Have you been paying Attention?

giphyHi all,

Yes, that’s right – Round#3 for #Nestpitch2015 is here!

Over the coming days and weeks all #Teams will be working with their authors to help them polish their submissions so, although we might seem a little quiet, we’re all busy little bees in the background.

On May 11th I will be posting each author’s entire Pitch but for now, it’s all hush-hush (‘cos we’re working on ‘em).

Each Mentor Blog will be featuring their team picks, although for now, all you’ll see is the title, category and genre. For more info on each Mentoring Team go to:

#TeamEvilBunny  http://sharonmjohnston.com/

#TeamUnbreakable  http://www.sharonbayliss.com/

#TeamPlotBunnies  http://amandafoody.blogspot.com.au/

#TeamBasketCase  http://thecakenovelist.blogspot.com.au/

#TeamEggslent  http://www.stacey-nash.com/

#TeamOneBasket  http://scwrite.blogspot.com.au/p/writeinclusively.htmltumblr_lp9tthzs0f1qz7hmlo1_400

#TeamHotCrossBooks  http://laurenkmckellar.com/

#TeamSugarRush  http://bookishblurb.com/

#Team2Beat  https://nikvukoja.wordpress.com/

So; here we go, cone of silence may need to be enforced here, but to wet appetites, in no particular order, here is a list (40 in total) with category, title & genre.

Category Title Genre
Adult Dead Wrestlers Speculative
Adult Poor Boy Road Mystery/Thriller
Adult Frame of Mind Thriller
Adult RAINBIRDS Literary Fiction, Coming-of-Age
Adult We Eat This Gold Upmarket
MG MOONGARDEN SciFi Re-Tell (Secret Garden)
MG The Comic Adventures of Ruby Bella Brown Contemporary
MG Pond Scum Contemporary Humor
MG Mikey Goes to Maine Humor
MG Fairy God-Mother Boy Fantasy
NA  Like Stitching Coffee Cups Romance
NA FROST Urban Fantasy
NA The Trouble With Tennyson Urban Fantasy
NA Breaking Up with Bedford Contemp Romance
NA SILENCE Contemporary
NA Unspeakable Romance
YA WOUNDS HEAL, SCARS REMAIN Contemporary (Christian)
YA Cessation Speculative
YA The Clearing Paranormal
YA Little Black Box contemporary
YA  RIPPLE IN THE SEA historical
YA SUN AND BONE Psychological Thriller
YA My Secret Life as a Teenage Assassin Thriller
YA A Parcel of Rogues Fantasy
YA The Caterpillar Girl Soft Science Fiction
YA Straw Salt Gold Fantasy
YA The Mortician’s Boy Horror
YA The Curse of Jenny Greenteeth Thriller
YA Trebled Times of CeCe Santos Contemporary
YA Killer Potential Literary Thriller
YA The New Girl psychological thriller/horror
YA The Koshers Contemporary
YA Rom Our Reasons Contemporary Romance
YA Rom IT HAPPENED ON THUNDER ROAD Romance w/ Magical Realistic elements
YA Rom Every Broken Piece of Me Contemporary Romance
YA Rom Between Sound and Silence Sci-Fi Romance

Oh wait! Before I go, don’t forget; “Unmask the Agent” is running again – more info soon!

*there’s a $20 Amazon Voucher up for grabs and you don’t need have submitted to Nestpitch, all you need is a bit of a detective spirit and to know your (our) agents!

Agent Mask Time! (Would you like a $20 Amazon Voucher?)

school-pics-9-3Hi all,

Those who were part of Nestpitch2014 or have been following this blog will know how this works, however, for the newbies, I’ll quickly go over this. Each year the participating agents of Nestptich take on a ‘mask’ – in other words, they are in disguise! When they leave their Easter Treats for the submissions, they do so as a Secret Agent Bunny – yep that’s right, you may know who the participating agents are but you’ll have no clue as to who has requested what – well some clues.

