Archive for the ‘Twitter Usage’ Category

Xmas in July post headerA quick post today to encourage everyone to stop by the two blogs hosting the Christmas in July Pitch contest, Ruth Lauren Stevens and Michelle Krys. If you’d like to read my entry, here’s the link directly to it here. Please save your comments on the contest site until the 20th. Only agents are allowed to comment for the next two days. Instead, show your support by posting comments here or by following the Twitter hashtag #XmasinJuly. I’ll try to keep everyone updated on how I’m doing as much as possible. Thanks!

bake sale

One of three tables filled with tempting treats. All sold out by the end of the day.

April was incredibly busy for me. What with the massive amount of work I put into the pre-conference days – Pitch Clinic, Twitter activity on the conference hashtag, escorting speakers with plane delays to the hotel (helping Jerry find his speaker that he lost), competing with Jerry for best nerd shirt (I won, of course) -  juggling a fund-raising event for our autism team at the same time was pushing it. Why stop there? Let’s throw a fund-raiser for our fund-raiser! Bake sale time. Nothing like wading through frosting-covered counters and rows of chocolate delights you aren’t allowed to eat. TORTURE! What I do for you people! (I may have done some taste-testing on a rather wonky-looking chocolate/raspberry filled cupcake. It passed inspection.) I still found time for writing, critiquing, and revising, but I almost didn’t survive the month.

Okay, SLIGHT exaggeration.

I had an amazing time at the conference, met some new writers, and received an excellent critique on a new project I can’t wait to get into. We also raised more money than ever for our autism team AND had more out-of-towners walk with us than any other year – score! So all the craziness was worth it.

My body did rebel against the unusually high level of activity and stress, coupled with the constant weather shift provided by Mother Nature’s crap shoot where we vacillated between bright sunny skies and brooding thunderstorms, mixed with hail and maybe some ice and snow just to freak people out a bit. Well played, Mother Nature, well played. My sinuses experienced some sort of implosion/invasion/infection. Not pretty. I was down for about a week, making very ugly bodily noises and whiny demands of my family, who somehow still took care of me and still loved me. If the roles had been reversed, I may have been tempted to apply the pillow over the face therapy. Hold firmly until breathing and complaining cease.

But I digress…

photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. httpwww.flickr.comphotossahlgoodeApparently April was a very busy month for many others in our #writemotivation gang, several of whom participated in either Camp Nano or the A to Z challenge or both! (Those crazy kids.) It was a good thing I was mistaken in thinking that April would be another #writemotivation month. No one had the time! Our fearless leader and brand new mommy of the cutest, cheekiest baby, KT Hanna, used April as a test month for getting back on her writing schedule and juggling the youngling’s needs. (Oh, those cheeks! So schmooshy!)

Although she’s back in the writing saddle, it looks like we’re still going to do #writemotivation every other month for awhile. If you didn’t make the deadline for May, you can still set goals for yourself and join us on Twitter at the hashtag #writemotivation anytime to ask questions, ( about good names for characters, history of dinosaurs, etc.) or if you need help with motivation, ( maybe you want someone to join you in a writing challenge for the evening to keep you on track for your own personal writing goal or maybe you just need to know that someone else out there is banging their head against their keyboard in frustration, too), or for whatever you need, we’ll be there to help push you through. That’s what #writemotivation is all about. Try it out and then you can sign up in July and join us for the complete #writemotivation experience.

(Just FYI, Camp Nano will also be up and running again in July if you missed it or were too busy for the first camping experience.)

My goals for May? Why, so kind of you to ask. Here they are:

1. Complete latest draft of Museum Crashers (MG mystery) and prepare for submission.
2. Research more literary agents for submission of Institutionalized (YA contemporary) and send out to five of them.
3. Make some progress on first draft of Pretty Vacant (YA contemporary). Develop main character fully and decide which way story arc will go.
4. Exercise 3 times each week.

Tada!

Let’s hear from you. Got any goals?

If any of you follow me on Twitter (I’m @litbeing) you may be aware that I’m attending the SCBWI Oklahoma Spring conference here in Tulsa this weekend and that I’m hosting a pitch clinic for our attendees on Twitter this evening.

