Day 29 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Melyssa Mercado and Heather Cashman
Jun16

Day 29 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Melyssa Mercado and Heather Cashman

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 Melyssa Mercado  Website | Twitter  Melyssa Mercado is a writer of Middle Grade and Young Adult stories. Creative writing has always threaded the needle of Mel’s life, weaving worlds and characters together in hopes of connecting to the experiences and evolutionary pages of a young person’s heart. She believes humor is the true chicken soup for the soul (and that nobody really throws up all night). Mel’s wish list will forever include book-scented candles and making readers smile. SCBWI and Eastern New York chapter member. She’s represented by the lovely Victoria Selvaggio of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.   Melyssa’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Middle grade GENRE: Fantasy Dear AGENT, I am seeking representation for my middle grade fantasy, Dragon Talker: Heart Stone. [Great title! As agents know you are querying for rep, I’d sub this opening with either a personalized reason you’re querying this specific agent or go straight into the hook and grab their attention right off the bat—the latter is always my personal preference, as agents view tons of queries on a daily basis. You can always add a personalized statement for querying in your closing paragraph]. “All middle school kids are weird – no one fits in.”  So says Jake’s school counselor, and his best friend Owen agrees. But Jake is sure that no one has the night life he does. [Generally, queries don’t include or start off with dialogue. I’ve seen it done, but it’s risky. But my biggest concern here is that a guidance counselor is telling two kids they are all weird and don’t fit in. Do you know how fast I’d be on the phone to that school? (: You can easily turn this around using a snappy word opener with something like: If ___year-old Jake hears that feeling weird is just a natural part of middle school one more time, he’ll go unnaturally bonkers—because, no matter what his...

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Day 28 (Part 2) Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Kristin Bartley Lenz, Heather Smith Meloche & Jenny Lundquist
Jun15

Day 28 (Part 2) Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Kristin Bartley Lenz, Heather Smith Meloche & Jenny Lundquist

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 Mentors Kristin Bartley Lenz & Heather Smith Meloche  Website | Twitter Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker from metro-Detroit who fell in love with the mountains when she moved to Georgia and California. Now she’s back in Detroit where she plots wilderness escapes and manages the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Her debut young adult novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, was a Junior Library Guild Fall 2016 Selection and was chosen for the Great Lakes Great Books 2017-2018 state-wide literature program. She is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Prospect Agency.    Website | Twitter  Heather Smith Meloche has had the honor of winning the Katherine Paterson Prize and the Writer’s Digest National Competition for her children’s/Young Adult writing. She studied video production and poetry at Michigan State University, and then got her Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language at Bowling Green State University. She spends her days in her home in Michigan sampling a wide variety of chocolate, letting her dogs in and out constantly, and writing and reading as much as she can. Heather is the author of of RIPPLE, released Sept. 20, 2016 by Penguin Putnam and represented by Compass Talent Literary Agency.     Kristin and Heather’s Query Critique… I am looking for representation for my Women’s [Lower case “women’s”] fiction: [Use a comma here instead of a colon] FOUR WOMEN TALKING. [Choose all caps or italics, but not both, and keep it consistent throughout the letter] It is complete at 88,000 words. Monique Magloire, Haitian socialite wants her father to respect her even though she is not the son he had “demanded.” Monique has a few demands of her own. Cecilia Peterson of St Thomas longs for her mother’s love although she has the “misfortune” of looking like her Negro father....

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Day 28 (Part 1) Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Natalka Burian & Rebecca Schaeffer
Jun15

Day 28 (Part 1) Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Natalka Burian & Rebecca Schaeffer

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 Natalka Burian Website | Twitter Natalka Burian received an MA from Columbia University where she studied Eastern European literature with an emphasis on the work of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. She is the co-owner of two bars, ELSA and RAMONA, and CITY OF DAUGHTERS a line of specialty cocktail goods. She grew up on a farm in Maryland, and now lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters. Welcome to the Slipstream is her first novel. She is represented by Kate Johnson at Wolf Literary Services.   Natalka’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: YA GENRE: Magical Realism, not exactly sure of this[I think your instincts are correct!] Dear Wonderful Agent: Fiddle playing teen [I’m wondering what her exact age is here–could be useful for an agent or editor, too, when considering submissions, etc.] Anastasia Samuels [I’d also suggest starting this paragraph off with her name. It’s a much stronger way to begin in that it immediately connects us to your protagonist–e.g. Anastasia Samuels, a 16yo musician introvert blames her albinism…] is an introvert who blames her albinism for her all insecurities. Moving over a thousand miles away rips her from her one and only friend, Clara, forcing her into a whole new world of miserable. The only bright spots in her dismal existence are her music, and meeting James, a hearing-impaired boy who is as much a curiosity at their performing arts school as she is. She falls hard for this cute redhead but can’t imagine him ever being interested in someone like her.[Consider omitting this last sentence for sharpness and efficiency.] A strange recurring dream about an old violin has haunted Ana since her parents first announced their decision to more. She is stunned to discover this same instrument in their attic.[is this the attic in her old or new house? Maybe move us in time at the beginning of the paragraph, condensing the two...

