12/13 Ask an Agent/Editor #agentink & New Site to find CPs #CPSeek

Two exciting developments! First, today over at Ink in the Book, there’s an ask the agent/editor day going on. (It’s part of Agent Ink, which is still open by the way!).  Here’s a bit about it:

I hope you have lots of questions to ask because our agents are standing by to try their best and answer your inquiries! They will be popping in all day to check out your questions and to cheer you fabulous writers on to better writing!

Inquiring minds want to know, right? So now’s your chance.

During the day, I will be updating the blog with awesome AGENT and EDITOR INSIDER news.

But, even more exciting, a bunch of the wonderful mentors from Pitchwars have gotten together to create CPSeek, a forum for people looking to find critique partners, meet other writers and hang out. Fizzygrrl’s description:

This place is for whatever it needs to be for, :)

If you have a passage you need to have looked at, make a new post for it. But mostly it is for networking and finding any kind of help you might need, as well as making new friends.

So far, nothing is set in stone, so let’s just go with it and have fun!

Seriously cool idea! Hope to see you over there.

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Ellie’s Unofficial #gutgaa Small Press Query H0p Submission

To sign up for the hop go to Ellie Blogs, Hops & Writes 2, my blogger site. 🙂

Okay, I’ve had a fellow writer help me totally rework my query for Warder. Let me say it needed it! But now I’m worried it’s too generic.

This draft is current as of 9:30 pm eastern time,  on Sunday, September 23.

PNR, 108k

Current query:
At twenty-eight, Mona Kubrek finally fits in when she’s chosen to be Warder, a job where she helps keep magic hidden from the human world and mortals safe from those who work it. The position highlights her skills, or lack there of, as only elves that can’t create their own spells but can manipulate others’ magic are picked for the task. Life is pretty good… until she accidently springs, then evades, a death trap. Now she’s dodging spellbound-shifters intent on finding her and dealing with her body’s reaction to the half-elf shifter investigating the destruction left in the wake of the shifters’ pursuit.

Cart Dupree wants only to find the culprit behind the recent bridge collapse, do his job, and get back to his pack. From the start of the investigation, Mona dogs his steps. She’s reckless, especially when she puts herself and other lives in danger by jumping in feet first without a thought to her safety. But’s not her actions which get shifters killed, it’s the madman who sends them after her and spells them to get Mona or die.

Tacitly agreeing to ignore their mutual attraction, Mona and Cart band together to solve the case. The only information they have about the magic user who’s sending the shifters after Mona and thus decimating the local Were pack, are cryptic messages from a mythical being. As each successive attempt to kill the pair comes closer to succeeding, and the death toll for shifters rises, the two race to decipher the clues before they become the next victims.

Previous version:
At twenty-eight, Elfen Mona Kubrek is finally fitting in when she’s chosen to be Warder, a job committed to keeping magic hidden from the human world and mortals safe from those who work it. Only elves that can’t create their own spells but can manipulate others’ magic are chosen for the task. Life was perfect until she accidently sprung, then evaded, a death trap. Now she has spellbound-shifters intent on finding her and a very distracting half-elf Were investigating the destruction being left in the wake of the shifters’ pursuit.

Cart Dupree wants only to find the culprit behind the recent bridge collapse, do his job, and get back to his pack. From the start of the investigation, Mona is dogging his steps. She’s reckless, especially when she’s putting herself and other lives in danger by jumping in feet first without a thought to her safety. But’s not her actions which are getting Weres killed, it’s the madman who’s sending them after her and spelling them to find her or die trying.

Against their better judgement, Mona and Cart band together to solve the case. The only information they have about the magic user who’s sending the shifters after Mona and decimating the local Were pack, are cryptic messages from a mythical being. As each successive attempt to kill the pair comes closer to succeeding, and the death toll for shifters rises, the two race to decipher the clues before the next victims are them.

Older version:
At twenty-eight Mona’s finally fitting in after she’s chosen to be a Warder. The job fulfills her need to protect and is something few people can do, only elves who cannot create their own spells but can manipulate others magic can take on the task. Life was perfect until spellbound shifters became intent on finding her and a very distracting half-elf Were showed up to investigate the destruction being left in the wake of the shifters pursuit.

