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Entangle an editor with your pitch event … submissions start now!

Monday, 16 July 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

The contest is now closed. The editors will read through the week and we’ll post the results as soon as all the requests are in. Adrien will critique and reply to your entries. Thank you for participating!

Submissions for the Entangled Pitch contest are now open closed! Please put your entry in the comments of this post. The entries will be reviewed to verify that they fit in one of the Entangled lines before posting. The first 200 that qualify will be released from moderation and posted in the comments below. The participating editors will read the pitches during the next week and ask for pages on the ones that pique their interest. 

Please only post entries in the comments here. If you have any questions or want more information you can comment on this post here.

This contest is for finished manuscripts. The premise must have a romantic element. Per Adrien-Luc Sanders, there should be a definite relationship trend, even if it’s not full-on romance. And for YA and MG, a budding romance. Only one pitch per person We’re now accepting multiple entries from participants, and if you already have a submission pending with Entangled, do not enter the same manuscript in this contest. You may enter a different one.

Here’s how to format your entry in the comments…

Name: Your Name
Title: Title of Manuscript
Genre: Genre of Manuscript
Word Count: Manuscript Word Count

35-word pitch. Single spaced and no indents.

Here’s the editors participating and the lines they’re taking pitches for… 

Make sure to follow @entangledpub on Twitter!

Liz Pelletier (Follow @Liz_Pelletier on Twitter), Publisher:
Entangled Select, Covet

Heather Howland (Follow @HeatherHowland on Twitter) , Editorial Director:
Entangled Select/Entangled Teen, Brazen

Stacy Abrams (Follow @StacyAbramsEdit on Twitter), Editorial Director:
Entangled Select/Entangled Teen, Bliss, Flirt, Ever After

Alethea Spiridon-Hopson (Follow @aletheaspiridon on Twitter), Editorial Director, Indulgence:

Libby Murphy (Follow @Libby_Murphy on Twitter), Managing Editor, Indulgence:

Adrien-Luc Sanders (Follow @smoulderingsea on Twitter), Senior Editor, F&EA:
Flirt, Ever After, Entangled Teen, Bliss

Kerri-Leigh Grady (Follow @KL_Grady on Twitter), Managing Editor, F&EA; Associate Editor, all other lines: 
 Flirt, Ever After, all category lines (Brazen, Bliss, Covet, Dead Sexy, Indulgence)

Lewis Pollak (Follow @lewispollak on Twitter), Associate Editor:
Flirt, Ever After

Erin Molta, Senior Editor:
Entangled Select, Entangled Teen, Scandalous

Nina Bruhns (Follow @NinaBruhns on Twitter), Editorial Director, Dead Sexy:
Dead Sexy

Rochelle French (Follow @RochelleFrench on Twitter), Editor:
Dead Sexy, or strong single-title romantic suspense/thriller/mysteries.

Tracy Montoya, Editor:
Dead Sexy

Don’t forget to go here to find out more about the editors and their likes.  

Check out the following links to learn more about each Entangled Publishing line…

Entangled Books, Entangled Select, and Entangled Teen – 60k-120k word romance novels or novels with romantic elements.


Again, I want to thank Adrien-Luc Sanders with Entangled for helping me put this fantabulous contest together. Go follow him (@smoulderingsea ) on Twitter he gives great editor tips daily. Plus, he’ll be critiquing the entries. Win! And don’t forget to follow all the editors at Entangled. Their links are listed above.  Good luck everyone

To see ALL COMMENTS/REPLIES make sure to click the “load more” (you may have to load more than once to see all of Adrien’s replies) button at the bottom of the comment page!

Filed: Contests, Misc

    Genre: Younger YA/MG Fantasy
    Word Count: 35,000

    Fourteen-year-old Lucas has a choice to make: betray the girl he loves or turn his back on the mother he’s been searching for.

    • While I’m definitely intrigued, I think maybe this pitch focuses on the wrong plot element to hook the reader. The choice is interesting–but why is he making this choice? What will happen if he doesn’t choose? There’s no sense of motivation, so we don’t know why it matters.

    Word Count: 95,000

    Devyn Cartwright doesn’t believe in ghosts—or love at first sight—until ghost hunter Ronan Evans challenges her to accept what she feels in her heart…even as she denies what she sees with her eyes.

    • Name: Melonie Johnson (I got excited and hit submit using Google acct) 🙂

    • ~dies~ I kind of like that “Original Drama Mama” thing.

      I love the way this starts: “Devyn Cartwright doesn’t believe in ghosts–or love at first sight–until ghost hunter Ronan Evans challenges her…” It’s a great setup to present a problem and the catalyst for change. After that, though, it gets a little lost–“what she feels in her heart” seems a bit weak, and could be referring to intuition about ghosts or to what she feels for him. The construction leading in to “even as she denies what she sees with her eyes” feels a bit awkward, and a little redundant–I had to read it a few times to figure out what was bugging me, until I stopped and thought, “Wait–sees with her eyes. People can only see with their eyes, so it doesn’t quite work to specify that.”

      I think with some punchier phrasing after the initial hook that plays on both romantic tension and any danger inherent (are the ghosts a threat? What are the stakes of this challenge?), you could have a really strong pitch.

    Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 67,000

    35-word pitch: For Sidney Lake, monster hunting on the streets of NY is just another day’s work, but when she’s attacked by a supposedly extinct creature, she learns she might be tied to it in unexpected ways.

    • This is a fairly well-crafted pitch, but for me it’s missing two things:

      1. A certain spark that conveys the voice of the story, and
      2. Something to distinguish it from the rest of the books on the rather glutted urban fantasy market.

      There are tons of urban monster hunter books out there. What makes yours different? What is the extinct creature? You might be able to use that as your hook. I’d say find a way to tell us more (in as few words as possible) about how Sidney’s tied to the creature, as well, and what this signifies. I don’t really feel that this connection to the monster creates any kind of conflict for her. What does she stand to lose or gain from this unexpected discovery?

  • SusieSheehey says:

    Name: Susie Sheehey
    Title: Audrey’s Promise
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 72,000

    Memories and grudges run deep in Audrey Allen’s southern hometown. A decade old tragedy looms to destroy her aspirations to become Texas Senator, especially when journalist Ethan Tanner stirs up trouble and intense passions.

    • This has a really great premise. I don’t usually go for stories with politicians, but the Southern setting and the hint of scandal chasing a strong female lead–you’ve got great elements here to entice someone to want to read more. The only thing that’s bothering me is the phrase “A decade old tragedy looms to destroy her aspirations.” It feels a little awkward, and doesn’t really tell me enough about what the threat is; is it a secret? A scandal? It also doesn’t quite segue from the previous sentence as neatly as I’d like, so it creates a bit of a stumbling block in an otherwise clean, neat pitch.

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Kate says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    • This makes me think of Drop Dead Diva meets Reaper, only without the sometimes insulting stereotypes. But the phrasing confuses me: is she vulnerable to her own dark past, or to the mean girl’s dark past? Also, why does it matter that she’s in a mean girl’s body? Is she a mean girl in the sense of a typical high school mean girl, or truly bad?

      Also, “question what side she’s really on”–nothing in the pitch presented sides, so this is ambiguous. We don’t know what choice she’d be making.

      This really does look fun and quirky, and that comes across well in your pitch–but what’s the main conflict? I could pick out four just from this, and we should focus only on one.

  • Amalia T. says:

    Thanks for this opportunity!

    Title: Son of Zeus
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 96,000 words

    Thalia is looking for fun, not love, but Pirithous, son of Zeus, escaped from Hades into the modern world, just might change her mind — assuming the centaurs hunting him don’t kill her, first.

    • You’ve got a good hook, clear romantic conflict, clear stakes. If anything I’d just tweak this into more than one sentence so you aren’t using so many modifiers.

      Though one other thing gives me pause: right now it reads like a typical “ordinary woman is ordinary until extraordinary man enters her life.” Just from discussions with other publishing industry professionals and my own tastes, people are looking for something that deviates from that setup–so seeing it in a pitch might be enough to turn some people off. That’s just my opinion, though, and this industry is subjective.

  • Loralie Hall says:

    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 70,000

    Riley’s To Do:
    -Land that lucrative VP of Technology position
    -Stop lusting after her “I’m a dedicated bachelor” roommate
    -Convince her coworker his “sleep with me or I’ll destroy your career” pickup line isn’t attractive

    • This really made me laugh. It’s definitely a different tack, and a good way to get attention. (Though I’d like to see periods or semicolons at the end of each list item. I’m nitpicky like that.)

      My concern is less with the pitch and more with the premise, assuming that the coworker is the one she ends up falling for. Any guy who would force a woman to have sex with him, especially in the modern age, falls a bit short of what people expect even from bastardly heroes, and something like that is hard to redeem even if she ends up liking it and him. Unless…is he intended to be the villain, and she ends up with her roommate? I think that needs to be clearer in the pitch, so we aren’t questioning if we’re dealing with a very un-heroic hero.

  • Title: MOONDREAMER: The Sowing
    Genre: NA Urban fantasy with a romantic twist
    Word Count: 67,000 words

    Pitch: When the corrupt Fae council manipulates Syxx into attending a creepy traditional Fae breeding ceremony, she has three options; submit (no!), die (hell no!), or overthrow the system.

    • I’m curious as to why there isn’t a fourth option: run away. I like the idea that she’s going to go balls-to-the-wall against the ruling powers to keep from being forced into this creeptastic ceremony, but what are the stakes that stop her from just packing up shop and leaving the mess behind? Also, why is she so important that she has to be manipulated into this breeding ceremony by corrupt powers? You’ve got seven words to spare in this, and I think if you approach it from a slightly different angle you can make the stakes more clear without leaving those questions open.

  • Amanda says:

    Amanda Burckhard
    YA Urban Fantasy
    76,000 words

    Caught in a wager between God and Lucifer, psychic Alita accidentally unleashes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. To send them back to whatever hellhole they crawled out of requires sacrificing the boy she loves.

    • Great job of setting up the inciting event, conflict, and the main character’s personal stakes in so few words. But how does someone accidentally unleash the horsemen? It seems like it’d be something difficult to do, or someone else would have had that same accident before now. Also, since she unleashed them, wouldn’t she know which hellhole they crawled out of? It’s snappy phrasing that adds a bit of attitude, but it also seems like excess wording that doesn’t make sense on second glance and doesn’t add anything to the pitch.

