Five Minutes with…Vicki Leigh – Author of Catch Me When I Fall & Editor at Curiosity Quills

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Today I have the very great pleasure to have Vicki Leigh – Author of Catch Me When I Fall & Editor at Curiosity Quills, join me in another Five Minutes with…  So let’s get to know Vicki better About The … Continue reading

11 Ways Not To Start Your Novel – No. 11

nestpitch:

There’s a great post by Agents Darley & Adnerson on their newsletter blog well worth reading if you’re in the submission stages of your writing career (and by the way they are awesome agents )

Originally posted on THE DARLEY ANDERSON BLOG:

At the Wrong Time

At the Darley Anderson Agency we ask that any writers who wish to submit their work to us should provide the first three chapters of their novel as a sample of their writing. This is, as I understand it, standard practice in the industry.

However, at least once a week I hear from someone who takes issue with this.

Here are a few examples of the submission queries that we who work in literary agencies hear all the time:

  • “The first three chapters don’t really give an impression of what the whole novel is about. Could I send more?”
  • “My plot doesn’t really get going until about Chapter 14. I’ll send you Chapter 14 instead.”
  • “Those first chapters aren’t my best. I’m including Chapters Eight, 26 and 31 in their place. Those are the chapters I’m really proud of.”

Putting aside the fact that I really…

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Cover Reveal-Rite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich

Sarah Negro Cover Cropped

Hi All, For those of you who regularly follow either myself or Literary Agent Sarah Negovetich, you’ll know that Sarah has embarked on her own Self Publishing Journey. If you want to know more on why Sarah took this path, … Continue reading

Did Queen Victoria & Prince Albert Kill the Romanov Royal Family?

BookCoverImageHello all,

Shameless self promotion I’m afraid, so if this doesn’t interest you, turn away now.

As many of you know, I’m a know-it-all when it comes to history. I can’t read enough books or watch enough programmes and can’t talk enough about history. All history. Everything from Native American, to Colonial Australian to European.

Additionally, I’m a nature and science buff-freak. Ask me about the mating rituals of lions, go on, ask me, ask me… or genetics, or seasonal crop planting by the moon or bio-dynamic farming, or comets… and I’ll make you a coffee while I discuss the link between Halley’s Comet in 1910 and the beginning of WWI. 

I’m also ‘that person’ who comes up with the wildest theories and then sets about proving my hypothesis or discovers other peoples theories and then sets about confirming or disproving them! 

So, with all of that floating about in my head, I guess it’s only natural that history features in my fiction writing. But I’m about to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve written a non-fiction book:

TITLE: Did Queen Victoria & Prince Albert Kill the Romanov Royal Family?
SUBTITLE: How King Henry VIII breaking with Rome in the 16th Century ended the Russian Royals in the 20th Century

It’s not available yet, but will be in the next few days.

Summary:
A factual account of events with a theory:
Everyone knows the story of the Romanov family, the love story of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert & that King Henry VIII had six wives with more than one losing her heart & her head.
What if I was to tell you that they are all linked?
And what if I was to tell you that the Romanov tragedy didn’t start with the Russian Revolution, or Stalin, or even WWI and that it really started with King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn?

I will be offering for as little as Amazon allows (the paperback version looks like coming out at $5.50 USD which is 5c off the cost to me print price). I’m waiting for an OK from Amazon Kindle before going live & am hoping the Kindle version can be offered for well under $1.00 as this is not a ‘money making’ project, but rather one from the heart.

What I’d like to achieve from this book is to put forward the historical facts and evidence and then put forward my theory, based on all the evidence, and then wait to see what others have to say on the matter.

With regard to the final cost, I don’t know the final cost for the Kindle version but I’m hoping it’ll be between 50c- 75c USD & the cost of $5.50 USD for the paperback is based on the very min. Amazon would allow me to price it at plus 10c, which I have done to cover any variations in the USD and AUD (rather than changing the price every month or so)

I’m terrible at promoting myself, I always feel like I’m selling door-to-door vacuum cleaners! Therefore I promise not to flood my posts with updates and ads, although there might be the odd-one here and here.

