Day 44 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Amelinda Berube, Alicia Clancy, and Juliana Brandt
Jul11

Day 44 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Amelinda Berube, Alicia Clancy, and Juliana Brandt

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 Amelinda Berube Twitter | Instagram | Website Amelinda Bérubé is the author of UNDER THE ICY LAKE, a YA ghost story coming from Sourcebooks Fire in 2018. She’s spent the last ten years as a writer and editor with the Canadian public service, prior to which her career path meandered through academics, carpentry, and administrivia. Amelinda is a passionate fan of YA, SFF, and all things spooky and is delighted to be on the other side of the contest curtain for the first time!   UNDER THE ICY LAKE by Amelinda Berube A former dancer’s grip on sanity starts to slip when she begins to think a dark entity is stalking her and craves her life. Coming 2018 from Sourcebooks Fire. Goodreads     Amelinda’s Query Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Romance Thanks to Brenda, Heather and the PitchWars team for a chance to share some thoughts on a query! My suggestions are in [square brackets] below. To the courageous author: As with any critique, my comments and ideas are yours to take or leave or adapt as you see fit. Query writing can be exhausting and horrible (I lost count of my own query swaps somewhere past 20) but try to keep an open mind and a willingness to play with it. You got this! Dear Agent, (One personalized sentence) [I’d recommend adding any personalization with the “housekeeping” at the bottom. I’ve seen multiple agents saying personalization isn’t actually that important to them, so I’d get right to the part that they’re most interested in, namely the story, and include this less critical info further down. The one exception might be if you’re responding to a specific MSWL tweet or a contest request, but you can often flag that in the subject line anyway. It can feel really weird and counterintuitive to just jump into your pitch...

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Day 44 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Amanda Rawson Hill, Cindy Baldwin, & Sarah Nicolas
Jul11

Day 44 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Amanda Rawson Hill, Cindy Baldwin, & Sarah Nicolas

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 Amanda Rawson Hill and Cindy Baldwin … Website | Twitter Cindy Baldwin is a Carolina girl who moved to the opposite coast and is now gamely doing her part in keeping Portland weird. As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of someday writing just that kind of book. Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin . . . Add it to Goodreads HarperCollins has acquired Where the Watermelons Grow, a debut by Cindy Baldwin. In this middle-grade novel, 12-year-old Della will do anything to cure her mother’s schizophrenia and keep her family together – even if it means asking for help from the eccentric Bee Lady, and making up from her worst-ever fight with her best friend. Publication is slated for summer 2018. Website | Twitter Amanda Rawson Hill grew up in Southwest Wyoming with a library right outside her back gate (which accounts a lot for how she turned out.) After graduating high school, she attended Brigham Young University where she recieved both her MRS degree and her bachelors degree in chemistry. Today, Amanda lives in the central valley of California with her husband and three children. She loves to homeschool, garden, knit, play the piano, sing, and embarrass her family when she dances.   Amanda and Cindy’s Query Critique . . . Cindy is in red. Amanda is in blue. AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Fantasy When unrepentantly single programmer Hammond falls in love with a woman named June July August, he learns that Summer is a place where magic still lingers. I’m torn on the efficacy of this logline. I don’t really feel like it is doing the work you need it to and that it’s creating confustion later on in your query. June enjoys sketching while naked, loves waffles, and was...

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Day 43 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Gabrielle Byrne and Lisa Amowitz
Jul10

Day 43 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Gabrielle Byrne and Lisa Amowitz

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 Gabrielle Kirouac Byrne … Gabrielle lives in the rainy wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where she writes fantasy for middle graders. Gabby studied opera in Philadelphia, medieval studies in New York, literature in Scotland, and marine biology in the Pacific Northwest, but writing stories is the common thread that ties all her interests together. She has a degree in literature and another in environmental studies. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her fishing spineless critters out of the Salish sea with her husband and two daughters. She is represented by Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management. Gabby blogs at www.thewingedpen.com  She tweets at @GKByrne, and posts on instagram at gabriellek.byrne Gabrielle’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Contemporary Romance Dear Agent, NADIA AHMADI is a successful CEO of a not-for-profit organisation in New York. His Royal Highness PRINCE CARLOS is the crown prince of Aragon. While on an official visit to New York, Carlos notices Nadia giving a speech at the United Nations headquarters. He’s struck by her self-assuredness and passion. He asks to meet her again, with Nadia assuming it’s related to her organisation. The two of them meet up again and Nadia’s shocked to learn the prince is more interested in her than a business meeting. Nadia’s quick to judge Carlos as a rich billionaire who doesn’t care about anyone but himself, but she soon realizes there’s more to this prince then she first though. Carlos finds Nadia’s honesty refreshing and wants to get to know her more. Carlos persuades Nadia to give him a chance and their mutual attraction soon leads them spending the limited time they have before Carlos must leave the United States getting to know each other. When Nadia is given the opportunity to travel to London for work, Carlos arranges to meet up with her. But with paparazzi following their every move will a relationship with a prince jeopardise her organisation, something she’s...

