The Happy Camper’s Guide to Camp NaNoWriMo

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April is right around the corner and most writers know what that means: it’s time once again for Camp NaNoWriMo!

Described as a virtual writing retreat, Camp is considered a toned-down version of November’s National Novel Writing Month, where writers from all around the world challenge themselves to write a 50,000-word manuscript in thirty days. The point of this torture (did I say that?!) is not to end up with a query-ready manuscript. It’s a means to get the words down with the intention of going back to fix them later. Because having a completed first draft is half the battle when it comes to dreams of publication.

April’s challenge is a wee more laid back than November’s. Writers can choose to stick with that hefty 50,000-word goal or aim for a different target altogether—one they feel might be easier to obtain. Does announcing a word count to fellow campers sound too intimidating? Try hours, lines, or even pages—it’s completely up to you! The only thing that matters is that you’re writing.

Another thing that’s different about Camp is that each participant is placed in a  virtual cabin. There are three ways you can end up with cabin mates: you can be sorted randomly (which is a good way to meet new friends and cheerleaders!), sorted according to age, genre, or word count goal (do I see new critique partners in your future?), or you can create or be invited into a private cabin where you can share this writerly experience with up to twenty of your writerly friends! Cabin assignments are sorted before the event begins and continue on a rolling basis throughout the month. Used to writing alone? Involving others in your journey helps hold you accountable, because no one has mastered the art of procrastination like a writer (come on, you know it’s true)!

So, how do you join in on all the fun? Just head over to Camp NaNoWriMo and open an account! It’s simple. It’s free. And it’s one more opportunity to connect with the ever-growing, and always encouraging, writing community.

And if you’re in the market for a few survival tips, this here is a post I wrote for NaNoWriMo a couple years back that might be of some help.

Best of luck, happy writing, and may all of your writerly dreams comes true!

Rules and Tips for Surviving #PitMad

What time is it? It’s #PitMad time!

Thursday March 7th, 2019, is the first scheduled #PitMad of the year and believe me, you don’t want to miss it. Even if you’re not planning to pitch, watching the whole event unfold is an absolute treat, not to mention extremely motivating to get writing!

From 8 a.m. EST – 8 p.m. EST, the feed will FLY with the most creative 280-character pitches you’ve ever seen in your life! You can tweet your own pitches and support your writerly friends by retweeting theirs (but remember: “likes” are saved for agents and publishers)! It’s also a good opportunity to learn by reading pitches other authors have created.

For those who are new to the Twitter pitch party scene, here’s how it works:

You have twelve hours to tweet a total of three pitches for your completed, polished, and unpublished manuscripts. It’s best to spread them out throughout the day, and YES you can pitch more than one story (but ONLY three pitches each). Your pitch should fit inside one tweet of 280-characters (no threads allowed) and contain the appropriate hashtags (more on that in a minute).

Pictures and links are prohibited unless you’re attaching an illustration for a picture book or graphic novel, and every genre is welcome. If an industry professional favorites your tweet, it’s an invitation to submit to them! Make sure to check their Twitter profile for submission guidelines and always ALWAYS research the requesting agent/publisher to make certain they’re legit (and don’t forget to include “PitMad Request” in the subject of your email)!

New to crafting a pitch? There’s a formula to refer to that will give industry professionals (and future readers!) an idea about your manuscript. Every pitch needs to contain at least three things (minus the hashtags): a set-up of the world you’ve created, the inciting incident, and the stakes. It’s helpful to break down your query (please tell me you have one writtenyou’ll need it for submissions!) and pull what you need from that. Here’s an example of one I’ve used in the past and have had good luck with:

15yo Gwen escapes her fighting parents by summering in NOLA w/rebellious BFF, but not even the big-hearted drag queen or an unforgettable first kiss can bury the life-or-death secret that will change her forever. Looking for Alaska + Just Listen. #PitMad #YA #CON #MH

I’ve included the basic set-up of the story, the inciting incident, and the stakes. I also managed to squeeze in optional hashtags and comp titles, which I’ve been told agents/publishers like to see when possible. (Please note: I’m not an expert on pitches and it takes me awhile to come up with them.)

