Tidbits on #AdPit and #KidPit…

Let me start by saying that everything included below can (and does) pertain to both #AdPit and #KidPit. The only thing that separates these two pitchfests is the age range. So allow me to clarify that now:

#AdPit is for NEW ADULT and ADULT manuscripts only

#KidPit is for YOUNG ADULT, MIDDLE GRADE, CHAPTER BOOKS, PICTURE BOOKS, and every other type of children’s books imaginable.

It is YOUR job to pick your manuscript’s age range and pitch to the correct contest. Don’t waste your time pitching to the wrong one, because the industry professionals (pros from now on) frequent the pitchfest for the books THEY represent. You don’t want to have your six middle grade pitches in the #AdPit feed because it’ll be skimmed over.

Now, on to more tips and tricks…

Graphic novels and any other author/illustrator books are welcome to add art to their pitches.

If you are part of an author team (co-writers) of a single title both authors should not post six pitches each. The number of pitches is FOR THE MANUSCRIPT not the author. FOR EXAMPLE — Say my #KidPit assistant Athena Greyson hand I co-authored a young adult horror manuscript, then we would ONLY be allowed six total pitches for the novel. 

I cannot verify the authenticity of favorites you may receive. The pitchfest is open invitation which means word will continue to spread throughout the publishing pro world and the pitching writers world up to and through the end of the pitchfest. Not everyone has writers’ best interests in mind. It’s poop, I know. But it’s true. There are ‘fake’ pros out there that will prey on writers’ dreams like a vampire on virgin blood. My advice is to research any favorites you may receive BEFORE you send anything to them. NEVER, EVER send anything out unless you are sure. It’s not being obsessive or unprofessional, it’s being careful – and it’s YOUR writing career that may be in danger. Not just a book – but your entire career.

The fact that these pitchfests are open invitation is also why I cannot post a list of participating pros. As word spreads through the professional world, more and more will show up to browse the pitches. As word spreads through the writer world, more and more writers will show up to pitch too. Neither do I like to make the pros feel obligated to attend. Sometimes things happen and even if they planned to be there, it just may not be possible. I do try to ReTweet/Quote Tweet/or otherwise announce when I see pros coming into the feed. Again, it isn’t always possible because the feed moves super quickly, and I sometimes miss them. If you are pitching and you spy one that hasn’t been RT/QT’d feel free to do it. There’s just the two of us and lots of tweets for us to monitor.

Just two of us – @AthenaGreyson is my assistant with all things #KidPit and many times with #AdPit too, so keep an eye on her Twitter too, if you don’t already.

Pitching stops at 3:00PM Central Time. I do this to stop the feed from moving so pros that have been lurking and waiting can have all of the pitches in one place so they can easier search through them. That does NOT mean that if you have no favorites by 3:00 that you’re doomed. You’re not. Pros often stick around AFTER the pitchfest ends to make requests. Sometimes it takes them days to make all the requests that they want. You have to be patient and remember that the pros already have clients and work to do. They are volunteering their time to participate, so respect that.

That searching the pros do – that’s one reason the genre hashtags are so important in your pitches. If you want to see who else is pitching books similar to yours, all you have to do is type #AdPit or #KidPit and the genre hashtag into Twitter’s search bar. It should look like this: #AdPit #Cozy #M. That would show me ALL of the pitches/tweets in the #AdPit feed that are cozy mysteries or mysteries. This is helpful if you would like to find pitches that work/don’t work, or maybe to find fellow writers that write in the same genre as you. You can even find beta readers and critique partners this way. You may even make some new writer friends.

By not following the rules you may be hurting your chances to get favorites. For instance, the rules state that pitching ends at 3:00 PM but you continue to pitch past then, the prowling pros may choose not to favorite your pitches because you are unable to follow rules and they may think you will be a difficult client to potentially work with. This isn’t true of ALL pros but it is for some, so don’t give them a reason to say no before you have the chance to dazzle them with your book.

What to do if you receive a favorite from a pro that has already seen your work or that you have just queried them with traditionally? It’s easy. Tweet them, ask them for clarification. Ask them if they want you to re-query or not. I know that a ton of writing advice websites tells you not to tweet at pros but in the instance of pitchfests, it is acceptable.

