#Pitchwars isn’t a contest, it’s an opportunity

I’m not an exceptionally experienced writer. I have one manuscript under my belt and two halvsies. But I’m fairly experienced when it comes to contests. I’ve entered a few.

In fact,  I’ve entered 12 writing contests in the past year. They’re usually run by the RWA but I’ve entered three that were on a worldwide level ( Myslexia, A Woman’s Write, and Ya.Authors.me). They have a few differences, but they all have one thing in common. There is a distinct winner.

“That’s how a contest works,” you say, and ready yourself to move on.

5668950

You don’t need to waste your time reading things you already understand.

BUT WAIT! I have a point, I swear!!!!

Guys, #Pitchwars isn’t that type of contest. Pitchwars is an opportunity. If you play your cards right, you will walk away with something beneficial, even if you don’t get picked by a mentor. That is always a win.

So, let’s list a few of the benefits of this contest, besides the ever- envied Mentor.

  1. A Beta Reader.
  2. A Critique Partner
  3. Query Edits
  4. AUTHOR SUPPORT
  5. The experience of rejection
  6. The experience of acceptance
  7. A measurement of how far you’re willing to go

Guys, this industry is rejection. It will only make you stronger.

tumblr_inline_min6qmW4f61rdqp9d

Okay, that’s a little bit of stretch, but you get the idea.

As an author, you’re setting yourself up for failure. That’s part of the deal. I learned that lesson very quickly when I lost my first contest. I didn’t even make it to through the first round, and I got a nasty critique letter that didn’t sugar coat the truth. It was painful, but you know what? It was the best thing that ever happened to my writing. I will forever thank the judge who took the time to be brutally honest, and for adding that the reason she was so harsh was because she saw unstructured talent.

I took the advice and rewrote, and things started changing for me. My first final was elating, but the truth is my biggest win was that first loss. Without that failure, I would never have learned the value of a negative critique. It taught me to look at my writing with a critical eye; there is always room for improvement. It taught me to straighten up and deal with the tough stuff because no one is going to hand me a map that leads to greatness. If  I want this, I’m going to earn some scars, which is okay because they make my skin thicker.

When I entered #Pitchwars, I didn’t see it as a contest. Pitchwars was a giant vat of opportunity I could submerge my writing into if I was willing to get the pages of my manuscript wet. The ink might run, and some lines might be lost, but the pretty skeleton of the story would remain.

So I threw myself in. It’s a little deeper than  I anticipated and the water is rough, but there are plenty of fellow writers around me and we are swimming together.

I’ve found a critique partner or two, possibly three! I’ve had my query ripped up in the best way. New sets of eyes showed me flaws I could never see, and now I have the ability to patch up the issues. All in all, I’ve gotten better.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a win.

I hope you all find your win, too.

Keep writing,

cooltext157564296698518imagesVXKC698W

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Publishing Industry is Subjective

If you are a writer who’s ever pitched a novel, or simply googled insight into the publishing industry, chances are you’ve heard this before.

I know I’ve heard it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve even accepted it. But it wasn’t until this past week I truly understood it. The following experience gave me a different view on those words.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to judge the first round of a writing contest. It was a simple “answer these questions, see if you qualify, and you can judge” sort of thing, but I was still looking forward to it. I couldn’t wait to see what the contest process was like from the other side! I opened the entries with excitement, read through them, made notes, and instantly attached to a certain story.  A week later I reread my samples, focusing on the technicalities and quality of writing. I carefully considered, tried to provide helpful feedback, and sent my judged files back to the contest coordinator with a sense of satisfaction. My judgments were fair. Every score I gave could be justified (at least by me!).

But here’s the crazy thing-

I didn’t give my favorite story the highest score.

Why? Because technically, it wasn’t the best. The highest scoring story flowed better. The sample was flawless. There were no mistakes, no awkward phrasing, and no grammatical errors (that I picked up on). It was simply  well written.

However, something about the second ranking sample spoke to me. The characters grabbed me, and the story drew me in. I wanted to read it.

What’s really puzzling is if I were to summarize the story lines, the highest ranking book had a better plot. More happened. It moved at a quick pace. But there was something about the second place book I loved. I don’t know what it was. I can’t explain it. It simply connected with me.

As I ponder this experience  I’m blasted with an understanding I thought I previously grasped, but obviously didn’t.

The love of a book is subjective.859697

My judging experience opened
my eyes to a new side of things. I’ll probably need to reread this post in the future to remind myself, but I finally understand. If  I were an agent, I wouldn’t have requested a full for an arguably well written book, simply because it didn’t speak to me.

This taught me how important it is to find people who connect with your work.  If my writing is good, and I constantly strive to improve my craft, eventually I will find the right people to help me get my book out there. A big part of success is commitment.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. jessica grace kelleyt signature

Until then, I’ll keep writing

 

 

 

Book Review! Gambit by C.L Denault

 

gambit-website-cover

I am back from my hiatus!

I’m not going to lie, it was nice to have a month that was book free. The last few books I  read were a bit of a letdown, and I was overwhelmed with work for my personal projects.It was nice to focus on my own work. I began to miss reading after a week or so, but I was leery because of the rough, weak story lines I had read before my NovelVaca ( ooh, look, a new word!). Luckily, the first book I read, Gambit by C.L Denault, immediately hooked me on books again.

It was that good.

pretty-little-liars-hanna-love-it

 

The premise is classic Dystopian, one of my favorite genres. There were a few new ingredients in this Dystopian universe, which included cat/children “rippers”, AKA feline killing machines, and physically enhanced soldiers.

Okay, that last part is not a new concept, but it was very well done.

