Call for Workshop Pitches

Workshops for Get Your Pitch On will start on October 1, but you can send your pitches now to secure your spot with a host blog!

How to submit:

1. Email your draft pitch to pitchonws@gmail.com

2. Be sure to include PitchOnWS and the title of the manuscript in the subject line. (example: PitchOnWS: Extraction)

3. Pitches must follow the formatting as specified for the Get Your Pitch On contest. If you missed if before check out this post here.

Draft pitches will be evenly distributed between the workshop host blogs. You can see the list of the other blogs participating here. There is no date deadline for the workshops. Each blog has allocated a set number of pitches that they can host and once those spots are filled, no more submissions will be taken.

**Important Rule:** If you want to participate in a workshop, you must be prepared to comment on at least one other pitch!

BUT, there's an incentive!! For each critique you leave in the comments of the pitches on any host blog, you get an entry into a drawing to win one of eight 10-page critiques from our contest host Sharon Johnston and workshop hosts Larissa HardestyStephanie Diaz (that's me!), Catherine ScullyJodie AndrefskiPaula SangareTalynn Lynn and Kaitlin Adams. Please use the exact same name for all of your critiques. This opportunity ends 10/14/2012, so get critiquing!

As a reminder, these #PitchOn Workshops are meant to prepare you to submit your pitches to editor Marisa Pintado during the main event on October 15th, over at Down Under Wonderings and YAtopia. An interview with Marisa will be up on YAtopia soon. The exact pitch contest opening times will be included in that post.

Have fun spicing up those pitches!




How many of you are writers? How many of you can't stand writing queries?

Here's your chance to skip the slush pile!

"Get Your Pitch On" starts October 15th. It's hosted by Down Under Wonderings and YAtopia. So, what's the fuss about?

Commissioning and Managing Editor of Hardie Grant Egmont, Marisa Pintado, will be taking your pitches. Marisa is looking for YA in any genre and is accepting submissions from anywhere in the world. There's no limit on how many requests Marisa will make from the contest.

Here are the rules:

  • Your manuscript must be complete, polished and ready to query - this means no first drafts or almost finished manuscripts.
  • It must be YA.
  • When the contest goes live on October 15th, post your entry details in the comments section of either YAtopia or Down Under Wonderings - each blog is accepting 100 entries only.
  • Your entry detail needs to include a 50 - 70 word pitch.
  • You can enter more than once if you have more than one complete, polished, ready to query manuscript.
Head on over to YAtopia for more details, like how to format your entry and all that good stuff.


On October 1st, I will be hosting a pitch workshop to help you guys shape up your pitches for the contest. Mostly because reading pitches for the recent Pitch Madness contest made me crave slush. 

And I'm not the only workshop host! Twenty blogs will be participating. You can find the full list here.

Pitches for the workshop will be accepted starting Monday, September 24th. Details of how-to-submit will be posted that morning. I'm so excited to see what you've got!

(Follow the #PitchOn hashtag to stay up-to-date.)


The Wave - a short story

I skipped school today. Instead of going to Mr. William's first period English class, I hid in the bushes while the bus drove the kids away, and then I ran to the end of the dock. It's my parents' fault; they shouldn't have bought a home so near the harbor.

I sit with my toes dangling in the water, a sketchpad in my lap. Apricot colors of sunlight peal across the waves. The boats creak in the harbor, rocking only a little, as the wind isn't harsh.

Sea lions are swimming far out. I wish they'd come closer. I couldn't risk grabbing my swimsuit in case Dad or Mom noticed it in my backpack, so all I'd be able to swim in would be my underwear.

Of course, there's no one else on the dock. The boats that are out were taken out much earlier, and most everyone else is at work.

I could always claim my underwear's a swimsuit, too. It's not like anyone could really disprove that.

Biting my lip, I pull my shirt over my head. The sea air nips at my skin in the best kind of way. I ball up my shirt and shove it into my backpack, and do the same to my shorts, smiling to myself.

A dive, and I'm under the water, letting the ocean swallow me up.

I float on my back for a couple minutes, and then decide my backpack and things will probably be safe for a bit. So, I swim farther out, past the boats toward where the sea lions were playing. I don't see them anymore. I hope they're just hiding.

The waves are a bit rockier now. I keep opening my mouth on accident and getting salt in my mouth. It's disgusting. But the sun and the wind and the water make it so totally worth it.

I'm focusing on my breaths and trying to ignore the heaviness of my arms when the current wrenches me underwater.

My eyes widen. I kick to get back to the surface, but the current is damn strong. I've read about kids who get pulled all the way down or all the way out to sea. People sometimes find their bodies.

I gasp for air, still trying to get back up. Instead, the ocean fills my mouth. Fire in my lungs.

I kick. I struggle. I try to rise instead of sink, but the water weighs me down.

Laughter and bubbles seep into my ears. Seaweed fingers latch around my wrists.

My world darkens, but I still see them. The mermaids, with golden locks of hair and eyes shooting daggers. They drag me farther down, away from the sky.

Down into black.

And I give them a new name: kidnappers.

Child stealers.

“Soon you will be one of us,” they whisper.

100 Followers Giveaway Winner

The contest is over and *dun dun dun* it's time to announce the winner!

First, there are some things you guys need to listen to. Songs, I mean. Epic songs.

They belong on your WIP playlist.


       Numero Uno:           Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.

                           Numero Dos:                      Fade into Darkness by Avicii

And now for the winner!

drumroll, please


The winner is...