What to do if you receive no favorites at all? Don’t panic. It has nothing to do with your writing. A lot of reasons factor into why your pitch was missed, so relax. It’s not the end of the world. However, consider searching for other pitches in your genre/age range. See what worked for them, and what didn’t. See what pros favorited their pitches, and research that pro yourself. If you think your manuscript would be a good fit for them too, then double check that they are open to submissions and query them old school. Remember, all you need is that one yes.

I mentioned genre hashtags before, so I just wanted to add a quick note to say that I will be posting a media post on Twitter to clarify which genre hashtags I recommend that you use.

Concerning the allowed media pitches – at the last pitchfest in July, I had an agent remark that a lot of the media pitches were really hard to read, so he/she skipped over them. To stop a pro from skipping yours make sure they are easy to read, concise, and use a more basic font. Remember, there are a LOT of pitches to scour through. Make yours easy to read, and it’ll be more likely to be read. They scroll through quickly, give them a reason to slow down to read yours.

For the record –

Both #AdPit and #KidPit pride themselves on being open to diversity of all types (disability, POC, religion, sexual orientation etc…) if I find any pitchers that are trolling the feed with hate speech of any kind YOU WILL BE BLOCKED and REPORTED. And I hope that any other participants that discover any types of discrimination, misogyny, hate, phobic behaviors etc… that you will alert me so that we can take action against the account(s) at fault.   

As always, I’m just a message away if anyone has any other questions. Good luck to everyone. Let’s get out there and make book magic!

 

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Six years ago today…

I had a second majorly invasive spine surgery. Six years ago tomorrow…was the day I nearly died. Six years ago Friday…was the day I learned how to walk for the third time in my life.

*What’s following is a shortened version of a part of my autobiography I’m writing titled WHEN CICADAS CRY. No, I don’t necessarily ever expect that this (or any part of the whole manuscript) will ever see a printing press. I’m writing this as a ‘note’ to myself and my kids (or any grandkids or family members) for later. I’ve been around enough cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s to know that if I am ever stricken with either of these memory-snatching diseases that at least there will be a record of my life for anyone who is interested in it. But this has nothing to do with today’s anniversary or this week’s anniversaries.*  

So back to it… Why I hate the word disabled…

When I was fourteen years old, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. I’d never heard of it. My family had never heard of it. That’s strange. I should have. After all, scoliosis is a hereditary disease. But in my case, if I inherited it then I don’t know where it came from. And trust me – I have searched, researched and searched some more, but I can NOT find any reference to scoliosis in my family’s history on either side. I finally learned that this little doozy of a disease can lie dormant for years…even centuries. And unfortunately, once it appears it can appear sooner again, or possibly never again for a few more centuries. That’s troubling, isn’t it?

Here, add this to what I just said – my scoliosis isn’t even normal. Nope. It’s an abnormally aggressive type of the spinal deforming disease. For most people that I’ve found and even met and talked with; their scoliosis was corrected by one surgery in their early to mid-teen years. Sure. Many of them had to wear back braces too. A lot of them didn’t.

*I want to add a note here that many scoliosis cases can and are fully treated by wearing back braces alone, or by chiropractors. I actually drove a chiropractor nuts once arguing with him when he made the statement at a health fair that ‘all cases of scoliosis can be easily treated by his methods.’ In the end, I got him to retract his statements and he started saying many instead. I’m focusing on the cases that require surgery for this post.* 

  Back to those one surgery cases…

Those cases usually involved a rod that’s about four vertebrae long, and four accompanying hooks or screws to hold the rod in place. Those screws are placed on the dominant side of the spine’s curve.

That’s what my first surgery looked like. Except for me, it didn’t last. I was fourteen years old when I had that first surgery and subsequently learned how to walk again. Like most other people who had this surgery, I thought I could get back to life like normal. I had no lasting ‘issues’and even went on to register as an NPC professional bodybuilding figure competitor. I got my personal training certification, went to college, eventually got a ‘real’ job as a legal assistant, had my two kids, and so on… I thought I was cured too.

I knew my scoliosis was worse than others because I had an S-shaped curve even then. What’s an S-shaped curve, you ask? It’s easiest just to look at it like this – my spine looked like an S. My lower spine (lumbar region) curved sideways to the left at 45 degrees.  My upper spine (thoracic region) curved sideways to the right at (then) 15 degrees.

