Friday, June 29, 2012

Sharon Bayliss's Murder Mystery Blogfest

I've joined Sharon Bayliss's Murder Mystery Blogfest. To participate, I'm posting my suspect for the murder of Lenny Glow. My suspect is seventeen year old Devon Haswell from my current MS, THE BEAUTY OF DESTRUCTION.

The night Devon Haswell was arrested for assaulting fifteen-year-old Ben Pendergrass, Lincoln High School’s social networking scene buzzed with speculated rumors. According to eyewitnesses, Devon stripped Ben and tied him naked to the baseball backstop. Devon beat Ben and burned his skin with cigarette buts to settle a score with Ben’s twin brother. Ben was taken to the hospital for the mental and physical abuse inflicted on him. While most of the rumors floating around cyberspace focused on Devon’s viscous assault on Ben, other conversations included rumors linking Devon to Lenny Glow’s murder. Below is one such conversation…

cheergirl72: did you hear what devon h did to ben p?
sunshinesmileygrl: yes! so sad L
bieberlvr4eva: i heard ben’s still in the hospital
sunshinesmileygrl: i heard they think devon killed lenny glow
cheergirl72: no way! i don’t believe it!
bieberlvr4eva: I totally see that
sunshinesmileygrl: right?
sieberlvr4eva: ever notice devon looks like a wolf?
sunshinesmileygrl: pointy chin…creepy eyes…REALLY white teeth
cheergirl72: hes kind of hot
bieberlvr4eva: hes totally creepy - EVIL! he beats kids up ALL the time!
sunshinesmileygrl: bens not the only kid hes ever sent to the hospital
sunshinesmileygrl: casey m said she heard devon say he wished lenny glow was dead last week
bieberlvr4eva: ever notice he looked like lenny glow?
sunshinesmileygrl: ooh scandal!
cheergirl72: you don’t mean…
bieberlvr4eva: why not? devons mom totally got around – ever hear about her and senator brighton?
sunshinesmileygrl: i forgot about that!!!!
bieberlvr4eva: and she hung out ALL the time at that sleezeball club
sunshinesmileygrl: frolic something...frolic pad?
bieberlvr4eva: she and eva ray were BFF
cheergirl72: so wait...lenny glow was his dad?
bieberlvr4eva: i think so
sunshinesmileygrl: makes total sense
cheergirl72: i thought lenny glow died by spiders or something
bieberlvr4eva: gross!
sunshinesmileygrl: devon was totally obsessed with that weird spider farm lady
bieberlvr4eva: karlie something?
cheergirl72: i thought he was with that ariadne girl
bieberlvr4eva: she scares freak show
sunshinesmileygrl: maybe both
bieberlvr4eva: devon’s totally creepy enough to do it
cheergirl72: I don’t know – the spider thing is just too weird
cheergirl72: maybe the killer wasn’t human…like queen solenne or dughbal or that weird damien car salesman guy
sunshinesmileygrl: maybe you watch way too much of that supernatural show
cheergirl72: i prefer the fringe...wb rocks
bieberlvr4eva: devon locked up 4 good....that would rock

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Literary Circles: Speaking of Self-Indulgence...

For a brief time in college, I was a triple major: English lit, education and creative writing. While I'd like to think it's because I was incredibly ambitious, I think I was more just young/naive to think that being a triple major was a good idea. Either way, it didn't last. I dropped creative writing after taking my one and only creative writing class.

Mr. Full-of-Himself, who was a "published" author, taught the class. His credentials included an instructional text used by our university and a few magazine articles. Mr. Full-of-Himself loved to work in the phrase "as a published author" before offering his opinion in class discussions. When we shared our writing, he would rip us apart. He never complimented us - and we had some really talented writers in that class. As a result, self-indulgence and competition dominated our class environment. We ripped each other apart during critique sessions. We rolled our eyes when others spoke. Admittedly, I couldn't take it, I dropped the major, and I stopped writing.

When I eventually started writing again, I did it for me. I hesitated to enter the literary world - blogging, contests, conferences, even querying. However, in the last few months, I've been floored by the encouragement and loveliness from other writers, bloggers, agents, and authors. I never expected such a supportive community. I didn't anticipate rejection and critiquing to push me to do better, instead of make me want to quit. Maybe it's because I'm older or tougher - I really was quite wimpy in my early years. Hell, while I'm speaking of self-indulgence at it, let's add wiser in their too. Either way, I grossly underestimated the literary community.

