Pitch Wars LIVE #5: Middle Grade Mentors
Jul21

Pitch Wars LIVE #5: Middle Grade Mentors

What an amazing night for Pitch Wars LIVE! We got through so many questions for our Middle Grade mentors that you’re certainly going to want to hear the answers to. From revision tips to what they’re looking for in a mentee submission–these guys got you covered. Didn’t get to catch it live? Check out the recorded episode below. Be sure to reference the schedule for upcoming shows in your manuscript’s age category. All episodes can be found on a playlist on the Pitch Wars Youtube Page here. And join us Monday for the next round of Adult/New Adult mentors!...

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Pitch Wars LIVE #4: Young Adult Mentors
Jul20

Pitch Wars LIVE #4: Young Adult Mentors

WHOOHOO! Pitch Wars LIVE just had an amazing conversation tonight with our second round of Young Adult mentors. We talked queries and prologues and even “unlikeable female main characters.” Didn’t get to catch it live? Check out the recorded episode below. Be sure to reference the schedule for upcoming shows in your manuscript’s age category. All episodes can be found on a playlist on the Pitch Wars Youtube Page here. And join us tomorrow for the second round of Middle Grade mentors!...

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Pitch Wars LIVE #3: Adult/New Adult Mentors
Jul19

Pitch Wars LIVE #3: Adult/New Adult Mentors

Pitch Wars LIVE had an epic group of super wise Adult/New Adult mentors on tonight. We talked romance, anti-heroes, and even Harry Potter houses. Didn’t get to catch it live? Check out the recorded episode below. Be sure to reference the schedule for upcoming shows in your manuscript’s age category. All episodes can be found on a playlist on the Pitch Wars Youtube Page here. And join us tomorrow for the second round of Young...

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Pitch Wars LIVE #2: MG Mentors
Jul18

Pitch Wars LIVE #2: MG Mentors

Pitch Wars LIVE had another amazing show tonight featuring some Middle Grade mentors who were 1) awesome and 2) someone brought their own  unicorn. We talked about everything from what age separates Middle Grade from Upper Middle Grade and discussed how to grab us in your queries.  Didn’t get to catch it live? Check out the recorded episode below. Be sure to reference the schedule for upcoming shows in your manuscript’s age category. All episodes can be found on a playlist on the Pitch Wars Youtube Page here. And join us tomorrow for the first round of Adult/NA mentors!...

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Pitch Wars LIVE Show #1: YA Mentors
Jul17

Pitch Wars LIVE Show #1: YA Mentors

Pitch Wars LIVE kicked off tonight with an amazing show featuring Young Adult mentors who all have diverse tastes and backgrounds. We talked about everything from pet peeves to queries and even our favorite/least favorite tropes.  Didn’t get to catch it live? Check out the recorded episode below. Be sure to reference the schedule for upcoming shows in your manuscript’s age category. All episodes can be found on a playlist on the Pitch Wars Youtube Page here. And join us tomorrow for the first round of Middle Grade mentors!...

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PW #301: Young Adult Thriller: FLASH MOB MURDERS

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: Dawn Ius Mentee: Kimberly Gabriel Title: FLASH MOB MURDERS Category/Genre: Young Adult Thriller Word Count: 78,000 Pitch: Amateur vigilante, Lia Finch, vows to take down the flash mob that murdered her father. But when she follows a lead to Chicago’s Navy Pier and dozens of mobbers ambush a new victim, she soon realizes the deadly consequences behind her obsession.  Excerpt: Damp air scrapes my throat and burns my lungs every time I inhale. It’s too heavy and cold for this time of year. Not that anyone else seems to mind. Instead, hundreds of tourists taunt me with their perfectly capable lungs as they flock about Navy Pier like it’s the only acceptable place to celebrate Labor Day weekend.  Their impulses are flawed like that. They come from places like Plainfield, Iowa and Hartville, Ohio where I’m sure they lead normal lives. But here, tourists become hoarders of magnets and sweatshirts and shopping bags plastered with Chicago’s emblem. They amble along with their blithe expressions, marveling over the city’s height and the way its buildings shimmer on a gray day like today. They eat Dot’s ice cream, take pictures of the new Rejuvenation mansions along Lake Michigan, and ignore the warnings about walking in groups fewer than four. They’re easy targets—all of them. My chest tightens, forcing the air out of my lungs. I glance at my purse slumped beside me on the weathered slats of the bench. As tempted as I might be to reach for my inhaler, today is not the day to show that kind of weakness. I pull the sleeves of my sweater over my palms and pick up the Truman Capote book in my lap. I begin to reread the same paragraph I’ve read a dozen times in the two hours since I’ve arrived. But before I finish the second sentence, I’m already distracted, wondering which of these tourists is about to...

