Friday, November 27, 2015

5 Authors For Your Black Friday Shopping List

Isn’t Thanksgiving the best? I'd be a big fat fatty if I ate like I did yesterday more than once every 365 days, but I do wish we had more than one designated day per year to reflect on all the things we're thankful for. 

While hubs and I were cuddled up in our food coma last night, discussing how grateful we are for our cozy little corner of life, we got on the subject of books. We bond over books in the Hawkins hizzle. I read everything I can get my hands on. He reads mostly graphic novels and comics. Sometimes there's an overlap in our tastes, and I love the conversations we have when that happens.

If you're reading this, babe, you're way more Prince than Beast.

Since both of our boys were born, we've read to them before bed. And we’ll keep doing that until they get old enough to think we're lame. Characters become household names around here—we consider them friends, or enemies, or arguing points. (Nobody in my house will ever agree with me about Peeta Mellark, but I don't care. I still hate him.)

2015 has been a great year for discovering absolute author gems, so I thought I'd share some of my book gratitude with y'all. Of all the books I've read since January (32 according to Goodreads, but I know there's more since I only log the ones I love), I've chosen the top 5 authors I’m most thankful I read this year, in no particular order. Complete with buy links, for your shopping convenience. Add them to your Black Friday list. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

1. Jaye Robin Brown

I read No Place To Fall right after the holidays last year. What an amazing debut for a lovely author. I still think about Amber and Will every time I hear an Avett Brothers song (which is often, because I adore the Avetts). The setting felt like home. I grew up in upstate South Carolina, so I spent a lot of weekends on those western North Carolina trails with friends. The characters seemed like old friends. Their struggles were authentic and relatable. The beautiful sense of nostalgia hit me right in the feelers. 

I loved this book so much I handed it to a complete stranger in Barnes & Noble a couple of months ago. I grinned like a maniac while I snapped a picture of it on the shelf so I could tweet it at Jaye, but the lady standing next to me gave me a funny look. Because I care way too much about what people think of me, I took it off the shelf and handed it to her while I explained. Somehow, that turned into me gushing about how awesome it was for an awkward amount of time. Oh, the irony of acting like a complete creep to convince someone I’m not a creep. Long story short, she bought the book. That's when I discovered my superhero alter-ego: I am Book Fangirl.

Seriously, though, the B&N lady probably bought it because she was terrified of what would happen if she didn't take my suggestion. I can be... passionate. I bet she wishes she knew my name so she could get more book recommendations from me now, though. Just saying.

The companion novella for No Place To Fall is called Will’s Story, and it releases April 5, 2016. Not to brag, but I already pre-ordered it. You should, too.

2. Neil Gaiman

Yes, I know this guy has been around for a long time, and I'm probably the last person on earth who waited until 2015 to read his work. But in the event that you’re reading this post after crawling from under a rock, I am going to trumpet, anyway. Just for you.

Bod Owens went on a road-trip vacation with us to Sedona this summer. Every night before bed, we read The Graveyard Book aloud to the boys until midnight or later. Maybe it was the energy vortices of Sedona, but this book sprinkled magic on our little family. Total bonding book. The four of us sat in a café at The Grand Canyon talking about the actors we’d cast as characters. (Obviously Alan Rickman should be Silas.) It was such a special experience. I had to choke back tears when I read the final chapter. Hubs tried to pretend it was allergies, but we were in the desert; there was nothing to be allergic to. As soon as we realized there was a graphic novel version, we bought that, too.

I tried to follow it up with M is for Magic to read to the kids at bedtime, but uh… that one’s not really good for that. The cover and title fools one into thinking it’s little-kid-appropriate. Not so much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book of creepy short stories, but there’s a graphic description of a troll penis that popped up (heh heh) out of nowhere in the one titled “Troll Bridge.” I had to fake a coughing fit so I could regroup and skip that part without the kids noticing. Could have been super awkward.

