Jedi Knight, you now are…

It is never easy, choosing so few among so many who are ready. The Jedi masters have spent tireless hours considering all those who’ve proven themselves capable, and never before have they been faced with such raw talent and potential. But choose they must, for all things must move forward.

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Master Yoda has offered his insight.


Master Windu has given his recommendations.


Those chosen to study further under his tutelage are presented in the following posts for the Council to test using the following criteria:


These are the pages I’m looking for: Query and first 15 pages
You have the reflexes of a Jedi: Query and first 50 pages
Disciplined, you are: Query and first 100 pages
The Force is strong with this one: Query and full

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These were not easy choices to make, but made they had to be. The Jedi masters wish it to be known that the Force was strong with so many, and were it possible, numerous others would have been selected as well. No matter the outcome, training must continue. Writing must continue. For there will always be opportunities. Those chosen to study under other masters can be located at…


We’ve intercepted a transmission from the Jedi Temple. A band of bounty hunters led by Boba Fett has stormed the facility and made off with several of the Padawans. The Bounty Hunters have been cornered HERE. All council members are to intervene where possible.

Battle Stations: Query and first 15 pages
Anger clouds your mind: Query and first 50 pages
Somebody has to save our skins: Query and first 100 pages
Its a trap!: Query and full

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The full force of the Jedi Masters and their teams can been found below.

Team Jedi Prince

Team Obi Wan and the Wookies

The Rey Guns

The Bounty Hunters

The (Sometimes Grand) Adventures of Ren & Farrah 3

Name: Shayla Marie Emory


Genre: MG, Adventure


Word Count: 48,000


Pitch: When her family’s Renaissance faire starts falling apart, only 10-year-old Ren realizes an evil wizard has laid a curse upon it. To defeat the wizard, Ren must bring magic back to the faire.


First 250:
“For Luminaria!”


With the shouted battle cry of her Queendom, Ren burst out of the forest that surrounded Luminaria, a land that only existed in the heads of those who worked at the Renaissance faire.


The faire was mid-setup in a giant, dusty clearing, speckled with grass and dirt. With a wide grin, Ren dove forward.


Magic sung along in the air, following behind the wind and tingling against Ren’s skin. The faire folk paid the young princess no mind as she charged through the clearing with her wooden sword drawn; side stepping people here, and an invisible Pegasus just learning to fly, there.


“Hello, Mary Beth,” Ren called out a greeting to the cook, a pale woman who was quite round and quite friendly.


“Princess! What are you doing out about these times?” the pale lady laughed, waving with the hammer she was using to put her stand together.


Stopping for a moment, Ren slipped her sword into the old leather scabbard that hung around her waist to hammer in the next nail for Mary Beth. All around her, the faire was coming alive. Even the magical creatures that only Ren could see were amassing in the forest, making her grin.


Ren stuck the tip of her tongue out in concentration. Her first swing missed and she looked up at the cheerful woman with a bashful smile before trying again; pulling back before hitting the nail perfectly. She returned the hammer to Mary Beth with a firm nod.


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A Brief History of Gentlemen Werewolves 1

Name: Rachel Lewis


Genre: Adult Fantasy


Word Count: 85,000


Pitch: 1858 London. High society adores its gentlemen werewolves, but someone is concealing recent werewolf attacks threatening the city, and only one person knows: the ineptest gentleman werewolf of them all, George Grizzler.


First 250: 
George Grizzler should have been fully transformed by now, yet it was on this count that Piper entered the Grizzler home.


And Piper was vexed.


It is true, Piper was impressed at the hulking shadow lying in the corner—one he would have mistaken for a bulky chest of drawers had not a candle been lit—for there lay the largest and most pungent werewolf he’d ever seen.


But what was such a mass of strength without vitality? Without ambition?


’Twas even less useful than an oversized bureau. Piper wanted to jab it with his cane, but that would not improve his tenuous reputation as a businessman. Instead he pretended to examine George, though it was unnecessary. All the odors were there—and intensely—except one. Nevertheless, Piper leaned toward George, nearing him enough to dip a finger in the blood collecting on the floor. He sniffed at it and wiped it on the werewolf’s fur. Then he turned to the scattering of molars and bicuspids, fingernails and toenails and swept them into his pocket.


