Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Steven Carman and his mentor Stefanie Wass
Jul14

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Steven Carman and his mentor Stefanie Wass

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Steven Carman and his Pitch Wars mentor Stefanie Wass! Steven recently signed with Gina Panettieri of Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for him. So please join me in congratulating Steven and Stefanie as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Steven, what was it about Stefanie that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? I pitched THE WINDUP to Stefanie because her wish list included “heartfelt, realistic, coming-of-age middle grade.” And I was like, okay, she could be a good fit for my book. When I read the glowing praise her previous Mentee heaped on her in a Pitch Wars Success story, I was sold. At that point, I hoped that Stefanie liked baseball—or at least that my story’s baseball angle wouldn’t be a deal breaker. Stefanie, what was it about Steven’s THE WINDUP that hooked you? The Windup was full of heart, and action, and tension from the get-go.  From the opening scene, it felt like I was in good hands. All of the elements were there—a main character I could root for, a compelling conflict, and a setting I knew kids would love. (Baseball fields galore!) Steven, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Stefanie sent me an editorial letter and a marked-up manuscript right away. I was blown away at the time and thought she put into a stranger’s project—especially considering she wasn’t earning a dime for her efforts. Her comments resonated with me and I was eager to get to work on the revisions. Stefanie went above and beyond, and ended up reading multiple rounds of revisions—offering encouragement and valuable feedback at each pass. No doubt, she helped me become a better writer and helped make THE WINDUP a winner. Stefanie, tell us about your experience mentoring Steven. It was a wonderful experience! Steve was open to my suggestions and ready to dig in and work hard.  When he didn’t end up with any agent offers immediately following Pitch Wars, he remained positive, stayed in touch with me, and kept the faith. Steven, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Gina Panettieri of Talcott Notch Literary. Please, tell us about “The Call.” We love all the details about the offer, how they contacted you, how you responded, celebrations, emotions . . . How long did you have to wait and how did you distract yourself? Anything! We love hearing about all of it. Gina Panettieri kindly expedited her review of THE WINDUP after I informed her that I received an offer from another agent. When I received Gina’s...

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Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Jennifer Camiccia and her mentor Kristin B. Wright
Jul13

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Jennifer Camiccia and her mentor Kristin B. Wright

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Jennifer Camiccia and her Pitch Wars mentor Kristin B. Wright! Jennifer recently signed with Stacey Glick of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, LLC, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating Jennifer and Kristin as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Jennifer, what was it about Kristin that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? I researched all the mentors representing YA contemporary, and Kristin definitely moved to the top of my list once I read her favorite books and movies. Since her taste was so similar to mine, I hoped she would connect with my book. And she did! Kristin, what was it about Jennifer’s BIRDY’S SONG that hooked you? I read the first chapter of BIRDY’S SONG in a Chipotle, delicious burrito in hand. Her story starts with a terrifying car ride that ends in tragedy, and I was so gripped I forgot to eat my burrito. I don’t remember her query, which is why I always tell people that the query, while important, isn’t as important as pages that hook from the first lines. I could not put it down. She rose to the top five contenders before I left that Chipotle. Jennifer, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Kristin sent me an extremely detailed letter with suggestions on making my story stronger. I took a day or two to mull it over, and then I went to work. I wrote every day for a month before sending back my manuscript for line edits. It was exhausting but, ultimately, extremely satisfying. My characters were more vivid, the pace quicker, and the ending more dramatic. Kristin, tell us about your experience mentoring Jennifer. She was a dream. I sent her a super scary letter that suggested a title change, losing a character or two, changing the ending completely, and a dozen other things that probably made her wish she’d never heard my name, but she took it like a champ. Her writing was so beautiful and assured, and I knew she could do it. And she did. I remember reading her revised ending and actually cheering. Jennifer, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich. Please, tell us about “The Call.” We love all the details about the offer, how they contacted you, how you responded, celebrations, emotions . . . How long did you have to wait and how did you distract yourself? Anything! We love hearing about all of it. Stacey sent an email to say how much she was enjoying my...

