Tuesday, July 19, 2016

This Is (Still) The PitchWars Mentor You're Looking For

Thanks for checking out my bio. I can’t wait to read your awesome words when the submission round starts. My wish list has changed, so please review carefully, even if you submitted to me last year.

Here's the basic bio: 
Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She’s ecstatic to be mentoring PitchWars this year for the second time. Laura is represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary.


This is my second year mentoring Pitch Wars, but I’m a hardcore contest junkie. I am one of the hosts of PitchSlam, QueryKombat, and Nightmare on Query Street. Three of my Query Kombat entries got agents this year before the contest even ended. 

I've read slush and mentored in those contests, NestPitch, and Sun vs. Snow. That’s thousands of queries and first pages. On top of that, I interned for an agent who represents adult fiction for several months. I have a good idea of what works, what doesn't work, and what agents are looking for. I'm publishing a three book series starting next year. (This sounds like shameless self-promotion, but if you take a look at the first book, you get a pretty good indicator of at least one thing I like to read.)

Last year, I wound up with three mentees, all of whom did well in the agent round. They're even still speaking to me after I made them remove the to be verbs from their manuscripts! (Well, I let them keep a few. But not many.)

  • Finding where your story begins.
  • Big picture issues. Plot holes, pacing, avoiding the saggy middle.
  • I'm not afraid to try things that seem terrifying.
  • I call this move "the Faceplant." (I swear, I'm holding it.)
  • Crafting a pitch to get agent attention.
  • Tightening language. Reducing unnecessary words and filtering. Finding your filler words.

  • Adult/NA fiction. Any manuscripts in other categories or non-fiction will be deleted unread.
  • Chick-lit/romantic comedies. Life is short, I like to read things that make me laugh. Send me your light/funny WF.
  • Women's fiction. This means that the primary focus of the story is on the main character’s emotional journey. WF can have a romantic subplot, but the book should be about the character. 
  • Commercial/upmarket fiction. Basically like the above, except the main character doesn’t have to be female. 
  • Romance. My tastes tend to run more toward historical than contemporary, but send me likable characters and a bit of plot, and I'm in. 
    • No paranormal romance or romantic suspense. 
    • All types of consensual relationships accepted. M/M, F/F, M/F, genderqueer, polyamorous, etc. Whatever you've got with consenting adults works for me.
  • Edited, polished manuscripts. I've posted many blogs with writing tips. Read through them with an eye toward how to improve your manuscript before submitting. 
  • Diversity! A book full of people just like me isn’t all that realistic, and since I’m not looking for SF/F, that’s a problem. Not that I’m not awesome. All types of diversity are welcome: people of color, physically and mentally disabled characters, and LGBT* characters.
  • Appropriate word counts. If your manuscript is under 60,000 words or over 100,000, seriously consider doing another editing pass before the submission period starts.
  • I like smart characters in interesting professions. (But please try to SHOW the MC's intelligence rather than TELLING me "Genius Temperance Brennan..." If you're calling your MC a genius, my expectations soar.) I won't pass on something just because the MC is a lawyer, a chef, or a party planner, but those things come up a lot in romance/women's fiction.
  • Make sure you've done your research. If your main character is a lawyer or a cop, and the legal stuff is wrong, I won't be able to read it. (And if you have a background relevant to your MS, make sure your query tells me what it is.)
  • I am ALSO looking for people who are easy to work with, positive, upbeat and who genuinely want help improving. If you want someone to tell you the book is perfect, call your best friend or your mom. That's not what this contest is about.
  • All POV/tenses are fine. 

  • Any genre that's not listed above. That includes, but is not limited to, fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, mysteries, romantic suspense, literary fiction, westerns, and historical fiction. 
  • I'm not entirely clear what "military" fiction is, so please don't send me that. 
  • YA, MG, chapter, or picture books. 
  • Non-fiction.
  • NO rape as a plot point.
  • NO abused women.
  • Do not send me anything that portrays being LGBT* as a bad thing. 
  • NO inspirational or religious-themed manuscripts.
  • No slave/master or Nazi/Jew romances. All characters must be able to consent. In fact, I don't want any slaveowner or Nazi heroes, period. 
  • Anything that's already been published. A self-published book is published. Agents won't take these books, which means they're not right for this contest. (But good luck, because self-publishing is hard work.)
  • I'm not interested in writers who bash traditional publishing on Twitter, who vent negativity toward the process or complain about contests/mentors. 
  • If I've mentored/read your manuscript before, you're better off getting a new set of eyes and choosing other mentors. You're welcome to submit a different manuscript to me. It's OK if I've done a free query or first chapter critique, but I prefer you submit to someone else if I did a paid critique for you.