Thank you to the bloggers, authors, writers, agents, editors, and interns for the encouragement and support I didn't see coming. You are all a wonderful group of people I feel lucky to have come across!

Is it just me? Anyone else have any horrible or wonderful writing community experiences? Please say it isn't just me.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Contest Circuit: A Must-See List of Fabulous Opportunities!

First, some fun news! My friend Julie DeGuia presented me with my very first blog award! It's somewhat ridiculous how excited I am about it. Now I get to create one of those fun "Blog Awards" tabs that so many of you have. *laughs self-idulgently modestly* Thank you so much Julie for passing it along this way!!

If you don't know Julie, stop by her blog. She often includes great tidbits about the industry and holds excellent interviews. Check out her interviews with Krista Van Dolzer and the ladies at Operation Awesome about, none other than, contests! Or check out her blog hop post for My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop. It is nothing short of awesome (and hilarious).

As a recipient, I'll be passing this blog award along to five other fantastic blogs some time in the next few weeks. This might take a while. I'm terribly indecisive when it comes to something like this, and I've been visiting some really incredible blogs lately. Speaking of which...

Bloghops, Giveaways, and CONTESTS!

Sharon Bayliss is hosting a Murder Mystery Blogfest this week! Create a suspect or use a character from a current WIP as a suspect in the case of "Who Killed Lenny Glow?" Check out details on her site. This will be taking place from June 25-July 8.

The ladies at Falling For Fiction will be hosting a Hookers and Hangers Bloghop. On July 16, you'll post "Hookers" - aka the first sentence from your chapter(s).  On July 18, you'll post "Hangers," - the last line from your chapter(s). Winners will receive a 10 page critique!

Enter my first giveaway in the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win SIGNED copies of Veronica Roth's INSURGENT and Elizabeth Norris's UNRAVELING. (Roth's series has been my recent obsession - it's fabulous!) Giveaway ends this Saturday, June 30!!

Author Lydia Kang of The World Is My Oyster is offering a huge giveaway of books, an ARC, critiques and an Amazon Gift Card. Wow! Ends June 27.

J.A. Bennett of A Writer's Journey is giving away a 3 chapter critique and a $10 Amazon gift card. Ends June 26.

Ruth Lauren Steven and Michelle Krys are holding Christmas in July. A contest that features 10 agents!!! This contest will be held on July 9th. Check out either of their sites for details!

Operation Awesome is hosting their next Mystery Agent contest on July 1. Contests usually involve a one sentence pitch. Look for details about this contest a few days prior to July 1.

Vine Leaves Literary Journal is holding a contest based on the best log lines for your MS. You could win one of several critiques - including one from Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest along with a one year subscription to Contest ends June 30.

Enter Rafflecopter below to win one of these beautiful books! Both are signed copies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Literary Circles: Blogger Interview with Mónica B.W.

This week I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Mónica Bustamante Wagner of Love YA. Mónica is a YA fiction writer repped by Lauren MacLeod of The Strotham Agency. I first encountered Mónica’s site when I started getting into contests. She hosts fabulous contests, which you can read more about here. But what I enjoy most about following Mónica’s blog and Twitter is her endless enthusiasm and encouragement. She is as lovely as it gets. In addition to hosting frequent contests, Mónica often shares writing tips. Two of my favorites are her posts on Writing Bloopers – because we’ve all had them – and The Call, where she offers incredibly practical (and amusing) advice. Mónica, a bilingual world traveler, lives in Chile with her husband, three boys, and eleven hens.

First of all, thanks so much, Kimberly, for having me on your blog today! I’m excited to be here. (You know I love to meet awesome peeps like you online!)

Thanks Mónica! I'm excited to have the chance to chat with you!

Mónica, how did you come up with your blog concept and what inspired you to start blogging?
When I didn’t have an agent, I was always participating in contests and they sort of gave me this thrill I loved. I mean, contests are SO EXCITING, right? But then I found out that being agented, I couldn’t participate anymore. So I came up with the idea of organizing the contests myself, and I found out that I LOVE to help out writers accomplish their dreams. So that’s when I began focusing my blog for unagented writers and I started to give away critiques and contacting agents for interviews and contests. Sometimes I also like to post my thoughts and make friends in the process. It’s been really fun!
My love for this community also inspired me to start blogging because I wanted to be fully immersed in it. ;)

What networking strategies did you use to build the lit community surrounding your blog?
I'm not sure if I’d call them "networking strategies" because what I’ve done is mainly make friends. And I guess that, lucky for me, what I like to do (organize contests) is something people also like. So I think that’s why I have a few followers, too.

