Weekend Writing Warriors

Hey there! Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas 🙂 To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

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This is a direct continuation from last week’s snippet (here). In this scene, Falcon has been captured by the Helyx gang and is being harvested for her Amaranthine magic. Creative punctuation has been used to fit into the eight sentences.

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“What do you want?” I hissed through clenched teeth, “I’m not with Crank anymore.”

“Yeah, I know, got yourself a pretty little family now–But this has nothing to do with Crank, I only want you.”

“If you’re going to kill me, just get it over with–You get nothing out of torturing me.”

A snake of a smile crept across his lips, “Oh I’m not torturing you, but you’ve been keeping that precious magic of yours all to yourself–It’s rude not to share, ya know.”

The other thugs laughed, too hard–Eager to please their master. They were weak, nothing more than sheep following a wolf, but I knew just the monster that Scar was. I’d seen the marks he used to leave on the other girls–Being Crank’s Pet was the only thing that had saved me from him. But there was nothing to save me now.

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Thanks for reading! I will continue this scene next week, so I hope you stop by. I look forward to reading all your amazing posts this week! Happy 8sunday 🙂

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport and the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

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Weekend Writing Warriors

Hey all! It’s been a long time, but I am finally on Christmas break and I’m so excited to be able to join in again for a little while 🙂 I thought I would share some snippets from my manuscript Ember, which is out on submissions now. You can read my previous WeWriWa snippets here. To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

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In this scene, Falcon has been lured and captured by the Helyx gang and wakes up being harvested for her Amaranthine magic. Creative punctuation has been used to fit into the eight sentences.

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Pain snapped me back into awareness.

A scream tore from my throat at the fire lacing its way up my arm–I opened my eyes to find a Helyx tracing the lines in my skin with his knife. I thrashed against my bonds, and the knife jolted across my arm, taking strips of flesh as it went.

A man watched from the end of the room, his eyes wicked in the flicker of candle-light–A scar ran from his forehead to his jaw, revealing him as the leader of the Helyx gang, Scar. “Stop,” he said to the boy cutting my arm,  “I want to talk with her.”

He stopped–The blade dripped blood onto the floor in fat drops. My fists curled, my nails dug into my palms to fight the pain in my arm.

“Didn’t think you would see me again, did you Pet?” Scar taunted with a grin.

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There you have it! The next few posts will continue this scene, so I hope you come back next week. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with y’all and reading all the great posts this week! Happy 8sunday 🙂

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport and the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

A Survivors Guide to Pitch Contests

Hey y’all! I don’t know if you saw, but #pitmad #SFFpit and #PitchMas all happened in the last two weeks! If you don’t know, or have never heard of them, these are all really awesome contests where you pitch your MS in 140 characters or less, and agents/editors stalk the feed and make requests. It might seem like a one in a million chance of anything actually coming out of this, but you’d be amazed how many success stories there are.

This was probably my second or third #SFFpit and my fifth or sixth pitch contest overall. The first time, I had no idea what I was doing. It was bad. But I had fun, and I’ve learned a lot in the times since then, so I wanted to share it with y’all so you don’t have to go through all of the trial and error that I did.

Here’s the top things I’ve learned from pitch contests:

1. Don’t be intimidated. It can seem overwhelming at first, especially with how big #pitmad and #SFFpit have gotten. There are seriously big names scanning the feed, and a lot of competition. But here’s the thing: if it doesn’t work out, nothing happens. You quite literally have nothing to lose. I love pitch contests because it’s another way to throw your hat in the ring, without all the time, effort, and stress of querying. Plus, all that “competition” is actually really awesome, which brings me to my next point.