Here’s another:

An introverted Chicago artist must face her fractured psyche when secrets from the past come back to haunt her. Sybil + Girl on the Train #PitMad #NA #M #T

And now for the hashtags! Including #PitMad is an absolute must along with the age category. Genre/sub-genre hashtags are helpful too, but optional.

Here’s the list:

#PitMad (again, this is required)

Age Categories (this is also required):

#PB = Picture Book
#C = Children’s
#CB = Chapter Book
#MG = Middle Grade
#YA = Young Adult
#NA = New Adult
#A = Adult

Genres/Sub-genres (these are helpful, but optional):

#AC = Action
#AD = Adventure
#BIZ = Bizarro Fiction
#CF = Christian Fiction
#CON = Contemporary
#CR = Contemporary Romance
#E = Erotica
#ER = Erotic Romance
#ES = Erotica Suspense
#F = Fantasy
#FTA = Fairy Tale Retelling
#GN = Graphic Novel
#H = Horror
#HA = Humor
#HF = Historical Fiction
#HR = Historical Romance
#INSP = Inspirational
#MR = Magical Realism
#M = Mystery
#Mem = Memoir
#MA = Mainstream
#LF = Literary Fiction
#NF = Non-fiction
#P = Paranormal
#PR = Paranormal Romance
#R = Romance
#RS = Romantic Suspense
#STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
#SF = SciFi
#SPF = Speculative Fiction
#SH = Superhero
#S = Suspense
#T = Thriller
#TT = Time Travel
#UF = Urban Fantasy
#VF = Visionary Fiction
#W = Westerns
#WF = Woman’s Fiction

Additional hashtags (also optional):

#POC = Author is a Person of Color
#OWN = Own Voices
#IMM = Immigrant
#LGBT = LGBTQIA+ subject matter
#IRMC = Interracial/Multicultural subject matter
#MH = Mental Health subject matter
#DIS = Disability subject matter
#ND = Neurodiverse subject matter

And finally, these are the scheduled #PitMad dates for 2019:

  • March 7, 2019 (8AM – 8PM EDT)
  • June 6, 2019 (8AM – 8PM EDT)
  • September 5, 2019 (8AM – 8PM EDT)
  • December 5, 2019 (8AM – 8PM EST)

Best of luck with your pitches (I can’t wait to read them) and happy writing!

 

 

Strawberry Wine is on Sale Now!

Need an escape from the winter blahs? How about snuggling up with a sweet, summer romance? The eBook of STRAWBERRY WINE is on sale now for only $0.99—and just in time for Valentine’s Day! Get your copy now before the sale ends. Click HERE to purchase (and please consider leaving an Amazon review, they’re super important)!

small-official-strawberry-wine-coverHow do you know if a first love is made to last?

Addison Monroe was eighteen when she fell for Jake Grady, a college student working on her family’s farm for the summer. With his sapphire eyes and killer smile, Jake could have had any girl in Lakeside, Georgia. But he wanted Addy, and for those brief, wonderful months—before circumstances drove them irrevocably apart—they belonged to each other.

Ten years later, Addy is engaged to a doctor and working in Atlanta as a physician’s assistant. Life feels full and satisfying. Yet memories of that long-ago summer and wine-flavored kisses are hard to shake. On a return visit to Lakeside, Addy crosses paths with Jake again, and soon finds herself at an unexpected crossroads. So much has changed, and Addy has chosen another route. And the magic of first love can never be rekindled…can it?

Read Month on Swoon Reads

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What is Swoon Reads?

Swoon Reads, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing under Feiwel & Friends, has created a website and app where serious writers can submit their completed and unpublished young adult and new adult manuscripts and readers (like you and me!) can read for free and then rank and comment on our favorite stories! You can even leave feedback for authors that will be extremely helpful for when they go back to make edits.

How is this site different than other reading/writing websites? 

When readers rank and comment on their favorite Swoon Reads stories, it can attract the attention of the editors who will then look at those manuscripts more closely and choose which titles they’re interested in publishing! In fact, right now is Read Month, and your reads, ranks, and comments are so very important to help decide what gets published next!

Is it true that titles published by Swoon Reads are turning into TV shows and movies?

Yes! Swoon Reads has recently partnered with A+E Studios to develop their titles for TV and film! You can read more about their partnership HERE!

Is there a deadline?

