Thursday, October 13, 2011

October Contests and Critique Opportunities

Here is the latest stuff I found on the blogosphere.  Good luck!  I'm sorry my posts have been a little thin as of late, but it's for a good reason.  I have been spending pretty much all my left over time after eating, sleeping, watching my little one, and working, WRITING.  The beta ready draft of my adaptation of Stormland called THE CHARGE will be ready soon.


October Secret Agent - Submit the first 250 words of your manuscript to be judged by the secret agent.  SFF YA & adult (and others).  Submission window open on 10/17.

Fantasy Novel Hook for Your Book Contest - Write a 50 word pitch for your fantasy novel and post it in comments. Contest judged by agent Jeanie Pantelakis. Winners can receive a full manuscript review.  Fantasy only.  Due 10/17.

The 2nd Annual Baker's Dozen Contest - 16 agents will bid on the best submissions.  If you're ready to query, you have got to check this out!  All genres.  First submission window on 10/18.

Science Fiction Holiday Submissions call - Carina Press is open to submission for science fiction novellas with a winter holiday theme.  What a delightfully specific genre!  :)  Submissions aren't due until 3/15/2012 so you have time to get inspired this winter.

Critique Opportunities

The Great Query Contest of October 2011 - I think I might jump on this one for my freshly minted and still uncritiqued (and still innocent) query for THE CHARGE.  Post your query in comments.  Winners will get a partial critique.  YA, adult, & NEW ADULT (yay) SFF.  Due 10/16.

Celebrate the Small Stuff - Congratulations to J.A. Souders on her book deal.  That seems like "celebrate the big stuff" to me!  She is offering a drawing for query and partial critiques to celebrate.  Just fill out the form on the post.  All genres, but YA preferred.  Due 10/17.
Casting Call Character Bloghop - Create a post featuring characters from your book or WIP from 10/24-10/28.  They promise a "critiquish" prize.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Trends for the Untrendy: How to Save Your Vampire Novel

When reading agent blogs and interviews you come across a few standard statements.  1)  Follow the submission guidelines.  2)  I like "voice." and  3) No vampires please.

Fortunately for me, my WIP is not about vampires or other any of the other monsters (warewolves, fairies, etc.) that have become uncool as of late.  But that doesn't stop me from worrying about the livelihood of new authors who did write vampire books.  Although it would be great to think that everyone reads agent blogs before they start their first novel, I doubt that many people do.  They start to think about trends when they start to query.  So, I bet there are plenty of people out there who have written a vampire novel and just learned that even if it is very well written, their chance of getting

If you wrote a vampire novel, at least one person will probably tell you to shelve it and work on something different.  Frankly, that's probably good advice, but if I were you, I wouldn't be happy to hear it and may be too stubborn to take it.  Shelving something before it's even been properly rejected sort of feels like training for an Olympic marathon for years, then showing up at the start line, thinking that all the other guys look faster than you, and going home.  If you've put in the work, you at least want to run the race, right?

So if you aren't prepared to shelve your vampire novel, here are my tips:

1.  Be different
Really, really different.  No matter how untrendy something is, agents frequently say that they are open to seeing fresh approaches to a tired subject.  I have to admit, that sounds like a tough job, because there are a LOT of approaches to the vampire novel, but hey, I'm sure their are still plenty of good ideas for grabs.  Check out Fat Vampire by Adam Rex.  If you wrote a vampire novel, make sure you know exactly what your book offers that the other books out there don't.  And I'm sure you have, but read lots of vampire books to be sure that you really know what has been done and what hasn't.

Agent quotes:

"What I really want in paranormal is something so different and original that I’m incapable of even coming close to now imagining what that might be. I enjoy a good vampire or werewolf tale, but the market (and my in-box) has been so saturated with them that it’s difficult for me to find something I get excited about." - Jessica Alvarez from BookEnds

2.  Do Your Research
This is somewhat obvious, but perhaps even more important for vamp-writers.  Don't waste your time with agents who specifically say they don't want vampire fiction.  There are plenty of agents out there who don't specifically say they don't want it, so you can assume that if it fits their current client list and genre preferences, you're good to go.  Look for agents who have represented vampire fiction, the more recently the better.  Search for "vampire" at Publisher's Marketplace.

Here are an agent who says she's looking for it:

Rachel Coyne specializes in fantasy novels (including sword & sorcery as well as modern urban fantasy), as well as thrillers/mysteries, paranormal romance and chick-lit (including chick-lit mysteries and vampire/paranormal chick-lit).

Search for "vampire" on  You'll probably get a lot of people saying they specifically don't want it, but there may be some other gems like Rachel in the mix.

3. Self-publish
Agents and editors aren't too big on taking risks.  I can't blame them too much, they need money like everybody else.  But at the end of the day, even if it's great, they won't represent you if they don't think they can sell your book.  The word "vampire" is like a scarlet letter in a query and the agent's eyes may be "glazing over" as soon as they see it (as described by agent Ammi-Joan Paquette here).  If you're glass half-full kind of person, you can at least be happy knowing that your vampire novel getting rejected might not mean it's bad.  People aren't even considering you because of your topic.  So, self-publish.  Evidence points to the fact that people still buy and read novels about vampires.  I do!  So, skip the middle man and start peddling your wares.

4. Wait
Don't shelve your novel...let it age like fine wine.  Who knows when the vampire trend will be back again.  It may be a while before it's officially "hot" again, but soon there will come a time when they become less unpopular.  The only thing more annoying than people liking something because it's popular, is people not liking something because it's popular.  With every trend, there is a time after when people prove they are cool by defaming the popular thing.  Let the too-cool-for-vampires camp to simmer down for a while.

5.  If you love it, love it
If you like writing about vampires, do it!  There is a reason that they are way too popular.  They are sexy and scary and fun.  Celebrate your vamp love by checking out these posts:

MonsterFest 2011
The It Factor
Ten Things About Vampires
Ten Things About Vampires, Part II