#WriterInMotion–Week 2: The Prompt

June 11, 2019 - Leave a Response

Last weekend, everyone received the prompt in our circle of friends from one of our amazing editors, Jeni Chappelle. Since then, our twelve group of writers had expanded to added ten more to their journey, bringing the total of twenty-two writers in counting. And we’ve gotten an additional editor from Revpit to join our bunch for our newest writer friends here.  So I’m going to reveal our visual prompt and my thinking process behind the scenes for it.

brown shipwrecked on shore

 

So my Muse needed time to think about the story this past weekend. I did a bit of research on the Port Reyes Shipwreck and listened to Don McLean’s “Starry Starry Night”, a classic 70s song about the artist Vincent Van Gogh, and his story behind his life and the painting. So I thought about a twist on the hidden meaning behind the painting and why this treasured shipwreck was set on fire three years ago. I’ve concocted a  mini premise for a short story–something I haven’t done in a decade. Although it came past the allotted 1000 words for the first draft, it would be trimmed down to 934 words with two revised rounds from my two amazing betas/CPs by the end of this journey.  Remember this round is unedited. This weekend, I’ll check out my friends’s stories and provide feedback on at least two of them. Feel free to do the same as well. Enjoy the story. I’ve titled it “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”

Look What the Cat Dragged In-1934 words

Adrienne Sinclair was racing against the clock to solve the puzzle. She stood at the start of the path and spotted the small sign for the Point Reyes Shipwreck before her. With a quick glance to check to see if anyone was behind her, she headed to the charred and capsized lonely tall fishing boat. What caused it to go around? And who set it on fire, three years ago, and why? That mystery had remained unsolved to this day.

On that starry, starry night, she grabbed her iPhone and snapped a shot of that local treasured landmark. As a nature photographer, she enraptured the moldering beauty of that sailboat on the shores in Inverness, California. As the Pacific Ocean lapped in the distance, it was carrying its secrets with seaweed and broken sea glass and seashells, along with the foamy tide to the shore. “Poor boat.” She released a sigh and docked the abandoned boat with her sturdy shoes.

I love adventure. And as a photographer, I’m going to seek a little danger on the wild side. No one would ever know. While she became vigilant of splintered and burned rotten wood from aft to starboard, she shone her penlight flashlight around and flickered on the black light feature. This was like a CSI officer would do at a crime scene to check for prints, blood splatters, and often trances of DNA. Would this unsolved mystery be considered on two?

Adrienne grinned and started to follow a path of dried blood that lead to the galley. She held her breath and took another step closer to a broken cabinet door that hung on the hinges. Cobwebs decorated the ship for new hidden cubbyholes for spiders to hide in. She didn’t believe the hype that this sailboat was haunted and possibly boobytrapped. She chalked it up to be a myth or an urban legend.

“Adrienne, what are you doing here?”

She gasped and spun around in a half-pivot. She almost dropped her cell phone on the holed floor below her. “I’ was about to ask you the same thing, Sebastian.” She narrowed her eyes at the sight of her ex-partner in crime, Sebastian Pruitt. He stood in front of her in a long wet suit that dripped with water that went onto the decrepit wreck’s bow.

“Beating the same clock as you in this warped scavenger hunt to look for salvaged clues.” He smirked at her and stood his ground.

Once a con man always a con man. I want noting to do with this two-timing two-bit former cat burgular. “Liar. Get out of my way and watch your step. Or I’ll call the cops on you.”

“You wouldn’t dare. Would you?” He took one slippery step closer to her as the water formed puddles everywhere around him.

“Shouldn’t you be behind bars and locked away in prison?” As far as she was concerned, he belonged to rot there for the rest of his miserable life.

“Didn’t you get the letter in the mail? Or in the email?”

Adrienne shook her head and scowled. Since when they did release his sorry ass? She hated the sight of her ex-lover too. “Nope.”

Sebastian’s grin grew wider as he removed the hoodie from his drenched wetsuit. “I’ve been released from prison a month ago for good behavior. I’ve served my time. I’m a free man.”

She groaned and narrowed her eyes. So why did he have to follow her here? She wanted nothing more to do with him, not since he framed her for a crime. “What do you want, Bastian?”

He cursed out loud. He hated that nickname that irked him a whole lot when they were together. “I’m here to help you in this rat race to win the prize.”

She stared at him incredulously and had known when to press the right buttons. “Help? Why would you want to help me?” I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you, Sebastian. “You’ve lied to me in the past. I don’t buy it.” She stepped away from him, watching her step for broken wooden planks in each room and made her way to the port. She knew her way around a sailboat a time or two without needing a diagram to point it out.

He followed her every move and shone his own flashlight in the same direction she headed. “Come on, Rennie. I know what you’re after. I know you still want me, too.”

Adrienne scoffed and snorted out loud. Every bone and fiber of her body couldn’t stand him and his two-timing ways. “I doubt it. I’ve moved on. And I don’t know what you’re referring to.” When she went downstairs in her booties, she shivered from the cold that radiated from the broken shipwrecked that laid aground on the shore. ‘We’re no longer a team anymore—professionally and personally. I’m so through with you.”

“You’re going to lose the grand prize before time runs out. It’s your loss. I know where it is. Let me lead the way.”

If she wanted to, she could call his bluff and call the cops on him by leaving an anonymous tip. She titled her head to the side and flared her nostrils. “What are you talking about?”

“Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting. I know where to find it.” He went ahead of her and found the locked safe. “Aren’t you a bit interested on why someone doused this boat on fire and left it shipwrecked?”

Curiosity killed the cat, but it had done more to pique my interest. What does one thing have to do with another? What’s he getting at? She crossed her arms over her chest and then spun the combination dial to the left for number twenty-nine. She tried not toilet him ruffle her feathers when he used her hateful nicknames of “Rennie”. It made her cringe. “Not really.”