You can submit to Swoon Reads anytime, but each year is divided into three seasons that end in approximately January, April, and August (times are subject to change). That means, there’s no rush! Submit whenever you and your manuscript are ready!

Is there a cost?

Swoon Reads is absolutely free for both readers and writers! All you have to do is create an account and you’re ready to go!

Will my work be protected?

Swoon Reads takes theft and plagiarism very seriously and they do their best to make sure each work is protected. Cutting, copying, and pasting are not permitted, neither is printing or downloading. And all members of the Swoon Reads community must agree to the terms and conditions provided by the site.

Where can I learn more?

Just click HERE for more information!

Darly, do you have a manuscript posted on Swoon Reads?

LOL, I’m so glad you asked, and I do! It’s called My First Kiss (and Other Summer Disasters) and it’s available to read for free! And if you’ve read it, don’t forget to rank and comment—I’d love to know what you think! The deadline for this season’s voting ends 11:59 p.m. EST on February 28th, 2019. Happy reading!

 

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My First Kiss (and Other Summer Disasters)

Fifteen-year-old dyslexic Gwen Lincoln has three goals before sophomore year begins: experience her first kiss; find a way to get rid of her chipmunk cheeks once and for all; and her most important mission, escape the separation of her parents, something she has yet to mention to her free-spirited, yet slightly unstable, best friend Hartley MacKenna, whose house she’s visiting in New Orleans over summer break.

With Hartley taking charge of her ambitious to-do list, Gwen’s summer of change begins, but nothing prepares her for meeting Sullivan “Sully” Reed, the impossibly cute soccer player next door, who to her utter disbelief, asks her on a date.

Caught between living her life and trying to run away from it, Gwen tentatively conforms to Hartley’s adventure-seeking world. From lip-syncing on stage at a transvestite club, having their tarot cards read by a blind Haitian psychic, ghost-hunting at an abandoned plantation or spending the day volunteering at a shelter for homeless teens, Gwen’s longing to embrace the sun-kissed wetlands of Louisiana and broaden her previously limited horizons is coming true. But when she discovers the devastating secret her friends have been hiding-a secret that could mean the difference between life and death-she must learn to face her own demons (with a little guidance from the big-hearted Creole drag queen down the street) or surrender herself to a tragic reality.

*All information obtained for this post was found on the Swoon Reads website and in blogs. 🙂

A Quiet Place

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Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Wattpad and Paramount Pictures on a campaign loosely inspired by the movie A Quiet Place (you can view the trailer HERE), in theaters April 6th, 2018.

The horror film follows a young family who must fight for survival — in complete and utter silence — after a seemingly horrific event involving unknown creatures who hunt by sound. Early reviews are calling the thriller “eerily silent”, “sinister”, and “tense”. It was co-written and directed by John Krasinski, who also stars in the movie alongside real-life wife, Emily Blunt.

With the prompt I was given, I created a 500-word story with a paranormal twist called The Hunted. You can read the project HERE. The five stories involved in the campaign can be read in the Stay Silent: A Horror Anthology, available on Wattpad’s Fright profile.

“If they hear you, they hunt you.”
A Quiet Place
In theaters April 6th, 2018.

Tap by Wattpad: A New Way to Share and Create Stories

Wattpad’s at it again, revolutionizing the way we read stories! Introducing Tap by Wattpad.

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Tap is a stepping away from the traditional storytelling-style format to experiment with chat story-style writing. The short tales are meant to feel as if you’re peeking in on someone else’s text messages, which seems to be the current trend in digital publishing today.

Tap is free to download on both iTunes and Google Play, but if you like what you see you’ll have to subscribe for full access to the site: $2.99/week, $7.99/month or $39.99/year. This is comparable to the prices of similar apps offering the same type of service.

When Tap first launched in February, only hand-selected authors were inviting to provide content, but the new Create feature now allows anyone to create interactive stories using a combination of text, images, and emojis.

If you’re familiar with Tap, or other apps like it, I’d love to know what you think! Will readers pay for access to this unique, new way to tell stories? And if you’re currently enjoying the app, don’t forget to leave a review!

The text message story I wrote is currently being featured. It’s a Young Adult Suspense called Bad Behavior. You can start reading it HERE.

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