Get Free Query Help at Query Swap

Are you all ready for a blog tour post? Let’s do this thing!

M.L. Keller created this awesome query swapping event coming up. Queries are harder to accomplish than it might seem, and who better to get help from than other writers? An extra pair of eyes can be immensely useful! Here’s everything you need to know:

Query Swap Twitter event

Coming June 1, 2017

Your hook is your selling point. It has to be perfect. But getting good feedback can often be difficult or expensive. That’s why M.L. Keller—The Manuscript Shredder—is organizing the #QuerySwap Twitter party, an all-day event for people seeking critique partners to participate in feedback exchanges on query letters or back cover blurbs. The query swap Twitter party is designed to help writers connect with other writers. And since this is an exchange, both parties will benefit.

Query Swap is happening from 8am-8pm EST on June 1, 2017.

Query Swap isn’t a contest. It’s an opportunity for writers to help other writers. There won’t be mentors, or agents. This is for writers only. Each participant will have the opportunity to find a new critique partner and exchange feedback on queries. Everyone gets feedback. Everyone’s query improves. Everyone wins.

How to participate:

  1. Tweet a brief pitch about your MS with the tag #QuerySwap include genre and age category hashtags. (They might look familiar; they are the same as #Pitmad) No need to tweet multiple times since you can search the feed and look for a match too.
  2. Watch the feed and find someone with an MS in a similar genre, category, and tone
  3. Ask him/her to swap
  4. Exchange queries
  5. Give constructive feedback to your new Critique Partner.

Can I just recycle my #pitmad pitch?

Maybe, but it might need tweaking. In this swap, genre, category, and overall MS tone will be more important than plot in finding a good match. Someone with a snarky sensibility might be less suited to selling your Anne of Green Gables retelling, so make sure you look for a person who writes in a similar style.

example pitches:

#LGBT historic retelling of Frog Prince set in Polynesia also dragons #YA #F #R #QuerySwap

or

Dark portal fantasy with family drama and talking cats #MG #F #DIS #QuerySwap
Obviously, these won’t work for #pitmad, but they convey the necessary information for this event.

Hashtags … (These are the same as #pitmad)

Age Categories:

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

Genres/Sub-genres:

#AA = African American
#AD = Adventure
#CF = Christian Fiction
#CON = Contemporary
#CR = Contemporary Romance
#DIS = Disabilities
#DV = Diversity
#E = Erotica
#ER = Erotic Romance
#ES = Erotica Suspense
#F = Fantasy
#H = Horror
#HA = Humor
#HF = Historical Fiction
#HR = Historical Romance
#INSP = Inspirational
#IRMC = Interracial/Multicultural
#MR = Magical Realism
#M = Mystery
#Mem = Memoir
#LGBT
#LF = Literary Fiction
#NF = Non-fiction
#R = Romance
#P = Paranormal
#PR = Paranormal Romance
#RS = Romantic Suspense
#S = Suspense
#SF = SciFi
#SPF = Speculative Fiction
#T = Thriller
#UF = Urban Fantasy
#W = Westerns
#WF = Woman’s Fiction

Some tips:

  1. Don’t flood the feed with pitches for the same book. Pitching multiple books is ok.
  2. Pitch only books are you are querying.
  3. Don’t just wait for someone to ask you first. Be proactive.
  4. Use the hashtags to simplify your search.
  5. Be polite.
  6. Remember this is a swap. Both parties must give feedback.


Want to help #QuerySwap succeed? Please share via social media or reblog this post.

Questions or concerns, please leave a comment.

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How do we enjoy our writing instead of complain about it?

I actually don’t have a straightforward answer for you.

I’ve been having a hard time lately, I’m not going to lie. I’ve had to Tony Robbins myself into writing or editing (my own work) and it’s just been a damn chore every time. I’ve mentioned this a few times lately in writer chats, but I keep having to remind myself that I love doing this. Now, you might be thinking: If you have to remind yourself, then do you REALLY love it?

I do. I know I do.

I never feel more free and alive and grounded than when I complete my writing or editing for the day. I have focused so much on bettering my writing, and taking everyone else’s advice, that I let it all strip me of my creative voice. It seems hypocritical, but here’s some of my own writing/editing advice for you: ENJOY YOURSELF. We put so much pressure on ourselves that we end up burning out and then we complain, we procrastinate, and we indulge in habits that are the opposite of conducive to our goals.

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I’m reading Big Magic right now when I get a few minutes out of my crazy life. I know, it’s about time. Elizabeth Gilbert mentions that we should be rebels to the craft and that we should start enjoying our writing time. I realized as I read this that I’ve been keeping myself from my writing joy. Even when I’ve accomplished my goals lately, I’ve sunk into a kind of post-writing/editing funk, and if you’ve ever been there, you know it’s hard to come back from. It is difficult for me to stop stressing and enjoy myself. More than ever right now, there’s a pressure to succeed and to start making money with my writing/editing and that constant nagging reminder is robbing me of  this happiness that writing usually brings me.

I’ve noticed that a lot of my writing friends on Twitter have been having a hard time as well, and I can’t help but think they may be experiencing something similar.

I’m experiencing many an epiphany lately about how I can work and how I SHOULD work. At this moment, all I know is that I want to get back to the point where I love what I’m doing and I don’t have to feel like hell for forcing myself into something I know I should be enjoying in the first place. Imagine my shock when I hear from some writers saying they never have an issue with “burnout.” It certainly wasn’t their fault, but it made me feel like something was wrong with me. In pure coincidence I picked up The INFJ Writer by Lauren Sapala and I have been reading this as an offset to Big Magic. Both are incredibly inspiring, but while Big Magic is a bit pushy (and I mean that in a positive way, a lot of us need a good push), I have come to realize that some of us just work differently. AND THAT’S OKAY. It can be endlessly frustrating when seeing how everyone else works, but some of us have to learn that we have limitations and we have to accept that in order find our process.

We need to stop comparing ourselves to other writers when it comes to how much we can manage. I have some people I follow on Twitter who can write a 100k+ novel in four days (I’m looking at you, inhuman Cait), and then there are those like me who are only finishing their very first rough draft (that took months and months of work) only to need to work on something else. How can we expect everyone to work at the same pace? How can we do that to ourselves?

I’m not saying not to hold yourself accountable, but know your limits. Know if you can push your limits, try to know what you need as a creative artist and RESPECT YOURSELF. Writers are hard workers. I don’t care what anyone else says. Writing is hard work and that alone should make you respect yourself. If you’ve ever felt anything like this, I want you to look back at how you’ve worked in the past, fix what you can and forgive what you can’t. Respect yourself, you deserve it. If you can’t quite manage that at this moment, please know that I respect you for your efforts. You have someone in this world that cares.

It’s working for me. I wrote 3000 words in one sitting last night and enjoyed every last minute. We can do this.

 
What do you think? Have you experienced anything like this?

NaNoWrimo 2016 Complaints

So, this has been on my mind since October. Just a few things I want to put out there.

Holidays

I’m pretty sure the creators of NaNoWriMo took at least one super-villain laugh break when they chose November for this occasion. They picked a month with one of the busiest holidays of the season? Would December have been crazier? Absolutely, but I also know a lot of people who like to plan ahead in November. Those people probably lost their damn minds.

There is Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, amongst others. If I’ve missed any big ones, please forgive my ignorance (and educate me!). Anyway, I complained to anyone who would listen about the timing, but when I really thought about it, every month has its issues. Complaining just to complain.

NaNo Snobs

Before NaNo started, I was truly shocked at the amount of vitriol that started popping up. I don’t know if this is the usual, but there were tons of articles about “WHY I DON’T DO NANO” and everyone was being really high and mighty about it. What made me more angry was the people hell bent on talking people out of it. Is it fine if NaNo isn’t your thing? Of course! But the writing community is for encouragement. It’s fine to also give your honest opinion of NaNo, but to tear others out of the experience just because you don’t like it? No. Just stop.

Plotter vs. Pantser

Pantsers are going to shake their heads at me when I say this. I went into NaNoWriMo a Pantser and came out a plotter. UGH. Guys, I love the daydreaming part but the outlining part sucks. I hate it. As much as I loathed the process, it made it so much easier to write! I’m still coming to terms with this, but hey…the point I want to make is, just because it happened to me does not mean it’s the best for someone else. The other thing I saw going around before NaNo started was a bunch of people insisting that pantsers were doomed to fail. Listen to me. THAT IS NOT TRUE. Pantsing definitely works for some people. There are plenty of pantsers who win NaNo, and I know some who do it quite easily. There is not a “one size fits all process.” No. Just stop.

ANYWAY

I loved NaNoWriMo. This was my first time, so I don’t know if the things I mentioned are a regular occurrence or not. Despite all of this, once we all started, everyone was beyond encouraging. Even when I came across writers that weren’t participating, they offered to sprint and help with anything I needed. The writing community is an awesome place. My next post will be about what I loved about NaNo and what I learned from the experience.

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That Was the Year – Cover Reveal

It’s cover reveal day for Jenny Bravo and I couldn’t help but try and promote as much as possible. If you’re in the writing community on social media, it’s likely you’ve come across her at least once. I got lucky enough to join a small group of people to help her out.

These Are the Moments by Jenny Bravo had been on my TBR list for quite a while. You know how it is. As voracious readers, the list of books we want to read is endless and seems to grow by the day—sometimes by the hour if we’re spending the day on Goodreads, AMIRIGHT? There’s always another book. But when I saw there was an opportunity to help Jenny out, I jumped at the chance and decided to push her books up the list.

Back in August when Louisiana was under water, Jenny decided to donate all proceeds from her signed books to families in need. This is the kind of author you should want to support.

Was it crazy to do this so close to starting NaNoWriMo for the first time? Probably. I don’t regret it, though. I devoured TATM in a few short days and found myself absolutely charmed by the story and by Jenny’s writing. Let me be honest with you right now. This is not a genre that I go out of my way to read and when I do, I’m never satisfied with the result. This book changed my mind.

Anyway, today is cover reveal day for the next addition to her series! That Was the Year is all about Reese, which I’m super psyched about. If you don’t love Reese, you’re wrong.

 

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I love how her books have such a simple design but they are still unique and stand out. That Was the Year comes out November 22nd, 2016, so save the date!

You can find Jenny Bravo on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Christmas is just around the corner. Jenny’s books would make the perfect holiday gift.

CampNaNo & Other Writing Challenges

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Oh, hi there. I guess I disappeared off of the face of the planet to dig in and focus on writing. Here are a few of the things that I’ve been up to:

#writechain

If you go to this link, you can check out this awesome challenge. #writechain is a challenge created by Faye Kirwin that has you pick a word count and stick to it every day in hopes of creating a writing habit. I challenged myself to write 200 words every day. Guess what? I failed. Ha! But before I failed, I made it to about twenty-four days straight of writing. I was both very proud and very disappointed.

Honestly? I gave up after that. I was a bit overwhelmed with some personal things and decided it was the wrong time to put that much pressure on myself. Despite that, I think that this challenge helped me tremendously. I connected with other writers doing the same challenge and continued to feel encouraged afterward. I love to see my Twitter friends post that they’re still going strong. I enjoyed it a great deal and you know what? I’m now on day forty-three of writing every day. I call that a win.

Instagram Book Challenge

In June, I specifically looked up any writing or book-related challenges I could find so that I could fill my Instagram with pictures and connect with more people there. I found a nice, simple book challenge that looked like fun. Yes, well, I failed miserably. I think I posted three or four pictures with days missing in-between. I have really warmed up to Instagram, but it’s becoming clear that I don’t have the knack for it that all of these other “bookstagrammers” do. I’ll leave it to them from now on, and continue to post sparsely and chaotically. It’s how I do.

You can find my pathetic little corner of Instagram here if you’re into that sort of thing.

CampNaNoWriMo

For those of you who don’t know, CampNaNo is a challenge leading up to the big NaNoWriMo in November. I picked a 20,000 word count goal for the novel I’ve been writing since the beginning of March. Unlike the other two challenges I took on, this time I won.

I believe that a big reason I made it to my goal is because Camp is developed in a way that gives you accountability partners. I grew up writing with my best friend, and we would write stories almost every day, always harassing each other to update. Camp works in a similar way. There are “cabins” that you can either join randomly or create privately. I shared a cabin with some people I know (Vicki, Amy, Kathy, Michelle, and Sarah) and some people that were complete strangers. In the past, despite always having one person to come to about writing, I was always a bit of a “loner writer.” Camp changed that.

I learned a lot from these people. Seeing everyone’s writing count go up created drive and pride instead of jealousy and resentment. We cheered each other on and helped each other when we were stuck. We shared in an experience that I had previously only seen at its surface value. I felt so empowered when I met my word count and I thought that I would be relieved and want a break–I did NOT! I am OBSESSED with NaNo now. I have fallen in love with this level of writing challenges. I wish NaNo was every month.

By the way, I did end up taking a break anyway. Turns out writing about paranormal stuff every day creates vivid nightmares. So, in the meantime, I’m writing some non-publishable embarrassments as well as stepping out of my comfort zone with poetry and short stories.

Have you participated in any writing challenges lately? What are you working on?

 

5 Minute Prompt

5 Minute Prompt

It’s been a while. Things have been busy and I’ve been attempting to get organized. Here is a little something I wrote when I had writer’s block about three weeks ago. I’m happy to say it helped immensely. I grabbed a prompt off of Pinterest and used it as a five minute prompt.

I am either going out for ice cream, or to commit a heinous crime. I’ll decide in the car.

Because that’s what happens when your trust has been betrayed, right? You either find the most delicious and fattening “food” to eat your feelings with, or you think of the most delectable form of revenge–considering the form of betrayal, of course.

Damage done in the morning tends to come in the form of donuts or proximity object throwing. You would think that upon waking, less damage would be done at this time. Think about it harder. Donuts, scones, pancakes, cream cheese, bacon…pick your poison. Then there are the groggy impulse reactions. Chucking pillows will get you laughed at but just think of the damage you can do if you have a cup of coffee in your hands. The possible burns alone are bad enough, but those large ceramic mugs can do their own damage. Not that I would know. Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it.

Lunchtime opens a lot of options. By now, you can pound down as many carbs as your body can take, as well as dive into dessert options. Sodas and candy burst forth at the buttons. If there is an aversion to food, this can be just as dangerous. Ever piss off someone who hasn’t eaten since breakfast? I don’t care if they went on their bacon-donut binge, by lunchtime, most people start getting a little hangry. Never mind causing turmoil while a person is making their food. Do you want to get stabbed with a frigging fork?

None of these options seem too pleasant, but my advice is to stay away from anything dramatically tragic come later in the evening. When the sun starts going down, all bets are off. Everything will seem serene enough. Why not have a beer or two to calm down? It’s 5 o’clock, so that’s completely acceptable. Even though they’ve messed up, you’re nice and quiet. Only, you’re secretly plotting their demise. The more quiet you are, the more relenting, the more fear should take hold of them. You have from before dinner until dusk to binge on whatever vice you choose, which will most likely only fuel the fire. Then you have the rest of the night to either continue on your path or take more drastic measures.

Not that I’ve ever gone this far. Like I said, pick your poison. Did someone betray you? What will it be? Revenge is a dish best served cold, right? Would you like two scoops or three?

 


 

Do you ever do five minute prompts? Do they help you with your writing? Tell me about it!

Literary Ink

I’m going to be short and sweet with you all today. There’s a lot of exciting things going on personally, so I’m a little pressed for time. More on that soon…

I want to enlist your help today in some advice for my next tattoo. I have six tattoos at the moment, but most of them were done in my late teens and early twenties. I think it’s been over five years since my last tattoo. One day, of course, I want to figure something out related to my children. As for now, I have something a little more specific in mind related to my passion for all things writing.

*Cue unnecessary drumroll*

I want to get an arm sleeve made of all literary quotes. The quotes I love aren’t limited to novels but come from songs and poetry as well. They’re going to be obvious, from shoulder to wrist, and etched into my skin for the rest of my life, so I have to choose carefully!

 

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via Nate Bowes of Affliction Ink

(…this is not me…)

When people get tattoos, it is really interesting that some only get tattoos that have a particular meaning to them. Others just get ones that look the best to them. I don’t think either way is essentially the right way, though I consider my tattoos to be the “deep, meaningful type.”

I guess my problem isn’t coming up with the quotes I want; it’s narrowing them down! How am I supposed to choose between all of the awesome writers and all of the lovely words they created? I have been perusing Pinterest for a while and counting out some of the quotes that everyone seems to have tattooed on them.

This is where you guys come in.

So spill…

Tell me about your tattoos! What are your favorite literary quotes? Who wants to pay for my ink? Haha, just kidding. Kind of.

Love of Stories

Hello again! I am going to level with you all today…I am obsessed with stories.

I often go through phases of binging on different kinds of storytelling. When I was a lot younger, I voraciously went through every book I could get my hands on. When I got a television in my room at 16? I stalked the TV guide for anything even remotely interesting, and I don’t remember much outside of this for a good two weeks. When I had full access to the internet? I found the wonders of fanfiction and angsty poetry. RPG video games have been a newer fixation. I stay away from them as much as possible, though. So addicting!

When none of this satisfied me, I would create my own stories! Haphazardly with absolutely no direction, I would write short stories, fanfiction, scripts, journal posts, character profiles, and on and on…

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via Giphy

When I’m not able to do this–which is most of the time–I stare off into space and daydream about stories. My favorite pastime, to be honest.

Stories Inspire Me

When I get a case of writer’s block, it is never a complete loss for me. Who doesn’t love an excuse to watch way too many episodes of their favorite guilty pleasure? It’s more like a learning experience than a stall point. Sometimes I’m able to push myself and just write through it, but most of the time I have to look for inspiration elsewhere.

My WIP novel is a dark series about two sisters with strange gifts taking on paranormal and supernatural beasts. Even when I’m on a roll, I sometimes need a break because of how heavy the story can get. When there’s a writing rut, and I’m actively looking for a way out, I immerse myself in related stories.

My Favorites

When I’m at a standstill with research, when I can’t find anything ghastly and gross enough on Pinterest: I turn on the television. Sometimes I will grab a book, but I’m trying to get better at finishing the ones I start first! These are examples of stories that tend to play on repeat in this household:

TV Shows: Salem, Supernatural, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Hannibal, Sense8, Constantine

Movies: Constantine, Fallen, Pan’s Labyrinth, 13 Ghosts, Practical Magic

Books: Angel Sanctuary by Kaori Yuki, Stiff by Mary Roach, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Also, all of the 3-star gruesome documentaries!

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via Giphy

Some of these aren’t even in my genre, but some of their themes and characterizations are beautiful. Okay, I know that some of these are horrible, but they do get the plot bunnies hopping!

What Stories Inspire You?

I know that it’s best to get out for some fresh air and new scenery, but admit it…what have you been Netflix binging? What stories get you excited to write again? For those of you who don’t write, what stories have you found to be generally inspiring?

Do you have any suggestions for me? I am always looking for stories related to my genre!

Welcome!

There you are! Where have you been? I was going to start without you…

Who am I?

I am a writer! First and foremost, that is what I am. It is in my blood. I become rudderless without writing. It was what I was meant to do for the rest of my life, even though it took me a good twenty years to realize that. I am also an editor! I just ended my long journey of getting a degree, and I am diving right in! This was not my intended direction in life, but I could not be happier where I ended up. I love my work, and so far, it loves me back. I am blessed.

I’m also a wife and mother. Check out my cute kids!

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I know, I know. They’re the cutest, and you must have one! But they’re not for sale, so…

What will I be writing about?

Anything and everything related to the written word! I promise not to go off on violent tangents, but I don’t wish to narrow my focus too much. Mostly, I plan on creating a dialogue so that you can all chime in on whatever it is I come up with. This isn’t a journal! If I bring up a subject, I want to know how you feel about it as well!

How often will I be posting?

My goal is to write a post once a week every Monday and then post on Tuesday. Why does everyone hate Mondays? I get most of my writing done on Mondays. If everyone chose to write on Mondays, the world would stop complaining about it. What’s that? That’s the start of your work week? Oh. If you don’t see a post from me every week, then you’re allowed to drop by and give me a good talking-to, but I can’t imagine this will be necessary.

What do I have going on?

What don’t I have going on?

Besides this blog, I have started working as an editor. I have been buckling down on my first novel, and I’m still in the dreaded first draft stage of that hot mess. I also have piles of books to review when I get a moment. Whenever I have a bit of time to myself, I am networking on social media, researching for my book, looking up better ways to organize my time and writing, and then sometimes I remember to eat and sleep.

But seriously, I have three high-energy kids that require my attention unless THEY are all asleep. I didn’t always love being this busy, but it has grown on me to the point that I actually enjoy filling up every second of my day.

What do I have to offer?

As you can see from the menu, I am also an editor, and I have book reviewing services!

I am sure that most of my readers will be trickling over from the writing community on Twitter, so please keep me in mind if you need a hand (or proofreading eye? typing finger?) with your work. Tell me about your blog in the comments and I will most likely be a new follower for you! I enjoy leaving other bloggers comments and pointing people in their direction. Anything I can do to help, I will do my best! I would also like to host some spontaneous giveaways in the future. Yay, free stuff!

What would you like to see?

 
Well, what do you all think? Is there anything specific you would like to see me write about? Do you have any questions I haven’t answered? Leave me a comment and I will do my best to incorporate anything you might think of.