American Gods was a killer read (see what I did there?) and a wild ride. Also not for kids. I stayed up so late reading it that I overslept the next morning and made my kids late for school. Oops.

I wish I'd read Gaiman sooner. Currently tearing through his list.

3. Matt de la Peña

This is yet another one of those how-have-I-not-read-this-author-before-2015?! scenarios. 

When I stumbled upon his short story “Angels in the Snow” in the My True Love Gave To Me compilation last winter, I made it my mission to read everything he’s ever published. I could easily make this entire blog post a love letter to his characters, because they are worthy. But for the sake of avoiding Book Fangirl creep status, I will attempt to keep it brief.

We Were Here made me ugly cry. Best book I’ve read all year, hands down. I bought it twice (Kindle & paperback). I read it twice. I will probably read it again before the end of the year. The thing I love most about de la Peña's characters is that the line between hero and villain is barely penciled in. Everyone sits in a gray area. They're all so beautifully fucking human. I don’t know how to write a synopsis about all the things that wrecked me about this book without spoilers, so I’ll just say READ IT. Enjoy the poetic acupuncture.

I Will Save You made me feel like a genius, because I figured out a pretty big reveal halfway into the book, and then I raced through it to prove myself right. Mental illness was drawn with a deft hand in this story, which was especially impressive. I hereby challenge you to read it and come talk to me when you get to the 50% mark. 

I adored Mexican WhiteBoy so much that I’m going to put it in my former-baseball-player Hubs’s Christmas stocking (and make him read it so we can talk about it). He played baseball in college and did a stint in the minors, so I have zero doubts he will dig Danny and his passion for the game as much as I did. I'll give it to my 10-year-old when he gets a little older.

Ball Don’t Lie made me care about basketball, and I haven’t given a shit about basketball since the ’92 Bulls. (Am I the only one still mourning Michael Jordan’s retirement?) Anyway, Sticky made me care. I recoiled from daylight after finishing that book, like I’d been sitting in that smelly dark rec center the whole time. The book hangover left me emotionally bankrupt. Also, apparently this one has been made into a movie (with Ludacris and Nick Cannon!), but the producer has yet to release it. Um. Puff puff give, Hollywood. We need this movie in our lives.

The Living and its sequel, The Hunted, were both one-sitting reads. The characters are living, breathing works of art. I just needed Carmen to be my BFF, but I also kind of wanted to steal Shy from her. Predicament! Also, I will probably never get on a cruise ship EVER after reading this. It’s like a modern-day cross between Titanic and Outbreak, except with better characters & a Walking Dead thriller-y vibe. The plot details are flawless without being forced. As a matter of fact, Romero disease intrigued me so much at the beginning of The Living, I stopped reading to Google it, convinced it was some hemorrhagic filoviridae virus I’d never heard of. I’m a nurse, y’all. I can’t even watch Grey’s because it’s so far-fetched on medical details most of the time, but this badass made up a disease and made me think it was real. I bow down. Seriously.

And finally, Last Stop On Market Street is a precious picture book that my kids adore. My 4 year old wails, “Read CJ again, Mama!” when he’s trying to avoid bedtime. Hubs and I have it memorized. We can read it without looking at the pages at this point. My 10-year-old's assessment of it was, "That's kind of deep, Mom." Huzzah! He gets it. It’s another family bonding book, which makes me extra grateful.

So, yeah. I'm a fan. Patiently waiting for this author to write more books.

Shut up and take my money.

4. Emma Mills

I devoured Emma’s debut, First & Then, after two of my favorite people in the world recommended it to me. Holy crap, it was hilarious. And sweet. And heartfelt. And had a Tim Riggins-esque football player love interest. SOLD.

You know I can't write a blog without a Riggins gif.

