Holiday Post with Pitch Wars Mentor, Laura Heffernan
Dec15

Holiday Post with Pitch Wars Mentor, Laura Heffernan

  As I finish the year out less than three months before my publication date, it feels like 2016 has been full of special moments for me: getting an offer to publish the REALITY STAR series, seeing my cover for the first time, reading my first cover copy, telling all my friends and family I’d written a book, spotting my book on Amazon, having a friend find it on Goodreads. All of those stops on the road to publication are incredibly exciting, especially for a debut author. But what I really want to talk, the brightest spot in the year for me, is the help and support I’ve received from fellow authors. A few months ago, one of my friends started the 17Scribes, a group for debut authors with adult novels coming out in 2017. The people in that group are excellent at lifting each other up and sharing their knowledge and experience. Many PitchWars mentors are ahead of me on this journey, and everyone I’ve talked to has been happy to talk, whether it’s giving me tips on promotion and marketing or just being there to listen to how confusing and frustrating everything can be. When I celebrated each and every success, these people celebrated with me (even the ones who’ve done it half a dozen times). When I cried over things in the world that scared me, they cried with me. Many time I’ve thought I wouldn’t make it to publication without my friends. I appreciate the help and support I’m getting from these authors, and I can’t wait to be in a position to pay it forward some day. In the new year, I have plenty of hopes as a writer: I hope I continue to learn and grow as a writer. I hope my books find readers, and I hope you enjoy Jen and Justin’s journey as much as I enjoyed writing it. But on a more personal level, I hope we can all find light in the darkness. I hope those of us who are able take steps to stand up against hate and tyranny. I hope that, at the end of 2017, we are able to look around and see that our words and actions made the world a better place. I hope we can all lift up those who need it the most.     Twitter | Website Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the northeast with...

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Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Destiny Cole
Dec14

Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Destiny Cole

You’ve heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but you may not have realized that it also takes a village to raise a book. And I must say, I have a pretty incredible village. Through all the highs and lows that come with trying to establish a career in publishing, it takes being connected to a special group of writers to help you stay sane. My special group just so happens to be the #PitchWars class of 2014. One of the best parts about being in this community is that it doesn’t stop with CP’ing for each other or posting celebratory/angry emojis when we get good/bad news. Life sucks sometimes and that became so unfairly true for one of our own when she lost her husband to cancer this year. It was as we all walked with her through this no-words-to-explain-crap-storm that I received a whole new appreciation for the love of our group. We rally around each other, proving that our friendships are so much more than just about our careers and writing—we have become genuinely invested in each other’s lives. I am grateful beyond belief for my writing community and the way they infuse perseverance into my life. Because as writers, we need all the encouragement to keep pushing forward as we can get. Sometimes, the word perseverance gets spun with such a negative connotation. It emits images of haggard, tired people just barely staying upright as they sludge on toward their goal. But for me, the word perseverance elicits feelings of hope. You can only persevere when you’re still moving. This whole concept is a little something I’m learning and hope to continue to grab onto in 2017. To not lose hope in the face of disappointments, but to realize that each “no” is positioning you for your “yes.” I love what Pierce Brown said, which can be found in the acknowledgements of his book, Morning Star. So, this is for all you out there who are burdened with a dream or striving toward a goal that seems so far away. 2017 is our year. Every great success comes right after an even greater risk. Put yourself out there… even if the chance of rejection is greater than the chance of victory. Success is waiting, but you must be brave enough to take the first step. And because one of the best ways to get inspired is to read, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to buy the book(s) of your choice! a Rafflecopter giveaway Destiny Cole Twitter | Website | Facebook | Instagram Whether it’s fantastical worlds or creepy villains,...

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Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Jenni Walsh
Dec09

Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Jenni Walsh

  I’m a hustler, baby. I just want you to know. This month, Brenda’s blog is doing something special. The Pitch Wars mentors are sharing specials moments of the past year and what our hopes are for the new year. Mine are about books and family. And more importantly, how books are helping me live the kind of life I want with my little family. I’m in awe of those overnight-success authors. I’m also in awe of the authors who have to claw their way to their publishing goals. *Waves* I’m clawing. The Cliff Notes version: I have some manuscripts that’ll probably never see the light of day. After participating in Pitch Wars in late 2013, I signed with my first agent in 2014. We shopped the novel for nearly a year, but only about a third of the editors even responded to my former agent. I did some soul searching. With a new manuscript, I signed with my agent, Stacey Glick, in early 2015. Then this happened, in 2015, when I was nine months pregnant with my second kiddo. I signed my very first book deal for BECOMING BONNIE, a Bonnie and Clyde origin story, with Tor Forge/Macmillan. And a few days later, my agent sold my TV/film rights! These were big moments for me. Not simply because I dreamed endlessly of becoming a published author, but also because, at the moment, I had been a stay-at-home-mama, full-time advertising copywriter, author, and domestic diva (with my husband splitting half the duties) for nearly three years. And soon, I’d be a stay-at-home-mama of two, full-time advertising copywriter, author, and domestic diva. If that sounds exhausting, it’s because it is. Some days, the only answer to my stress was tears. And wine (when I wasn’t pregnant). But those two moments meant that maybe – sometime down the road – my writing would be financially enough (we’re very much a two-income family) for me to focus on my two dreams: my babes and my book babes. At the end of 2015/start of 2016, I dove into my first-round edits for BECOMING BONNIE with my editor, Bess Cozby. I had three months to do them. The crazy thing about life, though, is that life loves complicated. My son was born in the middle of those edits. I kid you not. So, while I was on maternity leave from my day job, I took a week off to “newborn” before doing this, a lot: To make life more wonderfully complicated, my agent said she had lunch with an editor from Scholastic. The editor had a big idea for a new narrative nonfiction series...

