Monday, August 31, 2015

Ready. Set. Write! Summer Wrap-Up

It's the Ready. Set. Write! summer wrap up! RSW is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman. All the details are HERE. Also check out #RSWrite on twitter.

Goals for the Summer:

  • SHINY NEW PROJECT! If RSW is through the end of August, I'd love to have a rough first draft completed. OR at least 35k - 55k words drafted.
    • I have 27k words on Shiny New Project. Not bad considering I did additional edits on another manuscript in July.
  • Participate in Camp Nanowrimo for word count goals and motivation/support
    • Yes! Though, I did not reach my Camp Nano word count goal. I still managed almost 20k words in July.
  • Revisions for contracted work (waiting on these, so I'll need to make plans/deadlines once I know what the editor wants. (Squee!))
    • I'm waiting on the publisher/editor since as we know, publishing is all about the waiting. I've filled out some forms for Bloomsbury Spark and the contract is signed, so it's a start!
  • Summer Reading Challenge YA Buccaneers
    • I read 9 books out of 15 categories! I read a handful more books this summer that did not fit into the challenge.
  • Maintain my regular fitness classes each week and add in walking and biking
    • I've been pretty good with my regular classes, but I did not bike the whole summer. Why??? My bike is all dusty. Sad. September is usually pretty warm, so I'll see if I can ride yet this year.
Other noteworthy accomplishments this summer:
  • Attended RWA National conference in NYC; made new friends & connections
  • I'm a Pitch Wars mentor and just selected a writer to mentor for two months (not yet revealed!) prior to an agent round
  • I joined Adventures in YA Publishing as a regular mentor/critiquer for their First Five Pages workshop
  • I completed edits on a YA contemporary manuscript! Sent to one last reader, polished, and shipped to the agent.

Manuscripts and Manicures:

Here is my nail art inspired by my work-in-progress. I painted my nails to match the cover of Ms. Marvel, a reboot of the Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel series, that debuted last year. This graphic novel is mentioned in my new contemporary YA and comics themselves play a part in the plot. This also just won a Hugo award! It's a really smart and fun read (especially if you like YA since she's a teen) and a great entry into graphic novels if you haven't read any. 

Thanks to all for the encouragement this summer! Check out the links at the top to visit other RSW blogs.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ready. Set. Write! Check In

Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman. All the details are HEREAlso check out #RSWrite on twitter.  

Now it's time for GOALS and CHECK IN!

Hi everyone! I've been MIA the past month for RSW because of Pitch Wars and other stuff. I've still been writing and keeping up with goals, but glad to be back!

Progress on summer goals:
  • I'm about 26k into my new WIP. I'm having fun writing it, and so far my critique group loved the first chapter. That's always nerve wracking to share a new project
  • Edits for my other WIP are COMPLETE and the wheels are turning. 
  • I attended Chicago's comic con Wizard World which just may be considered research for my WIP ... :D Bottom right corner is a Firefly panel with Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, and Summer Glau. Super fun to see them in person! (my pic is of the big screen since we were rather far back).

Goals for this week:
  • Choose a manuscript for Pitch Wars! I cannot tell you how hard this is. Valerie Cole and I are determining which writer we can help most for the two months before the agent round. These are decisions you don't ever want to make. One manuscript isn't better than the other, and no one person is more deserving. We just need to pick one. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying reading over the material sent to us.
  • Add 5-8k to current WIP
  • Read or finish a book already in progress

Also this week:

A signing event at my local indie for romance author Kristan Higgins (who I love!) and special guest Sonali Dev, a writer in my RWA chapter who's had success with her debut The Bollywood Affair, and her second novel comes out this fall: The Bollywood Bride. This should be fun :)

 Make sure to stop by the other blogs! Let me know how your week is going. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Pitch Wars YA Mentor Bio: Stephanie Scott & Valerie Cole

Pitch Wars is back! The epic contest that pairs agent-seeking writers with a mentor prior to an agent pitch round will soon be open to entries. Read on to see if we might be a good match. All the contest details are here on Brenda Drake’s blog

This year, we’re co-mentoring! We live and breathe the contemporary YA world. We were signed to agents from contest entries (after receiving multiple offers), and know how to polish an entry so it shines like a diamond among the slush. For the last 3+ years, we've had our eye on the YA publishing market to know what types of manuscripts agents are looking for and what is selling to publishers. We will work hard to make your entry stand out in the agent round!

