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Reasons Why This One Is - IT!

Let’s recap.

Over the course of the past nine years, I’ve written four novels and a half dozen short stories. Of the novels, two are Suspense/Mysteries for adults, one a YA Horror, and one a YA Suspense/Mystery. I’ve queried/pitched all four books, although I’ll openly admit that querying the first one was a HUGE mistake. The YA Horror book (MOVING FEAR) landed me an agent, but she was unable to sell it to a publisher and as it turns out she wasn’t a very good agent and has since left the business.

I was certain that the last one I wrote (PRICK – YA Suspense/Mystery) was going to be the one that I finally broke through with. It had a killer plot (personal opinion of course) that I felt was extremely marketable, it was prime for a trilogy, and all my CP’s and Beta readers said it was the best thing I had written so far. It garnered me plenty of FULLS when I queried/pitched it, and even some back-and-forth feedback from one high-profile agent, but ultimately it has gone nowhere.

While I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for feedback from the prospective agent, I began playing with an idea I’d come up with way back when I first started writing. It was an idea for a book that started out as a simple ghost story that morphed into much more than that, transitioning from the paranormal to straight-forward sci-fi. At the time I tucked the concept away because, to be frank, I didn’t feel like I could do the story justice. Although I put it on the shelf, it has always been there, marinating in the recesses of my mind. I’d occasionally bring it out to examine it -- but didn’t have the confidence to do anything more than that.

Now is the right time.

After tweaking the plot to be told from a YA POV, APOLLO’S GHOST started pouring out of me like blood from a head wound. I’m usually a heavy plotter, spending weeks outlining a manuscript before typing the first word, but this time I’m plotting and writing simultaneously, the urge to tell this story is so strong. The characters are so vivid to me and the story is both timely and relevant.

This is going to be IT!

How can I be so confident? Because one way or another, I’ve decided this will decide my fate as a writer.

If this book fails to get the attention I’ve struggled to achieve, then I will take that as a sign that mainstream publishing isn’t interested in my particular style of writing. Writing is a passion, no doubt, but it is also HARD WORK that consumes hours and hours of time, and I cannot afford to throw away what I have left on something that nobody, besides friends and family, is interested in.

But DL” -- you are saying to yourself -- “if your writing is improving with every book, as you’d expect, then if you keep writing you’ll eventually reach a point where somebody will notice.” That probably is true, but with a full-time job and active family life, it is difficult to continue to steal time for a maybe. I figure ten years – which is what it will be by the time I find out if AG strikes a chord – will be enough to decide. “There are always indie publishers or self-publishing you can pursue.” I’ve queried the small publishers as well, with the same result, and self-publishing doesn’t really appeal to me.

Like I said, this is IT.

For those of you still following along…I’ll keep you updated. 

WRiTE CLUB 2018 - The Winners POV

Something that is becoming a bit of a tradition here at WRiTE CLUB is having the winner recap their experience throughout the contest, all the way up until the moment they hear their name called out on the stage during the DFW Conference. Here with his take on what it's like to claim the ultimate prize, is ADEN POLYDOROS.  

I learned about Write Club while searching for agent pitch contests, as I was currently looking for a literary agent at the time. I had never heard about the contest until then, and once I read about the premise, I was excited to enter. It seemed like a fun change from querying and I loved the whole concept of it. I had several different pieces that I was considering submitting. Since contestants had the opportunity to submit twice, I eventually decided to go with a flash-fiction piece and my favorite excerpt from the YA dark fantasy piece I was querying.

All throughout the waiting period, I was filled with tension. When the judges posted hints on Twitter about their picks, I couldn’t stop wondering if they were talking about my entry.

When the 30 contestants were announced, I was ecstatic. I had made it in with my flash fiction piece!

During the first round, I found myself repeatedly refreshing my entry page to see if there were new votes. I kept a tally sheet for myself, calculating the odds. The other contestant was a worthy opponent, and with the vote count rather close, was concerned that it would make it to the next round. Even after winning the first round, I didn’t allow my win to go to my head. I knew that my entry would have to win the cage bout, outmatching two other opponents, before I could test my merit with a new 500-word sample.

The cage bout was even more intimidating, with my flash fiction piece being pitted against two other winners of previous rounds. Votes would be sparser in this round than the earlier rounds, and every vote counted. I decided that keeping a running tally was unhealthy and deleted my spreadsheet. I tried to focus on revising my manuscript, but I couldn’t help checking into the contest every now and then. On the final day, I promised not to look at the page until after the deadline. I had won, defeating the two other worthy contestants!

Realizing that I had won filled me with a whole different anxiety as I racked my brain for what to enter next. I played with a few possible excerpts before deciding to enter the first 500 words of my YA dark fantasy. I figured it would be a good way to get readers’ opinions on the start of the novel, and also allow me to fix any problems they might spot.

When I read the other contestant’s piece, I was troubled. They had a strong excerpt with the same dark fantasy vibes that I was going for in my piece. Even worse, their entry had a satisfying conclusion, while mine was only the first two pages of a much larger work. This round felt even closer than the two that had come before it, and as the round deadline drew near, I fell back into my old habit of refreshing the contest page repeatedly. Hoping to boost my confidence, I began searching for another excerpt to use if I won the next round. On the day of the deadline, I was practically glued to DL’s website, counting down the minutes. I had come so far, it would be so disappointing to lose now.

After narrowly scraping by in the third round, I knew I’d have to bring something good to the table for the fourth round. Since voters seemed to like my piece from my YA fantasy, I decided to use another excerpt from that novel. I wanted to bring in another monster than the one on the first page, so I chose the excerpt that introduces a golem.

In the semi-finals, I was pitted against the contestant from my first round. They made the brave decision to use a dialogue-only excerpt, which I thought was creative and a unique change from their previous excerpts. I kept track of the votes in this round, but not as religiously as I had done in previous rounds. The constant anxiety of wondering if I would get to the finals was beginning to drain on me, and I decided that no matter what happened, I should be proud that I got as far as I did.

That being said, when I made it to the finals, I couldn’t help but feel a slight dread, knowing I wouldn’t be able to check who was winning. The votes were kept secret from us until the last day, and although readers were able to comment and vote on the entry they thought would win, it was no guarantee that the one with the most comments would be the winner.

I wasn’t able to attend the FDW conference this year, but a friend of mine promised to videotape the winner announcement for me. I felt shocked when I saw the video and realized that I had won. I had tried to keep my excitement down throughout the contest to avoid disappointment, but to actually win—I had never expected that. It was immensely gratifying to know that I had won, that strangers had enjoyed my writing and voted for it. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in Write Club this year, and I think that it provides such a wonderful learning environment for readers. I can’t wait to participate in future years as a judge!

I want to thank Aden for taking the time to do this for me...and really for anybody who might be interested in entering the contest next year.  Getting tips from previous winners never hurts!


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