Day 26 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, J.C. Nelson & Jenni L. Walsh
Jun13

Day 26 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, J.C. Nelson & Jenni L. Walsh

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, J.C. Nelson … Website | Twitter Hey, I’m a 40-something author living in the rainy Pacific Northwest, with an ark’s worth of animals and four kids I love.   The Reburialists by J.C. Nelson Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes Burying the dead is easy. Keeping them down is difficult. At the Bureau of Special Investigations, agents encounter all sorts of paranormal evils. So for Agent Brynner Carson, driving a stake through a rampaging three-week-old corpse is par for the course. Except this cadaver is different. It’s talking—and it has a message about his father, Heinrich. The reanimated stiff delivers an ultimatum written in bloody hieroglyphics, and BSI Senior Analyst Grace Roberts is called in to translate. It seems that Heinrich Carson stole the heart of Ra-Ame, the long-dead god of the Re-Animus. She wants it back. The only problem is Heinrich took the secret of its location to his grave. With the arrival of Ra-Ame looming and her undead army wreaking havoc, Brynner and Grace must race to find the key to stopping her. It’s a race they can’t afford to lose, but then again, it’s just another day on the job . . .   J.C. Nelson’s Query  Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: New Adult GENRE: Thriller Dear Ms. Agent, Lucia, a small town girl dreaming of how to escape her mundane life, is at her job as a gas station clerk when a car crashes through the storefront, narrowly missing her but mowing over her patrons. As the dust settles and emergency crews arrive, she realizes her former high school sweetheart and drug-addicted ex-boyfriend is dead in the driver’s seat. It’s up to Lucia and her lover Reece, a locally assigned state trooper, to bring the killers to justice and release their small town from a deadly web of vicious enemies. Trading her...

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Pitch Wars Success Story with Adalyn Grace and her mentor, Brian Palmer
Jun12

Pitch Wars Success Story with Adalyn Grace and her mentor, Brian Palmer

  When our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal, it’s one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Adalyn Grace and her mentor, Brian Palmer. Adalyn signed with Hillary Jacobson of ICM Partners after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her. Please, help me in congratulating Adalyn and Brian on their Pitch Wars Success! Adalyn, what was it about Brian that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? First of all, Brian is just so stinkin’ nice. I could tell how enthusiastic he was to be mentor, and how much he truly wanted to help whoever he ended up picking. I stalked the heck out of his twitter, and we actually talked back-and-forth several times (mostly going over questions) before he thankfully chose me! I could tell he was super serious about finding a story he enjoyed and thought he could really help, which is obviously what every mentee wants. While he didn’t necessarily mention wanting something that screamed, “Hey! That’s my book!” I loved his bio and many of the “favorite books” he had listed. Something in my gut said that I needed to take the risk and sub to him. I would have been honored to work with any mentors, but my instincts told me that, if I were to be chosen, it’d be by Brian. And I sure lucked out! Brian, what was it about Adalyn’s DONOR that hooked you? Adalyn’s novel proved to me that the unexpected can grab your attention because, as she noted, there wasn’t an obvious connection between her story and many of the elements I had said I was looking for in my wish list (though it was worth noting there was nothing in DONOR that made it onto my auto-disqualification list either). I really was drawn in by the sinister premise (growing humans in a facility specifically for the purpose of harvesting their organs for those in the outside world who needed them because they lived in a society that did not have to be held accountable for their actions and life choices? Holy cow!), but even more than this I was intrigued by the subtle yet profound social commentary that was woven throughout the story and how it shone an uncomfortably plausible light on where we as a society might be headed in the coming decades if we aren’t careful. Add to this the fact that these “humans” were viewed by the world as mindless drones, only to have one of DONOR’s POV’s be from one of the donors themselves, and to see how just how wrong the outside world...