Below are the Agents Bunny Masks, along with clues, some cryptic some not so much. And that is where the fun begins. While you will not know for certain until AFTER Agent Requests (May 11th) are made, you can join in the fun of Unmask the Agents; and if you get it right, there could be a $20.00 Amazon Voucher in it for you (USD). Best of all anyone can play! Yes that’s right; you don’t need to have submitted to Nestpitch2015 in order to be in the ImageProxyABCrunning for the Voucher.

So how does it work I hear someone shouting – simple! Got through the masks and then go through the Agent List (you’ll find the participating agents in a previous blog post so that’s not too hard) and match them up.

And you get lots and lots of time!

There will be an announcement after May 11th stating when the Unmask the Agent window will open- make a note of it as the window will only be open for 12 hours. The first correct match to ALL twelve agents will win the $20.00 Voucher – it’s that simple; and that hard! (if there are no correct matches a random winner will be selected from those who have sent in their matches in the time-window). To help you make your choices I suggest you follow all the agents, read their Blogs & Websites, interact with them on Twitter and keep your eyes and ears open for clues that will help you make the match.

So here we go, in no particular order and designed to make you think – stock-vector-vector-illustration-funny-rabbit-skiing-cartoon-concept-161804234


A Ski bunny who knows Persian Literature & is no closet Bollywood fan, this Secret Agent Bunny likes to see
experience new cultures and is a major fan of the ever expanding New adult category.


When not lost in a book, studying another language or walking playing with some four legged friends of the ‘here’s my lead’ kind, you’ll find this Secret Agent Bunny engrossed in something on T.V, there could be a Watson or a Doctor involved.



As a child this Secret Agent Bunny was into Star Wars and the A-Team, as well as creating and telling stories to school friends. Later, as an adult, the bunny read the first three Twilight novels in one week! Clearly this bunny was destined to be a super hero.

Bend it like Beckham BunnyBEND IT LIKE BECKHAM BUNNY

Regularly seen with a four legged friend, you’ll often spy this Secret Agent Bunny at a Writer’s Conference or indulging in some cultural travel experiences between conferences.



When this Secret Agent Bunny isn’t dancing in his/her bedroom to a certain boy-band, they are likely to be found in bed, editing and sipping a vanilla latte (especially on a Sunday).


Hippy Chic Bunny 2HIPPY CHIC BUNNY 

This Secret Agent Bunny loves YA/ Upper YA fantasy and Sci-Fi and tends to go for the quirky or strange. He/ She is also an activist for left-handed people in a right handed world.



energizer bunny

Hops from plot to plot, getting a charge out witty mysteries and punny contemporaries. Attracted to serious thinkers who choose light over darkness. Accepts all readerships, but genres must stay within the scope of reality.


Ms Soccer Bunny 2MS. SOCCER BUNNY

The Secret Agent Bunny loves PB’s MG & romance in YA, also a YA revenge thriller would fit just fine at the moment. This bunny is also known to use exclamation points – a lot !!

rocker bunny



This Secret Agent Bunny prefers spunky MG & not-so-sappy YA, while surrounded by fur & feathers. Dark chocolate is preferred, milk chocolate is for those can’t take risks. When not deep in a book, this Secret Bunny Agent is more than likely on the hunt for a good donut or a craft beer, possibly on a pair of skates 😉


So how does this Snow Bunny  keep that figure you might ask? Evidently the secret is loving what you do for a living and also being a bit of a yoga enthusiast. Whatever this Secret Agent Bunny is doing, it must be working!




Prior to publishing this Secret Agent Bunny instructed literature and writing at university-level. You’ll often find this Bunny on Twitter sharing tips and dropping wish-list hints, and in-real-life you’re likely to see this bunny at the odd Writers Conference.



