Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bait and Pitch Thursdays Week 2: Query Pitch!


Note: If you’re here looking for fishing tips, you’ve come to the wrong end of the blogosphere.

Thanks to everyone who came out last week and participated in the very first Bait and Pitch Workshop! There was some AWESOME progress made thanks to everyone’s hard work. And appreciate all the positivity and encouragement you guys showed. It’s really important to me that everyone feels like this is a safe place to share their word babies and work hard.

Okay, this week we are working on QUERY pitches. That means you are giving us your best pitch paragraph on a single manuscript and we will give you our communal feedback. 

Read the full list of rules with all their glorious explanations here

Important Lesson From Week One: If we get more than 200 comments (which is AWESOME!) you may find that your comment does not "appear." Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click "Load More" to see more comments. 

The Rules

Bait and Pitch is open to ALL fiction categories
This is open to manuscripts of any status. 
One pitch per week as a comment to THIS post. 
You post, you crit. 
You edit, you critique again.
If you revise, post it as a REPLY to your original pitch. 
Critiques must include AT LEAST one piece of positive feedback. 
Don’t be an asshole. Don't tell people what YOU think their pitch should look like. Rather, tell them what works or does not work for you. 
If you cross the line, *I* will critique your pitch in a similar manner. K? *grinz*

Formatting Your Pitch

NAME: The Jackal  (bonus points if you get this late 90s/early 00’s TV reference)



PITCH: This is where you will write the pitch paragraph from your query. Please limit it to no more than four sentences. Really, if you go beyond that, your pitch paragraph is too long. No, really; and don’t be getting all crazy with the semicolons to fit in extra sentences—you know who you are.



  1. Name: Talynn
    Category/Genre: YA Fantasy
    Title: The Grave Clothes Laundress


    The night Kaleah Fabiana’s boyfriend died, her nightmares began. Needing to understand his death and the terrifying dreams, she’s driven to discover the truth. She travels to all the places revealed in her dreams, which takes her to an underground labyrinth where she meets Elijah, the grave keeper.

    After Colton starts talking to her in her dreams, and sending her mysterious messages about the truth her nightmares hold, she confronts him. He ignores her questions, instead offering her a job as the grave clothes laundress. As they spend more time together, roaming underground catacombs and searching for clues to her boyfriend's death, Kaleah falls for Elijah.

    When her dead boyfriend appears in her dreams, begging her to join him, Kaleah is torn between a love she promised till-death-do-us-part and the romance she's kindled with Elijah. As long as she is by Elijah's side, her boyfriend stays out of her dreams. But now someone else is in her dreams, someone who wants to hurt her. Elijah knows how to stop the nightmares.

    It's as simple as dying.

    THE GRAVE CLOTHES LAUNDRESS is a mash-up retelling of Romeo and Juliet and The Phantom of the Opera. It’s complete at 52,000 words.

    1. Hi Talynn. I liked your first sentence, but I could use a little more information to understand what "truth" she's looking for in the second line. If the need to understand the death and the dreams is what makes her travel, could you take out the "she's driven to discover the truth" part and combine the second and third sentences? This is an interesting premise, but I think a clue to what makes her boyfriend's death suspicious (other than I presume he's young) would draw me into it more. good luck!

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    3. I remember this from the 35-word pitch from last week. This sounds awesome! I think you have done a really good job with this, but as Geni P mentioned above, understanding how and why her boyfriend died, it will heighten her stakes. I like the last couple of sentences. They really make me want to ask for more! Good luck!

    4. I think the premise sounds great.
      In the first line maybe state that the night her boyfriend died 'in a freak accident' or mysteriously. Are the nightmares reliving his death or dreaming of new places? I like premise but it seemed a little vague> i wondered about the dreams. Also is colton the boyfriend?

      (maybe consider the night kaleah fabiana's boyfriend -Colton- died mysteriously, her nightmares began. Teh dreams reveal fragments of his death. Needing to understand, she's driven to discover the truth. She travels to ... rest of the paragraph is fine.

      Now i was confused. Did Colton offer her the job> or Elijah? the grave keeper. in the second when you say he ignores her questions the He aludes to the last person you reference which would be Colton? Then she explores the world with Elijah and falls hard. Then death comes for her.

      I love the premise, it could be really creepy. I just need to clarify what was going on a bit.

  2. Name: Victoria Davenport
    Genre: YA science fantasy
    Title: Ember
    Four sentence query pitch:

    Living in the slums of exile, 17-year-old Falcon and her family—a pack of street-rat kids—rely on cunning, blades, and the grace of corrupt drug lords to survive in the toxic sludge heaps. Amarathines, a race of humans believed to be descended from the gods, are killed and harvested for the ancient magic that runs through their veins—magic that has the power to preserve life. The long-running racial tension between humans and amaranthines erupts into violence, and half-amaranthine herself, Falcon becomes a target. But as the pack fights their own war, the rebel Order has plans to ignite another—to reawaken the century-old rebellion and start a second Great War among all four empires.

