Day 11 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Laura Heffernan and Tracey E. Wood
May23

Day 11 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Laura Heffernan and Tracey E. Wood

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. Next up we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Laura Heffernan  Website | Twitter Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off: AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, the first book in the REALITY STAR series, is coming from Kensington’s Lyrical Press in March 2017. 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 her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.  Some of Laura’s favorite things include goat cheese, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, the Oxford comma, and ice cream. Not all together. The best place to find her is usually on Twitter, where she spends far too much time tweeting about writing, Canadian chocolate, and reality TV. Follow her @LH_Writes. Laura is represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary. Laura’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Contemporary Fantasy Dear [Agent]: Hazel Blackmore knows everything there is to know about magic: from what essences are needed to enchant her way to the perfect cup of coffee, to solving complex potioning equations. [Enchanted coffee? You’ve got my attention already.] The only thing stopping heoiyor from being the most competent practitioner the world has ever seen is her complete lack of magical ability, without with she can’t even begin to pull magic through the Veil. [I’d recommend breaking this into two sentences. It’s a bit long.] The best she can do is to work her ass off at her aunt Enid’s Essence Distillery to prove herself. [I’d delete the last 3 words. Also, from the opening paragraph, Hazel sounds young, which makes me wonder if this is YA. Are there details you can add to show she’s an adult?] When Enid disappears and several of the essence brews start unraveling, Hazel has to rely on her own wits to find the solution to her problems. [To find the solution?...

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Day 11 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors C.B. Catalano and Kelly Siskind
May23

Day 11 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors C.B. Catalano and Kelly Siskind

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. Next up we have … Pitch Wars Mentor C.B. Catalano  Website | Twitter After C. B. Catalano realized she spent more time daydreaming than living in the real world she decided to finally write those dreams down, and is now ready to share them with everyone. C.B. writes MG and YA and is represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media. She can be found wandering around the Pacific Northwest with her 3 kids, husband, and beastly muppet puppies. After moving 21 times over the span of 7 states and 18 years she thinks she may have finally found a place to call home (for now) and aims to explore all that Washington has to offer.   C.B.’s Query Critique… CURSE OF SILVER LAKE is a YA contemporary fantasy, complete at about 70,000 words. A mix of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and CITY OF BONES, it’s perfect for fans of fairy tale retellings. [I love retellings so you already have my undivided attention! But I wonder, if it’s a retelling, perhaps comping the og fairy tale meets x might work better?] 16-year-old Maggie Hernandez comes from a long line of witches–but her mom never told her the family secret, hoping the magic would pass her by. [I think your first sentence could pack more of a punch than it does now. Especially when I read on to the second sentence. It raises more questions than answers. Like, does her mom ever actually tell Maggie she’s a witch after their apartment burns down? Or does she send Maggie to her grandmother’s home clueless? Also, if her mom doesn’t clue her in, does Maggie’s witchy grandmother once she’s there?] When Maggie’s uncontrolled powers burn their apartment to ashes, her mom sends her to live with her estranged, witchy grandmother to learn control of her magic. .[ ← I almost prefer this sentence as a starting point.] ...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Kosoko Jackson and his mentor, Kip Wilson
Apr19

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Kosoko Jackson and his mentor, Kip Wilson

  When our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal, it’s one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Kosoko Jackson and his mentor, Kip Wilson. Kosoko signed with Louise Fury at The Bent Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for him. Please, help me in congratulating Kosoko and Kip on their Pitch Wars Success! Kosoko, what was it about Kip that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? Kip Wilson actually WASN’T the first mentor I selected! I paid the extra 20 dollars to get additional mentors and when searching through, I was surprised I didn’t see her before. After reading her profile, and her love for unique timelines and historical fiction, I knew she would be a great fit. She even mentioned some of her favorite novels were books that I loved and used as comps in my mind for my novel!   Kip, what was it about Kosoko’s manuscript that hooked you? Kosoko’s manuscript checked off so many items on my wishlist: the historical setting in another country, a nonlinear timeline, some epistolary sections, fast pacing, diverse characters, and above all, very strong writing. This included both some absolutely stunning images and something I hadn’t even known I wanted—a snarky voice with oodles of laugh-out-loud lines to lighten the very serious overall tone of the novel. Kosoko, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? My process with Kip was a bit of a whirlwind. I work in politics, so it was a VERY busy time for me. We did big picture edits first, discussed a lot before I buckled down and started working. Then, I sent Kip chapter-by-chapter edits, which she approved or didn’t. I would then go back and revise the chapters again and then I put them in a “completed” folder. Once everything was done I compiled it and we did 3 read throughs. We were done about 2 weeks before the deadline, and then spent the rest of the time working on the pitch. Kip, tell us about your experience mentoring Kosoko. Working with Kosoko was amazing because I could tell from my first interactions with him how ready he was for the serious work of Pitch Wars. But on top of that, because our visions for the book very much lined up, I was confident that he could use my feedback to turn his already strong project into something even better. He dove right in to his revisions and delivered everything on time in spite of the fact that his life was chock-full at the moment. Nothing beats the combination of talent...

