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SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter


E.B. Wheeler - Become an Agent SUCCESS STORY!

  Posted by SC_Author , 22 October 2014 · 24 views

I always get so so excited when I receive a success story from my querypalooza (as we're calling it now, instead of the too-harsh word of 'contest'), "Become an Agent." Since BanA doesn't involve agents (it's all about critiques and revising), it's harder to receive success stories from it since there isn't a direct "this contest got me this request which got me this off" relationship. And yet, BanA is one of my favorite events that I host on this blog :)

Thank you SO MUCH E.B. Wheeler for sending me this! The post is all yours. Take it away!

My Become an Agent success story with The Haunting of Springett Hall started when I realized I needed a break from the YA fantasy I'd been tinkering with for years. I decided to try something different and do NaNoWriMo in 2013. I wrote a Victorian ghost story—from the ghost's point of view—on a dare. After November, I added about 20,000 words to the manuscript and polished it up to enter Pitch Slam: Battle of the Bands. I was so excited when it got picked for Team Magenta, and even more thrilled when an agent requested the manuscript.

The agent ultimately said no, but I felt like the story had promise. I went back to work on it, taking it to critique groups and beta readers and strengthening the plot and characters. I decided I'd try another pitch contest with it—this time Pitch Wars. I liked the pitch that got me into Pitch Slam, but I wanted it to be as strong as possible, so I entered Become an Agent to get feedback from fellow writers.

The comments were very constructive, and I learned my pitch was giving the wrong impression of the book. It turned some people off and set up false expectations for others. With the advice I got in Become an Agent, I crafted a much stronger pitch that better reflected my story. That pitch got me into Pitch Wars as an alternate with Molly Lee as my mentor.

Since I was an alternate, I was still allowed to pitch my manuscript, and I had a mentor to coach me. With a refined version of the pitch I created through Become an Agent, I presented my book to an editor from Cedar Fort Publishing at the League of Utah Writers' annual conference, and she requested the full manuscript. A few weeks later she called to offer me a contract!

I've been on a high since I got over the shock. I'm so grateful to the people who host and participate in all these pitch contests (thank you, thank you, thank you!), because they helped make my pitch and my manuscript strong enough to get the attention of the editor.

There's no one path to getting published—and I think luck and timing play their roles along with talent, hard work, and persistence—but I would tell anyone who's on the journey to keep going. Keep entering contests and considering feedback to decide what will make your story stronger, and keep writing and keep trying. Even if you don't get the results you want this time, you never know what doors will open for you at each new turn.

E.B. Wheeler

I'm an historian and writer, wife, mom, gardener, knitter, and enthusiastic amateur folk musician. I currently write historical fiction and historical fantasy. My debut novel, The Haunting of Springett Hall, a YA Victorian paranormal mystery, will be available in print and ebook from Cedar Fort Publishing July 14, 2015.

Now, go visit/like/follow her blog, Facebook, and Twitter! Make sure to congratulate her as well.

CONGRATS!!!! Good luck with all your future successes :)



Revealing...the SC SPOOKS for Nightmare on Query Street 2014!!

  Posted by SC_Author , 20 October 2014 · 30 views

Yes. It is that time.

The SC Spooks, our 13 (scary number!) team for Nightmare on Query Street, is being revealed.

I know you guys will all run down to the list, but I have some things to say.

Actually, I've said it all many times. Over and over. And I'm tired of saying the same thing over and over! You know? So click here, and here, and especially here and here. I can go on, I've written about this a lot! If you still don't believe in the subjective nature of contest picking, if you still don't believe that my 'picking' is not at all as big of a reflection of quality as you might think, then I really can't do much else. I've told you the truth. You can lead a horse to water....


Picking was hard. Very hard. But I think we've got an amazing team. 


Timber Point
Erasing Ramona
The Battle Born
Thicker than Water
Eighteen Years Later
When You Don't Know Me
Finding Beauty
Down for the Count
A Ghoulish Affair
Winter on Brimstone Hill
I Wish I Had a...Dang You Autocorrect!
And my Free Pass, Beyond the Wild



We are going the destroy Michelle's Minions and Mike's Monsters. I mean, both of them start with M and that's boring. We're the SC Spooks (#SCSpooks). And we are going to DOMINATE.

