PITCH MADNESS: SORRY EDITION 2015

Don’t forget that tomorrow (February 20th) is PITCH MADNESS hosted by the fabulous contest guru Brenda Drake. This fabulous contest is for writers, of course, and the submission window will be open for 72 hours.

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You need to have a completed and polished manuscript to enter (MG, YA, NA, & A fiction, there won’t be any non-fiction this year). The required elements are a 35 word pitch and the first 250 words of your manuscript. A team of readers will choose 60 top entries for agents to play a game of Sorry to try and win their favorites. The agent round will be March 3-4, 2015. If you want to see the list of participating agents, go here.

As always, good luck and happy writing!

P.D.Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

#PubTalkTV Tonight

If you don’t already know, PubTalkTV is a new place to get questions answered by literary agents. Authors Summer Heacock and Kelsey Macke serve as moderators while they read and ask your questions to the participating agents Monica Odom (Liza Dawson Associates), Jessica Sinsheimer (Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency), and Roseanne Wells (The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency).

PubTalkTV

So how do get in on the action? It’ll be tonight at 8:00PM EST (if they haven’t changed the time) on their website (link above). As for asking questions, form them on twitter using the #PubTalkTV hashtag during the live session and Summer and Kelsey might select yours to ask the agents.

See you there!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

LIBRARIES PAY AUTHORS?

This seems too good to be true. But it’s not, at least, not for the United Kingdom and Ireland! Authors receive money under the PUBLIC LENDING RIGHT (PLR)  (the right for authors to receive payment for the loans of their books by public libraries). Until I read Joanne Phillip’s post on her first check from the PLR, I had no idea this existed.

According to PLR, here is how it works:

Under the PLR system in the UK, payment is made from government funds to authors, illustrators and other contributors whose books are borrowed from public libraries.  Payments are made annually on the basis of loans data collected from a sample of public libraries in the UK … To qualify for payment, applicants must apply to register their books.

Over 22,000 writers, illustrators, photographers, translators and editors who have contributed to books lent out by public libraries in the UK receive PLR payments each year.

And this is how they say data is collected:

For UK PLR, a representative sample of book loans, consisting of all issues from selected public libraries in the UK, is recorded. This is then multiplied in proportion to total library lending to produce for each book an estimate of its total annual loans throughout the country.

This seems pretty amazing, even if the payment is minimal. And I see a bigger picture with this program. It proves your book(s) are being lent to those less fortunate to buy the book themselves. So, how cool is that?

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

#AdPit TWITTER PITCH PARTY TODAY!

I don’t write adult fiction (yet), but want to make sure any readers that do are reminded of the #AdPit Twitter party today. It’s for Adult Fiction, Adult Non-fiction, and New Adult manuscripts only. You must have a 140 character pitch that includes the #AdPit hashtag. And remember, although there are legitimate agents that have committed to dropping by, any one can troll the feed. SO DO YOUR RESEARCH before sending your manuscript or signing any contracts! Heidi Norrod is the event organizer and you can find her at @HRNorrod if you have any questions.

As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

Review (sort of): Suffer the Children by John Saul

Confession: I had never read a John Saul novel until a co-worker named Kendall offered to swap books. He gave me SUFFER THE CHILDREN, which apparently was John’s debut novel as his writerly-self. (He had published approximately ten other books under a pen name of S. Steinberg prior to the 1977 debut.)

Suffer the ChildrenAfter reading the prologue, I almost stopped reading the story completely. It was hard to swallow reading about a young girl being molested and murdered by her father. I seriously wondered what the hell Kendall had given me! I like creepy stuff (ghosts, vampires, weird creatures, and whatnot)but not morbid things like this. Yet, I pushed myself to read. Kendall had listened to me rant about the things I like and the things I write, so I should trust his judgment. Right?

So as I kept reading and learned indeed there was a ghost, and boy was that ghost evil! But I had hope for those that came in contact with the creepy ghoul that possessed another child, but the end of the novel was shattering. (I won’t spoil.) The end was a bit gruesome and I’m more of a suggestive kind of gal than detailed with killings in my writings. And that’s how I prefer to read too.

