New Year, New Name, New Objectives

Hello all, I mentioned on my last post that I was looking at changing the name of this blog and after what seems dozens of various options and at least as many variations of each option, I have settled on TheNovelAbode. … Continue reading

#Nestpitch2016, David Bowie, Alan Rickman & other news

Hello all & welcome to 2016!images

I know it’s been a while since I posted & I apologise for that, between a memorial, anniversary, 11 immediate family birthdays, Christmas & New Year, I’ve been run off my feet.

First things first.

animated-saint-nicholas-image-0124St.  Nicholas Day Workshop for PB & MG authors.

To my complete surprise, shock actually, not a single person sent in their first 150 words for the workshop – Yup – Not kidding!

Given:

a)      feedback is crucial for improvement

b)      there were two successful authors (in those categories) willing and able to offer feedback, authors who make a living out of their craft full-time.

c)      the *pitch period* was just around the corner

d)     and… although it was not advertised given it was going to be a bonus surprise, a well established, successful, award-winning publishing house editor, with more than 30 years experience in PB & MG, was also going to offer feedback… with the potential of actually requesting full manuscripts…

I am quite disappointed that no aspiring author in the PB/MG category thought a workshop might be of some value. But there it is – or rather could have been!

Anyway, moving right along.Wonderwoman Bunny

– And on the same wavelength. #Nestpitch 2016.

Again another apology – I have success stories to post for #Nestpitch2015, however, for the reasons above, plus the authors who have been successful are currently extremely busy, there has been no time to ‘chat’ and let everyone know the good news – I promise this will come soon!

As for #Nestpitch 2016, I have made a decision and it has not been an easy one. After much consideration and deliberation I have decided to NOT run #Nestpitch2016
The main reason for this year Easter falls early, with Good Friday being March 25th.
Given 2-3 other pitching comps will be running either just before, during or just after this time period, and given the issues we had in 2015 with submission cross-over (and lost submissions), I feel that this is too much to ask from author’s, agents and from those of us behind the scenes.
I am planning to still run Post-it-Forward with Rhiann Wynn-Nolet (assuming people are interested) in early March as I feel this will help authors prepare for other pitching comps. 

uncle-fester#Nestpitch is NOT dead, but rather in hiatus & will return in 2017 !
The lack of interest in the December workshop & the availability of some of my #Nestpitch Team Members contributed to my decision; however I also have a personal reason. 
After A LOT of thinking and re-thinking, I have decided to self publish my WF. This has not been an easy decision, especially given the number of agents who requested partials or fulls. However, because of the the subject matter & the genre & category, there were only about 25-30 agents who best matched my MS. I sent out (in total) 23 submissions. From those sent I received requests for seven partials and  five fulls. Three of the fulls resulted in R&Rs, however those R&Rs did not result in offers. I knew if I did not get an agent offer by September 2015, the novel would not have a hope of being printed before the end of 2017. If you read point (iii) below you’ll understand why 2017 was the latest I wanted this story to be published.

I decided to try a handful of smaller publishers directly. I sent my MS to 7 and got an offer from a small publishing house. I was thrilled. But then something else happened. I’d seen/heard/read of several of my author friends who’d signed with smaller publishers… only to have the publishing house close. I am a supporter of small press – BIG TIME – but it concerned me nevertheless. And as it turned out, I too felt the sting of a small publisher fail – not for this MS but for another piece.giphy (2)

Just as I was in negotiations to sign, a small press contacted me – one who’d accepted a short story of mine  (for an anthology) in Nov 2014. First they said it was to be printed in early 2015, then mid 2015, then late 2015… then in October 2015 I was advised the anthology was cancelled.

I considered this and what if the same thing happened to my novel? So I decided to go it alone – even as I knew this was perhaps the toughest, bravest and likely silliest course of action – even so, it felt *right for me.

