Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Stephanie Scott
Dec06

Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Stephanie Scott

  Today is a big day for me. For one, I’m on Brenda’s blog, and I will always jump at the chance to work with Brenda because she cares so much about helping writers. We’ve shared a hotel room in NYC and drinks in Las Vegas, and for as flashy as that sounds, Brenda is down-to-earth, sweet, and is seriously in constant thought about how to improve her contests to help more people. I’m so grateful to be part of Pitch Wars community. And secondly (I’m a writer, we make up words), today is a big day because it’s the release of my debut young adult book ALTERATIONS! It feels like a long time coming and at the same time, like it was only yesterday I was stumbling through editing a terrible first NaNoWriMo draft, wondering if I had any talent to pull off this writer dream. Today, I’m thankful for the journey, and I’m thankful for the writers I’ve met along the way. Six years ago, I took the National Novel Writing Month plunge. It wasn’t pretty, but I finished. I spent the following year untangling the mess of my hastily written non-masterpiece and joined a public library writing group. I shared my work for the first time. Again, not pretty, but I did it. I figured out a new story idea and plunged in with my new skills. Needing more direction, I went alone to a regional Romance Writers of America conference — I didn’t write romance, mind you, but RWA came highly recommended by industry pros. I ended up meeting a young adult author in the elevator and she promptly took me around to all of her writer friends at the conference, insisting I visit a local meeting. I did, and it didn’t take long to realize I did in fact write romance. My idea of romance books was tragically still stuck in the stone age of sexy pirate dude covers. I wasn’t thinking young adult could fit into capital-R-Romance, but it does, it can, and YA books with romances are all over the place. Four years ago I entered a bunch of blog contests including Brenda’s Pitch Madness, amazingly garnered manuscript requests, and promptly freaked out. My story needed more work. When you are vulnerable, those who help you are memorable. I’m amazed by how many writers from those early days I still keep in touch with, and even cooler, how many of them have published books or found jobs in publishing. I signed with an agent from one of those contests. Everything was happening FAST. But anyone who’s been in publishing long enough knows...

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Holiday Post with Pitch Wars Mentor, Carrie Callaghan
Dec05

Holiday Post with Pitch Wars Mentor, Carrie Callaghan

  This story starts with rejection.  Lots of it. Between August 25 and September 1, I sent over 100 emails explaining briefly to as many courageous writers why I hadn’t selected them for Brenda’s Pitch Wars. Before I signed with my wonderful agent on my own in 2015, I hadn’t made it into Pitch Wars two years in a row. I knew how much it hurt not to be picked. Writing those emails was grueling. I did it, though, because honest feedback is a painful but invaluable gift. I hoped that I might help some writers in the way that mentors like Heather Webb, Sarah Henning, and Kristin Wright had helped me. At the end of the feedback, I was exhausted. Thus it was a treat when a few people wrote back thanking me for the comments. Then, a week later, I sent another note to the PitchWars writers who had submitted to me and informed them of an upcoming webinar. Again, a few wrote back expressing their thanks. But one email stood out. Maggie wrote to tell me she had, after considering my comments, found a new and better place to start her manuscript, and she was excited about the improvement. Then she said she was planning on buying one of my books as a thank-you to me. Even more touching, I was welcome to go for a stroll with her walking group. My heart swelled. I quickly wrote back to thank her. If I’m every lucky enough to publish a book, perhaps she could think of me then. A month later, Maggie wrote again. She had read my book review essays and made a donation to the book review site where I volunteer as an editor. Her kind words brought tears to my eyes. She had given both her time and her money, the scarcest resources. The email arrived on my birthday, and her unexpected generosity was the best gift anyone gave me that day. I have, in my mind, a treasure chest of the compliments and kindnesses people have given me over the years. When the world gets rough, I imagine opening that wooden chest and looking at those glittering words and gifts. Maggie’s gift is in there now, alongside the beautiful custom art from my mentees Eileen and ReLynn, words from my friends, and other treasures. In many ways, this year has been painful for many people. But PitchWars was one of my bright spots (and it wouldn’t have happened without Brenda, whose wisdom guided us in so many ways, and Heather and Nikki and Joy and …). Thank you to Maggie, my mentees, all...

