Tag Archives: query

#MondayBlogs Dear Writers, 2017 Can Be Your Year!

21 Nov

This year, I had three writing goals.

1. I wanted to sign one of my books during a Barnes & Noble event.

2. I wanted to attend a book convention as an author (booth and all!)

3. I wanted—and this one I thought I’d never reach—to receive a full request from a literary agent.

I’m proud to say I reached all of these goals and more. In fact, I’m going to break my experiences down and explain, but trust me, there’s a reason for this article beyond just me and my goals, so stick with me for a bit.

First, Goal 1. Barnes & Noble! I hosted not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Barnes & Noble signings, including a Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas and BFest in Kansas City, Missouri and Overland Park, Kansas. There was nothing like signing in a Barnes & Noble my late mother took me to as a kid, where she used to tell me I could write a book one day. It was priceless.

How was this accomplished? To be honest, no one in my hometown ever returned my phone calls. Not once. I was terrified of calling Barnes & Noble after quite a few disinterested phone calls and e-mails and in-person meetings. Then, CTP author Tamara Grantham invited me to her local B&N during the VDay Event in Wichita, Kansas. This is a five-hour drive for me…and I work a night shift. But you know what? I jumped at the opportunity to attend. And that one event opened up all the other stores to me. Now, I have a great relationship with one right down the street from my new house. (And I write in there all the time.)

Barnes & Noble Events

Barnes & Noble Events

In regards to Goal 2, I attended not one, but TWO conventions as an author. The first one being Penned Con in St. Louis, where I shared a booth with the wonderful Natasha Hanova. The second convention was Wizard World Comic Con in Tulsa, Oklahoma…where I also had the AMAZING opportunity to be a panelist on Villains vs. Villains. On top of that, I have plans in the works to attend more next year. This was an opportunity I never planned nor saw coming, but I’m eternally grateful for it. I had a blast! (And now I’m the owner of a Pusheen plushie and a Sailor Moon blanket…and a cat T-shirt…and fudge…) I also attended a writer’s conference—The MWG annual conference—and I went to YALLFest in South Carolina as a reader.

How was this accomplished? Anyone who has ever attended a conference knows it takes planning. In fact, most conferences ask you to buy your booth a year in advance, which I did with Penned Con in St. Louis back in 2015 when I attended as a reader to see if I liked it or not. The person sharing my booth changed three times, but it all worked out in the end, and I had a blast! Out of the blue, I was invited to Wizard World Comic Con through Genese Davis, who knew…Tamara Grantham. (Tamara is the best, can’t you tell?) I never expected to be a speaker, and here I was, driving five hours to speak about what makes characters evil. Spoiler alert. Worth it. But more than half of these events weren’t planned, so keep your mind open!

Conventions and Conferences

Conventions and Conferences

So now, we come down to the agents. The reason I said I never thought a full would happen is because I haven’t traditionally queried since 2007…and a lot has changed since then. I set out to challenge myself by joining competitions and making connections. Much to my surprise (and shock), I received my first full almost right away—in the first week of February—and I’ve had the utmost joy of working with a few agents ever since on numerous fulls and even a few revise and resubmits.

How was this accomplished? I joined every online competition/opportunity I could to reach out to the writing community. Honestly, even if you’re not looking for an agent, these competitions are the bomb. (Does anyone say that anymore? No? Oh, well.) I love them, and I plan on joining more of them if I can in the future. That being said, most of my fulls (and even my revise and resubmits) came from the slush pile. Yes. The slush pile. Writing those query letters, getting feedback from writing friends, and sending off every e-mail one by one until someone gave me more feedback or took a bite actually works. I wish I could say more…but alas, this situation is pending. 😉 Don’t fear the slush.

On a side note, I also managed to complete two manuscripts and publish two YA novels with Clean Teen Publishing! …And I work a full-time day job. (Not going to lie, I’m totally exhausted. But it’s been a great year!)

Manuscripts and Books!

Manuscripts and Books!

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because creating and meeting goals as a writer is HARD…and often unpredictable. When I wrote down my three goals for 2016 on a little green Sticky Note that I kept on the back of my desk (it looks pretty torn up and ugly now), I never thought I would reach most of them (and more) within the first two months. I could attribute it all to luck (which of course comes into play), and I could definitely cite connections (thank you again, Tamara and Natasha and Genese and and and!), but I have to be kind to myself, too.