One had to put on a good show, though the single candle Mr. Grizzler held did little to improve the drama. No matter.


Piper knew what ailed George. Not only was that particular scent missing, one had only to listen to the whimpers escaping his lips. Some sounded like the cries of an infant; others like the whines of dogs, which meant that though George Grizzler had very much taken on the werewolf corpus, he had not fully formed.


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NPC: Non-Player Character 9

Name: Katherine Toran


Genre: YA Science Fiction


Word Count: 72,000.


Pitch: Natalie will do anything to obtain money for her broke family, even sneak into a virtual reality game and disguise herself as an NPC. Her plan turns when dangerous she’s mistaken for a rogue AI.


First 250: 
I’m not proud of it, but late at night after everyone had left the virtual reality center, I snuck back in.


A thousand excuses sat easy on my lips as I stood before the white door, fumbling with my key: I forgot my cell phone; I accidentally walked out with the check-in clipboard; I thought I saw a light and just went in to turn it off like a good employee. Admittedly, if anyone caught me inside a VR capsule, I had no idea what I would say.


Once inside, I let my flashlight trail across the concrete floor, white-grey walls, and the receptionist’s desk in the middle. Finding another key on the ring, I opened the door to the capsule room.


The ceiling was high, my flashlight lighting up exposed pipes and beams overhead. Six hundred reclining vinyl chairs covered by glass capsules were packed together in twenty rows.


Keeping the flashlight tucked under my arm, I fiddled with the control panel and got the glass capsule to slide open. After placing the shiny silver helmet over my head, I lay back on the reclining chair. The blood pressure cuff around my wrist would alert the machine if I started moving while in the trance state. A button on the chair’s arm closed the capsule. The helmet covered my face and a screen lit up in front of my eyes.


My solitary voice sounded weak and embarrassed as I spoke into the deserted building, “Activate the Game.”


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Love and Other Punchlines 8

Name: Sara Jade Alan


Genre: YA Contemporary


Word Count: 57,000


Pitch: Clashing eighteen-year-old comediennes are the only two girls in a nationwide comedy contest. Stella needs the grand-prize to afford college. Marlo must win to support herself and her dream. PITCH PERFECT meets LAST COMIC STANDING.


First 250: 
Big Stinkin’ Comedy Contest: Semi-finals – Northwestern University




I speed walk across the Northwestern campus because superstars don’t run, and I AM a superstar…the world just doesn’t know it yet.


My under-bra is a little damp as I check in for the contest, the sweat rings beneath Lucy and Ethel already forming. Quick check of the pits: still good. Woo-hoo! Already winning.


I’m all smiles and energy when I go backstage to the greenroom, excited to meet the other contestants, but I’m greeted with a wall of crossed arms and lukewarm nods. It’s all guys except for me and one other girl, twelve of us in all.


“Ooh, it’s serious in here! This is the Big Stinkin’ Comedy Contest, right? Or did I walk into an episode of Game of Thrones?” I lower my voice. “Is one of us about to die?” I receive a bunch of nothing, and one or two eye-rolls, but at least a brown-haired, Thor-looking guy gives me a small laugh for my effort.


Thor says, “Hey, I’m Seth, the production assistant. Hopefully it’s not such a tough crowd out there.”


I laugh. “I’m Stella, pleasure to meetchya.”


“Hello, Stella. That name bodes well for you—born to be a star?” He does a sexy eye-squinch thing as he smiles.


Is he flirting with me? I wave a hand in front of my face as if the compliment has me in a tizzy. (It kind of does—he’s so tall—and I’m tall, but this guy is a tree.)


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Code X: Da Vinci’s Secret 2

Name: Jennifer L. Hawes


Genre: Upper MG Mystery


Word Count: 48,000


Pitch: Twelve-year-old Jack must solve the sticky note ghost’s murder and unlock the secret of a rare Da Vinci journal to avoid being next on the killer’s list.


First 250: 
Our house was rigged with 24/7 security, but not because of the ghost. The eight-digit code on the keypad—jack0315—gave me easy access. I tiptoed past the rare journal locked behind bulletproof glass. A shiver bit into my skin, making my hair stand on end. Would someone buy that thing already?