2. You will meet amazing people. I’ve learned since joining writerly Twitter that really, no one knows what they’re doing either. At first I saw the other writers on #pitmad and #SFFpit as competition, but now I realize we’re all comrades. Every pitch contest, I get new followers and make a bunch of new connections. Plus, everyone is so supportive and friendly and it’s all just amazing. It makes me want to giant squishy hug everybody 🙂

3. It will get better. My first few times, I didn’t get a single bite. I got a couple RTs from supportive writers, but no requests. Which I was happy to even get RTs at the time, but didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I slowly learned that my pitches needed work. I’m very bad with anything pitch-y, from Twitter pitches to synopses to queries, so this was a big struggle for me. But I surprised myself with what I would come up with each contest, sometimes randomly struck with inspiration in the middle of it all. Each round my pitches have gotten better and better, and so have the responses. I went from a couple RTs and no bites, to a dozen RTs on one pitch and three requests overall. And I’m willing to bet it’ll be even better next time!

4. Polish your pitch. That said, the biggest factor affecting responses and your chance of getting a request is having a great pitch, so work on it as much as you can. Play around. Test out different ones, see what kind of response you get. Don’t overstress about it. The ones you think are the best won’t always be the most successful, and vice versa. Usually, the ones I came up with spur-of-the-moment turned out to be the best. I had a really hard time boiling down my complicated multi-POV fantasy into 140 characters, but I learned to be as specific as possible. My first few pitches just focused on the world and grand scheme, but it didn’t resonate. I learned that it’s much better to focus on one character, what they want, and what’s stopping them.

5. No cliches. For the love of God, please don’t use cliches when writing a pitch. In fact, don’t use cliches in anything: query, synopsis, or your manuscript itself. They might sound juicy but really they’re just vague and don’t actually tell anything. Plus, to agents/editors it comes off as lazy writing, or low skill. Every time I see a cliche, I die a little inside.

6. Use all your pitches. You have the opportunity for up to 24 tweets throughout the day (twice per hour in a 12 hour period) in most contests. Take advantage of that. I used some pitches to show the three POV’s overall goal. I used a pitch or two to give a taste of world-building. I used several pitches for each of POVs individually, to show their voice and what was at stake for them. One agent might be intrigued by one character, another by the world, a third by the overall struggle. Try them all!

7. Use your best pitches in the morning. Whether it’s because all the agents and editors are up and freshly caffeinated, or it’s before they’ve dealt with the stress of the work day, for some reason I get way more response on my morning pitches. Usually by two or three in the afternoon the response has slowed down considerably and almost stopped by four or five. This doesn’t mean stop pitching, though! There have been some agents who get on the feed late, so make sure you don’t miss out. But be sure to focus your best pitches in the morning.

8. Schedule your pitches. I know a lot of people use Tweetdeck, but I never have and have no idea how to use it, but from what I hear it’s worth checking out. I just use Twitter’s built in system: if you go to ads.twitter.com and under the Creatives tab, then hit compose tweet, there will be an option to schedule it. This eliminates any stress of having to pitch every 30 min or hour, or if you’re unable to pitch at certain times. Even if you are available, it helps you focus on interacting with other authors, RTing, and enjoying yourself!

9. Have patience. It probably won’t work your first few times. (If it does, awesome! You probably don’t need to read this then, and I want to know your secret) That doesn’t mean you’re an awful writer, or no one wants your book, or you should give up forever. Agents and editors are human, and can’t possibly look through every pitch. And even if you don’t get requests or many RTs, I promise you will if you keep working on your pitches, and try try again!

10. Have fun. I know it’s cheesy, but I’m serious! Twitter pitches are probably the most casual way you can get out there. Mess around with your pitches. Read what other authors are doing–there’s some seriously amazing stuff. Get feedback, connect with others, laugh at your bad pitches or the stress of querying or nerdy inside jokes. Pitch contests are really what you make of them, and they can be a lot of fun!

I hope that helps! Are you a pitch contest newbie, or a veteran? What have you learned through your trial and error? Let me know in the comments!