I jumped at every opportunity I could, even if that meant I would be up for 48 hours straight and driving for 5…and spend some extra money that, logically, I shouldn’t have. (But definitely don’t regret.) Right now, I work three jobs, including being an author, and I’m more exhausted than not. But I know following my dream is worth it. Somewhere in my gut I am always filled with excitement and hope and energy…and every now and then, all of this work leads me somewhere unpredictable and wonderful.

So what’s my tip?

Beyond basic goal setting advice, I am going to stick my neck out there and say something crazy.

For every “realistic” goal you set, set a crazy “unrealistic” one, too.

Why? Because maybe “unrealistic” isn’t so unrealistic once you get started, but setting it will force you to get started. Setting goals causes you to miracle jump over that hurdle you thought you couldn’t even climb on your best days. For me, I honestly believed most of the goals I set for 2016 were unreachable…or at least would take a very, very long time. Why? Because I had tried to accomplish them before and failed. 2016, for me, was the year of reaching failed goals. 2016, for me, became the year “unrealistic” became a reality.

2017 can be yours.

~SAT

 

#WW Pitch Competitions

4 Nov

Although many of you know me as an author, I work a full-time day job as an editor and marketer. I also give publishing advice and help writers with their websites. It was during this job one of my clients asked me if I had ever participated in a #Pitch competition.

If you don’t know what this is, don’t worry! I didn’t either. Not at first anyway. In fact, I embarrassingly admitted to my client that I once participated in the Twitter feed to talk to other writers without realizing a competition was going on. (This is actually okay, since it’s about making friends, but the Twitter feed is generally for those who have entered or plan to enter in the future.)

All of the Pitch competitions are different, but they generally have a theme, are run by a number of agents and mentors, and at the end, a couple of lucky authors get to skip the slush pile and apply to agents and publishers directly. Most of them you apply to via email (following all the rules!), and then you have daily discussions via Twitter while the agents are picking winners. That’s the basic rundown.

Now, after I talked to my client about this, I told them I would do some more research and figure out how to join the next one and what to do during it. Huzzah! #PitchSlam and #NoQS (Nightmare on Query Street) were taking place about a month in the future. (These events happened in October. Isn’t this time warp thing crazy?) I found the rules via the hosts’ blogs, and I relayed all of the information and deadlines. I told my client everything, but they still weren’t sure. They wanted personal information from someone with firsthand experience.

So…I joined.

At the time I was struggling with approaching my own publisher with my pitch for my latest manuscript, so I figured why not get advice from people in the industry? I was too close to the manuscript—much in a way that an editor can’t edit his or her own writing alone—and I needed help from someone else.

I entered #PitchSlam

One of my favorite PitchSlam tweets

One of my favorite PitchSlam tweets

I am going to start out by saying, I LOVED this entire experience. Not only was there an awesome theme surrounding Harry Potter, but there was also three separate days of events and support from the agents and the community. On day 1, 200 lucky writers received feedback on their 35-word pitch. On day 2, another 200 lucky writers received feedback on their first 250 words. I was super lucky. I was picked on both days, and by the end of the week, six mentors had helped me fine-tune my project.

I was through the roof. And from reading the feed, so were many other writers.

Pitch competitions are priceless. I made friends in the writing community I might not have ever made, and I learned a lot from those around me. I had fun, and I never once saw someone feel defeated by “losing.” Because there is no “losing” in these competitions. There’s just friendship, support, understanding, and teaching.

I highly recommend trying one out if you have a completed manuscript and you’re looking for an agent/publisher and/or honest/professional feedback on your work (or even if you just want to make some writer friends)!

Just to help you out, here is some extra information on upcoming ones:

  • Follow @Michelle4Laughs on Twitter for information on Sun versus Snow, a query competition coming in January. Info.
  • There’s another PitchSlam in March of 2016 as well. Info here. It’s a bi-annual contest. Here’s a list of the PitchSlam Profressors. Follow them for future updates.
  • News on PitchWars: They’ll have news on the next one after the New Year: Info.
  • Pitch Madness starts in February: Info

So get ready for the next one! I’m sure it’ll be fun. And of course, I wish you the best of luck. (And of course, be sure to follow those rules!)