But when I wanted to reach out and make sure that the community noticed my blog, I promoted my contests and interviews on Twitter, Query Tracker, Absolute Write, etc.

What is your favorite part and the most challenging part of hosting contests?
Oh, my, I have many favorite parts! I love it when writers get requests thanks to my contests, and I love the “behind the scenes” parts, like when agents email me to request entries, even though they weren’t participating in the contest. And I like that thrill that I mentioned, when you’re expectant of what’s going to happen.

For me, the most challenging part is balancing my non-writerly life with the writerly one. Because a contest like The Writer’s Voice demands a lot of time and attention, and I had to be very careful not to let my hubby and kids pout because mommy was so busy. ;)

How many success stories have you had as a result of these contests?
few indirect success stories (like this one) and one direct success story.

As for the indirect stories, I’ve had some writers who have emailed me to let me know that one of my contests led to great feedback from agents, which they used later and snatched another agent after revisions. These writers make me VERY happy!

What is one of your favorite blogs? What makes it one of your favorites?
Oh, I have so many. I love to read the blogs of my critique partners and friends because I always want to know what they are up to. I would list them now, but as I said, they are so many. But I think that if you don’t count my friends, my favorite blog would be Nathan Bransford’s because his posts are very current and I love his insight on the literary world.

What’s a current project you are either working on or promoting?
I've just started this baby WIP, and I’m very excited about it. It’s a pre-hispanic YA set in South America (where I live). It’s a story about arrogance and acceptance. And I’m having so much fun researching and writing it!

As you can tell, Mónica is not only friendly and kind, she's incredibly supportive of all writers. Mónica just wrapped up yet another contest, The Super Intern Contest. Stop by her site to check her out! You can also find her on Twitter!

Thank you so much for the interview, Mónica!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Contest Circuit

In the last two weeks, there have been so many new, talented writers that have signed with agents as a result of contests. Most of their stories include many rounds of queries and rejections before getting "The Call" that they all so richly deserve. If you weren't convinced that entering contests is beneficial before this post, you will be after reading their success stories!

Congrats to the following:

Valerie Cole signed with Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency as a result of The Writer's Voice contest. Success story here!
Leigh Ann Kopans signed with Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphey Literary Agency as a result of The Writer's Voice contest. Success story here!
Dahlia Adler signed with Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc as a result of The Writer's Voice contest. Success story here!
Mary Elizabeth signed with Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency as a result of The Writer's Voice contest. Success story here!
Jessa Russo signed with Curiosity Quills Press as a result of Sharon Bayliss's Wilde's Fire Editor Judged Contest. Success story here!
Deana Barnhardt signed with Sarah Lapolla as a result of Cupid's Blind Speed Dating contest. Success story here!

And now for this week's contests! 

Enter my first giveaway for SIGNED copies of NYT best selling author Veronica Roth's INSURGENT and Elizabeth Norris's UNRAVELING at the bottom of this post. Ends June 30!

Last week, I interviewed hilarious blogger Ruth Lauren Steven. (Check out that interview here). She mentioned "Christmas in July." Just today, she put up her first post about it. It will be featuring queries, first 500 words, and 10 agents stopping by to check it all out. Check out her post here!

Booktrust - This website gives a list of British competitions, mostly for short stories. Many of these competitions are held by publishing companies. From what I can tell, they are open internationally.

Unbound Press is holding a flash fiction contest. Prizes include money and publication in their anthology. This contest is open internationally and ends June 30.  It looks like they hold monthly contests.

Scribophile is hosting a Summer Solstice flash fiction contest. Write a fictional slipstream work of 2500 words or fewer. This is for members only, but membership is free. Ends June 30.

Mother. Write. (Repeat.) is giving away Carrie Harris's BAD TASTE IN BOYS to 3 lucky recipients who leave a comment following her post regarding what you'd do if a zombie plague took over your community. Ha! Love that. Ends June 26. Krista Van Dolzer also has a really great post about why blog contests are awesome. *paraphrasing - she says it much more eloquently* It's worth checking out!

