Day 42 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Kelly Hopkins and Neal Chase
Jul07

Day 42 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Kelly Hopkins and Neal Chase

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 Kelly Hopkins Website | Twitter Kelly has a Bachelor’s degree (Magna Cum Laude) in English/Secondary Education from Marywood University and a Master’s of Education degree in School Library and Information Technologies from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. She’s a Creative Writing teacher and school librarian. She has lectured at Keystone College on Celtic Mythology and will be presenting a workshop on Perfecting Query Letters and Pitches at their Gathering Conference in July 2016. Kelly lives in NE Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and three rescue horses. Kelly’s Query Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Young Adult GENRE: Urban Fantasy Sixteen-year-old Azrielle Grave is [Changed font to italic.] one of the things that goes bump in the night. Except this cockatrice [Is she a dragon? A cockatrice is a mythical creature. If so, you will want to make sure the reader understands her duality.] isn’t a hunter anymore, she’s the one being stalked [by whom? Or what?]. The exposed [How] supernatural world is at risk of extinction thanks to special agencies created by humans to terminate the threat [Why is the supernatural world a threat to humans?] . A semi-voluntary recruit, Azrielle trains to infiltrate behind enemy lines [Who is the enemy?] in an underground academy. But the death toll [Humans or supernaturals?] is rising too fast and she is being sent on an undercover assignment [What is the assignment? Who is sending her?] now, years before she’s ready. . [Think about the basics of good query design: character, conflict, and stakes. Another thing to consider is your genre. If this is urban fantasy, where is this story located? It feels more straight fantasy here especially if most of the story occurs below ground or in an alternate Earth.] Raid Ameen is determined to do his part to save humanity. A weapon’s expert at seventeen, he enjoys putting bullets into...

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Day 42 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors,  Austin Siegemund-Broka, Emily Wibberley, Kristin Smith & Beth Ellyn Summer
Jul07

Day 42 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Austin Siegemund-Broka, Emily Wibberley, Kristin Smith & Beth Ellyn Summer

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 Mentors Austin Siegemund-Broka, and Emily Wibberley Emily’s Twitter | Austin’s Twitter Austin Siegemund-Broka cowrites YA contemporary with Emily Wibberley. A former journalist for The Hollywood Reporter, where he covered the courts and, yes, met a couple celebrities, he graduated from Harvard in 2014 with a degree in English and a focus on Shakespeare. Emily Wibberley grew up in Southern California, but instead of working on her nonexistent tan at the beach, she spent her time reading, making music and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She attended Princeton University, where she graduated in 2014 with a degree in Psychology. She and Austin now live and write YA contemporary together. Their debut, UPSTAGED, publishes from Puffin in 2018. They live in Los Angeles. Upstaged by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley Pitched as a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, about a teen girl who always winds up playing the Rosaline in her off-stage relationships – the girl before he finds “the one” – but when cast as Juliet in her school play, she begins to notice the Romeo she never expected. Goodreads Austin and Emily’s Query Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Fantasy Not even Razsha the Ruthless is surprised when nobles call for her death. What does surprise her is the accusation of killing two chieftains. Now she must keep her wits as sharp as her swords to get the elimination order rescinded. [Great opening paragraph. Tension, character motivation, a little wit, and immediately comprehensible conflict] Since a noble can roam a person’s mind the way tall ships roam the sea, Razsha approaches a noble to barter for his mediation with the clans. [Mind-roaming is a very cool idea—clarify though the connection to mediation. Is it mind-reading or mind-manipulation?] Krovdan’s not just any noble; he’s the enforcer of the most powerful clan. [Why does Razsha go to him? Because he’s the enforcer? Is there another...

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Day 41 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Gail Villanueva, Isabelle Adrid, & Heather Cashman
Jul06

Day 41 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Gail Villanueva, Isabelle Adrid, & Heather Cashman

