These Laurels Are Soft And All But…


Crown and laurel

So, apparently I ~won~ NaNo a few days ago.

Awesome.

These laurels are soft and all, but there are still many words yet to be written.

Thus, I forge onward towards a new goal: a complete first draft by Thanksgiving.

My touchpoints & story pacing are on-track to land right around the 80k mark (give or take). I’ve slowed down the drafting a bit, taken pause to go back and weave in threads that are essential as the climax nears. Yes, it’s a first draft, but for me, it’s crucial to have the key elements woven in so they can all converge in one beautifully embroidered moment on the first go ’round.

There’ll be snipping and trimming, undoing seams and sewing them back together later. But I want this tapestry—at least from afar—to be thick, and warm, and loverly at the end of this initial stage. More than a wordcount goal, this is how I will measure my own ~win~.

And I hope you have your own, private measuring stick, too. Maybe it’s to write every day, or average 500 words per day over the course of the month, or to revise the sheol out of an existing novel. Whatever it is, strive for it as hard as you possibly can.

Your laurels will feel just as soft for you as mine do for me.

SIDENOTE: The first ink of my Phreak Show sleeve gets hammered in today. I’m more than just a little thrilled about that.

Full Manuscript Request: FREEBORN


Image

Understatement: I’m excited about this.
Disclaimer: I am stretching this post out to include a Twitter-teach along the way.

Yesterday, I spent 6 hours monitoring a Twitter feed. Brendra Drake, along with a a couple other hosts, organized the Writer’s Voice Twitter Party. The full rules for the contest can be found here: http://brenleedrake.blogspot.com/

[I’m going to pop in the bracket explanations for those of you who are still working on your Twitter savvy. I know you’re out there. Don’t be embarrassed. I’ll help you. ūüėČ ]

The contest involved tweeting a pitch for a novel using the imposed 140 character limit.
[A Tweet is simply a post–similar to a Facebook update. If you don’t know what that is…oh my…]

The hashtag #WVTP was crucial to the contest to feed the tweets into the correct stream where agents would be lurking.
[A hashtag is simply a label. Hashtags serve as funnels to carry updates from anyone using them into a common folder. By searching for a hashtag, you can see the Tweets of others with similar interests.]

So, out of techie world, and back to the experience itself.

The timeframe for the contest was 12-6pm. Literary Agents trolled the stream during that window. Aspiring authors submitted their pitches in hope of having one of the agents ask to see the manuscript. Basically, it served as a way to get the idea of a book in front of many agents at once instead of sending tedious, individual query letters.

At noon, the #WVTP stream exploded as authors began submitting their pitches. It was insane.¬†Trying to read each pitch was difficult because so many were flooding in.¬†The screen kept scrolling as the new entries stacked on top of the previous ones.¬†The hashtag was used so much in such a short amount of time that it began ‘trending’. [In other words, it became popular since so many¬†Twitterers were using it.]

That’s when the steady influx of SPAM messages added to the melee: “enhance your penis size”, “can this be real”, “I can’t believe they let me post this”, “come see what everyone else is seeing”, “make 10k a week from home”. The nude avatars and constant posting of the SPAM started as a novelty, became an annoyance, and then pretty much made the pitch-reading impossible.

Enter: http://www.tweetdeck.com/beta. [Oh no, more brackets…TweetDeck is a secondary program that can be downloaded free. It serves as a dashboard for your personal Twitter feed and is outstanding for organizing tweets from users all over the world into easy-to-read columns. It’s like a digital filing system for all your Tweet interests.] TweetDeck contains a filtering function. With a few keystrokes, the file extensions for all the SPAMmers’ links could be weeded out of the feed. Voila! Back to only pitches and agent/host comments.

Then the fun began.

I pitched both FREEBORN and CAPRITARE when agents were present on the feed. No bites. So I started rewriting the tweet-pitches to focus on different aspects of each story. You know: put more hooks in the water, try different bait. My reworked pitches for FREEBORN took on many forms by zeroing in on different elements: Katia, Adam, their relationship, the Surgeon Generals, the clones, The Candystripers, the mission to overthrow the government, gender issues, the virus, spontaneous pregnancies, etc.

Still, no bites.

Then, fifteen minutes before the contest was to end, Agent John M Cusik http://johnmcusick.wordpress.com/¬†pointed out he was looking for Young Adult novels. Now,¬†the vast majority¬†of the pitches were for YA. Only, we couldn’t spare the characters to include those two little letters. I reworked the pitch [again] and sent this one blazing into the feed:

YA The Surgeon Generals are liars. The lives squirming inside Katia and the other clones aren’t parasites. They’re bastard Freeborns. #WVTP

I waited. Then a Direct Message [not a mass Tweet, but a message sent directly from one user to another] popped up in its column on my TweetDeck. Here’s what it said:

Yo yo, send me that. #WVTP

Sweet! So, John and I chatted a few direct messages back and forth. Apparently, he didn’t know it was YA until that Tweet. Also, he noted that sometimes persistence¬†is the key. It damn sure was!

I have already received my instructions on how to bypass the slush pile and send the full manuscript for¬†FREEBORN directly to an agent who asked for it. This is a great opportunity. I have not even queried FREEBORN yet, so the Twitter Party was it’s first foray into the larger world of publishing professionals.

Understatement: I’m excited about this.

Update: Backspace Logline Contest


I won the Backspace Agent Author Seminar Logline Contest ! More specifically, I won the prong of the contest that had to do more with marketing ability than writing skill. In my opinion, a win is a win!

The authors of the three Facebook contest entries that receive the most combined “likes” and comments will each win a signed and personalized copy of literary agent Donald Maass’s two essential how-to guides, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL and THE FIRE IN FICTION!

I received a combined total of 39 likes and comments. So here is a hearty¬†Thank You¬†to¬†all you¬†flesh-and-blood–as well as virtual–friends who supported the effort. Here is the entry submitted for a ‘fictional’ novel.

Backspace|SEMINAR Logline Contest Entry #17 – INFECTION: After two hundred years of mass sterilization and cloning, a super-virus attacks the world population. No one is immune. The elderly, toddlers, women–and even men: everyone is infected with the dreaded Pregnancy. J.L.H. – Bucyrus, Ohio

For those of you that keep updated with my writing endeavors, this plotline should sound very familiar. The idea began its life as a short story entitled “Infection”. When I originally penned the concept, my goal was to keep it under 1,000 words. Mission accomplished. Then, like a lot of authors’ creations,¬†the story¬†took on a life of its own.

And that, my friends, is how FREEBORN the novel came into being.

I’ll have two brand-spanking new, signed books in my hands in a couple weeks. If anyone wants to take a look at them–just let me know. I’m a giver.