NINE by DM King and His Path to Publishing
May31

NINE by DM King and His Path to Publishing

TITLE: Nine Author: D. M. King Publisher: Snow Leopard Publishing, LLC Publication Date: May 6, 2016 Amazon  |  Goodreads About the Book . . . 16 year-old Faith Monroe needs to know if there’s an assigned seat for her in the universe before she loses her life. It’s the year 2025, and she’s one of several teens slated to discover her expiration date, but there’s only one complication: The transport she’s riding in has a number of teens, including herself, who never received the extraterrestrial death chip. A device implanted at birth set to kill you at your appointed time. As perfect genetic matches for the leaders of the planet NINE, Faith and her friends must prevent an assimilation of their souls. Training her soul to resist won’t be easy. In fact, she’ll have to die first. A soul can’t fight back while it’s still attached to a living being. Faced with a nearly impossible choice, run away or stay and be trained, she summons the fearlessness to fight. Maybe she’s finally found the real reason she’s survived her illness, to restore the concept of dying by grand design rather than government mandate. Don King Speaks About His Path to Publishing . . . “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Einstein For years I thought for sure I was pursuing what would one day be my full-time job: songwriting. Lo and behold, I’ve been teaching 8th grade English for 21 years, and while I still write a song or two when inspired, it is NOT my job. Having taught reading and writing most of my career, I’ve seen such a decline in teenagers reading books, unless they have to read them. I made it my mission to change that in my classroom, and now some students still come to me instead of the library when they want something good to read. This is also the reason why I started writing YA novels. I pay attention to what teens want to read, so I have an inside track on their likes and dislikes. But that didn’t automatically make me a decent writer. I had a play published by Brooklyn Publishing and thought getting a book published would be as easy. WRONG. While I can honestly say that the past five years seeking an agent has been a learning experience for me, facing rejection after rejection took its toll. Fortunately– I never bowed to the temptation to quit, which is why I finally found success with Marc Estes at Snow Leopard Publishing. He saw something in my work that could be nurtured, and I’m proud to say my debut novel...

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THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO by Kristin Bartley Lenz . . . Cover Reveal
May31

THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO by Kristin Bartley Lenz . . . Cover Reveal

TITLE: The Art of Holding On and Letting Go AUTHOR: Kristin Bartley Lenz PUBLISHER: Elephant Rock Productions, Inc. PUBLICATION DATE: September 12, 2016 Amazon | B & N | IndieBound |  Goodreads   About the Book . . . “When every piece falls into place, it’s like a dance, a delicate but powerful balancing act. The art of holding on and letting go at the same time.” Competitive climber Cara Jenkins feels most at home high off the ground, clinging to a rock wall by her fingertips. She’s enjoyed a roaming life with her mountaineering parents, making the natural world her jungle gym, the writings of Annie Dillard and Henry David Thoreau her textbooks. But when tragedy strikes on an Ecuadorian mountaintop, Cara’s nomadic lifestyle comes to an abrupt halt. Starting over at her grandparents’ home in suburban Detroit, Cara embarks on a year of discovery, uncovering unknown strengths, friendships, and first love. Cara’s journey illustrates the transformative power of nature, love and loss, and discovering that home can be far from where you started.   Kristin Bartley Lenz Website  |  Twitter Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker from metro-Detroit who fell in love with the mountains when she moved to Georgia and California. Now she’s back in Detroit where she plots wilderness escapes and manages the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). The Art of Holding On and Letting Go is her first...

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Pitch Wars Success Story with Heidi Stallman and Her Mentor Jessica Vitalis!
May30

Pitch Wars Success Story with Heidi Stallman and Her Mentor Jessica Vitalis!

  Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is when we hear about successes. Today we celebrate Heidi Stallman and her Pitch Wars mentor Jessica Vitalis! Heidi recently signed with Lisa Rogers of JABerwocky Literary Agency, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for yer. So please join me in congratulating Heidi and Jessica as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story.   Heidi, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Jessica? A number of things jumped out at me as I read Jessica’s blog post describing her critiquing style and manuscript wish list. Her critique partners had glowing things to say about her. She also said that she was going to make her mentee work very hard but she would be there to cheer him or her on the whole way. Most of all, everything about her post was genuine, sincere and confident. She was one of the few mentees who didn’t use a ton of gifs in her posts — nothing gimmicky, nothing that tried too hard. Just a straight, honest post about what she had to offer and what she wanted in return. That really resonated with me. I wanted someone with strong editorial skills. I wanted to work hard. I wanted encouragement from someone who loved my story. But most of all I wanted someone who would understand the heart of my story and the way I work because she’s a genuine, sincere person with a big heart, and I found that in Jessica. Jessica, what about Heidi’s application made you choose her? I was drawn to the magical premise and when I read the first chapter, I thought the writing was solid. But it wasn’t until I got to the journal entry at the end of the first chapter that I fell in love. The manuscript had structural issues, but since the voice was there and the writing was strong, I knew we could whip it into shape before the agent round. I also appreciated her thorough and professional response to my follow-up inquiry about her writing history (which I sent before making my final decision); it was clear to me that we’d work well together and she wasn’t a raving lunatic. J Heidi, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? It was intense, stressful and exciting. I chose to treat this experience like I would treat being chosen by an agent and then having to do an extensive round of revisions before going on submission. I trusted that my mentor truly loved my story and chose it because she had strong ideas of how to make it better. I also trusted myself enough...

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ARIEL, THE FIRST GUARDIAN by Sydney Scrogham . . . Cover Reveal and Path to Publishing
May30

ARIEL, THE FIRST GUARDIAN by Sydney Scrogham . . . Cover Reveal and Path to Publishing

TITLE: Ariel, The First Guardian AUTHOR: Sydney Scrogham PUBLISHER: Agalrae Creative RELEASE DATE: June 17, 2016 AMAZON  |  GOODREADS   About the Book . . . Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone. Ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force. Only an ancient purification ritual, the mind link, performed with another human can cure this infection. Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help. But she’s racing time. She’s infected, too. All the walls will have to come down so Ariel can heal or she will lose herself to the darkness forever. Ariel: The First Guardian is a story of true love that wins over time, the power of second chances, and redemption from abuse. This is a prequel to Chase in the Guardians of Agalrae series but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel. Sydney speaks about her path to self-publishing . . . My decision to self-publish wasn’t an easy one. In a world where publishing is becoming as diverse as the people behind it, I knew I needed a vision for my next book. If not, someone else would end up turning it into their vision, and that’s not something I wanted to compromise. Ariel: The First Guardian began as a way to cleanse my emotions from a bad break-up. But it escalated into so much more as I wrote. Ariel Harte, the strongest character I’ve ever written, comes from a background of sexual abuse. Her story packs a powerful message of redemption and finding life after trauma. I knew I couldn’t surrender Ariel’s story to just any publisher. And so, for the first time in my writing career, I rejected not one but two traditional publishing offers. I don’t say this to gloat, but rather to emphasize that when I say I chose self-publishing, I really chose self-publishing. As a writer wanting to publish for the long-haul, I think it’s important to have a vision for my work. Writing the story is only 2/3 of the battle. After weighing the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing, I decided self-publishing was for me because of the control.     Sydney Scrogham Website  |  Instagram  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest Sydney Scrogham loves creating happy endings. She started writing when she was 12. Her first book, Chase, was published by Koehler Books in August 2015. When she’s not writing, she’s at the barn with Snowdy or catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever – Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named...

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BORDER MARKERS by Jenny Ferguson . . . Cover Reveal!
May27

BORDER MARKERS by Jenny Ferguson . . . Cover Reveal!

TITLE: Border Markers AUTHOR: Jenny Ferguson PUBLISHER: NeWest Press PUBLICATION DATE: Expected in Fall 2016 Amazon  |  Goodreads   About the Book . . . After the accidental death of a high school-aged friend, the Lansing family has split along fault lines previously hidden under a patina of suburban banality. Every family’s got secrets, but for the Lansings those secrets end up propelling them away from the border town of Lloydminster to foreign shores, prison, and beyond. Told via thirty-three flash fiction narratives, fractured like the psyches of its characters, “Border Markers” is a collection with keen edges and tough language. It’s a slice of prairie noir that straddles the line between magic and gritty realism. Recalling Tania Hershman’s “The White Road and Other Stories,” as well as Robert Oren Butler’s “Severance,” Jenny Ferguson’s debut is an essential collection of commonplace tragedies and the ghosts of failures past. Jenny Ferguson Montréal-born Jenny Ferguson is a writer, editor, and teacher who lives in a log cabin (without an internet connection) and names her pets after (dead) American presidents. She holds a PhD in English from the University of South Dakota. ‎ She’s also a first year Pitch Wars mentor, and a former mentee (class of 2015). Border Markers, her debut novel, will be available September 2016 from NeWest Press. Website   |  Twitter...

