This is the writer community I love. This is the writer community that keeps me writing.
First off, I want to say that I feel extremely fortunate to have been chosen for The Ultimates—one of five teams in Pitch Slam, each with just eight slots available. So many talented writers submitted for this contest, and as the team captains said over and over again, there were waaaaayyyy more manuscripts that they really wanted to pick than they had spots available for. So, lucky? Yeah. Definitely. And I have the lovely, talented and eminently entertaining L.L. McKinney and her saucy crew of slush readers to thank for that. You guys rock!
Getting in was the first hurdle, and waiting, wondering if I’d be chosen cost me most of my fingernails. Then, round 2. More waiting, more wondering, more fingernails gone as two days passed with agents coming and going, making their requests behind the scenes where none of us antsy authors could see. And to top it off, there were post-request battles between agents for the manuscripts they wanted to see that dragged the entire process out another six or seven exciting, stress-filled hours.
But it was all worth it, and it was all so, so much fun.
You can imagine my relief and elation when it was all over and the ‘great reveal’ was made. And to top it off, I actually had a bona fide request from an agent I really, really wanted to get my manuscript in front of. SCORE! Happy dance. Requested pages sent-sent-sent!
But wait—there’s more!
To my surprise, two more agents had made requests but the rules of the ‘throw down/fight it out’ phase dictated that they had to wait 24 hours before they could get a peek. Meaning their requests were hidden until the allotted time had passed.
More happy dance! More prancing around like an idiot grinning from ear to ear. More pages sent off with hopes and dreams of requests for more and (gasp!) perhaps even a future offer of representation. I know, I know. It’s a long shot even given the request but it’s oh-so-much better to have a maybe in the works than nothing but silence and rejection in your Inbox.
So Pitch Slam was great, and not just because of the requests. It's fun. All the contests I've take part in are fun. And it's a great way to smooth your pitch, or refine you query, get a free critique from other writers on your opening 250, or just pick up a few new Twitter followers and potential on-line friends. And if you're really lucky (like me) you'll get the chance to get yourself in front of some top notch agents. Who doesn't want that?
So, the moral of the story? There's basically nothing at all to lose--it doesn't even cost anything, people!--and a ton to gain. So, writers: if you haven't thrown into one, do it! In fact, find one now! There are tons out there to choose from.
And since you're here, here's my submissions for your reading pleasure:
Name: J.B. Rockwell
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 95,000
Hero: Boadicea. Because she kicks ass, isn’t afraid to take charge and she’s not the type to wait around for some big, strong man to save her.
Pitch: Kidnapped, abused, marched through the desert, 16-year-old Akhtimet escapes and swears revenge. She has the Firedrake’s claws and flames, and her own fury, and she’ll use all three to free her Sisters. Or die trying.
The rain poured down, pounding on the roof above Akhtimet’s head, filling the nighttime stillness with thunderous noise. The mists and monsoons of summer brought life to the desert, but the rain, this rain brought nothing but devastation. This was the Draka-Ushut—the Dragon Rain—a deluge of ash and stone and volcanic glass coughed up by the quaking mountain to the east. And once it started, it would go on and on for hours.
Akhtimet lay awake in her darkened bedroom, staring into the shadows, listening to the rattle and thump as the Dragon Rain fell. But a softer sound intruded—an insistent tapping at her bedroom window—and when she looked she saw a tall, slim shadow limned in moonlight, staring at her through the glass.
“Usaan,” she whispered, scurrying from her bed, pushing the panes wide.
The Dragon Rain was in full swing now, pelting the buildings, the streets, everything in sight. Pelting Usaan who should know better than to be out on a night like this. Akhtimet grabbed his arm and helped him inside, pushing the window closed behind him.
“What are you doing? If Father catches us—”
“Shh.” Usaan laid a finger across his lips, glancing meaningfully at her bedroom door. He dusted his palms across his clothes and hair and then took her by the hand, padding silently across the floor, settling beside her on the bed. “Wanted to make sure you were alright.”
“Liar. You came to steal kisses.”
“Well, maybe,” he smiled, brushing his lips across her cheek.