My Fallow Periods

I’m back!

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Hello strangers, remember me? I’m the person that’s supposed to keep this blog updated, even though I haven’t posted in MONTHS. I apologize for my LONG absence, but to be fair you can still find me pretty regularly over at Writer’s Block Party! And I have been much better at keeping up my new(ish) Authortube/Booktube vlog over at YouTube.

STILL, this blog was my first love and I’ve been horrible at keeping it updated. Partly because I did want to try out those other formats of connecting with everyone (vlogging is fun but time consuming, y’all!)

Also, because my writing has…not been going well. So, I thought I might talk about fallow periods and the search for motivation and inspiration when you’re a writer or a creator.

According to Cambridge dictionary “fallow” means: Fallow land is not planted with crops, in order to improve the quality of the soil A fallow period of time is one in which very little happens.

But Mirriam-Webster has a girl’s back because this is the first thing that pops up in their definition:

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Way to both support and subtweet me Mirriam-Webster!

ANYWAY! You get the gist. It’s a period of time where a writer is not writing. There should be a sub-definition that says “a period of time where a writer questions all their life choices and regrets everything.”

The idea of a fallow period for writers is not new. However, if you look at the origin of the word it’s a time when fields don’t produce crops, but it’s ALSO a time when the fields are regenerating nutrients to be able to grow crops again! This definitely changed my view on the time periods when I couldn’t write and how I would treat them. This idea was first presented to me when a CP sent me this post.

So, instead of just seeing periods of time where I’m not creating as a negative, I see it as a chance to rejuvinate my creative well and to refresh my mind. I try to read all the books I couldn’t concentrate on when I was actively writing or revising. I use it to watch all the shows I’d been missing out on. And I pursue other creative endeavors because I know that when I’m actively writing I can’t do many other creative things at the same time. So, right now that’s being more active on my Instagram

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And on my youtube channel!

Still, the idea of most of the things I’m doing is to work toward being able to write again. So I try to find inspiration and motivation in everything I do. I keep journals and lists of ideas as they come to me. And I try to let myself write if I want to, but I don’t set any deadlines and let it just flow naturally. This way, I find that most of the things I end up writing during my fallow periods is very personal and it helps to bring my stories closer to my heart.

What do you guys do during your fallow periods? How do you refill your creative wells?

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Happy NaNoWriMo 2017!

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I used to always do an introduction to NaNoWriMo post before, but since I’ve done those so often (here, here and here) I figured I can skip it and go right into talking about my NaNo plans!

First of all, I’m going to work on TWO Manuscripts (because I like to cause myself mental anguish, jk…kinda). One is a Contemporary Fantasy and the other is a Space Opera. So, totally different MS’s (again, love to cause myself mental anguish). They’re actually not that different in that I think my characters are all what drive the stories (or at least that will be my goal). So, I am excited to get into them.

I’ve also started bullet journaling to see if it will make me more productive. If it doesn’t then at least I’ll have pretty doodles in my journal at the end of the month.

Finally, I’m going to vlog my experience. Because I need to be on all social media at all times (Kat = Extra). For reference, here are some NaNo videos I already made!

 

Claribel & Kat’s Pitch Wars Wishlist!

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It’s HERE! That time of the year when Pitch Wars is starting up and we are finally able to share our wishlists! Claribel Ortega and I are co-mentoring as #Teamoji this year and we are so stoked! Send us all of your YA fantasies and spec fic so we can devour them! (Nom nom nom)
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First a little about us!

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Claribel Ortega got her start editing student’s often times hilarious ads and ramblings on the back page of SUNY Purchase’s Independent Newspaper. From there, she became a small town reporter, where she enjoyed going to board of education meetings and texting the town mayors about the line at Starbucks. Today she’s busy turning her obsession with eighties pop culture, magic and video games into books. She lives in New York with her motorcycle-riding poet boyfriend & her suspiciously intelligent yorkie, Pancho Villa. She is represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary. You can find her at claribelortega.com  as @claribel_ortega on Twitter or making promo gifs for authors and anyone else who will pay her at GifGrrl.com.

Kat Cho writes Young Adult Sci-fi and Fantasy. Mostly ownvoices and mostly involving as much angst as possible (don’t @ me). She has been a mentor or judge in other events such as Author Mentor Match and WCNV. And She is a volunteer coordinator for DVPit. She is agented by the amazing and lovely Beth Phelan at The Bent Agency. Her current MS is a contemporary fantasy based on the Korean myth of the gumiho. She believes the writing world is a community and loves to share thoughts and advice as a contributor over at Writer’s Block Party or on her Youtube vlog. You can also find her on Twitter as @KatCho.