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Day 25 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Sonia Hartl, Annette Christie, & Carrie Callaghan
Jun12

Day 25 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Sonia Hartl, Annette Christie, & Carrie Callaghan

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, Sonia Hartl & Annette Christie …   Website | Twitter Sonia Hartl is a YA writer rep’d by Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency and has been published in The Writers Post Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, and the anthology Bearing North.          Website | Twitter Annette Christie has worked as a playwright, actor, and grant writer for various theatre companies in Canada and the U.S. Most recently, she’s contributed articles to various online publications. She is currently working on her debut YA novel and is represented by Jess Dallow of Brower Literary Management.      Sonia and Annette’s Query  Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: YA GENRE: Science Fiction Dear <AGENT>, Seventeen-year-old Kali Ravelin wants to be a soldier like her late father, the nation’s hero [Sonia: opening with a strong sense of what the character wants is great, but I’m wondering if you can touch on why she wants this? Does she want the glory or does she feel obligated to follow in her father’s footsteps or is she trying to honor him? Why she wants this will help add a personal connection to character]. She wants to protect the defenseless from the dyfarniad—venomous, mutated beaststhat terrorize the rural villages and technologically-advanced metropolises of Redioss [Annette: great description!]. The dyfarniad left Kali orphaned, and the only thing stopping her from claiming revenge is three years of cadet training and the looming shadow her glorified father left behind. [Annette: can you clarify why these two things are stopping her from going after the dyfarniad? Is it because she isn’t strong/skilled enough? She feels guilty?] Refusing to ride the coattails of her father’s fame, Kali forges a new persona [Sonia: what is her new persona? More specific here would help characterize her a bit more] and ships off to basic training [Annette: ooooh! I love this aspect of your...

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Day 25 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Fiona McLaren, Jenna Lehne & Tara Creel
Jun12

Day 25 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Fiona McLaren, Jenna Lehne & Tara Creel

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, Fiona McLaren … Website | Twitter Fiona lives on the sun-soaked island of Cyprus, and is a full-time scriptwriter for an independent animation company. Their first production is due to release soon. She also works as an editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, and edits on a selective freelance basis. Her experience as an intern at two separate literary agencies, and selling articles and web content, means that if something has words, she’ll try it. She is represented by Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon Associates for her Young Adult works.   Fiona’s Query  Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: NA GENRE: Urban Fantasy Evryn would do anything to protect her best friend and college roommate [From what?], from accompanying her to a freakish Goth club downtown to employing not-so-deadly ninja skills on a Slim Shady wannabe vampire [While this sets the tone of your novel nicely, it feels a little stilted. I would consider rewording. I’m also left wondering about why Evryn’s best friend can’t protect herself? Is she naïve to the dangers around them? Reckless? Or is there something about Evryn that makes her more able to protect someone than anyone else?] So when her friend goes missing once again [The “once again” is great. I’d consider moving this right to the top of your query letter. It also has some great humor in it], Evryn laces up her combat boots and sets off for a little harmless breaking and entering. First stop: the Austen-esque manor of a suspicious yet sexy musician whose guitar case holds a charm from her friend’s bracelet. [Nice to see a mystery!] Dalamar, a 200-year-old vampire and bass guitarist, can’t consume human blood. His aging body rejects it, forcing him to hunt witches as a source of magical blood instead. As the local coven shrinks, Dalamar is running out of time to...

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Day 21 (Part 3): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Natasha Neagle, Kelli Newby, & Mary Ann Marlowe
Jun07

Day 21 (Part 3): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Natasha Neagle, Kelli Newby, & Mary Ann Marlowe

