A Pitch Madness Success Story with Debbie Schrack
Apr21

A Pitch Madness Success Story with Debbie Schrack

Pitch Madness 2017 Candyland Edition!! We are so thrilled to announce a success story by way of Pitch Madness. Debbie Schrack has signed with Tina P. Schwartz with The Purcell Agency! Go Team Candy Castle!   Debbie, what made you decide to enter Pitch Madness? I have been working on my novel SAVING SOPHIE for four years. At one point, I rewrote it totally from scratch. I had a fair amount of interest from agents but nothing ever came of it. Last October I attended an SCBWI conference and had a critique of my first ten pages by an editor. She didn’t like my opening. I came home very discouraged but I rewrote the opening, then put the novel aside for a while. One of my critique partners e-mailed and said I should do the Pitch Madness contest. She had entered before and had gotten a lot of good feedback on her work. I entered and fortunately made it into the bonus round. And then I was blown away when I got six agent requests. Maybe it was good timing or maybe my new opening was the key, but I’m so happy that I entered Pitch Madness! Samantha & Mary Ann, what about Debbie’s pitch and first pages made you choose them? Mary Ann: Debbie’s first page had so much voice it caught my attention immediately. For some reason, I read the pitch after I’d read the 250, so I was extra intrigued by the character’s motivation. When I then read the pitch, it was like a punch to the heartstrings. Both Samantha and I fell hard. Samantha: Definitely the voice grabbed me first. I read the pitch, but I didn’t click with it right away because the twist of the story was buried a bit. But I kept coming back to the voice in the first 250, and once I realized where the pitch was going, I was hooked. And we also knew how to give the pitch the little bit of punch in needed to hopefully grab a lucky agent’s attention (and it worked!) Debbie, tell us about your Pitch Madness revisions/experience? My mentors Samantha and Mary Ann helped me tweak my pitch so that it was more dramatic. They didn’t want me to change anything for the first 250 words, but when I sent them my final submission we realized it was actually 261 words so I had to take out 11, which is harder than it sounds! One of my Team Candy Castle teammates set up an e-mail chain so we could critique each other’s query letters and read pages. Everyone was very helpful and supportive. I hope they all...

Read More
Pitch Madness 2017 Candyland Edition… game on!
Mar15

Pitch Madness 2017 Candyland Edition… game on!

  Welcome to Team Ice Cream Sea! It’s been a long week of reading through all the amazing pitches. Our wonderful readers have narrowed the slush, and your team hosts have chosen seventy pitches for the agent round. To meet the slush readers and hosts go to this post here. And you can find out more about the participating agents on this post here. For those of you not familiar with Pitch Madness, it’s a contest where agents compete in a game against their peers for pitches and you can find the rules and instructions of the game here. I’m co-hosting with the amazing Monica Hoffman! Check out her site and follow her, you’ll be happy you did. Monica Hoffman Website | Twitter YA Spec-Fic Rom Writer | Trekkie, Dr. Who, & Star Wars fan | Music is my blood | SCBWI Member | #PitchWars Mentor | Rep’d by @agentsavant & @4triciaskinner     Scroll down to view all 10 picks for my blog or click on the links to each post … Middle Grade B1: MG Fantasy #ownvoices: THE NINE GRAVES OF GERALDINE GREY B2: MG Contemporary with elements of magic: GIRL OF THE BIG ISLAND B3: MG Fantasy: PRINCESS CORDELIA BREAKS THE RULES Young Adult B4: YA Paranormal Romance: A RAVEN’S CRAVING B5: YA Fantasy: FACING DEMONS B6: YA Fantasy: EVENTIDE B7: YA Contemporary: THE COLD PLACE New Adult/Adult B8: Adult Upmarket Contemporary LGBTQ+ #ownvoices: SPEEDBUMP B9: Adult Mystery: THE POISON SEASON B10: Adult Science Fiction Thriller: INVADED Comments are set to moderation so the agents won’t see the other agents’ requests. Please no comments other than those from the agents. After the agent round, we’ll release the moderation and let you all comment on the entries. We’ll reveal the agent requests on March 17 starting at 4:30 Eastern time. All the twitter fun will happen on the hashtag #PitchMadness, where we’ll tweet the results of the agent round. Join us for the Twitter Pitch Party on March 23 from 8AM to 8PM Eastern time on the hashtag #PitMad. It’s open to everyone! How do you twitter pitch? You can find all the details here. A huge HUGE thank you to my team and to the wonderful agents!  Go to all the hosts’ blogs to read more winning pitches … Team Ice Cream Sea – http://www.brenda-drake.com/ Team Gumdrop Mountains – https://heathercashmanblog.wordpress.com/ Team Peanut Brittle House – https://pintipdunn.wordpress.com/ Team Lollipop Woods – https://rebeccacoffindaffer.com/category/blog/ Team Licorice Castle – http://sharonmjohnston.com/ Team Peppermint Forest – http://wadealbertwhite.ca/blog/ Team Candy Castle – http://samanthajoyce.com/  ...