In the kitchen, I threw a bag of popcorn in the microwave. Without the annoying ghost around, this might be the best night ever. But as the seconds ticked down, yellow squares of paper popped onto every surface. The dead communicating with sticky notes? Not weird at all.


You’re out of T.P.


Did you locate the smoking gun?


Try watching Law & Order or Matlock or CSI.


My dead neighbor had yet to convince me he was murdered. Who was Matlock anyway? Franklin was such a drama ghost.


Ignoring the rest of the notes, I headed for the living room. A cold sensation swam up my spine, or was that my back brace? Dad blamed the strange occurrences on our old house. I blamed the ghost and his endless pranks and tricks, like the lights blinking on and off.




The staircase creaked.


“Saw that on TV.”


Franklin appeared, crossed legged like a genie on the chandelier three stories above me, but it was his wingspan of hissing snakes that made my heart thud. I dropped my bag of popcorn. He flew to the center of the room and his silver eyes bled crimson.


“Okay, that’s new.”


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The City with Three Names 5

Name: Zoe Sivak


Genre: Adult Historical Literary


Word Count: 116,000 


Pitch:  In this Turkish MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, Iro Floros is sold into the foreign Ottoman court in Constantinople. Earthquakes, Prince Suleyman’s love, and deadly traditions don’t only threaten Iro’s dreams of escape—but her life.


First 250:


Venezia, October 1500

She battled for every breath.


My grandmother, or Yaiyai, lay on her low bed in the darkened room, bedridden since September.


In and out. In and out. A slow rhythm of crackling wheezes slipped from her dry parted lips for the past hour. When the pause between intakes stretched on, I held my breath as well. Sometimes in solidarity, but more often in fearful expectation. I knew she would either inhale, or her lungs finally capitulated to the exhaustion of living.


Weeks of poor appetite and strained breathing made her ribs and chest protrude, Barely concealed by the brown woolen dress she wore. The usual softness in her wrinkled face withered over several weeks of illness, deepening the lines around her mouth and cheeks.


Before Mother left for Mass at dawn, she demanded my brother Nickolas and I watch over Yaiyai. My eleven-year-old self could manage dabbing her hot brow with a dampened cloth. But while the chores were not physically demanding, my heart grew wearier each passing minute. Every breath brought her closer to death yet prolonged her anguish.


Nikko sat as close to the door as he could, fiddling with the poorly carved wooden sword he never went without.


I resented Mother for forcing me to play nurse. This rasping creature did not resemble my yaiyai. Yaiyai had an iron will and caustic humor, unafraid to challenge my mother and energetic enough to manage my rambunctious seven-year-old brother.


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The Killer Game 2

Name: Jenny Chernyee


Genre: YA Sci-Fi


Word Count: 95, 000.


Pitch: Forced to participate in a virtual reality game she didn’t sign up for, inexperienced Roxanne Fernandez must quickly find out the in-game Killers’ identity as dying in the game means dying in real life.


First 250: 
The day my brother came home from his virtual reality tournament was the day my comments about the Virtual World changed.

The crowds that had gathered were screaming and cheering, begging for Ricky’s attention. I stood behind the panels of reporters, ignoring the crowds and focusing on my brother whose confident demeanour never once changed. Humble yet confident, Ricky stood rigidly in his tailored white suit, giving the press and cameras his most charming smile.
“You’ve won another international game yet again, Ricky. This is, what, your seventy-sixth win? How do you feel?”
“Seventy-seventh,” my brother corrected gently, the smile never vanishing from his face. “It’s a great honour to bring nothing but praises to Illúna. Although I admit, it doesn’t feel the same without my sister around.”
“Is she here currently?”
“Roxanne is present at the moment, yes.”
At the mention of my name, my lips lifted up, giving the cameras a smile that—I hoped—was as charming as my brother’s. Ricky looked at me, his silver eyes, identical to mine, so full of adoration.
“Ricky Fernandez!” A reporter from the left panel called to get his attention. Ricky turned, still beaming, his expression never changing. “What do you have to say in regard to your sister being accepted as a contestant for the annual tournament?”
I blinked.
Ricky’s smile wavered. For once, he actually looked unsure and insecure, before he plastered the smile back onto his face. “I’m sorry, would you mind repeating your question?”
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Fall of the Sparrow 14

Name: R.M. Makowski


Genre: YA Horror


Word Count: 67,000


Pitch: After seventeen-year-old pastor’s daughter, Cam, uses an Ouija board to communicate with her dead mother, she unleashes a demonic force and must destroy it before it can steal her father’s soul and damn her own.


