PW #115: MG Mystery: DELAYED
Nov02

PW #115: MG Mystery: DELAYED

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Kate Foster Mentee Name: J.S. Roberts Title: DELAYED Category: Middle Grade Genre: Mystery Word Count: 48000 Pitch: Forced to sit together, five unlikely friends must form an alliance to unravel the mystery behind their bus driver’s unscheduled visits to an abandoned gas station. What they find is worse than anything they imagined—and could cost them their lives. Excerpt: Olivia Ryan glared at the school bus as the door swung open. Did her driver forget how to tell time? She climbed the steps and swiped her bangs to the side, stealing a peek at the driver’s seat. Instead of a dimpled middle-aged woman with glasses, a scowling lumberjack gripped the steering wheel. “Back seat, driver’s side.” His voice was deep and rough like he’d swallowed a handful of gravel. Olivia caught herself before she rolled her eyes. The guy was fifteen minutes early and assigning seats? If she had any hope of presenting the new sophisticated image she’d planned, she needed more time to get ready, not less. She glanced over the almost empty bus. Obviously she hadn’t been the only one surprised by the new time, but luckily overeager Mom had set her clock thirty minutes early. The bus lurched forward, and she flung her hand out to grip the back of the seat beside her. Shouldn’t the new guy have gone to some kind of school to become a bus driver? Linda, who drove for the last two years, took off so smoothly Olivia could’ve danced to her seat. She sighed. A new driver, a longer ride, and assigned seats; not exactly the perfect way to start eighth grade. She squinted at the shadow in the back seat. Seriously? She had to sit with Jenna McKinley? Miss Popularity Princess herself? Ugh. This day was getting better by the minute. Lumberjack must have assumed all eighth-grade girls wanted to sit together. Well, he was wrong.  ...

Read More
PW #116: MG Contemporary Fantasy: THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN
Nov02

PW #116: MG Contemporary Fantasy: THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Lee Gjertsen Malone Mentee Name: Jennifer Ray Title: THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Word Count: 41,000 words Pitch: While visiting historic Mirror Lake, eleven-year-old Brooke meets Elizabeth, a mysterious girl living a century earlier. When Elizabeth becomes dangerously ill, an unexpected connection is revealed and Brooke must find a way to change the past – or risk her own future. Excerpt: Free at last! The words from that Martin Luther King video they made us watch every year in school echoed inside my head as I jumped down the porch steps, the screen door banging behind me. “One hour, Brooke!” Mom yelled from inside. “I mean it. No disappearing.” “I know,” I called over my shoulder. A flash of pink made me look up and I immediately wished I hadn’t. Sophie stared back at me from our bedroom window, her nose squashed against the glass. Besides the pink tutu, she still wore last night’s pajama top, and her hair stuck out in all directions like a crazed porcupine. Our eyes locked and I whirled around, almost crashing into Dad, who was hauling the last of the luggage up the front walk. “Whoa, where are you off to?” he asked, reaching over to steady the bag of golf clubs he’d balanced on top of my sister’s Minnie Mouse suitcase. “Just for a walk. Mom said it was okay.” Dad’s thick brows pulled together and I shifted my weight, praying he wasn’t about to ask me to take Sophie. I’d already maxed out on family togetherness, and the last thing I needed was Princess Peculiar sticking to me like dryer lint. “Okay,” he finally answered. “But I want you to settle in before dinner, so don’t lose track of time. Are you wearing a watch?” “No, but I can hear the clock tower. I won’t be late.” I darted a quick glance back at the house, but the window was empty now....

