Pitch Slammed

This is not just another Tuesday!

This is #TeamSpyder Tuesday!

*Cue epic guitar lick*

Previously on this blog I mentioned participating in the Music-themed Twitter #PitchSlam contest. It’s been a blast to meet other writers on Twitter as we tweeted our fave music, theme songs for our characters, and cool parts of our stories. What a great way to delve into our stories and network with people who are walking down this crazy publishing road at the same time as I am.

The unique thing about this contest has been the Revise & Resubmit component (R&R doesn’t just stand for Rock & Roll!). The judges read our pitches and first 250 words and in and unprecedented move, sent us critique/feedback on ways to make our work stronger. What? That’s crazy, right?

*pause for tension-building drum solo*

Some writers chose not to heed the sage advise of those who have walked a mile before us. Me? I worked my tail off to revise my submissions in exactly the way they suggested. Cuz the thing is…they were right. My pitch was cliche and there was some confusion in my 250. So I beat my words into submission revised with their comments in mind and now my work is stronger for it. If nothing else comes of this contest, it was worth it for that alone.

*Lead singer steps to the mic peeling his shirt to reveal mind-blowing abs and fierce ink*

I’m pleased and grateful to announce, I was chosen for a band!  Agents will be viewing the entries and requesting pages from the stories that, well, make them want to bang their heads.

In a good way.

Follow the link to see my entry, EVERGREEN along with the rest of the totally rad #TeamSpyder


Much thanks and lurve to L.L McKinney and Kimberley VanderHorst for choosing me to rock on your team. AND for creating this awesome contest. It truly has been a Crazy Train! \m/




Spring Cleaning

Last weekend, I put my writing aside and set about the dreaded task of …dun, dun, dun…Spring cleaning.

Now I realize there are some out there that relish the thought of scrubbing, polishing and organizing all of the surfaces of their homes. Those people are freaks to be commended.

I, though a highly organized writer and worker in my day job, am not a great housekeeper. There. I said it.  I’m blessed to have a family who helps a lot and doesn’t really care if the dusting is put off a week. Mind you, if you come to our home, you’re not in danger of being hauled away to the decontamination ward or anything like that. We just find that there are a lot of things we’d rather be doing than spit-shining our baseboards.

Alas, every now and then we have to do just that. And as much as I dislike heavy-duty cleaning, I always feel better after it’s finished. There’s something wonderful about the smell of Pinesol; something so refreshing to survey your kingdom and not think to yourself, “Man, I hope nobody shows up to visit unannounced today.”

As I enjoyed my day of sparkling clean freshness, (because you know it’s not going to be this clean for more than a day) I started thinking about how nice it would be to feel this way about my manuscript. Don’t get me wrong, I love my manuscript. I’m proud of it. But I’m not naïve enough to think that it is perfect. I do have some pages out with agents, but that doesn’t mean I can’t go back over it again and do a little Spring cleaning on it too.

I reread my manuscript with my rubber gloves on and dust mop at the ready. I found a few things that I could tidy up to tighten my writing.

I swept out the qualifiers. Qualifiers are words that are added to modify the meaning by limiting it or enhancing it. Examples are: almost, maybe, possibly, very, often, sometimes. Those words aren’t necessarily bad or wrong, but if you’re trying to convey a strong point, using “almost” in front of it stops the action.  My main character uses qualifiers because she isn’t confident in herself. She does a lot of internal thinking and guessing, so I use words like “might” and “sometimes” with her. The antagonist is decisive and sure about himself. No need for him to say, “I think he has the information and I think I can get it.” No. He doesn’t think those things, he knows them. So instead he says, “He has the information and I can get it.”  It’s stronger and more in character for him.

I waxed the dialogue until it shined. My story contains a squad of six soldiers. When they’re together, dialogue can become confusing.  Hopefully I have written these characters in such a way that they have distinct personalities and react in specific ways to situations. I realized that not every squad member has to comment in every scene. They can be present and not carry a large part of the conversation.  Sometimes one of the squad was simply drumming his fingers on the table, a habit of his. That’s enough to make his presence known without him speechifying about what is going on in the scene. 

I scrubbed the familiar go-to words. Every writer has these. When you are writing your first draft, you write what comes to mind in order to get the story onto the page. I have discovered I have a tendency for my characters to nod. I have no idea why. It just happens. Nodding is something that people do every day. It’s not odd for a character to do this. But for whatever reason, my characters seem to nod all the time. Some of those instances had to go.

My manuscript hasn’t changed all that much but it is definitely sparkly-fresh with the scent of citrus and bleach.  

Let’s Get Ready to Ruuuuumble!

Its pitch contest season and I couldn’t be more excited!

Pitch contests are designed to allow querying authors an opportunity to “pitch” their stories in an unconventional way.

Pitch contests can be valuable tools for the querying writer. Not only does it get your manuscript “out there” and seen by agents, bloggers, other writers, but it allows you to practice your log line and narrow your story down into its essential components. As you can tell from my last two blog posts, narrowing your story down into small 1-2 sentence chunks is almost as difficult as writing the story. It’s not fun, but it is essential for writers.

Pitch contests can also help writers gauge “the competition.” I use quotation marks because I don’t really view other stories by other writers as my competition. I believe that every story is worth telling and I want other authors to succeed too. When someone from a pitch contest garners an offer of representation, I cheer for them. But I have to face the fact that publishing is a business, with market trends, salability, and various other words from Econ class that I failed to commit to memory.  By reading pitch contest entries, I can see how many stories are similar to my concept. (Thankfully, I’ve not seen any other Frankenstein-themed stories out there!) Right now, fantasy/paranormal/dystopian has a lot of competition, so those authors will need to work to stand out from the pack.

I’ve already participated in the Twitter-themed #PitMad. It was successful for me because I got an agent request from it. So I’m marking that one in the Win column, even if she ends up passing.

I plan on participating in the Pitch Slam contest later in April. That one really interests me because its music based. During the contest writers will be not only be submitting pitches and pages, but they’ll be pairing them with music. I have one awesome song in particular that matches my story perfectly. I’m pumped about it! (Air guitar!)

But next up is the “Dear Lucky Agent” contest run by Chuck Sambuchino. You may remember that name from my bodacious Bill & Ted synopsis post.  So, not only does he help authors hone their craft, he gives them opportunities to pitch their stories as well. The winner will receive a critique of the first 10 pages and a subscription to WritersMarket.com! Wow!

The contest is open through April 9. To enter all you have to do is submit your 35-word pitch and mention the contest in social media like Twitter, Facebook or a blog. Here’s the link for more info.  http://tinyurl.com/pcmopmq

(See what I did there?)

If you’re a writer with a finished manuscript, I hope you’ll join me in the contest.  If not, then I hope you’ll wish me luck!