Choosing The Crazy – my path to SP – Part #1

Hi all, Often when I’m reading a novel, and come across a mistake, wrong word… whatever, assuming it is traditionally published, I may become annoyed, but I am rarely annoyed at the author – it’s the publisher and their editorial … Continue reading

#NestPitch2015 – is your manuscript pitch ready? Then… April 1-2-3 Go!

BunnyBlowsEggBubblesFor those who don’t know what Nestpitch is, here’s a quick run-through.

There’s a special Easter tradition throughout central and northern Croatia – making Easter Nests for the Easter Bunny.  On the afternoon or eve of Easter Saturday children go out into the garden and collect leaves, grass, twigs, flowers and then make a “nest” for the Easter Bunny – that’s where he places hisEaster-Egg-Presents. The children go to bed that eve wondering if the Easter Bunny will like or love their nest, because the best nest gets the best and biggest eggs! 

And that’s the basis of Nestpitch, but the ‘nests’ are the author’s pitches and the ‘Easter Bunnies’ are the agents

– get it? Great!

BunnyEatsCarrotHoleHow does Nestpitch work?

This year we have changed things a bit, therefore even if you participated in Nestpitch 2014 you will still need to read the below.

This year we are NOT accepting Picture Books. We are accepting MG, YA, NA and Adult FICTION ONLY. I had someone ask if we are accepting memoirs or similar- the short answer is NO. This is a FICTION ONLY pitch + 1st 300 for manuscript length fiction only. We are accepting all genres within these categories. If your novel is either Erotica or Christian, please state this. For example: Adult Romance (Erotica) or YA Historical Romance (Christian).

RabbitBrownCatchingSnowflakesWe support diversity and strongly encourage authors with GLBT, geographic, cultural and/or social diversity within their manuscripts to submit. Having said this, we DO NOT support sexual violence, violence against children, bigotry and racism, paedophilia and/or animal cruelty. While it is true that violence and cruelty features within some genres, horror for example, or racism in a historical fiction set in the time of slavery, we will not accept manuscripts that support or promote, directly or indirectly, racism, misogyny, rape, sexual, physical or emotional violence.

One submission per author only please.

Teams: This year there are nine Teams made up of one Mentor & two Slushies. The Teams are listed here:https://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/nestpitch-2015-teams-simply-smawesome/

Guidelines: easter-rabbit-eating-vegetables-beautiful-gif-photography-great-atmosphere-funny-pics-233-1

The Pitch window will be open for 48 hours, thereby allowing everyone, regardless of where you live in the world, to prepare and submit a pitch.

The Pitch will be made up of three parts.

(i)                 a 35-word pitch

(ii)               answer to a question (in your main character’s voice)*

(iii)             the first 300-words of their manuscript

*QUESTION: If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would s/he be?  Keep your answer to NO MORE than 15-words.

happy easter animated gif funny Easter Bunny photo graphics Happy Easter ecards animations eaggs Easter fun hot cross bunny  animations gif e-cardsHow to submit your Pitch:

On April 1st the submission window will open. Please follow the guidelines as set out below. Last year some people put their first 300 words at the top or mixed up the order. Please do not do this. There is a reason for the order and failure to follow the below will likely mean your submission will not pass Round#1 (refer below).

Send the following in your email:

In the Subject line: Nestpitch2015 Sub and your name/author name

In the body of the email type these words: 

By submitting this pitch + first 300 words I agree to allow the Nestpitch blog and/or any other affiliated blogs to post my submission on an open forum for the purposes of critique and feedback.  I understand this can be for the life of the blog(s).

PoohBearBunnyBasketManuscript Title:

Category/ Genre:

Word Count:

35-word Pitch:

QU (in your MC’s voice), if your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would s/he be?:

*First 300-words of your MS:

*1st 300 = if your MS has a prologue, then your 1st 300 starts from your prologue. Also, 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 you might want to rethink the length of your sentence(s). Broken sentences do no one favours.