Read More
PW #117: MG Historical Mystery: UNDER THE DUST OF RANSOM
Nov02

PW #117: MG Historical Mystery: UNDER THE DUST OF RANSOM

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Rebecca Wells Mentee Name: Jenn Brisendine Title: UNDER THE DUST OF RANSOM Category: Middle Grade Genre: Historical Mystery Word Count: 50,000 Pitch: A Roma girl traveling dust-swept Kansas, twelve-year-old Zora senses the darkness covering the town of Ransom. When townspeople discover a murder, they’re quick to whisper “Gypsy!”—and Zora’s beloved guardian is jailed. To save her, Zora must reveal Ransom’s secrets… and uncover a few of her own. Excerpt: Western Kansas, 1934  The wolf was at the door again, but it wasn’t a wolf you could shoot with Kat’s rifle. And even though the sky should’ve been lit up, you couldn’t see this wolf; its dark body spread miles and swallowed the full moon.  But you could hear it. Scrit scrit scrit of a thousand gritty claws on the wagon steps, and Ohhhhwhhuuul from an ancient, bitter throat.  “Zora.” Kat’s voice slipped across our wagon’s tiny inside, big enough for two skinny beds and Kat’s old trunk between. The wagon stood strong, a little one-room house on wheels with a driver’s seat and horse hitch, a good vardon built to caravan long travels—though it rode lonely these days, just me and Kat. “You got Beast and Girl into the shed, yes?” “Sure did, and got the feed bags on them too,” I whispered. We’d been using an abandoned shed, west of Ransom by a mile, for a week now, the dust ever drifting into dunes against the walls. The wolf let out another howl, set the wagon rocking. It stirred the night pictures in my head: fiddles, dancing, fire. “Someone coming.” The words flashed out of me before I knew they were on the rise. I pulled Kat’s old night wrap round my gown, heard her step quick from her bed. Yellow light burst from the oil lamp as she twisted the knob. “Soon?” she said all sharp-like. “Now,” I said. Hard raps on the wagon...

Read More
PW #118: MG Fantasy: RIDDLE OF THE TEN KINGDOMS
Nov02

PW #118: MG Fantasy: RIDDLE OF THE TEN KINGDOMS

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Kim Long Mentee Name: Deborah Graff Title: RIDDLE OF THE TEN KINGDOMS Category: Middle Grade Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 55,000 Pitch: Twelve-year-old Renn longs to be a soldier. But when the elf queen attacks Renn for her mixed blood, it’ll take more than a sword to fight back. She’ll need her friends, her emerging powers, and all her courage to solve the biggest riddle of all: how to save the Ten Kingdoms from the queen’s evil plan. Excerpt: Renn circled Leo on the path bordering the grapevines, her sword pointed at his heart. A wooden sword was better than no sword at all, and a practice duel was the best way to warm up. She lunged. Leo parried with his own wooden sword and knocked hers aside with a dull clack. “Too bad you don’t have a battle charm,” he said. “I don’t need elf magic.” Renn tried to think what a soldier would say and boomed, “I’ll win a place in the king’s army with my strength and my sword.” “Your twig, you mean.” Leo moved fast. She tried to block, but he jabbed her shoulder. “That almost hurt.” She rubbed the spot. “Go again?” Instead of answering, Leo shaded his eyes from the rising sun and pointed south. Past the borders of Rowntree Village, where their own little path met the wide Victory Road, a cloud of dust rose between yellow-brown hills. It wouldn’t be long before the soldiers arrived. Renn’s stomach twisted. “Maybe we’ll both pass their test. We’ll go to the castle together, fight dwarves, and keep the kingdom safe.” “You know there aren’t girls in the army.” “Not yet. But my father’s taught me as well as you and the other boys, even if he won’t let me use steel. He always says, ‘Train everyone for battle, try every day for peace.’” Renn slashed her sword in the air. “Today, I’ll show everyone what I can do.”...