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Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Scarlet Cole
Dec02

Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Scarlet Cole

  Hello, Peeps. I hope 2016 has been a wonderful year for you. I took a run to clear my head at 6am this morning. It was a chilly -2C/28F, still very dark, but crystal clear and quiet. In summary, my favorite conditions for running. As I ran, I reflected on the year in preparation for writing this post. The most obvious author-y thing to be grateful for was the seven-book deal I signed with St. Martin’s Press at the start of the year for two new series. It was a big deal, and exciting. But the longer I ran, the more I realized it wasn’t about the deal. It was what it symbolized. You see, I used to be Senior Vice President of a very large company. Tens of billions of dollars large! Flash back to four years ago, and I’d have been up at four-thirty to get out for my run. I’d not get to see my kids in the morning because I’d leave for work long before they woke up. Most of my day would be consumed with meetings, and when I wasn’t meeting, I was emailing, talking, coaching, presenting, planning, budgeting, and all the other things someone with that title was expected to do. My annual evaluation told me I was great at it. But I knew the truth. MY HEART WASN’T IN IT ANY MORE. I’ve been reading romance since a snow storm in Chicago (and time spent stranded in Chicago O’Hare airport) thrust me and a paperback copy of Nora Roberts’ Jewels of The Sun together in 1999. And ever since finding that brightly colored book, and the wonderful story of Jude and Aidan contained within it, I’ve loved love stories. Since that day, I’ve read just about every kind of romance there is. And so, the more unfulfilled I became at work, the more books I devoured, until I reached the point where I thought to myself: I want to write romance. So, in 2012, I quit! People were shocked. They couldn’t understand why I would walk away from such a wonderful job to attempt to write a book. A romance book. I bought a small desk from IKEA, shoved it into an unused corner of the house, and opened my laptop. And it was in that spot that I wrote my first book, THE STRONGEST STEEL. But I had help from the most wonderful community I’d ever encountered. WRITERS! They were everywhere. On Twitter. On Facebook. It was like the most perfect village where every resident was creative, talented, positive, and super helpful. Before I knew it, I had critique partners,...

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Holiday Post with Pitch Wars Mentor, Kit Frick
Dec02

Holiday Post with Pitch Wars Mentor, Kit Frick

  The past few weeks of 2016 have been rough on a national level that has felt, for many of us, very personal. As if to underscore the national mood, it’s raining and dark outside the window of my Brooklyn apartment and, to be honest, I’m feeling a little lacking in the holiday cheer department. So I’m especially grateful for this opportunity to reflect on the good things in my writing life this year—of which there are many—and to try to make a little meaning out of them. 2016 was, to put it mildly, a landmark year for me. I signed with my agent in the spring, went on submission for the first time this summer, and signed a book deal for my first two YA novels this fall. I also joined the PitchWars mentor crew and spent a wonderfully productive month in residence at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. You might call my year an embarrassment of riches. *Hides in embarrassment.* But the fact that these things came together for me in 2016 is mostly a fluke. Yes, I’ve been putting in the work leading up to these milestones for years, but there was also a lot of good fortune and chance involved—and ultimately, it was up to others (agents, publishers, residency juries) to allow these dreams to become a reality. So what I want to focus on here is actually something else I did in 2016—a decision I made and put into action all on my own. Because the truth is, sometimes you query hard, and that book doesn’t get you an agent. Sometimes you apply to every residency program under the sun, and you don’t get in. Or your book doesn’t win awards. Or your second (or fifth) book doesn’t sell. And so on. I think we give a lot of focus to these milestones when they do happen for us because they are so important—but also because we feel so lucky. There is always luck involved. So if 2016 was not your landmark year, I want to encourage you to do two things: Dream Big. But also, Dream Possible. Before any one of these gifts landed in my lap this year, I made the decision to leave my day job in academic administration to pursue writing and editing full-time. It was a risk; I was starting my own editorial practice from scratch, and I had no guarantees that I was going to make any money from my writing this year or any year in the future. But I planned for months (about 18, to be exact), I saved, I put a business plan in...