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Day 19 (The Last One) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Laura Heffernan
May26

Day 19 (The Last One) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Laura Heffernan

Welcome to May’s Voice Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected over thirty writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a 500 word sample that the writer chose from his or her manuscript where he or she felt they needed help with their voice. Our hope that these samples will help you with your work and that you’ll get to know some of our wonderful Pitch Wars mentors.We appreciate our mentors for giving up their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. We will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones. And now we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Laura Heffernan Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook Laura Heffernan is a reality TV addict and women’s fiction writer, represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary. When she’s not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, writing contests, and new experiences.  She’s ecstatic to be mentoring PitchWars this year for the second time. Laura lives in the Northeast with her husband and two furry little beasts, where she works as a freelance editor and tries to convince people that cookie dough is a key part of the food pyramid.       Laura’s 500 Word Critique . . . NA Fiction “I have a phone interview today with a psychic,” Chloe says as JJ shuffles into the kitchen early Friday morning in fuzzy slippers and baby– doll pajamas. Chloe is dressed for work; JJ hasn’t even flicked the crust from the corner of her eyes. I LOVE THIS LINE. GREAT WAY TO SHOW ME HOW JJ THINKS.   JJ shuffles to a cabinet, selects a mug and tea bag, and moves to the stove. She shakes the teapot. Half full. “Go ahead,” Chloe says. JJ mutters thanks as she studies Chloe’s face. A smear of iridescent white concealer floats beneath each eye—Chloe’s attempt to hide another night of too much Cabernet and not enough sleep. JJ decides not to mention it. She drops the teabag into her mug, pours the remaining hot water over it, and, still dragging her feet, moves toward the table for milk and honey. YOU’RE SHOWING ME A PRETTY MUNDANE BREAKFAST SCENE, AND I’M WONDERING IF THERE’S SOME REASON I NEED TO SEE JJ MAKING TEA. THE FIRST PART OF THIS PARAGRAPH IS GOOD, BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE I’M GETTING A SENSE OF JJ AS A CHARACTER, BUT THE LAST SENTENCE DOESN’T SEEM NECESSARY (OR COULD AT LEAST BE CUT...

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Day 18 of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Jennifer Blackwood
May25

Day 18 of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Jennifer Blackwood

  Welcome to May’s Voice Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected over thirty writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a 500 word sample that the writer chose from his or her manuscript where he or she felt they needed help with their voice. Our hope that these samples will help you with your work and that you’ll get to know some of our wonderful Pitch Wars mentors.We appreciate our mentors for giving up their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. We will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones. And now we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Jennifer Blackwood Website  |  Twitter Jennifer Blackwood is an English teacher and contemporary romance author. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. When not chasing after her toddler, you can find her binging on episodes of Gilmore Girls and Supernatural, and locking herself in her office to write.     Jennifer’s 500 Word Critique . . . YA Historical Fantasy Scotland, 1818. Ominous clouds hovered over the loch, and Rowan Sinclair was about to lose his chance at freedom. The dense, yeasty aroma of alcohol settled on the sleeping casks like a thick blanket as Rowan crept into the whisky warehouse. Through the thatched roof, slivers of moonlight illuminated ceiling-high stacks of barrels. He thumped his knuckles against the oak staves until a hollow sound responded, and then he rolled a large, empty barrel out of the building. Alistair leaned against the stone walls outside the warehouse, flask in hand. “Just what do you think you’re doing, lad?” Rowan grabbed an end with each hand and halted the cask. He straightened to his full height and looked down on the portly man. “Testing the device for the Laird.” His voice strengthened. “It’s empty, by the by.” As if he needed to steal whisky. His own peat reek tasted better than this dross. “But you said it wasn’t finished.” Alistair slugged a drink and wiped his ruddy face with his hand, nearly dropping the flask. The irony of Alistair’s employment as the Distillery Manager was not lost on Rowan. True, The Angel’s Wings wasnae finished to his satisfaction. It had taken nearly a year to create a machine that would help casks swim through the water, away from the greedy eyes of tax men. But the Laird was demanding the device now. Rowan had run out of time. “It’ll hold,” Rowan said. It had to. If...