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Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Dan Koboldt
Dec08

Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Dan Koboldt

As 2016 draws to a close, I have to admit that it changed my life in some important ways. I saw my debut novel, The Rogue Retrieval, published by Harper Voyager. I split with my first literary agent. I got a 2-book offer from my editor, and found a new literary agent. I caught the biggest fish of my life. And I moved with my wife, kids, and dog to another state to take a new job. These were all major events for me and my family. Things we’ll never forget. When Brenda asked me to do a post on a special moment this year, one stood out. In mid-March, I had my first book event and author signing at a local bookshop in St. Louis. It took place on a Wednesday evening, in the special events room in Left Bank Books. My wife and her parents drove me there after a quick dinner. They noticed (and were amused by) a rare sight: Dan Koboldt looking very nervous. Author Events Are Terrifying Here’s the thing: I’m a relatively [over] confident person, and a comfortable public speaker. Hazards of the day job, I suppose. When you’ve presented your research to a packed room of 500 fellow scientists — a couple of whom are Nobel prize winners — a small author event shouldn’t faze you. The only problem was, it did faze me. I had no idea what to expect. Every author daydreams about sell-out crowds with lines around the corner, but I knew that wasn’t realistic. For a new author, equally if not more likely that no one would show at all. We had the room decorated in a Vegas casino theme. We had a stack of my books at the store’s front counter. We also had about five minutes until the event started, but every chair was empty. It was the perfect setting for an embarrassing public disaster. I thought I’d done a reasonable job of spreading word about the event, but come to think of it, no one made a firm commitment. It got to that point where I started avoiding eye contact with the bookstore staff. My First True Fans I’d just done the math on how much I’d have to shell out to buy the stack of my own books — it seemed like the right thing to do — when a woman inadvertently wandered into the event room and took a seat. I thought maybe she was lost, or just taking a break. Turns out, she worked with my cousin, who’d invited her to come to the event (and arrived a minute later). Then a friend...

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Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Pintip Dunn
Dec07

Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Pintip Dunn

  GIVEAWAY: Paperback Copy of The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn Goodreads  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo  Book Depository  iTunes  Books-A-Million About the Book . . . Is it better to live with a lie, or risk everything for the truth? In Pintip Dunn’s gripping and timely novel, a young woman whose life unravels in the wake of her mother’s alleged suicide sets out to clear her name. “The mother I knew would never do those things. But maybe I never knew her after all.” Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked. As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death resurface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…   Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. Her other novels include THE DARKEST LIE and REMEMBER YESTERDAY. She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at www.pintipdunn.com a Rafflecopter giveaway...

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Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Stephanie Scott
Dec06

Holiday Post and Giveaway with Pitch Wars Mentor, Stephanie Scott

  Today is a big day for me. For one, I’m on Brenda’s blog, and I will always jump at the chance to work with Brenda because she cares so much about helping writers. We’ve shared a hotel room in NYC and drinks in Las Vegas, and for as flashy as that sounds, Brenda is down-to-earth, sweet, and is seriously in constant thought about how to improve her contests to help more people. I’m so grateful to be part of Pitch Wars community. And secondly (I’m a writer, we make up words), today is a big day because it’s the release of my debut young adult book ALTERATIONS! It feels like a long time coming and at the same time, like it was only yesterday I was stumbling through editing a terrible first NaNoWriMo draft, wondering if I had any talent to pull off this writer dream. Today, I’m thankful for the journey, and I’m thankful for the writers I’ve met along the way. Six years ago, I took the National Novel Writing Month plunge. It wasn’t pretty, but I finished. I spent the following year untangling the mess of my hastily written non-masterpiece and joined a public library writing group. I shared my work for the first time. Again, not pretty, but I did it. I figured out a new story idea and plunged in with my new skills. Needing more direction, I went alone to a regional Romance Writers of America conference — I didn’t write romance, mind you, but RWA came highly recommended by industry pros. I ended up meeting a young adult author in the elevator and she promptly took me around to all of her writer friends at the conference, insisting I visit a local meeting. I did, and it didn’t take long to realize I did in fact write romance. My idea of romance books was tragically still stuck in the stone age of sexy pirate dude covers. I wasn’t thinking young adult could fit into capital-R-Romance, but it does, it can, and YA books with romances are all over the place. Four years ago I entered a bunch of blog contests including Brenda’s Pitch Madness, amazingly garnered manuscript requests, and promptly freaked out. My story needed more work. When you are vulnerable, those who help you are memorable. I’m amazed by how many writers from those early days I still keep in touch with, and even cooler, how many of them have published books or found jobs in publishing. I signed with an agent from one of those contests. Everything was happening FAST. But anyone who’s been in publishing long enough knows...