A Thousand Wrongs has frequent giveaways of MG and YA books. Check out current giveaways at the top of each post. If nothing else, check out this blog. Author Laurisa White Reyes features book reviews, giveaways, monthly writing challenges and *rubs hands together* contests.

Fragments of Life is giving away signed copies of Elana Johnson's POSSESSION and SURRENDER. I want these books so badly, I almost didn't list this. However, I thought others might be just as excited to get these books as I am. *casts stank eye at competition* Ends June 28. And because I'm a new stalker of this website apparently, blogger Precious is also giving away an ARC of Alyson Noel's FATED. Ends June 26.

Nicole Pyles of World of My Imagination hosts a Wednesday Weekly Writing Prompt/Blog hop. Prompts are based on pictures and select words. Stop by each Wednesday for a new prompt!

Jen Bigheart of I Read Banned Books is celebrating her Blogiversary by giving away an ARC of Sarah Mlynowski's TEN THINGS WE DID AND PROBABLY SHOULDN'T HAVE. Ends June 19.

Seriously, how beautiful are these covers?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Literary Circles: Blogger Interview with Ruth Lauren Steven!

For my Never Surrender Blogfest post, click here.
To win a signed copy of Veronica Roth's INSURGENT or Elizabeth Norris's UNRAVELING, click here.

Today I’m interviewing Ruth Lauren Steven. Ruth is a YA writer repped by Julia Churchill of The Greenhouse Literary Agency. Ruth’s blog is full of wit. Whether she’s blogging about her recent reads, writing advice, or her own writing journey, Ruth inevitably delivers a perfectly timed one-liner that leaves me laughing or snorting at my computer. Ruth lives in Stourbridge, England with her husband, four kids and their pets. She has been blogging since April 2011 with her first post found here, followed by her second post found here. If you haven’t already done so, check out her blog and follow her!

Ruth, can you tell us a bit about your blog’s concept and what inspired you to start blogging?
started writing my second book just before I started the blog, and I knew by then that I was serious about becoming a writer. I wanted to talk about it with other people and join in with the writing community. Plus all the cool kids have one, you know?

As you can see, I was insightful and confident right from the start. Ha! It took me months to loosen up and understand that if I was uptight and worried about the content of my blog, then readers would pick up on that and no-one would be interested. So I accepted that I’m a newbie writer and I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Now I try and give a balance between things that are useful to the blog’s followers – like my thoughts on YA books, and agent-judged contests – and posts that I have no choice but to tag self-indulgent-dicking-around. I have fun writing them, and I hope that shows.

What networking strategies have you used to build the lit community surrounding your blog?
I joined Goodreads at the same time I started blogging, so I have my details up on my profile there. I also belong to the online critique sites Scribophile and Query Tracker and I’ll post there if I’m doing a competition. Writerly friends of mine were nice enough to be my first followers when I was billy-no-mates in the beginning (thank you!), and I’m a big fan of Twitter.  I think a lot of people have entered my contests and stuck around the blog afterwards because of Twitter.

What lessons have you learned from blogging? Good or bad?

I’m not uptight about it anymore, but I’m conscious of writing for an audience, and that’s a good thing. It reminds me that I should consider that more with my books! (You’re all very lucky that you didn’t have to read the first draft of my first book. And possibly the final draft of it too). 

When you blog, you have to think about why your followers are there. What are they looking for? How can I help them?  - be it with something about writing that I’ve learned, or giving them the opportunity to get their work in front of agents.    

I also think that there’s no point in pretending to be something I’m not. I’m not an expert, but I can share my own experiences with readers. I am horribly flippant, and I’m afraid it’s incurable. My blog isn’t going to appeal to everyone, and I shouldn’t try to make that so. The best way for me to approach it is to amuse myself and hope I amuse other people too.

What types of posts do you feel attract or engage readers the most?
Well if I take a quick look at the stats, the most popular posts are the ones about agent-judged competitions, and the one where I show everyone my query letter. And I don’t blame people – those things are fun, and they’re also a very real opportunity to learn and get your work in front of agents.

