#DVPit

#DVPit is a “Twitter event created to showcase pitches from marginalized voices that have been historically underrepresented in publishing” (The DV stands for Diverse Voices). It was brought to my attention through my participation in #RevPit, mentioned in a previous post. I had no clue things like this existed, though I’ve been on Twitter (under my pen name) since 2009.

There are two DV pitch fests each year – essentially one for YA writers and one for adult writers. It’s a simple task, really – fit into 280 characters (all that Twitter allows) your pitch, the #DVPit hashtags, and the category/genre you are pitching within. [strained smile] I don’t even want to think of trying to do this back when Twitter only allowed 140 characters…

There are also rules of how many times you can pitch/post each day, but essentially no more than six times on the day designated per project. Agents and editors then spend their day scrolling through the hashtag to see what might be of interest to them. If they like your post, you can head over to their Twitter page to see what their guidelines are (if they are asking for a synopsis or first five pages, etc.). You can then follow up by sending to those you wish to.

These are the pitches I posted this morning:

Alice Hart finds herself in the wonderland that is Chicago, trying to make sense of a life newly (finally) lived. She meets Stanley, and they begin a romance/adventure that leads each to find what they’ve been searching for. But is it each other? #Alice #AllFallingThings #DVpit

Stanley Hoppenworth finds time ticking away, fears he’ll forever be living in the far-reaching shadow of his father. He meets Alice, and they begin a romance/adventure that leads each to find what they’ve been searching for. But is it each other? #Alice #AllFallingThings #DVpit

A character-drive novel populated with people loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland characters. Based in Chicago, Alice Hart and Stanley Hoppenworth are both trying to make sense of a life newly (finally) lived. #Alice #AllFallingThings #DVpit

I, of course, realize now that I missed the part about including the genre. [facepalm]

BUT – I still got a like on the first one. So time to do some digging. 🙂

#RevPit

Today would have been my nana’s (nah-nah) 92nd birthday. My middle name after is her first – and I carry it and all her sass and fierceness with me every single day.

It is also the day that I submitted for #RevPit. #RevPit, I have learned, is a Twitter Pitch Fest lead by editors. “It supports authors by offering editing-focused chats and mini-events throughout the year as well as an annual contest wherein querying authors can win feedback and edits on their full manuscripts from professional editors, ensuring their works are polished and ready for agent inboxes.”

Earlier in the month, I had spent some time scouring the #RevPit editor’s bios to see who just might be a good fit. We are to pick our top two editors and one alternate to submit to. I came up with my list, and then I spent some time checking out their Twitter feeds to see whose personalities I might get on with best. This helped to solidify my list/order.

This morning, I got up early, before the window to submit had opened. (Once your first choice’s inbox hits 100 requests, your submission goes to your second choice. If they also already have 100, then it goes on to the alternate.) I had my answers to the required questions all typed and ready to copy/paste. I was ready. And I submitted. My first choice editor still had available slots by the time I hit submit.

The editors have a month to review all submissions (query letter, first ten pages). If something catches their attention, they will email and ask for the full manuscript. It sounds like most of them request up to ten manuscripts – so an email is not a guarantee that they’re picking you.

For the writer, me, that means a month of obsessively checking my email and watching my Twitter feed for “teasers” posted by my chosen editor. Winners are announced at the end of the month. What do they win? An edit of their full manuscript.

So. Here we go. I wait.

I’ll be honest that I’m going into this assuming I won’t be picked. I’m sure that won’t mean it won’t sting a little if I’m not. But if anything, I now have a draft of a query letter and a synopsis ready to go. That alone was a pretty big feat.

[UPDATE: I did not get picked. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ]

COVID 19

I have a bit of a commute from my home to my college where I teach. (Well, that’s a pretty severe understatement, actually. It’s far. Really far.) When I left work this afternoon to head home for the weekend, there was still no indication as to whether or not we would be returning the next week – meanwhile, colleges all over the country are scrambling to move to remote learning (as it’s being called).

