Pitch Wars Contest: Mentee Chosen

After receiving more than 90 applications from prospective mentees in my third year participating in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars contest, I have chosen my mentee. (We did not get to have alternates this year.) I wrote over 55,000 words of feedback and critiqued every query letter and set of sample pages that came into my inbox.

Congratulations to Lynn Forrest, whose Adult urban fantasy THE MEASURE OF A MONSTER actually made me like a story about bloodsuckers and detectives, featuring queer characters and absolutely beautiful writing. I will be reading her entire book, shining up her query letter, and helping her craft a short pitch for the agent round of the contest.

You can see all the mentors and mentees here.

Hopefully, I will be able to post with agenting news for Lynn before long! But for now, as always, it’s back to work.

Pitch Wars Contest: Team Chosen

After receiving over 100 applications from prospective mentees in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars contest, I have chosen my team of one mentee and one alternate. I wrote nearly 60,000 words of feedback and critiqued every query letter and set of sample pages that came into my inbox, but when all was said and done, there could be only one.

Congratulations to Megan Paasch, whose New Adult fantasy CHARLOTTE ELEMENTAL impressed me with its premise and melted me with its heart. I will be reading her entire book, shining up her query letter, and helping her craft a short pitch for the agent round of the contest.

Congratulations also to Natalka Burian for becoming my alternate. Natalka is the author of EVERYTHING IS FLOWING, a rather strange and beautiful literary novel with speculative aspects, and its evocative prose has already moved me to tears twice. I will be helping her with her short pitch and first chapter for the alternate showcase.

You can see all the mentors, mentees, and alternates here.

Hopefully, like last year, I will be able to post with agenting news for my team before long! But for now, it’s back to work.

Pitch Wars Contest: Mentor Wish Lists Announced

I’m a Pitch Wars mentor in Brenda Drake’s contest this year.

More than seventy mentors have volunteered to accept applications from aspiring authors. We have posted our wish lists and mine is posted over on my blog (if you didn’t know, my Blogspot author blog is chattier and more active; this site primarily posts the biggest news and milestones).

Authors who are trying to get an agent will read our bios, find mentors who are accepting what they write, and apply to us. We’ll pick an author (and an alternate) and help them refine their pitches and spit-shine their manuscripts.

I hope I get to meet some amazing authors, and I’m anticipating some great opportunities for whoever becomes my mentee. 🙂

Pitch Wars Contest: Mentee Success

I’m so excited! As a mentor in the Pitch Wars contest, I was tasked with picking one author out of the slush to prepare him for the agent round, and that I did. I read his book, massaged his pitch, and released it to the wild.

That book got one request from an agent during the bidding window, and she asked for the full manuscript.

Two days later, she offered representation.

My mentee signed with her today.

My Pitch Wars mentee–now known as Whitney Fletcher–is the newest client of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency. He has entrusted his urban fantasy–working title, QUEEN OF SHARDS–to the capable and enthusiastic Lana Popovic. And it was all made possible by little old meeeee, and Brenda’s Pitch Wars contest. Huzzah! I’m so proud of him.

May his submission adventure go well!

You can read a more involved explanation of how everything happened on my blog.

Pitch Wars Contest: Team Chosen

After receiving over 70 applications from prospective mentees in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars contest, I have chosen my team of one mentee and two alternates. I wrote over 40,000 words of feedback and critiqued every query letter and set of sample pages that came into my inbox, but when all was said and done, there could be only one.

Congratulations to C.B. Whitney, whose urban fantasy QUEEN OF SHARDS sucked me in with its ex-valkyrie protagonist and its mythological fantasy with heart. He is my main mentee and I will be reading his entire book, shining up his query letter, and helping him craft a short pitch for the agent round of the contest.

Congratulations also to Ryan Glover and Jessica Harvey for becoming my two alternates. Ryan is the author of MCTAVISH, an urban fantasy about a very odd military academy that turns out to guard an otherworldly secret, and Jessica is the author of GYRE, a New Adult contemporary fantasy containing Atlantis myths and a hip protagonist with teleportation powers. I will be helping them with their short pitches for the alternate showcase.

The contest was so fun. I managed to trick my main mentee into thinking I wasn’t considering his book until he saw his name on the list. You can read the full story about how I tortured the poor guy–and all the fun we had–on my more whimsical version of the story on my blog.

Pitch Wars Contest: Mentor Wish Lists Announced

I’m a Pitch Wars mentor in Brenda Drake’s contest this year.

More than forty mentors have volunteered to accept applications from aspiring authors. We have posted our wish lists and mine is posted over on my blog (if you didn’t know, my Blogspot author blog is chattier and more active; this site primarily posts the biggest news and milestones).

Authors who are trying to get an agent will read our bios, find mentors who are accepting what they write, and apply to us on December 2. We’ll pick an author (and a couple alternates) and help them refine their pitches and spit-shine their manuscripts.