“C’mon.” Sebastian smirked as he folded his hands on his hips, dripping more water on the rotten wood. “Don’t you want a nibble?”

Adrienne didn’t blink or bat an eye. She wasn’t going to bite or fall for his lies. She went past him and rotated the dial to the right for number seven. “No.”

“I have the correction combo for the locksafe, Adrienne. Your last digit is wrong.” He tilted his head to the side, his smirk was growing wide on his face, his dark blue eyes widened with pure mischievous delight. “I know you’re interested. I can read your mind. I know you so well.”

So tempted to contact the cops on him, little did he know what surprises she would have for him. She looked forward to call his bluff and tried not to give herself a way. “You think so. I still don’t trust you. You think you do.” A gleam twinkled in her hazel eyes.

“You won’t win the prize with the last digit.”

To prove him wrong, she rotated the dial to the left to the number fifty and pulled the knob. Nothing happened. It was stuck. She cursed out loud and tried again. No luck. She kicked the safe and hurt her right foot. “Damn you!”

Sebastian laughed out loud and shook his head. “Told you. Let me work with you on this. Trust me.”

She shot red-hot daggers at his smug face. She wouldn’t trust him with her life. She had learned the hard way about his deceit a long time ago. “Why should I?”

He stepped closer to her. Outside, they could hear crickets chirping from the sandy shore. “Because we’ve worked well together.”

“In the past, but not anymore.”

“Then let me help you one last time…”

She blinked and let out a sigh. “All right. What’s the last digit and the mystery to this puzzle?” She wanted to get out of there and bail out while she could.

“Ninety. The year Van Gogh died. Try it.” He folded his arms across his chest, tapping his feet against the soiled planks, and winked at her.

She groaned. Why didn’t she think about that before? “All right.” She spun the dial around to the number ninety and pulled the wheel. It clicked and opened. How did he know? She removed Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night painting and searched the backing for a bulge. “Sebastian, how did you figure it out?”

Sebastian grinned and crouched down below her. “You’ll learn a lot in prison. I’ve made friends who knows a lot about art thefts and told them their trade secrets. And that includes a new interpretation behind the story of this painting…”

As an art history buff, she knew a lot about classic masterpieces that’s valuable to steal from museums. “What? We know Van Gogh was in an asylum for his hysteria when he painted it and after he lobbed off his ear.”

He nodded and lifted the painting to the sky. He borrowed her black light flashlight and shone it at the painting as he moved it in a slow careful manner. “True. But rumor has it, Van Gogh was thinking about committing suicide there in the asylum and not later on. He contemplated Heaven and escaping this world. Failure at love and art, his family abandoning him.”

Adrienne gasped and founded an opening at the backing of the artwork. “What?”

He dimpled much to her chagrin. “It’s true.. He wrote private letters to his brother Theo and to Dr. Rey. Those were missing and stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It never made it to any biography about him. It’s been missing all these years and remained hidden in there…” He pointed to the safe.

“So what stopped him?”

“The guards. But that’s all I know. It’s all in this loot.”

A knowing smile formed across her lips. Those purloined letters could make her a lot of money. “So why does this painting have to do with the boat?”

“Because when word had gotten around, there have been people trying to find those letters. But when someone had stolen the painting a few years ago, they buried it behind the painting and hide it here. The fishermen who were on this boat had cursed engine failure that caused it to go aground here three years ago. Then Van Gogh’s ghost had set the boat on fire to conceal the truth.”

Adrienne scoffed. What a loaded crock! “I bet you had something to do it with the arson and theft. How else would you know these things?” She kept the loot to herself and grabbed the faded burlap bag. “Confess!”

He laughed. “I’m telling you the truth. I’ve been locked away in prison during that time.”

She narrowed her eyes and took a step back from him. “You’re lying. I’ve heard about your notorious prison break back then. You weren’t in prison. You did it.” She pointed her finger at him. “The San Diego PD told me about the prison break.”
Sebastian dropped his jaw and let out a line of curses. “What?”

“You’re busted! You’ve walked right into the trap. I’ve got you on tape.” She raised her jacket and her t-shirt to show a taped wire on her chest. She grinned. “Game over. You’re going back to prison where you belong.”

Without needing a gun, she lead Sebastian out of the galley and toward the bow. Three police officers boarded the rotted boat and arrested him on the spot. Then he escorted him to the prison as she handed the missing loot to them as evidence. Case closed.

 

 

 

 

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Writer-In-Motion: Week One

May 30, 2019 - Leave a Response

Welcome to Writer in Motion! This new blog series will show you how to write a rough draft and polish it to a final copy. Whatever you’re working on, whether it’s a short story, a poem or a song, a nonfiction magazine or newspaper article, or a chapter in a novel, the self-editing process will work the same way.  For the next seven weeks, follow my eleven awesome writer friends this summer as we’ll take a prompt to create a short story from scratch. Then we’ll self-edit and beta read each other’s work and polish it  until t shines with help from two development editors from #revpit. They would help guide us along in the process to make it a well-written peace with feedback and encouragement. Follow us on Twitter’s #writerinmotion feed and subscribe to our blogs to see how we’ll do. Some of us is giving us cool giveaways to select commenters. Join us starting on June 1st, 2019!