My first surgery was done by a nationally recognized (then at least; it’s been a few years) orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Christofersen said all was well after it took me nearly a year to get back my pre-surgery mojo. He said by stabilizing the lower curve, the upper one would be frozen in place. He said I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. He was right for about ten years.

Ten years passed. I had a cushy legal assistant job, was a single mom of two amazing kids, and smiling at my twenty-fifth birthday when things, if you’ll pardon my cliche, went to hell in a handbasket. My health took a nosedive.

It took me six years to find a doctor that would see me. I found a general practitioner that grudgingly took me on after about four years, and it took him two more years to find a neurosurgeon that would see me. People, health insurance is not a friend to single parents with pre-existing conditions. (No. I’m not getting into this long-windedly, but even with the advent of Obamacare (or ACA) my battle to find doctors to see me is still one I have to fight constantly. Maybe things are different where you are, but for me out here where there’s more dirt and grass than concrete; it sucks.)

Anyway, at the age of 31 – scoliosis came back with a vengeance. I found myself undergoing God knows how many invasive tests with this neurosurgeon, Dr. McGirt at Vanderbilt University Health Center. By this time, I was having to use a cane to even get around with on days that the pain was bad. I was 31 years old and having to walk with a cane – yeah, you read that right.

I wasn’t surprised when the doc came back one day and said, ‘You’re going to need another surgery.’ Remember, I was supposed to have been ‘cured’ some fifteen years before. I didn’t take the news really well. I mean I took it like a champ sitting there in his office, but I fell apart on the way home. And then, I just went cold. After a lot of talking with loved ones and the doc, I finally made the decision to go for it. So, I did.

Surgery was scheduled for September 19th, and I went into surgery with no problems. My second surgery was such a rare case that Grey’s Anatomy (yeah, the TV show) came and filmed it. The episode aired in season six (I believe-I can’t remember as I write this) with my surgery, they, of course, did the Hollywood thing and fictionalized it. But here in the real world, I came out of surgery with a nice long titanium cage encasing most of my lumbar spine and fourteen screws. The old hardware they left in, they had to, or it would have just been ten screws since the orthopedic surgeon fused those four vertebrae with chunks from one of my ribs that he cut off. Things looked fine until…

September 20th.

That was the day I nearly had a massive heart attack and died. You see what happened was, I had an incompetent charge nurse in the ICU who (even though Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) knew I had terrible reactions to pain medications previously prior to surgery) took it upon herself not to, apparently, even READ my medical record. That being said, she proceeded to pump me full of pain medications that I couldn’t handle – that my body couldn’t handle. The result; I was essentially in a drug-induced coma, but not hardly.

I was cognitive enough to know about some of the things that were going on around me. I remember the charge nurse from hell coming in and pumping my morphine button every four hours like clockwork, and then her blaming me for it when the floor physician questioned her on why I wasn’t waking up. I remember him coming back in and studying my heart monitor, and yelling some more because my heart rate was nearly 300. I remember he ordered transfusions to try to calm my heart down. To this day, I believe I owe my life to that floor doctor at VUMC. The nurse…

Yeah her. While the doctor was trying to stop my heart from exploding, she called my mother at home and told her that she was going to call in VUMC psychiatrists because was being difficult. I guess she thought I was somehow making my heart pump like a geyser just to spite her. I remember them coming in, both of them. I also remember I wanted so badly to talk to them to try to get them to get me off the damned nurse’s floor before she killed me, but because she continued to pump me full of drugs I couldn’t even make my tongue move. So, they just left me in there, with the demon nurse.

My mother’s reaction was better. She came to VUMC and the floor doctor released me into her home and my general practitioner’s care. The damned nurse wanted to send me to a nursing home because after all, I was the one being difficult. When that didn’t work, she tried to make the floor doctor send me home with a permanent catheter. That didn’t work either. I was released after three days and zero physical therapy. I came home with a back brace and a walker. I taught myself how to walk again making trips up and down the hallway of my mother’s house using that walker and back brace. In a few days, I was even able to go out and sit on the back porch. And once I got away from Hell Nurse, my heart calmed down.

I went back to see the neurosurgeon a couple of weeks later and was told I was permanently disabled. I had crummy range of motion, still do. There’s no fault in that, just that with the cage around my spine it doesn’t allow it to flex. I was told to never lift over 15 pounds. I was told a whole lot of never do this stuff. Which I haven’t done in the last six years.