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Day 34 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Jenn Brisendine & Emily Colin
Jun23

Day 34 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Jenn Brisendine & Emily Colin

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 Jenn Brisendine  Website | Twitter Jenn Brisendine, a secondary English/Language Arts teacher, writes middle grade and is repped by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media. She currently enjoys writing historicals with elements of magic, but loves reading a variety of genres in middle grade. She was a Pitchwars ’15 mentee and can be found at @jennbrisendine on Twitter and @jennbrisendinewrites on Instagram. She’s happy to have recently joined the ranks at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors – http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2017/03/umbrella-raining-overarching-conflict-mg/ .  Check out her site https://jennbrisendine.com/  for free teacher printables on great MG novels and for reviews of great books on writing. Jenn’s Query Critique… Age: MG Genre: Fantasy Dear: Agent: The Ambassador of Attalon [You can use all caps for the ms title] is a standalone MG high fantasy of 50, 000 [no space in your number, or use “50K”] words with series potential. Already at 12 years old, it seems that all Clarine Hearthsgaard’s dreams have come true. She wins a coveted spot in Attalon’s prestigious Knight Academy to eventually [don’t need “eventually”; gives a long, drawn-out feel to the process] become a Knight of the Realm. But it doesn’t take long for Clarine to discover that attending a school for Knights is not quite what she thought it would be. Sore muscles from Weapons Training and headaches caused by mind-numbing Diplomatic Solutions [This is pretty minor, but maybe use a different example than a boring headache-inducing class; something equally as dynamic as Weapons Training might be better for the sake of querying.] are the least of her worries when she discovers a hidden grove with a single apple tree, and accidentally wakes King Arthur’s ghost.  [Maybe just another hint or two to tie things together—what’s the connection between apple tree and King Arthur? How does she wake him, especially if it’s...

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Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Sarena and Sasha Nanua and their mentor Stephanie Scott
Jun23

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Sarena and Sasha Nanua and their mentor Stephanie Scott

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Sarena and Sasha Nanua and their Pitch Wars mentor Stephanie Scott! Sarena and Sasha recently signed with Peter Knapp of Park Literary & Media, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for them. So please join me in congratulating Sarena and Sasha and Stephanie as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Sarena and Sasha, what was it about Stephanie that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? We loved Stephanie’s bio—she mentioned how she was looking for manuscripts about teens with unique and strong passions, which meshes with our main character’s love for cooking. We also tweeted her to see if she would be interested in reading our book (based on concept), and she said sure, so we went for it! Plus, we’re all #TeamGale 😊 Stephanie, what was it about Sarena and Sasha’s A TASTE OF DARKNESS that hooked you?  The pitch was Willy Wonka meets Chopped – a reality show cooking competition set at culinary institute that previously shuttered due to scandal. What hooked me more was the family dynamics, of a girl torn between her own culinary dreams and studying something more practical to care for her family. The character’s connection to her grandfather was sweet and added a mystery element with his connection to the institute. Sarena and Sasha, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? It was definitely a unique experience. Prior to this, only 1 other published author had read this book, and that was in its ugly 2nd draft stage. We were so thankful that Stephanie had a great vision for it. Mostly, we really had to “up” the stakes—make it bigger, both internally and externally for Tessa, our main character. We changed the book from 3rd to 1st person and changed a lot of the plot. Looking back on it now, it was a lot to do, but we’re both very thankful we had this experience. If it weren’t for Stephanie’s guidance, we would probably be lost tackling edits for our new book from our agent. Even though we had school, we were able to wrap up edits during the agent round. We would send out sections of the book as we edited it so Stephanie could give us her thoughts throughout the process.   Stephanie, tell us about your experience mentoring Sarena and Sasha. Sarena and Sasha were a dream to work with! Despite currently attending college, they turned in edits ahead of deadlines. They were eager to learn. Some decisions in editing don’t have a clear cut answer, and they both did really well...