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 Mentors Gail Villanueva and Isabelle Adrid … Gail Villanueva is a Filipina author based in the Philippines. She runs a design studio with her husband in the outskirts of Manila, but also does freelance copywriting on the side. When not in front of her computer coding a website or writing a story, you’ll find her in the backyard, playing with four dogs, five ducks, a chicken, a turtle, and a cat. Gail writes upmarket MG, both historical and contemporary, and with elements of magic. Her fiction is represented by Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group. Find Gail: Twitter | Website Isabelle Adrid is a YA author who writes contemporary fiction with speculative elements. She is also an avid reader of MG books. She was born and raised in San Diego, and she currently resides in the Philippines. When she’s not writing or reading books, you’ll find her binge-watching TV shows, movies, and Korean dramas. Her work is represented by Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary and Management. Find Isabelle: Twitter | Website Gail and Isabelle’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Young Adult GENRE: Dark Epic Fantasy Dear _____: I am seeking representation for my YA dark epic fantasy with a Middle Eastern-inspired setting. Seventeen-year-old resistance fighter Sidara has a wit as sharp as her sword [Sidara sounds like a cool heroine, one who isn’t your stereotypical damsel in distress. But who is Sidara apart from her sharp wit? Is she a princess? A soldier? A magic user? A commoner? A blacksmith? An assassin? Specifying what makes Sidara special will also help set the tone of your query. We will have no doubt it’s a fantasy, because right now, “resistance fighter” and “sword” alone gives us historical vibes instead of fantasy.]  and nothing left to lose [While “nothing to lose” can give the impression that Sidara has something going on that brought her into such state, it would...

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Day 41 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors Naomi Hughes and Kellye Garrett
Jul06

Day 41 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors Naomi Hughes and Kellye Garrett

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 Naomi Hughes  …   Website | Editing Website | Twitter Naomi Hughes has been a freelance editor for a little over three years, as well as occasionally serving as an Assistant Editor over at Entangled Publishing. She’s also a YA/MG writer herself and loves to hide sneaky fandom references (Doctor Who! Pacific Rim! Sherlock!) in her quirky speculative fiction stories. She lives in the rural South with her husband, daughter, and a border collie named after a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender. You can follow her on Twitter at @NaomiLHughes.   Naomi’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: SCI-FI Dear Pitch Wars Query Mentor, Izzy Rodriguez’s life is unraveling fast. [This isn’t the strongest opening sentence; it feels similar to the very common “Xyz character was normal until” opening in that it could describe pretty much any main character from any story. Try getting us immediately into the specifics of her conflict instead by starting out with something like “When x happens, Izzy Rodriguez must do y.”] She will soon lose her job and her mentor, and may be forced into servitude. To save her freedom, Izzy must campaign to become the next leader of the moon base. [This feels like a potentially super cool premise! However, it’s not clear why exactly campaigning is her only alternative to forced servitude, so I’m left a little confused as a reader. To make this feel like a snappier logline type of opening, try shortening it into one streamlined sentence that gives us a succinct overview of the conflict before you go into more depth below–otherwise, it feels like this is simply the beginning of your story rather than its logline, which is where the confusion results. A good logline might be something along the lines of “Locked in a heated political race on a desolate moon...

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Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett . . . signed ARC Giveaway!
Jul06

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett . . . signed ARC Giveaway!

TITLE: Hollywood Homicide AUTHOR: Kellye Garrett PUBLISHER: Midnight Ink (August 8, 2017)   Pre-order links . . . Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads   About the book . . . Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash. But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second—until someone tries to kill her. And there are no second takes in real life. Praise for Hollywood Homicide . . . “Veteran TV writer Garrett uses her Cold Case experience to inform her debut, which sets up more than one charming character and isn’t afraid to go cynical on all things LA.”—Kirkus Reviews “Fun, smart, endearingly flawed and impressively determined, Dayna Anderson is a heroine readers will fall in love with immediately. I relished every unexpected twist and turn of this highly entertaining mystery!”—Kyra Davis, New York Times bestselling author “Hollywood Homicide is a non-stop fun read with humor sharp as a stiletto heel. Heroine Dayna Anderson . . . is smart, self-deprecating and flat-out hilarious.”—Ellen Byron, Agatha-nominated and USA Today bestselling author of The Cajun Country Mysteries “Hollywood Homicide has a heart as big as Los Angeles, a plot as twisty as the 110 Freeway and a heroine just as complex as the burger battle between In N Out and Fatburger. Kellye Garrett makes you laugh and then, hits you in the gut—like a great novelist should. Can’t wait for the next adventure with Garrett and Dayna Anderson!”—Rachel Howzell Hall, author of critically-acclaimed LAPD Detective Elouise Norton series “There’s a spunky new sleuth in town: Dayna Anderson takes readers on a madcap ride through the underbelly of La La Land, laced with high fashion, Twitter feeds, celebrities—and murder!”—Lucy Burdette, author of the bestselling Key West Food Critic Mysteries “Buckle up for a fun, fast-paced joyride through the streets of Los Angeles. Hollywood Homicide is packed with action and suspense, but it’s Garrett’s fresh voice and sharp dialogue that really sets this book apart. A delight from start to finish!”—Marla Cooper, author of the Destination Wedding Mystery series “Funny, twisty, compelling. Hollywood Homicide is the whole...

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Happy Release to The Sisters of Alameda Street by Lorena Hughes!
Jul05

Happy Release to The Sisters of Alameda Street by Lorena Hughes!