Some of you know of this novel. Some of you have been BETAs for me. Those who don’t, I have made this decision because of the above and also because:
(i) I believe in the novel, the storyline & my skills
(ii) I have had enough encouragement and positive feedback from various agents to know that I am not kidding myself
(iii) Because of the subject matter (which, while mostly set in modern-day Melbourne Australia, also deals with the Russian Revolution & the murders of the Romanov’s – and the 100 year anniversary of their executions is July 2017), I believe now and this coming year, is the time to strike with this particular novel.

tumblr_n6pu3mpAd81qzx3jto5_1280I have employed the services of Kate Foster & Lauren McKellar as editors. Kate & Lauren are authors in their own right and well established editors with a bank of authors they have worked with. Kate will edit it first in Jan-2016 and then Lauren in April 2016. I elected to have two editors because I feel the more eyes the better. In fact, I have already employed the services of two editors in the past. One with just the beginning of my MS and another to do a general read-through – I believe in professional eyes!

Between Edit#1 & #2 I will be re-reading and asking a few of my BETAs to re-read, and then again after Lauren is done, May will be spent re-reading. I have also employed the services of an awesome Melbourne Illustrator, with amazing talent and a wonderful reputation as an illustrator, for the cover – Sunshine Herbert

I have purposely chosen an all Australian team, this was important to me, not only because of spelling/grammar/colloquial terminology, but also because these ladies will better conceptualise my images and therefore either offer better suggestions or make greater improvements. Plus, I do think it’s important to support local people wherever possible -we are a large country in mass and volume but small in numbers & we need to support each other.

I am planning to have the novel ready for a launch date in 29th September 2016 and images (5)instead of #Nestpitch2016, this year I will run a series of “my path to self publishing” blogs where I will discuss everything from BETAs, to covers, to marketing, costs, to preparing for failure as well as success. I have been given permission from Kate, Lauren & Sunshine to discuss fees in generalities (every job is different after all). The figures will be very strong guides and will offer excellent potential cost markers for those of you looking to follow the same route. I will also be posting links to their sites as well as sites for other professionals I have used and/or would be happy to recommend, both in Australia and the US.
I will begin the SERIES in Feb-2016 and will be as honest as I possibly can about time frames, financial costs, marketing strategies, editing and other services and so forth.

I am doing this because I feel:

(i) many people are turning to Self Publishing with unrealistic expectations

(ii) no real idea what the process is

(iii) not enough structure/planning

(iv) have a lack of professional people at their dispossal – rather than scammers

(v) no realistic concept of time-frames/time management

For example, I met with an aspiring author in September-2015 who was finishing her first novel. She intended to self publish it; and wanted it out before Christmas. As that stage only one BETA had read it and her *close friend was going to edit it. (Close friend is not and has never been an editor of any kind)

She had no marketing strategy, had never heard of Netgalley, or Smashwords, intended to use stock-standard free-clip-art for her front cover and wasn’t even sure what an ISBN was or why she needed one.

As for a marketing campaign and professional reviewers, she had no idea she needed to create a marketing strategy, saying “Doesn’t Amazon market it for me?” or who/what professional reviewers were and why they need to be sent pre-copies of a novel at least 3 months in advance.

getoveritI listened with interest and then proceeded to burst her bubble, while offering advice, connections, links etc. to people and sites that could/would help her. This is what got me thinking about writing a regular “my path to self publishing” blog post update – all the way up to and including the launch party.

For this reason, after this blog has been posted, and as of Feb 2016, I will be changing the name of this site. #Nestpitch is NOT dead, but rather in hiatus, even so, this blog has become so much more than the sum of one pitching comp. It has become a place to workshop, to read interviews with agents, authors, editors, to read reviews… and now it will be the place where I place my soul up to the Self Publishing God’s and hope I’m not too humbled into submission 😉

The new name eludes me for now. I’m attempting to be clever (because there are few tumblr_inline_mq7vu1fLsQ1qz4rgpthings I am more vain about than my mind – truth!), but given I named my first cat Blackie (she was all black) and thought it was very clever, this new name could take a while. OK I was nine at the time, so perhaps that makes Blackie seem more witty – still if anyone has any suggestions – bring ‘em on!

And before I go, a quick note to remember David Bowie & Alan Rickman.

images (6)I had planned on posting this blog days ago, but those two deaths images (7)have had an impact on me; as I know they have had on so many, many of us, and I needed time to let their losses sink in…& be accepted by both my brain and my heart.

Farewell boys, I never knew you yet I loved you both! Messrs Rickman and Bowie were so much more than Snape & Ziggy, yet for many, these are the images which first form of these two wondrous talents. 

