Behind the scenes: 2018 NVA finalist & the gender reveal!

When I first moved to Seattle and my sister came to visit me, we decided to see a fortune teller for fun off Broadway in Capitol Hill. I'll admit, I sometimes go once a year to get my fortune told. I don't know if I believe in them one hundred percent, but when I get good news, I like to think it manifests itself into reality.

Anyway, this particular reading occurred in the summer of 2014, and the only reason I remember it is because the fortune teller told me, Writing for you, goes hand in hand with your love life. I took that to mean that if my relationship was good, so would my writing be. Who knows if it's true, but my young twenty-something self had recently moved to Seattle for love, and I was one year into seriously writing novel-length works with the intent for publication. Back then I had been naive. I thought I could make a three-year plan to be published, and I would be financially stable enough to quit my day job. I'm shaking my head at my past self as I write this. Oh, how I wish I could have warned my past self just how difficult that would be. That's not to say it can't happen--because it has for the fortunate few, but I am not so fortunate. And the reality is, most authors still have a full-time job in addition to their writing contracts.

The whole point of going to the fortune teller though was for me to ask if I would make it into PitchWars, to which I got the vague reply, Writing will be a long journey, but when your door opens, it will happen very fast. Suffice it to say, I did not get in that year, and my relationship with Michael was still relatively new. After that summer though, I stopped thinking about that fortune, until things started to line up.

In 2015, Michael and I went to Vietnam with my family. During this trip he asked my mom for my hand in marriage. When we came home from that trip, I started working on a manuscript inspired by that trip. That was the year I got into PitchWars and Michael proposed. For a moment, it looked like things were getting serious! Writing and relationship-wise!

In 2016 we booked the venue for our wedding, and I also got my first agent. Finally, I thought. Something is happening! During this year, I wedding planned and also went on submission for the first time. All the while, I waited thinking, This is it. My door is opening!

Except it didn't. The rejections came in, and my writing confidence took a hit which showed in my other works. I started to doubt myself and my ability. Then my 3-year plan was up.

In 2017, I got married, but then my agent and I parted ways amicably. I felt like a complete and utter failure. I felt like I'd failed everyone whoever believed in me, and then eventually, I stopped believing in myself.

I took a long break from writing after that. I thought of doing something else for awhile. Maybe I should learn to code? Maybe I should become a sommelier? Maybe I should focus more on my career! Looking back, I know that my hesitation to pursue my dream came out of fear. I didn't want to admit I failed on my dream.

But with the push of writing friends, I decided to try again. It's only failure if you stop, right? Except when I tried, I was faced with rejection yet again (Seriously, miss fortune lady. Where is this door? And why won't it open?). 

Then I saw the New Visions Award contest, and I thought, why not? I liked the imprint's mission, and it became more important for me to want to share my story with readers then to simply be published. I also wanted to give an old manuscript one more shot before putting it in my trunk forever. So I submitted, and retreated to drafting once more.

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In 2018, I got pregnant. And then the beginning of my second trimester I found out I was a finalist for the award. I didn't win, but I was finalist, which meant, I wasn't outright rejected. I was in the top five, after feeling like the past five years of writing amounted to what seemed like nothing. After years of rejection and setbacks, I didn't realize at first just how monumental or how much this affected me until I received an encouraging e-mail from an editor.

Sometimes, you just need encouragement from someone who isn't family or friend who sees something in your work for you to realize, Hey, I've improved over the course of my journey. Which means I can only get better if I keep at it. And if I do, maybe a door will finally appear.

So sure, being a finalist was a small victory, but one I needed.

I have no idea whether or not the fortune lady will be right, but that's really besides the point. As long as I believe in myself then eventually some door--wherever it may be--will open. Only because I won't stop pounding on it until someone let's me in.

There will be no more 3 or 5 year plans for me. Only a lifelong dream.

Now, I'm about to dive into a cool writing opportunity this summer which may or may not come to anything. But I'm excited to tackle it just because opportunities in the writing world don't come up every often. Hopefully I'll rise to the occasion, but if I don't, that's okay too as long as I try my best, because I know I'll grow and learn from the experience (which I consider a win). To do so, I'll have to put drafting The Gilded Cage on hold, but I plan to get back to it soon.

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On another life-related note, I'm having a baby boy. We revealed the gender to the family on Mother's Day, and my heart is full of warmth and happiness for my family and in-laws from all the support we've been given. My son is already loved by everyone, and we haven't even had the pleasure of meeting yet!