Read More
B1: MG Fantasy #ownvoices POC: THE NINE GRAVES OF GERALDINE GREY
Mar15

B1: MG Fantasy #ownvoices POC: THE NINE GRAVES OF GERALDINE GREY

Title: THE NINE GRAVES OF GERALDINE GREY Age Category: Middle Grade Genre: Fantasy #ownvoices POC Word Count: 39,000 Pitch: A young girl tasked with helping souls from a Louisiana cemetery pass to the other side must fight a powerful witch for control over the gate to the underworld. First 250 Word of Manuscript: If you ever saw Geraldine Grey, the first thing you’d notice, she was a very serious child. At twelve, she had already mastered the stern calmness of a professor, despite the fact she was at that awkward age of pointy elbows and knobby knees. She had curly black hair, a small snub of a nose, and a sharp, determined chin. Her most important features, however, were her eyes, which were eerie white, except for the faint black ring lining her pupils. Geraldine’s eyes were important, because they allowed her to see ghosts. “Bonsoir, Mister Thompson,” Geraldine greeted the groundskeeper when she arrived at the quiet, tree-lined graveyard that evening. The bad-tempered ghost did not agree with this salutation. “I don’t see what’s so good about it.” He rose from his grave and stretched, his old bones rattling from the movement. Mister Thompson was as gaunt and bony in death as he had been in life. The fact that his bones rattled did not startle Geraldine. At La Maison des Fantômes, that grand, ancient mansion in the backwoods of Louisiana, which housed the oldest cemetery in the state, ghosts became so powerful they could do all sorts of strange things. That included moving their skeletons when they felt like it. Gabriel, a white wolf with bright blue eyes, trotted up to Geraldine. You’d think he’d lighten up just once, Gabriel’s thoughts whispered in Geraldine’s mind. Most people mistook Gabriel for a husky, or an Alaskan Mamalute, but he was one-hundred percent Siberian direwolf.   Save...

Read More
B2: MG Contemporary with elements of magic: GIRL OF THE BIG ISLAND
Mar15