AUTHORS:

  1. K. J. Harrowick (http://blog.halon-chronicles.com & http://kjharrowick.wordpress.com)
  2. Jen Karner (http://www.SyllablesandSass.com)
  3. H.M. Braverman (http://hmbraverman.com)
  4. J.M. Jinks (www.authorjmjinks.com)
  5. Melissa Bergum (will be posting via KJ’s site)
  6. Kristen Howe  https://kristenswritingendeavors.wordpress.com/
  7. Thuy Nguyen (http://www.tmnstories.com)
  8. Kathryn Hewitt https://spinningmyyarns.wordpress.com/
  9. Sean Willson (https://www.seanwillson.com/blog/)
  10. Paulette Wiles (http://www.paulettewiles.com)
  11. Talynn (inkinthebook.blogspot.com)
  12. Ellen Mulholland (www.ellenmulholland.com)

Editors:

EDITORS:

Jeni Chappelle https://www.jenichappelleeditorial.com/

Carly Hayward https://booklighteditorial.com/

About Me and My Writing Journey:

I’m originally from New Jersey and have lived in Ohio for 19 years. I’m unemployed and work as a freelance writer/editor for Upwork for 2.5 years and Hub Pages for five years. I’ve been writing for a long time ever since I was in high school, when my hobby in writing poems and short stories had transformed into dream career.  I’m also a mother of a cranky adult twenty-year-old male domesticated cat named Wylie.

I’ve had dozens of poems published in various literary journals and magazines a decade ago in print. My poetry has been featured in the Lifelines poetry anthology book, which is available on Amazon.com.  I’ve been querying for almost eight years and have garnered interests from agents by cold querying and agents sometimes from Twitter pitch contests. For my eco-thriller, Venom, I have 4 fulls and 2 partials pending out with agents–I’m due to hear from those agents in mid-June and hope to land more requests this summer. I also have 2 fulls and 1 partial out for my psychological thriller with police procedural elements, Chain Reaction–I plan to send out my fulls out later this summer after I finish editing from Scribophile feedback. I also have a political thriller.  I mainly write adult thrillers (eco-thrillers, psychological, political), romantic suspense, and my newly created genre, sports romantic suspense novels. I’m hoping to make my dreams to come true by landing an agent and a pub deal by the end of summer.

My Muse is usually active during the Camp Nano seasons (both April and July) and also Nano in November. I tend to average writing 2k/day in 2-3 hours from start to finish in roughly three months.  Though I tend to overwrite and it takes me longer to self-edit my work from various resources –(betas/CPs, online writing group and local critique group, Scribophile, self-editing sites)–and deep POV is my arch nemesis.

My favorite things I love to do, besides writing, is yoga with meditation, making smoothies, reading, and cooking in my crockpot.

 

2018-2019: A Year in Review: Hits and Misses and Then Some

May 25, 2019 - Leave a Response

Sorry I haven’t updated this blog in over a year once again. Besides being busy writing, editing, querying, pitching in contests, my Muse and I have been in overdrive. And I have to tell you between last March and this spring, it’s been a year of hits and misses and a lot of aggravation from some certain agents who gave me the runaround with their responses to my nudges to get some sense of closure.

I’m going to do a brief recap in editing/querying/contests, and where I am with each manuscript for the past year for each ms and give you some highlights on what I’m now working on too in the end.

Venom:
Editing:I’ve been tweaking and re-tweaking it for the past year due to editorial contest feedback and new advice from betas. I hope it’s the last time since I’ve tweaked it a lot even if it’s to fix emotional depth issues. I plan to finish edits—partially or fully—by the 4th of July.

Querying: Besides getting the runaround, I had to close out a few old fulls that I had for over a year. They’re no longer responding to my monthly nudges to check in. And that included two dream agents (one who changed her mind after a span of two years and hadn’t respond to my full R&R, and said it was a dying trend. She should remain nameless. The same agent who told me not to post Agent C or Q here last year was another one—she gave me lame excuses about “the Internet” or having issues with email.” ) Needless to say, as of date, I have 4 fulls and 2 partials pending. And I hope to get more requests from hopeful new agents who have something on the MSWL list. Maybe this is the year I finally make my dreams come true!

Contests: Even if I’ve tweaked my pitches for any Twitter pitch contest last year or this yea, it falls short. I did enter Venom into #Revpit last month—I was shortlisted by one editor and passed on another editor. I tend to do better with cold querying these days.

Chain Reaction:
Editing: Slowly but surely, I’m still editing my full that I’ve started last fall right after Pitch Wars and joined Scribophile to get feedback on my chapters. Although I’m a bit behind with edits, I plan to finish my full by mid to late summer at the latest after I get caught up with my previous chapters that I had received this spring. I’m still determined to see this through to the end, though it does need a lot of ground work to tidy it up. I do have one beta reader to help me out with a CP program, but I haven’t heard back from her since March.

Querying: I do have my oldest full still pending with one agent. He’s still going to wait for me and for Chain Reaction when I turn in my full hopefully this summer. I did receive another full and a 150-page partial from two agents. Both fulls will go out in mid to late summer while the partial will go out by the end of June.

Contests: I did enter this to Pitch Wars last fall in spite of the heavy word count and wasn’t picked. I did receive minimum feedback from one mentor choice. It was worth a shot. I did receive a Dvpit like from an editor at Audible Originals last month and recently a #Pitdark like from an agent— (the same one who has my full for Venom)—on Thursday night. I sent my query out yesterday.

Diplomatic Immunity:
Editing: I’m still tweaking the chapters one last time. I did receive a free comprehensive critique from an editor from last fall. She only marked the first 3 chapters and told me she spotted the same mistakes in the other chapters. Mainly, I have to flesh out the characters to lay out the ground work. And that’s what I’m working on this summer since I have a new beta (who’s Canadian) to help me out with logistics and that area. So I plan to finish this by August depending on revised chapters and new chapter edits. I’m still getting feedback from my critique group on it and one friend there told me not to give up on it. I’m going to give it all I got.

