April Pitch Competition #NestPitch – Meet #TeamEvilBunny

Spring is in the air! And along with the subtle aroma of tulips, the waft of another pitch comp keeps tingling in my nostrils. Yes, nestpitch is almost upon us! Another glorious pitch competition where writers have the chance to get their manuscripts in front of some awesome agents. I know there are some pitch competition lovers and addicts out there, so get your polished manuscript out, hone that 35 word pitch and let’s do this thing.

I have the privilege of wading through the slush this year along with some other smawesome (<<that’s a new work Nik made up) slush readers. Every one of them are highly talented individuals who I am honored to be working with.

I guess I should go over the rules……but I’ll do that at the bottom of this post.

First…………drum roll

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pandarole(Why have a drum roll when you can have a panda roll – right?)

Meet #TeamEvilBunny

ahappyeasterAnd in a nod to our team name, I have defiled the #Nestpitch Easter bunny. All in the name of team spirit!

Heading up our team is the wonderful Sharon Johnston:

sharon As well as her own blog, Sharon also contributes to Aussie Owned and Read and YAtopia. She has earned the nickname #ThePitchWhisperer because of her work mentoring almost every pitch competition that springs to mind! Sharon is also an author and some of her short stories have appeared in The Basics of Life and The Life and Times of Chester Lewis. And if all of those things weren’t enough to keep Superwoman on her toes, Sharon also interns for a publisher AND is a senior specialist for the PR company that she works for. Wow! So you can see, if you want ANYONE to mentor you, it’s got to be #ThePitchWhisperer! Like me, you can always find Sharon twittering to her hearts content over on Twitter.

Slushie numero uno:

‘Tis me! E.L. Wicker

Em Author of The Bearwood Series and seriously obsessed with New Adult fiction, I’m always on the look out for a new book by a sparkly new author. I very much dislike opening a book to find that the writer has an aversion to contractions and I CANNOT STAND ‘off of’  – just off is sufficient. As well as blogging here, I’m also blog assistant to Sharon Johnston and I’ve just joined the YAtopia team so will be contributing over there soon! You can find me on Twitter or…well, right here!

Slushie numero deux:

It’s J.C. Nelson!

JC Author of the Grimm Agency series, J.C. writes Urban Fantasy blended with fairy tales. Software developer by day and by night, and a herder of children and chickens.

You can follow J.C. on Twitter or peruse his web page.

 

 

Looking good!! We will all be wading through the slush pile picking out the nuggets of gold. So what will we be looking for? I can only answer for myself.

PRETTY, PRETTY WORDS!!!

Oh, what’s that? I have to be more descriptive? Ohhhhhhh, okay then. If I must.

I want to be immersed into your characters world. I want to see what your character is seeing, feel what they’re feeling. I always feel a little meh if I finish a book and don’t feel like I’ve lived the story. That pretty much means that if you use words that place a filter between me (the reader) and the main character – I’m going to feel the impact. It might seem a difficult thing to do that in your first 300 words, but it’s really not. Just plop me into your story through all the feels, make sure that your grammar is sparkly, and I’ll love you forever and ever.

If your 2500 or more is requested by #TeamEvilBunny then I will be kind in my critique, because I learned some of my CP’ing skills from Kathy who is a slushie for a team who shall not be named 😀 I will point out anything that trips my focus, any errors, as well as anything that catches my attention, and probably offer you a cake or such like along with a pat on the back – ‘there, there – we all do it’. I am totally human and we all make little errors. I have a habit of writing me instead of my and my eyes skip past it every time I do, so I know how it feels to get it a little bit wrong.

And now, the rules!

rules

Just send our team everything you have and we’ll give it straight to the agents. WOULDN’T THAT BE GREAT!!! (I’m gonna get myself in trouble!)

But rules are there for a reason, and as I’m a new slushie – I can’t really go scrapping the rules, nor can I make them up. So – straight from Nik’s blog, which you can also (and should) read here, here they are!

The submission consists of:

(i)               A 35-word pitch

(ii)              The answer to this question: If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would s/he be? (no more than 15 words please)

(iii)             The 1st 300-words of your manuscript*

*1st 300 = if you have a prologue, then your 1st 300 starts from your prologue. If you don’t think your prologue is strong enough then perhaps you need to rethink your prologue.