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PW #302: Young Adult Science Fiction (Own Voices LGBT+): THROUGH GILDED VEINS

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: Linsey Miller Mentee: Rosiee Thor Title: THROUGH GILDED VEINS Category/Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction (Own Voices LGBT+) Word Count: 80,000 Pitch: When Anna, an outlaw-mechanic, and Nathaniel, the nobleman hunting her, discover the government is behind an epidemic of heart defects like theirs, they must work together to overthrow Nathaniel’s father before he stops all their hearts. Excerpt: There was nothing quite like the first tick of a new heart. The TICCER stuttered to life in Anna’s palm. Its pendulum swung back and forth, a metronome moving in time with her own clockwork heart. Tick. Tick. Tick. “Damn.” Grandpa Thatcher threw down his instruments with a clatter. Anna’s gaze snapped to the surgical table where their young patient lay prone, chest open. “What is it?” “His condition is more severe than I thought.” Thatcher leaned forward to get a better look. “Glasses.” Hands shaking, Anna pushed his spectacles back up his nose. Complications in surgery were more common than not, but Thatcher’s desperate tone still hit her at her core. She set her teeth against the memory of the last time the one-armed boy had gone under her knife. Thatcher pointed with a gloved finger into the boy’s chest cavity. “Tell me what you see.” Thatcher’s wheelchair demanded a short operating table, so Anna, who was taller even than the boys her age, had to stoop to see properly, struggling to look past the bouncy hair and upturned lips that made the boy more human than patient. She squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them on rigid, calcified valves and a thickened heart muscle. “It’s enormous!” “We’re surgeons, Deirdre-Anne. ‘Enormous’ isn’t an appropriate medical term.” Anna inhaled through her teeth. “It’s hypertrophic.” “Good. And what does that mean?” Thatcher’s fingers danced across the instrument tray. “He needs a TICCER, as you thought.” Thatcher grabbed the cauterizer in acknowledgement of her correct answer. He wouldn’t ask her to help. She didn’t want him...

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PW #303: Young Adult Urban Fantasy: THE MEMORY KEEPER

Manuscript Status: 2 week delivery Mentor: Lizzy Charles Mentee: Talynn Lynn Title: THE MEMORY KEEPER Category/Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy Word Count: 73,000 Pitch: Skyla Jenkins has mere hours to find her sister Morrow’s memory book before the rogue memories that escaped it steal her twin’s identity forever. THE MEMORY KEEPER features an inconsistent narrator. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN meets FROZEN. Excerpt: Tonight was the night a thousand mirrors would shatter. The real me would be lost in the shards, scattered in the darkness. My sister didn’t know. The last time I saw her she’d disappeared behind the etched glass doors of the Master Guild ceremony, dancing with her boyfriend, Jack. Soon the formalities would end and the real fun of the back-to-school party would start, out by the bonfire. Most parents and teachers would stand around and gossip by the buffet table. The students would sneak off outside for one last summer fling before classes began. But I wouldn’t be there.  Even though an urgent pressure threatened to squeeze the air from my lungs, I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. There was only one way to escape what was coming and I wanted her to know how much I loved her. I clutched my chest, knowing the real person I was would soon be gone, forever severed from this life as it merged with the unknown of tomorrow. It would happen in one tiny step and fade as swift as my reflection disappeared from the glass of the mirror.  I pressed the crystal envelope to my mouth, fogging it with my breath and leaving a baby pink lipstick mark. I wiped it away with the heel of my hand. The pure gold seal was engraved with my name. Not my initial. My full name. Skyla Laenaya Rose Jenkins, in calligraphy. An invitation from the Diamond Guild was a rare sight, one not to be frowned upon. My fingers...

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PW #304: Young Adult Literary Thriller: THEN BEGGARS WOULD RIDE

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Destiny Cole Mentee Name: Tracie V. Martin Title: THEN BEGGARS WOULD RIDE Category: Young Adult Genre: Literary Thriller Word Count: 64,000 words Pitch: Everyone believes Gwen’s boyfriend is a cult leader. After disappearing without a word, he’s resurfaced as the Beggar with a goal to spread “The Message” far and wide. Not willing to lose him, Gwen hits the road to bring him home. But as she and his ragtag disciples trail in the Beggar’s wake, Gwen discovers his mission is much more sinister than just preaching.  Told as a prison confessional, it’s THE WALLS AROUND US meets THE DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD. Excerpt: Transcript #1 First, you’re going to ask how we met. Everyone does. It’s not even the stupidest question people ask. That’s “How did you shave?” Once, I would have fucked with you, pretended that I cared if hair bloomed out of my armpits while I tracked my boyfriend from coast to coast as he meandered his way to hell. But now, I’ve watched people drown and I’ve broken a good man’s heart. I’ve killed someone. It’s no pleasure anymore to waste the few words I have left. What you really want to know is how a good girl like me could fall for a killer. You’re looking for specific beats in our origin story: he bewitched everyone with his charm, but in hindsight you could see the dark spots. I get this question most often from those with a strong belief that all people have souls, and by ‘souls’ I mean unchangeable cores of either good or evil. I get it. It’d be nice to think that Saul was born black-hearted. But he...