B2: MG Contemporary with elements of magic: GIRL OF THE BIG ISLAND

Title: GIRL OF THE BIG ISLAND Age Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary with elements of magic Word Count: 39,000 Pitch: An outsider in her Kansas hometown, twelve-year-old Kalea visits her native Hawaii and learns she must protect her grandma’s magic stone from evil spirits or her doomed family will vanish. First 250 Word of Manuscript: I bet Dad wouldn’t recognize me. I’ve been drowning in cornfields most of my life, instead of splashing in the turquoise waters of Hawaii. Now’s my chance. Only eighteen hours and counting until we land on the Big Island. If it wasn’t so embarrassing, I’d break into hip-hop moves right here in the security line. My ratty gray backpack thump-thumps along the conveyor belt, disappearing into a black hole. I walk into the scanner and raise hands above my head. Do they really think a twelve-year-old carries a nail polish bottle filled with plastic explosives? “Miss, please step over here.” A balding lump of a man waves me to the side. Maybe he’s craving my secret stash of mango gummy bears. I glance over at my family, already finished with security. Mom’s helping my kid sister untangle her sparkly pink bracelets. The bald officer stares me down. “What’s that around your neck?” I almost answer, “My collar bone,” but no sense messing with security. I pull the leather pouch over my head and hand it to the guard. “There’s a stone inside.” The guard motions me to get scanned again. This time no problem. He removes the small rock from my pouch and examines it. The gray stone is carved into the shape of a turtle. After showing his companion, he says, “I swear I saw something flashing from her pouch when she was x-rayed. And the screen went blank for a split second, like some weird voodoo caused it.”...

Read More
B3: MG Fantasy: PRINCESS CORDELIA BREAKS THE RULES
Mar15

B3: MG Fantasy: PRINCESS CORDELIA BREAKS THE RULES

Title: PRINCESS CORDELIA BREAKS THE RULES Age Category: Middle Grade Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 30,000 Pitch: Of all the rules a princess must follow, Cordelia detested number ten the most: Wait patiently for your prince to rescue you. When he doesn’t show, she dares rescue herself. But someone plots her failure. First 250 Word of Manuscript: You’d think being a princess was easy, but it’s harder than you think. It sounds dramatic, but I promise it’s not. There are many rules for princesses and not all of them are easy to follow. It started when the Queen of Winder had a baby girl and took it upon herself (in dictation to the royal scribe) to document all things princess related and her personal opinion of them. A rulebook, which she named, Princess Etiquette. There’s a grand total of twenty-four. Her plan is for every princess to read the book and follow the rules…her rules. It’s facing rule ten that I, Cordelia, Princess of Winder, detest the most. Yes, I’m that Queen’s daughter. Talk about having to live up to high expectations. What is rule ten you ask? Wait patiently for your prince to rescue you. And it’s going to get much worse. First, I have to worry about surviving my combined birthday-farewell ball tonight. I shudder, thinking of what’s to come as I stand at my bedroom window clutching my favorite book, Pirate Peppercorn versus Gripple the Griffin, as a late summer storm rages outside. Slanted rain patters against the glass as blustering wind swirls, ripping leaves from the trees while flowers cling helplessly to the ground. Thunder rolls and rumbles. A flash of light bursts, crackling in the evening sky. “Cordelia!” Mother’s high-pitched voice calls from across the room. I spin to face her. She grimaces with her hands planted on her hips and impatiently taps her foot....

Read More
B4: YA Paranormal Romance: A RAVEN’S CRAVING
Mar15

B4: YA Paranormal Romance: A RAVEN’S CRAVING

Title: A RAVEN’S CRAVING Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 83,000 Pitch: Wielding magic is amazing; it’s the addiction that bites. Raven’s fourth magic overdose lands her in rehab where two bewitching love interests pit her against herself, ultimately, forcing her to choose between love and freedom. First 250 Word of Manuscript: No one told me about the addiction—how it eats through the body, biting and burning every nerve until there’s nothing left, except insatiable-desire for magic. Fluorescent lights poured heat and energy throughout the greenhouse. From my place among the pansies and petunias it seeped into my skin, causing sweat to drip from my brow. Aromas of sweet phlox and earthy lavender filled my nose. The ability to see outside was wanted, yet the blurry plastic walls provided necessary protection from suspicious eyes. My long-haired calico cat, Magnus, wound his plump body around my legs and greeted me with a blend of purr and meow. Magnus enjoyed the greenhouse almost as much as I did. But, he wouldn’t in a few seconds. “Go on, Mag Pie,” I said, nudging him away with one bare foot. “Or, you’ll be sorry.” As if he understood my warning, Magnus waddled toward the exit, flicking his tail. With moderate difficulty, he squeezed through the crack in the door just before the misting system hummed to life. All around me, the air glistened with tiny specks of water and heat. I relished in the new floral perfumes. The mist thickened, quickly. Finally, hidden by the blurry walls and fog, I could use. My hands sunk into the rich soil, embracing the sense of solace it provided. As vitality seeped through my skin, my fingertips numbed. White violets to my left, a bright red chenille bush to my right, popped up and sprung to life. What took Mother Nature months to achieve, I’d conquered in seconds, and I couldn’t stop there....

