Pitch Wars Anniversary

Exactly a year ago, I received the two requests from Pitch Wars that would change my life.

(I picked this gif specifically because Skylla would love it)

First of all, I got the request from Lynnette and Destiny, who ended up being my Pitch Wars mentors. I learned so much thanks to them. My writing is 100x better than it was before I met them. I’ll forever be grateful that they took a chance on me even though my book needed major rewrites to make it marketable (I’m actually planning a different post to go more in-depth into this for the anniversary of them asking me what I thought about those changes 🙂 ).

Seriously, they are incredible writers and humans. I don’t know where I’d be in my publishing journey without them.

That same day one year ago, I got my second and final request to see the full. That mentor ultimately went with another mentee, but she sent me such a nice email once the competition started about how much she loved my book and was rooting for it. That email came at just the right time, when I was feeling so stressed and like maybe I’d bit off more than I could chew. And then, during the agent round, when this mentor saw that her agent (Jess, my now-agent!) had requested my book, she told Jess to get excited, because she was going to love my book.I’m so lucky to have met the people I’ve met so far on my publishing journey, and so many of them were because of Pitch Wars. I can’t believe it’s already been a year!

Best of luck to those of you anxiously waiting to hear from mentors. There’s still so much time to get requests, and there are so many people in the community that are rooting for you, even when you don’t realize it. I still stalk the Pitch Wars hashtag, and I’m cheering you guys on big time! I can’t wait to see all of your success stories, whether Pitch Wars is the thing that helps you get there, or if something else gets your books on shelves. Keep working, keep helping people and making friends, and we’ll all get there. ❤



Sometimes, writing is magic.

Sometimes the words pour out, or you come up with the perfect description and you think THIS IS IT I AM DEFINITELY A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL WRITER.

And sometimes you have to do line edits.

And you have to examine every word and decide if it matters or if it needs to be trashed. And you don’t get to admire the magical things you’ve written. You get to brutally kill all your darlings with your (metaphorical) red pen. You get to think about how you repeatedly misspelled your character’s name and the love interest’s eye color is different every time he’s on the page and all your descriptions use adverbs and there are 1000 prepositions in a 2000 word chapter and why did you think you could be a writer???

So yeah. I spent an hour line editing one chapter tonight. And yeah, it sucked a little bit. But my words are so pretty now, and I can confidently say they’re the best I can make them on my own. And knowing I did it even though sometimes I wasn’t sure I could, that is magic.

Sometimes writing is magic. But most of the time, it’s hard work.



P.S. if you struggle with line edits, I’d HIGHLY recommend ProWritingAid. I got a free trial of it back when I was a Pitch Wars mentee, and loved it so much that I bought it when the trial expired. It’s relatively inexpensive, and has changed my line editing life.

One Year

A lot changes in a year. Cliche, I know. BUT REALLY.

While I was going through my office today, I found an old journal. The first page was from slightly over one year ago, and it was just a list of things I was afraid of. I remember feeling completely paralyzed by these things, so much so that even though I’d felt them for a long time, I’d never written them down before because I didn’t want anyone to find them and know.

Today I wanted to share the list, because even though it’s personal and weird to talk about being vulnerable/afraid, it’s important. Part of being human is sharing experiences. Even when it feels lonely, there’s always someone else feeling similar things, and if we don’t talk about it, that solitary feeling will never go away.

I also wanted to share it because my list of fears this year is so different. Things do get better.

So many cliches in one blog post. Sorry, not sorry. It’s all true.

Things I was afraid of in 2016:

  • disappointing people
  • never getting an agent or a book deal
    • it being my own fault because I didn’t work hard enough
  • spiders, and the dark (SPIDERS IN THE DARK)
  • wanting to leave the (VERY tight knit) religious community I was raised in
    • that I’d be wrong and go to hell, that my relationship with my friends/family wouldn’t be the same, that loved ones would look at or treat me differently… you name the religious-motivated fear, I was probably feeling it.
  • the feeling that I was lying about an integral part of myself
  • that depression would kill me
  • that some small part of me would always wish I had someone else’s life

Things I am afraid of in 2017:

  • never getting a book deal
    • it being my own fault because I didn’t work hard enough (some things never change 🙂 )
  • Spiders (while drafting this, there was a spider in the corner of my office, and we had a tentative peace treaty…but I left the room for one second AND NOW IT’S GONE and my anxiety knows no bounds. IS IT UNDER MY CHAIR? IS IT IN THE CORNER OF MY DESK WHERE I REST MY FEET? IS IT BEHIND ME???)
  • general, non-threatening existential dread

I didn’t talk about so many things last year, in part because it felt wrong — like I’d be disrespecting my friends or family, that people would roll their eyes at my so-called problems and tell me to get over it, or that it was too dark/serious/not bookish enough for this platform.

