Pitch Madness Draft … how does it work?
Feb27

Pitch Madness Draft … how does it work?

Everyone has been asking about what happens and how does the Pitch Madness Draft work. The draft is how we determine what entries each host gets on her team. It’s just like the NFL draft. We draw to see who goes first, second, third, and fourth during the picks. Each team makes a pick on their turn. Then the picks rotate: First pick moves to second pick, second pick moves to third pick, third pick moves to fourth pick, and fourth pick moves to first pick. It continues rotating until all sixty spots are filled with one of Pitch Madness entries. If you’re curious about the NFL Draft check it out here. The Pitch Madness Draft will be on Sunday, March 1, at 3PM EST. Join us on the hashtag #PitchMadness to get a play by play of the happenings behind the draft doors. I’ve been known to drop surprises, so you don’t want to miss this event. And those who’ve followed me for a while know what that means… The mastermind behind the draft is the remarkable Dee Romito… Twitter | Website     Assisting with the Pitch Madness Draft is Nikki Roberti … Twitter | Website   Reporting live from the Pitch Madness Draft is Natasha Raulerson … Twitter | Website The entries will be posted on these blogs for the agent game on March 2 … Brenda Drake’s blog Rebecca Coffindaffer’s blog Summer Heacock’s blog Sharon Johnston’s...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Sonia Hartl and Dannie Morin!
Feb26

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Sonia Hartl and Dannie Morin!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today I am so beyond excited to introduce you to Sonia Hartl and her Pitch Wars mentor Dannie Morin for a Q and A regarding her recent success! Sonia recently signed with Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency.  So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Sonia, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Dannie? The moment I read her mentor bio, she was my top pick. I wanted a mentor with killer editorial skillz, who would give me a tough and honest crit. My PW manuscript had a twist in it that I was on the fence about, and with her background in counseling and social work, I knew she’d be able to tell if I was being true to life or not. Plus, she’s hilarious and has excellent taste in books (I’d read, and loved, most of the ones on her list). Dannie, what about Sonia’s application made you choose her? I looooooooved her concept. I was cautiously optimistic I’d be able to find a New Adult MSS that broke the tropes, and Sonia’s manuscript was all that and a bag of Doritos. From our emails I could tell she was willing to work hard, and I was completely in love with her pitch. Bottom line–she had a unique story idea and pitched it well. Sonia, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? The revision period was pretty hardcore. Exactly what I hoped it would be. She read my first three chapters first, and gave me suggestions on certain things that were present through my whole manuscript. I did another round of revisions, then she read my first half and helped me adjust my midpoint, and I did another round of revisions. Then she read the whole thing, and dug deep into things that were working and things that weren’t so much. Her comments were on point, made me laugh out loud, and taught me so much about plot and character development. During the revision period we had weekly chats with all the members of #TeamDannie, so we could bounce ideas around, talk about stuff we were struggling with, hone our pitches, and just take a break. We still meet in The Clubhouse once a month, and our group has grown since Pitch Wars into an amazing support system. Revisions are a learning experience, but having someone champion and believe in me during that time gave me the boost of confidence I needed to get it done. Dannie,...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Kelly Calabrese and her mentors Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie!
Feb24

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Kelly Calabrese and her mentors Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today I am so beyond excited to introduce you to Kelly Calabrese and her Pitch Wars mentors Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie for a Q and A regarding her recent success! Kelly recently signed with Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency.  So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Kelly, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to the team of Trisha and Lindsay? Kelly: In choosing mentors, I did my research! I read all 75 wish lists and what stood out to me about Trisha and Lindsay was their love of psychological horror/thrillers, their candor, and their obvious team spirit. Also, who doesn’t love a 2 for 1 bargain 🙂 Trisha and Lindsay, what about Kelly’s application made you choose her? Trisha: Instantly…the title: BEAUTIFUL BLOODY DUCKLING. It was unique, clearly had horror elements, and a just a hint of the emotional baggage the mc was carrying. If the title alone could convey that much to me, then I knew I had to read the book! Once I stopped drooling over the title and started reading, it was the authenticity of Kelly’s voice that caught my attention. It had a natural flow, one that simply resonated with me. On a larger scale, what made me fall in head over heels for the story was the psychological aspects of the manuscript. The MC’s own fears, her broken backstory, and her need to regain control of her life provided a beautifully broken character that I absolutely adored and cheered for. Lindsay: I loved the tone of her MS as well as the concept. It was unique and sometimes I think that’s half the battle! Kelly, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? Kelly: It was brutally beautiful! To start, Trisha and Lindsay sent me a marked up first chapter to alert me about their revision style. When I opened the chapter, I screamed and shut my laptop. Literally. There were so many crossed out words and red comment boxes it looked like a crime scene!  🙂 Once I got a full breath in, I re-opened my laptop and gaped in wonder at their dead on, nearly line-for-line comments. Trisha and Lindsay gifted me with a beyond generous amount of feedback and encouraging mentor love. They turned me into a take-no-prisoners revision machine. Absorb. Process. Implement. Repeat. ANYONE looking for an editor who can help whip their novel into shape – should hire these ladies! NOW! Trisha and Lindsay, tell us about your...

