Pitch Wars

I've decided to hit the pause button on self-publishing for right now and take a run at this instead.

Pitch Wars. 

This has been on the periphery of my interest for a while and after seeing a couple tweets about the upcoming season, I looked at it closer.  This could be something that really gives me the boost I need. The concept is simple. The organization matches published authors and other industry professional (Mentors) with writers seeking guidance to help them improve their manuscripts (Mentee's). The catch is only 3-4% of the writers submitting get matched with a Mentor, so in a way its a lot like querying agents, the difference being Mentors will be looking more at potential as opposed to something that can be put on submission to publishers right away.

Although the probability of getting matched with a Mentor is low, I'm going for it anyway.  Submissions open next week and the match-ups will be announced on November 3rd.

Wish me luck!

The State of Things

It's been a while since I've updated anyone following along about where I stand in regards to getting published - so that's what I'm going to do today. This will brief because unfortunately there's not all that much to report.

Almost a year ago I announced my intention to write what I considered was going to be the book that finally legitimized my efforts to become a traditionally published author after all these years. It was a story that had been festering inside me for quite a long time and I thought the topic was timely. I finished that book (Apollo's Ghost) earlier this year and after soliciting feedback from my CP's and some beta's, I immediately started sending out query letters, expecting numerous requests for FULLS to flood my inbox. That didn't happen. I didn't receive a single request. I'm not going to sugarcoat it - I was crushed! Still am, actually.

So I've started down the path of my endgame. I wasn't going to end this journey without something to show for it, so I decided to self-publish one of the five books I've written. But which one? To answer this question I turned to social media. After posting a short summary of four of my books on Facebook and asking my followers which one they felt had the best chance in the marketplace, they chose (by a pretty good margin) my mystery/thriller book Fallen Knight.  So I've tweaked the story to bring it up to date (I wrote it almost eight years ago) and right now I'm waiting for additional feedback before I send it to an editor. Then I'll look for a cover designer. There is no set timeline for its release as of yet.

I haven't totally abandoned writing new material - well not exactly. If FK sells exceptionally well I've outlined a follow-up, but I won't put word to paper until I see how FK is received. If the book tanks, then that'll be it. Story over. But if it shows even a glimmer of life, then I'll be more than happy to churn out another story because I believe in these characters.

 That's it - that's where I'm at. Not where I hoped I'd be, but not without a pulse either.

I'll keep you updated as things move along.


WRiTE CLUB 2019 - Path to the Podium

As we do every year at WRiTE CLUB, we asked our winner, Wendy Cross, to tell us what the experience was like for her. When we link back to this post in years to come, hopefully future contestants will be able to glean some insight from her words.  

I heard about WriteClub from a friend who suggested I enter. After reading about it, and learning the prize was admission to the 2020 DFW Writers Conference, I was in. Not having much experience with flash fiction, I decided to take an excerpt from the first chapter of a story I had finished and change it up a bit. I submitted it, and then the wait began.

When I saw my story posted, I was thrilled, but also nervous. The piece that was pitted against it was excellent, and one I would have voted for if circumstances were different. I spent a lot of time refreshing the page, reading comments, and tallying votes. Probably too much time. I was relieved and ecstatic when the voting closed and I had won.

When I saw the writers I was up against during the cage bout, my nerves were once again high—both pieces were excellent and deserving of a win. I told myself I wouldn’t track the votes since it piled on the stress, but I was still refreshing the page, reading the comments, and trying to keep a mental tally. When the voting closed, I knew it was close and was absolutely thrilled to see I had made it to the next round.

Now it was time to write a new piece for the playoffs. I decided to go with a story about a friendly, lonely ghost who was looking for a friend. However, as I worked on it, it quickly turned more creepy and sinister, and I had fun playing with the words and emotions and trying to get everything just right in 500 words.

When my piece went up and I read the competing story, I had a sinking feeling. I knew the first piece was going to win, there was so much to love about it. And win it did. At that time, I didn’t know the wildcard was the person with the most amount of votes amongst those of us who lost, so I thought I was out of the contest. It wasn’t until about two days before voting closed on the last set of entires that I learned I had the chance to be the wildcard. I started exploring ideas in case I was the wildcard and came up with the story of an English-style hunt not being what it appeared.

During the semi-finals, I was up against one of my favorite authors whose pieces were exceptional. I spent more time than I’d like to admit refreshing the page and looking at votes. My opponent’s piece was as great as I expected it to be, and it looked like it would be close. When I did win, I was surprised, happy, and, to be completely honest, had some feelings of dread because I was up against the same writer I’d lost to in the playoff bout.

