VLOG: How to Raise a Book Baby
Jun22

VLOG: How to Raise a Book Baby

As you gear up for Pitch Wars, remember: It’s important to give your book baby the attention it deserves before sending it out into the real world so it’ll succeed. Revision and sharing it with others in the writing community are all important parts of the process. What are you currently doing to prep your book baby for Pitch Wars?  ...

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Shari Schwarz . . . My Path to Publishing, Query Critique Giveaway as an Agent Intern
Apr06

Shari Schwarz . . . My Path to Publishing, Query Critique Giveaway as an Agent Intern

We can’t tell you who it is, but . . . Shari is an agent intern for one of the best agents in the industry! Read her story to gain valuable insights on the publishing process. Shari will give a query critique to one lucky winner selected randomly from the comments on this post! About Shari Schwarz, Author, Editor, and Intern . . . 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. Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Goodreads   |   Amazon My Path to Publication . . . In my fifth grade diary I have a list of goals written in the back. One is to write a book. And if you know anything about me, you know I love to dream…and I love to work toward my goals. I started writing my book, THE LEDGE (now renamed to TREASURE AT LURE LAKE), December 10, 2013 after a quick facebook chat with a good friend of mine, Jenda Nye, who is also a writer. She encouraged me to start writing and, bonus! we could be writing partners! The idea for my story was totally inspired by my boys and Gary Paulsen’s HATCHET. But I had NO idea what I was getting myself into when I wrote ‘The End’ on my first draft in February 2014, or what would happen when I plugged into the amazing writing community on Twitter in March 2014. At that time, my parents were the first ones to give me valuable feedback and editing suggestions on my first draft, and I will always be so grateful for their support and guidance. Then, I sent out my first queries to literary agents in March 2014. Literally a year too early, but that’s what the learning process is all about…making lots of mistakes and learning from them. I’m thankful for each mistake along the way because they all have been a part of the path I’m on to becoming a better writer and story teller. I entered TREASURE AT LURE LAKE in various online contests like #NestPitch, #JustPitchIt, #PitMad, #PitchSlam, #PitchMas, Operation Awesome, #AgentMatch, #SecretShop, Sub it Club pitch party (and those are just the ones I received requests from agents on) and...

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Day Twenty-One of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Lynnette Labelle
Jul28

Day Twenty-One of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Lynnette Labelle

Welcome to July’s First Page Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a first page for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the first page critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques … Lynnette Labelle Website | Twitter | Facebook  Lynnette Labelle is a freelance editor, developmental/content editor, and copy editor with over thirteen years of experience. She’s the owner of Labelle’s Writing on the Wall, an editing and coaching service for writers. Lynnette’s clients range from new writers to New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors like Roni Loren, Rebecca Hamilton, and Cristin Harber. Lynnette works with writers seeking traditional publishing and indie authors. Lynnette specializes in substantive/developmental editing for romance (romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic thriller, contemporary romance, and romantic comedy), mystery, psychological thriller, suspense, horror, crime, paranormal/supernatural, fantasy, urban fantasy, dystopian, women’s fiction, NA, YA, and SOME science fiction (no aliens or futuristic stories). She also helps writers create hooky query letters and strong synopses, and she teaches several writing classes. Lynnette has a bachelor of education degree from the University of Manitoba, where she specialized in English and French. She excelled in Advanced Creative Writing in university and studied writing for children and teens through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She’s a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Romance Writers of America, and Savvy Authors. Lynette’s first page critique … When submitting to agents, editors, or contests, please use industry standard formatting. Times New Roman (or Courier, but I prefer TNR), size 12, 1” margins all around, ½” paragraph indents, and double-spaced text. No extra spaces between paragraphs and only one space between sentences. When editing for clients, I use Track Changes so that the majority of the comments are in the comment bubbles on the side and the changes are in the text. Much easier to follow. Unfortunately, the comment bubbles won’t post here, so I did what the other mentors did and placed the comments in the text. The dragon lay stretched out across a rock, Did the main character come across the dragon by accident? Is he startled to have found it here? Is he relieved to have found it? Had he been tracking it? Or did he look over and the dragon was there? its body brilliantly Avoid using adverbs. green in the sunlight that splashed Word choice? Can sunlight splash? through the leaves overhead....