Querying: I’m still querying it to hope to get some luck out of my political thriller. I did hear back from one agent on my full who passed on it earlier this year. She said it had potential and liked the concept, but some areas needed to be addressed. I did thought I had a partial request from another agent this spring, but there was a query mix-up and it was turned down. So I’m a bit out of luck and hope to turn things around this summer.

Contests: Other than small pubs who are interested in Diplomatic Immunity from Twitter Pitch contests, I did receive a like from a St. Martin’s Press editor last year during #Dvpit. So far that note in my query and nudges have garnered no luck since last fall when I added it. Not even for my full that fell short.
My other projects I’m currently working on lately:
Political Asylum, book 2 in the trilogy—I did write it during Nano last fall and earlier this year. I’ve put it in on brief hiatus and will resume it this fall. My book 3 which is untitled will be written sometime next year.
Double Exposure: Although I haven’t subbed a new chapter to my online critique list since January, I hope to resume it in the summer and send revised chapters to my CP. Although I’m behind, I plan to finish edits this by Labor Day Weekend depending on the revisions I get on the chapters.
Countdown to Zero: I started revamping my romantic suspense last fall and send out the first couple of chapters. I’ve gotten good feedback on it, though it’s been briefly on hiatus as I’m slowly going back to writing in chapter 8. I hope to finish chapter one edits over this holiday weekend and into next week. I might not get this done in time for Pitch Wars (which is now at late September than August this year), but I plan to finish it by Labor Day Weekend as well.

Earlier this year, My Muse had came up with a plan to combine sports romance and romantic suspense to form a new genre: sports romanic suspense. I’ve gotten good responses from my Twitter friends and my author friend who said this is what agents/editors are looking for. So we’ve plotted the storyline and basing it on the Winter X-Games with a twist on the Operation Varsity Blues scandal for Dead Heat. I’ve written halfway through the story and plan to finish by the end of June. Depending on if I land an agent or not this summer, this is going to be queried in mid-July thereabouts and my entry for Pitch Wars. The first chapter has been sent to my betas and some feedback had rolled in. I just need to tailor it down to 90K in the end.

I’m also planning to write two thrillers during Camp Nano and Nano this year.

I also want to go back to my backlist and resume these titles this fall:

Takedown: I just have a couple of chapters to write and finish it. It should take me 4-6 weeks before I edit it during winter.
In Too Deep (Nano 2018 project): I have more chapters to write to take my thriller novel to the next level. I plan to wrap it up before edits by Halloween.
The Scent of Evil: Although I’ve been on and off on trying to finish it and the outline, I have a few more chapters left to go too. I hopefully need 4-6 weeks to do it before edits in mid-fall.
Specimen: Like Scent of Evil, this has been on and off with edits. Besides a final round of edits to trim it down, I have a few more scenes left to write to finish it off. I’m close to it. And I hope to tackle it before winter and Christmas.

There are other title on my backlist, but it would have to wait until next year.

Starting in June, a bunch of writer friends from Revpit are doing something cool on our blogs. It’s called #WriterinMotion or #WIM for short to write a short story on a prompt and have a CP critique it. It would also be on the writing process from first draft to final copy. So I promise to be more active here and post for WIM and if I hear back on any news this summer for Venom! I’m going to post once a month starting next month too.

Nearing the Finish Line

March 18, 2018 - Leave a Response

Hello everyone. I know it’s been 3 months since my last update. And I’m here to give you a quick update on the latest on what’s going on. After I posted that blog update, an agent saw my link to my blog in my query, though she requested a mini R&R for Venom’s opening pages, she wanted me to not mention it in this posts. Since I’ve been keeping everything on the down low without mentioning names of agents or small publisher editors in these posts, past and present. So if you want to know who, feel free to send me a Direct Message via Twitter or Facebook Messenger message. (A little over a month ago, I’ve received a 50-page partial from another agent….. Shhh. Let’s keep it a secret and between us.)

On another note, I’m happy to share the news that this week I’ll finish my R&Rs for Venom. The end is finally near and here! After I finish editing the epilogue, it would be sent to a friend of mine who’s also an editor. And she would reading the full ms for free and give me her feedback. If all goes well, it would be sent over to those agents next week before Easter and editors after Easter, depending on their sub guidelines. I’m really hoping I don’t have to do any more edits in that ms from my end. And then I have a long waiting period to hear from them on my fulls this spring. It would be great to hear from them by my 42nd birthday in 80 days or earlier with some freaking good news! I’ll still be querying my heart out and going all in to land more requests if I can.

Next month, I’ll be working on Double Exposure, one of my manuscripts from my backlist. I haven’t worked on finishing edits on it in over a year. And since one of the agents last year asked me to write a synopsis for it, I might have as well take the plunge this spring and get it ready just in case….

I also hope to finish Diplomatic Immunity’s full next weekend as well and send it to those agents and editors after Easter. I probably won’t finish Chain Reaction’s full until maybe late April/early May. I have a hurdle of cutting 20K from there with my beta somehow. No new bites from both manuscripts so far.

As for contests, I had no luck with Pitmad and #SavvyAuthors and Snow vs Snow this year so far, even when I’ve re-entered Chain Reaction after it went on hiatus for 1.5 years. So I hope to maybe enter it for Revpit next month. Pitch Wars is up in the air for now.

For Camp Nano, I’m finishing last year’s spring Camp Nano manuscript, Takedown this spring. Then I’ll finish my political thriller trilogy for summer Camp Nano and Nano this year.

I’m really hoping this is my year to make my dreams come true, hopefully by this summer. Stay tuned and keep your lips sealed!