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Pitch Madness … the submission window
Feb20

Pitch Madness … the submission window

The submission window for Pitch Madness SORRY! Edition is now open! To enter the contest, enter the form below. What is Pitch Madness? It’s a contest to win a request from one or more of the participating agents. I will have an agent introduction post up soon. The submission window will be open from 12:01 AM EST on February 20 until 11:59PM EST on February 23. You should have plenty of time to get your submissions in. Make sure to perfect your entry. If you make an error, you may not resend. What do you need to enter? A 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of your finished manuscript. If the 250th word falls in the middle of a sentence, go to the end of the sentence There will be 60 finalists moving onto the agent round. Pitch Madness will accept Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult (never before published) fiction only, novel length (no novellas) completed and polished manuscripts only. All genres (i.e. fantasy, contemporary, sci-fi, and so on) are welcome to enter. This time around we will not accept non-fiction. Only one entry per writer. Pitch Madness will be on four blogs and each blog host will have a co-host helping them choose their top 15 entries. We’ll have a team of first readers who will check for formatting, grammar, and content and put their top picks through to the hosts. To meet the readers and the teams go to this post here. All the twitter fun will happen on the hashtag #PitchMadness! The agents will be playing a game to win their top requests and have some time alone with them before they’re sent to the other requesting agents. To meet our agents go to this post here. Good luck everyone, and may the odds be ever in your favor!   Entry Form … The submission window is now closed!...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Heather Truett and Dannie Morin!
Feb19

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Heather Truett and Dannie Morin!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today I am so beyond excited to introduce you to Heather Truett and her Pitch Wars mentor Dannie Morin for a Q and A regarding her recent success! Heather recently signed with Peter Knapp of Park Literary.  So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Heather, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Dannie? I can’t remember what Dannie said (I’m not even sure if it was in her mentor bio or on Twitter), but she said something that made me giggle and also made me certain she could handle the bit of language in my book. She also didn’t strike me as someone who would hold back on editorial comments, and I thought some harsh truth might help me. Dannie, what about Heather’s application made you choose her? LOL @ Heather. It was on Twitter. Someone asked during the #AskMentor chat if we minded cursing in YA. My answer was “fuck no?” Because Dannie has a potty mouth. Heather’s was the first application I received. I requested it within a couple seconds—without even reading the pages because her query was that strong. Her premise has fantastic stakes. She set the bar for the rest of my slushpile and though there were definitely some other gems in my inbox, I kept coming back to hers. After some online stalking I discovered our mutual obsession with cat selfies and tiaras, and I knew we’d be a good match. Heather, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? It was both more and less intense than I expected. I was right that Dannie isn’t shy with editorial comments, so I had plenty to work on. However, a lot of what she said immediately rang true for me, so I didn’t have too much of an “OMG this is impossible” feeling. We even made our own deadline earlier than the regular PW deadline, because both Dannie and I had Halloween events to focus on. Dannie, tell us about your experience with mentoring Heather. How was mentoring your other team members? I don’t use this term lightly but I will go beyond saying I’ve been lucky to saying I’ve been blessed with an incredible group of writers through my tenure as a PitchWars mentor. They’re not only great writers, but great people. Heather was willing to work hard, take risks, step out of her comfort zone, and learn. She embraced the feedback but also maintained control of her manuscript’s vision. She applied to PitchWars to...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Kelly Siskind and Brighton Walsh!
Feb18

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Kelly Siskind and Brighton Walsh!