I don’t know what changed. Maybe enough time has passed that it doesn’t feel so much like I’m posting a photo of my open wound on the internet and saying PLEASE LOVE ME AND TELL ME EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT.  But maybe the wound would’ve healed faster if I’d done this sooner. I don’t know.

I do know that last year was one of the hardest, and eventually best, years of my life. I learned to let go of things that are bad for me and cling to things that are good for me. I learned to value my own feelings as much as I value others’ and I learned how to be brave. I deepened my relationships with the incredible people in my life.

Fears are hard. But it’s okay to talk about them. I think it’s one of the only ways to get through them. And if you don’t think you’ve got someplace to do that, my inbox is always open. ❤

Announcement Time!

If you follow me on any of my other social media accounts you’ve probably heard the news, but… I HAVE AN AGENT! My books and I are now represented by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

It’s been four years since I started writing with publication in mind and two years since I started querying, so I’m THRILLED to announce this! I posted a video below that gives alllll the details of my agent-finding journey, including clips that I recorded throughout the querying process.

If you’re one of my real-life friends or family (hi guys!), I’ve got a section below the video all about what an agent is, why I wanted one, and what this means for my career now that I have one. 🙂 If you want, you can use these links to jump to any one of those questions now:

And to both my IRL friends/family and my online writing friends, THANK YOU SO MUCH. I couldn’t have gotten to this point without any of you. Thank you for the google hangouts, for the beta reads, for the comments on my WordNerds videos and for the general encouragement. A special shout out to my Pitch Wars mentors, Lynnette Labelle and Destiny Cole, who helped me tear apart my novel and make it 10,000 times better than I ever imagined it could be. Special thanks also go out to Brenda Drake and her helpers, for putting together Pitch Wars. It’s a life changing contest! ❤

What’s a literary agent, and why did you want one?

Agents have connections to editors at major publishing houses, and also major publishing houses don’t accept unagented submissions. Additionally, agents negotiate contracts for authors, and help make sure that our work isn’t taken advantage of. Some agents are editorial (like mine!) which means that they’ll help edit your books to make them as strong as they possibly can be before sending them to editors for consideration. Agents make money by getting a commission from sales of their clients’ books. So it’s a partnership — if my book sells and does well, then we’re both successful!

For more info about why literary agents are great, check out this post.

How do you get a literary agent?

The process of finding an agent is called querying. Basically I wrote a cover letter for my finished project, something that looks a lot like the blurbs you find on the back cover of a book. Then I sent that — as well as the first five or ten pages, depending on agency guidelines — to individual agents who I thought might be interested. I researched what kinds of stories agents were looking for though websites like Manuscript Wishlist, Publisher’s Marketplace, and Twitter. If an agent was interested in reading more, they asked for either a part of the book or the full manuscript.

There are also contests out there that can assist in finding an agent. I’ve been in two: Pitch Madness and Pitch Wars. It was through Pitch Wars that I found my agent — she commented on my entry, requested the full book, and the rest is history!

For more info about the querying process, check out this page.

So when can I buy your book?

HA. Ha. *sobs into coffee mug*

Really though, not yet. My agent and I will go on submission early next year. Jessica will basically query my book to editors, and if an editor is interested, then they’ll bring the book before an acquisitions team. The acquisitions team determines if my book would be good for the market and would fit well into their pre-existing release lineup. If everyone agrees it’s a good deal, then they make an offer. Once I get a book deal, it’ll be another year and a half to two years before my book is on shelves.

For more details about how getting a book deal works once you have an agent, check out this post.

There’s no guarantee that my book will sell. That’s why it’s important to always be working on the next project. If this one doesn’t sell, then my agent and I will have another book to send on sub.

It’s a slow-moving, competitive process, but it’s the best job in the world, so I can’t complain too much. 🙂 I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store!


Sooo, I love Harry Potter World. Like, a lot. That’s probably not a surprise to you, though, right? 😉

In honor of the release of The Cursed Child, for my WordNerds video today I shared my adaptations of two of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s best (alcohol free!) drinks: Otter’s Fizzy Orange Drink, and frozen butterbeer.

