Welcome to the Pitch Wars Workshops with some of our amazing past and 2019 mentors. From a lottery drawing, we selected writers to receive a query or first page critique from one of our mentors. Each mentor has graciously critiqued a query or first page from our lucky winners. We’ll be posting some of the critiques leading up to the submission window. Our hope is that these samples will help you all get an idea on how to shine up your query and first page.
We appreciate our mentors for giving 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 Siskind…
A small-town girl at heart, Kelly moved from the city to enjoy the charm of northern Ontario. When she’s not out hiking with her husband or home devouring books, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She has published eight novels, with four of them published internationally.
Kelly’s recent release …
Falling for your surly boss is a rotten idea.
Letting him saw you in half is even worse…
Beatrice Baker may be a struggling artist, but she believes all hardships have silver linings…until she follows her boyfriend to New Orleans and finds him with another woman. Instead of turning those lemons into lemonade, she drinks lemon drop martinis and keys the wrong man’s car.
Now she works for Huxley Marlow of the Marvelous Marlow Boys, getting shoved in boxes as an on-stage magician’s assistant. A cool job for some, but Bea’s been coerced into the role to cover her debt. She also maybefantasizes about her boss’s adept hands and what else they can do.
She absolutely will not fall for him, or kiss him senseless. Until she does. The scarred, enigmatic Huxley has unwittingly become her muse, unlocking her artistic dry spell, but his vague nightly activities are highly suspect. The last time Beatrice trusted a man, her bank account got drained and she almost got arrested. Surely this can’t end that badly…right?
Kelly’s query critique . . .
Adult: Women’s Fiction
The woman who carried Aria Richardson inside her wouldn’t stay, so how can she expect anyone else to? [I had to read this opening twice. “The woman who carried Aria Richardson inside her wouldn’t stay” reads awkward and a bit vague. I would rework into a more direct hook.] She’ll keep hers [typo – her] life of repressed fears over being abandoned again. [Can you be more specific here? One example to express this repressed life?] Until she meets Bradley Jackson, the Marine returned from war carrying his own unseen scars. He inspires her [How? What is it specifically about him that inspires her? It can just be one short example, ex: His xyz inspires her…] to take a cross-country road trip with him and break apart every preconceived notion she’s held about life. [Love road trip books! And love the angst in the setup.]
As the trip of adventure [“Trip of adventure” reads awkward. Maybe just “As their adventure unfolds…”] unfolds, the miles [traveled – feels like this word or a word is missing here] unearth the depth of Brad’s reintegration struggles and the real reason Aria’s mom left. As two [The first sentence of this paragraph starts with the same structure (As…). I would vary.] individuals running from their pasts, they fight to become a couple with everything to lose before their time together runs out. [I would cut that bolded section. It reads a bit cliché and vague, and the next part sounds like the larger stakes.] Until Aria suddenly finds herself faced with another road trip [I would be more specific here. A tiny bit of detail to make me feel more invested in her struggle, to really show the stakes, and then you can use that to amp up the last line as well.] – one no one should have to take. One that threatens to tear down everything she and Brad built together.
Complete at 92,000 words, 269 DAYS is a work of contemporary fiction with romantic elements that will appeal to fans of The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros and The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo. As the wife of a combat veteran, I was able to offer personal insight into what it means to love a man who has seen the horrors of war. I am a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. [Great comps! And this is an awesome start to your query. I think the main thing you need to focus on is adding more details so the reader feels more connected to your MC.]
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Thank you, Kelly, for the critique! We are showcasing three mentor critiques each day leading up to the Pitch Wars 2019 submission window, so make sure to read the other two critiques for today and come back tomorrow for more.
Thank you. The degree of specificity required/desired always baffles me. This helps!