Then I got home and checked my email – and there it was. We will be adding a week on to our spring break – so next week (when we should have had class) and the week after (our actual spring break) will be used by faculty to move their current face to face courses online. It wasn’t stated, but I’m assuming we will be online for the remainder of the semester.

I’m in shock. I’m feeling a great loss. While two of my classes are already online, and six credits of my load are my Teaching Chair duties, my creative writing poetry class is (was) in person. I’m a firm believer that creative writing classes need to be in person – there is a community aspect to it – you have to trust the people you are handing your work over to. Especially when you are doing it for the first time. I guess I can be glad they were able to have that community feel before this all went down.

But all that aside – I’m crushed that I didn’t get to say goodbye to my students. When we met this morning, I had no idea that this would likely be the last time we would all be sitting in a room together. I’m heart broken. If only this decision could have come even one day earlier.

Beta Reader Returns

It’s hard to know when we write something if others will like our work or connect to it. It can hurt if someone doesn’t because it feels personal – they don’t like my story, which in turn means they don’t like me. We are not always the hardiest of folks, we writers.

So when my first beta reader, Ann, told me she had finished my novel and was ready to hand it back over…I was braced for it. She was one who went into this saying she’s not a writer, so she didn’t necessarily feel qualified to respond – but I countered that most readers aren’t writers. I just wanted her reaction. (And if she could point out any errors I may have missed, I’d surely appreciate it.)

So when she told me that she loved the story, which she had been reading over her lunch hour the last few months, that she was missing her time with these people every day – I was relieved. I wanted to just puddle right there – someone else likes my story, sees these people the same way I (and Jack) do.

She had some great feedback throughout – pointing out things that were confusing or didn’t follow. She marked errors that I was sure were no longer present in the document (I had edited four or five times by this point…). And I thanked her for every single mark and comment.

I am also excited for an excuse to go back and revisit Alice, to work through some of these points.

Beta Readers

The thing I loved most about my time in undergrad and grad school was the community of writers who were available to read stories and provide feedback. It’s a little trickier when you’re out of school to find these same sorts of communities. If you are lucky to live in a big city, there are usually a plethora of writing groups that you can join. But small towns or small cities…well, you might just have to start one and hope someone shows up.

One perk of being a college teacher, especially in English, is having friends and mentors who love reading and writing as much as you do – who when they find out you are writing a novel offer to read it. And when you follow up to ask how serious they were about reading it, they actually take you up on it. For me, that’s Amy and Ann. I owe my teaching career to them. They are closer than friends. And I’m about to hand over a copy of my novel to each of them – I feel like I should be more nervous about this. But maybe lack of nerves is a good sign…?

Another full copy goes to my sister, Kelly. The remaining half a copy goes to Jack. He’s been reading along since I started.

I’m a treehugger, I swear I am. But there’s just something about the physical – the heft of the pages. I wrote that. I may have sat and stared at this for a bit just trying to take it in.

Once I hand them over, I will, for the first time in over two years, not be actively working towards writing and polishing my WIP. What does one even do?

Oh yeah. Start something new. 🙂

Timeline for All Falling Things

August 17, 2018 – Alice and Stanley bump into each other on the street.

May 24, 2019 – Alice unpacks her office box at the end of the novel.

Along with using PowerPoint to track characters and locations and a few other things, I used an Excel calendar to track the time of the story. I realize this might date the novel, quite literally (though one doesn’t need to know these dates to read the book), but it helped me with a few things. For one, accuracy. When the temp spikes or drops, when it snows or rains, when the Cubs beat the Pirates 10-0 during their 2019 season opener, it’s all what actually happened on those dates. Sometimes the internet comes in handy, eh? (I can also tell you that the Cubs game lasted three hours and twelve minutes, had 40,692 folks in attendance, and that there was a high of 74* F.)

The novel takes place during a length of time that is less than a year – which Alice notes as she is marking her goals. She had given herself a full year to figure out her life, but it took her less than that.

I’ll also note that all of the locations are real, though I will admit that I have not been to all of them. The one exception is that the Art Garage does not exist in Chicago – it is based on the Art Garage in Green Bay, WI, where I live. I just loved the concept so much that I wanted to model Lily’s gallery after it.