Thursday, August 31, 2017

Author Jessica Kapp Shares Her Inspiring Path to Publication + a Giveaway!

Today I'm excited to welcome BODY PARTS author Jessica Kapp to Thinking to Inking, where she shares her inspiring path to publication (spoiler alert: never give up!)  Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win an Amazon Giftcard and an autographed bookmark!

It took me two long years to finish my first novel, and I didn’t do anything with it. It was a hot mess—still is—but I learned I could complete a novel, and that prompted me to start book number two. My second attempt went much faster, and within a few months I was ready to polish.

Sadly, I finished revising it right when agents and publishers were saturated with similar books in my genre. Query after query I got the same reply: I can’t sell this in today’s crowded market. Determined to find a home for my manuscript, I went to the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference and pitched it to agents.

I caught the excitement of an agent who said she loved my energy and, thank goodness, the pitch. She requested my full manuscript and I practically floated home thinking, ‘This is it. I’m on my way.’

That agent emailed me throughout her read, but there were a handful of areas that needed to be fixed. So, instead of offering me representation, she asked me to revise and resubmit. A week or so later, she sent me her notes. I jumped in headfirst and spent night after night perfecting my novel, incorporating all the elements she suggested. It was stronger and better than ever.

I sent it off and waited for her quick reply.

Weeks went by. Then months.

I wrote another novel.

I finished that novel

I polished that novel.

And when I was ready to send that new manuscript into the world, I nudged the agent to let her know I’d completed BODY PARTS.

That prompted her to finish reading the revised manuscript as well as my new one. Around that the same time, I entered Pitch Madness, and while I didn’t get in, I received an encouraging message from one of the slush readers who mentioned I came really close to getting in. She insisted I send queries into the Agent World, so I drafted a few and, with a shaky hand, hit send.

The responses came back slow at first, then two full requests came within hours of each other. A week later, an agent requested my manuscript 12 MINUTES after I queried her (cue the freakout session).

Despite the good news, rejections trickled in. The agent sitting on my old manuscript sent me a rejection. BODY PARTS still needed a home.

One of my CPs convinced me to participate in #RTSlap, a Twitter pitch event I hadn’t planned on entering. I was full of coffee and optimism, so I sent one pitch out into the Twitterverse and called it good. Later that night, I checked my account and saw an agent had favorited my tweet. Eureka! That agent was Whitley Abell, and she offered me representation shortly after I sent her the full manuscript.

We polished the manuscript and went out on submission on my birthday. It was a nice way to celebrate, but the publishing world moves at the speed of molasses sliding uphill. So we waited and waited.

Finally, on my way to pick up my kids from school, I saw that beautiful envelope icon pop up on my phone. I pulled over as soon as I could and clicked on it. The subject of the email read: OFFER RECEIVED.

My book was going to be published.

I remember crying as I dialed my husband. I remember blubbering something incoherent.

And I remember getting the first good night’s sleep in months.

About Body Parts:

Body Parts by Jessica Kapp
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Diversion Publishing

People would kill for her body.

Raised in an elite foster center off the California coast, sixteen-year-old Tabitha’s been sculpted into a world-class athlete. Her trainers have told her she’ll need to be in top physical condition to be matched with a loving family, even though personal health has taken a backseat outside the training facility. While Tabitha swims laps and shaves seconds off her mile time, hoping to find a permanent home, the rest of the community takes pills produced by pharmaceutical giant PharmPerfect to erase their wrinkles, grow hair, and develop superhuman strength.

When Tabitha’s finally paired, instead of being taken to meet her new parents, she wakes up immobile on a hospital bed. Moments before she’s sliced open, a group of renegade teenagers rescues her, and she learns the real reason for her perfect health: PharmPerfect is using her foster program as a replacement factory for their pill-addicted clients’ failing organs. And her friends from the center, the only family she’s ever known, are next in line to be harvested.

Determined to save them, Tabitha joins forces with her rescuers, led by moody and mysterious Gavin Stiles. As they race to infiltrate the hospital and uncover the rest of PharmPerfect’s secrets, though, Tabitha finds herself with more questions than answers. Will trusting the enigmatic group of rebels lead her back to the slaughterhouse?

About The Author:

Jessica Kapp enjoys writing Young Adult Contemporary and Speculative Fiction. Story ideas often strike at inopportune times, and she’s been known to text herself reminders from under the covers.

She lives on a small farm in Washington with far too many goats and an occasional cow.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Working with Deadlines

Writer's Clock
This summer has been by far one of the busiest summers I've ever experienced. Between a new job with a boss that recently left, MFA course work deadlines, family visits and contracts to complete, finding time to do everything kept me up many a night. 

But that is life in general. Who's life isn't busy? Writers though, have to make time for reading and writing on top of our daily routines. 

I don't have a lot of advice unfortunately on time management. 

I recently submitted my first MFA packet and paid work deliverables for August. I thought I had some room to breath but September is proving to be much of the same. 

In terms of writing, I have four weeks to deliver my next packet (which consists of two critical essays, thirty pages of creative material and a cover letter). 

So what have I learned?

I've learned that even with everything going on in your life, you have to make time to read and write. 


Whether it's for half an hour or a four hour stint. You need to insert that "to do" in there always

Some people are lucky and have the luxury of reading and writing for a certain amount of time a day, but for those of us who don't, it important to remain consistent in our inconsistency. Look for those minutes and hours and keep plugging at it! You can do it!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Things to Avoid in First Ten Pages

When it comes to publishing those first ten pages, here's a list of things to avoid when editing. 

Spelling and grammar mistakes
Too much description and/or backstory
Confusing plot or timeline
No main character and/or haven't made us care about the character yet
Personal Introductions such as "My name is . . ."
First days
Bad weather

Of course, the list is just an opinion shared by several in the industry at the moment. The tide can always turn around.  Just write and give us your best.  Good and interesting writing is really the ultimate goal.  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Author Aden Polydoros shares his PROJECT PANDORA writing process + a chance to win an AMZN gift card and prize pack!

Today, author Aden Polydoros joins us to talk about his writing process for Project Pandora and how he went from the seed of an idea to a ready-to-be-published book. 

Please give Aden a warm Thinking to Inking welcome, and make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a Project Pandora prize pack + an Amazon giftcard!

 When I began working on this novel, I did not know what it would be about. I had a vague idea that it would involve brainwashing. I had an image in my head of a boy waking up in a house that wasn’t his own, with a gun in his hand. That was about it. It wasn’t like this incredible revelation where I knew exactly what I was going to write, how the story was going to end, or even who the main characters were. I was just curious to find out where Tyler would end up, and as soon as I finished his chapter, I began working on one from the POV of another character.

Here’s the thing about my writing process. I don’t make outlines before I begin writing. I’ll outline the setting for a particular scene, but I don’t outline the plot. I’ll write down ideas I have at the top of the manuscript, or maybe jolt down a note about where this story might go, but that’s about it. I’m a total pantser because that’s what works for me. If I have to write off an outline, all of a sudden, the writing process begins feeling restrictive. On the upside, I end up surprising myself halfway through the story when the plot does a complete 180. On the downside, I usually have the delete some of my writing.

I don’t write in chronological order either. I may have a scene in my head that I have to get down, and that’s the one I’ll be working on, even if it’s at the end of the book and I’ve only completed the first five chapters. In the first draft, I’ll have up to seventy scenes anywhere from 100 to 3000 words long, which I’ll eventually rearrange into a cohesive story.

I decided to write 1,000 words a day. I had tried NaNoWriMo before and had failed to fulfill the 1,500 word-a-day goal, so 1,000 words seemed like a nice, doable number. Of course, there were some days when I wrote less. There were days when I wrote nothing at all and felt so frustrated with the book, I wanted to throw my laptop into a dumpster. As appealing as that thought was, I forced myself to keep writing.

After several months, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. It was 60,000 words long, and what I could best describe as a “hot mess.” I allowed it to sit for a couple weeks as I began work on a different story, then began revisions.

Before I even started revising the story, I printed it out and read through it. I made notes of things that needed to be changed, areas where the writing was weak or too telly, and scenes I didn’t like. I cut out 8,000 more words, then added another 13,000, bringing the total word count to 65,000.