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Day 43 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Michella Domenici and Lisa Amowitz
Jul10

Day 43 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query and First Page Workshop with Mentors Michella Domenici and Lisa Amowitz

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 Michella Domenici Website | Twitter Michella Domenici was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She studies English and History at Fordham University. When she’s not reading, she’s drinking tea and searching for mermaids. She works at the Brooklyn Public Library, and is represented by Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency. Michella’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Young adult GENRE: Contemporary Dear [agent’s first name], Tito Pablo and his husband Craig were the only family seventeen year-old Sim Francisco has ever known ever since Sim’s birth parents died in a car crash more than ten years ago. Pablo unexpectedly dies on All Saint’s Day, and soon after, Sim begins to hear his uncle’s voice in his head, suddenly speak fluent Filipino without realizing it, and see and relive Pablo’s former life as a teenager in the Philippines in his dreams. Sim believes that Pablo is asking him for help with…something. Or someone. The latter proves true when, while unboxing a bunch of mementos his uncle has left for him, Sim finds a printout of what appears to be a part of an email love letter that Pablo sent. Pablo’s husband, Craig, finds out that the letter is definitely not for him. Afraid that he will lose his family for a second time because of what the letter implies, Sim enlists his friends Harper and Nina to hack into cyberspace to locate the rest of the letter, properly translate it, find its recipient, and hopefully clear Pablo’s name. Sim’s search leads him to Angelo “Santi” Santiago, who is also seventeen years old and living in Manila. All Santi wants is to move out—of the house, even out of the country to go to college abroad—in order to escape his mother, who doesn’t approve of his “lifestyle,” and his father, who doesn’t seem to care for him at all. Good thing...

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Day 42 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Kelly Hopkins and Neal Chase
Jul07

Day 42 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Kelly Hopkins and Neal Chase

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 Hopkins Website | Twitter Kelly has a Bachelor’s degree (Magna Cum Laude) in English/Secondary Education from Marywood University and a Master’s of Education degree in School Library and Information Technologies from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. She’s a Creative Writing teacher and school librarian. She has lectured at Keystone College on Celtic Mythology and will be presenting a workshop on Perfecting Query Letters and Pitches at their Gathering Conference in July 2016. Kelly lives in NE Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and three rescue horses. Kelly’s Query Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Young Adult GENRE: Urban Fantasy Sixteen-year-old Azrielle Grave is [Changed font to italic.] one of the things that goes bump in the night. Except this cockatrice [Is she a dragon? A cockatrice is a mythical creature. If so, you will want to make sure the reader understands her duality.] isn’t a hunter anymore, she’s the one being stalked [by whom? Or what?]. The exposed [How] supernatural world is at risk of extinction thanks to special agencies created by humans to terminate the threat [Why is the supernatural world a threat to humans?] . A semi-voluntary recruit, Azrielle trains to infiltrate behind enemy lines [Who is the enemy?] in an underground academy. But the death toll [Humans or supernaturals?] is rising too fast and she is being sent on an undercover assignment [What is the assignment? Who is sending her?] now, years before she’s ready. . [Think about the basics of good query design: character, conflict, and stakes. Another thing to consider is your genre. If this is urban fantasy, where is this story located? It feels more straight fantasy here especially if most of the story occurs below ground or in an alternate Earth.] Raid Ameen is determined to do his part to save humanity. A weapon’s expert at seventeen, he enjoys putting bullets into...

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Day 42 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors,  Austin Siegemund-Broka, Emily Wibberley, Kristin Smith & Beth Ellyn Summer
Jul07

Day 42 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Austin Siegemund-Broka, Emily Wibberley, Kristin Smith & Beth Ellyn Summer

