Pitch Wars: The Finale.

Hello Everyone,

I know this is going to come as a huge surprise to you all, but I didn’t get into #PitchWars. You can commence self-flagellation now (I’m kidding). I knew after the first weekend passed I wasn’t getting in. Not a single request came my way after submitting to six mentors (yes, I donated).

Do I regret it? Not at all. I met some amazing people and may find a critique partner eventually. Networking is always a good thing.

Did I think I actually stood a chance of getting a mentor with a fat, mouthy, 44 year-old heroine? Nope, but it didn’t hurt to have others take a look at my query and first chapter. In fact, it was painless.

Does it mean your writing sucks? Probably. I will definitely be taking a hard look at my manuscript and considering my options. I will self-publish after I take the time to evaluate it and polish yet again.

Will you do it next year? Meh, I’m kind of on the fence about that right now. On the one hand, if I have a book that I think is begging for an agent I will consider it. On the other hand, I don’t know if my style of writing is going to “speak” to anyone. Let’s be brutally honest, that’s what it’s all about. If your writing, story, and even your brand don’t speak to an agent then you’re going nowhere fast the same can be said of mentors.

Are you sure? No, but I don’t have to be sure about anything…ever. What I do know is that I loved the experience and don’t regret it in the least. It was disheartening to not get a single request for more, but I can handle that.

V. L. Cooke

P. S. I hedged my bets beforehand and bought a professional cover for Golden Opportunity (told you I’m a realist). I will be doing a cover reveal within the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

 

Where are the real women in paranormal fiction?

Where are the real women in paranormal fiction?

First, I want to make it clear that anything I write in this post is my opinion and my opinion alone. I am an author, but first and foremost, I am a reader. So, could someone please explain to me why 95% of the female protagonists in paranormal fiction seem to stop aging at 35? Now before you jump on me, I am aware of older female protagonists in mysteries, and occasionally a romance or thriller, there’s even a genre called matron lit. I’m pushing fifty, but I love urban fantasy and paranormal fiction, I want a female protagonist who is someone I can relate to, someone closer to my own age and build.

After years of reading books I love, I realized there was an under representation of strong, yet flawed, 40-something, female protagonists. Just because a woman is over 40, or may not be a size two it doesn’t mean she has nothing to offer to the paranormal fiction arena. When did it become okay for the male of the species to get better with age, but women are supposed to just act like life has ended once they’ve married and had kids? What about the women who whether by choice, or not, have no children? What is wrong with the idea that a woman can continue to be a well-rounded role model for all women long after the mainstream media decides she needs to be put out to pasture?

THE NEW YOUThis is where I came up with my goal of creating a character that was what I, as an over 40, divorced, childless, female wanted to see. A woman who could kick ass and not be perfect. Yes, she’s prone to melodrama, foul-language, and an extreme addiction to chocolate, but she’s real. She’s modeled after several women in my own life all of whom are amazing and have a lot to offer the world.

One of the things that I focus on in my book is the forgotten woman. The woman who was tossed out like trash because her partner decided he wanted a new, younger, fertile model. Yes, my MC wallowed in self-pity, binged on chocolate, and endless marathons of Supernatural, but when it counted she was an active, strong, kick ass woman. A woman who likes to break the fourth wall in her narrative, loves cheesy, nerdy jokes, and has no problem ogling a hot guy (pun intended). She’ll fight for the collection of strays she brought into her life and home. The family she chooses to create to make up for the lack of a natural family.

In fact, two of my major characters are 40-something women who are not restricted to quietly hiding in the shadows or hovering over their children’s lives. Neither of them are antagonists, they are strong women who have lived life, yet still have a lot to offer. Yes, one of them is a witch and the other is her not-quite human best friend, but they are the characters I want to see and those I believe a lot of women would like to see as well. The story isn’t about my protagonist, or her best friend, finding a man at this stage of their lives, although that may happen at some point. This is about recognizing your worth as a citizen of the world, about realizing the mistakes of our past create the person we are today. Accepting our flaws and trying to move beyond them. Plus, if you can throw a little humor, eye candy marathons, and some good chocolate into the mix isn’t that what we all want? Yes, some women want the romance to end all romances in their lives, there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are women who are happier being single, living out their dreams, instead of wishing for things to be different. Women who believe size is just a number, that you can be sexy and fat (there’s that dreaded three letter word) at the same time. Women who know that being a true bad ass, strong woman is knowing when to accept help and when to go it alone. Do you agree? I would love to get others’ opinions on this subject.

