Pitch Madness Success Story with P.J. Switzer from Team Ice Cream Sea with Monica Hoffman and Brenda Drake
May10

Pitch Madness Success Story with P.J. Switzer from Team Ice Cream Sea with Monica Hoffman and Brenda Drake

  Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate PJ Switzer who signed with Kari Sutherland with Bradford Literary Agency after Pitch Madness 2017! PJ was part of Monica M. Hoffman and Brenda Drake’s #TeamIceCreamSea, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating PJ as she shares with us her awesome success story. So let’s get this party started. PJ, what made you decide to enter Pitch Madness, and how did you feel during the contest? Actually, I entered Pitch Madness because of dumb luck and my husband. I just happened to be on Twitter and saw the deadline was midnight that night. I thought about it then decided not to do it. I’d received so many rejections that I’d reached the, “What’s the point?” stage of querying. But my husband pushed me to enter. He used the tried and true logic of, “What have you got to lose?” And, as the saying goes, the rest is history. I’m not going to lie, I took stress eating to a whole new level during the contest. The first round was hard. I was absolutely convinced my entry wasn’t going to make it. I soothed the worry with lots of chocolate cake. It helped. When my entry was selected I practically danced with joy. But as hard as the selection round was, the agent round was worse. I read the other contestants entries, which were amazing, and knew no agent would want my manuscript. So, I decided to quit writing and become a cocktail waitress in a Venezuelan nightclub. Before I got the chance to buy my airline ticket the agent round ended and something wonderful happened. Which blog were you on and what was the title of your entry? How many requests did you get? Any other details you’d like to share? I was on Brenda Drake’s blog with my manuscript, The Cold Place. I received 4 requests for the full manuscript and 9 requests for partials, which, if I do my math right, equals 13 total requests. Brenda and Monica, what made you choose Pj’s entry to host on your team? Monica: What made THE COLD PLACE stand out from the rest was the voice and narrative style. It immediately got my attention. When I got to the end of the 250-words, I not only wanted more or it, I needed it. I needed to know what happened to her main character. I instantly connected with her MC even within the first page! Brenda: That VOICE!! Hooked me right off. Plus the premise was so intriguing. PJ is a wonderful writer and her prose and...

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Day 2 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Nikki Roberti and Jami Nord
May10

Day 2 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Nikki Roberti and Jami Nord

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 Nikki Roberti … Twitter | Website Nikki Roberti Miller is a young adult author, a professional journalist, and marketer with more than ten years of published writing experience. She currently works full-time writing feature articles and marketing copy at the international relief non-profit, Samaritan’s Purse,  while also freelancing for various magazines and sites such as WeTV, Engagement 101, Parents magazine, and NBC’s iVillage.com. She was also the founder and editor-in-chief of REALITY Check Girl Magazine, which was featured in the Washington Post online. Before writing novels, she was a seven-time award winning playwright with her short pieces performed around the country, including The Kennedy Center in D.C. She is also an avid young adult/middle grade author and was selected to be featured in the 2014 Pitch Wars for her young adult contemporary, THE TRUTH ABOUT TWO-SHOES  and mentored by author Rachel Lynn Solomon. But also in her spare time she enjoys cooking, making balloon sculptures and blogging about her author adventures and attempt at living a happy, healthy married life at www.MrsHealthyEverAfter.com. Nikki’s Query Critique . . .   AGE CATEGORY: Young Adult GENRE: Contemporary Fantasy Dear [Agent’s name here], Fifteen-year-old Lucy Nightingale has always suspected that the world hates her, from her parents’ divorce to the stupid freshmen who keep sticking gum all over her bike handlebars. But then the world goes and proves it [This reads awkward to me, and for a query it should be very quick and streamlined. I’d recommend shortening it to “but then the world proves it” or something], when her own dreams start trying to murder her in her sleep.[THIS IS AWESOME. What a great line.] Every night, Lucy must face her Dreamon – a shapeshifting physical manifestation of all her darkest thoughts. Not only that, but she must come to grips with the new rules which govern her dream...