  • Jamie Grey says:

    Title: TIME BOUND
    Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
    Word Count: 64,000

    35-word pitch: Two girls, two centuries apart, must help a Japanese time dragon stop an evil wizard from completing his terrible vision for the past – because if they fail, there will be no future for anyone.

    • I like the link between the two girls, cooperating across time to stop this evil from happening, but I think this could be tweaked a little. There’s a sense that there are too many paranormal elements or mythologies clashing–we’ve got time travel, Japanese dragons, wizards. What makes the story unique besides the mixutre of these elements? The basic story is fairly common in time travel books: a bad person wants to change the past so they have the dark future they want, and the heroes have to stop them. What you need in your pitch is something really unique to make this stand apart from the other stories. Is there something special about these two girls? Maybe something waiting for one of them in the dark future that makes the stakes really personal?

  • Nan Dixon says:

    Genre: Contemporary with Suspense
    Word Count: 80,000

    In the Golden Heart finalist, STEEL HEARTS, two steel mill executives start as rivals and then become lovers, but family secrets will rip them apart.

    • Good trope, good selling points, simple and clean and direct to the point. Overall it’s a good pitch, but it’s a little…listless? I hesitate to say that, as it sounds insulting. You have everything here to let us know what the story’s about, but (for me, anyway) it’s missing a certain tension and sense of engagement. If you look at it as a product marketing pitch, there’s always a sense of excitement to those, like the person pitching is ridiculously happy about it and wants you to be, too. I know some people have trouble taking that approach because it can feel excessive, but it can’t hurt to infuse a little more personality into it to really bring it to life and sell it, not just present it.

  • Ryan says:

    Title: THE EXITOR
    Genre: Paranormal Mystery
    Word Count: 94K

    Once Nix learns to manipulate death, she forgets about her ridiculous name and starts sending her soul out to spy on the neighbors. But risking her life to save her crush’s girlfriend? That’s just sick.

    • Brenda Drake says:

      This entry is a YA

    • This feels like it focuses on every detail except the central conflict, and raises the kind of questions that, rather than making me want to read more, instead make me think I’d probably pass on this one. Like:

      1. Why is Nix’s name important? Names aren’t really such a big issues anymore, and even if it’s something that bothers her, why is it important enough to spend precious words on it in a very short pitch? How is it relevant to the central plot?

      2. What does it mean to “manipulate death” and why is Nix doing it? Is this what it means to send her soul out–she temporarily dies, then ventures out as a spirit? Why is she spying on her neighbors?

      3. What does her ability have to do with her crush’s girlfriend, or risking her life? If she’s just a soul, how can she affect the outcome of what’s happening to her crush’s girlfriend?

      4. Why is saving another person’s life sick, but spying on the neighbors isn’t?

      I’d look for one concrete statement of the conflict in your story, and then build your pitch around that.

  • Amanda Foody says:

    Title: RELIC
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 85,000

    Eighteen-year-old Princess Far and her boyfriend, Thian, remember loving each other throughout their past lives, a secret that constitutes execution. They risk exposure in an attempt to prevent world war.

    • I’m a total sucker for stories with reincarnation, but this pitch isn’t hooking me. Partially because I don’t think “constitutes” is the word you want. The secret is a contributing cause of the execution, not a component of the execution. Mostly, though, it’s that there’s no tight statement of the central conflict. I’d focus on the war first, and the reason for it, then tie in why two reincarnated lovers can prevent it, and the reason why exposing their secret can kill them. Right now the concepts don’t seem to be tying together cleanly.

  • Title: Nissa: a contemporary fairy tale
    Genre: Upper YA Contemporary Fantasy
    Word Count: 36,000

    Nissa wants to be the best Fairy Godmother possible; little does she know her first solo project will lead her to the human who will make her question her path and change her fate.

    • This looks adorable with a lot of potential for quirky appeal, and I love that you set up the main character’s goal right from the start. What I’m not seeing, though, is a consequence. What kind of impact will this choice have? Is the human a romantic interest, and does she stand to lose something emotionally involving them if she makes the wrong choice? This pitch is really close to perfect, but I think tweaking in that one hint about the consequences will make it hit just the right note.

  • Ellen Rozek says:

    Name: Ellen Rozek
    Genre: Ya thriller
    Word Count: 76,000

    Recruited by the government to help fight Renegade terrorists, Naomi must keep her growing friendship with a gang member a secret from her employers—and the Renegades themselves—if both of them are to survive.

    • Definitely getting a West Side Story/Romeo and Juliet vibe from this. This is another great pitch that hits just the right notes, and I almost feel bad that I don’t have much to add. You might be able to work in if this friend becomes more than a friend, just so people know if they’re reading something with romantic leanings–as for some people that’s a deciding factor. But even that, I wouldn’t call essential especially if it really is just platonic friendship and this is more about the bonds of loyalty than about a forbidden romantic relationship. Great job!

  • SM Johnston says:

    NAME: Sharon Johnston
    TITLE: Sleeper
    GENRE: YA Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy mix)
    WORD COUNT: 56,000
    PITCH: Mishca discovers she’s a sleeper soldier created for a private army when she’s triggered for duty. Her family is at risk. She must choose whether succumbing to her conditioning will save them or condemn them.

    • The actual definition of a sleeper soldier/agent is a deep cover operative who’s put into place and left inactive over long periods so they can establish a seemingly innocuous position among the enemy that makes them useful later. There’s nothing wrong with repurposing it for your story, but that does still give me pause and throw the story into doubt, which undermines the effectiveness of the pitch.

      One thing that isn’t clear is why her family is at risk, and how that ties into her conditioning and her status as a sleeper soldier. Is the person who conditioned her threatening her family? What’s the source of the conflict? Who’s the villain? Considering she’s conditioned, how can she choose whether or not succumbing will save or condemn her family? Conditioning means she doesn’t have a choice at all; she’s programmed. She can choose to fight her conditioning, but it’s not her choice whether or not fighting will save or condemn her loved ones. Either it will or it won’t; her choice is whether or not to do it, not the parameters defining the choice.

      Despite my questions, this does look really intriguing, and I like the idea of a YA with conditioned soldiers.

    • SM Johnston says:

      Thanks so much for the feedback. I greatly appreciate it.

  • Oliver says:

    Title: Angels with Metal Wings
    Genre: Flirt (Historical – WW2)
    Word Count: 11,000

    Lynne never expected Spitfire pilot Billy to return, or for grief to have changed him. Knowing the danger he risks each night, she offers him one night of comfort. But will it be enough?

    • Ooh. WW2. I think you should work that into the pitch and not just the genre listing, as for some people that’s a huge hook. (Like me, ahem.) You’ve got a good trope, but a few inconsistencies and some weak phrasing. Just a few points:

      1. Where is Billy returning to? Where did he go?

      2. Who is Lynne to him? A friend? A former lover?

      3. Spitfire shouldn’t be a proper noun.

      4. Why wouldn’t she expect grief to change him? Grief is a terrible thing that often changes people.

      5. Instead of saying “Knowing the danger he risks each night” I’d go for stronger phrasing. Something less vague than just “danger.”

      6. If Billy has returned somewhere–home, the base, where ever he might be–why is he still risking danger each night?

  • Kim says:

    Name: Kimberly P. Chase
    Title: The Apollo Academy
    Genre: YA SciFi
    Word Count: 83,000

    35 Word Pitch: Plummeting fifty-five thousand feet. Check. Oxygen malfunctions. Check. Normal for astronaut training? Nope. Someone wants Aurora out and only the emotionally challenged Zane can help her make it to the end of her first semester.

    • Great voice on this–vivid and a little bit snarky. But after that great intro hook, it falls a little flat. I’d focus on bolder phrasing that plays up the threat to her life, emphasizing that she’s in serious danger and not just the victim of harmless pranks. Try to keep that same voice you started with. Also, at first glance it reads as if the fact that Zane is emotionally challenged is somehow pivotal to her success. Overall I think the last sentence just doesn’t support the great hook you started off with.

  • Name: Summer Heacock
    Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
    Word Count: 81,000

    Drowning in Suburbia, stay-at-home-mom Ellie thinks her biggest worries are snotty Sancti-mommies and her nudist mother-in-law, but after discovering her husband’s affair, she finds herself in the arms of her daughter’s delicious soccer coach.

    • Sancti-mommies…oh god. I just choked on my drink. That’s awesome.

      One thing I’m seeing as a common trend (it’s not just you) is a tendency to try to write the entire pitch as one sentence, like a PW announcement. (Those things drive me crazy, but that’s another story…) In your case, I think you could really strengthen this by breaking it up and focusing on pacing with a little more motivation. It reads as if ending up with the soccer coach is somehow a random occurrence despite the motivation being right before it–likely because of the phrase “finds herself,” something I see used a bit too much in blurbs and pitches to transition from one action to the next.

      Stay-at-home mom Ellie is drowning in suburbia. Snotty Sancti-mommies. A nudist mother-in-law. Door-to-door cookie peddlers…and a cheating husband, who chases her from an unhappy home into the arms of her daughter’s delicious soccer coach.

    Genre: YA Contemporary
    Word Count: 86,000

    35-word pitch: Sara is committed to keep a secret that’s not her own. Surrounded by deviants and sociopaths, she pretends to be one to survive. Stolen moments with the one boy she trusts might save her sanity.

    • I’m pretty sure I saw a movie blurb on Netflix covering this exact same premise–and ended up adding it to my queue, because I do like the story concept and this sounds like something with potential for an interesting psychological thriller. Is the play on words with “committed” deliberate? It took two reads, and I’m still not sure if you mean she was committed to an institution (which the title implies) or if she’s committed as in dedicated/determined, and because she won’t spill the secret she’s been institutionalized.

      The voice in this is a little flat; something like this has thriller written all over it, and the pitch should be something punchy, tight, and tense, leaving a sense of anticipation. It needs to ask a question, one the reader would be itching to find the answer to.

    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 68,000

    35-word pitch: 14 year-old Chris can’t imagine a problem worse than finally having a girlfriend and not being able to kiss her, until, strangled by invisible hands, he discovers Kathy isn’t the only ghost haunting his apartment.

    • I feel like this pitch is missing cohesion to make it clear that Kathy is both a ghost and his girlfriend. It’s also falling into that single-sentence trap, and would read more cleanly as multiple sentences.

      The pitch also needs to give us a sense that there’s a happily ever after waiting for the protagonists, and it’s hard to imagine a happily ever after with a living boy and a ghostly girlfriend–though I’d be willing to look past that question if the pitch offered some hint that this was an offbeat, quirky story that could pull that sort of thing off just because it’s that kind of bizarre world and those sorts of questions don’t matter. I’m not seeing that in this pitch. You have the foundation for something snappy and engaging, but it’s not quite there yet.