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Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Amanda Rawson Hill
Dec01

Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Amanda Rawson Hill

A little over a year ago, I was sitting in a hotel room in Salt Lake City by myself. I had traveled all the way from California so that I could help my sister through her husband’s first chemo treatment. I was feeling heavy from the conversation I had with my sister earlier that day. She’d cried and told me about how this was not supposed to be her life. This sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen to you when you’re 26. It’s not fair. I sat and thought about my niece who would soon test positive for the same genetic mutation as her father. One that makes cancer an inevitability for women. And then, words started flowing into my heart and like any author worth her salt, I began to write them down. The year since then has been an intense labor of love on a verse novel that is more personal than anything else I’ve ever written. So many of the poems were penned after receiving more bad news. They were written as I began a grieving process, as I contemplated death and family and life all while watching my sister and her young family struggle through this terrible disease. And through it all, I had Cindy. Cindy was the very first person to read this book, when it was still a very first and rough draft. And she believed in it from the beginning. Her faith in it has never faltered. Her own experience with a chronic and terminal illness brought love and insights that have been invaluable. But publishing isn’t easy. And trying to get what literally feels like a piece of your heart published is extraordinarily painful when the rejections start rolling in. Cindy knew that. She always seemed to know when I was struggling. And back in September she began sending me these weekly text messages. She would tell me how much she loved my book. How she knew it was going to get published. How special it was. And that even though it hurt too much for me to believe in my book, that she was believing in it for me. Those notes and texts meant everything. They still mean so much and keep me going. I don’t know how I lucked out and got her to agree to read a rough draft of this crazy, experimental novel. But it was one of the best things to ever happen to my writing. I don’t know if this book will be published one day. I hope so. But for now, I’m hanging on to every bit of encouragement Cindy sends my way....

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Twitter Pitch Party Today!
Dec01

Twitter Pitch Party Today!

See the official #PitMad page here.   There’s a twitter pitch party on the Twitter hashtag #PitMad today, December 1st, from 8AM to 8PM EDT. Get your twitter pitches ready and make sure to include all the appropriate hashtags, especially #PitMad, in your 140 character tweet-pitch. If you need help creating the perfect pitch, there’s a post about it here: The 35-word Twitter Pitch . . . Simplified THE RULES . . . Be polite and don’t say anything mean about a writer’s pitch. Please, don’t “like” any pitches. That’s only for agents. If you want to show support, reply with a comment or re-tweet the pitch. You can quote the tweet with your support or praise, or just re-tweet without quoting. Any genre can be pitched. Pitch up to three times per day, per manuscript. It helps to pitch when you see an agent on the hashtag (throughout the day for a better response). Add #YA, #MG, #NA, #A, or #PB in your pitch to help the agents find the ones they represent. For more detail with your hashtags, see all of the hashtags here! If your tweet is “liked” (or hearted) by an agent, please confirm they are a legitimate agent, search the agent’s feed, and see what the agent would like #PitMad participants to send them. Then send the requested materials. QUESTIONS? Tweet or DM me at @HeatherCashman For added fun, get some popcorn and scroll through the #fakepitmad pitches.   ALL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS ARE WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS...

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Holiday Guest Post by Pitch Wars Mentor, Marie Meyer
Nov30

Holiday Guest Post by Pitch Wars Mentor, Marie Meyer

  Wow! I can’t believe it’s already December! This year flew by! As I reflect on this past year, I have so much to be thankful for. I wrote two books, I traveled, and I got to spend some quality time with my family, to name a few. But, of all things I’ve done this year, it was the time I spent traveling with my family that was the most meaningful. My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this year (congrats, Mom and Dad)! To honor the life they’ve built together, our entire family: Mom, Dad, my brother, his wife, their three girls, my husband, our two daughters, my mother-in-law, and myself, we all embarked on a Disney Cruise. Naturally, the cruise was amazing. But what was even more magical than spending four days on the ocean and hanging out with the princesses, it was the time I got to spend with my whole family! We’re spread out all over the country, so for us to be in the same place, at the same time, it’s pretty special. From our sixteen-hour girls’ road trip to Florida, the guys flying in to meet us, and watching my daughters’ eyes shine with wonder as they took in the majesty of the Atlantic Ocean, I’ve got memories that will last a lifetime. 16 hours in the car!                                       The Fam! We’re a crazy bunch! Even now, months later, my girls and I will snuggle in bed together and look through all the pictures, trading giggles, reminiscing, sharing stories, holding onto the cherished memories of our summer family adventure while we make new ones. In this holiday season, I’m most thankful for my family, every one of them. For all the love, support, and memories they give me each day, I’m so grateful. My prayer and hope is that you have a blessed holiday. Hug your loved ones and tell them how much they mean to you. Make some new memories, cherish the old ones, and above all else, love one another.   Marie Meyer Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads | Google +  Marie Meyer was a language arts teacher for fourteen years. She spends her days in the classroom and her nights writing heartfelt new adult romances that will leave readers clamoring for more. She is a member of RWA and the St. Louis Writers Guild. Marie’s short fiction won honorable mentions from the St. Louis Writers Guild in 2010 and 2011. She is a proud mommy and enjoys helping her oldest daughter train for the Special Olympics, making up silly stories with her youngest daughter, and bingeing on...