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Day Twenty of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Brooks Benjamin & Kara Seal
Jul27

Day Twenty of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Brooks Benjamin & Kara Seal

Welcome to July’s First Page Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a first page for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the first page critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques … Brooks Benjamin Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads   In sixth grade, Brooks Benjamin formed a New Kids on the Block tribute dance crew called the New Kidz. He wasn’t that good at dancing back then. But now he’s got a new crew—his wife and their dog. They live in Tennessee, where he teaches reading and writing and occasionally busts out a few dance moves. He’s still not that good at it. His first novel, MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS will be released by Delacorte/Random House on 4/12/16.   Brooks’ first page critique … The glare of the late November sun threatened to ruin his hot streak. As Michael spun the bumpy surface of the basketball in (his) sixteen-year-old hands, (I totally understand the need to plug the age as soon as possible, but this seems a little forced.) he adjusted his body, forcing the backboard to become a buffer for the intense light. (This is good. It shows he’s been there before, sun in his eyes, straining to stay focused.) Sweat dripped down his face, but he ignored it. He had to stick to his rhythm. He spun the ball one more time, dribbled twice and then let it fly. SWISH! Nailed it! (This is a little nit-picky, but I think it’d be stronger without this line. Just the SWISH! and then he goes right back to being focused, no distractions, no thinking, just his ritual and uber basketball instincts.) Number twenty-eight. One more to go and it would be a new personal record. A breeze blew, cooling his face, and carrying the smell of wood smoke from the chimneys around him. He could practically taste the traditional Saturday night chili his dad was concocting in the kitchen. This last shot–then he’d head in for a huge bowl topped with cheese and saltine crackers. (This is nice, but I wonder if it’d be stronger to add in how he’s not letting distractions, even tasty chili with cheese (which now I’m craving, thanks), throw him off his game.) Toes on the line, his ritual came without thought—spin the ball four times, dribble twice, shoot. (I really like this line. Almost...

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Day Nineteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Kate Brauning
Jul25

Day Nineteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Kate Brauning

Welcome to July’s First Page Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a first page for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the first page critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques … Kate Brauning Website | Twitter | Buy Her Book Kate is the author of How We Fall (YA contemporary) and a senior editor at Entangled Publishing. She earned her B.A. in English literature, then went on to teach high school English, and intern with a publishing house and a literary agency. She first edited with Month9Books before moving on to edit adult and YA fiction for Entangled Publishing. She’s represented by Carlie Webber of CK Webber Associates. She loves unusual people, good whiskey, dark chocolate, everything about autumn, bright colors, red maple trees, superstitions, ghost stories, anything Harry Potter, night skies, pie, and talking about books. She’s working hard on her next few novels, and if you see her, say hello, because she’d love to take you out for coffee and ask you what you’re reading. Follow her on Twitter or her blog, or check out How We Fall! Kate’s first page critique … Shayde Slaughter stood in the fog-drenched alley, a sour grimace hidden by his ski-mask. The black nylon sheath squeezed everything but his eyes, just wearing it made him feel crazy like it pressed on all the wrong parts of his brain. Like he needed any help in that department. Tucking a plastic water pistol in his waistband, Shayde crept along until he reached the end of the building and peered through the murk. Intriguing first paragraph—you’ve got some really great word choice here. I don’t feel grounded, though. I can’t tell from this if he’s a kid playing a game with his friends, or a man doing something dangerous. Really wonderful first paragraphs have a first line that encapsulates one of the main themes of the book, or a line of action that tells us something significant about the characters (see Gone Girl’s first line!). And then almost immediately we need to be grounded in what that character is doing and why. We can tell he’s in a ski mask sneaking around, but not much else so far, and that makes it a bit confusing. Frowsy streetlights dotted the darkened streetscape. Char-winged bats swooped and flitted through the swirling damp. A lean Ford hugged the opposite curb. Mist tumbled...

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Day Eighteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Dee Romito & Monica Bustamante Wagner
Jul24

Day Eighteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Dee Romito & Monica Bustamante Wagner

Welcome to July’s First Page Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a first page for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the first page critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques … Dee Romito Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | Facebook | Goodreads Dee Romito is an author, elementary teacher, and educational freelance writer. Her middle grade debut, THE BFF BUCKET LIST, will publish with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin in 2016. She blogs about writing at I Write for Apples, where she and her team share tips to help fellow writers. Popular features include the Query.Sign.Submit. interview series with publishing professionals and easy-to-follow Scrivener tutorials. Dee is a member of SCBWI and Co-Advisor of Buffalo-Niagara Children’s Writers and Illustrators. You can visit her website at DeeRomito.com. Dee’s first page critique … I don’t like dead chickens. Or dead anything, really. It’s a long story. The issue here is that we don’t know the connection between the first few sentences and what happens next. You might want to consider starting with the line about the deer staring at her instead. A little mystery is great, but you don’t want your reader confused. Anyway, that’s probably why I found myself perched on top of a rickety ladder at 5:42 a.m. in front of a billboard along Highway 191 just north of Moab, Utah, on what promised to be another cloudless, sweltering day in July. Careful starting out describing the weather- although if you rearrange things, it’s fine in the second paragraph. The deer on the billboard was staring at me. His eyeball was the size of my head, so no matter where I moved, it followed. This creeped me out almost as much as it did whenever I ventured into our garage and all of Dad’s glassy-eyed elk and bison heads tracked my every move. Nice job giving us information in an interesting way. 🙂 “Hurry, Lizza!” Brooklyn called up to me. She was holding the ladder, and I have to say, she wasn’t doing a very good job. The soles of my Toms were worn, so they slid around on the metal rungs every time I even breathed. I was sure I’d fall any minute and end up as 191’s latest road kill. Good details with the Toms and the setting. Without answering, I sprayed a final coat of white over the massive letter “O” that spelled...