The fortune lady was right about one thing though: writing and love goes hand in hand for me because the act of writing is the best way I know how to express my love.

WWPR: Cold & Overwhelmed (Pass 1 Week 2)

It's been really cold here. Like so cold my toes never feel warm. I'm from California so me and the cold do not mix which led to some general feelings of unwellness. I'm crossing my fingers that my immune system does not get compromised before Christmas like last year... Now, that was a sad Christmas. 

Anyway, week 2 started off great in terms of productivity, but then somehow, I crashed and burned. On the bright side, I was ahead of my deadline for Pass 1--finishing up on Sunday the 17th instead of the following Saturday (the 23rd). Huzzah!

This week in writing:

THURSDAY: I started the week pretty strong by revising chapters 18-24. I guess I just wanted to keep the ball rolling ;) 

FRIDAY: Because Thursday was so productive, I allowed myself a night off for an in-home Date Night! Michael and I opened some vino, made some dinner together, and rented a movie (I was so tired though, I fell asleep like 10 minutes in).

SATURDAY: I put my butt in the chair and set out to get a lot of work done. I ended up revising chapters 29-39. Chapters 25-28 would be new scenes to add (which I have yet to write) once I started Pass 2. It was so nice to feel accomplished before going out for the night. Michael and I tried out a new restaurant Revel (which was delicious by the way) and ended with a night cap at The Barrel Thief in Fremont.

SUNDAY: I couldn't sleep. I ended up waking up around 6 a.m., made myself some coffee and finished going through chapters 40-47! Almost a whole week before my deadline! My back started to hurt though so I made a makeshift stand up desk to start writing in my changes. I ended up typing in changes for chapters 1-5 thinking I'd get it all into my scrivener file and then go back and do Pass 2 once I finished. I quickly realized this was the wrong approach. It was so mind numbing, and my brain was quickly starting to hurt from going to paper then to computer then back. Suddenly, I felt REALLY overwhelmed about the whole project because it still needed a ton of work so I started psyching myself out. I had to accept that it probably wouldn't be in CP shape by the end of the year, so I stepped away from it.

MONDAY/TUESDAY: Oyyy. I was not feeling well on either of these days. I don't know if it was merely exhaustion, the cold dip in temperatures, or whatnot, but I was extremely fatigued. It was to the point where I'd collapse onto the living room floor and balled myself up by the fire. I ended up taking a break from writing on these two days and focused on wrapping presents and rereading one of my favorite books to wipe my brain clean of my story.

WEDNESDAY: I still wasn't feeling up to snuff, but I had had enough of my self-pitying and told myself that I wasn't in enough physical pain to excuse my laziness so I managed to force myself back into my office and started on my pass 2.

I decided I would focus on doing 2-3 chapters a day, first by typing in my changes and my notes, then rereading and line-editing for pass 2. It worked much better this way because it kept my mind engaged with the story and had the benefit of being improved with another layer of close reading. It also allowed me to slow down with the story to make sure I got everything I wanted in each scene.

Ideally, I want to finish this before I leave on vacation to Hawaii in January, but I also want to enjoy the holidays, so most likely I'll have to extend my deadline to the end of vacation and work my magic in the sun.

Here's hoping I get one third done by next week! Hope you all have a happy holiday weekend! As always, thank you for reading!

 

WWPR: MS7 Revision Notes & Pass 1 (Week 1)

It's been a whirlwind of a week! But I'm so excited to sit down and get into this WWPR, because it feels like a celebration. For one, I am fully functional now, and the cold I had is becoming more like a distant memory as each day passes. With the increase in energy levels, I gathered all my notes, scene cards, and my running list of problems in my MS, and focused this week on finding solutions!

Here's my week in writing:

THURSDAY: Reviewing the macro problems first (plot, character, setting), I placed all of my scene cards on the floor to rearrange them and placed my solutions onto the notecard with stickies. I'll save you the long spiel on how I did this by referring you to Marissa Meyer and Susan Dennard's websites. My method is basically a combination of their revision process, and they provide a lot of info on how to go about revisions if you want to read up on it.

I worked from 4-8 p.m. (make sure to follow my instagram @michelletranwrites to see my insta stories), but it was so worth it because by the end of the night I knew where I wanted to take this MS, and most importantly, how.

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FRIDAY: I began my first pass of revisions by making the changes I wanted directly on the printed manuscript. My goal is to finish this relatively quickly (2-2.5 weeks) and then type in the changes on my computer while concurrently doing a second pass of the manuscript afterward.