Example of a Submission:

Subject line: Nestpitch2015 Sub – Nikola Vukoja

By submitting this pitch + first 300 words I agree to allow the Nestpitch blog and/or any other affiliated blogs to post my submission on an open forum for the purposes of critique and feedback.  I understand this can be for the life of the blog(s).

zg8w-19L-1

Manuscript Title:      Easter Bunny goes to Vegas

Category/ Genre:      MG/ Fantasy

Word Count:             26,000

35-word Pitch:        After losing all his eggs in a card game to March Hare, the Easter Bunny heads for Las Vegas where he plans to win enough money to buy back the world’s Easter Eggs. 

If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would s/he be?  I’d be every flavour, colour, shape and size imaginable; I’m the Easter Bunny… geez!

First 300-words of your MS:

Easer Bunny Blah Blah…

Send your submission to: Nestpitch@outlook.com (please note the submission window below, submissions sent prior or post those times/dates will not be accepted)

funny-animal-gifs-just-some-bunniesFormatting: Either Times Roman or Arial (we are aware that there may be issues with some email account regarding font, please do your best to use either Times Roman or Arial, or something as close as possible to these two)

No indentions. Single spacing. One space between each Paragraph.

Prologues: Your prologue is where your first 300 words begin.

Word Count: Rounded to nearest 1000. For example, 86,000 not 85,798

BunnyPaintsEggsTreeSelection Process: Last year we contacted all submissions that had made a mistake or left something out (listing only category or genre for example). This year we will not be so lenient. Aside from formatting issues, authors will be expected to follow the above. All submissions will be read by me (Nikola) first to ensure each submission has followed the above rules/guidelines.

There will be three rounds before final selection.

a.       Round #1: To get past #1 the authors must be able to follow guidelines.

b.      Round #2: This year each Team will select an 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. Note: authors may receive more than one request from more than one Team.

c.       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 authors for 3 weeks, offering feedback, sharpening pitches, & suggesting improvements. After this, the authors have a full week to re-read their MS in full & make any final changes; before the agent round.

snoopyeasterFrom 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, you’ll be expected to work twice as hard as the other author’s as you’ll have less time – so be ready!

Additional Rules: 

a.       Only manuscripts which HAVE NOT been featured in another online competition are eligible to enter. This DOES NOT include workshops, critique groups or similar. It also DOES NOT include twitter or any other tag-line style pitches either. Please feel free to ask if you’re in any doubt.

                                                              (i)      If you have submitted the same manuscript to #Pitchslam, due to the time-line cross-over, we are accepting these submissions. However, if your submission goes to the final stage of either or both competitions, please advice us and the host of #Pitchslam.

b.      Submissions MUST follow the submission format. We accept that sometimes emails de-format fonts and tabs, what we don’t want is people forgetting to put CATEGORY & GENRE (for example) or not answering the question; that sort of thing.

All pitches that have followed the rules (round#1) will then be forwarded to each Team. After the internal cat-fight, erh discussions will take place and each Team will select their top 4-5 author submissions (round#3). Expect to also see teasers and cryptic clues via Twitter & Facebook (*don’t forget to follow the Mentors and Slushies, lots of fun to be had!)

My Team #Team2Beat will be the Bandit Team. I bet all of you have a brother or sister who always stole your favourite Easter Eggs – well that’s what we’ll be doing – sort of. We will be looking for hidden or missed gems. They could be from the slush-pile or from #round2 & we’ll feature them. #Team2Beatmay have as few as one submission featured or as many as five – it all depends on how many diamonds in the rough we believe have been missed.

This year there will again be an Amazon Gift voucher Prize for the submission with the highest number of requests and another for matching the Agents with their Masks (more on that at agent reveal).

15Dates:

Agent Reveal: 27th March

Submission Window Opens April Fools Day (Wednesday 1st April 2015)

10pm Aust. Eastern Standard Time

7am USA New York Time

12 noon London UK Time

Submission Window Closes Good Friday (Friday 3rd April 2015)

10pm Aust. Eastern Standard Time

7am USA New York Time

12 noon London UK Time

Secret Agent Bunny Mask Reveal: April 9th

Teams send out requests for 1st 2,500 words Sunday 12th April

Authors reply by Tuesday 14th April

Final Selection Sunday 10th May (Mother’s Day)

Agent Request open Monday 11th May to Tuesday 12th May 2015

Unmask the Agent: Wednesday 13th May 2015 (Amazon Voucher)

Agent Request(s) sent out to authors Wednesday 13th May 2015

Authors to send requested pages to Agents by Friday 15th May 2015

Winner of Most Requests: 20th or 21st May

Stats: 28th or 29st May

Nestpitch2015 Close: 31st May (follow up blog with success stories as they come)

One last thing. Please remember to be respectful and considerate when communicating with out Mentors, Slushies and Agents. Rude, vulgar or insulting comments, tweets or emails will not be tolerated, in other words, please nice folks!