Read More
PW #119: MG Adventure: THE MIRAGE SHIFTER
Nov02

PW #119: MG Adventure: THE MIRAGE SHIFTER

Manuscript Status: 2 WEEKS DELIVERY Mentor Name: Thomas Torre Mentee Name: Gretchen Kaup Title: THE MIRAGE SHIFTER Category: Middle Grade Genre: Adventure Word Count: 59,000 Pitch: When twelve-year-old Aiden enters his comatose friend’s dream, he discovers a realm where sleeping kids are pawns in a larger game. Confronting unseen beings and multinational law enforcement, Aiden shifts from dreams to reality, racing to wake his friend before they’re trapped in a nightmare forever. Excerpt:  Wasting time playing video games. That’s what Mom thinks I’m doing right now—hanging out with Jake and crushing him on the original PacMan. It’s the only arcade game at Manhattan Mall, tucked in a corner of the food court next to a vending machine. The rest of the mall is mostly clothes, so PacMan is the only good excuse Mom would believe for why two twelve-year-old boys would want to hang here after school. It’s not that I lied to her. It’s more like I kept back part of the truth. I am at Manhattan Mall, and Jake and I did play PacMan together. Only one game, which I won like I always do. But Mom has no idea Jake and I play another game, one that puts more money in our pockets than when we came. “So are we going to do this or not, Aiden?” Jake asks, pacing in front of the mall bench where I’m sitting. His red head twists right and left like he thinks security will catch us any second. “Could be risky,” I say. “It’d be better if we found a larger crowd.” We’re near the Hallmark store with a window display full of red—hearts, balloons, and cuddly bears—sickening reminders of the coming holiday. “How many heads did you see inside?” I ask. “Only four,” says Jake. “An old blue-hair, a lovey-dovey couple, and the nose-pierced clerk.” “Okay, we’ll wait,” I say, pulling on his backpack and forcing him to sit.  ...

Read More
PW #204: YA Sci-fi: THE ATLANTIC BOND
Nov02

PW #204: YA Sci-fi: THE ATLANTIC BOND

Manuscript Status:  Finished Mentor Name: Wendy Spinale Mentee Name: M. M. Hoffman Title: The Atlantic Bond Category: YA Genre: Sci-Fi Word Count: 80,000   Pitch: With the human race near extinction, seventeen-year-old Evie enlists as the lone female Jockey, escaping a genetically-arranged marriage. Neurally bonded to her pilot, Android 1408, she discovers an infectious personality within the machine, a forbidden sentient glitch. She’ll fight to protect him from destruction, even if it means losing her freedom and her heart.   Excerpt:  A.I. 1408 1 AUG 2095 | 2358 Hours An alarm within my central processor commands me to recharge. Closing my eyes, I overwrite. A feat an Android is not capable of. But, I am not like the other Androids. I am a tool. The purpose of my existence is to ensure the continuation of the human species. To protect them in the fight for their lives. My designated human decides if I live or die. The computer console flashes a message—I will be reassigned to another Jockey pilot. I retrieve the image of the Cadet that I must be paired with. I cannot maintain the truth behind my ability forever. If I reveal myself, I will be dismantled. This human, Evie Thornhill, must pass the Jockey exam. My survival depends on her. Cadet Evie Thornhill Cadet Testing Center 3 AUG 2095 | 0900 Hours They teach us to convert our anxiety into motivation, to push through our doubts. I find this strategy difficult—there’s too much at stake. A bang outside the window stops the nervous twitch in my leg. I glance at the massive sign as it reports the remaining humans left on Earth. Three high-pitched chimes reverberate from The Life, announcing the new babies brought into this wasteland we call home. Most days, I ignore the sign. Today, the six red numbers remind me why I’m sitting here. Humanity is on the endangered species list, and I will do something about it....