Pretty much every other line made me squeal and highlight it and wish I’d written it myself. So swoony. There was this one line about how football was a religion and people were “baptized by the floodlights” and I just went…

I loved sweet little Foster. I wanted to cuddle him to my bosom and tell him everything would be okay. I wanted to snap Ezra in the hiney with a rolled-up towel, locker-room-style. I wanted to punch Cas in the throat (I had a Cas when I was in high school, too). Devon was the kind of girl I could root for. And I did, the whole way.

If you want to laugh and swoon and cry a little bit, go get this book.

As a side note, Emma Mills has a hilarious Vlog here. (Thanks for telling me about it, Michella!)

5. Ta-Nehisi Coates

This is a bit of a diversion since the other authors I listed write fiction, but I can’t neglect to mention Between The World & Me, and not only because it just won the National Book Award for non-fiction. I firmly believe that everyone should read it. (And if you don’t take my word for it, Toni Morrison says so, too.)

I walked through a world that didn’t belong to me as I read this beautiful letter from a father to his son. Coates writes in such a way that even a person with a massive shortage of imagination and/or empathy could settle into his shoes. He’s a poet, and it shows. It rattled me in a necessary way, and made me want to do something to change all the ugliness in the world, the lies we all tell ourselves. Until we, as a society, figure out what that something is, I’ll just keep telling people to read this book. 

Read this book. And pass it along to a young person. Or any person.

So, there you have it, folks! 5 Authors for your Black Friday shopping list.

Every single one will be an auto-buy for me from now on. Getting published is a Sisyphean task. I’m so grateful these authors didn’t give up, because the world needs their words. They inspire me. They’ll inspire you, too.

Now go forth and one-click.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Writing Barn in Austin, TX: Takeaways from my workshop experience

I always wanted to attend an event at The Writing Barn in Austin, because 
a) Austin, 'nuff said, and 
b) I’d heard about its awesomeness through word-of-mouth in my writing groups. 

In theory, attending seemed like a great idea. It's only a 2.5 hour drive away. But I have two kids, and my hubs travels constantly for work, so it became one of those Maybe Someday scenarios.

Last December, I reached a good place in my writing journey. After riding the Pitch Wars high, I was suddenly fielding agent offers, rather than rejections. I’d practically changed my name to Smug. Things were finally happening, so I was just gonna sit back and enjoy it and read for fun again. All smooth sailing from here, folks! Ha.

I picked up a copy of My True Love Gave To Me, an anthology of holiday-themed YA short stories, at the recommendation of my go-to-girl for books and music. Once again, she was right. The book was adorable. I skimmed the stories until I got to “Angels In The Snow.” That one made me sit up and pay attention.

You need this book in your life.

This character, Shy, was alive on the page. He was different from the YA characters I normally read, because he reminded me of the boys I grew up with. He made me laugh and cry in the space of about ten pages. He was such a relatable character, with insecurities that made me want to crawl into the pages and hug him. I think that’s the first time a short story ever extracted such a visceral reaction from me—because, well, short stories are short. There isn't a lot of room for character development. But this one? I was blown away by the charm.

I flipped back to see who the author was. Matt de la Peña.  I typed his name into Amazon and discovered he’d written a handful of critically acclaimed, award-winning books. How had I not heard of this guy? I downloaded the first novel in the search list, a book titled We Were Here, and started reading it right away. That’s when my holy-shit-o-meter really cranked to tilt.

My God, that book wrecked me. Like, full-on-demolition-derby-in-my-heart wrecked me. Beyond the raw and real characters, there was this powerful social commentary threaded into the tapestry of the story. These kids on the page demonstrated something I’ve known (and lived) myself: kids without means have just as much to say and contribute as the kids who have it made. They want and deserve to be present, too. I told everyone who would listen to read that book. (And then I agonized for weeks over the fact that my own characters were missing the it factor these characters had. How the hell did he make it look so easy to write like that?)

Fast forward to February. The Writing Barn posted an event for October 2015. When I read it on my Facebook feed, I spilled coffee down my shirt. There would be an Advanced Writer Workshop in October, focusing on narrative depth and characterization, with Matt de la Peña as one of the teachers.


