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!

Pitch Wars 2017 #PimpMyBio YA Fantasy

Is it Pitch Wars time? Yay! So excited to meet new friends and learn about your awesome stories. Before we go any further, give yourself a hand, a pat on the back, a thumbs up…you wrote a book! GOOD JOB!

Check out more details about Pitch Wars, an awesome contest from Brenda Drake on her website. This is an excellent time of year to improve your writing craft, learn about agents and publishers, and connect with other writers, mentors, and freelance editors. If you’d like to see other #PimpMyBio posts, visit Lana Pattinson’s blog.

Cheers! My name is Jacy and I’m entering Pitch Wars with a YA fantasy for the…third time!

I have learned a major component of writing is to never give up!

I love everything fantasy and sci-fi, having grown up in the 80s and 90s among the Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Legend, The Princess Bride, and Return to Oz.

Some of my favorite shows from that time included Sailor Moon, X-Men, and Gargoyles. I best relate to Sailor Mercury – sweet, practical, and a little shy – until I get to know you. Authors that I love include Anne McCaffrey, Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling.  A few of my favorite books include Shadowshaper, The Grisha Trilogy, One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Help, and Eragon.

Recently, I learned I’m a Xennial, a micro-generation of people born between 1977 and 1983 who survived the analog-digital transition. To round off this generation identification, I possess both cynicism and optimism, which describes me fairly well on most days. I also enjoy beer, bacon, and books – sometimes at the same time!

During college, I joined the student newspaper and really had a chance to flex my writing muscles. My journey to writing led to editorials, news stories, satirical newspaper editions, and meeting my future husband too. Totally worth it!

I earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and a minor in journalism. Eventually, I went on to earn a master’s in environmental policy and management. I’m proud to be a certified recycling professional – yes, it’s a thing. I took an exam and everything!

ABOUT MY MANUSCRIPT

Since I grew up in the 80s and 90s, most of my inspiration comes from such influences. I consider my story a crossover event of X-Men and The Neverending Story.

 

My story, A FEATHER’S FORCE, is a YA arcanepunk fantasy about a 16-year-old track star who discovers she inherited her super speed ability from another realm. This story is for readers who loved GRACELING’s fiercely independent heroine and INKHEART’s lush, whimsical portal fantasy world.

Here’s some #novelaesthetics of my story:

I’ve been working on this story for three years with a major overhaul in January 2017, thanks to an incredible editor, Lyla Lawless. She helped me discover the potential in my story and gave me valuable advice to improve my craft and make my story stronger. Seriously, look her up! I also have a dedicated CP/editor, Nicole D’Arcangelo, who has been by my side for the past several months.

I won a first page critique from the awesome Heather Cashman during the Pitch Wars workshop, which you can find here. Her feedback was super helpful and I’ve already revised my first chapter. I’m so excited about it!

Now, I’m ready to emerge from the revision cave and share this story!

You can’t be an author without being a reader

Every writer needs a reading break. It is my belief that you have to be a reader before you can be a writer. And how can you improve your own writing if you don’t take breaks or change things up? See my friend Claribel Ortega’s post about How to Beat the Crap Out of Writer’s Block for ideas and tips.

It is November. Some of us are feverishly typing out our next novel with an coffee iv drip and some of us are still revising and editing our WIP with random fits of wall staring. I am the second one.

typing cat giphy

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when thousands around the world write their hearts out every day and every night. They try to hit their word count goal to inevitably write a novel in a month, at least 50,000 words – which breaks down to at least 1,666 words a day. It is a community and a competition. It can be heart wrenching to read the tweets of word count goal overachievers when you are struggling to write a 140 character tweet. However, having a sour attitude against other writers will get you no where fast. The writing community should be supportive and attentive. Writers should celebrate each others accomplishments because wouldn’t you want them to do the same for you when your time comes?

As much I want to start a new novel, I am not participating in NaNoWriMo because I am revising my MS that I pitched for PitchWars. I had started with 47K (which is low for a YA Fantasy) and now I’m over 56K…and I’m still going. I need to keep going and hopefully it will be over 65K. I feel really good about it, however, none of this positive revising would have happened if it weren’t for my reading breaks.

As an example, I’ve read “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige, “The Walls Around Us” by Nova Ren Suma and now I am hooked on the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I am in the middle of “Ruin and Rising.”