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Day 34 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Lyndsay Ely & Erin Foster Hartley
Jun23

Day 34 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Lyndsay Ely & Erin Foster Hartley

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  Website | Twitter Lyndsay Ely (pronounced “eel-y”, as in those eels are looking very eel-y today) is a writer who currently calls Boston home. She is a geek, a foodie, a feminist, and has never met an antique shop she didn’t like. Her favorite color is crimson, and her favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo. Gunslinger Girl is her debut novel.   Lyndsay’s Query Critique… Age Category: Adult Genre: Paranormal Fantasy In a ruthless and vampiristic society that strips their citizens of emotions at birth, a young woman finds herself hunted as she is the only citizen that still, illegally, feels. [Great first line; very intriguing.] In Virtok, where humans are considered meals and emotions are forbidden, Penbly Hartson lives with the knowledge that her nights are numbered. Born with the rare gene that allows her to feel emotions, she is marked as an anomaly at birth. [Alone, I like this line. But I’m starting to get a little confused because before you say that emotions are stripped at birth. But here they are related to a gene? Can you clarify?] Hidden and protected by her older brother, she stops at nothing to find him when he disappears. [Good stakes, though I think it may read better as “she will stop at nothing.”] Until her secret is exposed. With a target painted on her back, Penbly knows she has two choices: leave her world or give herself up. [What are the consequences to giving herself up?] When she crosses paths with a human, they strike a deal; she offers him protection and he helps her cross to his world, Earth. [This is where I get thrown. Until now, I didn’t realize that Penbly wasn’t human. And if not, is she a literal vampire? Or some other kind of creature? I also...

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Day 33 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with mentors Samantha Joyce & Lindsey Frydman
Jun22

Day 33 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with mentors Samantha Joyce & Lindsey Frydman

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 Samantha Joyce  Website | Twitter Samantha has wanted to be an author since she picked up her first book and realized authors get to create new worlds with just a pen and paper (or laptop, if you will). She loves to write about romance because, as someone who married her high school sweetheart, she absolutely believes in true love. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC. Her debut, FLIRTING WITH FAME, is published by Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster.   Samantha’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: soft science fiction Dear (name), I’m delighted to see on Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity that you are looking for new clients and are intrigued by off-the-page characters and secrets. Keeping trade secrets, family secrets and personal secrets is key in my novel, Essential Path ESSENTIAL PATH (always put your title in all caps), soft science fiction with neuropsychological and erotic elements. Michelle Brower, my nonfiction agent at ZSH, is not representing my fiction because, in her words, once a story leaves the planet, it leaves her area of interest and expertise. Great introduction! I love that you’re telling us why you’re interested in this particular agent and also giving us insight into your present agent situation. Concept: In an attempt to communicate with human settlers, the sentient planet Path evolved a strain of yeast that influences the human brain. Humans discovered how to use this yeast to distill Essence, a unique form of alcohol that creates telepathic bonds and amplifies sexual pleasure. World-building: Everyone wants Essence. Because Essence can be distilled only on Path and only by those who inherit distiller family secrets and distiller’s DNA and microbiome, the interplanetary government sends a military occupation force to use any means necessary to control Path and convince distillers to cooperate. I can tell you...

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Day 33 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Shari Schwarz & Alexandra Ott
Jun22

Day 33 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Shari Schwarz & Alexandra Ott

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 Shari Schwarz  Website | Twitter Shari Schwarz lives in Ft. Collins, Colorado near the Rocky Mountains with her husband and their four boys. TREASURE AT LURE LAKE (Cedar Fort Publishing, April 12, 2016) is her debut which reflects her love for a good survival adventure story. When she’s not reading or writing, Shari can be found freelance editing, weight-lifting, gardening or watching her boys play football, basketball, cup-stacking, or wrestling. She frequently dreams of exploring Oregon Coast beaches or plotting out her next children’s book.       Shari’s Query Critique… Dear Agent:  The Cunning is a Young Adult [YA] Fantasy novel complete at [No need to say, “complete at” which is implied/expected] 96,000 words. [I would reword to something like this: “THE CUNNING, a 96,000 word, YA Fantasy, is the first novel in a planned trilogy.” Even better is if you can say that this is a stand-alone book with series potential—if that’s true.] It is the first book in a planned trilogy, and is an origin story involving the faerie characters from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as most recently interpreted in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fae series. The Cunning will appeal to fans [Saying that a book “will appeal” is presumptuous. I’d reword to say, “THE CUNNING is similar in tone and theme to Leigh Bardugo’s…] of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy in both tone and themes. [Make sure you’re using the same font/size throughout. The titles are in a different font.] Seventeen-year-old Ania hoped [hopes] that fixing machines at the mill for a living and dressing like a spinster would [will] help her escape the notice of the Fae that long ago conquered her world. But when she is caught in the middle of a village uprising against Fae King Oberon, Ania’s dangerous secret is exposed: although human, she inexplicably can’t be cut by mortal blades. [I’m not totally taken in by this premise....

