Writing Prompt: Chocolate Chips

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“Chocolate Chips”

What scene does this prompt in you?

Write your “prompt reply” in 200 words or less and post it in the comments below!

Go!

#writingchallenge

#practiceyourcraft

#writingcommunity

Example prompt & quick note by SP staff, Nova McBee

With a group of super talented Teen writers, we set a timer for 10 minutes and just wrote whatever came to mind. I suggest you do this. Don’t think too hard about it, just jump into your creativity and let your words flow no matter how crafty they are. You will be surprised what comes out.

Here is what came out for me in those ten minutes:

Nova’s Prompt:

Add more chocolate—that is what my mom said—that chocolate fixes most mistakes—and I screwed up big time. I hope this proves to Dina how much I care. I mean, she got me—ME—a boy who spends all of his time in the woods or on the court inside a Martha Stewart type kitchen! Granted, I’m still dirty, just with white stains instead. And, I’ll admit the smells are significantly better. Melted butter, sugar, vanilla. Mmm. I just hope these cookies turn out delicious enough for her to talk to me again.

The dough stiffens as I add more flour. For some reason I get caught in a monotonous stirring cycle as I stare at the broken eggshells on the counter. Sentimental moments don’t happen too often to me but I do have them. Mostly in the woods when everything is quiet and an animal walks by without fear or with her young, or a sunrise coming over the mountains. But here, in the kitchen, it dawns on me that the shell of an egg is designed to protect life—LIFE for crying out loud—and yet it can be broken so easily. That is exactly what I did to Dina’s heart. She let me hold it—a fragile shell protecting a great treasure—and all it took was one drop. I just hope I can put all the pieces back together.

Photo by Pam Menegakis on Unsplash

 

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Prompt: Warm Rain

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Warm Rain.

In 200 words or less, what scene do those two words bring to your mind?

Go. 

Then POST your prompt in the comments!

Here are two example prompts from SP writers Nova and Noah.

Nova:

I wake to small warm drops on my face. A splash on my eyelids has me wiping away what feels like a tear. But tears were for yesterday. Today is for survival. My eyes crack open to a brilliant rainbow light coming thru the mist. I squint and try to remember what exactly happened last night.

My arms push my body up. That is when I notice the bruise on my leg. Dang it. So it is true. I’m marooned. On an island. Alone. In the middle of nowhere. And all because of one little lie.

There’s a rustle in the palms and a rhythm that sounds like footsteps. With great pain, I bend my leg and scoot behind a large bush doubtful it can hide me. Whatever it is, its getting closer. Maybe I’m not alone after all.

Noah:

Thunder rumbled in the distance as I ran across the field. The clouds rolled over head as I ran faster. I always loved to race the rain. The thunder was like our gunshot letting me know the race had begun; the long grass brushed against my legs as I barreled past. My calloused feet pounding on the dry I earth. I could hear the rain coming fast from behind me, a loud, overwhelming whooshing sound, that seemed to come from everywhere and meant no escape.  l saw my small home in the distance and laughed to myself.

“The rain always won,” I thought as it finally caught up to me, instantly drenching me. Slipping in the fresh mud I fell onto the ground and laughed again.  

 

**Photo by Pete Nowicki on Unsplash

Querying Show Episode 4: A Query Breakdown–Show me the Stakes!

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s Fourth Episode!

Until the New Year you will witness every juicy (or completely stagnant) detail of our SP Staff Member’s querying life in the SLUSH PILE!

(Check out our rules and reasons in our intro post here!)

Will CR’s/Write_Or_Left achieve AGENT success? Or will it result with a querying and MS reboot? Dying to know? Follow us to see how Write_Or_Left ‘s querying journey will end up!

***Note: There will only be two episodes in November & December!*** 

SO…..Today is the 4th week of CR’s journey. On the last episode, we whooped you his query. Today, we will not only hear from CR but we will dissect what a query should have! The first two people to comment will get a free query critique from CR & Nova.

But first, let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things are progressing. (Click here for Episode 1 & 2 & 3.)

SP: Ciao CR/Write_Or_Left. As always, let’s start with the STATS. How many more queries have you sent out? 

Any rejections? (Personal or form rejections?)

How do the personal rejections feel?

Requests?

CR/Write_Or_Left: 

To be perfectly honest with you, I’m in a query slump. With final projects due, I don’t have a lot of time to work on it, but that’s not the only reason.

