Pitch Contest Approaching!

It’s been a while. And though I have been busy that’s not really my excuse for neglecting my little blog here. I swore I wouldn’t ditch this thing a few months after I started it, that I’d keep it going no matter what even if I didn’t feel like it, that I would blog daily and like it! Well guess what happened?

Yeah.

I am sorry.

But I’m back because I want people to know about the upcoming pitch contest on Twitter. It’s slated for March 25th so that’s ten days to write and polish your 140 character pitches.

I’ve talked about these before. I think they are really great. Basically you tweet out your pitches for your completed manuscript and agents or editors who are watching the feed on that day will favorite your pitch tweet if they want to see more of your manuscript. A favorite is a request.

You should still query and not rely solely on contests, but this thing is great for taking chances, getting pitch practice, meeting other writers, and becoming familiar with matters and people in the same boat as you.

I’ve done it and received a handful of  ‘favorites’ each time. One even led to a full request after the initial partial request. So don’t let this opportunity slip by. There are success stories out there. (Scroll down and click to read the pitch wars success stories) You might just find your agent.

Mind the rules. You must condense your pitch for Twitter’s character limit while also including the hashtag and your manuscript’s genre. DO NOT favorite other writer’s pitches. That’s for agents/editors only. DO retweet other pitches to show your support for them. DON’T overload the feed. Only post twice per hour. When I did it, I pitched two novels. So I tweeted a pitch for each every hour. No more.

Click here for the guidelines.

If you want to practice your pitches, post them below and we can work on them. Here are examples of some of the ones I used previously:

Cameron shows up next door w/ more bruises than suitcases. As she learns more, Maddie is forced 2 confront her own insecurities YA Contemp #Pitmad

Kidnapped for ransom alongside 4 classmates, 17yo Ezra Winchester will either fight for their freedom or die a hostage YA Thriller #Pitmad

*Notice how I had to abbreviate to make use of the limited space?

You want your pitch to convey the stakes and the obstacles in your MC’s path. When _______ happens, Main Character must _______ in order to ________. What drives the story? How does it affect your MC? What must they do? What are they trying to overcome?

Alright. There it is. Good luck with your pitches. I hope to see you on the Twitter feed on March 25th.

And expect some new posts soon. I’ll catch you up on what I’ve been up to these past couple of months and what I’m working on now.

Keep writing!

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The Joys and Pains of Query Letters

As you know by now I’ve written three YA novels, the first I’ve deemed ‘not ready’ and the other two of which I have been seeking representation for. I began the whole query process roughly a year ago. It came back with all rejections for months, and then in the summer I got a requested full. I finished writing my next book while I waited for news to come back.

Unfortunately, being a literary agent is a very busy and stressful job, and the agent fell behind on reading through submissions and news still hasn’t come. That’s okay, I understand. I was beyond excited to get that full request in the first place. It gave me hope and a push to keep trying. I could wait. But I decided to start sending out more letters in the meantime, this time for newest manuscript.

Again, let the rejections roll. Then I started hearing about pitch contests on Twitter (as you also know by previous posts) and I participated in three of them. I received 3 favorites, 2 favorites, and 6 favorites for each pitch party (which means the agent/editor requested a partial of my material). Out of those 11, so far I have received 4 rejections, 1 full request, 2 I’m still waiting to hear back on, and the rest I decided not to send to because it felt like the wrong fit for me. So I know. I know how hard it is to wait, what it’s like to be rejected, how it feels to get a request, and all the crazy what-ifs that run through your head, both good and bad. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re at this same, crazy stage.

Don’t let the rejections kill your spirit. I know it hurts. You just want someone out there to believe in your work. You know how when you check your email on your phone or device you can usually read the first couple of sentences before you even open the letter? I got to the point where if I saw the word “unfortunately” in those first couple lines I already knew what the rest of the email was: a pass. And yes it got increasingly harder to shrug it off the more I received, and yes I began questioning myself. Was I not ready? Am I not good enough after all? Should I just give up? No, no, and no. You MUST believe in yourself. You MUST keep trying. If you put in the work, believe in your writing, and create the best project you can then somewhere down the line your time will come.