The United States Government denied my social security disability case when I applied after fighting them for a trio of years even though their neurosurgeon and doctor agreed with Dr. McGirt and my general practitioner that I was in fact – disabled. In the long run, I now believe it was a blessing.

Knowing that I was going to have to fend for my kids and myself even with my health issues, propelled me into hating the word DISABILITY. I’m not disabled. I’m dif-abled. I may not do things like others do or would, but I can do them. I just do them differently. The words disabled and unable are synonymous to me.

So instead of thinking/saying, I am UNABLE to do something, I find a way to make it happen even with my mounting limitations. I can’t go out and work at a job for forty hours a week. In fact, there are whole weeks when I can’t get out of bed and/or off the couch. Yet, I still need to be able to provide for my kids and myself. So, I found a way – differently. First as a virtual assistant, then that morphed into virtual assisting AND copywriting, and now it’s virtual assisting, copywriting, AND translation. And, of course, my writing. Obviously, I can’t rely on the government to help me. I don’t even qualify for state assistance. None of this means my limitations are gone. They aren’t.

It’s been six years today since my last surgery, and today I’m writing this looking at the upper curve in my back. It’s a slow-ticking time bomb. On that last visit to Dr. McGirt, he warned me. He warned me that in five to ten years more I could possibly be facing more surgery. This surgery would either be required to stabilize my upper spine or to fixate my pelvis when my lower spine decides to kink around my tailbone. In the long run, I’m looking at a probable wheelchair-bound life.

But…

I’m still not disabled. I’m simply dif-abled.

 

 

 

That magical connection…

Of course, I’m talking about finding that elusive literary agent. I found mine! I signed the contract on July 20th, 2017. I know there are lots of people that are still looking, so I thought I’d write the obligatory — How I Found My Literary Agent — post. My story is a bit wonky but hang in there.

It was a dark and stormy night….

Yeah, no it wasn’t. Gotcha! Here let’s do this thing correctly.

About ten years ago, I wrote this terrible book. Of course, I didn’t think it was terrible then. I thought it was sure to earn me lots of agent offers, a television deal would surely follow, and I’d become a millionaire within a year. None, and I repeat NONE, of those things happened. I finished it and I queried it. It all came to nada.

In fact, over the course of the last decade, I have written six books. Five of which I have shelved after months (painful months) of rejection. I was almost ready to give up, but there was one more story idea that popped back up in my mind. It was an idea that I’d had about three years ago but had never written more than an outline for. So, I started prowling through my basement (this is the partial book, outline, story idea notebook graveyard in my house) to find that one elusive idea that just wouldn’t leave me in peace. Pieces, yes. It definitely left me in pieces, but not peace.

I finally found it. The outline and three different chapter ones that I had written by hand before deciding three years ago that I was WAY out of my wheelhouse to try and write this cozy mystery. I read it again. Yes, all three chapters were still poo. I tossed them all, but the outline wasn’t half bad. So I started tweaking it. Soon, the main character’s voice became louder and louder. Then, I had a good outline, beginner’s synopsis, and even a chunk of a decent query.

I moved to my laptop after deciding to give the first chapter one more attempt. It wasn’t terrible. The main character and her secondary characters started ‘talking’ to me, and I kept writing. Fourteen days later, I had a completed first draft. FOURTEEN DAYS! Yep, you read that right. It only took me fourteen days to complete the first draft. So, I tweaked, added words, fluffed up bits, and then I realized I was done. Within one month, I had completed a submission ready manuscript.

Annie Bomke of AB Literary is an agent that I followed on Twitter. She was always super kind, and we had some great non-writing related conversations prior to now. One night we even talked about the possibility of tree monsters when I tweeted that one of my neighbors was felling a tree with a chainsaw at nine o’clock at night. These tweets were public, so I don’t think she’ll care that I’m sharing this story now. She was just one of those people I enjoyed ‘talking’ with (if you want to consider that talking involves tweeting on Twitter back-and-forth). I had even queried Annie before with various other submissions, but she’d always gracefully (and super nicely) rejected me. I knew she liked mysteries though, so I decided to give it one more try.