  • Messed up 1st one & forgot name!

    Name: Jamie Corrigan

    Title: SPARK
    Genre: YA Dark Fantasy
    Word Count: 61,000

    35 word pitch: When Taisie’s ghost problems explode into the real world, she and her new boyfriend, Rune, form an alliance with the school’s witch crafty clique to stop a malevolent spectral before he damns her soul forever.

    • Engaging language, good enthusiasm, good pacing, good flow. If I could offer anything on this one, I’d say…simplify. There are a lot of elements to take in here, and it almost seems like too much to really grasp waht’s going on; the central story is getting a little lost in all the details. Pick the ones that really make this engaging, and trim off the excess.

  • Name: Jenna Wallace
    Genre: Young Adult Supernatural
    Word Count: 67000 words

    When Abby moves into Heraldsgreen House and starts telling a story in her sleep, she and cute mason Liam must learn what the story is and why she’s telling it before it drives her crazy.

    • First, your title rocks.

      Second…your pitch is good, but not knock-me-out-of-the-park great, though I can see the promise of it creeping at the edges of it. I’d introduce some concept of what the threat is beyond losing her sanity (as it’s hard to tell if that’s a real danger, or metaphor), and play up the surreal/spooky aspect of it a little more. Also…is Liam actually a stonemason, or are we talking the organization of Masons?

  • Name: Sarah Turnbull
    Title: And We Are All Damned
    Genre: YA dark Fantasy
    Word Count: 77,000

    On an isolated island, beneath a canopy of resurrection ferns and palmettos, a preternatural plague is unleashed on a grotesquely insular Victorian colony when orphans Haeden and Veanne unearth the dark legacy of their bloodline.

    • There’s a nice sense of mystery to this, and the way you create setting so quickly is haunting and lovely–but like many of the other pitches, I think you could play up the impact if you broke this up into cleaner, shorter sentences. Also, adjectives. I love descriptive writing and the premise of this looks awesome, but my first impression on reading this was “That’s a lot of adjectives” rather than focusing on what the story’s actually about. Even cutting one or two will make for a cleaner read. Save the smaller details for the story itself.

    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 74,200

    Eleanor Price left a girl in the woods and now she’s missing. Driven by guilt Eleanor will do anything to find her including getting help from two boys that could turn her world upside down.

    • There’s too much open-ended here. Why did Eleanor leave a girl in the woods? Who is this girl to her? Friend? Girl Scout troop member? Is Eleanor an adult or a teen? It’s hard to tell, but this seems like the story of an adult searching for a girl, not one girl searching for another. How are these two boys able to turn her world upside down? It feels like the pitch focuses on the wrong details and approaches the story from the wrong angle. What’s the strongest selling point of your story, and how does it relate to the main conflict? Focus on that.

  • Annie Quinty says:

    Name:Annie Quinty
    Title: Reborn by Blood
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Word count: 119,000

    Set in Montreal, Reborn by Blood is the story of Clementine, a woman with a broken heart, a writing block, gifted with strong precognitive abilities and Ichiro a vampire DJ with a story to tell.

    • The incorrect grammar in this is sinking you before anyone really gets to the story–plus I’m not sure if it’s relevant that the story is set in Montreal, so that’s three words you could have used to focus on the plot.

      Clementine has writer’s block, ESP–and a broken heart. But in this story of love and redemption, Ichiro’s the one with a story to tell…and the vampire DJ’s tale may change Clementine’s world.

      I’m not sure about what else happens in the story, so I made up the part about love and redemption–but it’s just an example of how you can tighten up the grammar and shift the details around for a snappier pitch.

    • Annie Quinty says:

      Merci/Thank you Adrien! Your comments are very helpful!
      Thank you Brenda for hosting this event I am very grateful for you and Adrien’s time and for the opportunity.

  • Angela Brown says:

    Thanks to all involved for this chance.

    Name: Angela Brown
    Title: NEVERLOVE
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 50k

    Innocence stolen drives seventeen year old Abby to suicide. Death refuses. A second chance arises, recruited to guide lost souls. Forbidden love interrupts her new world, enraptures her heart. Duty or Love? Only one survives.

    • It sounds like you have the basis of a good story here, but the idea is getting lost in short, choppy, disconnected statements. Focus on blending everything together into 2-3 clean statements that smoothly transition and give us a clear idea of the goal, motivation, and conflict. (Also, love shouldn’t be a proper noun.)

  • elliewrites2 says:

    Name: Ellie Heller
    Title: WARDER
    Genre: Paranormal/Contemporary Fantasy Romance
    Word Count: 105k

    With her mentor incommunicado and Weres spelled to shift or die trying Mona is compelled to track the culprit, as is Protector Dupree. They discover her teacher’s past and the isolating burden a Warder bears.

    • You’re skirting around the central plot without ever getting there. The structure of this makes it sound like the primary point of the story is to teach Mona about the burden of being a Warder, when from what details I’m seeing, it’s to save the weres and find her mentor. What’s Mona’s stake in this? What’s her driving motivation other than being a warder, and since she’s not a were…what does she stand to lose? Can you work that into your pitch and end on a question that leaves readers wanting more?

    • Ellie Heller says:

      Thank you, will definitely be reworking this!

  • Name: Brittany Howard
    Title: LOSING IT
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 55,000

    Bliss is the lone virgin among her friends. When she botches a one-night stand, she thinks embarrassment is her worst problem, until the object of her oh-so-awkward desire resurfaces… as her new professor.

    • Is this for the new adult audience, or is Bliss an adult student? (That’s not a problem in the pitch–I’m just curious, though anyone else you pitch will wonder that as well.)

      You’re really close with this pitch; just these few words tell me it’s a fun story witih a lot of promise for an engaging, light-hearted contemporary read. But it’s missing the emotional connection–that because Bliss is the lone virgin, she wants to finally do something about it. It just jumps into the one-night stand. Also, you set up a contradiction that never quite happens. She thinks embarrassment is her worst problem, until…embarrassment is still her worst problem, because of this new situation. It’s not really creating a new problem, just deepening the existing one, so the statement doesn’t quite make sense.

    • Thanks for your feedback! You’re awesome!

      And it is New Adult. Bliss is twenty-one.

    • Anonymous says:

      This sounds interesting. It’s almost like something I would do if I were the lone virgin among my friends.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it’s great. Definitely something I would read!

  • tinasmusings says:

    Title: Phoenix Rising
    Genre: Romance with Paranormal Elements
    Word Count: 96,000

    Jack Reardon is a Phoenix, and Hollywood’s sexiest man alive; literally. Reporter Lily Steel must protect his secret. They join forces to stop a prophecy that means the difference between his life and her death.

    • There’s a lot of clever phrasing here, but when you look at it more closely, it’s not really saying anything. Why does Lily have to protect Jack’s secret?

      That “literally” is throwing me. Is it just emphasizing that he’s genuinely the sexiest man in Hollywood, or is it supposed to imply that all the other sexy men are dying? Is this a murder mystery or a prophecy that has something to do with killing attractive men?

      Also, “the difference between his life and her death.” So the choices are that he can live, or she can die? But the two aren’t mutually exclusive. He can live and she can die. In fact, it seems like maybe that’s what the setup is supposed to be–that to save his life, she has to die, which isn’t really the opposing choice presented by “the difference between.” Is it because as a phoenix, he’s destined to die and rise from the ashes–but if he does, she’ll die, so he has to live? We don’t know enough about the situation for this statement to make sense, and there’s no room in an elevator pitch for that kind of ambiguity.

    • tinasmusings says:

      Thank you for the feedback!! Awsome that you are doing everyone. It really makes a difference for us to get this kind of direct response. I would send you balloons if I could. I will work on your suggestions. Thanks again.

  • Name: Crystal Garner and Erin Rosch
    Title: BROKEN EROS
    Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
    Word Count: 77,000

    When Mariposa falls for Eros, his mother, Aphrodite, schemes to separate them and Mariposa must risk her life beyond hell’s gates to prove she’s worthy of him, that is, if she can survive the underworld.

    • I’m going to start to sound like a broken record with how many pitches I’ve said this on, but don’t try to cram all this into one sentence. It’ll be much cleaner and snappier as multiple sentences. A couple of people have pulled off the one-sentence pitch well, but the structure of this one doesn’t work well for that.

      I like that this is a new spin on Greek mythology, but there are some things that are bothering me. It’s somewhat the story of Persephone with a little bit of the Disney mangling of Hercules, but the biggest thing that’s bothering me is Mariposa’s name. It’s the Portuguese word for “butterfly.” Is she Latina? If this is a fantasy, how is a Latina girl interacting with Greek mythological figures? I could see it in the modern day, with so much cultural intermingling, but I’d need a solid reason for the cultural crossing in a fantasy story with a mythological setting. I’m not saying it couldn’t or shouldn’t be done–I’m a huge advocate of multicultural influences in stories. I’m just saying that little things like that need to be integrated plausibly, and right now it just feels like the name was chosen without attention to setting.

      Also, it feels as if Mariposa should have some motivation other than love to venture into the underworld. Some driving factor that defines her identity beyond the relationship.

  • Ryann Murphy says:

    Name: Ryann Murphy
    Title: RESIST ME
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 85,000

    A businesswoman has one item left on her life plan—-motherhood. When sparks fly with an Army vet,she risks her heart and then learns that fatherhood scares this soldier more than war ever did.

    • What would make me pause more than the pitch itself is the wordcount. 85k is a bit long for a contemporary romance, especially if you’re targeting category lines. This looks like a trope-based story that would fit well into a category mold, but the length is a bit much.

      Looking at the pitch itself, it’s missing a voice to create engagement. Including the characters’ names would help, but overall I’d say tighten the phrasing and write it from your heroine’s POV to really strengthen it and grab someone’s interest.

  • Name: Marika Autrand
    Title: Only a Change of Worlds
    Genre: YA paranormal
    Word Count: 70,000 words

    Most grim reapers don’t fall for a guy after reaping his mother’s soul. Seventeen-year-old Cora’s discovery of why Evan’s mother committed suicide forces her to test the limits of sacrifice–all before her next reap.

    • Reapers have gotten pretty popular in YA paranormal, so I think what you’d need in this pitch to make it stand out is a stronger voice, maybe a little flippant humor, and something that makes this story truly unique. It looks interesting, but just not interesting enough to make me say “This is something new, something different from the other reaper stories.” I know it’s hard to try to convey that in 35 words or less, but just remember: all you have to do is hook them enough to make them want to know more. Focus on that.