Querying makes you doubt yourself as a writer. Not necessarily the rejections, but more so my own thoughts have caused this. I continually compare my story to published books. I ask myself, “Would anyone really want to represent this?” I start to wonder about my characters and about my narrator’s voice. Because of all this, I am starting to think I need another round of editing, possibly a big one.

All this to say, I sent 0 queries.

When the personal rejections pop up in my inbox, it’s usually gratitude that I feel first. Someone actually bothered to read what I sent them and even emailed me in response!

SP: Querying can be weeks of silence (oh, the painful months of just crickets!)–how are you holding up? How have your views of querying changed since you started? 

CR/Write_Or_Left: 

Like I said before, it’s starting to weigh on me. Not because of what agents have said, but because of my own doubts. Like many others, I am my own worst critic.

My views have changed immensely, mostly by raising my standards for myself. There’s a lot of great work out there, and mine just isn’t quite at the level yet!

SP: Thanks for your honesty, CR. Publishing can be a tough business and as writers, we have all been there. But the ones that make it are the ones that don’t give up when those rejections come. In the long run, those rejections prepare us for success–! (I think our next post should address attacking self-doubt! BUT FOR TODAY…)

WE WILL take CR’s Query and break it down in order to show you the few main parts that query should have.

First, keep your query as concise as possible. Do not add extra details that do not show us these main things:

  1. Introduce your clever and relatable MC.
  2. Introduce the clever premise or hook/conflict of the story.
  3. Show us what the character wants (a goal/desire) and what is stopping him/her from getting it.
  4. Show us what is at stake if the MC can’t reach his/her goal.

NOW, let’s see how CR has done this~

12-year-old outlier Evander Ross knows there’s something special about the book his Grandpa tried to destroy. But he never would have guessed it would almost get him killed. Three times. (Here, CR has introduced his main character & a small hook! Great job!)

Despite his mother and grandfather’s efforts to shield the truth, Evander accidentally discovers traces of a strange world in one of his family’s many “forbidden” zones in the city. The Gifted World is everything Evan has dreamed of—a place full of strange creatures and new abilities, but also great danger. Within it, Evan nearly dies at the hand of Katerina, one of the Gifted World’s most wanted criminals; he finds Lumen’s Middle-High—a school that finally understands him; and he’s taken by authorities who tell Evan that he will never be accepted in the Gifted World—that his family was banished long ago. (Here he set up the story with a premise and a problem, told us what the character wants, and what is stopping him.)

Evan is now eager not only to discover his family’s true past but also to find his way back and prove the Marshals are wrong about him. So when Evander learns that Katerina plans to attack Lumen’s Mid-High, he takes his chance. But no one believes him. Now he might be the only one that can stop her threat. And if he doesn’t, Lumen’s and everyone in it might be completely destroyed. (Here, CR showed us more of the goal/hook/conflict and what is at stake if the MC can’t reach his goal!)

SP: TIPS so you don’t go crazy while treading in the slush pile!

While querying—consider taking part in TWITTER CONTESTS:

#Pitchmas

#Pitmad

#Teenpit

#DVpit

#Revpit

#querykombat

ETC

The first link below is a LONG list of pitch contests and their dates:

https://iwriterly.com/writing-resources/pitch-contest-calendar/

Don’t miss out on a chance to have an agent read your work! 

The second link is an authors journey to getting her agent thru twitter! 

I Got my agent on Twitter! 10 Tips for online pitching contests!

 

profile

 

CR

&

 

Nova

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signing off!

 

 

 

Marketing & Social Media Tips Part 1

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Last week I attended a Writers Meet-Up with a fantastic group of authors who ranged from traditionally published to indie authors.

Throughout the night, the selected authors talked about Social Media, Marketing, & Publicity! In part one, I will summarize and expand on a few of the topics they taught on!

Kim Vandel, Indie author of Into the Fire series, was the first to share. She talked about the need for authors to be active on social media–to create a presence, a following, marketing, and an availability to readers and fellow writers, and to be in community. Well, what if social media isn’t your game or wondering what to post doesn’t come natural? Kim gave her helpful tips and ideas, and then had the group hold a brainstorming session on things they could post. It was super useful–so I asked her if I could share her tips!