I recommend signing up for GoodReads, so you can easily keep up with your TBR list too.

book spine giphy

Reading other books can be motivating, inspiring and relaxing. You expose yourself to different styles, genres, and voices. Read books that are in your genre of your writing and read books that are not in your genre of your writing. Writing your own novel can be disheartening, stressful and intimidating. Every day you want to quit. But look at reading as an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to support other authors. You can only get better in time the more you write, but how can you write better if you don’t learn and read from other authors?

We all need a break, a pep talk and a swift kick in the ass, as writers. We also need to celebrate the accomplishments of our peers because in the end we all want the same thing, readers.  We can’t be authors without the readers. And in order for that to happen, as authors, we also have to be the readers.

#PitchWars is over, but my journey continues

There is nothing like diving right into something you are passionate about head first, but I was completely naked with flailing arms.
Like other writers before me, I had a story in my head that needed to be released onto paper. My story (about a girl who finds a portal in the basement of a coffee house that leads to a mystical realm) soon evolved into a novel of thousands of words and eventually into a planned trilogy with an epilogue. I felt so proud of myself! I wrote a book. I found beta readers and an editor. I was overly confident that I was on the right path.

Of course, I am an infant in this world of writing, but I started where anyone else would in a new industry; social media. I was on my own, floating on this raft of writing in a vast ocean of publishing. I slowly built my online presence, a website and a Twitter account. I interacted and discovered other writers and such. Basically, it was like trudging through molasses.

Then, I got this wild hair and sent out some query letters. I was elated about taking this next step or, at least, until I got my first form rejection within a week, which said, “Unfortunately, after carefully reviewing your query, we’ve determined that this particular project isn’t the right fit for our agency at this time.” And the last sentence read, “…we wish you all the best in your publishing endeavors.”

I was crushed. So, what did I do? Of course, I tweeted sarcastically about it, using a trending hashtag, #PitchWars. Then the weirdest thing happened. I had 9 favorites about my rejection tweet. At the time, I honestly didn’t realize it was part of a major social media contest by Brenda Drake. I entered and found myself among more than 1,500 hopeful mentees. If selected, you would work with a mentor to get your MS into shape for an agent round. Awesome!

So, I entered with too much expectation and hope. Then there were two weeks of painful waiting, tweeting, Google hangouts with ‘amazeballs’ new writer friends, sleepless nights, eating and drinking nights, stalking, inside jokes, gifs, and mentor teasers that we tried to interpret. I’m not going to downplay the fact that #PitchWars was excruciating.

At some point it hit me and I knew I wasn’t going to get selected by a mentor. I had zero requests for my partial or full MS. That part was tough. I asked the ‘amazeballs’ and got tremendous feedback that was super constructive. Writing is only supposed to get better. So after accepting this, I did what any hopeful would (and should) do, I cheered on my friends, whom I realized were further along in their writing journey. I barely made it to middle school and they were entering college or graduating. My two weeks of waiting ended up being a crash course in writing and publishing. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

But I never believed I lost. I never believed that my MS wasn’t good enough. I only believed that I have a different journey of writing.

Through this entire #PitchWars experience, I learned that the true writer’s community is about encouragement, celebration and reflection. It is also close-knit. Writing may seem like an individual journey, but you will cross paths with so many opportunities for collaboration. These opportunities can come in the form of other writers, CPs (thank you Claribel Ortega!), mentors, agents, story ideas, revising, friends and more. I suppose that’s why the acknowledgements may be the hardest part to write for your book.

Another important lesson from #PitchWars is that there is a certain way to handle rejection. Basically, don’t let social media be your warpath or show that you are having a bitter party of one. You will only end up hurting yourself.

Don’t let any amount of rejection block your path. Take a moment to sit on that log of rejection and reflect. Then, after a quiet pity party and a good, hard cry, get up off your ass, grab some friends and burn that damn log to continue your journey.
Here is my game plan:

  • Snuggle up with my CP
  • Revise the heck out of my MS
  • Beta read for others
  • Really use The Emotion Thesaurus to show, not tell
  • Seek other contests and critique opportunities through Twitter
  • Connect to more writer friends on Twitter
  • Buy/read books to support the community I met from #PitchWars
  • Stalk Writer’s Digest and other such resources
  • Use Query Tracker for potential agents
  • and finally…never give up!