To be rather blunt, I made a list of agents to query with this new, shiny cozy mystery, and she was one of the top three (She was the first one on the list, I willfully admit it.). I sent out those queries and I waited. I sent out those queries on June 21st, 2017. On June 22nd, Annie emailed back asking for the full manuscript. My heart stopped. I couldn’t email her back right away because I had never in my ten years of querying agents EVER gotten a full request for any of my other books. I was in a bit of a pickle too, because I was going to be away from my computer for the weekend. So, when I finally got a grip on myself, I emailed her to let her know that I was away from my computer for the weekend but would it be okay to send the full to her on the following Monday. She said yes. I will swear to each and every one of you that was the longest and most panic-stricken weekend of my life.

Finally that Monday afternoon, June 26th, the requested full manuscript went to her mailbox. Then, I settled in to wait. We writers are good at that, aren’t we? Being all patient and waiting and stuff. Yeah! I had resigned myself into a nice long wait, but it was for nothing. On July 19th, my cell phone rang. Some number that I didn’t recognize from California. IT. WAS. HER!!!!

I had done a bit a research on THAT CALL, you know the agent/hopeful writer call, but I forgot absolutely everything that I knew when I answered and she said it was her. It was okay though. We talked around some, but eventually, we got to my book and the best sentence I have heard yet to fall from a literary agent’s lips – I would like to represent you. I think my heart actually stopped for a quick three count. I got teary eyed after we hung up, and I didn’t sleep at all that night.

I was able to accept her offer immediately because, during the course of sending her the full manuscript, the other two agents had declined. One did so after requesting a partial, the other was one of those no reply means no agents, and the time limit had passed.

It was an easy decision for me to accept her offer, because I felt like we had the same vision for my novel, and basically my career. We got along well (our phone call lasted for right around three hours – yeah, that’s how well we got along), and Annie was my dream agent. She represents the kind of stories I discovered I had to write.

You see, I’ve learned in the last decade of writing what the industry is about and what it isn’t about, and I had it wrong. Once you find your genre, you’ll find your voice. Once you have those two tools in your writer’s toolbox, everything else seems to fall into place. And, it’s okay that you have to write a lot of stories and books in genres that wind up not being YOUR genre because the more times you discover what doesn’t work, the sooner you’ll figure out what does work for you. So, keep on writing, writers! After all, that’s what we do best!

If you’re one of those statistics and charts people, below I’ve written out my journey from just writer to agented writer.

  • June 21st – Queried Annie Bomke of AB Literary

  • June 22nd – Annie requested the full manuscript

  • June 26th – I actually sent the full manuscript

  • July 16th – Annie called me to offer representation

  • July 20th – The agency contract was signed

Time to write the first draft: 14 days

Time to revise and edit for submission: 1 month

That’s it in a nutshell, and now I get to work with the fabulous ninja agent Annie Bomke of AB Literary to make a book and a beautiful writing career.

Keep on, writers. The next agent you query may very well be YOUR version of Annie.

A Book Birthday! …and do you have what it takes?

My book recently released to the wide, wide world via my publisher.

While this is excellent news and I’m over the moon excited about it, I’m also scared to the point of being terrified.

So very many thoughts ricochet around in my head constantly that I can barely make any sense at all of what’s really going on up there in my gray matter. The most paralyzing fear I’m having is what if everyone hates it. What if it’s a horrible book? I’m sure there will be trolls, and how will I deal with them? What if I never sell any copies? What if it’s just some sort of dead literary weight there floating around for the entire length of its contract with my publisher? How much more of this can I take before I need to sign myself into the funny farm?

I guess this is one of the biggest problems with deciding to go indie or choosing a small publisher. Unless you’re a marketing goddess, you’ve probably bitten off an awfully large bit. I’m good at marketing. I worked in marketing departments even of small presses before, but the problem isn’t that I can’t market it. It’s that I can’t market MY book. I feel like I’m begging. Please. Please. Please. Buy MY book! 

I’m not a beggar. I’m just not. I’ve gone so far as to turn down state financial assistance because I just can’t accept it. I’ve always been the one to say, ‘Thank you, but no. I’ll find another way.’ There was a time in my life when I had no choice but to use state assistance and I felt dirty for even having to do it. I’m not saying that state assistance is a bad thing. I’m saying that I just can’t ask for it because that too makes me feel like a beggar. The only reason I even filed for disability was because I was told to do it. Sure. I needed help, but to be honest, when the government told me no, I was actually happy about it.

What does any of this have to do with a book birthday?

