Tag Archives: Pitch Wars

My First Pitch Wars Book Recommendations

25 Mar

A long, long time ago in a headspace that feels far, far away, I promised I would write about some of the books whose journeys’ I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of through Pitch Wars. It’s time to make good on my promise. Or at least begin. I haven’t used this space for recommending books before but, to be honest, it’s more fun than writing about writing. Especially now as the muse and I don’t commune very often these days.

It was a joy and honor to beta read for other writers in Pitch Wars. We were all hopeful and all working toward the same goal. We cheered each others’ victories and empathized with each others’ sadness when things didn’t go so well. As I read, there were books I knew–KNEW–would find representation and land on bookshelves someday. My instincts about others’ writing (at least) is something I still have confidence in, and I’m happy to say my instinct has been proven correct over and over again.

Herewith, two of the books I loved and believe you will, too.

FORGET ME NOT by Ellie Terry

Ellie and I beta read for each other very, very early on, and it felt like serendipity because our characters actually had a lot in common and we had some common themes in our stories. Her story was unique, and different from mine, in other ways. Two standouts: 1) the book was written half in verse and 2) her main character has Tourette syndrome. The way she wove those two facts together blew me away. You see, the half written in verse was from her main character, Calliope June’s, point of view. Poetry was the perfect vehicle to show Calliope June’s tics as well as her thoughts and fears. The other half, from the point of view of her new friend, Jinsong, who struggles to face the social pressure that comes with being her friend, is in prose. Each fits the voice of their respective character perfectly. This book is beautiful in it’s simplicity and deeply empathetic and realistic portrayal of fear and the power of friendship.



This story has something I love – a deliciously creepy feeling. Set in London, it already feels like an intriguing adventure even before the paintings come to life. But when they do–watch out! As Bryony’s family secret unfolds and she races to save herself and the terrorized people of London, you will be on the edge of your seat. It is quite a feat to create a story that is immediately relatable and entertaining to a young audience yet weaves in fine art, classic literature and history. I knew when I read it, this book had that magic combination that would entrance agents, editors and readers alike.


Both of these books can be ordered at Amazon (via the links in the headings or book cover photos) or through other booksellers online or in your neighborhood. If you prefer to use the library, ask them to order a copy if they don’t already have one in their inventory.

If you enjoy book recommendations, I promise to return with more. Soon.

The Journey Continues

22 Jan

Well, I’m gonna answer your first question first. No, I don’t have an agent (yet!) But there’s still some good news.

I had realistic expectations going in to Pitch Wars, as 1) I had been through it before, and 2) I knew my manuscript was not a hugely commercial one. So, I was truly happy to get a couple agent requests. (Not gonna lie, though, those first hours with zero requests for me while other pitches got literally dozens was rough.) I happily sent off my manuscript to the requesting agents, knowing it might be a while until I heard from them. No biggie.

But then, the offer frenzy for other writers’ manuscripts began and I basically had to stick my fingers in my ears and repeat the artist’s mantra to myself over and over:

Keep your eyes on your own page. Keep your eyes on your own page. 

All that commotion consumed many of the agents and those of us who didn’t have a ton of requests knew we’d have to wait a little longer for our work to get read. That’s okay. Just the way the business works. The challenge of being in Pitch Wars is that you see so much going on for so many people and it’s easy to feel you’re the anomaly even when you aren’t. The best part of being in Pitch Wars is gaining dozens of new writer friends at once, who really get you and who are going to battle just as you are. It’s awesome to cheer each other on and they inspire me daily, both my mentors and fellow mentees. Pitchwarslogomentee

My fellow mentees inspired me so much that, against my better judgment, I entered #PitMad. With a hard-to-pitch book. And I got five requests! Three were from editors which I prefer to hold off on until I get an agent, but two were agents. And one of them has already requested the full. I’ve already gotten some rejections from others and that’s okay. It’s part of the game. I’m querying others as well.

Meanwhile, on a whim several months ago, I wrote a poem and submitted it to a literary journal…AND IT WAS ACCEPTED!! I’m excited to share more details very soon. Tee hee.

