Archive for November, 2015

28 Nov

Casting for Space Academy Rejects

In Book Extras,Writing Process by MK England / November 28, 2015 / 0 Comments

I was recently made aware that I’ve managed to write an entire novel without ever physically describing my main character. Space Academy Rejects is written in first person, present tense, so it was easier than you might think to accidentally accomplish this ridiculous feat, but it was a huge oversight nonetheless. Meanwhile, in the #PitchWars 2015 facebook group, folks were posting pictures and descriptions of their main characters for another mentee to draw, and I thought… damn, I really need to go digging for some photos.

And I have.

I present to you, the Space Academy Rejects look-alikes:

SAR cast(Image credits at the links below)

Nax (center) — Imran Abbas
Rion (top left) — Donald Glover
Case (top right) — Freema Agyeman
Zee (bottom left) — Jenna Talackova
Asra (bottom right) — Some random beautiful person on Pinterest who happens to look exactly like my mental picture of Asra (we need more hijabi actresses/models!)

Do yourself a favor and google more pictures of Imran Abbas. Go on. I’ll wait. I chose this one because he looks closer to the right age, but there were many, many options.

I was surprised to see how joyful this little exercise was for me. I’m giddy at seeing my characters’ faces like this, and I’m even more pumped up to work on edits now that I have a more concrete idea of their appearance in my mind. Lesson learned: I should cast all my books before I ever do my first round of revisions!

Do you make pinterest boards or cast characters from your own writing? Link me in the comments and I’ll take a look!

10 Nov

#PitchWars Wrap-Up & Celebration

In Editing,Publishing,Writing Process by MK England / November 10, 2015 / 1 Comment

Okay. I think I’m finally ready to talk about #PitchWars, the novel contest that has been consuming my life for the past two months. Between the agent round of #PitchWars and the start of NaNoWriMo, my feelings lately have been a lot like this:


But here’s the real talk: participating in #PitchWars has been THE single most valuable experience of my writing life.

— But MK, I heard that #PitchWars is two months of complete editing hell! How did you deal?

Not gonna lie. The going got rough for a while, but I’m the sick sort of person that thrives on that kind of thing. I love it. Give me an impossible deadline and I will pound the caffeine and go hard until I make it. Is it healthy? Mmm, maybe not, but it sure is satisfying. It’s the same sort of feeling I get from crossing things off a list. I love to work really hard and feel things falling before me like opponents on a battlefield. Look how much I’m getting accomplished! Like a BOSS. Personal validation, you are MINE!


Here’s a look at my #PitchWars timeline:

  • September 1st: Selected to be a #PitchWars mentee by the fantastic Sarah Glenn Marsh! I blogged about it here.
  • September 2nd: Received edit letter from Sarah, along with homework. Created a revision outline based on Sarah’s feedback, mapped out character arcs more thoroughly, and discussed changes with crit partners. Also submitted answers for my joint interview with Sarah.
  • September 13th: Began revisions, with a rough goal of one chapter per day and a finish line of October 2nd. Some chapters took more than one day, others took less.
  • October 3rd: Sent revised manuscript out to critique partners and new beta readers. Breathed a huge sigh of relief. Immediately read books, played video games, and wrote fanfic to recover. Somewhere in here I submitted my 50-word pitch and excerpt that became my #PitchWars contest entry.
  • October 16th: Beta reader feedback deadline. Read over comments from six people and digested the feedback. Discussed all feedback with Sarah, made minor changes to fix how people were perceiving two characters, and fixed typos/consistency errors.
  • October 21st: Delivered final manuscript to Sarah for one last read through. Tweaked paragraph spacing, and DONE!

You may notice that I devoted nearly as much time to creating my revision outline and brainstorming solutions as I did to actually revising. That’s pretty typical for me. I have to know the solution to a problem before I can start trying to fix it. I’ll roll around and brainstorm and pace and go crazy asking ‘what if?’ questions until every plot hole is plugged and every character is ready for their final bow. After that, it’s only a matter of execution.

My revisions took about 2.5 weeks of going to work, coming home, grabbing a quick dinner, and sitting down to revise until about 11pm. I had to take a cheat day in the middle to give my brain a break, but I managed to finish on time and get the manuscript to give my beta readers two weeks with it. It was intense.

crazy typing

I have never been happier with this manuscript. I was already in love with it, but I worried that after working so hardcore I’d end up sick of it. Not the truth at all. I believe in it more than ever, love it more than ever. And I can’t thank the incomparable Sarah Glenn Marsh enough for guiding me through this experience. She’s been my greatest cheerleader, my window into the publishing world, and her incredible eye for character really made this manuscript shine. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor!


One of the best things to come of #PitchWars has been the community of mentees. The #PitchWars class of 2015 is full of amazingly talented folks with stories that need to be shared with the world, and the support and camaraderie in our group in unparallelled. It’s been fantastic celebrating everyone’s successes and rejections as a group. Thanks for being awesome, fellow mentees!

everyone in this bar

I am so incredibly grateful to Brenda Drake, Sarah, and everyone else involved in Pitch Wars behind the scenes. Y’all are effing rockstars. You’ve really built something great.


03 Nov

NaNoNooooooo: How is it already November?

In Drafting by MK England / November 3, 2015 / 0 Comments

The beginning of November brings two major things in my writing life: NaNoWriMo, the yearly challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, and the #PitchWars agent round. Since I’m doing my best to REMAIN CALM, DAMN IT regarding the latter… here’s a lot of gifs about the former.


The word of the month is PANIC. My idea for this NaNoWriMo has been brewing in my head for months, and I assure you—it is SO FUN. Bad ass ladies kicking ass in space. Kind of my MO. But, very early on the idea divided itself into two separate ideas. Same core concept, but two drastically different executions. I decided on one. Then I decided on the other. Then, two days ago, I decided to smash their faces together and do both. Now, 4000 words into my NaNo draft… I’ve changed my mind. Again.

I’m normally a fairly serious plotter, so having this degree of uncertainty is definitely panic-inducing for me. If I’ve learned anything over the past two years, though, it’s that every book demands to be written differently. I may have a general process that works for me, but no writing experience will be exactly the same from book to book. And that’s fine. This one is just… a new challenge. Yes. Let’s go with that.

everything is fine

I’ve also mentioned before that I’m one of the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaisons for my region, so I’ve been doing my best to keep our South Jersey ship running smoothly along with fellow South Jersey writers Krista Magrowski and Lisen Minetti. Our kickoff party and day one write in was yesterday at the fabulous Casciano Coffee in Hammonton, NJ and we had a fabulous turnout of over thirty writers. I also had a great time designing a bunch of prize buttons for our region:


I enjoy the NaNoWriMo process for two main reasons: the community both online and off, and because hey, I’m a vomit-drafter anyway, so why not? My #PitchWars novel this year was last year’s NaNo novel, so to those who say nothing quality can come of NaNo, I say…

challenge accepted

I promise I’ll actually post something about the #PitchWars experience very soon. I have a lot of warm, squishy feelings to share about it. But the agent round starts in a matter of HOURS so if you’ll excuse me I’m just going to go… drink tea and read fanfic, probably. Let’s be honest with each other.

Best of luck to all my fellow #PitchWars mentees!