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 Austin Siegemund-Broka, and Emily Wibberley Emily’s Twitter | Austin’s Twitter Austin Siegemund-Broka cowrites YA contemporary with Emily Wibberley. A former journalist for The Hollywood Reporter, where he covered the courts and, yes, met a couple celebrities, he graduated from Harvard in 2014 with a degree in English and a focus on Shakespeare. Emily Wibberley grew up in Southern California, but instead of working on her nonexistent tan at the beach, she spent her time reading, making music and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She attended Princeton University, where she graduated in 2014 with a degree in Psychology. She and Austin now live and write YA contemporary together. Their debut, UPSTAGED, publishes from Puffin in 2018. They live in Los Angeles. Upstaged by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley Pitched as a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, about a teen girl who always winds up playing the Rosaline in her off-stage relationships – the girl before he finds “the one” – but when cast as Juliet in her school play, she begins to notice the Romeo she never expected. Goodreads Austin and Emily’s Query Critique . . . AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: Fantasy Not even Razsha the Ruthless is surprised when nobles call for her death. What does surprise her is the accusation of killing two chieftains. Now she must keep her wits as sharp as her swords to get the elimination order rescinded. [Great opening paragraph. Tension, character motivation, a little wit, and immediately comprehensible conflict] Since a noble can roam a person’s mind the way tall ships roam the sea, Razsha approaches a noble to barter for his mediation with the clans. [Mind-roaming is a very cool idea—clarify though the connection to mediation. Is it mind-reading or mind-manipulation?] Krovdan’s not just any noble; he’s the enforcer of the most powerful clan. [Why does Razsha go to him? Because he’s the enforcer? Is there another...

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Day 41 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Gail Villanueva, Isabelle Adrid, & Heather Cashman
Jul06

Day 41 (Part 2): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors, Gail Villanueva, Isabelle Adrid, & 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 Mentors Gail Villanueva and Isabelle Adrid … Gail Villanueva is a Filipina author based in the Philippines. She runs a design studio with her husband in the outskirts of Manila, but also does freelance copywriting on the side. When not in front of her computer coding a website or writing a story, you’ll find her in the backyard, playing with four dogs, five ducks, a chicken, a turtle, and a cat. Gail writes upmarket MG, both historical and contemporary, and with elements of magic. Her fiction is represented by Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group. Find Gail: Twitter | Website Isabelle Adrid is a YA author who writes contemporary fiction with speculative elements. She is also an avid reader of MG books. She was born and raised in San Diego, and she currently resides in the Philippines. When she’s not writing or reading books, you’ll find her binge-watching TV shows, movies, and Korean dramas. Her work is represented by Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary and Management. Find Isabelle: Twitter | Website Gail and Isabelle’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Young Adult GENRE: Dark Epic Fantasy Dear _____: I am seeking representation for my YA dark epic fantasy with a Middle Eastern-inspired setting. Seventeen-year-old resistance fighter Sidara has a wit as sharp as her sword [Sidara sounds like a cool heroine, one who isn’t your stereotypical damsel in distress. But who is Sidara apart from her sharp wit? Is she a princess? A soldier? A magic user? A commoner? A blacksmith? An assassin? Specifying what makes Sidara special will also help set the tone of your query. We will have no doubt it’s a fantasy, because right now, “resistance fighter” and “sword” alone gives us historical vibes instead of fantasy.]  and nothing left to lose [While “nothing to lose” can give the impression that Sidara has something going on that brought her into such state, it would...

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Day 41 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors Naomi Hughes and Kellye Garrett
Jul06

Day 41 (Part 1): Pitch Wars Query & 1st Page Workshop with mentors Naomi Hughes and Kellye Garrett

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 Naomi Hughes  …   Website | Editing Website | Twitter Naomi Hughes has been a freelance editor for a little over three years, as well as occasionally serving as an Assistant Editor over at Entangled Publishing. She’s also a YA/MG writer herself and loves to hide sneaky fandom references (Doctor Who! Pacific Rim! Sherlock!) in her quirky speculative fiction stories. She lives in the rural South with her husband, daughter, and a border collie named after a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender. You can follow her on Twitter at @NaomiLHughes.   Naomi’s Query Critique… AGE CATEGORY: Adult GENRE: SCI-FI Dear Pitch Wars Query Mentor, Izzy Rodriguez’s life is unraveling fast. [This isn’t the strongest opening sentence; it feels similar to the very common “Xyz character was normal until” opening in that it could describe pretty much any main character from any story. Try getting us immediately into the specifics of her conflict instead by starting out with something like “When x happens, Izzy Rodriguez must do y.”] She will soon lose her job and her mentor, and may be forced into servitude. To save her freedom, Izzy must campaign to become the next leader of the moon base. [This feels like a potentially super cool premise! However, it’s not clear why exactly campaigning is her only alternative to forced servitude, so I’m left a little confused as a reader. To make this feel like a snappier logline type of opening, try shortening it into one streamlined sentence that gives us a succinct overview of the conflict before you go into more depth below–otherwise, it feels like this is simply the beginning of your story rather than its logline, which is where the confusion results. A good logline might be something along the lines of “Locked in a heated political race on a desolate moon...

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