Maybe nothing. But, maybe a lot.

I’m shy. I’m an introvert. I’m also stubborn. I can schmooze when I need to. My entire personality is like oil and water. I overthink. I worry about things that have less than a millionth of a chance of actually happening. These facts are what’s making even working out a marketing plan; difficult. People suggest contests, but I’ve hosted critique contests in the past. I’ve hosted a giveaway where people stand a chance of winning an entire bookshelf of brand new books from Scholastic Publishing. And no one even entered. I have loads of people participate in my #AdPit and #KidPit contests and that makes me deliriously happy but any other sort of contests I host, I get nada. So, that begs the point, how can I get my book in front of readers? How can I get it out there in a manner that will draw people in and not cause me to have a stroke from anxiety?

So with my birthday on May 15th came my debut novel’s birthday on May 18th and a whole slew of new issues and problems for me to work through. I’m a fighter, always have been, and I’m sure that somehow I’ll figure all of this out. Until then, if I ever go missing you might want to check the nearest looney bin. I’m sure I’ll be sitting there having a carrot with Bugs Bunny and sharing a therapy session with Wylie Coyote.

However here’s a couple of things to consider for yourself as a writer.

1.)  If you’re considering going with a small press with your manuscript, do you have what it takes? Take time to be honest with yourself, before you make your decision. Because something to consider here it that:

a.) Small presses tend to have smaller marketing divisions, and you’ll have to really step up.

b.) Small presses tend to have smaller editorial divisions, and you’ll have to be really comfortable with the oxford comma and all the other nuisances of grammar.

c.) You’ll be going at it alone. You won’t have the support a professional can give you, like a literary agent. You either need a lawyer buddy to talk to or be somewhat proficient with contractual law yourself. Otherwise, you may wind up losing more than you want, like character rights, series rights, item rights, and so on.

2.)  While it usually takes less time for a small press to take your manuscript into production, thusly you’ll get paid faster. You have to be willing to put out a bit of money for yourself too if you aren’t too comfortable with that A and B above. But the pay often excludes any advance of royalties (which is something larger presses offer), and if we’re being completely honest, you won’t make as much money in the long haul.

Am I saying that one is preferable over the other? NOPE. Not at all. It just depends on you. Just you. Not every other Tom, Dick, and Harry. That’s why it’s so darn important to be honest with yourself when you decide what to do with your completed manuscript. If you lie to yourself, you may land in a big, heaping pile of buffalo dung. And if you’re already a signed participant in a contract, then to get yourself out of that pile of dung may (and usually does) require hefty legal fees. And my friends, lawyers do not come cheap. At least not decent ones, or those you’d want anywhere near your book baby.

Now, I’ll take a cheap shot totally out of my wheelhouse.

My book RUNAWAY SAGE is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers. If you love historical fiction or stories about how an insurgent supersedes all odds, then it just might be the book for you.

RUNAWAY SAGE on Amazon

RUNAWAY SAGE on Barnes and Noble

Chance to Win a Query Critique …

From yours truly.

That’s what this blog post is about. Yep. You see I promised one to those that played for #AdPit and #KidPit back on April 6th. That doesn’t mean that the participants from those pitchfests are the only ones that can join in the fun now though. So, if you need/want a pair of fresh eyes on a query that’s been bothering you, read on.

How many query critiques are up for grabs: 3.

When are we doing it: Right now, this week.

Who can win: Anyone.

Here are all the fun details for you:

Starting today and lasting through next Monday (April 24, 2017), I will be accepting submissions from everyone who would like a query critique.

Here’s what you have to do to be eligible, I’m posting a prompt at the end of this post. To enter, all you have to do is write a 250 word story that follows the posted scenario/prompt into the comments section of this post.

*In an effort to slice spam out of the comments section, I will be leaving the filter on where I have to approve all comments – but no worries, if you’re posting an entry it will be approved to be posted.

Here are a few rules to make sure you follow, or your entry will be rejected.

1.) You are allowed to write your 250 word story in ANY GENRE and for ANY AGE.

2.) Your entry MUST BE 250 words or less. (Yes, I’ll count.) Each entry must be a complete story. That means that it MUST HAVE a beginning, a middle, and an end.

3.) If you participated in either #AdPit or #KidPit, let me know in your entry and you’ll go into a different group.