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, Natasha Neagle … Website | Twitter Natasha Neagle is the YA author of the upcoming YA Fantasy, THE BODY PARADOX (’18 Entangled Teen) who runs on Starbucks and believes the best way to hear music is live. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, two kids, and zoo of animals.       Natasha’s Query  Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Young Adult GENRE: Paranormal Ziva Kritikos wants to grow up. [Interesting, but how old is she? Letting the reader know your main character’s age will help solidify your novel as YA. Knowing this will help us figure out her voice.] Her best friends, Sophie and Abigail already have goals in mind for their lives. [The way you say Ziva doesn’t want to grow up makes me think of her as a younger kid/middle schooler. Why does it matter what Sophie and Abigail want to do?] Kyle, a boy hooked on messing with her is headed towards his dreams while Ziva doesn’t even have any. [In the first paragraph, you’ve named four characters instead of hooking the reader on Ziva. The information you’ve shared about Ziva is minimal compared to the others.] She doesn’t want to be left behind, [okay, this is interesting – why would she be left behind? Where are they going?] and her library’s books won’t help her find a path. [Does she always have her nose in a book and that’s why you mentioned this? How does this relate to the the hook and inciting incident?] Desperate for a change, Ziva relies on a shooting star. [Why would she rely on a shooting star? Wouldn’t she just desperately just cast a wish on one? Be sure to include an introduction to the world, the main character (who they are and what they want), and inciting incident. Convey the voice of your main character so...

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Day 21 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Caitlin Sinead and McKelle George
Jun07

Day 21 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Caitlin Sinead and McKelle George

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, Caitlin Sinead … Website | Twitter | Editing Services From Caitlin: I have been writing since the second grade when I drafted a riveting piece about witches who turned out to be friendly. My novels, HEARTSICK and RED BLOODED, have received positive reviews from Library Journal, RT Book Reviews, and USA TODAY.  My writing has also earned accolades from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Glimmer Train, and Writers & Artists, and my stories have appeared in multiple publications, including The Alarmist, The Binnacle, Crunchable, Jersey Devil Press, and Northern Virginia Magazine. I earned a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University and have also studied writing at the College of William and Mary and Yale University. I am represented by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger, Inc. In my writing, I enjoy mashing the fluffy aspects of life right up against the not-so-fluffy aspects, while sneaking in fun words I wished more people used (e.g., nincompoop, ragamuffin, and peccadillo, to name a few). I live with my husband and two cats in Alexandria, Virginia. Click on Caitlin’s books below to find out more . . . Caitlin’s Query  Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Women’s Fiction It starts with a confession. “I killed your father.” [This is nice, but I think it takes away from the bigger revelation that her mother killed her father. Removing it would allow the next paragraph to pack more of a punch. Additionally, the real story is Blythe searching for the truth, so you don’t want to spend more time than you need on the setup.] During an afternoon visit [This could be a nice opportunity to briefly set up some ambiance. Are they having tea, are they on a walk in the woods, are they watching the Price is Right? With just one or two details you can help us understand their relationship...

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PREPARING FOR PITCH WARS: What Should You Be Doing In June by mentor Michael Mammay
Jun06

PREPARING FOR PITCH WARS: What Should You Be Doing In June by mentor Michael Mammay

PREPARING FOR PITCH WARS What Should You Be Doing In June You may have heard, Pitch Wars is coming up. Sure, it’s still a couple months away, but obsession season starts in like four weeks. What’s obsession season? That’s where we spend all kinds of time talking about it on the #pitchwars hashtag and dreaming of success instead of actually writing. Or maybe that was just me. I was thinking about what I could write this year leading up to the contest, and I was originally going to start the series in July. But then I remembered I don’t have a job right now, and my manuscript is off with readers, so I don’t have anything to do. So hey, what if there are people who are already thinking about it? What can we do for people who want to start preparing NOW. So, here’s what I did for you. I polled people who successfully got into Pitch Wars over the last three years, and asked them a series of questions. The majority of the answers came from the class of 2016, because they’re still kind of new and probably think it’s a good idea to do what I say. They’ll learn. But I digress. Here’s what our successful entrants had to say about what they’d being doing in June:   1. Prepare your materials and trade pages with Critique Partners. This is by far the number one answer. I got 70 responses to the poll, and this came up in some form in about 60 of them. Trade your query, trade your first chapter, trade whatever you can get somebody else to read. More eyes on your manuscript can only help. With that said, I’m going to include some of the different takes on that answer: Ashley D. MacKenzie said: [Get] critique from trusted critique partners — even if you haven’t actually finished the MS by June. I was about 3/4 finished in June both years I got in, but waited until I was this close to done (in July) before sending it out for last-call feedback. Do it earlier, even if you aren’t finished. Laura Creedle, the author of THE LOVE LETTERS of ABELARD and LILY (Coming December 26th) said: Having multiple beta readers before I did pitch wars helped immensely. I still had a lot of work do do with my mentor, but not an insurmountable pile of revisions. There’s only so much you can do in a month. Rachel Griffin said: I’d get involved early. Swap queries and first chapters with other hopefuls, follow the hashtag, and ask questions when you have them. The community...