      Also, it feels like the “all before her next reap” is tacked on at the end to create a sense of urgency. Without knowing why–and not having time/space to include that information–it’s not really adding much.

  • Anonymous says:

    Name: Angela Baird
    Genre: Zombie Fairy Tales
    Word Count: 25,000

    An isolated goat herder falls in love with the girl he must sacrifice to the zombie queen. Billy Gruff will need more than three goats to win Rapunzel’s heart and avoid a living death.

    • Goat Herder. Billy Gruff. Win. This is cute and clever, but a little dry. And I’m having trouble concentrating on constructive feedback because I want to start singing “High on a hill was a lonely goatherd–Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo; loud was the voice of the lonely goatherd–Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo!”

      Ahem. Yodeling aside, I do think you’ve got a good foundation here, but that it needs rearranging to give it more punch and keep it from sounding quite so dry. The concept may be cute and clever, but the delivery does need a little bit more of a spit-polish to give it rhythm and an impactful delivery.

  • Xandra James says:

    Title – One Hot Mistake
    Genre – Contemporary
    Word count – 11000

    Developer Jay’s new uptight neighbour apparently hated everything he stood for. But seeing Catherine naked in his pool, he’s willing to bet one weekend, pretending he’s someone else, on making her forget everything but him.

    • It looks like this is presenting an enemies to lovers trope with a touch of mistaken identity, but it raises two questions that would make me pass:

      1. If she knows him well enough to hate him, how does he deceive her into thinking he’s someone else?

      2. Does he ever redeem himself from using dishonest methods to get a woman to sleep with him?

      I know the easy answer is to say “read the manuscript to find out,” and in many ways you want your pitch to lead to that point. But there’s a fine line to walk between raising questions that make the reader want to know more…and raising questions that make the reader doubt they want to read it. As much as it sucks, agents and editors are looking for a reason to say no, even though we desperately want a reason to say yes. If we go in with too many doubts, those doubts are going to color the manuscript. So raising doubts with your pitch can sink you.

      If there’s a conflict other than her hatred of him (and why? What does he stand for that’s so loathsome?) and his deception, I’d focus on that. Find points to make us want to read more, and then leave the story to explore these more questionable areas.

  • Name: Sherilee Wakelin
    Title: Salvation
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Word count: 33000

    Betrayal tipped the balance between good and evil, beginning his descent towards darkness. His salvation, a female, thrust into a new world where demons exist. A woman he doesn’t deserve, and never wanted to claim.

    • There’s a nice sense of the dramatic here–deep stakes, a lot of emotional impact. But there’s nothing that tells me who or what the story is about. Try to combine your talent for evocative phrasing with clean, straightforward statements that tell us who the key players are, what the conflict is, and what they stand to lose if they fail.

  • Ally Hayes says:

    Name: Ally Hayes
    Title: Like It Never Happened
    Genre: YA Contemp/Faux Memoir
    Word Count: 67,000

    Senior guys, sophomore girls and a secret contest. In a school full of hazing, gambling and cover-ups, what could go wrong?

    In 1987 without cell phones, Internet or even call-waiting, information was easily misconstrued.

    [Thanks so much for this opportunity!]

    • I think your first two sentences could stand alone as your pitch, and you don’t need the rest. Sometimes short and sweet is best. You could save the part about it being 1987 for your query blurb, where you have more room to work that in smoothly. The first part makes me really want to know what happens, but the rest drags it down and removes the great tension you’d originally created.

      …though as a child of the 80s, if I saw that in a query it would definitely pique my interest. So I wouldn’t discount that information entirely; it’s just not needed for your pitch.

  • Title: Edge of the Falls
    Genre: YA dystopian fairytale
    Word count: 80,000

    Sabah, raised an outcast, is given a chance at a controlled life in a shielded city and must choose between Berg who saved her or the man-beast who offers a chance at freedom

    • I’m guessing this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. But your pitch isn’t grabbing me; it’s not a concise statement of the central conflict, but more just a few of the events driving the story. And there are a few things that don’t quite make sense:

      1. If she’s an outcast, who raised her? It sounds as if she was deliberately raised to be an outcast, and if she was raised by people, then she’s part of a group. It may be an outcast group, but it’s still a group, so she’s included in something. The statement is a bit contradictory.

      2. How is Berg saving her? By giving her this chance to live a controlled life? How is that saving someone?

      3. What is the chance at freedom? If Sabah was already outside this controlled environment, didn’t she already have her freedom before the man-beast offered it? Or is there some third option?

      I know I’m nitpicking a lot for so few words, but in a pitch you have to use as few words as possible to make as great an impact as possible in very clean language that leaves no room for doubt. Other people will ask these questions, too.

  • SStokes says:

    Name: Stacy Stokes
    Genre: YA Magical Realism
    Word Count: 61,000

    Pitch: After an accident, instead of an afterlife filled with harp-playing angels, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase; a journey that uncovers surprising truths about her life and what happens when we die.

    • This seems almost literary. That’s not really a bad thing; literary influences can really enhance genre fiction, and vice versa. But in this case it does make me wonder just what keeps the story going–what the driving impetus is, and what Taylor’s end goal is. I think I said this in another critique, but the goal, motivation, and conflict need to be apparent from the very start, and I’m not seeing that here.

  • Name: Shelley Munro
    Title: Trouble is a Woman
    Genre: Contemporary, Category, Brazen
    Word Count: 53,000

    Julia Maxwell seeks a divorce from her cheating rocker husband, but when Ryan confronts her with explanations and seeks a second chance, she’s torn. The old feelings surge back, the sweet memories and her secret.

    • You do a pretty good job of establishing the basic premise and romantic conflict, but the incorrect grammar in the second sentence is throwing me off. The secret is mentioned almost as an afterthought, when I’d suggest rewriting the pitch around the secret, her doubt in a husband who’s proven himself untrustworthy, and her longings. Focus on the emotional stakes tied up in this, and use that as a foundation to build a good hook.

  • Mandy Taylor says:

    Name: Mandy Stagg
    Title: Dark Scion
    Genre: Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 85,000

    After the death of several high-powered witches, a young cop must work with a sexy werecat to track down the killer, but when the clues point to someone from her past the attacks become personal.

    • While the pitch itself is fairly tightly written and you present the GMC very well, it gets a little too vague with “the attacks become personal.” I’m not sure if the feminine pronoun referenced is the cop or the shifter, either. Names would help.

      Also, this is a fairly standard setup for urban fantasy: law enforcement, sexy shifter love interest, murders. You need to have a really powerful pitch to pull this out from the crowd, and tell us this is something different from the norm.

  • amandakbyrne says:

    Name: Amanda Byrne
    Title: Shadowdemon
    Genre: Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 61,000

    Audrey’s always had her feet firmly planted in reality, until an ancient prophecy sends her into battle against a demon race alongside a man she’s not sure she can trust…but can’t seem to resist.

    • This is one of those where I have trouble finding anything to crit, because it’s well-written, with nice touch of succinct characterization and an intriguing hint of sexual tension, while still spending enough time on the central plot to give us a strong look at what the story’s about. The only thing I can say is that if you can, work in something to make the story a little more unique. Prophecy, battles against demons, and shady-but-irresistible love interest = standard urban fantasy. I don’t doubt that there’s something memorable in your story that makes it very much not the standard, so find it and find a way to work it cleanly into your pitch. (I seem to be saying this a lot, but it’s kind of a common issue with paranormal and urban fantasy–because the market is just so heavily saturated, when you’re reducing your story to 35 words it’s easy to end up sounding like everyone else when you’re actually not.)

  • Nancy Weeks says:

    Genre: Romantic Thriller with a supernatural element
    Word Count: 90,000

    When a brilliant cryptologist disables a dangerous botnet, she inadvertently opens a web of deception surrounding the people she most trusts. Her comatose sister penetrates the darkness to protect her and the man she loves.

    • Cryptologist = love. Seriously, I love the way cryptologists’ minds work.

      That said, your opening clause is a good setup, but it falls down after that. “inadvertently opens a web of deceptions” is a bit cliched, and the phrasing of the rest of the sentence is awkward. In the last sentence it gets a little too much into metaphor, as since comatose people generally can’t do much of anything, it’s confusing as to how she “penetrates the darkness.” What is the darkness, and what does it mean to penetrate it? Focus less on metaphor and more on statement of fact in an engaging manner that makes us need to know how this story works out.

  • justjess says:

    Name: Jess
    Title: ALL’S FAIR
    Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance
    Word Count: 65,000

    All seventeen-year-old Princess Fawn wants is to avenge her betrothed, but refusing to marry the son of the king responsible for his death could lead to a war that devastates both their countries.

    • Really starting to feel like I’m beating a dead horse, so sorry if I’m repeating what I’ve said to others, but what makes this story different from other fantasies with a badass princess in a compromising position regarding marriage and war between kingdoms?

      I’m not calling your story generic–but your pitch would imply that it is, so the pitch isn’t doing its job. Find the thing that makes your story unique. Write down several different ideas; make a list of things you think your story has that no one else does. Build your hook around that and the central conflict. And remember–the pitch needs to sell the story, not tell the story.

  • Sheritha says:

    Title: Cherish
    Genre: YA Paranormal
    Word Count: 50,000
    35-word pitch: When her foster mom is fatally attacked Sarah returns to St. Mary’s orphanage, faces a deadly Ludus – mind body dissociation games-, a revenge seeking long lost sister and, the love of an underworld Prince.

    • The grammar and sentence structure here are making it hard to follow what’s going on. And I can’t figure out what the central conflict is. Is it the Ludus, her sister, or…? I’d say break this down, simplify it, and write it in cleaner, shorter sentences that give us a clear sense of danger and what Sarah stands to lose. How is the foster mother’s fatal attack tied in? Is it related to her long-lost sister, or is it just a random attack? If it’s random, it shouldn’t be in the pitch in such detail. If it isn’t random, it needs to be tied to the central conflict presented in the pitch.

  • Rue Allyn says:

    My Name: Susan Charnley w/a Rue Allyn (Sorry for the duplicate post. I forgot my name the first time around. I’m not nervous, really I’m not.) 🙂
    Genre: Contemporary romance
    Word Count: 55,000 words

    35-word pitch: Negotiating a true and lasting love won’t be easy for ex-lovers Tamsin Donal and Conor O’Neal’s. Past heartache may keep them apart unless they sacrifice their secrets to close the Deal of a Lifetime.