    1. Hi Victoria. You have managed to get a lot of information out up front, and I think your description of the "family" in the first line gives a good picture of the kind of story that's coming. I think it would help me to have Falcon's half-amaranthine status earlier in the pitch; otherwise, I invest in Falcon and then read a lot of what's going on without realizing it applies to her. With as much information as you have here, I think it might be helpful to shuffle her identity forward to help the reader stay focused on who they are cheering for as they read. Good luck!

    2. Hi Victoria,
      I love reading all the premises, they sound awesome.

      I think the first line is great. it gives a great setting to the pitch. I agree with Geni identifying her status a bit earlier would help. to know what the conflict is. Maybe change around and mention the long standing tension first and how she is a target and then mention why. I did wonder at the end though who the order is? Is that the humans? maybe say the human order or i got lost at the end. Sorry if any typos, i dont edit myself when i crit lol!

    3. Victoria,

      Really interesting pitch. I actually used "street rat" to describe my slum MC in my last novel, and I really think it is a great term to use here. First line is great, but it gets a bit muddy as you get into the details of the race war. Try to boil down the next two lengthy sentences so that we can focus on the important part, which is that Falcon is a target.

      And the last sentence isn't necessarily wrong, but it does seem wordy. I had to remind myself who you meant by "pack" and you introduce the rebel Order without much context. The stakes are a little abstract, but they are there. Maybe, since you've already gotten the reader invested in Falcon, you should keep the focus on her and make us care about her personal stakes. Generally, personal stakes are going to trump world war/total destruction stakes in a pitch, every time.

      But I'm being nit picky, of course. Really interesting story, and the pitch did hook me quickly. Great job!

    4. Hi Victoria, I enjoyed your pitch. I like series like Percy Jackson that include "half blood" people. Personally I think you could end it at Falcon becoming a target. It leaves you curious, and the current ending is a little wordy. Good luck!

  3. Name: Geni P
    Genre: YA magical realism (or contemporary w/ a touch of fantasy? I'm open to discussion on this.)
    Title: EDEN
    Query pitch:

    When Lucy Mason discovers a magnificent garden beyond her grandmother’s hedge, she thinks she has heatstroke. When she meets handsome, intelligent Isaac in the garden, she thinks she’s in love.

    But Lucy doubts the garden’s existence when she returns to the real world, where her grandmother’s disappearance, her high school crush’s reappearance, and her imminent departure for college vie for her attention. Compared to her sharp realities, Isaac and the garden feel like dreams.

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    2. You've created a nice picture of the inciting incident, and of the contrast between the garden and her real life. It's a place I'd like very much, but the pitch needs to be tightened to make room for telling the stakes. I should note that I have struggled with the same issue.

      You might start by combining the first two sentences by combining finding the garden and the man she's drawn to, as well as her belief that the whole thing is an illusion into a single, coherent thought.

      What needs to be added is: Is there something preventing her from getting back to the garden? What happens if she doesn't get back there?

    3. I love the garden idea. I think the pitch sounds great, the only thing i need is the stakes. Why is it important other than for love? does anything happen if she doesn't go back to Isaac to her grandmother? other than that, it reads awesome. Character, conflict, consequence. Isn't that the three main C's of pitches/queries in general.

  4. Name: Leoma Retan
    Category/Genre: Adult Fantasy
    Query Pitch:

    When invasion from beyond a forgotten portal threatens, five-hundred-year-old elf Erissa, aided by her fifteen-year-old daughter Radha, must unite the elves and humans, magic-users and technologists driven apart by the Cataclysm that destroyed technology, or witness the destruction of everything she loves by an invading army of mechanically-enhanced humans.

    Erissa lives among the humans, far from the forests of her own people, preparing her half-human daughter Radha and herself for a war nobody else expects while she searches for the fiery weapon revealed in the prophesies that guide her. When Radha finds a stranger with sword wounds but no signs of a battle, and then vision-dreams about a monstrosity with mechanisms augmenting his limbs threatening humans like her stranger, Erissa knows the foretold invasion is imminent. Unless she can heal her own heart and restore her connection to her family she has no hope of bridging the antagonism between factions in Fyrnlosing. Without united action against the invaders, Fyrnlosing will fall, taking with it all that she loves.

    1. First off, this sounds really interesting. Anything fantasy, and I'm there. Your opening paragraph really lays out the stakes for your MC. But I think there might be a better way to express it to cut down on the word count. Also, you might be able to get a way with not mentioning the daughter's age. Double check your commas, for example after "threatens".