Pass one will focus on getting the plot nailed down with all the scenes in the correct order and roughly putting the character arcs in place to compliment the plot.

Pass two will be to get the character arcs fully fleshed out while also fixing the flow/transitions of the story since I had to move a lot of scenes around.

Depending on where I'm at with pass 2, I anticipate a pass 3 and 4 to focus on setting, dialogue, and prose. Maybe then I'll feel confident enough to ship out my MS to some CP's.

SATURDAY: I flew back to Sac to celebrate my nieces birthday! It was a quick trip, but I still brought my manuscript, just in case. I was able to get one chapter done on the flight there.

SUNDAY: Since my niece was just too cute and wanted to play, I didn't get any revising done. I ended up having quality time with her and the family. I built her new birthday gift I had chipped in to buy. It took me about 4-5 hours, but her excitement for her play kitchen was worth it.

MONDAY: Since I didn't get much done during my weekend in Sac, I had to turn it up a notch and make up time for it. I ended up getting through 5 chapters!

TUESDAY: Pass one continues. I've made it to one third through of the write-in portion of the revision. To make things even better, I got some surprise holiday mail from 2 of my great CP's Mic & Krystal!!! THANK YOU!!!

WEDNESDAY: ALMOST HALFWAY DONE. Cue celebration with this WWPR post!

All of this planning and organizing during the revision process has really inspired me to keep myself on track--not just now, but for 2018. To do so, I'm using a planner instead of my typical spreadsheet or notebook so I can jot down my progress. Hopefully by the end of 2018, I'll have a full planner focusing on making 2018 my best writing year. Here's what the planner looks like reflecting this week! For the month portion, I quickly jot down my progress and what week I'm on. For the week portion, I also jot down how I'm currently feeling about the process to help me reflect.

Hopefully by next week, I'll be done with the write in part. Wish me luck, and happy writing!

What are your ways to stay on track? Comment below!

WWPR: Read-Through & Revision Planning

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Before I spend the rest of the day in gratitude and spending time with my family, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads this blog, follows my journey, or believes in me. Writing always feels like a solo endeavor, but I don't think I could ever push on and continue the good fight without everyone's support and encouragement. So thank you.

Now, onto this week in writing:

M8-Outline

Last week I took a break from M7 to outline M8, and I'm happy to say that I've completed the outline and am 100% happy with it. I'm so excited to draft this story up in January. It'll be a great way to start off writing in 2018, and I get to fall back into a world I've desperately missed. I finished it up last Thursday before heading out to a wine event, which was awesome because it gave me more cause to celebrate.

M7-Read-Through & Revision Planning

Like I mentioned, I set aside Saturday and Sunday to flash read ATLWTO even though I was traveling. Because I was traveling, I couldn't have a pen and notebook with me at all times to jot down my thoughts, but I didn't want to waste time either. Travel days encompass so much time wasted anyway, so I really wanted to make the most of it. I made it my goal to read quickly and throughly so I could see how all my elements were working as a whole. To accomplish this, I ended up downloading my MS onto my kindle app so I could read on the go. For notes, I kept it brief and big picture, and typed it quickly in my notes app.

Some of my thoughts while reading:

  • OMG, this beginning is terrible, should I change it again? 
  • Okay, this part isn't too bad. I can expand on this part. There's something there.
  • With this character, there's a lot of pain here. Gonna exploit that, but hopefully she doesn't over power my MC.
  • Ow. Okay. Getting a little teary-eyed. Next time I read this through, I want to be balling snot-tears. I could have done more.
  • There's some hope at the end, I need a better resolution. I need to draw these things out a bit more.

These of course differ from my actual writing notes in my app, but the thing for me to see here is there are some good parts and bad, and a whole lot that I can to to improve it. This is a GOOD thing. I've had some read-throughs where I know it's so terrible or it lacks something for me, so I end up tossing the whole manuscript.

I finished the read-through in about 3-4 hours which is fantastic. I read a third before bed, woke up at 4 a.m. to hit the airport, read as I shuffled through TSA, and then finished on the flight.  So if you're ever traveling and wondering if you have time to work on your MS, it's totally doable.

By Monday, I had many, many thoughts percolating before sitting down and writing up a revision plan.

I'm a list person, so I basically jotted things from macro to micro that needed to be fixed as a whole, and then organized them into a list. Tuesday, I went to my favorite coffee shop back home and typed out my revision notes and went through my outline scene by scene to see what needed to be fixed until I had a plan that focused on plot and character arc for my first pass. Though the list seems overwhelming, I'm excited to shape this story more and more, and see where six more weeks of revision can bring this.

