Thursday, September 24, 2015

TBT: Is Contest Fatigue a Thing?

For today's TBT I'm sharing my post on contest fatigue. Because it's a real thing. This time of year there are contests popping off left and right. The goal of this post was to review the pro's and con's of contests. My hope is that it helps you consider how many contests are right for your MS.



Is there such a thing as too many contests?

If you are a querying writer, a literary agent, or an editor, the answer is probably yes.

There has been a lot of buzz among the online writing community about contest fatigue. Some agents think there are too many. Some writers think there are too many. And recently, bloggers hosting contests have complained that the events are pulling in less viewers than years past. Is this a sign of growing apathy towards contests? I don't know the answer to that.

But I do know contests play a vital role in the writing/publishing world.

As a growing writer seeking representation (like me) I think it’s important to try your luck at contests. It’s a brave way to get your name out there and it’s a spectacular way to get expert advice. But – remember, agents are reading these entries as they would your query letter. You do not want the agenting world to get bored with your pitch before you query them.

Here are four tips for avoiding Contest Fatigue:

1. Choose wisely – first and foremost, pick the contests that make the most sense for you. If you wrote an Adult Thriller then you probably shouldn’t submit it to a YA contest. Be sure the participating agents actually rep what you write. That way you avoid wasting your time, and the time of the lovely people hosting/participating in the contest.

2. Be ready – make sure your work is scrubbed. Don’t even think about submitting something hot off the NaNoWriMo presses. Edit that biotch. And then edit it again. In other words, don't use contests as a CP. I recently submitted an older version of my work to a contest that included some pretty lame errors. A lot of the critique I received on my work was around those embarrassing errors. What type of response would I have gotten had I submitted my scrubbed work?

3. Have a full query packet prepared – or ‘Be Ready’ part 2. Some contests will require you to have a query and the first chapter. Other will require a log line and 250 words. Some contests will require you to paint your body red and jump on one leg (but those aren’t the contests we’re talking about today). Regardless of what the rules call for you should have a complete query package at the ready. This means you should have a polished MS, query letter, and synopsis. Even if the contests doesn’t call for a synopsis you should have one ready to go. You never know if one of the participating agents will request one (this has happened to me and it caught me completely off guard. I vowed to never let it happen again).

4. Space out the contests you enter – or ‘Choose wisely’ part 2. There are a lot of YA contests going on in 4th quarter. A lot of the same agents participate in each contest. And participating in these contests is a big deal. They attract a lot of lurkers (don’t believe me? Check out the success stories section of MSFV. There are several about lurking agents). Sounds great, right? It can be. But it can also work against you if the agents lurking have read your entry over and over again. Spread out your entries so they are over multiple quarters or months. Don’t jump on every single contests offered in the month of March. If you do, chances are people will tire of your pitch. If you know you want to do PitchWars next year maybe avoid some of the other contests going on just before it.

Are you getting tired for contests? How do you avoid contest fatigue?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

5 First Impressions About Law School #1Lhell

I’ve endured a little over a month’s worth of 1L hell and have had the opportunity to form my first impressions of law school. And, let's be honest, what’s the point of having a blog if I’m not going to word-vomit my personal reflections into the world from time to time (or all the time…as it were *cough* *cough*). So on with the vomiting, er, I mean opining. Here are my 5 first impressions about law school:

1. Back to school - If you're like me and you are going back to school to study law after working for a few years the stupidity of school might be challenging. And when I say the stupidity of school let me be clear - universities and colleges can do stupid stuff. The people you encounter (likely students employed by various departments of the school) lack any professionalism and customer service skill (I'm talking about you, Bookstore Lady. You know who you are.) You pay money for the privilege of being treated like's school. That won’t change because it's 'grad' school or 'professional' or 'law' school. Try to take the stupidity with a grain of salt and roll with the punches.

2. The work – Law school is a boatload of brain-busting work. It's hard. I read cases in undergrad and it wasn't as hard as this. I've read SCOTUS opinions, in full, online, that weren’t as hard as this. The cases are dense, the legal scholarship is dense, and sometimes the stuff you learn flies in the face of what you spent a life time learning (two spaces after a period? WTF do you think this is, 1945? Come on now.) It's supposed to be hard. Expect it to be hard and you’ll be in the right mindset.

3. Classrooms Aren’t As Scary As You’ve Heard - you've probably heard law school teachers are different. You’ve probably heard people say the professors use the Socratic Method to teach, whatever that means, and they like to crush students into puddles of tears. Well, those people aren't wrong....but they aren't right either (who ever 'they' are. Stupid rumor mongers). Teachers, from what I can tell, don’t want to see you cry or freak out. The Socratic Method, for the most part, means the teachers ask questions of the class instead of lecturing. Here's an example:

Prof: "If you enter into an agreement with your friend to rob a bank is that a binding contract?"
Student: "no."
Prof: "Why?"
Another student raises their hand: "Because there was no consideration or exchange."
Prof: "Okay, let's say you and your friend enter into an agreement where if you help him rob a bank he will pay you 50% of the take. Is that a binding contract?"
Student: "Yes. Because there is a promise of a consideration or an exchange."
Prof: "Is it?"
Different student: "Yes, it's a future promise so it's a binding executory contract."
Prof: "Are you sure?"
Different student: "No. It's not a binding contract."
Prof: "Good. Why?"
Student: "Because it's an agreement to do something illegal. The illegal nature of the activity voids the contract."

