The world has been turned upside down by tiny virus, no doubt about it, but in a time where social distancing and self-isolation has become the norm, now more than ever we need both reminders that we will return to normal very soon, and something to keep our mind occupied and our thoughts focused on something more positive. In this vein, I give you the return of WRiTE CLUB.

Head on over to the WRiTE CLUB page to find out everything you need to know about this year's contest.

WRiTE CLUB 2020 Needs Your Help!

WRiTE CLUB - the tournament-style writing contest - is back for its ninth year and needs your assistance!

How does WRiTE CLUB work? It's simple. Contestants submit a 500-word sample of their writing (previously unpublished or posted on the internet) and the top 30 submissions are chosen to battle against one another in daily bouts with the winners chosen by the WRiTE CLUB readers. The last writer standing wins free admission to the DFW Writers Conference (among other things).

The backbone of the contest is the work that our slushpile readers put in before the bell rings on the first bout - and that's where we need volunteers. In order to narrow down what is estimated to be 200-225 entries (500-word samples) in a fair and unbiased manner, we need a selection committee of 20 judges (I like to call them my slushpile readers) to read all of the entries and vote for their favorites, which I will then use to select the top 30.

Before you raise your hand, I need to fully explain what you would be volunteering for.  This is a big commitment!  First, you must be open to installing and using Dropbox (a free file sharing program that I will provide complete instructions on how to use). After the submission window opens on March 23rd and closes on April 19th, you will have until May 3rd to read the entries (which equates to the length of a small book), select 30 of what you believe are the best ones -- then rank those 30 in order of most liked.

Most importantly – you cannot be a WRiTE CLUB contestant if you do this. 

One other thing. After the contest is over the applicants who were not chosen to compete in the ring can request a mini-critique from the slushpile readers who are willing - provided the contestants voted in 2/3 of the bouts. Last year that ended up being 30 writers.

The slushpile readers serve as promoters for the contest as well, so you'll need to be willing to hit the social media trail when you can to help raise interest leading up its start. In this vein, we'll hold a couple of Twitter Parties during the open submission window to help spark participation.

So, what do you say?  Interested in helping shape how the competition plays out – without officially participating?  If so, send an email to writeclub2020@gmail.com and I will be in touch.

If you’ve been a slushpile reader in the past, do me a favor and leave a comment below letting everyone what a favorable experience it can be.

Thank you in advance.

Oh…and it’s never too early to start promoting. Submissions for WRiTE CLUB will open on March 23rd. Tell your friends!

Flipping The Script

If you read my previous post (or my Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feeds) then you know that signing with Tina P. Schwartz of the Purcell Agency just after Christmas has changed my outlook for 2020, but what you don't know is that's only half of it.

As 2019 was drawing to a close I was prepping to self publish my adult mystery/crime novel and now instead I need to begin work on book number two in a YA series. Just about everything about the year ahead has changed - my goals, my outlook, my energy level, and my plan of attack. But that's not the only thing that has changed. 

The manuscript that Tina signed me for was entitled PRICK, which I envision as a three book venture (JERK and TOOL to be the follow ups). The thing is - there are actually two versions of PRICK. Early on I worked with a prospective agent who requested MAJOR changes to the book, which I made, changing the whole arc (and subplot) of the story and pinpointing a different villain. Although I could never quite satisfy that other agent, I spent a lot of time involved in that second version and as a result its the one most fresh in my mind.

Although both versions of the story are strong and each has its strengths, I feel (and so does my wife) that the original version is more emotionally satisfying. So when it came time to sit down for my  pitch session with Tina I made a gut decision and told her about version #1. That's the version she read - fell in love with - and signed me with.

Here's the rub.  Because both versions of the book were so vastly different - that means the follow up will be as well.  Thankfully, I was forward thinking and created two different outlines, but it also means I now need to re-calibrate my brain and re-immerse myself in my original story. That's not a problem because I'm actually looking forward to it.

You see, I'm looking forward to a lot of things these days.

Plot Twist

If you've been following along with my recent posts you know that I had pretty much decided to go the self-publishing route with one of my novels. Since departing with my previous agent three years ago none of my query letters - for any of my four manuscripts - resulted in anything substantive.  There was some back and forth discussions with a couple of agents, but ultimately they went no where. Even submissions to small publishing houses were fruitless. Frustrated and feeling like I was out of options, I made the decision to pick one of my novels and self-publish it - basically just so I could say I was published. I ran a poll on Facebook to help me decide which book would have the best chance at success and my adult crime mystery - Fallen Knight - came out on top. I started making arrangement's to have it professionally edited and at the same time doing research into what it would take to accomplish my goal. In my mind I was coming to terms with my choice, and adjusting my mindset as far as the whole publishing pursuit goes. I guess you could say I was making peace with it.

Then I received a phone call four days after Christmas.

There was a single copy of my YA novel PRICK in the hands of an agent I had sent out months earlier. I had met (and pitched) this agent at the DFW Conference in June and she finally asked for the full in October. If I'm being honest, I wasn't holding out much hope because at that stage I'd been bombarded by rejection for so long that clinging to hope seemed pointless - and it had been three months.

So I was a bit shocked when I saw the agents name appear on my incoming call screen - but I didn't allow myself to get excited because I have received phone calls from agents/publishers before that lead no where. But this wasn't one of those!

The agent read my novel - the night before - in one sitting - and LOVED IT! Not only that, she could see huge potential for a series. Okay - cue the excitement!

Then she asked -  if she wasn't too late - if she could represent me and my book.

In the blink of an eye everything had changed. My wife had been listening in on the call and tears were rolling down her cheeks.

She answered all of the follow-up questions I had prepared (for years) to my satisfaction and this morning I emailed my signed contract.

I am ecstatic to announce I am now represented by Tina P. Schwartz of the Purcell Agency.

Needless to say - but I will anyway - my plans have changed. I have a couple of small edits to make to PRICK for Tina, then I'm going to start working in full earnest on its follow up. 

Just twenty four hours ago I was looking ahead to 2020 with trepidation and disappointment - and now I am beyond pumped and reinvigorated.

How's that for a plot twist?

The State of Things - Update

Well, PITCH WARS was a bust.

Submitting was worth a shot, however sitting around sulking about not getting picked is not productive. It's time to move on.

I still have query letters out for several of my books, and even a FULL REQUEST to one agent, but I'm moving forward with self-publication of FALLEN KNIGHT anyway. If something positive happens I can always change my focus, but to avoid becoming stagnant I need to maintain forward momentum and self-publishing FK gives me that.  I'm still getting feedback from my critique partners and my plan is to send the manuscript off to be professionally edited in January (which is when I should have enough money saved). When that is process is complete I'll lay out the rest of my launch plan/schedule.

While I'm doing all that I've also submitted one of my short stories to a contest being hosted by Booksie. If you have a moment to read it and leave some feedback, it would be greatly appreciated.  You can find the story HERE.  The title of the story is ITINERARY.

That's what's going on with my writing-life right now. Staying busy...and positive!


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