WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: WHISKEY IN THE JAR -- METALLICA
I have terribly neglected this blog while the PitchWars process took place. For those of you who don’t know, #PitchWars is a fabulous contest for writers who hope to gain agent representation.
Once described by my husband as The Voice for writers, it’s run by the incomparable Brenda Drake (click on her name to learn more and also check out her upcoming releases) where un-agented writers, like myself, submit their completed work to several different published authors, called mentors, for the chance to revise under their expert tutelage.
Welp folks, I got in–and it’s a helluva lot of work, but I’m a better writer for it.
MY MENTOR IS THE SHIT!
I was selected by the AMAAAZEBALLS, Rebecca Yarros, and I hope you’ll visit her website to learn more about her Flight & Glory series featuring military romance as well as the new Renegades series which I think she actually wrote for me, (kidding), that centers around a group of extreme sport athletes. The latest in the series, NOVA, releases February 20th.
Rebecca took this newbie under her wing and imparted some very hard-earned wisdom while she and I worked together to pick apart, tear down and rebuild Moonlight & Whiskey into the version it is today. She shared her concerns with me about my work, listened to all of mine, soothed my frayed nerves and challenged me with making my debut manuscript into the best version of itself.
She’s gone above and beyond, working with me while I’m in the querying trenches, trying to find that one literary agent that will fall in love with my writing. She’s looked at query upon query, elevator pitches galore and twitter pitches aplenty. She’s teaching me about the business of writing––marketability, social media, which agents I might have missed during query fits. Long after the contest has ended and her obligation fulfilled 100 times over, Rebecca’s guided me toward my goal of getting published. She answers the smallest questions, helps me analyze rejections, and look objectively at the issues agents have concerns with––all while working with her own deadlines, edits, and the most important, her family’s needs.
I am extremely lucky to have been chosen by a mentor that continues to embrace the roll. I can never repay that debt. Though, I hope to pay it forward, (keep reading).
Writing is a tough business. It’s not for the thin-skinned, or those easily scared away. It’s not for people who are afraid of rejection or find it hard to swallow criticism. And I certainly hope the other neophyte writers out there find there way to this blog, because here are most important pieces of advice one writer can give another.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
I love you, my family and friends who follow the blog and will read this, but…Nobody knows the difficulty of this journey like my writer peeps. Other writers understand my ups and downs and the need to celebrate every little milestone. They commiserate when I’ve gotten yet another rejection and feel like there is no hope. They will never tell me, “Wow, I didn’t realize getting published was such a long process” or ask “So when will I be able see your book on a shelf?” because they see the process from my side of the mountain and that kind of community is priceless.
FIND THE PEEPS IN YOUR GENRE
I write romance because I love to read them, and the romance writing community has been a godsend. Not only are they supportive and they “get it”, they also understand my overly-filthy mind and my twisted sense of humor. Some are PitchWars mentor’s, like Rebecca, who haven’t just given their time to their own mentees, but to help or answer questions for other mentees and mentee hopefuls as well.
Then, there are the writers in the trenches with me, going through the process, who’ve become a family or sorts.
Maxym Martineau, Gwynne Jackson, Rosalyn Baker, Alexa Martin, Natalee Clark Cooper, Jen DeLuca, Helen Hoang, Megan Scott Molin, Shannon White Caldwell, Sarah Van Goethem, Kelly Newby, Elise Bungo, Ian Barnes, and the rest of the 2016 PitchWars writers, without whom I might have gone insane (still might). The support of this type of community is invaluable when your developing that thick skin you’ll need.
FIND A CRITIQUE PARTNER PEOPLE
It’s not always easy. Finding a CP takes trial and error, and forces you to put your writing out there with a stranger, probably for the first time and that’s just fucking hard. Plus, a lot of us writer-types are solitary creatures that lean toward the introvert. I’m lucky in that it rarely bothers me to introduce myself to new people, but it’s not that easy for everyone (my husband is extremely introverted and I’ve seen him struggle with it in his own professional life). The only way it gets easier is to practice. Please, feel free to hit me up on twitter to gain some of that practice–judgment free.
Also, not every critique partner is going to be a good fit. It’s like buying a new pair of shoes, you’ll likely need to try a few before you find the right person (or two), however there are places to start your search like #CPMatch, #pitchwars,#amwriting, #1linewed. Still, don’t be surprised if you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince. And just because it doesn’t work for you and a particular person, doesn’t mean you (and they) aren’t perfect for someone else.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my own CP, Maxym Martineau. She’s been my rock since we discovered that we shared the same taste in gifs. She’s my shoulder to cry on, the ear that listens to me bitch, the chick that helps me get the neurosis in check, the discoverer of plot holes and typos, and most importantly, the woman that tells me that I am a good writer, that I can do this, when I’m at my lowest.
Another debt I can never truly repay.
PAYING IT FORWARD
So here’s my pay-it-forward plan.
It took me awhile to figure out twitter is where the writing community comes together. When I did, I hadn’t the first clue what a lot of the stuff other authors were talking about meant, and I didn’t want to ask and reveal my lack of a knowledge base. So, I’m here to help the newest of the new. The people that are now where I was a year ago, that are trying to navigate the writing community (or even just hoping to find it) without fear of judgement.
I’m going to do a series of blog posts about the things I was clueless about and if you have a question–the acronyms, types of publishing, categories, contests, writing pitches, etc–send it to me either here, or through twitter.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but if I don’t know, I’ll find someone who does. Do you know a new writer who could use some basics? Send them on over and I’ll do my best to pull the newest of the new out of the shadows and get them engaged.
Because the bigger and more inclusive our community, the more enriched we will all be for it.