Hey! How’s it going? It’s been a while, huh? I’m really sorry about that. I have just been so crazy-busy, haven’t you? I know, excuses excuses…
My second semester teaching at CU ended on the last day or so of April and then I had about seven days to grade 50-something papers. At the same time, I got the flu and was struggling just to stay awake for more than three hours at a time so it was challenging to get everything finished with the kind of precision that I require of myself. The flu left me a present too, combining with allergy season to give me a cough that lasted nearly all of the month of May and cracked one of my ribs. Ouch!
I’m not teaching any classes this summer. I wanted to enjoy the break and spend time revising my classes so that they’ll be even better next year (and they will be; I’ve got some ideas!). Plus, I’m attacking all of the chores that have been sitting on the “To Do” list since last August when I got this job, such as cleaning the bathrooms (kidding, I’m kidding… mostly). I’ll be staining the deck railings, touching up paint around the house, getting the broken window shades fixed, trimming bushes and trees, pulling weeds; you know, all the fun stuff that comes with home ownership.
And, oh yeah, I’m still trying to get that novel published.
One of the biggest issues that a writer has is getting seen. There are so many people trying to get their work in front of agents that agents can get dozens of query emails a day. Top agents will receive hundreds of queries a week. How are you supposed to get noticed, much less stand out, in a crowd like that?
Over the years, writers, agents, and editors have organized competitions using social media to cut through some of that oppressive overabundance. Twitter, in particular, has proven to be an easy and popular forum for agents and writers to find each other through “Twitter pitch” contests like #PitMad (Pitch Madness). Because of its limited format (140 characters total), a writer must be succinct and clever and an agent only has to commit a limited amount of time. I’ve had some success with Pitch Madness, so I’m always keeping an eye out for other competitions like that.
This week, I’m competing in something called Query Kombat (#QueryKombat) which is a competition that occurs annually on a series of blogs. Over the years that it has run, it has given many writers exposure to lots of agents and editors, including those who officially judge the competition and those who just stop by to check it out because they know it’s going on.
Query Kombat takes place across three blogs: those of writers Michelle Hauck, Michael Anthony, and Laura Heffernan. They set up a competition in the style of a college basketball bracket with 64 queries going up against each other. About a week ago, they put out a call for submissions: a query and first 250 words of a completed novel, plus a clever nickname by which your work will move through the bracket. I saw that the competition was open and said, “Why not?”, never thinking I’d make it. In all, about 350 people submitted to the competition, so my chances were something like 18%. Not great.
But I made it! I got in! My novel’s nickname is “If the Shrew Fits” and I’m up against another historical with the nickname “Irish In America” set in 1880’s Arizona. You can read both queries on Michelle’s blog here.
The round of 64 has begun. The judges are judging. Round 1 goes until Saturday, June 4, at 8 pm EDT. Feel free to leave any constructive comments you’d like. Including “I’d buy a thousand copies of this ‘Shrew’ book if only someone would publish it.” (No. Don’t do that.)
I’m losing 2-1 so far. But there’s still a couple of days to go.
The fact is, even if I lose, I will have had tremendous exposure from the competition and great feedback from the commenters. I’ve already started tweaking my query and as someone who is tremendously paranoid about her opening pages, hearing such great responses to my first 250 words is INCREDIBLY reassuring.
Welcome to summer. I plan on being around more. Let’s have some fun.