Mentors, regardless of what I sent you in your mail - you can contact your mentee now! We unveiled our picks a bit early :)

There has been conflicting information (probably my fault!) so the below is the correct info on what's happening, mentor-wise. 

Writers should be getting emails from your mentors within the day. Contact me if, by Wednesday, you don't get them. You will be working with your mentor in private, over email, not on the blog. Please PLEASE keep one thing in mind: I picked many of you guys based on the potential of improvement. Meaning, if the entries you sent in were the final versions, I might not have picked you. So don't take your position on the team to mean you shouldn't listen to mentor advice! Please, take into account what they say. They are smart, talented, and knowledgeable. If something they say doesn't settle well with you, feel free to disregard that advice if you honestly believe it is not helpful. Just trust your gut. And don't bombard your mentors with emails! They are professionals too :)

Mentors, be tough, be brutal, but only in letting the writer's essence come through.

Revised entries must be sent by the writer by midnight of the 25th, EST!




To Honest Benefits of Teaching Writing to Others

  Posted by SC_Author , 20 October 2014 · 36 views

Bob Clary, from the online learning company Webucator, invited me to speak about teaching writing --  meaning, how to pass on the knowledge of the writing craft to others -- as part of their "Teach Your Talent" project. Specifically, he asked: "When you're staring at a page (or screen!), how do you turn the words into wine? You could write a tutorial for your readers, or even give a lesson to someone and then share how the experience went."

I am beyond honored that he asked me to speak about this, and I hope I do the topic justice!

(I have not been paid or anything to do this.)


I'm not going to talk about craft. If you want to know about craft, go to writers better than me and those who have talked about it in more depth than I will: Stephen King's "On Writing", Kurt Vonnegut's essays, etc.

I taught a writing workshop for adults with developmental disabilities. 'Taught' is too strong of a word; 'led' or 'guided' would be more appropriate. And even though it'd be great to think that the workshop completely changed their lives around, it'd be a lie. They changed me more than I changed them.

There are things that I never knew or would know about these adults had we been in any other situation. Their favorite foods, relationship to roommates and other adults in the building, boyfriends, girlfriends, enmities: all those I found out in two one-hour sessions.

There are times when the triviality of writing dawns on me and scares me. I like to think I write for myself (I can't not write or I'll explode) but I write to expose horrors that frustrate me. Part of that requires that I go out to the places I'm writing about -- such as the homeless community -- and get first-hand experience to convey what I'm talking about. And after these experiences, I need time to collect myself - because I want to rip apart all my writing.

How stupid must I be to think that I can sit in a room and write while people, actual people, go through horrors and nightmares every day? To be 'moved' by what I'm writing feels like a ghost compared to what I saw. I am in no position to write about such things. The whole 'pretending' aspect of writing becomes disgusting and despicable. I'm pretending and, if things go well, I will reach a larger audience than those shunned by society. My stories will be heard by more people than the stories of those who know more about their situations than I do. How can I write? No matter how hard I try, it'll be a lie.

And I don't have an answer to that. No matter how much I know the fallacy of my writing, I must write. Books have the power to change lives, I know that, you know that, you told me that.  And I must write. I simply must, I'd explode if I don't. I try as hard as possible to be honest in my writing, especially with my current novel.

Teaching the adults with developmental disabilities exposed me to an entire new view about how to write honestly.

Give a person a pencil and they'll expose their lives to you. It might take digging, it might be hiding under the surface of their stories, but the writer and the story can never be independent. I'm sorry, but it's true. Probably. (I don't like saying statements are 100% true, but that statement just might be.)

So this is an odd benefit of teaching writing, one that I only realized once I went out and 'taught' a group of people who usually do not get 'taught' writing. For one thing, teaching went out the window. it was all about exploring, encouraging, having fun. Their writing was pure at its greatest form, only for themselves without care for standards -- and they never felt ashamed about sharing their writing. They spoke up and told other adults to speak up if they hadn't for a long while. This is what writing can do to a person. Writing without need of publication has a power in itself, a power of expression for only expression's sake. It's an undeserved privilege to witness it.