 

 

WWPR: Manuscript baking & outlining.

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Any followers from 2015 remember my WWPR posts? Yeah, me neither, until a bout of nostalgia propelled me to dig into my archives. WWPR stands for 'Weekly Writing Progress Report'. I started it when I drafted M4, the manuscript that got me into PitchWars and also landed me my first agent. It was, and still continues to be the book of my heart.

One thing I loved about M4 was how easy it was to write (well easy in comparison to all my projects after it and before it) that I got to wondering if blogging about it was the secret ingredient to making it so enjoyable. So, out of curiosity, I dug back into the archives to read about my process, and it brought all these fond memories containing such great nuggets of illuminating advice current-me can still learn from and appreciate. With all of my discussions about my process and how beneficial it was to my craft, I wondered why I ever stopped? Sure I had some posts about my other projects, but this weekly snapshot of seeing it grow and how it became an integral part of my life was truly something.

(If you're curious about those posts, click here and it will lead you down the rabbit hole)

Thus, I'm bringing WWPR back for my pleasure and enjoyment, and also hopefully yours!

So here we go!

This week in writing:

MS7: ATLWTO, YA own voices inspired Contemporary
Status: Draft Two, finished
  • This week I'm letting my YA Contemporary 'bake' so that I can get fresh eyes on it before I do my read-through this weekend. What's cool about letting it bake are the ideas coming from having more brain space to think about it instead of focusing on writing/revising it. I've been jotting down notes on my phone in hopes that they will come in handy when I start making a revision plan for draft three.
  • I did share a small excerpt with my husband on Monday to see what he thought of it. He's only read a beginning clipping from draft one, but I changed the tone and voice in draft two so I was curious to see what he thought. He liked it, and there are parts I do too, but I know it has a long way to go before matching the vision in my head.
  • READ-THROUGH PLAN: Currently I have Saturday and Sunday blocked out on my calendar to do a read-through. I'm also traveling though for the holiday, but I'm hopeful I can still knock it out since it's only 59K.
MS8: ADOSAE, YA Fantasy
Status: Outlining
  • Some background on this project: I've had this idea since forever. Remember the book of my heart I mentioned earlier M4? I guess I should have said one book from a series of my heart. Totally dangerous territory, but I can't help it. This project is my prequel to M4. It's dangerous because you should never put all your eggs in one basket, but there's something about the world and the wide nest of characters that I'm desperate to explore. I guess the one perk of not being agented right now is the fact that I get to write whatever I want for the sake of pure enjoyment. To be frank, this world is my escape so I'm gonna roll with it because I love it so much. And that's kind of awesome because I'm going to follow my heart. It's also a great break from the serious contemporary WIP above.
  • Outlining - My process changes with every book, but on this one, I couldn't help but recreate my environment from M4, so I went through my drive and notebooks to see how I outlined it and it was so simple. So simple I feel like I'm cheating. M4 only used a skimpy outline and a list of possible scenes that I kept adding to as I wrote the story. So for M8 I'm doing the same, but I'm going to be a tad bit more detailed since I won't be drafting this baby until January.
    • How I Outline (in 3 Layers):
      1. I first start with a skeleton plot (a la Sarah Dessen). Find your beginning, your midpoint, and then the end. Once you have that, make a list of scenes and try to put them in natural order that gets you from Point A to Point B. Or in this case from the beginning, middle, to end. For this part, try not to think too much, just let your creative side loose and capture all those images floating in your mind. By this point you have a very skeletal outline that might look like a scene list, and you might get stuck. Totally okay, because that brings us to layer two.
      2. Now that I have an idea of what my plot looks like, I start to think about my major characters. Who are they? What do they want? Need? Afraid of? This method is something Marissa Meyer delves into on her blog and it's always stuck with me. Plot is really your characters doing stuff. i.e. making decisions, that lead them to another, and so on until it gets progressively worst for the character (but great for the reader). I'll drop the link here for you to check out.
      3. Once I get my characters semi-developed, I start to see how they interact with the plot, and this usually ends up generating more scenes and clarity to my outline. Then to make sure I hit all the plot points, I compare my outline to a beat sheet to make sure I have all the elements of plot, and then I trace through each major character arc to see if I got that too. Review and repeat until you're satisfied. By this point, you should have a triple layered outline loose enough you know where you're headed, but not so strict that you can't deviate ;)
  • I should mention this method seems to work with my YA Fantasy pretty well, but not Contemporary. For Contemporary I switch the first and second layer in this method by planning my characters first and using the plot to serve their arc.
  • Another tip, outlining by pen and paper usually stirs more creativity than going straight to a word processor to brainstorm. I usually free write the ideas and then arrange them all typed up so I can move it around, but that's your call ;) We all have our personal preferences.