That wasn’t the end of it. Once I signed a deal with Entangled Teen and began editor-advised edits, I became immersed in several more rounds of revisions. Having an editing letter makes the revision process easier because I know what I need to work on, but at the same time, it’s also more difficult because I have to make specific changes that I might not agree 100% with. I tend to approach the editing process the same way in either case; I sit down, I read through the manuscript and note places where I can make revisions, and then I work on them. I use the Track Changes and Add Comment features in Word to make notes to myself and compare different versions of the same sentence. I made a goal to revise one chapter a day and write 1,000 words, and over the course of a month, added another 40,000 to the novel’s word count. It’s just as difficult to stay motivated during the revision process as it is during the initial writing process, but what kept me going was imagining the fanart that people might eventually do of my characters. I know that sounds silly, but I love looking at fanart for my favorite shows and books, and the thought that someone might actually want to draw my characters makes me smile.

Thanks so much for joining us Aden!  Can't wait to get my hands on Project Pandora!

About Project Pandora:
Project Pandora (Assassin Fall #1)
by Aden Polydoros
Publication Date:  August 1, 2017
Publisher:  Entangled Teen

Tyler Bennett trusts no one. Just another foster kid bounced from home to home, he’s learned that lesson the hard way. Cue world’s tiniest violin. But when strange things start happening—waking up with bloody knuckles and no memory of the night before or the burner phone he can’t let out of his sight— Tyler starts to wonder if he can even trust himself.

Even stranger, the girl he’s falling for has a burner phone just like his. Finding out what’s really happening only leads to more questions…questions that could get them both killed. It’s not like someone’s kidnapping teens lost in the system and brainwashing them to be assassins or anything, right? And what happens to rogue assets who defy control?

In a race against the clock, they’ll have to uncover the truth behind Project Pandora and take it down—before they’re reactivated. Good thing the program spent millions training them to kick ass...

About Aden Polydoros

Aden Polydoros grew up in Long Grove, Illinois, the youngest of three children. Aden’s family
moved to Arizona when he was in second grade. As a kid, he spent much of his time exploring the desert near his home. When he wasn’t searching for snakes and lizards, he was raiding the bookshelves of the local library. As a teenager, Aden decided that he wanted to be a writer. He spent his free time writing short stories. He was encouraged by his English teacher to try his hand at writing a novel, which inspired him to begin PROJECT PANDORA. The YA thriller is set for publication with Entangled Publishing in Summer of 2017. He is represented by Mallory Brown of Triada US.

 Project Pandora Prize Pack (US) or a $10 Amazon Gift card (INT)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Writer's Resource: Janet Reid's Blog

I may have posted about this before—after posting here for more than five years(!), it's hard to remember everything—but if I have, it's well worth repeating.

Agent Janet Reid's blog is one of top ten favorite writer's resources. She dishes out fabulous and free advice to writers at all stages of the publishing process. Recent topics include everything from general query advice, what to do when your agent quits and the other agents at the agency don't want to represent you, crowdfunding your novel, and ghostwriting. She is opinionated and funny, and her genuine care for writers shows through in every post.

The blog also hosts periodic short writing contests. These are a lot of fun and can be a great way to hone your short-form writing skills or just improve your ability to say a lot without using many words. (There are usually bookish prizes!)

Don't let Ms. Reid's alternate personality as the (also extremely helpful!) Query Shark scare you off. I had the opportunity to meet her in person last year at a writer's conference, and I can tell you that she's just as straightforward and utterly helpful in person as she is on her blog.

Oh, and if you're looking for a writing community, check out the comments on each post. There's a whole group of regulars who follow each others' efforts and add funny and interesting dialogue to the posts. Read along for a while and then jump in if you feel so inclined—they're a super-friendly group of people!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Editing Your Scenes

When it comes time to reviewing your scenes, answer the following questions to help tighten your writing.

1. Did you use your five senses? Or at least some?
2. How much showing and how much telling did you use?
3. What needs to happen in the scene?
4. How's the pacing?  Too fast?  Too slow?  Just right?
5. Is the scene necessary to the story?
6. What's the most surprising thing that could happen in this scene?

Since I am more of a panster writer, these questions keep me in check.  I also find them useful to give Beta Readers.

Happy Writing!