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Day 24 (Part 3): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Kes Trester, Jessica Vitalis & Julie Artz
Jun09

Day 24 (Part 3): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Kes Trester, Jessica Vitalis & Julie Artz

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 Kes Trester  Website | Twitter A native of Los Angeles, Kes Trester’s first job out of college was on a film set, though the movie’s title will remain nameless because it was a really bad film. Really. As a feature film development executive, she worked on a variety of independent films, from gritty dramas (guns and hotties) to steamy vampire love stories (fangs and hotties) to teens-in-peril genre movies (blood and hotties). Kes produced a couple of independent films, both award-winners on the festival circuit, before seguing into television commercials. As head of production for a Hollywood-based film company, she supervised the budgeting and production of nationally broadcast commercials (celebrities, aliens, talking animals!) and award-winning music videos for artists such as Radiohead, Coldplay, and OKGO (more celebrities, aliens, and talking animals!). In an attempt to raise kids who could actually pick their mom out of a line up, Kes turned to writing fulltime. Her contemporary novels for young adults are cinematic, fast-paced, and above all, fun. Add an understanding husband and pack of rescue dogs to the mix, and that’s also an apt description of life in the busy Trester household. Kes is the YA author of A DANGEROUS YEAR coming out in September 26, 2017. She is represented by Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary. Kes’ Query Critique… Dear Agents Name, I’m seeking representation for my project, WINGS OF FLESH AND BONES, which I’d like you to consider [I would cut “which I’d like you to consider” – feels a little clunky]. It’s a YA/Paranormal story with elements of romance and [is complete at] 74,000 words. [it seems obvious, but agents like to know it’s a finished ms and it’s easy to slip it in here] Outer realmies suck, as any gatekeeper worth their salt will tell you [nice voice!]. Welcome to Rogan’s life, a sixteen-year-old...

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Day 24 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Jenna Lehne, Tara Creel, Kate Karyus Quinn & Mindy McGinnis
Jun09

Day 24 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Jenna Lehne, Tara Creel, Kate Karyus Quinn & Mindy McGinnis

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 Mentors Jenna Lehne & Tara Creel  Website | Twitter Jenna Lehne writes spooky MG/YA words and blogs for @Mdnight_Society. She is represented by Gina Panettieri with Talcott Notch Literary.        Website | Twitter Tara Creel write books for children. Particularly picture books and middle grade.  She also offers editorial services for writers.   She review books for The Deseret News. She is also an editor for Month9Books, Tantrum Division. All of that means that she gets to read and write for work and for fun.       Jenna and Tara’s Query Critique… Age category: 10 and up Genre: Middle Grade Dear Brenda Drake, I’d like to offer my MG novel ‘ARMORED’ for your consideration. The Dark Ages look even gloomier from outer space. [We like this opening line, but it’s a bit clunky. How about taking out the word ‘even’?] Thirteen-orbits-old Odd is an armored, war-loving royal from a dismal part of the Universe where the stars don’t shine. The only problem is he’s never actually tasted war and his Overlord father won’t let him forget it. [We love this idea but it’s confusing like this. What about rearranging it into something like:  At thirteen orbits old, Odd is an armored, war-loving royal from a dismal part of the Universe where stars don’t shine. Too bad he’s never actually tasted war and his Overlord Father won’t let him forget it. ((We don’t like saying the only problem because it limits the stakes and also this way has more voice. )] When his dad loses patience with him and threatens to send him away, Odd sneaks off to conquer a world single-handedly to prove his worth. [ We don’t think you need that much info re: his dad] Crash landing on Earth however, and losing his armor to a human girl were never part of the plan… [To incorporate a bit more...