Here are a few ideas of what to post on social media sites:

  1. Writing Status & Place — It’s always fun to see where an author is writing and what they are working on. If you go to cafe, or are writing at home, snap a pic of that cozy place and talk about what you are working on that day. Maybe mention a writing goal or a character. Don’t forget to ask others about where or what they are working on too! B42B074F-24ED-4D50-A763-1C06BE4DBD89-1722-00000510753835B0_tmp
  2. Quotes, Memes, Aesthetics’sQuotes from famous authors or entrepreneurs that are inspiring, funny quotes, or Memes (usually a humorous pic with a one liner) or an aesthetic (a collage of pictures showing off your novel.) 6
  3. Author Events–If you have done an author event, or attend a conference or workshop, post pictures from it! IMG_4756
  4. Authors friends getting together for a writing sessionIMG_4733
  5. Books! Post your latest read or a book that is on your TBR pile, or promote a friend’s book!IMG_2699
  6. National Day–For those of you who don’t know there is a national day for EVERYTHING! Get creative–post something about that’s day’s National Day if you don’t know what to post about– just to participate!National Donut day
  7. Participate in the upcoming writing, book, goal, personal challenges on Twitter or IG – NanoWriMo, Twitter Contests, get involved in community that way!WIPjoy
  8. Participate in Contests & encourage community –This is a great way to get involved and know other writers–and possibly score from one of those contests! Find a contest that fits you and your book, and go for it! Post about it and engage the others who are going for it too!PitchWars-Logo.jpg
  9. Personal Life— Post something from your latest trip across the world, share a different hobby with your followers–painting? Photography? Share something personal! Your followers enjoy knowing you! Also, if you are not the type to post pictures of your face, DO IT anyway sometimes. Followers love to see who they are following. Seeing you–even if its not perfect, and especially if tis real, they love seeing faces and lives. It helps to connect us.IMG_2762
  10. Research–Post interesting facts or tidbits that you found while researching for your novel! Those small facts can be engaging! A few of my writing friends have researched all kinds of science facts, (even how long a body takes to decompose!) Falconry. Math equations. Spy techniques! Start with…DId you know that….?images-39
  11. Post pics to promote authors you like– help in doing COVER REVEALS or congratulating people on their Book Birthdays! IMG_4735

There are many more tips floating around the writing community–these are just a few. What are some ways you play with Social Media?

If you would like to add some tips to our list, PLEASE comment and we will add them in!

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Nova, signing off!

The Querying Show, Episode 3. Gently Rip Apart His Query, Please.

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Welcome to The Querying Show’s Third Episode!

For the next six months you will witness every juicy (or completely stagnant) detail of our SP Staff Member’s querying life in the SLUSH PILE!

(Check out our rules and reasons in our intro post here!)

Will CR’s/Write_Or_Left achieve AGENT success? Or will it result with a querying and MS reboot? Dying to know? Follow us to see how Write_Or_Left ‘s querying journey will end up!

***Please forgive our late post. Autumn colds took over last week! 

SO…..Today is the 3rd week of CR’s journey. Today we will do something a bit different. We will SHOW YOU CR’S QUERY and ask YOU for feedback!

But first, let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how things are progressing. (Click below for Episode 1 & 2.)

SP: Ciao CR/Write_Or_Left. As always, lets start with the STATS. How many more queries have you sent out? 

Any rejections?

Requests?

CR/Write_Or_Left:  Just one rejection, and no requests. The rejection was a good ol’ copy-paste (the email itself said as much).

SP: Be honest, are you:

A) Twitter stalking the agents you queried?

B) Checking your inbox regularly?

C) Totally Chill and got this?

D) Other exciting or emotional thoughts? (Do tell.)

E) All of the above?

CR/Write_Or_Left : I check my inbox pretty regularly, and I research agents before querying. But for the most part, I’m surprisingly calm about everything. I think it’s mostly because I really have no expectations except that I will get rejected. Therefore no rejection is all that painful, and all positive feedback is a welcome surprise! I think that’s given me a thicker skin for this process.

I’m also working on an additional project that I’m pretty excited about, so if this whole thing flops, I’ll have learned invaluable lessons that will help me in that project!

SP: OK, so for Today’s show, we wanted AUDIENCE feedback on CR’s Query. Your advice just may help him get a request!

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Our questions:

What do you like about it?

What don’t you like about it?

Would you request it?

What can be improved?

Any other helpful tips?

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Rules: Add your thoughts in the comments below. NO slamming! Please be kind while critiquing–all critiques must be helpful.