Don’t compare yourself to other aspiring writers. Don’t hate them for their success. You might hear of another writer getting a request, an offer, or even a publishing deal. It will probably sting a little. You might wonder why them and not you? Maybe they haven’t been at it as long as you have. Maybe you think your writing is better. Seeing another writer’s dreams come true while yours are still unrealized can make you question your self-worth. Don’t do that. Be happy for that writer. You know how hard this is. We’re in this together. Their success does not in any way make you a failure.

I won’t tell you to have patience. I know that’s impossible. But don’t obsess. I know how nerve-racking it is to check your email and wonder if today might be the day there’s good news waiting in your inbox. I know how one week can feel like one month and one month can feel like half a year. But you can’t stop living in the meantime. You can’t stop writing. You can’t focus solely on what may or may not happen when you could be focusing on making things happen. Start a new manuscript. Become a critique partner or beta reader to give back to others. Write some short stories. Don’t stop creating.

The query process is full of ups and downs. It can raise you up or tear you down if you let it. It requires you to strike a balance between remaining realistic and holding onto hope. I know it’s hard to put yourself out there and put your dream in the hands of someone else. I know it’s equally exciting and crushing. But it’s necessary if this is the route you want to go with your work. And it is worth it. I’ve been doing this a year, and I’m not ready to give in yet.

I remain hopeful.

I believe.

What are your experiences with query letters and requests? How do you handle the ups and downs? Reply below!

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Today’s the Day, Writers!

There’s a Twitter Pitch Party today. It’s a golden opportunity to pitch your novel to agents and editors and meet fellow writers in the process. It’s a great community over there so get involved. The hashtag is #pitmad. It’s simple. If you receive a favorite/star to your tweet then that means the corresponding agent/editor wants to view more of your work. It’s a request for pages! Here’s the official link to the rules, but I’ll post some things you need to know below.

  1. Your manuscript must be complete and polished. Don’t pitch if you aren’t done writing it yet or haven’t given it the proper edits.
  2. You only have Twitter’s 140 character limit to say what needs to be said. Be compelling and concise. Show the stakes and consequences of your plot or the MC’s struggle.
  3. You MUST include the hashtag #pitmad! And it’s really helpful if you also include your genre. For example, at the end of my pitches I’m including YA Thriller or YA Contemporary. You can abbreviate. Everyone knows it’s a lot to include in a short space. EX: YAThrill or YA-Cont
  4.  Don’t favorite other pitches. If you like another writer’s pitch and want to show your support, that is absolutely awesome and encouraged. But don’t do so by favoriting the pitch. That’s for agents and editors only. If you like it, retweet or comment. Giving a false favorite is giving false hope.
  5. Don’t hog the feed. Control how often you post. Keep it to only two pitches per hour. If you over-pitch your work, people will notice and most likely be turned off.
  6. If you get a favorite, congratulations! That agent wants more material. Go to their profile and look up their submission guidelines. If you can’t find it, politely ask and/or look at their official agency website if in doubt.

That’s about it! Check out this hilarious and informative blog for more info on what NOT to do! Good luck! I hope to read your pitches today!

More questions? Post below.

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Should These Pitches be Ditched? Part 3

This is my third installment of this, and I’ve only just realized I obviously missed the mark the first two times around. If you remember I originally did these as part of a school assignment where we were creating pitches for our work. The class never really explained what pitches were or how to go about doing them. We were just instructed to pitch our books in 3-4 sentences. Well, I ended up focusing on the 3-4 sentences part and trying to squeeze as much a possible into that. The end result was that my pitches sounded more like jacket summaries and were much too long.

Then a contest via Twitter came to my attention. It was called #pitchmas and the idea was to do the same thing: pitch your novel. Only this time I had much less room to work with because of the character limit and the requirement of adding the genre and hashtag into the pitch as well. It forced me to really cut, tighten, and perfect my pitches so that they were clear, concise, and hooking. Finally, I understood pitches.

The reward for the contest was that agents/editors/publishes watched the feed and would favorite the pitches they liked. This equaled a request for more material. At the end of the day-long contest I received three favorites aka three requests to see my work. I was shocked. Coming from someone who didn’t understand pitches and who had really just begun writing them, I was surprised mine got any interest. Now there were other writers who got many more. I heard of 14 from one and 20 from another. It was a great opportunity to not only write pitches but read other writers’ pitches as well. And I always learn from reading and seeing other examples. I also retweeted a lot of pitches I would actually really love to read the corresponding full books on. I hope they get published one day as well.