4.) Your entry should be posted as such:

– Your name or pen name

– Add it here if you participated #AdPit or #KidPit on April 6th

– Your story’s genre and targeted audience age

– The 250 word or less story

5.) Each person is allowed ONLY ONE ENTRY EACH.

Failure to follow any of these rules will result in me tossing your entry out of consideration.

In an effort to save time, you will not be notified if your entry is rejected from consideration. If you have any problems posting or have questions, please contact me on TWITTER. There are only five rules. I’m not asking too much, I promise. Just double check your entry before adding it to the comments section.

Depending on how many entries I get, it may take me up to ONE WEEK from the last day (April 24th) to post the winners. So, winners will be posted by May 1st. In the winners post, I will have further information on where you can email me your query for your critique.

I will pick three overall to win a critique. One from those that participated in #KidPit. One from those that participated in #AdPit. And, one from everyone else. I will pick the winners from my favorite entries. Yes. I will personally read them all.

Remember I want to see full flash stories. Why? Because writing flash fiction allows you to learn to focus your writing. It helps teach you how to cut clutter and slice out unnecessary words. Yes, I do care about grammar, but don’t worry if you have a comma or hyphen out of place. I’m not a monster. I just want to see the best you can come up with following the prompt.

As for the critique, I will critique whichever query the winners want to send me. No. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the prompt for the contest. If you’re getting ready to start querying agents or editors, send me that query. Or, send me the query to whatever your current work-in-progress is.

So, without further ado….

The prompt for your 250 word story —-

 

Two characters are arguing as they navigate a twisty road when suddenly an animal leaps out in the road in front of them.

 

 

 

A Journey for a Monday

This morning I awoke to the horrific news of an explosion on a subway in St. Petersburg, Russia. As I last read, at least nine people have died because of it.

So, I opened my Twitter app to see if I could find any first hand accounts on what I was sure would be a trending topic. It was, but what I found horrified me.

Normally, I try to avoid politics on social media. Yes, I actually majored in International Relations in college, but social media and politics is an explosion waiting to happen in its own right. So, I avoid them – but today, I just couldn’t.

Yes, I’m all to aware of all the Russophobic sentiments whirling around the globe today via media outlets of all fashion. I however, am not (and in no way will ever be) Russophobic. To judge someone by their nationality is just as wrong as judging them based on sexual orientation, religion, race, creed, disability, gender and etc…

But what I saw in the timeline for St. Petersburg this morning was the opposite of that. While there were those that expressed their sorrow and support for those affected by the blast – there were others that chose to politicize it. Their tweets ranged from (no, these aren’t direct quotes, and I will not be calling out names) cheering the explosion to taking political stabs at Russia because they are well, Russia.

This is not okay.

I’m not here to tell you what to believe. If you want to be steadfastly opposed to Russia that is up to you. I will say this though for those that make the choice to politically dig at someone else during a tragedy are monsters. You can hate Russia, but before you decide to take a turn with them remember this – your cruel words will not help heal the injured. Your cruel words now won’t bring back the dead to their loved ones.

Those people are no more responsible for their government’s actions than American’s are for Trump’s (or Obama’s or Clinton’s or Bush’s) actions. Those people have families too. Every, single person that died or was injured in the St. Petersburg’s blast was a mother, sister, brother, husband, father, wife, cousin, uncle, aunt, or even just a friend to someone. Every single one of those people hurt or killed today have loved ones crying now.  By hurling cruelness toward them, you are proverbially rubbing salt in their wounds – and think. How would you feel if it was here and your sister or brother was on that train? Would you want some cruel entity on the other side of the planet jeering at you?

It’s time to start putting people before politics. A human life is a human life – period.

However, having been so affronted by the monstrosity of some man-kind today – I’ve made a decision to start a new journey. You see, I’m a deep thinker. I take nothing at face value, and always look deeper into a situation than just glazing the surface. Sometimes I think this is a curse, but I’m beginning to realize that having the ability to  see below the surface, to be able to shred and discard the top layer of things, is a gift. It’s a gift to be able to find the heart of a matter, problem, issue, etc… And sadly, it’s a gift that fewer and fewer people have now.