Will we remember Ziggy Stardust & likely the oldest and coolest Emo ever – ALWAYS – RIP fella’s

 

Nestpitch 2015 Teams – Simply Smawesome!

91aab551Hello all,

I guess it would be no big revelation if I said I make stuff up, given my chosen profession. The thing is I also make words up, usually by accident. That’s what happened yesterday morning. I was working on the Nestpitch Team bio’s and as I got further along, it hit me at how amazing this years Mentors & Slushies are.

I also talk to myself. Well that and the cats, which is kind of the same thing. So there I was, working on the Team bio’s talking to myself when my brain, which often works way faster than my mouth (& that’s saying something!), was thinking “these teams are Super, Magical, Awesome– and what came out of my mouth (literally) was smawesome – & that’s what these Team’s are – SMAWESOME! So I’m coining the word as my own & who knows? It might just catch on 🙂thebestdayyet

Below are the Teams and when you read them you’ll agree, they are smawesome, but before you look through the Teams, I wanted to run through the selection process. Now, don’t freak out too much as a full list of dates, rules and conditions will be posted on the 23rd / 24th of March. For now just mark March 23rd /24th and April 1st (submission date).

The submission consists of:

(i)                 35-word pitch

(ii)               Answer to this question: If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would s/he be? (no more than 15 words please)

(iii)             1st 300-words of your manuscript*

*1st 300 = if you have a prologue, then your 1st 300 starts from your prologue. If you don’t think your prologue is strong enough then perhaps you need to rethink your prologue.

Finish at the end of a sentence. This is 300-word MAX, so your last word is 300-words. If your sentence finishes on 292-words, submit that. If your sentences run into 30 or more words, then rethink the length of your sentence(s). Broken sentences do no one favours.

This year we will not be accepting PB’s – I have something special planned for PB’s (and perhaps MG’s) for December 2015 assuming I can get all my ducks in a row 😉

defeatistTwo things to add/note:

(1)               A condition of entry is any MS #pitch submitted to previous #pitches, which resulted in being selected, in the twelve months prior to April 2015, is ineligible.   The only sub-clause to this is #PitchSlam. Please let us know if  you have the same MS in #PitchSlam & #Nestpitch, and again if you’ve been selected. I have spoken to the Host of PitchSlam & we’ve agreed to work closely on this one.

(2)               This year there will be less final selection featured pitches. (Expecting final the number to be around 40). With each Team concentrating on fewer submissions, we can be more hands-on with feedback and mentoring. By doing this, not only will the pitch + 300-words be stronger, but so will the entire MS. This year there will be rounds.

Harry potter styl image 1a.      Round #1: Last year I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt when errors were made in following guidelines. That will not be the case this year, aside from formatting issues (which happen). To get past #1 author’s must be able to follow guidelines.

b.      Round #2: This year each Team will select and initial 5-8 submissions and then request more pages/material. Based on the additional pages/material, each Team will drill their selection down to between 4-5 to go to the next round.

March-06-2012-17-18-53-tumblrltqwvxV4261qlcw7co1500c.      Round #3: On having picked their final 4-5, each Team will then critique the first 2,500-words and ‘get to know’ the author(s). This is a 3-fold process. Being selected does not necessarily mean being featured. Teams will want to know the author(s) are willing to accept feedback etc.  The Teams will work with their author’s for 3 weeks, offering feedback, sharpening pitches, & suggesting improvements. After this, the author’s have a full week to re-read their MS in full & make any final changes; before the agent round.

 From the Slush-pile Picks.

My Team, #Team2Beat, will be hunting through the slush-pile and the reserves, looking for gems that have been missed. We will have the option of selecting between 1-5 pitches (at our discretion) to feature. This is basically a bonus-pick so, you may just get an email after the date, but if you do, expect to work twice as hard as the other author’s as you’ll have less time – so be ready!

All of the above, together with dates and other conditions will be posted on March 23rd / 24th in an information post  – so keep a look out for that post.

And now, (in no particular order), bathe in the smawesmeness of our Teams! 

