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!

 

 

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. 🙂

What Do You Mean I Have To Revise?!

writing-the-revision-processRevise. It feels like a four letter word. Especially when you’re riding the high of finishing a first draft. Now I know some authors love to revise, and some even look forward to it. Only for me it can be extremely difficult. I understand it’s all part of the writing process, and I adore how revisions can transform a story, but ugh. In order to fix a manuscript you have to break it first. That stings. A lot.

So how do you destroy your baby and the characters you’ve most likely fallen in love with? Where in the world do you start?

First, you need a plan. But not every plan works for every author, therefore I’ll share what works best for me.

  • After completing a first draft, I like to take a step back. Some authors only need a day, but I need much longer. Weeks, if not a couple of months of separation. It’s good to have that time away so I can come back with fresh eyes.
  • Next I do a read through. As I’m doing this, I’m taking notes on any discrepancies I find, scenes I’d like to change, pacing problems and details I plan to add. I’m also paying attention to the Three Act structure. Do events fall near where they should? Do I even want them to? I’ve been told it’s a good thing to learn the writing “rules” but it’s also okay to break them.
  • I’m on alert for info dumping. Am I including too much back story? Is it possible to weave it in any better? And most importantly – do I even need it at all? Do the details I’ve included pertain to the present story I’m telling? Remember: readers want a book to move forward, not backward. It’s best to cut when you can.
  • Are all of my subplots resolved? Does everything tie together the way it should? Are there holes that need filled? Often times, beta readers can help point out these issues. Authors, I think, tend to be too close to their stories to see things as clearly as someone who is reading it for the first time.
  • If I didn’t make an outline in the beginning now is a good time to create one. Just so I have a quick overview of the entire tale. It’s hard to keep 80,000 words straight in my head. Most days I feel lucky I can remember my own name!
  • Finally, it’s time to dive in chapter by chapter. Using my notes and outline, I fix what needs to be fixed. I work on sentence structure and replace boring words and generic descriptions to give them more oomph.

Revision can be a long and sometimes challenging road, but in the end, I’m always happy I did it. So this is my process, but what works best for you?

#PitDark is almost here! Are you ready?

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of dark literature. Authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson and Stephen King have had a profound affect on me, and at times have kept me up late into the night. Their books will always have a place on my shelf. I don’t seek out disturbing stories to read, but those are the ones that seem to catch my attention at the book store. Call me morbid, I guess! And when I decided to attempt writing stories of my own, suspense and sinister is what I found myself typing.

How ironic my debut novel is a romance!

So when I heard about #PitDark I was instantly intrigued. #PitDark is the first and only Twitter pitch event that is specifically designed for authors of darker literature. According to its description, #PitDark is not limited to works of horror, but the pitched stories must contain elements of darker writing.

Following in the footsteps of #PitMad, a writer can tweet a 140 character pitch for their completed, polished and unpublished manuscripts, while agents and publishers search for stories that sound appealing. Middle grade, young adult, new adult and adult age categories are all welcome. And mark your calendars because the next #PitDark happens October 20th, 2016!

The rules:

  • This event takes place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern. Please do not pitch before or after this twelve-hour period.
  • Participants get one pitch per hour, per manuscript. 
  • This contest is for completed, unpublished manuscripts. Complete means that your manuscript is proofread, polished, and ready for submission.
  • Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT favorite another author’s post. Agents and publishers will will make requests for authors to contact them by marking pitches as a favorite on Twitter. If your tweet is favorited, please follow the agent or publisher’s submission guidelines. Please be sure to research any agent or publisher that likes your pitch. There is no obligation to submit your work to anyone you don’t want to.

How to pitch:

  1. First and foremost, you must include the #PitDark hashtag to enter the contest. This is mandatory. It’s how industry professionals will find you.
  2. An indication of the book’s age category.
  3. An indication of the book’s genre. See below for hashtags. A genre hashtag is also mandatory.
  4. A pitch for your book. Ideally, it should tell us the character, desire, obstacle(s), and stakes. I know, I know — you don’t have many characters left to work with. Be creative!

Hashtags for age categories:

Please use these hashtags to indicate the target age group for your book:

  • #MG – Middle Grade
  • #YA – Young adult
  • #NA – New adult
  • #A – Adult

Hashtags for genres:

Please use a hashtag to indicate the genre of your book. The following are example hashtags that may be relevant to your manuscript:

  • #H – horror
  • #PH – psychological horror
  • #GH – gothic horror
  • #CSH – cosmic horror
  • #BH – body horror
  • #CH – comedy horror
  • #DC – dark comedy
  • #DR – dark romance
  • #SFH – science fiction horror
  • #PNH – paranormal horror
  • #ZH – zombie horror
  • #MH – monster horror
  • #GRH – graphic horror
  • #MM – murder mystery
  • #FA – fantasy
  • #DF – dark fantasy
  • #T – thriller
  • #EF – epic or high fantasy
  • #HF – historical fantasy
  • #LF – literary fantasy
  • #AH – alternate history
  • #PN – paranormal
  • #PR – paranormal romance
  • #UF – urban fantasy
  • #MR – magical realism
  • #SF – science fiction
  • #AF – apocalypse fiction
  • #ML – military science fiction
  • #PA – post-apocalyptic SF
  • #CP – cyberpunk
  • #SFT – sci-fi thriller
  • #SH – superhero / superhuman
  • #SO – space opera
  • #DS – dystopian
  • #SP – steampunk
  • #TT – time travel
  • #WW – weird west
  • #SPEC – speculative fiction
  • #NF – non-fiction

For more details on this event and to find out which agents and publishers are planning to participate, please visit author and #PitDark host Jason Huebinger’s website to learn more!