This Secret Agent Bunny can be found making deals across the Pacific and Atlantic, at various writing conferences or enjoying a well earned latte at some little corner café. When not reading, editing or jetting about to another conference, you’ll likely find this bunny congratulating an author on Twitter or engrossed in a suspense thriller. Hint, this bunny looks good in a hat 😉


baby bunyipSo, that’s it folks! OK not quite. We also have at least one BUNYIP – Scratching your head as to what a Bunyip is? Well, in Indigenous Australian culture it is believed a Bunyip is a secretive creature, often found lurking around creeks and billabongs. In #Nestpitch culture… Bunyips are Secret Agents who couldn’t make it this time but might just take a peak at what’s happening and if they like something; they’ll leave their own ‘special’ treat – and seriously Bunyips really are damned hard to spot so who knows how many more are lurking; right?

So, now its time to have some fun. Go look over the list of agents and then compare them to the list of masks. When the times comes (not now!), right after the Agent Submission Window closes, we’ll be posting another update with the Unmask The Agent Round– as I say anyone can play & with a $20 Amazon Gift Voucher up for grabs why wouldn’t you!

It’s time for a bit of fun – wouldn’t you say?


Abracadabra, Shim-Shalala-Sham: Agent Reveal – Now!

snoopyeasterHi all, 

have you been waiting for this? Yeah, I know you have… and truly, it will have been worth the wait 🙂 A MASSIVE thank you to all the agents participating, to those who couldn’t join us this year but wished us well and to my Nestpitch team for all their support and hard work. So here they are, in no particular order, an even dozen of them!

Val Noble1.         Valerie Noble

Associate Agent, Donaghy Literary Group

While studying chemistry at California State University, Long Beach, Valerie mastered the art of doing proper research, particularly for technical writing. Her love of science and reading merged when she began penning her first novel in the midst of her studies. In true scientific fashion, Valerie researched all there was to know about publishing. Valerie loves science fiction and fantasy (think Kristin Cashore and Suzanne Collins) but reads everything under the sun.

Valerie is particularly interested in Young Adult and New Adult in the following genres; Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fantasy & Historical Fiction

You can find Valerie here: http://www.donaghyliterary.com/ or on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/NobleValerie

Saba2.         Saba Sulaiman

Junior Agent, Talcott Notch Literary Services

Saba is the newest member of Talcott Notch Literary Services. She joined the team as an Assistant after working as an editorial intern at Sourcebooks, where she worked primarily on their romance line. She holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MA from the University of Chicago.

Saba’s looking for up-market literary and commercial fiction, romance (all subgenres except paranormal), character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and memoir, in both adult and YA. She’s also actively seeking Middle Grade, particularly contemporary realistic stories.

You’ll find Saba here: http://www.talcottnotch.net/ Here: http://sabasulaiman.com/

and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/agentsaba

uwe stb3.         Dr. Uwe Stender

President, TriadaUS Literary Agency

A Full Member of the AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives), and active on social media as well as a guest speaker at several major conferences, Dr. Uwe Stender has an impressive list of clients, both fiction & non-fiction. Uwe joins us again, having been a Nestpitch Agent in 2014.

On Uwe’s current wish-list is YA, MG, adult mysteries/thrillers, literary fiction, any non-fiction.

As well as many conferences and several online competitions you’ll find Uwe here: http://www.triadaus.com/ and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/uwestender

Jordy4.         Jordy Albert 

Literary Agent, The Booker Albert Literary Agency

Co-founder of The Booker Albert Literary Agency, Jordy holds a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University, and a M.A. from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She has worked with Marisa Corvisiero during her time at the L. Perkins Agency and the Corvisiero Literary Agency. She enjoys studying languages (French/Japanese), spends time teaching herself how to knit, is a HUGE fan of Doctor WhoSherlock and Supernatural, and loves dogs.
She is interested in Middle Grade contemporary or action/adventure, while in YA and New Adult, she is looking for sci-fi/fantasy (romance), contemporary romance. Jordy loves an awesome kick butt hero/heroine, especially when they have to work their way out of a tight spot. While it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, she tends to shy away from novels with trigger topics, such as suicide and any type of abuse.

For adult works Jordy is looking for smart, sexy contemporary romances that leave her breathless. She is also looking for Historical Romances (she definitely has a soft spot for Regency).