Finish at the end of a sentence. This is 300-word MAX, so your last word is 300-words. If your sentence finishes on 292-words, submit that. If your sentences run into 30 or more words, then rethink the length of your sentence(s). Broken sentences do no one favors.

Please note that this year’s nestpitch is not accepting PB’s, but do visit Nik’s blog as she has something special planned for PB’s and possibly MG’s.

Two things to add/note:

(1)               A condition of entry is any MS #pitch submitted to previous #pitches, which resulted in being selected, in the twelve months prior to April 2015, is ineligible.   The only sub-clause to this is #PitchSlam. Please let us know if  you have the same MS in #PitchSlam & #Nestpitch, and again if you’ve been selected. Nik has spoken to the Host of PitchSlam & they’ve agreed to work closely on this one.

(2)               This year there will be less final selection featured pitches. (Expecting final the number to be around 40). With each Team concentrating on fewer submissions, we can be more hands-on with feedback and mentoring. By doing this, not only will the pitch + 300-words be stronger, but so will the entire MS. This year there will be rounds.

a.      Round #1: Last year Nik gave everyone the benefit of the doubt when errors were made in following guidelines. That will not be the case this year, aside from formatting issues (which happen). To get past #1 author’s must be able to follow guidelines.

b.      Round #2: This year each Team will select and initial 5-8 submissions and then request more pages/material. Based on the additional pages/material, each Team will drill their selection down to between 4-5 to go to the next round.

c.      Round #3: On having picked their final 4-5, each Team will then critique the first 2,500-words and ‘get to know’ the author(s). This is a 3-fold process. Being selected does not necessarily mean being featured. Teams will want to know the author(s) are willing to accept feedback etc. The Teams will work with their author’s for 3 weeks, offering feedback, sharpening pitches, & suggesting improvements. After this, the author’s have a full week to re-read their MS in full & make any final changes; before the agent round.

 From the Slush-pile Picks.

Nik’s Team, #Team2Beat, will be hunting through the slush-pile and the reserves, looking for gems that have been missed. We will have the option of selecting between 1-5 pitches (at their discretion) to feature. This is basically a bonus-pick so, you may just get an email after the date, but if you do, expect to work twice as hard as the other author’s as you’ll have less time – so be ready!

So now that I’ve waffled on about the rules – it’s time to wish you all good luck. You have the tools you need, now write!

And one more time, just because……

ahappyeaster

The Life Stages of a Pantsers Manuscript

A friend of mine is faced with having to write her first full-length novel for a few years. It’s not going to be a problem for her – well, she thinks it will be, but her words are so epic that I know it’ll be fantastic once it’s done, even if she hits some rocks along the road. But it got me to thinking about the life stages of our books. I know we are all different, but for your amusement, here’s mine.

0 Words – Stark Beginnings

In the beginning – there was… actually, I don’t know what there was. The beginning of a book is not when you or I put pen to paper, it’s when that first little seed enters the brain. Who knows how it begins? I couldn’t tell you. I do know, that for me, it began with an image while listening to a song, but something must’ve triggered it before that? Maybe…

noidea

 

500 Words…of notes

So now I have the main characters name and a little background. But not much more. But I do know her hair color. Hell yeah!

2000 Words…still notes

Whoop whoop! – I now have names of LIs, Protagonist, and friends and a tiny bit of their background.

whoop-whoop-o
—— Words…I’ve lost count

My notepad doesn’t have a word counter, but it’s full up and I have everyone. Still…I have no plot.

200 Words…of my manuscript

So it begins. Kind of. Or is this complete crap. Should I delete it and start again? What’s going on. Anyone know?

hmm

 

1000 Words in.

I have main character, I have setting, I have action. I have…crap – which character should I introduce next. I should really know this by now.

0 Words in.

That was rubbish. Start again.

2500 words in.

I did it!!! I wrote a chapter. OMG – It’s fabulous. I can totally do this.

ican

10000 words in.

Still rocking it!

rockingit

12000 Words in.

That’s just….that’s just awful. I don’t even know what that is.

what

15000 words in.

I Wonder what everyone’s up to on Twitter.

think

25000 Words in.

And….I’m baaaack. I am the QUEEN of this place. Ooo, yeah. Look what I just wrote. How freakin awesome is that. Honestly…my own genius scares me.

queen

 

 

30000 Words in.

I am a total failure.

paper

 

40000 Words in.

Beginning – check. Middle – check. Ugh – what’s that chapter all about. CUT.

