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Friday, August 31, 2018

What I Learned About Writing from Pitch Wars!

Pitch Wars is an online writing experience and contest where writers submit a never before published manuscript in the hopes of gaining an author/mentor who will take their manuscript and help them make it the best version of their story before the agent round. I entered Pitch Wars last year with my YA manuscript which I thought was Pitch Wars ready. Boy, was I wrong.

There are online Facebook pages for hopefuls and forums where people share their pages. The more places you visit, the more you will learn. I gained insight and CPs. A CP is a critique partner who will read your pages and give you as much or as little critique as you ask. I wanted my CPs to be brutal. I wanted them to tell me everything right and everything wrong with my pages. When I read my CPs' pages I was blown away. There are some TALENTED writers in the pool that submit to Pitch Wars. Last year, my pages didn't stack up.

What you need for Pitch Wars: You will need a one-page query, a one-page synopsis, a FINISHED manuscript and a coat of armor. You can read about the query, synopsis, story arc, pacing, character and other elements. The more you study and LEARN, the better your manuscript will be.

When I wrote my first manuscript, I was a pantser. I didn't know the ending of the story. I didn't have an outline. I knew who my characters were and what the premise was, but that was it. I didn't yet know who the antagonist was. I didn't know the problems my protagonist would face. That manuscript took my three long years (I have a full time job and family).

My second manuscript was hugely different. Now I'm a planner. I had the idea, characters, outline and ending. I wrote that manuscript in three months and it's leaps and bounds better than the YA manuscript I submitted last year. What's the difference? How did my writing get so much better?

TWITTER. I follow the tags #writingcommunity #writetip #writers #amwriting #amediting #ontheporch and #writing. There are so many great links shared on Twitter by writers, editors, agents, mentors. If you're not active on Twitter, you're limiting your knowledge of upcoming contests, events, freebies, internships and friends for life.

Before the Pitch Wars window opens, many mentors offer giveaways for your first pages, your query and/or your synopsis. You should retweet, follow and comment to all of these. I won several free eyes on my pages both years.

Before you query anything, you should have CPs and beta readers. I am lucky that my best friend for life has a writer brain. She was writing her manuscript as I wrote mine. We traded chapters from the beginning. She is now close to signing with an agent. Currently she has four full asks out to agents. I suspect she'll snag one soon  and her book will follow.

If I don't find a mentor in Pitch Wars this year, I've made so many contacts, learned tons, commented on others' writing and posts, shared information and links, and gained skills to push my book baby into the world. I will query this manuscript until I find that unicorn agent. I know you're out there! 

Monday, August 20, 2018

YA Pick: Bad Romance

Bad Romance
by Heather Demetrios
Square Fish
369 pages
ISBN: 9781250158772

Bad Romance is a cautionary tale for girls (and boys) who find themselves in love and in over their heads. It's hard to love someone you hate, and even harder to hate someone you love. It's her junior year and theater nerd Grace sees Gavin. Her life is now played out in the theater of her mind. Gavin is the male lead and he is oh, so special and charming.

What Grace learns is that Gavin is a manipulating, lying sociopath. After dating Summer, Gavin fails at a suicide attempt. Grace is drawn to this boy, the one who tried to die. Soon she is the center of his world. As Gavin closes in on her and challenges her friendships and free time, Grace doesn't seem to mind until it's almost too late.

The author includes a list of resources for teen readers who are in abusive relationships. The staggering fact is that one in three teens have experienced dating abuse.

This is not a feel good romance novel. It is, however, and important one that will result in thoughtful discussions about love and relationships.

Highly recommended for grade 9 and up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Picture Book Pick: Try a Little Kindness

Try a Little Kindness
by Henry Cole
Scholastic Press
32 pages
ISBN: 978133825643

Available October 9, 2018

This sweet read will help the younger set learn manners and practice being helpful. Cute animals teach littles to read to a friend, to send thank you notes, to  visit someone who is lonely, and to  give up your seat to someone else.

Heartfelt and much needed, Try a Little Kindness is sure to bring a smile to the reader as well as the child it's read to.

Highly recommended for young readers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#Boost My Bio: @Pitchwars

Hi, I'm (Pamela) Thompson McLeod, long-time high school teacher and middle school librarian. I am entering Pitch Wars this year for the second time. Although I did not get a mentor last year (with my YA manuscript), I learned so much about writing and made so many FRIENDS in the writing community. Twitter is a great place to find like-minded writers and people who love reading and writing. I stay away from rants and politics and love the #writing community #amwriting #5AM writingclub #writetip #writer #writers

This year, the manuscript I am entering is middle grade #MG: FAKING IT: 11yo Kyle enters an online recipe contest with a recipe he never even cooked. He is chosen to be a contestant on a junior chef show. Too bad Kyle is a fake. He can't cook. Not even one little bit. His BFF Addie suggests he learn to cook by watching YouTube videos. Kyle has three days and YouTube. With a little luck and sheer grit, Kyle makes it through early rounds, but it's heating up in the kitchen. Kyle is bundle of nerves when his chef father shows up as a judge. Suddenly, winning isn't enough. Kyle has to prove himself to everyone, including his father.

Like Kyle, I enter recipe contests and even won some big ones. Here is my winning Third Place recipe that gave me the idea for my story! And like Kyle, I create recipes. I don't cook them. At all. Ever. And they win! I won Second Place for an Italian Stallion Maria I entered. It was a double non-cook. I didn't make it, and nothing in it is cooked, yet it won Second Place in a COOKING CONTEST!

So, I'm a recipe junkie, a recipe contest enthusiast, collector of vintage 50's-70's cookbooks (Junior League cookbooks from cities in the South are  my faves), a writer of dreams and a CP to my BFF Leslie Rush who entered Pitch Wars with me last year. Leslie's manuscript was chosen by a mentor for Author Mentor Match and she is waiting for the agent round. Both of us are hopeful our stories will touch the lives of readers.

This is a photo of me with my American bulldog Bowdee (short for Beaudacious)!

I am entering Pitch Wars in August! If you've never heard of Pitch Wars, it's an event where never published manuscripts and hopeful writers enter their first chapter, a query and a synopsis of their manuscript to the site. Mentors will make their picks and announce their mentees. If I'm lucky enough to be chosen, my mentor will go through my story word by word and help me make it shiny and bright. After the story is polished to perfection, there is an agent round! If I am lucky enough to find an agent or if she/he finds me! I have a chance to get my book baby out into the world. Here's hoping the universe is listening. Universe?

Everything Pitchwars 

I review YA for School Library Journal and VOYA and judged YA Fiction for last year's Cybils. I am currently a literary intern and a YA librarian (and writer).