Upcoming Writing Contests

The end of the year is almost here! There are a lot of agents who have closed for queries until January, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a few opportunities to get in front of some great agents over the next several weeks.


The last round of #PitMad for 2016 will be on December 1st. Never heard of it? It’s a Twitter pitch free for all and arguably one of the more fun Twitter pitch events out there. All you need is a finished MS and 140-character pitch (including the important #pitmad hashtag). There are rules for pitching, so make sure to do your research first. All of te details can be found on Brenda Drake’s blog: www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad

#PitMad tip: Have multiple versions of your Twitter pitch ready. You’re allowed to tweet up to 3 different pitches (per project).

“Dear Lucky Agent”

The 27th edition of “Dear Lucky Agent” is going on now through November 25th. If you have a completed women’s fiction novel, then this is a great opportunity! This content is put on through the Guide to Literary Agents blog and is judged by agent Irene Goodman of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Full details here: www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/27th-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-womens-fiction

Good luck!

In Defense of Insta-love

Goodreads is one of my favorite digital places. My Type-A nature means that I love categorizing things and I live for “top 10” lists, and Goodreads provides me with both of these in spades. But, sometimes, like any online space, there can be some hate. For me, the hate can be a little tough to handle.

When a reader marks a book as “read” on Goodreads, they’re given the option to assign a star rating and a provide written review. All good things. My time is precious and I rely on the Goodreads collective to let me know if a book is worth my time before I purchase it or go onto the library’s wait list.

Recently, I began a book (which shall remain nameless!) that I’d been waiting for on my library’s wait list. I did a quick Goodreads search to refresh my memory on the premise when I stumbled across a scathing DNF review (NOTE: DNF stands for did not finish). I have feelings on DNF reviews, which I won’t go too in depth about, but I don’t always feel that they’re fair since the reader didn’t finish.

One of the things this reader was particularly indignant about was the insta-love between the protagonist and handsome boy #2. As a reader, when the genre calls for it, I am willing and able to accept certain truths and circumstances as they pertain to a character’s backstory and origin. No, no one currently lives on the moon, but they could in a novel. No, District 12 isn’t a real place, but Katniss and Peeta live there. You get the point.

Insta-love is the descriptive term applied to relationships founded on nothing but an intense, mutual, and instantaneous attraction. What’s so hard to believe about that? How many love stories, both real and imagined, start with two people’s eyes meeting and something passing between them? That’s what attraction is. And how quickly relationships escalate from that moment to “I would die for you” obsession depends on the person.

I say this from experience. I’ve felt that spark you get in your chest when you meet someone for the first time and there is a je ne sais quoi there that, by definition, you can’t explain. It’s not just physical. It’s not just emotional. It’s an axis-tilting experience. There was before, and there is after.

Some insta-love scenarios are silly, especially when one of the characters is horrible. But it’s one thing that I consistently forgive in the books I read. After all, we could all use a little more love in the world, even the insta-love kind.



Where Has All the Chick Lit Gone?

In my head, the title of this post is sung to the tune of Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?”

There are tons of books coming out under the header of women’s fiction, but I haven’t found a fun new author to love in a long time. I don’t mean books that make you think about your life choices or allow you to step into another woman’s shoes and experience things from her point of view. I’ve read those books and enjoyed them for the upmarket fiction they are.

What I’m talking about are the beach reads that beg to be devoured with a fruity cocktail on the side. I’m craving the next Sophie Kinsella who can give me funny and real female protagonists that I can root for. So, I’m asking: where has all the chick lit gone?

Recent searches for comparable titles to my manuscript (which is contemporary women’s fiction) have left me coming up short. One of the first things you’re told when you write genre fiction is to read what other authors are putting out in the market. I’ve read Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Weiner, and Lauren Weisberger, but these ladies are household names in women’s fiction. My struggle is finding up-and-coming writers who are new to the scene (or at least new to me).

When I ask girlfriends or other avid readers for recommendations, more often than not I get young adult suggestions. Admittedly, when I’m looking for some lighter literary fare, I’ve been turning to YA a lot too. I love YA books and authors, but sometimes I’m looking beyond the themes common in young adult novels like first love or the search for identity. (SIDEBAR: This is not a take down of YA. It is not an attack on adults who read YA. This is also not a post to create or further any stigma about YA as a genre.)

This has led me to wonder if the rise of YA in pop culture with series like Twilight and authors like John Green has taken the interest of readers who would otherwise have been the key demographic for women’s fiction. I don’t have any evidence one way or the other, but I thought it was a topic worth researching. As I find great women’s fiction by either new authors or existing favorites, I’ll be sure to share my discoveries!

50th Anniversary for The Outsiders

I saw a post today that November 1st is the 50th anniversary of The Outsiders release. I’ve heard conflicting opinions on this book and seen the phrase “Stay Gold, Ponyboy” abused in a number of ways. But let me say that I love this book. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

The Outsiders was assigned reading in Mrs. Cox’s 7th grade Language Arts class. While I had always been a lover of books and reading, this was the first book that ever gave me heartfail. I was in anguish over the deaths of Johnny and Dally. My heart broke for Ponyboy as he tried to find his way through the miasma of loss and grief.

My original copy with a broken binding from overuse is still on my bookshelf. It traveled with me to college, to my first apartment, and to my first home. I still think about the story at random times, but what I remember most was that this book made me feel in a way no other book had before. It showed me the power of a story and inspired me to write.

I can recite lines from the story and know Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” poem by heart. I think my enduring love for this book has a lot to do with who I was when I read it. I was in a transitional phase (literally in the place between elementary and high school), and this story left an indelible mark on me.

Johnny’s last words were, “Stay gold, Ponyboy,” and it’s because of this book that I always will.