For Jordy too this is her second year with Nestpitch You can find Jordy here: http://www.thebookeralbertagency.com/ and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/bluedragonfly81

Patricia-Nelson-296x3005.         Patricia Nelson

Agent, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Patricia joined Marsal Lyon Literary Agency in 2014. Previously, she interned at The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency and in the children’s division at Running Press.

Patricia received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 2008, and also holds a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Patricia represents adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction.

Patricia’s Wish-list: Adult: women’s fiction, historical fiction, and accessible literary fiction, as well as contemporary and historical romance. YA: she’s open to a wide range of genres, including contemporary/realistic, magical realism, mystery, horror, science fiction and fantasy. MG: she’s seeking stories both realistic and fantastical that are full of heart, humour and/or adventure.

You can find Patricia here: http://www.marsallyonliteraryagency.com/ and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/patricianels

PictureCate6.         Cate Hart

Junior Literary Agent, Corvisiero Literary Agency

Cate is a Junior Agent with Corvisiero Literary Agency. This is Cate’s second time with #Nestpitch, with lasts year resulting in Cate signing a new client.

Cate mainly focuses Young Adult and Middle Grade novel length commercial fiction although she is happy to consider select New Adult, Historical Romance, and Mysteries. In YA, NA, and Adult she prefer’s stories with strong romantic elements, or even better, a heart-pounding romance.

You can find Cate here: http://catehart.com/ on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/CateHart

and the Agency here: http://www.corvisieroagency.com/

Dawn-13137.         Dawn Michelle Frederick

Literary Agent & Owner, Red Sofa Literary

After having worked in the publishing industry for many years, including being a published non-fiction author and associate agent with Sebastian Literary Agency, Dawn branched out on her own and established Red Sofa Literary.

In addition to her literary agent duties she also volunteers with her local library system. As well as many years experience in the industry, Dawn also carries a B.S. in Human Ecology, and a M.S. in Information Sciences from an ALA accredited institution.

You might find Dawn drooling over a exceptionally written MG or YA while surrounded by friends of the fluffy and fury kind. 

You can find Dawn here: http://redsofaliterary.com/ and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/redsofaliterary

mollieL8.                 Mollie Glick 

Agent, Foundry Literary & Media

After graduating from Brown University, Mollie began her career as a literary scout, advising foreign publishers regarding the acquisition of rights to American books. She then worked as an editor at the Crown imprint of Random House, before becoming an agent in 2003. Mollie represents New York Times bestsellers and International Bestsellers but she also takes great pride in breaking out a number of debut novelists each year. Her list includes literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, popular science, memoir and YA projects.

You can find Mollie here: http://www.foundrymedia.com/ and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/mollieglick

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset9.         Maria Vicente

Associate Agent, P.S. Literary Agency.

Maria is a creative and editorial agent, providing support to her clients through all stages of the writing and publication process. Maria is dedicated to managing authors’ literary brands for the duration of their careers. Her reading preferences vary across categories and genres, which is reflected in her client list. She is actively looking for literary fiction, young adult, middle grade, illustrated picture books, and nonfiction projects in the pop culture, design, and lifestyle categories.

She has affinities for literary prose, strong character development, original storytelling formats, and anything geeky. Maria’s website includes articles about publishing and writing for current and potential clients, which she shares daily on Twitter

You’ll also find Maria here: http://www.psliterary.com/ and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/msmariavicente

Camilla10.       Camilla Wray

Agent, The Darley Anderson Literary

Camilla joined the Darley Anderson Agency in July 2007 and was named as a publishing Rising Star by The Bookseller in 2013. At the Agency she represents debut, bestselling and award nominated authors in the UK and the US. She specialises in commercial fiction and represents crime, thrillers, suspense, high-concept accessible fiction, women’s fiction, love stories, YA and children’s fiction. She is always looking for characters to fall in love with, plots that keep her guessing and tales that teach the reader and leave them buzzing, crying and dying for more.

Camilla studied English Literature and Psychology at Cardiff University, specialising in Novel Writing. After gaining a distinction from the University of the Arts, Camilla went on to work for a national newspaper before joining the Darley Anderson Agency.

