Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review: Becoming Jinn

It's been a while since I've posted a book review, but I'm excited to share this one. I picked up Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein when I visited her website during Brenda Drake's #pitchwar contest this year. While I waited to learn whether I would win a mentor in the contest (I didn't, but you can read about that in my last post), I kept thinking about the premise of Lori's book, which stood out among all the mentor blogs I'd read. I downloaded it just before heading out on an airplane trip and I kept reading it nonstop until I finished.

There's a lot to love about this book. Here are five reasons I loved it:
  1. Azra, the main character, is from a family of Jinn, which is something like a genie but without the bottles. Her ability to do magic, her place in the human world and the demands to fulfill wishes to chosen people or face the consequences are at turns fun and scary. 
  2. The reasons Azra fights her magic, her friends and her place in the world are connected to a loss that is easy to relate to and the more you learn about what happened the more you can't help but cheer Azra on just a little bit more.
  3. The sisterhood friendship piece is complicated, multi-faceted and focused on more than just gabbing about boys. These girls have history, baggage, hopes, dreams and connections that weave the fabric of this story. 
  4. Between the boy next door and the hot lifeguard she works with, the romance angle is present and sizzling, just the way I like it!
  5.  The intrigue sneaks up on you through the story, a little bit of mystery, a few questions left unanswered, by the time you piece it all together at the end your jaw drops a little and you definitely want to read more!

I can't wait for her next book to come out!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Freaking out, second-guessing and the lesson I learned from #pitchwars 2015

I've been hard at work over the last year on a new book, which is really where all my time and energy should be going at this moment. But, I'm still kind of in love with the last book I wrote and I'm stubborn. Very stubborn. 

So, every once in a while I send it out into the world yet again in hopes someone will sweep it up and publish it or at least represent it. The book has gotten requests, but it hasn't been anybody's perfect fit. So, I decided the thing to do this year was to take it-- in all it's workshopped, critiqued, written and rewritten glory-- into #pitchwars, an amazing contest run annually by Brenda Drake (whose books you should run out and buy right now, by the way because this women gives back to the writing community so much). 

The problem was, at the very last minute, as I was submitting the thing I started a little freak out. My first chapter was just all wrong. I kept rereading it. Clearly too much back story. Clearly too much introduction to the normal life. The thing to do, I told myself, in second-guessing style, was to submit Chapter Two as Chapter One. Problem solved. I hit submit. 

I regretted it. 

But, too late. Problem so not solved.

For a week I told myself it would be fine. 

It wasn't.

At the appointed moment in the contest I realized I had received no requests. And no matter what you tell yourself, that just isn't a good sign. The announcement came and went. I was not selected for mentorship, which is round two of this particular contest. 

I took it as the divine sign I needed. It's time to high tail it back to my new manuscript and get it submission ready. I have about six rounds of edits to do on the thing and I need to get going with a synopsis and query letter. My goal is to enter it in this year's Golden Heart. And this year there will be no second guessing or freaking out. 

Meanwhile, today I received confirmation that my second-guessing/freak-out had not helped my pitchwars submission. My top choice mentor team graciously (and I will be forever grateful!) sent me feedback on my submission. The bottom line: they wanted to see her normal life before the moment that the story took off. I so should not have submitted Chapter Two as my Chapter One. 

Don't get me wrong, hundreds of people enter this contest and I might have not gone any further regardless of what chapter I submitted, but my last minute freak-out cost me the opportunity to be considered in a serious manner along side that competition. 

So, I'm promising to reform and trust myself from now on. Join me. Trust your work, trust yourself and trust the partners who have given you feedback along the way. The road to publication isn't turning out to be fast, or easy, or simple, but I am growing in so many ways and now I get to add another great lesson to the list. 

Next stop, Golden Heart contest. I can't wait to see what I learn next!