Do you plan to pitch? Leave a comment below if you do. Best of luck and I hope to see you there!

How To Get Your Story Featured On Wattpad

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So you’ve written a story and you’ve posted it in full to Wattpad but you’re just not getting the reads you expected. You’ve done everything within your power to generate interest: you’ve written a story you’re proud of, you’ve mingled in the clubs, you’ve read and commented consistently on other authors’ stories, you’ve joined a gazillion book discussions and still … nothing! What’s a writer got to do to find some readers?!

I’m going to tell you. You can put in a request to have your story added to the Featured List.

What’s the Featured List, you might be asking yourself? According to Wattpad, every story that is featured is carefully hand-picked by Wattpad’s own Community Engagement team to be placed in a special, more visible spot that makes it easier for readers to find (because sifting through millions upon millions of stories to find what you’re looking for can be very overwhelming!).

That being said, not every submission is going to be granted. Serious thought goes into selecting each story. Why? Because being on the Featured List is both a privilege AND a responsibility. The Featured List will potentially put you and your story in front of millions of eager readers ready to vote and comment on each one of your chapters and expect you to comment back. Wattpad is an extremely interactive experience, one that encourages communication between an author and a reader. So if you’re not up for the challenge, don’t even think about submitting that story. Wattpad is more than just a reading and writing website. It’s a positive and supportive community all coming together to engage in something they love.

Still interested? Then let’s move on to the rules. Yes … the rules!

What Wattpad is looking for:

  • Stories that have good grammar, spelling, plot development, characterization, a distinct tone of voice, etc. So give that story one more edit before you apply!
  • Stories that are full-length and complete (or nearing completion).
  • Stories with a clear and compelling cover (sized 512×800), story description, and relevant tags.
  • Stories that will appeal to the diverse readership of the Wattpad community.
  • Stories that are distinctive and unique in plot and style.

What they’re not looking for:

  • Excerpts, teasers, sample chapters, or works intending to remain incomplete. Sorry, but it’s gotta be completed or near completion.
  • Stories that cannot standalone (i.e., sequels).
  • Emailing us PDFs, ePubs, or Word documents containing your story. Stories must be posted on Wattpad.
  • Unedited works. First drafts are absolutely fine, but stories should have a level of polish to them.

Who Wattpad is looking for:

  • Wattpadders like you! (Don’t have an account? Don’t worry, it’s easy to get started. Just sign up HERE for FREE and get posting!)
  • Engaged Wattpadders (This means writers who are also readers, commenters and voters. Writers who support other writers are the best writers, because they help each other succeed. Writers who want to be an active part of the community. No one likes a writer who posts a story and then never comes back to thank their readers.)
  • Kind and considerate Wattpadders (Trolls may stay under the bridge where they belong.)

What to expect if your story is featured:

If you’ve been selected for featuring, Wattpad will contact you to let you know the official day your story will be added to the List. Your story will then be placed at the top of the list for around one week or so, and afterward will be mixed in at random among the other stories to give everyone an equal chance at getting the limelight. You can expect an increase in reads, votes and comments, although Wattpad makes no guarantees about the number of reads your story will get.

After your week at the top of the list, your story will begin to randomize among the other stories in your genre and will change position daily. You could go from the top to the bottom and then back to the top again!

Wattpad receives several feature requests, so submissions could take up to four weeks or more to be reviewed. Just be patient, they’ll get to you!

So are you ready to take the next step in your writing career? Then apply to be featured today! Click HERE to fill out a request, and best of luck to you all!

200 Word Descriptive Hair List

I need to reblog these descriptions so I never lose this list! Hope you find it helpful!

Writing and Illustrating

Last year I put together a list of descriptive words for food. This year I thought a descriptive list for hair might help you when starting to describe your characters. I included colors, and words of items that adorn the hair. There must be more words, so let’s work together on this.  Please leave new words to add in the comment’s section.  Thanks!

Afro
Angled
Ash
Asymetrical
Auburn
Balding
Bandore
Bangs
Bevel
Bias
Bleached
Blended
Blunt
Bouncy
Brindle
Brown
Bump
Barrett
Barrett’s
Bed head
Beehive
Big hair
Black
Bleached
Blonde
Blow dry
Blow dryer
Bob
Bobby pins
Bonnet
Bouffant
Bouncy
Bowl cut
Braids
Bright
Brunette
Brushed
Bun
Busby
Bushy
Buzz-cut
Cap
Carmel
Carrot top
Chestnut
Chignon
Chocolate
Choppy
Clasps
Clipper-cut
Clips
Coarse
Coiffure
Colored
Combs
Comb over
Conditioner
Copper
Corkscrews
Cornrows
Coronet
Cowlick
Cream rinse
Crew cut
Crimped
Crimper
Cropped
Crown
Curlers
Curling iron
Curly
Damaged
Dandruff
Dark
Devilock
Diffuser
Dimension
Dingy
Dish-water blonde

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