I hope I get to meet some amazing authors, and I’m anticipating some great opportunities for whoever becomes my mentee. 🙂

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013, Quarter-Finals: Stupid Questions

The 500 quarter-finalists for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award were announced today, and for the first time since entering in 2011, I didn’t make the cut. I’m actually surprised because I thought I had a better chance at making quarter-finals than I did at making the second round; usually my writing is stronger than my pitching skills. But even though my reviews were not particularly negative, I’m guessing either my reviewers graded me harder than their reviews indicated OR I just had a lot of excellent competition.

My critique partner and friend J.C. Fann did make the quarter-finals and I’m very proud to have been involved in helping prepare the book for the contest, so if you’re interested in downloading and reading/rating/reviewing the excerpt, here is a link to The Queenschair!

And if you’d like to see my reviews and analysis of the comments:

Continue reading

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013, Second Round: Stupid Questions

Stupid Questions advanced to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.  I am one of the 2,000 left of the original 10,000 entrants.

Now my first chapter goes on to be read by two Amazon judges.  I’ll get rated and reviewed.  If I pass, I will be one of 500 left to be named quarter-finalists.

This year I was sleeping when the results came in and a friend who is also in the contest had to tell me I made it. Haha. (We both got in. It’s going to be disappointing when either of us gets cut, but I think it will be really sad and weird if one of us gets cut before the other.)

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013, Entering: Stupid Questions

I decided to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition for the third year in a row, but I am doing so with my newest novel: Stupid Questions.

This contest’s a little weird because if you win you have to sign their contract with full knowledge that it can’t be negotiated. Once when I heard agents talk about their clients entering it, one of them said “I wish her all the best but I hope she doesn’t win.” There’s still a lot of good stuff to be had in the experience of entering, but yeah, that “you have to sign the contract no matter what” thing does give me pause. Oh well. I entered.

This book is the shortest one I’ve written, and it’s in one of the adult categories—science fiction—instead of the YA category like the last two years I’ve entered. I don’t know how well I’ll do here, since I have a suspicion that my story arc could be interpreted as a navel-gazer of a romance rather than a book with a plot, but we’ll see if I make it through to the second round.

The contest has changed this year in that it no longer offers a chance to win a publishing contract with Penguin.  It is now a traditional publishing contract through Amazon’s publishing group itself (not the same one that handles self-publishing, though), and there will be FIVE winners—one in each category—with one of those five winning a larger advance. The international Amazon contest stops taking entrants once it hits 10,000 people.  Each of us has to send in a pitch statement, a bio, an excerpt, and a full manuscript.

The second round will involve the 10,000 entrants being cut down to 2,000 Second Round competitors based entirely on our pitch.

This is my pitch statement:

Camera guy Nick Harris lives in a rational world—or so he thought. He’s no longer sure what’s real when the enigmatic Summer Astley appears on his news show displaying genuine telekinetic powers . . . and a charming smile. As mutual attraction brings them together, Summer reluctantly trusts Nick with her secret doubts and heartbreaking loneliness, leaving him puzzling over how to chase a down-to-earth romance with a girl who can fly.

But Summer isn’t the only one with unusual abilities. Nick’s got a knack for understanding other people—sometimes to the point that he accurately guesses their thoughts. Summer, eager to connect with someone like herself, presses Nick to accept that his “good people skills” are far from ordinary, but Nick isn’t buying it. And he certainly doesn’t want it to be true. After all, being too perceptive creeps girls out and gets guys dumped.

As a strained long-distance relationship develops between them, Summer and Nick face shared challenges and personal demons. Summer struggles to balance her supergirl public image with her love life, and she fears getting attached in the wake of a recent loss. And Nick feels disconnected communicating across state lines without the subtle cues he’s used to—not to mention he may be unable to handle the occupational hazards of dating a super-powered celebrity. As they learn what it will take to keep their unsteady partnership alive, these exceptional people find themselves asking as many questions as they answer.

With a refreshing lack of superhero hijinks, Stupid Questions presents an everyday romance between extraordinary people. Combining science fiction elements and an original male perspective, the story breathes new life into the classic “boy-meets-girl” scenario. Readers who prefer romance without a side of fluff will appreciate this authentic character-driven tale of outsiders yearning for connection.

Come and Get It! Contest: Finalists

So, as a judge for Cupid’s Come and Get It! Contest, I had to choose four finalists out of the original ten entries I was given.  The judges all agreed that it was a rough choice.  I was pretty highly critical of all my entries and gave a LOT of feedback, and I really hope it’s helped everyone—not just my four finalists—in their search for an agent.

My final four (“original entry” links to where you can read my comments; “finalist” links to where you can see if agents bid on them):

I must say it was an interesting experience being on the other side of the fence in a contest.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, though.  It took some time, effort, and energy, but I was very confident in the entries I chose and enjoyed giving feedback.  If anyone wants to ask questions about my feedback, let me know.  I’m an open book!

In a nice nerdy blog post, Kristy Shen has analyzed the chosen entries and processed the data on genres overall, genres by judge, and age groups.  Very cool~!