Cart Dupree wants only to find the culprit behind the recent bridge collapse, do his job, and get back to his pack. From the start of the investigation Mona is dogging his steps. She is a Warder, and he knows she is committed to keeping magic hidden, but her lack of skills and knowledge are a danger to herself and those around her. Especially when she’s putting herself and other lives in danger by jumping in feet first without a thought to her safety, never mind that no one gets hurt.

Their only information about the magic user who’s sending the shifters after Mona and decimating the local Were pack are cryptic messages from a mythical being. As each successive attempt to kill the pair comes closer to succeeding, and the death toll for shifters rises, they race to decipher the clues. Because next time the bodies might be theirs.

And the one before *that*:

Mona Kubrek couldn’t be more thrilled with her new job as a Warder – it fulfills her Elfen need to protect without exposing her embarrassing inability to create a spell of her own. She’d be having the time of her life if there weren’t shifters spellbound to capture her on her tail, and a very distracting half-elf Were investigating the destruction being left in the wake of her search for her pregnant best friend.

.

Cart Dupree wants only to find the culprit behind the recent bridge collapse, do his job, and get back to his pack. At the center of his investigation he finds Mona. Her Warder status may be there, but her lack of skills and knowledge are a danger to herself and those around her.  Her kind of untutored help is the kind he doesn’t need, not when she’s putting herself and others lives in danger by jumping in feet first in without a thought to her safety.

.

Together they must decipher cryptic messages from a mythical being to stop the magic user that’s decimating the local Were pack and stalking Mona’s best friend.  With each successive attempt to kill the pair getting closer to succeeding it’s a race to find the being behind the magic before more people die. Because the next set of dead bodies might be theirs.

Beta Readers – Now with easy to use lists! #GUTGAA

Here, it is the list(s) of authors looking for BETA readers/reading partners.

Things I learned: One pretty much EVERYONE said they’d reciprocate, so I didn’t need to have that as a question. And pretty much everyone said they had something *right now* (or very soon), which makes sense, why would you be looking for a BETA reader if you didn’t have something? D’oh! On the other hand, I neglected ask people how they wanted to be contacted so there are several blanks in the lists where that information is missing. So, if you are one of the people who has a blank and are still looking for a beta reader, you can post below and I will add it. (although with the kids sports schedule tomorrow it might not be until late).

The other thing I learned is not everyone had a clear concept of the genre of their story (trust me, I too am confused! I wrote about it here and here). So, if you seem to be listed in a category which isn’t quite what you listed it’s either because a) I merged some genres for space issues (all ‘non-earth’ fantasy including ‘high’ ‘epic’ ‘heroic’ is under fantasy/other realms) or b) I added a genre which I thought was also a good fit for your story. I did this to appeal to as broad a group as possible, but if you’re truly ticked let me know and I’ll take you off that list.

Due to space limitation I have clustered some of the genres in each age range. With three age ranges (MG, YA and Adult), ~14 genres and serious overlap for several genres (paranormal and UF being the main one) making a separate listing for each didn’t make sense. I also didn’t make a lits of what people said they’d read, however it’s pretty safe to assume authors will read in the genres they write in (if you want to check you can to back to the original posts here). EVERYONE should be listed at least once, sometimes more depending if they write for several age groups or across genres (that is everyone who posted by 11 pm on Friday, Sept 7!). If I missed you I sincerely apologize!!  Let me know and I’ll add you in.

But first, before we get to the tables, we had FOUR FIVE ! people who are NOT authors sign up to BETA read. So very cool!

I’ve cut and pasted each of their posts so authors looking for readers can hear first hand what they are looking for. Quick hint: CLICK ON NAMES AT TOP OF QUOTE TO GET TO THEIR WEBSITES/TWITTER ACCOUNTS.

Hope’s:

Hope Markowski

1) My name is Hope Markowski. I am an 8th grader in honors English and Reading classes. I am a book reviewer on Flamingnet.com. I volunteer at my local library at least twice a week, and I am a peer helper at my school (which you need to be teacher recommended based on academic performance, etc.) I LOVE to read. I read all kinds of books, from ones that are a bit below my reading level like “The Divide” (like for 6th or 7th grade), but I really like it anyway, up to “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “A Walk to Remember”, which I am reading both right now. I *loved* the Maximum Ride series, and Immortal. I also like Meg Cabot and Margaret Peterson Haddix. I like YA fiction with some romance, and some paranormal or magic thrown in. I really like female lead characters that are kind of feisty, or ones that are a little sarcastic and make me laugh.
2) YA/MG romance (I’m not allowed to read books that have TOO much “romance” in them if you know what I mean), paranormal romance, adventure/fantasy like Maximum Ride
3) I read every day. I can easily commit to a minimum of two chapters a week. And that is a low ball park number. If the chapters are shorter, or I don’t have a lot of homework, I can probably do more. I just don’t want to commit to something I can’t deliver. I always keep my commitments.

A.M. Supinger’s:

AMSupinger (@AMSupinger)

1) My name is A.M.Supinger. One of the items on my Bucket List is to buy a house with enough room for a formal library. Right now every nook and cranny in my apartment is overflowing with stacks of books that can’t be crammed onto my bookshelves :P I live in South Dakota with my husband, two dogs, and a very sneezy cat.
2) I prefer reading YA/MG fantasy and science fiction, but I will also read adult scifi/fantasy.
3) I am already a beta for two other writers, so I would only be able to commit to one book a month. If my reading list goes down, I’ll be able to zip through novels much more quickly.

Ritab’s:

ritab38315

Hello all! I am a photojournalist & studio photographer from West Tennessee. When I’m not behind the camera taking pictures, I can usually be found reading. It’s my second love and I am not limited to any specific genres either. My favorites to read are mysteries, thrillers and romances (especially romantic suspense) but I will pretty much read anything that catches my attention. I can juggle more than one author at a time. I can do a chapter a week or a book a month because I make my own hours.

http://www.facebook.com/ritab38315
http://www.twitter.com/ritab38315
http://www.ribellephoto.wordpress.com

and FolioRoad’s

folioroad

Hello! Thanks for setting this up. So many of us want to connect, it’s just a matter of finding a platform to do it!

I’d like to offer my services as a beta reader in order to help out fellow authors. I am quite obsessed with YA lit., almost entirely speculative. I love deep characters and stories that delve into the darker parts of us or society.

You can visit my blog at http://www.folioroad.com or find me at Goodreads (FolioRoad) to learn a bit more about me and what I like to read. :)

It’s hard to pinpoint a time commitment because I don’t how many people will contact me, but I read quite quickly (especially when I’m interested) and an average YA book will take me at most a week or two.

I can take one story now, but from mid-Sept to Oct I’m super busy. At the end of October I’ll have much more time to devote.

Thanks again!

ETA: FolioRoad is also an author, but loves to Beta read!

One more reader/author looking to just read (a late sign up!). Oh, and I don’t think she means for ‘hire’ as in she expects compensation but that her services are available!

Sarah J Schmitt (@SJSchmitt)

BETA Reader for “hire”

HI, I’m Sarah. I write YA and currently have two books in final stages of revisions (Thriller and Paranormal) and a third in “pre-production” (a ghost story). I would love to be a BETA reader for YA writers. I am willing to work on one book every 4-6 weeks, depending on my own writing schedule.

Sarah

I have a couple of feelers out in other places too, so this list may expand later.

Now, onto the authors. 🙂 I’ve done this by youngest age range to oldest. IF you write in more than one age range OR if you write in more than one genre, you *should* be listed for each one, but I’m sure I missed a few. Just let me know if you need me to add you to a different category and I’ll see what I can do. I did track New Adult, but ended up merging the category with YA although I do realize it’s not quite the same.

AGAIN: These are authors looking for beta readers and/or to ‘exchange’ beta reads with other authors. If you want to go back and see the original comments which generated these lists, please go here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Authors who create Picture Books (no genres for this group):

Donna Martin
http://www.donnalmartin.com
Christy
 http://www.christydorrity.com
Kevin Christofora
www.thewoodstockallstars.com
Romelle Broas
www.romellebroas.blogspot.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Middle Grade Authors (with seven decided not to do genres, websites should have that information, although we are missing websites):

Donna Martin
http://www.donnalmartin.com
Brandon Stenger
Jodie Andrefski
Jenn B.
www.jennbrisendine.wordpress.com
Connie B. Dowell
http://bookechoes.com
Empgal
www.themysteryofwriting.wordpress.com
Gail Nall
 www.gailecn.blogspot.com

Okay, I have to make a side note here: Jenn B & Connie – you both only write MG and both listed yourselves as writing in the same genre (fantasy/other realms). Empgal and Gail did the same but with adventure/mystery.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

YA Authors who write Paranormal or Urban Fantasy:

Anabel G.
http://www.dreamsaboutwriting.blogspot.mx
Wendy Knight
http://www.writethroughthenoise.blogspot.com
Liz Hellebuyck
http://lizhellebuyck.wordpress.com
Heather Riffle
www.heatherriffle.wordpress.com
Trisha
http://thefarseas.blogspot.com.au
Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
http://rhiannwynnnolit.blogspot.com
Connie Michael
http://connie-avidread.blogspot.com
Felicia Wetzig
www.scotzig.com
Priya Kanaparti
www.priyakanaparti.wordpress.com
Jessica Becker
www.jessicabeckerbooks.com
Meridith Johnson
Heather M. Bryant
http://heathermbryant.blogspot.com.au
Margaret Alexander
markedforpower has gmail
Rebecca Ethington
www.rebeccaethington.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

YA Authors who write Fantasy (Other Realms) or Speculative Fiction or Science Fiction or Dystopian:

Paula Sangare
http://authorscornerpaulakouman.blogspot.com/
Katie Teller
kjhstories.blogspot.com”>kjhstories.blogspot.com
Donna Martin
http://www.donnalmartin.com
Ellie Heller
www.elliewrites2.wordpress.com
Jessica (No last name)
Christy
  http://www.christydorrity.com
Brandon Stenger
Tamara
Blair B. Burke
Liz Hellebuyck
http://lizhellebuyck.wordpress.com
Lyla
lima_bean_13(at)yahoo(dot)com
Anabel G.
http://www.dreamsaboutwriting.blogspot.mx
Heather Riffle
www.heatherriffle.wordpress.com
Trisha
http://thefarseas.blogspot.com.au

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

YA Authors who write Horror/Gothic or Mystery or Historical or Contemporary (the catch all table):

Paula Sangare
http://authorscornerpaulakouman.blogspot.com/
Katie Teller
kjhstories.blogspot.com”>kjhstories.blogspot.com
Donna Martin
http://www.donnalmartin.com
Ellie Heller
www.elliewrites2.wordpress.com
Jessica (No last name)
Christy
 http://www.christydorrity.com
Brandon Stenger
Tamara
Blair B. Burke
Liz Hellebuyck
http://lizhellebuyck.wordpress.com
Lyla
 lima_bean_13(at)yahoo(dot)com
Anabel G.
http://www.dreamsaboutwriting.blogspot.mx
Heather Riffle
www.heatherriffle.wordpress.com
Trisha
http://thefarseas.blogspot.com.au

(again, I merged New Adult with YA)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Adult” Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy Authors:

Christie Palmer
www.author-christiepalmer.com
Amanda
 www.amandakbyrne.wordpress.com
T. J.
Ellie Heller
www.elliewrites2.wordpress.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Adult” Fantasy (Other Realms) or Speculative Fiction or Science Fiction or Dystopian Authors:

T. J.
Sue Ann Bowling
http://sueanbowling.com
C. Stuart Hardwick
http://about.me/cstuarthardwick
Brandon Stenger
Laura Stephenson
www.deskoflaurastephenson.blogspot.com
Marian M Librarian
Amy Cavenaugh
www.amycavenaugh.wordpress.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Adult” Suspense or Thrillers or Mystery or Historical or Women’s Lit Authors:

David Kentner
www.kevad.net
Amy Cavenaugh
www.amycavenaugh.wordpress.com
Hunter Emkay
Carrie-Anne
Dean Pace-French
Blair B. Burke
Tasha Seegmiller
www.tashaseegmiller.blogspot.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Authors who write Erotic or BDSM or GLBT:

Kathryn R. Blake
www.kathrynrblake.com
Dean Pace-French

One last category I didn’t do was non-fiction, I think there were just two authors. I’ll track them down another day. I hope everyone finds a Beta Reader here, or a crit group over at Deana’s! They are invaluable!!

