Staying Uplifted While Querying

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The querying process is one of the hardest steps for a writer to face — even more so than the daunting editing process. A finished manuscript, after all, is our baby, and it’s hard to kick your baby out into the cold cruel world. And trust me, it can be a cruel world.

I’ve been in the midst of querying since February, with a few breaks in between when I’ve been overly busy. And I have been met with rejection after rejection, in some cases where my name couldn’t even be copied and pasted — I have a new appreciation of “Dear John” letters, ha!

However, I keep plodding along in hopes that my book will eventually find the right agent who will click with it and be as passionate about the project as I am (which is extremely important in your agent). Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to keep going, especially when you continue to receive form letters without any feedback — no idea if your pitch is failing; if it’s something to do with your book or your writing; or if the market is just over-saturated in the genre.

Still, no matter how disheartening, a writer must press on if they are to have any hope of finding an agent or publisher. Here are some of the things that have kept me going during the process. Continue reading

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Now Accepting Submissions for Project YA Editorial 2016!

(Note: Exciting news, everyone! Rachelle Shaw and I will be holding a contest geared toward young writers. Check out the details–written by Rachelle–below! –SW)The official launch of the first contest for Project YA Editorial is finally here! As a campaign dedicated to helping young authors get their start in the publishing world, my good friend and fellow editor, Sarah Wright, and I are on a quest to find a stellar short story that we will professionally edit—for free! She and I will be combing through the entries up until August 20, when we will select the top 5 finalists. Each finalist will receive an in-depth assessment of their piece along with a chance to win the grand prize: a package of free professional editing services for their story from Sarah and myself, plus a paperback copy of the super helpful book The Emotion Thesaurus by authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. The grand prize winner will be chosen on August 27, and their story will be featured on both Sarah’s site and mine.

RULES

1. The contest is open to those between the ages of 18 and 25. Our reason for selecting those ages, apart from federal contest and giveaway rules, is that we’ve found some of the most creative and well-written work comes from that age group. Though we love mentoring younger writers when we get the chance, the slightly older group is full of those on the brink of the delving into the world of publishing, so that’s what we’re focusing on. For those of you who aren’t quite to this age group, hang in there! We plan to make this a yearly contest, so you’ll still get your chance. Keep writing and tweaking those ideas, because next year could be your year to enter!

2. You must live in the U.S. to participate. Though we wish we could open it up to more awesome writers in the world right now—we know there are a lot of you—to comply with federal laws for shipping prizes, it must remain in the U.S. for the time being. We are, however, looking to open it up to be an international contest at some point in the future.

3. All stories must be submitted by 11:59 PM EST on July 30. After that, any entries submitted will not be considered. To enter your story, please email us at projectYAeditorial at gmail dot com, with “Project YA Editorial 2016” and the title of your piece in the subject. Please also include a short query letter in the body, along with your name (or pen name if you’d like us to use one) and email address so we can contact you in the event you are chosen as a finalist. Stories should be copied and pasted into the body of the email as well, not sent as an attachment. We will do our best to respond to each of you with our decision, but if you do not hear from us by August 15, you can safely assume that you did not progress to the next round.

4. The theme for entering this year is “Follow the White Rabbit.” We’re looking for speculative fiction stories that are 5,000 words or fewer (but not flash fiction) that use tattoos as an integral component. You can be as creative with that as you like, so long as you include elements typically found in speculative fiction and visible markings of some sort as a main element of your piece. The subgenres fantasy, science fiction, and horror are all welcome with the exception of erotica. We will not accept entries that are primarily erotic in nature, promote violence toward children, are heavily gruesome in nature, include illegal underage romances, or convey the rise or fall of the world based on the political agenda of a leader. We also will not accept fanfiction. For your story to be considered in the contest, it must follow the theme and be your original work!

5. No simultaneous submissions. One entry per person please. Only entries that have not been published or submitted elsewhere will be considered.

OTHER DETAILS

Authors will retain all rights to the piece that they submit. The goal of this campaign is to provide young writers with the resources and connections they need to hone their craft and publish their work, and this is our way of giving back to all the young writers out there who deserve a shot at publication. If you don’t meet the requirement for entering but know someone who does, please share this with them. Sarah and I both love connecting with new writers, and this a chance for them to get some free help and publicity for their work.Updates about the contest, the finalist, and the grand prize winner will posted on the Project YA Editorial page of my website, on Sarah’s website, and also on my main Tumblr blog, so be sure to bookmark one or more of those pages.

Happy writing, and good luck!

Source: Now Accepting Submissions for Project YA Editorial 2016! — Rachelle M. N. Shaw

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In Need of a Fun Read? Give ‘The Wizard’s Gambit’ a Read

The Wizard's Gambit

The Wizard’s Gambit by Kylie Betzner

I may be a little biased — having had a window-of-sorts to see this novel grow into its finished product and being friends with the writer — but I think I can safely say many readers will find “The Wizard’s Gambit” to be a hilarious, enjoyable read, plus it has Littlehammer in it!

With feuding kingdoms — they’ve been, in some cases literally, carrying axes against each other for 1,001 years — terrorizing the land, Wizard White Beard comes up with a hare-brain idea to bring everyone together: a harmless scavenger hunt. But when war has become first nature, the friendly scavenger hunt quickly morphs into something that resembles The Hunger Games. During it, misfits are brought — sometimes kicking and screaming — under the mantel of Mongrel who genuinely wants heal the wounds between the kingdom and find the wizard’s hidden trinket to win the competition.

The characters that populate this novel, truly make it worth the read. There are many common fantasy races, including ogres, elves, and dwarves; however, there is also a diverse human cast that is not just limited to those of Western Europe origin. They each come to the table with their own goals and quirks.

