Monday, March 31, 2014

Stacey Trombley - Query Kombat SUCCESS STORY!!!!!!!

A very special post is up for you guys to read today! We've got another Query Kombat success story!!!! READ READ READ:

I started writing in 2009 when I was a twenty year old newlywed. The learning curve for a new, young, writer is STEEP! I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But soon I was so deep into my stories that I didn’t care about the hard work or how long it would take. I wanted it too badly. 

 It’s funny because every step of the way I’d look back and think about how much I’d learned and how much better I was than before. And those moments kept happening (they’re STILL happening). I kept growing and learning and every time I thought I was REALLY ready, I learned I wasn’t even close. 

I was completely convinced that my first book, a YA fantasy, was going to make it. I fought for it. For years, I fought for it. I didn’t even know if I could love another story that much. 

 But one day I came up with a new idea. One that was VERY different from the first. An emotional story about a teenaged prostitute. That story actually sat in my head, stewing, for over a year before I finally sat down to write it. I knew it was a story that needed to be told. 

And something interesting happened. 

I fell in love. Not even really with the story, but with the character. Anna is so incredible, I can’t even begin to describe how she jumped off the page for me.

I wrote the first draft of Naked in November 2012 and started querying in March. I still hadn’t given up on my fantasy but this was my new shiney. 

I entered all the contests I could because I’m obsessed with them! 

Contests for me are so much less about what they give you and more about the experience. Each one I learn more, I learn something new. I meet writers, I see some amazing stories (and I’ve had the opportunity to read a few of them!) I watched as others succeed and knew my time would come. I believed it. 

Most of all, contests pushed me to be better. 

I entered Query Kombat with my YA contemporary (nicknamed Tricks Aren’t For Kids for the contest) and even though I only made it past the first round, I learned a TON! I got some fantastic feedback and met some seriously amazing people. It was just another step on my way to my own success. 

The step after Query Kombat for me was Pitchmas, another contest. Ironically, I wasn’t chosen for the main event, but I still decided to pitch during the twitter pitch party and that’s where things changed for me. 

Here was my pitch: “Anna's busted for prostitution + sent back to the suburbs to be "normal" again. A geeky boy named Arney becomes her only friend #pitchmas YA” 

And, I got a request…. from Stephen Morgan of Entangled. 

Entangled is a publisher I’ve honestly admired for a while. The only reason I hadn’t already submitted to them before was because I was focusing on my agent search. But once he requested my manuscript I came up with all kinds of excuses as to why I should send. It might not be following perfect etiquette, since I still had my work out with agents, but I’m very glad I did it. (I took a whole lot into consideration, including the fact that if I send and he offers, I might be walking away from the opportunity to try for a bigger publisher. I was okay with that. I felt Entangled could give me everything I wanted.) 

It took about 2 months for him to email me asking to talk on the phone. He wanted to work with me to revise my novel. He loved the writing, the voice, the concept, but thought the plot/structure needed some work. So I spent months emailing him back and forth, talking on the phone (more than once) until we got to a point that he felt he could take it to acquisitions. 

Another 2 months went by before I got another call from him. “Are you sitting down? It’s good news!” 

They offered and I accepted! 

This road was long and hard but totally worth it. I’m so excited to say that my debut novel will be published with Entangled Teen!

Hundreds of people have helped me along the way, including the amazing folks who run Query Kombat, and I’m sure there will be hundreds more in the future. Thank you! Thank you for all your hard work, thank you for taking the time to help others. It really makes a difference. 

And to those writers still looking for their success story: You’ll find it. Just keep looking. It might not come how you expect it, but the only way to get there is to keep moving forward. 

 Read my full success story here.

Stacey Trombley writes YA and MG of all shapes and sizes. Her debut novel will release from Entangled in 2015. Find her at her YA blog, a blog which she contributes at, and on twitter @Trombolii

Congrats Stacey!!! And you all better congratulate her on Twitter! Coming Friday: a how-to post on how to craft a great pitch (for the upcoming Writer's Tank contest!). OHHH. AND TOMORROW IS MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY!!!!!!!!!! AHHH!!!!! What are your April Fool's ideas for pranks?

Friday, March 28, 2014

How Many Beta Readers Do You Have?

I guess the real question I'm asking is: how many beta readers do you need?

I recently finished a read with a beta reader who did a fantastic job on my manuscript. Fixed plot holes, typos, etc. But now, I'm wondering how many more beta readers I need to call my manuscript 'done'.

How many beta readers or critique partners do you guys have? Do some of you rely more on your own critiquing skills or do you need unbiased observers?

