“Unspeakable” Confessions of a #Pitchwars Mentee

It’s finally happened. My amazing mentor Kelly Siskind has handed in my submission for the agent round of Pitchwars. After 55 days of multiple emails, instant messages, and two intense revisions, UNSPEAKABLE has come through on the other side of #Pitchwars, 5,000 words lighter, several scenes and chapters added and axed, and ultimately sexier as WITHOUT A WORD. Above all, it’s emerged a better book.

Regardless of what happens during the agent round, I am so extremely grateful for the #Pitchwars Mentee experience, and honestly it is impossible to quantify everything I have come away with (aside from Without a Word in its current form). Kelly’s guidance was beyond insightful and amazing. But here are the salient “take-aways” for me at the moment:

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  1. I’ve gained community.

Prior to entering #Pitchwars I had a few friends in the writing community in Calgary, but none in the same genre as me. Online, I had found one very knowledgeable critique partner, Kelly DeVos, whom I met through a Michelle4Laughs Query Blog Hop last year, and another in the most recent one. But you need a village in this industry, and I found it through Pitchwars.

Pitchwars has allowed me to connect with writers in the UK, US, Canada, and weirdly, TWO who live on my street. That’s correct, two other Pitchwars Mentees who were selected this year, LIVE ON MY STREET! As far as I know they are also the only two other Calgarians selected in Pitchwars, and we are 3 of 6 Canadians selected overall (as far as I’m aware). So, even if you suck at math, you probably grasping that half of the Canadians in Pitchwars live on the same street. (So, don’t roll your eyes next time someone asks you if you know another Canadian—crazy sh!% happens.) If that isn’t strange enough, we all submitted to several of the same mentors, and write the same genre.

But I digress. I’ve come away with friends, critique partners (many in my genre now, which I was lacking before), and hopefully a community of writers that will hopefully be able to continue to offer support to each other on our respective writing journeys for years to come.

As I write this, I received a notification from the Pitchwars Mentee Facebook page. Ashley Martin posted this, and I think she captures the experience perfectly:

Can I just say how incredible this group is? We come from all different walks of life, we live in different places (around the globe!), we’re all in different stages of our lives and writing careers. But we have this amazing connection: We all WROTE A BOOK. So many stories, with unique voices…funny, sad, romantic, courageous, broken, searching…
It’s seriously beautiful, you guys. And I’m so thankful I get to be part of it.

2. I have a new understanding of commas. 

Prior to this, I thought I understood the humble comma. But alas, I had much to learn. Overuse, underuse, misuse, before conjunctions, after them…bah! Mary Ann Marlow has a great post on the subject here.

3. You need to let go of your darlings.

Writers often quote this line from Stephen King’s On Writing for good reason. When you spend months imagining a pivotal scene and pivotal line, and write thousands of words in anticipation that everything you put your characters through will lead them to that moment, to that line, until you finally get to write it. It comes out better than you imagined, and you sit back in your chair and heave a sigh of satisfaction.

But then your mentor says, “Cut it”. You may say, “What?! But that line is amazeballs. It’s my favourite line in the book.”

Your mentor reminds you about character arc, etc. You have to reflect on your book as a whole. Kelly Siskind helped me see the forest beyond my pretty little trees, and some of those suckers had to be ground down to sawdust.

Sigh. Maybe I can find another project to use it in.

3. Sex is Good Great, don’t pass it up.

200-13I left a lot of the sexy moments to the readers’ imaginations in my previous version of UNSPEAKABLE/WITHOUT A WORD. Kelly reminded me to think about what the reader really wants, and how sex develops relationships. It’s undeniable. So I may have popped my sex scene cherry in rewrites. And I liked it.

These acts are (sometimes) UNSPEAKABLE at grandma’s dinner table. *winks at Kelly Siskind* ( See, Unspeakably sexy…) But as one fellow mentee said, “You have to write like your momma’s not going to read it.”

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Sometimes sex is “unspeakable” at grandma’s dinner table, but not if you’re Brighton Walsh

Kelly Siskind was beyond amazing as a mentor. I have taken away the above things and so much more. I am forever changed as a writer. I had said in our interview with Brenda Drake that that was what I was most excited for—that which I could take with me forever. And I got that in spades. An absolutely invaluable experience. So thank you to Brenda Drake, Kelly Siskind, and to the many fellow Pitchwars Mentees. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.

Top 5 Reasons My #Pitchwars Mentor is the Best Mentor For Me


I had writer’s remorse when I read the amazing interviews with fellow Pitchwars mentees and their mentors on Brenda Drake‘s blog. When asked about what they are looking forward to the most, many of them gushed about their mentors.

Me? I answered that one like I was doing a job interview. I still stand by my answer, but feel sad that people may not know how amazing my mentor, Kelly Siskind, is. But then I thought, Ha! I can tell the world! (or at least my blog followers).

So here it is, my Top 5 Reasons Kelly Siskind is the Right Mentor for Me (and amazeballs):

5. I got a Peen Tiara just for being her mentee. It keeps you warmer at night than diamonds.

4. She loves my main male character (MC) as much as I do. She makes comments like, “he tears my heart out. Shreds it.” She’s even virtually licked his face (and he liked it).

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Can you see her saliva?

3. We speak the same language, and I’m not talking about French. We use and understand words and terms like, “lurve”, “that’s what she said”, “amazeballs”, and when we hear the word “open”, our first thought is not about a door.

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2. She gets my manuscript. Like really gets it. She shares the same vision I have for my story, but my glasses are blurry and hers are so clean, you could light a fire with them. Her recommendations all make sense and I already can see how much better Unspeakable will be.

1.When I told her a critique partner thought my MC was too hot, her response was, “FUCK THAT NOISE UP THE ASS.” Sigh. She gets me. She really gets me.

 

Big News!

This was in a recent email I opened. And it was the best, most exciting email I have received in a very long time.

Oh, yeah. This is going to be good.
Oh, yeah. This is going to be good.

Now, now, friends and blog followers. Before you go asking, “Did you get a book deal, JR?!” I want you to remember what I said about how these things don’t happen overnight. Before you can get the elusive book deal, several things need to happen:

(1) Write your novel (√)

(2) Revise and rewrite large parts of your novel (√)

(3) Edit (√)

(4) Repeat step 3 several times (√√√ etc.)

(5) Get feedback from beta readers and/or critique partners √

(5) Repeat steps 2 and 3.√

(6) Hire an editor. √ This is a step that is specific to me. I hired an editor because, despite the positive feedback I was receiving, I still felt that the manuscript could be better. I had concerns about pacing, character and story arc, etc. I needed someone in the writing and editing field to help me with it.

(7) Several rounds of edits later, the manuscript is deemed ready to query.

(8) Write query and repeat steps, 1 through 4. √

(9) Query agents. √

(10) Offer of representation. X

(11) Agent requests edits. X

(12) Repeat step 2.

(13) Agent submits proposal to publishers.X

(14) Book deal?

Are you picking up what I’m throwing down? I won’t be announcing a book deal anytime soon. Now that we have our expectations in line, I’m hoping that you’ll be excited to hear my news!

In a recent post I talked about how I  went into step 9, and after some feedback from some lovely agents, I’m back to step 2: Revise and rewrite.

Back to the Drawing Board

I need help with this manuscript to make it better. And I’ve been searching for    someone in the industry who knows the genre and understands what I’m trying to accomplish with Unspeakable.

Enter: #Pitchwars!

Pitchwars

What is #Pitchwars?

It’s an online contest where published or agented authors (or editors) pick one lucky writer to mentor. (The writer’s who enter can submit to five of the potential mentors). If selected, Mentors help the writer (Mentee) edit and polish their manuscript until it shines like Justin Beiber’s hair under the California sun. At the end of two months (yup, two months!) of mentoring and editing etc. there’s an agent round where several amazeballs agents can see the writer’s pitch and first chapter and possibly request further material – basically, this is an opportunity to get beyond the slush pile.

This contest is brilliant and amazing for so many reasons! If selected, you can end up working with a writer you respect and admire. A person who knows the industry and truly understands what editors, agents and readers want. It’s a swoon worthy opportunity.

Elmo Faints

Sadly, there were only 100 125 spots and about 1600 entries. So, basically 96% of the entries won’t get the opportunity to be mentored. But on the plus side, many of the mentors gave detailed feedback to several of the writers who submitted to them. And guess what?!?!

I got some great, detailed feedback.

Like really, really detailed. Like, go over my manuscript with the most insightful fine tooth comb feedback.

Because I was selected as a MENTEE!!!

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Yes, Kelly, I used two of your GIFs, because you are THAT good.

The AMAZING fellow Canuck, super hilarious and talented, Kelly Siskind is my PITCHWARS MENTOR (and yes, I am shouting).

Because this is a HUGE, GINORMOUS opportunity. I NEED this. I finally found the right person to steer my manuscript in the right direction, and better than that, I know I will learn so much about the craft of writing as a whole. I am beyond elated. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready!

SO, huge shout out and thanks to Brenda Drake who created Pitchwars, and to Kelly Siskind for selecting me. I hope I won’t disappoint.

Now, back to figuring out what a Beat Sheet is.

From Idea to Publication: An Interview with Author Amy E. Reichert

I have three things that I really love (other than family, of course):

  1. Books–reading them and, of course, writing them. I love a story that transports me to another world and takes me on a journey that invokes emotion. Which takes me to #2.
  2. I love Love. I love feeling it, and the journey of finding it. Since I’ve already found the love my life, I enjoy experiencing that journey through books (see #1) or movies. Basically, I’m a sucker for a good love story.
  3. I’m a huge foodie. Being French Canadian, food is a huge part of our culture. Many of my happy childhood memories revolve around the sharing of stories and music at the dinner table (except on liver and onions night, sorry mom!). My favourite date night with my husband is sitting down to a nice slow meal, savouring each bite, pairing it with wine and revelling in the enhancement and compliment of flavours–the sensations on my tongue, the salty, the sweet, etc. Food is not just fuel, it’s an experience. Food is love.

So, when I came across the beautiful cover reveal for Amy Reichert’s novel, The Coincidence of the Coconut Cake on Brenda Drake’s blog, with its blend of my three favourite things, I knew I had to read it.

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Check out this cover! It just makes you want to devour this book!

Once I delved in, I had so many questions I wanted to ask Amy. So, I approached her for an interview for my blog, and she was gracious enough to agree. This is a really busy time for Amy, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake was released on July 21, 2015, so I want to thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. Her journey is an inspiration to writers like myself, who are in the querying (and editing, querying…) trenches.

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The lovely Amy E. Reichert
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  1. Amy, tell us about yourself.

I earned my MA in Literature from Marquette University, and honed my writing and editing skills as a technical writer (which is exactly as exciting as it sounds). As a newly minted member of the local library board, I love helping readers find new books to love. I’m a life-long Wisconsin resident with (allegedly) a very noticeable accent, a patient husband, and two too-smart-for-their-own-good kids. When time allows, I love to read, collect more cookbooks than I could possibly use, and test the limits of my DVR.

  1. What inspired you to write The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (C3)? Is it the first novel you’ve written?

I had been staying home with the kiddos, and my youngest was about to start school. With the realization that I needed to find something to do with my time and a strong revulsion at seeing the inside of a cubicle again, I brainstormed possibilities. At the time, I spent a lot of time in the Harry Potter fandom and folks were starting to chat about NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I had always told myself stories but never written, so I thought I’d try writing them down. That year, I only wrote about 9000 words during Nano before life interrupted, but I’d been infected by the writing bug. It took me another 8 months to finish that first draft.

  1. From idea to completion, how long did it take you to complete the manuscript? Did you workshop or take classes? Did you use an editor or critique partners to help you get your manuscript query ready?

1782 days from the day I opened my first word document to publication. I never workshopped or took classes, but I did read a lot on how to write a book. I also read my Writer’s Digest magazines cover-to-cover. They are full of great techniques. I did have CPs (critique partners) that gave great advice too. I didn’t hire an editor because my CPs were so great.

  1. There seems to be a subgenre of women’s fiction with food themes, (such as The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich and Stacey Ballis’s books. Would you consider C3 part of the culinary romance genre? Do you feel that there is a growing demand for this genre?

Interesting question. I never really think of my book in that specific of a genre. But if that’s a place where a reader might discover my book, I’m all for it. Genres are really more a tool for readers, which is why books are listed across several genres on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. From my end of the process, I’m writing light, commercial fiction with some romance (if you want to be extra specific). J As for the growing demand for culinary romance, I can’t speak to any industry trends. I will say that readers have been very positive about all the food in my book – so there is definitely a market for it.

  1. Under what genre did you query C3?

I queried it under Women’s Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Since the book could have gone either way, I tried to query it that way.

  1. Can you talk about your query process with C3? How many agents or editors did you query? Tell us about your journey from querying to “The Call”.

I queried 88 agents over the course of 14 months. Over that time I would send out a batch, get feedback, then revise. This resulted in 3-4 major overhauls of my book during the querying process. Had I not taken the time to revise, I would have never gotten an agent with that first version. Once I had that last version, I queried my agent the traditional way, she requested the full one month later, and a few weeks after that I got the call. For the entire story, plus gifs, here’s my post on it. 

  1. What advice would you give writers who are in the query process?

Be patient, be persistent, but realize if it’s not working, that’s a sign something isn’t working. It might be your query letter, it might be your manuscript. If you aren’t getting requests, then start working on your query letter. If you’re getting requests, but no offers, then it’s your manuscript. Writing is one of those skills where you never stop learning and improving.

  1. Tell us about The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is available for purchase on Kobo and Amazon as well as several other retailers.

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Connect with Amy:

Website: http://amyereichert.com/

Writing Goals

I know that my blog posts have been sporadic these days. With the wind up at school and my increased case load at work, it left little time for other things.

Well, now I’m on summer vacation. Which, for me, means precious quality time with my kids at the pool and at the lake. By the time their in bed, it’s dishes, laundry, etc. But after that – it’s writing time (and well, because of that, I’ll be honest the laundry isn’t always done, nor the house the tidiest).

My vacation
My summer vacation – that place from which I am writing (sort of)

I have a goal. To finish my first draft by the end of the summer. On average, I’ve been accomplishing about 500 words per night. Now, a typical novel is over 80, 000 words. At that rate, I’ll have my first draft done in 160 days or approximately 4 months. Currently, I’m at Chapter 4 on my WIP – around 7,500 words. So, we’ll say 72,000 to go. I’m 10% of the way there. At this rate, my goal may seem unobtainable. But my husband will be coming to join us next week — I’m hoping that will mean I’ll be able to have some more time to myself during the day when I’m not so tired and drained and be able to produce more quality and quantity in my writing (are you taking the not so subtle internet hint dear?)

So, wish me luck. I may post some teasers over the summer – but I’ll definitely keep you posted on my writing progress. I’m really excited about the premise for this story and can’t wait to share it!

An Interview with author (and fellow Calgarian!) Melanie Stanford

I know. I know. There’s been a bit of a lag in posting. I apologize. I truly do. My work/life balance has been horribly off kilter as of late and I’m struggling to rectify it. At work it’s “please talk, hmmm, for me?”, while at home it’s “please, stop talking!”. At the end of the day, when the silence finally comes, a face plant into the couch quickly follows.

Stolen moments have been found to continue querying. I know many of you are curious as to where I am in the process, but I want to maintain some professionalism and won’t reveal anything until I have an announcement to make. So please, be patient, it may be a while. (And thank you for your support and cheerleading!!)

Recently, I came across a tweet from Laura Brown regarding a cover reveal for a New Adult Romance, “Sway”. I clicked on the link and did a little happy dance when I read that the author, Melanie Stanford, was a fellow Calgarian! Someone from my home town, writing in the same genre as me, got a book deal! I wanted to know more! So, I requested an interview — and she was gracious enough to oblige.

Melanie Stanford

First, a little bit about Melanie:

Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives outside Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband, four kids, and ridiculous amounts of snow.

Melanie, what inspired you to write SWAY? Is it the first novel you’ve written?

SWAY was the second novel I finished. I’d previously written a YA time-travel book plus part of its sequel. SWAY is a modern-day retelling of PERSUASION by Jane Austen. The first time I read it, it really spoke to me more than her other novels (I love them too, though). I really identified with what Anne goes through and felt her pain. But it wasn’t until I was watching the 2007 ITV movie version of it (starring the swoontastic Rupert Penry-Jones) that I really thought it would make a great modern story.

From idea to completion, how long did it take you? Did you workshop or take classes? Did you use an editor or critique partners to help you get your manuscript query ready?

The first draft took me about three months. I revised a few times and had 3 excellent critique partners and 5 beta readers who whipped it into shape. They really helped it go from blah to beautiful.

Can you talk about your query process with SWAY? How many agents or editors did you query? Was it an easy process for you, or challenging?

Querying is always challenging. I’d already shelved my first MS, which was heart-wrenching, so to start all over again wasn’t fun, and it was especially difficult because SWAY didn’t get the attention that my first had gotten- both with agents and contests. I sent 33 queries (three from Twitter pitch requests) and ended up with three full requests, one I never did hear back on. I decided to shelve it and work on book number four. I spent the next year going back and forth on whether I should query SWAY to small publishers or not. For multiple reasons, I finally decided it was a good move for me and for this book to give it a try, so I sent it to seven small romance publishers. I received two no’s, two I never heard from, and three offers! (That still shocks me.)

As Canadians, do you think it makes a difference in our options for publication or representation?

I don’t think it does, no. The only thing I’ve come across while researching small publishers is that there’s less opportunity of getting my book into the local Chapters/Indigo. Small pubs in general don’t do much distribution to brick and mortar stores (depending on the publisher, of course), but there are very few that distribute through Chapters/Indigo.

What advice would you give writers who are in the query process?

Since I’m still here with you (I’m currently querying a YA UF, with a YA mystery waiting in the wings), all I have to say is DON’T QUIT. I know you hear it all the time, but all us writers need to be reminded of it on those days when it feels too hopeless to write a hundred more words, or revise one more chapter, or send out one more query.

Tell us about SWAY.

Sway by Melanie Stanford

Ava Elliot never thought she’d become a couch surfer. But with a freshly minted—and worthless—degree from Julliard, and her dad squandering the family fortune, what choice does she have?

Living with her old high school friends, though, has its own drawbacks. Especially when her ex-fiancé Eric Wentworth drops back into her life. Eight years ago, she was too young, too scared of being poor, and too scared of her dad’s disapproval. Dumping him was a big mistake.

In the most ironic of role reversals, Eric is rolling in musical success, and Ava’s starting at the bottom to build her career. Worse, every song Eric sings is an arrow aimed straight for her regrets.

One encounter, one song too many, and Ava can’t go on like this. It’s time to tell Eric the truth, and make a choice. Finally let go of the past, or risk her heart for a second chance with her first love. If he can forgive her…and she can forgive herself.

Thanks for having me!!! 😀

Sway is due out this winter and I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads bookshelf https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25701546-sway

You can find Melanie on:
Her website: http://melaniestanfordbooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelMStanford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelanieStanfordauthor

Her publisher is: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/

Author Interview – Mary Kubica – “The Good Girl”

Okay. So many of you have wondered about the querying process. I started querying a few short weeks ago, and already I’ve had some people ask, “J.R., do you have a book deal yet?”

“Um. No.”

For some, from query to publication can take years.

I came across this interview with Mary Kubica. She’s the author of the best seller, “The Good Girl”. I think her story really illustrates how long the process can be (never mind frustrating and discouraging).

“The Good Girl” almost didn’t make it to publication. Today, it’s a best seller. If you haven’t already read “The Good Girl”, I highly recommend it.

Back in February I started the query process for a literary agent to represent my efforts to have one or both of my novels published.  As a newbie to this process, I had no idea what to expect.  What I’ve experienced, though has been a roller coaster of good and bad…though mostly good.  Not good enough to land an agent yet, but good overall.

Through this process, I’ve wondered about the query process of several published authors.  I’m blessed to count a few of them as friends (or at least friendly acquaintances), so I started asking questions.  One of them told me that she studied literary agents and elected to query only two.  The first responded quickly with a definite no and her second query came back positive.  She’s now a bestselling author of her first novel, and working on her second.

Another author-aquaintance queried countless agents without a single positive response.  Not one…

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Conflict: Why Your Story Needs It


In my writing class at AWCS a few weeks ago, we covered the topic of conflict*.

Conflict is present in life, and so it must be present in the stories we tell. It engages the reader (as it forces them to take sides), it creates tension, and it moves the story forward.

Conflict is about choices. Any time there is a conflict, it means there is a choice to be made – that is, conflicting options: Hide or confront? Argue or give in? Tell the truth or lie? Paper or plastic? Etc. Conflict brings characters to life, because it forces them to make a choice. Their choices reveal who they are.

Conflict tells us about the characters. What values do they hold? Are they a mediator? Do they avoid? Instigate?

Sarah Johnson, our instructor, told us that every character should have the potential to conflict with your protagonist. This creates tension for the reader, as they wait for things to clash.

Sarah gave us this exercise. Take two characters that don’t have conflict (e.g., people who get along) and put them in a scene with conflicting objectives.

This is what I wrote in class. It relates to the backstory of my protagonist, Demi, in my WIP. I hope you like it.

Diver

There’s sharp crack, a tremulous vibration, and finally a small satisfying splash. Merrick has landed her Forward 3 ½ Somersault dive.

“Okay, sweetheart, this is it. Remember everything we worked on. Focus on your form, be conscious of your position in the air at all times.”

I shake out my hands and feet, and roll my head side to side. I take a deep breath, the familiar scent of chlorine helps cleanse my nerves. I can do this.

The announcer calls my name. I’m up. Adrenaline trembles through me.

I turn to my dad to accept his customary hug of encouragement before each dive. Instead of his usual crooked toothed grin, his eyes are focused on the wall beyond the pool, his complexion pasty and ashen.

I grab his shoulder. “Dad.” He winces, starts to slump, but then suddenly straightens again. He arms himself with a quivering grin, a small sheen of moisture coats his upper lip.

“Go on, Demetria. It’s time to fly,” he says, his voice gruff.

“Dad, what’s wrong?” I keep my eyes focused on his, forcing him to look at me.

“Nothing’s wrong sweetheart, just a bit of gas is all. Now go on,” he nudges me toward the pool. I step back toward him, “Maybe we should call a medic.”

“Don’t be silly,” he gives a dismissive wave. My name booms over the loudspeaker a second time.

“Go.”

“But…”

“Go, Demetria. Don’t use your old man as an excuse not to soar. You’ve worked too hard for this.” He grips my arm, it’s almost painful. “It’s your time. Soar.”

I take a half step closer to him and the look on his face tells me what I need to do. So I retreat – from him and my sense of unease. And I move forward. I jump, and I soar, and I fall.

Does Demetria have conflicting values here? What are they? Does this conflict tell you something about this character?

*It is important to note that throughout the class, our instructor made several references to Noah Lukeman’s “The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways To Bring Fiction To Life”. Please refer to it if you are looking for more in depth information on introducing conflict to your work of fiction.

Nestpitch Agent Round!

As many of you already know, today is the agent round for Nestpitch!

It’s such a fabulous opportunity to have our work presented in front of some amazing agents. I just wanted to take a moment to thank Nikola Vukoja, the creator of Nestpitch, my mentor, Amanda Foody, and my fellow #Teamplotbunnies members. It is such a privilege to have my work selected for the agent round and have the opportunity for mentorship and  network with other writers.

I wish my fellow Nestpitch finalists luck and hope that your favourite agents make requests!

For all of the writers out there who are trying to get their work recognized, please, don’t give up!! Keep querying!

Showing Character Through Voice

In last week’s post, I shared with you a writing exercise that I completed during my First Three Chapters course at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre. Showing character through action.

This is what I had come up with:

She’s been here for barely a breath and already she spots him. For a moment, she barely shifts. But then her spine goes ramrod straight and she tucks in an imaginary stray lock into her already tightly braided hair. Her eyes narrow and she doesn’t even hesitate. He slim legs launch forward in a crisscross motion, like sharpened scissors, as she heads straight for him. Her razor-like stride is audible across the room, and he definitely knows she’s coming, because he shrinks back. He has nowhere to go. He’s cornered.

This week, our instructor had us do the scene again, this time in first person and using voice to show character.

I’m going to show you what I came up with, but first I’m going to take out the elements of voice, so you can compare and contrast and get a better sense of what voice really means.

Without Voice:

I slide by the bouncer and inhale the stale stench of beer, sweat and theatre smoke. I smooth back an imaginary stray lock of hair into my braid, and just then I spot him.

I grit my teeth and straighten my spine. I could just ignore him, not let him show him that he affects me. That’s probably the best choice. I press my lips together. I’ve had enough.

I slice my legs through the crowd, ignoring the sticky floor that only slightly impedes my progress. But nothing will.

A foot from him and I have him cornered. He flits his gaze, looking for escape. But there is none. I have him cornered, my body blocking his exit from behind the tall table.

“Hello, Ben.” I say. “I thought you were studying tonight” I ask, arching my brow suggestively at the posterior of a tiny blonde.

 

Now here it is again, but this time with Demi’s voice infused in the action.

I slide by the bouncer and inhale the stale stench of beer, sweat and theatre smoke. Lovely. This is going to be another A-class night. I smooth back an imaginary stray lock of hair into my braid, and just then I spot him.

Mother fucker. Had to study, my ass. More like he had to study the asses of co-eds.

I grit my teeth and straighten my spine. I could just ignore him, not show him that he affects me. That’s probably the best choice. The cool girl choice.

I press my lips together. Yeah, but no. Maybe I don’t want to be the cool girl anymore. I’ve had enough of this shit.

I slice my legs through the crowd, ignoring the sticky floor that only slightly impedes my progress. But nothing will. I have him in my sights and I won’t let go until I’m satisfied.

A foot from him and I have him cornered. He flits his gaze, looking for escape. But there is none. I have him cornered, my body blocking his exit from behind the tall table.

“Hellooo, Ben.” I intone. “How’s the studying going?” I ask, arching my brow at the posterior of a tiny blonde.

For more information on voice, from a previous post, click here.