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PW #305: Young Adult Fantasy: THE PHANTOM, THE SPY, AND THE CROWN

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Amanda Foody Mentee Name: Alison Brown Title: THE PHANTOM, THE SPY, AND THE CROWN Category: Young Adult Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 92,000 Pitch: Dreyden would rather play soldier than prince. Elika joined the Royal Army so she can assassinate the king. When a criminal organization steals a shipment of magic, Dreyden and Elika join forces to unravel a conspiracy to overthrow their empire…unaware of the secrets they’re concealing from each other. Marie Antoinette meets James Bond, TRUTHWITCH-style. Excerpt: Bullets cracked over the moonlit cobblestones of the Pont de Couleurs bridge. Prince Dreyden Ryecove crouched behind a statue of his ancestor and reloaded his musket, fingers deft in the familiar movement of powder and ball. When he’d volunteered to join the regiment guarding the Kaisian shipment of magic, he’d expected drunken theatre-goers, not a full-scale ambush. The cargo contained consumable magic capable of blasting buildings to rubble and forcing entire armies to their knees, and its delivery to le Quartier Militaire was supposed to be confidential. Someone had talked. Across the bridge, a soldier screamed and staggered back, clutching her shoulder. Dreyden cursed. How many of his comrades remained in action? Ten? Twelve? Church bells tolled, echoing through the city boulevards and out over the dark water. The drifting gun-smoke parted, revealing the toll-house at the bridge’s northern bank where enemy muskets aimed through the leaded glass windows. He leveled his gun. “You know who has to be behind this,” Henri Tatsuko warned beside him. “Bleeding skies,” Dreyden muttered. “Don’t say Ghosts.” Criminals rumoured to slip through walls and vanish into the shadows, the Ghosts’ random acts of violence terrorised citizens. No one knew their motives, and if they’d organised enough to steal the magic, the capital could descend into chaos. But if the Ghosts were the thieves and Dreyden managed to catch one, he could finally prove to his father that he belonged in the army, not the...

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PW #306: Young Adult LGBT Fantasy: VENDETTA OF MONSTERS

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentors: Sarah Nicolas & Leigh Mar Mentee: Ellie Luken Title: VENDETTA OF MONSTERS Category/Genre: Young Adult Fantasy (LGBT) Word Count: 98,000 Pitch: Raised to kill undead monsters, Zarailla is the second-best soldier in her father’s army. One of the last surviving sorcerers, Leinna grew up a hostage of Zarailla’s military—a condition of an uneasy truce. When tensions re-ignite, their families expect them to fight for their sides. But the childhood friends have fallen for each other. Excerpt: Only fools or the desperate wandered beyond the city walls by themselves. Zarailla had yet to determine which category the man on the horizon belonged to. Leaning against a wall of splintering wood to shield herself, she studied him. His bulky coat buried his body, and a fur-rimmed hood hid his face and gave her nothing useful at all. He strode up the crest of a small hill with no weapon visible. Point for fool. A few steps ahead, Janessa peeked out from what had once been a farmhouse. Paint faded, wood worn, and missing an entire chunk of wall, it was nothing but a ruin now, like everything else in the brown grass. “What do you think he’s doing, captain?” I don’t know, Zarailla thought, but that was never an acceptable answer to any question. “You should approach him and find out.” A fool they should leave to die. Someone desperate—they should find out what he ran from. Or toward. Janessa nodded. She drew her sword, slunk from behind the slouching farmhouse and jogged up the incline. Good thing Zarailla hadn’t ordered her to sneak up because the grass crunching under her feet was loud enough that stealth was a lost dream. The man stopped walking, turned toward her. His hood still shadowed his face, revealing only yellow teeth in a too-broad smile. Zarailla’s hand dropped to the hilt of her...

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PW #307: Young Adult Contemporary (Own Voices): VERA WITH A VENGEANCE

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: Diana Gallagher Mentee: Tracy Gold Title: VERA WITH A VENGEANCE Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary (Own Voices) Word Count: 84,000 Pitch: Vera Davis isn’t your typical teenage entrepreneur. She’s in the business of getting even. However, while helping a client get payback for a leaked nude picture, Vera discovers the “accident” that killed her parents and paralyzed her basketball hot-shot brother was all about vengeance, too. Now Vera must decide whether getting revenge is worth getting blood on her hands. “Veronica Mars” meets “Pretty Little Liars.” Excerpt: This creeper keeps staring at me with this little half smile, like he thinks I want his eyes undressing me. His wife is shopping for an evening gown. A good commission, if I make the sale. His face, all chin and cheekbones, reeks of always getting what he wants—women, money, free drinks in first class. I want to tell him off, but I need this job. I look at my boss for rescue. He mouths *work it.* I force myself to smile. I can only work so much after school and I need this sale for my monthly quota. Creeper’s gold smartwatch buzzes, and he glances away from me. Those watches cost ten grand. Ten grand would pay for three months of the mortgage. Ten grand could keep Reuel and me from losing the house our parents raised us in. Creeper’s gaze drifts from his watch to my boobs. Before the accident, I wouldn’t have let anyone look at me like that. Now, money matters more. “Honey, what about this?” The wife holds up a blue dress. Her thick makeup doesn’t hide her frown lines. Keeping this guy must not be easy. I can’t imagine any scenario where it’s worth it. Then his smartwatch flashes, and I almost understand. “Sexy. Try it on.” He looks at me. I’d like to try my knee in his...

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