Finding Writers & Friends

Finding other writers can be hard.

In real life, a lot tend to be introverts. (I’m talking to you, Cowering Writer, who sits in the corner at the coffee shop and doesn’t make eye contact with the barista who is obviously trying to get your attention.)

There’s this thing called Pitch Wars. I might have mentioned it. A time or two. Or more. A lot more. A metric million ton more.

Even if you’re not ready to enter Pitch Wars this year, you can still benefit from it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Community Is Key. It’s like my slogan. Or my catch phrase. Or an acronym CIK (that’s totally cik, brah).

One of the best things about Pitch Wars is the collective community of writers that pool together on Twitter. They play games (If your MC stole something from your house, what would it be?), and they connect (#PitchWars #PitchWarriors). They chat with mentors and with each other. They ask for advice, they share their stories.

You don’t have to enter, and you don’t have to tightrope your way into the community. Just dive in, ask a question or two on the hashtag, and learn about others and–in doing so–learn about yourself.

Community. Is. Key!*


*totally not a trademark but should be.


Pitch Wars #9: The Agent Round is HAPPENING!

SO. The Agent Round started today! For the next couple days, literary agents will peruse the 125 submissions. If they see something they want to read more of, they comment with a request and instructions. This can be anything from a query letter and sample chapters, to a synopsis, to a partial, to a full request!

Behind the scenes, all the Mentees are basically FREAKIN’ THE FREAK OUT. Which is to be expected, I think. I made the critical error of drinking a cup of (albeit delicious, but terrible timed) coffee. In addition the the bundle of frayed wires that is my nervous system, I’m contending with a lovely bout of jitter-fingers.

This. Basically this. (from

If you want to check out my entry, please do! BUT! Do not comment on that post, because commenting is strictly reserved for literary agents on the prowl (like foxes or dragons maybe). If you want to comment, I would suggest one of the following options:

  • Shouting from rooftops
  • Twitter
  • Here on this WordPress site
  • Shouting from basements*

*less effective than shouting from rooftops, but also less likely to get a noise complaint filed against you**

**though it might be more likely to get the cops called on you because there’s mysterious shouting coming from the basement, and you could be a serial killer or a kidnapped Antarctican Prince or something, and the neighbors are pretty nosy to begin with, so maybe stick with online-shouting

While you’re on Brenda Drake’s site, check out the submissions from other authors of YA, MG, and NA/A! Stalk some folks on Twitter and wish everyone good luck!

Here’s the whole list of submissions if you want to take a gander! All the mentors worked very hard on their manuscripts for two months! APPLAUSE FOR THEM ALL! (Though I think sedatives or chocolate are probably higher on their Wish Lists right now.)

Can we all take a moment to appreciate the beauty of chocolate? (from

NaNoWriMo 2015 #1— An Experiment in Insanity

I’ve done NaNoWriMo before—successfully sometimes, dread-failure others. NaNoWriMo is the best way to go insane: on a schedule, in a large group, and with no regard for the safety of others.

I tend to warn people when it’s coming.

“Watch out, loved ones. I’m going to go crazy for exactly one month. And then also more than that.”

“You know how I’m an adult, and I’m decently good at shopping, bill-paying, getting to bed/work on time, and general friendliness? The entire month of November will be an anomaly in that system.”

“You’ve reached Rebecca McLaughlin. I’m unavailable to talk right now, so leave a message, or better yet check back with me two fortnights after the first frost as long as the frost happens on November 1st… so basically come back to me in December, but also maybe Thanksgiving because that’ll be where I get the fuel to power through the remaining week of November: the power of left-overs. THANKSBYE–beeeep.”

It doesn’t matter that I’ve done it for years. Last year, I had a spontaneous Book Idea seven days before November. I sketched and drafted like a maniac, flinging post-its and whiteboard markers around the room like a Tasmanian devil. Then I sat down and started writing THE NAMELESS QUEEN.

But because I simply cannot be contained to a single month, it took until mid-February for me to finish the colossal 150k rough draft. I chopped it down to 127k, and got accepted as a Mentee by Laura Salters The Fiercely Fantastic as a part of the fantastic Pitch Wars contest.