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Holiday Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Rosalyn Eves
Nov30

Holiday Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Rosalyn Eves

  “Special Moments” As a writer, my journey has been full of lots of ups and downs, but nearly all of my ups involve members of my writing group—wonderful women that I’ve been meeting with every other week (and often more) for the past five years. This year, some of those special moments have included holding an advanced review copy (ARC) of my book for the first time—a copy that arrived while I was away from home and one of my critique partners (CPs) drove three hours to bring it to me. (Okay, fine, she was also coming to a conference, but I appreciated the gesture). I taught a class at a local conference to a packed room—the first time I’ve ever had to be moved to a bigger room, with people sitting on the floor and standing at the back–and these women were in the audience, smiling at me while I fought down my nerves. My debut novel owes a lot to them, to their enthusiastic reception the first time I brought a rough draft of the opening chapter to our meeting, to their careful critiques as we worked through the book, to their encouragement as I queried and waited impatiently for news of submissions. But my most memorable moment this year has been a bittersweet one. You see, one of these women lost her husband last month to a tragic accident. At the viewing, we folded her in a group hug and wept together. Later, we stood together underneath an incongruously bright sky at the cemetery, and I realized that somewhere along the journey these women had gone from being just a group of friends who talked about writing, to something like sisters. We’ve celebrated the birth of children, our own birthdays, our book babies—and now those celebrations are both tempered and deepened by our shared grief. This year, I’m grateful to be part of a wider writing community that has buoyed my friend in her grief. I’m grateful to have a book coming out in just under four months. But more than that, I’m grateful that writing has brought me relationships full of laughter, tears, pain, and joy. For the new year, I’m looking forward to my book coming out—but also to spending more time with my writing group, and to an ever-expanding circle of writing friends.   Giveaway: ARC of BLOOD ROSE REBELLION a Rafflecopter giveaway   Twitter | Website Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one...

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Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Laura Brown
Nov29

Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Laura Brown

This past year has been filled with lots of wonderful writerly thrills for me, and it’s taken me some time to think back and pick out one of those special moments. From landing my agent and publisher, to the debut of my first New Adult Romance, SIGNS OF ATTRACTION, to helping out with contests, there was so much to choose from. All of the above has made this a year I won’t forget. But there was one other unique moment that happened, and that’s the moment I want to talk about. Actually, there were two. As is the case with most writers, we develop a community with our peers. And some of these peers become critique partners (CPs), those brave souls that read our crappy drafts, let us know where we suck, and send heart eyes when the words shine. Thanks to the Internet, these CPs are usually not local. My closest one is still a plane—or long car—ride away. Yet that hasn’t stopped me from emailing, messaging, or texting them almost daily. And what had started with words being exchanged has grown into true friendships. In June, I learned that a family vacation would bring me not too far from one CP. Months of juggling logistics yielded an airport greeting. A week after my book’s release, I stood on an observation deck, waiting to see a face I had previously only seen through a computer screen. And let me tell you, it’s the weirdest and most magical thing when you recognize this person you’ve grown so close to walking towards you. I was a floor above, so I may have yelled and squealed and then paced in front of the elevator, as only the cool people do. The trip was way too short, but I truly enjoyed the opportunity to hug someone who had held my hand through my crazy year! A month later, I learned another CP would be travelling close to my area of the woods on the way to see family. Since there were four children to consider between the two of us, I planned for the meet up to happen at a playground so the kids could play. Our sons are the same age, and both boys were looking forward to hanging out with their mother’s friend. The kids hit it off, running around and having a blast as if they’d known each other for years (kids are amazing that way!). And I got to hug the person I dedicated my 2016 release to—and realize she’s quite a bit taller than me. This visit was also far too short, but our sons sent video...

