I want to thank Lara Schiffbauer for nominating me for the Shauny Blog Award. It was something I hadn’t heard of, but it’s a great way to tell those other bloggers who’ve supported you on your way.
It was created last November by Doctor Rex in honor of Shaun Gibson, a Scottish blogger who lives with chronic pain syndrome.The sentiment in which the award was created is just beautiful and the only rules, if you can call them rules, are these: Show Humanity, Show Love, Be Yourself, Don’t Be Others, Don’t Gossip, and Share This Award with 10 others. (Okay, I only did four. )
There are so many awesome bloggers out there, but four of them stand out of the crowd. These ladies are all writers, terrific writers, and they’ve supported me in the blogging and writing world. Because really, I’m blogging because of my writing.
So in no particular order…
Laura Schiffbauer: And seriously, I’m not giving her the award because she did for me.
As a blogger: Not long after I started blogging, I found Lara. She had some inspiring posts and other informative writing posts, and she hooked me there. I read her blog for a while before I started commenting, but then finally got more comfortable. Lara also does these Friday Fun post with great pictures of animals and captions. She’s seriously one of the first blogs I read Friday mornings because her pictures are always good for a laugh.
As a writer: Lara’s been super supportive of my projects, always ready to help. And I’ve been lucky to read her work too and can’t wait to see her #2 book in her Adven Series. Someday I hope to meet her and maybe when we both become famous writers, we’ll take a drive and meet halfway between our homes. (Btw, Lara, I checked out the map, and I think South Dakota’s Black Hills would be a perfect halfway point.
As a blogger: Cassie Mae was another one there when I first got into blogging. She is so funny and so sweet. In my early blogging times, I’d be going around visiting blogs and I’m like, oh—there’s Cassie Mae. Then I’d go to another, and another, and Cassie Mae was like always one of the commentors. I’m not sure how she kept up with them all, but she was everywhere. She is just a terrific blogger: fun and interesting.
As a writer: Cassie Mae totally makes me laugh. Her characters are sometimes sweet, sometimes fun, sometimes silly, and you just love them. She is also another writer I admire, successful in both self and traditional publishing. She’s got so many fires burning, I can hardly keep up with them all, but I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to read her work before it’s published. I met Cassie Mae once, but will get to see her also at the Storymakers Conference.
As a blogger: Jolene was also one of those who I started following in my early blogging days. She always had fun posts and I learned a lot about writing and publishing. At first I was nervous leaving a comment on her blog, but I got over that when I found out how cool she was.
As a writer: Jolene is one of those writers I’d love to be. Yes, she writes (and has been publishing) lots of great novels, but… she is just an awesome person. Always willing to help. And I can’t wait to meet her at the April Storymakers conference we’ll both be at.
As a blogger: I didn’t find Theresa right away when I first started blogging, but it didn’t take long. I think it was a blog hop she hosted with another. I hadn’t done a lot of blog hops at that time, but this was a fun one—and if I remember right, relatively easy. And so that’s when I really started visiting her blog. And I’m like, ohh, I love the sound of the stories she writes. They’re similar to what I like to read. And the rest is history. (Of course anything in the past is now history, I suppose. )
As a writer: As I said above, I love the type of stories Theresa writes. I’ve gotten to read a ton of hers and love them all. There’s always romance/love in there, but there’s usually some type of emotional issue that the main characters struggle with. She makes her characters struggle a lot. (Which is good. ) She’s been so very supportive too, helping me with mine and always there to make me laugh. I’ve seen Theresa twice, but I’m sure there’ll be much more times. The next time I go to NYC, I’m staying with her, because she is totally fun too. (Here’s your warning, Theresa, if I hadn’t mentioned this yet. )
So those are my four picks, because as I said, they’re all terrific writers… terrific women… and terrific friends.
Posts Tagged ‘Writers’
I want to thank Lara Schiffbauer for nominating me for the Shauny Blog Award. It was something I hadn’t heard of, but it’s a great way to tell those other bloggers who’ve supported you on your way.
