Blog of a Writer on the Go and Barely Here.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Bittersweet Results for Round One

Last Thursday saw the announcement of the first cut for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA). As I mentioned previously, the first round was judged on a ~300 word pitch. Of the 10,000 or so entrants, only 2,000 advanced to the next stage, meaning there were 8,000 very disappointed writers when those lists went up.

I was one of the lucky 2,000.  MOTHER OF MONSTERS is going onto the excerpt stage where the first 3,000-5,000 words will be read and judged by two Vine Reviewers. On March 20th, the next cut will take place, allowing 500 writers to continue onward while the rest will be joining those previously cut.

After my initial celebration over seeing my name, I started searching for other names I excepted to see. I had a whole list of fellow writers I had convinced to enter. Pitches we had all helped polish until it was impossible to make them shine anymore. My disappointment increased with each name I searched for and failed to find.

This is the biggest downside to this contest - celebrating your own advancement then realizing others didn't. Last year it didn't hit me as hard. I was new to the contest and hadn't joined many online writing communities. The number of fellow entrants I knew was close to none. This year was different.

Over the past year I became friends with several of my fellow ABNA entrants. I joined online writing groups and made lots of friends, very talented friends, who I cajoled  into joining me on this adventure. When they didn't continue on, I was crushed. It's hard to celebrate your own achievements when you know others aren't.

The bittersweetness of the whole contest is making friends along the way when you know in the end only one out of thousands will win. There are still many others still in it who I will be cheering and checking the list for when the time comes. And with each list, the number of names I'll find will shrink. But, I can always hope at least one name on my list continues all the way to the end. For whoever it may be, I'll be standing in the sidelines when my time to be cut comes, cheering you along.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Pay-It-Forward Award

Received a blog award this morning from Trinity's Love.

Now it's my turn to pay it forward to 5 blogs I love.

1. Indie Day in the Sun - Rebecca gave me my first shot at guest blogging. And she's pretty cool, too. ;-)

2. Lisa L. Wiedmeier - Fellow author and member of the Alliance of World Builders.

3. Kate Jack - Another fellow World Builder. Kate has been interviewing other authors and helping them build their readership.

4. Gae Polisner - Author, friend and all around entertaining.

5. Jeff Fielder - Not only a talented author, but also a very talented graphic artist.

I wish I could promote more than five since there are so many great blogs out there. For these five, now it's their turn to pass on the love.

Now here are the rules for those of you I have awarded this to:
1 - Copy/paste the award to your blog
2 - Link back to the blogger who gave you the award
3 - Choose five blogs with fewer than 200 followers and let them know you've given them the Liebster Blog award
4 - Hope the five you've chosen will continue to spread the love!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Floating in a Cloud

I have a problem. I've discovered Wordleand now I'm addicted. It's true.
Wordle: Jack and the Corporate Ladder
Word Cloud for 'Jack and the Corporate Ladder'

 What is Wordle? Wordle is an online application that makes 'word clouds' out of your text.

Wordle: Down the Wooded Path
'Down the Wooded Path' Cloud

How does it work? The application takes a sample of text and arranges it in a picture format. The larger a word appears, the more commonly it appears in the sample.

Wordle: Mother of Monsters
Cloud for 'Mother of Monsters'
Besides being really cool, what purpose does Wordle serve? For writers, these little word cloud serve a huge purpose, while being fun. 

As a writer, we're told by readers, editors, agents and publishers when we tend to overuse words and which words are our most common go-to words. This program makes it easier for us to pinpoint what words we use the most and compare the usage to the rest of the text.

Have something you've written and want to check out? Head over to www.wordle.net and plug it in. I'd like to see everyone's beautiful creations.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

An Interview with...Me!

The wonderful Kate Jack asked to interview me this week. Check it out on her blog:


While you're there, check out her other fabulous author interviews.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pitching to Win

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award closed to submissions last night. All that remains now is to wait until February 23rd when the first round of cuts are announced. Well, wait and work on a current MS or WIP.

Since the first cut is based on the pitch it made me think about what constitutes a good pitch. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments as I am by no means an expert.

Pitches, for those unaware, are a selling tool. You run into them everyday as people and companies vie for your attention and money. Everyone is trying to sell you something. Since time is a limited resource, all those salespeople have to make the most of the little bit of time and attention you're willing to spend on them before moving onto the next item. This is why pitches are so important.

As a writer we have to catch the reader/agent/publisher's attention in as few words as possible WITHOUT loosing the essence of our story. Easy, right? Not so much. Try it yourself. Think of your favorite book, one you could almost quote, you know it so well. Now, in roughly 300 words try to sell it. Capture what you think is important and tell me what your book is about. How did you do?

One of the hardest parts about writing a pitch is decided what is important and what can be left out. If you tried the above exercise you'll have discovered you can't encompass all the ideas, characters and plots you want to. Unless, of course, the book you chose was 'Goodnight Moon.' Instead you have to focus. Introduce too many elements and the reader loses interest. There isn't enough time for them to become invested in too many ideas if they haven't decided whether or not they want to read it yet.

On the other hand, if your pitch is too brief and the reader can't deduce what the book is about, back to the shelf it goes. Or out goes the rejection slip if it hasn't made it to the shelf. There needs to be enough meat on the bones of the pitch for them to sink their teeth into, get a taste of what you have to offer, and order the whole meal.

I've seen advice bandied about on different writing sites about what makes a good pitch. Some of it has been fantastic advice that the author took to heart and used to make their pitches much cleaner and their product more salable.

Others took a more 'bookish' approach and gave advice based on certain guideline and elements they were told should be in every pitch. A lot of pitches I saw revised based on this advice became muddied where before they sounded like something I would read if I came across it on a shelf.

What a good pitch boils down to is something cleanly written which gives the reader an idea of the story you want to share with them. If you have your pitch critiqued and readers can't figure out what it's about, take their advice to heart, rethink what's important to your story and rewrite it.

What do you think makes a pitch good? Did you try writing one and want to share? I'd love to see what everyone comes up with.