      There's a lot of information in paragraph two, and it get's hard to follow right in the middle. It might help if you break up the sentences a bit so it easier to follow and really focus on what is REALLY needed so we get an understanding as to what's important. I do like that she must find a way to unit with the other species to fight against the invaders. That's a nice element!

    2. This is definitely adult! I have read so much YA and MG lately, this made me smile. Just that.

      I thinks the first paragraph works as a pitch all on its own.

      Otherwise it reads as a summary before you go into more detail. For the query. I would think the second paragraph would be where you start to give more details.

      five hundred year old elf Erissa lives among the humans, far from the forest of her own people preparing her half human teenaged daughter Radha. I was confused with the second line and had to read it again. I think you mean that the war nobody expected. otherwise it threw me though as i read i realized she saw it. Then you state sword wounds with no signs of battle (aren't the sword wounds themselves signs of battle?) Then at the end put without united action by the elves, humans magic uses and technologists, fyrnlosing will fall. taking... etc.
      I do like that you have the stakes and name your world. Hopefully this helps. let me know if any questions.

    3. Name: Leoma Retan
      Category/Genre: Adult Fantasy
      Title: SONGS OF CHANGE
      Query Pitch:

      When invasion from beyond a forgotten portal threatens, five-hundred-year-old elf Erissa, aided by her half-human daughter Radha, must unite the elves and humans, magic-users and technologists driven apart by the Cataclysm that destroyed technology, or witness the destruction of everything she loves by an army of mechanically-enhanced humans.

      Erissa lives among the humans, preparing Radha and others for an invasion foretold by her mother. She has no idea when the prophecy begins until Radha finds a stranger with sword wounds in a peaceful valley, then dreams about a half-mechanical warrior threatening a human resembling him. Unless Erissa can heal her own heart she has no hope of bridging the distrust between the factions. Without the combination of their talents, the invaders will sweep across her homeland, destroying everything she loves.

    4. Oh i like this redo. much better.

    5. Thank you so much. I've struggled a lot with my queries and badly need feedback to make them better.

    6. That last comment was meant for both of you, Monica and Colleen. I appreciate all help.

    7. Oh no problem.! The second is really good. I like the concept and I feel your pain regarding doing the query over and over.

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  6. Name: M. M. Hoffman
    Category/Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Title: Evolution: Dauntless Hope

    In 2112, set in a nation split between two species on the brink of a second war, Hope’s power to control water, fire, earth, and air is the key to saving the Unies—super-humans—from extinction. It’s a secret kept from her until her forbidden love for a human boy threatens the Unies’ last chance for survival.

    Hope thought she had everything she wanted the day she set foot in Brander High after years of home-school. For the first time she has a BFF and a hot telepathic jock has a crush on her, but her straight-laced life goes from cheery to crazy the night she and her BFF hide their identities to sneak into a Los Angeles night club. There she meets a handsome and mysterious human, Tristan.

    1. I read this pitch and first 250 in pitch slam so i am cheating a bit.
      I love the premise. This actually explains a lot more than your pitch did about the species and i really like it. I love that you worked in the mention of tristan. I did have a question.who is the hot telepathic jerk? is that NOT tristan? does she have dual love interests?

      In the query, I was hoping for a little more though. how is her power the key to their survival and why would her love threaten that. From Pitch slam, i got that she would have to be a human(er Unie sacrifice) thus losing her chance at love. maybe incorporate that into this.

    2. Hello Colleen! Glad to see you on this! I limited my query to 4 sentences but I can email you the rest of it so you can see the entire query letter. But to answer your question, Hope does have a dual love interest.

    3. I like the first half of your query, it catches my eye. The other half doesn't give me the same feel. Is this mysterious human the one she falls for?

    4. Interesting concept. I like the Airbender elements and the idea of a paranormal high school. There is a lot happening in these few sentences.

      I'm confused on the category of Urban Fantasy. There is a suggestion that she goes to a normal people club, but most of these lines feel like they are set in a separate universe. It doesn't feel like it falls in most of the urban fantasy books i have read.

      Is the telepathic jock a Unies? I'm not clear on why her relationship with either a human or a telepathy would affect her ability to use the four elements. My impression was that it was her power over the four elements that would save the Unies not her child or something that might be threatened by her love of a human.

      I believe you could erase the mention of the jock because he does not seem as important as Hope's interest in Tristan.

  7. Name: Philip Ray
    Genre: New Adult Science Fiction
    Title: Born of Relics

    Go ahead and add Edison to the growing list of recent college graduates who can't find a job. His shiny new degree in Xenoarcheology is fantastic for uncovering ancient alien artifacts on distant planets, but terrible for finding employment. Fortunately for him, he stumbles upon the crew of the Hermes: raggedy group of freelance miscreants comprised of a disgraced military officer, his daughter, a clumsy robot, and a socially awkward alien engineer. They’ve come to Edison because they desperately need his help.