Read More
PW #205: YA Historical: THE MESSENGER
Nov02

PW #205: YA Historical: THE MESSENGER

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Rosalyn Eves Mentee Name: Anna Carew-Miller Title: THE MESSENGER Category: YA Genre: Historical Word Count: 67,000 Pitch: Sheltered by privilege, damaged by tragedy, Edie Fielding is no secret agent. Delving into her mother’s failed suicide when she arrives in Africa in 1965, she uncovers instead Cold War spy games. Edie can drift through her safe expat world or risk her life to finish her mother’s mission, delivering a message that could change a revolution. Isak Dinesen meets Code Name Verity.   Excerpt: For someone who could be the center of the universe, Vivian sure knew how to disappear. I opened the wide French doors to the terrace, looking looking looking. Like I could ever find her. A feeble breeze moved my nightgown against my ankles, and I could see the city below. Red tile roofs, the cubes of modern high rises, and the other hills of Kampala, green and rippling in the heat. Mother, mére, mama. You couldn’t call her Vivian to her face. Couldn’t think of her as Mother. So weird, that Vivian had lived here, a million miles from everything, in Africa. Just packed up and flew across the ocean to Uganda last September. She and Art, my stepfather, left almost everything behind. I don’t know why I looked for her. She wasn’t here. My bare feet moved through the empty rooms. Quiet. Just my whispered footsteps and the ticking clock. Art must’ve gone to work at the Embassy. Miriam, their housekeeper, was gone, too, but she left a note in the dining room. Went to the market. Be back soon. This was my chance. To find out why, why Vivian had done it. So I took it. Searched every room, opened every drawer, my hand shaking as I fingered every bottle in the medicine cabinet. Aspirin tablets. The obnoxious pink Pepto Bismal. Vivian’s chloroquine pills, to prevent malaria. But it wasn’t malaria that sent her home.  ...

Read More
PW #404: Adult M/M Erotic Romance: A SENSE SUBLIME
Nov02

PW #404: Adult M/M Erotic Romance: A SENSE SUBLIME

Manuscript Status: Finished. Mentor Name: Laura Heffernan Mentee Name: Krista Merle Title: A SENSE SUBLIME Category: Adult Genre: M/M Erotic Romance Word Count: 80,000 Pitch: John’s plan is simple: choose a wife, rescue his family’s reputation, then resume his real life with David. When a woman from his debauched past threatens his priorities, he’ll risk a scandal—for the right reasons—to save his relationship. Excerpt: The words are finally coming the way they always should. I’ve blunted three of my quills—the fine crow ones—this afternoon, my handwriting devolved to scribbles and slashes, and my hand aches, but the story is pouring out of me. Lines and phrases purged by my brain, down my arm and out of my hand with a violence that should leave me wrung out and exhausted, but does the opposite. I keep scribbling until my Majordomo and, as such, the engineer of my Dukedom, walks in with his ever-present leather portfolio tucked under his arm. He closes my office door behind him. “One of the footmen said you need me. He made it sound urgent.” He gives me an arch look. I circle to the front of my desk. “Yes, urgent. Desperate, even.” David closes the distance between us and reaches up to press a soft kiss to my lips, his trim stomach pressing against my crossed arms. His sweet little tongue flicks against my lips, begging entrance, and I open for him. He sighs and presses closer, questing into my mouth. I pull my arms from between us and cradle the back of his head, palming the base of his skull. He breaks the kiss. “Tell me. What do you need?” My limbs are heavy with desire as I take in his wide eyes and swollen lips. I lean in and whisper, “How do you spell ‘acquiescence’? Two C’s or three?” I turn, dip a quill into the ink, and poise it above a blank...