50000 Words in.

There’s a pigeon in that tree. And a squirrel in that one. Ooo – a dragonfly. *Runs off to have a look.

dfly

50005 Words in.

That dragonfly sure was pretty. I wonder what other colors they come in. Google has the answers….

60000 Words in.

I actually just don’t care anymore.

65000 Words in.

Oh yes, now I’m rocking it like the God that I am.

freddie

65002 Words in.

Wait…what? That’s crap!!! *Jams finger on delete key.

what1

30000 Words in.

I can’t believe I just deleted 35k words. *Sobs while jamming cake into mouth.

cry

30000 Words in and several weeks later.

*Peeks out from under pillow fort. Area seems safe. Snatches notepad from beneath junk food rubbish while swigging cola.

30000 Words in.

I guess I turned into a plotter somewhere along the way….

40000 Words in.

Yes. This is much better.

50000 Words in.

Is it really better? Is this too much? Are there too many twists? Consults critique partner.

scratch

60000 Words in.

OMG – I did NOT see that coming. Thank you character who shall not be named for guiding me toward the light.

70000 Words in.

*Stares at screen. Sniffles. Is it really over?

75000 Words in.

Of course not. Layer – you idiot.

80000 Words in. Several months later.

Draft one million and sixty finished.

77000 Words in and several weeks later.

CP’s have ripped it to pieces and I’ve put it back together again. Off to the editor it goes.

OMG – I’m finished. Now I can do all those things I wanted to when I was writing.

happy

A half hour later.

*Fires up laptop… Chapter One….

typing

And there you have it. My writing process. I would love to know yours!

People Appreciation

My amazing critique partner, Kathy, wrote a post this week about some of the things she’s experienced on the road to getting published. It’s a great article, and you can read it here.

Throughout most of Kathy’s writing life, she’s been flying solo, doing it all herself, with very little (as in zero) in the way of support. Her achievements are mighty and I’m in awe of everything that she’s done. Which leads me to think about my own experiences, which are not at all like Kathy’s.

When I started out writing Fractured Immortal, it was just me and a pad for maybe a couple of weeks. Then I found Twitter and met some amazing people on there who were all in varying stages of the writing process. Of course, I had the internet to run to whenever I ran into a problem too, so that was very helpful. Because of changing times, there’s a plethora of information on writing available to anyone who runs a search – which I did, on many, many occasions. This wasn’t the case for Kathy, she really did do it all on her own.

In June (I think) of last year, I dipped my toe in the slush comp pond and from that I met more amazing writers. Everything I thought I knew changed. Turns out I didn’t know very much at all. I partnered up with Kathy and Kate, Sarah cast her eyes over my queries too, then I partnered up with Tasha as well, who orchestrated a new critique partner group consisting of me, Kathy, Tasha and Diana – so I gained Diana too – I’m such a lucky girl.

This is us!

walrus

Then NaNoWriMo hit and Dena, who I’d been friends with for ages on Twitter (and someone I totally fangirled after reading her awesome book), took part in NaNo and we spurred each other on. From that, another new partnership was forged. So, on my side I now have: Tasha, Kathy, Sarah, Kate, Dena and Diana. These guys are all, in some way, responsible for my growth as a writer. Add to this the people who beta read my manuscript – Jake, Nancy and Nori, Kate too – (she can basically do everything, that girl, AND she edited Fractured Immortal!) as well as some others – wow, check out all the support I had and still have.

Years of learning and information was canned up and fed to me in a short space of time and the change in my writing because of it is massive. I still have a lot to learn, but I have so many people to lean on, it’s pretty amazing. I appreciate everything these guys have done and continue to do for me. I honestly don’t know how Kathy managed it all by herself – she’s flippin superwoman.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude to these guy’s, which is a bit crap – being a writer and all, but all I can say is that someone, somewhere, must’ve been watching over me to have brought these people into my life. So here’s some major people appreciation to the people who gave up their time to support me. Thank you. I love y’all dearly.

epic-hugs-friends-minion

 

 

My non-traditional writing prompts

I know a lot of people tend to use writing prompts when they’re a bit flummoxed. I do too, though not in the traditional sense. This post is a direct result of a conversation I had the other day regarding writing prompts and what works for an individual.

