Updates and contests and waiting, oh my!

In case you were wondering about my querying/writing journey so far, it looks a lot like this:

No, I’m not going to get specific on what all is happening with querying right now. Let’s just say I’ve gotten form rejections, and I’ve gotten requests, and I can now say for certain that when you hear that much of querying is sitting and waiting, it’s true.

This week (and maybe next), in an attempt to be proactive and give myself something to obsess over other than refreshing my email every 30 seconds, I’ve entered two contests.

The first is Pitch-Fest at WriteOnCon. My 200-word pitch will be critiqued by at least one agent, along with (hopefully) book bloggers, librarians, and authors. They’ll offer helpful feedback, and can request more material if they’re interested. I’m not allowed to comment on my thread while the Pitch-Fest is going on; I just have to sit back and watch the magic.

Which of course means that after I revised and polished my pitch, and even had other people look it over to be sure it was ready…I realized I deleted some rather important information. Originally, I introduced a character in the first paragraph whose actions are then developed in the last paragraph. But then I cut out his intro. So now he just pops up at the end, seemingly out of nowhere.


Anyway, if you want to check out my pitch, glaring omission and all, you can view it here. And I can at least clarify here, for you lovely and confused folks, that Thomas is her neighbor and best friend. There. I feel better.

The second is Pitch Madness, where I email in a 35-word logline plus the first 250 words of my novel, to compete with a few hundred other people doing the exact same thing. I got word this morning that I made it into the second round, along with 126 other hopeful authors. Of these 127 entries, 60 will be picked by the judges to advance next week to Round 3, where agents will compete for a chance to take a closer look at these manuscripts.

Now, 60 out of 127 seems like pretty decent odds, but I don’t want to count my chickens. 67 fabulous pitches won’t make it through, and I could easily be one of them. However, it was nice validation that at the very least, my pitch was good enough to grab someone’s attention.

Many Pitch Madness participants are posting their entries on their blogs. Whether or not I make it to that final round, it’s been fun to hop around the Internet and see what kinds of books are being pitched. Lots of amazing ideas.

So I figured I might as well play along. Even if I don’t make it through, opening myself up to feedback is one of the best ways to get better, right? Right.

So here’s my Pitch Madness entry, for those of you who are interested! I hope you like it (and if not…be gentle. Honest. But gentle).


Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 100,000

Pitch: In a kingdom where magic has been illegal for centuries, sixteen-year-old Maribeth must master the dangerous powers inside her to prevent a devastating war. But first, she’ll have to escape her abductors.


Maribeth stared at the paper, her legs dangling from the waist-high stone wall that wound most of the way around her family’s farm. Beside her, Thomas Whitfield surreptitiously gauged her reaction, demolishing the remnants of an apple between glances. The leaves of the orchard rustled softly, a sound she normally found soothing. But not today.

She couldn’t stop rereading the lines of carefully printed text, searching for any indication that she had misunderstood. No matter how ardently she studied them, the words remained unchanged:

Able-bodied Men of No Fewer than 18 years
For a Most Imperative Service to
His Royal Highness,
King Arvid of Ellymr
To Protect against a Serious and Grievous Threat to our Beloved Kingdom
Interested Men should Report Immediately to
Commander Reifsnyder, Ellymria
For Testing and Training
Generous Compensation shall be awarded to the Fortunate Selected 

Someone had been busy last night tacking dozens of identical notices all over town. This one came from the door of Gavin’s carpentry shop, where Thomas was apprenticed. Maribeth wished he had left it there. Or better yet, that he had never seen it in the first place.

“Thomas,”she said, appalled at the shrillness in her voice, “This doesn’t even say what the service is. For all you know, you could be signing up to fight a war!”

He gave her a dubious look as he polished off the last bit of core and dropped the stem in the grass. “Who would I be fighting?” He grinned teasingly.


There you have it, world! An update on my writing journey. In the meantime, I’m writing another novel that I love just as much as the fantasy, but is toooootally different. Maybe I’ll let you know more about it someday after it’s finished. It’s a fun time.

6 thoughts on “Updates and contests and waiting, oh my!

  1. Good luck! Your pitch sounds fabulous! I got into the second round as well for Pitch Madness.

    I haven’t started the query process yet. It must be nerve wracking. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you land an agent soon! 🙂
    Roselle Kaes recently posted..Pitch Madness!My Profile

  2. Thank you for giving us a backstage pass to your entry. The pitch is shiny and wonderful.

    I like your pacing in this brief excerpt, and your word choice is nice. I was distracted by the capitalization in the notice, but that may just be me. I also wondered if we would be head-hopping or in a single character’s head. You say that Maribeth ‘wished’ and was ‘appalled’ and I wouldn’t necessarily think the narrator would know that about each character. Maybe you stay all in one head or your narrator is omniscient; I cannot tell from the excerpt, but I suspect you have it covered.

    Again, this is my opinion, and I am but a lowly querier. Best wishes for all your successes!
    Amanda Salisbury @shyjot recently posted..Pitch Madness UpdateMy Profile

    • Hi Amanda! Thanks for commenting.

      The capitalization is because of the old medieval-esque style of the public notice – it’s meant to feel a little off (of course, if someday an agent or editor asks me to change it, I’m not married to it, but that’s why it’s there!) And the voice is third person limited – I actually have 3 POVs in this story (Maribeth, Thomas, and Maribeth’s father) and with each of them, the narration is limited to only what they know/think. So in other words, when I switch to Thomas’ POV in a little bit, he won’t know what Maribeth was thinking in this scene.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for offering your insights! It’s great to get feedback from people who only know a tiny bit about my story. Best of luck in your query adventures!

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