Camillia is another who has joined us again, having been involved in 2014. You can find Camilla here: http://www.darleyanderson.com/ And on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/camillawray

Christa11.       Christina Heschke

Agent, McIntoch & Otis, Inc.

Christa graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children’s Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade, and young adult projects. She is a fan of young adult novels with a romantic angle, and strong, quirky protagonists.

Within YA, Christa is especially interested in contemporary fiction, horror and thrillers/mysteries. As for middle grade, Christa enjoys contemporary, humour, adventure, mystery and magical realism for boys and girls.

You can find Christa here: http://mcintoshandotis.com/ and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/christaheschke

Agent bio picture12.       Jessica Schmeidler

Agent/Founder, Golden Wheat Literary

Jessica is currently mainly interested in speculative fiction however she dos encourage writers to submit Christian romance, thrillers, and suspense novels. Works of faith-based* speculative fiction, including dystopian, sci-fi, and paranormal encourage. Christian thrillers and suspense are always welcome. In other words, if your novels tend toward Christian themes, Jessica is the agent for you.

You can find Jessica here: http://www.goldenwheatliterary.net/ and on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/goldenwheatlit 

I think you’ll agree that this is quite the WOW list of agents; completely SMAWESOME wouldn’t you say?

Now, aside form checking out their bios and profiles and (of course) following them on Twitter if you haven’t done so already, there’s another reason to ‘get-to-know’ your agents – yep that’s right! We will be running Match-the-Mask-to-the-Agent again this year. The Secret Agent Bunny Masks will be revealed after Easter, and yes there will be an Amazon Voucher up for grabs for the first correct answer. More details to come after Easter.

thHoppingBunnyBut for now, all you need to concentrate on is your pitch + first 300 –words & remember, we are looking for POLISHED manuscripts.

Submission date is April 1st to 3rd 2015. Email for Submissions is nestpitch@outlook.com & for all the details & guidelines go to:https://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/nestpitch2015-is-your-manuscript-pitch-ready-then-april-1-2-3-go/ For a list of your Mentors & Slushies go to: https://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/nestpitch-2015-teams-simply-smawesome/

And one final thing. There have been some comments/questions regarding violence (etc.) in manuscripts. While it is true we do not accept the promotion of violence, hate-crimes, racism, bigotry, misogyny, etc. is a good thing, there seems to have been a little confusion by some authors. Of course there will be violence (etc.) in some genres, in fact it’s expected. I had a very long explanation planned but (after discussing with my fellow Nestpitch Team Mates) have decided to sum it up like this (words borrowed from one of our Mentors):

“…We want stories that make us laugh and cry. Stories that make us weep and scream. Stories that transport us to strange planets and different times. Stories that make you think and feel. Stories that are sexy and scandalous, that are quirky, creepy or noir,  stories that fill the imagination with mystical, mythical creatures and exotic cultures and locales, ones that change us or make us ask questions… in other words we want it all…”

I hope this goes some way toward clarifying that it’s not so much the journey as it is the mode of transport and the destination. And if that’s still unclear, please refer to the below flow-chart created and designed by another of our Mentors – it pretty much says it all (& yes a bit tongue-in-cheek):

Screenshot 2015-03-26 09.47.57

Now, spend the weekend sharpening & polishing & reading out loud and then re-writing where needed because the countdown to author submissions is ONLY DAYS away!


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


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  


And now – let the Easter Festivities begin! 

Upcoming Writers Competitions & Workshops

most wonderful story belle gifHi all,

Given we are past the 1/2way mark of the first month of 2015, I thought it an ideal time to update everyone on upcoming competitions & workshops.

Please note: this is NOT a complete list, but rather a few competitions I know work and are run by extraordinary women with exceptional writing credibility & gianormous hearts.