I had to try to go, if for no other reason than to hang out in this guy’s shadow and learn how he developed his craft. I applied with a rough work-in-progress, not expecting much. But then I got an acceptance email a short time later. 

Cue the freakout.

Jeremy took the days off work, so that I'd be able to go. (Best, most supportive hubby ever.) I called Kes—my mentor and friend—and asked her to meet me in Austin in October. Though I felt like I’d known her for years after our Pitch Wars experience, I’d never actually hugged her in person. This would be my chance to do that.

Between February and October, though, I barely managed to add 5,000 new words to my WIP. I learned how slow the industry moved, and I had a few stall-outs after months and months between revisions on my previous manuscript. My former smugness evaporated when I hit the wall. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I had a literary agency contract. Validation! Why was nothing happening? Why had I suddenly forgotten how to write?

As excited as I was about the upcoming workshop, I started getting really nervous that I was in over my head. How was I supposed to show up and do this thing when I couldn’t even write a paragraph without wanting to set my laptop ablaze? I made excuses for my lack of discipline and pretended I was okay with it. 

I don’t think it fully hit me that “Advanced Writer” meant actual advanced writers until I got to The Writing Barn on the first day. Realizing you are the least educated person in the room is like realizing you wore a tutu to a toga party, mmmkay? As the wave of introductions circled the room, words like published and grad school and MFA echoed in my head like a gong truck crashing into a ravine.

So me, my technical college education (in an unrelated field), and my rookie tutu tried to blend into the scenery and not talk. Which was impossible, because I got called out for it almost immediately. Amanda Jenkins (Printz Honor Award recipient) was the other faculty member, and she had no problem forcing me into the conversation. She's fierce! It’s moments like that when I wish I’d taken that public speaking class a little more seriously.

As I bumbled around the podium that first night, muttering some nonsense about my dog, and how I suck at math (who knows what the fuck I even said!), it occurred to me what my problem had been. I was a fraud. When getting an agent didn’t turn me into someone who could write without even trying, I figured that meant I was just a blind monkey who tripped and fell into a pile of bananas. Total dumb luck. I started believing I didn’t really belong in the writing community.

Imagine my surprise when these BFDs at The Writing Barn scooped me into the fold and convinced me that I do belong. And some of them, I discovered, had the same fears as me.

Attendees, faculty, & interns with our lovely host, Bethany and precious little Taru.

The weekend was full of inspiring lectures, narrative-sharpening exercises, and a true sense of community. The workshop portion terrified me, because I didn’t know until a few weeks beforehand that everyone would be reading and critiquing what I’d submitted. (rookie) But it actually turned out to be the most enlightening part of the whole thing. I got to bounce ideas around with these talented people, about their work and mine. They were more down to earth than I ever would’ve guessed. That didn’t stop my internal monologue from getting stuck on just be cool, just be cool the whole time, though.

There was this moment on Friday night, though--I was sitting on the screened porch at the barn with Carrie and Claire, listening to the cicadas. We were tipsy and talking about shamanism (you'd have to be there to understand why this is not weird at all), and I was like whoa. I'm one of the cool kids right now. A wine shaman, if you will.

Here are my top three take-aways from my weekend at The Writing Barn:

1.     Believe you can, and then do it.  I wish I could tell you I learned that validation doesn’t matter. That getting an agent, or receiving positive peer notes, or having one of your heroes compliment your work doesn’t affect who you are as a writer. But that would be a big fat lie, because I may or may not have laminated my notes from Matt and Amanda. We’re all just putting our insides on paper, so of course we want people to love it and validate us. The caveat to that is this: the validation doesn’t do the work. You still have to do that part yourself. Constructive feedback definitely helps. Go to a workshop, people. The experience re-lit my fire.