GUTGAA BETA READER Sign-up!

EVERYONE WHO RESPONDED PRIOR TO MIDNIGHT, FRIDAY SEPT 7, IS NOW ON A MASTER LIST HERE. YOU CAN STILL COMMENT, BUT I CAN’T GUARANTEE I’LL BE ABLE TO GET YOU ON THE LISTS.

I’m thrilled Deana Barnhart took me up on my offer to help host the BETA/Critique Group Connect. As you can tell by the title, I’ll be hosting the BETA reader connect here.

Of course the first question is: What is a Beta Reader? (often followed by why do I need one and/or what’s the difference between a Beta Reader  and Critique Partner?)

Rosslyn Elliot has a great in depth answers to all these questions on her blog. But basically the answer to what a BETA reader is boils down to two things:

  1. A BETA reader is there to give you a reader’s perspective on your story, which is entirely subjective. Did they like it? How did they feel about the characters? How about the pacing? At any point were they confused or thrown out of the story?
  2. A BETA reader is often NOT A WRITER, just someone who is widely read in the genre you write in and whose opinion you trust.

Conversely, a critique partner is typically a fellow writer who is giving you an objective opinion and generally focuses more on improving the craft of your writing as well as editing and clarity. However, as anyone who has been in a critique group knows or has a good BETA reader knows, sometimes the lines are blurred, but generally the guidelines subjective = BETA Reader and objective = Critique Partner work.

So, what’s the next step?

If you’re looking for both a critique partner/group and beta readers please sign up below for the beta connect and over at Deana’s Blog for the critique connect.

If you’re looking for just a critique partner or  to form a group sign up over at Deana’s Blog.

And, if you’re looking for just a BETA reader, sign up here.

If you’re a reader and looking to become a BETA reader, sign up below as well. 

WRITERS:

Please post the following:

1) A brief introduction.
2) Is it only for a current WIP or are you looking for someone long term?
3) If current what is the project (a one sentence summary along with genre and age target)
4) If long term what do you like to write (age target and general genres)
5) Do you have something ready now? When do you anticipate having something ready/needing a BETA Reader?

I’d also suggest linking to your blog/website. 🙂

BETA READERS:

Please post the following:

1) Tell us a little about yourself.
2) Let us know the genres you feel you are well read in.
3) Time commitment you can offer (can you read a book a month?  a chapter a week?)

One last point for BETA readers:  NO book sharing without the author’s consent. Not typically a problem, but I do feel better for having said it specifically.

I’ll be online most of the day and working to hook up BETA’s and writers, but don’t hesitate to jump in if you think you see a good match!

***ETA: Since I am playing catch up (again!) today and Deana is keeping the critique thread open until Friday, I’ll wait until then. I’ll probably do some semi-geeky spread sheet thing too and post it, so check back! Not sure if I’ll append it to this post or make a new one, depends on how much data I end up with.

Meet & Greet Ellie Heller – GUTGAA Blogfest!

Deana Barnhart
Gearing Up To Get An Agent Blogfest is kicking off with a meet and greet. What is GUTGAA? Starts out with a pitch polish and moves on to pitch contests (AGENTS) and a twitter pitch event and… a month of activities centered around one thing: helping people polish and shine to get the attention of an agent. Deana Barnhart, the fabulous organizer, has a list of FAQ here along with links to the schedule and the agents/small presses/authors who will be helping out. It’s a GREAT opportunity to learn a LOT, even if you don’t make it into the any of the contests.
So here we go: Questions for the Meet and Greet
Where do you write? At home, typically on the recliner couch in the family room, but over the summer I found myself up in my room to avoid the distraction the TV provided. Kids 🙂
Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?  The sun streaming through a stained glass piece which we bought to go in our first house. The perimeter is from an old church window and the artist did some free-form work in the interior making a interesting mix of geometry and curves
.
Favorite time to write? First thing in the morning when the kids are at school. Or late at night when they’ve gone to bed. And that’s late! I have teens.
Drink of choice while writing? Mostly iced tea, despite the ensuing breaks *that* causes.
When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? When I am writing to create a new piece/first draft, it’s typically silence. Editing/revising it’s a mix.
What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? My current work (not what I’m pitching) is a new adult fantasy. Several years ago Julie Czerneda had a contest on her SFF Newsgroup for a flash fiction piece, under 1k. I had been dealing with a lot of death in the family at that point so I ended up writing what is a core chapter for my current piece.
What’s your most valuable writing tip? Make sure you have good beta readers and/or critique group. And generally this doesn’t mean simply handing your piece around to family and close friends. You need someone who is going to be upfront about what works and what doesn’t. On Wednesday Deana will be offering writers the chance to connect with other writers to be help each other out as critique partners. BETA/Critique Group Connect – Anyone interested in making some serious writer connections can come to my blog and post in the comments section what they’re looking for and I will try my best to make a writer connection for you. If you don’t do anything else for this blogfest I *strongly* urge you go to sign up and find someone you can work with. I think this is so, so very important I offered to host some here, although she didn’t take me up on it.
Wait, that’s it? Oh, right short bio. I’m a mother of three, two of whom are teens (one who just got his permit!!) and the other is ten going on seventeen (my little girl). We share our house with two large dogs, when I said I my only criteria was any dog we got had to be larger than our 18 lb cat, I hadn’t anticipated getting seventy pounders but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I have one novella published and typically write fantasy stories – high fantasy, contemporary fantasy, paranormal romance.
Clicking HERE to go to the main page for the blog fest and find more wonderful authors who have signed up. Because LINKY doesn’t work for me (it’s a wordpress thing) I’m going to post the link to the blog of the person who signed up after me for the Meet and Greet as well: Mere Joyce  : A writer and a librarian, blogging about writing, librarianship, and whatever else catches my fancy!  Stop by and say hello!

Queries, Critiques and Agents: Contests, Thoughts and Getting Out There

I’m sure they’ve always been there, but in the past six months I’ve found a number of places online where I can get my query/first page critiqued and/or in front of an agent. Just this week there are, and have been already (and it’s only Tuesday!) a lot of opportunities.

First, a BIG, HUGE CAVEAT. It’s very important that you are able to a) take criticism, since many of these contests have a open posting forum where others can comment on your work and b) have a strong sense of your voice so that you are able to pick out what suggestions work for you and not end up with an over processed / lifeless piece of writing which tries to please too many people at once and reads like a text book. OTOH, when you have several people comment ‘I didn’t get/don’t understand/didn’t like’ a particular part you need to be able to step back and revise it and not, as I’ve seen, keep it in there because you thought it was a clever turn of phrase indicative of your voice. Unless you want your voice to appear muddled, get over it. Mini-rant over.

Back to what’s out there right now. Brenda Drake  is having a workshop on queries (contest ends midnight Thursday!). It’s time for another workshop. This one is for the dreaded query letter. I’ve gathered some talented writers and editors to help me critique forty query letters. All genres and finished or not quite finished manuscripts welcomed. We’ll choose forty names from the Rafflecopter, and critique two a day for five days on our blogs. Ms. Drake and her other blog hosts mostly write YA, something which may or may not affect your desire to enter.

Over at Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog there’s a ‘Dear Lucky Agent’ contest for MG writers open until Aug 27. Welcome to the 11th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing middle grade fiction (see exactly what this term means below) novel, this 11th contest is for you! (The contest is live through Aug. 27, 2012.)

The annual WriteonCon for writes of YA, MG and PB (picture books) is going on right now. While some of the contests are closed, there are still a couple coming down the pike AND there’s forums where you can post your query, first page and first five pages. Why? Well apparently there are Ninja Agents who like to lurk about the boards and read them. 🙂 All you have to do is use our forums the same way you should be using them anyway (because they’re AWESOME) and you could have a super-cool Ninja-Agent critique your work. And even if they don’t comment on your work (they promise they will try to comment/critique on as many as they can) you can learn SO much from the comments they leave for others. Because really, the best part about the forum is that you can go read the feedback whenever your schedule allows. They actually have hour time slots scheduled for agents, so there’s still opportunity to get out there! PLUS, they have a great area to find critique partners, but more on that later.

Already passed but places to keep an eye on going forward:

Miss Snark’s First Victim – Always a good site for getting out in front of agents there’s (mostly) monthly Secret Agent contest and other goodies which pop up during the year. For instance last week she had a ‘first line grabber’ contest. Her entry window for the August secret agent was yesterday – I got in at #11. Fingers crossed, it’s my first time attempting. And will be, for secret agent at least, for another six months – she’s placed an understandable restriction given the popularity of her blog.

Mother. Write. (Repeat). has a number of different contests throughout the year. Yesterday’s Agent Inbox was full within twenty minutes of opening. Set up to show the thought process of an agent I’d love to get in the next one. Please keep in mind that THIS CONTEST ISN’T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. I’ve encouraged The Agent to treat the entries exactly as he or she would a normal batch of queries. Essentially, The Agent will be answering the question, “How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn’t read it all, why did you stop?” I think this process will be instructive for all of us, but if you enter, you need to be prepared to hear exactly what The Agent thinks of your query and first page.

Cupid’s Literary Connection had a number of fantastic events this past spring (Writers Voice!!), mostly geared for YA writers but some which were open to all. They’ve taken the summer off and are gearing up for an event this fall. Can’t wait!

Last, but not least, there’s Query Shark. Not a contest, per se, but a site you can submit your query to for feedback. Query Shark critiques fiction queries. You have to send a query to the shark for it to be considered. There is a checklist for how to do that on the post labeled “If You Want Your Query Posted, Read and FOLLOW These Directions” Queries are acknowledged IF THEY FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS. This can take several days if the QueryShark is swimming about in the Sea of Writing Conferences. If you have not followed the directions, or if it’s immediately clear you have not read the archives your query is discarded. Not for the faint of heart, but then much of this business isn’t.

Oh, shoot, I was going to go into opportunities to find beta readers/ critique partners, but I guess I’ll save that for another post. So, go out there! Dip in the pool and get your toes wet. The water may be shocking at first, but you’ll get used to it soon and it’ll make you a better swimmer in the end.

If you know of more contest, leave a comment and I’ll add them to the end. I kinda feel like I’m missing a biggie 😉 . Plus, I seem to have gotten in a loop with many YA contests. I wonder if there are SFF ones or Horror ones too? Hmm…

The end of an ERA (for me)

(this is attempt six at a start, let’s hope it takes).

First, as I’ve said many, *many* times I love my crit group, ERA. And I’m not the only one, KevaD also comments here on how great having a solid critique group is.

But I just left the group, after having been involved since shortly after the inception.

Not because of any thing any members did. But because my time is getting crazy and only looks to get more crowded as we head into summer and out-of-school madness with the kids.

Thing is, in my experience, a solid critique group  is more than just posting pieces and commenting on them. It’s the chit chat & camaraderie which the members engage in, in addition to the quality of the critiques, which make the group viable. I feel like I have barely time to write and could not commit to the time needed to be involved at a level I feel I would need to be involved to be part of the group.

Part of it too, is that the group is Erotic Romance Authors. So while I’m always up to critiquing a hot scene 😉 , that’s not really what I write. Sure, I have the occasional ‘hot’ scene if (when!) the hero and heroine have sex the first time in my paranormal romances, but after that initial one, not so much. When I write in other genres, such as fantasy or even YA fantasy, sex is off the pages in the former and non-existent in the latter.

While I’ve gotten some great feed back, this group was never a great fit. When faced with a time crunch, much as I hate to leave the group (some of these writers I’ve known for over ten years through previous critique group incarnations) it was time.

Being the wonderful group they are, I have an open invitation to re-apply (if they have room and if I veer off to write steamy romances). In the mean time I’ll be plodding along, working with beta readers (not nearly the same, but uber helpful), and trying to stay on top of life, much less my writing, over the summer.

On the other hand, if you are not a newbie (preferably with at least one publication under your belt – in this instance self pubbed does not qualify), write *hot* romances and are open to reading and critiquing all levels of heat and combinations of partners (very important as there are several m/m and menage writers), you might want to keep an eye on the ERA portal to see when/if they post they’re accepting membership applications. I highly recommend them!