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ARTIFACTS by Pete Catalano . . . Happy Belated Book Release!
May25

ARTIFACTS by Pete Catalano . . . Happy Belated Book Release!

  Title: ARTIFACTS Author: Pete Catalano Publisher: Month9Books Publication Date: May 17, 2016 Amazon  |  B&N   About the book . . .  It’s funny how one little letter can change a person’s life. Jax and his friends have been planning the summer of a lifetime at Camp Runamuck. However, when one of them is facing summer at a school desk for failing English, they watch those plans crash and burn! At the last moment they’re given a way out. An extra credit assignment to find several fake artifacts for a fairy tale display their teacher is presenting at the local library. Thinking they’ve hit the easiest-extra-credit-ever jackpot, they begin rummaging through any piles of junk they can find. As they start putting the clues together, they realize that what they’re really searching for is one authentic artifact that can rewrite fairy tales! Enlisting the aid of the Lost Boys, Jax and his friends battle fairy tale villains to see who can get their hand, or their hook, on it first.   Pete Catalano Goodreads  |  Facebook  |  Twitter I started writing Middle Grade a little more than three years ago. ARTIFACTS is the first book I have published. My wife and I live in Charlotte, NC with two very needy one hundred pound sheep dogs. I am always working on a new story because there are a multitude of characters living inside my head — battling to get out.  ...

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A FINE MESS by Kelly Siskind . . . Cover Reveal!
May24

A FINE MESS by Kelly Siskind . . . Cover Reveal!

  TITLE: A Fine Mess AUTHOR: Kelly Siskind PUBLISHER: Forever Yours RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2016 Amazon  |  Barns & Noble  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Goodreads Book Excerpt . . . The last person I want to see is Lily. But the plane lands. We disembark. Then we’re approaching the arrivals area. I drape my coat over my carry-on bag, which I’m dragging at an injured snail’s pace. The closer we get to the doors and the throng of people waiting for their loved ones, the tighter my gut twists. Maybe it’s food poisoning. Maybe it was the lamb on the flight. Sweat slicks my palms. Swallowing is painful. Definitely food poisoning. Kolton’s strides get longer. Purposeful. He hasn’t seen Shay in a month, and he’s been a cantankerous asshole. By the time he makes it to the door, he’s ten paces ahead of me. I exit as he drops his bag and closes the distance to her. Her curls fly as he picks her up, and she buries her face in his neck. They kiss as he lowers her to her feet, practically grinding against each other. It’s like watching the end of a romantic comedy filmed by Hugh Hefner. I avert my eyes and spot Lily. Her white-blond hair is tied up in a messy bun, a thin headband taming flyaway pieces. Her pale, freckled cheeks blush as she watches our friends maul each other, and my heart skips a beat. It flat-out stops. I almost pound my chest to restart it, unsure when I developed an arrhythmia. When the rhythm regulates, I take the moment to soak Lily in. Where some hipsters look like they spend hours perfecting their image so everyone knows they listen to bands no one’s heard of and eat organic food washed in purified water from Nepal, Lily’s style is effortless. Her three-quarter-length jacket hangs open over a cream sweater that hits her thighs. Her tight jeans are ripped in a few places, her feet turned in slightly. She may not be the type of girl I’d have envisioned during the Masturbation Olympics of my youth, but she’s all the inspiration I need these days. Her hand floats over her heart as she watches Kolton devour Shay, then her gaze lands on me. It, of course, happens when the chick from the plane appears at my side. She slips something into my pocket, her perfume circling me like a boa constrictor, and she presses her lips to my ear. “If you change your mind, call me.” My food poisoning worsens. As does my arrhythmia. I haven’t puked since I downed enough tequila on my...

