Like a Virgin – Heee

virgin_widget14

As usual, I’m behind the eight-ball here.  I entered a contest called “Like a Virgin 2014″ or #LV14 as those cool cats on Twitter are calling it, and they’re hosting a blog hop – getting to know you – cyber shin-dig type deal.  Naturally I totally forgot about this, and checking my Twitter feed before snuggling up with my current read (Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier in case you were wondering) saw the blog hop was live, and I hadn’t even looked at the blog hop questions.  So here are my answers to said questions.  Maybe now you will see through a little window into the enigma that is Lydia Evans.  Or “THE” Lydia Evans as I like to refer to myself – almost never.

Question 1) How do you remember your first kiss?

I was under a large flowering bush in my side yard with one of the boys who lived next door.  I think I must have been around 7.  That’s about all I remember about it too (darn you 7-year old memory!).

Question 2) What was your first favorite love song?

The first love song I can remember was “Every Rose Has A Thorn” (or is it “Every Rose Has it’s Thorn?”  Either way – I was probably singing the wrong lyrics).  I also remember some vague song from the group Nelson (remember them?) that I loved and listened obsessively to back in 1987 or so.  I can’t remember what song we picked as “our song” for my first serious relationship song, but I remember my boyfriend at the time saying we should have gone with Prince’s “I Will Die for You.”

Question 3) What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?

Usually I write at night, and the only consistent thing there is that I always have a beverage.  A glass of wine, or a cup of tea.  I re-read the last thing I wrote and realize it wasn’t total crap after all, then I sit for a bit and think about what happens next, and then I write.

Question 4) Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?
She who shall not be named.  Seriously.  As opposed to most “how I became a writer” stories from people who knew they would be writers from early childhood, I had no desire to be a writer whatsoever until I was about 30 and read a particularly bad paranormal YA book.  I thought to myself, “I can write better than this crap.”  And so I did.  Whether or not it is in fact better than She Who Shall Not be Named’s crap is yet to be seen.  I give it 50/50.

Question 5) Did the final version of your book have the same chapter it started with?

Nope.  Not even close.  My poor prologue is sitting with Baby in the corner.

Question 6) For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

It was the plot.  That was an epiphany moment.  The characters and setting took more time and consideration.

Question 7) What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

Meaningful.

Books have a way of pulling at our hearts.  For me, this usually relates to making me cry.  Hard.  At the end of For Whom the Bell Tolls, I cried for hours. I was devastated.  When Mad Eye Moody died in HP and the Deathly Hallows, I balled like a child.  I pretty much just cried through all of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and I don’t even remember the plot of Message in a Bottle, but I remember how I felt when I read it (translation – I cried).  Sometimes books have a more subtle effect on us.  Characters we think about from time to time, and miss, and wonder how they’re doing now.  Even though completely fictional – they’ve come to life for us.   I hope that someone reads my book and finds it meaningful to them in some small way.  Or at least less crappy than the worst book they ever read.

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Do a Mom a Solid

This is me during our X-mas photo session this past X-mas.  My son was not cooperating, and it was a complete nightmare (even with the sweetest, most understanding photographer).

This is me during our X-mas photo session this past X-mas. My son was not cooperating, and it was a complete nightmare.

 

I’m going to do something different. I’m going to step outside my blog comfort zone, and blog about a subject near and dear to my heart. Motherhood.

I just read this article called, “10 Types of Moms That Suck.” Feel free to read it if you can find it. I’m not going to post a link, because it sucked.  Let me explain.

Being a Mom is hard. Really, really, really hard. And however you choose to parent your kids, if it works for your family, and doesn’t hurt anyone, well that’s fine. So Mom’s stop being so judgmental! Do another Mom a solid, and be supportive.

It’s easy to pick on other Moms.  I get that.  And I’d be lying if I said I’ve never done it myself.  But remember (and I will too) that you don’t know what that person is going through, or what circumstances govern that Mother’s decisions.  So cut her some slack.  I know it’s hard – but try, try, try not to judge.

If you choose to feed your kids all organic food, great! You feed your kids Kraft Mac-n-Cheese? Also great. Whatever. It’s none of my business and it’s no one else’s business either, including random Internet bloggers!  Parenting is hard! And if you choose to breast feed or not, or can fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans 2 weeks after giving birth, or not, it’s okay. There is no bar you have to meet, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for your parenting choices because some blogger out there thinks giving kids kale to eat is unreasonable (seriously lady? Why is that your business? Moms – if you can get your kids to eat kale, you deserve a medal!).

