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Day 2 (Part 3) of the Pitch Wars Mentor Workshops with Kelly Hopkins

Monday, 30 August 2021  |  Posted by Rochelle Karina

Welcome to the Pitch Wars Workshops with some of our amazing past and 2021 mentors. From a lottery drawing, we selected writers to receive a query and first page critique from one of our mentors. We’ll be posting some of the critiques leading up to the Pitch Wars submission window. Our hope is that these samples will help you in shining up your query and first page.

We appreciate our mentors for generously dedicating their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. Our comments are set to moderate, and we will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones before approving them.

Next up we have …

Pitch Wars Mentor Kelly Hopkins  … 

By day, Kelly is a high school librarian and creative writing teacher with a mighty red pen. She is the co-founder of the new TeenPit Twitter Writing Contest for students in grades ten through twelve and is thrilled to have the first TeenPit PitchWars mentees participating this year! Kelly is a professional editor and copy writer. Her edited books include the newly released SCYTHE OF DARKNESS by Dawn Husted, and she had written back cover copy for several others. Her work has appeared in School Library Monthly. Kelly lives in Pennsylvania with her family and a menagerie of rescued critters.


Check out Kelly’s recent releases …







Gulf of Deception: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B093Y2MXSV/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

High Vices: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B098NB5YY1/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Buried Beneath: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08WH4Z146/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

Kelly’s critique . . .

Category: Young Adult: Contemporary Romance


Dear Pitchwars [Pitch Wars] Mentors,

[There’s a lot to love in this query! The word count is a little bit short for YA contemporary, but who can resist an enemies to lovers story? Give a little detail about why Jessica and Jeffrey are enemies.]

A kiss doesn’t mean anything. And it certainly won’t change the fact that they hate each other. [These sentences would work better combined either with an em dash or semicolon.]

17 yo [Spell out year-old here] baseball [Or softball? If she plays baseball, that adds coolness.] player Jessica always ends up [add on?] second[,] even . Even in her love life. She would do anything to take off the friend zone label her crush ha[s]d stamped her with [reword to not end on a preposition]. So when the kiss-cam zooms on her at a Red Sox game, she kisses the guy next to her [hoping to make her would-be-boyfriend jealous]. The only problem? This guy is Jeffrey, her arch-nemesis [Interesting. What is he her arch-nemesis in?].

At school, she acts like [the kiss never] nothing happened, but when her classmates declare them “Jeffica[,], she sees a chance to [make] carry on making her crush jealous and win his heart. In return [for his help with her plan], Jessica will help Jeffrey get back with his ex. Deal. As they try to set up each other’s love lives, they find themselves connecting and reconciling past fights. And now [Now] Jessica’s not so sure she wants to give him back.

*TITLE* is a young adult[,] contemporary romance novel, complete at 60,000 words. This story will appeal to readers of Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute and Alex Light’s The Upside of Falling.

I’m a mother, coffee-addict, and teach special needs young adult[s]. I’m also a French from Montréal, which explains my love-hate relationship with commas.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

First page:


Fashionably late is the only sense of fashion Dad has. 

Fenway Park[‘s] parking lot is jam-packed. Dad drove [Here, drove is past tense, but the preceding is present. It would be better to say drives] around for what seemed like an eternity before finding a spot—the farthest from the entrance[, obviously]. It’s been a long time since we did something, just the two of us. But I[‘ve] anticipated this Red Sox game the whole week.

Dad hands me my ticket [as and] I rush out of the car. I hope we’ll make it on time.

“Oooh! Box 24. Nice!” I say.

“Yes. Right behind first base. I put these at the company’s expense.”

That explains the expensive seats. We usually end up in the bleachers when we come here. [It doesn’t matter] t [T]he seats we have [don’t matter.] , but being [Being]able to see the game so close feels like I’m getting a promotion[—like]. Like I’m the daughter of the month or something.

We pass the front gate[,] and I can’t stand in place, [as I squeeze squeezing ]through the mass of people who arrived a little less late than us. 

Dad and I climb the rows of seats, and my heart skips a beat when I notice them [I’d italicize this so we know it’s a person she sees, not the seats].

I [have to] force my feet to move. Jeffrey Campbell is there [sits] with his father. I’ve been a fool to think it was just a father and daughter activity. But everything makes sense. I should’ve picked it up when Dad mentioned the company’s expense. [Does Campbell’s father work with her father?]

“Good. They’re already there. Come on, Jess,” Dad says.

Jeffrey Campbell is my arch-nemesis [Because???].

Nice work! We’re hooked wondering what the problem between these two might be. Add in some great sensory details: the smell of the popcorn, the music playing over the loudspeakers, children crying, etc. I’ve been to Fenway! It’s a great ballpark. I’m dying to know why they hate each other, and what their father’s relationship is. Do they work together? A few more details. What is she wearing? Does she have a jersey? What about Dad? It seems like they are big fans. How about Jeffrey? What does she notice about him first? Does he see her? 

Thank you, Kelly, for the critique! We are showcasing three mentor critiques each day leading up to the Pitch Wars 2021 submission window, so make sure to read the other two critiques for today and come back tomorrow for more. 

One Comment
  • Kadie Peters says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us. I love the concept. Kelly a ‘menagerie of rescued critters’? Love that. I have a baby iguana and a chameleon, with 17 little baby eggs we hope will hatch in the next few months. Don’t know if they fall under critters, but I like to think so as, nobody likes to rescue them.
    Great critique.

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