#PitchWarsParty2019

It’s here!

Today the 2019 Pitch Wars Mentee Class is kicking off our showcase party! We’ve all been working hard for three months making our manuscripts shine and now the mentors have submitted our official Agent Showcase entries, so it’s time to celebrate! The showcase entries go live on the Pitch Wars website on February 5. From the official website:

February 5-10, 2020: Agent Showcase

  • February 5: Adult entries are live on the Pitch Wars site
  • February 6: MG entries are live on the Pitch Wars site
  • February 7: YA entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

Today’s #PitchWarsParty2019 prompt is to introduce myself and my manuscript.

Hi, I’m Barb—MG writer, freelancer, avid reader, lover of the 3 C’s: chocolate, coffee, & cats. MURPH MEETS A DEMON is my showcase entry, a fast-paced contemporary fantasy about a 7th grader who learns she’s part of a demon-hunting family.

If you’re following me on social media (and you are following me?) I’ll be posting through Feb. 10 and you can get to know a bit more about my middle-grade book MURPH MEETS A DEMON.

Pitch Wars: One Month Update

One month ago, I found out I had been chosen as a 2019 Pitch Wars mentee. It was a supremely exciting moment and for several days I felt like I had to pinch myself, because surely, this couldn’t be really happening to me.

But it was. And it is.

The last few months of the year always are busy for me as freelancer. My clients seem to have more work for me, often with shorter deadlines. I don’t mind and it’s something I’ve learned to expect, which means I build extra blocks of work time into my schedule to accommodate. 

Except this year, it’s different. Because: Pitch Wars.

I’m in the process of revising my middle-grade fiction “Murph Meets a Demon” with help from my mentor, Jessica Bayliss. So far we’ve video-chatted, and despite some technical wonkyness, we accomplished a great deal. I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have someone like Jessica for guidance, to point out potential issues, inconsistencies in plot or character actions, and to just have that support. To have someone in your corner. That’s what Pitch Wars can offer. It’s the community—the mentees, mentors, and admin. What a fabulous group!

Now I’m extremely fortunate, I have an amazing writing community that I’ve been part of for a while. This includes my CP’s (critique partners) and writing friends that I connect with daily via phone, IMs, or social media. They are always there for me, and I’m so grateful. But, I’m also grateful to have my fellow Pitch Wars mentees. We are taking a very specific journey together and I have to say, our 2019 group is pretty awesome!

I can’t wait for their books to be out there and for everyone to get to read them. So many incredible stories! You’re going to be adding many to your TBR list. 

Also, if you follow me on Twitter, and you ARE following me right? 😏

Anyway, I’ve been sharing Pitch Wars mentee/mentor interviews. This is a great way to meet the different mentees and their mentors AND learn a bit more about their books.

Mine with Jessica posted November 22 and you can read it here through this link: https://pitchwars.org/pitch-wars-team-interviews-with-barb-hopkins-and-her-mentor-jessica-bayliss/

This post has rambled a bit, but that’s how it goes today. All day long my brain is always at least halfway with my book as I write other stuff, do chores, or grab 30 minutes for a walk outside on some of the last warm-ish days of the year. I’m really excited about “Murph Meets a Demon” and I can’t wait to share more with you. I promise, my next Pitch Wars update will delve a bit deeper into my book and my 12 1/2 year old MC: Audra “Murph” Murphy. She’s quite the kid!

I’m a Pitch Wars 2019 Mentee!

Last weekend something amazing happened.

Actually, many amazing things happened because I spent Friday through Sunday morning at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) Middle of the Map conference. It was a phenomenal conference and I hope to share a bit more about my experiences in another post.

Saturday night, we were just finishing a session of roundtable critiques, and it had been awesome. Great people, fantastic stories, helpful critiques. My phone buzzed and I saw I had an email.

From Pitch Wars. 👀 

My heart stopped. 💓 I debated about waiting and opening the email later when I was alone in my room. But I’m not good at waiting. I had to know. I opened. Read and scrolled. Scrolled some more. 

And shrieked. I might have happy-cried a bit too. Okay, yes, I totally happy-cried and my wonderful SCBWI friends gave me hugs and congratulations. I was in!