 

So we’re writing this to let any potential mentees out there know what we’re into. What stories catch our eyes? What characters make us swoon? Stay tuned to find out!tumblr_mdrkk5Rivo1rfzj10o1_r3_500.gifWe love a wide-range of fantasy including historical, urban and epic! We are lovers of diverse stories that tell tales that aren’t centered around Western/European origins. We are fans of strong ensemble casts and strong ladies. But, instead of just rambling on, let’s just give you a quick bullet list of some stories we’d love to see (this is not at all comprehensive as we both like being surprised by stories we never knew we’d love).

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So, without further ado, here is our Pitch Wars Wishlist:

  • Ownvoices Fantasy (especially set in worlds inspired by non-Western/Non-European cultures)
  • Retellings with a twist (Think The Star Touched Queen’s retelling of Hades & Persephone)
  • If your book is like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (think emotion/characters/relationships)
  • Hamilton told from the POV of the Schuyler sisters
  • Books that take place over a short period of time (like a weekend or day) think Breakfast Club
  • If your book reminds me of a Miyazaki Film send it to me yesterday
  • Enemies to lovers
  • Misfits/unlikely groupings, Ragtag group of friends or enemies to friends, on a quest or heist, and Multi-POV
  • Anti-heroes, villains journey (think FOTL, Young Elites, Vicious)
  • Bad-ass girl gangs
  • Serial killers in a fantasy setting! (Claribel loves murder)
  • Street smart characters
  • Strong friendships

Wish List in video format cause we’re extra like that:

Things on our oh-no-no list aka don’t send these to us

  • We don’t really do pure contemporary (usually)
  • Fairies/Elves
  • Dystopian
  • Suicide, cancer, or child abuse
  • Abusive relationships presented as romantic
  • Books about race or oppression from the perspective of the oppressor

For your reference, here are some of our favorite Books:

 

Claribel’s Faves:

  • Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  • Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
  • The Jackaby Series by William Ritter
  • Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
  • Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
  • The Millennium Series by Stieg Larson
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
  • Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
  • The Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny
  • Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang
  • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

 

Kat’s Faves:

  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter Series) by JK Rowling
  • Redwall by Brian Jacques
  • Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • Black Cat by Holly Black
  • Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Darkest Minds Trilogy by Alexandra Bracken
  • Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  • Blood of Eden Trilogy by Julie Kagawa

And for another peek into our tastes, here are some non-book favorites:

Kat’s Faves

  • Musicals: Les Miserables, Hamilton, Rent
  • Anime: Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, Cowboy Bebop
  • Movies: Spaceballs, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pacific Rim, Star Wars (IV, V, VI, VII, Rogue One), Moana
  • Badass TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica
  • Funny TV: Psych, Happy Endings, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99
  • ALL things Miyazaki, Ghibli: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Ponyo
  • K-Dramas for dayz: Oh My Ghostess, Gaksital, Heirs, School 2013, Shut Up Flower Boy Band, Goblin

 

Claribel’s Faves

  • Food
  • Video games: Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy (especially VII aka the best RPG of all time, FIGHT ME) Just Dance,The Sims, Harvest Moon, Super Paper Mario, Street Fighter, Grand Theft Auto
  • Puppies
  • Murder Podcasts
  • The 80s
  • Movies: Amélie, Beverly Hills Cop, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Pacific Rim, Coming to America, Pretty in Pink, Wonder Woman, The Goonies, Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Watching YouTube makeup tutorials while eating ice cream then passing out
  • TV: How to Get Away with Murder, Brooklyn 99, Empire, Twin Peaks, GLOW

 

As for our future mentee, both of us really believe in revision. We actually have permanent residency in Revision-town. It’s a quaint little place with cute cottages and pools of our tears. Wine fountains and cheese fountains are equally present. And there’s a nice little path you can take to the top of a mountain where you can scream your frustrations into the uncaring sky. Anyway…what we mean to say is we’re not afraid of revisions and neither should our mentee. Revisions are meant to tighten and polish the MS. At the same time, we also don’t think the path to successful querying is perfection. We’re looking for a story that has potential (and we believe that’s what agents are looking for too).

Our future mentee should be ready to work hard. We want someone who is as kind as we are but as ruthless in making the cuts and changes necessary to make their book the best possible. We want someone who will keep an open mind and be willing to discuss big changes if they arise.