Read More
B5: YA Fantasy: FACING DEMONS
Mar15

B5: YA Fantasy: FACING DEMONS

Title: FACING DEMONS Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 108,000 Pitch: In an African inspired fantasy, twin mercenaries Niles and Cassia must hunt for a hidden foe, bearing encrypted letters. To succeed means unearthing a past best kept buried. But their secrets might bury them anyway. First 250 Word of Manuscript: The guard stared at Cassia’s hands, searching for signs of Aeliana’s fire. He would find none. He motioned for her to flip her hands over to inspect her palms without touching her. Touching a prisoner was dangerous without knowing what she was. Cassia fought to hide the amusement of watching the guard run through the element wielding lists. He gestured for her to continue walking down the tunnel. As they approached a water basin, she slowed, half expecting him to hold her under to be sure she wasn’t one of the Drowned, and was a little insulted when he just pushed her along. She wasn’t looking forward to nearly drowning, but she didn’t like the assumption. The guard stopped at the entrance to one of the cells and glanced at the darkness pooled at her feet. Shadow? Check. He tilted his nose into the air, taking a deep breath. The heavy rains pelted the rails of the small windows at ground-level of the Alsene Hold. He’d smell wet soil and nothing else. The ease of his next breath told her as much. Another check in his lists. Relief washed over the guard smoothing the skin between his brows and easing the tension in his shoulders as he locked her cell. Yet the way he cut his eyes in her direction said that he still considered her a conundrum if not a threat. That he wasn’t fully convinced. And he shouldn’t be. One did not get tossed underground into the Alsene execution cells for being a conundrum....

Read More
B6: YA Fantasy: EVENTIDE
Mar15

B6: YA Fantasy: EVENTIDE

Title: EVENTIDE Age Category: Young Adult Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 99,000 Pitch: TWELFTH NIGHT meets AN EMBER IN THE ASHES when Val, disguised as a boy, boards an enemy ship to find her twin. As she sails into war, she risks both their lives if she’s discovered. First 250 Word of Manuscript: For most, the Pass represented the boundary between the southern clans and the Airyllens. It was where the war over magic finally came to a stop. For me, it meant home. The purple mountains jutted into the sky, glistening as untouched magic cascaded off them like an early morning fog. I leaned over to take in the sight. The port side of my outrigger sailing canoe dipped and cold water splashed onto my parched skin. I jolted. “Spirits!” My voice cracked. I never allowed my canoe to break the surface of the water. Letting my sail out, I tied the mainsheet and moved from the stern to the bow, the wind pulling strands of my black hair out of its braid and into my eyes. My sack hung on the mast, swaying from the waves lapping against the hull. Reaching into it, I fished out the smaller pouch for the last time. My hand shook. I hadn’t seen my home, my family, in three moons. After tonight, I would no longer be a child in the eyes of my clan. I would be chiefess. But now was no time to be emotional. I sat cross-legged and loosened the drawstring of the pouch. Dust the color of the stars lay at the bottom. I dumped the remnants in my hand. The powder sparkled against the contrast of my dark skin before I blew it away. The dust dispersed into the cobalt sky like silver butterflies. I watched it go, knowing it would find its way to Elder Ahi....

Read More