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Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Karen McManus
Nov29

Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Karen McManus

  My mother likes to tell the story of when she thought I learned how to read. I was almost four years old, on her lap while she read me my favorite book. She paused for a minute and I took over, telling the story perfectly through the end. Impressed with this flash of brilliance, Mom handed me a new book and waited for me to repeat my performance. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I hadn’t been reading the first book. I’d just memorized it, because she read it to me so much. Today I still have books like that—books I’ve read multiple times, that I slip into like a favorite pair of pajamas whenever I need a dose of comfort. A Little Princess. The Hunger Games. Our Mutual Friend. The Secret History. A Confederacy of Dunces. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I can’t imagine a better writing compliment than to have someone return to the world you’ve built. The suspense is over, character arcs are complete, the end is known—but still, something pulls people back in. Maybe it’s the setting, the story line, the language, or that you’ve managed to create characters that feel real enough to miss. Either way, it’s magical. Hell, having someone commit enough time to read your book once is pretty incredible. 2016 has been a rough year in many ways, but when it comes to writing, I have nothing but gratitude. Two weeks into the new year this past January, I sent the first query for my 3rd book. I still remember my hand hovering nervously over that “submit” button, because this was a dream agent and what if my book wasn’t ready? That ended up being the best chance I ever took. I’m so thankful to all the people who made my debut possible: my incredible agent team at Stimola Literary Studio, my brilliant editor at Delacorte Press, and all the wonderful CPs and betas who read and offered insight. In six months, ONE OF US IS LYING will hit the shelves—and who knows? Maybe it will become somebody’s favorite. Or something they enjoy enough to recommend. (Or, let’s face it, something they mark did not finish on Goodreads because it just didn’t appeal). Either way, it’s magical.   Twitter | Website Karen McManus writes YA contemporary fiction from her home in Cambridge, Mass. Her debut novel, ONE OF US IS LYING, will be released from Delacorte Press/Random House on May 30, 2017, and published in fourteen countries. For more information, visit www.karenmcmanus.com or @writerkmc on Twitter. Pre-Order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound Giveaway: Want an ARC of ONE OF US...

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GUARDIAN OF SECRETS by Brenda Drake . . . Cover Reveal and Pre-order Campaign!
Nov28

GUARDIAN OF SECRETS by Brenda Drake . . . Cover Reveal and Pre-order Campaign!

Let us know what you think of the cover for Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2) by Brenda Drake which releases February 7, 2017! This cover reveal is brought to you by Entangled TEEN & YA Interrobang! Brenda Drake’s thoughts on the cover: I had an idea of what I wanted the cover of Guardian of Secrets to look like the entire time I was writing the story. I was delighted (I might have screamed) when the cover showed up in my email and it was EXACTLY what I’d imagined. I love that it’s blue since part of the setting of the book takes place in a cold climate. I’m thrilled the couple is on it, too. They resemble the characters I’ve created in my mind perfectly. The cover is so beautiful, and I’m beyond excited to share it with everyone! About Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2) Pre-order today! Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Amazon CA | Amazon UK About the book … Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens. Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it. And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia. Maybe. If she survives. Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2) by Brenda Drake today! And if you do pre-order before February 7, 2017, get a signed bookmark, signed locker magnet, and autographed bookplate, plus an entry into the above pictured prize pack. Go to here for details: http://wp.me/P3YLhv-7rA  ...

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CURSING FATE by Brenda Drake . . . Release Day!
Nov21

CURSING FATE by Brenda Drake . . . Release Day!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes |Kobo Grab your copy today for only $2.99! We’re so excited to share Brenda’s release! Brenda gives so much to the writing community, and we on the contest team hope you’ll join us today and celebrate her new release with us. Share it on your social media and grab a copy for yourself! TITLE: CURSING FATE (Book 2, The Fated Series) AUTHOR: Brenda Drake PUBLISHER: Entangled Publishing RELEASE DATE: November 21, 2016 About the book . . .  There’s something strange about the Layne sisters, and Wade Diaz wants nothing to do with them. Especially the one who ripped his heart out and set it on fire before tossing it in the garbage several months ago. Iris. He can’t even think her name without unconsciously rubbing the spot in his chest where she left a gaping hole. But now her sisters are claiming some evil spirit is after his soul, and Iris is the only one who can save him. Well, at least his heart would stop hurting, right? Didn’t sound so bad. Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’. Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade. How do you convince someone they need your help when you’re the one who hurt them most? Enter the giveaway here. Read chapter one here. You don’t have to read book one to read book two, but you totally should! Check out the Fated series novels by author Brenda Drake: Book one: Touching Fate Book two: Cursing Fate   Brenda Drake Twitter | Website         Save...

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