The main cast will provide a favorite character for any reader. Whether it is simple Mongrel who is eventually forced to remove his rosy sunglasses; feisty and completely adorable Littlehammer; the ogre of few words and lover of birds, Grrargh; Tikaani who must face her fear, which threatens to overwhelm her; and so on, there will be someone to relate to. Personally, I adore Littlehammer: her practicality, accent, and right amount of distrust and cynicism (plus a slight violent streak) wormed its way into my heart. But I have to also give a shout out to Empress Eiko who is one badass senior citizen.

The Wizard’s Gambit pokes fun at several fantasy tropes in a loving manner, resembling in someways Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. Featuring clever dialogue, hilarious scenarios, and tight prose, it will keep you entertained.

So if you are a fan of the genre and are in need of a good laugh, this book is the one for you. The Wizard’s Gambit can be purchased on Amazon, in either digital format or print. It is also available at Barnes & Noble. Also be sure to visit Kylie’s blog.

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#WriterConfessionals No. 1

Writer Confessionals

Trying out a new series where I share moments when I was a horrible writer to my characters. Feel free to join in the fun with your own #WriterConfessionals, and don’t forget to share your darkest deeds!

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Finding the right beginning

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Some beginnings come easy; others, well, they bite, claw, and resist like no tomorrow, leaving behind frazzled writers. Take for instance my novel Heritage Lost: It’s beginning stuck from the very beginning, back when I conceptualized the novel in college. It’s sequel, which I’m am beginning, is already on its fourth (I think) beginning. None of them wanted to work; however, this one feels good. And funny enough, each “chapter one” has been moving forward chronological as I tried to nail down where the readers should be reintroduced into the world at. Continue reading

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Adama & Roslin — The ultimate couple

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[If you have not watched the revisioned Battlestar Galactic yet, but would like to without spoilers, do not read any further.]

As promised in yesterday’s post about writing romance, here is my ultimate couple: Commander (later Admiral) William Adama and President Laura Roslin. They pretty much nail every single bullet point in what I like to see when it comes to romance, and I can hands down say they are my favorite couple–and there are tons of fantastic couples in fantasy and science fiction.

So why this couple as my ultimate couple? First and foremost, Adama and Roslin are strong characters in their own right, each with their own goals and position in the overall story. But really what makes them my ultimate couple is this: They are a mature couple whose relationship evolves over the course of four seasons–even after years, I still reflect fondly on this couple. (And yes, I usually have a few tears in my eyes while doing so.) Not only does it also have big moments, but it also has plenty of small ones, making their relationship nature and more real: They are a couple you root for and applaud. Continue reading

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Don’t forget the ordinary moments

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I don’t have much of a romantic bone in my body. I will admit to being a bit more the hopeless romantic at one time, and it showed in my writing: the idea of eternal love, the “one.” In many ways, I shared many qualities with Anna from Frozen as she contemplates finding her “one” as her world opens. However, as Anna discovered, life is seldom so neat . . . though she probably still found her “one” before the movie wrapped up (It’s Disney. They love their pairing).

This realization, as a young adult, that in life we are, well, human–it soured me on romance by killing its idealism. I even reworked my fantasy novel to remove a wedding and throw in some romantic roadblocks. Even despite that, I still couldn’t completely kick romance to the curb and kept two really good couples in that book. And now as I get older, my views on romance have morphed to embrace the humanity involved in it, that it is our human flaws and shortcomings that create memorable, enjoyable romances. Continue reading

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So Begins The Jump

Keyboard and query letter start

The query letter is the writer’s rite of passage.

To borrow a phrase from Nick Fury (and countless other people over the years): “This isn’t my first rodeo.” I’ve queried before, often to no luck. Rejection happens more often than not: The publishing industry is a hard nut to crack. You just have to dust yourself off, get back up, and continue to submit, potentially with a new project. Doing just that was a tough decision for me. I put so much effort and time into Passage–its characters, its plot, its worldbuilding. However, as my SciFi novel grew and took shape, I had to acknowledge it had the best shot in the current market, so I put all my effort into bringing it to fruition.

Now Heritage Lost is wrapped up, and I’m putting together query letters and a synopsis while also toying with the idea of participating in #PitMad, which is Feb. 11. My ultimate goal is to begin querying agents throughout February, hopefully tantalizing one to bite. Continue reading

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How does a person get their $*** together?

Utter failure. That is really the only way to describe this year’s NaNoWriMo attempt. Illness struck quickly, taking a week, and then apathy swooped in and killed any desire to continue the trek onward. Really, does the world need my books? Are they really worth anything (not necessarily talking monetary value here)? I’ve been really delving into those questions a lot lately, among others.

One thing I can say about this epic car wreck of a failure is it did open my eyes: I have myself spread too thin and I’m not functioning in a productive manner. I need to break some bad habits and get back to being a functioning person, rather than responding to crisis after crisis and just generally being unhappy. Continue reading

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It’s the final countdown — NaNoWriMo prep

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Join in the madness at http://www.NaNoWriMo.org. It’s crazy, but so worth it!

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This is me right now. (Side note: I have my tablet working again!)

In the background of my head, Europe’s famous riffs loudly declare “It’s the final countdown!” And my countdown is now practically three days — three days and the madness of National Novel Writing Month descends upon me. I’m not ready for this! Frantically, I look at my outline: It only stretches from Chapter One to Chapter Fourteen — then there is only blankness. Also looming over my head is the incomplete final read-through, where I’m in Chapter Six of Eighteen. WHY IS THERE ALL OF THIS FINAL-NESS IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW?! And where the heck did October go?! Ah, yes. Work invaded my personal time and held it hostage. But no matter, it is times like this that test one’s mettle — or some other platitude that people like to throw out. Continue reading

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