Christmas in July Contest

In an effort to keep everyone informed of online querying opportunities that I come across, I wanted to make sure you all know about an upcoming event that two YA writers are hosting – a great contest called Christmas in July where you may earn the opportunity to share your query and the first 500 words of your completed novel with ten, yes TEN, participating agents. The contest opens this Monday morning at 6am EST, so dust off your queries and first pages, give them a fresh polish, and enter them into this most excellent contest. (I’d hoped to give everyone a little more notice than two days, but my modem died and I’ve been without internet service for a few days. Ack! So glad I got it back in time to enter on Monday!) See Ruth Lauren Stevens and Michelle Krys respective blog sites for more details. You can also follow the action on Twitter at #XmasinJuly. Good luck to all!

Advertisements

Fresh as a Daisy Critique My Query Challenge

So no sooner do I open my big mouth and say how shiny my query is than I turn around and get a chance to prove it (or not). Daisy Carter is giving writers a chance to have their queries critiqued, all in preparation for a pitch contest with her very own agent, Tricia Lawrence of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. The window is closing fast, so stop by her blog by midnight tonight if you are interested.

Here is my query open for all to critique:

Dear Fabulous Agent of My Dreams:

(I enjoyed meeting you/I chose submit to you paragraph goes here…)

 

Second born. Second place. Sara has been competing with her sister for attention all her life. Being perfect and never breaking the rules hasn’t made a difference. Frustrated, Sara sneaks out to attend the school dance. When she stumbles home drunk and tries to climb in through her sister’s window, she can’t believe what she’s seeing until it’s too late. Reality is forever altered. She runs away.

Lured back by her mother whom Sara hopes she can trust, she finds herself drugged and admitted to Whispering Sands Treatment Center as an out-of-control alcoholic runaway. Sara knows better; her parents are hiding her away to keep a secret that is not her own. She can hardly admit it to herself, so why tell someone else? She does tell the staff that she’s not crazy, but that’s like a convicted felon claiming she’s innocent.

Surrounded by the psychologically unbalanced and assigned a suicidal roomie who wants to rip everybody’s face off, Sara must find a way out. Hope comes from the baddest bitch on the unit. She tells Sara how to work the system, how to break the rules and pretend to be a sociopath on the road to recovery – she just wants a few favors in return. Her only refuge is with Matt, a boy who’s just as lost as she is. The stolen moments she finds with him after hours, in hidden spaces, might save the dwindling grip she has on her sanity.

INSTITUTIONALIZED; I’M NOT CRAZY is a young adult novel complete at 86,000 words. I have worked in the mental health field directly with adolescents in psychiatric facilities similar to the one described in my book. This manuscript won first place in the YA category in the 2012 Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. annual contest. I am also an active member of the Oklahoma SCBWI. Thank you for taking the time to consider my book. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Valerie Lawson

Cupid Was Very Good To Me – End of the Surprise Agent Invasion

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!

Lucky 7

The ever fantastic and ever floral Laura Stanfill tagged me for the Lucky 7 meme about a week ago. As it is a holiday weekend and I’d like to keep things fun I thought I’d give it a go.

The rules ask me to open my novel-in-progress and:

  1. Go to page 77.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs as they are written.
  4. Tag 7 new authors.

What  a lovely, self-indulgent excuse for me to post a random tidbit of my latest novel and force you to read it totally against your will! I love it! I shall choose seven paragraphs from my YA novel Institutionalized, which is currently on display – or at least the query and first 250 words – at the Surprise Agent Invasion on the Cupid Literary Connection Blog and finally getting some responses and even its first agent request – woohoo! I’m choosing the longest form because the particular section in question wouldn’t make much sense otherwise and because it’s my game, my rules, and…because I said so. (I’m also not going to tag seven new authors because I think everyone I would tag has already been tagged by this particular meme.)

Excerpt from Institutionalized:

“Why?” I turned to her, crossed my arms, and huffed. “Cause knowing he likes green is so top secret? C’mon.” I seriously was about to lose my patience with this Nazi control crap. And I didn’t want Matt to get into any trouble. Not because of me.

Courtney shook her head.  “Sara, you’re a smart girl. You know it’s more than that. Think about it.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with just talking.” I flopped back down in my chair. What was she getting so uptight about? “Everybody’s always trying to get me to talk – all the damn time. It’s all I ever hear from you people! Then I start talking to someone – oooh, a boy – and you freak out. Whatever!”

“Why do you think you’re here? To find a new boyfriend?” Courtney reached over and gently took a hold of my wrists. “You are here for a reason.” She looked over my bandages and then up into my eyes. I had definitely acted crazy and she was letting me know it. As far as she was concerned, I belonged here.

I pulled away and turned my head to look out the window. There was a pond in a little circle of trees with a fountain floating in the middle. I wished I could explode like that right now; shoot jets of emotion up into the air and let them fall all over everyone. I could feel the storm edging up to the surface, but I knew I had to keep it together or I’d never escape this place. I pushed the feelings back down. After a moment of silence, Courtney spoke again.

“If you spend all of your energy focusing on a male peer, you won’t make any progress in your treatment. Don’t you want to get better?”

I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to say there was nothing wrong with me and I didn’t need to get better, but I realized that I’d been acting like a real nutcase since they’d locked me up. Besides, I’d already tried the ‘I’m not crazy” defense and it hadn’t worked. So I stared down at my feet and tried to keep the tears from bubbling out of my eyes. She didn’t understand. It wasn’t my fault that I was here. No one was ever going to understand. My parents had made sure of that.

“Can I go now?” I asked. “I have a map to finish coloring.”

I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Easter/Passover to all!