The lesson for me is to keep following my gut, trusting that things will work out in due time, not in my time. To stay focused on what I can control. To keep creating, keep pitching, keep submitting, and most of all, keep learning. I hope, no matter how rewarding or frustrating your year was last year, you’ll do the same. Happy 2018!

Returning to Battle: Second Time’s a Charm?

6 Sep

I’m doing it again! Pitch Wars, that is.  And can I tell you how excited I am?

It really happened!

I feel more fortunate than ever.  Because with Pitch Wars, the odds are most definitely not in your favor. This year, Brenda Drake’s epic contest garnered the highest number of entries yet–somewhere around 2600.  That makes the odds of getting in about the same as getting into the Ivy League. (!!)  But if you do get in, the odds of getting an amazing, super-cool, loves-you-like-their-own mentor is extremely high. These mentors are in it for the love, man. They love writing, they love writers and they love helping you make your manuscript the best it can be.

I’m thrilled to have Cass Catalano and Shauna Holyoak as my mentors this year (yeah–I got two! Bonus!) Together with me and my fellow mentee, Gaye Sanders, we are Team oMG. For the uninitiated, MG means middle grade, which means readers typically between 8 and 12 years old. I love writing MG because those years are such a pivotal time in life. It’s exciting and scary, and books can be a great companion, helping you figure it all out.  Actually, that sounds like me, now, with my mentors!

oMG squad hug

Seriously, although I entered hoping to get the opportunity to put my work in front of some top-notch agents, no matter whether I connect with one or not, I know I will get something hugely beneficial out of Pitch Wars this year: a community.

I first entered Pitch Wars three years ago and I gained a lot, including becoming a stronger writer, but most beneficial was the community I became a part of. Our group of over 80 mentees is still in touch, supporting each others’ writing and celebrating each new book published by one of us. And so far, there are a lot!! That deserves a separate post, which I promise I’ll do soon. I also connected with a super-supportive mentor, Lisa Lewis Tyre, whose writing I love. You can check out her debut novel, Last in a Long Line of Rebelshere and she’s got another book, Hope in the Holler, coming out in early 2018.

This year’s Pitch Wars class is turning out to be incredibly supportive and fun. I’m loving being a part of this group and am learning everything I can from them as well as Shauna and Cass. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about–taking my writing to the next level so that (hopefully someday) my words will be out in the world, touching the hearts of children.

The next step is revising, revising, revising and honing my pitch for the agents. I’m ready to take on the challenge!

Prepare for battle

Dear 2015 Pitch Wars Mentees

26 Aug

*Update: Welcome to my stop on the blog hop! To find links to the other bloggers’ posts, see the bottom of this one.*

Congratulations on making it in to PitchWars 2015! Welcome to the club and what an awesome club it is. I am in awe of my brilliant 2014 PW peeps. But what does being in the club really mean?

You might be hoping it means instant fame and one miiiiillion dollars.

Okay, not that exactly, but that success (insert fireworks and champagne here) is on the horizon. It might be, but it’s impossible to know how long that journey will take. To be sure, it’s good to look at the horizon every now and then, to keep that distant vision in your heart and stay on course. The trouble with the horizon is it never seems to get any closer. And that can be really daunting, even paralyzing, at times.

So my advice is to spend most of your time looking at the road right in front of you or in your rear view mirror.

When you focus on the next mile or even just the next ten feet, you know you can do it.  Deepening that secondary character? You can do it. Pulling out a minor plotline? You can do it. Just keep putting one step in front of the other.

Then, after a while, take a look back. Looking back allows you to see and celebrate what you’ve accomplished so far. And it can give you the fuel you need to take that next step when you are worn out. Because no one tells you that even the best manuscripts have to be revised 8,452 times.

Lastly, don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s. You do you.

If I had known the odds last year, I probably wouldn’t have entered. Looking back, I’m glad I did. I’ll bet you’re glad, too. Now get going on that journey and make the most of every step.