First 250:
I fog the car window with my breath and write the number sixty-two with my finger. The glass squeals. Dad doesn’t notice or pretends not to. Both are very Dad. Our blue Lincoln tugs a two hundred and eight cubic foot U-Haul. That’s like, eight refrigerators. My life now fits into eight refrigerators. What a colossal nightmare.


So this steamy, moss-tangled armpit is Louisiana, where everything ends in some variation of “eaux.” I Googled the town of Clayette until I fell asleep last night, and so far? No surprises. It’s just blurred fields, dirt roads, and clouds that look like they’re going to rain mud instead of water. The Red River snakes alongside us until we turn off onto a county—excuse me—parish road.


The fog fades and when I have a transparent surface, I begin again.


Six. Two.


Sometimes I add the percent symbol. Not this time. I know what it means without it.


Sixty-two percent of kids between the ages of thirteen and eighteen would give up one year of their life to spend one more day with the person who died.


I settle on twenty days. I could give up twenty years for twenty days with Mom. I could do that easy. Women have an average lifespan of eighty years, which means I’ll die at sixty. No nursing home for me. There’s something to celebrate.


But Mom upsets that average by half. So I recalculate because the world sucks and will make me take on the years she had left.


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Accidental Lawyer 2

Name: Kim Hamilton


Genre: Adult Contemporary


Word Count: 85,000 words


Pitch: Rookie attorney, Jess, takes a job as an ambulance chaser and must find a way to outwit a mob boss and dupe a drug dealer while keeping her integrity and dignity intact.


First 250:
Some lawyers demonstrate their legal prowess in courtrooms with a cool confidence, examining witnesses and charming the jury. Others hunker down in law libraries dissecting case law and writing brilliant legal memorandums. They’re all armed with fancy words, legal precedents and an air of self-importance. But not me. I wasn’t that kind of lawyer. I was armed with a cell phone camera, a large advertising budget and a few shreds of remaining dignity.


My name is Jessica Snow. I work for the law offices of Dawson Garner & Associates in Baltimore, Maryland.  It was mid-August. My elevated professional status had me standing alone at the intersection of North Avenue and Smallwood, an area that cried out for urban renewal.  The summer heat shimmered like a hellish vapor off the asphalt. My mouth was dry, but the rest of me was cloaked in a layer of sweat. Worst of all, the humidity had ravaged my hair. What wasn’t matted with perspiration was frizzed out like a science-fair project gone wrong.


I was there to take photos of the intersection where by client had been hit, but my investigation was interrupted by the assaulting screech of the worn brakes on a Baltimore City transit bus. I involuntarily cringed knowing that when I turned toward the bus I would see my friendly face across its entire girth with the words, Dawson Garner & Associates, Have You Been Injured? We can help. Call 555-WANNA SU.


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Pitches from the Pensive 3

So, it was agreed that the #PitchSlam team, or some of us at least, post our 35 word pitches and first 250. To ease some of the anxiety about hitting send. Why not! We’re all in this together, right? So, pulling at our own pitches, like memories from a pensive (have to tie it into Harry Potter somehow) here’s my mock entry for one of my current WIPs. Let me know what you think!

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Name: L.L. McKinney

Genre: MG Fantasy


Word Count: Incomplete

Hogwarts House: Honestly, the characters would be all over the place, some landing in each of the houses, but Arthur would be a Gryffindor. Cause…it’s King Arthur?

35 Word Pitch: When 13yo Arthur learns he’s the legendary king of Camelot reborn, it’s up to him and his gamer Knights to stop a superintendent sorceress from claiming Excalibur, enslaving their reincarnated souls, and exacting her revenge.