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Day 2 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Lyndsay Ely and C.M. McCoy
May10

Day 2 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Lyndsay Ely and C.M. McCoy

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 Lyndsay Ely … Twitter Lyndsay Ely is a writer of speculative fiction, and that’s as specific as she’s willing to be about genre. She lives in Boston, where she works in publishing and organizes a local speculative fiction writing group. Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely Add to Goodreads In GUNSLINGER GIRL, when Serendipity “Pity” Jones runs away from home, she lands in a lawless city at the edge of civilization. There, she joins the decadent Theatre Vespertine as a trick sharpshooter, but there’s a dark cost for her freedom. Need more? Of course you do! Scroll down for an exclusive excerpt of Chapter One! Once you’re addicted, and you will be, you can look forward to getting your hands on it January 2, 2018.   Lyndsay’s Query Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Young Adult GENRE: Contemporary Dear [Agent], [Concise sentence on why I’m querying them specifically.] Winning the national championship is the one realistic opportunity Dustin Esposito has left to get noticed. Plagued by memories of his failure on soccer’s global stage, the college senior finds his future is filled with question marks. Wanting nothing more than a professional career, crippling anxiety convinces him there is no chance—that missing a penalty in the U-17 World Cup six years ago saw to that. Royally screwing up in front of scouts in last season’s semifinal sealed the coffin. [There’s a lot of intriguing detail in this first paragraph, but I think it could be conveyed more concisely. For example, combining the first two sentences into something like: “Plagued by memories of his failure on soccer’s global stage, winning the national championship is college senior Dustin Esposito’s last chance to get noticed.” And the specific failures may not be necessary in the query. I think what follows is more interesting.] Off the pitch, his parents proceed through a...

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Day 1 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Kim Long and Carlie Sorosiak
May09

Day 1 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Kim Long and Carlie Sorosiak

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 Kim Long … Twitter  |  Website Kim Long is an attorney in the Chicagoland area, where she spends her days expressing her clients’ (always true) stories to judges and juries. She writes MG contemporary fantasy that contains a sprinkle of science. When not managing her fantasy baseball and football teams, she can be found biking along the numerous trails in Illinois, watching Star Wars for the zillionth time, or teaching her nieces about the importance of choosing the correct racer (Toad) and vehicle (magicruiser) in Mario Kart.   Kim’s Query Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Middle Grade GENRE: Fantasy Dear [Agent], Twelve-year-old Anya Kozlova desperately wants to be good at something. Her mother is a gifted farmer, able to use magic to sing sweetness from her onion crops. [Not sure what this means or how this contributes to the household. Is she growing onions? Is she a singer? It sounds like the family’s farmers, so maybe she’s using magic to sing sweetness to the onion crops?] Her father has a magical bond with their goats—or at least he did, before he was conscripted and sent to fight in Tartary. Even her blind grandmother and crippled grandfather are useful contributors to the household, leaving Anya as the dead weight. [A touch too vague. Either say what their magic can do or leave them out entirely—which would probably be fine—the parents are good enough.] But all that’s about to change. Anya discovers the corrupt village magistrate’s plan to evict Anya’s family from their farm unless they can pay the enormous sum of 250 rubles in thirty days. [I’m wondering if this would make a good start to your query. Considering the plot centers around the dragon, I don’t think you need that top paragraph at all. I’d start here. Something like, “When twelve-year-old Anya discovers her family’s about...

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Pitch Wars Webinar: Ask a Publishing Pro with Michele Rubin
May02

Pitch Wars Webinar: Ask a Publishing Pro with Michele Rubin

WEBINARS   Ask a Publishing Pro . . . Michele Rubin was a Senior Executive Literary Agent with Writer’s House for almost 25 years where she represented everything across the board before becoming the Managing Editor at Cornerstones U.S., a literary consultancy. Join this webinar and ask Michele all of your burning industry questions—no topic is off limits! Michele will also share valuable insights around what authors should look for in an editor. What questions should you ask? What should you expect? How can you tell if the relationship is a worthy investment of your time and money?   The Details . . . Date: Tuesday, May 30, 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm ET Cost: FREE Please note: There is a 50 person limit for the webinar   About Michele Rubin . . . Twitter | Cornerstones US | Cornerstones UK Michele Rubin was a literary agent at Writers House for 25 years, leaving agenting in 2013 to work full-time as a freelance editor, writer, ghostwriter, and conductor of writing workshops. Her areas of expertise and interest are broad; she is open to all genres. Michele is a Cornerstones industry editor.         THIS WEBINAR IS NOW FULL   Thank you for your interest! The Pitch Wars team is thrilled to be launching our new webinar series!   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. ALL SESSIONS WILL BE RECORDED, so if you can’t make the exact day, you will have access to the webinar after the event.    ...

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Query or First Page Workshops . . . Sign Up Now!
Apr10

Query or First Page Workshops . . . Sign Up Now!