For me, I think the trick is to do betas one-by-one, even though it takes longer (I know, I don't like waiting much either). But it helps. If you get four betas all on the same version of the manuscript, they'll all pick up on basically the same things. While this can help (it's useful to know if a critique is something that'll be shared by most readers or only a rare few), it's not as efficient. Fix the manuscript, send to the next beta. Rinse and repeat. That's what I might do until I get a beta who says it's basically good to go.

Sigh. Writing is tiring. BUT I'M SO CLOSE!!!!!!! Argh.

How do you guys go about the whole beta-reading process? How many steps do you have until you call your manuscript 'done'?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Announcing "The Writer's Tank" Contest!


I am very excited for this one because it's based off of one of my favorite shows: Shark Tank!!!!!!!!!

If you don't watch Shark Tank, the show is all about entrepreneurs coming in to pitch their products to multimillionaires and billionaires (the sharks). The sharks can invest in their products or send the entrepreneurs home packing.

The gist of this contest is that the agents will be the sharks (but nice sharks, like Robert) and the contestants will be the people pitching their 'products.'


The Details:

From a slush pile, I will pick thirty(ish) of the best entries in a variety of genres and try to find something of liking for every agent.  These entries will consist of the query, the first 250, and a 40-word pitch. But the catch is that all of the thirty-to-forty entries will be categorized by category and genre and then listed in a single blog post with their pitch below it. So, it'll look something like this:

YA Science Fiction - FEED
"A teenager goes to the moon to have fun but finds out the moon totally sucks."

"Holden Caulfield walks around New York and thinks a lot, basically creating a masterpiece."


Clicking on the titles will redirect the agent to a blog post with the query and 250. So the agent won't have to look at the dozens of queries and 250's - they can scan a single blog post and only click on the entries and pitches that look interesting to them.

That's why this is the writer's tank! The pitch is super, super important.

From there, if the agent likes the query and 250, they can place a 'bid' requesting any number of pages. The agent that bids the most for an entry will receive that number of pages and also a 5-day exclusive reading period. During this period, the writer can't send their requested pages to any other shark except the winning shark. (This exclusivity is only for requests from this contest, not for normal querying or other contests.) After the five days, the writer can send out all the remaining requests from this contest. 

Also, it's a first-come first-serve basis - if two agents bid fulls or 50 pages and those end up being the winning bids, the agent that bid first wins.

So. You got the gist of it? I've got agents already on board with the contest and more coming in by the day! It should be a huge success (hopefully)

The Schedule:

I'll open up the submission window twice (to accommodate people in different time zones). One will open on ThursdayApril 10th, 3 pm EST, and the other will open FridayApril 11th, 8 pm EST. Both will close when they reach 75 entries (so the max is 150 entries in total) but I doubt we'll reach that number. This isn't Query Kombat, after all. I just want a cap on how many entries I'd have to read, hehe. There will be a confirmation email saying that I received your submission.

Edited to Add: We have a lot of spots open so keep on submitting! There seems to be a problem with Yahoo's email, so make SURE you get a confirmation email within 5 minutes of sending. If not, resend :)

The posts will go up and the agents will participate starting Friday, April 18th (but if I can get them up on Thursday instead, I will). The agents have until Tuesday the 22nd to make their bids.

The Formatting and Submitting:

Send all your submissions to thewriterstank (at) yahoo (dot) com. The emails should be formatted EXACTLY like this:

In the subject line, "TWT: Age category Genre, TITLE OF MANUSCRIPT."

Title: [Title of your book]
Genre: [Age Category AND Genre, so it'll be like YA Fantasy. And make SURE you pick the right genre! That can make-or-break you.]
Word Count: XX,XXX

Pitch: [No more than 40 words!]


[No tabs, only line breaks. Only include the meat of your query: no personalization, no bio, etc.]


[Your first 250 words here. It's okay if you go a few words over, just make sure not to end in a middle of a sentence!]

Also, all genres and age categories are invited! However, keep in mind that I'll be looking for entries that the agents will want. If there are no agents looking for picture books, I won't be picking any picture books.

The Genres:

(In the comments and on Twitter, I'm seeing some people asking about what genres are going to be represented in the contest, so here's the (growing) list below! These are the genres that the agents participating have an interest in. The agent list is growing, so this list will grow along with it.)