 

TBAS Snapshot

I know I missed last week, but it’s finals and life has been crazy for me. But good news, I’ll be done with the semester after this week and free for an entire month! But here’s the snapshot for this week with an extra long excerpt as promised 🙂

Title: Ember

Current word count: 81,117

Words written this week: about 2,000

Words cut this week: about 2,000

What I’m working on: Polishing. I worked with an editor for the first 10k and used her comments to apply to edits to the rest. I added a couple action scenes, cut down some other ones, and polished the prose and voice. It really made a huge difference, even the small details and changes. I wanted to really perfect it before pitmad, SFFpit, and PitchMas. Also, I just made a couple big submissions, so fingers crossed! 🙂

Favorite lines: 

As I watched, Scar raised it to his lips and drank. He grinned, and his teeth shone red with blood. A wolf tearing into a kill.

“I’m done with her. Drain all of it, even if she’s dead.”

The boy seemed eager to comply.

I grit my teeth against another scream as his ragged knife tore into my flesh, prying skin from muscle. Desperately, I tried to focus my magic as Asa had tried so often to teach me, his chest glowing with energy. Skin and fiber knit together at his touch.

But nothing happened.

Of course it didn’t. It was hopeless. I may have Amaranthine blood, but I was pathetically, hopelessly human.

Scar leaned against the wall, sipping from the bowl as he watched the boy harvest me. I stared at him, and willed all of my rage against him. He was everything in this world I hated. He had hurt the only friends I ever had before I met the pack. He hurt everyone he ever came in contact with, and enjoyed it. He lived off of everyone else’s pain.

And now he was going to kill me.

Scar’s face turned red. He coughed, and it caught at the back of his throat, trapped. Choked. A gurgle slipped out, mangled. The bowl fell from his hands. It shattered as it hit the ground, dashing my blood against the wall.

The boy froze, and cast an anxious look at him. “Are you alright, Scar?”

Scar couldn’t speak.

His hands went to his throat, clawing at his skin and drawing blood. His skin paled to ash. His eyes bulged. His scream came out a strangled gurgle.

Goal for next week: Rock out SFFpit and PitchMas! (After finals, of course)

What YA Gave Me

YA has been a part of my life, even before I knew to call it YA.

From reading the Inkspell series every night with my dad, to reading every book ever written by Tamora Pierce, YA has always been there. At the time, I didn’t realize what a big influence it was having on me–I was just reading books, and falling in love with these stories. Now I look back and see how much books, and more specifically YA, changed me and helped to shape me into the person I am today.

Some people consider young adult as “less than adult”. But for me, in a lot of ways YA is more than adult. Adult books may have wonderful stories that capture our emotions or change our views on certain things, but it is a very rare book that truly changes us. But reading YA while growing up, there are so many books that changed me.

YA is so important because it is targeted right at the most formative years of a person’s life–YA is a point of change, and it most certainly was for me. It does not flinch away from life’s toughest subjects, and Through YA, I learned about being strong, but that it’s also okay to not always be strong. I learned about womanhood, and love, and even sex. I learned about family and friends and all kinds of different relationships, and bonds that tie us all together. I learned about loss and death, grief and pain.

YA opened my eyes. It showed me places and people and views different than my own, hundreds of different kinds without ever leaving my room. I learned about others, but I also learned about myself. I learned what was most important to me, I found role models to look up to and emulate.

One day, I hope that I can write these kinds of books. The kind of stories that change people. To me, that would be the ultimate success as an author. More than money or awards or recognition, I want to be able to affect others. I want to be able to make someone fall in love with stories, or find a new genre, or maybe even change their life. Because I think that’s what stories are really about, connecting and changing us.

Do you read YA? If not, you should stop reading this and go find a book right away (seriously, shoo). Young or old, I think YA is very special in its capacity to affect all ages and all walks of life. I really think there’s something in it that almost anyone can relate to.

What are your favorite YA books? What are the ones that changed you, and how did they change you?


I know it’s been too long since I’ve posted, but things have been so crazy. Good news though, finals will be done next week so then I will be free for an entire month! 🙂 But don’t worry, I’ll have a snapshot post for y’all on Wednesday with an extra long excerpt, and next weekend I should be able to join back in with Weekend Writing Warriors! I’ve got some great snippets for y’all 🙂