Stephanie Scott: I’m a Young Adult writer represented by Sarah LaPolla at Bradford Literary. My debut contemporary ALTERATIONS is set for release in 2016 by Bloomsbury Spark. I’m a returning Pitch Wars mentor, and a new addition to the monthly 1st 5 Pages Workshop on the Adventures in YA Publishing blog.  As an active member of Romance Writers of America, I regularly judge partial manuscripts through chapter contests and yearly judge for the Golden Heart. I serve on the board for the online YA chapter YARWA. Beyond writing, I enjoy dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving me broke. I have half a dozen cosplay ideas (mostly Star Wars) and I’m a Ren Faire regular. You can find me chatting about TV and all things books on twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA

Valerie Cole: Valerie Cole lives in Philadelphia with her guitar builder husband and lovable cocker spaniel. A graduate of The Art Institute of Philadelphia and Drexel University, her love of storytelling began as an intern in MTV’s animation department. She signed with literary agent Lauren MacLeod in 2012 after her entry in The Writers Voice caught Lauren's attention. She hosts the highly successful agent interview blog series Agents Like Us. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @ValerieColeYA.

What we are looking for: 

A writer who is ready to take the next step in their career. Someone who has passion and drive, who isn't afraid to kill their darlings, and is ready to revise (maybe even heavily) to nab the agent of their dreams. Young Adult fiction only. 

Basically, we want to find a manuscript that makes us…

Seeing how we're contemporary YA girls, we'll definitely be looking for lots of realistic YA fiction, but we’re looking for GREAT STORIES across all genres. What makes many books incredibly successful is the author’s ability to root common emotions and relatable characters in wildly unique situations. For instance, take a look at Maggie Steifvater’s The Scorpio Races. Sure, there are crazy demon horses that rise out of the sea TO EAT YOU ALIVE, but Steifvater also tells the story about rich vs. poor, girl vs. boy, girl horse meets boy horse, and builds relationships so you are rooting for someone to win at the end. We want to find great stories. Period. The end. So surprise us!

 We’ll be working collaboratively, but here are some of our personal interests and favorites:

Stephanie's Interests:

 -High concept premises*
-Strong friendships or family relationships
-Diverse characters and diverse authors (see the We Need Diverse Books site )
-Unique settings or time periods
-Upending tropes (make a common premise fresh)
-Characters who are skilled at or passionate -- sports, arts, sciences, etc. Teens who have their own interests and goals, even if the goals are thwarted (and they should be = conflict!)

Books I’m a fan of:

 To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han - the sweeter side of YA that’s fresh, funny, and heartwarming
Just One Day by Gayle Forman - beautiful writing, self discovery, rich locale, deep family issues
Past Perfect by Leila Sales - forbidden romance set at waring historical re-enactment camps!
Deception So Deadly: Run to You by Clara Kensie - fast paced YA suspense 
Tiny Pretty Things by Sonia Charaipotya and Dhonielle Clayton - multi-POV, high-stakes ballet academy with a diverse character cast
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma - complicated sister relationship, gorgeous writing, magical realism
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - world travel, art meets fantasy, escapist adventure 
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis - survivalist to the core. Gripping pacing.
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee - on-the-run girls disguised as cowboys on the historic Oregon trail!
Every Day by David Levithan - inventive and inspiring 
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - This book has everything: deserted pageant contestants, wicked satire, on-fire feminism. Volcano lairs, Lady Bird Hope, taxidermied sidekicks. 

Valerie’s interests:

- Heart-wrenching contemporaries with high stakes
- Real teens dealing with real issues
- Unconventional families (especially blue collar)
- Diverse characters
- Twisty turny psycho thrillers

 Books I’m a fan of: 

Anything by Sara Zarr, especially How to Save a Life and Story of a Girl
A.S. King’s Reality Boy and Please Ignore Vera Dietz
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
On the paranormal side, vampires and witches aren’t quite my thing, but I’m a huge fan of Maggie Steifvater’s The Raven Cycle series.
Anything that blends folklore, mythology, faerie tales with modern themes. 