  • Literary
  • Historical
  • Commercial
  • Mystery
  • Thriller
  • Women's Fiction
  • Cultural
  • Romance
  • Suspense
  • Horror
  • I think it's simplest to say: all genres :D
  • Fantasy
  • Contemporary
  • Action/Adventure
  • Historical
Nonfiction (because I'm not experienced with nonfiction proposals and I wouldn't know how to read or judge them, I have to limit the nonfiction to only the 'story' types. I'm so sorry! I feel bad about this but I honestly would have no clue how to judge proposals):
  • Memoirs
  • Human-interest
The Quirks:

Some of the agents are looking for some specific things.

SO, if you have

  • a novel that's basically a historical fiction but of the vein that it's told by, say, Emily Dickinson's maid, or Abraham Lincoln's gardener...that kind of stuff. 
  • food memoir
  • a historical romance in the Regency era

make sure you enter this contest! You'll have a good chance of getting in (as long as your entry is sufficiently strong, obviously).

If your genre is not listed (such as NA) SUBMIT ANYWAY. If it's an outstanding entry, I'll pick you and hope the agents love it too.

I'll do a separate post revealing all the agents that'll be participating. So keep an eye out for that.

I am so, so excited for this. But guys, you need to make sure your pitches are fantastic. Don't rely on only your query and 250. You need to get an agent to click on your link, and to do that, your pitch will have to be enticing. Remember: all you're trying to get is an agent to click on your post. That's all. So make the agent desperate to read your query and 250!

If you plan on participating in this contest, make sure you are following this blog as a requirement. Also, we'll be Tweeting as well under the hashtag:


Yes, I know, there's no apostrophe, but adding an apostrophe would split up the hashtag so you wouldn't be able to click on it! We'll let go of this grammar blunder for now. (Please?) You can find me on Twitter over here.

I'm very very excited! Are you guys? GET THOSE PITCHES IN SHAPE, GUYS! And do you have any questions? Ask them in the comments below! And spread the word over Twitter!


Pk Hrezo is giving a free pitch critique to one luck emailer! Look below in the comments for details. Hurry before someone snatches this amazing prize!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Redesigned my Blog - Thoughts? Plus, a Self Lovin' Bloghop!

Well, guys, I redesigned my blog!

I thought it was a bit *too* much blue before (I know, I didn't think it was possible either). I still wanted to keep blue as the main color but I wanted a cleaner look to the blog. I also really, really wanted to make the blog feel more homey, inviting, and warm (which is why I tried using brown wherever possible), but it's hard to pull off with blue being the main color. Sigh. So I don't think I succeeded in that. I just want my blog to be a fun, at-home place to be. Also, the top header is blurry because I used a really crappy method to make it. Shout out to Lisa who so amazingly tried to make it look better! I'm still tinkering with it so maybe it'll get better. I also added some more pages to the above bar, such as My Books and Contests, and I really like those :)

Tell me what you think of the redesign!


The fantastic Tara Watson has created a Self Lovin' Bloghop which I took part in!

Here's the description of the bloghop pulled from her blog post.

The Self Lovin' Bloghop

"Being a writer is hard, and often lonely. And it's far too easy to go through the last scene/chapter we wrote and spy everything that's wrong with it--and then some. There've been plenty of times I've looked something over and thought it was lower than garbage, like that part of my hard drive should be wiped free of its slimy ooze. Even after sharing it with my closest writerly friend who point out it's great stuff and they wouldn't suggest changing much, if anything, I often still can't see what they see.

"But you know what? I believe writers are driven to it for a reason. There's just something inside us that makes it natural for us to write. You may be a hack with grammar but silence crowded parties with your storytelling abilities. Maybe your characters come out looking like Flat Stanley but you can write an epic saga without a single grammar mistake or typo. Perhaps show vs. tell eludes you after years of slapping out words, but your plotting skills are the bomb. Your description is bland but your tension makes even the computer sweat as it waits for you to get to the end of the scene.

"You know the best part? All of the formers can be fixed and made better with time and writing. (Just keep writing, just keep writing...) so you're already half way there! Never give up!

"So please share with us what you're good at. There's something--I know there's something--no matter how small you think it is."

I think that I'm good at capturing emotions and having the reader experience strong emotions as well. I think, in all my history of getting critiques, the best (or at least in the top three) comment I got was, "You're really good at emotions," or something like that. It was a simple comment and all the way from my first horrendous manuscript, but I still remember it. Generating emotion in the reader is so important to me because I'm emotionally affected by my novels. I want readers to be affected as well. And hearing that I can do this seriously makes me so, so, so happy.