I expect the book to go live in the next few days. Anyone interested in knowing more can find out more via below:

BookCoverImageTwitter: https://twitter.com/Nik_Vukoja

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nikola.vukoja.94

Personal Blog: http://nikvukoja.wordpress.com/

GoodReads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8330140.Nikola_Vukoja

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/nikolavukoja

FYI – yes the cover is original. I took one of my paintings, manipulated the colour scheme to best match the font and cover colour and then put the two together. I like it but then again I’m fond of all shades of purple & blue so of course I would!

Thanks for reading this and if you happen to buy the book, thank you for that also.

#Nestpitch 2015 & St. Nicholas Day

19991Hi All!

Following on from my last post I wanted to talk a little today about the changes I’m planning for #Nestpitch 2015

The first is the Mentor/Team System.

In 2014 we had some AWESOME submissions however, and this is not the case for all submissions, there were several agents who, on requesting pages and query letters, were left a little disappointed that the quality/voice/lack of grammatical errors (etc.) did not translate beyond page one, two or three. Others failed in the query letter stage. While the pages may have been good, the query did not “grip” and QL’s are (sadly) part of the process. As I say, this was not the case for the majority of submissions, however, there were enough such comments to have me look at how I can improve on the submission process.

So this got me thinking. The basic process WILL remain the same, that is to say, the concept of Easter Nests & Secret Bunny Agents will remain, however the selection process will be MUCH TOUGHER – not because I’m cruel! but to get the very best submissions before agents.

snoopyeasterMentor Teams:

In 2015 there will be MENTOR TEAMS made up of a Team Leader (Mentor) and his/her Slush Bilbies (2-3 readers). Each Team will work separately but will also working with the other Teams, & select their top picks.

Selection Process:

The initial steps will remain. 35-word pitch & first 300 words but instead of the Mentors picking & featuring eight (8) submissions, the Mentors will pick “between 5-8” (plus two alternates) and of those, they will request both the Query Letter & either the first chapter or the first 2500-words. The query WILL NOT be featured but will form part of the Mentor Selection Process. The Teams, who will pick a name (e.g #TeamWinnerWinnerChickenDinner) and then read their picked queries, pitches & first chapter. They will have 3 weeks to read through, request more, send revised notes & request a revised version (the author has 5 days to reply) or reject completely. After 4-weeks each Team will feature their picks on their blogs.

The final number per Team is yet to be decided but will not be less than five or more than eight per Team. Every member of the Team will feature the selected submissions. For example #TeamWinnerWinnerChickenDinner will feature their author’s pitches + first 300-words on each Team Members Blog(although the Agent bidding will only happen on the Team Leaders Blog)

This way each author benefits 3 ways:

(i)                 More exposure

(ii)               Feedback which will benefit them in their pitch, the query letter & page requests.

(iii)             Enough time (after sending any revised pages back) to work through any repeating issues in their MS before agent requests come through.

tumblr_mfnljv4qMl1qiwqjeo2_400From The Slush-Pile:

Additional to the above, I will select my own “saved from the slush-pile” submissions. This could be as few as one or as many as five or six and is utterly at my own discretion. Basically, if I feel very strongly about certain submissions that were not picked by the Mentors, I will give these a second chance. The process will be the same. For example, if there are three I feel should be featured, all three will need to send their query letters & first chapter at which point I will read, revise, reject and request… and then make my selection.

Regardless of if there is one or more, these will form part of the Agent Round also. Essentially I’ll be looking for hidden gems that need a little bit more polishing.

Cuteness overloaded#PitchBootCamp:

In 2014 I ran a short bootcamp for 35-word pitches with the awesome Rhiann Wynn-Nolet. It was an opportunity to sharpen your pitches with feedback from Rhiann & myself as well as an open forum for others to comment & participate. I can tell you that many who were involved considered this an excellent way to prefect their pitches, not just for #Nestpitch but for other pitches.

Assuming Rhiann is available, I do intend to run this again; stay tuned.