BunnyChocolateTailHelpful Guides: Novel Word Count:

Although we are not going to eliminate anyone who does not match the below, we recommend you try to follow as closely as possible the suggested word-count.  The to – from word-count is a guide only and takes into consideration genre variations (for example fantasy genre novels tend to be on the longer side)

ADULT:                     70,000 – 115,000

NEW ADULT :          60, 000 – 90,000

YOUNG ADULT:       50,000 – 80,000

MIDDLE GRADE:     25,000 – 45,000

Useful Tools/ Things to Avoid:BunnyThumperLooks

Common Punctuation Errors: (selected examples taken from Maeve Maddox’s post, March 20, 2015)

Incorrect: To become fluent readers students must read outside school hours.
Correct: To become fluent readers, students must read outside school hours.

“To become fluent readers” is an introductory infinitive phrase and should be followed by a comma.

Incorrect: If you want to write well you must be prepared to practice the craft.
Correct: If you want to write well, you must be prepared to practice the craft.

“If you want to write well” is an introductory clause and should be followed by a comma.

Incorrect: The boys, who vandalized the public gardens, are in police custody.
Correct: The boys who vandalized the public gardens are in police custody.

“Who vandalized the public gardens” is essential information because it identifies which boys are meant. It should not be set off by commas.

Incorrect: Circumstances required the children to live in a homeless shelter, nevertheless they kept up with their studies.
Correct: Circumstances required the children to live in a homeless shelter; nevertheless, they kept up with their studies.

Also correct: Circumstances required the children to live in a homeless shelter. Nevertheless, they kept up with their studies.

A comma splice results when two independent clauses are joined by a comma. The main clauses here are “Circumstances required the children to live in a homeless shelter” and “nevertheless, they kept up with their studies.”

The word nevertheless is a conjunctive adverb. Its function is to provide a transition between two thoughts, but it is not a joining word like and or but. A comma splice can be avoided by placing a semicolon after the first clause or by ending the first clause with a period or other end stop and starting a new sentence with a capital letter.

Incorrect: The spelunkers found, that the caves were closed to protect the bats.
Correct: The spelunkers found that the caves were closed to protect the bats.

The noun clause is “the caves were closed to protect the bats.” The clause functions as the direct object of the verb in the main clause, found.

thHoppingBunnyClauses: Main clauses that are not part of a compound or complex sentence require an end stop. When a period or other end stop is omitted, the result is a “run-on sentence.”

Incorrect: The rushing waves capsized the boat indifferent gulls wheeled overhead.

Correct: The rushing waves capsized the boat. Indifferent gulls wheeled overhead.

The simplest way to correct a run-on sentence is to put a period at the end of the first clause and capitalize the first word of the next one.

Multiple Exclamation Points!!!56

Incorrect: Before my astonished eyes, the house sank into the tarn!!!!
Correct: Before my astonished eyes, the house sank into the tarn!

On the rare occasions that an exclamation mark is needed, one is sufficient. Remember this rule, more than one Kitten… always. More than one exclamation mark… never.

Quotation Marks.

Incorrect: Our staff is required to take three “safety” courses every year.
Correct: Our staff is required to take three safety courses every year.

In most contexts, placing quotation marks around a word suggests that the word is being used with a meaning other than the obvious one. Writers who enclose words in quotation marks merely for emphasis risk annoying their readers. No one likes to waste time trying to discern a hidden meaning where there is none.

There are more examples on Maeve Maddox’s post found here: http://www.prdaily.eu/PRDailyEU/Articles/10_punctuation_essentials_for_every_writer_18319.aspx

Below is a list of words I have selected which are often incorrectly used:

1303815445_bunny-noseAffect vs. effect

Affect is usually a verb, and effect is usually a noun. When you affect something, it produces and effect. To affect something is to change or influence it. An effect is something that happens due to cause.

