Monday, January 28, 2013

Unexpected Benefits of Blogging

Two more contests to add to last week's list of contests and blog hops

Writer's Digest Dear Lucky Agent Contest with Victoria Marini. Ends Jan 31.

The Unexpected Benefits of Blogging: Reason #42
The seventh grade kids I teach love to read. I'm always blown away by their enthusiasm every time we spend a day talking books. On Friday, I shared with them a list of 22 books I either read last year or was dying to read this year. When I did, one of the coolest things happened...

Out of all the books I shared including Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Unravelling by Liz Norris, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Son by Lois Lowry, three of the books that generated the most enthusiasm were books I discovered through blogging. My kids wanted to know everything they could about Possession by Elana Johnson, CassaStar by Alex J Cavanaugh, and 18 Things by Jamie Ayers.

They were literally angry with me when they found out our school library didn't carry these books (despite my rationale claims that 18 Things just came out last week). They had me look up where they could buy these books and how much they were so that they could get them this weekend. Let me also make very clear...I would naturally be more excited talking about books written by bloggers I know, but I didn't even give these books the hard sell. The kids gravitated towards these all on their own.

Typically, I keep my teaching life separate from my *secret* writing, blogging life (I have my reasons - another post for another time perhaps). This ended up being a very cool way that they overlapped (without me outing myself as a writer/blogger) and I couldn't be more thrilled. I get to give
my kids something shiny and new while supporting talented writers that I admire. Chalk this one up as reason #42 on my hypothetical list: "The Unexpected Benefits of Blogging."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Contest Circuit: January 21

Today's Circuit post has something for everyone. With four contests and sixteen creative, funny, or touching blog hops, it's hard not to find one to participate in. Anyone signed up for one of these already? Any I didn't mention?

The ladies who brought you Pitch Wars will also be hosting a Twitter Pitch Party on Jan 25. Prepare your 140 character pitch AND include the hashtag #PitMad.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest: Submit your MS in any one of their five categories. Send your MS of 50,000-150,000 words, an excerpt of 3,000-5,000 words, a pitch, and author bio info. Entries will be accepted between Jan 14-Jan 27.

Cupid at Cupid's Literary Connection is hosting Blind Speed Dating again this year. She still has three entry windows left on Jan 24, Jan 29, and Feb 1. Enter your query and first 250 in either of these windows to hopefully get past the "Bouncer Round." Chosen MS's will advance to the agent round. Check out her site for details. Entry is $10.

Women on Writing is hosting a flash fiction contest due Feb 28Open prompt should be 750 words or less. The contest will be judged by agent Jennifer DeChiara.

Blog Hops, Flash Fiction and Giveaways:
The A-Z Challenge will be in April. The sign-up list will begin on Jan 30. Last year, over 1700 participants joined.

Every Wednesday, YA Highway hosts Road Trip Wednesday. YA Highway posts a question for you to answer. After you post your answer, leave a note in their comments section with a link to your post. Then, you hop around and read other bloggers' answers. (Check each Wednesday for a new link of that week's and next week's questions).

VikLit of Scribblings of an Aspiring Author is hosting a weekly blog hop Celebrate the Small Things. Each Friday, post something you wish to celebrate achieving or doing that week. It can be life related, writing related, reading related - whatever you want to celebrate. I love the idea behind this. We could all use a little bit more celebration over the small stuff. 

Kazka Press puts out a monthly electronic issue full of Scifi, Fantasy and Horror short stories. They offer a theme for each month and accept submissions of stories between 713-1,000 words. They pay $10 per story. The next theme is for 713 Flash Fiction is "Spring Training." Submissions due by Feb 20 for the March 2013 issue.

To celebrate her book release, 18 Things, Jamie Ayres is hosting What Are Your 18 Things Blogfest. Blog about your bucket list.  She also has 18 prizes to give away to participants. Jan 17-24.

Sharon Bayliss is hosting The Worldbuilding Blogfest. In a series of five posts on Jan 28-Feb 1, you'll be asked to flesh out the details of your manuscripts make-believe or real life setting. Sharon will have a raffle for those who participate. She'll be giving away autographed copies of her upcoming novel, The Charge, which will come out March 2, along with a full manuscript critique, a partial critique and other fun books. 

Suze from Subliminal Coffee, Nicki Elson, and Mary Pax are hosting Back From the Future Blog Party on March 1. If you received a package one day from yourself ten years in the future, what would be in it?