I had been chosen to be a 2019 Pitch Wars Mentee! https://pitchwars.org/pitch-wars-2019-the-mentors-picks/

And what is Pitch Wars and why is this such an exciting thing?

I’ll share with you directly from the Pitch Wars site:

“Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to mentor. Mentors read the entire manuscript and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for the agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents. Mentors can participate solo or pair up and co-mentor.

During the agent showcase, each mentee is featured on a post that includes their pitch and the first page of their manuscript. . . . Participating agents view the posts and make requests. 

Over the past seven years, Pitch Wars has changed many lives. Countless authors have been matched with agents and even gone on to book deals and successful careers. . . . But most importantly, Pitch Wars has grown the writing community to connect author with author, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie as we go through all stages of revision and publishing.”

You can read more about Pitch Wars here: http://pitchwars.org/new-start-here/

My mentor is the amazing Jessica Bayliss and I’m crazy-excited to work with her. She writes young adult thriller and horror. Definitely go visit her website here: http://www.jessicabaylisswrites.com/

During the revision process of Pitch Wars I will be working on my middle grade urban fantasy: MURPH MEETS A DEMON. I can’t wait for you to read it, and meet Murph—she’s sassy, kind, and has just learned the women in her family are demon hunters. 

I’ll be posting here as the Pitch Wars revision process moves forward; as often as I can. There is a lot of work involved in revising/polishing a book to get it ready for the agent showcase, but it’s so worth it.

There are so many people that have supported me along the way during this journey, and I’m extremely grateful. Thank you!

Keep an eye out for updates!

It’s National Library Week!

National Library Week is NOW! April 7 – 13, 2019.

How are you celebrating? It’s really easy.

  • Go to your local library & see all the amazing resources
  • Don’t have a library card, get one
  • Check out books
  • Read books there, it’s a great place to relax
  • Ask a librarian a question—seriously, they’re more personal than Google
  • Use one of the library’s services: internet, copying, free classes

What is National Library Week?

From the American Library Association (ALA):

“National Library Week is an annual celebration highlighting the valuable role libraries, librarians, and library workers play in transforming lives and strengthening our communities.”

2019 theme:

Libraries = Strong Communities

The ALA has a great list for 19 Ways To Celebrate National Library Week.  http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/19-ways-celebrate-national-library-week

I Love a Good Hashtag! It’s #MuseMondays

Keep an eye out here and on my Instagram & Twitter accounts for weekly additions to #MuseMondays. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite books, authors, music, movies, and more. Inspirations for both my writing and what I grab to read when I want to escape from the daily mundane.

Today, it’s Josephine Angelini’s “Starcrossed”, a young adult trilogy that I’ve read and re-read multiple times. Add it to your TBR list today; it’s a fun twist on traditional Greek mythology.

The “Starcrossed” trilogy by Josephine Angelini

Weekend Reads: March 2

Reading on the weekend is more than just a way to relax, it’s an essential part of my existence. While some people may look forward to heading out to the movie theater on a Friday or Saturday, I begin anticipating and planning my weekend reading around Tuesday morning (usually after a particularly long session completing a freelance project.)

This weekend I’m getting a late start. Freelance commitments, family life, and writing new words in my own WIP, pushed back my weekend reads until now. In addition, I wavered on which book to begin. I seriously was leaning towards rereading Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed trilogy. It’s one of my favorite YA trilogies and if you’ve not read it, I highly recommend it. You can check out my review of the first book here. Angelini’s trilogy focuses on Greek mythology and that seems to be what I’m in the mood for. However, I really wanted to read something that is new to me.

Bingo! Rick Riordan’s The Heroes of Olympus series!

My son left the first three books of the series with me several months ago and they’ve sat there in my TBR pile since. I’m excited to begin reading this series, which means this post will not be much longer. The series begins with The Lost Hero, so keep an eye out here for my review of this first book. I’ve got high hopes for it and am ready to dive in.

What are you reading this weekend? Share the titles and/or links in the comments. I’m always looking to add to my TBR list.

Happy reading!