8 Months in Review

December 18, 2017 - Leave a Response

Hello everyone. Sorry I haven’t been posting any updates lately and not since March this year. I’ve been real busy in the past nine months with writing new novels, revising Venom and my other novels, and querying and entering contests a lot. Instead of giving you a major update, I’ll give you an abbreviated one with what I have been up this month and what’s going on for next year. Consider it as an early Christmas present from me to you all! I’ll break it down in categories from big to small sections.

After I posted in March, things really turned up for Venom with just cold querying and have little luck with the contests. I did turn in my partial to that agent as planned and then waiting a long time. Come September and a bit of confusion on her part, it was upgraded to a full R&R with some tweaks in the opening chapters. And I’ve tweaked the rest of the novel since then. I also landed a full from one small publisher and an agent, and a partial R&R from one other small publisher. I also received a partial from another small publisher from a mid-fall contest. Sadly, that partial R&R from that one small pub fell flat last month. I did take a brief query break for 6 weeks to work on edits and resumed querying last month. I’ll be going on query break for Venom after I send out my final query out today until mid-January next year. But I hope to turn in my full and full R&Rs for Venom by late January 2018. As for contests, other than that one contest in September, it had received little to no fanfare by agents.

Another one of my manuscripts that picked up steam was Diplomatic Immunity, my first installment in my political thriller trilogy that I wrote last spring for Camp Nano April 2016. Ever since I’ve incorporated what my beta suggested earlier this year and this summer by making tweaks throughout the chapter. It had garnered one partial request from an agent (that I’ll send out after the holidays) and a few full requests, including my latest one this fall. It also received a partial R&R from the same small pub that turned down Venom last month; I’ll be sending it out next month. Plus I’ve landed two partials from two other small pubs from the same Savvy Authors contest this September–one went out last week and the other would go out next Friday. As for contests, it did get some likes and some feedback from #REVPIT this spring from 2 out of 3 mentors and then from Pitch Wars this August. Though it wasn’t picked, I did win the Spirit of Pitch Wars contest and won a query and first chapter critique from a mentor that I didn’t pick for the big contest. I went on a mini query break for 1.5 weeks to tweak the first chapter and decided to leave my query as is, since it did land me my latest full request from an agent this fall. After I send out my two partials and a dozen of queries this week, it would also go on query break until 1/15/18. I’ll hope to send out my fulls out around the same time I send out Venom’s, too.

As for Chain Reaction, it hasn’t gotten much traction lately other than no responses or Rs. I did get one full request from one agent via a requery and my 1.5 -year-old full request from last year’s Pitmad from a small publisher. I hope to return it to the contest revenue in early 2018. Though I’ve resumed revising it from previous feedback on others, I hope to turn it in by late January 2018 at the latest hopefully. Better late then never, right? I sent out my last query out on Friday and hope to resume querying in late January 2018.

Besides all that, I’ve won my 9th Nano in a row this year with my romantic thriller, Deadly Tide. It has a natural disaster theme (flood by broken dam) and based in my home state and county. I hope to finish writing it in late January 2018 and stick to 110K if not 100 K. I hope to resume this year’s Camp Nano ms, Takedown, and last year’s Nano, the Scent of Evil, both in February 2018. For Camp Nano, I’ll be resuming my political thriller trilogy with part two, Political Asylum (whether April or July, it’s to be determined), and an untitled final installment for Nano. When I finish editing Venom, Chain Reaction and Diplomatic Immunity, I’m going back to my backlist to edit my other two eco-thrillers that I’ve worked on last year, Specimen and Double Exposure. I hope to edit Deadly Tide in mid-February 2018 too.

That’s about it from here! I promise to post more next year, while I’m waiting to get more offers on the table and maybe the call itself, even when I turn in my fulls. So keep your fingers crossed and hope for good news for Venom and me in 2018!

2016-2017 Five Month Update

February 10, 2017 - Leave a Response

Belated happy new year everyone! Though it had five months since my last update on my blog on the latest, here’s where I am on querying Venom, Chain Reaction and Diplomatic Immunity. I’m still hoping to make this year memorable by making my writing dreams come true, one step at a time for either of them. Like October’s blog post, this post is going to be short and sweet and broken down to a couple of paragraphs since not much is going on, but things are moving up and forward. Yet again, I’ve been busy writing, especially my Nano 2016 manuscript, the Scent of Evil, my first romantic thriller. I hope to finish writing and outlining it as I go along by Camp Nano this spring, eight weeks from here. At this point, I don’t know what I’m doing yet, whether it’ll be part two to my political thriller trilogy, a new idea, or to revamp an old idea or finish my Nano ms with a mininal set goal of 5-15 K. I’ve been also editing my manuscripts and querying a lot to them, while I’ve entered contests for Diplomatic Immunity only and placed Chain Reaction on hold until a later date.

As for the contests, I struck out in Nightmare on Query Street, Dear Lucky Agent for thrillers, while I was short-listed by one editor in Pit2pub16 for Diplomatic Immunity. I’ve also received feedback from two out of four editors and an ediitng offer by the same editor who liked my novel. That was the highlight of the year last fall. Both editors wanted more personalization and emotional depth, which is the same issue I’ve been working on with Venom for over two years, on and off. I’ve also had no luck with #pitmad either and skipped the December contests. All except one, which was a Twitter contest to win a free query critique from an agent (Agent R, I’ll call him), just by tweeting and retweeting his tweet. Not sure if anyone else have done it last month, but I’ve won small victory! (As of this week, I’ve sent it to him and wait for his feedback. It could help me with future contests and queries somewhere along the road. With help from one of my betas who gave me confidence and feedback, I’ve revamped my opening by tweaking it in time for Sun Vs Snow. Once again, I’ve gotten snubbed. So that’s where I am so far with contests as #pitmad in toward the end of the month.