If this sounds really fun or helpful and you’re upset you missed out, don’t worry. Another pitch contest is being held on Jan 8th called #PitMad. Check out the info here. Work on your pitches and head over to Twitter on that day and see what happens! You have nothing to lose and only experience and good things to gain.

Here are some of my tightened up pitches.

Book 3 Pitches

*There are a lot of things Ezra Winchester didn’t see coming: his mother’s death, becoming a millionaire, and getting kidnapped. Now he sees things clearer: he’ll either fight for his freedom or die a hostage.

*Being a hostage was not part of Ezra’s plan for junior year. Now escaping with his life is the only thing that matters.

*Ezra is kidnapped for his money. His friends are taken because they’re witnesses. Together they’ll fight for their freedom or die captives.

Book 2 Pitches

*What if the bad boy is actually a gentleman and the good girl has a dark side? Can opposites attract if no one is who they say they are?

*Maddie knows how to take orders, not make choices. Cameron can take a beating, not give trust. Love will change them both.

*Maddie Carlisle and Cameron Dawson shouldn’t be together. She’s the lapdog for her popular clique, and he’s the defiant transfer student overflowing with secrets and bruises. When she trades ‘forbidden’ for ‘freewill’ opposition erupts everywhere.

And the Pitch I wrote in Part 2 for my current WIP I now realize could have been completely cut to just the first sentence:

*When eighteen-year-old Oliver Reid’s girlfriend dies and mysteriously appears as a ghost, he embraces the haunting, disregards the impossible, and sets out on mission to put the love of his life back together again.

What a difference!

For this post I’ll offer to help hone and critique anyone’s pitches. If you want to participate in #PitMad but need an extra set of eyes before next Wednesday, post your pitches in the comments, and I’ll give you feedback. I’d be happy to get a conversation going here!

Or if you see any issues or possible improvement for my pitches above, feel free to post that as well!

Happy pitching!

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New Year’s Promises or New Year’s Lies?

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. They’re just excuses for people to pretend they’re going to make life changes when they know from the start they don’t plan on keeping them in a few weeks or months time. And why should we only think about changing ourselves one time out of the year when that year is ending? Improving ourselves or working towards goals should be a constant. It shouldn’t be something we go after heavily for the first few weeks of the New Year.

Some people only make resolutions they think they can stick to. They make them lesser so that they’re easier to follow. Instead of committing to a complete new diet they vow to stop eating one certain bad food. Instead of exercising daily they promise to at least do it once a week. And that’s fine. At least, they’re making an effort. But why make it all? Are we peer pressuring each other into new year’s resolutions? Are we competing to see who can follow theirs longer or more successfully? This is your life, not anyone else’s. So if you want to make a change, make it for yourself, not because some tradition or group of people influenced you to do so.

Me? I could vow to read more books, finish the ones I’ve started, stick to a stricter writing schedule, or promise to write X number of books by the year’s end. But these are things I tell myself all year long, anyway. Sometimes I do better. Some months I read way more than others, and some days I’m a more successful writer. But these are my goals and changes I want for myself at all times, and I work on them little by little throughout each year.

I understand the New Year promises a new start and that’s why some people look at it for making changes. But halfway through the year it isn’t new anymore. It’s just life again. So make sure you’re happy with how you’re living, and make each day a new resolution, a new goal, a possible change or hurdle to overcome. Because before you know it, that New Year will end and the next will start all over again. You can’t measure your life’s importance by how well you follow that resolution each New Year.

So don’t make excuses. Don’t go after the smaller goal because you know the bigger one will be too hard. Don’t compete with others or get roped into making changes just because it’s expected. Don’t put that extra pressure on yourself or let others put it on you.

Don’t make promises you can’t or aren’t willing to keep.

Love yourself. Love your life. Love your passions and your goals. Go out and make things happen at your own pace, in your own way, for your own reasons.

Just live.

What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions? Post below, and have a safe and happy New Year celebration!

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Book Officially for Sale!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and discovered new stories to tell through their celebrations and gatherings. I know watching my family interact definitely inspired some new character types!