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Day Seventeen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors…Stefanie Wass & Holly Faur
Jul23

Day Seventeen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors…Stefanie Wass & Holly Faur

Welcome to July’s First Page Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a first page for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the first page critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques … Stefanie Wass Website | Twitter | Blog | Pinterest Stefanie Wass writes middle grade novels from her home in historic Hudson, Ohio. A member of SCBWI and finalist in the 2012 National Association of Elementary School Principals Book of the Year Contest, her nonfiction credits include the LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, Seattle Times, The Writer, Cleveland Magazine, Akron Beacon Journal, This I Believe, Cup of Comfort, and 15 Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. This will be Stefanie’s second year serving as a Pitch Wars mentor. Stefanie’s first page critique … T-Day Chapter 1 May 2, 2017 Callie, recorded playback If you’re asking me to go back to the beginning, it all started with his digging. After my Mom died, there was so much to do that we just watched Daddy and waited. We were still reeling from her cancer. No remission. No hopeful, cloud-parting skies. Daddy spent a month at home on bereavement leave and then he walked out to the back of our ten acres with a shovel and stayed there. My older brother, Davey, and I were worried, of course, but we were too busy with the laundry and cooking and bills and everything else we’d been doing since Mom got sick. When Daddy didn’t come inside the next morning, I took him a sandwich and a pitcher of sweet tea. I was just fourteen then, but I think now I should have said something. We should have asked him to stop. We should have asked for help. I think your readers will be more drawn into the story if you skip this backstory and start with Daddy digging in the backyard. The reader will wonder what he’s up to and will want to read on. Show Callie’s worry instead of telling us about it. Maybe she’s wearing Mom’s wedding rings…some sign that Mom isn’t around anymore. Instead of telling the reader that Mom died and Dad is acting strange, SHOW this. Get right into the action and open the novel with Dad digging holes in the yard. Daddy was sitting near the edge of a six by six pit and staring at a mound of dirt. White salt lines...

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Day Sixteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Marty Mayberry and Catherine Scully
Jul22

Day Sixteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Marty Mayberry and Catherine Scully

Welcome to July’s First Page Workshop with some of our past and present PitchWars mentors. From a Rafflecopter lottery drawing, we selected many wonderful writers to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a first page for one lucky writer. The writers are anonymous. Follow along all month to view the first page critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques … Marty Mayberry Website | Twitter  Marty Mayberry writes anything from young adult sci-fi to adult historical fantasy. When she’s not dreaming up ways to mess with her character’s minds, she works as an RN/Clinical Documentation Specialist. She has a BA in International Affairs in German and an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. She lives in New England with her husband and grown children, as well as three neurotic cats and a geriatric chocolate lab. Give her a long walk on a powdery beach, an ancient ruin to explore, or a good book, and her life’s complete. Her young adult sci-fi thriller, PHOENIX RISING, was recently named a Finalist for the YARWA Rosemary Award. She’s represented by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency.   Marty’s first page critique … Always keep a suitcase packed. That’s rule number one for being a foster kid. <<If you really wanted to get the reader’s attention with the first sentence, then combine these into one strong sentence. Rule number one for surviving foster care is always keep a suitcase packed. It’s especially the case for me. <<You can voice this up a bit more because this line is a little flat.  In the past fifteen years, I’ve been in twenty-three homes, fourteen schools and four jail cells. Just got out of cell number four last month. <<elaborate a bit here…you’ve got my attention, but you’re almost overloading me with facts instead of showing me who your character is. My current foster mama insisted on nabbing me out prior to the arraignment despite the fact that I told her I wouldn’t mind spending the night—saving her the trip. Wouldn’t be the first time. <There’s a lot of information in this paragraph. While world building is great, it’s often better to ground the reader in a character first, especially if you can do it with voice. So three weeks and about a dozen stern lectures later, including two from my oh-so-pleasant case manager, Foster Mama and I sit side by side in the highly esteemed Carmen County Courthouse located in the prime of bustling Archibold, Kansas, ready for the hearing. <<Break this up. It’s really long and you’re...

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