Because witnessing their writing meant witnessing their minds and lives. If I wrote a book about adults with developmental disabilities before the workshops and after the workshops, they'd be two different novels. That may seem obvious, but think about what that means in terms of the power of 'teaching' writing.

This benefit may seem niche but in fiction, writers are not writing autobiographies (they're writing veiled autobiographies ;) ). They're writing about other people. For example, a woman might be writing a book about a man coming to terms with his impotency. And although there might be men who published articles and books about their lives, this published writing is inherently different than writing for writings sake. The latter tends to be incredibly more honest in a way that staggers the mind.

If you want to write honestly about someone, 'teach' that someone writing. And by 'teach', I mean give them open prompts ("Make a poem where every line starts with 'I am'"; "What is your favorite season? Holiday?" simple stuff, harder stuff if you feel like it, "What is your worst memory?") and, if they trust you, they'll bloom in front of you. 

Don't ever do someone the disservice of 'pretending' in fiction without any attempt to honestly learn about their situations. Without a doubt, when you go to learn about them, people will surprise you.

I can't find it on YouTube, but I watched a video about adults with developmental disabilities who were asked the question, "If you would change one thing about yourself, what would you change?"   

Not one of them mentioned their disability. The most common answers were, "Be happier," or "I wouldn't change a thing."

Go out. Learn about your subjects.

"Write what you know." And if you don't know what you want to write about, don't be one of those people who discredits, in my opinion, the greatest adage in writing and thinks, "I can make it up, write what you know is so dumb! What about fantasy?" 

GET to know it, your world, your emotions. Or else you'll be one of those fools who conveys their subject falsely, writes yet another source of misunderstanding in the public. Ever wonder where the idea of rough and tough, gun-wielding lesbians come from? Straight people. 

You'll fail to connect with those you've written about, and for me, that'd mean my novel failed.

Hopefully, this benefit of teaching writing to others is unique. I don't want to repeat what others have said because others can say things better than I can.

But really, teaching, learning, and writing itself has a whole spectrum of benefits that many people can talk about and present unique takes. That's why I'm so so glad Bob asked a number of writers to discuss this topic on their blog. Please take a look at Webucator's Twitter feed and read some of the links they Tweeted.

Webucator is offering a free Microsoft training class each month. It's a necessary skill that most employers require, and their classes run the entire spectrum of Microsoft applications (some I haven't even heard of!). Check out Webucator's reviews and take a look at their classes. They seem great. If you think you can learn anything from the classes, check them out.

Thank you so much again for inviting me to speak on this, Bob!




  Posted by SC_Author , 15 October 2014 · 62 views



Older posts might have the wrong info, but THIS post is the official one for submission guidelines! Don't rush - make sure to follow guidelines.



Submission Info for Nightmare on Query Street!!!!

  Posted by SC_Author , 14 October 2014 · 24 views


The submission window opens at 12 noon (EST) on Wednesday, October 15th! (Tomorrow) The window will close at 8pm on Friday the 17th, or when we receive 225 entries. Any entries sent before noon will be deleted.

We are accepting all age categories and genres, excluding picture books and exotica. Despite the title of the contest, your book does not have to be horror.

Michelle, Mike, and I will dig through the slush pile and choose twelve entries for each of our teams. After being critiqued by one of our awesome mentors (October 22nd-25th) those 36 finalists will go up on our blogs for the agent round (October 28th-30th).

There are a few important stipulation to be aware of:

1. If you are in the PitchSlam agent round, you may NOT submit an entry into the Nightmare on Query Street contest.

2. To participate, you must be following ALL of our blogs (Michelle, Mike, and SC).

3. ONE entry per person. No exceptions. Not even if you submit under another name (trust me, we know). If you have more than one work ready, choose the work you think is strongest.