    Why would they need the help of a young, naive xenoarchaeologist? Their mission is to find the Eye of Trafalgar - The most sought-after ancient relic in the galaxy. As Edison seeks the Eye for fame and stardom, he must ally with these nefarious space pirates without becoming too distracted by the captain’s feisty daughter. Together, they aim to delve into dark, ancient alien cathedrals to illuminate a culture lost to time. Yet, dangers plague their quest as they must also avoid a bounty hunter hot on their trail.

    1. I enjoy the concept of Xenoarchaeology to begin with and anytime there is a ragtag group of "anything" going up against "the man", I'm "in". I enjoy you introducing the idea that simple "present day" issues, like unemployment in the wake of a decent education, will indeed be universal and ongoing. Though, I'm not necessarily "comforted" by it. ;)

      The way you've laid it out, makes for an interesting intro and has me wanting to learn/hear more...Although, I might not be qualified to offer a critique, I appreciate you sharing...Best Wishes.

    2. I think this reads great. The only thing i would add is the stakes. I can see what he wants. but What happens if they dont find the Eye of Trafalgar? Why are the miscreants after it, why now? I love the romance element.

      At the together line, i would put that as a separate paragraph. This third paragraph would be the perfect slot to add in stakes.

      together, they aim to delve into dark, ancient, aline cathedrals to illuminate a culture lost to time. But Edison doesn't know that if they don't find it... Etc. just suggestions. The writing is really good!

    3. Ha! I love this. First of all, I'll say this is one of the few NA spec fics I've seen where the story actually seems to qualify as NA (beyond the MC being in his early twenties). The concept is clever as hell and it sounds like a fun story. As for your query, I think it could use a tiny bit of cleaning up.

      For your first paragraph, I think the first and second sentences are redundant to each other, and the first sentence made me double check your category because it read like contemporary NA. Maybe try reading the query starting with the 2nd sentence (i.e. - Edison's shiny new degree...) and see if you think the query loses info or emphasis that way. In the sentence where you list the raggedy group, I know the daughter mentioned is the disgraced officer's daughter, but only because I read the rest of the query and know she's a possible love interest for the MC. On the first read through, it made me take a beat wondering if Edison had a daughter because of the comma placement. I've read it several times through and I'm not sure if it's just the way I read it or if there is even a good solution to make it clearer. Maybe, '...comprised of a disgraced military officer, the officer's daughter, a clumsy robot...'? Not sure.

      I really like the info given in the first paragraph. It establishes the characters and the setup very well.

      About the rhetorical question to start para 2: This is a pet peeve for so many agents, it seems counterproductive. I think you could better incorporate the 'young, naive' comment into the next sentence. I.E. -'Their mission is to find the Eye of Trafalgar—the most sought-after ancient relic in the galaxy—and they need a xenoarchaeologist young and naive enough not to ask too many questions.'

      I think it's very characterizing that Edison is willing to jump at this sketchy opportunity for chance at fame. Kudos there. However, fame and stardom are synonyms and probably one or the other would do the trick. I like the hint at a romance, very nice how you slipped that in there. Also, love the detail about ancient alien cathedrals. It gives instant imagery.

      I agree with Colleen that the stakes aren't as apparent as they could be. I realize Edison, as the young, naive Xenoarcheologist, might not know what the rest of the crew wants with the Eye, and I think that's okay, as long as we know what Edison wants with it(to make his name). But I definitely think it would benefit you to add a little bit more specifics about the dangers/consequences they face.

      'Together, they must delve into dark, ancient alien cathedrals to illuminate a culture lost to time all the while avoiding a bounty hunter who...' '...wants to claim the discovery for himself.' '...means to take their captain dead or alive, stranding the rest of the crew.' Or whatever would happen if the bounty hunter caught up to them.

      Great concept and great query! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Name: Jessica
    Genre: ya Sci-Fi
    Title: Gifted
    Name: Jessica
    Genre: YA Sci-Fi

    David, a gifted warrior,and his best friends Leah, a future seer, and Missy a healer, find themselves in a fight to save life as they know it. A nearly century old conspiracy has surfaced and it’s looking like David's family can be traced to the root of it. Leah has just willingly thrown herself into the hands of a supposed killer and guaranteed mad scientist. And Missy, a typical people pleaser, has just got herself all kinds of tangled in a love triangle. Er... square. Can there be a love square? Needless to say, this is not the school year they were expecting.
    Dr. Cyrus Blaine claims that he can take the human brain from accessing one gift, to using them all. The teens soon learn that the side effects of his so called miracle injection are far worse than anyone had anticipated. Risking their lives behind enemy lines, the friends discover they are capable of doing anything to protect each other and their way of life. New friends bring a shift in the trios dynamic, and while old love interests heat up, new ones are formed.