2018 Reading Wrap Up

My Goodreads year-in-review tells me I read 44 books in 2018. This is true and misleading. It only catalogs what I tell it and I don’t tell it everything. If you’d like to see what my Goodreads year-in-review, it’s here

In actuality, I’ve read 50+, I don’t know the exact number because I don’t keep track of all my rereads. You know the ones. Those comfort books you pick up when your life feels wonky, suffocating, bleak, and so forth. We all have those moments and I often deal by escape into a well-worn, many-times-read book.

But I digress. My 2018 Reading Wrap Up features some of my favorite reads of the year and I’m sharing because maybe as you’re putting together your TBR list for 2019, you might want to consider adding one or two or all.

Overall Favorite Book of 2018

Purple Hearts by Michael Grant

NewPurpleHearts

Michael Grant’s young adult book Purple Hearts is book three in the Front Lines series featuring Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman. In this alternate history, they are soldier girls of World War II. Author Grant gives readers the chance to see what may have happened if women were allowed to enlist and were drafted to serve on the front lines during World War II. I cannot recommend this series enough. It’s raw and wonderful and my overall favorite book of 2018.  

Favorite Author Who’s New To Me

Melissa Keil

I was perusing the young adult shelves of my local library and I saw The Secret Science of Magic displayed cover out. It grabbed me—the cover, the title, and then the blurb. I liked it so much I checked out Life in Outer Space and then The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, which ended up being my favorite of the three Keil books I read. Her characters are likable, quirky, and I totally recommend checking out author Melissa Keil and her books.

Most Anticipated Releases

Purple Hearts by Michael Grant

The Evolution of Claire by Tess Sharpe

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

The three books that I’ve listed as my tops were pre-ordered and anxiously awaited, their arrival date circled on my calendar. While I enjoyed The Evolution of Claire, I loved both Purple Hearts and Of Blood and Bone. The latter two are part of series so I already was invested in the story and characters—and neither disappointed.

Favorite Mystery of 2018

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

OOUIL front cover

I love mysteries. My all-time favorite author is Agatha Christie, known as the Queen of Crime and writer of more than 60 mysteries. When I can get my hands on a new mystery, I’m in heaven. This year, I had the pleasure of reading a young adult mystery that I couldn’t put down because it was that good, that immersive. If you haven’t read One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, do it. And then be sure to make a place on your bookshelf for her second book Two Can Keep a Secret which releases January 8, 2019.

Favorite Re-reads of 2018

As I mentioned earlier, I reread—a lot. And I do have many favorites. However, after much consideration, I decided to list four as my Favorite Re-reads of 2018.

Front Lines (Front Lines series book 1) by Michael Grant

Silver Stars (Front Lines series book 2) by Michael Grant

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Until the End by Christopher Pike

2018 was a good year for reading, amazing new stories alongside old favorites. Just yesterday, two new books arrived that will be part of my 2019 Reading List and I’ve two more new releases arriving in the first week of the new year. Yay!

What was your favorite book you read during 2018? Share the title and author below in comments, please as I’m always looking to add new titles to my TBR List.

Happy Reading!

Holiday Gift Ideas for Writers & Book Lovers

It’s Cyber Monday 2018 and let’s not forget about the writers and book lovers on your lists! Check out a few holiday gift ideas for writers and book lovers that capture the imagination, offer inspiration, and add another touch of whimsy during a magical season while providing joy throughout the upcoming new year.

Untitled design

NOTE: I receive no compensation for any of these items. I am not connected to any of these artisans, sellers, companies, and so forth. They’re items I personally like and wanted to share as ideas.

Something Wearable

Let’s start with a few gems from Storiarts. A couple of years ago, my wonderful husband gave me this pair of Pride and Prejudice writing gloves. I love them! Seriously, love them and wear them throughout the cold months as I work. As a writer, I totally recommend adding these to your gift list for anyone who spends long hours at the keyboard.

Storiarts also has a several other fun items, and I want to point out the book totes. Personally, I love the Matilda one, but there are many choices and you can’t go wrong with a book-themed tote bag for any writer or book lover.

From the Mareshop on Etsy, discover another type of fingerless glove perfect for a fantasy writer, dragon lover, or anyone who might love these colorful, handmade gems. I’m partial to this pink pair, but there are several colors plus two length styles to suit personal tastes.

Moonglow jewelry ads have appeared recently in my social media feeds and I’ll confess, I think they’re beautiful. Here’s the deal, you pick a significant date and the mini moon on your jewelry will feature the phase of moon from that time. Cool, right?