  The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today I am so beyond excited to introduce you to Kelly Siskind and her Pitch Wars mentor Brighton Walsh for a Q and A regarding her recent success! Kelly recently signed with Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.  So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Kelly, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Brighton? This is where Brighton and I nearly got into a girl fight. I *hides under desk* almost didn’t submit to her. Everything about her bio was perfect, ‘fat guy in a little coat’ gif and all. When I got to the part where she was all grabby hands for a humorous MS similar, but sexier than, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, I thought maybe I had a chance. Then I read the bit where she said she’d only read a manuscript once, and I hesitated. I envisioned having a mentor who had the time to hammer out my MS as needed. So I wasn’t going to submit to Brighton…then I Twitter-stalked her. As everyone knows, she’s freaking hilarious. I was sold. Turns out, she lied on her bio and rocked my world. I admitted my hesitation after I was picked. Choice words were shared, then we kissed and made up. Brighton: In my defense, I was on deadline to write an entire book during the time Pitch Wars was going on, plus I had my debut releasing the day of the agent round, so my motto was under promise and over deliver. But, seriously, how could I not read it a bajillion times? ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS WITH SEX, PEOPLE. Brighton, what about Kelly’s application made you choose her? Her voice. She made me laugh out loud within the first page of her manuscript, and I’m not an easy nut to crack. Kelly, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? My revision period was pretty intense, but I was so excited to be working with Brighton that I dove in happily. Her suggestions were insightful, zeroing in on exactly what my MS lacked. The first half of my novel was pretty solid, but the back half needed to be Frankensteined—cut up and put back together. CHASING CRAZY was missing a blacker black moment, the angst that would make my main character’s all-is-lost scene more dramatic. All my pieces were there, they just had to be shuffled around, a few things added…and voilà. Edits followed the rewrite, endless clicking of my mouse as I shed unneeded verbiage. Dizzying but...

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The Space Between: Going Hybrid by Lizzy Charles
Feb17

The Space Between: Going Hybrid by Lizzy Charles

The Space Between: Going Hybrid by Lizzy Charles   Hello, everyone! I’m delighted to be on Brenda’s blog today. First, I have to thank Brenda for sharing her corner of the Internet. I’ve always fan-girled over Brenda and her pitch contests (of which I’ve failed at brilliantly), so it’s a surreal experience to guest post here. I mean… Come on! It’s Brenda Drake’s blog!!! Okay… Now that I’ve picked my jaw off the floor, I’d love to discuss one of my new risks as an author—going hybrid. My first experience with publishing was semi-traditional with a blush of indie—I signed with an agent and published two successful novels, Effortless With You and Perfectly Messy, with a small press. When I published with this press, I remember thinking “Cool, I’m an indie author now!” I enjoyed the community of my small press, and loved my editor and the detail the press put into its editorial process and covers. I learned so much! Logically, with two successful novels under my belt, It would’ve made sense for me to follow up with another deal with the press, or submit to bigger publishers. Unfortunately, life took over and directed me down another route. For health reasons I needed to be able to control my own deadlines, so I knew it was time to embrace my dream of self-publishing a little earlier then planned and dive into the role of a hybrid author. But in doing so, I’ve discovered myself exploring an incredibly gray area that I didn’t realize existed. You see, from an indie perspective I’m considered a traditional author, despite publishing with a small press. And the traditional world? Well, they consider my small press success as an indie success. And the audiences? They are split the same way! Funny, huh? So where does a hybrid author fit? Some would argue nowhere, but I think we’re the chameleons of the book industry. I don’t know why it shocked me that there are “cliques” within the publishing world. People group together. It’s what we do. I’ve never fit in with a clique though, of any sort, and that’s the key of being a hybrid author. The challenge is all about dancing between the two lines of publishing. It’s a rich experience, not just “knowing” that all publishing is simply that- publishing, but living it. There are equal but different obstacles and both require immense work. You discover there is no “right road” for you, but rather per book. Some characters scream out hopes of a traditional route, while others boldly request the control that self publishing offers. like Autumn and Colt in my...

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Pitch Madness 2015 SORRY! Edition … agent game rules & submission instructions.
Feb16

Pitch Madness 2015 SORRY! Edition … agent game rules & submission instructions.

