#PitchWars – Befriend Revision and Rewrite (whaa?!)

I’ve been thinking lately I should blog more and now that I’ve been chosen as Dan Koboldt‘s alternate–thanks Dan!! I’m SO excited to work with you :)– it seems like a good time. I debated what to write about and thanks to feedback from my AWESOME CPs, The Off Beats, I’ve made up my mind.

With the agent round coming up, the mentors, mentees and alternates will no doubt be focusing on revision. Those who didn’t make it may also be focusing on revision and possibly *gulp* rewrites. By the way, none of you should feel bad about not being picked! It just means you have a different path, not that you’re not “good enough” (I had this complex so I know). I’ve participated in the contest before and wasn’t picked. So what did I do? Based on the feedback, I revised revised revised. Those revisions eventually turned into a complete rewrite. And then another. And another until I felt if I heard the words “revise” or “rewrite” again…

Well, you get the gist. Of course, I had moments when I wanted to give up completely, at least on this story. But the idea wouldn’t let me go. Jake, my main character, kept nagging at me. “Um…you’re the only one who can tell my story so get to it, mmkay?”

My story, A SCARRED MIND (adult mystery/thriller) started out as a screenplay in 2008, became a totally different novel in February 2010, then again in 2012, until 2013 when a fabulous agent requested an R&R. She also suggested I change it from three guys in third person to one guy, Jake, in first person. This made total sense and changed the direction/tone/everything. Changing to first person was the best thing I could’ve done for this story. Now, I feel that readers really get to know Jake and I can’t believe it was ever in third person and not totally about him. The next great decision I made was based on another CP’s feedback and that was to change it into present instead of past tense. I know some people think first person present is a death sentence but it’s really the only way this story should be told.

Therefore, my advice is if a mentor, agent, CP, your BFF, anyone whose opinion you trust suggests you change the tense, get rid of a character’s POV, rewrite the whole damn thing, DO IT. At least think about it and try rewriting the first chapter if the thought of a complete rewrite is too daunting. That’s what I did with A SCARRED MIND. I started with Chapter One to see how I’d like it and from there, the story flowed. Be open to revision. Don’t take it personally. Anyone who offers feedback is trying to help you make your story the best possible version it can be. If they didn’t care, they’d say “Yeah, it’s perfect the way it is.” Sometimes, yes, it may be perfect but be wary of anyone who doesn’t suggest you change anything. I always say “Are you SURE?” and ask questions. Often, that turns into the person saying, “Well, yeah, I did wonder about that.”

Embrace revision. It may become your friend. Rewrite is like my best friend now. I’m grateful to Rewrite. For the first time, I am confident with this story. It takes a lot for me to admit that. I wasn’t nervous at all when I submitted to Pitch Wars. All the other times, I queried agents or entered contests, I instantly wanted to snap my submission back from the Internet.

Not this time. And this time, I made it as a Pitch Wars alternate. So don’t give up. Revise. Rewrite, if need be. Above all, write your story! DON’T GIVE UP. Best of luck to everyone, whether you made it into Pitch Wars or not. Go forth and write!

What’s Cooking with JM Bray?

Today, my buddy and CP JM Bray is here to tell us about cooking and how it relates to his awesome Shroud book series. Thanks for sharing with us, Mark! 🙂
PS – Read all the way to the bottom for our giveaway! Oooh prizes!
Here he is:
Thank you, Amy for having me by for the first stop on the Mending the Shroud Blog Tour! In case you don’t know, Amy is not only a talented writer, but a trusted critique partner of mine. Her talents helped make my novels shine. 

I love to cook. My relationship with the process started at my grandmother’s side about four years of age. She’d show me how to crack the eggs just so, let me cut biscuits from the sheet of rolled dough and, as I got older, even stir the white sausage gravy…a sacred and vital item to any of her breakfasts. About age nine I discovered The Galloping Gourmet and watched it religiously, by age 11 I’d cooked my first dinner completely on my own.

Today, I’m the primary cook in our home and constantly seek to expand

my reach and depth. Lately I’ve delved into Vietnamese spring rolls. They take a little prep, but are simple to make, very healthy, and delicious!

It is no surprise then that Vincent, the the main character in Mending the Shroud, also cooks. He’s a bit of an introvert and finds serenity in the familiar movements and balancing of tastes. Without giving too much away, you’ll see him cook up a pot of potato soup and yes, the recipe…with a couple of tweaks…is my grandmother’s. I’ve shared the recipe before, so I won’t now. instead Let’s try something spicy! Fresh salsa.

