Day Fifteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Lori Goldstein & Traci Chee/Renee Ahdieh
Jul21

Day Fifteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Lori Goldstein & Traci Chee/Renee Ahdieh

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 … Lori Goldstein Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr   Lori Goldstein, author of BECOMING JINN, was raised in a small town on the New Jersey shore and now makes her home outside of Boston. She has a BA in journalism and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before becoming a full-time author. She currently lives and writes outside of Boston. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, April 21, 2015, Spring 2016). You can visit her online at www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com. Buy Her Book: IndieBound Barnes and Noble Amazon     Lori’s first page critique … “It’s a lie Jackson, everything is a lie. Find the eyes Jackson…They watch us Jackson, the eyes are always watching….” [Hello! Thanks for being brave enough to submit your first page for critique! I’m a copyeditor by trade so I’m going to start off with some CE tips! You need to add commas before “Jackson.” Also, I think you should cut the ellipses. You are quoting what Gramps said and unless you are leaving bits out, you don’t need the ellipses. They are potentially distracting.] These were the last words that Gramps spoke, as his lips [,which had been?] dried by the winds of a thousand sand storms fell silent for the last time. [I’m confused by the “as” phrase. It took me a few tries to get it. Take a look at this and see how you can adjust it so it’s clear. You never want a reader to stumble on the first line. I added something to help, but it’s a voice that falls silent not lips…I wonder if you can start a bit stronger here.] I didn’t expect the words or the death, although the illness had been putrid inside of him for months. [Again, this is a bit awkward. I have to read these sentences more than once to see what you mean. That’s never a great thing and especially on page one. Clarity goes a long way. Be careful with your prose and make sure every word and sentence is as clear as you can make it.] A sickening smell of sourness...

Read More
Day Fourteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Sharon Johnston
Jul20

Day Fourteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Sharon Johnston

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 … Sharon Johnston Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Buy Her Book Sharon is an author of weird fiction and soulful contemporaries from a sunny part of Australia, and recently started as an editor for Elderflower Press and Lakewater Press. She loves shoes, cats, guinea pigs and unicorns. Sharon’s first page critique … Rhea saw red as a fist careened into her jaw. I’m not overly a fan of using ‘as’ in an opening sentence as I feel like it lessens the impact. I love openings to really pop. This one is close, but not quite there for me. “I don’t care if you’re a daughter of the gods,” Erro said, pushing his other hand harder against her throat. “I’ll kill you right now for talking to me that way.” Nice way to introduce some background information. I don’t feel like you need “other” in there. The jeers of the crowd that had amassed in the alleyway behind the tavern grew louder by the minute, but all Rhea could hear was her heartbeat in her skull. I’m someone who is picky with descriptions. Her heart doesn’t pound in her skull, it pounds in her chest. I’d prefer the blood pounding through her skull, in time with her heartbeat, or something like that. As his clutch grew tighter, her airway became smaller and smaller—until she wheezed. Can you find a better way to describe this? For a life or death situation it doesn’t reflect it in the last two-thirds. She could either act now, or die here behind the biggest tavern in the Southlands. She would never see the rest of Remelaun, and her tenure as the Krimsal—a bringer of change the likes of which is only seen once every hundred years—would come to an untimely end. Here you introduced two concepts that are obviously closely linked to the world building, and I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’d get through the action first and then get into the more complex world building. All over a spilled mead. This is one of my favourite lines. I though it injected a really nice bit of humour and helped establish voice. To be fair, the fight...

Read More
Day Thirteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors …  Kara Leigh Miller & Max Wirestone
Jul17

Day Thirteen of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Kara Leigh Miller & Max Wirestone

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 … Kara Leigh Miller Website | Twitter | Facebook Kara lives in Upstate New York with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats. When she’s not busy writing romance novels that leave readers swooning, she’s spending time with her family or attending one of her many writers groups. An active member of The Romance Writers of America and the CNY Writers Haven, Kara is also Managing Editor for Anaiah Press’ Surge and Romance Imprints. She absolutely loves to hear from her fans and fellow authors, so feel free to drop her a line anytime! About Kara’s Book… He’s fighting to forget his past while she struggles to remember hers… Doctor Josh Parker lives with guilt about his wife’s death every day. He believes himself incapable of ever loving again, but when a mysterious woman arrives in the Emergency Room, brutally beaten and left for dead, he starts to feel something he hasn’t felt in far too long: hope. Alessandra Matthews has no memory of the events that led to her being hospitalized. Worse, she has no idea who hurt her or why. Although she’s uncertain of who she is, she is fully aware of one thing—she’s falling for her doctor. Sometimes, what you don’t know can kill you… As Josh and Alessa work to solve the mystery surrounding her past, she soon realizes just how much danger she’s really in, but Josh refuses to let her face the darkness of her memories alone. With each of them struggling to put their pasts behind them, theirs is a DANGEROUS LOVE. ADD TO GOODREADS AMAZON B&N ANAIAH PRESS Kara’s first page critique … Smoke and sulfur billow up my nose from the frothy mess and stink of demon death. (Dig deeper here. HOW does it smell? Let your readers experience it, too.) The torrential downpour I’d created, by blowing up my spaceship in the atmosphere, (Aw, why don’t we get to see this?) dissolves the army of demons sent by Hell to kill me. This is a fantastically dark opening! 🙂 It certainly makes me want to keep reading, which is good. I spread my arms, and tilt my face to Jupiter, the gas giant forever looming...