SCSC_Author – Mentor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SC_Author  & blog: http://www.scwrite.blogspot.com.au/

Co-host of “Query Kombat” and “Nightmare on Query Street” and the host of “The Writer’s Tank” and “Become an Agent,” SC founded the#WriteInclusively pact in efforts to promote creative writing that has diversity as a focus. SC also wrote: “There’s a story behind my icon pic, a story that used to be funny a few years ago. I’m on the quest to find a new icon, though. Stay tuned!  Slushies: 

Laura HeffernanLaura Heffernan – Slushie – Laura is a California-born women’s fiction writer, represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary.. One Saturday morning when she was four or five, Laura sat down at the family’s Commodore 64 and typed out her first short story. She’s written both fiction and non-fiction ever since.

In her spare time, Laura likes travel baking, board games, and new experiences. She lives in the northeast, freezing like the true California girl she is, with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts. Her fuzzy sock collection is becoming impressive. You’ll find Laura on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/LH_Writes 

Heather MurphyHeather Murphy Capps – Slushie – Heather is an MG/YA author of adventures and thrillers with light sci-fi, magical, or ghostly twists. When not writing, she’s wrangling her most important beta readers — her children. She also teaches and design courses (for adults) in writing and public speaking. Heather often features as a guest blogger on several popular blogs and recently wrote a guest blog on SC’s blog about her experiences as a writer & person of mixed cultural background.

You’ll find Heather on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/HeatherMC66 

LouiseLouise GornallMentor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rock_andor_roll  Blog: http://bookishblurb.com

YA author of urban fantasy and horror stories, Louise like her art on the dark-side. She describes herself as “Identical twin, junk food aficionado, book bird,film nerd, Jedi” & is represented by Mandy Hubbard at D4EO. Also, she’s from the UK so you know her voice will be as hot as her photo!

Lou’s Slushies:             

Sarah CarlsonSarah Carlson – Slushie Sarah loves writing (and reading) Young Adult Contemporary fiction that touches on social issues. She recently relocated from Singapore back to Wisconsin with her husband and two dogs to return to working in schools. Sarah is represented by fabulous Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Regal Literary Management. You’ll find Sarah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/sarahjoydrop 

Kate FosterKate Foster – Slushie -Kate is a freelance editor and proofreader, writer of middle grade fiction and reader of all things dark and disturbing. Her first novel, Winell Road, is set for release later this year with Jet Black Publishing. Originally from the UK, she now lives on the gold Coast in Australia with her husband, three sons and pet spoodle.  (we’ll claim her as an Aussie!)

You’ll find Kate on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/winellroad

Sharon Bayliss picSharon Bayliss – Mentor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonBayliss & Blog http://www.sharonbayliss.com/

Author extraordinaire with Curiosity Quills, (yes I’m a super-fan of her December People Series), Sharon lives in Texas with her hubby & gorgeous children where, between chasing after her boys, she  tweets, writes & helps other authors too.

Sharon B’s Slushies: 

Katy Katy Upperman – Slushie Writer of YA & represented by Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency, Katy describes herself as a wife, mama,avid reader and country music fanatic who likes baking, cheap beer, long runs, Jelly Bellies, sunshine, social media, and yoga. You’ll find Katy on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KatyUpperman 

Jessika FleckJessika Fleck – Slushie – represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley at Inklings Literary, Jessika is a lover of art and booksbut it wasn’t until she put the two together that Jessika discovered the magic of storytelling. Jessika lives in quaint, small town Vermont with her sweet family, growing collection of vintage typewriters, and bevy of characters who often keep her up at night. You’ll find Jessika on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/jessikafleck 

Stacey Nash picStacey Nash – Mentor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/staceynash Blog: http://www.stacey-nash.com/

Author of YA & NA (HarperCollins), and fellow Aussie, Stacey is also part of the blogging team at AussieOwnedAndRead. When not writing, Tweeting or Facebook- ing, she can be found spending time with her family.