  • World-building. I don't read fantasy or sci-fi. I read very little historical that isn't Regency romances. I'm not the best mentor to help you build your world.
  • Jokes. I love funny books, and I'll tell you what makes me laugh, but I'm afraid you'll have to write your own.
  • Coddling. I'm not your mom. I'll give you feedback and answer clarifying questions, but I'm not going to hold your hand while you make all the changes. I don't expect you to email me every page as you work on it. I will have your back and help you any way I can, but you have to be willing to do the work. I won't be checking in every day.
  • Setting. If you happened to notice that I didn't do the setting workshop (and I'm sure you didn't), it's because this is not one of my particular strengths. If you've got something setting-heavy with a lot of description (or that needs more), I may not be the best fit for you and your manuscript.
  • Dirty Talk. I'm not a fan, and can't help you add it to your romance.
  • Tear-jerkers. Life is sad. I read to escape. I can enjoy sadder books, but when we're talking about something I'm going to read at least 2-3 times over a few months, happy books are better for me. That doesn't mean you need a Happily Ever After (outside of romance). I just don't want to cry. Example: I love Thelma and Louise. I can't stand Romeo and Juliet.
My favorite authors in genres I'm accepting include: Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, Michelle Gorman, early Jane Green (think Mr. Maybe or Babyville), Kristin Hannah, Leah Marie Brown, Amy Reichert, Allison Winn Scotch, A.J. Pine, Brighton Walsh, and Renee Bernard.

Shows I never miss include Married at First Sight, UnREAL, RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Flash, and Scandal. Yes, that's a lot of reality shows (This should not surprise anyone who has heard of my book). I'll watch almost any superhero movie (old or new), I saw Rent! live seven times, I like Playstation Lego games, board games, yoga, spinning, pole fitness, chocolate chip cookie dough, and traveling with my husband. There are more gay romances than straight on my DVD rack. I never got used to saying Blu-ray instead of DVD (and have stopped trying).

If you have questions about whether something falls into my wish list, feel free to leave me a comment or ask me on Twitter. No pre-pitching! A legitimate question is, "Would you maybe be interested in a romance that takes place on a camping trip?" A pre-pitch would be, "When Wilma agreed to go camping with Fred, she never dreamed he'd make her heart Bam-Bam and ultimately smash it into Pebbles."

Good luck with your submissions! Now head on back to the blog hop.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

What Submission Feels Like

I originally posted this blog on The Writer Diaries in March 2015 as "Dear Diary: You're Invited," and it resonated with a lot of people. A lot of people have also found comfort in my other blogs about submission, so I'm reprinting it for anyone who missed it. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments. We're all in this together (and we're hungry).

Imagine you’ve finally received an invitation to an exclusive restaurant. It’s so exclusive, no one knows what they serve or what it looks like on the outside, but people spend a year or more waiting to get in. Reservations are by referral only. Referrals can take months or even years to get. You’re not allowed to bring anyone else inside with you, not even the friends who’ve shared the waiting. By the time the doors open, you’re desperately hungry. Your mouth starts watering while you stand in the foyer.

Once you’ve finally made it inside, your waiter leads you to a random table. There are no menus. “We’ll bring you something to eat when it’s ready,” he says before vanishing. 

Other people join your table. Some of them get served before you. They’re not allowed to share. Some people leave without getting served at all. They may or may not come back. When you ask where your food is, the waiters hush you and tell you to be patient. You can’t complain that someone else’s food came first, because you’re so lucky to be at the table. You can’t post about the restaurant online, because if you do, they kick you out.

So you wait. And you watch. You hunger. Your food may or may not come. You might not like your meal once it arrives. Someone else’s food might look better or smell better or they might enjoy it more. And you could be left watching everyone who joined you at the table devour their food, while you stare at any empty place setting. All you can do is hope your food eventually comes.