V. L. Cooke

Pitch Wars: Some thoughts.

Pitch Wars: Some thoughts.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I planned to self-publish. In fact, I probably will self-publish, but that’s another story. This story is about an event called Pitch Wars. I highly recommend this event, not for the chance to pitch agents or get much needed mentoring (although that’s awesome), but for the chance to meet some new people via Twitter, the blog hop, and more.

My sister convinced me to enter a completed manuscript, because at the worst it would only delay my self-publication, and the potential rewards were worth it. A 2 month mentoring with a published author and the chance to pitch to agents is a big deal, especially if you’ve ever sent a cold query to an agent before and been ignored. Did I think I stood a chance? I felt my manuscript may be a little too quirky for some, and since there were very few Urban Fantasy mentors in the Adult classification my chances were slim to none (okay 4% when I did the math, but you get my point).

Like many people, on the final day I sat glued to tweet deck watching the various hashtags. Why? I found some amazing people in their community and I loved every second of it. I’ve never been a great twitterer (tweeter, twatter, twitterphile, WTF?) but I was having fun. These people are smart, funny, generous, and truly amazing. I am not saying this about just the mentors, but the potential mentees as well. This went on until about 72 hours after the deadline closed. Then something strange happened, and this is what I want to address in this post.

It started off slowly, a twitter post about checking their inbox looking for a request for more from a potential mentor (realize that the results aren’t announced until August 25). There were a few cute gifs. Then day three and four happened, people started asking if they should cry about not receiving requests, or if all of the mentors had made their requests, it was a little annoying, but not bad. The #PWTeaser thread was hilarious, a lot of mentors made comments about what they loved and what they didn’t. Even my sister started watching it to see if there was anything that could potentially be my manuscript, but since my potential mentors have been very quiet there was no love for us. Did I give up? No. What was there to give up on? For me, there was nothing to lose. If they make a request that would be awesome (they haven’t as of today). If they don’t, then I know I need to do some work. Either way it’s a win/win situation for me. So why are all these whiners announcing to the world in 144 characters or less about how sad they are? It makes me want to grab them by the shoulders and shake some sense into them.

Crybaby

Yes, you haven’t received a request, boo fricking hoo. Pull up your big boy/big girl pants and get the fuck over it. It’s been less than 5 days. There are around 135 potential mentors in MG/YA/NA/Adult categories combined and there were 1977 entries. That’s a metric ass load of reading and they can each only choose one mentee. Give them a flipping chance! These people have families, jobs, and other responsibilities! Everything they do is voluntary, they receive nothing from doing this. You are not the center of their particular reality, neither is your book. Take a Xanax, drink some alcohol, take a bubble bath, and do what we’ve all told others to do a million times. MOVE ON TO YOUR NEXT WIP AND FORGET ABOUT THIS ONE! At least for a while. You won’t end up with an ulcer from the stress and you might find the whole process is a lot more fun than you think. This is an amazing opportunity to meet new people and network, use it! The odds are against you being selected, so connect with the other non-lucky entrants like me. You could make a new friend, get a critique partner, or more.

V. L. Cooke

UPDATE AUGUST 13: WTF Potential mentees?! I freely admit I have no life and have enjoyed watching the various #PitchWars threads. Now, people who have not received requests are blaming it on a feminine conspiracy in the literary world and calling out mentors for being anti-male? Paranoid much? Maybe your book just needs too much work right now. Take this as a learning experience and get better. /FacePalm. You’re making all writers look bad when you put this type of behavior out in the public for everyone to see.