    • I like that you worked the title in as a catch phrase; it always makes me smile when writers can tie their title in to their hook. But the pitch itself doesn’t really tell me enough about what the story is about. Why are they negotiating their relationship? Most people don’t really negotiate true and lasting love; they just fall into it. Negotiation sounds more like a divorce–or like there’s some external plot element involving lawyers or real estate or contracts or something that we’re not really seeing here, to place all of this in context.

      “Past heartache” is a little too vague. What caused the heartache? Did someone cheat? Were they incompatible? Were there misunderstandings?

      “Sacrifice their secrets” doesn’t really make sense. You can make sacrifices to confess secrets, but you can’t really sacrifice secrets.

      Is Conor’s name supposed to be Conor O’Neal and not O’Neal’s?

      I think if you work on building a bit more precise wording around that fun little catchphrase, you’ll have a great pitch.

    • Rue Allyn says:

      Thank you very much for the feedback. I really appreciate the time and effort you’ve taken to provide thoughtful pertinent comments.

  • Anonymous says:

    Name: Monica Tesler
    Title: PRIME GRADE
    Genre: YA Speculative Fiction
    Word Count: 81,000

    When the government’s Faustian bargain to save humanity through population reduction is challenged by a group of teenage rebels, Delle’s genius can save those slotted for death if she follows her heart and her head.

    • Almost there–I love the Faustian bargain reference, though I do wonder if they’re making a deal with the devil as well, or if the devil is metaphorical. But once we get to the part starting with “Delle’s genius…” I feel like we lose a tenuous personal connection with the story. Delle can save them, but what’s her story, personally? Just that she’s smart enough to save them…but if she doesn’t, what does she stand to lose? Is she slotted for death? Is someone in her family? I think it’s more important to show why it matters to her in the pitch and give us an idea of the emotional investment in the story than it is to tell us that she’ll have to follow her heart and her head to do it.

  • Chantee Hale says:

    Title: HEAT
    Genre: YA sci-fi
    Word Count: 60,000

    Seventeen-year-old Arie has learned to count on one thing – her boyfriend Steven will always come back. This time she can’t wait. She’s pregnant and her city is melting down in the rising heat.

    • Great start, but after that it’s too vague. Where does Steven go? Why is he gone this time? Does he leave on missions, since this is sci-fi, or is he just a drifter or an unfaithful jerk? Why is the city melting down in the rising heat? Since this is sci-fi, it seems like there must be some kind of strange source for the rising heat, whether it’s an overloading planetary nuclear power core or magma rising to the surface in preparation for a supervolcano to blow, and only some new technology can stop it, etc. But there’s no hint of that in the pitch. I’d think this was contemporary if you hadn’t included the genre. So you need:

      1. Something hinting at a genre-specific conflict;

      2. Why Steven isn’t coming back in time now, and who he is so his absences make sense; and,

      3. What Arie’s personal sense of agency is–what her role in the story is and what she does other than waiting for Steven.

  • Akaria says:

    Name: Akaria Gale
    Title: Angel’s Awakening
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 60,000

    Preventing the apocalypse just got harder for Elite angel Charouth. While partnered with her ex, a demon determined to rekindle their wrecked relationship, Charouth must confront a mortal stalker obsessed with harnessing her power.

    Thank you to Brenda and the Entangled editors for providing this great opportunity!

    • Angel vs. demon is always fun, and this is pretty well-written, but it’s missing a hook that makes me want to read more to find out what happens. And it doesn’t seem to match up: what does the stalker have to do with preventing the apocalypse? Why does the demon’s interest in her force her to confront the mortal stalker? These statements are presented as cause and effect, but they don’t actually tie together and don’t give me anything compelling enough to make me want to dig deeper. Is your central plot the apocalypse, the relationship, or the stalker trying to harness her power?

  • Shari Arnold says:

    Name: Shari Arnold
    Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Paranormal
    Word Count: 81,330

    Normal is so overrated. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Kate Triumph tells herself everyday. But the truth is she lives in constant
    fear that someone will discover how not normal she really is.

    • Your opening line does a great job of establishing voice, but the pitch is a little too skimpy on plot details. Looking at the pitch alone, I wouldn’t know if this was sci-fi, contemporary, paranormal, even historical. We need some kind of indicator of what she is, what she’s afraid of…and what happens when someone does find out, as otherwise there’s no story. That’s the main takeaway from this pitch: what’s the story? What happens when her fears come to life, and what drives her forward?

  • Kate Brauning
    Adult fantasy
    101,000 words

    Mistfit, non-magical Ava must stop the rebelling god of war and his witches from invading Earth or he’ll destroy her world & the family she’s found with the Olympians.

    • I’d establish the world first, to explain why it’s important that Ava is a non-magical misfit among magical beings–and make it clear just how difficult a challenge she’ll be facing in trying to stop the god of war and his witches.

      This pitch really makes me wonder how a non-magical person can do something the Olympians can’t, when she doesn’t have their abilities. That’s at once a good thing and a bad thing. It intrigues me enough to make me want to read more, but also makes me skeptical as to the premise of the story. Can you think of anything that you can work in to help swing the reader closer to curiosity and away from skepticism?

      Also, I’d suggest tightening the phrasing a little. For example, “Non-magical misfit Ava” would read more cleanly than “Misfit, non-magical Ava.”

  • Mel Riggins says:

    Melody Riggins
    Romantic thriller w/Sci-fi elements
    100,000 words

    Runner discovers her childhood imaginary friend with the sea blue eyes is real when she is saved from a bullet by the arms of a cop—a cop with very familiar blue eyes.

    • Extremely interesting, very nice tone/atmosphere, really makes me wonder how it’s sci-fi and not something paranormal. Buuuuut (there’s always a but, isn’t there?)–the pitch itself doesn’t really establish genre, or give me any idea of the plot. I’d think this was straight romance, with the bullet just being the thing to bring them together, because we don’t explore the central conflict beyond the fact that she’s run into her imaginary friend again. I’m left to assume that the rest of the story is interpersonal between the protagonist and the cop. If this is a thriller, what’s the central intrigue?

  • Name: Lindsay J. Pryor
    Title: Beguiling The Enemy
    Genre: Urban Fantasy
    Word count: 100,000

    Caitlin’s unorthodox personal mission to secure her unit’s most-wanted vampire is already going awry. Not only is Kane after her inaccessible soul, their attraction could prove fatal as both want justice and neither will concede.

    • This is a little too muddled, although there’s the beginnings of a good pitch here. I’m not sure:

      1. If securing the vampire is the central plot or just an inciting incident;

      2. If Kane is that vampire;

      3. Why he would want her soul, or why it’s inaccessible;

      4. Why her mission is unorthodox;

      5. If the vampire is most-wanted because he (she?) is a fugitive, or a desired member;

      6. Why they want justice/what injustice they seek to wrong;

      7. What there is for either of them to concede.

      All of these questions could be answered/avoided by more careful choice in phrasing–often it’s just one or two words that can make the difference and really bring something crystal-clear. I think you really need to tighten this up to bring your pitch out of the typical territory of “human in law enforcement falls for vampire enemy.” There’s a lot of stiff competition out there, and that premise is a hard sell without something to really push it.

  • Sandy James says:

    Title: Seeker: Aiodhan (Book one in The Seekers series)
    Genre: Sci-fi/Futuristic Romance
    Word Count: 90K

    Kara Michaels has spent months eluding Vymalns—aliens who have conquered Earth and enslaved humanity—but her heart’s captured by Aiodhan Reil—an elite Seeker from the planet Tirios with a dangerous mission to complete.

    • I’m trying to nitpick this, and I can’t. Maybe it’s the sci-fi softie in me, and how much I love the conquering aliens trope. Um. Oh! Something to nitpick: too many em-dashes. I do this a lot myself, but your meaning can get really muddled when you’re combining asides and dependent clauses, etc. using too many em-dashes. Two sentences would be better.

      Also, making myself be a liiiiiittle more detached from my sci-geekery, you can still polish and tighten this so that it’s more of a sales pitch, less of a brief story summary, so that it stands up and shouts a bit more and the voice comes across a bit snappier.

      I’d wonder, too, how Kara ends up encountering Aiodhan, and how she ends up part of his mission or in any way on the same side as someone whose only purpose is to enslave her. So we’re missing a little relationship motivation for both of them, but it’s also one of those things I’d be willing to read more to find out.

    • Sandy James says:

      Thanks so much for the input!! Will do some tweaking!! 😀

  • ilima says:

    Ilima Todd
    YA fantasy romance
    54,000 words

    Chief Mamo is tempted to abandon his island’s caste system to be with the carefree girl he loves, but when a power hungry foreigner threatens the livelihood of his people, Mamo must decide between duty and love.

    • Overall I like this, though I feel a little displaced–not knowing what kind of culture we’re dealing with here, and feeling like there’s a hint of Native American but it could also be Hawaiian, even Eskimo. (I’m reminded of Island of the Blue Dolphins.) It could also be some completely fictional culture with roots in familiar Earth cultures, and I think that little tidbit of information would go a long way to ground this story a little bit.

      Otherwise, though, I’m not seeing anything really original here (again, I’m not saying your story isn’t original–just that the pitch isn’t capturing its originality). Pocahontas, Avatar…they’re all the same story. Wise tribals find love amidst the machinations of evil, greedy, but more advanced foreigners, with a difficult choice to make between love and duty. Find what sets your story apart from these and work it into your pitch.

  • Name: Michelle Smith
    Title: Only Human
    Genre: YA Thriller
    Word Count: 65,000

    After a murderous camping trip, Elaina and Cole rekindle a broken friendship while their friend’s killers remain on the loose. Attempted romance is interrupted when they’re reminded the killers are still waiting in the wings.

    • I’ve seen a lot of agents looking for summer camp slasher YA stories lately, so this is pretty well-timed–but your pitch is a little off, and in some ways feels distanced from the story itself. The phrasing is odd, too–“after a murderous camping trip” reads as if they went on the trip to do a little fun summer murdering. It also feels like backstory; does the story actually start with the end of the camping trip, or with Elaina and Cole living normal lives until these killers return, and the camping trip is just a memory? Or do you actually detail the camping trip as the pitch implies? As it feels like both the pitch and the story start in the wrong place, and the killers (in the pitch) seem to be brought back almost as an afterthought.

