PUNKED…4 Genres You Should Know

In a publishing world where terms like steampunk, cyberpunk, and biopunk are batted around on a daily basis, you might be left scratching your head to understand exactly what those terms mean. Here’s a two-minute rundown on those persnickety labels…so get ready to be schooled in all things “punked.” ~Steampunk 101~ In a nutshell, steampunk is a sub-genre of scifi that typically takes place in an industrialized, steam-powered world. Here’s the Wiki page that gives more detail about its history and subculture. There’s a lot up to interpretation with the genre, so here’s another definition. And here’s some terminology to get started. Steampunk is extremely aesthetic, and its current revival is largely accredited to fashion and art. Even in music, steampunk is largely identifiable by visual aesthetic. In terms of technology and theory, steampunk is very much about reimagining and exploring the bond between man and machine. Now, in terms of publishing, steampunk titles have grown considerably over the past couple of years. Here’s a list of Goodreads titles to give a brief overview. Very popular in YA is Cinder, the first in a series by Marissa Meyer that modernizes traditional fairytales. Popular in paranormal romance is The Parasol Protectorate series, starting with Soulless, by Gail Carriger. Another favorite is All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen. And of course there are many others. WWAT Crew pick: ​Into Aether by L.M. Fry                   Extra credit: The other punk genres There are countless other related subgenres in scifi/speculative fiction. Here are the top contenders: – Cyberpunk: “High tech, low life.” Think computers and extremely sophisticated, powerful technology in a futuristic world that is gritty and urban. WWAT Crew pick: Reboot by Amy Tintera                 -Biopunk: Like cyberpunk but with biology. Think unintended consequences of a biotech revolution, such as human experimentation and totalitarian governments. WWAT Crew pick: ​Unwind by Neil Shusterman               -Dieselpunk: More of an art style—think pulp, film noir, and art deco—with steampunk-like tech based on the WWI/WWII era. WWAT Crew pick: Leviathan by Scott Westerfield                  Extra extra credit… -Gaslamp fantasy: More a sub-genre of historical fiction and fantasy. Think steampunk but minus the technology/machinery and plus the gothic romance/horror themes. WWAT Crew pick: ​Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare... read more

Writing Contests and More!

Here’s a list of upcoming opportunities for writers. I also included a little explanation about why I like them. 31 March (Deadline) SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant It’s a simple submission process, so why not? Open to all SCBWI members. If you receive the grant, your manuscript could be viewed by multiple publishing houses. 24-25 April FicFest This is a new contest, but if you want help going through your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, this is the type of contest for you. If your manuscript is chosen, teams of writers will help you edit for 8 whole weeks before agents will see your query and first pages. 9 June #PitMad This is a Twitter pitch party, one of many, and happens quarterly. All that’s required is a simple 140 character pitch that you tweet during a certain window of time. Agents will respond if they’re interested in seeing more. 1-3 July #pg70pit I entered this contest last year and was one of the finalists. Even though I didn’t receive any agent requests, I did receive feedback and encouragement from the contest makers. This contest drops agents into the middle of your story, pg. 70, which gives them a different perspective than the usual first pages. com/2016/02/03/pg70pit-is-back/ 3 August #PitchWars This contest is similar to FicFest, but has been around for awhile. It attracts the attention of a wide variety of established and new agents. I was one of the finalists in 2015. I had an awesome mentor who helped me polish my work over a 2 month period. Two agents did request to see my manuscript, but they later declined representation. But I will never regret entering this contest, because… I have a polished manuscript and query to submit to agents. (I didn’t realize how little I knew about submissions until this contest!) My mentor is still available whenever I need him, and has asked me to beta read some of his work, too. I have contact on social media with 125 fellow writers from the contest. Over 40 of them now have agents (less than 4 months later) and three already have book deals! Every week someone else in our group receives good news, so it’s encouraging to know one day soon, it could be me! Keep checking the website for updates and more details as the submission date approaches. If you do only one contest this year, I suggest #PitchWars. That means you have... read more

5 Ways to Go The Distance at an SCBWI Conference

This year, the Oklahoma chapter of SCBWI ( will be hosting its annual conference in Oklahoma City with the theme “Go the Distance.” This yearly conference always presents top notch editors, designers, and agents (as well as Oklahoma’s impressive roster of published children and teen authors and picture book illustrators). I’ve had the opportunity to attend this yearly event several times in the past, and here’s what I’ve learned about making the most of any SCBWI writers conference experience. Be a sponge. There’s no better time to soak up information about the publishing industry as it pertains to young readers than at a conference with headliners from the top publishers and agencies. So, instead of outlining your next love scene for your steamy young adult work-in-progress, remember not to waste those conference fees and TAKE SOME NOTES! Make friends. I can credit SCBWI OK in general, and the 2013 conference in particular, for giving me an amazing—AMAZING—group of writing cheerleaders—ahem!—friends. Same difference. Anyway, I like this group so much that I 1) blog with them, 2) enjoy meeting them for monthly critique group sessions, and 3) don’t de-friend them when they give me honest feedback of my work, but instead use that insight to make my writing way better! Present yourself with confidence. Pitch session with an agent? Manuscript “sit down” with an editor? Don’t sell yourself short. Present your idea with the passion that made you start writing about it in the first place, and practice, practice, practice talking about your idea so you don’t end up sounding like Elmer Fud! Also, wear appropriate attire. At least business casual. Maybe not a tux, but find something that looks like you should be speaking in front of others. Don’t be a stalker. Editors and agents are people too. If someone approached you clutching sweat-wrinkled pages of manuscript and oozing desperation, wouldn’t you feel a little “deer in headlights” too? So give these professionals space, respect their space, and talk to them like real people. If the right opportunity comes up to talk about your manuscript, talk about it in a friendly way. Sell it, but don’t tell them it’s the next Twilight or Harry Potter. Show them you understand the industry better than that. Beeee…yourself. Finally, the genie from Aladdin said it best. Be yourself. Writers are generally a little introverted, a little quirky, and a tad more philosophical than the vast majority of people. I love coming to... read more

The Right time to Write: The Writer’s Clock

I’ve heard it a million times: I just need to find the time to write or I could write a book if I wasn’t so busy. It’s not about finding, it’s about creating and as creative people we have one up on the everyday man. I’ve learned this lesson best as a military spouse. Yes, as some of you may know from my recent upheaval from the rest of the WWAT crew, I am a proud, Navy Spouse. It means that I left my home, family, friends and my sanity to support my husband so he could serve his country. It means late nights, early mornings, an unpredictable schedule, and me responsible for the kids, the house, and the everything else in his absence. Might I add Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong while he’s gone (Wonderful for story ideas—a lesson on how to get that main character up a tree and throw some rocks). This means that I have to prioritize, prepare, and persist. Prioritize. There was once a time in my life that I thought I could do anything and all at once. With so many responsibilities, I am not left with much time for anything else. In a sense if I were to have free time, I’d have to pick the one thing that was really important to me. In my case the writing. Prepare. In the military this means making connections so you have people you can rely on away from your family. It means being ready with a power of attorney when a water mane breaks and your husband is gone. For me especially, it meant having back up childcare/sitter. I believe it was Stephen King who said as a writer you need to be a reader and you should carry a book on you at all times. I do that and a notebook (you never know when the ideas will arrive). Persist. During difficult times, the military spouse has to keep at it. If I don’t do it, no one will and my family suffers. I don’t always get it right, no one does. I’m a proud woman, which can be my weakness at times. But it also means I know I can take quite a few kicks in the rear end and still get up. Persistence is an important writing skill because in order to have success you need to be willing to fail and keep trying. I... read more