    1. This sounds like an interesting premise. What I would suggest to tighten this query, I would focus on one of your characters and mention the other briefly. I'm also not sure why the teens are the ones fighting which made this sort of confusing. And I think you really need to lay out the stakes at the end. What does David want? What does he have to do to get it? What is standing in his way? I like that you have inserted the antagonist. Gives it a good balance. Good luck!

    2. I like all premises!
      Now to make the query. I would tighten up the stakes. I like the first two lines. I didn't understand what the third line had to do with anything. Leah has just willingly thrown. That one. What does that have to do with the first two lines? is the killer Dr Blaine? and is that who she threw herself at? and is it romantic?
      I like the line Er... Square. can there be a love square.

      Then you mention dr Blaine is that the century old conspiracy? I was just a bit confused. Clarify that and you're doing good.

    3. Thank you for your feedback! Working to make more replies right now. Here is a new version of my pitch focusing in on my MC.

      In a world where everyone is born with a gift, Leah's is vision.
      Torn already between her need for freedom and her desire for friendship, a chilling vision of the future forces Leah to choose.

      Dr. Cyrus Blaine claims that he can take the human brain from accessing one gift, to using them all.

      Leah quickly learns that the side effects of his so called miracle injection are far worse than she had anticipated. She must risk her life behind enemy lines, to protect her friends and their way of life.

    4. Oh, That totally changes the whole story, I thought David was your MC. This is much clearer, I am still a little iffy on what the chilling vision of the future is. It sounds interesting though!

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  12. Name: Dan Freeburg
    Genre: MG Fantasy
    Title:The Fly-By-Knights
    Pitch: “The Fly-By Knights” There’s a small orange orchard nestled in a far-off corner of Northwest Florida. The farm is inhabited by a rag-tag motley collection of birds. These classic-underachievers all aspire to bigger and better things. They are sub-contracted by a parcel delivery service, headed by a stern and underhanded Eagle,named “Sal”, and his 2 “Crow-nies” (crows – “Ace and Deuce”). Our beleaguered bunch use the orchard’s converted crop duster (at night) to make deliveries. Short local runs around the Southeast.

    Sal decides to “downsize” and pulls their contract, calling them a “fly-by night” operation and leaving them jobless. Because of the competition from bigger companies all seems lost for our friends. Delivery comes to a halt and their base of operations (the orchard’s hangar) is stripped (by Sal and the crows) of all packages, SAVE ONE. Left behind, among the old orange crates, is found a package marked “TOP SECRET”. Its address. . .the White House.

    Thinking this their last chance to save their business, our crew decides to make the special delivery themselves. They must fly their broken down plane,against the odds. A rough Everglades, an impending Hurricane, a meddling former-boss Sal, who puts them in further peril when he notifies the military and the President of an “unauthorized” plane heading for Washington. Not wanting to look like he dropped the ball, by non-delivery, Sal makes it look like the crop duster has less than good intentions. The military scrambles to send fighters to intercept the plane. The nation is put on “lock down”. Unbeknownst to anyone involved up until now, there are other problems beginning to take shape. In the waters off the east coast of the United States.

    1. I like the premise. I love that the characters are not human. This reads as a comic to me which i find fun. I could see it as that. my only comment is the ending. You are trying ot be mysterious but you just end up being vague. Up until then you tell everyone exactly what is going on. then end. there is something in the waters. I would clarify what they are fighting but the stakes are clear. Good luck and any questions. let me know.

    2. There are 3 more paragraphs to this, but after reading others submissions, I thought it might be to lengthy. Here they are if you'd like to take a look:

      A small submarine controlled by a Rogue Evil Commander (Abidab Ahdoo) and his crew have been sitting and waiting with plans of his own for our nation’s capitol. He’s also been watching the drama of our heroes playing out via the internet. Thinking this the “perfect” diversion, the Evil Commander decides it would also be his best opportunity to carry out a diabolical attack.

      The nation watches as our heroes unwittingly become news on every major syndicate. The nation watching spellbound. Because of faulty communication equipment aboard the old, small plane, the pilots mistakes the fighters jettisoned to stop them, as a convoy meant to escort them personally. Just then, the Evil Commander decides to seize this opportunity to begin an attack. . .

      ”Feathers Fly”. Outsmarting everyone,”accidentally” thwarting the Rogue Commander’s plans and with some nifty flying-the Knights make the delivery. The Commander and his crew are captured. Sal is exposed and fired, the country is safe and the President receives the package. . . postmarked for last Christmas.(It’s July). He opens it to find his Grandmother’s Homemade Fruitcake. Oh yeah, so impressed by their bravery, grit and determination, the President names the Knights the new “Ministers of Defense”. . .