(i) Sun vs Snowhp-harry-potter-24722755-500-202

Description: Writing comp with agents requesting pages/material

Hosted By: Michelle Hauck & Amy Trueblood

Submission open: 26th Jan 2015

Where to find info:



Twin_Scythes___Fire_Circle_by_MattTheSamurai(ii) Operation Awesome

Description: A pitch + first 250 Workshop (lottery-style)

Hosted By: Abby Annis assisted by Angelica R. Jackson

Submission open: Right now! Lottery closes Friday, Jan 23rd at 11:59 pm EST.

Where to find info:


(iii) Pitch Madness ImageProxy.gif 20jun

Description: Writing comp with agents requesting pages/material

Hosted By: Brenda Drake

Submission open: 20th Feb 2015

Where to find info:


cat(iv) Post-it-Forward

Description: 35-word pitch Workshop

Hosted By: Nikola Vukoja & Rhiann Wynn-Nolet

Submission open: Date to be confirmed, will be between mid-Feb to early March, please follow this site & Rhiann’s blog for updates

Where to find info: Please look over 2014 info sheet, (https://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/35-word-pitch-clinic-is-now-open-for-business/)

2015 Post-It-Forward info will be posted soon.

bunny-sheep-herder(v) Nestpitch 2015

Description: Writing comp with agents requesting pages/material

Hosted By: Nikola Vukoja

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

10pm Aust. Eastern Standard Time

7am USA New York Time

12 noon London UK Time

Submission Window Closes Good Friday (April 3rd 2015)

10pm Aust. Eastern Standard Time

7am USA New York Time

12 noon London UK Time

Info to follow closer to the date. Please note, there will be some changes. Please refer to this post update: https://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/nestpitch-2015-st-nicholas-day/ for a general overview

And also please note that Nestpitch 2015 WILL NOT be accepting Picture Books. We are planning something for Picture Books (& possibly MG) in December 2015.

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

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

Cover Reveal-Rite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich

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

#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.


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

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: 


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.


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?”


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.


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 🙂


Is the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance?

Antlers_WiFi_2011_5_13Hello All,

This is a long-ish post so apologies to those who like short ones! I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. And I have my own thoughts on this but I’ll share those further down, first how I came to thinking about this topic. A while ago I read on a Blog post about the 10,000-hour rule.

In 2008 Little Brown & Co published Malcolm Galwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success which, in a nutshell says that if anyone spends 10,000 hours on their preferred art-form, they will become proficient and successful at it. The book uses studies (namely the study of children learning to play the violin) to“prove” that if you practice your art, you will become something akin to a savant/genius at your chosen art.

Domonoks_7This got me thinking, is it really that easy and that hard?

Now, let me start by staying I am a FIRM believer in practice makes perfect. Whether you are a dancer, a musician, a writer, a painter (etc.) the more time you spend practising your art-form, the better you’ll become. However, I couldn’t help but question the logic.  After all, some people simply open their mouths and beautiful music comes out. Other’s put pen to paper and write amazing stories or brilliant symphonies, did they all spend 10,000 hours unbeknown to the rest of us?

Outliers doesn’t just touch on art-forms, it refers to pretty much every sort of profession, be that science, or business or web-design-genius’ such as Steve Jobs (etc.) So, given I love facts and figures as much as I love art (those that know me well will know I thrive on stats and graphs and all kinds of mathematical equations), I started looking into this. And it would appear many in the arts, sciences and business are questioning Malcolm Galwell’s “rule” as a, well… RULE.

2579886_5567648625_incon_by_ninjakato-d7r3bu2So what’s the truth? Is it a matter of clocking up the hours or is it raw talent or simply damn good timing?

Additional to reading the blog post, a few days ago I read a post on LinkedIn. The topic was the cost of hiring an editor. An author wanted to know what he should be paying and what he should be asking/looking for when hiring an editor. Most of the replies were a mix of other people’s experiences and freelance editors taking the opportunity to advertise their business. But there was one reply that had me re-visiting this TALENT vs HARD WORKquestion. Since adding their reply, they have deleted it so I can’t give you their word-for-word answer but it was along the lines of this:

…some people have natural talent, others don’t and no amount of work will change that, and people without talent should give up trying…

I found this reply really disheartening and also concerning. I don’t think the answer is to “give up” I think the answer is to work out what your motivation is and whether the drive comes from a deep passion. If it is passion then DO NOT GIVE UP.