I used to hate writing pitches. I hated it as much as I used to hate writing queries and synopses. I don’t know many writers who embrace these bits with enthusiasm, but they are part of our reality.

And really, it’s so much handier to be able to coherently and briefly explain to someone what your story is about – especially in a way that intrigues them and makes them ask you more about it. I always review my pitches before a conference so I don’t end up staring blankly at a new acquaintance, my brain buzzing with panic because I can’t figure out how to condense my magnificent labor of love into a few sentences. Or worse, trap them in an uncomfortable discussion about the back-story of each character because I’ve begun to babble incessantly trying to make sure this person understands every important element of my tale, when maybe they were just being polite and making small talk and have no interest at all in hearing another word. It’s much more preferable to get them to say, “Oh, that’s sounds fascinating. Tell me more!”

That’s the purpose of a pitch. To intrigue.

To get the agent or editor to say, “Tell me more!” and request manuscript pages.

So how does one write a pitch?

After much research and studying, the consensus is to give the essence of your story without getting bogged down in the details and it should be done in one to three sentences.

Oh, is that all?

Carly Watters, literary agent with P.S. Lterary, says that a pitch is “a focused angle introducing the heart, high stakes and conflict of the story.” (From her blog post “Hook. Synopsis. Pitch: What’s the Difference?” See the full post here.)

Carly discussed pitches further in another post where she asked some probing questions that should help you when you think about writing your pitch:

“Who is your main character? What is their situation? What are they trying to overcome? How are they going to do it? What are the themes that are important to the main character and to us as readers? What is the essence of your book?

Those are the overall questions to focus one when crafting your pitch. We don’t need to know about subplots and details.

Rachelle Gardner, literary agent with Books & Such Literary, says to start with the plot catalyst, the event that gets the story started, then give the set up that drives the reader into the rest of the book. You should include the pressing story question or major story conflict. Simple, yes?

For a more direct example, Rachelle says:

“In the words of my friend the Query Shark (agent Janet Reid), your pitch needs to show”:

1. Who is the protagonist?
2. What choice does s/he face?
3. What are the consequences of the choice?

(Taken from Rachelle’s blog post “Secrets of a Great Pitch”. See the full post here.)

Now take all of these ideas and practice, practice, practice with your own manuscript until you can get the essence of your story down to a few coherent  sentences. Try them out on your critique group. Use them the next time someone asks you “Oh, you’re a writer? What do you write?” If you get that coveted response, “Tell me more!” You’re on the right track.

When you’re ready to test out your pitch, great contests come up fairly frequently, like the recent Pitch Madness Twitter Pitch Party. If you’re still unsure what a good pitch looks like, Carissa Taylor put together a comprehensive list of all the pitches that received requests from agents from this successful event. It’s a great list to review to get a good feel for what works. View her list here.

Feel free to join us at the Pitch Clinic this evening from 8-9pm CST. You can share your own pitch or give some feedback to others. Use the hashtag #SCBWIOKSpr13. You can always view the conversation later if you missed it.

Whatever you do, I hope you have more courage to develop your own pitch and put it into practice. After all, if you can’t get someone excited about what you’re writing, how is anyone else supposed to?

Header image and thumbnail photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sahlgoode/

Welcome to another edition of  “How are we doing with our goals?”  It’s the beginning of week two. Are we crying in our beer, yet? Scarfing down the New York Super Fudge Chunk by the pints? Hopefully not. We at the #writemotivation gang are well-known for our supportive nature, and I am more than willing to share some of my ice cream. (Thankfully, I am not at the beer-swilling stage.) And so far, it’s been just a one pint week. (Of ice cream.) I made it into the first stage of yet another frantic contest. I know, I know, right after I just finished with one. The last one had positives and negatives; I didn’t get a request from the agent, but I did win a critique of my first 30 pages. Not a bad secondary prize. After receiving some great feedback, I reworked my query for the bazillionth time. I think that was the lucky number. In this latest contest, my freshly scrubbed query (plus the first 500 words of my manuscript) will be up against 300+ other entries and only 30 will be accepted to continue to the ultimate agent fighting round. We won’t find out our fates until Friday. I may be up to two pints by then. (Maybe not just of ice cream.)