Or something like that.

Not so scary, is it?

The key to surviving this method is doing the homework. Shocker, I know~! You must do the homework. And if you mess up your reading (because you got the assignments confused, or a flying monkey ate your Torts book or otherwise converted your chattels, tell your professor before class. I’ve witnessed someone flounder through a cold call who didn’t do the reading and it was painful. After the Prof drilled them for questions (and helped them out a time or two) she asked if they did the reading. The student said he didn’t do the reading for this week because he read next week’s cases by mistake. The professor replied, “Next time tell me so I don’t call on you.”

She could have said this:

The lesson is that painful, embarrassing crap could have been avoided had the kid just let the professor know they had made a mistake (or done the reading).

4. Get comfortable being average – You are a high achiever, right? That’s why you got into law school in the first place. Maybe you were top of your class in undergrad. Maybe you have a Phd in some mind-blowingly complex STEM subject. Maybe you kick the LSAT’s butt until it begged for mercy. You are smart so give yourself a pat on the back. Now look around you. Everyone in your law school is smart too. Yep, that’s right. Out in the wilds of the world you may have been a special snowflake of brilliance but in here, in law school, you are average. You will not get straight A’s. You won’t. You can’t get straight A', actually, because the forced curve in the 1L courses basically prevents it (or makes it nearly impossible to get an A). Get comfortable being average (easier said than done for us high-achieving folks, amirite?). Chances are good you will not be top of your class. Chances are good you will not be top 10% of your class. That doesn’t mean you don’t try – try hard, do the work, etc. All I mean is you need to get snuggly with the idea that you may not be top of your class and that’s okay. I’m only a month in and have already witnessed a handful of freak-outs over this very issue. Being average is relative and being average in law school isn’t (or shouldn’t be) an insult.

5.1. The people - oh my lawd, the people of law school! I had to break this observation into two points because it seems that everyone in law school falls into one of two categories: A*holes and non-A*holes. Let’s talk about the former first. There is a dark, sinister minority of students in law school who can make life painful. Of course I’m talking about the A*hole student. In law school they are called gunners. The stereotypical gunner is someone who works to sabotage their classmates but that is actually not the most common gunner. Mostly, gunners in the part-time evening classes are just douchey. They argue for the sake of arguing. They get stuck on syntax instead of the theory. They essentially believe they know more about the law than the professor. When they get called out for their behavior they backtrack and swear that they weren't being a douche. They love to hear themselves talk so they constantly volunteer during class but not in meaningful ways (.....I think I dated a gunner once....*swallows back the vomit*).Even having two of these gunners in a class can make for painful discussions. So call them gunners or call them douchebags....they exist and you need to be ready.

5.2. The people, cont.The good news is there will be no shortage of nice, non-A*hole people at law school. And, here again, I think I benefit from going to school as a part-time night student because my classes are mostly filled with working adults. My classmates, for the most part, are mature enough to not get swept up in the gossiping BS. These cool, non-A*hole students are helpful and encouraging and funny. They are the light in the darkness so-to-speak. These non-A*hole students will become your friends and together you will survive this. Gotta love the non-A*holes of the world. And aside from the occasional douche your classes will be filled with non-A*hole people who are smart. Some will be smarter than you (see getting comfortable with being average above). Some will get the material faster than you. Who cares? You'll get through it. Do the work. Talk to folks, make friends, and ask for help often (before it's too late). Its school and you've done it before. You'll survive this too. At least that's my plan.

Monday, September 14, 2015

My Review of Deep Blue Eternity by Natasha Boyd

Deep Blue Eternity by Natasha Boyd is a fast, emotional thrill ride full of will-they-won’t-they tension that will make your heart ache.

This NA Romance is different in tone and feel than a lot of NA on the market today. Although it’s told first person POV it’s primarily told through thoughts and memories (meaning there ain't a lot of yapping going on). It’s largely internal dialogue and it’s good. If you aren’t a huge fan of internal dialogue in a novel (hey, where’s the action at, amirite?) don’t fret. This book is still quick and fast. In fact, I hate to even mention that it is heavily told through internal dialogue because I worry that will turn some folks away. When it’s done badly it’s horrid. But believe me when I tell you that the only reason I’m pointing it out is to marvel at how well this was done.

I really connected with this character right off the bat. Maybe it’s because this story is set in the low country or maybe it’s because the MC, Olivia, is one tough cookie – either way, I was hooked. The plot really takes off when she meets Tommy. This is the H to her h (although, seriously, when can we acknowledge that Hero should be a genderless word? Women can be heroes too, dag nab it). Tommy is frustrating, mysterious, and kind. Early on there is a moment where Olivia is yearning for Tommy to whisk her out of a terrible situation and he does. He shows up. And from that moment forward I was shipping this couple so hard. I needed to know when their chemistry would ignite.

