Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pitch Wars

While working full-steam ahead on my fantastic new project about a guy haunted by his ex-girlfriend, I had another book idea pop into my head. I shouldn't use the word pop. It exploded! The idea hit me with so much force that I had to begin right away. And I did. That day, I outlined the book and wrote the first chapter and the last chapter. The date was May 31, 2017.

And the book was enjoyable to write. I loved the characters and the story—and the twists. This was the type of book I’d been looking to read, so the words flowed and the story got better and better.

Then I remembered a contest I had entered last year. Pitch Wars. In the contest, you submit a query letter and the first chapter of your manuscript to four mentors who then pick a lucky winner from all their submissions and help get that manuscript shiny and magnificent. I didn’t get in to the contest last year. (Between you and me, not getting in motivated me like crazy. I started writing a new story the day the winners were announced and then rewrote the manuscript I entered in the months following the contest. The re-write is awesome and I’m certain it’ll draw interest once I start querying it.)

Now I’m rambling. So I remembered this contest and I didn’t want to enter the same novel as last year. I thought, perhaps, that I might get this book done in time to enter. And that’s what I did. I wrote non-stop to get the first draft done and managed to get some edits complete before the submission date arrived for the contest. Yay. At least I had an entry.

After failing last year, I learned how subjective contests can be, so I didn’t have high expectations for this book. While I loved the story, I wasn’t sure how other people would react. The book was dark at times, and twisted, and also contemporary. I had never written a Contemporary YA before. Would I pull of an authentic voice? Would people think I needed therapy? Would people scream at my title and ban me from the contest? These were real questions stirring in my mind as I researched authors participating in the contest as mentors.

I eventually made my choices and submitted my book, I KILLED BRENDA MORRIS, to Pitch Wars.

Fast forward to today.

I made it into the contest and I couldn't be happier. Destiny Cole took a chance on me and accepted me as her mentee. To say that I was shocked to get chosen is a huge understatement. I get emotional thinking about it. This contest was what I needed and it’s making me better every day. Destiny is a fantastic mentor and I’m lucky to have her cheering me on and helping mold this book into something that will surprise and delight a lot of readers. 

Pitch Wars is wonderful. If you entered and didn’t make it in to the contest, keep writing. Keep imagining. Keep entering. If you are a mentor, thank you for giving up your time to help people like me get better. If you are a mentee, hello again. I love our community of support.

Writing is an art, a skill that can be developed. We’re all improving and learning, and putting our dreams onto pages together. And that’s what I love about it.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Direction of Travel

One reason I love this writing journey is the new experiences I constantly discover and enjoy. It's as if I had jumped on a train without knowing its destination and shouted to the landscape, "Take me far away and change me!"
I have no idea where I'm going, and that mystery is so much fun.
Since 2009, I've written eight complete manuscripts and a handful of partials. That's not counting the dozen or so ideas I've outlined for the future. Here's the breakdown:

Completed Novels (In order of completion)
Sun Season Bandits ~ Middle Grade Portal Fantasy
From Rising Flames ~ YA Fantasy
On Fallen Wings ~ YA Fantasy
From Darkened Skies ~ YA Fantasy
Jesse Wolfe and the Lost City of Gold ~ MG Adventure
Dead and Beloved ~ YA Speculative
Bury Me First ~ YA Speculative
I Killed Brenda Morris ~ YA Contemporary

In Forgotten Dreams ~ YA Fantasy
Dead and Gone ~ YA Speculative
Sarah's Breath ~ YA Speculative
Wedding Dresses ~ Contemporary Romance

As you can see, I lean towards YA a lot. Most are from a girl's POV; however, I have two versions of Bury Me First that feature the MC as male or female. Sarah's breath features 1st person past POV, but I'm playing with a close 3rd POV to see which I like best. Dead and Beloved & Dead and Gone are written in 1st person present, which is a tricky POV for me, but I found it enjoyable. Fantasy is fun-I like creating new worlds, but I don't read enough in the genre to ensure I get an original story. I'm not too good at MG-I can't get the voice right. And Wedding Dresses? That's gonna take a while. I don't know anything about writing romance right now, so I'm slowly picking at this book while changing my outlines. I try to take romance classes every conference I attend so I can learn more, but I'm not quite ready to start reading romance yet.

So I'm at a crossroads. I could start a new project or work on one my partials. I could also query one or two of my latest novels and see if an agent will bite. It's been so long since I've sent a query, I'm out of practice and would need to study up to get that skill up to par. Whatever I choose, whichever direction I travel, it's another leg of the journey and I love new adventures.

Thanks for visiting.

Happy Reading.

~ Jamie

***UPDATE*** I've decided to work on Sarah's Breath and wrote a new first chapter last night. Here's a brief pitch about the project: After a late-night accident claims the life of his girlfriend, seventeen-year-old Kit Garrett is haunted by his own guilt and an angry ghost seeking revenge.
Wish me luck. :)