Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Jennifer Camiccia and her mentor Kristin B. Wright
Jul13

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Jennifer Camiccia and her mentor Kristin B. Wright

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Jennifer Camiccia and her Pitch Wars mentor Kristin B. Wright! Jennifer recently signed with Stacey Glick of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, LLC, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating Jennifer and Kristin as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Jennifer, what was it about Kristin that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? I researched all the mentors representing YA contemporary, and Kristin definitely moved to the top of my list once I read her favorite books and movies. Since her taste was so similar to mine, I hoped she would connect with my book. And she did! Kristin, what was it about Jennifer’s BIRDY’S SONG that hooked you? I read the first chapter of BIRDY’S SONG in a Chipotle, delicious burrito in hand. Her story starts with a terrifying car ride that ends in tragedy, and I was so gripped I forgot to eat my burrito. I don’t remember her query, which is why I always tell people that the query, while important, isn’t as important as pages that hook from the first lines. I could not put it down. She rose to the top five contenders before I left that Chipotle. Jennifer, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Kristin sent me an extremely detailed letter with suggestions on making my story stronger. I took a day or two to mull it over, and then I went to work. I wrote every day for a month before sending back my manuscript for line edits. It was exhausting but, ultimately, extremely satisfying. My characters were more vivid, the pace quicker, and the ending more dramatic. Kristin, tell us about your experience mentoring Jennifer. She was a dream. I sent her a super scary letter that suggested a title change, losing a character or two, changing the ending completely, and a dozen other things that probably made her wish she’d never heard my name, but she took it like a champ. Her writing was so beautiful and assured, and I knew she could do it. And she did. I remember reading her revised ending and actually cheering. Jennifer, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich. Please, tell us about “The Call.” We love all the details about the offer, how they contacted you, how you responded, celebrations, emotions . . . How long did you have to wait and how did you distract yourself? Anything! We love hearing about all of it. Stacey sent an email to say how much she was enjoying my...

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Pitch Wars 2017 … all the details!
Jul01

Pitch Wars 2017 … all the details!

We’re so excited for our sixth Pitch Wars! For those unfamiliar with Pitch Wars, it’s a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer edits on how to make the manuscript shine. The mentor also edits his/her writer’s pitch and query letter to get it ready for the agent round. Those entering Pitch Wars submit applications (query plus first chapter of manuscript) to their chosen mentors. The mentors then read all their applications and choose the writer they want to mentor for two months to get them ready for the agent showcase. Writers can pick up to four mentors to send an application to. Last year, we hand nearly sixty agents participate in the showcase. You can view them here and here. How will you decide what mentors to submit to? Participate in our Mentor Wishlist Blog Hop starting July 19th. The mentors’ bios and wishlists will be posted to their blogs and linked from a post on my blog, and you can hop around and find the right matches for you. The hop will go on until August 2, which is submission day!! There will be a scavenger hunt during the hop with an exciting prize. You don’t want to miss it. More details will be on the blog hop main post on this blog. Visit the Twitter hashtag, #PitchWars, to get to know the mentors personally (virtually).  Mentors will be tweeting advice and answering questions on it. Check out Pitch Wars Live. Some of our mentors will be chatting live starting July 17 and ending on August 1. We’ll have a schedule up soon. Make sure to watch, ask questions on #PitchWars, and get to know the mentors. Watch the blog for more details. We’ll be launching our new website on pitchwars.org soon, so look for our celebration on #PitchWars! How do I enter? Applications (query + 1st chapter) will be sent through an easy submission form. The form will go live just after midnight (EDT – New York time) August 2 and remain open until August 6 at 10 PM (EDT – New York time). DO NOT query or pitch or email mentors directly. The only way to submit is to use the submission window that will post August 2nd. Please, be courteous of mentors’ time and keep things polite. They are all here voluntarily and deserve our utmost respect. If anyone is caught abusing a mentor, their submissions will be deleted. Thank you. What will you need to enter in the form? Your top four (max – you don’t have to pick 4, but you are...

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Day 34 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Jenn Brisendine & Emily Colin
Jun23

Day 34 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Jenn Brisendine & Emily Colin