Feedback:

As with #Nestpitch2014, I will be offering feedback to those who just missed out as I think it’s important for people who were “just about there” to know this. Sometimes the reasoning can be as simple as what else has been selected, or Agent Wish-Lists or Mentor preferences, other times it might be issues with grammar or a poor query letter that lets down the submission. This is what (I feel) author’s need to know.

cuddle bunnie kitten 1PictureBooks:

I adore Picture Books and that is why I featured them in #Nestpitch2014 however, sadly, although we had a lot submitted, very few were submission ready and none got requests. For this reason, I am unsure if we will be accepting PB’s for #Nestpitch 2015. My heart says yes so I’ll let you know in 2015.

However, all is not lost for PB’s.

Although I don’t have the time this year (too many things on before the end of 2014), I intend to run an online workshop December 6th 2015 for PB’s. Why this date? Simple, its St. Nicholas day & for those of you who know me, know I just LOVE LOVE LOVE traditions. (in fact it’s actually where the more modern tradition of Christmas Stocking filling comes from).1092157-Clipart-St-Nicholas-Day-Greeting-Over-A-Shoe-With-Goodies-Royalty-Free-Vector-Illustration

In the area of Croatia I come from there still remains the tradition of gifts for children on St. Nicholas day. In fact, for a very long time, right up until the 1950s or 1960s, that was the day children got presents while Christmas day was for family, feasts, religion etc.

On December 5th eve, children take their best pair of shoes and polish and polish and polish them. When the shoes are shiny clean they are left on the front porch, or covered stoop (remembering this is winter and where I come from if its not snowing in December it is surely raining!) Then St. Nicholas comes along and leaves something in each shoe depending on the quality of the polish and the behaviour of the child in the past year.

(i)                 Super good children, basically angels, get something special, chocolate

(ii)               really good children get a toy

(iii)             good children get fruit (oranges in winter were considered a treat)

(iv)             Naughty children get a lump of coal

(v)               Very naughty children get either onions or garlic shoved into their shoes. For many months after, each time they go to wear the shoes, the smell reminds them to be better next year.

2369d799254b142e6f62b73033ca79e8FYI traditionally St. Nicholas travelled with the Devil. St. Nicholas gave the gifts & the Devil left the coal & onions!

While we’ll ignore the coal and the garlic, in 2015 I’ll b running a PB workshop. Sometime in November 2015 I’ll be asking for PB submissions. Then, from December 6th to Christmas Eve, each day I feature the pitch plus first 100-words of various PB’s. Clearly I can only accept 18 submissions so it will be first come first serve I’m afraid.

From December 6th people will come along and leave a “gift” along with a short sentence as to why they chose an orange rather than chocolate. The 18 PB authors featured will be required to each leave a comment on at least 3 submissions between Dec 6th & 24th, & will also need to help “spread the word” for others to come along and “play St. Nicholas” thereby ensuring everyone gets feedback.

On Dec 25th the top 3-5 (PB’s that got the best presents) will be re-featured on the #Nestpitch blog. There is more to it, but basically that’s it. The idea is to help PB writers sharpen their own work while also getting feedback from the general public. Unlike a #pitchcomp this is not about agents asking for requests (although if an agent does contact me I promise to pass on the requests!), it’s about a forum for PB authors.

I’ve posted this early as I’d very much like feedback from you’all on the planned changes

and of course any suggestions would also be very welcome.

Drafy Nest Pich Logo last stage

Quick Update :)

catHi All, 

Well as many of you know, I’ve been a little absent lately. I moved house a few weeks ago and then had all kinds of issues with firstly my power connection (I was without power from Friday evening to Monday morning) and then my internet (no internet for over a week), plus the *fun* of actually moving house. However, I’m almost (sort of) settled, the cat’s very happy here & I actually went to the gym this morning (I will not admit to how many years its been, lets just say I’m already feeling it).

For those of you who know me a little better, you’ll know I’m also working on a new set of paintings, as I’m hoping to do another exhibition late next year, I have 3 manuscripts currently on the go:

(i)                 a New Adult Women’s Fiction doing the agent rounds

(ii)               an adult Dark-Historical Fantasy with a BETA reader as we speak

(iii)             a very wild and weird adult re-tell WIP which has been messing with my brain and is currently about 1/3 of the way through the first draft.