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Day 29 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Tabitha Martin & Kelly deVos
Jun16

Day 29 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Tabitha Martin & Kelly deVos

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 Tabitha Martin Website | Twitter  Tabitha Martin writes contemporary and fantasy YA. When she’s not writing, she can be found with her nose in a book, her head in the clouds, her mind on a video game, or eating chips and salsa. She lives close to the beach and doesn’t go enough, but she longs to live among the stars like Darrow and Mustang. *bonus points if you know who they are and you ship them too*       Tabitha’s Query Critique… Desiring true love, friendship, and a fulfilling adventurous career, Karina has to rebuild every aspect of her life when she moves to a gritty yet burgeoning artistic neighborhood in Brooklyn. [This takes away from your query, because it reads more like a pitch + your query, so I would cut this all together] Twenty-six-year-old [This doesn’t seem necessary for an adult manuscript] Karina [add last name] has been playing by the rules her entire life [also if you keep the age, this makes her sound extra naïve, because 26 isn’t that old], expecting that by the time she graduates from a prestigious law school in New York, she will have everything she has [cut HAS and change to she’s for better flow] ever wanted: the perfect life, the perfect career, and the perfect relationship. Instead, she finds herself dreading the day she becomes a lawyer, and her relationship with a guy she thought might be the one goes awry [this second part is a bit wordy and takes away from your query. Make it more concise, like, “and things with her boyfriend go awry”]. To make things even more complicated, she is an immigrant from Slovakia whose ability to stay in the United States depends of her employment, and the countdown to her visa expiration date has begun. [to me, this is more important than anything you’ve listed above. This should be Problem Number...

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Day 29 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Melyssa Mercado and Heather Cashman
Jun16

Day 29 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Melyssa Mercado and 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 Mentor Melyssa Mercado  Website | Twitter  Melyssa Mercado is a writer of Middle Grade and Young Adult stories. Creative writing has always threaded the needle of Mel’s life, weaving worlds and characters together in hopes of connecting to the experiences and evolutionary pages of a young person’s heart. She believes humor is the true chicken soup for the soul (and that nobody really throws up all night). Mel’s wish list will forever include book-scented candles and making readers smile. SCBWI and Eastern New York chapter member. She’s represented by the lovely Victoria Selvaggio of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.   Melyssa’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Middle grade GENRE: Fantasy Dear AGENT, I am seeking representation for my middle grade fantasy, Dragon Talker: Heart Stone. [Great title! As agents know you are querying for rep, I’d sub this opening with either a personalized reason you’re querying this specific agent or go straight into the hook and grab their attention right off the bat—the latter is always my personal preference, as agents view tons of queries on a daily basis. You can always add a personalized statement for querying in your closing paragraph]. “All middle school kids are weird – no one fits in.”  So says Jake’s school counselor, and his best friend Owen agrees. But Jake is sure that no one has the night life he does. [Generally, queries don’t include or start off with dialogue. I’ve seen it done, but it’s risky. But my biggest concern here is that a guidance counselor is telling two kids they are all weird and don’t fit in. Do you know how fast I’d be on the phone to that school? (: You can easily turn this around using a snappy word opener with something like: If ___year-old Jake hears that feeling weird is just a natural part of middle school one more time, he’ll go unnaturally bonkers—because, no matter what his...

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Day 28 (Part 2) Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Kristin Bartley Lenz, Heather Smith Meloche & Jenny Lundquist
Jun15

Day 28 (Part 2) Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Kristin Bartley Lenz, Heather Smith Meloche & Jenny Lundquist