~SAT

#WW Website Wonders

28 Oct

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of Octobers’s Website Wonders categorized into Reading, Writing/Publishing, and Coffee and More Fun

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Reading:

The Greatest Novels of All Time List Challenge: Pretty fun to at least skim through.

Anatomy of a Kindle Owner: Very informative infographic on how and why readers choose books.

4 Books That Will Make You a Genius: Go ahead. Try it out.

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Writing/Publishing:

Man Book winner’s debut novel rejected nearly 80 times: This is why you never give up!

How to Find and Fix Your Novel’s Plot Holes: I LOVED this article.

Writing Action and Fight Scenes: Because those can be tricky for many.

23 Websites That Make Your Writing Stronger: There is a lot of information that comes directly from literary agents too.

The Art of Writing is Rewriting: Writer’s Digest, I love you.

Coffee and More Fun:

15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee: All coffee beans grow in the Bean Belt.

Ancient Astronauts Photo Gallery: Just some fun for you UFO lovers.

Massive 16th Century ‘Colossus’ Sculpture In Italy Has Entire Rooms Hidden Inside: I LOVE adventures like this.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! Also, if you like self-publishing tips, my good friend and fellow writer, Rich Leder at Laugh Riot Press, is giving out a monthly newsletter with 12 of the best self-publishing articles every month. I highly recommend it. Sign up here.

~SAT

SAT Update: Crimson Peak, Submissions, Adele, M&Ms, and More.

24 Oct

Here we are! I have so many exciting things to say, and I hope I get to say even more in my next Saturday post…which won’t be until November 7, since our monthly Ketchup post takes place next Saturday. (Was that easy to follow?) But first and foremost, the paperback of Death Before Daylight released this week, and I had a book signing at Headrush Coffee and Tea Roasters. I hope you also enjoy publishing updates, movies, music, dessert, and more.

What I’m Writing:

This is my real handwriting. I know. I know. Terrible.

This is my real handwriting. I know. I know. Terrible.

So, don’t hate me, but I’ve paused all work on Take Me Yesterday while I’ve worked on an extension of November Snow. So far, I’ve written short stories of the side characters—like a prequel for how the flocks came together—and outlined the first couple of chapters for the sequel, so it isn’t a standalone. I actually went back into all my old notes from when I was a kid and writing this series, and even though the language was embarrassing (so embarrassing), the story idea wasn’t bad. Needs some tweaking, but I think it just might work. I still cannot believe the ambition I had back then. A 12-book, 600-page series? That was adorable. At least I’m writing again, eh? As of right now, I have 11,000 words of the Northern Flock’s prequel written, which includes the origins of Adam, Michele, Maggie, and Ryne. (There are 12 kids in each flock.) Originally, I was going to write the Northern Flock and the Southern Flock separate, but I might combine them and make one novella out of it.

What I’m Publishing:

I submitted November Snow and all the above ideas to my publisher in the middle of the night (because I’m crazy) this past Thursday. (Or…technically Friday morning…at 2:15 a.m. to be exact). What can I say? I’m a vampire. I even had the wonderful opportunity to participate in #PitchSlam and #NoQS this week, which is a Twitter contest to work with agents on your manuscript. Plus, a client of mine wanted me to do it to give them feedback on the contests. (Definitely recommended by the way!) They are great for connecting, having fun, and learning about the current trends in the industry straight from the agents themselves. I actually got feedback on my 35-line pitch and my first 250 words, and I definitely used it in the new version! That was a delight. I’ll write a blog post about it so you can look forward to other competitions in the future. I’m still participating in #1lineWed too. This week’s theme was last line in a chapter, so here’s a sneak peek at November Snow: I ran like death waited with open arms.

Keep your fingers crossed for me! Please. 🙂

What I’m Reading:

 A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz: I haven’t had a lot of reading time this week, not going to lie. I was so wrapped up in writing competitions, book signings, and preparing work for my publisher, that I was all write, write, write this week. That being said, this novel is badass. Definitely unique, bold, and willing to face the darkest parts of society. It’s my kind of book. I love the little notes it has in it too. The formatting is unbelievable.

