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 Sarah Remy
Sarah Remy/Alex Hall is a nonbinary, animal-loving, proud gamer Geek. Their work can be found in a variety of cool places, including HarperVoyager, EDGE and NineStar Press.
Sarah’s recent release, Remedy: A Tulip Farm Romance by Alex Hall
At just 28, Peter is one of the youngest athletes ever to secure a spot on Team USA’s Show Jumping roster for the Paris Summer Olympics. With the support a large, equestrian-centric family behind him Peter’s a shoo-in to win individual gold—
—until a freak on-course accident badly injuries Peter and the talented mare he’d been riding. Dreams of success in Paris quickly coming apart, he holes up at the family complex, Tulip Farm, to rehab and re-assess. His parents and three siblings try to keep his spirits up, but it’s hard to focus on the future when by night he’s plagued by reoccurring headaches and by day he can barely walk without pain.
Reed Androku has recently chosen to follow their passion: holistic equine rehabilitation. Tulip Farm – an immaculate facility run by the famous McAuley-Griffin clan – seems the perfect place to chase that dream, and when the family unexpectedly opens up Barn A to boarders, Reed jumps at the opportunity. They’ll happily take advantage of roomy stalls, heated arena, and state-of-the-art footing even if it means putting up with Peter Griffin, the family’s youngest son and ex-Olympic hopeful.
Peter needs healing, and a reason to hope. Reed’s got a knack for rehab and a soft-heart for hard cases, but they also have a dangerous secret. Fate throws Peter and Reed together, sparking a passion that could turn into something deeper, but first they must weather Peter’s recovery, the McAuley-Griffin family’s obsessive need to meddle, and Reed’s violent past.
Category: Adult: Dark Fantasy
Dear [AGENT NAME],
I would like to submit for consideration my adult dark fantasy novel, [TITLE REDACTED], complete at 105,000 words. This is a standalone novel with series potential. In a setting that combines gunpowder and magic, the story features elements of horror reminiscent of the 2018 film ANNIHILATION, as well as worldbuilding that will appeal to fans of Robert Jackson Bennett’s FOUNDRYSIDE. (Not necessary, and only a personal preference, but I like to put the comps etc at the bottom of the query allowing the punch of the pitch’s first line to grab us IMMEDIATELY.)
The Abyss does more than stare back: it devours the waking world. (Which yours does very well. Love it! Want to know more!)
Eishan Redtorne is a Tracker—one of the few people reckless enough to cross the ever-growing rift between worlds and steal magic from the shattered landscape of the Abyss. On the eve of a (what should be a relatively uneventful) mission, two things(go very wrong) derail her plans: the rift expands sooner than predicted, and she (Eishan)finds her mentor, Gwyn, murdered in his room. (Good! You’ve introduced us to Eishan and her problem.)
Failing to find substantial clues, the authorities sweep the case under the rug, but Eishan knows there’s more to it. Her stubborn spying and unauthorized use of dreamwalking magic provoke visions of Gwyn, chained and held prisoner inside an abyssal stronghold. (Is he dead? Yes? No? Yes and held captive in the abyssal plane? You could fix this confusion easily by adding ‘spirit’ or similar above. I.E. ‘Gwyn’s spirit’.)
(Start your third paragraph here.) Determined to bring the killer to justice and stop his (Does she know the killer is a he?) corrupting influence from spreading, Eishan dives headfirst into what might be her most dangerous mission yet: (confront the Abyss’ broken world and decaying gods or loose herself in its spreading darkness.)
Caught between her homeland’s greed, a fortune-teller predicting doom, and a city drowning in madness, Eishan must confront her obsession with the Abyss’ broken world and its decaying gods or lose herself in its darkness. (So I think you’re throwing too many stakes at us at once. Perhaps focus on one. Since you start with Gwyn’s murder, maybe stick with that. Actually, what I think I might do is … SEE ABOVE.)
I am a trilingual animation student who enjoys drawing the many characters and creatures I make up for my novels. This book is, in part, inspired by my fascination with space and the deep ocean.
So the finished product looks a little bit like this:
The Abyss does more than stare back: it devours the waking world.
Eishan Redtorne is a Tracker—one of the few people reckless enough to cross the ever-growing rift between worlds and steal magic from the shattered landscape of the Abyss. On the eve of what should be a relatively uneventful mission, two things go very wrong: the rift expands sooner than predicted, and Eishan finds her mentor, Gwyn, murdered in his room.
Failing to find substantial clues, the authorities sweep the case under the rug, but Eishan knows there’s more to it. Her stubborn spying and unauthorized use of dreamwalking magic provoke visions of Gwyn, chained and held prisoner inside an abyssal stronghold. (Unfortunately, her meddling also catches the notice of…The Rift? Old Gods?.)
Determined to bring the killer to justice and stop his corrupting influence from spreading, Eishan dives headfirst into what might be her most dangerous mission yet: confront the Abyss’ broken world and decaying gods or loose herself in its spreading darkness.
[TITLE], complete at 105,000 words is a standalone dark fantasy novel with series potential. In a setting that combines gunpowder and magic, the story features elements of horror reminiscent of the 2018 film ANNIHILATION, as well as worldbuilding that will appeal to fans of Robert Jackson Bennett’s FOUNDRYSIDE.
Tendrils of purple smoke swirled around a (perfectly circular) hole in the floor. perfectly circular as no accident could ever be. A web of cracks ran across the old tiling, bathed in lilac lights that flared and rose, sending the columns’ shadows dancing across the Protectorate’s walls and domed ceiling. Black waves rippled inside the Rift like the surface of the ocean on a dead, moonless night.(On a dark, moonless night you’re unlikely to see any waves, only hear them.) It’s
The Rift’s aura of cold cut the center of the room away from the rest, where the warmth of electricity outlined the silhouettes of numerous people. Some were armed, protective vests and steel gleaming softly, flintlock pistols strapped to their waists and large ballistae within reach. Others were seated farther away, taking notes, pens clicking and scratching on paper. They spoke in hushed voices, as if whatever lay beyond the Rift could hear them. The data proving otherwise was limited, the apprehension understandable. (Really love the imagery in this paragraph.)
In a lightning flash, the Rift’s intensity overtook the bulbs’ yellow glow. Glass shattered, stone cracked, and darkness claimed one more bite of the waking world. Gasps and screams cut through the shuffling and footsteps. From the crowd of scientists and guardsmen, a single figure emerged, gold of hair and red of coat. Eishan ignored all warnings, heeled boots clicking ever faster on the stone below.
The Rift stilled. Its odorless smoke returned to its regular rhythm, prowling(,) at the pace of a predator preparing to strike. Eishan kept her eyes on it as she circled around, gauging for another bout of unpredictability. (Really nice, just needed a little tightening. Nice work!)