My #PitchWars #BoostMyBio 2018

Is it #PitchWars time again?

I’m Jacy and this may be the third time I’m entering Pitch Wars. If I do, it will be with a brand new manuscript. In 2015 and in 2016, I submitted my YA portal fantasy and didn’t get in either year. It was a bummer and I wallowed. But honestly, that manuscript was the best learning experience I’ll never regret. If you want to read about why I shelved that story, check out my post about it here.

During the time I queried that story in 2017 and early 2018, I wrote something totally different.

 

An adult Southern gothic mystery with paranormal elements.

Here are the story highlights:

  • A haunted plantation home.
  • An amateur sleuth.
  • Spooky gardens.
  • Ghostly nightmares.
  • All taking place in a small town in coastal South Carolina.

 

WHY AM I SUBMITTING?: If I submit, I’m hoping to find a mentor or mentors who can help take my mystery story to the next level with whatever it needs. I’ve been through multiple drafts with my CP and several beta readers.

MY WRITING/EDITING STYLE: I used to be a pantser (I still have tendencies), but discovered that when writing a mystery with subplots, clues, and red herrings, you really need to outline. After that, the story flowed out of me. A trusted CP is a necessary part of my process and now I’ve found that beta readers are super valuable. I write a semi-edited draft (I can’t help but edit along the way) and then add more layers and remove the filters. I’m open to new ideas and feedback to strengthen a story without losing its overall soul.

ABOUT ME: I love thrift stores, coffee shops, amusement parks, spooky places, audiobooks, podcasts, and cheese. I also have a love for snarky humor.

I love Deadpool and anything Ryan Reynolds.

I have a full time job as a sustainability program manager. I’m married with two kids and an overly social cat.

Actual footage of me writing.

You can find snapshots of my life on Instagram. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter too and interact, so I follow back! Good luck to all and I look forward to meeting new writer friends!

Podcasts on Writing, Publishing, & More

There are so many excellent podcasts about writing and publishing out there, I wanted to post a list. Podcasts are another way to learn, to connect, to get inspired.  If you know of one, let me know and I can add it to my list here! (The descriptions are straight from iTunes.)

88 Cups of Tea – We release weekly interviews with awesome storytellers ranging from novelists to screenwriters to TV producers. Topics cover how-to’s, writing advice, craft tips for writers, career nuggets, and the highs and lows of being a storyteller. We are a safe space for listeners to absorb information and learn in a way that’ll shake up their creative routine. Our community welcomes each storyteller and writer and aims to make them feel less alone. 88 Cups of Tea on iTunes.

Hey YA – From great new books to favorite classic reads, from news to the latest in on-screen adaptations, Hey YA is here to elevate the exciting world of young adult lit. Hey YA on iTunes.

Literaticast – A literary agent and her friends dish about writing and publishing books for children and young adults. Literaticast on iTunes.

The Manuscript Academy – The Manuscript Academy brings you conversations with agents, editors, and writers who can help you on your publishing journey. The Manuscript Academy on iTunes.

Print Run Podcast – Print Run is a podcast created and hosted by Laura Zats and Erik Hane. Its aim is simple: to have the conversations surrounding the book and writing industries that too often are glossed over by conventional wisdom, institutional optimism, and false seriousness. We’re book people, and we want to examine the questions that lie at the heart of that life: why do books, specifically, matter? In a digital world, what cultural ground does book publishing still occupy? Print Run Podcast on iTunes.

PubCrawl – Authors & publishing pros blogging about all things reading, writing, books, and booze. Reading You Under The Table Since 2012. PubCrawl on iTunes.

Shipping & Handling – Join Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary Inc. and Jennifer Udden of Barry Goldblatt Literary LLC as we discuss books, publishing, writing, fandom, and more! Shipping & Handling on iTunes.

Write or Die – Often times in publishing we only hear about the quick sales and overnight successes – but for most of us, publishing is hard AF! So I’m sharing those stories – the real, gritty, pull your hair out because it’s been years – stories of writers who didn’t give up despite it all, and are now living out their dream. The perfect podcast for writers and creatives in need of inspiration, laughs and camaraderie! Hosted by author Claribel Ortega. Write or Die on iTunes.

Writing Excuses – Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Daniel Wells discuss writing techniques in a fast-paced, 15-minute format. Writing Excuses on iTunes.

 

I shelved a piece of my heart

I recently had to make a tough decision in my writing journey.

After spending four years writing and revising a manuscript, entering almost every writing contest with it (and not getting in), two solid rounds of cold querying, and 55+ form rejections later…I finally shelved a piece of my heart.

This was not easy.

I repeat.

This was not easy.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter for awhile, you probably have seen my pitches or even helped me critique this story along the way. My feedback was always a mixed bag and at some point, I knew where this might be headed.

But. Persistence.

My story, A FEATHER’S FORCE, is a YA portal fantasy about a girl who finds out she’s from another realm and only raised human to stay safe from a grandfather, who wants to steal her powers. Here’s a pitch from the past:

Ember can’t deal with her new siphoning ability let alone glowing tattoos crawling up her arms. But when her other superhuman friend is kidnapped for the king’s next experiment, she must embrace her true self or her friend dies. DARKEST MINDS set in sword & sorcery

I believed in this story so bad and for so long. In the last few years, I also wrote several other YA and MG stories, some of which are only outlines and unfinished.