My friends, Kelley Lynn and Jenny Morris, just released their book, Road to Somewhere. It’s about two sisters, a roadtrip, and apparently cowboys. I haven’t had a chance to read it since I just purchased it last night, but I really like the storyline being about two sisters.
I haven’t seen a lot of that in YA. More often when books involve siblings, it’s a brother/sister combination. Or, you typically have a ‘good’ sibling and a ‘bad’ sibling, but this doesn’t seem to be that way either.
So I’m looking forward to reading this story about Charlie and Lucy. And I’m also curious about those cowboys.
Let me know what other books you’re read about sisters OR brothers. Or if you’ve read Road to Somewhere.
For Charlie, a post-high school road trip isn’t just a vacation, it’s life changing. While her parents think she’s helping a friend move, a chance at fame is the real reason to grab her best friends and drive to L.A. But when her super annoying, uber-responsible, younger sister, Lucy, has to tag along, it isn’t quite the summer of fun she imagined.
Add in a detour to her grandparents’ ranch in Texas, and between mucking the stalls, down-home cookin’, and drool worthy ranch hands, this could just turn into the best, and most complicated, summer of their lives.
Since she’s way more funny than I am, I’m gonna let her introduce it.
Take it away Cassie Mae…
Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.
When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.
Last week, I had Julie S. Decker on my blog to talk about her experience as being a mentor for the Pitch Wars contest. See here for that post. This week, she’s talking about the problems and issues she saw with submissions, which would be helpful for someone querying since her advice is similar to what agents say.
So what were the most common problems with the Pitch Wars Submissions?
The most common problem in queries was lack of trajectory. Many queries failed to tell me about their story arc, and that’s very important in a query. I found a lot of vagueness, like “she must find herself” or “in a race against time, they must succeed before it’s too late” without giving me a clear understanding of what the characters want/need and what will happen if they don’t get it done. I also found that too much detail was a problem, and occasionally I would see explanations of themes or morals that didn’t need to be there. And some authors praised themselves in their queries, told me irrelevant details about their writing process, or included inappropriate personal details.
In the writing samples, the most common problem was infodumping on page one. When I saw awkward recitations of background details or people having conversations that were clearly contrived to convey context to the reader, I froze up and disengaged. Readers should never feel that the characters are standing still while the author lectures. Books need to begin when something is beginning–something we want to watch. It’s a delicate balance to suggest the characters and world have history and depth without halting the story to tell us about it, but that’s why writing is an art! Other problems included failure to get us invested in the characters, “telling” me a character’s attributes instead of showing me, and spelling/grammar/punctuation errors.
I did get a few weirdly categorized books–like projects that were pitched as YA to one mentor but NA to me for some reason–and a few people sent me things I specifically identified as NOT my style in my bio (horror, category romance, stories where women characters are objectified or killed for the sake of the male hero having “motivation”). I think most of the people who didn’t follow directions just didn’t realize that they weren’t allowed to send manuscripts to someone who wasn’t taking their category, but other than that people were good about following the directions.
One thing I’ve always wondered about with these contests is whether the judges (or agents) feel that the submissions were ready for querying. Of course that’s subjective, and part of Pitch Wars was to work with a mentor to prepare the submission, but what did you see, Julie? Were a lot of them query-ready or did they need a lot of work?
I thought most of what I received wasn’t polished enough to get an agent. Sometimes that was just a query issue but usually it was the pages. I’d say around 20% of what I got was definitely not close to ready, and 80% of it (including that 20%) probably needs quite a bit of work (though some might be close enough that an agent will give an R&R or offer representation and then give pointers). Then maybe around 20% of the submissions I received had both a decent query and decent pages which made me think they will do well with agents if they query. Some, I found out, haven’t started querying at all yet. Even the folks I picked for my top three need some help, though there were a couple in my top ten that I didn’t pick for personal reasons and still think they will do well with agents. In a couple cases I have even mentioned that I might be willing to set up a referral even though I didn’t pick them. I don’t do that often though.