So I’d say that those posts attract readers. But those aren’t the posts that engage readers. That’s a different animal, and one I’m still working on. I think the best posts make you consider the subject matter in a way you haven’t before, or offer you the chance to put forward your own opinions with other people reading the post so that there’s a discussion going on. How often I achieve that, I don’t know. It’s something I’d like to do more. 

What is one of your favorite blogs? What makes it one of your favorites? 
I still read and love Query Shark. Because I’ll still need to write pitches, even though I have an agent. I’m still fascinated with the elusive perfect query. And yes, I know, it only has to do the job of interesting someone enough to request pages, but I love a good pitch. 

Of course, I love my critique partner’s blog too. She’s funny and she does great query crits and insanely enthusiastic book reviews. Check out Michelle Krys

Can you share a little bit about a current project you are either promoting or working on? 
I'm working on a YA sci-fi at the moment which is kind of like Blade Runner for teens told from the point of view of the replicant. If that means nothing to you, then GO AWAY AND WATCH BLADE RUNNER. Also, BUY MY BOOKS. 

I’m kidding (I’m not). The work that I got signed with is a YA contemporary which is currently in the editing process with my agent. 

The other thing keeping me busy is a big summer agent-judged contest coming up on my blog. I’m working on it with Michelle, and we’re calling it Christmas in July. 

Thanks for inviting me onto your blog Kimberly. It’s been fun!

And now you know why she cracks me up on a weekly basis. Thank you so much for a wonderful interview Ruth!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Never Surrender Blogfest

To enter my giveaway for a signed copy of Veronica Roth's INSURGENT or Liz Norris's UNRAVELING, go here.

During the second week of June--that's the 11-16--Elana Johnson is hosting the Never Surrender blogfest. This is something anyone, anywhere can participate in. 

In Elana's words...All you have to do is blog about a time you didn't surrender. Trained for a marathon? Queried agents? Had to study for an entrance exam? I'm looking for inspirational stories that you have experienced. Hard things you've accomplished because you didn't give up. I want to be inspired by you!

Anyone who blogs this week for the theme can enter to win one of three $15 B&N gift cards. Everyone who blogs this week will receive a SURRENDER swag package.

Don’t blog? Put the cover of Surrender up on your FB wall, or pin it on Pinterest, or change your twitter avatar to the cover. Use the words “Never Surrender” somewhere to go with the picture, and link back to this post. 

Sign up in this form to make sure you get the swag package. Elana will visit each blog to read your inspirational "never surrender" moments. 

I debated writing about running my first marathon, writing the book I’d always talked about writing, and teaching seventh grade English for 12 years – talk about needing a never surrender mentality! But as I sit in the waiting room while my two-year-old son undergoes his fourth surgery (thankfully not life threatening), I can’t help but see all of those as practice tests.

My elation over becoming pregnant after eighteen months of trying quickly turned to anxiety when I was labeled a high-risk pregnancy during my first trimester. For a series of potential complications, I was heavily monitored until I went into labor at 32 weeks. Though doctors stopped the labor, my son’s fetal heart rate bottomed out. On February 5, 2010, I was rushed to the OR for an emergency c-section in a very dramatic flourish – one perfectly scripted for primetime TV complete with a tray full of scalpels crashing to the floor just before they knocked me out. Our amazing team of doctors saved my son’s life that night, and he was born at 4lbs 1oz.

I saw my firstborn briefly when I woke up. They wheeled me into the NICU where I was able to touch his hand. When he grasped my finger, it was the most beautiful moment in the world. I couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t stay with him. I could barely tell what he looked like with the tubes and braces supporting him. But he was safe, alive, and though tiny, pretty damn precious.

Once again, our relief was short-lived. The following night, his lung collapsed. NICU doctors acted quickly and saved his life for the second time in 48 hours.

He spent the next 5 weeks in the NICU where I visited him every day, twice a day. Our experiences as first time parents were atypical. Instead of holding my child, I was allowed to cup his head and his feet with my hands. Instead of fussing over a crying newborn that wouldn’t sleep throughout the night, we toiled over the guilt and worry of leaving him every evening in a room filled with monitors that beeped all night long. Each family moment was shared with nurses, doctors, and other NICU parents. For being a private person, nothing for us was private.

The NICU is a wonderful, magical place that saves babies’ lives and parents’ sanity. But not every story there is a happy one. When we took our son home for the first night five weeks after his birth, I sobbed hysterically that we were so lucky.

