Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Hema Penmetsa and her mentor, Holly Faur
Jun21

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Hema Penmetsa and her mentor, Holly Faur

  Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Hema Penmetsa and her Pitch Wars mentor Holly Faur! Hema recently signed with Jaida Temperly of New Leaf Literary and Media Inc., and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating Hema and Holly as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story.     What was it about Holly that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? The first time I read Holly’s wish list, I couldn’t believe my eyes—it was as though she was asking exactly for my novel. Then I researched her Twitter presence and author website, and like I mentioned in my previous Pitch Wars interview, I found that she was easygoing and had a wonderful sense of humor (two crucial qualities in someone with whom, with any luck, I’d be working closely for the next two months and hopefully developing a lasting friendship). So, Holly took the top spot on the list of my mentor choices (along with five other fabulous mentors who were also looking for themes like mine). As I began working with her, I realized that I couldn’t have chosen better, because Holly has this way of infusing you with self-confidence and a quiet purpose that helps you to keep moving forward. Holly, what was it about Hema’s BEYOND THE CARVED WALLS that hooked you? The query hooked me right away since it was filled with everything I wanted: places new to me, strong women, and diversity. Her pages proved she had an amazing sense of story and I was caught up with the MC on page one—and she hadn’t even tempted me with descriptions of Indian cuisine yet! But what I loved the most was the obvious care and respect in which she wrote about a difficult time in India. Tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Holly first sent me an edit letter with suggestions of over-arching changes and structural improvements. After she line-edited half of my whopping 400-page book (so that I could carry over the edits through the rest of the book), she sent me a second edit letter with detailed suggestions that were specific to scenes and individual character arcs. Once we discussed (over emails and phone conversations) our mutual vision both for the big changes and smaller tweaks, every time I added a new scene or made huge alterations, I’d send her the word file (with track changes on) at the end of the day. She’d read the additions and suggest tightening them in places. I believe this micro-critiquing helped the process of final line...

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Day 32 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Destiny Cole, Austin Siegemund-Broka, and Emily Wibberley
Jun21

Day 32 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Destiny Cole, Austin Siegemund-Broka, and Emily Wibberley

Welcome to our Query and 1st Page Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected writers to participate in our query and first page workshops. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query or 500 word opening from our lucky winners. We’ll be posting four critiques per day (except weekends) through July 7. Our hope is that these samples will help shine up your query and first page 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. First up we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Destiny Cole Website | Twitter | Instagram Destiny Cole is a YA writer and digital marketer who loves books and words almost as much as she loves chips and salsa. Destiny is rep’d by Kirsten Carleton at Prospect Agency.   Destiny’s Query Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Urban Fantasy Dear (Agent): Cade Hightower is about to go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit—in other words, business as usual for a professional body switcher. For his best client and double his normal fee, he’s willing to take on the occasional illegal job like this, but mostly he tries manages to keep on the right side of his own moral line, no pranks, no lie detector tests, and no switching bodies without permission. But magic doesn’t just run in Cade’s blood. His Cade’s sister Daphne is an Arcanist, a practitioner of the art of injectable magic. She can give a politician a shot of Charisma or help a perpetually dieting starlet with a syringe-full of Will Power. Her clients are rich or powerful or both, and they count on Daphne’s discretion. Brother and sister haven’t lived together since Cade was twelve and Daphne was sixteen, when Daphne left home for her Arcanist training. That’s when their mom got sick, their dad disappeared, and Cade was left with only his uncle to rely on. He never told his sister how bad it was, and he’s been shielding Daphne from the truth—and resenting her ignorance—ever since. This whole paragraph lost me. It drags. We’re two paragraphs in and there’s no stakes or plot mentioned yet. When Daphne decides to repair their estrangement by moving in with Cade, he isn’t sure how long he can keep his bitterness hidden. At the same time, they discover that not all body switchers are as scrupulous as Cade. Someone’s using...

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Day 32 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Heather Cashman and Mae Respicio
Jun21

Day 32 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Heather Cashman and Mae Respicio

Welcome to our Query and 1st Page Workshop with some of our amazing Pitch Wars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected writers to participate in our query and first page workshops. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query or 500 word opening from our lucky winners. We’ll be posting four critiques per day (except weekends) through July 7. Our hope is that these samples will help shine up your query and first page 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. First up we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Heather Cashman (that’s me ;))  Website | Twitter | Editorial Services With a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, the lab reports always lacked the fantastical element Heather’s imagination demands. Hypotheses turned into taglines and novels that range from Epic Fantasy to Contemporary Speculative Fiction. Agent Intern. Managing Director of Pitch Wars, #PitMad, and Pitch Madness. Previously an editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, Heather now freelance edits queries, synopses, pages, and full novels for middle grade, young adult, and select adult fiction. Member, SCBWI.   Heather’s Query Critique… Age Category: Adult Genre: Fiction The Legislature says women must breed and produce a viable fetus. The Legislature says parents must relinquish their children. The Legislature says violators will be executed. [This is a personal preference, as you will also find with agents. I’d put your hook and title paragraph up front. Not all agents want it that way, so this should really be personalized. But I like a strong hook, the logline, the one-line pitch about the heart of your novel, and then the specifics of the TITLE, wordcount, age category, genre, etc. That said, beginning a SF/F query with something unique about the world is an excellent idea. I’d dial it back a bit. In a world where the Legislature says women must breed and then relinquish their children or be executed, Julianna has promised to avenge her girlfriend’s brutal murder.] Allegiant on the surface, LGBTQ Julianna has done an almost perfect job of fooling the Legislature into thinking she’s loyal, even though they brutally murdered her girlfriend in front of her.   But she made a promise to her dead lover: she’d remain alive, stoic and tormented by her loss, and find some way to avenge her death. [Death is redundant. I’d remove. Also, the phrase, “Allegiant on the surface” tripped me up. I kept thinking it meant she was an...

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