Read More
PW #405: Adult Contemporary Romance: CATCH A FALLING STAR
Nov02

PW #405: Adult Contemporary Romance: CATCH A FALLING STAR

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Mary Ann Marlowe Mentee Name: Laura E. Adams Title: CATCH A FALLING STAR Category: Adult Genre: Contemporary Romance Word Count: 91,000   Pitch: Desperate to ditch his boyband image, sex-on-a-stick Devon Jacobs obsesses over partnering with one brilliant lyricist. But Rosie Andrews abandoned writing love songs after her last devastating heartbreak, and she mistrusts the fangirling lothario. When Devon charms her into a songwriting deal, the lines between life and lyrics blur.   Excerpt:  I can’t mess up again. Christ. What is wrong with me? I’ve spent the last forty-nine minutes and twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five seconds onstage obsessing over one woman I’ve never even met. My chant for her beats in my body (where it better bloody stay) while behind me, drums, a keyboard, and an acoustic guitar weave their sounds into a song I’ve performed fifty-seven times on tour. My eyes connect with “not-hers” in the front row, and I grab my chest in what must look like a heartthrob’s gratitude. In reality, my heart’s throbbing; my palms are so clammy I’ve dropped my mic twice; my trousers are tighter. The possibility of meeting her tonight and existing in her real-life presence has me half-hard. “Your part, Dev!” Brice and Artie yell over the shrieks inside this arena. “…rock my nighty night,” I sing. Christian continues verse two while I do my not-for-your-mum thrusts toward women squealing for “my” rumpy-pumpy style. A girl tosses me an extra-large condom packet with a number scribbled on it. My fans, bless them, have extra-large faith in my willy. I have extra-large faith in Rosie. “Oh, yeah!” I thrust, glancing at my mobile. Fifty-two minutes and twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one seconds onstage obsessing over one brilliant woman, who’s likely to hate me and my slightly-larger-than-average manhood. Still, if I miss my chance— Lights cut to black cueing the encore. My cue to run. “Bugger off!” I shout toward frantic band hands trying to catch me sprinting past them...

Read More
Pitch Wars Interview with Caroline Thompson and Rachel Sarah, and their mentor, Brooks Benjamin
Oct24

Pitch Wars Interview with Caroline Thompson and Rachel Sarah, and their mentor, Brooks Benjamin

Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project. Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions. Meet Caroline Thompson, Rachel Sarah, and Brooks Benjamin #TeamPizzaz! Brooks Benjamin (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself. There’s not much I don’t enjoy reading. If the characters are fall-in-lovable, I’m in it for the long haul. Give me contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror, anything, everything. However, if I had to pick a favorite I’d have to go with contemporary. There’s just something so alluring about reading a book that lives in the world of “this could totally happen.” My writing style tends to wax humorous, but I like to think there’s a ton of heart in there as well. I enjoy giving my characters’ stories a backdrop that has some element of the performing arts. Dance, filmmaking, rock bands…the louder, the better. Basically, if there’s something I wish I was really good at, I’ll make my characters take the creative plunge for me. That’s not to say they’re always experts, but darn it if they don’t give it their all. Caroline Thompson (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself. So many genres speak to me. I have a vivid imagination and enjoy getting lost in other worlds. Sometimes, the science side of me wins and I devour realistic science fiction. I’ve recently developed a love for books that challenge my perceptions about everything and anything. Basically, if the book has heart and amazing writing that takes me there- I’m in. Some of my favorite recent novels? Beauty, by Robin McKinley – My favorite book of all time Wonder, by R. L. Palacio Dark, Wild Night, by Christina Lauren Queen of Shadows, by Sara J. Maas Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard The Martian, by Andy Weir Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. Rachel Sarah (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself. I love reading anything contemporary, stories about misfits who asks big questions and fall in love, stories that ask tough questions and show the meaning of small moments. Some of my favorite recent favorite novels? The Honest Truth, by Dan Gemeinhart The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin Small as an Elephant, by Jennifer Richard Jacobson Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell All The Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson We Are All Made of Molecules, by Susin Nielson Brooks, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars? Paying it forward. Pitch Wars was always there for me. Even the year I didn’t get in, I met so many incredible people who ended up being so...