Lastly, to the dreamers:

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I'm talking about those of us who aren't quite there in publishing land, but are keeping up the good fight. Those of us who've made some milestones, but have also had to dust ourselves off and pick ourselves back up. It's easy to be down on yourself as you see everyone around you (or so it seems) getting published and making their dreams come true. It's easy to be jealous or envious thinking they have it made. But appearances can be deceiving. Everyone has their own challenges, everyone still has to write, and so do you. In the end, we're all just writers trying to share the stories that matter to us. I think we sometimes forget that when all we see is a dividing line separating the ones that have 'made' it from the ones who haven't. This is an imaginary line. We're all people trying to find a home for our stories in our readers.

So keep up the good fight. Take a break if you need to. Your stories will be waiting for you when you're ready.

On not writing and figuring out where I am.

I haven't felt like myself lately. Rather, it feels as if I'm simply stumbling through life and waiting for something to happen. I wish I could say it was due to severe allergies and the constant mental fog I find myself in, but if I'm honest with myself, I'm lost.

There's a saying (I don't know who said it exactly) that in order to find yourself you need to lose yourself. Only then can you start picking out the pieces that make you you and get rid of everything else. Stripping it down to the bare essentials basically.

But if you ever met me in person or went to school with me, you know I'm a type-A planner. I cross my t's, dot my i's. I follow the rules. I like order. I make copious amounts of lists: to-do's, groceries, shopping, packing, goals, and even life maps. Yes. Life maps.

The picture below is from a life map I drew in my journal dated March 2013.

If I were to strip myself down to be the bare essentials: I'm a girl who just wants to write books for a living. Not just any books. YA. This was true in 2013, and this is still true today. The only difference between me in 2013 and me in 2017? I'm not writing.

I know what you're thinking, How can you say you want to be a YA writer when you aren't even writing?

Well, let me introduce you again to me, a type A planner, who currently feels as if she's undergoing a failed plan. Someone once told me that success is really failing a lot. Just fail better each time, learn from your mistakes, and keep at it until you don't fail. Sounds simple, right? Except, it's not simple. There's a lot of pain and heartbreak in failure. There's fatigue, self-doubt, and countless moments where I want to give up because I don't want to get hurt anymore. Moments where I can't deal with the disappointment, where I feel like I'm so jaded. Moments when I don't think I'm good enough to be deserving of my dreams. These moments add up, they become crippling, until suddenly, I can't write anymore.

I told myself that I just needed a break. I just needed some rest, and then I'd get back to it. Every time I tried to though, I would be overcome with anxiety. My throat would tighten, my chest would go still, my stomach would cramp, and then I'd just walk away from computer, the notebooks, and pens.

I'd distract myself with other things, crossing off items on the more manageable to-do lists and have a few too many glasses of wine, but in the end, I always returned to this feeling of unease and displacement. This unhappiness. So I started thinking about what other things I could do with my life (which let's face it, is me just making up a list of escape routes). No matter what I came up with though, none of the options held any passion or inspiration for me to follow it through.

So what do I do now?

I asked myself this question over and over. I talked about it in-depth with my husband. I told him how this was not where I imagined myself when it came to following my dreams. I told him how I felt like I was back at square one, that I felt as if I was going backwards instead of forward. After I ranted, he told me that people think of their life, goals, or plans as a trajectory. That there's this arc that'll propel them to where they want to go, but that's not true. There's just these different planes that they find themselves in. They don't necessarily go forward or backward, there's just this sense of 'place', or in my case, 'displacement'. What I'm going through and what I'm feeling now is just a plane. And sooner or later I'll be on another.

For some reason what he said really stuck with me. I look again at my life map from my 2013 self and wonder if I'd already known this, because this life map isn't linear. There's no trajectory. It's just all over the place with turns and twists, but it's also cyclic. There's also some parts that don't even involve writing at all. There's travel, there's 'sustain a comfortable life', and even just having job. 

I'd always known going after my dream wasn't a one way road. I may have a destination in mind, but I was bound to get lost. And when I do, the only thing I can do is figure out where I am and how to get myself into the driver's seat.