I’ve been in several contests over the years, and I can definitely say that I wasn’t ready for some of them. It’s hard not to jump into contests because you’re so excited about getting your story presented to agents, but it’s best to wait and make sure it’s polished and ready.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about contests in general?
I think any author entering a contest should do it more for the experience than the prize. The mentee I chose actually volunteered to me during our first conversation that he was primarily interested in forming relationships with other writers and trying to expand his team of willing beta readers and critique partners. Even if you’re not chosen, you can really enjoy the community and form relationships with others in it, and start following their blogs and learning about their lives s/o you begin to build a network of people with similar interests and similar aspirations.
Thanks for stopping by, Julie. It was interesting to hear about your experiences. For prospective judges, I’d definitely recommend looking into the time commitments before you volunteer. And for contestants, don’t jump into contests until you know you’re ready.
Anybody out there want to be a judge/mentor for a contest? Despite all the work, I think it would be fun, but obviously for me, I’m not quite qualified yet to be a judge or mentor.
Today I’ve got two cover reveals by my good friend, Rachel Schieffelbein.
The first book, Don’t Fall, is being published by Swoon Romance. There are three options, and you can vote for your favorite cover.
The other cover reveal is for Over the Ocean, which Rachel–writing as Georgia St. Mane–is self-publishing. It’s got the cutest cover ever, so make sure you scroll down after you vote.
Here they are…
mother until she falls for a boy who has her wanting to spread her wings,
pitched as a contemporary retelling of RAPUNZEL.
Anya leads a very secluded life in a house on the edge of town with her adopted
mother. She doesn’t go to school, but instead has a private tutor. Her
over-protective mom keeps her so sheltered that she doesn’t even have a best
But Anya doesn’t seem to mind. She has her books, her photography, and her
daydreams, and would do anything to please her mom. Until one day at the
library, the only place she’s allowed to go, she takes a picture of a beautiful
Before long she’s lying to her mom, and sneaking out late at night to meet
Zander. But Zander wants more than a secret romance. If Anya wants to be with
the boy of her dreams, she will have to risk her relationship with the only
other person she’s ever cared about.
them decide the cover for Don’t Fall!
They have three lovely cover options for you to choose from. Please vote below on your favorite cover!
Designed by Taylor.ink, photograph by Beth Mitchell
and designed by Laura Lanning
Designed by Anna Zaffke, photo from Shutterstock.by Aleshyn_Andrei
When Bree meets Logan, and hears his oh-so-sexy British accent, it’s lust at first sight.
Bree thinks Logan feels the same way, especially when they’re snuggled up on her couch with his tongue down her throat. But when Logan decides that getting into a relationship when he only has a few months left in the States is a bad idea, Bree agrees to be “just friends.”
But every time he flashes his swoon-worthy smile, complete with dimples, Bree has a hard time keeping her thoughts in the “friend zone.”
Over the Ocean at Goodreads
Welcome to the Big Reveal
I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.
Are you artistic in other ways in addition to writing?
Julie Sondra Decker
Yes. I enjoy drawing (though I’m not professional level at it), and I draw two webcomics—one is a silly manga-style color strip comic about being a writer (updates monthly), and the other is a long-form story comic drawn in pencil (updates weekly–it has been going on for nearly nine years). I also enjoy singing, and majored in music with voice as my instrument. I like making up and performing harmony parts to others’ songs, and I do a lot of karaoke, though I also enjoy singing classical art songs. My website building, home decorating, and baking may also count as creative activities, but I do them to a lesser extent.
A little, I guess. I used to love making jewelry until I ran out of time to do it. But I was pretty decent at it!
I paint a little. When words won’t come, I find painting is another good way to get my emotions out. I also love to take photographs, though I’m not even an amateur—that is, I don’t have a bunch of fancy equipment, just my iPhone. I used to sing and act, too, but now I sing only for myself and acting isn’t something I get the chance to do much.
I sometimes paint and sketch. I also enjoy graphic design.
I wish I was more artistic. I do enjoy photography, mostly photographing people. I love the challenge of trying to capture their personality on film. But that’s it. I can’t draw or paint or anything like that. My nine-year-old is seriously more artistic than I am.