Though conference season have started and yet upon us, I’ll be going to the same one last year to live pitch to agents—two of the same agents I’ve already queried in advance and waiting to hear from them—and try my new manuscript with new agents there. If I finish Chain Reaction’s edits in time, I might do that as well.

As for requests, Agent A who’s been considering Venom for over a year with no further word on the status, I’ve heard back from her after I’ve nudged her from various sources. Overall, I’ve gotten closure from her on Venom and Chain Reaction, since Double Exposure is excluded and put on hold, until I hear back from one of my betas. Though she would’ve given me a R&R back in July 2015 and then passed, (she also passed on CR as well, since she didn’t connect with the former version I suppose), I do have hope with her. Another agent at her agency (Agent X) is reading and reviewing Venom as we speak as I’m waiitng to hear from her this week. I’ve told Agent A in my thankful email, that I would be happy to receive a R&R from Agent X, like she first gave me way back when. I’ve already implemented the changes in chapter one and have done chapter 2 afterwards. Since then, I’ve been starting to work on Agent P’s R&R (self-editing alone with help from my online crit list and not with an editor now), I’ve also received a R&R from a small pub I would call Publisher 3, who’ve upgraded my partial last summer to a full last fall. Though they’ve loved the storyline, they wanted me to work on characterization and dialogue. So that’s what I’ve been working on lately for the past month or so. I also haven’t heard back from Agent M and Agent E yet on my nudge and receiving crickets, even when I’ve nudged them twice. So I’ll keep waiting to hear from them and nudge them in the spring.

As for Chain Reaction, I did lose my partial from Agent N, when she said it wasn’t strong enough or keen enough, and the story felt small. No word yet from Agent W on my partial, not since I’ve nudged her. I’m still working on my soon-to-be belated #pitmad full request for Publisher 7 and hope to send it in to the editor by late spring/early summer and via the queue. I have two betas to help me get through the edits this winter and spring season. Lastly, I’ve received only one full request for Diplomatic Immunity in late fall from Agent R. I haven’t heard from him yet and will be nudging him soon. Nothing yet on that end. With my newest beta for my newest ms, she said it has potential, but due to some storyline flaws, I have to do some tweaks to make it better, like changing locations for part of the story. I hope to finish by late spring and enter it into #pitmad and other contests this spring. Depending on how it does, maybe it could be a bona fide winner for Pitch Wars in September! (My new Nano won’t be ready yet, depending on how I do with edits after I finish writing—it’s over 150K so far.)

That’s it so far. I’ll keep dreaming about my future book cover designs for this year!

My nine-month progress report so far

October 2, 2016 - 2 Responses

Sorry I haven’t been here in over nine months. Except for doing a contest entry here this winter and a mentee blog for another contest this past summer, I’ve been busy with a lot of stuff this past year–mainly writing and edits and querying. (And for those who’ve liked my Facebook author page, too, you know why as well.) Instead of last year, when I did 3 posts on my year in review, this time I’m going to break it down into a truncated version to catch you all up on contest entering, conferences, querying, and writing/editing, all in one post.  M

Once again, I’ve tried my best to give Venom a chance with contests and hoped I would get further than I did last year. My ratio was 50/50 with snubs and being short-listed by mentors/editors to advance to the agent round back then. Well, it all started with a new contest called Operation Awesome back in January. I submitted and gotten feedback from someone from it, though I didn’t get in. That was okay with me. From there, I’ve entered everything Twitter and non-Twitter-related contest, all the way up to Pitch Wars in August. Once again, I almost had the same ratio of 50/45/ of snubs and being short-listed, and had gotten feedback along the way. Except for one #adpit request for Venom’s partial to add 15 to the ratio. I’ve taken what advice to make it better and to get further, which let me closer and better, but not where I want to be. Even for Pitch Wars, I did win a chance to add two mentors to my top four list. I wasn’t picked. And only one mentor sent me feedback with a standard form with nothing personalized, since a lot of authors had subbed to her. With a year of putting my heart and soul to make it better with blood, sweat and tears, had stalled like a car on the road. And that’s what I decided to curb  Venom from entering contests for good and change course with one contest win for this year. I wasn’t getting anywhere with it anymore and hoped I would have better luck with plain old querying.

On that note, I’ve decided to throw Chain Reaction into the ring and get some luck. I’ve only entered it for #adpit, #darkpit and #pitmad for the past year, and only for p2p15. I did get some luck with last month’s #pitmad, when an enter of this Canadian pub company faved my 2nd Twitter pitch. Though I haven’t sent it out yet and hope to later this month after the first 3 chapters are polished by both of my two new betas, I’ll cross my fingers for good luck. I did enter it for Pitch Slam last month and received feedback to make my first 250 words and pitch better. Though I didn’t get picked. So I did score one small victory so far, which is better than nothing. I’ve only entered it, since my spring Camp Nano manuscript, a political thriller titled Diplomatic Immunity, wasn’t ready yet. But I’ll enter Diplomatic Immunity in Nightmare on Query Street next weekend and let’s see what happens. So keep your fingers crossed for me.