Also, I think I've grown in my prose! My first manuscript was horrible. I mean, horrible. The prose was disgusting. But I think it was partially because I hadn't found the genre my writing style was suited to, and partially because I just didn't write enough. I think my prose and writing have gotten much better and I'm really proud of that.

*pats self on back*

There! I self loved :) It's actually harder than you think! But I think it's truly important to do this once in a while - concentrate on your strengths. Tara, your bloghop is crucial for so many writers. Too often we get bogged down in what we can't do. We feel ashamed or arrogant for being proud of what areas we excel in. We don't tell people about it. We shout out our weaknesses but keep our strengths to ourselves. It's just what writers are supposed to do. Concentrating on your weaknesses is important. But, for sanity's sake, don't ignore your strengths.

Thank you so much Tara for doing this! I know I'm going to sleep smiling, now, because of it.

What are your thoughts on my blog's redesign? Do you feel self loving is important? (And how about this first day of spring. Here, near Chicago, it snowed. Yes, it snowed. And four hours later it was sunny and spring-like. The next day, it's sixty degrees. WHAT.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Secret to an Amazing Plot Twist

I haven't done a "Secret" post in a while, so I thought it was time to remedy that.

This post was inspired by my fantastically-talented CP, Lanette Kauten, and her manuscript, CASSIA. I was critiquing it for her when I predicted a plot twist due to a clue she left before. Every other person she showed the manuscript to did not predict the plot twist and they were shocked when it occurred. Everyone, that is, but me (call me Detective SC from now on, I won't mind).

Now, there will probably always be someone who figures out the plot twists in your novel (I say 'probably' because JK Rowling had millions of people trying to figure out her ingeniously-planted twists and I don't think anyone predicted every single one). The question is, how do you keep the suspense and tension strong even when the reader correctly predicts the plot twist?

If the twist is way too obvious or if your novel is a mystery novel, sure, make it harder to figure it out. But we're assuming that the twist is sufficiently hard to figure out. Even so, there will always be that one reader who guesses correctly. The secret is not to try making the plot twist even harder to figure out because someone will figure it out. Accept that fact. The secret is to make the story full of suspense even if the reader finds out the twist. And that's hard.

The Secret to an Amazing Plot Twist

Make the story interesting and full of tension even if a reader figures out the plot twist. Basically, accommodate the readers that are detectives.

The trick to writing a bad plot twist is to rely on the 'big reveal' to be the only driving force of tension in your novel. A Detective Reader (that's what we'll call them from now on) will figure it out and then there'll be no point in reading anymore. It'll be boring.

I'm going to give you the two best options as to what you can do:

I do not own this picture; all rights go to their
respective owners.
1. You can go "The Cuckoo's Calling" route and make so many freaking red herrings that even if the reader guesses correctly, the reader will second-guess themselves later on. (I actually thought this to be a flaw in "The Cuckoo's Calling" because it got so difficult to keep track of the details, I basically just gave up trying to solve the mystery and just went along on the ride. The ride was fun, though, so I'm not really complaining. And that conclusion, holy crap. I did NOT see that coming!) *This tactic works best for mysteries.*

2. You can make the journey, not the destination, the interesting part. This is what is most commonly employed in writing. Just think: how many times have you figured out who the bad guy is (most of the Dan Brown novels, anyone?) but you keep reading because you want to know how the main character will figure it out? A love for the main character (or a love for the journey and secrets, in Dan Brown's case) is what drives this strategy. You've got to make your main character engrossing, and you've got to make the reader care for him/her.

Personally, I think option two is much more viable because option one lends itself best to mystery novels or subplots that involve a mystery. Not every novel has that. Option two, however, is fantastic for almost every novel. Think about how even if you know how a movie or book ends, you still watch/read it because you want to experience the journey. That was the movie "Philomena," for me. (Good gosh that movie was incredible.) In fact, I think making the journey engrossing is a crucial aspect to almost any novel.

A note: I've been thirsting to finish Lanette Kauten's book because of option number 2. I love the characters in her novel. Her book is a good example of how to keep tension strong without relying only on the plot twist!

So, if you ever want to write a truly amazing plot twist, use one of the two options above - and never, ever (this is one of the only times I've said 'never'!) grossly underestimate your reader!

Do you guys have anything to add? What are your techniques to writing awesome plot twists? Which option is your personal favorite?

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Truth About Book Prices

I had this myth engrained into me that books cost a lot of money. Maybe it's just a byproduct of my parents' upbringing. They wanted me to be careful with what I spent money on, but they almost never said no to books; my parents were and are some of the most supportive parents ever, I bet.