4. Submission guidelines need to be followed to the letter.

5. In order to participate in NoQS, your novel must be completed, polished, and ready to send to agents.

6. If you've already queried your novel to most or all of the agents participating in the contest, please do not submit the work. It would be counterproductive for everyone.
The Format:

Send your one and only submission to nightmareonquerystreet (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per email address/person is allowed. If you break this rule, all of your submissions will be deleted without question or warning.

Here's how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded and everything!) Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed. No worries if your gmail doesn't have Times New Roman. 

Subject Line: First initial. Last name: TITLE, Age Category + Genre
(example: M. Anthony: DEADEARTH, NA Apocalyptic Sci-fi )

In The Email:
Name: Michael Anthony
Title: DEADEARTH EP. 1: MR. .44 MAGNUM (yes, caps!)
Genre: NA Apocalyptic Sci-fi(Age category and genre. YA/MG is not a genre.)
Word Count: XX,XXX

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

(Can be from your MC's POV, but doesn't have to be. 100 words or less. Make these fun!)

Here is my fantastic query! *Do not include a bio or comp. titles.

First 250 words:

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence, even if I hit 259 words :)

Conformation emails will be sent. If you don't get one, ask one of us on twitter. Submissions will cut off after 225 entries. We'll announce closure of submissions on twitter.

Again, the picks will go live for the agent round on October 28th. Prior to that, we will send finalists an email letting you know who your mentor is.

Please do not comment on the entries! No cheerleading this time.

Requesting agents will:

Scream for a full request

Shriek for 50 pages

Shiver for 10 pages


Just as we did with Query Kombat, we're going to have a Twitter party where contest hosts and mentors get to mingle with the awesome writers who've entered Nightmare on Query Street.

Like earlier this year, we've got some questions for entrants to answer under the hashtag #NoQS

10.15.2014 (Submission Day!): Title of your book and the time you emailed it.

10.16.2014: If I knocked on your MC's front door on Halloween, would I get a trick or a treat?

What is your MC going to be for Halloween?

10.18.2014: Your MC goes on a haunted hayride. What would make him/her scream the loudest?

10.19.2014: If your MC could pull one prank on Halloween and not get caught, what would it be?

10.20.2014: What would your antagonist do for Halloween?

10.21.2014: What scary setting would we find your MC in on Halloween? Would they be hiding under the couch or prancing in a graveyard?

What's your MC's favorite scary movie? Or do they watch scary movies?

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!



"We Are Groot!" Pitch Slam Team, REVEALED!

  Posted by SC_Author , 12 October 2014 · 13 views

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably heard about Pitch Slam, headed by the amazing L. L. McKinney.

I know I say this a lot, but this time I mean it very honestly: I've never seen such a talented pool of entries. I was in shock, honestly! There weren't any I could throw out right away due to crazy lack of talent. I honestly think almost every single one would be able to get requests from agents, which made my job of picking only eight very hard but also oddly relaxing; I knew they'd find other ways to attaining their goals.

In the end, all mine came down to subjectivity. I loved these entries, their voices, prose, pitches, different things for different ones.

If you didn't make it on any of the Pitch Slam teams, seriously, don't fret at ALL. There was so much talent, I bet I could randomly pick eight and find a solid team. Honestly, I was blown away (and hopefully some of you who didn't make it into Pitch Slam will submit to Nightmare on Query Street co-hosted by yours truly!).

Make sure to check out L.L. McKinney's team, Michelle's team, and Jamie's team.







AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! I love this team :) Congrats if you got in, and congrats if you didn't, because you gave me one hell of a ride, seriously. (And if you are on another's team, it's probably because I didn't read many of the entries that someone called dibs on, and/or because I lost you in negotiation :( ) Before you do anything, read your own entry and make sure I didn't lose any italics while switching from email to blog post! Make sure I didn't make any mistake, and if I did, Tweeting at me would be the fastest way to reach me. Other options include commenting on this post or emailing me.

But this team is solid. It all ended up being based on my subjective preferences, which means I'm rooting for you guys no matter WHAT happens in the contest! Why?

Because we are awesome.

We are fantastic.