Onward to conferences, I did attend to new conferences this year, a total of four up to date. Though my local one was free and changed venue from a community college to a library in the same area, I’ve learned a lot since last spring from writing, editing, publishing, and everything in between. Last weekend, I went to that conference and met a new friend, my Twitter/Facebook friend, Julie Lindsay, who my local Nano ML had roped her into our local Nano region for the write-ins. She lives only a hour from me! She was also the first presenters in one of the first workshops I’ve attended. But before that, I went to another local conference with a live pitch event with agents. I  never been to those big conferences like Writer’s Digest/BEA, Boucheron or Thrillerfest, when you’ll be able to do it, if you sign up for it. But it’s too far and too much to pay for. Maybe in the future. I did sign up for one new agent to pitch to Venom and met one of the agents (Agent G) who had Venom’s partial R&R for a couple of months. (More on that later.) Live pitching is hard work, but with a lot of practice, I’ve managed to pull it off. I landed a 50-page partial from Agent K, which fell flat after two weeks I sent it out. So that was a bust. I had a blast and met two local Nano friends at the same conference, too. (Though Muse Online Writer’s Conference is returning after a 2-year hiatus, and it was my first conference I went to over the years, I’m not sure if it’ll be back. There’s nothing on the Facebook page or the blog about it. Not since last November’s past from last year. So we’ll see.)

As for querying, I’ve been hitting it hard for the past nine month with both Venom and Chain Reaction. Up to date, I had partial and full requests that I received and later fell flat since January, including from Agent G. She did graciously give me three chances with Venom’s partial R&R; though she did like the changes, it wasn’t a good fit for her. Though I still haven’t heard from Agent A, which has been considering Venom for 1.5 years, I did send it to her this summer, when edits were done. I did nudge her and haven’t heard back yet. So I don’t know what her status is on it. Both Agents C and E, in which I had full R&Rs, I sent out also this summer. Agent C passed, since she wanted me to hit the sweet spot of 90K, in which I won’t be able to do with my 109,000 words. Unless I get an editor to help me out or win a mentor contest like Pitch Wars, I’ve passed.As for Agent E, I haven’t heard from him on my nudge, too. I had partials from Agent H and J (from #adpit), who I had closed out as no response, especially from Agent J, when I nudged twice with nothing but crickets from them.

Then things turned out for Venom, just two weeks ago. I received two new full requests in the same week. Yeah! One was from a new agent I’ve queried this summer and nudged her, a little over three weeks ago. She forwarded my query over to the lead agent, who I call Agent M, and asked for a full and a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. I’ve found her from the #MSWL website. (A real good thing.) I also followed them on Twitter and both agents followed back. (Another good thing.) Then I got one a little over a week ago, from an agent  I’ve requeried and received a full from her as well on my nudge on the same day. Though Agent M gave me a two-week turnaround response and Agent P said ASAP, we’ll see if we hear anything from my new and pending outstanding full requests. Wait for it! Just last week, I received a 10-page partial request from Agent Q, an assistant to an agent at Agent E’s literary agency, just to give her a feel for her story. I don’t know the timeline for it and hope for a nibble at this rate.

For Chain Reaction, it haven’t received my traction since early this year. I had two partials from it, one 10-page and one 50-page, from Agent B and N, which fell flat. Since I’ve revising the first 3 chapters, I hope things do turn around for it. As for Diplomatic Immunity, I’ll be starting to query my new baby next Friday to query only agents and some with first chapter only. Maybe it’ll pick steam and burn rubber burn with requests out the wazoo, after my circle of betas give it a green light.

Last but not least, like I said earlier, I’ve been writing and editing. I revised Venom the best I could. I did the same for Chain Reaction and Double Exposure, and a little bit in another old eco-thriller titled Specimen out from the closet. I’ve lost betas earlier this year, but still had my constant beta Sandy for over 2 years. (And now she’s having her first book published in December by Wild Rose Press.) I have 2 betas for Chain Reaction, 1 for Double Exposure, my writing group for Diplomatic Immunity (as of this mid-summer) and my online crit group for Specimen (this spring and early summer.)

As for Diplomatic Immunity,(my first installment into a political thriller trilogy series), I wrote it in 10 weeks during spring Camp Nano and into early summer this year. A new world record for me by averaging 2K (or more) a day. And my first Camp Nano win, since I couldn’t do last year–maybe my muse and I wasn’t ready yet. Though I sent it in early and gotten 7 new betas this summer, including my main beta, I did get feedback from them, concerning plot holes and other issues. Though it took me about 4-5 months to do 3 passes to trim my 127,000 word manuscript down to 110,000, my main word count goal. I don’t think I can get it down to 90,000 or 100,000 words. It’s as good as it gets. Next week, it would go to my betas for final feedback, (plus my writing group to do the 2nd half of chapter one), and a new special beta to help me with plot holes. I hope it gets the green light with minor nit picks.

I plan to do the same for Nano this year with a romantic thriller titled The Scent of Evil. Nano Prep and research is underway. As of last year’s monstrous novel, Off the Grid, which ended up to be at 400,000 words when I finished this mid-summer, it’s going to take me 6 months or more to get it down to 100,000 or split it into 2-3 books, starting next month.

On final notes, while I still freelance for Hub Pages, (though not as much since mid-July), I’ve been making some great money with Upwork for the past three months when I joined. I’ve landed 7 fixed price assignments and one 3-month hourly job–I’m halfway through with this job and will finish in early November, just in time for Nano.

That’s a wrap up about what I’ve been doing lately. If I do get any new news from contests or querying, I promise to post up here or at my Facebook fan page–or maybe both–with a quick update. Cross your fingers and talk to you later this fall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 2016 Pitch Wars mentee bio

July 12, 2016 - 2 Responses

Hello Pitch Wars fellow mentees and mentors,

My name is Kristen Howe. This is my 2nd time doing Pitch Wars. Last year, my adult thriller, Venom, had received one request with minimal feedback. One mentor told me that my query was considered and landed on the short list. Since my new manuscript, Diplomatic Immunity, isn’t ready yet, I’m bring Venom back into the fold. Over the past year, it went under many revisions from previous contest and agent feedback. So I’m hoping I’ll be picked this year. (I hope you have no fear of snakes.)

I write mainly thrillers/eco-thrillers and some romantic suspense, too.