Enter ONE of the Rafflecopters below for the chance to have a free query or first page critique! During May, June, and July, Pitch Wars mentors will be helping you shine up your query or first page. They will be posted after being critiqued on the blog, so please–only enter if you’re willing to have everyone see it. We have 80 query spots and 80 first page spots. Please choose only one and enter your information. This is for all genres in the middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult categories of fiction. Your manuscript does not have to be complete to enter. Winners will be announced April 17th and will receive an email, so be ready to submit your sample for critique immediately. a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter...

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Pitch Wars Webinars: The First 10 Pages Intensive
Apr07

Pitch Wars Webinars: The First 10 Pages Intensive

WEBINARS The Pitch Wars team is thrilled to be launching our new webinar series! 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. ALL SESSIONS WILL BE RECORDED, so if you can’t make the exact day, you will have access to the webinar after the event. The First 10 Pages Intensive . . . Join us for a two-part intensive workshop focused on the first ten pages of your MS. The first ten pages are the window into the world of your novel. If readers (and agents and editors) take a peek inside and don’t see all the elements of a compelling vacation spot, they’ll find another destination. Heather Cashman will break down those first ten pages and examine the components necessary to not only make readers finish those ten pages but be excited to reach THE END. (Not suitable for picture books.) Be ready to analyze, break-down, and rebuild your words. Heather is also hoping to do some live edits on willing participants. The Details . . . Session 1: Tuesday, May 9, 8:30 pm – 10pm ET Session 2: Tuesday, May 16 , 8:30 pm – 10pm ET Cost: $45 to attend the webinar Please note: There is a 50 person limit for the webinar Critique: For $50, Heather is offering a query and first ten page critique.   About Heather Cashman . . . Twitter | Blog | Instagram With a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, Heather’s lab reports always lacked the fantastical elements her imagination craved. Hypotheses turned into taglines and novels that range from Epic Fantasy to Contemporary, Speculative Fiction. Heather’s love of literature and writing developed into a publishing industry career when she became Assistant to Author Brenda Drake and then Managing Director of Pitch Wars, #PitMad, and Pitch Madness. She’s also an agent intern, a member of SCBWI, and was previously an Editor/Ambassador for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy US/UK. Soon, she’ll be able to officially announce her latest endeavor as Head of Acquisitions for a small publisher. See Reviews from some of Heather’s clients at the bottom of the page . . .     Reviews from some of Heather’s clients . . . “Heather is a writer’s dream editor: clear, thorough, and insightful. She...

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Trusting Tanner by Lexi Lawton . . . Cover Reveal & Giveaway!
Apr06

Trusting Tanner by Lexi Lawton . . . Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

TRUSTING TANNER Release date: May 8, 2017 To win her trust, he’ll have to surrender his heart.       Trusting Tanner is a sexy new adult romance coming May 8th from Entangled Embrace. Check out the cover! About Trusting Tanner (The Collins Brothers #1) . . . Tanner Collins is the embodiment of perfection—tall, dark, sinfully sexy—and completely out of Juliana Shea’s league. Knowing she’d never survive a repeat of her last disastrous relationship, she parks Tanner firmly in the friend zone. But man, he’s hard to resist. Juliana is exactly what Tanner wants, and he’s determined to win her over with his kindness and humor… But one night—a night he can’t even remember—threatens to take it all away. With the flick of a “send” button, their hope for a future together is shattered. But Tanner isn’t the type to give up on what he wants—and he wants Juliana.   About Lexi Lawton . . . Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter Born and raised in Central New York, Lexi Lawton is an only child who found companionship in books. When she was old enough to put pen to paper, she began writing her own stories of love, suspense, and heartbreak. She hasn’t stopped since. Represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Lexi is actively pursuing her dreams of publication. Today, Lexi lives in Michigan with her husband, four kids, three pit bulls, and two cats. When she’s not writing, she enjoys going to the gym, spending time with her family and friends, and obsessively listening to anything by Luke Bryan. a Rafflecopter giveaway...

