and started preparing for #NestPitch. 
And you know the rest. 
When the picks were posted this morning I was all…

So for all of the writers who didn’t get into #NestPitch this time, take heart.
Your critique partners are your best asset! There's no way I could've ever figured things out without them. 
I've learned so much in the past year. 

I haven’t found my agent yet, but I will. 
Because I refuse to give up.

Keeping with the theme of this too-many-gifs blog post, I'll leave you with my favorite one.

Because duh, Taylor Kitch.

Happy Easter weekend, y'all! 

I'm Walkin' on Sunshine

Here's a song for y'all. Because this is how I feel today. More details to come.