The submission window for Pitch Madness SORRY! Edition is this Friday! What is Pitch Madness? It’s a contest to win a request from one or more of the participating agents. I will have an agent introduction post up soon. The submission window will be open from 12:01 AM EST on February 20 until 11:59PM EST on February 23. You should have plenty of time to get your submissions in. There is no limit of how many entries will be accepted. All entries sent before or after the allotted times will be deleted. Make sure to perfect your entry. If you make an error, you may not resend. There will be 60 finalists moving onto the agent round. Pitch Madness will accept Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult (never before published) fiction only, novel length (no novellas) completed and polished manuscripts only. All genres (i.e. fantasy, contemporary, sci-fi, and so on) are welcome to enter. This time around we will not accept non-fiction. Only one entry per writer. What do you need to enter? A 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of your finished manuscript. If the 250th word falls in the middle of a sentence, go to the end of the sentence. There will be a form on the submission post on Brenda Drake’s blog for you to fill out and submit your entry. Please enter only once. You will not get an email receipt. Look for the notice after you submit that says it was received. Pitch Madness will be on four blogs and each blog host will have a co-host helping them choose their top 15 entries. We’ll have a team of first readers who will check for formatting, grammar, and content and put their top picks through to the hosts. To meet the readers and the teams go to this post here. Here are the host blogs … Brenda Drake’s blog Rebecca Coffindaffer’s blog Summer Heacock’s blog Sharon Johnston’s blog All the twitter fun will happen on the hashtag #PitchMadness! The agents will be playing a game to win their top requests and have some time alone with them before they’re sent to the other requesting agents. To meet our agents go to this post here. Here are the rules of the SORRY! game the agents will play … First Round – March 2-3 (Midnight to Midnight EST) Starting on March 2 just after Midnight EST and until the end of March 3 the agents will visit the host blogs, read the entries, and enter their moves (requests) for the pitches they want. The comments will be on moderate so that agents...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Gina Denny and Mina Vaughn!
Feb11

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Gina Denny and Mina Vaughn!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today I am so beyond excited to introduce you to Gina Denny and her Pitch Wars mentor Mina Vaughn for a Q and A regarding her recent success! Jennifer recently signed with Kirsten Carleton with Waxman Leavell Literary Agency.  So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Gina, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Mina? Funny story. I didn’t actually apply to Mina. While I worked through the A-MA-ZING list of mentors, I knew I was going to have some tough choices. In the end, I had seven mentors I wanted to apply to (Mina was on that list), but I decided not to apply to anybody I considered a friend through twitter or facebook. I didn’t want to think “Why didn’t my friend pick me???” so I reluctantly crossed Mina off my list. It hurt to make that choice because I knew the romance in my story needed help, but it felt like it would hurt less if I didn’t get in and was rejected only by people I barely knew.  Mina, what about Gina’s application made you choose her? Actually, Gina’s application didn’t even go to me! While my pile was full of good entries, I didn’t feel that “connection” with a manuscript like I felt with my last year’s mentor, Kristen Reynolds. I wanted that magic again. So, what I did was solicit entries from other Adult mentors for good pitches they weren’t selecting. When Dan Koboldt suggested Gina’s pitch, I knew I was in for something special. Her pitch was great, but her MS was fantastic. And, the best part was that I KNEW what I could help with. I could make the right about of difference to a near-perfect work. Anything can happen in Pitch Wars, and we’re so happy you found each other. And Gina, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? It oddly enough came at a very tumultuous time in my life, and revising actually felt like a breath of fresh air, rather than the stressful activity most people say it is. Mina gave me a handful of “overall” notes – things that needed to be fixed throughout the manuscript, plus pinpointed a half-dozen scenes where the romance needed work. She gave me perfect advice, exactly what I needed. Instead of vague suggestions, she held my hand through it: “Slow this down, use more sensory details, this sentence is what’s messing up the vibe here”. It was everything I needed and...

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Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Abby Cooper and Gail Nall!
Feb10