While the butterbeer was adapted from a recipe found elsewhere (link below, with the recipe), the Otter’s Fizzy Orange Drink didn’t seem to have any adaptations anywhere! So Jared and I took matters into our own hands–and probably only looked a little crazy while we wandered around Wal-Mart muttering things like, “SUNNY D!”… “Nutmeg? No, CLOVES!”… “MUGGLES!”

But we did it! So here are the recipes for our two favorite Harry Potter World drinks. Below is the video,  and beneath that are both recipes in full.

(Jump to Otter’s Fizzy Orange Drink. Or jump to Frozen Butterbeer.)

Otter’s Fizzy Orange Drink

This is a tangy, orange-y drink that mixes perfectly with its brown sugar and cinnamon rim. It seems to be a favorite for almost anyone who goes to HP World, and can only be found in the Leaky Cauldron restaurant in Diagon Alley.

Serves: 2-3

  • 2 cups of Sunny Delight (orange drink)
  • 1 can ginger ale
  • 1 pinch of cloves
  • 4 drops of vanilla
  • 2-3 glasses with cinnamon and sugar-dipped rims*

Mix all four ingredients in a bowl (preferably one that will be easy to pour from–i.e. one with a handle).  Use a funnel to pour your drink into cups with cinnamon and sugar-dipped rims. Enjoy! Then use all of your sugar-induced energy to defeat the Dark Lord.


  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnnamon

(To feel extra fancy, freeze your glasses for 15 minutes prior to dipping the rims.)

In one shallow bowl, mix the water and corn syrup. In a separate shallow bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon. Dip glass into the corn syrup mixture, making sure to get the entire rim wet. Let any large drops drip off. Then, dip the rim into the brown sugar mixture and coat thoroughly.


Frozen Butterbeer

Butterbeer is one of the ultimate comfort foods for Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and is a staple of any Harry Potter World visit. It can be bought pretty much anywhere in the park. So enjoy this super-sweet, butterscotch-y drink when Umbridge has got you down. 🙂

(adapted from Enchantingly Sweet‘s recipe)

Serves 2-4.

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar mixture*
  • 1/4 cup cream soda
  • 1 ice cube tray of frozen cream soda
  • Butterscotch Whipped Cream, to taste**


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

In a skillet on medium heat, boil brown sugar and water until it begins to bubble. Stir constantly. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. Allow the mixture to cool completely before adding to the frozen butterbeer recipe.


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon butterscotch ice cream topping

Mix whipping cream and butterscotch topping. Then, using a mixer, blend until the mixture turns fluffy and light, around 3-5 minutes. For a sweeter whipped cream, use 2 tablespoons of butterscotch ice cream topping (though I find that the drink itself is so sweet that the whipped cream doesn’t need any more sweetening).

(jump to top)


Long time no blog! This week on the WordNerds channel, I talked about the spinal tap method of plot analysis. Beth Revis created it and provided awesome details and charts to go along with it in her book, PAPER HEARTS: SOME THOUGHTS ON WRITING.

I love this method, though I do tweak it a super tiny bit to make it work for my process. You can see me talk about it in today’s video:

Like I mentioned in the vlog, I created my own chart to match the small changes that I make (and because I’ve been taking an Illustrator class and now I just want to design ALL THE THINGS). So below are those images, and if you click on them you can make them full size and save/print them however you want. 🙂

Spinal-Tap-Chart-PRINT-VERSIONSpinal-Tap-INSTRUCTIONS-FOR-WEBJust remember, if you decide to share them somewhere, please make sure to leave the attributions on the bottom/side so that people know where it came from!

The WordNerds are looking for a new human* for our channel!

*talking dogs and sentient plants will also be considered

Join the WordNerds Banner

I am seriously so excited about this. We are holding auditions right now for a seventh member of the WordNerds guys!

It’s also a little nerve wracking–I’m sure those of you auditioning are giving me the stink eye right now, but it’s true! It feels a little weird to me because the wordNerds are so close and I know we are going to become besties with whoever the new vlogger is…so like you should totally audition to be our future bestie? WEIRD RIGHT?

There are already so many great videos and it’s only been one week. I WANT THEM ALL TO BE MY BESTIE. We received eight auditions in the first week, and I’m still anxiously awaiting auditions from those people in the comments who said they, too, are auditioning but haven’t sent us anything yet. 🙂 Like I said in yesterday’s live chat, if you commented that you are considering auditioning, I have already YouTube and/or Twitter stalked you. So basically it has to happen now, yeah?

