Meeting Notes 10

It’s been a couple of months since my last Meeting Notes post. And to be honest, there haven’t been a ton of meetings lately, which for me is a good thing. Now, without further ado…

meeting notes jae

Sometimes I really have no idea what’s going to come out when I start doodling. I tend to like shading things and giving them a bit more of a 3D perspective, but I’ve always had an obsession with drawing eyes. I usually don’t doodle them, but this time I said what the poodoo, why not?


Thanks to inspiration and a sort of reminder from Mayra, I’m going to work on presenting an editing series to go along with the How to Write a Novel Series and the How to Design a Book Cover series I’ve already featured here on the blog. I’m hoping all of you will add your own editing tips in the process.

I recently finished up another major edit session on SHADE and am going to tackle the query letter next. I have a decent one, but my mentor from Pitch Wars made some new suggestions, so I’m at it again. I think once I’ve got a copy we’re both happy with I might send it over to Janet Reid’s Query Shark blog and see what she has to say. It’s both frightening and thrilling at the same time.

I’m going to commit to writing the editing series for next week. You heard it here first. Look for the editing series next week. This will include advice on how to do it yourself, beta readers, writing groups, and when to seek a professional editor (yep, that’s a when). There’s a lot more resources available than you’d think, many of them free of charge—and they’ll improve your writing.

Anything you’re hoping to see coming out of the editing series? Anything you wish I would doodle while I was making my meeting notes? I’m up for requests or suggestions. Have you ever dared to submit to the Query Shark? Would you? Let me know below.

Monday’s Writerly Quote

With Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness behind us, some may be wondering what now? Well, there’s always Peter Knapp’s manuscript critique contest (seriously, check it out). But more than that, it’s important to keep writing. From one of my favorites, Ray Bradbury:

You fail only if you stop writing.

Maybe you need to take a break, try something different, or reassess your goals. Maybe you write a few short stories, a novella, or the sequel to your current WIP. Whatever you choose to do, keep on writing. Even if you have your book in for consideration with agencies, keep on writing.

My personal advice, is look into contests. A lot of the biggies seem to culminate April/May, although they are all over the place with different deadlines. It’s always nice to rack up some writing creds for the query, especially since requests from agents usually means a lot of waiting in the meantime. Besides, I found it really helpful for SHADE to put it away for a few weeks and write something else so I could come back at it with fresh eyes.

During the fall, I had a goal to read all 200 available Anton Chekhov short stories. I only made it to 50, but it certainly helped me figure out rhythm when it came to writing short stories. So something else you can  do in the meantime is study the genre you want to write. In other words,  READ, READ, READ. And then read some more in a different genre, just to shake it up.

But always, always, keep on writing.

How about you? What do you do when it’s time to take a break from the novel? Any upcoming contests for you?

All the Progress

No, no, no! It wasn’t saved!!!

Before I begin, let me say how extremely GRATEFUL I am that WordPress has a rabid autosave feature. Why? Oh, there I was trying to get this post together when WHAMMO! The power goes completely out. Ack! Argh! Eeek! I hesitated even opening this to get it posted. Thank you WordPress!

The final part of Pitch Wars is underway. Yesterday I was super happy dappy thrilled to receive a request for more on SHADE—a full manuscript request in fact! For those new to the game, what this means is the agent wants to see your whole book. Sometimes they request partials, which is often the first 3 chapters or so. This is something you definitely want, whether partial or full, and it’s the step prior to receiving representation.

But the thing you also have to keep in mind is the agent can still pass on it. Most agencies I’ve researched will take anywhere from 3-6 months to get back on a full request, sometimes longer depending on their schedule. So while I’m hopeful and extremely grateful, what this does not mean is to put anything on pause.

There are a couple upcoming contests I’m looking into. One is Pitch Madness where you can hop on Twitter and pitch to participating agents using the hashtag #pitmad. That means you have 133 characters (you have to include #pitmad) to pitch your book. They also recommend having different pitches so you don’t sound repetitive and most importantly is be polite. These are agents after all and this is your reputation after all.

The other is the Cupid’s Literary Connection contest (deets here). This one requires a $10 donation, but you submit your pitch, some “bouncers” judge it and if you make it into the final round the participating agents duke it out over the entrants. As always, it’s no guarantee you’ll get an offer, but I think it’s always helpful to get front of the line access to agents vs. hoping your query navigates the slush pile.

Then perhaps querying in the near future. I may look into other contests too. I have a couple I should hear back on soon. One February 6th, and the other I believe is the 23rd or so. Of course I’ll post any news here.

In the meantime, as always, more writing.

That’s my progress. How are you doing on your projects? Any breaking news? Any contests you’re planning on entering? Requests on queries? Let me know!