Read More
Pitch Wars Interview with Relly Annett-Baker and Vanessa Barger and their mentor, Sarah Cannon
Oct23

Pitch Wars Interview with Relly Annett-Baker and Vanessa Barger and their mentor, Sarah Cannon

Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project. Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions. Meet Relly Annett-Baker, Vanessa Barger, and Sarah Cannon Team Infinity Sarah Cannon (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself. I’m Sarah! I’ve lived all over, but right now I’m in Indiana, along with my husband, two sons and a daughter, our dog and our cat. I like black licorice, especially salted licorice! (I know, it’s a sickness…but all your black jellybeans IS BELONG TO ME!) I love to knit, especially with yarn I’ve spun myself, but knitting has taken a backseat to writing in recent years. I homeschool my three kids, and we’re basically a big geeky rebelfamily. I love all sorts of children’s literature, but also read a wide variety of adult fiction and non-fiction. Basically whatever catches my eye. My writing style has a strong bent toward humor…more smart-alecky than slapstick. I love the strange (think Eric Rohmann, Shaun Tan, Kelly Link and M.T. Anderson) and I’m particularly happy when a number of subjects I’ve been exploring come together and become elements of a great story. Relly Annett-Baker  (Mentee), tell us a little about yourselves. Relly: I’m Relly, I live in London with my husband and two small boys, plus three cats and two rabbits. I like Legend of Zelda games, traveling alone, scrapbooking and playing board games.I read a lot of kidlit, classic crime novels, history books and a sprinkling of everything else. Too many books, never enough time, right? My writing style is still maturing. My pitchwars entry was pretty much the first piece of fiction I’ve ever written. I started in a ‘writing for children’ class about a year ago, that I joined to meet some new people after moving cities, playing around with an idea I’d had a long time ago when I learned about the Aztec underworld. I found I loved writing so much that I followed up that class with an intensive six-month novel course, and THE UNWILLING GODDESS was the result. I feel like I’ve found something I can enjoy doing for the rest of my life. Vanessa Barger (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself. Vanessa: Hello! A little about me…. Well, I teach tech ed to high school kids in a tiny town on the Chesapeake Bay. Most kids pray for snow to get out of school. If it rains too long, our students start checking the tide charts to see what the chances are we’ll get out because it might flood a bridge or road. (True – we once...

Read More
Pitch Wars Interview with Ambiguous A and mentor Jaye Robin Brown
Oct23

Pitch Wars Interview with Ambiguous A and mentor Jaye Robin Brown

Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project. Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions. Meet Ambiguous A and Jaye Robin Brown  Team On Fire Jaye Robin Brown (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself. I’m an omnivore when it comes to books. And if a book isn’t available, I’ll read the cereal box. I like books that make me think about human connections, whether set on this earth or elsewhere, books that make me laugh and cry, and books that keep me up at night turning the pages. As for my writing style? I hope I bring the feels. And I hope I tell a good story. To me, a great novel does that first and foremost. Literary style is the icing on the cake. Ambiguous A (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself. I’m an adorer of all things Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and carry a pocket-sized version of Jane Eyre in my purse. I love high concept and different and imaginative, which means I’ll read in any genre if the idea hooks me. I’ve never written the same exact genre twice. I started writing as a straight-up pantser, but have mutated into the kind of plotter that dreams of a wall-sized whiteboard to write her ideas out own (preferably one with a rolling library ladder to move around on like in Beauty and the Beast). As for my writing style: literary? I enjoy long, pretty sentences. Jaye,  why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars? This is my third year as a Pitch Wars mentor. Honestly, I can’t remember why I agreed that first year, but the experience was so incredible I’ve come back ever since. I love the people I’ve met. I’ve loved the opportunity to help an author on the brink of crossing over to the agent side. It’s just a whole lot of fun. Ambiguous A, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?     I’ve been working on this MS for two years, a year longer than any other manuscript I’ve written, and I was determined to make this one the manuscript to land me an agent, so I set myself a goal of finishing by my birthday in August, which was also just in time for PitchWars submissions! The writing community has been wonderful to me over the years, and I’d been chosen for a couple big contests with other manuscripts, but there’s something special about PitchWars that I had to try. It’s such a great opportunity to learn from a more experienced writer! Jaye, what are...

Read More