3 large tomatos chopped
1/3  – 1/2 onion (depending on how much you like)
1/3 cup of diced cilantro
1 – 2 cloves of diced garlic
1 jalapeno, fire roasted and mashed.
1/2 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp powdered coriander
couple drops of worcestershire sauce
pinch of sugar
juice of 1/2 – 1 lime.

Chop tomato and onion and toss in a bowl.

Using a vegi BBQ grate, or tongs, roast the jalapeno about 6in above a stove burner until blackened on all sides. Don’t be alarmed, it smells a lot like marijuana…don’t ask me how I know this. 

Chop, then in a mortar and pestle, sprinkle with salt and mash. If you don’t have one use a cutting board and the side of a butcher knife or flat side of a meat tenderizing mallet. This is important as it releases all the flavors in the plant cells. Mincing works…but not as well. 

Mix the jalapeno and the remaining ingredients the bowl with the tomato  and onion, being sure to stir it over well to get the flavors joined. The longer it sets, the better the flavor. It keeps a few days in the fridge or so I’m told…we eat it too fast to know for sure. Its a good idea to have an extra tomato and jalapeno in case you need to adjust the spicy heat one way or another.

For me, the art of cooking isn’t far from writing. Bringing different items together, mixing them just right, adding spice…but not too much…it’s a wonderful dance of creativity. What, in you life hearkens to writing? Do you find other creative outlets? Leave a comment and let us know be sure to click the other entry items too. Who knows, you might!

The second in the fresh, exciting romantic fantasy Shroud trilogy takes up where Tearing the Shroud leaves off – with the lives, the loves, and the mythical world beyond our own. 

After accepting bodily possession and saving the world, Vincent thought his life would get easier. He thought wrong.

The Shroud may not have torn wide open, but it did tear a little, and the retribution for the failure is coming hard, fast, and directly at Vincent and the people he loves.

His only hope is to once again accept possession from Coleman and do battle with the deformed, terrifying Kafla. But this time, he’s not alone. Jule, the woman he loves and hopes to marry, is possessed as well, and together the four of them become a formidable team.

Together they hope to stave off the invasion and take the fight to the Realm, but only a supreme sacrifice can mend the Shroud and save both their lives and their worlds.

Mending the Shroud Links

Goodreads – Amazon – AmazonAU – iBooks – B&N (coming soon!)

About the Author

J.M. Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. When not writing or working his “day job”, he loves to cook, play the guitar, and travel with his wife. Every chance he gets, he races an old Porsche named “Tuffy” at tracks in the southwest.

Connect with JM
Twitter: @jmbraybooks
Email: jmbray@jmbray.com
Website: www.jmbray.com
Blog: http://blog.jmbray.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JMBray.books
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jmbraybooks/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Writing Process Tag Tour

Thanks to one of my first CPs and a very good friend, JM Bray for tagging me in this tour. 🙂 Check out his blog here. I’m tagging my Off Beats friends: Abby Cavenaugh, Kelley Harvey and Lana Grayson.

So, let’s get this!

1) What am I working on?

Since 2010, I’ve been working on and off (mostly on) on my adult thriller called A SCARRED MIND. I’ve completely rewritten the story three times. Hopefully, the third time is the charm! I’m about three-fourths through with edits on what I hope is the final rewrite. I can safely say I’m more confident in the story than I’ve ever been and I can’t wait to find an agent, get published and have all you fine people read it! 🙂

It’s basically about a reluctant psychic who foresees murder and tries to stop it, inadvertently making himself the prime suspect in the investigation. Good stuff ensues.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think what sets ASM apart is that it’s a thriller about a “regular guy” who happens to have an extraordinary gift. He’s not a cop or an FBI agent or in any way involved in police investigations. He stumbles into this situation and it majorly screws up his life.

3) Why do I write what I do?

It’s as simple as writing the book I want to read. I couldn’t find anything like it out there so I decided to write it. 🙂

4) How does my writing process work?

I’ve found that I usually can’t write much during the daylight hours. I’m a night owl for sure. Usually, when I write, I am up until 1 or 2 a.m., writing in the dark with my laptop providing the only light. I also tend to get inspired by taking a shower. I guess water opens my mind. haha! When I do write during the day, it’s rare and I’m usually at the dining room table with a glass of water or cup of coffee. I almost always have music going.

Pitch Madness

I decided to participate in #PitMad today since I didn’t make the agent round of Pitch Madness. I’ve read it’s a good idea to post your full pitch and an excerpt of your book so here ya go! Feedback is welcome! But please be nice 🙂

Pitch: Jake usually hides his psychic ability but when visions of kidnapped women and murder begin to haunt him, his gift may be the only way to stop a brutal serial killer.

A little more than 250 words but here’s the excerpt:

When the guy with the scar slammed into me on the street, I didn’t even need to look at him to know he was a killer.

Our chests collided with a humph. I stumbled backward and would’ve fallen on my ass if he hadn’t grabbed my arm. As soon as his hand encircled my wrist, chills snaked up to my shoulder despite my leather jacket.

As if a movie screen projected across my vision, he leered over me, his lips curled into a snarl, eyes on fire with rage as he drew back with a knife. A woman’s scream echoed through my skull.

I jerked away with a gasp.

“Whoa,” he said with a chuckle. “Sorry, fella. You okay?”

I couldn’t find my voice. The man in front of me was like Dr. Jekyll to the Mr. Hyde I’d just seen. Although smiling, no warmth reached his eyes. Brown and flat, they brought to mind a frozen mud puddle. With dark hair and a goatee, dressed in a cardigan and jeans, he could’ve been a teacher or a theater director.

The scar, a thin inch-long slash under his right eye, would only be noticeable this close. It looked like a knife wound, but could’ve been from a car accident.

Nothing about his look would have said “killer” to anyone else. I can see beyond appearances.

His smile faltered. “Hey, are you okay?”

I tried to tell myself the psychic signal got mixed up with someone watching a TV crime drama. 

Forcing a smile, I said, “Fine. I’m fine.” I readjusted the messenger bag on my shoulder, the laptop computer inside bouncing off my hip. “Sorry I ran into you. I wasn’t watching where I was going. Lost in thought, you know.”

He looked me up and down, chewed on the inside of his cheek and shrugged. “No harm done.”

Not for you at least.

This writer’s constant companion – self-doubt

I’m sure there are many blog posts on this subject: self-doubt. For me, it’s almost always there, lurking at the back of my mind, telling me I can’t do this writing thing. I’ll think I’ve got it locked away but it just seems to keep popping up.

Most recently, it popped up when I realized I didn’t make the final round of Pitch Madness. It hit me hard. I”m not sure why since I did make the agent round in March and got agent requests. Maybe because that was pre-rewrite and the book is SOOOO much better now, partly in thanks to the rejections I eventually got from my submissions per the contest. That ghost in the closet (self-doubt) kept telling me “Hey, guess what? It’s still not good enough. You put all that work into completely rewriting the damn thing and it still sucks.” I really should’ve gone Hermoine on its ass.

But no, I listened to the evil voice of self-doubt and started to doubt that I had written a good book at all. I’m all

Luckily, I have AWESOME friends and CPs who were like “No, dude. We got this.”

These awesome people — you know who you are — reminded me that I did in fact write an awesome book. Just because I didn’t make it to the final round didn’t mean the book was crap. They all advised me to take some time away from the book and work on something else. So I did. I took the weekend off from all things A SCARRED MIND (that’s the title of my masterpiece, in case you didn’t know).

When I followed their advice, things started going much better. I realized how much love and support I have. I had fun with my daughter and watching some Supernatural. 😉 And on Sunday, I realized I did write an awesome book, dammit. I don’t remember what made me pull it up sometime after 11 p.m. Sunday night. I wanted to check something in the first chapter, I think. Anyway, once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.

Doesn’t sound like a crappy book, does it? Even though I know every detail of what’s going to happen, I found myself tensed up for my Jake and also laughing and crying at the appropriate times. I can only hope other readers will feel the same way. My CPs assured me that they did. I know it’s probably not perfect but it’s as perfect as it’s going to get. Reading it made me feel all

I read the whole manuscript in under 24 hours. Now if other readers do that I’ll be even more ecstatic! 😉 It’s okay if they don’t. Right now, I’m happy and confident in the book. I’m going to start querying it again once I can come up with a strong query. In short, I’m not giving up and for the time being, I have kicked self-doubt’s ass.

I still don’t believe Sirius is dead, by the way. Self-doubt will probably come back but I’ll just have to remember how I felt when I finished reading my book. And how I felt when I ran again this morning for the first time in weeks. Alive, free and kick-ass.

I also found out last night I made it to the last round of Pitch Madness, the one before the agent round. The reason I didn’t make the final round was subjective. The person with the yes or no vote didn’t like serial killer tales. I’m not a terrible writer! So much of this business is subjective and I need to keep that bastard self-doubt in the closet where he belongs. (Yes, everything leads back to that first Sam gif) The right agent/editor/reader will love Jake and A SCARRED MIND. And then we’re gonna be all

I just HAD to use that one. 😉 If you know me, you know the reasons why. Anyways, moral of the story: don’t give up. Don’t assume you suck if you didn’t make the final round of Pitch Madness or any other contest. Just keep writing!! 

And then someday very soon, you’ll feel like I do about my manuscript. Like it’s this good:

😀 Happy writing, writers! DON’T EVER GIVE UP!!!