(Team name :D)

If anyone asks who are, WE ARE GROOT! Amazing, natural, Earthy, silent but deadly, and bigger than life (don't kill me, but I haven't watched Guardians yet (I know, I have to!) so I'm throwing adjectives out at you guys that I think will fit; I CAN STILL LOVE GROOT THOUGH D:).

Look how Groot is.



Now go out and rock this contest!!!! Comments are set on moderation, but comment on this post and cheer/congratulate/discuss as much as you want!!! Seriously, if you didn't get in this contest, don't sweat it. There are so many more opportunities and you guys are talented, I'm not saying it just to say it. This is just an exciting form of querying.




Pitch Slam: THE SAYER - YA Sci-Fi Space Opera

  Posted by SC_Author , 12 October 2014 · 8 views

Title: The Sayer
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Space Opera
Word Count: 85,000

Hero: Robin Hood, he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. (featured in Marvel comic Earth-616)

Pitch: Theo wants revenge for the public executions of his parents. After using an asteroid to destroy the Martian President’s car, he starts an intergalactic war and discovers his parents created him from alien DNA.


If I screw up, I kill these people.
Theo breathed. This could go so wrong. He breathed again. Self-doubt crushed under the weight of determination. A dry brittle egg of weakness, shattered. Fueled by murder, injustice, fiery grief. His blood chanted in his veins, whispering his name to him above the clamor of the Martian crowds. His name, fractured in hypnotic beats. 

Say-er. Say-er. Sayer.

The Martian people amassed in a screaming, dancing mob filled the park, copper red buildings cutting into the red sky on every side. A woman brushed against him. Her skin touching his bare arm banished the chill in the air, startling him. She didn’t notice him. He recognized in an instant everything about her: grey hairs tucked behind her ears, small wrinkles of her jowl, tiny signs of aging. Her open-mouthed laugh slapped at his memory. Her expression repeated on every face in the crowd. They were not the same people who’d attended his parent’s executions, people he’d seen from the stage. The horde of martian spectators gathered, same as any celebration day, any reason to binge party. Any reason. Even a public execution. The chance to see his parent’s heads roll. His nightmare, the President’s victory, the people’s entertainment. 

Theo’s hand tightened around his phone. 

A small, basketball-sized asteroid was his remote controlled missile, traveling at a speed of twenty thousand miles an hour with two tiny thrusters. If he didn’t hit the safe zone, he stood on ground zero.



Pitch Slam: THE PACKING HOUSE - YA Contemporary

  Posted by SC_Author , 12 October 2014 · 6 views

Title: The Packing House
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word Count: 81,000

Hero: Iron Man. Joel tries to avoid his past until it becomes public knowledge. Forced to face his problems, Joel discovers his own super powers in the vulnerability of words, risking everything in a public poetry performance; in the same way, Iron Man faces his own wreck of a life, turned around for all the world to scrutinize, to become the badass hero of iron built upon his heart wound that would otherwise kill him.

Pitch: Everyone knows Joel's secret. It's all over YouTube. Joel must track down and face the unknown person behind his nightmares, and find a way to publicly regain his dignity through participating in a poetry slam.


At the bell, I head to study hall, my last class. There's a substitute today. Cell phones come out. Someone has their iPod up waytoo high. In a way I feel sorry for the sub; has to be right up there with garbage collector. I prop a book between myself and my backpack, then close my eyes, which have slammed shut all day.

The next thing I know, the substitute is standing over me, his hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake. Someone sniggers nearby.

"Wake up, young man. There's no sleeping in study hall."

I look up and try to get my eyes to adjust and stay open, blink a few times, and look around wildly. What an idiot. I even forgot where I was for a moment. A surge of warmth starts at my ears and neck before it slides across my cheeks.

"All right, I'm up."

Whispers erupt in various places around me, as I sit up and rub my eyes. Someone laughs. My desk is askew. Something smells bad. Sulfur. Odd…the realization hits me hard.

A female voice remarks, "If I were him, I'd be totally embarrassed!"

"What's your name?" the substitute asks quietly.

"Joel Scrivener."

The substitute leans down. "Joel? You might want to speak with a counselor about those dreams."

"What do you mean?"

