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#PitchMAS, #PitchWars, and the Query Trenches

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 51st week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is Thorsday, so I shall write what I want — and what I want to write about today is part of the writing business. Pitching. No, not like baseball or cricket. You don’t want the end result to be someone smacking your work away with a bat. But the kind of pitching where you hope someone falls in lurve with your fuzzy little novel.

What a week to be a writer.

There’s so much going on that my little Emmie brain is full of lightning and fur. And I think there are a few Jelly Bellies stuck in there from my Thanksgiving binge. (Raspberry, FTW.)

This week is home to not one, but TWO massive Pitchapalooza events all about helping writers get requests and exposure. It’s also the first time I’ve done any contests.

So here they are, in all their glory:

Pitch Wars

Hosted by the indomitable Brenda Drake, this awesome contest struck me as unique from the start. First of all, it starts by pairing writers up with agented authors, industry insiders, and agent interns for mentors. After the pair-up stage, the mentors will help their authors hone their manuscripts and pitches for the agent/editor round. Sound great?

It gets better. As a writer, you could apply to three different mentors. And I found three AWESOME ones. One of my favourite bloggers, Summer Heacock, happened to be one of the mentors. Add to that, fellow Whedonite and Browncoat Becca Weston. And on top of THAT, an actual ninja — Tina Moss.

So I applied, I flailed, and now I wait. *eats imaginary popcorn ‘n’ parm*

To distract myself from waiting for the 12 December announcement of mentor-writer lurve, I’ve been doing…


It’s like Christmas, but with pitches…and oh, you know what I mean. This bad boy was put together by Jessa Russo and Feaky Snucker. If you’re around The Twitter Writer World AT ALL, those names ought to ring a bell. Not only are they awesome, but they set up a phenomenal pitch extravaganza for all of us hopeful folk with finished, polished manuscripts. (Or we tell ourselves they’re polished…eep.)

Yesterday was the blog pitch day which landed me a request from an editor (yay!)…the downside was a bunch of the agents (scheduled and swooping ninja agents) had already seen my query. So today it’s onward to the Twitter round, where we’re tweeting our pitches at the #PitchMAS hashtag. Here’s mine:

Super strength? Check. Questionable spandex suit? Check. Now accountant Gwen just has to save Scotland from her bomb-crazy boss. #PitchMAS

What’s Racing Through Emmie-Land

Both of these things are new territory for me. Between the personal stuff that’s happened this autumn and the financial woes Spouse and I are slogging through, I’ve been feeling really, really discouraged. About my writing. About the chance of ever getting an agent. About the state of my toenails, because let’s face it, after their encounter with a metal bar this summer, they’re still hideous.

What I’m clinging to is hope. Hope that all the people who said my manuscript moved them, thrilled them, attack hugged them — that they weren’t just lying through their teeth to encourage me. Hope that the agents who have told me they loved it (unfortunately with a but that followed, for instance, one was looking only to sign non-fiction) meant it too — and hope that it’ll make it in front of the right eyeballs before I reach the end of my query list.

Hope that I’ll get a chance. That’s all I want. A chance.

Till then I’ll keep writing.

Happy Thorsday to you! Where’s Mjolnir when I need it?


It’s an Emmie Birthday

I thought about not posting today. I don’t generally like to tempt fate by acknowledging my birthday, which has, in the past decade, been home to mayhem, misunderstanding, and woe.

That’s me as a baby!

From my 21st birthday (was that really SEVEN YEARS AGO?) where all my 21+ friends were home for Thanksgiving already and my favourite pub refused to let minors in that one night (it’d never been a problem before) to the year my mum’s baby-cat voice made me think my favourite kitteh had died (Chicky and Kiki sound remarkably alike) to last year when I had to close the restaurant with a 102 degree fever.

Spouse always does his best to make it a good day. In spite of his efforts, the approach of 18 November has made me increasingly reclusive. So today I am going to venture out to a movie and then return home. I hope to return home to cake. I opted not to work today, and my plans include catching up on my word count and starting a full Vampire Diaries rewatch.

Last night I even tried to have a drink, but the one I wanted was out. Sooo I came home, drinkless. (This is an example of a typical Emmie thing to happen on a birthday. “Oh, what do you want for your birthday?” “Ooh! This!” “Nope, you can’t have that.”)

That said, I’m open to suggestions. What (safe, unlikely-to-backfire) ideas do you have for me? I know this blog just shows that I am pretty much a pathetic hermit who isn’t half as cool as her characters (they are all in my head, facepalming right about now) — but you might be too after a decade of funny funny life shenanigans.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday Woman: Caroline Forbes

Warning, here be spoilers. Yaaargh.

Whoa, flashback! Wednesday Woman is back, and today we’re heading to Mystic Falls to check out the development of one of my new favorite characters on TV, Caroline Forbes.

Vampire Diaries - Season 1

Vampire Diaries – Season 1 (Photo credit: satin_shirt)

Caroline of the books is vapid, competitive, and snotty, so I was pleasantly shocked when the writers of the show toned down those qualities and made her sympathetic. Sort of like laying on a dentist’s chair with a drill next to your tooth and the dentist goes, “Oh! You don’t have a cavity after all.”