      I'd welcome any additional feedback. With regards to the "comic" comment. Yeah, I was a toy designer for 5 years and a large majority of what I "think up" would fall into the animation/graphic novel arena. I'm also the illustrator. Both this idea and "The Willies" that I submitted last week are fully illustrated, in terms of character development. Just no story boards. Still deciding (trying to figure out) how best to introduce or pitch my ideas and "where" to do it. Thanks for your consideration.

    3. ...and I understand there are some spelling and grammatical issues...sorry

  13. Name: Colleen
    Genre: NA Paranormal Romance
    Title: REMEMBER
    Query Pitch:
    Madness swept the Earth, killing nearly everyone. The alien Imani crafted the madness for just that purpose and collected those of interest to them from the remains. Coree was one of those chosen. As they learned about her, she learned of them. And when she came too close to their secrets, their genetic code, the Imani attempted to dispose of her.

    But they failed.

    Coree lived through the magic of the new world and her own kindling powers. She survived to find herself with wild elemental magic, strange tattoos and no memories of how she got there. She stumbled into the Fost, the Imani’s ancient enemy. And unwittingly, she stumbled onto another key that could lead to the Imani’s destruction.

    The Imani couldn’t have that. Coree had to die along with anyone who dared shelter her.

    To save the people she’d grown to love, Coree must master her own abilities and above all…she needed to remember.

    1. Wow this sounds great! I would maybe change the last sentence to present tense, (she needs to remember). I like how you set everything up in the first paragraph, it was easy to follow. I really enjoy the voice in this as well. Good job!

    2. I agree with Monica entirely. I would add that you set up the "visual" really well, while leaving most of it to the reader to interpret for themselves. I could "see" the Earthly wasteland. I started to visualize what they might look like. Most importantly, I could "feel" her peril, given the situation...Nicely done.

    3. This sounds really interesting. I got a little lost between her being disposed of and the new world. Maybe you could tighten it up a bit so there is not so much to follow?

  14. Wow this sounds great! I would maybe change the last sentence to present tense, (she needs to remember). I like how you set everything up in the first paragraph, it was easy to follow. I really enjoy the voice in this as well. Good job!

  15. Name: Phil Stamper
    Genre: YA/Contemporary

    Query Pitch:
    In Pawhuska, Oklahoma, it ain’t uncommon for high schoolers to slip out and get drunk at a bonfire. Imogen sneaks out for another reason: to chase tornadoes. Sure, It’s not the safest hobby for a seventeen-year-old, but she has no time to waste. Diagnosed with a disease that could leave her blind in a matter of years, she’ll take any risk to follow her dream of being a storm chaser, even though she could lose much more than her sight.

    1. This is great! I love the voice and you really laid this out nicely! I know we are only limited 4 sentences, and you've have explained everything in those 4 sentences. We know who your MC is, what she wants and what stands in her way. And I like that you have two antagonists. A tornado and losing her vision! Good luck!

    2. I love your last sentence. It lays out the stakes beautifully. I'd suggest two things that would make the query even better for me. The first is that I have a problem with using "ain't" unless it's in dialogue. I think you're trying to show the voice of your main character, but I still find it jarring. The second is that you're second sentence would have more punch for me without the colon construct. For me, the last two sentences are much stronger than the first two.

    3. I really like this pitch, it makes me really interested to read the full story. The one criticism I have is, to me, the voice in the first sentence doesn't match up with the last sentence. I'm not sure if they have to, though, because there might not be a way to convey that voice why giving all the great info in the last sentence. I disagree with Leoma, and think "ain't" should stay.

  16. Raven hudgins
    YA Paranormal Romance
    Death Callers

    Changing fate is hard, but it's even tougher for a banshee.
    Eighteen year-old Aislin Gray has just experienced the worst thing in her high school life, seeing the death of her true love. Going against everything she has been taught, she fights to save his life. With each new vision, she becomes desperate to change his fate, irrevocably starting a war.

    1. Cool idea.
      The first thing I noticed is that you might want to change the name of your main character. Aisling Grey is the main character of Katie MacAlisters dragon series.

      I am a little confused on how she can see her boyfriend die and then fight to save him. You have a very interesting concept there, I think. Having a detail or two instead of the vagueness would be much more interesting.

      The idea given is that saving his life will start a war and that Aisling is totally cool with that. Does she really know that saving him will cause a war? That seems like an extreme result in exchange for one person's life. I think some more details on how this happens could be interesting to know.

    2. This could be really interesting having an MC who is a banshee, and I like the premise of fighting against destiny/fate, but is there any way to maybe add more detail about this war? With pitches (queries) I think you should be allowed more words than what you are using, so maybe another paragraph about this to help give more detail?

