Fixing the First Page Feature #6 Giveaway Winner!

Photo credit: hyekab25 on Flickr
Super short off-schedule Sunday post to announce the winner of the sixth fixing the first page feature giveaway! Are you ready?

The winner is…


Yay! Congratulations, Alexandra! Expect to see an e-mail from me very shortly.

Thanks to all who entered! I'll have more of these next year, so keep an eye out! :)

How the Internet Has Made Me a Better Person

Photo credit: Peter Ras on Flickr
It’s no secret that news-type sources have been less than kind to those who spend any significant amount of time online. Those who spend a lot of time online are often labelled anti-social, even if whatever they’re distracted with online is inherently social, but I digress.

The point is, the internet kind of gets a bad rap. And I want to do my part to help change that, because to be honest? The internet has made me a better person.

The internet has exposed me to viewpoints and voices I may have never heard on my own. The internet has introduced me to some really incredible, passionate people who speak up online about issues I may not have otherwise even thought about. The internet has brought me We Need Diverse Books, DiversifYA, Diversity in YA, Disability in Kidlit, and The Gay YA. The internet has raved to me about books and authors who I’m not sure I would have found on my own.

The internet brought me YA and NA—categories that have absolutely framed my writing journey. The internet gave me an internship, which led to another internship, which led to my Assistant Editor position. The internet showed me the wonders of pitch fests and blog contests—one of which lead to signing with my incredible agent, which absolutely would not have happened on my own, because she isn’t open to queries.

The internet gave me a place to talk and learn about writing. The internet inspired me to start a blog of my own, which has turned into this amazing, beautiful place where I can help other writers in ways I never imagined when I first started out. The internet introduced me to so many absolutely wonderful people, many of whom I consider my friends. The internet encouraged me to open up, to accept who I am, to do what I can to help others, to be passionate and geeky and brave.

I’ve come a long way since I first dove into the online community on April 10, 2011. But the person I am today is a more confident, happier, better version of myself, and for that, in no small part, I thank the internet.

Has the internet made you a better person? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
Writer @Ava_Jae says the internet has made her a better person. What do you think? (Click to tweet

Fixing the First Page Giveaway #6

Photo credit: Vivian Viola on Flickr
It’s time for the final Fixing the First Page giveaway of 2014! Woot!

For those who missed it the first time and second and third and fourth and fifth time, the Fixing the First Page features is a public first 250 word critique. Using the lovely rafflecopter widget, anyone interested in winning a PUBLIC (as in, featured in a post on this blog) first page critique can enter.

For an example of what this critique will look like, here's the last Fixing the First Page post (and the one before that and the one before that and the one before that and before that).


  • ONLY the first 250 words will be critiqued (up to finishing the sentence). If you win and send me more, I will crop it myself. No exceptions.

  • ONLY the first page. I don’t want 250 random words from your manuscript, or from chapter 3. If you win the critique and send me anything other than the first 250 words of your manuscript, I will choose someone else.

  • I will actually critique it. Here. On the blog. I will say things as nicely as I can, but I do tend to be a little blunt. If you’re not sure you can handle a public critique, then you may want to take some time to think about it before you enter.

  • Genre restrictions. I am most experienced with YA & NA, but I will still accept MG and Adult. HOWEVER. If your first page has any erotic content on it, I ask that you don’t enter. I want to be able to post the critique and the first 250 in its entirety without making anyone uncomfortable, and if you win and you enter a page with erotic content, I will choose someone else.

  • You must have your first page ready. Should you win, you need to be able to submit your first page within 48 hours of my contacting you to let you know you won. If 48 hours pass and I haven’t heard from you, again, I will choose someone else.

  • You’ll get the most out of this if it isn’t a first draft. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if you’re handing me a first draft (though I will probably suspect because it’s usually not that difficult to tell). I won’t refuse your page if it’s a first draft, but you should know that this critique will likely be of more use if you’ve already had your betas/CPs look over it. Why? Because if you don’t, the critique I give you will probably contain a lot of notes that your betas & CPs could have/would have told you.

  • There will not be a round 2 (unless you win again in a future contest). I hate to have to say this, but if you win a critique, it’s NOT an invitation to send me a bunch of your revisions. I wish I had the time available to be able to look at revisions, but sadly, I don’t. If you try to break this rule, I will nicely say no, and also remember to choose someone else should you win a second contest. Which would make me sad. :(

So that’s it! If you’re okay with all of the above and would like to enter to be the sixth public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below. You have until Saturday, December 20 at 11:59 EST to enter!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Vlog: Social Media Book Tag

I participated in the social media book tag! And so I've got all sorts of book recommendations for you all. :)



What books would you nominate for the tag? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
.Writer @Ava_Jae participates in the social media book vlog tag. Have you read these awesome books? (Click to tweet)

Top 5 Twitter Pitch Mistakes

Photo credit: Jexweber.fotos on Flickr
So as some of you who follow me on Twitter know, I participated in this season’s #pitmad and #PitchMAS Twitter pitch events—except I wasn’t pitching this time.