 

Another photo from my colossal photo shoot failure.  Note the screaming 2-year old in the middle of a parent sandwich.

Another photo from my colossal photo shoot failure. Note the screaming 2-year old in the middle of a parent sandwich.  “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CHILD!  WE JUST WANT TO LOVE YOU!  WHY IS THAT SO AWFUL???”

 

The message here is that as Moms we’re all in this together. No matter how you choose to raise your kids, or what you choose to feed them, or how you choose to discipline them, you’re a parent too. How about some solidarity here instead of vindictiveness and jealousy?

And not everyone is judgmental.  I can think of dozens of small acts of kindness I’ve been on the receiving end of since becoming a parent.  The sweet elderly lady who saw my son playing on the floor at a store and gave him a dollar, and that lady at the grocery store who let me ahead of her in the check-out line while my son was having a melt down (thank you kind random strangers who I will never see again, but who made a lasting impression).  Just this morning I was in the elevator with a lady from work who asked how my son was.  I pointed to my fat lip and said, “He’s fine, but he’s bad!  He head-butted me this morning!”

She replied sagely, “That hurts.”

“You’ve had that happen?”

“Every Mom has that happen.”

“So my kid isn’t evil?”

“Naw – they’re all like that.  You have my sympathies.”

See this cute little face???  It is the ONLY reason this boy has made it to 2 years old.  I think that's why God makes little kids so darn cute.  So you don't kill them.

See this cute little face??? It is the ONLY reason this boy has made it to 2 years old. I think that’s why God makes little kids so darn cute.

 

Thank you!  Thank you for understanding and some commiseration.  It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.  So next time you see that Mom in the store with a screaming child – or worse – childREN – give her a smile and a nod.  Let her know you understand that this Momming gig is tough work, and you know where she’s coming from.

The quote, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind,” came to mind while I was writing this.  But I think it needs some editing to fit into this situation.  Something like, “Everyone with a small child is fighting a constant, never-ceasing, uphill battle, so for heaven’s sake, be nice to them.”

For Me

Star Struck

This past Friday was the annual fundraiser for a local radio station, or I should say, “the only station that matters,” WBER.  I love this radio station, and have a long history with it.  My cousin’s husband is the station manager, and they met through my sister who used to guest DJ there.  I did a couple shows with my sister back in the mid-1990′s.  I remember when my cousin and her husband first started dating and he would play Weezer as a love note to her whenever he was on the air and we listened to it, sitting in her crappy red Ford Escort in the parking lot in college (oh nostalgia!).  So, yeah, I love this station, and when they have their annual fundraiser (they’re not a commercial station), I try to drop by, make a donation, and cheer on the DJs who stay on the air until they reach their goal.  This year, my husband and I went to dinner with some friends, and dropped by the station afterwards.  My sister met us at the door and told us that they had already reached their goal for this year (yay!), but we could still donate, and the DJs were staying on the air for another hour.

 

The Only Station That Matters

The Only Station That Matters

 

As she’s bringing me up to speed on the fundraising situation at the speed of light, she points to a random guy and says, “this is my friend Jay, Jay meet my sister Lydia and her husband Mike.”  She also introduced us to a number of other DJs there, and we were promptly swept away by the sea of humanity to the back of the station to make a donation.  As we worked our way back towards the DJ booth about 20 minutes later after having laid down our donation to help the cause, hugged many a body and shook many a hand, I happened across the nondescript “Jay” again, and still flanked by my sister, she quickly caught us up into a conversation with those magic words, “Jay in an author.”

Jay held the wall up with his shoulder and nodded quietly in assent to my sister’s accusation.  I was like, “that’s great!  What did you write?”  He said “I wrote about robots and dinosaurs.”  I thought that was pretty nifty and I asked him a bit more.  He explained that his book started as a serial on Amazon and was later released in novel form.  “Cool, cool,” I said.  Mentally logging away the information in case I could follow in the footsteps of the published author standing before me.  He mentioned something about showing up at his agent’s door with a six-pack and I started firing away.