2.     Be disciplined. Matt talked in his lecture about “clocking-in” and writing every day. That’s something I absolutely have not been doing until this week. When I got back from Austin, I resolved to treat writing like a real job. Every day this week, I sat down and worked from the time I got back from taking the kids to school, to the time I had to leave to pick them up again.  Then at night, I put them to bed, and I stayed up to write. Yes, the laundry is suffering. But screw it. The closets aren't empty yet. And that discipline resulted in the most prolific week of my entire writing life. I wrote 21,469 words between Sunday, October 4th and today, October 9th. That’s more than four times what I’ve written since February. My manuscript is over 50k words now.

3.     Have patience with your characters. This one is the hardest for me, because patience is an enormous pain in the ass. Last time I prayed for patience, I found out I was pregnant with Jax, my youngest child--the wild one. God’s got jokes, y’all. Anyway, one of the recurring notes in my feedback was that I get in the way of my characters. I get impatient and start talking to the reader as “the writer,” instead of letting my characters tell the story they want to tell. Total a-ha moment, because now I notice every time I start doing it. Apparently I also thought it was necessary to foreshadow everything. (Spoiler alert: it’s not.) 

You're singing Guns N Roses now, aren't you?
I learned so much during those four days, and I made a lot of great new friends. Best of all, my muse woke from a long hibernation.

If you have the opportunity to go to a workshop at The Writing Barn and/or hear Matt de la Peña or Amanda Jenkins lecture/speak, trust me when I say this: DO IT. I feel really fortunate that I got to meet and work with them.

Did I walk away with some Holy Grail secret recipe to creating characters that resonate the way Shy and Miguel and Danny so effortlessly do? No. But at least now I’m actively working on it. :)

Here are a few pictures from the weekend: 

I arrived to chocolates on my pillow at The Book House. <3

I got my hug. <3 Love this girl. Best roomie ever.
These sweet babies live at The Writing Barn & greeted all of us every morning.
I bought a hard copy & got it signed. 
Did not go all fangirl like that time I met Johnny Damon, thank God. 
I wanted to, though.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Twitter Pitch Critiques!

By a show of hands, who here likes to have a backup plan?

Yeah. Me, too. Today's post is all about having a backup plan if you don't get into #PitchWars. 

On September 10th, Brenda Drake is hosting a Twitter Pitch Party called #PitMad. Because she is a goddess among us.

Agents will peruse the feed and favorite the pitches for manuscripts they want to see. Each agent's guidelines vary, so make sure you check his/her Twitter feed and/or website for submission guidelines. Check Brenda's website for more information on rules and etiquette here.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is a Twitter event in which you pitch your completed, revised manuscript in a 140-characters-or-less tweet. Easy, right? Ha.

It can be done.

Though I got into #PitchWars last year, and my agent participated in the agent round, she did not request pages from me during the contest. 

However, when I participated in #PitMad afterward, she did request! Something about my Twitter pitch illustrated the concept to her more efficiently than my #PitchWars entry did. 

So there you have it, folks. If you don't get into #PitchWars, it is not the end of the world. You can still get your manuscript in front of agents on the Twitter feed on September 10th.

What's in a Twitter pitch, you ask? 

Your main character, goal, conflict, and stakes

It's also helpful if the pitch conveys the voice and uniqueness of your manuscript. If you can get accurate comp titles in there, even better! 

It can be tricky to include all of this information, I know. You have to be creative and make agents read between the lines to get it all in there.

Here are the two Twitter pitches that got me a few stars, including the one from my agent.

PRACTICAL MAGIC + FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS Hidden racism rises in TX football when Dee gives her fullback BFF a love potion by mistake. #PitMad #YA


When 17yo Dee gives her BFF a love potion by mistake, bigotry tests friendship & football. PRACTICAL MAGIC+FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS #PitMad #YA

You know based on the comps that there's going to be some kind of ambiguous magic, a female family dynamic, and small-town Texas football. You also know there's a friendship that possibly turns into a romance. (Spoiler alert: it totally does.)

