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Day 7 (Part 1) of the Pitch Wars Mentor Workshops with Elizabeth Penney

Sunday, 1 September 2019  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

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, Elizabeth Penney … 

Elizabeth Penney is the author of over 30 cozy mysteries and women’s fiction titles. The debut mystery in the Apron Shop Series, HEMS AND HOMICIDE, will be published in 2020 by St. Martin’s Press. Elizabeth lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where she tries to grow things and dreams of returning to the South, at least for the winter.

Agent: Elizabeth Bewley, Sterling Lord Literistic

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Elizabeth’s upcoming release ..

The Apron Shop Series

Preorder now! January 2020 from St. Martin’s Press—The Apron Shop Series set in small town coastal Maine!


Iris Buckley has taken the plunge—moving her online apron and vintage linen business to a storefront in quaint hometown Blueberry Cove, Maine. But the storefront she rented with her business partner grandmother comes with something extra—a skeleton from the 1970s. Then their wealthy landlord, who has ties to her grandmother’s past, is found murdered in the shop. Is Ruffles & Bows doomed to fail before it even opens?

Elizabeth’s first page critique . . .

Adult: Crime Thriller.
The Thing About Sam

Sam slammed his palm against the closed door [of what type of building], knocking it open, and burst out into the street. The afternoon light hit him straight in the eyes, blinding him. His head hurt and he thought he might vomit. He drew in deep breaths but it didn’t help. Litter skittered across the sidewalk in small cyclones. {This is descriptive but maybe cut for pace. Or alternately, add a little more description about the street/town/location] He held tight onto the shoulder strap that held the bag. He wondered how much was in there. He hoped it was enough.

Hank pushed through the door right behind him. His ten-gallon was pulled low so only the bottom half of his face showed {why?], but the anger came through loud and clear.

“What the fuck, son?” {Maybe cut son, unclear until sentence below what their relationship is] He lifted his head just a moment so his pale blue eyes glared at Sam. “Do you know what you just did?”

“I’m getting out,” said Sam.

“Well, hell yes you are,” said Hank. “As if you have a goddamn choice.” The blaze in his eyes softened, and Sam saw worry creeping in, which made it all the worse.

“I didn’t…”

They’ll be after you now,” said Hank. “You need to get yourself gone.”

Sam tried to hold the gaze of the man who was the closest thing to a father he’d ever had.

“I’m going,” he finally said [again]. “And I’m not coming back.”

Hank’s ten-gallon rose up fully then. His eyes caught Sam’s and things passed between them. [Say what things] After far too long, Sam pulled away and walked fast up the sidewalk, wiping away tears. The strap of the bag cut into his shoulder, making it hurt, which brought him back into the moment. It better be enough, he thought. But he knew in his heart it never would be. Not after this. [Maybe reword or expand upon, this is repeat of point in paragraph 1. Alternately, delete above and make this point here, for punch}

An hour later, he was heading north, San Francisco in his rear-view mirror.

[Great start—action and emotion, raises reader questions. Good job!]

Thank you, Elizabeth, 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. 

Filed: Workshops

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