Shortly after his homecoming, my son developed severe reflux and Preemie Chronic Lung Disease. With an already weak immune system, we found ourselves in and out of the hospital – seven times in eight months. His premature birth coupled with chronic sicknesses led to developmental delays. We saw four different therapists on a weekly basis to help him catch up. Our lives were chaotic. Everything we did surrounded strengthening ad protecting our little boy. And, yet, somehow, someway we managed to raise a happy kid who loves – more than anything – to laugh.

One of my proudest moments as a mom was in the recovery room after his second surgery. An hour or so after he’d woken up, my husband, my son and I were having a dance party. My husband and I were dancing like complete idiots while my son sat in a hospital bed groggily flapping his arms. The nurse came in to check his vitals. Before she left, she told us that she rarely saw chronically sick kids like our son as happy and energetic as he.  

I can’t help but think this is because my husband and I never surrendered. We never surrendered to pessimism. We never surrendered to the “Woe is me” mentality. While there were plenty of tears and scares along the way, we focused on recognizing how blessed we were to be a family. Our road may have been tiring, emotional, stressful, and, at times, heart-wrenching, but we were hell-bent on surrounding our kid with happiness, love, and dance parties.

I'm 31 weeks pregnant now with Baby Boy #2. I found out I was pregnant two weeks after doctors told me I had a less than 10% chance of having a second child - another story for another time. This pregnancy is once again high risk. And if he does come early, and we have to take the same path we took with our first son to have another happy, thriving kid like him, sign me up. Bring it on. We'd be a very, lucky family.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Contest Circuit: A New List and My First Giveaway!

This weekend I spent some time at Printer's Row Lit Fest in Chicago. While it didn't quite pack the same craziness as BEA, I still managed to add more books to my reading list than I'll ever be able to read while meeting some really wonderful YA authors. My favorites were the ladies of the Dark Days Tour: Veronica Roth (DIVERGENT series), Aprilynne Pike (WINGS series), Elizabeth Norris (UNRAVELING), and Bethany Griffin (MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH). While speaking with all of these charming and adorable ladies, I snagged signed copies of Roth's and Norris's books that I'll be giving away to some followers! See the end of this post for details!
Liz Norris (left) and Veronica Roth (right)

Can't miss opportunities:
I found four Blog Hops this week that seemed like really great opportunities to either win a little something or meet new people.

Elana Johnson is hosting the Never Surrender Blogfest to celebrate her recent release of SURRENDER, the second book of the POSSESSION series. Topic: Blog about a time you didn't surrender. After Johnson reads all the entries, she'll select three winner for $15 gift certificates. This is going on this week! Sign up now!

Jaycee DeLorenzo and Victoria Smith are hosting a Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Blog Hop that features interviews with your heroines. Prizes include ebooks, book gift certificates, and/or a Custom Blogger/Word Press Header. Post entries on June 22.

Katie Mills hosts a weekly Friday Morning Follower's Bloffee. After she presents a question, you leave a comment and also check out another follower's blog. It's a great, creative way to meet new bloggers.

Alex J. Cavanaugh hosts The Insecure Writer's Support Group on the first Wednesday of every month. With 300+ participants, you're bound to make a few friends with this one.

Contests and Giveaways:
The Friedrich Literary Agency is hosting a periodic call for submissions through a contest called "Vivid Voices." This recent contest is featuring YA manuscripts. Send in the first 500 words to win a full length evaluation of your complete manuscript. The catch: no manuscripts currently on submission will be eligible. Still, how amazing is that prize? This contest ends June 11, so submit NOW!

Write Integrity Press is hosting a Manuscript Contest. Ready for this one? They are looking for books in a series of three that carry the message of "hope." Submit your synopsis, a blurb from each book and the first chapter of Book 1. Prizes include cash and A PUBLICATION CONTRACT!!! Contest ends June 15.

YA author Lisa Burstein is hosting a contest to celebrate her new release PRETTY AMY. The contest offers 2  3 chapter critiques - one from her and one from her editor, a $25 gift certificate for books, and a talking parrot toy (the last one cracks me up!). Contest ends July 6.

YA author Susan Kaye Quinn is hosting Critique Wednesday: Respecting the Craft every Wednesday this summer. Enter Rafflecopter for a 5 page critique from her. She will also offer her comments section as a way for people to meet crit partners.