Riggins gifs are basically required for every blog post.
The pitch states the MC made a mistake, so even though her goal isn't expressly stated, you're pretty safe to assume she's going to try to fix that mistake. Meanwhile, small town bigotry is going to play a role in the conflict. And the stakes are that the football games and the friendship between these two characters will be threatened.

While mine is far from a perfect example, it played an important role in landing my agent. And I absolutely owe that to feedback from my brilliant CPs. In our writing group, we always prepared days in advance to get ready for pitch parties.

So in honor of the upcoming #PitchWars results, and #PitMad on the horizon, I'm going to open up the comments section for 48 hours (that's until Wednesday, 9/2 at 8pm CDT) for Twitter pitch critiques. Post your 140-character pitch in the comments section. Don't forget to include the hashtag #PitMad and your genre (i.e. #YA, #SFF, #R, etc.) in those 140 characters, and I will go through and crit them all by the end of this week. 

My CPs are going to drop by and help me critique if things get crazy, so look for these lovely ladies (all are either mentors and/or former mentees of Pitch Wars):

Kes, Janet, Sonia, Tracie, Summer, Carlee, Kristin 

I've also invited the other Pitch Wars mentors to drop by and comment if/when they have time.

Feel free to jump in and help critique each other's pitches, too. Just remember to be kind and respectful to one another!

If you need more guidance before diving in, fellow Team Fury author Ava Jae wrote a great recent post on pitching here. And another one specifically about Twitter pitching here.

*Rubs hands together*

Hit me with your best pitch!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dear Pitch Wars 2015...

Dear Pitch Wars, 

Last year at this time, I was you. 
Stressed. Sweating. Swearing. Spiraling. Basically all the S-words. 

I do love a good palindrome. And cheesecake. And chocolate. And donuts. And...and...and...
Fun Fact: I gained 5 pounds in 2 weeks while waiting on Pitch Wars results last year.

I'd only received one lonely request. Kes and I had followed each other on Twitter before the contest began, so I figured she was just feeling sorry for me or something. A pity request, if you will. She never gave me any indication she was going to choose me. 

Two years ago at this time, I was also you. I entered Pitch Wars 2013 (with what I later realized was a doomed manuscript), and I did not get in. No requests that year. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Even with a shiny new manuscript last year, just knowing the sting of rejection made me jump to the worst possible conclusion when my inbox stayed quieter than church in Texas on Superbowl Sunday. 

We highly imaginative folk tend to be good at worst-case-scenarios.

I cried to my CPs. I AM TRUNKING THIS MANUSCRIPT, I told them. So what that it had never even been queried! God bless Janet and Sonia for putting up with my stress-induced meltdowns for over two years now. 

Did I mention that I met Janet and Sonia on the Pitch Wars thread in 2013? (The year I didn't get in?) These are brilliant, beautiful women who have helped me through so much since I met them. And I now talk to them every single day, either in our writing group, or via phone calls or texts. Janet and I live 45 minutes apart, so I often get to see her in person. 

Last year, I met even more CPs. The 2014 private mentee Facebook group has been a godsend. Those people are my tribe! Really, I don't know where you can find a more positive, supportive community. Our group is special.

Pitch Wars 2014 be like...

I've received critical feedback from so many talented people that helped me grow and hone my craft. There's no way I'd have been chosen as a mentee in 2014 (technically I was an alternate, but moved up to mentee when the original mentee dropped out), and there's no way I'd have a rockstar agent right now if I had never entered--and been rejected from--Pitch Wars in 2013. 

If you had tried to tell me through my unstoppable tears in 2013 that I would be co-mentoring Pitch Wars in 2015, I would've asked you what you were smoking, and if I could have some of it. 

Don't act like you don't know the song.

Okay, enough silliness. Time to be serious.

