Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Being Awesome, Week 2

In an on-going effort to infuse more awesomeness into my life, here's what I'm doing this week:

  1. Laundry. I know it doesn't sound awesome, but when you've been sick and unable to walk around for a couple of weeks, clean clothes are the most amazing thing in the world. Washing your hair is a close second. (I did that, too.)
  2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs: Watching Buffy always makes me feel better. It's my magic show. 
  3. Had an awesome brunch with good friends last Saturday instead of sitting inside all day and whining about the cold.
  4. On Sunday, the temperature went above freezing! No, I'm not lying! I know, crazy right? We went to brunch, got some groceries, drove around, washed the salt off the car, and mostly just enjoyed that it was actually sunny and a semi-reasonable temperature. It was wonderful. (Okay, and then we played video games, but that was good, too.)
  5. I added about 2,000 words to my WIP over the past few days. That's not a ton, but it's a good start. More importantly, I have a better idea of the plot and where I want it to go. It usually takes me about 10-15,000 words before I can tell if a new project is viable, and I'm starting to get very excited about this one.
What are you doing this week to be more awesome?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Being Awesome, Week 1

Earlier this week, I vowed that I would stop having an awful year and start being awesome. So, here's what I did week 1 to be more awesome.
  1. Very careful exercise on Saturday made me feel better all over (and gave me the idea to do this).
  2. Monday, I harnessed the power of the internet to tell my husband exactly what was wrong with our furnace so he could fix it. This not only allowed us to bring the heat up above 48 degrees on a day when it was well below zero outside, but also saved us probably hundreds of dollars in an emergency service call from the HVAC guy. Once we knew what the problem was, the heat kicked on less than five minutes later. So woo-hoo for that!
  3. On Tuesday, I went to yoga. I wasn't quite at my normal flexibility and balance, but I did it!
  4. After a long conversation with my CP, I came up with some ideas to fix several minor issues that people had pointed out in my MS. None of them were something I was overly worried about, but now that I've made the changes, this MS is much stronger. I'm very excited about it.
  5. This weekend, I'm going to brunch with friends. Nothing beats the winter blues like good food, good conversation, and good company. 
What are you doing to make your week more awesome?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Rededication to Being Awesome.

I've had a rough start to 2015. In fact, I'd call it the worst start I've had to a year since an awful break-up at the end of 2009. Professional problems are stuck in a weird downward spiral, and I can't see the exit. I threw my back out and have been basically confined to the couch. The weather is atrocious (which somehow bothers me even when I can't go outside). I've basically spent most of my non-working time eating junk food, watching Netflix, surfing the internet. And whining. 

No more.

This blog post is my rededication to being awesome. 

There are many things in life I can't control. Gaining 20 pounds through sheer petulance, however, is something I can not only control but avoid. There is no reason to sit and eat junk all day just because I'm frustrated that I can't get up and move around.

I cannot control the fact that I hurt myself. I need to be careful it doesn't happen again. I'm short. There's thin line between "I'm having a bad day" and "none of my clothes fit." But I can walk slowly, do careful yoga, and take other steps toward getting back to where I need to be.

I cannot change the issues I have with my day job. But I can make a real effort to find another one.

I cannot control what happens to my books once they are out of my hands. But I can focus on something else, read, and even relax. No, seriously. I've schedule a spa day. I desperately need it. And I can support other writers and share in their successes.

I cannot control the weather. But just because I'm stuck inside doesn't mean I can't enjoy a good book, watch a movie, or have fun with friends.

The first 46 days of 2015 were awful. But I can make the next 319 awesome. And I'll be posting weekly updates under the tag "Being Awesome." Feel free to do the same on your blog. :-) We can all be more awesome together. 

What are you doing to be more awesome?

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's Sun vs. Snow Day!!

Today is the agent round for Sun vs. Snow. I'm taking a break from my normal blog to cheer on all the writers, especially my incredibly talented mentees. They put in a lot of hard work to get their entries polished on time, and I'm so, so proud of them.

Team Snow

My Amazing Mentees
Boldy Go - Women's fiction
Birthday Disaster - Adult romantic suspense
Silent Beauty - YA contemporary

Team Sun

I can't wait to read all the entries!

Next week, we return to our regularly scheduled blog posts. And if you're thinking about entering a contest of your own, check out #PitchMadness and #PitchSlam on Twitter.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Should I Enter that Contest?

Today marks the announcement of which entries were chosen for Sun vs. Snow (see them on and I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to mentor three amazing entries for #TeamSnow.  With several great contests coming up in March - May, there's something I though I should address.

One thing that comes up a lot with writers is: Should I enter that contest? Something I see even more is "Should I enter another contest?" While I'm such a contest-lover that the answer is usually a resounding "YES!", there are a few things to consider before hitting "send."
  1. Is the manuscript really ready? I know you've spent weeks polishing that first page and pitch or query letter, but did the entire manuscript get that same TLC? You don't want agents to get ecstatic to read a full manuscript only to discover that half of it isn't properly edited.
  2. Has it been featured in another contest recently? Some contest hosts will ask you not to submit in this situation. Some will pass your entry up to give someone else a chance. But this is something you should be thinking of on your own. If you have recently been featured in a contest where 7 agents represent your genre, and 6 of them are doing this contest, too - all you're really doing is fueling your ego and taking a spot from someone else. Query that seventh agent directly.
  3. Do I want to work with these agents? Have I already queried them? This is similar to #2. If you've already queried every agent who represents your genre, you don't need a contest to jump to the head of their reading queue. Just wait. There will be another contest.
  4. How many times have the contest hosts seen this entry? The #1 advice you'll hear to ease the stress of querying is "write another book." This is true of contests, too. If you've submitted the same book to fifteen contests, and you haven't made significant revisions, and it's never been chosen - I'm sorry to say, but it's probably time to move on to another manuscript. I've seen people say things like "Well, my book just isn't a contest book." Maybe that's true - maybe there are nuances that are impossible to convey with the first 250 words. But more likely, there is a reason it's getting passed up. The worst disservice a written can do for themselves is assume that there's something wrong with everyone not choosing their book. Get a writer friend or a couple to read over the first page (or even the first chapter) and give feedback. Listen, and incorporate their suggestions.
Personally, I submitted my first manuscript to four contests. I was chosen as an alternate for Sun vs. Snow last year. Then I didn't get into Pitch Madness. I made it to the agent round of Nestpitch and got zero requests. When PitchSlam came around, I sat out, because all of the women's fiction agents involved had done Nestpitch or I'd already queried, and I was knee deep in revisions. Then I made it into Query Kombat, which was my final contest (and I was completely destroyed in Round 2). I was trying to gear myself up to enter my second manuscript in Pitch Wars when I got The Call. But note that there are slight changes in each of those entries. The whole time, I was revising, getting feedback, and revising again. That's the way to do it. If you're submitting the same entry over and over, you're only hurting yourself.