Lauren Ruth, a literary agent from BookEnds, hosts a weekly query critique called QueryDice.

Literary Rambles is currently giving away A SPY LIKE ME, SURRENDER and REGRET, LIKE CLOCKWORK and STRUCK. Just go to each post and leave a comment to be entered!

YA author Wendy Higgins celebrates her debut novel SWEET EVIL with a Cover Adaptation Contest. This one just sounds like fun. Recreate any YA or MG cover and send digital shots to Higgins. (Check out her own recreation of her cover with her husband. Ha!) Winners will receive swag gifts. Contest ends June 14.

And of course, last but not least MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!!! Sign up with Rafflecopter below (*fingers crossed it works*) by June 30 for a chance to win either a SIGNED hardback copy of INSURGENT or UNRAVELING. I will have two winners - one for each book! My only catch is you have to be a follower. If you follow me on Twitter - even better!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check back tomorrow for my NEVER SURRENDER Blogfest entry. On Thursday, I have an interview with author Ruth Lauren Steven that I promise will make you laugh out loud at LEAST once.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Literary Circles: Blogger Interview with Matt MacNish!

Today’s interview is with Matthew MacNish. MacNish is a writer and blogger for YA Confidential, Project Mayhem, Afterglow Book Reviews and his own blog, The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment. Among his posts for The QQQE, which focus on the path to publication, MacNish posts a weekly query for open critique and then offers a critique himself. He is a strong advocate for all writers and a talented writer himself. MacNish’s first post for The QQQE can be found here. And just because I love it, his first and recent post for YA Confidential can be found here.
Can you tell us a little about your blog’s concept and what inspired you to start The QQQE?
Well, this is kind of funny, but I actually first decided to start blogging after seeing that blogging movie, Julie and Julia. Cheesy, I know, but I was so frustrated with the query process and the path to publication at the time. I was ready to give up. So I decided to start a blog and share the mistakes I’d made so that other aspiring writers just starting out could learn from them and avoid making the same ones.

From there, as I was exposed to and “met” more talented writers online, my writing improved, and I learned more about queries. I started to feature examples of successful queries. That evolved into me featuring the critiques you mentioned above.

I read that you wanted to wait to query your recent YA Rural Fantasy, WARRIOR-MONKS, after exceeding 1000 followers on your blog. Other than having a strong concept and writing interesting posts, what networking strategies did you use to build the lit community surrounding your blog?
Well, that was really kind of an arbitrary personal goal. Fun for me, but not really crucial to the submission process. Mainly, I was still revising the novel, cutting, cutting, cutting … because it was too long, so waiting for the followers to come gave me time to finish.

As far as making a real world difference, it’s unlikely. I mean agents are glad to see a strong online presence as a bonus, but a popular blog is not going to sell a bad book any more than a great query will. The writing and the story will always have to stand on their own.

As far as networking strategies, I really don’t have a magic bullet. Building a blog following takes a lot of work. The most important part is reading a lot of blogs, following a lot of blogs, and commenting on a lot of blogs. There are a few obvious things you can do, like joining blogfests, A to Z in particular, and poaching commenters from your friend’s blogs, but if I had to say one thing that was key to my own success, I think it has to do with the fact that my blog offers actual concrete help to other bloggers. Being selfless, and paying it forward, seems to bring a lot of traffic.

How do you feel blogging has benefitted your writing?
For me there’s no question. The act of blogging itself does not affect my creative writing much, because the processes are so different. But the results of blogging -  mainly connecting with other writers, learning how to critique their work, and have yours critiqued without letting it destroy your love of the craft - those things have been invaluable.

In addition to writing and blogging, you are also a Tech Support Coordinator and a father of two girls (MacNish has encouraged his middle school and high school daughters to start blogs of their own. As a middle school English teacher, I love seeing that!) How do you fit it all in? What’s your time management secret?
Well, first of all, the biggest secret I have is that I work in a job (managing an international account) in which I have to get to work very early (6 AM).  So even though I’m here in case the phone rings, my responsibilities don’t really pick up for a few hours. That gives me time to write my own post (yes, I almost always write them the morning of) and then visit blogs for an hour or two.