* High concept means you can easily pitch your idea in a few words. For example, last year in Pitch Wars, there was a YA entry about a teen fashion blogger exiled to Amish country. Paired with a funny title, and right there, you get an idea what the story might be like. If your manuscript has that mass appeal, we will fight all the other mentors off with a samurai sword for you.

Our editing style

The focus will be developmental. This means big picture edits--plot, character development, pacing. While we may comment on word choice, grammar, or specific details, this isn't meant to be a line edit. Most of all, we want to help a writer craft their best story using their voice. It's not about us imposing our writer voice on someone else. We want to help your entry stand out in not only the contest and agent round, but among published stories. 

Not seeing what you've written in this blog post? Try us! We're open to finding something really awesome and it just might be you! Make sure to follow us on Twitter @StephScottYA and @ValerieColeYA and watch for us on twitter with the #PitchWars hashtag. 

We can’t wait to read your pitches! The submission window opens August 17 on Brenda Drake's blog.

If the Linky below does not work, here's the full mentor bio blog list.

1. Kes Trester (co-mentoring with Jennifer Hawkins)
2. Mindy McGinnis (co-mentoring with Kate Karyus Quinn)
3. N.K. Traver
4. Kristin B. Wright
5. Laura Heffernan
6. Mary Ann Marlowe
7. Joy McCullough-Carranza
8. Lisa Lewis-Tyre
9. Jenni L. Walsh (co-mentoring with Trisha Leaver)
10. Sarah Glenn Marsh
11. Julie C. Dao
12. Kellye Garrett
13. K.T. Hanna
14. Jessie Devine
15. Rosalyn Eves
16. Jami Nord
17. Samantha Joyce
18. Helene Dunbar
19. Jenna Lehne
20. Linsey Miller
21. Jessica Vitalis
22. Stacey Graham
23. Dan Koboldt
24. Brighton Walsh
25. Kate Brauning
26. Lisa Maxwell
27. Wendy Spinale
28. Sarah Cannon
29. L.L. McKinney
30. Juliana Brandt
31. Scarlett Cole
32. Hayley Stone
33. Jennifer Blackwood
34. Kendra Young
35. S.P. McConnell
36. Nikki Roberti
37. Emmie Mears
38. Lori Goldstein (co-mentoring with Chelsea Bobulski)
39. Jennifer Hawkins (co-mentoring with Kes Trester)
40. Elizabeth Briggs
41. Ron Walters (co-mentoring with Meredith McCardle)
42. Fiona McLaren (co-mentoring with Dionne McCulloch)
43. S.M. Johnston (co-mentoring with Stacey Nash)
44. Max Wirestone
45. Jaye Robin Brown
46. Molly Lee
47. Rachel Lynn Solomon
48. J.C. Nelson
49. Holly Faur
50. Sonia Hartl
51. Natasha Raulerson
52. Marty Mayberry
53. J.C. Davis
54. Rebecca Wells
55. Michelle Hauck
56. Tabitha Martin
57. Rebecca Petruck
58. Sarah Henning
59. Alex White
60. Jeanmarie Anaya
61. Laura Salter
62. Wade Albert White
63. Brooks Benjamin
64. Margarita Montimore
65. Megan Grimit
66. Charlie Holmberg
67. Diana Gallager
68. Stefanie Wass
69. Tamara Mataya
70. Rebecca Sky
71. Kara Seal
72. Lee Gjertsen Malone
73. Katie Bucklein
74. Kevin A Springer
75. Brianna Shrum
76. Kate Karyus Quinn (co-mentoring with Mindy McGinnis)
77. Kim Graff
78. Emily Martin
79. Trisha Leaver (co-mentoring with Jenni Walsh)
80. Kim Long
81. Catherine Scully
82. Stacey Trombley
83. Stephanie Scott (co-mentoring with Valerie Cole)
84. Valerie Cole (co-mentoring with Stephanie Scott)
85. Lizzy Charles
86. Dannie Morin (co-mentoring with Alexandra Alessandri)
87. Kate Foster
88. Elly Blake
89. Julie Sondra Decker
90. Lady Lioness
91. Susan Gray Foster (co-mentoring with Monica Bustamante Wagner_
92. Kelly Calabrese
93. Sarah Nicolas
94. Kelly Siskind
95. Roselle Kaes
96. Monica Bustamante Wagner (co-mentoring with Susan Gray Foster)
97. Renee Ahdieh (co-mentoring with Traci Chee)
98. Traci Chee (co-mentoring with Renee Ahdieh)
99. Janet B. Taylor
100. Jessie Humphries (co-mentoring with Mara Rae)
101. Lynnette Labelle
102. Erica M. Chapman
103. Summer Spence
104. Marieke Nijkamp
105. Meredith McCardle (co-mentoring with Ron Walters)
106. Thomas Torre
107. Phil Stamper
108. J.A. Souders