 

QUERY:

Dear “Awesome Agent,”

(Insert Personal Greeting and Necessary Genre, word count, Comp title info–or something of the sort! FYI, this is MG fantasy.)

12-year-old outlier Evander Ross knows there’s something special about the book his Grandpa tried to destroy. But he never would have guessed it would almost get him killed. Three times. 

Despite his mother and grandfather’s efforts to shield the truth, Evander accidentally discovers traces of a strange world in one of his family’s many “forbidden” zones in the city. The Gifted World is everything Evan has dreamed of—a place full of strange creatures and new abilities, but also great danger. Within it, Evan nearly dies at the hand of Katerina, one of the Gifted World’s most wanted criminals; he finds Lumen’s Middle-High—a school that finally understands him; and he’s taken by authorities who tell Evan that he will never be accepted in the Gifted World—that his family was banished long ago.

Evan is now eager not only to discover his family’s true past but also to find his way back and prove the Marshals are wrong about him. So when Evander learns that Katerina plans to attack Lumen’s Mid-High, he takes his chance. But no one believes him. Now he might be the only one that can stop her threat. And if he doesn’t, Lumen’s and everyone in it might be completely destroyed.

(End with BIO and other useful info like social media and contact info)

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

CR

SP: Our Querying Tip of the Week:

WHILE you are querying KEEP writing on either your WIP or a new project; Get more readers to review your work–have an open mind; Get involved with other writers and read their work too! And DON’T stress it! All good things take time. 

Schedule Update:

Since we have posted late, we will NOT post a show this Friday.

Also, during November and December, we will only have 2 Querying shows per month due to extra holiday busyness and school exams! Thanks for understanding! *If something exciting does occur, we will be sure to let you know!

Nova and CR/Write_Or_Left  signing off! Have a GREAT weekend!!!

The Querying Show, Episode 1

peter-lewicki-411606-unsplash.jpgWelcome to The Querying Show’s First Episode!

Each week for the next six months you will witness every juicy (or completely stagnant) detail of our SP Staff Member’s querying life in the SLUSH PILE!

(Check out our rules and reasons in our intro post here!)

Will CR’s/Write_Or_Left achieve AGENT success? Will it result with a querying and MS reboot? Follow us to see how Write_Or_Left ‘s querying journey will end up!

Today is the beginning of his journey. Let’s check in our with brave querying fellow and see how he began.

SP: Greetings, CR/Write_Or_Left ! First, we want to know how you’re feeling with this whole OPEN, VULNERABLE, POTENTIALLY EMBARRASSING, JOURNEY you started with The Querying Show? Continue reading

Author Interview: Helen Scheuerer

Pen Friends ~ As promised here comes another fantastic interview with Australian YA author and Writer’s Edit Guru, Helen Scheuerer! DO NOT MISS her tips for marketing, promotion, social media, editing and more–they’re useful to anyone in the industry that is traditionally or self-published. Check it out!

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SP: Welcome Helen! First, can you please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing?

HS: Sure! I’m a novelist, editor and publisher who lives by the beach in Sydney. I own and run the popular writers’ platform, Writer’s Edit and I’m the author of bestselling YA fantasy, Heart of Mist. I’ve been writing since I was about seven years old 🙂

SP: Reign of Mist, your upcoming release, is the second book in The Oremere Chronicles. Can you tell us a bit more about book one, Heart of Mist, and now its upcoming sequel?HEART-OF-MIST-CHOSEN-web Continue reading

What I’ve Learned from Querying so Far- A Guest Post by Jessica Jade

Pen Friends, welcome Jessica Jade, a fabulous addition to the Spinning Pen. She’ll be joining us for a few months, sharing her journey on becoming an author — tips on writing, querying, YA fantasy, rejection, success, book reviews, and more! You’ll want to connect with her on twitter (link below) and see her beautiful novel aesthetics on her YA fantasy that she’s querying at the moment!

~~Welcome Jessica~~

When I first started querying over two years ago, I thought I was ready—the manuscript, the query letter, everything.

Oh, I was wrong. Embarrassingly wrong.

 

Right before that unfortunate round of querying, I applied for PitchWars 2015. Didn’t get a single request. Perhaps I’d picked the wrong mentors to submit to, or perhaps my story just really wasn’t their cup of tea. But I couldn’t let that get me down. Nope! I had to persevere.

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So I queried 16 agents, and not surprisingly, received 16 rejections (there was one request for a partial, but that ultimately turned into a pass).

Ouch.   Continue reading