It's not to say that I don't buy books. In fact, I think I'm nearing 700 books in my collection I have at least 400-500 but my books are so disorganized and so scattered around, I really don't know how many I have (maybe cataloging everything can be my summer project!). So money is being spent on books, no doubt about that.

A sampling of what my nightstand used to look like (I've cleaned
up since then!).

But I went to Barnes and Noble for Black Friday (for Discovery Friday) and I was bubbly and slightly nervous about walking out with three books in a 3 for 2 special. Holy crap, I just spent a lot of money (it was like a little over twenty or thirty bucks, which is like nothing for three books in total). And I felt guilty.

I don't know why. I think much of it lies in the fact that I rarely finish any book I start nowadays. It's actually become a problem for me and I'm worried that it's going to become a habit. I keep spending money on books that I don't read or finish. My being-read pile is over twenty books long (all of which I've started reading but stopped). Is that where my problem with book prices stems from?

I get nervous about forking over twenty bucks for a hardcover. I spend so much freaking time bickering over which book to buy, this one or that one, like it's some end-all-be-all and I'm making a decision I'll regret for the rest of my life if I buy the wrong book. Why is it so hard for me?

One tweet I read a few days ago (maybe a few weeks ago) changed everything for me. It's changed my perspective on it all.

It was about e-books. So many people cry about e-book prices or make such a big deal about buying a book like their life depends on it. Usually, they don't buy at all because they're so indecisive. I was one of those people (although I don't have an e-reader). Until I read the tweet. I don't remember the exact words, but it went like this:

An average-to-high priced e-book is $2.99. That's less than your morning latte.

Or coffee, or Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts, whatever is your pick.

Just ponder that for a bit. And then, tell me what you think in the comments below.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aimee Hyndman - NoQS SUCCESS STORY!!!!!

AND WE'VE GOT ANOTHER SUCCESS STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love success stories :) Take it away, Aimee! She was a Minion in Nightmare on Query Street.

I've wanted to write a story like this for some time. Mostly because 'How I Got the Call' posts were always really inspiring to me. Every time a rejection got me down, I read a success story and I felt a little better. And I thought maybe, just maybe, I might get to write a post like this someday. 

Well, here we are, and as I sit here typing this, I am floating in surreal clouds of happiness. 

I was a sophomore in high school when I finished my first book and decided to get it published. Not that I had any knowledge of what publishing entailed. For all I knew, the magic book fairies came by and *poof* a book was made. But, just in case book fairies didn't exist, I plunged into research. I wanted to educate myself before sending my query into the great unknown. I wanted to find the best agents for me, write the best query, and have the very best book. So when I finally sent off my query, I was sure I would get a positive response. After all, I'd done everything, right? I'd done my research and it was going to pay off. 

Well, I didn't get any bites. Because no matter how much research I did, my first book really wasn't ready. It belonged to a saturated genre and the pacing wasn't where it needed to be. In the end I got two partial requests in all: one from the slush pile and one from a contest. But both partials were rejected because, honestly, the writing wasn't ready. No matter how many stories I heard about failed manuscripts from other querying writers, I never considered that mine might also fail. I thought I had done everything. I had gone through all the motions. But it didn't matter. I still needed practice. I loved my first book but in the end I set it aside, deciding to work on other projects before I took it back to the editing stage. 

I wrote HOUR OF MISCHIEF, the YA Steampunk Fantasy that would eventually be my winning manuscript, for fun in the fall of my senior year of high school. I expanded it off of a short story I had written at a writing camp and planned to expand later on. I started typing and before the month ended, the manuscript stood completed at just over 60,000 words. I edited the novel over the summer, but I hadn't really considered querying it any time soon as I wasn't sure I wanted to jump into the fray again. After all, it was my freshman year of college and I had a lot to focus on, so querying would just cause undue stress and-- 

Yeah, that lasted about two weeks. And within those two weeks I stumbled across #pitmad, a twitter pitch contest. Without giving myself much time to think about it, I cast my story to the wind. Just like that, I was back in the trenches. 

This time, I was met with different results. Agents actually requested partials and fulls, a phenomenon which I hadn't been expecting at all. I mean, HOUR OF MISCHIEF was something I wrote for fun because I liked the characters. I didn't consider the possibility of it being my winning manuscript. 

I guess that shows you what I knew. 

The surprises continued with one too-good-to-be-true event after another. I entered in the Nightmare on Query Street contest, hosted right here on this blog. Again, I expected nothing. Again I was surprised. Michelle selected me for her group of minions. The contest was better than I'd ever hoped for and I walked away with several requests. And the same weekend I got a full request from another agent with my partial. I didn't even know how to handle myself. 

I didn't know it at the time, but my road to an agent started with that weekend. As the end of the year hit and things slowed down, I tried to distract myself from the waiting game with homework and more writing. But a few agents had had my manuscript for longer than their stated response time so I figured I should nudge. I'm so glad I did. The agent who requested my full during the weekend of the contest had never gotten my email. In fact, I had email problems with this same agent, with my initial submission back in the fall. Apparently our emails didn't want her to see my MS. From the get go, this agent was super helpful and communicative. When I nudged her about the full, she told me that her email had eaten it. And, even more excitingly, that she had been thinking about my MS the other day, wondering why she rejected it. 

Wait really? Thinking about my manuscript? Really? 

I was over the moon as I resent the full MS to her and she promised to get back to me quickly. My mind flip flopped endlessly between 'maybe this is the one' and 'maybe it isn't'. A few weeks later, I woke up to an email asking to schedule a call. Perhaps THE call. I recall rolling out of my bed, crawling over to my roommate's bed and poking her until she woke up so I could scream about it with her. Then I breathed and tried to keep a level head (which worked for two seconds), and emailed back to schedule a time. Then I waited for the call, trying to convince myself that I shouldn't get my hopes up and this was probably a revise and resubmit at best. 

I was surprisingly coherent for the call. I didn't black out which I think was a good sign. Not even when she offered me representation, though I came close to swooning at that point. I certainly started belting Let it Go at the top of my lungs as soon as I hung up (As that is the only proper expression of happiness).

In the end, this agent did up being the one. I only received one offer but several congratulatory step asides. And I was fine with that. Because my now agent, Laura Zats of Red Sofa Literary, was the perfect fit for HOUR OF MISCHIEF. 

When I look back on my querying process, I realize that ALL of my major success came from contests. Laura found me through #pitmad and most of my partial requests came from Nightmare on Query Street. I got a few bites from the slushpile but not nearly as many as I got from contests. My point is: enter in contests. They help you stand out from the pack and they help you connect with other writers. They're subjective of course (I entered into several contests with HOUR OF MISCHIEF and only got in one/ THANKS MICHELLE!) but they can really pay off. Take a risk and enter. You might find the beginning of your own success story. 

And now what everyone wants: 

Query Stats- 

Books queried: 2 

Books picked up: 1 

Queries Sent: 52 (27 for first book, 25 for second book. I am not a mass querier) 

Contests Entered: 6 (2 for first book, 4 for second book) 

Contests Accepted into: 2 (1 for first book, 1 for second book) 

Partial Requests: 12 (2 from first book, 10 from second book) 

Full Requests: 4 (0 from first book, 4 from book second book) 

Offers of Rep: 1 

Offers Accepted: 1 

Aimee picked up a pencil as soon as her toddler fingers could and started writing stories in the underappreciated language of gibberish scribbles when she was four years old. Since then, she has always known she wanted to create, and whether on stage, in video editing software or on a blank word document, she has done just that. 

Aimee is currently a freshman at Coe College, attempting a triple major in Creative Writing, English, and Film Studies because, according to friends, she is crazy. She is also an intern to the Kimberley Cameron Agency and enjoys reading the work of other aspiring writers every day. She is now, of course, represented by Laura Zats and crossing her fingers for good things in the future. 

Now, go congratulate her on Twitter, find her on Pintrest, and on her website!!!!!!!!!!!

Congrats Aimee!!! Thank you so much for sharing. If any of you readers have a success story to share with us from being part of a contest we hosted, please share! Shoot me an email (check out my spiffy new 'Contact Me' page!) and we'll handle it from there.

Congrats again, Aimee!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pretty Much, I Just Can't Stand Snakes

I was reading Wendy's blog post and I came across this.


I don't know why I have such a fear of snakes. I've never had a snake-trauma experience, a snake never lunged at me, the two snakes that I've ever come in close contact to were immobile. BUT I'M SO FREAKING SCARED OF SNAKES, GUYS.

I'm getting chills on my arms and I'm shuddering as I think of it.

I can't handle snakes. I just can't handle them.


I heard about this snake-eating-a-crocodile story a few times before Wendy's blog post, and I've always been meaning to look at the picture because of that weird, messed up thing where you're kind of attracted towards things that freak you out so much. Like when you keep poking at a scab even though you know it hurts. So I was all like, "Yeah, I'm going to see the pictures!"



I just Googled "snake eats crocodile" to get a picture of it and I had so many scary images pop up. I don't know if I'm going to be able to sleep tonight, I'm freaked out so badly. Here's the picture that I went through a mild form of hell to get for your viewing pleasure (you're welcome):

I do not own this picture. Source

Anyway, now you know one of my biggest fears. I'm freaked out, scared, and slightly confused as to why I wrote this post but I guess I just wanted to share my freaking-out emotion with you guys, maybe. I don't know.


I can't STAND snakes. Urghh, I just shuddered!!!

What are you guys scared of? Spiders? (I'm not really scared of spiders. For some reason, they just don't scare me.)

Friday, March 7, 2014

On Technology in Reading - the Sprintz App

It's a well-known truth that times will change and technology will advance. Technology has crawled into basically every nook and cranny of our lives - from leisure time, working time, eating, even sleeping. Imagine our world without technology. It's crazy to think about it.

Recently, I learned of a new app on the market. An app called Spritz will allow you to read Harry Potter in 77 minutes. It's not a gimmick, it's not a "Get Abs without Working Out or Dieting!" type of trick. It's legitimate.

The actual technology behind it is incredibly fascinating, so you all should click here and learn about this app.

Now, with all this advancement, the main thing (obviously) that is being pushed aside is the benefits of patience.

Do you honestly think that a person who reads Harry Potter in under two hours will truly absorb or understand the novel? Take a click on this link and see how the app actually works. It's incredibly interesting...but is it worthwhile?

While I think this app would be fantastic for college students needing to cram for a test or for someone needing to catch up on a report, I don't think I'll ever use this app to read a novel. There literally is (as far as I know) no easy and efficient way to go back and reread something. There's no way to flip back a page to see if you really read something correctly. Pausing to look up from the page - such as if your friend says hi - would involve pausing the screen. And heaven forbid that you instinctively look away, such as if you trip or if a fly buzzes near you! Then you'll have to rewind (is there a rewind button?) to find the individual word you left off on.

Reading will no longer be a pleasurable activity, but a race. Just try to truly understand the meanings of these sentences going as fast as they are. Are you not more concerned with reading fast, instead of understanding it? And it's not speed reading; people can read fast and still understand the content. It's skimming. You can't really comprehend individual words. It's best if you see the words around it, the context, and then form a picture from the sentence as a whole. Everything mixes together.

This kind of stuff scares me because this app is being hyped as being able to revolutionize reading. It's incredibly technology and science, for sure. But it's not incredible art, and reading is art. Reading is understanding. If this really will be present in all forms of reading (such as on phones and tablets) I'm going to get pretty annoyed pretty fast.

It's not to say that I don't like this app, don't get me wrong. I love science and technology, and I think this app can be used very well in situations where speed is key. But speed is not key in hobbies where one desires to have fun and relax. I rush and rush through much of my day; reading is supposed to be fun. If I rush through my hobbies...honestly, I'll probably puke. It's too much rushing and I'm sick of it.

What I am really scared of is that this app will actually hinder reading. People won't want to read novels as much because it's just not fun anymore. It's a race. And although they'll think it's cool to read one novel on the Sprintz, do you think they'll want to read another? Five? Ten? Instead of helping reading, this app might actually discourage it (which is incredibly dangerous for any society).

Maybe if I just put the speed of the program on really slow, I'll be fine. But if I do that, then heck, why do I need the app in the first place? I'll just become a CEO or politician or college student and then I'll find a good use for this app :D

How do you guys feel about this new app?

P.S. Last night was a big night for me. 11:21 p.m. was when I finished editing the book that I've taken 1.5 years to write!!!! AAAHHH!!!!!!!!!! XD Now, off to beta readers!! I am very, very excited! WOO!

Monday, March 3, 2014

If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Keep Doing It

(Sorry for all those who've seen this post already. Partially because, for some reason, posts posted on Mondays get more views, but mostly because I watched the Oscars last night and I'm way too tired to come up with a coherent, good blog post, I'm republishing this one! Enjoy! (AND HOW ABOUT THEM OSCARS?!)

JK Rowling at the opening of the Anne Rowling Clinic
I do not own this picture, all rights belong to respective owners.

Recently, there was an article about how JK Rowling should stop writing if she cared about it. It's a pretty famous article which caused a lot of say the least.

But I'm here to beg Jo Rowling to keep writing. Adult fiction, I mean (the very genre the article wants her to stop writing).  

Jo is a writer and a human, and like any human, such an article would without a doubt elicit feelings of remorse, anger, confusion, and guilt. Even though the article was wrong and got a lot of angry reactions, the article is still, well, famous. And it's getting attention.

