Pitch Madness – The Clue Version Begins

pitch-madness-1The lovely and gracious host of many a pitch contest, Brenda Drake, is hosting a month-long Pitch Madness contest with a fantastic Clue theme. The agents are being revealed today. If you have a COMPLETED AND POLISHED manuscript that is of the Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult variety, you can enter the contest beginning on March 10th. Your entry will consist of a 35-word pitch and the first 250 words of your manuscript.

Here’s the Pitch Madness schedule …

  • Hosts and their teams Introduction on March 3
  • Agent Introduction on March 4
  • Rules of the Game on March 6
  • Formatting Instructions March 7
  • Submission window will be on March 10 and will be open for 24 hours
  • The first slush round will be March 11-12
  • The final round will be March 13-17
  • The top 60 picks for the agent round will go up on the blogs on March 18 at 12:01AM EST (NY time)
  • March 20 at 12PM EDT (Noon) the agents requests are revealed, and right afterward is the tying agents challenge round
  • There will be a #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party on March 25 from 8AM to 8PM EST. Check here for rules of the Twitter Pitch Contest.

Stop by Brenda Drake’s blog for full details.

Good Luck!

Christmas Flash Fiction Contest

tgnalogorevampOver at The Great Noveling Adventure, we are celebrating Christmas the best way writers know how, by writing some Christmas-themed flash fiction.

But that’s not all, we’re inviting you to do the same. From now until December 22nd, we are having a flash fiction contest. Using the picture prompts, write a 500-1000 word piece to enter. We’ll be posting the top three submissions on Monday, December 23rd and the voting will begin. The winner will receive a shiny gift package. Visit our site for details.

You can also stop by and read my own flash fiction story, The Christmas Train.

Things You Should Never Catch with Your Head…and a belated #writemotivation check in

Consider this a cautionary tale.

Be wary of testing the law of gravity; it exists for your own protection. For what goes up does indeed come down. And sometimes it does so with a vengeance.

Back when I was in first grade, my brother decided to test Newton’s big theory. For some reason, I decided to witness this event. So when he threw this up into the air…

Photo credit: Roger H Goun via Flickr
Photo credit: Roger H Goun via Flickr

…I caught it with my forehead.

Good old laws of physics passed the test. Still have a small scar above my right eye to prove it.

My younger brother was playing in the the outfield on a hot summer day when a pop fly came right overhead. Glove ready, he reached out to catch it, but the sun blinded him and the ball slipped over the top of his glove…

Photo Credit: Jason Empey via Flickr
Photo Credit: Jason Empey via Flickr

…BAM!!! He caught the ball with his mouth.

Gravity was a cruel mistress on that day. His lips were swollen like two bruised plums bursting off his face for weeks. He now plays soccer.

On a related sports note, back in Little League, my husband forgot that when you’re playing catcher, you should probably kneel behind the plate so you don’t catch one of these…

Photo Credit: Photographer Unknown, Untitled (Four Baseball Bats) 1992, Sold at Christie's Auction in 2007
Photo Credit: Photographer Unknown, Untitled (Four Baseball Bats) 1992, Sold at Christie’s Auction in 2007

…with your noggin.

And maybe you should wear a catcher’s mask. The bat hit him so hard, he didn’t register the pain. He stood there, trying to figure out how his white jersey had turned red and what was dripping into his eye. Uh, yeah that would be the blood from the big gash in your skull. He has a pretty cool scar, too.

You’d think now that we’re older,  we’d all have a better understanding about the dangers of testing gravity, of catching objects hurtling through the air and exhibit a little more caution in our daily lives. Sadly, this rarely turns out to be the case. This past weekend, while swimming with the family at the neighborhood pool, my husband forgot the lessons of the past and did something incredibly stupid. He caught this…

Sophie Smile

…with his face.

My daughter jumped in, all carefree and impulsive – like you do – intent on making a big splash. Instead, she misjudged her aim. Her knee landed somewhere around my husband’s eyebrow, giving him a black eye and her shin bone smacked across his mouth hard enough to knock out one of his front teeth.