To read more words of wisdom/terror/ hope from the writers of the PitchWars 2014 class, check out these links:

Amanda Rawson Hill: On Doubt and Hope

Jennifer Hawkins: Last year at this time, I was you…

K. Kazul Wolf: Congrats on getting further into the insanity…

A.B. Sevan: Swimming with the Big Fishies

Tracie Martin: What No One Tells the PitchWarrior

RuthAnne Snow: 2014 Pitch Wars Mentee here, looking to offer…

Rosalyn Collings Eves: Most of you are probably sick with dread

Janet Walden-West: The Long Game

Destiny Cole: Yup, I’m talking to you…

Kelly DeVos: Confessions of a PitchWars Alternate

Mary Ann Marlowe: First things first…

Mara Rae: I’m going to keep it short and sweet…

Jen Vincent: Last year, on a complete whim…

Nikki Roberti: 3 Things You Need to Know

Anna Patel: Don’t Panic

Erin Foster Hartley: I’ve been putting off…

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

1 Jun

tortoiseWow, It’s hard to believe that last post was in September. Now that many moons have passed, it’s a good time to take a look back, see what I’ve accomplished creatively and look at where I go from here. Let’s see…there was:

September, in which I gained a mentor and lost a stepfather

One of the many benefits of #PitchWars is that I got a mentor (Yay!)  Even better, she’s a super-awesome writer of middle grade fiction who lives in the South. (Like me!)  Her name is Lisa Lewis Tyre and her book, Last in a Long Line of Rebels, comes out this Fall. I can’t wait to read it! If you like to read tween/teen stories or you know middle school or upper elementary readers who do, you can pre-order it here now. Anyway, Lisa loved my story and was so encouraging, while still giving me lots of feedback and suggestions for adding flavor to it. I was thrilled to work with Lisa.

But often when one hand giveth, the other taketh away.  At the same time this exciting thing was happening with my writing, my stepfather was fighting for his life against a brain tumor. It came out of nowhere in August. By the end of September, he was gone. I spent more time with my extended family in that month than probably in the last five years combined. And every minute was worth it. There are some things that are more important than writing, and it’s a good thing to remember that, especially when you are living in rejection-ville, as happens when you are querying.

October, in which I learned how bad I suck at queries

You’d think that putting together one short paragraph that hooks the reader and gives them the basic concept of your book would be easy, especially when you’d already written a whole book. You’d be wrong.

I wrote, got feedback and rewrote those three paragraphs approximately 8,332 times and finally settled on something. But you never really know for sure until you throw it out there.

November, in which I got two full requests(!) 

So maybe I wasn’t so bad at queries. I wasn’t great but I ended up with a couple partial requests from PitchWars anyway (Yay!) And, I got another outside that, too (Yippee!) Then, I got a rejection (Boo.) But then…I got two follow up requests for full manuscripts. (Yahooo!)

December, in which I read a lot and tried to pretend I wasn’t waiting for anything

The header says it all. The waiting stinks. And, as you hear of others landing agents even during the holidays, it’s hard to convince yourself that you just haven’t heard anything from agents yet because they just haven’t opened your email.  But it was good to read a lot just for pleasure. I haven’t indulged in that nearly as much as I’d like in the past year.

January, in which I stopped waiting and jumped back into the race

I started querying in earnest but slowly. And I started getting requests, especially when I included sample pages, which means hey, my writing doesn’t suck. But the process of finding an agent who is just the right fit is often a long one. 

Since then…

I’ve gotten more rejections and I’ve gotten more requests. I’m sticking with it, listening to the encouraging feedback I’m getting from agents and fellow writers, and improving my work.

I have to give myself credit for all I accomplished. I…

1) finally finished the book

2) did well in a couple contests and got some notice

3) got a fabulous mentor

4) learned how to revise and produce a polished end product

5) got some agent interest

And what got me these accomplishments was: to just keep doing the work, step by step, and find the joy in that. To make my writing the best it can be and keep putting it out there. Slow and steady wins the race (I hope!)

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