He leans closer, lowers his voice. "You kept saying, 'get off me, stop touching me, get off me,' over and over."

He gives me what he must think is a reassuring smile. Then he leaves.




  Posted by SC_Author , 12 October 2014 · 8 views

Title: The Battle of Wonderland Gardens
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure
Word Count: 41,000

Hero: The protagonist, Ellis Brown, best relates to Captain America because he is reluctantly recruited to participate in an adventure where he leads a group of unlikely team members toward a common goal. Captain America has superhuman physical skills and Ellis has above average physical skills. Captain America is susceptible to normal human vulnerabilities, while Ellis’s weaknesses are always being second best and bad dancing. These two would get along very well.

Pitch: After his middle school nemesis is kidnapped at a retirement home by its possessed dance instructor, Ellis must save the girl and lead the oddball elderly residents to battle the demon and its raven minions.


Ellis Brown could not believe what he just heard. The air seeped from his balloon of hope and instantly ruined his once-promising Saturday morning. “You mean a girl has already been here selling these tickets?”

Mr. and Mrs. McGregor, the Wonderland Gardens Retirement Center’s hosts, sat in the lobby’s red velvet arm chairs smiling. Mr. McGregor returned the tickets that Ellis just tried to sell them and said, “Yes, she came about an hour ago. Still in the building, I believe.”

Mrs. McGregor beamed. “Such an angel, blonde hair, blue eyes, and beaming with joy.”

Yep, that’s Alicia. What a fake.
Ellis forced a smile as the anxiety bubbled in the pit of his stomach. “And I suppose she sold you tickets to our show?”

“As a matter of fact, she did," Mr. McGregor said. “Such a sweet young lady. She did mention that a friend of hers, a boy, may be stopping by later, and here you are.”

Sweet? Maybe, if rattlesnake’s venom is sweet. “She does have a way,” Ellis said.

Ellis was good kid, but he had one big problem, Alicia Swanson. She’d been a thorn in his side all throughout middle school. She beat him at everything and, to make matters worse, she had a habit of broadcasting it to everyone.

Ellis planned to beat Alicia by selling more Alice in Wonderland show tickets than her and was banking on the retirement home’s residents. Not any more. He felt the satisfaction of his victory slip painfully through his fingers.



Pitch Slam: BUSY BODIES - Adult Comic Crime Fiction

  Posted by SC_Author , 12 October 2014 · 8 views

Title: Busy Bodies
Genre: Adult - Comic Crime Fiction
Word Count: 97,000

Hero: Johnny Campbell sees himself as a noir hero à la Sam Spade: Canny, street-smart and able to deal with any situation. He’s wrong on all counts.

Pitch: Would-be insurance swindler Johnny Campbell has just faked his death using a clone of himself—and incidentally gotten his hapless wife Darcy arrested for his murder. There’s only one solution: He has to die. Again.


The powder-blue Volvo turned into the driveway. Weeds growing through cracks in the concrete brushed against the undercarriage as the car coasted smoothly into the carport and stopped. If any neighbors were watching, they’d just seen Gerhard Neiman’s car turn into Gerhard Neiman’s driveway; nothing suspicious. But the man behind the wheel wasn’t Gerhard Neiman, and it would really be better if no one spotted him, as he’d come here to rob the place.

He had a cover story ready, of course. If a neighbor actually came over and said hello, he was Johnny Campbell, a mechanic who’d fixed Neiman’s car and was now returning it. The story had the advantage of being mostly true, though it did contain a few holes. For one thing, Neiman wasn’t home, or at least Johnny sincerely hoped he wasn’t. For another, if Johnny was dropping off this car, how did he plan to get home himself? But surely Neiman’s neighbors weren’t in the habit of bounding over to say hello whenever he drove up. He was too menacing a figure for that.

Johnny slipped quietly out of the Volvo and made his way down a rutted dirt path running alongside the house. The white clapboard siding was interrupted here by a few tall windows, all of them screened and grimy and hard to see much through. The gate to a white picket fence enclosing the backyard lay on the grass beside the open gateway, its pickets swollen with moisture. Great, Johnny thought, I’m robbing a complete dump.


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