This restaurant, of course, is called “On Submission.”  Welcome to the table. Now shush, and wait your turn.

Monday, July 11, 2016

COVER REVEAL: Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn!

I'm so excited to share the cover reveal for Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn with you today! You can check out the gorgeous cover below! This cover reveal is brought to you by YaReads Blog Tours and YA Interrobang!

Remember Yesterday -eBook

Book Title: Remember Yesterday (Forget Tomorrow, #2)

Author: Pintip Dunn

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Sixteen-year-old Jessa Stone is the most valuable citizen in Eden City. Her psychic abilities could lead to significant scientific discoveries, if only she’d let TechRA study her. But ten years ago, the scientists kidnapped and experimented on her, leading to severe ramifications for her sister, Callie. She’d much rather break into their labs and sabotage their research—starting with Tanner Callahan, budding scientist and the boy she loathes most at school.

The past isn’t what she assumed, though—and neither is Tanner. He’s not the arrogant jerk she thought he was. And his research opens the door to the possibility that Jessa can rectify a fatal mistake made ten years earlier. She’ll do anything to change the past and save her sister—even if it means teaming up with the enemy she swore to defeat.

Goodreads Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26091228-remember-yesterday

Amazon Buy Link: http://amzn.to/29suPGc

Barnes & Noble Buy Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/remember-yesterday-pintip-dunn/1122749494?ean=9781633754942

iBooks Buy Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/remember-yesterday/id1046514286?ign-mpt=uo%3D8

Kobo Buy Link: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/remember-yesterday-1

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Remember-Yesterday-Forget-Tomorrow-Pintip-ebook/dp/B0166RX44O

Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/Remember-Yesterday-Forget-Tomorrow-Pintip-ebook/dp/B0166RX44O

Entangled Publishing: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/remember-yesterday/

Forget Tomorrow (Forget Tomorrow, #1) Book Synopsis:

Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

ForgetTomorrow_500It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all—Callie, herself.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24804505-forget-tomorrow

Amazon: http://amzn.to/29wnLMj

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forget-tomorrow-pintip-dunn/1121154538?ean=9781633752382

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/forget-tomorrow/id1003220432?ign-mpt=uo%3D8

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/forget-tomorrow

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forget-Tomorrow-Pintip-Dunn/dp/1633752380

Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/Forget-Tomorrow-Pintip-Dunn/dp/1633752380

Powell’s Books: http://www.powells.com/book/forget-tomorrow-9781633752382

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Forget-Tomorrow/Pintip-Dunn/9781633752382

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Forget-Tomorrow-Pintip-Dunn/9781633752382

Entangled: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/forget-tomorrow/

Pintip croppedPintip Dunn graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. She also published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,”

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, Forget Tomorrow, is a finalist in the Best First Book category of RWA’s RITA® contest. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Washington Romance Writers, YARWA, and The Golden Network.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at www.pintipdunn.com

Author Website: http://www.pintipdunn.com/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/pintipdunn

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPintipDunn

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13442212.Pintip_Dunn

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pintip_dunn/

Newsletter: http://www.pintipdunn.com/welcome

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Meet the Query Kombat Grand Champion!

Jason Beymer              

A permanent fixture at his local coffeehouse, Jason Beymer hunches over his laptop in a caffeine-induced frenzy, jowls slick with muse. He writes fantasy and horror laced with inappropriate humor. Jason worships at the feet of Ray Bradbury, and blogs at TomesandTV.com, where books and TV come together to make sweet, sweet love.

Contact Jason at twitter or his website.

Title: The Siren Episode
Entry Nickname: Cement Gargling 101
Word Count: 82,000
Genre: YA Fantasy


Arlen’s parents kill monsters—sirens, gorgons, and even leprechauns—then broadcast the murders on their TV show, Myth Slayers. And killing is a family business.

Ever since mythological creatures destroyed San Francisco twelve years ago, Myth Slayers has been number one in the ratings. Now the show’s stars want to retire and force the reins upon their son. But at seventeen, Arlen doesn’t want to slaughter monsters on primetime TV—he just wants to survive high school, where a quirk in his Myth Slayer blood makes life unbearable. 