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Writers for Hope Auction
Apr03

Writers for Hope Auction

Writers for Hope Bid on query critiques, page critiques, and all kinds of writerly things to benefit RAINN on the Writers for Hope Auction website. Important things to know about this event: Through this fundraiser you can bid on writing work critiques, consultation calls, signed books, signed CDs and book-related accessories and experiences. 100% of the money raised by this event goes directly to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the United States’ largest anti-sexual assault organization.  Every single-donor auction item has a starting bid of $10 – the amount of money it costs RAINN to help one survivor through the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE).  Want to support a great cause? Do so HERE any time! This event began in 2014 and is held every April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Each year, members of the publishing world – editors, agents, and published and/or agented authors contribute their time and resources to raise money to combat sexual assault. Donations include work critiques (ranging from queries to FULL manuscripts), consultation calls or Skype sessions, and signed books. 100% of the money raised by this event goes directly to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the United States’ largest anti-sexual assault organization.  A NOTE FROM YOUR AUCTIONEER: Current figures suggest that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will become a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime. In March of 2010, I became one of the 1s in 6. While still not a day goes by without me thinking about that horrible morning, at least in passing, I am very happy to say that when these dark thoughts come up, they are chased by countless bright ones. In the days, months and years that have followed, I have consistently been reminded that the good outweighs the bad in the world – and by a pretty impressive margin.  Over the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to see this good in action. The response to the six fundraisers I’ve done has been overwhelming – we’ve raised over $35,000, ensuring that over 3500 survivors have access to the help they need. Equally stunning is the number of people who frequently ask me when the next one will be. Who seek me out so that they can give of their time, resources, and hearts. Thanks to the never ending support that I have received from all of you, I am happy to announce that the next fundraiser will be the 4th Annual Writers for Hope Auction on April 3, 2017!  I’ll be posting updates here, on my RAINNmaker fundraising page, and on Twitter- check out @KF_Johnson or #WritersForHope.  In the...

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Déjà You, an Anthology by Five Authors . . . Cover Reveal!
Mar27

Déjà You, an Anthology by Five Authors . . . Cover Reveal!

TITLE: Déjà You PUBLISHER: Emerald Lily Publishing RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2017 In Déjà You . . . Five authors share stories of second chances, as varied in telling as the writers themselves. Kelly Cain’s We’ll Always Have Oahu takes us on a whirlwind New Adult romance set in the 80s between a young woman on a high school graduation trip and a handsome Navy sailor. Bianca M. Schwarz transports us to 1760 in The Pearl with the story of Marcus Landover, who attends a card party and ends up with more than he bargained for in the beautiful Sophia Chelmsford. Amanda Linsmeier’s Joy and Sorrow reunites lovers separated by death in a Women’s Fiction tinged with the unusual. The Eyes of the Heart by Jamie McLachlan gives us Rosalina, who is forced to confront her attraction and the truth about her blindness when a new gardener is hired at the Greystone house. Finally, C.H. Armstrong brings us Mr. Midnight, where tragedy reunites two star-crossed lovers, but misunderstandings soon rip them apart. Now, six years later, the stars are realigning with the help of the smooth voice of a late night radio DJ. Some of the stories are sweet, some sad, some steamy, but all carry the same theme. Déjà You is a collection of stories for those who believe in love, but most of all, second chances. The Birth of Déjà You . . . About two years ago, a group of five novice writers signed with the same small publisher, each inexperienced in the publishing world yet committed to understanding the process and finding success. Through their mutual dive into unchartered territory, Amanda Linsmeier, Bianca M. Schwarz, C.H. Armstrong, Kelly Cain, and Jamie McLachlan reached out to one another and became instant friends, sharing laughs, tears, and the struggles of life and writing. We soon dubbed ourselves “Book Besties.” During the fall of 2016, we decided to write a book of short stories together. As friends, we wanted to combine our talents to create a collection that would inspire hope and happiness. After much deliberation, we chose the theme “Second Chances” and decided to title this anthology, “Déjà You.” Though each story contains the same theme, they all are as unique as the author who wrote it. Including New Adult, Women’s Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, and Contemporary Romance, each short offers a different take on the theme and involves varying heat levels, from sweet to steamy.   About the Authors . . . Kelly Cain has published a multicultural adult and new adult romance, but she writes across genres and age groups, currently penning book one of a...

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After the Madness . . . Twitter Pitch Party Today!
Mar23

After the Madness . . . Twitter Pitch Party Today!

FOR ALL THE RULES: See the official #PitMad page. There’s a twitter pitch party on the Twitter hashtag #PitMad today, March 23rd, from 8AM to 8PM EST. 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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HAPPY BIRTHDAY Brenda Drake! We LOVE You!
Mar22

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Brenda Drake! We LOVE You!

  Hope it’s the best day ever! Just a note to the creator of Pitch Madness, #PitMad, and Pitch Wars . . . We love and appreciate you, Brenda, for all you do for the writing community. For ignoring all the nasty reviews people give you for not getting into your contests. For all the love you give without any thought for yourself. For the community you faithfully serve. The writing community, the world, and our lives are better because you’re in them.   ALL OUR...

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