We believe your story will always be yours, we’re just here to collaborate with you and provide guidance and internet hugs and GIFs.

Good luck everyone and we can’t wait to read your submissions!

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Go here for the links to all the other mentor wishlists!

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Pitch Wars Prep Care Package

Hello internet-peeps!

I assume you’re here because you’re considering submitting your manuscript to Pitch Wars! And as a mentor this year, I am so excited to read the entries once they roll in. However, there is still almost a month until the submission window opens. So, I figure there’s a lot of stress-prep going on. And I’m hoping to relieve some of that stress with some helpful guides to help you prepare your submission and your brainz for Pitch Wars.

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The first thing I’ll give you is a bit of advice. While Pitch Wars is a great program that provides both mentorship and platform, it is not the end-all, be-all of pitching your work to agents. I did not make it into Pitch Wars the year I applied and I just used that experience to learn and grow as a writer until I got my agent. So all parts of the Pitch Wars experience can be valuable. (Also the fact that you finished and polished a whole book is a huge accomplishment. You’re all awesome!)

So, what do you need for Pitch Wars? A Manuscript, a query, a synopsis (optional), wine (less optional), and a support system!

Manuscript:

Note: you should have a complete and polished MS ready for Pitch Wars. But I’ll provide you some resources I’ve used in my own writing journey for those last minute touches.

Susan Dennard and the Revision Process

The For Writer’s Section in Susan Dennard’s Blog

Before querying & sub: cutting word count, filler words, & line-edits

Can Your Scenes be Seen?

Pitchwars Mentor Blog

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer

Query:

Some quick advice from me:

  • Comps are NOT a requirement. They’re there to provide some quick insight into what your story is about, the tone/themes of your story, and/or the audience you seek to reach. If the comps you’re trying to include only confuse these facts, considering not having them.

Writing a Query Letter

Query Letter Success

Query Tracker Success Stories

Writer’s Digest Successful Queries

Query Shark

Synopsis:

How to Write a 1 page Synopsis

6 Steps for Writing a Book Synopsis

How to Write a Novel Synopsis

Wine

Support system:

Adventures in Revising(2): CPs, Beta Readers, or hired editors?

#CPMatch on Twitter

Bonus Advice:

Online Contest Pitching: Querying and Pitching in the Public Arena

My Podcast Debut! (88 Cups of Tea)

Hey guys, I am so excited to share the first ever podcast interview I’ve ever done! It was with 88 Cups of Tea one of my ABSOLUTE FAVES! And I am still pinching myself because I can’t believe I had this amazing experience. It was for their celebratory 88th episode (congratulations Yin and Moonlyn!) and I was one of the lucky listeners picked to interview. Previous episodes of 88 Cups of Tea included interviews with greats like Leigh Bardugo, Jenny Han, Alexandra Bracken, Renee Ahdieh, and V.E. Schwab! So I am so star-struck by this podcast and Yin (the amazing host!)

I’d say definitely check out all the episodes and listen to all 8 amazing listener interviews on this super fun episode (I’m around the 1:37:40 point)

 

And visit their website for the show notes and their archive of all the episodes: HERE

The Diversity Conversation pt2: Resources and Links

Since there was more interest in my Diversity Conversation post than I expected (and because I do not consider myself an expert on this topic), I thought it might be helpful to provide a more comprehensive list of outside resources. I’ve compiled links to resources for anyone who would like to further their personal education on diversity and the diversity conversation!

I will be updating this with more links as they come to my attention.

***My request to you if you’ve come here to learn more about the diversity conversation in kidlit (especially if you are not part of one, many, or any of these marginalized communities). Please keep an open mind and be ready to be wrong. It’s important to overcome any internal biases that might have been picked up along your life (whether consciously or subconsciously). One of the reasons systemic racism and harmful stereotypes have permeated our world is because we can’t overcome these internal biases because we don’t see how insidious they can really be.***

Also, if you’re here, it’s probably because you want to learn. The BEST way to do that is to follow all the people who wrote these resources in the first place. And to support the authors who are creating diverse content. Buy their books! (Link to my diverse Goodreads books list: HERE)

Basics/Textbook definitions:

systemic/institutional racism

systemic misogyny

internalized sexism,

systemic ableism

how cis/het/straight is presented as the “norm” in our society.

defacto treatment of marginalized

microaggressions that happen daily

Here are resources to learn from about diversity in kidlit:

We Need Diverse Books

Writing in the Margins

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Disability in kidlit

Gay YA

Reading While White

Writing With Color

Minorities in Publishing

Diversity in YA

CBC Diversity

Rich in Color

Malinda Lo’s Guide to LGBT YA

Latinxs in Kidlit

Twitter list of Diverse writers

(it is in NO way comprehensive, but feel free to follow any and all of them!)