I’m also doing several subjects in a new BA I started (Professional Writing & Publishing) and I’ve applied for a few intern positions, although they are as rare as hen’s teeth right?

To add to all of the above, a few weeks before I moved, I had a hand injury resulting in hospitalisation, as I had blood poisoning (another long story, let’s just say it wasn’t fun!)

So I guess what I’m saying is sorry for being absent & I promise to get on top of everything soon. And for those wondering, yes there will be a #Nestpitch 2015. We already have several agents who have put their hands up asking to be part of the 2015 line-up, which is awesome! I should mention that I will be re-working the system just a little. As you can imagine, the first time is always a massive learning curve. Luckily for me, I had an amazing team, many of whom were well experienced in #Pitch Comps. Without them I’m sure I would have struggled :)

The new line up and procedure will be announced in early 2015 but on the whole, the idea and concept will remain the same, just better!

So, that’s it for now, short and sweet this time, I’ll be posting more soon, but for now 

~MyTheInspirationBeWithYou~

Writers Block – Is it even a Real thing?

defeatistHi all,

I’m going to caveat this post by saying I doubt very much that many will agree with me, at least initially. In fact, I’m expecting some of you, including my lovely writer-ly friends, to *up-in-arms* against me; because, hell, I’m just going to say it – I THINK THE ENTIRE CONCEPT OF WRITERS BLOCK IS COMPLETE AND UTTER CRAP.

There! I said it. Now, before you ’all jump straight to “comments” hear me out. Firstly, let’s set the guidelines and boundaries of what Writers Block is supposed to be. Below is a definition from Wikipeadia, the highlighted bits are my addition: 

Definition:

Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years. Throughout history, writer’s block has been a documented problem. Professionals who have struggled with the affliction include author F. Scott Fitzgerald and pop culture cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. 

The research concentrating on this topic abounded in the late 1970s and 1980s. During this time, researchers were influenced by the Process and Post-Process movements, and therefore focused specifically on the writer’s processes. The condition was first described in 1947 by psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler. 

So, if I have this straight, Writers Block is the inability to produce new work, with no time period limit? So… was Harper Lee suffering raj-feeling-sorry-for-myself-giffrom Writers Block after writing To Kill a Mockingbird? I mean, that was it for Harper… nothing else (that we know of) ever written and certainly nothing else published. Or did Harper Lee think, Yep… happy with that one, what’s next on my bucket list.” - ?

And here is my other issue… what constitutes NEW WORK? Is it an entirely new project, a brand new WIP, is it new scenes for a chapter or a totally new chapter from thin air, or is it new words that make a scene, chapter, manuscript sharp and quick… or is it JUST any old words slapped together to make NEW WORK?

The premise is flawed, and the description about as vague as the Gabor Sisters dates of birth (Magda, Zsa Zsa, and Eva – and no, I’m not one hundred years old, I just like 1940s, 50 & 60s movies).

Of course there are going to be days when inspiration hits you like a cannonball and other days when you really don’t want to get out of bed… it’s called REAL LIFE, but for some reason, artists, and writer’s in particular, demand of our brains to “please explain” – still not convinced? Let’s look at other professions.

tumblr_lsoptaXE3Q1r42ynoo1_400Legal:

Have you ever seen or attended a meeting or court session? I’m sure you are nodding yes. And when this has happened, if the matter was of a more serious nature, how often is there only ONE legal representative? Not very often. We accept this because “legal council prefers to consult before giving a reply” – also known as; “I’m just not with it today, what’s your take on the evidence?”

Medical:

Operating Theatre is the perfect example of how one doctor hands over to another, either because of expertise or because they just got the shakes, or they can’t get the God-Damn massive phone bill on their kids mobile off their minds… and their inability to concentrate might just kill the patient.

Sporting:

Depending on the arena and the level of professional play, there can be several coaches and assistant coaches… each and every one doing their bit to cover, ehh sorry, assist each other and the players.