What I’m Listening To:

Adele’s 21 album. Why? I haven’t a clue, but I’ve loved her music forever, and it had been too long since I binged on her music. It took me back to my college days, to be honest. I used to play this album so much my college roommates would yell at me over it, and complain about having the lyrics to music they didn’t like memorized. Perhaps I wanted to listen to it this week to remind me of those days. It was the three-year anniversary of my college roommate’s death, so…Well, there aren’t many words for a world with such loss, but Adele can at least bring the smile back for just a little while.

What I’m Watching:

I HAD to go to the theatre to see Guillermo Del Toro’s new film, Crimson Peak, and I must say, I LOVED it. That being said, it’s way too hard to talk about any part of the story without giving away major secrets. So, what can I say? The characters are awesome. The sets are unbelievable beautiful. I’d love to see a behind-the-scenes screening of the movie. And the story is flawless, haunting, creepy, and uncomfortably wonderful.

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Then, since it’s the paranormal season, I watched The Ghost in the Pantry, a short documentary about some of the best ghost footage ever recorded. Now I don’t care if it’s “real” or not, so let’s not discuss that. The documentary is freakin’ awesome.

I followed that documentary up with another documentary. This one was Ghosts of the Underground, a long discussion on all the different ghosts that haunt London’s underground. Pretty interesting!

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

 12106742_927072510673264_4354659410432881927_nPepper jack, sausage, and tomato pasta: It wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be, which is a good thing for me, because I lose control of my face when I eat anything spicy.

I couldn’t sleep the night before my book signing, so naturally, I baked a batch of M&M cookies. But that’s not all. I bought ice cream and slammed it in between them. I know. I know. I’m insatiable.

What I’m Wearing:

I bought a new jacket thing, but it’s more like a blanket than a jacket—a blanket with sleeves. I freakin’ love it. Thank you, Target.

What I’m Wanting:

 More time to write. Is that a thing? Can I buy that?

Actually, come to think of it, I would really like to get one of these banners for my book signing at Penned Con St. Louis in September of 2016, but boy, are those pricey. I’ll hopefully be able to save up enough to get one though. Fingers crossed!

Also, when writing this blog post, I realized Adele is releasing a new album! 25! I cannot believe it. FINALLY. Yep. I want.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I was at a library to find my older brother’s research papers he wrote in middle school. (Don’t ask. I don’t know how this other world works either.) I found one on ghost mermaids. (Again. Don’t ask.) But I was having a hard time following the science behind it, so I decided to go to their break room, which had a billiard table. (Again. In a library.) So, I set my purse down to play and then I kicked my purse and I heard a thunk. I looked down and my purse went through a HOLE IN THE FLOOR. I went downstairs to tell them my purse went to their bottom floor, and everyone FREAKED out. Turns out there was a secret basement with super secret vaults with even more secret stuff inside. (I believe that is exactly how the manager worded it.) So they had me arrested but took me down there to fetch it in all these lasers and guards and craziness. Then, they returned my purse but threatened me to never tell a soul…Naturally, I came on here and recorded it on my blog.

My other noteworthy dream: There was some sort of Con in Wichita, Kansas going on, and I desperately wanted to go, but my friend kept saying it was an expensive way to celebrate my Pikachu hat. (Yes, my Pikachu hat made it into dreamland. Perhaps I’ve been wearing it too much.) But they had these awesome deals, and we decided to probably go. (Let me tell you, discussing money and travels is exciting in dreamland.)

Headrush Roasters Book Signing

Headrush Roasters Book Signing

What Else Is Going On:

As you read above, the paperback of Death Before Daylight released! I also had my book signing at Headrush Roasters Coffee & Tea, and it was an absolute blast! We talked about Halloween, the ghost films I mentioned above, the black-eyed children, and the inspiration behind The Timely Death Trilogy. My events manager and a beta reader of mine even came, and I haven’t seen them in person for almost a year, so I was ecstatic to see some familiar faces as well as some new ones. I look forward to future book signings and events! It was a great week. I’m hoping to bring even better news to you all next week!

~SAT

I would post more announcements, but I basically just said all of them in this post…but you know, the paperback of Death Before Daylight is now out. The first book is free too!

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

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