The world is a mix of old charm and futuristic fantasy, which goes together much better than you would expect. Think bacon plus chocolate- Great separate, decadent together. The world building is solid, not overdone, and not slapped in front of you with a word paint brush in a single paragraph ( this is called info dumping, I detest it!) . The prose was beautiful. C.L Denault is a talented storyteller and writer, and the possession of those two talents is harder to find in an Author than people might believe.

However, all the things above are not the reason I loved this book. Yes, the world is interesting. Yes, there are unique factors. But the characters stole my heart. Willow, Reece and the supporting cast were exceptional.

Willow is a 16 year old girl who grew up in a poor, yet happy family.  She acts like a teenager, which is great, because that’s exactly what she is. Her life wouldn’t support an overly mature attitude, so I appreciated the realistic take on her. Despite her immaturity, she is a strong, promising character that I am sure will encompass her potential by the time this series is complete.

But she wasn’t the star of the show.

My favorite character  is Commander Reece- a terrifying, harsh, amazingly enigmatic man who any girl would fall head over heals for, despite his streak of danger (let’s be honest, it makes him better!). He’s the first male character I’ve fallen for in ages. It was  wonderful to feel that way about a book again!

anigif_optimized-22814-1432703871-7

I also enjoyed the supporting characters, Asp, Tem, Morry, all of them! They had their own unique personalities, which is so refreshing. Many books have filler characters that are just there, saying lines. Not these guys! They were dimensional and alive.

There were a few times I looked up from the pages with an “eh” attitude, but now that I’ve finished the book I can’t remember why I felt that way. The positives completely overtook those few moments, and I will be waiting for the next book with anxious impatience.

So, I am going to give this book 5 stars.

That’s right. I said it. FIVE STARS!!!!!!!

I am not saying this book is perfection, or a great piece of artistic mastery that will be studied for ages, but I truly, completely enjoyed this story. To me, it was awesome, and I might even read it again.

WHICH I NEVER DO!

This book will be bought by me in hard copy, and go on my favorites shelf, right next to the Shatter me Series, The Selection series, The Razorland series ( and Emily Grifin’s novels, and The Giver, and Rebecca … you get the idea). To put that in perspective for you guys, I haven’t bought a hard copy since 2014 .

Yeah.

And if C.L Denault could autograph it, that would be amazing…(I can dream!)

If you like romance, Dystopian, or just fantasy in general, grab your copy of Gambit here!

cooltext157564296698518imagesVXKC698W

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

 

 

 

Coming Soon, I swear!

This is a quick update for authors and readers currently waiting for certain titles to be reviewed. They are coming, don’t worry! my reading speed isn’t as fast as normal because life is being needy right now.

Sometimes life can be so rude.

rude

I have a few writing projects which need to take precedence over my book reviews. I love reviewing all the fantastic novels I read, but it is a hobby. Writing is my true passion. Passion is where my heart lies, so I need to put some extra hours into my work for the next week or so.

I’ll be back soon, though! These great titles are coming up and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you!

The V Girl by Mya Roberts

Gambit by C.L Denault

Rhuna by Barbara Underwood

The Guardian, a Sword, & Stilettos by Kristen D. Van Rissegham

Amid Wind & Stone by Nicole Luiken

I am excited about this round, lot’s of fantasy and feelings. It’s going to be fun!

 

 

Soulless by Ismael Manzano

 

lastcover1

There’s a new author out in the paranormal genre world named Ismael Manzano, and I have to say, he has some pretty cool ideas.

His debut novel, Soulless, is built around the concept of soul brokering, which is exactly what it sounds like, people buying and selling their souls.

Pretty cool, right?

When Soulless was kindly given to me by Fantasy Works Publishing, I was pretty interested even though this isn’t my normal read. Plus it’s a free book, and I like books.

In fact, I loooovvvve books.

bookshelf fuul

When I fist started reading it, I wasn’t immediately hooked. Not because of the story itself, but because of me. I am fickle girl, and if there isn’t a sexy guy in the first ten pages or someone doesn’t die, I tend to want more. I kept reading though, because the premise of this book is so unique. A world where souls are bought and sold is such a catchy concept, and Ismael is obviously talented, so I wanted to see where the story would take me.

Ladies and gentleman, this book took me places.

Murder!

tumblr_inline_ns66oiHgvG1qkug0j_500
Obviously, this is a joke. Real people dying is sad!

The first murder scene was completely out of nowhere (in the good sort of way) and really got the story going. Once this book turned on it’s engine, I buckled myself in and enjoyed the ride.

 

 

 

This book was different, not cliche in the least, and I liked that about it. However, there were a few things I missed that are cliche ( after all, things become cliche for a reason!). I didn’t like the lack of romance and the slight dryness of the main character. In many ways I loved reading a book from an anti-BS heroine who was tough, sharp and independent. I just think she needed one more little layer. Soulless took a few chapters to really get started, but that is common in complex books, specifically series. The originality and hilarious puns made up for it. Plus, there were some really quality descriptions.

“Darkness was descending over the east, turning the taller buildings into mammoth sundials, the shadows stretching taunt as the sun made its sleepy climb down the ladder of the western horizon.”

See what I mean? Quality!

The story builds, and by the end I’d read some really interesting scenes that will stick with me.

This book  will appeal to male and female audiences,  something I think the industry needs more of.  That was a big plus for me. I’d give this book 3.75 stars, but  I round, so four stars for Soulless!

I’d recommend this book to reader who like mystery and action. Grab your copy here!

And if you read it, don’t forget to write your own review. Ismael is a break out author, and reviews are the second best way to support them! Buying their book is a close first!