Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Contest

This is going to be a short blog! I just found out about a new contest for MG/YA writers. It has to be a completed novel, in case the agent who is putting the contest on wants to read the full manuscript.

Agent Mary Kole is hosting the contest for the first 500 ( or less) words of your novel. The maximum number of words is 500, so be sure not to go over that. The link is:

There are first, second and third prizes, and I think an honorable mention, also. The prizes are critiques by Mary Kole, which I think would be very beneficial to those of us who have completed novels. It would give those who win the critiques some insight into what agents really look for when we send out queries and the first 10 pages or so of our novels.

I'm going to enter, how about you? Deadline to enter is January 31st, so don't fool around !

Speaking of contests: how many of you enter them, and which ones do you enter? I have only entered the contests put on each year by the writers' conference I attend here on the Central Coast. I'm not sure why I don't try for more. It seems like I'm always so busy when a new one comes along, that I don't take the time to investigate the submission guidelines and see if it is something I would be interested in. But...winning a contest, even coming in second or third if it is nationally known, looks good on your bio when you send in a query, and it just might pique the interest of the agent or editor enough for her/him to ask for your full manuscript. Maybe I should take my own advice, and try to enter some this year! Another goal I should add to my growing list for 2010.

Let me know if you enter, but most of all, let me know if you win a critique!

Friday, January 1, 2010

And A New Year Has Arrived!

2010! Can you believe 2009 has gone already? I made a remark today about how fast time flies when you're having fun, and the young lady at the cash register said, "Yeah, but what about when you're not having fun?" To which...I had no answer since it was obvious that she was very serious.

Does anyone make New Year's resolutions any more? I stopped years ago, because I never kept them, so why bother making them? Since I've been writing, however, I set goals for the year, so maybe that's as good as a resolution.

This year, my main goal is to get published. Ha Ha, you say. Isn't that every writer's goal? Well, yes, but in order to meet a goal, you have to set objectives which will lead you to that goal. Sometimes we fail to do that, and then when we don't reach our goal, we wonder why. Or...more likely...we scream and cry and throw things, gnash our teeth, snap at our spouses and yell at the kids. But we still don't know why we didn't meet the goal.

So, okay, what are my goals and objectives? First, I just enrolled in my second advanced novel course at the Institute of Children's Literature, so I have a major goal of completing the course, which will mean I have completed the historical novel I've been working on for three years. Each assignment will be one of the objectives I have to fulfill in order to meet that final goal.

A second goal is to find a home for The Year of the Scream or Why I Hate Cheerleading, Chocolate and Celine Carroll. My first choice ( actually, only choice so far ) editor rejected it about the first week of December ( sniff, sniff), so now AJ has been sitting around in a very dejected state, waiting for me to send her out again. In order to do that, I need to have some objectives. Number One will be to do some further intense research into publishers, and select several who would be open to this genre, and who would be willing to accept simultaneous submissions. Number Two will be to sharpen my query skills, and send out queries that will be specific to each editor/publisher.

Of course, this brings up another question: should I try to sell this story myself, or should I try to get an agent first? There's that vicious circle again...publishers who want only agented material, and agents who want only published writers. How do you obtain one ( either one) without the other?

Unfortunately, I really haven't decided which path to take, but I know that a journey down either will require the same amount of time, research and skilled query letters.

Another objective is to get out all of my past articles and even some of the assignments from the Beginning Course at ICL, brush the dust off, and then polish them to a brilliant ( ! ) sheen. Second objective along this line is to, again, do intense research into magazines which would be open to the kinds of articles and stories I have. Third objective: polish up those queries and send them out.

Now, will I have attained my goal of being published this year? I don't know. What I do know is that I will have fulfilled all of the objectives I've set for myself, and done so to the best of my ability. we all have will be a "wait and see" game.

Goals and Objectives: you can't have one without the other. Just remember that no goal can be reached without meeting some objectives along the way. It's like a toddler learning to walk: he must first learn to crawl, then stand alone, then take a few steps, then walk unaided, and then run across the floor. His goal is to "walk like a big boy," and each small event along the way of his learning is an objective that he has to meet. So it is with us and our writing. No matter where we are in this journey we're on, we must set goals, and then we must analyze each goal and decide which baby steps...i.e. objectives...we must meet in order to obtain that goal. Will everything fall into place the way we plan? Will we constantly have to be reevaluating what, why, when, where and how we are doing what we are doing? Absolutely! But without those baby steps, without those objectives, no matter how many times we might have to revise them for one reason or another, we must have them...and meet order to get where we want to be.

Think about it. Where are you? Where do you want to be? Have you set your goals for the year? Do you have your objectives in order, and know what you have to do to meet them?

Come on, get busy! You only have one year to do this !