  17. Hi Raven,

    Sounds like an interesting premise. You've done a good job of keeping your pitch short and succinct, but I think there are a few places where we can swap vague details for real information. The line with the death of her true love needs to say or imply that it didn't actually happen yet. As the sentence stands now, you're saying she saw him die, and the reader is going into the next sentence thinking he's actually dead.

    First lines: I don't actually think your fate hook works here, just because it's a little blunt. How is banshee..ism related to the story- are there multiple of them in the school? Or is Aislin the only one? How does being a banshee actually make it harder to change fate? You could make this a bit smoother by trying to find a way to drop it in there subtly.

    Along those lines, going against "everything she's taught" doesn't mean much to me, just because I don't know what she's been taught. It would be great if you replaced this line with something about how "It's strictly forbidden for a banshee to interfere with fate, but Aislin can't let him die." You get what I mean? In this way, you've introduced the bansheeism, better explained what she's been taught, and shown the conflict between her and her teachings.

    I do feel the desperation with Aislin through the next line (yay!), until she starts the war. It's a bit abstract, but if you'd like to keep the war as her stakes, I need to know why and with whom, mostly. I assume it's with the ... banshee overlords? Joking, but it's somehow related to her bansheeism, right? Explain the parties involved and what, exactly, will cause this war.

    Okay, sorry for rambling, but hopefully you get my point. You have good information here, and a blueprint for a perfect pitch, you just have to take out the words that don't hold any power, and replace them with the right facts that we're missing. Keep it up! :)

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  19. Name: Shari Schwarz
    Genre: MG Adventure
    Title: THE LEDGE

    When two teenage brothers end up alone in the Northern Colorado mountains, the dangers of the wilderness and a near-death experience set up the mystery that soon unfolds. THE LEDGE, a 37,000 word action/adventure MG, explores the boys' diverging paths that lead to the discovery of a family member they never even knew existed.

    THE LEDGE is set apart from other outdoor adventure books by the realistic look at a near-death experience.

    Sixteen-year-old Jack and his thirteen-year-old brother, Bryce, have a major case of sibling rivalry and are sent to Grandpa’s remote mountain cabin for a bonding trip. Problem is, Grandpa was supposed to accompany them, but he got sick and the boys have convinced him they can go alone. Jack wants to be rid of adult supervision while Bryce wants to hone his budding survival skills—and impress his big brother.

    On the way, the dangers of the wilderness confront them—a raging river, trapping wild animals, and even a bear encounter, to name a few. When one of the boys has a deadly climbing accident and crosses into the afterlife, the other brother risks his own life to save him. Their separate journeys of self-discovery lead them to a long-buried secret at the root of their strained relationship. On the far side of the mystery lies forgiveness that they never thought possible.

    1. I like the premise a lot. For me the core seems to be that their love for each other transcends the issues between them, and even death. That's what should be in the first paragraph, which sets the tone of the entire query.

      For me, it's less important that they are in Colorado (which is a place that's very dear to me) than that one of them dies and the other risks everything to bring him back. That's an exciting story. I liked that you told me the conflict and the stakes, you just did it too late in the query. I suggest leaving out the second paragraph (you say it far more powerfully in other places) and the part about the Grandpa, who doesn't seem to have a big part in this since he didn't make the trip.

      Bottom line - figure out what the heart of the story is - I can see it in what you've already written - and remove the rest. Best of luck with this.

    2. I like the idea of the outdoor adventure, but the part I am most intrigued about is the discovery of a family member they never knew existed. It's mentioned before the actual pitch and then not in the story portion. It feels lost.

      The third paragraph starting "Sixteen-year-old Jack" introduces the boys which is good, but then it gives details about grandpa which feels less important to me. Their reasons for wanting to hike without Grandpa sounds like unnecessary back story which could focus instead diverging paths or discovery of the family member.

      I would like to have the names of the boys given instead of older and younger brother in the last paragraph.

      Interesting concept and nice title.

    3. Thanks for your feedback, Louise!

  20. Name: Louise Ross
    Genre: YA fantasy
    Title: Hidden Hills

    Tiny is a troll - the dumb and ugly kind. Except if someone called her dumb and ugly, she would roll up her socks and hit them.

    Four years after running away from the troll community, her brother's girlfriend is missing. She has a choice, help or be physically forced back into the troll world with no hope of returning to her human friends. Problem is the girlfriend's mother and friends don't know about the disappearance. Tiny's ex-boyfriend wants to assist in order to rekindle their relationship, and the more time Tiny spends looking for the girlfriend, the more negative consequences she has.

    As she falls further into troll culture, troubles appear in her human life. She loses her job, misses critical tests, and might lose her scholarships. Tiny must balance her troll life with her human life.

    HIDDEN HILLS is a 52,000 word young adult fantasy.