To be honest though, sometimes it feels like I'm going nowhere. Sometimes I feel like the road is endless. Sometimes I get so sick of driving that I need to pull over and stretch my legs. Or maybe I just need to abandon the car for a bit and hitch hike somewhere else for a different kind of adventure. Whatever happens though, I know who I am and what I want to do. I have an unshakeable dream for a reason, so I know I'll find myself back at the computer, typing away eventually.

So there's no point in freaking myself out, forcing myself to write, making myself anxious about it, or feeling like a failure. I just need to accept that I'm on a different plane right now, going through the motions, and that's okay. Sometimes the best thing I can do for my writing is to not write at all. 

At least for a little while.

What happens when you don't get into PitchWars and what happens when you do?

To all you PitchWars hopefuls, I'm sure this question has crossed your mind, especially now since the Mentee announcements are on the horizon! So let me give you an answer, because I've been on both sides :)

Before I get into it, I should mention that my answer is based on my own experience. Ask another mentee and their answer could be different. But here's my perspective. I hope it gives you some insight and motivation to keep writing.

When you don't get in...

In 2014, I applied to PitchWars for the first time with a fully revised manuscript (M1). I spent about a year on it going through multiple drafts and making it the best it could be. I connected with other hopefuls on twitter, submitted my entry, stalked the mentors (hoping they were talking about my awesome manuscript), and waited and waited for the announcement to finally come.

Once it did, I did 'ctrl+F' for my name. Nothing came up. I read the list from beginning to end, the rejection slowly sinking in. This feeling of disappointment and not feeling like you're good enough, the doubts, they hit me all at once. I congratulated the other hopefuls who did make it, but then I kind of disappeared from Twitter (granted, I never really did use twitter much anyway back then, so NBD).

But I still felt my MS was ready, and PitchWars pushed me to prepare my materials for querying, so I did.

More rejections resulted, until I finally came to the realization that this MS was not the one. So I shelved it and started another MS. We'll call it M2. I worked on it all fall and winter, but something was lacking in the story, so I quit halfway through. It took a vacation and a new perspective for me to sit down and try again. I started M3 at the end of April and drafted it in six weeks, quickly revised based on my CP's comments, and entered it into PitchWars. This time, I got in (more on that below), but I probably wouldn't have if I didn't keep writing.

So what do you do when you don't get into PitchWars?

You keep writing, pursuing your passion, and continuing to improve your craft. In a span of one year, continuously writing, reading, and learning from others, my writing improved so much and it showed in the manuscript that got me in.

One thing I will critique myself on is the fact that I left twitter. Twitter is a great place to meet other writers and to just connect with people who are passionate about writing, reading, and books in general. Find your CP's, your betas, your tribe. This creative path we've chosen to pursue is an arduous one, but it'll be so much better when you have someone alongside you, who gets what you're doing, and understands what you're going through.

So write, write, write. Connect, connect, connect. Read, read, read. Learn, learn, learn. Got it?

And when it comes to rejection, know that it is part of the process. Rejections may hurt, but they're also a testament to your hard work. You're doing, you're trying, and you're putting yourself (and your work) out there. If you keep at it, you'll eventually get to that 'yes' you've been working toward.

When you do get in...

In 2015, my name was on the mentee list. I was shocked. I cried. I forgot to make dinner. I celebrated. It was amazing. I got my edit letter from my mentor, and then came a lot of hard work.

You write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. Read, read, read. Connect, connect, connect with your fellow mentees. And you learn, learn, learn from your mentor. In some ways, getting in is similar to not getting in; both involve persistence, growth, and working your butt off.

Except instead of querying right away, you have the agent round first, and then you start querying.

Then come requests, maybe an offer of rep, but also rejections.

No matter where that manuscript that got you into PitchWars leads you, know that it's never over. You'll still have to write another manuscript, you'll still have to work on your craft. You'll still have to create, revise, and edit. Because that's what writers do. We write. Whether you get into PitchWars (or any other writing contest for that matter). This goes without saying even if you aren't/are agented/have a book deal.

I will say that PitchWars is a pretty amazing opportunity, so if you do get it in, cherish the experience, work hard, and give it all you got. But if you don't get the opportunity, do not be dismayed. One contest is not the end of the road for you. We all take different paths to get to our dreams. So whatever happens, you are awesome. You wrote a manuscript, you had the guts to try, and you'll continue to write because you love it, because it's part of you. Take heart, and persevere. 

<3, Michelle