*Announcement time*

The anthology I mentioned that I am a part of is now live on Amazon! It is $2.99 and can be bought for your Kindle device or downloaded to read through the Kindle app on your smartphones and tablets.

Again, this is a charity anthology. All profits received go directly to Sandy Hook Elementary. The theme and title of this book is Everyday Heroes.

My personal contribution is a short story about a teenage Reaper who interferes with the balance of life and death. His disruption with fate turns the world into chaos, and he sets out to make things right and save those he put in danger. It is called Reaper’s Redemption.

This is a pretty cool feeling to be a part of a book for sale. Typing in the title of the book brings up my name and typing in my name on Amazon brings up the title of the book. It makes me proud and thankful to be involved in this project and also hopeful for any future projects. I’m happy not only to get my name and work out there, but to be amongst such awesome fellow students and writers and give back in our own way to a worthy cause.

Thank you for following my journey with this, and I hope you will check out our book!

SHAnthology

http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Heroes-Patrick-Donovan-ebook/dp/B00HHLWI5U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388100103&sr=8-1&keywords=danielle+thurby

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Jigsaw Post

I have so many things to talk about today I feel like I should make three separate posts.

First of all, I want to recognize and pay my respects to author Ned Vizzini who passed away. I kept seeing the news last night on Twitter and through Facebook where he was kind enough to accept my friend request years ago, that he had passed. I was completely shocked as he was so young and talented. He’s made wonderful books and contributed to television and film as well. It’s so sad to lose someone you admired or who helped and impacted so many people with his work. Here’s a link to some of his books if you feel driven to check them out. Ned, I hope you are at peace. Thank you for your books, and I am truly sorry to know you’re gone.

Secondly, and on a lighter note there is another contest going on today through Twitter. The hashtag is #pitchmas and it is a pitch party for you to promote your manuscripts. Agents and editors watch the feed, and if they favorite your pitch that means they’re requesting to see more material. Here’s the link to the blog that created this wonderful party. Check out the details and guidelines and then head over to Twitter with your best pitches. Good luck!

Lastly, this is my final week of class for the English course that originally influenced the creation of this blog. As a summary of all we’ve done and learned about ourselves over the last 8 weeks, our final assignment is to describe who we think we are as writers and post it to an external audience. That’s you guys. So who am I as a writer?

I’m a dreamer.

Just like musicians imagine rocking out on stage or an actor sees his name in lights, I imagine my books sitting on the shelves of bookstores. I think about what it would be like to get fan mail from teenagers whose lives were somehow impacted by my books. I even think about what it would feel like to get hate mail. Maybe a teen writes to tell me I got it all wrong or a parent takes issue with my topics and content.

What writing means to me

I’ve said this before, but I need writing. I just don’t feel right when I’m not creating. It depresses me not to have a project going in my head or forming on the screen. I depend on writing to make me feel worthy some days.

What I write

I write YA or Young Adult. I’m not saying I can’t or won’t write anything else, but YA is my absolute love. When I go to bookstores I don’t even look at the other sections, and I can spend hours simply browsing the three rows of YA titles. I buy YA books faster than I read them because I can’t leave a book behind in a store if I think I might want to read it somewhere down the line. YA excites me. I love creating teen characters and hard situations or paths of discovery. If someone told me I couldn’t write YA anymore, I wouldn’t be the same writer. I probably wouldn’t have that same sense of worth and excitement because YA is such a big part of who I am as a writer. It’d be like telling someone they could only watch a certain genre of movie the rest of their life or never listen to their favorite band again. Those movies would never be what they really wanted, and they’d long for each band to be as good as their favorite. YA and I just go together.

So my goals from here are to keep writing. To keep trying to get published. I entered the world of querying this year and have participated in contests like #pitchwars and #pitchmas to try and get my work noticed. I want an agent. I want to go the traditional route. I want my books on shelves. I want to read love and hate mail, friend readers on social media, meet them at book signings. I want it all. Writing has been a journey and struggle, and the great thing about it is it’s never over. You keep growing and learning the more you do it. You have ups and downs; there’s just no way around that. It takes commitment, patience, hard work, hope, and undying love to be able to pursue this crazy dream. And I never want to give it up.

Thank you for reading. Who are YOU as a writer? Have you ever been saddened by the passing of an author you admired? Post below, and I hope to see all your pitches over on Twitter!

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