Now, as a writer, I often hear my peers and beta’s say to stay in the main character’s voice. And this story…oh my gosh! After I had counted ELEVEN point of view’s from different characters, I stopped counting. It made my head hurt. Seriously! But was the story told well? Yes, yes it still was. I kept turning the page to find out what happened next. I had a clear sense of place, as though I was along side the characters. I wanted to shout out and say, “No, don’t listen to her!” John Saul pulled me into his story regardless of my frustrations, and I suppose this is why he is a New York Times Best Seller.

I look forward to reading a more recent John Saul novel to see if his style is the same. And thanks Kendall for sharing your read with me!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

Ren Warom: Author of THE LONELY DARK

If you’re in need of an eerie tale but short on time, Ren Warom‘s THE LONELY DARK will be a perfect fix. This sixty-eight page novella leaves you questioning the darkness surrounding you at night and pulling the blanket over your head. You can follow the story of Ingmar’s journey as a Cerenaut aboard the Irenon where she must cope with isolation and a “danger that cannot be seen, quantified, or understood” here (US) or here (UK).

The Lonely Dark

1) Will you share with us when you first realized writing was your thing?

I’ve written for as long as I could form words. I used to write actual stories when I was a little girl. I wrote quite a few about a character called Jennifer (I think it was) and the Mugwumps, which were these white, fluffy, forest dwelling creatures. My sister mocked it horribly. I learned to read very early and read widely from an early age, so I think that was the real driver behind my interest, not to mention the fact that I was perpetually in my own little dreamworld. But the moment I realised writing was my thing? Gosh. I don’t think there ever was a moment, not a single one. I first loved to read, then to write, then gradually, over the years, writing became breathing. That’s it. If I don’t write, I don’t breathe.

2) Have you had a smooth ride to publishing or a bumpy road? (Us writerly folk love hearing other’s journeys.)

This one’s complicated. I found the publisher for my novella myself. Fox Spirit had already published some stories of mine, and the market I had written the novella for sort of vanished (it’s more complicated than that but I won’t go into it), so when I needed a publisher I thought of them. To my delight they wanted The Lonely Dark and so that was that. Some edits, proofreading and one gorgeous cover later and I have a book baby out. It’s scary but exhilarating!

With regards to trad deals, via my agent, that’s still an ongoing battle. I had a book out on sub (COIL–you might remember it from litopia, as it did the rounds in the Houses) and that generated a lot of interest but no offers, though it got to a couple of seconds reads, which is a living nightmare of hellish waiting. I think that’s all but dead in the water now, but it’s a book I want out there and it’s the first of a trilogy, so if all else fails I will self publish at some point.

I have another book going out on submission rounds soon. Equally hard to define. I’m hoping that, if it doesn’t find a home, keeps editors interested in me. That’s the important thing, keeping yourself and your work on the radar of editors and hoping, eventually, you produce a work they can throw their enthusiasm behind. Editors want to love books, just like agents do, it’s just a case of writing the book they can love or, in my case, finding the editor who loves the weird book you’ve written.

2) Can you tell us about how you found your agent? 

I started looking for an agent in mid-2011. I subbed to about five agents in my first round, collecting a few rejections pretty swiftly. In late November, I happened to be on twitter and noticed that Stacia Decker at Donald Maass, one of the agents on my list but as yet un-subbed to, was closing to subs at the end of that month. So basically I went into a panic and sent off my submission package, which I always personalised because it’s rude not to. Don’t send mass form subs.

Anyway, Stacia requested a partial, then within days of that being sent I received a request for the full. At this point you’re hoping and trying not to hope, but in late Jan 2012 I received an email from Jennifer Udden, also at Donald Maass and more interested in repping sci-fi, who’d been passed my MS and loved it and wanted to talk exclusive revisions. We had a phone-call to discuss said revisions, and came to an understanding about what Jen wanted and what I could do. I then revised over a couple of months and sent the revised MS back. To my utter astonishment Jen was pleased with the revisions and basically offered representation in a phone-call cramped in between her office hours in New York and me needing to rush off out to meet friends for the afternoon. Very, very exciting, surreal, and strange, so much so it took me all evening to tell one of said friends that I’d just got myself an agent, because it really did not feel real. I expect every first step is like that. I know getting The Lonely Dark published felt like that, so I fully expect any luck with the trads to be the same. It’s your dreams, you know? When they come true it’s kinda bonkers.

4) Do you have a creative process/ritual you do on a daily/weekly basis?

No. I sit my bum at my desk or at a desk somewhere, and I write. It’s taken me a long time to just get disciplined about it. It wasn’t that I believed in a muse or any of that, I don’t, but I lacked discipline. Not in the laziness sense but with regards to levels of seriousness–I imagined myself to be way more serious about writing than I in fact was. In truth I was terrified of being serious, even with the fact of representation meaning that I was, perhaps, capable of doing this. It’s that whole don’t try, can’t fail thing. Now I know it’s all about the work, so I do it. Simple as. There’s no trick to it.

5) You open THE LONELY DARK with a paragraph of Ingmar packing, leaving the reader intrigued to know where she is going and why. Do you find the opening of books the most difficult to write, since so much emphasis is put on this paragraph being the “attention grabber”? 

Beginnings are nightmares. I loathe them. Finding my way into a story is always the most painful part. I quite literally agonise over it. I fumble, stumble, write and rewrite and generally get my brain in a right old pretzel over it all. I don’t imagine that part of it will ever become easy for me, because it remains the same whether I plan or not. The only thing changing is the length of time it takes to stumble upon the right beginning for each story. Thankfully that is shrinking. I think I’d go crazy if it weren’t. Needing months to find ingress to a story is taking the Michael just a touch!

6) Your main character, Ingmar, has an unusual and unique talent of “perceiving the remnants of the dead”. (BTW, I love that phrase!) How did you come up with the idea to not have her see actual ghosts?

When I began writing The Lonely Dark I had been inspired by ghost stories set in that region with very real, tangible entities. But when I got to talking of the entities in Ingmar’s life, they came as remnants. It made perfect sense to me to do that, because of how Ingmar would be in the Irenon: there, but invisible. I felt it was perfectly appropriate to have her understand that state and yet fail initially to apply that knowledge to her own state. I like repeating patterns and parallels. It’s basically metaphor 101 to me, an easy way to create depth. They pop up on purpose and by happy accident. I think my brain is wired to look for them and seed them throughout whether I’m paying attention or not. Luckily though, this was one I did purposefully. I don’t think you can take credit for the happy brain accidents.

7) Perhaps everyone at some point in their life has a moment they’re afraid of the dark and then gets over it. But THE LONELY DARK is a story of Ingmar’s decline from embracing the darkness to fearing it. Any personal experiences that you used to twist into Ingmar’s life for this experience, or was this a product of your brilliantly creepy mind?

I’ve always been afraid of the dark. I’ve always felt it had presence. Weight. It’s not a huge step from that to a Lonely Dark, though it was very much more inspired by the picture of the map of the universe side by side with a map of the brain. That got me thinking about space being alive in a very real way. Not in a human way, but entirely aware, capable of abstract thought, of philosophy, and tortured by a longing for company.

8) After Ingmar boards the Irenon, she realizes Cerenaut training didn’t prepare her for the truth that unravels about darkness. And her copilotnaut (yeah, I made that up) shares similar experiences. Did your characters ever battle with you about taking away the good parts of their memories, or if they’d share more than dark occurrences? (Because every writer understands characters sometimes guide the story for the writer.)

I love the made-up word! No, my characters never battled with me about losing their good memories. My characters never argue, finished. They behave exactly as I expect they will, whether they follow the rules or break them unreservedly. That doesn’t mean I drag them along in the wake of the plot, it just means I make sure I’m true to their approach. It’s not always easy, sometimes you have to stop and listen hard, but I have yet to encounter a full-scale character revolt in anything I’ve written. They seem happy to leave the reins in my hands. J

*And that’s it! Thanks for having me on your blog, Pam; I really enjoyed answering your excellent questions!*

RenWarom

Ren’s a writer of weird things, not known for an ability to fit into boxes of any description. Published in various places, including anthologies by the fabulous FoxSpirit and Anachron presses, and THIS IS HOW YOU DIE, from Grand Central publishing. Her dark sci-fi novella THE LONELY DARK is out now on Amazon, both in the UK and the US! Represented by the fabulous Jennifer Udden of Donald Maass Literary Agency, Ren’s looking to invade book shops near you very soon. Find her on twitter, facebook, instagram and youtube, and on the web at http://renwaromsumwelt.wordpress.com.

Thank you Ren Warom! May you continue to write disturbing tales for twisted readers! (Me included.) To go directly to the webpage that has links to all her published stories, go here.

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA

Sun Versus Snow Pitch Contest: #sunvssnow

This is a reminder that Sun versus Snow submission window is Tomorrow, January 26th, 2015 starting at 4pm EST. This contest is hosted by Michelle Hauck and Amy Trueblood. They will only accept the first 200 entries, so don’t delay when the time arrives!

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You can learn about all the fabulous participating agents here. And if you have any questions, you can email the hosts from their blogs or ask them on twitter @michelle4laughs @atrueblood5 and can use the hashtag #sunvssnow.

Update: Winners will be announced February 2nd and the agent round will start February 9th. Mark your calendars.

As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

 

Review: CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge

When a book keeps me up all night, I have to blog about the story. I started reading CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge Friday evening and didn’t go to bed until 6am!

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Of course, I’ve always been a sucker for anything remotely BEAUTY AND THE BEAST with a twist. (Those that have beta read my BEAST know this to be true.) And this story delivers! Now, I’m usually one to stay away from tales that mention a demon. Yunno, cracking the door paranoia sort of thing. But this isn’t that kind of story to fear. No Heaven versus Hell with fallen angels stuff, but more internal good versus evil. The fact that Rosamund created Nyx Triskelion (this story’s Belle) with bitterness in her heart made the character more realistic. Darkness lives inside the Lord of Bargain’s ever changing castle (which reminds me of Hogwarts) and the magical turns will keep you flipping to the next page. And if you’re a fan of Greek mythology, Rosamund perfectly weaves the ancient gods into her eerily twisted tale.

But wait…there’s more! (Mhmm, I said that.)

I couldn’t get enough of Rosamund’s style. So on Saturday, I read her novella GILDED ASHES (CRUEL BEAUTY UNIVERSE BOOK 2). This is sort of a prequel to CRUEL BEAUTY, but only in the sense that it takes place in the same area before the time of Nyx Triskelion and the Lord of Bargain makes a cameo. This is it’s own twisted story based on CINDERELLA. Rosamund keeps true to her flawed characters and betrayal’s that leave you fuming.

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Now, I’m anticipating the release of her next novel CRIMSON BOUND. And you guessed it, another twisted fairytale retelling: LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD. Give me!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

NEW LEAF PITCH PERFECT 2! (TWITTER PITCH)

New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc

If you haven’t seen the tweets on twitter, New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. is hosting a twitter pitch session today starting at 4pm EST! It will end at 5pm EST. So you’ve only got an hour window to get that pitch submitted!

This isn’t like other twitter pitch contests (ex: #Pitmad or #SunvsSnow) where you pitch once every half hour, this is a one time pitch deal. So, polish up that 140 character pitch to fit the hashtag #NLpitchperfect and figure out your local starting time to correspond to the EST zone. You can check out their official post regarding the pitch event here.

As always, good luck! And my apologies for the short blog notice.

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

2015

THE YEAR 2015

Many folk make new year resolutions every year: shed more weight, spend more time with the family, get a better job, buy a house, find a better treatment for an illness, and on and on and on. These are important to all who make them and often are needed for improvements in the quality of their life. But for writer’s, resolutions tend to remain similar: write a manuscript (or write a better manuscript), find awesome critique partners, sign with an agent, get an amazing editor, have a book published (or get another book published), and so forth. But what if last years resolution wasn’t met?

Making the decision to do something and see it to fruition doesn’t always mean that it will occur in the timeframe one may wish. Does this mean a person should give up on that resolution? Of course not. Only ideas that are abandoned will certainly never see the light of day. Maybe the method someone uses works fine and just needs more time. Or maybe the person needs to find a new approach. For example, maybe a pantser decides to outline a plot this year or perhaps a writer reworks a query letter to take a completely different angle. Everyone should find what works best for them, even if it means changing things up a bit. With diligence and creativity, resolutions for 2015 can be accomplished.

Believe!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction