Should I Enter that Contest?

Today marks the announcement of which entries were chosen for Sun vs. Snow (see them on and I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to mentor three amazing entries for #TeamSnow.  With several great contests coming up in March – May, there’s something I though I should address. One thing that comes up a […]

Consolidated Contests Post

Happy Martin Luther King Day, everyone! With Sun vs. Snow rapidly approaching, I thought I’d put some of my prior contest advice posts in one handy place for you. (Side note: This is the contest where I met Michelle Hauck, and I got amazing feedback on my first page as an alternate, which lead to […]

Said is Boring

There, I’ve said it. No, I’ve proclaimed it! “Using the word said over and over is boring!” She shouted from the rooftops. “Using said over and over is boring!” She ejaculated. (We should really go back to using this more.) They say it’s OK to break the rules once you know and understand them, and […]

(Don’t) Choose Your Own Genre

The past couple of months, I’ve helped with a couple of contests. All three of my critique partners were featured in PitchWars, so I also read a lot of contest entries as an observer/spectator. My guess is that I read probably about 400 entries between all the contests. Why do I mention this? Just to […]

How to Tame a Manuscript

Some writing projects come easily. My first manuscript poured out of me. There were a few plot points I had to mull over for a few hours, or sometimes overnight, but I always knew what to write next until I hit somewhere around 65k words. Plot issues never stumped me for more than a day […]

From the Contest Slush – Query Dos and Don’ts

I spent most of last week reading through slush for Nightmare on Query Street, and I’m also acting as a mentor. While reading about 200 queries, I noticed a few common issues. So, I’ve compiled some query DOs and DON’Ts. DO write your query in the third person, present tense. It doesn’t matter if the […]

First 250 Insights

Now that the feedback for the second round of PitchSlam entries has gone out, I thought I’d share some feedback about things that worked and didn’t work for me.* Common Issues I Spotted: Starting in the Wrong Place: There are many ways that this pops up. I truly think that finding the right place to start […]

Pitch Insights

With the first round of PitchSlam behind us, I thought I’d share some things I noticed going through the pitches. Hopefully, some of the contestants can use this information when revising their pitches before the next round. A Round of Applause for the Entrants. You should be proud of yourselves. Some amazing pitches were submitted. A […]

Creating an Elevator Pitch

Every writer has probably heard of the elevator pitch, but basically: if you find yourself in an elevator with your dream agent or editor, how would you explain your story in a couple of sentences? As I mentioned earlier, PitchSlam starts soon (tomorrow, actually!) PitchSlam is a query contest that lets writers receive feedback along […]

The day I understood subjectivity

With a few awesome contests coming up soon,* I want to take a minute to talk about subjectivity. It took me a while to really get it. Everyone says that querying is subjective. That publishing itself is subjective, and that a rejection of the work is not a comment on the writer’s ability, the plot, […]