    1. I like the first sentence. It's cute. Is the tone or voice meant to be cute.

      I would clarify that it was Tiny who four years ago ran away from the troll community. Tiny has a choice. to help or be Clarify your character as you mention 4 in this second paragraph and it gets muddied up. And most important for me what are the negative consequences.

      The pitch to me should show character. The conflict then consequences.

      Consider taking out the and the more time tiny spends.... then just go into as she falls into troll culture. Might be clearer.

      I love Trolls though. I got a clear picture of her in my head from the first line!

  21. Hi there, Louise. This sounds fun! One the beginning, how does Tiny know that her brother's girlfriend is missing if she ran away from the community? Also, it's unclear who is human and who are trolls. I also feel like maybe there are too many people/trolls (5 + "friends") introduced in that one small paragraph. Balancing the two lives is good...

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks for looking at my piece. I appreciate it.

  22. Name: Shawn Ingram
    Category/genre: LGBT YA Contemporary
    Title: Right Here Waiting For You (title subject to change)
    Kat is the angry girl in combat boots and dreadlocks. Two years after her mother's death, Kat has carefully crafted her life to avoid facing that reality. But now, her best friend Jade is too busy spending time with her dealer boyfriend, her father is dating someone new, and the old friends she's worked hard to avoid are trying to bring her back to the stage. And then there’s Renee, the overwhelming girl who might force Kat to come out sooner than she planned.

    1. I like the premise. What is the word count>

      I think your query can start with two years after her mothers death. The first line is unnecessary to convey your plot. From the two years, it reads really well and concisely. You have the character, you have the conflict which is coming out. the only thing i wonder is What is bad about coming out? Will she loves her friends? will she face some sort of consequence if she comes out/ Will her daddy disown her. There has to be some stakes to it a little bit but i like it! I love LGBT novels/;

    2. Thanks. My word count is currently 79,000 words, but that will change as I go through my last round of revisions. It might increase, but hopefully not by much.

      The story is more about Kat moving on from her mother's death than coming out. Renee serves as a catalyst for both.

    3. I like the first sentence. I can see a clear vision of Kat in it. The second sentence explains the cause of her anger and her current position.

      After that, there seems to be a lot of back story whose purpose seems to be justifying Kat's anger until you get to Renee.

      It sounds to me like Renee is the disruptive force. Concentrate on her (unless I've gotten this completely backwards). Tell me why she is disruptive to Kat's carefully crafted life. What are the stakes and what are the consequences, good or bad.

    4. This won't make much sense, but I agree with both of these comments about the first two lines. I think the first line gives me a good image of your MC right away, which is hard to do in four lines. That said, you should start with the action, not a description. So... maybe something like this will work?

      Two years after her mother's death, Kat—self-proclaimed angry girl with combat boots and dreadlocks—has carefully crafted her life to avoid facing that reality.

      Now, it might be a little wordy, but maybe play around with the order. I definitely think it makes more sense to start with her mom's death. Otherwise, I just need stakes (what does she think could happen if she comes out? bad things, I assume?)

      And to clean up some things, I'd drop Jade and Renee's names to focus on your MC. I also think it's good to keep a focus on the MC's actions. Instead of Renee forcing her out, make it about how... "When an unashamed new girl tries to shove Kat out of the closet, she'll have to decide between losing a potential love and facing the [wrath of her gay-hating dad]" (Or, you know, whatever the stakes actually are!)

      Great job!

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  24. NAME: Elinor Sattler
    CATEGORY/GENRE: Adult Urban Fantasy


    Anna Marlowe is an unlicensed necromancer with a black magic past who returns to Georgia for her hospitalized grandmother. Desperate for a job that doesn’t involve going back to dancing in “butt floss,” she goes to Piedmont Park to throw a spell, hoping for some good luck and a steady paycheck. Instead she finds a dead woman whose corpse is infected with dirty magic so toxic it can stop the heart with a touch.

    Anna has found the latest victim of a killer targeting witches for deadly magical experiments and to her horror she realizes they face an alchemist, a powerful mage who can twist power and science into an abomination of magic. Atlanta’s young Supernatural Investigations Unit needs good press and a fast wrap-up. They need an outsider like Anna. Someone with no hidden agenda, who isn’t caught up in local supernatural politics and who as a dead talker can help them when their only witnesses are on a slab in the morgue.

    The last thing Anna wants is to get involved in the hunt for a magic-wielding serial killer, especially in a state where death warrants are still legal and necromancy without a license isn’t. Between a sense of obligation that won’t let her walk away and her grandmother’s rising medical bills, the promise of payment for her work is a temptation she can’t resist. Even when she discovers the FBI agent who joins the case has alchemical tattoos running down his back.

    DEAD TALKER is a 100k Urban Fantasy set in Atlanta, Georgia, with series potential.