Wheee! So exciting this writer’s life. Actually there’s been a lot of anxiety-driven humor quipped about in the Twitter feed today. Glad to know it wasn’t just me. #xmasinjuly was even trending for awhile today the movement was so intense. Feel free to check out the action any time this week. Friday should be especially exciting.

For those of you who missed this opportunity, remember, there is another contest coming up next week with

better stock up, it’s gonna be a long month.

Entangle Publishing. See this earlier post here for details. Also, our very own#writemotivation leader, K. T. Hanna, just celebrated her one year blogiversary and is offering an opportunity to win a query critique with her agent Judith Engracia of the Liz Dawson Literary Agency. You have through Tuesday to enter. See K.T.’s blog post here for details.

On to the GOALS!!!!

1.Write full rough draft of new WIP. Barely started, but at least I did get started so let’s say “Eh, not bad. Not great, but not bad.” on this one.
2. Continue to submit current YA project out to agents. YES! YES! YES! Sent out five brand new, fully researched submissions. “Rock star!”
3. Keep up with my blog posts, commenting on blogs, etc., but also keep a limit on this time so that my writing comes first. Dead modem helped me limit my time better than I would have on my own. I was shaking like street hustling junkie by end of the third day. This will continue to be a challenge. We’ll say. “You squeaked by with a pass this week, Lawson.”
4. Exercise three times a week. Done and done! A hearty “You can do it!”here. I may be freakin’ sore all over, but I have plenty written in my exercise journal for the past week and this week is already looking good. Just someone tell me when the aching muscles subsides and I can have more ice cream. Please?

Hope you all are having a fantastic time wrestling with your goals. Hang in there!

So not being connected to the internet for a few days due to my modem dying put me behind the times as far as current events are concerned. Reading through the lovely blogs I follow, I was so saddened and angered to discover the big blow up that occurred earlier this week over the careless words 50 cent rattled off in response to an impatient fan who threatened to shoot him if he didn’t release his new album. He told this fine young gentleman, “yeah just saw your picture fool you look autistic”. He didn’t stop there, though. He went on to tell any special ed kids to stop following him. Words cannot express my initial response to that. Well, they can, but you’d probably rather not hear it. Too many expletives. I actually sounded like a low rent rapper myself for a bit. I mean seriously, why not just block the ignorant fan? Why offend an entire community of kids and their families that you obviously don’t know anything about? BIG MISTAKE.

I learned of this disasterous misstep when reading one of the best blogs out there on autism, a diary of a mom. She posted such a touching response to this incident that my heart ached after reading it, and not just because I have so been in that same place she was in many, many times. She also made me aware of Holly Robinson Peete’s open letter to 50 cent in which she talks frankly to him about how harmful his comments were and how many of his 8 million followers may actually have loved ones affected by autism – 1 in 88 – and asked him to at least delete his comments. She went on to say:

“If you’ve read your mentions today I am sure you have felt the wrath of autism parents. We are no joke. Neither is autism. We are not about to let you attempt to make “autistic” the new “R-word” under our watch.”

She then sent him a picture of her own son who has autism.  After Holly’s post, his twitter account has continued to be deluged with similar pictures so he will know #thisiswhatautismlookslike. I tweeted my own photo today, which I’ve included in this post. 50 cent did delete the offending comments.  It also looks like he deleted all of the comments from the families as well and most of the pictures – I only saw one still on his page, today. For some in the autism community, they are waiting for an apology. That has not happened, yet. To me, that silence speaks volumes.

 

Update posted 7/12/2012: Earlier this week, 50 Cent did finally make a public apology to the autism community. He stated, “I realize my autism comments were insensitive, however it was not my intention to offend anyone and for this I apologize.” (For full story see link here.)

This IS what autism looks like.

Where is everyone today? Yikes! I almost forgot! It’s time for the Writer’s Voice Twitter Pitch! No wonder it’s been so quiet! If you don’t know what it is, for a few hours TODAY ONLY!!!! you get to post a twitter pitch of your COMPLETED manuscript where a select group of agents will be watching. That’s right! You thought it was hard to convey the essence of your novel down to 250 words in a query, try 140 characters! It’s quite exhilarating! Besides, what have you got to lose! Follow this link to Monica B.W.’s blog and see the details. Follow the action at #WVTP.

Oh! And just for fun, Here’s my Twitter pitch:

Stuck in treatment, labeled a drunk runaway Sara’s pleas of sanity go unheard. She must act crazy & break rules to survive life inside.#WVTP

That #WTVP feed was moving like lightning – so hard to follow! I’m sure I missed some really great pitches. I saw plenty of others and a fellow writer actually documented all of the winning pitches. Check out GB Skye’s list here. Also, if you weren’t able to make it to the twitter pitch, or if you’d like help honing your own pitch, Becca C  is keeping her very helpful Building Your Own Twitter Pitch post open. It’s an excellent place for writers to help each other. You’ll get great feedback there. I saw many pitches in the feed that had really improved after they’d received feedback from her post.

♫♪ You gotta have gooooaaals! ♪♫

Okay, I don’t sing well in front of others, so I should stop now. I don’t know about you, but I do better when I set writing goals, especially goals with deadlines, and tell others about them. Otherwise I can’t be trusted. It’s like asking me to give up eating chocolate and then leaving me unsupervised with a bag of peanut M&Ms. I’d find myself in the nearest broom closet scarfing down half the bag as soon as everyone’s back was turned. Besides, that’s a terrible goal. Who can live without chocolate?

K.T. Hanna is once again calling on us to shout out our goals for all to hear and then support our fellow #writemotivation participants as we valiantly leap forward and work our butts off to reach our May goals. Feel free to join in on our twitter chat at #writemotivation as we cheer each other on in our successes and help each other get through the harder times.

Here are the goals I hope to achieve this month:

1. Revise the query for my completed YA manuscript until it’s tight enough to bounce a quarter off the sucker.

2. Research prospective agents to whom I want to submit my completed YA manuscript.

3. Once items one and two have been successfully achieved, submit to at least three agents at a time.

4. Get cracking on the next YA manuscript I have planned so I don’t check my inbox every thirty minutes awaiting responses to my submissions.

I should add that I will need to keep my pantry stocked with emergency stress-reducing aids to make it through this process. Chocolate is the number one survival aid and wine has also been recently suggested, although with my tendency to get migraines, I think a collection of fine beers will have to substitute.  Are there any other stress-reducing suggestions out there? Let me hear them. This is going to be a long month.

As some of you may know, I participated in the Cupid’s Literary Connection Surprise Agent Invasion Contest. The details of which are here in this previous post. Well, the contest has officially ended and I was indeed struck by Cupid’s arrow a few times – such a giddy feeling! The contest as a whole was so much fun. It was also incredibly intense and nerve-wracking as well. I met some fantastic new writer friends. We bonded over on Twitter where we totally obsessed about what agents would stop by, WHEN agents would stop by, would the current agent browsing through the list pick our entry (please, please,PLEASE!!!) We really knew how to obsess. But the best thing we did was offer up support and congratulations to each other when an agent made a request – and there were many requests! There were a total of 86 requests made by 12 agents and 1 editor who stopped by for surprise invasions during the three week period that our entries were posted. Not bad! I’d definitely call that a huge success.

I learned some valuable things about my writing from the agent comments on my entry, mostly that they loved my first page and that I apparently lack the ability to write tight, clear queries. (I kind of already knew that part; I loathe the query.) It was a good thing my writing was strong enough on the first page for a few agents to over-look my atrocious query. As I am always looking for ways to improve my craft, I decided that I should suck it up and dispense with the query-loathing and master the damned thing. Several writing friends have already sent me in the direction of their favorite query sites and given me helpful tips, but I am always open to hearing more from others who excel in this area.

In the column of even more exciting news, hot on the heels of her vastly successful Surprise Agent Invasion Contest, our lovely, hard-working Cupid has a new contest starting May 3rd called “The Writer’s Voice”. She is patterning it after the hit show “The Voice”. Entries will be picked based on their queries and first pages and then a few select coaches will get involved to help the chosen candidates improve their entries for the final round where agents will pick their favorites and request to see their manuscripts. One major change in this contest is that you do have to have a blog to enter. Check out the details if you are interested in entering. It should be another amazing contest.