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Day 17 (Part 2) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Jeanmarie Anaya
May24

Day 17 (Part 2) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Jeanmarie Anaya

Welcome to May’s Voice Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected over thirty writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a 500 word sample that the writer chose from his or her manuscript where he or she felt they needed help with their voice. Our hope that these samples will help you with your work and that you’ll get to know some of our wonderful Pitch Wars mentors.We appreciate our mentors for giving up their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. We will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones. And now we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Jeanmarie Anaya Website  |  Twitter Jeanmarie is a YA Contemporary writer represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. She’s a University of Michigan grad (Go Blue!) who somehow missed receiving her Hogwarts letter and has never gotten over the disappointment. You can find her on a beach in NYC, with a book in hand, wishing she could surf as well as her daughters.     Jeanmarie’s 500 Word Critique . . . YA Speculative Fiction I awake with an unexpected jerk. My mind is in shock from the awful nightmares. My head hurts, as does my left leg. I feel cool rough wood against my chest and the palms of my hands. My hair and clothes are still damp. A rhythmic chugging reverberates through my right ear that is pressed firmly into the floor. For a moment I cannot make out my surroundings, until it soon dawns upon me that I am alert and inside a moving freight train. I actually made it! [Not entirely sure of the voice yet, but I very much like the descriptive quality of the opening. Great details! You might want to knock out that filter word “feel” in the fourth sentence and rework it for more immediate impact. For ex., “Cool, rough wood digs into my chest and the palms of my hands.” Also, consider rewording the “it soon dawns upon me” part. It comes across as “telling” and I think you’ve done a good enough job here (particularly with the rhythmic chugging detail) to indicate that the main character’s on a train. I think it makes more of an impact if you just state the realization itself outright—“I actually made it! I am inside a moving freight train!”, rather than clog up the flow with extra words.] I lift my head and open my eyes to peer out of the opening of my boxcar. The sky is a deep charcoal, but a gentle glow of early sunlight warms the eastern horizon. [Beautiful line!] “He’s awake,” says a boy’s voice behind...

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Day 17 (Part 1) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Lynnette Labelle
May24

Day 17 (Part 1) of May’s Voice Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentor Lynnette Labelle

  Welcome to May’s Voice Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected over thirty writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a 500 word sample that the writer chose from his or her manuscript where he or she felt they needed help with their voice. Our hope that these samples will help you with your work and that you’ll get to know some of our wonderful Pitch Wars mentors.We appreciate our mentors for giving up their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. We will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones. And now we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Lynnette Labelle Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook Lynnette Labelle is a freelance editor with over fifteen years of experience. She’s the owner of Labelle’s Writing on the Wall, an editing and coaching service for writers. Her clients range from new writers to New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors like Roni Loren, Rebecca Hamilton, and Cristin Harber. Lynnette works with writers seeking traditional publishing and indie authors. She specializes in substantive/developmental editing, helps writers create hooky query letters and strong synopses, and she teaches several writing classes. Lynnette is also a romantic suspense author who injects a dark edge into romance. She finaled in the 2015 and 2016 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense Contest, and she won first place in the 2015 Molly Contest (romantic suspense category) offered through the Heart of Denver Romance Writers. She’s been a Pitch Wars mentor since 2015. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, twin daughters, and pets. Despite her love for fictional blood and gore, she gets weak at the sight of real blood. And spiders give her the creeps! Lynnette’s 500 Word Critique . . . MG Fantasy It all started with an egg. A purple one, just big enough to fit into the palm of your hand. (The beginning would be stronger if you could avoid using “it” at the start of the first sentence. The next sentence feels like you’re talking to the reader, but it doesn’t tell me much. Hand sizes vary, so this doesn’t show me the egg’s size. Plus, this is telling. Show us the story. Don’t tell us how it all began.) The Queen (Queen doesn’t need a capital Q here, but it works for your style in this genre as long as you keep it consistent.) eyed it suspiciously through the columns of steam curling around her gigantic purple body. (Avoid using adverbs and adjectives. Use...

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Vlog: Who Should Apply to Pitch Wars?
May23

Vlog: Who Should Apply to Pitch Wars?

This is the first installment on a video blogging series about Pitch Wars. Have any questions you want covered in a future video or just questions in general? Comment below! Anyone getting excited about Pitch Wars already? Don’t forget to check out the buzz on Twitter with...

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