Another Pitch Wars Success Interview with Abby Cooper and Gail Nall!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today I am so beyond excited to introduce you to Abby Cooper and her Pitch Wars mentor Gail Nall for a Q and A regarding her recent success! Abby recently signed with Rebecca Sherman of Writers House and went on to sell her middle grade novel, STICKS AND STONES, to FSG/Macmillan, which is schedule to release in 2016. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Abby, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Gail? Lots of reasons! As I read her bio and her blog posts, I noticed that we had a similar writing style, and I knew she’d be able to help take my writing to the next level. She also seemed like an awesome, friendly person who would be a lot of fun to work with. Plus, her mentor bio mentioned chocolate a lot, and you can’t go wrong with anyone who loves chocolate that much. You just can’t. And now we know why Gail is so sweet – she’s made of chocolate! So Gail, what about Abby’s application made you choose her? The voice! Abby’s entry was brimming with authentic, funny middle grade voice. And her hook was really intriguing — when someone calls Elyse a name, the word appears on her arms or legs. It was so original! The premise of STICKS AND STONES is amazing. I can’t wait to read it! And Abby, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? Gail’s notes were amazing. They were a perfect mix of “let’s work on this” and “I love this part so much I want to give it a hug.” I devoted all of my free time to revision that month and it felt SO good. It was so great to see my book grow and evolve a little more each day. Gail made me think about things in new ways and gave such insightful suggestions. It was hard work, but it was exciting. I loved every minute.   Gail, tell us about your experience with mentoring Abby. How was mentoring your other team members?  Abby was AMAZING. Seriously, she revises faster than anyone I’ve ever met, and she really takes all suggestions to heart. She didn’t just input everything I said — she thought about it all, and usually came up with something even better than what I suggested. She asked lots of questions, and she has the best personality. We clicked pretty much right away. The rest of my team that year (and my team...

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Guest Post by Katie Bucklein … A Journey to Success!
Feb07

Guest Post by Katie Bucklein … A Journey to Success!

  I think it’s safe to say this has been a looooooooooooooooong time in coming! And I am SO BEYOND THRILLED to say I have an agent!!! Thus, I’m going to have a slew of celebratory gifs.   I have been dreaming about the day when I get to say I AM NOW AN AGENTED WRITER. I still can’t get over it, and I signed the contract on February 2nd! Let me back up a bit, because this journey has been long. And when I say long, boy do I mean long. Back in the summer of 2013 after I graduated from high school, I wrote a novel. It was not my first novel–far from it! I’ve been writing since I was twelve (I am now twenty), and had completed many novels in my time. It was, however, the only one I deemed publication-worthy. It was titled IN THE MIDST OF MONSTERS, and some of you may remember me talking about it (I can’t believe it’s been that long since I got my Twitter/started my blog). I thought it was the best book I’d ever written. I joined WriteOnCon where I met my fabulous first critique partner Sarah Glenn Marsh. She helped me spiff up my manuscript. On September 17th, 2013 I sent several queries out, and more and more rejections began piling up. So I revised my query (it needed revising, I can assure you), and on October 9th, 2013, I got my first full request. A month later, it turned into a rejection. Fast forward to December of 2013. By now, I’d gotten another critique partner–the wondrous Anne Tedeton–and had become quite numb to rejections. But, nonetheless, I spiffed up my query again and entered PitchWars with MONSTERS. Lo and behold, I was chosen by the stupendous Stephanie Garber as the mentee of Team PPU (Phantom Pirate Universe, a nod to each of our manuscripts). I met my other team members Melody Marshall and Julie Dao, and one thing led to another and suddenly we were swapping chapters as we waited for Stephanie to get back to us with notes. And when those notes came in, it was a brutal wake-up call. But it was–and is–the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Ever. Stephanie pinpointed every single thing that was wrong with my manuscript in the most detailed letter she somehow managed to complete while balancing being a teacher, revising her own manuscript with her agent, and regular life activities such as eating and sleeping. (I honestly don’t know how she did it.) She taught me things about writing I had no idea were...

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How to Write Realistic Dialogue

It’s probably because I was a playwright first before writing novels (or maybe because I’m a chatty person who can’t shut up–ask my cubicle mate), but I am obsessed with dialogue! It’s my favorite part of creating my characters and watching them work their way through my stories. But sometimes crafting dialogue in an authentic way with a unique voice can be one of the most challenging components to master. That’s why I came up with the S.P.E.A.K. technique to help myself and fellow writers remember some important tips to ensure we’re focusing on our dialogue in a way that strengthens our entire books from characterization to progressing the plot. The vlog above was made for the site I co-manage–Whiskey, Wine, and Writing–and Brenda asked me to share it with all of you. S.P.E.A.K. stands for… Skip the Obvious Pay Attention to Voice Engage the Scene Always Check Your Tags Keep it Brief Watch the video above to see how focusing on these things can strengthen your own characters’ dialogue. Do you have your own tips and tricks to writing authentic dialogue? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks for watching and have a wildly creative...

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