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Writers for Hope Auction
Apr03

Writers for Hope Auction

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

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Pitch Wars is against Bullying …
Mar30

Pitch Wars is against Bullying …

  I’m back from traveling, and while I was out of town, I was saddened to learn of the recent suicide of Julie Lonewolf (@juliethewolf). Julie took her life in February after being targeted, stalked, and harassed by members of the online writing community. Julie was a queer, autistic, Black, and Native woman of color. Here is a Twitter thread by Some of Our Voices (@SomeOfOurVoices) that explains the details: https://twitter.com/SomeOfOurVoices/status/844337959881101312 And more details here: https://twitter.com/SomeOfOurVoices/status/844327935419076609 There was an incident on our Pitch Wars hashtag where she was targeted by other mentee hopefuls. I spoke extensively to Julie about it in DMs to make sure she was okay. We took a community-agreed action against the persons we believe violated the zero-tolerance standards for harassment/bullying in PitchWars. When the FicFest attacks happened, I checked on Julie again in DMs. But I did not make a public statement at the time, which I should have. Not speaking out publicly about the harassment and bullying supports the bullier and not the bullied. We can do better. I can do better. Pitch Wars has a zero-tolerance for harassment and bullying. Should you participate in such actions on our hashtag or on your social media sites, we will remove you from our contest and will make a public statement denouncing you. If you are being harassed or bullied during our contests, please contact me. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I will support you! To Julie’s family and friends, I and the Pitch Wars mentors are truly sorry for your loss. Julie was always kind to me and was an amazing voice for marginalized people. She was fearless when it came to speaking out against hate. She will be missed. To our community, please join me in supporting those who are victimized. Don’t stay silent. Speak up against harassment and bullying. If you are being harassed/bullied, here are some resources to seek further help. In terms of resources, a few of our mentors and mentees recommend https://victimconnect.org and the Stalking Resource Center, http://victimsofcrime.org/our…/stalking-resource-center. They can probably give some general advice about the options available, as well as referrals to attorneys who can assist with the particular legal issues being raised. Those with knowledge of the incidents may also want to consider filing a complaint with the FBI. That can be done here: https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx/. Filing a complaint is not a big deal; FBI makes a determination about whether and how to proceed, you are just letting them know about the incidents....

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY Brenda Drake! We LOVE You!
Mar22

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Brenda Drake! We LOVE You!

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

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Twitter Pitch Party Today!
Dec01

Twitter Pitch Party Today!

See the official #PitMad page here.   There’s a twitter pitch party on the Twitter hashtag #PitMad today, December 1st, from 8AM to 8PM EDT. Get your twitter pitches ready and make sure to include all the appropriate hashtags, especially #PitMad, in your 140 character tweet-pitch. If you need help creating the perfect pitch, there’s a post about it here: The 35-word Twitter Pitch . . . Simplified THE RULES . . . Be polite and don’t say anything mean about a writer’s pitch. Please, don’t “like” any pitches. That’s only for agents. If you want to show support, reply with a comment or re-tweet the pitch. You can quote the tweet with your support or praise, or just re-tweet without quoting. Any genre can be pitched. Pitch up to three times per day, per manuscript. It helps to pitch when you see an agent on the hashtag (throughout the day for a better response). Add #YA, #MG, #NA, #A, or #PB in your pitch to help the agents find the ones they represent. For more detail with your hashtags, see all of the hashtags here! If your tweet is “liked” (or hearted) by an agent, please confirm they are a legitimate agent, search the agent’s feed, and see what the agent would like #PitMad participants to send them. Then send the requested materials. QUESTIONS? Tweet or DM me at @HeatherCashman For added fun, get some popcorn and scroll through the #fakepitmad pitches.   ALL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS ARE WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS...

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Pitch Wars Insights by Michael Mammay
Nov15

Pitch Wars Insights by Michael Mammay

  Now that the agent round for Pitch Wars this year is over, I want to talk about some of the hard truths that sometimes get glossed over in the excitement. Pitch Wars is awesome, and it helps a lot of people, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a magic ticket. You still have to put in the work, you still have to keep growing, and publishing is still an incredibly subjective business. To illustrate some of this, and offer some insight, I asked the people from the Pitch Wars 2015 class some questions, a year after they got accepted. 71 people responded. Here are their answers.   As you can see, not everybody had a life-changing experience, and only about half the people have an agent a year later. To get a feel for how getting an agent changes someone’s opinion of the contest, I took a look at the people who got an agent, to see if they had a different  average result. Those without agents averaged 3.6 when rating their experience. Those who now have agents averaged 4.6. It’s impossible to say for sure that people were more satisfied just because they had a better result. There are a lot of factors at play – it could be the fact that they connected with their mentor made it a good experience, which then led to getting an agent. But there’s certainly some correlation. In my opinion, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Getting an agent is obviously the goal, but the most important thing, to me, is what you learned. To that end, I asked people to rate where they see themselves today as compared to a year ago.   When you talk about Pitch Wars, and even other contests, a lot of what you hear about is the community, and how that’s the best thing you get out of it. I asked some questions to see what mentees thought.   There is a bit of a bias in this data, since if people aren’t in the Facebook group anymore, they probably didn’t see the call to join the survey.  The statistics nerd in me has to note that as an opt-in survey, while the data is useful, it’s not completely scientific. Lastly, I wanted to ask some questions that might help people who were considering joining Pitch Wars next year. It’s not too early to start. I started writing the book I entered into Pitch Wars 2015 in November of 2014. Are you considering it? Here’s what our mentees had to say. So of the 71 people who responded, two of them wouldn’t do it...

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