Annalisa Crawford and Kyra Lennon are hosting Imaginary Friend Bloghop on Feb 1. Share your imaginary friend stories. Participants have the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card or a three chapter critique from Kyra. 

Jolie Du Pre from Precious Monsters is hosting Vampire Bite Blog Hop. Blog about vampires on Feb 14 and hop around to read other entries.

M.L. Swift is hosting Progressive Book ClubRead the book he's chosen about writing and post your comments about it on the third Wednesday of each month. The first book selected is one of my favorites, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Nick Wilford of Scattergun Scribblings is hosting his first blogfest. The theme is Overcoming Adversity (for something you believe in). Post on Feb 4 or 5. Keep your entry to 500 words. The coolest part about this is that Nick will be using the entries to compile an anthology. Proceeds from this anthology will be used to help Nick's stepson, Andrew, who has cerebral palsy, attend a college that would not only meet his needs, but also help him continue to excel. What a beautiful idea, Nick.

Misha Gericke is hosting The Word Master Challenge. Each month, she'll have a new theme to write about. January's theme: How Not to Write  Novel Beginning. Keep posts to 300 words. Post anytime in Jan. The winner will be announced Feb 8 and will win a voucher to an Internet book vendor or a 10 chapter critique from Misha.

Stephen Tremp, Mark Koopmans, Elise Fallson and C.M. Brown are hosting Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest on Jan 28. Simply take a moment to say something fun about yourself. 

Michelle from Writer-in-Transit and Elise Fallson are celebrating their blogoversaries with the She Said What? Giveaway Bash. On Feb 18, they will post two comic strips on their sites. You will need to select one and fill in the dialogue for your post on Feb 20. Winners will be announced on the 22nd.

Mark Koopmans will be hosting the Who's Your Paddy? "Got Green" BlogO'hop Version 2.0. Save the date. March 15. Details to come - already sounds like fun.

Alex J Cavanaugh will also be hosting his first blog hop on March 18 with details TBA.

Monday, January 14, 2013


At some point in my twenties, I set three goals for myself that I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 30. Running a marathon was one of them.

In January of 2005 I started training. I was by no means "a runner." The first time I tried to run, I couldn't finish a mile without stopping for a water break, a stretching break, a "Gosh, I'm not sure what's wrong with my IPod" *wink, wink* break. It was both painful and pathetic. But after months of training, I finished the Chicago marathon in October in a respectable time and without stopping.

I learned several things about myself that year:
(1) I actually like to run.
(2) I'm fueled by people who don't think I can do something.
(3) I may be a skinny, red-headed middle school teacher, but I'm kind of tough - mentally and physically. I might even be - dare I say - a bit of a badass.
(4) I may not be the fastest, but once I start something I'm going to finish the race in a respectable time without stopping...because I'm a badass.

I'm never going to be the writer who cranks out four or five manuscripts in one year. God love those who can - I admire them for it. But whatever I write, I will work my butt off to make it good. I will rewrite it 348 times or ditch it to write something better if I have to. I will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes because (1) I kind of like to write and (2) this is my third and final goal and even though I passed 30 a few years back, I'm not giving up on it.

My marathon in 2005 was my first race. I've run twenty or so races since then. After having Baby Boy #2 in August, I ran a 15K the first weekend in November. I sure as hell was not the fastest in that race. But while training for it, the oh-so-wise lyrics of Eminem, Kanye, and Pink reminded me that it's not about being the fastest. It's about endurance. It's about training and making myself better. It's about pushing myself to my limits and then some. It's about reaching goals I set for myself and finishing the stupid race no matter how sleep deprived, hurt, or defeated I may feel.

Sometimes we want things done quickly. Sometimes we want to smack people who think every publishing story is like Stephenie Meyer's story, who wrote and sold her manuscript for three figures in six months time. And sometimes we roll up our sleeves, dig a little deeper and realize the finish line is farther away than we'd hoped, but not impossible to reach.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Contest Circuit: January 7

Happy New Year! With the new year, I'm going to be switching things around a bit to accommodate for some big life transitions that 2013 is sure to bring. I'll only be posting on Mondays - except for the occasional blog hop and of course IWSG, which happens on the first Wednesday of every month. I'm planning on posting about contests, blog hops and giveaways every other Monday instead of every Monday like I did in 2012. That makes room for two Mondays a month for me to post about anything random. *insert evil laugh and twittling fingers* And of course, I'm hoping it frees up some much needed writing time as well.