OK, perhaps it’s not QUITE the same thing, but I assure you, in every job I’ve had, there have been days when I couldn’t grasp a concept or find an answer, and have struggled to put words and ideas together, even in say an internal memo or email. Yet, it’s not called WRITERS BLOCK if you’re an accountant thinking of the best way to tell your client they have a massive tax bill… and adding… “oh and by they way, here’s my invoice,” it’s called bad news or a shitty day –

But for writers it’s WRITERS BLOCK. I truly believe the ‘title’ Writers Block was created by an unknown psychologist in order to write a paper and get a mention.

So what am I saying here?tumblr_m4fybpLKeL1qlyiz6

Yes sometimes I struggle with an idea or a scene or an answer to a weak scene, yet I consider this part of my JOB as a writer.

Sometimes I don’t write anything new for days, even months.

Sometimes I don’t paint a new painting for days, or months.

Neither of these are a BLOCK – they are a lack of inspiration; that’s IT – nothing more, it’s not a block it’s your brain telling you to “give me a break FFS, I’m just a brain not a micro-chip.”

Interestingly enough, if you Google, “ways to overcome writers block” you’ll get a plethora of sites all with pretty much the same advice… take a break from what you’re doing and do something different; in order to refresh your thoughts and inspire you. Sorry but isn’t that just fatigue mixed with a little frustration and boredom?

When I’m not inspired, I don’t sit about complaining and whining about being “blocked” I DO SOMETHING.  And guess what, I do EXACTLY what these 1001 sites suggest. It can be as simple as getting out of the house, or the city. Or it can be doing some volunteer work, or cleaning the house top-to-toe. Or it can be reading, studying other artists, making notes, doing revision, socialising IRL and on social media… it can be going for a run, joining a gym or even paying bills (seriously), anything that gets my mind off my current annoying little pest and has me thinking, doing, acting in a different way.

let-me-love-you-sheldonI’m going to take a detour to the left here and bring up the character of Shelton on The Big Bang Theory. (FYI if you don’t like this show – opps! Sorry)

There is one episode where the character of Sheldon cannot work out the answer to one of his physics theories. No matter how much he tries, the answer evades him. And, given his self-assuredness of his utter brilliance, this frustrates him no end. He decides he needs to let his MIND REST in order to progress and takes it on himself to work as a waiter/plate collector because “there is no more menial job” he can think of to allow his brain to rest and think better. And evidently it works.

Even this WAS NOT Writers or Artists or Inventors Block – it was fatigue and stress disallowing Sheldon’s brain to conceptualise an answer to his question. Resting the brain and taking on an entirely foreign task helped clear his mind and refresh his thoughts.

tumblr_n50ewgGmzh1qfdwsio1_400We all need time-out.

Parents live by “Time-Out” rules for their children and most employers encourage their employees to “take a break” even if it’s just to get a glass of water. Classes are specifically set to be under 60 minutes because the human brain requires a break after 45-50 minutes… it’s Time Out.

If we must give the “time-out” for writers a label, must it be a BLOCK? It has such negative connotations. Inspiration is fleeting as much as it is compelling and for the better part of the day, week, year; we are doing mundane *housework* such as revisions, and editing and helping others do the same. If we were studying, we’d call it “a break” if we were doing a work-out we do “warm-ups” and “cool-downs” yet when our author brain tells us it needs a rest we make it a negative thing, referring to it as a BLOCK rather than a little nana-nap that, frankly we all should indulge in occasionally.

Devil-wears-Prada-gifs-Miranda-Priestly-Emily-Blunt9_zpsb87dd4b3Writers Break sure, in fact from here on in I will be calling this period WRITERS BREAK – hands up if you’re with me? I’ll be the first to put my hand up for that one, but, in my humble opinion, there no such thing as WRITERS BLOCK, unless you really DO need an excuse for not finishing that manuscript you’ve been half-heartedly working on for the past 5-years. In which case being BLOCKED much better suits than taking a BREAK… you’ll never have to finish what you started :)

And before I go, I’d like to thank all of you for your support.

pinkie pie party cannon

This little blog was started by me in Jan -2014 and it’s just rolled over the 13,000 hits — not bad for 9 months! – I hope you ‘all continue to get something from my posts and as always, feel free to comment :)

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