Practicing Revisions

Revision is the hardest thing to practice because it’s at the end of the writing road, which is a very long road on its own.

From A Message to the Incoming Pitch Wars Mentees via To The Shelves blog.


Life & Book Updates — June 2016

Hey there! It’s May (June? It’s June? Wow, I forgot what month it is. Month #6). Here’s a random list of the things I’ve done over the past year:

  • Got accepted into Pitch Wars, and sort of got second place (in that there were no places, but I had the second-highest number of requests from agents).
  • Signed with literary agent extraordinaire, Pete J. Knapp, at New Leaf Literary & Media Inc.
  • Went on submission prompty thereafter, and sold North American rights for my debut novel, THE NAMELESS QUEEN, to Phoebe Yeh at Crown Publishing of Penguin Random House.
  • Spent 6 months waiting for the contract to be finalized so we could announce the deal.
  • Got an edit letter from my editor (can I scream and fall over yet?)
  • Announced the deal on Publisher’s Marketplace! (*screams and falls over*)
  • Got interviewed for my own job (so I can get through the red tape and become a permanent employee)
  • Finally got the internet at my apartment after a year and half without it.
  • Launched the Ask Authors blog on Tumblr (where you can ask questions to over 100 writers!) (@AskAuthors)
  • Rebuilt the transmission on Ninja Car for almost what it cost to buy it in the first place.
  • Systematically broke my laptop through a series of accidents that were totally not my fault (at least one of them was my fault).
  • Have not yet purchased a new laptop.
  • Saw an innumerable number of fabulous movies (mostly kid animated) and watched way too much television.
    • New Movies of note: C.A. Civil War; Zootopia; SWFA; Inside Out; FINDING DORY THIS FRIDAY;
    • New TV shows: Lucifer; Supergirl; Sherlock s03e04;  binge-watching Supernatural
  • Got a second credit card.
  • Bought a lovely new set of throwing knives.
  • Spent a lot of time on Twitter.
  • Taught my sister and nephew how to throw knives. (And also slightly disassembled my grandmother’s deck to retrieve a stray runaway knife.)
  • Received the official offer for my job! (You’re lookin at a professional Technical Editor, kids! Woohoo!)


Do you have questions for me about any of this? Ask me!

5 Resources: Tools and Toolboxes for Writing


It’s that time again! Here are five resources to help any aspiring author:


Ask Authors Tumblr Blog — Sometimes the best tool is one that isn’t in our toolbox. That’s why find, building, and interacting with the writing community is so important. Tapping the knowledge, experience, and advice of over 100 writers, I’m hosting a new Tumblr Ask Blog called Ask Authors. Have a question about writing, querying, agents, or need advice? Ask us anything! The blog’s first post will be in 6 days (Monday, April 25, 2016)!

Pitch Wars 2015 Crew Blog — In that same vein, a bunch of the writers from the 2015 Pitch Wars Contestants are putting together a blog to share writing advice and experiences. It’s a wonderful site that is sure to provide unique insight into the world and minds of writers. The blog’s first post will be in two weeks! And there is a permanent link to it on the AskAuthors blog so you can easily go between them!

First Five Pages; What Agents Look For — This is a series of interviews with literary agents. Each interview covers what the agent looks for in those first 5 pages or so that accompany the query letter. Pace, tone, first sentence, characterization, and voice—get ready for a lot of insight into an agent’s mind! (pssst—my agent answered this question somewhere in there!)


Questions to Ask an Offering Agent — Even if you aren’t expecting this call anytime soon (the call where an agent offers to represent you), it’s good to know where your head will be at. What questions do you ask that agent to get a sense if they are a good fit?

Big A** Character Sheet — This thing is awesome. It helps you learn more about your character (or proves how much you already know). I guarantee you won’t get through this list without learning something new about your main character. Great for both the drafting and revising stage. Challenge yourself to go through for your villain or your secondary characters!

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.