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Day 20 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with Mentors Stacey Trombley, Rebecca Sky, Kristen Ciccarelli & Joanna Hathaway
Jun06

Day 20 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with Mentors Stacey Trombley, Rebecca Sky, Kristen Ciccarelli & Joanna Hathaway

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 Stacey Trombley and Rebecca Sky . . . www.StaceyTrombley.com Connect with Stacey here- Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads www.RebeccaSky.com Connect with Rebecca here- Twitter | Wattpad | Facebook | The Punkettes   Naked by Stacey Trombley The best place to hide is in a lie… I could never fit in to the life my parents demanded. By the time I was thirteen, it was too much so I ran away to New York City and found a nightmare that lasted three years. A nightmare that began and ended with a pimp named Luis. Now I am Dirty Anna. Broken, like everything inside me has gone bad. Except that for the first time, I have a chance to start over. Not just with my parents but at school. Still, the rumors follow me everywhere. Down the hall. In classes. And the only hope I can see is in the wide, brightly lit smile of Jackson, the boy next door. So I lie to him. I lie to protect him from my past. I lie so that I don’t have to be The Girl Who Went Bad. The only problem is that someone in my school knows about New York. Someone knows who I really am. And it’s just a matter of time before the real Anna is exposed… On Goodreads | On Amazon Stacey and Rebecca’s Query  Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Young Adult GENRE: Science Fiction/Fantasy Dear Agent, Fifteen-year old Corey is an Other who can heal any physical injury. The downside? Every bruise and fracture his father inflicts disappears so fast, nobody on the outside believes he’s been beaten. He’s stuck. [Good hooky opening; got me curious about Other’s and feeling sympathy for Corey’s situation. The first sentence felt a little clunky to me. Maybe an em-dash might help break it up, eg, “Fifteen-year old Corey is an...

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Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian . . . Release Day!
Jun06

Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian . . . Release Day!

    TITLE: Welcome to the Slipstream AUTHOR: Natalka Burian PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse (June 6, 2017) Amazon   About the book . . . Seventeen-year-old Van and her peripatetic lifestyle-loving mom move to Las Vegas. Van’s mother, Sofia, has been hired to helm the Silver Saddle, a crumbling casino off the strip. In Vegas, Van makes new friends, and is even invited to join an all girl, Sleater-Kinney-style band. Van–and the Silver Saddle–are left in the lurch when the brilliant but unstable Sofia disappears on a vision quest. Van buys a bus ticket, setting off into the desert to track Sofia down and bring her home.   About Natalka Burian . . . Twitter | Website Natalka Burian received an MA from Columbia University where she studied Eastern European literature with an emphasis on the work of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. She is the co-owner of two bars, Elsa and Ramona, and City of Daughters, a line of specialty cocktail goods. She is the co-founder of the Freya Project, a feminist fundraising reading series that supports small, non-profit organizations doing crucial work in communities that do not support that work. Welcome to the Slipstream is her first...

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Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan . . . Release Day and Giveaway!
Jun06

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan . . . Release Day and Giveaway!