Arlen’s blood gives him power, but repels members of the opposite sex. He can’t even approach girls without making them physically ill. So when he finds a girl who’s not getting sick, he finally sees a chance at a normal life. Problem is, Lenora’s a siren. Worse, she’s a murderer. And Lenora hides a secret: the location of a safe filled with evidence that Arlen’s parents destroyed San Francisco, not the monsters. If opened, the safe’s contents could ruin his family, leaving humans unprotected against nightmarish creatures. Arlen’s parents want the siren dead, and Arlen faces an impossible choice: kill Lenora to bury the secret, or trust the siren and expose the truth. 

First 250 words:

Arlen Boggs hopped his neighbor’s fence and slipped past the protestors. They’d camped in front of his house again, picket signs raised. He tried to keep his footsteps light, but the rain puddles didn’t help his cause.

Two blocks, he thought. You can do two blocks without getting recognized.

The morning air chilled his neck, and he buttoned his father’s trench coat, too big for his lanky frame. Arlen wore the coat, baseball cap, and sunglasses to keep himself hidden. He hoped it would work this time. 

Head down, he hurried along the narrow sidewalk. Trees rustled on either side of the street, and he glanced up at the sycamores. Nothing but windblown leaves.

A woman’s voice came from behind him: “There he is.”

Arlen turned to look at the protestors, five houses back. “Great,” he muttered.

Two of their poster boards read, “GO AWAY, MYTH SLAYERS!” and “MYTHS HAVE RIGHTS, TOO!” Despite the wet September morning, the crazy zealots surged onto the road and shouted at him.

A few months shy of his eighteenth birthday, Arlen still didn't have his driver's license. His parents never had time to teach him, always out filming their TV show. Otherwise, he would have driven himself to school and avoided the daily hate-fest.

Another tree rustled and a branch snapped. 

Could be a monster.

The protestors sped up, chasing after him with their hand-painted signs. 

Arlen broke into a jog. Monsters in the trees, protestors on his tail. Why were mornings so complicated?

Meet the Query Kombat Adult Champion!

Ann M. Miller

Ann M. Miller writes adult and young adult fiction, and enjoys a wide range of genres including romance, mystery, and Sci-Fi. Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she now lives in windy (but beautiful) St. John’s, NL with her husband and son. She can usually be found glued to her laptop writing or revising, with her two lazy dogs for company. She has an unhealthy obsession with Han Solo, an addiction to Belgian chocolate, and is a sucker for Sinatra tunes. The first draft of The Absence of Butterflies was written during National Novel Writing Month. 


Connect with her on Twitter and visit her website.

Title: The Absence of Butterflies

Entry Nickname: Madam Butterfly
Word count: 80,000
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance


Will Kavanagh is the only one who knows the truth about the drug overdose that killed Christy Talbot. Not that he’s telling. The world famous actress may have starred in the film adaption of his novel, but that doesn’t mean he wants to go to jail for giving her illegal drugs. Troubled by a mounting sense of self-loathing and guilt, Will returns to the only place he has ever felt something other than lost: home. Not that everyone in town is rolling out the red carpet for Cherrington’s prodigal son—especially not his former fiancĂ©e, Jessica Locke.

Following the unexpected death of her father, Jessica needs something—anything—to keep herself busy, and fixing up a property for Will’s mother sounds like just the ticket. The only hitch is her ego-fueled ex-fiancĂ© is back—the one who left her in the rear-view mirror on his way to literary fame in NYC. Will is the last person Jessica wants to talk about, let alone see. The trouble is, she never could resist those piercing blue eyes and tortured writer’s soul. It isn’t long before things heat up between them once again.

Each dealing with death in very different ways, Jessica and Will navigate conflicting emotions and their undeniable attraction to find something worth saving. Too bad Will, haunted by the knowledge of how Christy died, isn’t exactly relationship-ready. Neither is Jessica. She knows Will is hiding something and she’s determined to find out what.

Then Will realizes that unless he’s willing to reveal his secret to Jessica, fast, he could lose her trust—and her love—all over again. Because, as it turns out, Will isn't the only one who knows the truth behind Christy’s death.

First 250:

When Will Kavanagh stepped out of the coffee shop, his eyes were drawn to the bookstore window like a magnet.