Stacey’s Slushies: 

Kathy PalmKathy Palm – Slushie – Magic-wielding, TARDIS-traveling, stay-at-home mom, and YA fantasy/horror writer Kathy recently signed with REUTS Publications, her debut DOORS to be released in winter of 2016. She loves chocolate and all the weird, creepy, and fantastical words. You’ll find Kathy on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KathleenPalm 

LivLiv Rancourt – Slushie – Liv writes romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire…or sometimes demon. She writes funny, not angst. When not writing Liv takes care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. She describes her husband is a soul of patience and her dog as the cutest thing evah(!) You’ll find Liv on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/LivRancourt 

sharon jSharon Johnston – Mentor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/S_M_Johnston & Blog: http://downunderwonderings.blogspot.com.au/

Another fellow Aussie, and talented writer, like Stacey, Sharon is also part of the AussieOwnedAndRead blogging team. She is also involved with several other #PitchComps, hence why wenicknamed her #ThePitchWhisperer

Sharon J’s Slushies: 

E.L WickerE.L Wicker – Slushie  – E.L is, in her own words “mildly (massively) obsessed with new Adult” (another reason I like her!). If she’s not reading it, she’s writing it. Among her favourite pastimes is hunting out new books by sparkly new authors. Author of the Bearwood series and blog assistant to Sharon Johnston (& now Slushie too), Emma is a lover of the contraction, a hater of the ‘off of’ & like the rest of us, a writer doing her thing. You’ll find E.L on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ELWicker  

JC NelsonJC Nelson – Slushie –  J.C is a born Texan living in the Pacific Northwest. Software developer by day and by night, an author and herder of Children and chickens. J.C.  writes Urban Fantasy blended with fairy tales, such as the Grimm Agency series. You can find J.C. on twitter here: https://twitter.com/AuthorJCNelson

Amanda Foody pic Amanda Foody – Mentor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmandaFoody & Blog: http://www.amandafoody.blogspot.com.au/

Repped by Molly Jaffa at Folio Literary. When not writing YA, or reading a book, you’ll likely find Amanda sprinting across her campus to another accounting class – yes there are author’s who are also accountants!

Amanda’s Slushies: 

photoNiki Cluff – Slushie – Niki was one of our success stories from last year and has joined us this year as one of Amanda’s Slushies. Niki is represented by Cate Hart at Corvisiero Literary Agency.

You’ll find Niki on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/nikimcluff

JenaJena DuBois – Slushie – Jena is a English Major (in other words, grammar, syntax and spell WILL COUNT) as well as an aspiring author. As a BETA to her fabulous Mentor for the past two years, Jena knows how to edit and how to spot those plot holes 😉 You’ll find Jena here: https://twitter.com/SlushieJena  

brooke PBrooke PowellMentor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheCakeNovelist Blog: http://www.thecakenovelist.blogspot.com.au/

Also signed with Folio Literary, Brooke like her subjects and her characters to stretch the readers perception of normal, she calls it “contemporary fiction that tends to twist and turn toward the more taboo side of things” When not writing, editing or social media-ing, Brooke can be found making cakes looks like works of art.

Brooke’s Slushies:

Heather BHeather Bryant – Slushie – Another Aussie, Heather lives in a little city in Australia with far too many voices in her head. When not reading, writing or sharing tweets online, Heather is another contributor on the AussieOwnedAndRead blog. If you have a purple unicorn, let Heather know! You’ll find Heather on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/heather_b88  

Kristy Shen PicKristy Shen – Slushie – Computer Engineer by day and one half of a writing duo by night. In her spare time, she likes traveling to exotic places, eating strange foods, and scaring the locals with her unintelligible hyper-babble and insane ramblings. Her debut MG novel LITTLE MISS EVIL has just been released through Spencer Hill Press. Kristy is represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley at Inklings Literary. You’ll find Kristy on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KristyShen

LaurenLauren McKellar – Mentor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurenKMcKellar & Blog: http://laurenkmckellar.com/

uthor, editor, AussieOwnedAndRead blog contributor and yes, another Aussie, Lauren’s debut novel, Finding Home, was released through Escape Publishing Harlequin Australia, on October 1, 2013. You can find out more about her Contemporary Crazy in Love series via her blog.

