LVCON#14 Finalists Named!

The Finalists of the Like a Virgin Pitch Contest have been announced and . . . I didn’t make it. But I’ve been named an Alternate! It is fantastic to receive a little bit of validation and helpful advice from the writing community. Nothing like good vibes to keep you motivated! And I get a ten page critique from Jen Malone, author of AT YOUR SERVICE available from Simon & Schuster next summer. So grateful for all the hard work of Kristina Perez, Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and all of the judges. This has been a fun experience and hey, it prompted me to start a blog! Here’s the link to the Finalist page:

LVCon14 Blog Hop – Jennifer Austin

Recently I decided to enter my first ever writing contest. Oddly enough it’s the Like a Virgin Pitch Contest organized to give shiny new manuscripts the opportunity to be seen by other writers, agents and editors as well as give the authors a chance to get to know each other (hence the Getting-to-know-you Blog Hop!) But in order to participate you also need a blog, so in another first, I created one. Bare with me it’s a work in progress.

Each author is asked to share some “firsts”, so here’s mine:

#1. How do you remember your first kiss?

Well that’s a hard one. Are we talking first playground peck after chasing a boy around for twenty minutes? Or is it rather that sloppy-not-so-memorable middle school kiss with the boyfriend you try to forget? Maybe it’s the first real kiss with high school boyfriend, but since you’re no longer together, who wants to remember? Okay, so I’ll settle on my first kiss with my husband, because it was, well, magical! We’d had a lovely first date: dinner, walk by the river, and scary movie back at his place (strangely neither of us likes scary movies). When it was time for me to leave, he walked to me car, asked if he could kiss me and . . . I was speechless. Which was a good thing since our lips were locked together. Not to be cliche, but I’m talking floating in the clouds, sun beaming, angels singing, lose track of time magical! After that we said good night and I floated, er, drove home. It was breathtaking!

#2. What was your first favorite love song?

That’s another hard one. There were so many good songs I loved growing up, and some of the other contestants have hit on some great ones (I’m looking at you C.S. Severe and Lady in Red!) I have always been an emotional person and I feel a story in a song, so it’s very difficult to narrow down. The first one that popped into my head though was Friday I’m in Love by The Cure. I think it was the first time it occurred to me that love could be dysfunctional and something other than the “perfect” romances we read about. Of course, now I understand that most of those romances are dysfunctional too, but hey, we learn a lot after the teen years.

#3. What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?

I’m a routine kind of person, so I check my email, Facebook and Absolute Write forums before I even open my MS. With those out of the way I can re-read some of what I wrote the day before, get back into my characters and setting and off I go! Oh, and coffee helps too.

#4. Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

I’m a rebel (not really!) so I’m going to answer this with three writers. Each inspired a first for me, so it’s still kind of in the rules. First was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read them as a child and spent years “writing” my own memoirs in my head. I figured it was good practice in case I ever did decide to become a writer. Then when I was in the fourth grade a North and South mini-series was made on TV. Looking back, I can’t believe my parents let me watch it! But I did, and little did they know I started reading every John Jakes book my step-mother had stashed in the basement, and she had a lot. This was the first time I really though about creating epic stories and my Barbie dolls were the lucky recipients of my active imagination. Their sordid affairs and epic battles still resound in the halls of the basement to this day. Once I was older, I returned to children’s literature, having exhausted my need for totally age-inappropriate romances, and read Harry Potter to my kids. I was absolutely enthralled by the world Rowling had created and wanted to know more about her. This was the first time that an author was a real person for me and I identified with Jo on a personal level. It really made me believe I could do this too!

#5. Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?

So if we are talking actual first book I ever wrote start to finish, then no. I cut probably two chapters and wove the back story in later on. If we’re talking the first manuscript that actually has a chance of getting published, i.e. the one I submitted to LVCon14, then yes. I knew exactly how I HAVE NO NAME was going to start before I ever wrote a word. I think it is one of the strong parts of my book and I’m pretty certain I won’t change it! (Famous last words?)

#6. For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

Once again, first MS I ever wrote? That was characters and setting I guess. Plot came later.

If we’re talking I HAVE NO NAME? Character definitely! I had this dream that developed into this character who had lost everything. She’d been living alone for two years and was a little crazy and had even rejected her own name. I couldn’t wait to see how she would react when she found out she wasn’t the only person alive!

#7. What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

I’ve read thirty some responses to this question prior to posting and I still don’t know what to say. I was going to be flippant and say “My name,” but I really liked some of the other answers so I don’t want to make a joke out of this. Probably the one I liked the best was “Meaningful” by Lydia Evans at The Writer’s Wrong. I’m not out to be the next Hemingway, but when I create my characters I’m not asking myself “Will readers like my character?”. I don’t care if they like them. I’m asking myself, “Will a reader identify with my character and what she’s going through? And will the reader take something away from that?”

Thanks for reading and thanks to all the other contestants for sharing. I had fun reading about each of you! Here’s a link to the Tour List: (I hope)

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So here I am . . .

I’ve been thinking about creating an author website or blog for some time, but between my Facebook page and Pinterest account, and, you know, writing, I just haven’t had the time. Besides, there’s a million writing blogs out there and what could I possibly add that is new and relevant?!! Then I entered this little thing called the Like a Virgin Pitch Contest and they offer a blog hop for all the contestants. Well, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that! So, here I am, and I guess we’ll see where this new adventure takes me . . .