Available for purchase now! Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound Add it to Goodreads   About the book … ONE FAMILY, FOUR SISTERS, AND A MYSTERY THAT MIGHT UNRAVEL THEM ALL When Malena’s tidy, carefully planned world collapses with her father’s mysterious suicide, she finds a letter, signed with an “A,” which reveals that her mother is very much alive in San Isidro—a quaint town tucked in the Andes Mountains. Intent on meeting her, Malena arrives at Alameda Street and meets four unconventional women who couldn’t be more different from one another, but who share one thing in common: all of their names begin with an A. To avoid a scandal, Malena assumes another woman’s identity and enters their home to discover the truth. Could her mother be Amanda, the iconoclastic widow who opens the first tango nightclub in a conservative town? Ana, the ideal housewife with a less-than-ideal past? Abigail, the sickly sister in love with a forbidden man? Or Alejandra, the artistic introvert scarred by her cousin’s murder? But living a lie will bring Malena additional problems, such as falling for the wrong man and loving a family she may lose when they learn of her deceit. Worse, her arrival threatens to expose long-buried secrets and a truth that may wreck her life forever. Set in 1960s Ecuador, The Sisters of Alameda Street is a sweeping story of how one woman’s search for the truth of her identity forces a family to confront their own past. About the author … Website | Twitter Lorena Hughes was born and raised in Ecuador until moving to the United States at eighteen. She has a degree in fine arts and mass communication & journalism from The University of New Mexico. Her previous work has won first place at the 2011 Southwest Writers International Contest in the historical fiction category, earned an honorable mention at the 2012 Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and placed quarter-finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakout Novel Award....

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Day 40 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Susan Gray Foster and RuthAnne Snow
Jul05

Day 40 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Susan Gray Foster and RuthAnne Snow

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 Susan Gray Foster … Website | Twitter Susan Gray Foster was born into a family of avid readers and has been hoping to impress them with her writing ever since. When she’s not struggling in her quest to spin words into magic, she helps her high school students find the magic in classic literature, and helps other writers discover the magic in their own writing, both as a freelance editor and as a book coach at Author Accelerator. Susan believes in creativity and empathy, and enjoys tea, songwriting, reading, and hanging out with her dogs. She lives with her ever-patient Aussie husband in Arizona’s beautiful Sonoran Desert, and she’s her kids’ number one fan. Her YA fiction is represented by Caitlin Blasdell, Liza Dawson Associates. Susan’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: YA GENRE: Dark Fantasy Dear [Agent]: Desperate to leave behind her life as an assassin, eighteen-year old Jennica makes a bargain with a powerful immortal. [I love the way you jump right into the story. This is intriguing!] In return for protecting a child who holds a corrupt magic in check, [I’m not quite sure what this means. Does the child have the corrupt magic but they’re holding it in check? Or the child holds others’ corrupt magic in check? Also, what is this corrupt magic? Obviously, you can’t include a lot of detail in a query, but I’d like some hint of what this means. Is it dangerous?] Jennica is offered a way to atone for the crimes she’s committed. [Does protecting the child allow her to atone? Or protecting the child just allows her the chance to atone by doing something else?] More than redemption, Jennica wants to vanquish the darkness within her that revels in the cruelty and suffering she inflicts on others. [Oooh! This is dark and intriguing! I wonder if you could condense and combine this...

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Day 40 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentor, Dawn Ius
Jul05

Day 40 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentor, Dawn Ius

  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. Today we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Dawn Ius Twitter | Website DAWN IUS is a short-story author, novelist, screenwriter, professional editor, and communications specialist. She is co-founder and senior editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Assistant Managing Editor of the International Thriller Writers’ e-zine, The Big Thrill, and the author of ten educational graphic novels published by the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. Her first contemporary young adult novel, ANNE & HENRY, will be published Fall 2015 from Simon Pulse, and her yet unpublished novel HEARTLESS was recently optioned for development of a TV show by Verite Films. Dawn also writes young adult thriller and paranormal fiction under the last name DALTON. Her short story, THREAD OF THE PAST was included in the SPIRITED anthology (Leap Books, 2012), and her novel, KILLER’S INSTINCT (Leap Books, 2013), co-written with Judith Graves, was nominated for the Silver Falchion award. As well, her short story DRUNK was published in an Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired anthology, FALLING FOR ALICE, April 2015, by Vine Leaves Press. When she’s not slaying fictional monsters, she’s geeking out over fairy tales, Jack Bauer, Halloween, sports cars, and all things that go bump in the night. Dawn lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Jeff, and their giant English Mastiff, Roarke. Dawn’s recent book … Amazon | Barnes & Noble In this wonderfully “clever and compelling” (Kirkus Reviews) retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school. Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved. Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life. Wild, brash, and...