Pitch Wars lasted for 2 months, September and October, and I polished it from 127k to a glimmerful (yes, that’s the word I’ve chosen) and palatable 105k. Of course, that’s in addition to rewriting huge chunks, adding new chunks, moving characters like chairs in a game of Let’s Move The Chairs Because Logic (And Because We Can).

The Agent Round (*trumpet sounds*) begins tomorrow, November 3rd. That marks the official end of Pitch Wars.

And the trumpets sounded!

You might have noticed that in a post about NaNoWriMo, I’ve talked a lot about Pitch Wars. That’s because despite having just spent an entire two months in a whirlwind of huge revisions and hard work, I’m diving into NaNo like it’s my job. Which it isn’t, because I have a proper day job that’s also competing for these few wintry daylight hours.

I’m diving into NaNo like a crazy person. A CRAZY person.

Remember how this is an experiment of insanity? Yep. It is. I could snap at any moment. Like a twig under the foot of a creepy forest serial killer.

See? I just compared myself to a twig. And my comparison involved a serial killer.

You should probably run away. Or at the very least, hide all the coffee.

Eternal THIS would be my heaven.

So. Recap. I’m jumping into NaNoWriMo. Join me, if you’re on the edge of insanity and want a gentle push. And by gentle push, I mean I’m going to grab you by the hand, shout like a maniac, and pull you with me as I leap out into the void of NaNo Craziness. FUN RIIIIGHT? *as we descend into the insanity pit of November, with only the scent of turkey and glimmerfulness of snow to lure us out.

Take my hand, won’t you?

Pitch Wars Statistics (The Authors, The Books, The EXPLOSIONS)

  • If you don’t know what Pitch Wars is, read this.
  • If you didn’t read the Guest Post I did on Brenda Drake’s blog, it covers the basic statistics of diversity, word count, age, sexuality, POV, and other fun stats about the Mentee books.
  • If you haven’t read Harry Potter yet, I can’t help you, except maybe to direct you to the nearest bookstore and/or sanitarium.

THIS PAGE (compared to the post on Brenda’s blog) talks about EVEN MORE STATISTICS! AHH! I can sense your excitement. It’s like lemons and pine needles. (Also makes a good tea.)

There are three sections of statistics in this beautiful blog post.

  1. The Authors
    • Here you’ll find gems like how many books we’ve written before Pitch Wars, and our EMOTIONAL STATES during the editing/revision process.
  2. The Books
    • Here you’ll get a big ball of book stats like  if there are EXPLOSIONS, and how long it took us to write our PW manuscripts.
  3. Super Fun Times
    • Here you’ll learn about taxes and 3rd derivatives and integrals…. JUST KIDDING. You’ll learn about which HOGWARTS HOUSE we got sorted into, what our favorite colors are, and how we rank Pitch Wars on a 1-10 Insanity Scale.

The Authors




The Books



Super Fun Times





When You Go Crazy (Pitch Wars #8)

So what happens when you’ve been working crazily on a manuscript for nearly two months straight with a consistent low level coffee buzz surging through your veins?

Weird things. VERY WEIRD THINGS.

1. You start narrating your life, adding dialogue tags after people talk.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Not much… she said, completely ignoring his new haircut.”

“You noticed my haircut? It’s nice, right?”

“Didn’t you hear the dialogue tag? I’m ignoring you. she said with a fiercely expressionless face.”

“But you’re smiling.”

“NO I’M NOT. OBEY THE DIALOGUE TAGS, she whispered.”

2. Your sister wakes you up to say goodnight (because you crashed at 8pm on a Saturday like a BOSS OF PRODUCTIVITY).

Sister hugs me whilst I am on the dangly edge of dreamy-land.

“Night,” she says.

I vaguely return the hug and say, “Go and build a hut in the frigid waters of the north.”

Sister says nothing. Shrugs. Goes to sleep.

Not by the frigid waters of the north. IN the frigid waters of the north. Confusion? Yes.