Now I’d like to share my personal thoughts. I do not agree with that stand one little bit. However, I also do not agree with the 10,000-hour rule. I happen to think that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I also happen to think determination and perseverance play a MASSIVE part in an artist’s future, as does luck.

I’m going to ask you all to indulge me a little while I share my own life experiences as I believe this demonstrates my point.

let-me-love-you-sheldonI have been always been a duplicitous person. By that I mean, I’m constantly split between the Arts & the Maths/Sciences. And it runs in my family. My father writes poetry and sonnets (published) and paints a little. He is also a brilliant mathematician and worked as an Industrial Engineer. My mother is a wonderful artist and skilled at many hand-crafts. She won a full Fine Arts university scholarship and then went on to major in chemistry. My grandfather was a musician and singer, as well as having gone to university majoring in applied maths and physics. He worked for the government in the finance sector for a time and then (as he loved open spaces) became a forest ranger… but never stopped singing, playing and performing. There are many more examples in my family, (cousins/uncles/aunts), however you get the picture.

As for me, I have primarily worked in the finance and/or accounting sector’s but have also been writing and drawing/painting all my life. I was also interested in performing, having studied drama.

I had my first written works published when I was 13 years old (short story, local newspaper) and since then have had the odd additional thing published. I have never studied any formal writing or publishing subjects, I simply wrote what appealed to me (however, I have recently started a new BA in professional writing).

With regard to painting, although I studied the “greats” I have not had any formal art classes. This did not stop me from enjoying in indulging in sporadic bursts of painting energy.

Psychadelic-animated-gif-coloursIn 2004 I started taking my writing more seriously and began writing poetry, again, for my own benefit and without any real plan to have others read it.

In 2006 I began painting more often and in 2007 & 2008 I held exhibitions in Melbourne. In 2009, after sending jpeg’s of my artwork to several galleries in Paris & London, I was asked to exhibit in Paris – and I did, in October 2009…

The timing could not have been worse. The Global Financial Crisis had just hit, the European economy was flushing down the toilet and there was pretty much no hope my exhibition would be a success. However, I’d already booked my flight, paid for my accommodation, left my job and sent my artwork on its way to the gallery. So I was stuck with having the show and consoled myself with the fact that I’d be in Paris.

Here’s the thing. I DID sell pieces. In fact I sold enough to allow me to stay in Paris for almost 6-months. It’s also the place I started writing my first manuscript (but that’s another story).

Did I spend 10,000 hours on my artistic skills throughout my life? My best estimate 4,000-hours. Am I the most wonderful artist on the planet with an awesome talent? Hardly! Am I gifted with genes that have blessed me with a raw talent? Who knows? Personally I think my gift was the encouragement of my parents and these sage words by my father:

Remember, no one is better than you, but remember also no one is worse than you.

If you remember that you are as good as anyone but no better than anyone, you can achieve what your passion and perseverance drives you to achieve.

So how did I sell works of art, enough works of art (remembering galleries take between 40-50% from each sale) to allow me to live in Paris, without finding any other work, for six months, and also pay the rent on my place back in Melbourne?

Again, honestly, I’m not 100% sure. But I will share with you what I did, perhaps differently, to others and also what those who bought my pieces said.

First what I did to make the exhibition a success, (FYI I knew no one in Paris and my French was pretty much no existent)6af0d44337bd206bb42bfc8c47bb2636576da5f66679533e1b9329a498113b7c

(i)                 Almost 12-months prior to leaving I started forming contacts with other Aussie’s living in Paris.

(ii)               Prior to arriving I printed flyers of my artwork and my exhibition date.

(iii)             As soon as I arrived I met-up with as many people as I could from my contacts.

(iv)             Every free or super cheap event that was on in Paris, I attended. I didn’t care if they all spoke French or not, I needed to get my face and name out there.

(v)               Every single café and restaurant I visited more than three times I told the waiters about myself and my exhibition.