No, for the first time ever, I got to participate as someone making requests (in this case for my editorboss). And you know? It was really fun and interesting to see the other side of these pitch events. I’d frequently participated as a pitcher, but handing out shiny gold favorites was fun.

That said, out of the hundreds of pitches I read, I requested maybe 1%. (I did the math with an estimate.) Many times it had less to do with the pitch and more to do with the fact that it wasn’t what I was specifically looking for, but I did notice several common mistakes that I think are important to take note of.

So without further ado, here are the top five twitter pitch mistakes I observed:

  1. Stakes and/or conflict are unclear. This is huge. HUGE. If the stakes and conflict aren’t crystal clear in your pitch, then it’s very difficult to know enough about the book to make a request. Why? Because stories are rooted in conflict (and the conflict isn’t clear if we don’t know what’s at stake). Without conflict, there isn’t a story, and so pitches without stakes or conflict don’t show why the events in the story are important. 

  2. Vagueness. I’ve written a post already on why details are so important in queries and pitchesso I won’t rehash the whole thing here. The short version is this: if your pitch has a phrase that could apply to anyone else’s pitch (i.e.: “dark secret,” “overcome great odds,” etc.), then chances are likely you could do better. In a pitch or query setting where the important thing is to stand out from the hundreds of other queries and pitches, you’re not going to do it with a vague phrase that a hundred other people have used. Instead, your goal should be to make your pitch so specific that it wouldn’t fit for anyone else’s manuscript. 

  3. Quotes. I understand the temptation to use a quote, I do. But the problem is, quotes never ever address point one—the stakes and conflict. Not only that, they don’t tell us what the book is about, which is the point of the pitch to begin with. Quotes are fun, and I get that, but save them for another setting. Chances are likely they aren’t going to help you in a pitch fest. 

  4. Summarization (instead of pitch). Pitches, unlike a synopsis, should not tell us the ending. A pitch should intrigue and make me want to read the book—but I don’t want to know how it ends before I’ve even taken a look at it. Save the full plot summary for the synopsis. 

  5. Not using all 140 characters wisely. By this, I mostly mean I saw a lot of people twisting their pitch around to try to make their title fit. And quite frankly? It’s unnecessary—you’d be much better off using those characters to get extra information in about your manuscript. Cool titles are fun, but most of the time, they’re not going to get you requests—an interesting premise with clear stakes and conflict, will. 

  6. Bonus: didn’t specify genre or category. I can’t speak for everyone browsing through the Twitter pitch feeds, but if a pitch didn’t have the category or genre specified, I skipped it. Why? The truth is, there are just way too many pitches to go through to spend time reading one that might not be a category or genre that I’m looking for. The genre/category tags are important for a reason. 

  7. Extra bonus: For more on the essential aspects of a Twitter pitch, check out this post.

So those are my top five Twitter pitch mistakes. What recommendations do you have for Twitter pitchers? 

Twitter-sized bites:
Assistant Editor @Ava_Jae shares the top 5 pitch mistakes she observed during #pitmad & #pitchMAS. (Click to tweet
Thinking about participating in a Twitter pitch event? Here are 5 common pitch mistakes to avoid. (Click to tweet)

Discussion: What Do You Hope to Achieve With Your Writing?

Photo credit: slightly everything on Flickr
I want to write books that make readers feel.

I want to write books that make my readers swoon, and cry, and laugh. I want to write books that keeps readers flipping pages long past their bedtimes, and has them daydreaming about what might happen after they have to stop reading.

I want to write books with characters, stories, and worlds that stay with my readers after they’ve read the final words. I want to write books that make people think, and empathize, and maybe look at the world and the people in it a little differently.

I know not everyone will like my books. That’s okay.

I know there are some people who will probably hate my books. That’s also okay.

But if I can achieve at least one of the goals I mentioned above with my writing, if I can make someone swoon, or laugh, or fall in love with my characters using tens of thousands of combinations of twenty-six letters? That alone is incredible enough to make the rest worth it.

What do you hope to achieve with your writing? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae shares what she'd like to achieve with her writing. What items are on your list? (Click to tweet)  
What do you hope to achieve with your writing? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Discussion: What Books Will You Be Asking for This Holiday Season?

Photo credit: me (maybe I went Christmas shopping early, okay?)
It’s no secret by now to my family and friends that if there’s a gift-giving occasion coming, I’m going to want books. Or gift cards so I can buy books. Because books.

For fun, and because I obviously don’t have enough books on my TBR shelf (you know, only 185 and counting), I thought it might be fun to share the books I’ll be hoping for this Christmas and see some of the books you guys want to get. 

Here are (some) of the books I’ll be crossing my fingers for this season! 

How about you? What books will you be asking for this holiday season?

Twitter-sized bite: 
.@Ava_Jae shares her Christmas book wish list for this holiday season. What books will you be hoping for this year? (Click to tweet)
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