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. First up we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Jenn Brisendine  Website | Twitter Jenn Brisendine, a secondary English/Language Arts teacher, writes middle grade and is repped by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media. She currently enjoys writing historicals with elements of magic, but loves reading a variety of genres in middle grade. She was a Pitchwars ’15 mentee and can be found at @jennbrisendine on Twitter and @jennbrisendinewrites on Instagram. She’s happy to have recently joined the ranks at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors – http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2017/03/umbrella-raining-overarching-conflict-mg/ .  Check out her site https://jennbrisendine.com/  for free teacher printables on great MG novels and for reviews of great books on writing. Jenn’s Query Critique… Age: MG Genre: Fantasy Dear: Agent: The Ambassador of Attalon [You can use all caps for the ms title] is a standalone MG high fantasy of 50, 000 [no space in your number, or use “50K”] words with series potential. Already at 12 years old, it seems that all Clarine Hearthsgaard’s dreams have come true. She wins a coveted spot in Attalon’s prestigious Knight Academy to eventually [don’t need “eventually”; gives a long, drawn-out feel to the process] become a Knight of the Realm. But it doesn’t take long for Clarine to discover that attending a school for Knights is not quite what she thought it would be. Sore muscles from Weapons Training and headaches caused by mind-numbing Diplomatic Solutions [This is pretty minor, but maybe use a different example than a boring headache-inducing class; something equally as dynamic as Weapons Training might be better for the sake of querying.] are the least of her worries when she discovers a hidden grove with a single apple tree, and accidentally wakes King Arthur’s ghost.  [Maybe just another hint or two to tie things together—what’s the connection between apple tree and King Arthur? How does she wake him, especially if it’s...

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Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Sarena and Sasha Nanua and their mentor Stephanie Scott
Jun23

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Sarena and Sasha Nanua and their mentor Stephanie Scott

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Sarena and Sasha Nanua and their Pitch Wars mentor Stephanie Scott! Sarena and Sasha recently signed with Peter Knapp of Park Literary & Media, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for them. So please join me in congratulating Sarena and Sasha and Stephanie as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Sarena and Sasha, what was it about Stephanie that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? We loved Stephanie’s bio—she mentioned how she was looking for manuscripts about teens with unique and strong passions, which meshes with our main character’s love for cooking. We also tweeted her to see if she would be interested in reading our book (based on concept), and she said sure, so we went for it! Plus, we’re all #TeamGale 😊 Stephanie, what was it about Sarena and Sasha’s A TASTE OF DARKNESS that hooked you?  The pitch was Willy Wonka meets Chopped – a reality show cooking competition set at culinary institute that previously shuttered due to scandal. What hooked me more was the family dynamics, of a girl torn between her own culinary dreams and studying something more practical to care for her family. The character’s connection to her grandfather was sweet and added a mystery element with his connection to the institute. Sarena and Sasha, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? It was definitely a unique experience. Prior to this, only 1 other published author had read this book, and that was in its ugly 2nd draft stage. We were so thankful that Stephanie had a great vision for it. Mostly, we really had to “up” the stakes—make it bigger, both internally and externally for Tessa, our main character. We changed the book from 3rd to 1st person and changed a lot of the plot. Looking back on it now, it was a lot to do, but we’re both very thankful we had this experience. If it weren’t for Stephanie’s guidance, we would probably be lost tackling edits for our new book from our agent. Even though we had school, we were able to wrap up edits during the agent round. We would send out sections of the book as we edited it so Stephanie could give us her thoughts throughout the process.   Stephanie, tell us about your experience mentoring Sarena and Sasha. Sarena and Sasha were a dream to work with! Despite currently attending college, they turned in edits ahead of deadlines. They were eager to learn. Some decisions in editing don’t have a clear cut answer, and they both did really well...

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Day 34 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Lyndsay Ely & Erin Foster Hartley
Jun23

Day 34 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Lyndsay Ely & Erin Foster Hartley

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. First up we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Lyndsay Ely  Website | Twitter Lyndsay Ely (pronounced “eel-y”, as in those eels are looking very eel-y today) is a writer who currently calls Boston home. She is a geek, a foodie, a feminist, and has never met an antique shop she didn’t like. Her favorite color is crimson, and her favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo. Gunslinger Girl is her debut novel.   Lyndsay’s Query Critique… Age Category: Adult Genre: Paranormal Fantasy In a ruthless and vampiristic society that strips their citizens of emotions at birth, a young woman finds herself hunted as she is the only citizen that still, illegally, feels. [Great first line; very intriguing.] In Virtok, where humans are considered meals and emotions are forbidden, Penbly Hartson lives with the knowledge that her nights are numbered. Born with the rare gene that allows her to feel emotions, she is marked as an anomaly at birth. [Alone, I like this line. But I’m starting to get a little confused because before you say that emotions are stripped at birth. But here they are related to a gene? Can you clarify?] Hidden and protected by her older brother, she stops at nothing to find him when he disappears. [Good stakes, though I think it may read better as “she will stop at nothing.”] Until her secret is exposed. With a target painted on her back, Penbly knows she has two choices: leave her world or give herself up. [What are the consequences to giving herself up?] When she crosses paths with a human, they strike a deal; she offers him protection and he helps her cross to his world, Earth. [This is where I get thrown. Until now, I didn’t realize that Penbly wasn’t human. And if not, is she a literal vampire? Or some other kind of creature? I also...