Why not choose a significant date for the author on your list? It could be the release date of their debut novel or the date they officially signed a contract with their agent or publisher. You can choose from pedants to earrings and bracelets, but I’m partial to this particular bangle bracelet.

Something Wordy

You can’t go wrong with 200 themed magnetic word tiles: Magnetic Poetry Kit—Moist and Other Awful Words. It’s fun, sassy, and can be mixed-and-matched with other magnetic poetry tile kits.

Found at Uncommon Goods, definitely take a look at the literature charts. I loved the Literary Insults chart and the Wine in Literature chart.

Next up is Scapple, a program available through Literature & Latte. It’s a way for writers to brainstorm ideas and connect ideas even when things seem at their most scattered. If the writer(s) on your list love Scrivener, there’s a good chance they’ll enjoy Scapple.

How about a waterproof notepad? Never forget a great story idea when in the shower or bath again. Add AquaNotes to your gift list.

There are so many different literary, book-inspired, and writerly-styled mugs and drinkware available, I could go on and on. But I won’t. Instead, I’m sharing something I hadn’t seen before until today. These are so much fun! And great for English teachers, too! Check out this set of eight plates from Grammar Stuff.  

Something for the Home

Whimsical bookends, beautiful bookends, unique bookends! Head over to Etsy for a huge selection of bookends, truly something for every book lover.

And just fun for, why not a Writer’s Block? It’s the perfect paperweight and desk accessory for any writer.

 

Let’s Talk Book-Inspired Parties!

Book-inspired parties! That’s what is on my mind today. This morning I was working on a project for a client—unfortunately not a plan for a book-inspired party, but it was New Year’s Eve related, so fairly festive. Along the trail of research I had the good fortune to stumble upon the InLiterature.net website. This site has fabulous ideas and information for planning a book-inspired party, everything from recipes to decorations plus crafts and activities for kids’ parties.

The books range from classic literature to favorite children’s stories and everything in between.

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A few of my copies, some a bit more tattered than others. I’m looking at you, HP. 

Just a few of the books included are:

  • A Christmas Carol
  • Coraline
  • Anna Karenina
  • Divergent
  • Dracula
  • Julie & Julia
  • Jurassic Park
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Practical Magic
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Hobbit

And of course you can find pages on the site for Harry Potter party ideas.

Do you want to learn how to make a paper mache mandrake? Here you go. InLiterature.net has step-by-step directions.

How about whipping up a batch of Fizzing Whizbees to enjoy at your Harry Potter party? They have a three-ingredient recipe for that too. It looks so easy!

Several years ago I worked at a library and hosted the weekly reading programs for kids. It was a blast! For the preschoolers each week, it was always a program theme relating to our book of the week. I would have loved to have had access to a site like this. Now I’m actually considering a theme party somewhere down the road. But which book to choose?

So how about it? Do you have any good ideas for book-inspired parties? Share your ideas or links to cool sites in the comments below.

Book Series: When Covers Don’t Match

When you own a complete book series, do you care if the books are mixed-and-matched? Does it make you twitchy to own book one of a series as a paperback and books three through six (soon to be seven) as hardbacks?

Yes, I’m looking at you GONE series.

And how about different cover art?

IMG-1753

Currently I own three series, three of my all-time favorite book series, that are not matched. It doesn’t usually bother me until it’s time to clean and re-organize my bookshelves, then it makes me twitchy because they don’t fit in nice and neat.

This brings me to the next question:

Do I treat myself to a new set of each?

 

 

 

Here is the series that stimulated this train of thought:

IMG-1752

The first three books are paperback and the last two are hardback. The first one has different artwork—which I do like.

However, the white really doesn’t go with the darker palette of the other four. Now in reality, does all this make a huge difference?

Of course not.

But it’s my bookshelf and since I gaze at it while working daily, I like a certain aesthetic.

 

 

 

I have no issues owning multiple copies of books or series that I reread regularly and Percy Jackson & the Olympians falls into that category.

I think I just talked myself into new, matching volumes of this Rick Riordan series. Christmas is just 85 days away, so maybe it’s perfect for my wish list.

So who’s going to talk to Santa for me?