Friday, August 7, 2015

Project Runway! New Season!

Summer is better than ever now that Project Runway is back. Tim is looking sharper than ever, though this EW article hints he may lose his cool. Maybe even a stomp of the foot and some harsh words! If Tim loses it, I'm all behind him. He has amazing patience among the circus in the workroom.

As a fan of the show, I'm all about the commentary and recaps too. Here are some links I'll be reading post show:

The AV Club recaps -- my newly discovered TV review site

Tom & Lorenzo on twitter, posts, and a podcast, which is new to me. 

Season 14 kicked off with the Road to the Runway, which is like a casting montage where former contestants show up to check out the hopeful's collections. Then there's the childhood pictures, the visit to the home, the whole suck-you-in backstory deal that American Idol and SYTYCD and all these other talent-based reality shows do. 

Yup, I've already got favorites. And I love how majorly diverse the contestants are--they almost always have been going back to season 1. Designers from all over the world. 

Overheard: the term "straight-sized person" for non-plus sized person. Straight-sized huh? Huh. How cute is she, though?

So the actual first episode kicked off with a free-for-all grab-bag of materials where the designers had to run around an arena (?) to fetch their stuff. Sure. At least the challenge is straight-forward. No gimmicks, just show the judges your style.

Now, my favorite part. The workroom! And ... right away drama. Some designers didn't bring their kit. Fourteen seasons in, you'd think everyone would know you bring your own sewing stuff because they make you pack it up, sad style with the voice overs when you're voted out. I mean ... FOURTEEN SEASONS. 

Also, people who say "hashtag" + witticism = just, no. Just, no. No. 

The Runway

The judges: Zac Posen (eh) Nina Garcia! (yay!) and Guest Judge, along with Tim and his infamous Tim Gunn Save, to be used at his discretion. 

I'm always amazed what the designers can manage in such a short time frame. True, these are looking good since they had actual fabric and no crazy gimmick shenanigans to deal with this week. There's nothing hugely amazing here, but I really liked Ashley's work, and Candice.

No spoilers here! Catch up with me Thursdays on twitter with the #ProjectRunway tag

Season 14 Project Runway contestants

Did you watch? Who is your favorite? Your front runner? 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group IWSG August

Thanks for finding my post! Usually my IWSG post goes to the top, but it's Pitch Wars time and well, Pitch Wars Rules ALL.

Speaking of online pitch contests, oh, the insecurity! And don't think insecurity is limited to only the writers pitching. I'm only a few steps ahead of those submitting, industry-wise. My role as a mentor is to share what I know and to help a writer craft his or her query and manuscript to pitch to agents. Even having done my share of contests, I still feel anxious when I pitch an idea or send a manuscript to my agent. Still intimidating when she sends it out to editors. The rejections still sting. I may have a bit more experience, but the intimidation and insecurity about whether my work is ready, and whether someone else will like it, is still there.

Kind of a bummer--you think that would go away, right?

We're all trying to see our stories find a platform beyond our laptops. The best part about these contests is the shared experience. The IWSG group is a great one too--I've seen more seasoned writers in the Facebook group give great advice and support to newer writers. No matter where you find your writing community--online forums, groups, contests, or in person, we need each other.

Make sure to visit a sampling of the IWSG blogs Linked Here and the #IWSG tag on twitter.