First 250: Arthur flung his hands up when his avatar jerked, screamed, then dropped to the ground with a gurgle. The dwarven character he’d been guiding through battle faded, leaving a skeleton stretched in its place, haloed by the words AN HONORABLE DEATH near the top of the screen. Groans filled his ears as his teammates voiced their shared irritation.



“The heck was that, Landon?” Arthur barked into his headset. “You fall asleep on your keyboard again?”

Silence descended, peppered with grumbles. After weeks of being stuck in the same dungeon, they finally reached the last boss. Then Landon, their should-be healer, stopped…healing. Insta-wipe.

“Mmm, sorry.” Landon smacked on the words, along with a mouthful of something crunchy. “Mom brought home peanut brittle.”

The guys erupted.

Wincing, Arthur tugged off his headset to keep from joining the chorus of angry shouts. Instead, he checked his messages and found a missed IM from his best friend.

Gwen: Yo, you busy?
Gwen: You ain’t gone idle, you there?
Gwen: Hey.
Gwen: Helloooooooooo

Okay, a few missed IMs. He tapped out an apology, explaining he’d been raiding but was finished, and went to hit send when the screen flashed blue.

Frozen, Arthur gaped for several seconds before the fan kicked on, full speed. Panic jolted through him. “No, nononono! Please no.” His hands hovered over the keys, afraid to touch anything and risk making it worse.

Then the blue vanished, replaced by scrolling text: We’re out of time. She’s coming…

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Getting “The Call”…Again!

As promised, here’s a post about my recently signing on with a fabulous agent.

Well, not here, here. Michelle Hauck was kind enough to host me over on her blog. Mine is a mess what with contest preparation, and #PitchSlam doings, getting hacked by billionaire genius playboy philanthropists.

And stuff…

Just click the thing, read the words, all that jazz. ^_^

My Contest Days Are Done… 20

At least my days entering them, but for the BEST reason ever.



I had this grand post ready with all sorts of fanfare and gushing, steadily building to the climax ready, but I’m just gonna cut to the chase, keep it short and sweet. I’ll do a whole “The Call” post later.

Melissa Nasson of Rubin Pfeffer Content has, as another awesome writerly friend said, put a ring on it, and I couldn’t be any more thrilled. I’m glad I can let it out, scream it from the mountaintops, because I am super excited to be working with her. I cannot wait to jump in and get started so we can introduce my stories to the world.

I am grateful for  my critique partners, my BETA readers, my friends and family in the writing community who kept me uplifted and told me someone out there would love my work as much as they did. Thank you. I couldn’t have done this again without you all. And I’m especially grateful for my heavenly Father who blessed me, and who will forever remain my strength.

#Cowabunga 2


Lately, I’ve been catching some flack for saying I liked the new TMNT movie. Mostly cause I wasn’t too pleased with the latest Transformers movie. This is why.

Firstly, I want to point out that my issue with the Transformer issue wasn’t the individual script or the acting, it was the continuity pitfalls in the overall plot. Should TMNT go on for a few more films (please movie deities let this come to pass), and the third or fourth movie has the same issues I pointed out in Age of Extinction, I’ll probably say the same thing.

Secondly, so we’re clear, I didn’t just like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle reboot, I fricken LOVED it!


Why? Because, for two hours, I relived my childhood. I remembered why I respected Leo, admired Donnie, laughed at Mikey, and rooted for Raph. I remembered why I thought being a ninja was the coolest thing in the world. I was also reminded that Splinter is a BEAST.

Another reason I loved it is because I DIDN’T go in -expecting- to hate it. I didn’t go in expecting to hate Transformers (and I don’t, I’ll probably still get the Blu Ray), in fact I was all too stoked to see it–can we say BEAST WARS!–but I was still disappointed in the end. It happens.

Back to TMNT. Spoiler: when you actively look for the worst in something, that’s what you get. Whatever you expect to suck now not only has to win you over, but has to crawl out of whatever hole you’ve dug for it first, meaning it has to work twice as hard and go twice as far. If the hole wasn’t there to begin with, you’d probably have liked it a lot more. I went in with a clean slate. Either I would like it, or I wouldn’t.

****And I should point out there’s a difference between hoping something is good and hoping it doesn’t blow. Hoping something is good is like hoping a cheeseburger at least tastes like a cheeseburger. Hoping something isn’t horrible is like hoping a cheeseburger tastes like something from a five star restaurant, but then you’re disappointed it tastes like what? A cheeseburger. You did that to yourself, so don’t go blaming the cheeseburger for being what it is.

Is this movie going to win any oscars for best actor or screen-play? Does this kind of movie EVER win those types of awards? The simple truth is, if you go in looking for something other than a reboot of the over-the-top, cheesy, hilarious, awesome adventure of running around with four humanoid talking turtles–who are NINJAS–you might be disappointed. If you’re ready to get your #cowabunga on, prepare to be shell shocked.


((I recommend changing the quality settings to HD!))

Writing Isn’t A Hobby

This right here is truth unlike any other. The number of times I’ve tried to explain this to the people in my life? If I had a nickle….

Age of Extinction (for continuity) 3

Incoming Transformers Age of Extinction rant. Well, not really a rant, but an explanation for my “meh” reaction when people ask me if I liked it. It wasn’t terrible. Still, for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, this isn’t really a spoiler, but if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t wanna read anything about a movie you might see (especially if it’s slightly negative) you might wanna look away at this time.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Doo de doo…..


For all the critical acclaim and smashing reviews the fourth installment of Transformers is receiving, this movie COMPLETELY negates the story of the other three while simultaneously continuing it somehow. Seriously, a multiverse is imploding somewhere, getting timey wimey bits all over everything.


Honestly, I think this stuff bothers me because I’m a writer. I can’t ignore it! Even if I wanted to. And I try, believe me. Still, these are the largest issues I find with the series’ continuity, with visual aids!

In the first movie, before time began, there was…the cube. We know not where it comes from, only that is has the power to create worlds and fill them with life. That is how the Transformer race was born. Verbatim.


Second movie, after the race is born, you have those who were there in the beginning called the Primes.


Ancient leaders that died to protect the Matrix of Leadership.


No idea what it was other than a trigger to a death machine and an NBE defibrillator, but cool. Don’t need all the details.

Movie three, not much talk about origins, just the war and who fought it. Another Prime shows up, so there’s that. Continuation, fine.


Fourth movie, something about the Creators on a Noah’s Ark of a spaceship running around collecting transformium or whatever cause that’s what the Transformers use for power or fuel. 


NO mention of energon from the first three movies. AND! And, if this ship has been doing that since the time of the dinosaurs, then why did the Primes need the big machine hidden in the pyramid to harvest suns? WAY after.


Oh, and these Creators mentioned? Optimus knows they exist, but doesn’t know who they are. But they are not the cube, which was mentioned in the first movie. And there was no mention of the Primes, either. Or the sun-eating death machine.

So, to recap:

Movie One – Created by Cube/All Spark, which lands on earth about 12,000 years before the movie starts.

Movie Two – After created, Primes go around space using machine to collect energon (Transformer life blood) from suns. Side note: If the Cube landed on earth some twelve thousand years ago, why wouldn’t the Primes just look for it instead of trying to take out the sun? They got there in time to hide the machine in a pyramid, which is only…4,000 – 5,000 years old, give or take a few centuries, so the cube was already there. Megatron found it, why couldn’t they? Since it’s all powerful and endless and stuff. Just asking.

Movie Three – More stuff about Primes. And a space bridge, which is capable of transporting entire planets across time and space.


Forgot to mention that earlier. Not sure why Megatron wasn’t looking for the bridge in the first movie, unless Sentinel Prime’s ship didn’t land on the moon until AFTER the Decepticon who crushed the Mars rover flew by and saw nothing was there.


But since the Ark, Sentinel’s ship, actually crashed in 1961..yeah…Timey wimey.

Movie Four – No all spark, no primes, no sun-eating machine to produce energon, just…the creators. And knights. And on the subject of knights, how did the ship know what the heck a HUMAN MEDIEVAL knight’s armor looked like WAY back then in order to input the data so Optimus could grab Transcalibur and transform to look like one?