I couldn't put Deep Blue Eternity down. This book blew my socks off. It’s one of those books where, as a writer, I’m struck by how well it is written and, as a reader, I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

I give Deep Blue Eternity 4 out of 5 screaming kitties. It's that good.

Deep Blue Eternity has an engaging mystery element in addition to the fabulous chemistry. I loved this book and plan to grab more by Natasha Boyd.

Sounds amazing right? Grab your ebook copy from Amazon.

About the Author

Natasha Boyd is an internationally bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary romantic southern fiction. She has a background in marketing and public relations and her debut novel Eversea was a finalist in the 2013 Winter Rose Contest for Contemporary Romance and won the 2014 Digital Book Award for Adult Fiction. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers and Island Writer's Network in coastal South Carolina where she has been a featured speaker on book marketing. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and lives with her husband, two sons and the cast of characters in her head.

Visit her website | twitter | facebook | Amazon Author Page

Thursday, September 10, 2015

TBT: Being Professional Means Being Thankful

I was recently reminded how professionalism in the writing community means being thankful. I received a nice rejection that wasn't a form rejection - it was a helpful, personalized rejection. Rejection always stings, but a helpful rejection is so valuable. Sure, I was bummed that the agent didn't want to make an offer, but I was so thrilled that they gave me advice. They didn't need to do that.

So, for today's TBT I'm sharing an old post about how Being Professional Means Being Thankful.



I know it's not yet November (the typical month of 'giving thanks') but with all the contests going on this time of year (Nightmare on Query Street, Baker's Dozen, Pitch Wars, etc) I think this needs to be said:

We writers should be gracious, thankful, and kind to the generous authors/bloggers/agents/editors who offer up their time to run/administer/participate in contests.

Contests are fun and fast and have become a staple of the pre-agented writer community. But every so often someone will post a pissed/angry/bitter rant about a contest.

Don’t. Just don’t be that person.

It’s no fun getting rejected but it does you more harm than good to bitch about it on the web.

Go lick your wounds in a dark corner of your home or neighborhood with a fluffy kitty and an ice cream cone. I'll bring the wine.

Just don’t do it online.

This is a business and professionalism is important. That's not to say you can't be yourself and let your personality fly. Just think before you post. Use common sense.

You wouldn’t go online and post negative reviews about a company that didn’t hire you (or maybe you would. The point is, you probably shouldn’t).

And Please, PLEASE be kind to all those wonderful people who sacrifice their time and energy to host, organize, and participate in contests.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Aug 2015 Month In Review

**Recapping my monthly progress serves two purposes: first, it keeps me honest and accountable to my goals; second, it allows me to truly capture just how much work I’ve done over the last year. So let the recapping begin!**


August is done.

Almost, as if on cue, the weather in GA has started to chill (which I love). Call me basic but I love Autumn (yes, I love pumpkin spice flavored stuff. I also love sweaters, jackets, hoodies, and boots.) So bring on the Fall.

Before I get too carried away I should do what I came here to do: recap August.

I wrapped up my writing goals for the year which was bittersweet. I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do – but that’s okay. Check out my final goal post here.

Writing took a brief vacation this month as I transitioned into law school. But before my writing took a break, I did have the opportunity to spend a wonderful weekend with writing friends including the awesome @CA_Corneille. Together we met friends IRL that I had previously only tweeted with (or taken writing classes with). Did I mention @CA_Corneille is also one of my amazing, wonderful, brilliant CP's? Well she is AND she provided some wonderful feedback on my project. ((hugs))

So, law school. I want to write a post summarizing my initial impressions so I won’t go into too much detail here…just know that I’m excited/nervous/thrilled/scared/overwhelmed most of the time when it comes to school. Hooray.

The hardest part about this new routine is actually making it ‘a routine.’ So far I’ve had events at school that require me to leave my Day Job early or cancel my workout. I've already experienced the terror of missed assignments (due to my error) and the mad rush to catch up. And along those lines - my plans to do a little cardio each day (hello, stress reliever) were thwarted when I failed to pack gym clothes. That's basic stuff. I’m also not able to make the personal training sessions Handsome Jack and I have three times a week so I’m losing muscle mass. Little mistakes or changes are throwing me off big time. It's unsettling but also a wee bit exciting. I’m just not comfortable with the new normal….yet.

So here are the details for Aug 2015:
1 Fabulous, amazing, wonderful writing weekend
1 5k cancelled – I over committed myself
1 visit from family including a tubing trip down the hooch.
10 gym workouts (my gym workouts are changing to mostly cardio and a few machines because I can’t make the sessions with the trainer)
0 books read for fun *0.0* (unless you count Torts and Contract Law as fun….)

And on top of all of that I still had words. Not many, but any words are worth celebrating, right? *does happy dance* This month’s grand total is 5,452 words. Which isn't my lowest tracked word count so far this year *yay*. This brings my total ‘tracked’ word count for 2015 to 56,696! Not too shabby.

And as for miles, this month’s grand total is 9.5 (wah wah) miles, bringing my total ‘tracked’ mileage to 200.1 miles.
#NeverGiveUp #NeverSurrender

How are your writing goals coming along?
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