So, what is a writing prompt?

A writing prompt is usually a statement, sentence or question around which you will construct a story or answer.

In their traditional sentence, they rarely work for me. What they will do is get me writing, no doubt about that, but they get me writing something different from what I want to write and when I go back to my manuscript I am still none the wiser and that stupid wall goes up again. I don’t know if many of you have that problem, but I do – and I found a solution.

For those of you that know me, you’ll know that I love music. And you’ll know that I turn to it when that stupid wall rises up and blocks my path. Nine times out of ten, music will get me writing because I need to feel it. I need to feel everything my characters are going through, good and bad.

Below is a bunch of youtube videos, of my favorite songs that can get me writing again and when I use them.

First of all, I need something motivational!

Houdini, by Foster The People.

Focus on your ability people. (Listen, you’ll see what I mean)

Then, once I’m a little bit more focused, I need something that can relate to my characters emotions.

For sad romantically charged scenes (and the song that inspired Fractured Immortal):

Let Her Go, by Passenger

And for emotionally wrecking scenes, the scenes where I really deliver the tears to my characters and where I want them to feel like their heart is being ripped out.

Sadness and Sorrow from Naruto played by Taylor Davis

For those scenes where your characters will do anything for each other to guide them through crap times (I know – I’m so eloquent :/)

I Won’t Let You Go by James Morrison

For those heart wrenching moments where love is not reciprocated, and fresh from a scene in Finding Immortal:

Love’s To Blame by For King and Country (previously Joel and Luke)

And for those all important battle scenes that I love to write:

Holiday by Green Day (It just inspires me to kick ass)

And when I finally get some forward movement in my writing, a celebratory ‘feel good’ track:

Young Blood by The Naked and Famous

And that is my list. I have tonnes more songs, but some of these I go back to time and time again to help pulverize the wall. So this is my kinda writing tip!

Short Story: Defiance

The clinical lights overhead cast a fluorescent hue over everything they touched, the beams reaching out and causing multiple shadows where only one should exist. I breathed in the bubblegum scent of industrial cleaner, pleasant to most, but to me it brought connotations of desperation and, in the end, death.

Humans robed in blue or white shuffled past, deep in thought, sometimes with a stethoscope lying around their neck or a pen hanging from their breast pocket. My long black hair danced in the wake of their movements.

Dr. Johnson sat at the desk, his head in his hand, the bridge of his nose white under the pressure of his pinch. Waves of sadness and helplessness rippled around him. A human angel, of that I had no doubt. Each death hit him with the force of an emotion usually reserved for kin.

The sharp screech of rubber soles hitting linoleum burst through the clinical hum as another nurse entered the pediatric intensive care unit. Nurse Tom Elson stopped at the desk occupied by Dr. Johnson. “Has Tiana made any improvement?” His smooth baritone swirled like velvet through my ears, a stark contrast to the high-pitched punch of the machinery.

Dr. Johnson dropped his hand from his face, his blond hair wisping across his forehead as he shook his head. “We’ve tried everything, Tom. Her internal injuries are just too much for her little body to cope with and her brain is no longer responsive.”

Tom hung his head, his intake of breath stuttering as he took in the gravity of Tiana’s situation. “Have you told her parents yet?”

Standing up, Dr. Johnson flipped through a brown folder. “They’re waiting in the case conference room. First time they’ve stepped away from her bed since she was admitted.”

My footsteps made no sound as I passed them by. Tiana lay on the cusp of death, her parents about to be presented with the most horrifying choice; allow her to lay in a motionless state for the rest of her life or switch off the machinery feeding air to her tiny lungs.

Not on my watch.

My feathers ruffled as I stepped through the automatic door leading to Tiana’s room. My wings had once been white, emitting an ethereal glow. With each bad choice I made, the white had faded, replaced by a dull gray. Soon they would blacken and I’d be forced to wander the earth for eternity. An easy choice, considering the difference I could make.

Tiana lay like a creature of the most heavenly origin, her brown skin already taking on the pallid gray of looming death. Bright hair ties shaped like candy bunched her black hair into neat pigtails. I smoothed my hand over the crisp white sheets. Her tiny body took up not even half of the bed. The rippling light around her dimmed with each passing minute.