    Genre: Contemporary romance
    Word Count: 90,000

    When good girl Samantha finally meets the man of her dreams, there’s only one problem: he’s taken. When she shocks everyone and pursues this forbidden love, she learns just how dreams really do come true.

    • This is one of those pitches where I think enough got left out that it raises the kind of questions that would make me pass, instead of want to read more. The pitch itself is pretty good, even if “she learns just how dreams really do come true” is a bit vague and open-ended and doesn’t give us an idea of what actually happens.

      The problem I’m having with it is that it presents the story of someone who’s knowingly wrecking someone else’s marriage for her own dreams, with no remorse and no consequences. Instead, she gets to have her dreams come true. Even for people who don’t have problems with stories about infidelity, the lack of implication of any kind of conflict or consequences hints that there’s no character progression and no obstacles to the story other than the married hero and the disapproval of those around them. So often with queries and pitches, the first thing I think is “But where’s the conflict?” and that’s happening here.

      I don’t doubt that these questions are answered in your story, maybe even in your query. But I think you can play with the wording enough to at least hint at enough of it to ease doubts and leave people intrigued, rather than skeptical.

  • Rocket says:

    Genre: YA SciFi w/ Romantic Elements
    Word Count: 80,000

    In a future society where men are extinct, the last born clone must follow her sister back through time to find the perfect 21st Century specimen to help repopulate the world.

    • This presents a really interesting premise and I think you do a great job of capturing the key elements, though I think you could spice it up a little to indicate the direct consequences if they fail. But there are a few things in the facts themselves that are bothering me:

      1. Clones aren’t really born. They’re copied.

      2. If they can create clones of living beings, why do they need breeding stock to repopulate?

      3. If they have the technology for time travel, why don’t they have the technology to introduce artificial sexual dimorphism in human embryos to create male children?

      4. How did men become extinct?

      When the premise presented in a pitch presents those kind of questions, I tend to lean toward passing because I worry the story won’t hold together if I poke at the answers.

  • Artemis Grey says:

    Name: Artemis Grey
    Genre: Contemporary YA
    Word Count: 97k

    Shy albino Ansel isn’t much for excitement and adventure, until the day he saves a runaway heiress, falls in love with her and gets caught up in a real life fairy tale.

    • Absolutely charming. This creates a vivid picture and uses well-chosen phrasing to create a foundation for understanding the story based on common experience/cultural knowledge (the real life fairy tale) without falling back on cliche. We know what we’re getting out of the story: a charming adventure with fairy tale leanings, and an unorthodox hero. The only nitpick I’d have is that the phrasing makes it seem like Ansel falls in love with the heiress all in one day, and even in fairy tales I find that implausible–but that’s just me. And it also could just be the sentence structure creating that implication.

    • Artemis Grey says:

      Yay! Thank You SO much for taking the time to critique all of the entries and give us feedback! I’ve struggled and STRUGGLED with the pitch for this one, so I’m totally thrilled that it got good feedback! I have never been super thrilled with how it makes it seem as though everything happens all at once, but I haven’t yet managed to fit all the info in, and have it roll smooth while not giving that ‘all at once’ sensation. But if that’s the worst I have to deal with, I’ll take it.

      I suspect my second entry will get more chopping… can’t wait to get feedback on that one so I can better it…

  • Name: Jenny Kacczorowski
    Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery
    Word Count: 72,000

    When the girl next door becomes the target of a soul-devouring killer, seventeen-year-old Alex must decide between betraying a sacred oath to protect her or letting the killer go free. Again.

    • That “Again.” really makes this pitch–because I can imagine people going mad wanting to know what happened last time, and how this goes to shape his character that he let the killer escape last time.

      What’s bothering me is “the girl next door” in the beginning of the pitch. I think she’s going to be the main character, the story of a girl next door who falls into unusual circumstances, until we get to Alex. It’s often frustrating to have expectations reversed like that when we’ve started to form a picture of the story in our heads. Instead I’d start with Alex, and give us a closer idea of who this girl is to him other than a neighbor. Also, is the sacred oath to protect her in specific, or to protect people from this killer, period?

  • virg_nelson says:

    Name: Virginia Nelson
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 30k

    Abigail got dumped at the altar. Braxton’s back to make it right. The prize? Happily ever after. The army? An entire town of busy bodies. Can Abby catch her Runaway Groom?

    • virg_nelson says:

      Like Linda,I’ve seen the line that now specifies you can’t enter if you have a submission with Entangled already.

      If you’ll accept a second pitch to replace that one:

      Name:Virginia Nelson
      Title: Lasso the Bride
      Genre: Contemporary Romance
      Word Count:30k

      Lou, cowboy cop, is a small town guy who wants to marry his high school sweetheart. Carnie, child of divorce, thinks romance is a fairytale. Can Lou convince her love really can last a lifetime?

      If not, thanks for this anyway. The crits should be fascinating.

    • 😉 Since I already have Runaway Groom in my inbox, yeah. That one’s off the table for a pitch crit. So let’s take a look at Lasso the Bride:

      I think the repetitive sentence structure, of “X, a type of character, thinks/wants Y” might be pulling the life from this pitch. Plus you have a chance to work the title in for a fun hook, and it’s not there.

      Small-town cowboy cop Lou has dreamed of marrying Carnie since high school–but after a childhood spent shuffled between divorced parents, Carnie’s not fool enough to fall for love’s fairy tales. Will Carnie wrangle her way out of romance…or does Lou have what it takes to lasso the bride?

      It’s longer than 35 words, but it’s just an example to show what I mean.

  • Sun Chara says:

    Name: Sun Chara
    Genre: Category Romance
    Word Count: 50,000

    35 word Pitch: Stan Rogers, recluse millionaire must negotiate a marriage deal with Stella Ryan, exotic beauty from his past, to gain custody of his son. But can he close the deal when she pegs him the enemy?

    • You have everything here to present the foundations for a strong category romance with good tropes; the delivery is where it falls short. The phrasing isn’t tight enough, and doesn’t have the spark that it generally takes to engage someone’s interest and make them want to crack the pages. The sentence structure feels a little backwards, and that may be contributing to that.

  • DeenaML says:

    Name: Deena Viviani
    Genre: YA contemporary
    Work Count: 55k

    Sixteen-year-old Melanie’s younger adopted sister confesses she’s pregnant and Mel keeps the secret at the cost of her own budding relationship with the hope that she and her sister will grow close again.

    • I haven’t said this in about twenty comments (seriously, I’m a broken record!), but this would be better as two or three shorter, tighter sentences, each encapsulating a single idea that progresses toward the conclusion of the pitch. This one feels like it’s missing something–a certain level of investment that makes us care about Melanie’s emotional stakes. What budding relationship is she losing? Is it with her boyfriend, or is it referring to the lost relationship she’s hoping to recapture with her sister? What came between them that her sister is no longer close to her? Why does keeping the secret cause Melanie to lose this other relationship (if that’s what it refers to)? Why don’t we get some sense of the younger sister as an emotional manipulator and/or villain in this, considering the position she’s putting Melanie in?

  • Name: Elisa Dane
    Title: Ex Factor
    Genre: Contemporary YA
    Word Count: 70k

    Drinking and driving never ends well. For Nevaeh Evens and Bodie Scott, it’s the mourning after that sucks the most. And redemption, well… It comes in the most unexpected places.

    • I like the emotional investment here–we know there’s a story of loss and redemption, and that they’ve done something that will haunt them forever. The structure is well-paced, and has a nice, conversational tone suitable for YA while still preserving the gravity of the situation. If anything, I’d include just who they’re mourning. Did a friend die? A boyfriend? A little more specific detail on what happened will bring this home and hit right at the heart of it.

  • Name: Lauren Harris
    Genre: YA Paranormal
    Word Count: 13,500

    When a murdered AV geek’s ghost appears on campus, the overweight (and eternally friend-zoned) Georgia agrees to her crush Hiroki’s plan to exorcise the spirit… but it’s not quite the close encounter she’s hoping for.

    • Updated Word Count: 13,000

    • Normally, the sight of parentheses in anything other than social media conversations or blog posts makes me twitch and go for my red pen, but you actually used them pretty well here–and I love that phrase, “eternally friend-zoned.”

      This is pretty good, but I wonder at the specific details about the type of ghost; how is the fact that he’s an AV geek central to the plot? Also, if you want me to be honest, I’d leave out the fact that she’s overweight, as listing that makes it seem like that’s the reason she’s eternally friend-zoned, and can make the story seem fatphobic.

      I’m sure it’s not, but when you have so few words to spare in a pitch it helps to be aware that they can be misconstrued in ways you didn’t intend, and suddenly people think you’ve got something against people who aren’t a perfect size 2 when you never meant anything like that. You never know what will trip people off and make them say no, based on their preferences and beliefs. Hell, in my other job as a resume writer, I keep having to argue with clients who want to put their personal hobbies and photos on their resumes, because for all they know someone will pass them over because they’re offended by red ties or think fly-fishing is the devil’s hobby.

      …that was a bit of a tangent. But my point is that unless you can twist it so that there’s a positive connotation or resolution, you may want to avoid that mention unless it’s 100% essential to the plot.

    • Fly fishing IS the devil’s hobby! Just kidding. Thanks for the feedback. 🙂

  • Name: Jessica Collins

    Title: TRINITY

    Genre: Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy

    Word count: 78,000

    An accident, a suicide, and an impossible truth are just the start. If making your mind unlock its mysteries isn’t hard enough, try it wearing leather pants and fighting for a cause you’re uncertain about.

    • Dramatic, snarky, good voice–but it’s all style, no substance. I’d keep the first line as a good hook, but scrap the rest in favor of more concrete details. Who is the main character, and why do they have to unlock the mysteries of their mind? What is this cause they’re fighting for? We need to know these details so we know why we should care about the character and their conflict.

    • Thank you so much for this critique! I’m happy to hear the voice is shining through and now I know what to work on to polish it up.

  • Author: Kaylie Austen
    Title: Singularity
    Genre: YA sci-fi
    Word Count: 60,000

    Juliet is the last cyborg. She must save her ship from an alien invasion, but her love for Romeo overpowers hard-wired programming. She must decide between dying to save Verona or risking everything for love.

    • So this is basically Romeo and Juliet with a cyborg Juliet, and instead of the two families against each other, it’s humans against aliens with Juliet’s restrictive family expectations replaced by hardwired programming.

      You need to establish a strong theme and play on the themes in Romeo and Juliet to sell this. Right now it feels like these facts aren’t connected. What does Juliet being the last cyborg have to do with this? Where does Romeo come in? Is he a human or an alien? Why does she have to die to save Verona?