When we meet Caroline in season one, she’s insecure. She has a crush on Stefan Salvatore until he falls for Elena and tells Caroline in no uncertain terms that it’s just not going to happen. I still don’t know if he compelled her or just verbally blew her off. She bounces back by falling into Damon’s bed, which is of course a great idea. He starts biting her and being generally nasty, compelling her not to tell, and they carry on in that fashion of happy vampire homemakers  until Elena notices the bruises and bite marks.

Yeah, if I saw my best friend looking like that, I’d be upset too.

Once Stefan has dumped Damon in the basement after spiking Caroline with vervain — a handy trick for stopping your brother from feeding on the populace — and Caroline ends up with the amber crystal Damon compelled her to help him get. It’s right about here that she starts to develop a spine — she gives the crystal to Bonnie Bennett and tells Damon off the next time he comes after her. Even after he compels her to release him, she manages to get away into the sun.

After drowning her sorrows at the Grill, Matt Donovan takes her home and stays with her for the night, beginning a friendship and romantic attachment that is the catalyst for some of Caroline’s biggest changes as a character. Matt encourages Caroline to be more of a thoughtful and caring person, and she responds to what he says instead of blowing him off.

It’s a rough season for Caroline. Abused by Damon, struggling with her budding relationship with Matt, and coming up against Elena’s shadow every time she tries to step into the sun, Caroline keeps trying. Maybe her endeavors aren’t as lofty as a sophisticated viewership would appreciate, but not only does she organize every school dance and party, but she volunteers with so many different town organizations that I wonder how she manages to even shower.

That’s the hallmark of Caroline that first started drawing me to her — she tries. She tries and tries and tries until your heart bleeds for her and you just want to wrap your arms around those scrawny little shoulders.

Her home life explains some of her obsession with acceptance. Her father ran off with his boyfriend and hasn’t been around for years, and her mother is the overworked sheriff and council member who doesn’t take the time to get to know her daughter, much less spend time with her. Caroline’s overcompensation in other areas clearly stems from her perceived inability to achieve her parents’ approval and attention. So when she wins the Miss Mystic Falls competition and finally catches a break, I melted a little on her behalf.

Enjoy your golden moment, poppet.

Yet nothing in Mystic Falls stays sunny for long.

When John Gilbert activates the device to incapacitate all the town’s vampires, Tyler Lockwood is mysteriously affected. Which sucks for Caroline, since he’s driving the car she’s in at the moment. Tyler crashes the car, and Caroline is severely injured and lands in the hospital.

A distraught Bonnie tells Damon to heal her with his blood, which he does…not knowing that the recently reappeared Katherine Pierce has her own plans. She gives Caroline a message for the Salvatore brothers and smothers Caroline with her pillow.

And Caroline wakes as a vampire.

“Yum, blood.”

This is the second big stage of Caroline’s development. Aside from a couple wacky episodes where she’s getting used to her transition and her normal state of frenetic emotion is even more heightened, she adjusts remarkably well — especially after Bonnie makes her a daylight ring to allow her to return to some sense of normalcy with her life.

Becoming a vampire removes all of Damon’s former compulsions, and Caroline sort of throws him across a room when she gets her memories back. And aside from one human the day she turns, she mostly manages to avoid hurting people and feels tremendous remorse for her lapses.

Stefan helps her through these early stages, teaching her ways to control herself and acting as her sponsor. Caroline later saves both Stefan and Damon from Mason Lockwood and Sheriff Forbes when Mason reveals that they’re vampires, and each time she stands up for herself or her friends, her confidence grows.

Caroline comes into her element as a vampire. She’s faster, stronger, and infinitely more caring and selfless. She is able to make hard decisions for the safety of others, such as when she orchestrates her breakup with Matt. After her mother the sheriff tries to kill Stefan and Damon, they hold Sheriff Forbes captive until they can compel her to forget, and Caroline is able to have real conversations with her mother for what seems like the first time ever — and she makes another difficult decision when she compels her mother to forget their bonding.

She’s there when Tyler Lockwood begins to figure out his werewolf lineage, and she is there when he triggers the curse. Her obvious compassion for his suffering and confusion adds layers of depth to her already interesting character. Even though a werewolf bite can kill a vampire, she stays with him throughout his first full moon and beyond.

Ah, l’amour.

When Caroline is captured by the new werewolves in town and brutally tortured, it is another turning point for her character. Tyler struggles with his loyalty and hesitates to help her when he finds her in a cage. This moment breaks her trust in him, and she tells him later that she will never go through that again. At the end of season two, they reconcile after Klaus captures both of them for use in his ritual and Damon rescues them.

Through season three, Caroline is put to torture by her own father (after Tyler’s mother shoots her with vervain) who believes he can burn the bloodlust out of her with the sun, and this time Tyler comes through for her, though their relationship is soon challenged when Klaus makes Tyler his first successful hybrid and Tyler becomes blindly loyal to Klaus.

Caroline more and more continues to make decisions that protect and rescue her more vulnerable friends (and her vampire friends, for that matter), even when it puts her at risk. She is shown time and again to be brave, strong, compassionate, and caring, and for that she is today’s Wednesday Woman.

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