Over break, I read a two part post from Dee of I Write for Apples about why contests are so fabulous. I couldn't have said it better I won't even try. Check out her blog instead. She's fabulous! Part One here! Part Two here!

I've been away from the blogosphere for so long, I'm sure I missed something. Feel free to add to this list in the comments section!

Miss Snark will be hosting a Secret Agent Contest on Jan 14. Details go up on the 7th.

The ladies who brought you Pitch Wars will also be hosting a Twitter Pitch Party on Jan 25. Prepare your 140 character pitch AND include the hashtag #PitMad.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest: Submit your MS in any one of their five categories. Send your MS of 50,000-150,000 words, an excerpt of 3,000-5,000 words, a pitch, and author bio info. Entries will be accepted between Jan 14-Jan 27.

Cupid at Cupid's Literary Connection is hosting Blind Speed Dating again this year in February. She's upped the competition this year by adding to the contest involving interns, authors and agents, an auction and a private writer's conference on "Mt. Olympus." AND a kissing scene competition AND "even more goodness iced with gooey epic frosting." It all sounds seriously awesome and fun. Check out her site for details. Entry is $10.

Women on Writing is hosting a flash fiction contest due Feb 28Open prompt should be 750 words or less. The contest will be judged by agent Jennifer DeChiara.

Blog Hops, Flash Fiction and Giveaways:
The Geek Twins, LK Hill, and Just a Dash of Geek are hosting My Favorite Martian Bloghop on Jan 14. Post about your all time favorite aliens and why you love them.

The Peasants Revolt is hosting a Flashback Blog Hop. Sign up and share one of your posts from 2012 - something you're proud of or something that makes you ask "what was I thinking?" Participants are eligible for a $20 amazon gift card.

Alex J Cavanaugh will also be hosting his first blog hop on March 18 with details TBA.

The A-Z Challenge will be in April. The sign-up list will begin on Jan 30. Last year, over 1700 participants joined.

Lindsay Cummings is celebrating her upcoming book release with a huge giveaway of some ARCs and fabulous new releases. AND if her book gets 3K "to-reads" on Goodreads, her agent Louise Fury will give aways a critique of your first 3 chapters and query letter.  Giveaway ends Jan 8.

Romantic Friday Writers is hosting a flash fiction contest New Year! New Love! Post your flash fiction piece before Jan 21 and hop around to read other entries as well.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IWSG: Perseverance and Elbow Grease

2012 was a year of possibilities. Even though it marked perhaps the beginning of my path to publication (something I'm still working on), it was a year about family more than writing.

Baby Boy #2, a child I was told I'd never have, was safely delivered in August. Baby Boy #1, my toddler who was born prematurely and has struggled in many ways, found his voice through so much hard work and determination I can't help but be awed by him. On a personal level, as we start 2013, life couldn't be more beautiful.

Even though my priorities were with my family last year (as they should and will always be), I still sent out my first query letter exactly one year ago to date. I received requests and plenty of rejections. I started a blog, made a few friends, found a few invaluable CPs and rewrote my manuscript 648 times taking it from a incredibly naive, amateur first novel and turning it into something I'm excited about. (I was still excited about the draft I queried a year ago....I was just an idiot then...I'm clearly so much older, wiser, and cooler now...clearly)

But perhaps even more significant - over the past year I corresponded with a handful of agents enough to make them seem almost human. A year ago they all felt like little leprechauns - not the cute cartoon versions willing to help guide any lost soul to the end of the rainbow; they were more like evil gold-hoarding kind that were impossible to catch no matter how hard you chased them. Not only did I correspond with them, I actually enjoyed these corresponses. In many cases, they were incredibly helpful. It made me think that maybe, just maybe this publication thing that I am trying to pursue is possible...if not now...then someday.

If nothing else, 2012 and my two boys taught me two very valuable lessons. ANYTHING, yes ANYTHING is possible with a little luck and a whole hell of a lot of perseverance and elbow grease. While I can't imagine anything happening in 2013 to make me more proud and grateful than I feel right now, I'm ready to work my butt off to get to that next level.

May 2013 bring you all just enough luck to make all of your hard work pay off.

My cutie-patooties.