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Day 33 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with mentors Samantha Joyce & Lindsey Frydman
Jun22

Day 33 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with mentors Samantha Joyce & Lindsey Frydman

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. First up we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Samantha Joyce  Website | Twitter Samantha has wanted to be an author since she picked up her first book and realized authors get to create new worlds with just a pen and paper (or laptop, if you will). She loves to write about romance because, as someone who married her high school sweetheart, she absolutely believes in true love. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC. Her debut, FLIRTING WITH FAME, is published by Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster.   Samantha’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: soft science fiction Dear (name), I’m delighted to see on Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity that you are looking for new clients and are intrigued by off-the-page characters and secrets. Keeping trade secrets, family secrets and personal secrets is key in my novel, Essential Path ESSENTIAL PATH (always put your title in all caps), soft science fiction with neuropsychological and erotic elements. Michelle Brower, my nonfiction agent at ZSH, is not representing my fiction because, in her words, once a story leaves the planet, it leaves her area of interest and expertise. Great introduction! I love that you’re telling us why you’re interested in this particular agent and also giving us insight into your present agent situation. Concept: In an attempt to communicate with human settlers, the sentient planet Path evolved a strain of yeast that influences the human brain. Humans discovered how to use this yeast to distill Essence, a unique form of alcohol that creates telepathic bonds and amplifies sexual pleasure. World-building: Everyone wants Essence. Because Essence can be distilled only on Path and only by those who inherit distiller family secrets and distiller’s DNA and microbiome, the interplanetary government sends a military occupation force to use any means necessary to control Path and convince distillers to cooperate. I can tell you...

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Day 33 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Shari Schwarz & Alexandra Ott
Jun22

Day 33 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Shari Schwarz & Alexandra Ott

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. First up we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Shari Schwarz  Website | Twitter Shari Schwarz lives in Ft. Collins, Colorado near the Rocky Mountains with her husband and their four boys. TREASURE AT LURE LAKE (Cedar Fort Publishing, April 12, 2016) is her debut which reflects her love for a good survival adventure story. When she’s not reading or writing, Shari can be found freelance editing, weight-lifting, gardening or watching her boys play football, basketball, cup-stacking, or wrestling. She frequently dreams of exploring Oregon Coast beaches or plotting out her next children’s book.       Shari’s Query Critique… Dear Agent:  The Cunning is a Young Adult [YA] Fantasy novel complete at [No need to say, “complete at” which is implied/expected] 96,000 words. [I would reword to something like this: “THE CUNNING, a 96,000 word, YA Fantasy, is the first novel in a planned trilogy.” Even better is if you can say that this is a stand-alone book with series potential—if that’s true.] It is the first book in a planned trilogy, and is an origin story involving the faerie characters from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as most recently interpreted in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fae series. The Cunning will appeal to fans [Saying that a book “will appeal” is presumptuous. I’d reword to say, “THE CUNNING is similar in tone and theme to Leigh Bardugo’s…] of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy in both tone and themes. [Make sure you’re using the same font/size throughout. The titles are in a different font.] Seventeen-year-old Ania hoped [hopes] that fixing machines at the mill for a living and dressing like a spinster would [will] help her escape the notice of the Fae that long ago conquered her world. But when she is caught in the middle of a village uprising against Fae King Oberon, Ania’s dangerous secret is exposed: although human, she inexplicably can’t be cut by mortal blades. [I’m not totally taken in by this premise....

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Day 29 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Tabitha Martin & Kelly deVos
Jun16

Day 29 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Tabitha Martin & Kelly deVos

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. First up we have … Pitch Wars Mentor Tabitha Martin Website | Twitter  Tabitha Martin writes contemporary and fantasy YA. When she’s not writing, she can be found with her nose in a book, her head in the clouds, her mind on a video game, or eating chips and salsa. She lives close to the beach and doesn’t go enough, but she longs to live among the stars like Darrow and Mustang. *bonus points if you know who they are and you ship them too*       Tabitha’s Query Critique… Desiring true love, friendship, and a fulfilling adventurous career, Karina has to rebuild every aspect of her life when she moves to a gritty yet burgeoning artistic neighborhood in Brooklyn. [This takes away from your query, because it reads more like a pitch + your query, so I would cut this all together] Twenty-six-year-old [This doesn’t seem necessary for an adult manuscript] Karina [add last name] has been playing by the rules her entire life [also if you keep the age, this makes her sound extra naïve, because 26 isn’t that old], expecting that by the time she graduates from a prestigious law school in New York, she will have everything she has [cut HAS and change to she’s for better flow] ever wanted: the perfect life, the perfect career, and the perfect relationship. Instead, she finds herself dreading the day she becomes a lawyer, and her relationship with a guy she thought might be the one goes awry [this second part is a bit wordy and takes away from your query. Make it more concise, like, “and things with her boyfriend go awry”]. To make things even more complicated, she is an immigrant from Slovakia whose ability to stay in the United States depends of her employment, and the countdown to her visa expiration date has begun. [to me, this is more important than anything you’ve listed above. This should be Problem Number...

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