Just get back in the damn car, he commanded himself.

But his legs seemed to move of their own volition, taking him over to the book display. He would have recognized those red and gold splashed covers anywhere. Bold black letters at the top of each one proclaimed Now a Major Motion Picture. Underneath was a snapshot of the two main stars. The one on the right gazed back at Will, her full lips curved in a wide smile. His gut twisted into knots of guilt.

As he stood transfixed on the sidewalk, the world around him faded away. He didn’t see Christy Talbot with her arm around her leading man. Instead his mind burned with the image of the actress as she lay sprawled on the floor next to an upended pill bottle, her eyes empty. Those eyes had haunted him every day for the last two months.

“Excuse me.”

The voice made him snap back to the present. A man stood beside him, holding out the bag that contained Will’s bagel. “You dropped this.”

“Thanks,” he mumbled.

“Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere?”

Will stiffened. “No.”

He strode back to his BMW. With a tightness in his chest, he drove past the downtown stores, this time making damn sure his eyes faced forward. He needed another reminder of Christy like he needed a hole in the head.

Meet the Query Kombat YA Champion!

Jim O'Donnell

Jim O'Donnell is a father of three (the oldest being three), husband, attorney, and a soon-to-be-retired police lieutenant. If you're wondering why he'll be retired so young, it's because Will Smith is just that good of an actor.

When he's not playing with his kids or trying to convince his work that Will Smith is actually an actor and not a doctor, he writes about teenagers doing bad things. And then his wife threatens to divorce him for spending every second of his free time writing, and after he writes about teenagers doing really bad things. Like murder.

You can find Jim on Twitter @JD_ODonnell. He's also on Facebook at Facebook.com/voteODonnell. Yeah, that's right, he once ran for Congress. No one ever said he was the smartest guy in the world. (And yes, that is real hot sauce, and yes it is a real 3rd degree burn on his arm. And YES, he did get the hot sauce in the burn while taking this picture. The photographer, his wife, thought it was the best thing that's ever happened.)

Title: The Gray Hole
Entry Nickname: Hot Sauce is Bad for Wound Care
Word count: 63K
Genre: Magic Realism/Suspense


Six students at Mayville High will be dead by Saturday night. Again. And again, they will begin the week over just before Tuesday's first period class. Doomed to repeat the same week until seventeen-year-old Grayson Dell decides to stop killing, the group must work through two problems: First, Grayson has no idea the groundhog week from hell is happening; Second, the victims are all jerks.

As Grayson debates whether or not to kill, some of his victims begin to see the cycle as a blessing instead of a curse, and in order to ensure it continues, they increase their cruelty to outrageous levels. It isn’t until Grayson’s once-most-brutal tormentor and member of that group treats him as a fellow human that signs of a possible end to the cycle begin to appear. Now with the help of his old adversary, Grayson must steer clear of his other victims and all their evil plans in order to find the therapy, medications, and friendships he needs. Otherwise, he will be forced to endure the week before prom forever, corsages, limos, improvised-explosives, and all.

Although the manuscript is narrated by a second-person voice in Grayson’s head, his is not the only story being told. Since Grayson is unaware of the temporal loop, so is the voice, leaving the reader to only feel the presence of the loop through Grayson’s interactions with the group of students he kills. While Grayson’s outlook resets with each chapter, the group members’ memories continue across the length of the manuscript, allowing their individual outlooks and attitudes to evolve, or in some cases, devolve. These secondary arcs are as seen by the voice in Grayson's head who keeps saying "you" when any rational, reliable narrator would clearly just say "I." 

First 250 words:


You tell yourself today will be different. Maybe it will. The lockers are the same sick, pale blue as yesterday, the linoleum floors still shine with same pungent cleaners that have been disintegrating nose hairs and SEAL-Team-Sixing brain cells for all four years you’ve spent in this school. And your classmates – if they’ve changed anything other than the color of their hair, it’d be tantamount to Chris Hemsworth intentionally eating a carb.

But still.