For me, I plan on watching this one and cheering on the hopeful competitors. I still have one agent reviewing my manuscript and once I brush up my query skills, I will start submitting. I may have a few more agents requesting soon. Who knows. Good luck to the new competitors!

March was basically my first month writing this blog and participating in the #writemotivation challenge not only helped me learn to balance my actual writing time with my platform building time, it helped me connect with others going through the same challenges and struggles that present themselves to unpublished writers. This has been so much fun and I love the feedback I’m getting about the blog – on the site itself and in person at conferences or writers’ meetings. You guys are so awesome. I don’t really know much about the numbers, but I’ve had over 600 viewers in the first months alone. And that doesn’t suck.

Having goals really helps me keep my butt in the chair, doing what I’m supposed to be doing – what I love to do more than anything else. Writing. So here is the final recap on my March goals.

My goals for March:

  • Complete my novel revision: I’ve done most of the heavy-lifting on this goal, only a bit of fine-tuning left near the end. I’ll call it done.
  • Post two blog entries each week: Definitely done. Woohoo!
  • Update my journal project and keep it current: Not much progress on this. Can’t win them all. I will set this down as a goal for April.

I’d like to thank K.T. Hanna for creating #writemotivation and for keeping us all motivated throughout the month with our tweet chats and for just being an all-around wonderful supporter of us writers struggling right on the cusp of success. That may be the hardest place to be. I’d also like to thank all of the other #writemotivation participants who gave so much support to me and listened to me rant when things were frustrating. You guys rock. Good luck in April! And keep on writing!

I am now a firm believer in the powers of Twitter.

Oh, I’ve been paying lip-service to Twitter and dutifully tweeting every few days, saying random things I think you’re supposed to say, announcing my new blog posts over the past month. Everything a new young writer is supposed to do. Most of the time that I’m on Twitter, I feel like I’m riding an uncontrollable wave made out of people that don’t care for my comments, don’t get my sense of humor, and would rather I just browse quietly so they don’t have to acknowledge my existence – with the exception of my #writemotivation supporting crew.You guys have been awesome. I know it can be a powerful tool once you get the hang of it, and sometimes I can almost see the end of the enlightenment tunnel, but then someone uses something differently than I’ve been using it and then I know I’ve probably pissed somebody off by the wrong hashtag placement. So basically, it feels like high school all over again. Awkward.

Then, one day a few weeks ago, all my fumbling awkwardness paid off. While browsing through the tweets, I stumbled upon a post by Cupid for Writers re-tweeted from a fellow #writemotivation participant. It was about a contest of sorts called “Surprise Agent Invasion” that sounded very interesting and it had a fast-approaching deadline. The only downside was that I would have to write a query. I loathe queries. I have yet to feel comfortable writing queries. (Why can’t agents and editors just take my word for it that I am fabulous and just read my manuscript, right?)

The good thing about such a short deadline was that I didn’t have time to psych myself out; I had less than twenty-four hours to prepare an entry and submit it. Since I really needed the practice writing queries (stop being whiny and just do it because it’s good for you) this would be a great test-run for my manuscript before I started submitting earnest in April, I jumped at the chance. (Well, actually I closed my eyes and then leaped off the cliff.)

After I submitted my entry, I waited along with 200 others for two weeks to find out if we made the final cut.

I just received the e-mail today congratulating me on my entry becoming a “victim” for Cupid’s Literary Connection “Surprise Agent Invasion” . My entry along with 50 other lucky participants will be displayed for three weeks starting tomorrow. Invited agents will then make comments on our manuscripts and queries or even request our manuscripts. Pretty exciting, eh?

I know it may seem like a little thing, but any positive reinforcement my manuscript gets is like watching my baby taking her first step. When I read the acceptance e-mail, I laughed and cried at the same time, just like when my children were born. Happy tears; overwhelming feelings so hard to describe.

Will I make that ultimate cupid connection with the agent of my dreams? Will she (or he) knock me off my literary feet with an offer I can’t refuse? Who knows what will come of this unusual contest, but I’m ready for it. Wish me luck! (Oh! I better go tweet about it!)

UPDATE: My entry can now be viewed at Cupid’s Literary Connection at the above link. I am #17.