As a researcher, I also have made a hobby out of delving deeper and deeper into media stories, religions, politics, and everything else I question. As a essayist, I often write down my research, comparative theories, and thoughts in a notebook. I have to, or my head would pop. All of my research and all of my deep thinking are all crammed into a handwritten compilation of monstrous proportions. Granted sometimes my logic may be skewed from the norm, and this happens frequently, but nonetheless I write. I have never shared any of them with anyone outside my family, but I’m going to change that.

I’m going to start a monthly blog called OUTSIDE THE BOX. If you are easily offended this will probably not be a good blog for you to read. I have torn down some of the most infamous theories and recreated them logically, especially in regards to politics and religion. I’ve shredded mass media stories and their fearmongering too. Though, you should understand, I am neutral in all things. Humankind as a general rule, does not appreciate having their blemishes pointed out to them.

I’m sure you’re wondering how the blast in St. Petersburg correlates to OUTSIDE THE BOX. To be honest and in the simplest of terms, the hate-filled Russophobic responses to the loss and damage of human life was the final straw. I’ve debated for years whether or not I should post my writings on things. I mean I’ve left a Catholic priest of nearly 60 years speechless and questioning how much he actually knew. That’s how intense some of my writings are. Yet today, I decided to open my Pandora’s box of thoughts to the general public.

All the same, my thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the blast in St. Petersburg’s subway today. May your hearts and bodies heal quickly, and may justice be served to those responsible.

(Though they do not yet know what caused the blast according to Russian President Vladimir Putin they are looking into all possible causes, including terrorism.)

Good – No EXCELLENT NEWS!

Have you heard yet?

I signed a publishing contract for my debut young adult novel!

And, I know a lot of you would like to know more about my journey. So, here we go!

The gritty basics:

1.) My novel is a historical set in Ancient Rome.

2.) The temporary title is RUNAWAY SAGE (this may yet change as I’m still working on final bits with the publishing company).

3.) The publishing company is BLACK ROSE WRITING.

4.) My release date, or my book’s birthday, is May 18, 2017.

5.) Yes, I have a whole slew of things planned to celebrate my novel’s birth with all of you.

My journey:

RUNAWAY SAGE took me five years to research, plan, write, revise, and query. As far as queries go, I queried for over two years. Then, I had nothing but rejections. I did stumble upon an agent that worked with me for over a year on revise-and-resubmits, but in the end, I got a form rejection. I was disgusted. That’s when I stopped. I stopped querying. I stopped pitching it in the innumerable Twitter pitchfests. I shelved it.

In my frustration, I tossed away the paper where I had listed all the agents I submitted to, but I can remember there were a bunch. In fact, I had pored over numerous agent websites, Writer’s Digest Market books, writing websites, and everywhere I could look for an agent, but I had submitted to all of the agents I could find that represented both young adult and historical fiction. I’m sure I missed some – positive that I did but at the time I made the decision to shelf this title, I’d done all that I could.

Then back in October of 2016, I stumbled onto a website called authors.me. I was leery of it. I mean, I’d read horror stories about people that posted their work online and it was stolen or worse. I researched around on the site, and found legitimate agents and publishers used authors.me as a means of submission. I hadn’t really considered small presses much until then, as most of them seem mostly interested in romance titles – and I didn’t have any submission ready romance wips. Still, I figured I had this title just sitting on a shelf, so what difference did it/would it make? So, I posted it and submitted it to two suggestions that the website sent me. One of those rejected it a mere month and a half later – no, I wasn’t surprised. I just assumed that it would happen with the second suggestion too. But, in early February I got an email from Black Rose Writing, offering me publication.

I really didn’t know much about Black Rose Writing up until then, so I started researching them. I found some interesting information on a few writers message boards about them, but they were dated from several years ago. The newer posts were a lot more positive, so I decided to take the chance. After all, if all the novel did was sit on my shelf then no one but my family and I could read it. Sometimes the decision to take the jump is singly the most horrifying thing you’ll do for your writing career.

So far I have been extremely happy with the gang at Black Rose Writing, and I feel like it was the right decision to take the plunge. My contract is legally legit, and they even negotiated with me to improve the contract for me. I understand that by going with a small press I’ll be doing a lot of marketing and such for myself, but that’s okay.  I have a background in book marketing, having worked for a few small presses myself in the publicity departments, and I even worked as a freelance publicist for authors for a bit.

In a nutshell, this is really happening. My dream to be able to hold my own novel – that I wrote – in my hands is coming true.

Thanks for reading!

~ H.R. Norrod