Read More
Day Twelve of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors …  Jenni Walsh & Lisa Maxwell
Jul16

Day Twelve of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Jenni Walsh & Lisa Maxwell

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 …   Jenni Walsh Website | Twitter Jenni L. Walsh is an author of YA fiction who has spent the past decade enticing readers as an award-winning advertising copywriter. Her passion lies in transporting readers to another world, be it in historical or contemporary settings, and her latest project tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s. Jenni is a proud graduate of Villanova University, lives in the Philly ‘burbs with her husband, daughter, and goldendoodle, and is represented by the fabulous Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. She’s a contributor to the newly-formed Kick-Butt Kidlit blog. Jenni’s first page critique … Dust swirled around Coop’s head like pollution, clinging to his hair, skin, and eyelashes. Grit lined his nose and tickled his throat, irritating at times. I like that you open with a visual and emotion, but if you can show his irritation, it’d add to the visual. Also the “at times” threw me a bit. Are there times where he enjoys the grit? Also, right off the bat, I’m wondering if he’s inside or outside to complete the picture. I’m a very visual reader. But Mac kept reminding him restoration was an art form, a way to bond with the vehicle. I’d like to see this dialogue—done quickly—for a few reasons. 1) The way it’s phrased now leads me to believe that Mac would have an interesting voice. 2) The dialogue could help establish Mac’s age if based on his choice of words. We learn later that Mac is an old man, but at this point, I thought it was a kid around Coop’s age, and 3) A few lines later Coop remarks that Mac is famous for topic changes. That idea will come across stronger if we see the random flip flop in dialogue. Coop cut the sander off, and ran his gloved hand across the fender. Admittedly nitpicky thought: he’s wearing gloves, so why isn’t he wearing safety goggles? Less nitpicky thought: what’s going through Coops head. Sure the grit is annoying to him, but—if he’s running his hand over the fender—is...

Read More
Day Eleven of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Stephanie Scott & Brighton Walsh
Jul15

Day Eleven of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Stephanie Scott & Brighton Walsh

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 … Stephanie Scott Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Goodreads Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult for teens and those young in spirit. Her debut ALTERATIONS is set for release by Bloomsbury Spark. She’s an active member of Romance Writers of America and its online YA chapter YARWA. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. One current life goal is to cosplay Hoth Leia from The Empire Strikes Back. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about TV and all things books on twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA Stephanie’s first page critique … Where was a time-traveling DeLorean when you needed it? Not here. Not in tiny Armario. Kathryn considered this problem. Oh, to be anywhere but here. Yet here she was for the millionth time – okay maybe the hundredth – outside Winston’s Ice Cream Parlor, searching for him. I really like this opening. I wonder if you could, without going overboard, add any detail to time/place; is it daytime and hot out, is the shop in a small town downtown, or in a mall? Also, can you name the ‘him’ or is there a reason the identity is left as a mystery? An annoying breeze lifted her tangle of curls every which way as she peered through the store window. She scrutinized the mass of customers and rolled her reliable skateboard back and forth. Nine times to be exact. The nine times detail shows so much. Nice. Inside, a glint of sunlight reflected off a shiny napkin holder. Not a smudge on it. Impressive. Red-and-white-striped clerks sponged sticky counters and swept up litters of straw sleeves and soiled napkins. Several classmates huddled at a back booth. Two blond heads. Great. The Watson twins. Too bad there’s no disinfectant to wipe clean the entire crew, Curls, the voice echoed inside her head. She shook away the words, probing further the crowded creamery while avoiding the curious gazes (including the icy glare of Isabella Watson). Kathryn refused to lose her focus;...

Read More
Day Ten of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Jenna Lehne & Kate Karyus Quinn
Jul14

Day Ten of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Jenna Lehne & Kate Karyus Quinn