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Day 24 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Juliana Brandt, Allison Ziegler & Nina Laurin
Jun09

Day 24 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Juliana Brandt, Allison Ziegler & Nina Laurin

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 Mentors Juliana Brandt & Allison Ziegler Website | Twitter Juliana is a Middle Grade and Young Adult writer and has mentored in PitchWars for the past two years. She’s a dog lover, outdoor enthusiast, kindergarten teacher, and loves novel-shaped things and is represented by Natalie Lakosil of the Bradford Literary Agency.          Website | Twitter Allison Ziegler is an occasional occupant of the real world, frequent resident of writer town, and constant consumer of diet coke. She’s represented by Emmanuelle Morgen at Stonesong Literary Agency, and a #PitchWars Mentors.       Juliana and Allison’s Query Critique… Dear **, Today I’m presenting SWEET PEA a 25,000-word animal fantasy story. [Do you have comparison books? Those are important to include. They show agents that you’ve done your research 🙂 ] It’s about two dwarf-lop rabbits, Sweet Pea and Dasher, and a community of animals they befriend on a farm in the Australian countryside. Will Pirate, the farmer’s dog and an ever-present threat, ever come to accept their existence? [Essentially, you’re “telling” in these two sentences. In queries, your words are particularly precious, so cut these and use those words to “show” what happens in the story in the next two paragraphs! Also, try to avoid rhetorical questions as much as possible–usually, rhetorical questions weaken writing; they also risk the agent not wanting to find the answer to the question. It’s best not to ask them to search out the answer, but rather to simply tell them what happens.] When the truck transporting Sweet Pea and Dasher from the breeding shed to a pet shop crashes, can they survive when lost in the Australian bush? The ever-confident Dasher believes they can and convinces Sweet Pea to become adventurous. [Can you show us more of what happens in the story? I would suggest using a two paragraph format to describe what happens in your book. Paragraph 1 would be dedicated...

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Day 23 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Layla Reyne, Victoria De La O & E.B. Wheeler
Jun08

Day 23 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with Mentors Layla Reyne, Victoria De La O & E.B. Wheeler

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 Mentors Layla Reyne & Victoria De La O Website | Twitter 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its San Francisco, Kiss of Death, and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. She is represented by Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency.     Website | Twitter Victoria De La O is the 2017 RITA®-nominated author of the Tell Me romance trilogy, including Tell Me How This Ends. A California native, she spends time hanging out with her family, arguing about films, and practicing Wonder Woman spins.But mostly, she enjoys making her readers cry. Victoria belongs to the Silicon Valley Romance Writers of America chapter and is represented by Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency.   Layla and Victoria’s Query Critique… [INSERT: Brett Fontaine doesn’t go out after dark.] Brett Fontaine’s goals are simple—keep growing her image consultancy business in trendy Miami, make sure her stalker stays in prison, and convince her friends she has a handle on her post-kidnapping panic attacks. [Consider this revision to the above paragraph, which provides a stronger, punchier opening. Also, her goals aren’t simple, so let’s not sell her short.]: Instead, she focuses on growing her image consultancy business in trendy Miami, ensuring her stalkers stays in prison, and convincing her friends she has a handle on her post-kidnapping panic attacks.] Even if she hasn’t been out after dark in over a year, much less opened her little black book dating app. [Remove this sentence...

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Day 23 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with mentors Kelly deVos and Jessica Bayliss
Jun08

Day 23 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & First Page Workshop with mentors Kelly deVos and Jessica Bayliss

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 Kelly deVos Website | Twitter A third generation native Arizonan, Kelly deVos can tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cactus, cattle and climate. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. Her debut novel, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, will be published in 2018 by Harlequin Teen and her work has been featured in Normal Noise and 202 Magazine.     Kelly’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Thriller PASTE QUERY (here in the body of the email): A sinister killer stole her and held her captive for three days…  and she was one of the lucky ones. [KD: I think it’s a great idea to open with this kind of hook BUT use of the world “stole” tripped me up and the term Beacon Hill Strangler is way more interesting than “sinister killer”] Fifteen years later, still tortured by the memories of that lost time, Simone Chase is asked to investigate a recent murder.  A recent murder that holds some disturbing similarities to those events of her past. [KD: This is a really intriguing concept. But why would Simone specifically be asked to investigate? We’re not given much to go on in terms of figuring out wat makes this character unique. How old is she? What’s her occupation? Where does she live?] Her abductor is safely locked away, but someone is picking up where he left off, and as more victims emerge, it appears Simone is firmly in the killer’s crosshairs.  Desperate to uncover the truth, she is pulled headlong into a decade long cover up that may just turn her whole world upside down. [KD: I don’t think this is nearly enough information about the plot of the book. I think you need to work the information in the synopsis below and combine the two things as...

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