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Pitch Wars Webinars: A Query Workshop with Agent Jim McCarthy
Jul03

Pitch Wars Webinars: A Query Workshop with Agent Jim McCarthy

WEBINARS Pitch Wars Webinars Presents… A Query Workshop with Agent Jim McCarthy, Vice President of Dystel, Goderich, & Bourret Literary Agency In this live webinar, Jim McCarthy invites you to peek behind the curtain and watch exactly what happens when an agent considers your query. Working from your pre-submitted queries,  participants will have the chance to read along with him as he decides whether to stop reading or carry on. You’ll see the exact moment in query letters that he perks up or passes. He promises to be all the way honest but also to share feedback that is not only proscriptive but kind. Along the way, you’ll garner helpful tips on what to avoid as you write your own query, how to stand out from the pack (in a good way), and what goes on in an agent’s mind as they consider your material. THIS WORKSHOP IS NOW ONLY OPEN TO OBSERVE, NOT TURN IN YOUR OWN QUERY FOR REVIEW (Price has been adjusted.) The Details . . . Date: Tuesday, July 25 Time: 8:30 pm ET Cost: $25 $20 to attend the workshop Instructions: Register using the form below and upload your receipt. Don’t forget to send your query letter to brendadrakecontests@gmail.com no later than 5 pm ET on Tuesday, July 18 with the subject line “Query letter for Jim McCarthy workshop.” Please note: There is a 30 person limit for the webinar About Jim McCarthy . . . Twitter | Website  Jim McCarthy is Vice President and literary agent at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management in New York, NY. He has been with the agency for 18 years, initially starting as an intern way back in the ‘90s. He represents a wide range of fiction, adult and young adult, commercial and literary. He is also seeking narrative nonfiction, particularly memoir, history, and pop culture. His clients include New York Times bestsellers Richelle Mead, Victoria Laurie, Morgan Rhodes, Livia Blackburne, Robin Talley, among many more. THIS WEBINAR IS NOW OPEN WITHOUT QUERY SUBMISSION   [vfb id=’21’] (You don’t need a Paypal account to donate. Just go to the bottom and you can use a credit card.) About Pitch Wars Webinars… The Pitch Wars webinar series was developed to help writers at every stage of their careers. Mentors and industry experts will host webinars focused on pitching, publishing, developing craft, and more. Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors work with their mentees for two months before an agent round. Learn more. Save Save Save Save...

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Pitch Wars 2017 … all the details!
Jul01

Pitch Wars 2017 … all the details!

We’re so excited for our sixth Pitch Wars! For those unfamiliar with Pitch Wars, it’s a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer edits on how to make the manuscript shine. The mentor also edits his/her writer’s pitch and query letter to get it ready for the agent round. Those entering Pitch Wars submit applications (query plus first chapter of manuscript) to their chosen mentors. The mentors then read all their applications and choose the writer they want to mentor for two months to get them ready for the agent showcase. Writers can pick up to four mentors to send an application to. Last year, we hand nearly sixty agents participate in the showcase. You can view them here and here. How will you decide what mentors to submit to? Participate in our Mentor Wishlist Blog Hop starting July 19th. The mentors’ bios and wishlists will be posted to their blogs and linked from a post on my blog, and you can hop around and find the right matches for you. The hop will go on until August 2, which is submission day!! There will be a scavenger hunt during the hop with an exciting prize. You don’t want to miss it. More details will be on the blog hop main post on this blog. Visit the Twitter hashtag, #PitchWars, to get to know the mentors personally (virtually).  Mentors will be tweeting advice and answering questions on it. Check out Pitch Wars Live. Some of our mentors will be chatting live starting July 17 and ending on August 1. We’ll have a schedule up soon. Make sure to watch, ask questions on #PitchWars, and get to know the mentors. Watch the blog for more details. We’ll be launching our new website on pitchwars.org soon, so look for our celebration on #PitchWars! How do I enter? Applications (query + 1st chapter) will be sent through an easy submission form. The form will go live just after midnight (EDT – New York time) August 2 and remain open until August 6 at 10 PM (EDT – New York time). DO NOT query or pitch or email mentors directly. The only way to submit is to use the submission window that will post August 2nd. Please, be courteous of mentors’ time and keep things polite. They are all here voluntarily and deserve our utmost respect. If anyone is caught abusing a mentor, their submissions will be deleted. Thank you. What will you need to enter in the form? Your top four (max – you don’t have to pick 4, but you are...

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