(vi)             At every art supplies, or workshop that would allow me to, I left flyers.

(vii)           I attended the opening nights of all three exhibitions prior to mine at the gallery. I got to know the artists and mingled with potential buyers and whoever was interested, I offered them a flyer. It was in the same gallery so there was no conflict of interest.

(viii)         A week before my gallery opening, I walked into every single shop, café, business on The Avenue des ChampsÉlysées and offered any of their staff a 15% discount on any artwork they wanted to buy, all they needed to do was bring in their special flyer (I signed them) and offer it at the time of purchase.

(ix)             And this one was a bit sneaky I left random numbers of flyers at bank and post office counters all over Paris.

Wh9jLIn other words I worked my butt off getting word out. It’s called marketing. And it’s vital, no matter if you are launching your novel, your play, your bands gig or your exhibition.

As for why I sold artwork, a relative unknown in a city full of artists? Aside from literarily flooding the city with my flyers, it was my artistic style. It didn’t “fit” any label. It was uniquely me. I wasn’t trying to paint like anyone else, though naturally I was influenced by many wonderful artists. So, my work was unique in a city that was filled with hungry artists trying to recreate the masters.

So what’s my point? My point is, don’t believe everything your read and only half of what you see. The world is made up of magic and illusion. Do your own thing. Make it unique to you. Don’t try to copy or emulate others, you’ll never succeed unless you are you.

Art doesn’t lie. Sure it fakes and misleads but it does so openly, whether it’s fiction-writing or an artistic interpretation of a seascape. Be it a photo-shopped image of the Grand Canyon, manipulated for the sake of art, it openly fakes the truth and therefore it is not a lie. Don’t dishonour this concept by trying to be someone other than who you are.

As for 10,000-hours make you a success, in my opinion its a load of CRAP. There is no FORMULA written in stone for success. There are things you can do to help achieve, but they vary in style and aptitude and attitude for every single individual. What works for me will not work for the next person.anigif_enhanced-buzz-14927-1382223438-15

Yes hone your craft. Practice your art. Get involved with groups and mentors and fellow artists and learn from them, but don’t think… “OK, so I’ve worked it out, I have done 7,892-hours, I’m almost there…” because if you do get to 10,000-hours and have not achieved what you call success, you’ll feel a failure. And you are NOT. As much as it would be great to believe there is a magic number, there is not. Timing, luck, persistence, patience, positive attitude, respecting others and hard work is all part of the equation. Some people write their first novel and it’s brilliant and becomes a best seller and is made into a movie and they live happily ever after. Others may write ten novels before they break through. And still other’s many never reach the best seller list.

anigif_enhanced-26837-1398300220-21As for natural (born) talent, I’m still of two minds on this one. I truly believe everyone can draw and paint however we become conditioned to believe we cannot because when we were eight, or ten, or twelve someone was better at it than us and we began to believe we were not good at drawing or painting. Having said that, great singers, in my opinion, are born. You can improve your voice with 10,000-hours, but I don’t think you can be truly great (and I’m not talking famous, I’m talking brilliant voice) if you were not born with the right vocal cords.

I started this post asking if the ability to create great Art in our Genes or our Perseverance? The truth is, I believe, it’s both, but it is the part in our genes that doesn’t allow us to give up that makes the difference not our skill with a quill or brush or ebony & ivory keys. And it is the willingness to go the extra work, the marketing, self-promotion, mingling, learning, studying the greats while maintaining our individuality that will make us stand out, not the number of hours clocked.

Devil-wears-Prada-gifs-Miranda-Priestly-Emily-Blunt9_zpsb87dd4b3Yes do the hours. But no don’t do them as you would a class, something to “over-and-done-with” but rather as an avenue to achieving your personal objectives.

And do not let ANYONE tell you to GIVE UP because frankly, they are wrong, wrong, wrong.

Failure and rejection is part of success. I’m serious. The more times you fail, the more likely you are to know what success is. And while we are on the subject of genius and 10,000, I’ll leave you with this quote by Thomas Edison regarding inventing the light bulb:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.