Lauren’s Slushies: 

Tracy JoyceTracy Joyce – Slushie – Tracy is an Australian Author of speculative fiction  who grew up in rural Victoria.  Her debut novel, Altaica: Book I in The Chronicles of Altaica, has been published by Odyssey Books. Tracy has long been a fan of the Fantasy genre, but particularly likes novels that deal with deep characterisations and that don’t flinch from the gritty realities of life. You’ll find Tracy on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/TracyMJoyce

Karen McCoyKaren McCoy – Slushie –   As a writer who also works as a librarian; Karen must have the second most wanted profession for writers, the first being one-after-the-other best sellers! Author if MG & YA, Karen also an MFA student. When not reading, or writing or studying, you’ll likely find Karen on her blog or blogging on the Operation Awesome blog. You’ll find Karen on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/WriterLibrarian

DSC_0005

Nikola Vukoja – Mentor Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nik_Vukoja Blog: http://nikvukoja.wordpress.com/

Host & creator of #Nestpitch & co-host of Post-it-Forward, Nik’s tastes tend toward NA & Adult in both reading and writing, Nik likes her stuff to either be on the dark side or historical or have a social message, ideally all three! When not writing, you’ll find Nik working on her visual art, cooking, gardening & following orders from her Feline Overlords.

Nikola’s Slushie: 

JadahJadah McCoy – Slushie – Jadah lives in Nashville, TN and works as a legal coordinator. When not babysitting attorneys she can be found desperately juicing her brain for creative ideas or fantasizing about her next trip out of the country (or about Tom Hiddleston as Loki – it’s always a toss up when she’s fantasizing). Her debut NA sci-fi is forthcoming from Curiosity Quills Press. You’ll find Jadah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/theQueryFaerie  

boopyeaster

And now – let the Easter Festivities begin! 

No Man is an Island…

cute-cat-kitten-skiing-animated-gif-pictureHi all,

It’s 3.30am as I begin to type this. One of those days/nights where I’ve got about 1000 things flying through my mind and I simply cannot rest. So, rather than waste this excess energy, I decided to write a summary of #Nestpitch & Nikola

>>> Remembering 2014 – The Year That Was <<<<

Those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning will know I started the Nestpitch blog primarily for the #Nestpitch writers contests (2014 being our first year) but also to use this blog as a avenue for other contests, to promote authors, interview agents and/or editors & generally open up discussion on topics pertaining to writing & arts in general.

Given I began this blog in late Jan-2014, overall, I’m very happy with its progress. The clever Monkey’s at WordPress.com sent all of us our “yearly stats” but I’m such a numbers nerdy-geek that I’ve been following & keeping my own stats and am looking at around 15,000 visitors by the time  the Nestpitch Blog turns one-year-old. Even so, I did like how WordPress.com put it:

computer Kitty“…The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it…”

For a 1st year I couldn’t be happier or more thankful to all of you who have viewed, read, commented, followed, re-blogged, re-tweeted etc. You have all helped to make this blog & #Nestpitch as a concept, work.

And while I’m throwing out thank-you’s. I need to thank all those wonderful people who formed #Nestpitch 2014, the Mentors & the Slushies, and of course the Agents. Without the help, support and guidance, #Nestpitch 2014 would never have taken off. And not forgetting everyone who entered. You are all so brave and wildly talented!

Nestpitch had visitors from 86 countries Oh My Gosh! I had to think hard to list 86 countries so that is so wonderful.

I would also like to send out a special Thank You to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet who helped me run Post-It-Forward, a 35-word pitch clinic which she and I ran on both our blogs prior to submissions for #Nestpitch opened.

There are so many people I would like to thank but seriously, there really are dozens and dozens! The old saying of No Man Is An Island is never more true than for solitary artists. If you’re a member of a dance troop or a band, while it may be true that a lot of time is spent in solitary training & practise, it is also true that in order for the group to work, they must spend large portions of time rehearsing and practising together.

It is not so for a visual artist or writer. I am both. We painters, sculptors and authors are truly masters of our own time but are equally solitary creatures. We come out at the oddest hours (it’s coming up to 3.55am, need I say more) and are inspired but the strangest things, to create the wildest ideas and forms. We do it because we cannot to anything else. We do it because we are driven to do so. But in all this mad energy and wild creative inspiration, in all the editing and re-touching and slashing and burning and re-writing, we remain, for the most part, alone.