  • Jim Cangany says:

    Name: Jim Cangany
    Title: The Road Once Traveled
    Genre: Single Title/Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 91,000

    Trains, Vegas, a rock star, a secret, a son starting over, bikes, the Maibu Pier. When ordnary E.J. and not so ordinary Annie meet, extraordinary things happen on the way to falling in love.

    • I get what you’re going for with this, but the list goes on a little too long and we don’t get the snappy, quirky follow-up we need to place the list in context and give us a sense of the wild ride we’re in for with this story. It seems like it’s a fun, flirty story, but the pitch doesn’t have that fun, flirty tone we’d expect out of something that would sell the book. It’s a concise summary, but it’s not a marketable pitch.

  • Name: Sarah Nicolas
    Title: The Demons You Know
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 66,000

    When demons kidnap every Mage, Miranda partners with a secretive Holy Knight for a cross-country rescue. An intimate betrayal and public demon attacks complicate matters when all Miranda wants is her mother safe at home.

    • Good summary of the central plot, and of Miranda’s goals–and what she stands to lose. The voice is pretty clear, and pretty strong, with solid writing. There are a few things that throw me, though:

      1. The class labels and grouping up to rescue people make me think of World of Warcraft, or a D&D campaign. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a hard association to shake once people make it, and then they assume you plotted your world based on a D&D character sheet. (I’m not saying you did–just telling you what people may assume.)

      2. Is Miranda’s mother a mage, and that’s why she’s invested in this? It’s not really clear.

      3. What are the larger stakes? Why are the demons kidnapping the mages?

      4. Why does it need to be specified that the demon attacks are public? Is it supposed to contrast the intimate betrayal?

      5. Actually–that entire sentence is a little odd. “An intimate betrayal” is very vague, as is “complicate matters.” What matters are being complicated? Can you extract the betrayal out from the demon attacks and mention them in separate sentences so they aren’t muddling things?

  • Name: Nena Clements
    Title: Maggie’s Find
    Genre: Contemporary
    Word count: 70K

    The sweet deal on the storage locker will be Maggie’s undoing. Between the hunky man helping her and the secrets in the antiques, she puts her heart and her life at risk.

    • In truth I’m a bit confused as to what’s happening here–my first impression was that she was renting a storage locker, before I realized she’d bought the contents of one after someone defaulted on their payments. I’m intrigued, as it’s definitely a unique take on contemporary, but at the same time it feels a little too rushed and is missing that one little extra bit that will create investment in Maggie’s plight.

  • Sarah Keith
    The Head that Wears the Crown
    YA Romance

    Alexandra must marry to keep the throne. She has a choice—Misha, her childhood friend, or Edvard, a mysterious stranger. Can she learn to rule her heart in order to rule her kingdom?

    • Going to trot out another thing I’ve probably repeated until people are sick of it:

      What makes this unique? If it’s a fantasy world, why does Alexandra have to marry to keep the throne? Why not break away from that traditional patriarchal convention and take a different tack with the story? Right now this pitch is telling me that take away a few small complications, and there’s no story. The pitch should ask questions that make us want to know what the story is about, not ask questions that make it look like the plot doesn’t hold together (because she shouldn’t need to marry to keep her throne, and she shouldn’t trust a stranger when making a decision about her kingdom). I’d focus instead on any intrigue that supports the plot, and complicates things more than it currently seems.

  • E. Arroyo says:

    Name: Elizabeth Arroyo
    Title: The Simple Truth
    Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 60K

    Pitch: Johnny thought getting his violations (beaten and branded) out of a gang was the worst thing imaginable, but falling for the daughter of the woman who helped him get off the streets is much worse.

    • The beginning of the pitch is grammatically off enough that it makes me stop to try to figure out what it’s saying, and while I think I’ve got it, I’m still not 100% sure. Try for simpler phrasing, and work on a hook. That first line is essential; it needs to pull me in and not let me go. It’s just as important as the hook in your query, or your novel.

  • Jo Ramsey says:

    Name: Jo Ramsey
    Title: Nail Polish and Feathers
    Genre: YA Contemporary
    Word Count: 73,700

    Sixteen-year-old Evan Granger is gay—and wants to be a drag queen. Despite bullying and pleas from family, Evan refuses to change, even if staying true to himself means losing Guillermo Garcia, Evan’s first love.

    • You can probably leave off that he’s gay and just say “Sixteen-year-old Evan Granger wants to be a drag queen–but…” and then present the conflict, just to get right to the point. The homosexuality will speak for itself when we see the gender of his first love. I like seeing his strength and his struggle, though I would like to know more about any other conflict he faces, and the path that he takes to achieve his dream. Beyond defying people, what does he actually do to take steps forward? (…does he hook up with Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze and get stranded in a small town? 😉 Couldn’t resist. I love that film. “A boy in a dress!”)

      Overall, though, I like your approach and the voice that comes through in the pitch.

    • Jo Ramsey says:

      Thanks, Adrien! (To Wong Foo rocks, but I’ll always prefer The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert…)

  • Kat Latham says:

    Genre: Contemporary single-title romance
    Words: 88,000

    Aid worker Caitlyn Sweeney believes falling in love would be a disaster…until a smokin’ hot British rugby player shows her a little trust can go a long way to healing a broken heart.

    • ~laughs~ Another one that makes me feel useless. You get right to the point, have great pacing and voice, and give us the trope right out of the gate. We know the story, we know the motivations, we get a hint of the characterization…it’s great.

    • Kat Latham says:

      Thank you so much, Adrien-Luc! I never thought I’d be happy to make someone feel useless. 🙂

      I really appreciate you and the Entangled editors reading these pitches, and thank you to Brenda for the opportunity!

  • Name: Heather Riffle
    Title: Terra Incognita
    Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 104,000

    Haylee Wells must survive a post-apocalyptic future ruled by the “Pale Ones” – wraithlike creatures that can kill with a single touch – while discovering love, friendship and a fate greater than she could ever believe possible.

    • This is close, but not quite there. I feel like we’re bumping up against the edge of the central conflict, but never falling quite over the cliff into the actual central plot statement. We have a dark future with the Pale Ones. We have Haylee’s journey to her unexpected fate. We need a single strong statement that brings those two together and makes them a single cohesive story, while retaining the almost lyrical style you’ve demonstrated here.

    • Thank you so much. I really appreciate you giving your time and thoughts.

      Brenda, thank you for hosting this and giving us such a great opportunity.

  • Name: Airicka Phoenix
    Title: Blood Oath
    Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 100,000

    Pitch: A Seeker, Clara should have had his blood on her blade, not his promise warm on her lips and his dagger at her throat. She definitely shouldn’t let a Summoner lay claim to her heart.

    • I feel like this is a combination of Legend of the Seeker and the Final Fantasy games, particularly Final Fantasy X, in premise. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when it’s the only thing I take away from the pitch, it tells me that your central conflict isn’t coming through strongly enough. Who is this Summoner, why should she be hunting him, and what’s the overall plot of the story?

    • Hello Adrien,

      Thank you so much for taking all this time to crit all these pitches. My hat goes out to you and your vast patience. I truly appreciate the time you took commenting on mine and I understand what you’re saying. I’ll work more towards making the proper adjustments.

      Best wishes and warm gratitude,

  • Name: H.M. LaShelle
    Genre: YA Contemporary
    Word Count: 60K

    An artist with a penchant for Audrey Hepburn films lets down her guard to fall for the hotshot baseball star and ends up with her own Hollywood-esque tearjerker. Even Audrey couldn’t resist Humphrey Bogart, right?

    • This looks really cute and sounds like it has fun characters and a great premise, and I think you convey that pretty well. My only nitpick would be the last sentence, as so far there’s been no talk of resistance–only of her letting her guard down. So the concept of Audrey not resisting Humphrey doesn’t quite match up to the concept of the heroine letting her guard down, as one seems unwilling, the other willing. But it’s close.

  • John Hansen says:

    Name: John Hansen
    Genre: YA contemporary thriller
    Wordcount: 59k (hopefully, the 1k won’t make a difference. I can always edit up!)

    Sixteen-year-old Alex Tanner always knew there was something beneath Tanya Ward’s popular girl surface. Look, he was thinking something along the lines of “fun,” maybe even “smart.” But running from the same organization that killed his father? Not exactly what he was going for…

    • Your foundation is good: we have character interactions, potential relationships, a good hint at the plot to draw us in and make us want to find out what happens and how this girl is involved with this organization. My only suggestion would be to tighten up your grammar, sentence structure, and phrasing in general. It’s a little loose, mainly in the second sentence, and it throws me off a bit.

  • Jen says:

    Name: Jennah Scott
    Title: Finding Home in Tennessee
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 50k

    Becca and Jonah broke each other’s hearts ten years ago. When Becca returns home Jonah sets out to show Becca he’s learned from mistakes and is determined to get Becca home for good.

    • This feels a little lost, in all honesty. Maybe a little too understated. With only 35 words to spare, it really needs to hit me between the eyes with the voice, the trope, and why I should want to read. What can you find in your story that you can use for a hook? What can you tell us about Becca and Jonah as individuals in just a few words, so they become real people?

  • Name: Jamie K. Schmidt
    Title: The Queen’s Wings
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 60,000

    Not being able to shift into a dragon is slowly driving Carolyn insane. When she falls in love, she must break the spell preventing her from shifting and claiming her mate.

    • This feels like it’s missing a few words to establish the setting/time period–even if the genre says it’s paranormal, it feels like it could be fantasy. It also doesn’t state clearly that Carolyn is a shifter, and it needs to in order to provide context for this. I’d also like to know if there are any external conflicts beyond her inability to shift; who cast the spell, why, and if there are any reasons other than love driving her to need to shift. Why can’t she be with her mate without shifting? And for your closing hook, what danger does it pose if she can’t, so that we want to know how it ends and she solves this problem?

  • Name: Nicole Zoltack
    Genre: YA Paranormal
    Word Count: 80K

    Learning she’s magic incarnate makes fifteen-year-old Crystal question her previously unwavering faith. Crystal has to believe in herself and control her power in order to save her boyfriend from a witch hunter.

    • I’m a little confused by the question of faith inherent here–is it referring to her Christian faith, or her faith in herself, or her faith in something else? Why is a witch hunter after her boyfriend, not her? The plot seems fairly straightforward, but the pitch is lacking a certain oomph to pick it up and make it fly. I feel like we get the setup and side events, but not the major impetus of the story.