What just happened

Continuity my butt. Earth to Michael Bay, I like your movies man, but you need better writers.

To my friends and family, if you liked the movie, that’s fine. No judgement. I enjoyed the funny parts, and the film was visually stunning. Plus the Beast Wars fan in me went full-on-fan-bananas when the Dinosaurs showed up.


Yeah, not gonna even ask about that one. I love Transformers. I loved the toys and cartoons as a kid, I’ve loved the movies. Mostly. That being said, if you don’t hear from me over the next few days, it’s cause I fell into one of these gaping plot holes…

Guest Post!

I’m over at Operation Awesome today, talking about how writers need to remain positive in the face of constant rejection. A lot of people have touched on this subject, but I’m gonna mix things up a bit with an explanation of why we can and should let that positivity slip every now and then. Check out A Spoonful of Sugar. Or Not.

When Enough is Enough: Writing Contests 5

A question came up today on Twitter on a topic I’ve discussed one-on-one with several people, and I figured a blog post would probably be helpful for anyone else wondering the same thing.

“How many contests is too many when entering the same manuscript?”

Let me take a moment to say everyone has their own opinion on this, as with most matters, and a writer is free to do whatever they choose with their manuscript. What I’m about to say isn’t a hard and fast rule but something to consider, along with my personal practices.

There are all kinds of contests:  Twitter pitches, first pages, query letters, 35 word pitches, loglines, three line pitches, first line of the story, on and on. For the sake of this post we’ll consider contests with the query/first page.

My limit for the number of times I enter the same manuscript into this sort of contest varies depending on the circumstance. If I enter but don’t make it to the agent round, that number is five. The reason for this is the same reason I keep querying despite rejections, because writing is subjective. Where the judges of one contest might not connect with my writing, the judges in another might love it. On the flip side, if I’m eliminated before the final round five separate times, I more than likely need to take a moment to look at that first page/query to see what might not be working, and how I could strengthen it. By the time I enter this manuscript for a sixth time, it’ll’ve had a first page face lift.

But let’s say I made it to the final round of one contest, and there’s another one coming up. Before I enter, I’ll check the list of agents participating in the final round. The purpose of these contests is to get your work in front of agents, and you shouldn’t enter if the same agents who saw your work last time will be the ones looking at it this time around.

  • Firstly, that’s pointless. You wouldn’t re-query an agent with the same manuscript without making significant edits and revisions. It works the same way for contests.
  • Secondly, while there’s a good chance I’ll make it to the final round, the chances I’ll get additional requests is low, and requests are the end game.
  • Thirdly, I’m taking up a spot someone else could benefit from, just because. Not cool.

Given this situation, what I might do is enter a completely different manuscript into this next contest. That way I’m not repeating myself, or any of that other stuff I mentioned.

Now let’s say things are a bit different and the agents in this next contest are all (or mostly, meaning 75%+) new to the work, meaning it hasn’t been in their slush pile or appeared before them in any other final round. I’ll go ahead and enter the same manuscript that made it to the final round of the last contest. I’ll do this three times, four at the most. More than four and not only will I more than likely start overlapping agents, but that’s borderline greedy in my opinion. Plus you run the risk of contest hosts and judges recognizing your story from other contests and not picking you because of said familiarity. Everyone should get a chance, yo.

I finished the final round of edits on my latest story–a re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland–early December last year, right in time for Pitch Wars.  Alice made it to the final round. I entered two more contests in January and one in February. That’s four times Alice made it into the finals and, for me, that contest in February was her last one. If I wasn’t a slush reader for Pitch Madness here in March, I would have entered the contest with a different manuscript. And I plan to enter Nest Pitch in April but, again, with a story that’s not Alice’s.

Entering your manuscript into more than one contest is not only okay, it’s expected. You wouldn’t stop querying after one rejection, would you? I hope not. Keep writing, keep querying, and keep entering contests.

And, just a little FYI, I’ll be hosting a contest at the end of April. The first Pitch Slam is coming! Click here for more info and stay tuned for added details over the next few weeks.

Questions concerning anything about entering contests I didn’t cover, Pitch Slam, or writing contests in general? Boom, comments, give’em to me. I’ll do my best to answer.