Even those of us who have partners and/or agents/publishers, the internal struggles are uniquely solitary. We cannot explain why things happen the way they happen, they just do and because we cannot explain them… we remain internally alone.

tumblr_mr6kf4j54K1qdlh1io1_400The other day I was watching a programme on TV where someone picked up a lump of coal. I could not tell you what the programme was about, but I can tell you the outcome. Literally within minutes I had the inspiration and idea for an entirely new visual art exhibition. I’ve not been doing much in the way of painting and sculpture in the past few years, partly because I’ve been working on my writing, but mostly because I didn’t want to repeat what I’d already done. I wanted to create something entirely new… move forward as it were. Sometimes as artists, it takes years to be truly inspired with an utterly unique idea, but when it happens, and to quote the inspirational QUEEN “It’s a kind of magic.” These moments do not respect timing (who else has still being punching their keyboard at 3am?) or location. It goes something like this:

Inspiration: “Oh my frigging God, did you get that idea?”

Brain: “Its 3am, go back to sleep” 

Inspiration: “(in excited voice) “But… but… but… if we go back to sleep we’ll forget this by the time we wake up. GET UP! GET UP! GET UP! GET UP! GET UP! 

Brain: “Oh Jesus! OK, I guess I can function on 4 hours sleep, I’ve only got a 12-hours shift today, now what was that idea? Wooo! Damn, that is good!”

I’ve actually had an attack of inspiration at a funeral. I felt guilt, shame & excitement all at the same time. I know you all are reading this and nodding – ha!

There is so much more I want to share with you, but not today.

In the coming weeks I’ll be discussing the role, the need and the marketing ploys of artistic diversity. I’ll also be norweign forest 16interviewing Tina Moss & Yelena Casale as they embark on their new adventure {City Owl Press}. And I’ll be updating on #Nestpitch 2015 (looking forward to reading those submissions!) I’ll also be discussing BETA Reading and Readers as well as sharing my reaction to my first 1-star review.

2014 was a rough year, and not just for me. But I don’t want to dwell on the rough for the mere sake of dwelling. I do however want us to learn and come together from the adversity we may have struggled through.

For me, the very hardest day and week was when I lost my beloved Baltasar. There have been times & days when all I had in the cupboard was instant noodles or when I’ve sent a cheque for the utilities with more rubber in it than Dunlop… or when I’ve had to decide, power or phone, which do I pay? But none of that has mattered, because, as I often say, “they print more money every day” but losing my beautiful snugly fur-ball was close to devastating. It’s been over 6-months and even now, as I write this, my eyes are welling.

No man is an Island… let that be our motto for 2015.

– Eighty-Six Countries Visited NESPTICH in 2014 –

All of you, reach out to your neighbours, your partners, your fellow artists, your children, for no man, woman or child is or should ever feel they are an Island.

Reach out to your community centre or animal shelter, your children’s school, to the homeless person and the musician busker.

Fruit of Life  GoucheI have no doubt 2015 will offer its own rewards and challenges but if we all offer our hand to another, be it physically or virtually, I know it will make those heavy days less burdened and the lighter days more memorable.

One last thing. Quick apology to those who also follow my personal blog. I will be posting there too but I don’t want to get into the habit of repeating the same thing, so there will be less posts on my personal blog and more on here.

That’s almost it for me. Have a safe and wondrous 2015. Aim high but remember to fall is not to fail, you’re simply discovering how NOT to do something.

4.50am – hoo! More cute kitten gifs!  ImageProxy

As I’ve been writing this I’ve watched the sky turn from dark blue-black to the first grey signs of dawn. Being summer, daylight is only minutes away & the first magpies have already called to the the sun to wake up. I think I might try and get a few hours sleep, I mean SHEESH! It’s New Years Eve, how will I stay up to watch the fireworks without some sleep? (No one mention the midday Nana Naps I’m planning on taking – shhh!). If I’ve made any spelling or grammar errors in this post, I’m putting it down to the hour – 5.25am – might go check out Candy Crush on Facebook & then “to sleep, perchance to dream” for me.

See you all in 2015

#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

1st Page Feedback Workshop (“friendly-fire-feedback”)

With Brenda Drake’s #Pitchwars less than two months away, and lets face it, who doesn’t want to be picked for Pitchwars right? I wanted to run a First-Page-Workshop. Now, if you don’t know who Brenda Drake is, or what #Pitchwars … Continue reading

Musings – Thoughts and Reflections of Life, Love & Surviving Heartache

Hello all,  Normally about here is where I’ll let you know who I’m interviewing or what competitions are coming up. But today I’m going to be super self-indulgent … for I have news! As many of you know, I am … Continue reading