If you want to audition, you totally should! More info on how to do so can be found in this video.


As I write this, the insanity that is Pitch Madness is going on, which means that we are officially at the one year anniversary of my novel being introduced to the querying world. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long!

Unfortunately, Pitch Madness is where my novel has seen most of its success so far (you can read about the initial Pitch Madness experience here).  Aside from that, it’s been a lot of rejections and even more waiting and hearing nothing. It was weird, because I wasn’t expecting to not hear back from some agents who had requested pages or the full MS from me–but it happens! And it happened a decent amount, even with nudging at appropriate times. I don’t blame the agents or anything; I interned at an agency, I know how crazy it is and how many MSs they request. But I didn’t know at the time that this was a possibility, and so it was pretty crushing for a while.

I am super grateful for the querying experience, though. I look back at some of my first WordNerds videos, where I was desperate to be ready for the querying phase and just not there yet. Now I’m desperate to be agented but just not there yet. I’m sure once I’m through this phase I’ll look back at this part with some semblance of fondness as I desperately try to get a book deal (but not the kind of fondness that makes you want to go back to that time, haha).

I’m working on one final round of revisions based on some rejection feedback I got from a couple different agents, and then I’m going to blast out a final round of queries. And if it doesn’t garner any interest then, it’s okay because I’ll already have another manuscript ready to send out! I’m starting revisions on that project soon and I can’t wait. It’s another book that I love so no matter what happens, I’m excited for the future!

Froback Friday

Back before I got hip and with it, I thought #fbf stood for Froback Friday, and if we’re being real, I still kind of like that better than Flashback Friday.

ANYWAY. In honor of #fbf (yes, it’s really late, but I still count it as Friday since I haven’t gone to sleep yet!), here’s one of my favorite videos from deep in the WordNerds vaults.

MAN, I love those prompts. And really, I should be writing right now and I am using my blog (and vlog) to procrastinate. Way to shame me, Past Me.

In case you, too are procrastinating right now… Go! Write! You are awesome and talented and the best writer of evarrrr!

Getting Back Into an Old Character’s Voice

It’s always a good idea to give yourself space in between finishing a draft and beginning revisions. That way when you get started, you can look at it with completely fresh eyes and notice problems you might otherwise gloss over because you’re in the end-of-draft-honeymoon-phase. For lots of people that kind of wait is as little as a few days or a week. Because it’s not infrequently that I take a few days off in the actual drafting phase, I tend to take a month or two away from an MS before tackling revisions.

I’m doing some pretty drastic revisions on the novel that I’m querying based on feedback I got from some agents, and it’s been a long time since I seriously looked at this book. Probably five or six months.

It can be hard to get back into the mindset of a character that you’ve been distanced from. Here’s a few things that I’m doing to help, though. Maybe they’ll work for you, too!

  1. Read through the manuscript–even if you just skim it, it’s amazing how much this part alone can help. Even though a lot of times revisions can be daunting, I always leave a read through feeling stoked to get started, because I notice the parts that I really loved about the book. My favorite lines, plot points, and characters fuel me and help me get back into that mindset.
  2. Listen to music you listened to while drafting–this can trigger the same emotions you were feeling when you wrote the book the first time around.
  3. Check out any idea boards you made for the book–I love making a pinterest board for my stories. Even though I don’t fancast my characters so much anymore, the images I pin always get me in a certain mood (usually dark and creepy, or in the case of this MS dark and creepy and colorful).
  4. Research agents you could send your MS to–this one you have to be careful with, because it can be a time suck and make you reeeeeally want to send out your book before it is ready. But having a list of agents who I know are looking for work like mine is so encouraging. It makes me want to get the work done so that I can send out more queries! And that enthusiasm bleeds over to the book itself, resulting in smoother returns to the main character’s voice.
    • Just don’t send out any queries until you are completely finished with revisions! IT IS A TERRIBLE IDEA TO SEND OUT QUERIES BEFORE YOU ARE DONE. Agents can tell. When I read for a literary agency, it was super obvious when people’s novels had been sent out earlier than they should have been. They read like they’re stitched together with duct tape, rather than sewn so cleanly that you can’t see the stitching. And that sucks, because if you send your book too soon, you’ve officially thrown away your shot with those agents. You can’t query them again!

What do you do to get back into the voice of your past characters?