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 …   Jenna Lehne Website | Twitter Jenna Lehne is a writer/reader (heavy on the reader) from a small town just outside of Calgary, Alberta. She spends her days hanging out with her new baby, Jasper, lurking on twitter, patting the dogs, and bugging her husband. In her stolen minutes, she absorbs all things horror and drinks all the tea. Jenna’s first page critique … Usually I can’t hear them fighting, but something’s different today. They’re louder, more forceful. Tension fills the air Fills the air in her room? Or where her mom is at?, forcing me to pull my headphones off, put my book down and sit up. If the fight is intense enough for her to hear it with her headphones are on, then it’s something I’d want to read more about. Is she hearing a car pulling up and her Mom already starting to freak out? Since we don’t see the fight until after this paragraph, I’m not getting a good idea of what is disrupting the MC. It’s not that I really want to listen, I have to. Living here’s like walking a tight rope, one misstep and BAM – you’re falling. That’s a great line. Things get ugly fast and I have to be ready for it. “Where the hell have you been all night?” Mom’s voice echoes through the foyer, and the front door slams. “Who the fuck do you think you are? I’m a grown man. I can do what I want, when I want.” Mom’s boyfriend yells back. The “when I want etc.” makes the boyfriend sound like a teenager. His name is Derrick, but his friends call him Derk. As for me, I call him Jerk, but not to his face. I’m not stupid. And saying Jerk has “friends” is a huge exaggeration. Most of them are on his payroll. Saying “on his payroll” makes me think mob/mafia. Are they all a bunch of mobsters or are do they just work for him at a restaurant or something? They put up with him because they want a paycheck. I put up with him because of Mom. Though, getting some cash for dealing...

Read More
Day Nine of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Laura Heffernan & Helene Dunbar
Jul13

Day Nine of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Laura Heffernan & Helene Dunbar

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 … Laura Heffernan Website | Twitter Laura Heffernan is a California-born women’s fiction writer, represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary. One Saturday morning when she was four or five, Laura sat down at the family’s Commodore 64 and typed out her first short story. She’s written both fiction and non-fiction ever since. In her spare time, Laura likes travel, baking, board games, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and new experiences. She lives in the northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.   Laura’s first page critique … Margaret Whitefield faltered when she saw [Try to avoid filter words like “saw.” It may be better to say something like “Margaret faltered at the end of…“ Without that, you’ve got an intriguing opening line, because I want to know where the hallway is going and why it’s making Margaret falter] the long hallway. The worst days of her life had begun just like this – a seemingly harmless journey down an ordinary hallway. [Try to avoid saying “hallway” at the end of two sentences in a row. It’s better to vary your word choice a bit. Also, there are no spaces on either side of an em dash.] Margaret sighed. Why should today be any different? Addie tugged at her mother’s hand. She half-stepped, half-skipped along the corridor. Her Tinker Bell backpack swished back and forth on her thin shoulders. [I like this detail.] Addie pointed at the bright posters, decorating the walls of Coal Valley Elementary School, but Margaret noticed none of them. [If she doesn’t notice them, then how is she pointing them out to the reader? Since we’re in Margaret’s head, we shouldn’t see anything she doesn’t notice. Ignored might be a better word.] She couldn’t stop watching [other] parents say good-bye to their children. Mother and daughter located the kindergarten classrooms at the end of the hall. A menagerie of brightly colored animals bloomed on the walls, and the entire area vibrated with childish voices. [This is good description. I can picture this moment perfectly.] Addie’s teacher stood at the classroom door. She welcomed Addie and introduced herself as Miss Hall. [I’m torn, because this is telling, but...

Read More
Day Four of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Roselle Kaes & Jeanmarie Anaya
Jul06

Day Four of July’s First Page Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors… Roselle Kaes & Jeanmarie Anaya

Welcome to the July 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 … Roselle Kaes Website | Twitter  Roselle Kaes is passionate about food and her Chinese-Filipino heritage. Inspired by her late great grandfather, she wrote HUNGER as a tribute to him. She completed the manuscript with major revisions and the help of her critique partners. She is a graduate of Humanities and History at York University. When she is not writing, she is embroidering, illustrating, and chasing after her husband, daughter, and fluff beast of a cat on the north shore of Lake Erie. Roselle’s Critique… Silence echoed around the empty waiting room. (This opening line lacks punch/dynamic power. You want something memorable and something that sets the tone for the rest of your MS. Write an impactful and unique first line to catch your reader’s eye.)            What the hell had possessed her to think she could do this? Possibly the most important meeting in her entire life, and she’d chosen to come alone. (When you start off with a tense situation or anything that puts your MC into a stressful corner, you want the reader to have stakes involved to get the biggest payoff. Right now, since it’s the beginning, we know nothing about Bree yet for the payoff to happen. Context would have been a bit more preferable in the opening. I’d almost want to start your MS with the great internal monologue you have below.) ‘Brianna Mills?’ asked a woman, popping her head around the door. Bree forged a smile, one she’d practiced far too many times. ‘That’s me,’ she answered, her voice sounding a little too cheerful. ‘I’m Mrs. Newman, one of the post adoption team members here. Can you come this way, please?’ Mrs. Newman walked along the corridor to another room, as drab and unwelcoming as the waiting area (This is telling. You need a description here. Right now, the setting is very nebulous. You would want sensory details- anything to establish a descriptive setting that puts the reader right into Bree’s world), and seated herself behind a large desk piled high with papers. ‘Please take a seat, I won’t keep you a moment,’ she told Bree while rummaging in her paperwork and files. Bree...

Read More