Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Contests for Writers!

Just a quick blog entry today. I wanted to mention two contests for writers, both with upcoming deadlines. (Wow, December is only a week away! Hard to believe.)

One of the gorgeous prizes to celebrate Renegade.

The first is being held at J.A. Souders' blog, Angels and Demons and Portals, Oh My!, to celebrate her book deal with Tor Teen. Congratulations to her!  I've met one of the editors at Tor Teen, and they're an amazing team. (They also have a fabulous booklist, and Ms. Souders is giving away some of their books. I am DYING to read Kiki Hamilton's The Faerie Ring!) I love this contest because it has a prize pack for both readers and writers-- and the prizes are incredibly generous. Among the offerings are gift cards, an ARC of her novel, and even the chance to have your query letter and first 50 pages of a manuscript critiqued! She is a kind, inspiring author and I look forward to reading her upcoming book, Renegade.

The second contest is a YA Novel Discovery contest being held at Gotham Writer's Workshop. The prizes are a dream come true for writers: a chance to send your manuscript top agent Regina Brooks, the opportunity to pitch your novel, and even a free ten-hour writing course. Entering is deceptively simple. All you have to do is send the first 250 words of your manuscript, along with your title. But if you've ever studied the first 250 words of your manuscript in detail, you know how difficult this will be! I plan to enter, but I don't expect to win by a long shot. Anyone who can catch the eye of an industry expert in 250 words has my sincere admiration. Just thinking about this contest was an inspiration to continue to improve my craft, to do more with less, and to grab the reader's interest and never let go.

Good luck to all the entrants! Have you seen or entered any interesting contests lately?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On the Impossible

After a long hiatus from blogging, I have returned with a new post! Many more to follow...

(The drawing of my heroine was done by me. The books were done by amazing people.)

Right now, I am preparing the final edit of my manuscript. After that, I will officially be on submission. This has led to a lot of introspection and reminiscing on my part, most of which is interesting only to myself. It also inspired me to write about some of my hopes and fears during this process. I’ve been meaning to start blogging again. What better time than the present, and what better topic than my current state of mind?

Today, I want to talk about impossible dreams. Sounds like a scary subject, doesn’t it? Well, it certainly is for me. Perhaps more than anything else in the world, I hate the idea of having a cherished dream I will never achieve. That fear has held me back in the past, and it lingers like a shadow over my present.

What if I never write a novel good enough to publish? What if I never see my name on a book cover? This is the biggest dream I have, and it may be too big for me. At best, it’s improbable, and it will take a great deal of time and effort to achieve. At worst, it’s the towering giant in my life I will never slay.

Then I remember this is exactly what my manuscript is about. It is about slaying giants, and dragons, and all sorts of shadows—some twisted and evil, some not as evil as they seem at first glance. Most of all, my manuscript is about an impossible dream.

The heroine of my story wants something she cannot have. This is vital to the premise of the manuscript. (It also dictated the setting, and almost everything else about it.) She absolutely cannot be what she wants to be. It’s impossible, because the occupation no longer exists in her world. What’s worse, she can’t be anything like it, because her society tells her she must do one thing and one thing only. She can’t be a hero, because she has to get married and keep house.

Then, impossibly, her dream comes true. She becomes exactly what she wants: a knight straight out of a fairy tale. Of course, this fairy tale is not as perfect as she hoped. (I am not foolish enough to think being a published writer is a rose garden full of sparkledust, either.) But what drew me to my heroine was that ridiculous dream of hers, and how she kept dreaming even though she knew it could never happen. In the immortal words of Goethe, “I love those who yearn for the impossible.” Every day, my heroine reminds me of the importance of dreaming on an epic scale, and doing what I feel called to do at any cost, with as much bravery as I can muster.

I will keep writing. I will try, and I will fail. And voices both inside and outside my head will continue to say the odds are against me, I will never get what I want, and I shouldn’t bother trying. But the ability to ignore those voices and press on toward a goal is the one thing that can make the impossible a reality.

Personally, I want to see more of the impossible made real. Which is why I keep writing in the face of inevitable rejection, and my own fears.

It’s a little crazy, but it’s one thing my heroine and I have utterly in common.

And if you’re a writer with unrealized dreams of publication, you know exactly what I’m talking about.