How I Became a #MGWave’r

It’s been a pretty crazy year, but one thing that helped keep me sane was #MGWaves. What is #MGWaves, I hear you ask? Let’s start at the beginning…

I’m an Australian writer who believes you only live once. Which is why I do things like this:

I’m also an Australian writer whose publishing success to date has mainly consisted of a series of short stories and feature articles I wrote over a number of years for an Australian parenting magazine (if you don’t include the writing of annual reports, press releases, and technical reports that I did for government…) Anyway, when the magazine’s income dried up, my income from the magazine also vanished.

Not to worry, what I really wanted to do was write for Younger Me, not for parents. So I wrote a young adult novel which I queried. It received multiple partial and full requests, but…after two years of trying, no agent.

Not to worry, what I really REALLY wanted to do was write for Younger Younger Me. Middle Grade Me (middle grade is, after all, my sweet spot). It just took me a while to muster up the courage to try. When I found this courage, I wrote a novel about a chatterbox twelve-year-old who must rob a casino using an unusual (ahem!) skill, in order to save his little sister. I was thrilled when it received runner-up this year in the WritingNSW Varuna Fellowship. More on that here. In the meantime, let’s move on.

On a high from my runner-up award, I submitted to Pitch Wars and guess what! I WON! Well, I wasn’t selected as a mentee but I still won.

Let me explain.

Through one of the many ways that one finds things in the writing community (AKA Twitter), I joined a chat group of Pitch Wars middle grade applicants. The group was called Magnificent MG and like all things that turn out to be magnificent, I did NOT expect this group to be so…magnificent. Here was a group of wonderful writers that really understood my need to write middle grade. They got me. They also like Zoom.

Over the last few chatty zoomy months, through the highs and lows of writing, critiquing, querying, applying, and more writing, we’ve become closer than the plethora of middle grade books on my crammed bookshelf. We’ve shared highs and lows, and more than a few pics of dogs, cats, cooking, and kids. Our writing endeavours have rippled out into the world, gathering momentum to become waves. Naturally, this led to a change in name for the group.

Welcome to #MGWaves!

(As an aside, I’m also now in a Facebook group that, like #MGWaves, offers so much it’s a writer’s Christmas. It’s early days for me with this particular group, but I hope to give back as much as I can once 2021 kicks in. Because let’s face it, we are all paddling through the life we choose as writers in the best way we can.)

So what is the real point of this post? It’s to tell you to go out and find YOUR community. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to ask for help. Keep showing up, keep putting yourself out there. Many writers will have the same fears, concerns, and hopes as you. And they’ll be nice. You never know, you might even form a group with a hashtag name!

I am grateful to have met mine, and to be riding the writing waves with them. Who knows where it will take us?

Interested to know more? Comment below. And while you’re at it, check out some of the amazing #MGWave’rs I’m proud to call my friends:

Malia Maunakea

Jennifer Mattern

Anushi Mehta

Daria Pipkin

Thushanthi Ponweera

Beth Gawlik

Susan Leigh Needham

Maureen Mirabito

Taylor Kemper

Sabrina Vienneau

Honoured to be Mentioned

Isn’t it funny how the things you do with no expectation of success often surprise you the most?

I was tickled pink recently to be longlisted, thrilled to be shortlisted, and absolutely delighted to make Top Five and earn an Honourable Mention in the Just Write for Kids Pitch It Competition, especially coming hot on the heels of being shortlisted (but missing out) on a mentorship in Pitch Wars.

JWFK Pitch It Comp Honourable Mention Certificate

The feedback I received from the Just Write for Kids judges was insightful and encouraging, and put a fire in my belly to push on with polishing and submitting my middle grade manuscript. I can’t thank them enough for that.

Receiving the Honourable Mention also reminded me of the importance of silencing niggly self-doubts and taking that leap of faith. You just never know where you’ll land. 

So where to from here? After further beta reader feedback (and no doubt further editing), my story will be off to my editor in January for her guidance and suggestions. Then more editing, I expect! Wish me luck!

Hope your writing puts a fire in your belly,

Rebecca

Have you ever taken a leap of faith that has landed you somewhere unexpected?

 

Pitch (More like a Friendship) Wars

Edited in November to add:

Alas, I wasn’t picked for Pitch Wars (less than 3% of those who submitted were), but I was shortlisted with extra pages of my manuscript requested. Think that’s a win of sorts. 😉

 

Hi all,

So this week, after much umm’ing and ah’ing, I decided to submit my middle grade manuscript to Pitch Wars.

For those unaware, Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where mentors select a writer and work with them over a three month period, offering suggestions to improve their manuscript, query letter, and pitch for a subsequent agent showcase event. More details of the program can be found here.

I’ll be honest, I was undecided about entering this program for the reason most writers hesitate: lack of belief that my writing is good enough. But that is also why I DID want to enter. What I do believe in is my story’s (and my writing’s) potential. I’m just not sure how to reach it. I know my story is not where I want it, but I’m not sure how to get it there.

There are two more reasons I decided to enter, the first being I needed a new stimulus to keep my butt in its chair and get my manuscript, and its query and synopsis, to submission stage.

Writing can sometimes feel isolating, especially when you live in Australia and so much appears geared for the northern hemisphere. While I know many wonderful writers, both in Australia and abroad, and call quite a few of those friends, hardly any write middle grade. I’ve yet to find a writing support group in my local area that writes middle grade. Those that I have found, are closed to new members.

Critique comments I have received have been great but, for some reason, finding a critiquer who specializes in writing and reading middle grade has not been easy for me.I guess I wanted to widen my writing community base, maybe form more partnerships. I’m hoping the Pitch Wars community is one way to do this.

I’m pragmatic – I know the odds are against me getting picked for mentorship (apparently only 3% are successful, based on last year’s figures). But if nothing else, I’m already making more writerly connections, discovering colleagues and friends, with others taking the plunge. We’re all in this together. It’s kind of like we have each other’s backs.

And that’s the biggest benefit of all,

Rebecca

P.S. I’m also having a blast following the #pwteasers hastag on Twitter. Some find it too stressful but I’m having a lot of (time-wasting 😉 ) fun!

Anyone else entered Pitch Wars this year? Best of luck if you have!

Or entered in past years? Would love to know how you went!