That pale blue used to be your favorite color before your wardrobe and your attitude took an about-face to the dark side. The chemical glint and nauseating smell from the floor is fading with each sneaker’s squeaking step. And those people – the juniors, sophomores, freshman, even your classmates – they all could –

Your head snaps against a locker so hard it’s unclear whether the high pitched hum ringing in your ears is just a sudden bout of tinnitus or if the blue painted metal is actually screaming back at you. You try to pull away and see if the locker’s door was repainted red, but the hand that put you there doubles the pressure from its sweaty palms, digging the blunted and jagged ends of chewed away nails into the back of your head and your left cheek.

You stop struggling before you start. Today will be no different. Why would it be? Embarrassment is the baseline of high school, and pain is just a reminder you haven’t left yet.


Meet the Query Kombat MG Champion!

Chad Morris            

Chad Morris is the author of the futuristic Cragbridge Hall series: The Inventor’s Secret, The Avatar Battle, and The Impossible Race. Chad grew up wanting to become a professional basketball player or a rock star. (Inspired by Animal from The Muppets, he has been banging on drums since he was eight years old). Though neither of those plans quite panned out, he has worked as a teacher, curriculum writer, comedian, and author. You can learn more about him and his books at www.cragbridgehall.com or www.chadmorrisauthor.com.

Follow Chad on twitter

Title: The Henchmen Company
Entry Nickname: Jello Poems
Word Count: 37,500
Genre: MG Humor


Nobody would dare call Gordo Vanderhough a baboon-faced dorkisaur.

Towering over even the adults at Taft Elementary and the only 6th grader with a 5 o’clock shadow, Gordo is known for toppling kids in the lunch line like dominoes (Ga-pow!) and stealing entire trays ofJello (because he only loves two things in life: Jello and poetry). But nobody ever calls him a dorkisaur because nobody really talks to him at all.

One day a man not only talks to Gordo, but actually compliments him and invites him to join the Henchman Company. Gordo, though the youngest henchman, is a natural at all of it: giving evil glares, maniacal laughter, trash talking, throwing large kitchen appliances, and not thinking too much. He’s thrilled about his first job until he figures out that his boss is an evil mastermind trying to hook the internet up to his own brain. If successful he will be able to control a secret government robot army and a flying spaceship the size of a city. This creepoid is going to bully his way to world domination. Suddenly, Gordo questions his career path.

When the other henchmen get wind of his change of heart, Gordo finds out what it feels like to be the one being bullied. With total human annihilation
 on the line (and the fate of all gelatin desserts), Gordo decides to use his size and skills for good. This villain is about to get Gordoed.

First 250:

Gordo Vanderhough lumbered into the cafeteria past dozens of other hungry kids. He headed straight for the front of the line but no one called out, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” No one chided, “You can’t do that.” And nobody even thought of saying, “Get to the back of line, you baboon-faced dorkisaur or I’ll kick you in the teeth.” 

They didn’t say the last line for several reasons. One reason was that no one at Taft Elementary could kick high enough to reach Gordo’s teeth. It would require an amazing jump, a ladder, or a trampoline. Maybe even all three. But the most important reason was that no one dared say anything remotely threatening to Gordo Vanderhough.

Gordo was officially the hugest kid at Taft Elementary. In fact, he was the largest person—period. Though he was a sixth grader, he towered over the teachers. He was also as wide as a buffalo—the big kind with burly shoulders and a mop of dirty fur on its head. Plus, if you looked really close, Gordo’s chin had the stubbly beginnings of a beard. His nanny told him to shave every other day, but she only spoke Polish so he couldn’t understand a word she said. To him, it sounded like she was telling him to sing songs about shampooing zebras. And that didn’t make any sense. Needless to say, Gordo didn’t shave, or sing songs, or shampoo zebras.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

15 Things No One Tells You About Being on Submission

There are about a billion blog posts out there about querying, which is a difficult and painful process for many people. But there aren't that many blogs about submission, which sucks about a million times worse. I know what you're thinking - how could anything be worse than querying? I've been there. I remember those days. But when you're querying, you have a lot more control, and seemingly hundreds of agents to try. When you get a rejection, you can send another query. And you have the ability to have enough queries out at a given time that responses come in fairly regularly.

Not so with submission. Different agents do it differently, but they can't just send to 40 editors at once. Most publishers only let you send to one editor per imprint at a time. Some imprints only let you send to one editor at that imprint. Some publishers only let you send to one imprint, period. You may or may not know who is reading at any given time. In my experience, neither knowing nor not knowing makes the process any easier. 