Congratulations!! Shoot me an email at stephanieheart7@gmail.com with your mailing address and the title of the book you'd like me to send. :)


Book to Watch Out For: TEN

Here's a book you all need to add to your to-read list:

TEN by Gretchen McNeil

TEN is spine-tingling. Page-turning. Thrilling.

It's a YA contemporary horror story about ten teenagers who head to a house party on Henry Island. It's supposed to be an epic weekend filled with hook-ups and booze, but then the teens discover a mysterious video with a creepy message.

And then they start to die.

A storm knocks out all the power, leaving the kids stranded without nothing but each other. And any one of them could be the killer.

I stayed up until 3am last night/this morning finishing this book. I had to know who the killer was -- and I was also kind of afraid something was hiding under my bed.

TEN hits bookstores September 18th.  Trust me, you want to read this book.

Preorder it now at:
Barnes and Nobles
Indie Bound

And check out the creeptastic book trailer:


100 Followers Giveaway

I surpassed 100 followers for this blog a little while back. (thank you all so much!) I figured it was about time to celebrate!

You don't have to be a follower to enter!!

I'm giving away ONE (1) of these three books.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

The contest will run until Friday, September 14th. It's US-Only, as international shipping can get pricey and I'm a poor college student. The winner will be announced the 15th, and he/she will have 48 hours to email me to claim the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


The Lessons of Slush Pile Madness

For those of you who haven't heard (and if you haven't heard, where have you been?!), Brenda Drake is hosting a pitch contest called Pitch Madness.

The contest calls for a 35-word pitch and 150 words. Four judges will pick their top ten favorite pitches to post for the eyes of some fabulous agents. Two submission windows have already closed, but there's one more on Tuesday! (click here for all the deets)

I've had the opportunity to be one of the readers of the slush for this contest. A few other fabulous writers and I are work behind the scenes, reading all of the pitches that come in and sorting them into piles of "yes," "maybe," and "no." Then Brenda and the other three judges pick their top ten from the "yes" pile.

Let me tell you, it's hard. And scary.

I've been an entrant in contests like this before, so every time I read a pitch, I know what it feels like to be the writer. And I feel terrible when the pitch or first 150 words aren't quite strong enough or intriguing enough to earn a spot in the fated "yes" pile.

SO, I want to share some of what I've learned from the process--which is a lot. Some of these tips have already shown up on twitter. Hopefully, they'll help you guys. I don't feel terribly qualified for this. But I'll share my thoughts anyway, so even if your pitch isn't one of the finalists this time, you can fix it up so maybe it will be next time.

Here we go!


             THE INTRODUCTION - the first glimpse at what the novel is about

Your pitch should be riveting, like Robert Downey Jr.

(ladies, try not to let him distract you from finishing reading the post!)

Your pitch should show how your plot is unique.

Aim for specificity in the pitch -- 1 or 2 choice details are far better than stating something like "and then bad things happen."

The details you add enhance the voice of your pitch. A distinct voice is far more likely to stand out and capture a reader's attention.

Try to make the voice of your pitch match the voice of your novel. Remember, the pitch should show the reader what to expect. If the opening of the novel has a different feel to it, the reader may feel cheated.

Don't be too tell-y in the pitch and say things like "this is a suspenseful adventure story." Work on showing intriguing elements of the plot.

*The strongest pitches tend to not include question marks.*

Check spelling/know basic grammar. <-- It's really not that hard. Don't let something that's easy to fix weaken your pitch!

The best advice: Read through short movie descriptions or book blurbs and see what hooks you and what doesn't! Use what you learn to shape your pitch.


           THE NOVEL'S OPENING - the words that will make the reader want to
                                                                keep reading

The first 150 words should show some sense of genre.

They should include details of setting. Don't bog down the opening with too many details--just enough to place the character in the scene. Setting works especially well when intermingled with character action.

The action doesn't have to be radical--you don't need to open with a girl shooting her brother to capture the reader's attention. But something important should be happening to the character, or he/she should be doing something important, or you might be starting in the wrong place.

Try to write an opening that will make a reader ask a question. Then he/she is more likely to keep reading for the answer!

Don't spend all 150 words describing the character. Things like hair color, whiteness of teeth, occupation, or whether or not he/she is cool enough to wear a bowtie can wait.

The reader first needs a reason to care.

Give the reader a reason to care about the main character.

95% of the time, cutting the prologue makes the opening stronger.

If your pitch mentions two main characters, and then the first 150 introduce a different character who seems important, it can be very confusing.

If you're going to open with dialogue, make sure it's not bland. It should be eye-catching and intriguing, because the reader doesn't have any reason to care for the characters who are talking yet.

Again, check your spelling and know basic grammar!

If you ever read the first 150 words and say to yourself they're "good enough," you might want to try something different. It's easy to say words are "good enough," and it's also easy for a reader to close a book. Why not strive for the very best work you're capable of doing?

Trust your gut. Always. (Try not to ignore it.)

The best advice: Read the first page of your favorite novels, figure out why they work, and apply it to your own manuscript!


Look for phrases like "he saw" or "she noticed" in your manuscript and cut them. For example, "He saw Arya jump" can just be "Arya jumped." This deepens the POV.

To save words in a manuscript, remember you can replace "she sits down" with "she sits," or "we jump high up" with "we jump high."


That's all I've got, at least for now. I hope these tips help.