You guys know how I feel about her "The Casual Vacancy." Frankly, I think it's the best Adult Contemporary of our time. A masterpiece only hindered by the expectations of Harry Potter and magic wands. I'm seriously in love with her adult fiction. I honestly don't know how to convey this to you guys, BUT HER ADULT NOVELS ARE SO INCREDIBLY GOOD. Please, please, keep writing them, Jo!

One of the reasons I thought I should address this article is because - other than the fact that this blog has 'Harry Potter' on its heading (maybe I should change it to JK Rowling?) - some of that article's words seem, well, painfully true. In the back of many of our minds, there's a little devil saying, 'Maybe the article is right.' (The general idea of the article, I mean.) Because if one starts reading it, they know it's, well...not credible. But the general idea that successful writers are making it hard to be published is a well-known mentality.

"Aw, man, agents are so busy with their own clients, they don't have time to read queries and offer me representation!"

"Aw, man, that big book company gives all its big advances to its big authors and doesn't give any money to the smaller authors, man!"

But let me show you a graph:

I do not own this picture, it came from here.

(I couldn't find the real graph, so this'll have to do. The shape is all that matters. If you can find the real graph, I'd love for you to comment a link to it below!)

Let's pretend A stands for money made by the authors of a single publisher, and B stands for authors that a single publisher publishes. The most successful authors are near the left, the least near the right of the graph.

Now, see how a very small portion of all the authors are generating the most profits for the publisher? The rest of the 'smaller' authors all together combine to generate about the same revenue as the big authors.

This is what it means:

Publishers basically live off of their big authors. The big authors are the 'safe bets'. They're guaranteed sellers, and publishers give them big advances in order to keep them happy. They make money, no questions asked. Very little to no risk. And this in turn helps the smaller authors because publishers have a good enough buffer to take risks. Debut authors are risks. Without the safe buffer of the big authors, publishers would be incredibly wary to take on any new author. They simply wouldn't be able to afford a loss, especially since the majority of books don't earn back their advances.

Simply put, because of the big authors, we authors desiring to be published stand a chance to fulfill our dreams. So, thank you JK Rowling.

But that's the technical side. The mathematical side. The, "Well, there's an increased probability that debut authors will be published due to the profits made by big authors." But how about the emotional side?

Do you know how big an impact Jo Rowling has had on reading? On writing? On me?

I remember that for about a year or more, all I would ever do is read and reread the Harry Potter novels over and over. When I tried reading something different, most of the time I'd read a page, growl, and put it down. It wasn't as good as Harry Potter, dang it. But once that stage of my life past, I wrote. I wrote, I wrote, I wrote.

Jo Rowling is the reason I write novels. I wrote poetry and short stories and random stuff before (and a lot of it) but I picked up novel-writing as a result of a very conscious decision. I was going through a tough time and needed an outlet. And because of Jo, I thought that writing could be that outlet. And here I am now, hosting a blog in one of the best online communities out there. I love writing.

Partially because of Jo Rowling, I became someone who wants to be published. Jo Rowling has created writers. (Which is a good thing. Being a writer is a good thing. Not a frustrating, anxiety-causing, probably-hopeless-by-all-accounts, why-are-we-even-doing-this-in-the-first-place, thing. (I've almost come to the point where if someone tells me they're a writer, I  put my hand on their shoulder and say, "I am so, so sorry.") In the end, we do love it, though.)

From JK Rowling, I've learned more about characterization, plot, and world building than any other novel (probably because I reread Harry Potter so many dang times and that series is a masterpiece in all three of those categories). She's made me a better writer.

And she's made me a better person. She knows when to act, she's compassionate and caring, and she's down-to-earth. She's my role model.

JK Rowling has contributed SO FREAKING MUCH to writing. If she truly cares about it, she should keep doing it.

(While we're at it, the author of the article has gotten a lot of backlash. It's honestly too much. It's simply one person with one opinion. Although we don't have to agree with it, we don't have to destroy her entire career over one article. What she says at its basest is true: it is very hard to get published. But debuts have been published for centuries, and it'll keep happening. In trying to defend Rowling, let's not destroy another writer.)

So keep on writing, Jo. (And please, please, can you write something like "The Casual Vacancy"? That novel has given me an addiction for good adult contemporaries, but just like in my Harry Potter stage, I can't find anything published in this century nearly as good as "The Casual Vacancy". I might have to go for (another) reread.)

How do you feel about this?