I’d say yes but I should really say I used to be, only because I don’t spend time on other creative things besides writing now. I used to enjoy decorating and sewing quite a bit, and maybe I’ll break out the sewing machine for Halloween costumes and Easter dresses, but that’s about it these days.
While I like tinker on the piano some and doodle (poorly), I’m not very artistic outside of writing. I do like to work on computer graphics, using the skills I’ve learned to make covers and fun things to go with my books, but those skills are limited.
Are you artistic or creative in other ways?
I first met Pepper Winters a few years ago, and I’m happy to see her successes after all the hard work she done. Her dark stories draw me in, and I’m looking forward to reading her newest release.
So I’m totally jealous of all the interesting places she’s visited, and for this blog tour I wanted to know how her travels and the places she’s lived affects her choice of settings.
I love to write about places I’ve been, mention hotels I’ve actually stayed in, and twist fact with fiction. I draw on my travels a lot to add authenticity to my work.
When I wrote Tears of Tess, I loved writing about Mexico and France. I find it gives me the luxury to leave my lounge and travel. Sometimes I see it so clearly, I feel like I’m truly there.
I don’t think I’m swayed completely by my travels, but I probably won’t write about a book based in America as I’ve only ever been to New York and I don’t know enough about the different states. I would have to do a lot of research or do a fair bit of traveling to be confident to get it right.
Thanks for stopping by Pepper, and for those who haven’t seen it, all the info on Destroyed is below.
Just recently I’ve gotten to know another writer, Julie S. Decker. She’s in a unique circumstance in that she has an agent for fiction and a 2nd for non-fiction. And she has a deal with a publisher for her non-fiction book
Earlier this winter she was a Pitch Wars mentor. What happened for that contest was an applicant sent their query to three mentors of their choice, and the mentor picks their favorite out of all the submissions. Then the mentee and mentor work together to prepare it for the agent round.
There were around 2000 submissions, and about 35ish mentors. Julie had 74 submissions sent to her. Which I’m sure was a lot to wade through. And FYI: her mentee ended up getting an agent. So, good job, Julie!
Since I’d gotten to know her a bit, I asked a ton of questions to learn how Pitch Wars worked behind the scenes, and here is the first question. How did you narrow down your submissions?
I read each submission’s query letter and made extensive notes in the form of a letter to the author as I was reading. It took a while–as I was expecting–but I was determined to leave decent feedback for everyone who was brave enough to enter the contest. It was generally very easy to see in the query if I was not going to be working with someone. I would then go on to read the pages, and usually make fewer notes on the actual writing. If I liked something a lot, I usually gave MORE criticism–if someone is closer to a polished project but only needs a little push, I’m willing to invest more time into them. And if, based on the pages, I thought a project was not ready to query, I said so. I left at least one, but up to two and a half pages of feedback for everyone. My total amount of feedback was 46,000 words written over the course of four days.
All I have to say is wow. I don’t know what other mentors did, but that sounds like a ton of feedback to give.
After reading the submission I would rank each one. I just kept a list of them and every time I read a new one I slid it into the list above something I didn’t like as much and below something I liked better. At the end I had a complete ranking of 73 submissions. (One participant got an offer of representation during the contest and dropped out. She happened to be one of mine.)
I modified some of my feedback to let some of them know if they’d made my top five, my top ten, or my top twenty. I didn’t tell people their “rank” in general and didn’t mention it if they were below twenty. Since I had a rank at the end, I did not have to go back and re-read or wrestle too much over my team choice.
I believe my choices were more about good writing than they were about personal preference, but I acknowledge that personal preference did figure in. I am all about character. Some of the writing that I thought was excellent still pushed me away a bit if the perspective was more distant or if I didn’t feel a connection to the character. If I liked an idea but thought the writing didn’t carry it, the idea couldn’t save it for me. I value execution over concept.