3. You’re brain doesn’t function at optimum capacity. But it’s on high alert at the same time. Sort of?

*hears strange sound from car*

*gets off at nearest exit*

*intends on pulling into a gas station, but there are no gas stations*

*continues driving, thinking yeah, i’ll just drive parallel to the freeway at a slower speed*

*drives for five miles down strange farm-road*

*glances out the window*

*sees Venus, Saturn, and Mars*

*realizes that Venus, Saturn, and Mars are in the Eastern sky*


*turns on GPS which tells me to continue for 8 miles before finding a turn-around*


*clock displays I should be at work right now*


*glares at street, heading north for 15 miles until I get back on the freeway a half hour later and only TEN MILES CLOSER TO WORK THAN WHEN I STARTED*

*walks into work 25 minutes late*

I need coffee, guys. Cofffeeeee.

Writing Community: Phone a Friend (Pitch Wars #7)

The Mentees in 2015 Pitch Wars contest all chat and complain and help each other.

The resources we’ve built in our little community are incredibly helpful, and I want to make sure YOU know how to build these resources.

Here’s Resource #2:

Phone a Friend List

What is it?

A list of Areas of Expertise. For most, writing isn’t your day job. It’s your passion, it’s your addiction, it’s your love, but it isn’t your bill-payer. This comes in handy when you want to draw from the real world to fuel your characters.

Why is it important?

Researching is key to creating a realistic and vivid world. Whether that means researching herbal wound treatments for a medieval fantasy or digging into the nit-grit of office politics, someone out there has the details you need. Gathering these resources and knowing who to talk to can make a huge difference! Sometimes it’s as simple as asking Twitter, and sometimes you want to have a proper chat.

How do YOU do this?

The best part about this is that you don’t need to make a million Writer Friends. Writer Friends are awesome, but this Phone a Friend list can extend to anyone who’s willing to chat. Make a list (or ask your friends, family, CPs, beta readers, online buddies) of a person and their areas of expertise. That way, when you need some information, you have your own database (or share one with your Writer Friends) filled with people and what they’re willing to share! Bonus: you can go to these people and ask your questions before you start trudging through Google results!

Don’t freak out if you don’t think you have any expertise. Because you do!

It can be as simple as having a name and list, such as:

Joe Shmoe, available to chat about:

  • Anything calculus
  • Data sheets
  • Boring office politics (including fighting over the thermostat and coffee maker)
  • Three brothers, one sister
  • Grew up heavily catholic, familiar with church-y things
  • I make my own tea
  • Studied historical weaponry in college, familiar with some long-range weapons

Josephine Shmosephine, expert-ish in:

  • Chem major
  • Low income family as a wee child
  • lived in four different countries since college (Ireland, Egypt, Australia, and Canada)
  • Raised by two dads
  • Camp counselor in summers
  • Work as a chem tech at a big company, familiar with lab equipment

Writing Community: Revisions (Pitch Wars #6)

For those of you either participating in this year’s Pitch Wars contest or those who are following along with the same rigorous attitude, you might know that all the mentees (the writers who submitted and got accepted) are conspiring together. Well, not really. What’s happening is we chat and complain and help each other.

The resources we’ve built in our little community are like strings and cans extending between our dark little writing caves. But that doesn’t mean YOU can’t build these resources. I want to post about the various resources we use.

Here’s the first:

Revision Thread

What is it?

This is basically where we go to comment on our progress. Did we write something new? Delete a chunk of scenes? Come up with a great one-liner? Narrow the villain’s motivation?

As an example, in our mentees Revisions Thread, you often see people say things like: “I have two weeks to remove two characters and add a POV while also upping the tension and stakes. Send wine. Or coffee. Or both.”

Why is it important?

This might sound like a bragging thread, but it’s not. It’s a checkpoint. Taking note of the things you’ve changed is important. It lets you track your progress, remind yourself that even if you subtracted a thousand words, it still counts as writing and revising. Revision doesn’t have an inclined word count graph like you see in NaNoWriMo. Sometimes, removing words, deleting characters, honing the language to a polish-y glimmer, is TOUGH and HARD WORK and totally counts as writing.

How do YOU do this?

You don’t need a Facebook club, and you don’t need a telethon. What you need is at least one other person (a Critique Partner or a group, etc.) to commiserate with. And by commiserate, I mean complain about words and pat each other on the back for making a tough change. Talk about your changes. Talk about what frightens you about them. (Like, a two week deadline, for instance.) Help each other out—and maybe send wine and coffee.