I Bought an Electric Guitar

I’ve been thinking about buying an electric guitar for a while now. I have a beautiful Fender acoustic electric I’ve owned for nearly 20 years, but there are some tunes which just sound better on the electric. (Like the blues, for example).

squier guitar kitBut I wanted to start cheaper and see if I would use it and love it as much as a decent electric guitar would cost—a beginner guitar, if you will. So I decided on a Squier starter kit. These are the types that come with a guitar and amp. When I was looking at a used Gibson online (the Maestro), I came across the review of a musician who said the Maestro was crap and a better starter guitar was the Squier. After looking at several different reviews, most people agreed this was a pretty decent guitar for the price (some even said they thought it was really great for the price) so I went for it.

I got it last night and had a chance to play with it a bit. The amp was pretty decent for a 10-watt and the guitar sounded fairly decent. However…there was an issue with the fretboard. On the 7th and 8th frets sometimes the 8th fret sounded exactly the same as the 7th and it was a bit tinny. Needless to say I was not a happy camper. 😦 I packaged it all back up to ship back to Amazon. Hopefully my replacement will be just fine. The thing is, no one mentioned a problem on the reviews, and many claimed to be lifelong musicians. The next guitar I suppose will tell. I know it’s not going to be the best thing I’ve ever played in my life, but certainly having the frets work like they should isn’t too much to ask—especially coming from a company like Fender.

I have been playing the acoustic a lot lately to essentially clear out my mind while editing. Even if I have all the time in the world to edit, there’s only so long I can go before I need a break. Music certainly helps with that, which is what inspired me to make the purchase in the first place. I think I needed to test out the waters with a starter guitar to see if I really want to invest in something major. I don’t get the replacement until Friday, so no conclusive evidence yet. I did plug in the acoustic for a few minutes, and it was nice to have something to bring up the volume a bit. Hopefully Friday will be less disappointing.

Something I always found difficult to play on my acoustic was the Marty McFly opening for Johnny B. Goode, mostly because of a tough string bend toward the end. My fingers are little and girly (I’m a girl after all) so it’s hard to push them up. The electric makes it a little easier, and it just sounds cooler. When I get reasonably well-practiced, I’ll see if I can’t post a little video here on the blog. I’ve also teased my roommate about one day waking her up with Van Halen’s Top Gun theme. That is going to happen, people. Some day…

Do you dare me to find that outfit? I might have something close.


As you all know, Pitch Wars is happening today. I’ll update the My Novel section of my blog as soon as I have any news. I doubt there will be offers of representation today (not that I’m ruling it out) but I think there will be requests for more material, and I’m hoping I’m among those in the request pack. I linked yesterday to all the blogs hosting the pitches, but you can find mine here.

Wish me luck!

The Pitch Wars Cometh…

I know, I’m terribly late to posting today. One of those days. But that’s all right, because tomorrow is….

Pitch Wars Day!

That’s right. The day I’ve been long preparing for is finally arriving tomorrow. For those who haven’t heard, Pitch Wars was a contest sponsored by Brenda Drake and a slew of other fabulous people where if selected the writer would be mentored by a business professional. They would receive feedback on their manuscript and work with their mentor to prepare a pitch for participating agents in the hopes of receiving requests for more material.

Why is this such a great opportunity? The professional feedback alone is worth the effort. But as any of you who’ve tried querying know, it’s hard to get an agent’s attention when they get hit with mountains of submissions daily. This is like stepping to the front of the line for consideration. Sure, it’s no guarantee, but front of the line, people!

My mentor is Marieke Nijkamp and you’d think we were destined to be mentor and mentee from the beginning. Both of us have rabid loves of all things geek, especially Doctor Who. I knew, however, when she was getting my obscure Captain Planet references we were a good match. She gave me great feedback, but I feel like I should explain. It’s one thing to get typo corrections and sentence structure feedback, which is important. But Marieke really dug into the heart of my book. It was like having my subconscious coming out and telling me the weaknesses of my story. The best part was she didn’t tell me this is how you must fix the manuscript. She told me more what she believed I was going for and where she thought it was week and what she thought could help fix problems.

Point being, I didn’t really disagree with anything. I really felt like she’d given SHADE a fair shake and helped me see things my subconscious had tried to tell me all along. And I really like where things went from there. I can’t believe how much SHADE has come along, and I’m proud of where it stands now. Thanks so much Marieke! And Happy Birthday tomorrow!

If only all our birthdays could be as awesome as this!

So tomorrow’s the day. I encourage you to visit the YA Misfits blog to see the pitches of yours truly as well as other mentees. I think it’s good to see how they pitched things to learn how good pitches are made.

The alternates’ pitches are being hosted on the blogs of Kimberly, Dee, FizzyGrrl, Mónica, and Brenda, which you should definitely take a look at as well. These are all strong stories. And if Pitch Wars isn’t what makes it for them, I’m sure you’ll see them in publication down the road via another route very soon. I know an agent would be crazy not to take a look at my the pitches of my friends Brian (The Key to Eden) and Kati & Heidi (Mystic Cooking).

Wish us all luck tomorrow! 🙂