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Holiday Post with Pitch Wars Mentor, Carrie Callaghan
Dec05

Holiday Post with Pitch Wars Mentor, Carrie Callaghan

  This story starts with rejection.  Lots of it. Between August 25 and September 1, I sent over 100 emails explaining briefly to as many courageous writers why I hadn’t selected them for Brenda’s Pitch Wars. Before I signed with my wonderful agent on my own in 2015, I hadn’t made it into Pitch Wars two years in a row. I knew how much it hurt not to be picked. Writing those emails was grueling. I did it, though, because honest feedback is a painful but invaluable gift. I hoped that I might help some writers in the way that mentors like Heather Webb, Sarah Henning, and Kristin Wright had helped me. At the end of the feedback, I was exhausted. Thus it was a treat when a few people wrote back thanking me for the comments. Then, a week later, I sent another note to the PitchWars writers who had submitted to me and informed them of an upcoming webinar. Again, a few wrote back expressing their thanks. But one email stood out. Maggie wrote to tell me she had, after considering my comments, found a new and better place to start her manuscript, and she was excited about the improvement. Then she said she was planning on buying one of my books as a thank-you to me. Even more touching, I was welcome to go for a stroll with her walking group. My heart swelled. I quickly wrote back to thank her. If I’m every lucky enough to publish a book, perhaps she could think of me then. A month later, Maggie wrote again. She had read my book review essays and made a donation to the book review site where I volunteer as an editor. Her kind words brought tears to my eyes. She had given both her time and her money, the scarcest resources. The email arrived on my birthday, and her unexpected generosity was the best gift anyone gave me that day. I have, in my mind, a treasure chest of the compliments and kindnesses people have given me over the years. When the world gets rough, I imagine opening that wooden chest and looking at those glittering words and gifts. Maggie’s gift is in there now, alongside the beautiful custom art from my mentees Eileen and ReLynn, words from my friends, and other treasures. In many ways, this year has been painful for many people. But PitchWars was one of my bright spots (and it wouldn’t have happened without Brenda, whose wisdom guided us in so many ways, and Heather and Nikki and Joy and …). Thank you to Maggie, my mentees, all...

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Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Scarlet Cole
Dec02

Holiday Guest Post and Giveaway by Pitch Wars Mentor, Scarlet Cole

  Hello, Peeps. I hope 2016 has been a wonderful year for you. I took a run to clear my head at 6am this morning. It was a chilly -2C/28F, still very dark, but crystal clear and quiet. In summary, my favorite conditions for running. As I ran, I reflected on the year in preparation for writing this post. The most obvious author-y thing to be grateful for was the seven-book deal I signed with St. Martin’s Press at the start of the year for two new series. It was a big deal, and exciting. But the longer I ran, the more I realized it wasn’t about the deal. It was what it symbolized. You see, I used to be Senior Vice President of a very large company. Tens of billions of dollars large! Flash back to four years ago, and I’d have been up at four-thirty to get out for my run. I’d not get to see my kids in the morning because I’d leave for work long before they woke up. Most of my day would be consumed with meetings, and when I wasn’t meeting, I was emailing, talking, coaching, presenting, planning, budgeting, and all the other things someone with that title was expected to do. My annual evaluation told me I was great at it. But I knew the truth. MY HEART WASN’T IN IT ANY MORE. I’ve been reading romance since a snow storm in Chicago (and time spent stranded in Chicago O’Hare airport) thrust me and a paperback copy of Nora Roberts’ Jewels of The Sun together in 1999. And ever since finding that brightly colored book, and the wonderful story of Jude and Aidan contained within it, I’ve loved love stories. Since that day, I’ve read just about every kind of romance there is. And so, the more unfulfilled I became at work, the more books I devoured, until I reached the point where I thought to myself: I want to write romance. So, in 2012, I quit! People were shocked. They couldn’t understand why I would walk away from such a wonderful job to attempt to write a book. A romance book. I bought a small desk from IKEA, shoved it into an unused corner of the house, and opened my laptop. And it was in that spot that I wrote my first book, THE STRONGEST STEEL. But I had help from the most wonderful community I’d ever encountered. WRITERS! They were everywhere. On Twitter. On Facebook. It was like the most perfect village where every resident was creative, talented, positive, and super helpful. Before I knew it, I had critique partners,...

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