  TITLE: Secrets of Southern Girls AUTHOR: Haley Harrigan PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Landmark (June 6, 2017) Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Avid Bookshop   About the book . . . In Secrets of Southern Girls, the powerful, affecting debut from Haley Harrigan, a young woman uncovers devastating secrets about the friend she thinks she killed… Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret. When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death. In fact, she may not be responsible at all.   About Haley Harrigan . . . Twitter | Website Haley Harrigan graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in creative writing and public relations. She lives in Athens, Georgia, with her husband. Secrets of Southern Girls is her debut.  Visit her website at www.haleyharrigan.com or on Twitter @HCHarrigan.   The Giveaway . . . a Rafflecopter...

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Day 20 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with mentors, RuthAnne Snow and Hayley Stone
Jun05

Day 20 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with mentors, RuthAnne Snow and Hayley Stone

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, RuthAnne Snow . . .   Twitter | Website RuthAnne Snow was born and raised in Kaysville, Utah.  She was a sorority girl in college and social activities director in law school—which was a lot like being back in the sorority.  She has interned for the U.S. Senate, worked on policy papers for Congress and the State Department, and once spent a year sorting through emails looking for fraud.  It wasn’t nearly as fun as writing fiction.  She loves travel, dogs, horror movies, and baking.     RuthAnne’s Query Critique . . . Devastated by the murder of her stillborn son [this is unnecessarily confusing for a first line – I would strike “stillborn,” the scenario will be made clear in your pages], 19-year-old Princess Lysarra Aphaterrin is hell bent on revenge against the High Priestess who killed him, and whose curse has taken over the kingdom of Nezaria. But the High Priestess’s dark magic and royal guards are coming for Lysarra next, so the princess flees for her life. Lysarra’s misfortune delivers her straight into the muscled, blade-carrying arms of mercenary Noam Azarthius [this may be personal preference, but I would leave off the last names in a query, especially in a fantasy query where the names are already unfamiliar and cause a break in the flow of reading] amid a dark, sinister forest. The man swears he was sent by Lysarra’s beloved sister, but can she truly trust the handsome stranger? [You have a lot of adjectives here – in two sentences, we’ve got “muscled, blade-carrying,” “mercenary,” “dark, sinister,” “beloved” and “handsome.” Your flow isn’t bad, so take this piece of advice with a grain of salt, but I’d cut a few and give the remaining descriptors more impact.] Then, in a remote village, they meet a renegade witch crone with an astonishing claim: there is a...

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Day 15 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and 1st Page Workshop with mentors Hayley Stone and Amy Trueblood
May29

Day 15 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and 1st Page Workshop with mentors Hayley Stone and Amy Trueblood

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, Hayley Stone . . . Website | Twitter Hayley Stone has lived her entire life in sunny California, where the weather is usually perfect and nothing as exciting as a robot apocalypse ever happens. When not reading or writing, she freelances as an editor and graphic designer, falls in love with video game characters, and analyzes buildings for velociraptor entry points. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in German from California State University, Sacramento. Her debut novel, MACHINATIONS, released from Hydra/Random House and was chosen as one of Amazon’s Best Sci-fi and Fantasy Books of 2016. She loves interacting with fellow readers and writers on Twitter (@hayley_stone).   MACHINATIONS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo COUNTERPART: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Hayley’s Query  Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Fantasy romance Dear Agent, Exiled Charmer Leena Edenfrell is in deep shit. [Fun first line! Simple, yet it makes me believe the story will have good voice, and even a sense of humor. My only question—what is a Charmer?] Wanted by the Charmers Council for selling rare and endangered creatures on the black market for profit, they’ve hired an assassin to kill her. [Good introduction of the story’s conflict, but I’m still unclear on what a Charmer is or does. Is the Charmers Council an animal defense league of some sort, or are they upset because she’s encroaching on their own black market profits?] With the realm’s most talented murderer for hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes him an offer he can’t refuse—a handful of rare beasts in exchange for her life. [When you said “rare and endangered creatures” earlier, did you mean mythological or paranormal? Because at first I assumed you were talking about ordinary animals. Perhaps add some clarity here.] For sarcastic assassin Noc, knows that murder comes easy and pays well. when detachment and sarcasm...

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