I took one quick glance around the room, focusing on the door to make sure no one approached. With a trembling hand, I reached out, and using only my index finger, I touched her cheek. The medical apparatus around her disappeared. Her eyelids fluttered, then opened. Two swirling pools of chocolate stared up at me. Her small nose scrunched as a smile stretched to her eyes, causing a bright twinkle.

“Are you my angel?” Tiana’s small voice asked.

My heart swelled at the melodious breeze of her words as they danced in the air. “Yes, sweetie.”

It would do her no good to tell the truth. Children were virtuous creatures and giving her the reality behind the offer about to breeze from my lips would result in a choice no child should make.

The pillow rustled as Tiana tipped her head. “Are you here to take me away ‘cause I don’ts wanna leave my mama and papa yet. That would make them very sad and I don’ts wanna make them sad.”

I trailed my finger down the silken softness of her cheek. “Wouldn’t it make you sad, too, little light?”

“O’course, buts I more worried ‘bout them.” Her dry, flaking lips pulled into a grin. “Buts you’ll take care o’ them, right?”

My heart stuttered.

This is why I do this.

“Tiana, I’m here to take care of you. Are you ready?”

Tiana studied me for a moment, her eyebrows bowing to touch the top of her button nose. “Watcha gonna do?”

Bending down so our noses touched, I moved my head from side to side. A light rumble worked its way from her chest, then out of her mouth in a musical fit of giggles.

Without waiting for my answer, Tiana closed her eyes and said, “I’m ready.”

Standing upright, I clasped her petite hands in mine. A bolt of power surged from my chest, travelling down the length of my arms and out of the tips of my fingers. My skin tingled as it left my body and entered Tiana’s, spreading out like a silver network of veins beneath her skin. As it waved out, her heart stumbled and her skin flourished, her cheeks glowed a subtle red. The machine to the left of her bed shrieked setting off an alert to the staff to hurry.

Letting her go, I stepped back as the medical apparatus reappeared and Tiana fell silent.

As I turned to walk away, the door swished open, Dr Johnson and Nurse Elson rushing to Tiana’s bedside. Stepping out into the corridor, the agonizing sobs of Tiana’s parents greeted me. I brushed my fingers against their clasped hands; a whisper that they were not alone.

As I approached the exit, a familiar throb began between my shoulder blades, spreading out to touch the edge of my wings.

I tipped my head to the side when Dr. Johnson’s voice swept toward me as he spoke to Tiana’s parents. “I don’t quite know how to put this, but the machines recorded a surge of activity in Tiana’s brain, then her vitals improved to an almost normal level.”

The doors swung shut behind me, blocking out any further conversation. I smiled through the pain gripping my wings as gray morphed to black. As I exited the hospital, thunder boomed in a show of disapproval. Shrugging my shoulders, I spread my little black wings and lifted from the ground.

e40e2d3ec16d492adc0bd7162219e92a

A Wonderful Collection of Short Stories

I am seriously excited about this book because it contains a short story from my good friend Bill. He’s super talented and I’m over the moon that his story has been included in this superb collection.

liipharLiphar are proud to present a second collection of 20 short stories by 20 different authors. The stories may have or will appear in past or future issues of LIPHAR magazine. Most of the authors presented here have an extensive portfolio of other books and stories that you may want to check out.
From heart warming family situations to the totally bizarre , including aliens worlds and ideas, you will find stories that get your attention.
The stories cover a wide genre and offer a cross-section of writing talents. We have not edited the stories in any way and are publishing them as we have received them.
We hope you enjoy the stories as we also hope to publish many volumes of short stories.

You can buy this from Amazon USA and Amazon UK – and, it’s only 99p/99c!

How to: Format your book for Kindle

This week, I’m adding How To videos to my blog. Writing a book is a huge job, formatting it for kindle can be a real pain in the butt if you don’t know what you’re doing. Also, it’s my aim to save you guys money. There’s no need to pay to have your book formatted if you learn these simple steps. I use Microsoft Word, therefore this video teaches you how to format using MS Word.

Also, at the end of this post, I’ve added a picture of a page that I sent to my Kindle app on my phone that displays the formatting used here.

By the time you’ve watched this video, you’ll know how to do two things.

  1. Format your book for Kindle
  2. Create a Chapter Heading that will be ready to use in the click of a button.

I advise you to full screen the video so you can see it clearly, then just pause when needed.

(If you don’t like Brandon Flowers, mute now)

kindletest