I had two story ideas in mind for the final round—one was creepy and twisty and the other was a comedic piece I’d been messing around with as a potential manuscript idea. I decided to take a risk and go with the comedic piece. When I read my opponent's story, I once again knew I was in trouble. Their story was beautiful and perfectly captured a snapshot of a teenage girl trying to learn who she was. When some of the comments came in regarding my story, my feelings of dread intensified—the piece was not received as well as I’d hoped. However, I decided to be proud of myself for making it as far as I did.

The day the winner was announced, I was in the mountains and my reception was spotty so checking twitter was useless. But on the drive home, my friend who suggested I enter called to let me know I was the winner. It was a fantastic moment because my kids were with me and we were all yelling and cheering. I still can’t believe I won.

I want to thank everyone who left feedback on each of my pieces—I read it all and took note of the things that worked, didn’t work, and areas where I could improve. Your thoughts are invaluable. I also want to thank DL and his wife for all they do to put on this contest. I know there’s a lot of time and effort involved, and it is greatly appreciated. I look forward to meeting some of you at next year’s conference!

We look forward to meeting you as well, Wendy. See you in Dallas!

One Million

One Million page views.

That’s the achievement my blog surpassed a week or so ago when we were bringing WRiTE CLUB to a close. One million page views. That averages out roughly to one-hundred thousand per year – seeing that my blog has been in operation for ten years. Since I’ve posted 859 times it also averages to just over eleven hundred views per post.

WOW. Who’d have thunk it? Certainly not me. I started this blog because a character in my first novel was a blogger and this was more for research than anything else. My writing still hasn’t taken off like I hoped, but the blog is doing okay for itself, despite some stumbles along the way.

I’m certain WRiTE CLUB is responsible for the majority of the traffic I’ve been blessed with, but there were some other good posts-initiatives that moved the needle as well. Here are a few of the big ones.

I guess this is the year for successes, of a sort. In February we celebrated the blogs tenth year of existence, and now this. Doubt I’ll reach 1,000 posts this year, but it’s on the horizon. I can only hope that the trend of positive feats will carry over into my literary aspirations as well.

Either way, me and my blog will keep on plugging away. That’s how we started, and it has worked okay so far.

WRiTE CLUB 2019 - A New Champion Crowned

Let me introduce you to Wendy Cross...aka Sicaria, our WRiTE CLUB Champion for 2019.

Wendy resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is a mom to three fantastic girls and is married to the most amazing man who supports her in everything she does. She was a copywriter for ten years and is an expert on many random things, like composting toilets. She hopes to be traditionally published one day. Wendy now has a free pass to the 2020 DFW Writers Conference and a $100 Barnes and Noble gift card.  CONGRATS Wendy!

Our 1st runner-up was IshYouNotIshMe, which is actually Dannie Olguin Morris.

Dannie is an introverted writer who gets through busy days by pretending to be an extroverted character. She's been married to her best friend for more than half her life and has an awesome teenager. Two dogs and one cat share her office and encourage her to write when she'd rather hide in a pillow fort. Dannie is a member of both online and in-person critique groups and attends writers conferences regularly.  As the runner-up, Dannie took home a $75 Amazon Gift Card.  CONGRATS Dannie!

Both of these ladies have proved themselves to be extremely talented writers and I predict nothing but good things in their writing futures.

We also had other winners announced at the conference this weekend. They were - 

J-Dub - won the Random Voting prize of a $60 Barnes and Noble gift card. (Please contact me)
Bokerah Brumley - won the Voting In Every Bout prize of a $40 Barnes and Noble gift card.
Laura Maisano - won a DFW Conference T-shirt for being a contest participant.
Melissa Embry won a DFW Conference T-shirt or being a contest participant.

The contest was a rousing success once again, setting records everywhere you looked. The most writers submitting (132), submissions (189), average votes per bout (76), and page views while the contest was running (41,000).  I also need to tip my hat to the quality of the critiques left for the contestants in our bouts this year. Exceptional!

Now that the contest is over we encourage the other writers who made it into the bouts to reveal their true identities in the comments below. People who have read your work really want to keep in touch with you and your work, so why not remove that mask? No pressure though. If you want to remain anonymous, we respect that choice.

I also encourage everyone to leave me idea's on how the contest can be improved. I've already received quite a few thoughts while I was at the conference, but I want to hear from you as well. What works, what doesn't work, what would make it more interesting? The contest is always evolving – trying to make it more satisfying for both the contestants and the reader/voters – and this year will be no exception.

We'll be back again next year, bigger and better than ever. Hopefully, you're looking forward to it as much as I am! If you want to be notified via email when things kick off next year, send an email to writeclub2019@gmail.com or leave it in the comments below and we'll add you to the list.

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