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 Kristin Bartley Lenz & Heather Smith Meloche  Website | Twitter Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker from metro-Detroit who fell in love with the mountains when she moved to Georgia and California. Now she’s back in Detroit where she plots wilderness escapes and manages the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Her debut young adult novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, was a Junior Library Guild Fall 2016 Selection and was chosen for the Great Lakes Great Books 2017-2018 state-wide literature program. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency.    Website | Twitter  Heather Smith Meloche has had the honor of winning the Katherine Paterson Prize and the Writer’s Digest National Competition for her children’s/Young Adult writing. She studied video production and poetry at Michigan State University, and then got her Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language at Bowling Green State University. She spends her days in her home in Michigan sampling a wide variety of chocolate, letting her dogs in and out constantly, and writing and reading as much as she can. Heather is the author of of RIPPLE, released Sept. 20, 2016 by Penguin Putnam and represented by Compass Talent Literary Agency.     Kristin and Heather’s Query Critique… I am looking for representation for my Women’s [Lower case “women’s”] fiction: [Use a comma here instead of a colon] FOUR WOMEN TALKING. [Choose all caps or italics, but not both, and keep it consistent throughout the letter] It is complete at 88,000 words. Monique Magloire, Haitian socialite wants her father to respect her even though she is not the son he had “demanded.” Monique has a few demands of her own. Cecilia Peterson of St Thomas longs for her mother’s love although she has the “misfortune” of looking like her Negro father....

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Day 28 (Part 1) Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Natalka Burian & Rebecca Schaeffer
Jun15

Day 28 (Part 1) Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Natalka Burian & Rebecca Schaeffer

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 Natalka Burian Website | Twitter 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 grew up on a farm in Maryland, and now lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters. Welcome to the Slipstream is her first novel. She is represented by Kate Johnson at Wolf Literary Services.   Natalka’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: YA GENRE: Magical Realism, not exactly sure of this[I think your instincts are correct!] Dear Wonderful Agent: Fiddle playing teen [I’m wondering what her exact age is here–could be useful for an agent or editor, too, when considering submissions, etc.] Anastasia Samuels [I’d also suggest starting this paragraph off with her name. It’s a much stronger way to begin in that it immediately connects us to your protagonist–e.g. Anastasia Samuels, a 16yo musician introvert blames her albinism…] is an introvert who blames her albinism for her all insecurities. Moving over a thousand miles away rips her from her one and only friend, Clara, forcing her into a whole new world of miserable. The only bright spots in her dismal existence are her music, and meeting James, a hearing-impaired boy who is as much a curiosity at their performing arts school as she is. She falls hard for this cute redhead but can’t imagine him ever being interested in someone like her.[Consider omitting this last sentence for sharpness and efficiency.] A strange recurring dream about an old violin has haunted Ana since her parents first announced their decision to more. She is stunned to discover this same instrument in their attic.[is this the attic in her old or new house? Maybe move us in time at the beginning of the paragraph, condensing the two...

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Day 24 (Part 3): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Kes Trester, Jessica Vitalis & Julie Artz
Jun09

Day 24 (Part 3): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Kes Trester, Jessica Vitalis & Julie Artz

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 Kes Trester  Website | Twitter A native of Los Angeles, Kes Trester’s first job out of college was on a film set, though the movie’s title will remain nameless because it was a really bad film. Really. As a feature film development executive, she worked on a variety of independent films, from gritty dramas (guns and hotties) to steamy vampire love stories (fangs and hotties) to teens-in-peril genre movies (blood and hotties). Kes produced a couple of independent films, both award-winners on the festival circuit, before seguing into television commercials. As head of production for a Hollywood-based film company, she supervised the budgeting and production of nationally broadcast commercials (celebrities, aliens, talking animals!) and award-winning music videos for artists such as Radiohead, Coldplay, and OKGO (more celebrities, aliens, and talking animals!). In an attempt to raise kids who could actually pick their mom out of a line up, Kes turned to writing fulltime. Her contemporary novels for young adults are cinematic, fast-paced, and above all, fun. Add an understanding husband and pack of rescue dogs to the mix, and that’s also an apt description of life in the busy Trester household. Kes is the YA author of A DANGEROUS YEAR coming out in September 26, 2017. She is represented by Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary. Kes’ Query Critique… Dear Agents Name, I’m seeking representation for my project, WINGS OF FLESH AND BONES, which I’d like you to consider [I would cut “which I’d like you to consider” – feels a little clunky]. It’s a YA/Paranormal story with elements of romance and [is complete at] 74,000 words. [it seems obvious, but agents like to know it’s a finished ms and it’s easy to slip it in here] Outer realmies suck, as any gatekeeper worth their salt will tell you [nice voice!]. Welcome to Rogan’s life, a sixteen-year-old...

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