Affluent vs. effluent

Affluent describes something or someone has having a lot of money. It can also mean something is fluid or flowing in a large quantity, either literally or figuratively. A person who is wealthy is an affluentEffluent is the liquid sewage that is released as waste.

Farther vs. further

Father and Further both mean at a greater distance, and they are used interchangeably in this sense. In the US farther is more often used to refer to physical distances, and further more often refers to figurative and non-physical distances.

Imply vs. infer 

To imply is to express something indirectly. For example, you might imply that it’s time for a guest to leave by saying that you are getting tired. To infer is to surmise or deduce. For example, if you were to tell a guest that you’re getting tired, the guest might infer that it’s time to leave. More broadly, infer means to deduce. For example, when the sky grows dark in the middle of the day, you might infer that it’s probably going to storm. Infer has been used in place of imply so often and for so long that some dictionaries now list it as a synonym of imply in a secondary sense. In edited writing, however, the traditional distinction is usually kept intact.

easter-bunny-cute-gifLightening vs. lightning

Lightening (from the verb – lighten), where to lighten is to make light or lighter. Lightning is the flash of light associated with thunder.

Literally vs. figuratively

Literally means exactly, in a strict sense, or to the letter. For example, “I am literally foaming at the mouth,” this literally means real foam is coming out of his or her mouth. 

Figuratively means in a metaphorical sense—so when someone says, “I am figuratively foaming at the mouth,” we can infer that he or she is using the idiom foaming at the mouth, which means very angry, and that no mouth foam is actually present.

Misinformed vs. uninformed

Something that is misinformed is based on bad information. Something that is uninformed is based on no information or inadequate information.

Oppress, repress, suppress

To oppress is to keep someone down by unjust force or authority. To repress is (1) to hold back, or (2) to put down by force. Suppress, means (1) to put an end to, (2) to inhibit, and (3) to keep from being revealed, such as suppressing evidence.

BunnyBrownBasketSparklePeek, peak & pique

A peek is a glance or a quick look. It can also mean to glance or to peer at. Peak is a topmost point, such as a mountain peak. Finally, pique is to upset or excite someone, such as, to pique interest, you are exciting their interest not taking a quick look at it.

Re-create vs. recreate

Recreate means to amuse oneself with an activity, and is a word in its own right. The verb re-create, meaning to create again, benefits from the hyphen. But because recreate is an exceedingly rare verb, there’s actually little chance of the two being confused, so many publications omit the hyphen and use recreate to mean to create again.

Whiny, whiney, whinny

Whiny is an adjective meaning habitually complaining or like a whine.

Whiney is the same as whiny.

Whinny is the sound horses make & is synonymous with neigh.

Wreath vs. wreathe

The difference between wreath and wreathe is similar to that between breath and breathe. Wreath is a noun and wreathe is its corresponding verb.

MyButtHurts1Variations in British English and US English

As a general rule, the use of the letter ‘u’ in certain words differentiates the two types of English, for example Favorite / Favourite. The first being US English. Another example would be Color / Colour. Also the replacement of the letter ‘S’ with the letter ‘Z’ is a common difference between the two versions. For example Realize / Realise, with the first being US English.

Then there are words where US English has only one ‘L’ when – ed is added, for example Traveled is US English and Travelled is British English.

I found a good source of reference here: http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/words/british_american_english.htm

This site also highlights changes in ‘re’ and ‘er’ for example Centre/Center and other variations.

Sometimes words have a very different spelling as is the case with Jewelry  / Jewellery. The first being US English.

I hope some of these will help you with your grammar and word selection  and of course, if you have any questions about #Nestpitch please feel free to leave a comment or contact me on Twitter using either @nestpitch or @Nik_Vukoja

Come back in a few days to see our truly smawesome list of Agents!

ImageProxy

Interview with – City Owl Press

Hi All, I’m so excited about this. Today I have a super treat for you – an interview with the Co-Founders of City Owl Press (can I get a WooHoo). For those of you who don’t know, the magic Team … Continue reading

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

Five Minutes With… Yelena Casale

Hi folks, Well … I have such a treat for you in today’s instalment of Five Minutes With… Today we have Yelena Casale, author extraordinaire and one half of the dynamic duo of Tina Moss & Yelena Casale, who are … Continue reading