Monthly Archives: January 2015

January Contest Crit Giveaway: Query or First 250

While I got my agent through querying, contests were critical along the way. Contests helped me hone my query and first 250, introduced me to other writers who gave me great feedback and encouragement, and pointed me to all kinds of fantastic online resources. In 2015, I want to give back to the writing community that helped me so much, and one way I’m going to do that is offering feedback to help other writers entering contests!

Thus, for my first contest crit giveaway, I’m offering the following to anyone thinking of entering Sun vs. Snow*:

Comment with your query OR your first 250 (not both), and I will tell you the ONE thing I think would most improve it!

Why only one? Left to my own devices, I tend to give overly lengthy feedback, which is both time consuming for me and potentially overwhelming for the recipient. By limiting myself to picking the one most important thing, I ensure I can respond to (and help) more people, and also protect your sanity. 😉

This offer is for the first 10 comments. If I get more than 10 entrants, I have to stop there. Only so much time in the day!

If you want to offer other people feedback, please do comment on their entries. Just make sure to be supportive even when delivering suggestions. If someone comments on yours, make sure to return a crit for theirs!

Good luck to everyone entering Sun vs. Snow! Learn lots and have fun!

(* If you aren’t familiar with Sun vs. Snow, it’s a great, fun contest for unagented writers seeking an agent for their polished manuscript. If you’re querying, you should think about entering!)

[UPDATE: I’ve got all 10 slots filled now! Thanks to those who posted for their bravery. I may do another crit giveaway next month, so stay tuned!]

Writing Goals for 2015

I have to say, I’m really excited about my writing plans for 2015.

I have three main projects I’m working on at the beginning of this year, each one at a different stage:

First there’s JANUARY IN SHADOW, a YA contemporary fantasy. I recently did a major revision for my agent which I’m really happy with overall. I’m so excited to continue this book’s journey in 2015!

I’m also revising A FALCONER OF VENICE, a YA historical fantasy set in late 17th century Venice. I’m happy with how revisions are going on this one, too. My goal for AFOV is to finish revisions sometime this winter and have a draft ready enough to show my agent.

Then there’s a new book, which doesn’t have a working title yet and is still in the planning stages — another YA fantasy, surprise surprise. I’m super excited about New Book. It’s my first real try at multi-POV, and I love the cast of characters I’m developing. I think it’s going to be a blast to write, with each of them having their own goals, secrets, and conflicts all playing off each other. It’ll be a challenge, and I love that, too. My goal for New Book for 2015 is to get a first draft complete.

I’m also hoping to give back to the writing community in 2015, since I got so much amazing support and help in 2014.

Suffice to say I’m all psyched up to have a creative, productive, and fun year. I can’t wait!

And I can’t wait to see the wonderful things all my creative friends and writer buddies produce, as well! Here’s to a year of amazing stories.

2014: The Year of the Phoenix

It was the year of fire, the year of destruction. The year we took back what was ours. It was a new age. It was the end of history. It was the year everything changed.

The year was 2014. The place: Babylo…. wait. No, this is about my writing career.

But yeah, it was a hell of a year.

In January of 2014, I started querying DREAMWALKERS, a middle grade contemporary fantasy.

In February, I got into my first pitch contest (in which I got no requests, but got great feedback and encouragement).

In March, I got amazingly helpful feedback from the incredible and supportive online writing community, all of which pointed in the same direction: my voice for this novel was YA, not MG. After soul-searching and conferring with my CPs and beta readers — and most importantly, after realizing a direction I could take the book as a YA novel that could be really awesome — I decided to take the plunge and revise to YA.

In April, I finished revising the entire book from middle grade to young adult, retitling it JANUARY IN SHADOW.

In May, I started getting a whole bunch of requests for the new YA version.

In June, to distract me from the hell of waiting for query replies, I started a first person reboot of a new novel I’d been toying with, A FALCONER OF VENICE, a YA historical fantasy.

In July, I got sufficiently excited about the new book and disenchanted with the old that I gave up querying JANUARY IN SHADOW. I still had some active queries and requests, but I wasn’t sending out anything new. I’d shifted my focus to writing AFOV.

In August, I got a Revise and Resubmit request for JIS. I had to decide whether to focus on revising for the agent who was interested in JIS or on getting AFOV ready in time for PitchWars, a big mentoring contest I was really excited about. I went with momentum and kept pushing ahead with the new book, intending to get back to JIS next.

In September, everything happened at once. I got into PitchWars as a mentee with AFOV. While I was still celebrating, I got a request for JIS on an old query I’d closed out as no response. Within a couple of days, that turned into an offer of representation. WOO HOO!!! I was thrilled (if a bit dizzy from creative whiplash) to sign with my agent, Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary Agency.

In October and November, I furiously revised JIS based on feedback from Naomi and my awesome, awesome CP’s and beta readers, as well as my own fevered plans.

In December, I finished revisions on JIS and delivered the revised version to my agent. And also started taking notes for a new book I’m really excited to write, and worked on a revision plan for AFOV.

2014 was the year I finally figured out what revising was all about. The year I found the courage to start over, to take big leaps and big risks, to throw stuff out and completely rethink basic assumptions. To allow myself no quarter and ruthlessly keep honing a story rather than stopping as soon as it could hold an edge. It was a phoenix year, where I set things on fire with the faith something beautiful would rise from the ashes and lay some creative waste.

2014 was the year I found community. There are so many amazing people out there in the online writing community, who give of their time with great generosity to help each other on the endless road. And my own community of friends, writers and not, were equally amazing about offering to read my book, or helping me hone my pitches, or helping pick a title. I had been going it alone, but that was stupid. As video games teach us, IT IS DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE. There’s so much I have to learn as a writer, always, and I am honored and humbled to be a part of a writing community so generous in its sharing of knowledge and support.

2014 was the year I got an agent. That still feels pretty darn awesome. I’m starting a new phase of my writing journey. I know it’ll be even harder in several ways, and I’m sure there will be many bumps in the road. But I’m so excited to be embarking on the voyage.

I’m starting 2015 bursting over with creative energy, excited about all three projects (JIS, AFOV, and New Book) and eager to see where I can take them. No matter what happens, I am going to make awesome stories and it’s going to be amazing.