Here are some things no one tells you about submission:
  1. You are not the exception. You are the rule. All those people getting massive deals with life-changing money overnight? Those are your friends. Friends of friends. People in your social group. But not you. Never assume it will be you, because you'll only be disappointed. Go watch He's Just Not That Into You. Memorize it. You're not the exception, you're the rule.
  2. It's impossible to think about anything else most of the time.
  3. You try to distract yourself by making a list of all the things you'll do with that advance when it comes in, then realize one day that the items on it total about $40 million.
  4. Your non-writing friends don't understand. Your writing friends get sick of listening to you talk about it. There will be days when you don't want to talk to anyone.
  5. You resent your friends for getting book deals when you didn't (and, in your mind, never will).
  6. When your friends with book deals have (legitimate) complaints about the process, you turn into a screaming hell beast on them. Because, after all, how can you be frustrated when you are LIVING THE DREAM?!
  7. You write long, pissed-off blog posts that other people would probably benefit from reading, then delete them.
  8. You cry. A lot.
  9. When people say "work on a new project," you want to dive through the computer and strangle them. That's awesome advice for people who sell on sub in about six weeks. After a year or more, chances are, if I haven't written something new already, I'm not going to want to.
  10. You might show up at work, but you're just going through the motions, doing what needs to be done in order not to get fired, dreaming about the day you can quit.
  11. Weekends are the enemy. Editors don't send offers on weekends. 
  12. Lots of naps. Long naps, sometimes more than once a day.
  13. When the world mourns celebrities - celebrities you love - you're already too down to care. 
  14. No news really is no news. Editors are very busy, and if you haven't heard anything probably just means they haven't read it yet.
  15. Knowing #14 in your head means nothing, and each day you don't get a response, you'll be certain the editors with your manuscript are secretly hating your guts for having written it.
The point of this post was supposed to be to share something helpful or inspiring, but really all I can tell you is: figure out what works best for you. Distract yourself if you can. I spent a lot of time at the gym, burning frustration. It helps with the stress, but also offset the thousand pounds or so of cookie dough I ate. And remember - it'll all be worth it if an editor comes back with a yes. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

REVIEW: In Twenty Years

Today, I have the pleasure of reviewing IN TWENTY YEARS by Allison Winn Scotch. Scotch has been one of my favorite writers for almost a year now, since I discovered her. I've devoured all of her books in that time. So when the publisher granted my wish to get a free copy through Netgalley, I squealed with joy.

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

  1. This book has the same strong writing and unique voice I've come to enjoy in Scotch's other works. I was a little skeptical at the beginning when I saw that it's told through five different points of view, but it all came together beautifully. And I even liked all five of them in different ways, which surprised me/
  2. The story is fast-paced and gripping. Most of the book takes place over only a few days, so there's always something happening. Never a dull moment.
  3. Everything comes together perfectly at the end. There's quite a lot going on, but Scotch weaves all the threads together, and the end is the only ending that could possibly make sense for this story. 
  1. THIS BOOK MADE ME CRY. I'm trying to read mostly happy books right now, and I dove into this one without knowing what it was about, so I wasn't really prepared for a tear-jerker. This is primarily a complaint because I'm trying to stick with uplifting/happy books at the moment, and I'm nit-picking, because I adored the book. There isn't a single thing I would change.

In summary: excellent writing; fast-paced plot, gripping plot; engaging characters. A cathartic look back at being twenty years old. The book made me want to go look up all my old friends, hug them, and cry. It took me two days after reading to even recover enough to write this review. Absolutely fantastic.

IN TWENTY YEARS is available today! Pick up your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookseller. 


WE'RE DOWN TO THE FINAL TWO out of 340 entries--an amazing accomplishment by these authors.

Congrats to the winners of Round 5 who have become our Final Two, battling it out for title for Grand Champion! The round takes place on Friday and goes for two days 

A big cheer for the last two standing from sixty-four entries! I wonder which will be our grand champion?!?!?!
 Go Mike and Laura's Team!!!! WHOOO
All the action is over on Mike's Blog starting July 1st 

Here are the matchups:

Cement Gargling 101 vs Jello Poems

Good Luck!!!