Me: “Is your agent local?” thinking he was literally thinking of heading over to his agent’s house (clueless me)

Him: “No, he works down in Manhattan.”

Me: “Wow!  And you said his name was what?”

Him: “David Dunton.”

Me: Blank stare

Him: “He’s at Harvey Klinger.”

Me: Lightbulb! Quickly scrabbling to collect my wits and pick this guy’s brain.

“I’ve heard of them.  How did you get your agent?”

Him: “I wrote a piece for NPR and it aired during Memorial Day years ago.  Of course no one listens to NPR on Memorial Day, but he was literally one of three people who heard the piece, and he contacted me.”

Me: “Wow”

My sister, who had stood quietly during this interchange piped up around this point and said, “Yeah Lyd.  This is Jason Sheehan.”

This is a picture of Jason Sheehan.  There's another one of him online that's a glossy author picture of him that he uses for publicity - but honestly I didn't think that looked like him.  This picture is less flattering (sorry Jay), but more realistic.

This is a picture of Jason Sheehan. There’s another one of him online that’s a glossy author picture of him that he uses for publicity – but honestly I didn’t think that looked like him. This picture is less flattering (sorry Jay), but more realistic.

 

And the pieces fell into place.  I had heard of Jason Sheehan.  He went to high school with my brother-in-law and was a professional writer.  He wrote a food column for Philadelphia Magazine and also had published a book about his experience in the food service industry called, Cooking Dirty.  Naturally my sister had told me all this about the food guy, so I hadn’t connected the dots that the guy standing in front of me, who told me about his science fiction book, was the same guy (which science fiction book my sister had never mentioned I might add in defense of my boneheadedness).

 

Jason's first book.

Jason’s first book.

 

Somehow my sister kindly worked in that I was an aspiring writer, and I began pelting the poor guy with questions about agents and advances, and independent publishers, and e-publishing versus traditional publishing, and on and on.  Jay kindly answered all of them.  Then he asked me a bit about my book and I gave him the “elevator pitch” to use his wording.

Somewhere in this conversation he ran for the door.  My sister yelled after him about him running out for a smoke, but followed him anyway to let him back in through the locked station door.  When he came back, he carried a book with him which he handed to me.  I looked at it, a large and imposing tome, and blurted out, like the idiot I am, “Is this for me?”  He said yes, and I quickly followed my idiot question with another, “will you sign it?”  As I fumbled through my bag for a pen, Jason pulled back the corner on his brown leather bomber jacket to reveal a line of pens and sharpies hanging from his pocket.  “You’re prepared,” I remarked.   “Can you tell I’m a journalist?” he responded – which explained it because I was wondering if he just carried around a bunch of sharpies in case fans attacked him.

Somewhat unrelated story – I once spent a weekend in the company of a professional athlete who shall remain nameless.  Said nameless athlete also carried around sharpies because he was constantly beset by people who wanted him to sign random things; t-shirts, hats, toys, random pieces of junk, body parts, etc.  He was the only other person I had ever met who carried around sharpies.

 

This is my copy.  You can tell it's mine because it's sitting on my duvet.  In case you were curious about the pattern of my duvet, you must wonder no longer.  You're welcome.

This is my copy. You can tell it’s mine because it’s sitting on my duvet. In case you were curious about the pattern of my duvet, you must wonder no longer. You’re welcome.

 

Long story long, I had a super informative surprise meeting with Mr. Sheehan for which I am very grateful.  Thanks Jay!  I’m now happily reading my copy of Tales of the Radiation Age, inscribed to me personally.  I admit to authoring said inscription.  Jason graciously added the word “yet” and his John Hancock.

For Me

 

When Entering a Contest Pays Off

This was me last Tuesday (glasses and all)

This was me last Tuesday (glasses and all).

Even though I totally sucked out of ABNA, I decided to take it on the chin, and enter another contest.  This one came at my by surprise, and it wasn’t really a contest, in the traditional sort of way.  It was a “pitch party.”  Let me back up.  This past Tuesday evening I was doing my usual thing.  Had the kiddie in the tub and was checking my Twitter feed to see what was going on.  To my total astonishment, I noticed a lot (a lot, a lot, a lot) of tweets about #PitMad.  I quickly read through some of the tweets (but not the rules, which I actually just found now) and realized it was some type of pitch contest.  While trying to make sure my kid didn’t drown, I quickly slapped together a 140-character pitch and tweeted it.  Then I deleted it.  Then I tweeted it again, this time with the correct hashtag.  Then I checked some of my Twitter friends’ feeds and tried another pitch.  Still having almost no clue what was going on, I grabbed my kid out of the tub and got him all jammied-up for bed.  After he was all tucked in, I checked my Twitter notifications and WHA-LA – my first pitch tweet had been favorited by a small independent publishing house!  World Weaver Press!

 

I’m guessing by Eileen Wiedbrauk, Editor-in-Chief.  Not only did (presumably) Ms. Wiedbrauk favorite my tweet, but she re-tweeted it!  I’m not sure if that means anything, but I took it to be a good sign and promptly went ape-shit.  Yes, ape. shit.  My husband even took a video of my reaction because it was so over the top (think dancing, kung-fu kicks, lots of yelling, jumping up and down, punching the air like Billy Blanks, etc.  I’m positive it was hilarious).

Here’s my pitch:

Looking at it now, I still didn’t use the correct hashtags (even the second time around), but it did the trick!  I’m just going to go ahead and call myself a creative genius!  Still riding the emotional high, I followed the instructions from World Weaver Press:

and sent a query out that night!  Yippee!!!!  I haven’t heard anything back, and I may not, but for me, just getting that favorite/re-tweet was freaking AMAZING!  Having the chance to send an editor materials THAT SHE ASKED FOR is also freaking spectacular!  Someone wants to read what I wrote!  What a novel feeling!!!!

So yeah, that was awesome!  And the Twitter-gods have yet more amazingness coming my way!  I saw two more contests on Twitter to enter.  And I’m gonna go ahead and do it!  The first is Like a Virgin – Pitch Contest.

LikeAVirgin

In a nutshell you email your query and the first 250 words of your manuscript to the contest organizers on April 4th at 6:00 am.  They accept only 50 entries, so it pays to send your email promptly at 6am.  The contest is called “Like a Virgin” and the eligibility guidelines say, “The MS you enter in “Like a Virgin” must NOT have previously been entered in any other contests before March 2014 (we will check)…” and it’s obvious I entered ABNA, so how can I enter?  Well I wondered that myself, so I emailed the contest organizers, Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez and asked.  Since I had been re-tweeting some contest info and Rhiann seemed nice, I wanted to double-check before assuming this contest was not for me.  After a few emails back and forth, the contest organizers decided that “I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t enter.”  So #LV14, here I come!

twitter-main

Maybe all this will come to nothing but more stinging rejection.  Who knows.  But it’s totally worth it.  I can’t explain how crappy I felt after ABNA (oh wait, I can, and I did, sorry friends!) and by contrast, how awesome I felt having World Weaver Press ask for a query.  I guess just when you think you suck and you’ll never get anywhere with your manuscript (okay – this is really about me, so let me rephrase), just as I thought I’d never get anywhere, I got that boost I needed.  At precisely the right time.  I’m going to believe it’s kismet, and I’m destined to be published one way or another.  I really believe Hell High is worth reading, and I know the series has the potential to really mean a lot to people (other than me).  And thankfully it seems whenever I’m ready to throw the towel in, something happens to convince me to keep at it.  Which I am really thankful for.  At least right now.  Ask me again in a month after I get 3 more rejections and I may feel differently!!!

Just-Keep-Swimming

 

Army of 8,000

Stranger

Hi, I’m Lydia and I’m a loser.”
“Hi Lydia.”

I feel like I spent the last week in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award first cut-ee support group! And you know? It’s not a bad group! Seriously! Getting my pitch cut sucks. I’m not gonna lie. It hurts. Especially because I really believe it was a great pitch (a little voice in my head says “everyone thought their pitch was great you LOSER!”).

The upside to losing is the support from the army of 8,000.  In the past week I’ve met a lot of super nice cyber people, all with a kind word to say.  It is definitely the upside of being cut to meet and support, and get support from, fellow ABNA peeps!  Even those that made the cut (and I can honestly say KUDOS to all who made the first cut!.  Just because I got cut, in no way diminishes the happiness I feel for those that made it through!  Reminds me of the lady who stupidly posted an article about how JK Rowling should quit writing so other authors could succeed.  What a freaking moron!  Just because someone else is successful, in no way impacts your chances of success.  Fortunately I’m a somewhat intelligent individual – and I totally get that! – and this is the longest parenthetical ever).   So congrats to all of you who made it through.  Really!

I'm sticking with the Joker theme. Who doesn't love Batman: Arkham Asylum?  Mark Hamill is one seriously cool dude.

I’m sticking with the Joker theme. Who doesn’t love Batman: Arkham Asylum? Mark Hamill is one seriously cool dude.

So what’s next for me you ask? Well I spent a good 24 hours sulking and moping and whining on Twitter and on the ABNA discussion boards (thank you all those who listened to me and tried to pull me out of my funk), and now I’m over it!  I’m going to take my Twitter buddy @ChalanJohnson‘s advice and try a query or two and see how that goes.  I’m also going to take Strange Writer’s advice and submit to a publisher who accepts submissions.  So thank you ladies!

Not quite sure how I started on this homage to the Joker, but no homage to Joker is complete without the Joker of my teens - the Batman Animated Series version.

Not quite sure how I started on this homage to the Joker, but no Joker mashup is complete without the Joker of my teens – the Batman: The Animated Series version (love you Mark Hamill!  Luke Skywalker AND the Joker?  He takes the cake for nerd girl dream boat!).

I’m also going to spend some time on my new book – tentatively called Hell High 2 – Hell Rebel.  Yay me!  I’ve been waiting to write this book for over a year now – and now I can buckle down and start putting the proverbial pen to paper!

The Joker of my youth.  Anyone else remember the Batdance?

As long as I’m at it, I may as well finish up with the Joker of my youth. Anyone else remember the Batdance?

“Leveraging” Your “Platform”

That's right bitches!

That’s right bitches!

I was just reading Fidgity Digits’  blog post about the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (“ABNA” for short), and he said that he would “leverage” a positive review.  To be more specific, Mr. Anderson said:

If I can get a good review, I can leverage it in all sorts of marketing platforms. Posting it on my Amazon and Goodreads book page, using snippets on the cover (perhaps), trying to sell agents (not sure I want one), publishers (same), or marketing platforms like BookBub (definitely would like that opportunity).

I had similar thoughts – but on a much smaller scale for myself if I made it through just the first round.  In my head, I’ve already updated my query letter to include the verbiage, “2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarter-finalist,” which sounds really impressive, but just means I made it through the first cut.  Which I guess is impressive in that you made the cut when 8,000 others didn’t (and let’s be honest here – I’ll most likely be in the boat with the other 7,999 cut-ees).  But whatever.  I still enjoy my moments of deluded grandeur.

I don't know who Don Kardong is, but I will take his advice to heart.

I don’t know who Don Kardong is, but I will take his advice to heart.

Speaking of which – a delusion of grandeur led me here.  To my own blog.  I thought, “one day, when I’m a multimillionaire and they’re making my series of books into movies starring ridiculously good looking actors and actresses and they’re directed by the Wachowskis – I will look back at my humble beginnings preserved for posterity in my blog.  All of my struggles, and all the times that I truly believed that I sucked ass, but I persevered and made it to success written in indelible Internet ink,” yada, yada, yada.

Another motivating factor for this blog – which I freely admit to – is it’s part of my “platform.”  I use quotation marks around “platform” because it’s this super buzz word for authors.  Published and unpublished alike.  I was reading the 2014 Guide to Literary Agents and agent after agent said they looked for a writer to have an established “platform” (think I can stop using quotation marks now?  well ha!  I will keep using them until I feel it is no longer necessary – or just get sick of typing them).

finger quotes

Anyhow – random quotation marks aside – platform (no quotes!  that’s right!  I will keep you guessing) and leveraging go hand in hand.  I hadn’t really thought about it until Fidgity Digits mentioned it – but yeah!  Heck yeah!  That’s part of what makes social networking great.  When things go well for you – for example, you make it through the first round of cuts from ABNA, or you start selling lots of your book on Amazon, you can share it!  You can dress that up in buzzy words like “leveraging my platform” (if that even makes sense – it just sounds dumb to me – but it’s probably because I’m not saying it right), but you’re sharing that good news!  And in turn, it makes you more desirable to publishers and agents and (God willing) readers!  And if you suck out (like I probably will), then you have a community of people there to console you and/or commiserate with you!  So on Tuesday, I will for sure say something of how I fared on one of my “platforms” (they’re back!) which for me is like here and Twitter – but I’ll share my news for better or worse – and by doing so I can chat with others in the same boat as me (for better or worse) and build my “platform.”

This is my kind of platform!

This is my kind of platform!

It’s kind of weird how all of this is very synergistic and awesome.  You can build your platform and leverage to try and promote your book or whatever you’re doing – but you also get a lot out of it.  Support, friendship or t least kinship. knowledge, a laugh or a shared cry, and sometimes limericks from other people in the same boat who can be just as awesome as you are (there was an awesome discussion on the ABNA discussion board on Amazon in limerick form – I kid you not – it was awesome and I cannot for the life of me find it again which stinks b/c I was blown away by the amount of talent in those posts!).   So go people!  Leverage!  Build your platforms!  Because there’s more in it to be gained then just “building your platform.”  You can meet awesome people.  And you can be supportive of other people who are on the same journey you are.

Hurry up and Wait

Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand (album cover art) I wonder if I'm the only person who remembers this song.  But it seems appropriate for this post!

Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand (album cover art). I wonder if I’m the only person who remembers this song?  It seems appropriate for this post to me!

Like the other 9,999 people who entered this year’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, I’m awaiting March 18th with little patience and great anticipation.  I’ve started writing the second book in my series to keep busy.  I’m so excited to FINALLY be writing the second installment in my series!  I made an outline to get started, and flipped back through my notes to see what other ideas I had for the second novel before I started.  To my delight, I found an outline I had made a few years ago for the same book.  Comparing the two, they were almost identical.  Looks like I’ve been ready to write this book for a while, and my vision for it hasn’t changed much in the intervening years since I finished Hell High! 

I also sent a copy of the version of Hell High that I submitted to Amazon to a friend of mine to read.  Guess you would call him a “beta reader.”  I’m very excited for his feedback!  I have another copy I have to get out to another beta reader as well (I need to put that on my “to-do” list before I forget actually….).

I’ve also been frequenting the Amazon Breakthrough Novel discussion boards to commiserate with my fellow contestants.  Lots of interesting, witty and humorous people over there! 

I’m not going to lie.  Having the contest close was a great relief!  Now I can just work on my next novel and relax.

And the winner is…not you

Even Harley thinks I suck.

Even Harley thinks I suck.

Even though I’m reticent to bring up my recent failures, in the interests of full disclosure, and the purpose of this blog, I feel it necessary.   So I’m going to try this band-aid style.  I’m going to hold my breath and type this as quickly as possible.

Back in November of 2013 I entered a contest that judged entries based on the first 250 words of a manuscript.  Over three months later, I found out that I lost.  Big shock right?  No, of course not, I am the WRITER’S WRONG after all.  But I won’t lie. Anytime you enter a competition, even if the chances of winning are infinitesimal and unreachable, you still hope with a tiny illogical part of your brain that you’ll win.  So while losing wasn’t a shock, it did stink.  And to be honest, not only did I lose, but I wasn’t one of the 4 finalists either.  So super loser here.

I have no idea where this picture came from, but it's freaking awesome.

This should be Publisher Clearinghouse’s new motto.

The upshot was I had everything timed so that if I did lose the 2013 YA Discovery Contest, I would be ready to enter the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest.  Either way – I would need to complete both a pitch and my manuscript by February 22nd, so I went to work.  I finished my edits, re-writes, and my pitch, and as planned, upon finding out I lost the 2013 YA Discovery Contest, I entered Amazon’s contest.

The point of all this rambling is this: I’m glad I hedged my bet.  The disappointment felt by losing the 2013 YA Discovery Contest was mitigated by the excitement I had for entering Amazon’s contest.  I may lose that too, but it made me feel better to enter, and naturally that’s all that matters!

Pitch Imperfect

This picture looks complicated, but I'm pretty sure my book pitch is more complicated!

This diagram looks complicated, but I’m pretty sure my book pitch is more complicated!

I have officially entered the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.  Yeah me!  The first round of judging is based solely on the pitch.  Without further ado – here’s mine:

It’s 1943 and nineteen year old Genevieve Jones parachutes into Nazi Germany under cover of night.  Her mission to infiltrate the Third Reich is cut short when she is murdered by none other than Hitler’s mistress Eva Braun.  Her soul on the short list for extermination, Genevieve agrees to earn her salvation by recruiting and training soldiers for the Army of Heaven to fight in the Battle of Armageddon.  Given unlimited funds and perpetual youth, Genevieve has been scouring the Earth for potential soldiers since her death.  Seventy years on the job have left Genevieve burned out and emotionally dead – that is, until she begins to train her newest recruit, Gabriel Reid.

Gabriel Reid’s senior year at Avery High is cracking up to be a good one.  He has a spot on the championship swim team, and he’s dating the most attractive girl in school, Genevieve Jones.

When Genevieve reveals her intentions to recruit Gabe for Heaven’s army, he’s confronted with the reality that he’s not a typical high school senior bound for college, but destined to lead an army in a war that will end the world as he knows it.

While Genevieve helps Gabe adapt to his changing reality, Gabe breathes new life onto the dying embers of Genevieve’s humanity, sparking a love she never dreamt possible. When she learns that a deadly rival recruiter for Hell’s army is after Gabe to either poach him or eliminate him if he refuses, Genevieve must try to save his life and the love she never thought possible.

As all is revealed to Gabe, he is compelled to question not only Genevieve’s motives, but the sanctity of the Bible itself and the purpose of his existence.

To come up with this pitch, I took an old version of my query letter and incorporated some new information that answered the questions Chuck Sambuchino raised when he edited my query letter – plus a dash of some wording from a book blob on Amazon, and wha-la!  My pitch.  Or at least my pitch for now.  I have until the earlier of March 2nd or 10,000 entries to edit it – which I just might!  Feel free to let me know what you think of it!  I’m open to suggestions!!!

Naturally I hope it’s good enough to make the first cut.  That’s my goal for this contest – to just make the first cut.  If I can do that, then I’ll consider it a victory.  After all, they take approximately 10,000 entries and narrow it down to 2,000.  That means conceivably 8,000 will be cut (that is if 10,000 enter).  So I’m happy with that if I make it!

If I don't make the first cut, I'm buying this hoodie for myself and I'll wear it in the basement while I write.  There's some motivation fer ya!

If I don’t make the first cut, I’m buying this hoodie for myself and I’ll wear it in the basement while I write. There’s some motivation fer ya!

Amazon says that

your Pitch should highlight your concept, protagonist, setting, and writing style—all the elements that make your story unique

I really feel like I’ve done that – but who knows if anyone other than me will agree!  I’ve sent my pitch off to be critiqued by some beta readers (which is a snazzy way of saying my husband and sister), and hope to get some feedback there.  I have the option of posting it on Amazon’s comment boards where thousands of others (at least it looks like thousands from the 6,097 comments so far) have posted their pitches for critique – but from what I’ve seen there, I’m not convinced that is actually going to help me to post mine there.  I will say I think it IS helpful to see what others are submitting for their pitch.  If you’re interested, take a look here.

But I’m glad just to have entered.  I spent a lot of time finishing my manuscript so it’d be done in time (thank you Hubby for understanding all the time spent in the basement), and I feel I’ve accomplished my goal.  I was watching some tv show about a shark hunting contest (I’m sure that’s not the technical term for it – but you get my drift), and this guy won with a small shark that was only 18 lbs over the minimum.  The reason he won with such a small catch was because he was the only one to bring a catch in to be weighed.  He said, “you gotta be in it, to win it.”  I like that advice, so even if my pitch is imperfect, I’m glad I’m in it for a chance to win it!

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First Page Friday #20: YA

Originally posted on Ellen Brock:

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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I hope everyone is having a fantastic Valentine’s Day!

If you haven’t noticed, I made some changes to my website (I hope for the better!). Check out my new Help Desk to get all your writing and editing questions answered. Don’t see a question on the list? Let me know and I’ll try to add it soon!

Also, check out my new video: How to Write a Great Antagonist.

About First Page Friday

First Page Friday is a blog series where I provide a free edit and critique of the first 500 words of an unpublished novel. Read the excerpt without my notes first and leave your vote in the poll. Afterward, feel free to leave a comment for the author. Feedback is always helpful!

YA First 500 – Lydia Evans

The bright yellow buoy beeped and a red light pierced the darkness of the ocean.  Alone…

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