Other than that, it’s very difficult to get as much writing done as I would like to. I get most of my drafting done on weekends, and I try to revise during the week. But driving kids, making dinner, walking the dog, working out … it all adds up.

You are an avid blog reader. I think I read that you visit between 50-100 blogs daily. What is one of your favorite blogs? What makes it one of your favorites?
In the beginning, I really did visit that many blogs. And during April, for A to Z, I stepped up back up to that level, but most days it’s more like 25-50, and I know that still sounds crazy to some.

Here’s the thing, though: I do it because I enjoy it. I’ve made some great friends, blogging, many who I’ve now met in real life, and it really has made a huge difference in my writing career and life. I don’t think I’ll ever stop, but I have had to dial back in order to focus on other things.

My advice to others would be visit who you can, visit those who visit you, but only do it because you enjoy it. I know visiting a lot of blogs can build a following, but we can’t all be Alex J. Cavanaugh! Not that he doesn’t enjoy it, Alex is a good friend of mine, and I know he does. 

Matt also added as one of his favorite blogs Adam Heine's Author's Echo. Stop by and check it out. It's easy to see why he includes it among his favorites!

Can you tell us about a current project you are either working on or promoting and where you are in the process?
I’m currently querying WARRIOR-MONKS, and I have two fulls and an R&R out, with about 6 other queries I’m waiting to hear back on. 

Other than that, I’m working on something new, which I can’t talk about, but will say that it’s Contemporary YA, with a touch of Magical Realism.

If you haven't already, check out his blog and read through his posts. You won't be disappointed! 

Thank you Matt for the interview!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Contest Circuit: This Week's Contests and Giveaways

I'm really excited to share this week's contests, book giveaways, and writing opportunities. Before I do, I came across two blog posts regarding contests that I thought were really insightful. Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency posted "On Contests, and Being a Sneaky Agent" on her blog. Julie DeGula posted "Interview with Krista Van Dolzer" on her blog.

Be sure to stop back later in the week for my Literary Circles Blogger Interview with Matthew MacNish!

Can't miss opportunities:
Ruth Lauren Steven is helping match crit partners. This seemed like too good an opportunity not to mention.

The Fiction Diaries was an exciting find for me this week. Among this blog's features are Monday Critiques. Katie Conigliaro critiques 500ish word excerpts sent to her. She also hosts The Writer in You Blog Hop! Every Saturday she posts a prompt that participants respond to and post on their blogs. Then other participants blog hop and respond. It's a great way to meet other bloggers and get feedback on your writing. Check out her site!

Now for some contests and giveaways:
Tall Tales and Short Stories is giving away a 2pg critique from agent Gemma Cooper from The Bright Literary Agency. Just leave a comment on her blog post here! This contest ends June 4th (midnight UK time).

Jamie Ayers posted an interview with author Jamie Rush. If you leave a comment by Wednesday, June 6, you could win a 2pg synopsis or query critique by Jamie Rush. You can also win a copy of Rush's book, Darkness Becomes Her.

Shane Morgan from Itching for Books has a fabulous interview with one of my favorite authors, Lauren Oliver. She is also giving away 2 signed copies of Oliver's books Delirium and Pandemonium. Ends June 6.

Tara Dairman interviews author Ernest Hebert and is giving away a copy of his book Never Back Down. Just leave a comment about the interview. Ends June 6.

Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes is giving away a copy of Eyes of the Seer. Leave a comment answering her question.

Karis Jacobstein of YA Litwit is giving away a signed hardcover copy of Hourglass by Myra McEntire. Ends June 9.

Kathryn Cooper of Clean Teen Fiction is giving away an ARC of Endlessly by Kiersten White. Ends June 7.

Realm of Fiction is giving away Angels Eyes by Shannon Dittemore. Ends June 8.

Katie's Book Blog is starting a monthly giveaway. For every comment you make on her blog, you get one entry. The winner gets to pick from her box of giveaway books, many of which are ARCs!

Courtney Young is having a Wilde's Fire Swag Giveaway to help celebrate Krystal Wade's new book Wilde's Fire. Ends June 8.

Last, but not least...these two sites, Writer's Relief and Stephie Smith, list a whole array of contests.

For ongoing agent-judged contests, giveaways, and flash fiction contests, check here.

If you know of any other contests, please leave them in the comments. I'd also love to know if you enter any!!

Good luck and enjoy!!