My top ten was entirely made up of fantasy and science fiction except for ONE women’s fiction that I thought was an excellent character piece. The top ten did contain some genres I normally am not interested in, such as hard science fiction and supernatural romance. One of my top three–my first alternate–is about supernatural happenings at a military school, which is normally something I’m not interested in either, but the writing is fantastic. My second alternate’s work also involves the military since it takes place on a submarine, but I loved it for the character. Several other stories with military elements made up my top twenty, and that really surprised me.
It’s kind of nice to hear that mentors will branch out into genres other than their favorites.
All these contests run a little differently, and I’m sure that once a mentor/judge gets into it, they discover how hard it really is. Did being a Pitch Wars mentor turn out to be what you expected?
Honestly it was pretty much exactly what I expected, except that I didn’t think I’d get quite that many submissions. My bio was very picky and I thought I came off like a curmudgeon and a very strict killjoy at times, and it was kind of intentional; I wanted people who can take criticism. I was pleased and surprised that so many people connected with my style and thought I was a good match for their writing. The only other thing I was surprised by was how many technical problems we had with our mentor e-mail, but nobody could have predicted that. Ah, and the backstage discussions with the other mentors were more active and supportive than I’d initially expected.
What really surprised me was the amount of time Julie put into this contest. And that didn’t even include working on the story with her mentee. As a contestant in these types of contests, I would definitely appreciate that kind of feedback.
So next time I’ll have more on what kinds of problems she saw with the submissions, because really, these mentors see the same type of things agents do. And it’s a good list of things we should check before we query.
So have you ever done any contests? Or been a judge/mentor in a contest?
How to write awesome books.
Well I can’t give much advice on that, but Cassie Mae could because she’s a terrific writer. First she had How to Date a Nerd. The next one coming out is How to Seduce a Band Geek and the third is How to Hook a Bookworm.
Her characters are fun and sweet, and you really need to check out her books if you haven’t. Now here are the covers for Band Geek and Bookworm.
Geek (How To #2)
Mason—the boy who carries his drumsticks in his pocket, marches with the school’s
band, and taps his feet to whatever beat runs through his head. Sierra racks
her brain for ways to impress the sexy drummer, but the short skirts and
bursting cleavage don’t seem to cut it.
they strike a deal. In exchange for Sierra keeping her mouth shut about Brea
ditching the program, Brea lets Sierra dig for more info on Levi to help get
the guy of her dreams.
into a trailer, and he’s traded in his Range Rover for a baby blue moped,
Sierra’s not sure if she can go through with violating his privacy. She’ll have
to find the courage to ask him straight out—if he’s willing to let her in—and
explore other ways to seduce the school’s band geek.
Be magically eighteen like the rest of her friends. 2. Grow a money tree for
her family whose financial problems are well known about town. 3.
Overcome her test anxiety before she flunks out of every class.
abound, and she’s no closer to passing than she was the day before!
figures she has a better chance of burping up glitter than attracting the new
guy, but he seems extremely interested in her.
arrives marked with four giant F’s. Enter resident bookworm and Brea’s loyal
friend, Adam Silver. If he can’t help Brea pass, no one can.
and finds an escape with the new student who knows little about her
friendship with Adam she relies so heavily on. Faced with losing the only real
comfort and support she has ever had, Brea starts to wonder if she can hook a
bookworm before it’s too late.
and international bestselling author of HOW TO DATE A NERD, HOW TO SEDUCE
A BAND GEEK and HOW TO HOOK A BOOKWORM
knows this better than most. For the captain of the basketball team, small business
owner, and son of Minnesota’s next governor, life can get pretty overwhelming.
But Justin can handle anything as long as he has Lucy, the girl who fell for
the man he’s trying to be.
kisses and whispered promises just aren’t enough. That is, until scandalous
photos of the couple are leaked to a press intent on creating a juicy scandal
during Justin’s dad’s gubernatorial campaign. And when Lucy becomes fair play
for the tabloids and gossip pages, Justin does the only thing he can to protect
her: he breaks her heart.
pretty sure she loves chooses the life his family wants for him, over her.
Because for Justin, being who everyone needs him to be just might cost him the
one person he can’t live without.