Diverse Writers

Okay let’s go more in-depth shall we?

Writing With Color provides Blogs – Recs – Resources

They also provide Writing With Color – Featured Research Guides

Some Marginalized Authors are nice enough to storify conversations and threads:

Violence Against Black Women in Publishing: The Harm Women of Color, Particularly Black Women, Face When Pushing For Diversity (compiled L.L. McKinney)

Justina Ireland on Worldbuilding & Appropriation (by Justina Ireland)

YA: “The Total Experience” Diversity in YA With Beth Revis, C.J. Omolulu, Lydia Kang & Malinda Lo. (compiled by Ava Jae)

How about some videos too?

 

Writer Mentor Programs: What are they & are they for me?

In honor of Author Mentor Match, I made ANOTHER vlog. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Kat, can you calm down on these vlogs?” And my answer is “NEVER!” Haha, Just kidding.

Anyway, I wanted to make a video about Mentorship Programs before AMM opens to applications in April. And I tapped into my friends and CPs to give you all some insight!

~Full Quotes Below!~

“I think for me mentorship is also a way of growing and tending to the community. The idea that now that I’m part of the community and I want to be involved in reaching out to others who maybe feel more outside of it and pulling them in with me is a huge part of it. it’s not really just about the writing.” – Katy Rose Pool

 

“The world of publishing can be overwhelming, and so much information can only be gleaned from being in the community for years and pushing through many of the steps it takes to get published. We’re all helped along the way by someone, receiving key advice or support from fellow authors/publishing professionals. Through mentorship, more experienced authors can pay it forward, helping someone newer to our world navigate it with more ease. Mentees are a part of our community, and I want them to feel more welcome, and initiate them into the fold.” – Alexa Donne

 

“It feels a bit strange for me to offer to mentor another writer, when I still feel like a clueless newbie myself. Five years into my “writing career,” I have just a smidgen of experience in publishing, and I’m happy to share what advice I can, because this can be a confusing and heart wrenching industry. But I think the writing community, especially the YA online community, is so great about creating opportunities to help each other learn and grow. And it’s important to me to try to give back to the community that helped me get to where I am now.” – Heather Kaczynski

“Mentoring has been one of the most rewarding things that I’m so proud, and feel so lucky, to do as a writer. Many times, authors say they write the books that the younger versions of themselves would loved to have read. On that same note with mentoring, I’ve always hoped for the chance to provide the support and motivation to other aspiring writers that I know would’ve helped the younger writer I once was, still lost and hardcore struggling on my journey to publication. It’s an amazing experience to give back that way, to be able to help someone find their way on the journey, and to editorially guide the mentee and their manuscript you already love into the best shape it can be. Best of all, in mentoring, you gain a great friend in the process—one who you’ll always be there for in whatever highs and lows comes their way, and one who will support you just as much on your own path.” – Janella Angeles

 

“Nobody makes it in the publishing world without A LOT of support. I’ve always been fortunate to have people willing to share expertise and willing to read projects that were, shall we say…less than great. I love doing anything I can do to pass on my knowledge. Mentoring is particularly great because you get to be like the fun aunt but also the stern parent! You get to pick a project you love and cheerlead it and fangirl when it succeeds. But you also get to lay down some of your hard-earned wisdom and beat up the manuscript you love for its own good. It’s also given me A WHOLE TON of renewed appreciation for how hard it is to write and revise a book!” – Mara Fitzgerald

“We’re Janice Ian and Damien from Mean Girls. Come sit with us and we will explain how all this chaos works.” – Mara Fitzgerald

“it like…sort of feels like being in a writer sorority…except your big does things like highlight entire paragraphs and go “this is technically good but i know you can make it better” – Christine Herman

“Having a mentor prepared me really well for having an agent — it taught me how to implement intense, detailed feedback, how to work under deadline, and how to truly get my book to the next level. but because I didn’t have to impose professional boundaries on my mentor, I also got a great friend out of it — & a CP I can shove my books at until the end of time.” – Christine Herman

“Mentoring is an excellent way to remind yourself that you have no idea how to write a novel.” – Amanda Foody