However, knowing when to shelve a finished manuscript after years of writing, revising, and querying is one of the hardest decisions in a writer’s journey. This manuscript has been through so much and I tried so hard to keep it going. I finally made one final push in querying it December 2017 through February 2018. What did I do during the waiting period? I became a CP for a new friend, offered a book giveaway for new releases, tried to blog more, and wrote a brand new story – one that’s been in my heart and mind for years. And it’s TOTALLY different. It’s an adult mystery and I adore it!

That day I finally decided to shelve my YA portal fantasy was a day I received my 57th form rejection. I wallowed. I drank some wine. I binged television. I read a couple books.

Then I picked myself back up because PERSISTENCE! I also fell madly in love with my brand new story. So, here’s to the next leg of my writing journey and I can’t wait to see what’s around the bend!

Every leg of your journey will teach you things. Here’s some of what I’ve learned so far:

  • Timing is everything in publishing
  • Be patient. Seriously!
  • How to be a good Critique Partner for other writers
  • Wrap your arms around your close writing friends
  • The value of CPs and beta readers in your writing journey
  • NEVER GIVE UP! (but it’s okay to take a break)
  • Giving back to the writing community is important – whether you’re giving away books, critiques, or anything that’s encouraging and helping other writers succeed
  • How to craft a Twitter pitch and prepare a submission package
  • Celebrate the small stuff – whether it’s positive feedback or achieving your word count or even a shiny new story idea
  • How to pitch to agents and editors face-to-face, get excellent feedback, and requests for pages
  • How to revise – especially in removing filter words and passive voice
  • How to OUTLINE
  • How to accept rejections and learn from them

 

MOTHER WRITERS: 9 bookish things you can do with your kids

Readers become better writers. Your kids deserve this same opportunity. I try to read to my 4-year-old every night while my almost middle-schooler reads for at least 30 minutes every day. However, there is a plethora of bookish activities you can do with your kids.

  1. Read to your kids as often as possible.
  2. Take your kids to the library with you. Get them a library card. I even suggest asking a librarian to give you a ‘tour’ of the library and learning about all the tools available.
  3. Bring your kids with you to other author book signing events. Got a favorite author coming to town? Bring your kids with you for the experience and to witness your excitement too.
  4. Do writing research (road trips) with your kids. Need to visit a historical site or sip coffee at every coffee shop in the city? Take your notebook and ask your kid(s) to do the same. Have them take notes from their perspective. You never know if you can weave it in.
  5. Encourage your kids to write a story of their own. Read it to the family. Short stories are excellent practice when you’re in between novels or books. Give your kid a writing prompt and see where their imagination goes. Maybe even co-author a story.
  6. Ask you kids questions about the books they’re reading. You can ask ‘What’s that book about?’ but also consider deeper questions. You know, the kind that an agent, editor, or family member may ask you about your book. Then reverse it. Have your kids interview you!
  7. Encourage your kids to buy books as gifts for their friends and siblings. I shouldn’t have to say anything more.
  8. Reorganize your bookshelf by color. Everyone else is doing it!
  9. Donate books to the library or the free library box in the neighborhood.
One of our actual book shelves!

What are some other bookish activities you can do with your kids?

MOTHER WRITERS: Morning Larks vs. Night Owls

Finding the TIME to write is an under appreciated treasure for parents. A treasure that is typically unplanned and unscheduled. When we unbury ourselves from the mom life and have our own time, we hope and pray that words come to us.

So when is the best time to write? Morning or night? For most moms, it will be whenever we can squeeze it in. However, it really just depends on your body clock. Everyone is different.

Personally, I’ve discovered that I write better after the sun sets AND when the kids (and husband) are asleep. This leaves less risk for interruptions. I transform myself into a night owl in order to find this time to write and revise.

Some nights are better than others. (side note: find yourself other writer night owls to join you in a writing sprint to boost yourself). Someone gave me a piece of advice: nap when your kids nap. I’ll say it again. Nap when your kids nap. Yeah, I know you want to get caught up on household chores, but day napping fueled my energy for writing late at night.

Night owls and morning larks have different brain structures. In a study, researchers at the University of Barcelona, Spain, compared “morning people,” those early birds who like to get up at dawn, and “evening people,” night owls who prefer to stay up late and sleep in. They found that people’s genes play a role in determining their circadian rhythm — the inner clock that regulates sleep and other physiological processes. They also found that it relates something called “social jet lag,” a term used to describe the lack of synchronization which can occur between a person’s biological clock and the society around them. Basically, we develop a behavior pattern to adapt to our social schedules.

With my career background in media and journalism, I never had a regular schedule and my body clock adapted. All those late nights working at the radio station or the newspaper meeting deadlines contributed to my current state of writing. Now with kids, I do get exhausted earlier, so there are times, I need to just go to bed and start fresh the next day.

Don’t wear yourself out. As I mentioned in other posts, take care of yourself.