My message to you is this: YOU ARE DOING IT RIGHT. You're putting yourself out there and networking with other writers. You're allowing complete strangers to pick your soul apart with a red pen, and you're willing to listen to their feedback. That's how writers become published authors. And that's the goal here, right? 

I know you're all struggling right now. I know that struggle. The wait is hard. Last year, all I could think about was the pure torture of waiting so long for the picks to be announced. But now that I've seen things from the mentor side of the fence, I can tell you that it takes every minute of that time for mentors to adequately read and decide. Kes and I received a ton of amazing submissions this year. And even with two of us reading and requesting, it has taken days and days of neglecting everything else to get it done. (And some mentors received TWICE as many subs as us. Just FYI.) 

So. Many. Great. Manuscripts.

So, if you like DOs and DON'Ts lists, Pitch Wars, I have one for you. 

For those of you who do get in: 

DO recognize this as an incredible honor (and privilege). You are among a very small percentage of the overall submissions received. 

DON'T squander this opportunity. Remember mentors aren't getting paid for this. They're helping you because they love your story and believe in it with their whole hearts. 

DO keep an open line of communication with them. There may be things in their suggestions you don't agree with, and if that happens, talk it out. Understand the mentor's reasoning for making changes, and talk it over with CPs if you're still unsure.

*note: I was pretty reluctant on one plot point Kes wanted me to change last year. She agreed I could keep it since it's my story, after all. Then I got agented. Guess what my agent made me change? Yep, you guessed it! That one thing Kes had already tried to tell me to change.  :) 

DO be grateful, especially to the one and only Brenda Drake. I owe a lot of the progress in my writing career to her generosity, and her genius in creating this beautiful community.

DON'T ever be disrespectful or badmouth your mentor or the contest. Doing that will just make you look like an ungrateful asshole jerk. Nobody likes ungrateful assholes jerks.  

For those of you who don't get in: 

DO take whatever feedback you're given, and compare it with notes from your CPs. Apply it. Make your manuscript shine.

DON'T let it crush you. Please refer to my sob story from 2013, and remember that your chances of getting in this contest were roughly 1 in 16. 

*note: That's not my math, that's someone else's math who is better at math than me. I'm just regurgitating.

I need this shirt.

DO keep writing, keep revising, keep querying. 

DON'T think it's because you aren't talented. Do you know how many incredibly awesome manuscripts Kes and I have to pass on this year because we only get to pick one?! Like, a gajillion. Seriously. That's totally a number.

DO remember that cold, hard querying works just as well as contests. My original agent offer actually came from a cold query. Of my offers, only one was from a Pitch Wars request. My agent didn't even request from me last year in Pitch Wars! (It was PitMad she requested in.) Which brings me to another DO...

DO get your Twitter pitch ready for the upcoming PitMad! September 10th, people! I'll be watching for my favorites and I will retweet the hell out of them!

DON'T dismiss or neglect your connection with people you met through the contest. A lot of people did a mass-unfollow of the mentors and mentees last year (and the year before) after Pitch Wars. DON'T DO THAT! 

The mentors want to connect with you on social media, even if they didn't pick you. I don't auto-follow people, so if I'm following you, it's because I think you're interesting and believe I could learn from you.

DO stay positive. A good attitude and a never-say-die will-to-succeed will take you far, no matter the outcome of this contest

DO stay positive. Yes, I realize I said that twice, because it's the most important thing on the list. Give yourself a day to cry, then get your manuscript polished and revenge query like a mo-fo.

I swear you can.

Deep breaths, Pitch Warriors. Regardless of whether or not you get in, many of you will be agented this time next year. Statistics don't lie. Or so they tell me. I'm more of a word girl.

I'm sending you all the positive ju-ju I've got.


PW 2013 Reject
PW 2014 Alternate-turned-Mentee
PW 2015 Co-Mentor

Here are the awesome #DearPW posts from other 2014 mentees: