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 Action and Unspeakable Query Update

I missed last week’s post, so today’s a two for one!

1. Showing Character

I’ve been working on a new story idea, which will hopefully become my next novel. To help inspire me, and also as part of my quest to continually work on my craft, I’ve enrolled in The First Three Chapters class at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre.

This week’s class was on showing your character through action. Now, when writing, this is of key importance. I could tell you that Sally is grumpy.

Sally is grumpy.

(Gripping stuff, non?)

Or, I could show you that she’s grumpy through action.

Sally yanked her alarm clock off the bedside table and threw it on the floor.

Did you learn more about Sally the second time, other than she’s a grumpy girl? I think so (i.e., she is not a morning person).

So, the lovely Sarah Johnson, our class instructor, had us write down different descriptors of our main protagonist for our work-in-progress (WIP). Then, she had us write a short paragraph where the character walks into the room and we show those descriptors.

First, let me show you what mine would look like if I just told you about my main protagonist.

Demi walks into the crowded bar and spots Todd immediately. Pissed off, she walks over, her braided hair not budging. Demi is not someone you mess with.

Okay. So we’ve learned that Demi is pissed with Todd, that her hair is braided, and that you shouldn’t mess with her – but little else.

Now let me show you who Demi is.

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 an imaginary stray lock into her already tightly braided hair. Her eyes narrow and she doesn’t even hesitate. Her 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. He shrinks back. He has nowhere to go. He’s cornered.

Do you have a better sense of Demi? I hope so. Whatever descriptors come to mind, they’re not wrong, because they’re your own. I’m letting you decide, dear reader, who you think she is. As a writer, we have to trust the reader to have an imagination and to fill in the gaps. I think it’s much more gratifying to share the journey of the story, rather than tell you about it. photo-1421986527537-888d998adb74

2. Update on Unspeakable

I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve finally done it. I’ve started querying. Some of you have asked me what querying means. Well, basically, it’s sending out letters to literary agents requesting representation. Unspeakable is commercial fiction. Large publishing houses will often not even entertain the idea of publishing your work without an agent. Agents understand the industry and help you find the right home for your book and also assist in sale and deal negotiation.

Nestpitch is also on the horizon (ten more days! But who’s counting?). So it’s time. Time to let go, and put my work out there. Wish me luck!

#nestpitch: Making It To The Agent Round

I have finished my rounds of edits with my editor, Tanis Nessler, from ReVision Editing! My goal for April was to (1) polish up my query letters, (2) make a spread sheet of agents I want to query (I’ve been using Query Tracker), and (3) then send out queries. I’ve done the first 2 of these 3.

So, “Why J.R.”, you ask, “are you not sending out your queries?”

Well, it’s very simple, I’ve made it to the agent round of #nestpitch! On May 11th, the Nestpitch blog will post our pitches and a sample of our work. In the meantime,  mentors will help us polish our first chapters in the upcoming weeks. Even though I’ve spent the majority of the last year editing my manuscript, I’m always open to a fresh set of eyes. There’s always room to improve.

So here’s the new plan. Once all of the final feedback is in from my Nestpitch mentor, I will begin querying.

I want to send out my deepest gratitude to Tanis, from ReVision Editing. She helped elevate Unspeakable into a polished, agent ready manuscript. Because of her, I feel confident moving forward.

I also want to thank the Nestpitch Team for seeing something in Unspeakable, and giving me the opportunity to present it to a tremendous panel of agents. Thank you.

And of course, thank you to You. My supporters, friends, and cheerleaders.

#nestpitch: Making It Past The Slush

Happy Easter Monday everyone!

The Little Yates' Eggs
The Little Yates’ Eggs

I debated about what to post this week. I was thinking about posting a deleted scene from Unspeakable, and use it as an example of Showing vs Telling – which if you’ve ever taken a writing class, you’ve no doubt heard about ad nauseam.

But the scene I was thinking about sharing was…well, deleted for good reason. It didn’t add anything to the story and when reading it back, I couldn’t help but notice all the mistakes. Even though there are nice instances of showing, there’s also filtering, telling, adverbs, and the list goes on. Although frightening to see how poor my writing was in the early stages of the first draft, I am buoyed by the fact that I noticed these mistakes immediately upon re-read (which means I’ll be less likely to make them in the future…right? – I can only hope.)

If you’re wondering about filtering etc., don’t worry, I plan on explaining these concepts in future posts.

But today… I want to share some exciting news! I was preparing my query letter and synopsis to send out to agents, when I noticed a contest on Twitter called #nestpitch.

What is #nestpitch?

#nestpitch is a contest where you submit a 35-word pitch and the first 300 words of your manuscript. If you make it to the final round, your entry is posted on a blog where 12 pre-selected, reputable agents will take a look, and hopefully request more.

Here’s how it works:

In Round #1, entries that don’t meet the qualifications are removed.

In Round #2, there are 9 teams that then whittle it down to their top 5-8 submissions. At this point they may request additional pages.

In Round #3, they pick their final 4-5 and work with the authors to improve their manuscripts. Once this is completed, they go to the next round!

The Agent Round: Submissions are posted on a blog, where a number of preselected agents peruse and hopefully make requests for you to query.

Basically, this helps take your query from the slush pile to the “I want to know more” pile. Anybody who knows anything about the publishing industry knows that this can be a huge advantage.

I felt like I was pretty much done with Twitter pitches (I had participated in 2 others), as I felt that my novel was perhaps best represented in a traditional query letter (and p.s. I never win anything!!). But I figured, since my manuscript is now truly ready, the timing was right, so I entered.

And guess what? I have received requests for more material from two three different teams! Cross your fingers for me that Unspeakable makes it to the agent round.