Just in time for him to start his new job the following Monday. (With a brief detour to some serious dental surgery. ) Yippee.

So how was your week?

Learn anything cool about science?

Catch anything dangerous with your head?

writemotivation_header1Let’s review some #writemotivation goals to liven things up a bit more.

1. Submit Institutionalized (YA contemporary) to five more literary agents. I’ve submitted to two more agents this month. Still no rejections, so this makes seven submissions out. Will have to send out three more before the end of the month to make this goal. Should be doable.

2. While participating in Camp NanoWriMo, write at least 50K towards first draft of Pretty Vacant (YA contemporary). Uhh…I kind of forgot all about Camp Nano in the midst of the Christmas in July Pitch contest hoopla, the hubs changing jobs which totally threw our harmonious family schedule into chaos (read stressed everyone completely out), him then getting injured and going through major dental surgery the same week he started the new job (although my husband on nitrous oxide was entertaining at times, this injury still added more chaos and stress to the week). This goal is a total fail for the month. I’ll keep working on the story, but there’s no way I’ll make my word limit goal.

3. Read at least five more books – review one on the blog. I need to write a review up this week, but the reading is going well. I may be the cnv paperback USlast person on the planet to start reading Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. A Michael L Printz Honor book, among other awards – actually I should tell you what awards it hasn’t won, it’s a much shorter list. I’m bouncing between this gripping tale and last week’s book of note, Sara Zaar’s How to Save a Life.

4. Finish critique of friend’s manuscript. (Hopefully by her birthday midway through the month!) I have started this, but still extreme sad face. Will not make this goal, either.

5. Exercise 4 times each week. I did make this goal. Yay! Didn’t overdo it. This week the work outs were a little more relaxed, but still accomplished.

6. Participate in all Crit Camp activities, which include critiquing 10K samples from manuscripts from the other participants and preparing crit letters. This. Was. So. HARD! Writing up critique letters with an overview of plot, character, voice, structure, etc., was such a different way of thinking about critique. I really struggled with my final crit letters. Natalie was so helpful in pointing out when I was holding back and not saying what I meant and making me reach deeper. It was such a great learning experience, and in the end, I was able to give more specific examples when giving critiques and discuss the overall picture in ways I’ve never been able to before. I also really enjoyed getting so much helpful, insightful feedback on my own work. If this is something you could use help with, you may want to check out Natalie C Parker’s Crit Camp yourself.

That’s a wrap on the past week. I’ve got some great posts coming up to finish out the month so stay tuned. Next month week I’m headed out to the fabulous SCBWI LA Summer Conference! I’m sure to bring back valuable knowledge to share.

Christmas in July Pitch Contest Entries are Up Today! (That Means Mine, Too!)

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!

July #writemotivation Week 2

photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. httpwww.flickr.comphotossahlgoodeWhat a week! I thought last week was a whirlwind, this one almost got away from me.  I have returned to civilization and (almost) miss those psychotic chickens. I don’t miss the bugs. I finally stopped itching, yesterday, even with the toothpaste. I must admit that I have dipped into the sacred pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk. After the week in the country, though. I don’t even feel guilty about it.

Here’s a look at this month’s #writemotivation goals:

1. Submit Institutionalized (YA contemporary) to five more literary agents. I’ve done more eliminating of possibilities this past week than submitting, but that is part of the process. Some on my short list, when I looked closer didn’t really fit as well as I had hoped. This was pretty time-consuming. The good news is, my list is shorter. I also haven’t received any rejections, so I still have five submissions out.2013-Participant-Campfire-Circle-Badge

2. While participating in Camp NanoWriMo, write at least 50K towards first draft of Pretty Vacant (YA contemporary). (Yay, camp!) I spent more time on my other camp this past week than this one since it ends first, but I still made a little progress. Yay, for camps with NO BUGS!

howtosave-150x2273. Read at least five more books – review one on the blog. I’m currently reading Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life and digging it. Slowly chipping away at that gargantuan TBR pile. I may even snag Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series away from my daughter soon.

4. Finish critique of friend’s manuscript. (Hopefully by her birthday midway through the month!) Extreme sad face. Not. Even. Started. Utter Failure.

5. Exercise 4 times each week. More than four times, baby! Got the cramps and muscle strains to prove it!

6. Participate in all Crit Camp activities, which include critiquing 10K samples from manuscripts from the other participants and preparing crit letters. I’ve had so much fun doing the work for Natalie C Parker’s Crit Camp! I’ve received my initial crit letters back and Natalie’s feedback on my critiquing was so great. I’m ready to write up my final crit letters with much more depth and clarity. I hope my own critique partners notice the difference in my critiquing when we meet up next week. I can’t wait to try out my new skills.

On last minute announcement…Xmas in July post headerdrum roll please!!!

I entered my Middle Grade manuscript, Night of the Museum Crashers, into the Christmas in July Pitch Contest and out of 206 entries, mine was one of 30 chosen!

Yeah, baby! I’m so excited!

So what happens next? On July 18th and 19th, all the winning entries (Yes, that includes mine!) will be posted on the two hosting blogs. The lovely Michelle Krys and her equally lovely companion across the pond, Ruth Lauren Stevens have assembled these fantastic group of agents to view and make comments on the entries or possibly even make requests for submissions:

Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary Services

Tracey and Josh Adams of Adams Literary

Becky Vinter of Fine Print Literary Management

Diana Fox of Fox Literary

Molly Jaffa of Folio Literary Management

Lucy Carson of Friedrich Literary Agency

Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. 

Logan Garrison of The Gernert Company

Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency

Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary Agency

Monika Verma of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, Inc.

Brianne Johnson of Writers House

Carly Watters of P.S. Literary Agency

Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit

Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency

Katie Shea of Donald Maass Literary Agency 

Amazing, right? Check out Ruth or Michelle’s site for more details. And make sure to stop by to check out all of the amazingly talented entries on the 18th (including mine!OMG! So excited!) You can also follow the action on Twitter at #XmasinJuly and I’m on #TeamRuth. (Never been on a team before…very cool!)

SCBWI OK Spring Conference

Some wonderful writing opportunities and gatherings are fast approaching, especially for those of you in the Oklahoma vicinity, so I thought I’d share my favorite one with you. I’m a giver, what can I say?

SCBWI OK Spring Conference OnceUponAtime
Marriott Tulsa Hills, Tulsa, OK
April 20,2013
9:00am to 5:00pm

I was first introduced to the world of SCBWI at one of these Oklahoma conferences about eight years ago. That one was held in a church basement in a small rural town halfway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Even though it was small, the speakers were excellent and the fellow writers were extremely friendly. I met one of my future critique partners for the first time at that meeting. She was the only one I had the courage to speak to that first time out. Since then, I’ve become much better at introducing myself to strangers. These conferences get bigger and better each year.

One of the best perks of attending is being able to submit to each speaker, even if they belong to a closed house. Another nice perk is being able to chat with the speakers, either during the catered lunch or more informally after the conference when we all meet up for dinner. This last event is optional and is not covered in the conference fee, but it’s always well attended and great fun. If you don’t live in Oklahoma, but think you could make the trip and you’d like to attend, fantastic! We welcome you with open arms. (Even if you’re from Texas.) ha!

Here’s this year’s phenomenal speaker line up:

If that weren’t enough, you can also get a written manuscript critique or a verbal portfolio critique for an additional fee. These slots are limited and the deadline for turning in your manuscript to get one of these coveted slots is February 15th.

Check out the SCBWI OK website for more details.

New SCBWI Oklahoma Scholarship – Attend the LA Summer Conference!

I wrote a post a few months ago about the passing of our oldest member, 97 year-old Nita Buckley. Recently a scholarship was started up in her name to help send an Oklahoma SCBWI member to the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. This conference is a major investment for any writer, but well worth it. I attended my third LA Conference this past summer and shared a plethora of knowledge I absorbed during those three days right here on this blog, starting with this post. If you think you’re ready for this next step in your writer’s journey – and you’re an Oklahoma SCBWI member – but funds are a hindrance, consider applying for this.

The winner of the scholarship will be chosen from entries submitted to a writing contest and announced at the SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference on April 20, 2013.

TO APPLY FOR THE SCHOLARSHIP:

Send the first 250 words of a picture book, middle grade, or young adult novel using the following prompts:

Picture Book: Ellie found the book on a table in the back room of the old library. Running her hand over the shimmering cover, she thought she saw something move. “I’ll just take a peek inside,” she said. But when she opened the book?

Middle Grade Novel: A twelve-year-old boy or girl from a poor family receives a scholarship to an elite private school where he or she will go to school with kids from very wealthy families.

Young Adult Novel: You’re a teenager with a secret. Last night when talking with a friend, you admitted a terrible secret in confidence that had been weighing heavily on you, keeping you up at nights. Your friend reassured you, and you felt better after your confession. This morning when you arrive at school and notice everyone pointing at you and whispering, you soon discover that this same friend had recorded your conversation and posted it online for everyone in school to see.

Send your entry with your name and the type of book to Anna Myers at: amyers_author@yahoo.com.  Type Contest in the subject line. All entries must be sent between March 1st and March 20th only, not before or after those dates.

Good luck! And I hope to see some of you at the spring conference!

SCBWI LA Here I Come! (and other conference news…)

In less than twenty-four hours I will kiss the hubs and children goodbye and head off to Los Angeles to attend one of my favorite writing events of the year, The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators Summer conference. I’m so excited that I can hardly think straight! ACK! It’s been four long years since I last attended this mega event. So many events and fabulous speakers – I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to be in two , sometimes three places at once during some of the break out sessions, even with the handy dandy conference phone app they’ve given us this year.(How cool is that, folks? I’ve been uber geeking out for weeks!) With keynotes from Arthur Levine, Tony DiTerlizzi, Ruta Sepetys, Dan Gutman, Clare Vanderpool, and Gary Schmidt, not to mention all the other fabulous editors and agents and authors on the faculty.

I’ve done a lot of pre-reading for the conference and have some more for the plane ride. I have my business cards ready to exchange this time. Pencils sharpened, notebooks ready. I signed up for a one-on-one critique, which is always nerve-wracking and yet very helpful. I have some prepared questions for my interviewer in case we have some extra time after the critique.  I’ve gone over all the conference dos and don’ts in my mind a thousand times.

(DO talk with authors when you bump into them in the elevator or in the Starbucks line and mention how much you enjoyed their presentation, book, etc. DON’T follow Jay Asher up to his room, telling him what a big fan you are. He WILL think that’s creepy.)

Gah! So excited! Did I mention that? I’ve even got my wardrobe planned out for the Hippie Hop Dance and I’ve been practicing my moves for the, oh! shh!…almost gave away the surprise. Yes, I have been unbearable to live with for a few days, now.

What do you do to get ready for a big conference? Are you going to any big writing events this summer?

Don’t despair if  you are watching your budget this year or your schedule just won’t allow for a cross-country trips to attend any of the distance conferences. There is another fabulous conference coming up that everyone can attend in their PJ’s and it is absolutely free! Yes, FREE!

WriteOn Con is two day online conference event that starts August 14th. To sign up for the conference or to learn more about the scheduled events, check out the website here.  They have a faculty of 56 industry professionals participating, including many editors and agents! They even have a convenient Twitter list of the entire faculty that you can subscribe to. The best thing about it is that most of the content stays posted after the scheduled event times, so if you can’t make it to one of the live chats, you can still view the information at your own convenience – wearing whatever you want. Not a bad perk!

Some of the fantastic events they have planned include blog posts, vlogs, live web chats, live forum events with opportunities to show off your queries, pitches, and first pages and even have them reviewed. Also, be on the look out for ninja agents! There’s also a writing contest with a $1000 prize! See details for the contest here.

I will be soaking up the California rays and the invaluable knowledge of the book sages for the next week. See you all back here then!