#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.

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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.

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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,

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Guilt

Tighten your lips
Tighten your belt

Tighten your stitches-

But don’t bleed.

 

Beg for your wants

Beg for your hopes

Beg on your knees-

But don’t need.

 

Heighten your goals

Heighten your dreams

Heighten your ambitions-

but don’t fall.

 

So we sew,

And we staple,

And we burn when we’re able,

And it cauterizes into scars we are sure no one can see.

 

One more layer,

A lying smile,

A lying laugh to hide a thought

That hides the track lines from a past we never get to leave.

 

But we all have them

Running up our arms,

Buried beneath skin,

Under sleeves of lovely silk.

 

The Winners have their losses.

The Triumphs have their falls.

The Saviors have their sacrifice

The Survivors have their guilt.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

House of Kings

Come to me, you beautiful book!

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The House of Kings cover nails the series vibe with the sultry, mysterious vamp king and the strong, beautiful Alivia dominating the front.

I hate spoilers, so I’ll just give a little overview of the excitement level in this book. There’s death, Kings and lost love. Lies and speculation snowball into heartbreaking danger and threats.  Old flames die off, then disappear, then come back, and new flames shine … brighter? There’s love, lust, temptation, and did I mention the heat in this book is smoking?

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But House of Kings is also full of sticky, bitter, complicated angst. Alivia’s heart is shattered into a hundred little pieces, which gives her a few scars. she finally wakes up as her new self, which awakens parts that are vicious and flawed. It was hard to see Alivia struggle, but I also think it was necessary.  Characters need flaws in order to create depth and show growth. I think Alivia is going to be redeemed in the next book, along with another key character that might of made some mistakes too…

But no spoilers!

King Cyrus is such an interesting character. I love the dark guys. Raheem is sexy walking, and Ian is, well, he’s Ian.

I do want to warn you. Keary likes to cut a story off at a high stake point. She wants to guarantee her readers come back, and she is a pro at carrying out her mission. As much as I loved the book and the ending, the suspense is not fun. The ending is a sharp drop off a helluva tormenting cliffhanger.

So, I’m ready for the next book. When is the release date?

Does anyone know?

I need to know!

4.5 stars for Keary Taylor’s House of Kings! As much as I loved this book, I think some of the supporting cast could be fleshed out a little more. I received an ARC from the Author, and I am so happy I didn’t have to wait as long to read this book!

But now I need to wait longer to read the next one. I see a downside there, but I’m not complaining!

Grab your copy of House of Kings here!

 

Poetry and Lyrics, Loot


 

 

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If I was a little bit younger I’d know what to say.

Because children don’t know what they’re risking, they don’t know what’s brave.

They’ve never felt the blade, so they don’t know the knife.

But you taught me quick what a cut was. You taught me to hide.

 

I can’t believe I am letting this happen again.

You opened up hell’s doorway and I walked right in.

I’d like to say I was innocent, but that’s not the truth.

I knew exactly what I wanted, and I wanted you.

 

So why am I shocked to be standing here, covered in cuts?

Promises from your dirty mouth never really meant much.

Honestly, I wanted proof I could steal your loot back.

That innocent girl’s shiny heart  with no chips and no cracks.

 

This time, as  I watch you go, I don’t hit my knees.

I don’t beg to the sky. I stand up, and  I turn to leave.

Maybe I’ll never get back those young, innocent eyes,

But I’d rather be scarred as I am, than a child who’s blind.

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Copyright 2014 Jessica Kelley