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A #PitMad Success Story with Judith Gonda!

Thursday, 17 December 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake


First of all, let me lead a round of applause for Brenda Drake and all the wonderful PitchWars mentors who are absolutely awesome! They are positive, upbeat, energetic, generous, and kind to authors struggling to keep the faith while navigating the crazy-making quagmire and limbo of the query trenches. I entered PitchWars 2015 and received encouraging feedback (as I did a year earlier) (thank you, in particular, to Karma Brown, Sarah Henning, Kellye Garrett, Sonia Hartl, and Kristin Wright) that nourished my spirit, built my confidence, and motivated me to enter PitMad in September 2015. One of the mentors, Jennifer Hawkins, ran a twitter pitch workshop (with feedback) on her blog and another, Sonia Hartl, had a random drawing for a query crit which I won. Both opportunities proved to be invaluable.

Here are the variations of my twitter pitch that got favorited by agents and editors:

LAPD volunteer sets out to clear her dean husband when he’s accused of murder but the trail leads back to him GONE GIRL+CASTLE #PitMad #A #M

GONE GIRL+CASTLE Police volunteer seeking killer to clear her husband runs into glitch: the trail leads back to her husband #PitMad #A #M

CASTLE+GONE GIRL When LAPD volunteer sets out to find killer of USC deans, all clues point to her husband #PitMad #A #Mystery

CASTLE+GONE GIRL –LAPD volunteer sets out to find killer of college deans but the trail leads back to her college dean husband #PitMad #A #M

I scheduled my twitter pitches on TweetDeck and was thrilled to get favorited by three agents and three publishers. One agent, Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, was a very good match for my amateur sleuth mystery FRIGHT ON, the first book (set at USC) in my university-themed Pac-12 Mystery Series. When I looked her up on Publishers Marketplace I saw she was the #1 dealmaker for Fiction: Mystery/Crime. I submitted FRIGHT ON with my newly-revised query and a couple of weeks later Dawn emailed me that she’d like a phone call. I tried not to get too excited because I’d been down the “I love it—let’s talk” road before with another agent for an R & R that eventually petered out. So I knew not all calls lead to offers. But, to my delight, Dawn’s call did.

Thank you, Brenda, for being the patron saint of authors. Thank you, agents (especially Dawn Dowdle) and editors for participating. Thank you, mentors, for paying it forward. And thank you, fellow contest participants, you are all amazing. I am grateful to all of you for your encouraging and commiserating tweets. The writing community is super!

Hope to keep connecting with you all!

Judith Gonda

@JudithGonda | Blog

Represented by Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency

Feeling she’s too old to become a ballerina or a rock star, psychologist Kendra Madison decides to volunteer for the LAPD instead. Around the same time someone starts murdering University of Southern California deans. When her USC dean husband becomes the prime suspect, Madison sets out to prove his innocence despite her fears he might actually be the real killer.


We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

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