Since I’m unemployed, I have plenty of time on my hands to read, research, edit and write. I’ve been a writer for Hub Pages for two years this September; I’ve just starting freelance work at Upwork this month. In the meantime, I go to the gym to do yoga and Pilates to vent out my edit frustrations. I also take naps to decompress and dream revisions and new story ideas.

As for my reading habits, it first started out with Mary HIggins Clark’s Where Are the Children? I read that book in high school and became an avid reader since then. From mysteries, it branched off to cozies, thrillers, romances (except erotica), action adventures, and some sci fi. I rarely read nonfiction. I don’t read horror or lit fiction. My favorite authors have a big list, but they include Iris Johansen, Erica Spindler, Lisa Jackson, John Grisham, and Allison Brennan.

Thank you for reading my bio and considering Venom!

Son of a Pitch Blog entry

February 15, 2016 - 5 Responses

Title: Venom

Age category:  Adult Thriller/Eco-thriller

Word count: 108, 000

Query: Dear Agent,

Based on your interest in thrillers, I hope VENOM, a 108,000 word eco-thriller will suit your list.

When herpetologist Kylie Marx investigates the slaughter of rare endangered skinks, an infestation of snakes, scorpions, and a variety of creepy crawlers invades the Key West area. During a blackout, they escaped from their crates from a semi crash hit a telephone pole. With a looming anti-venom shortage, Kylie and her fellow scientists scours the town to milk venomous reptiles and amphibians to make anti-venom. Kylie fears she won’t have enough time to cover every bite with fresh anti-venom, because they could die. She explores the option of creating synthetic anti-venom. Until things take a serpentine turn for the worse. She deduces that the man responsible for the outbreak is the same person who left her for dead in the Everglades twelve years ago. Now Vaughan St. Croix breeds dangerous hybrid snakes and sells his poached kills on the black market. His evil presence is no coincidence. It coincides with the National Zoological Symposium for Endangered Species.

 St. Croix threatens Kylie and her new friends with an ultimatum: produce a vial of synthetic anti-venom for his deathly ill sister by midnight. Or  watch those around her succumb to fatal venom.

Si Rosser’s TIPPING POINT meets Erica Spindler’s JUSTICE FOR SARA, when an alarming infestation of deadly snakes hits Key West, sending the small town into a panic.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, 

Kristen Howe

First 250 words:

Chapter 1

Kylie studied the Solomon Islands dark green skinks climbing the glass walls of its tank in slow motion. Such a rare species to exhibit, she examined the long slender male consuming a diet of fruits and vegetables. On a quiet morning at the reptiles section of the Naples Zoo, she waited for the female to emerge and be courted. Before she could check the Key West Mole Skinks in the second tank,  her older sister bolted into her office.

Penny breathed heavily as she came to a halt. “Kylie! Did you check your texts?”

“No. What’s up?”

“All your hard work finally paid off. You got the grant!”

“You’re kidding. How do you know?”

While Penny explained the details of her financial endowment for research, Kylie’s heart wanted to explode with joy. This was a big opportunity for her to shine!

Giddy with excitement, Kylie hugged her sister. “I kept wondering when I would hear. I thought I wasn’t going to get it.” With no word on their end, she feared they turned down her proposal for her research.

“I know it’s last minute. But the National Zoological Symposium is worth it.” She paused. “But we’re going to look into the delay, while you get your ass to the airport.”

Both Kylie and Penny worked at the Naples Zoo in Caribbean Gardens, a nonprofit organization cooperating in conversation, both inside and outside the wild for endangered species.

“When’s the flight?” Kylie asked.

“It leaves in two and a half hours.”

2016, here I come!

January 5, 2016 - Leave a Response

As promised, and a day later, here’s my plans for 2016, in which I hope my dreams will come true. I’ve have broken in down into four major categories: editing, writing, querying and contesting.

Let’s start off with editing.  That’s my main goal and focus for the good first part of the year. I want to get Venom’s R&R done by mid-March and resubmit it to those agents for a second look. Since I’m at the halfway point, I have 17 chapters left plus the epilogue.  If so, I want to  start Specimen around April (maybe for Camp Nano) and finish Specimen by late summer with writing the final chapters and then edit the whole ms with my beta reader in one pass.

I also want to get CR’s final edits done, starting this week with my BR/CP feedback with going over chapter one, and then fast forward with the final 14 chapters to finish by mid-spring. If so, it’ll be ready with Agent A or Agent G wants the full manuscript.  Then I’ve have nipped and snipped two mss in one editing bud.

As for Double Exposure, I hope to resume going over the first three chapters, one more time, with feedback from by CPs from last fall. I’ll go back to this later this month and hope to finish by summer, if I’m so lucky, to cut the word count down to 110 K thereabouts.

As for writing, at this moment, I want to finish Off the Grid by mid to late March and worry about edits until spring. I also hope to attend to online free writing classes to help me write/edit better for the future. Plus, I’ll be attending another local half-day conference in early April to get more inspired.

For querying, I’ll do a  new batch of requerying and querying, two weeks from today. Maybe I’ll get lucky with more rounds of requests to better the odds. I’m also doing some small presses, too, after I do some research on them and their submission guidelines, especially for their word counts. I might have to table it for March or April, if Venom’s not done by then.

As for contests, I’m going to try to do some next month and in March, since I’m taking this month off. Venom will be in contention, if you’re allowed to enter one ms–if it’s more than one, I’ll put Chain Reaction into the mix for winter/spring mss, until others are ready. I’m hoping for better luck this time around and hope for less snubs and short-lists. Maybe I’ll get lucky…

That’s about it for now. If anything new turns up, I’ll pop back up here again with an update. If not, I’ll be back at the end of the month with a progress report so far.

 

 

 

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