  • Sydney says:

    Name: Sydney Proctor
    Title: Destiny of Silis
    Genre: YA paranormal
    Word Count: 45,000

    What if your friends told you they weren’t human. That you weren’t human. Dmitri has always liked one girl, Maia Vicks. Maia has only like one guy, Dmitri Marcal. When Maia and Dmitri find out that they’re not human, that they’re to lead a race of people they wonder what else has been a lie and they have a destiny to fulfil.

    • This one needs tighter grammar and sentence structure (you open with questions, but no question marks, plus overall the grammar just needs tightening; poor grammar in a pitch will make agents and editors think the issues reflect in the story, and they may pass). Also, opening with rhetorical questions = instant no from a lot of people. You could also cut extra detail, like “X has only liked one Y, Z” and condense it to just that they like each other/are romantic interests.

  • Name: Annette Gendler
    Title: An Impossible Love, Revisited
    Genre: Memoir
    Word Count: 77,000

    When I met my husband-to-be, I knew our love story had already happened. I also knew it was impossible because of the past.

    • This is confusing and seems backward–how can you know a love story’s already happened, implying at a previous time, when you’ve just met? Also, saying it’s impossible because of “the past” is vague. This would be stronger if we had a clearer idea of what the past entailed, and how it makes this love impossible. If I were you, I’d suggest writing this from another POV, as if talking about a character instead of yourself (since this is a memoir) and try to present it the same way you would a fictional story, rather than a memoir. You may also want to have someone else help you with it, someone who isn’t so close to the story and might supply the details you can take for granted because of familiarity.

  • Name: Laurie Muench
    Genre: YA Paranormal
    Word count: 63,000

    Most girls would be terrified if a ghost stalked them. But Natty uses the brutal spirit to exact revenge on her ex. Chaos erupts when she discovers that the enigmatic ghost was an accused murderer.

    • I think what I’d like to know, from this pitch, is if this is a story where Natty learns her lesson/gets what she deserves. It seems strange that she’d make use of a rather brutal ghost, then be surprised when the ghost turns out to be a murderer. She’s not really blameless herself when she uses someone she presumably knows to be violent for her own selfish ends. So I’d like to see the stakes mentioned here–that she’s made a mistake, and will face consequences. Potentially deadly consequences, more detailed than “chaos erupts.” I imagine the discovery of the ghost’s history wouldn’t cause chaos, but more his escalating actions.

  • Name: Jen McAndrews
    Title: AKA Marian
    Genre: YA historical romance
    Word Count: 81K

    When sixteen-year-old Matilda Fitzwalter learns her father’s plans of treason, Matilda determines to find a way to keep Prince John safe, but she didn’t count on falling in love with the prince’s enemy, Robin Hode.

    • If this is a Robin Hood retelling, I’d play on the similarities a bit more–use the common knowledge to create a frame of reference for the central plot of your story, then highlight the differences. It’s the differences that will sell your pitch as a retelling. Right now it reads like it’s basically a vague pitch for Robin Hood itself with the names changed and the roles shuffled around a little. Tighten up the writing so that we get an idea of the same voice that should be in the story–the overall tone of it. Mood writing. Like mood lighting. Oh god, it’s almost 3am, don’t kill me if I’m a little loopy.

  • Sarah Negovetich
    YA Fantasy

    Stacie can read minds and her hot neighbor Charles has a healing touch. Together, they have to stop the monsters causing a string of ‘accidents’ and determine if fate can be a foundation for romance.

    • When I read this, I keep asking “Why?” Are these powers normal? Why are the monsters causing accidents? You don’t have to answer these questions in such a short pitch, but there should be enough strength in the writing that it makes us feel like we will most definitely find these answers in the story. I’m not feeling that here. Also, I’d rather see the pitch close on a conclusive statement offering a teaser to the central plot, rather than going back to the romance. The ending is weak, and if you want to work in the romance I’d do it earlier before focusing on the more high-stakes plot.

  • Name: Heather Sheldon
    Title: I BECAME
    Genre: Paranormal romantic suspense
    Word Count: 105,000

    Becoming a zombie pushed my social life into overdrive. In my world its not all rotting flesh ‘n flies. I’m smack in a love triangle. One’s dead, the other’s not. What’s a dead girl to do?

    Reply: sheldonhea@netscape.net

    • Oh, hi, zombie love story. I’m hooked.

      I tend to caution against writing pitches in first person, because even though this is fun, smart, and pretty engaging, a pitch needs to sell the story and the characters–and I don’t know who the characters are. If you said this to me in a pitch session, I’d wonder who this narrator is, and for a moment think you were talking about yourself. The first person works in print, but pitches are often designed to be delivered aloud, so maybe an alternate version of this in third-person, actively answering the question “What’s your story about?” would be a good idea.

  • Name: Tara Smith
    Title: Destination Disaster
    Genre: Contemporary romance/category romantic suspense
    Word count: 64,000
    Pitch: Ellie Bailey is not looking for love, she’s got enough problems. She’s supposed to stop her sister’s wedding but she can’t stop herself from falling for a man with secrets that may kill them both.

    • This feels like pieces of several stories instead of one single cohesive story thread. We get the beginnings, but never the conclusions. Story one: Woman doesn’t want love, has too many other problems. Story two: stopping the sister’s wedding, for reasons we don’t know. Story three: falling for a man with deadly secrets, who doesn’t seem to be in any way related to the wedding.

      You need to either tie these together more cleanly, or pick one storyline and focus on that for your pitch. One or the other can wholly change the tone. Stopping the wedding can make this comedic, while focusing on the man with the deadly secrets can make it tense and thrilling. Pick one, then more effectively weave in the part about how Ellie’s not looking for love.

  • Rachel says:

    Name: Rachel Kall
    Title: Lila’s Corner
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Word Count: 75,000

    Lila enjoys her quiet life in small town Milburn, Georgia, but sparks fly when Detective Esposito arrives in town. A murder in Milburn changes everything. Will they find the murderer before it’s too late?

    • First question: too late for what? Is this a serial killer, or just a one-time thing? Most murderers only do it once, in a crime of passion, so we need to know what the continued threat is.

      The order of events is a little off in this. I’d say mention her quiet life, then the murder changing everything, then the detective arriving. Then something about the sparks flying between them, but (and that but is crucial) the murderer presents an obstacle, a danger to both their romance and their lives.

      I do think you have a good premise, but the pitch needs a bit more tightening.

  • jessigage says:

    Name: Jessi Gage
    Title: Road Rage
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 78,000

    Every night, Derek dreams about a beautiful woman. He calls her his dream girl. Little does he know, she’s real and lying in a coma in a hospital across town…because he put her there.

    • This seems more like a paranormal, or even a thriller–one where either he’s punished for his crime, or given a chance for redemption. I’m not sure if it could be classed as contemporary, and standing on the pitch alone people might get the wrong idea (or the right one, if the book itself is miscategorized). As for the pitch itself, it’s enough to generate interest, but it’s not quite sharp enough to make it stand out as a stellar piece of book marketing.

  • Brinda says:

    Name: Brinda Berry
    Title: Lucky
    Genre:New Adult Paranormal
    Word count:55,000
    Abby, a 9/11 survivor, and her newly hired bodyguard Ace race the clock to solve a code that demands she sacrifice her own life to prevent deaths in a series of tragedies.

    • Everything after “Ace” is great–it’s the setup before that that makes me wonder. What does her surviving 9/11 have to do with this plot? Does it tie in somehow? Why does she need a bodyguard? Because she survived 9/11? That doesn’t really make sense. Is it because of threats leading up to the plot? I’d rather see that, and see if the 9/11 events somehow tie in to this code and the people behind it.

      I’m also wondering at the age range, if this is New Adult. I was 21 when 9/11 happened, and that was 11 years ago. Is this set around the events of 9/11, or in the modern day? As saying that Abby’s the average target age for NA, 21, would mean she was 9 during the events of 9/11–making me wonder how a 9-year-old girl’s survival of the event is important enough to lead to this code and the overall mystery.

      I’m also not seeing the paranormal in the pitch. If anything, the pitch would make me class this as thriller/suspense.

  • Name: Sara B. Larson
    Genre: YA light sci-fi romance
    Word Count: 74,000
    Jane is a government experiment who can become anyone she wants with a single touch. After escaping, she meets Ben and finds a chance for love. But the government wants their investment back.

    • This is a little bit stilted, but overall good. Your first line really hooked me, but what’s missing in the rest is how her ability ties into her relationship with Ben. I think this could use a stronger closing line, too–something that really emphasizes the danger they’re in, and the threat the government poses not just to their relationship, but possibly to Ben’s life.

    • Thank you for taking the time to do this (Especially at 3 am!) I appreciate your feedback very much.

  • Name: Virginia Kelly
    Title: In the Arms of a Stranger
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Word Count: 70,000

    A government assassin on the run and a widowed mother desperate for answers are drawn together by a dead man and held together by a passion that may get them killed.

    • Too many modifiers when this would be cleaner with multiple sentences. Names would help, too. Names basically let us identify these characters as specific people we form a connection with, instead of as generic character archetypes. You’ve got the basic elements of a pitch here, the bones of it, but it needs to be restructured so it doesn’t read like a run-on to really add some meat to that and let your voice shine through.

  • Incy Black says:

    Name: Incy Black
    Title: The Enemy Within
    Genre: Romantic Thriller
    Word Count: 63,166

    As if shooting her hadn’t been bad enough, he’d had her court marshalled. And now he expects her to trust him? To help him bring a traitor to justice? Arrogant bastard!

    • Your character’s voice comes through loud and clear here, which is great–and it shows a lot of sass and humor. But it kind of feels like we dove in mid-thought, with nothing to ground us and give us an idea of who the story is about, and why. We’ve got what’s going on, but without really being sure who the story’s about and why this is happening, this is less a complete pitch and more the potential closing to a longer blurb.

  • Name: Mark Schreiber
    Genre: Paranormal
    Word Count: 31k

    When twelve-year-old Grayson moves into a haunted mansion he urges his father to hire a ghostologist, not knowing that the sassy teenage girl who suddenly shows up one afternoon is herself the ghost!

    • Cute voice, and the basic bones are here–but what you’re missing is the connection that says the girl is pretending to be the ghostologist. I’m hesitant to say that you need to add more; there’s enough to tease here and make me curious to read more, but at the same time I feel like there’s not enough beyond the basic setup, and I’d like to know what the stakes are after the ghost shows up. This does its job well enough as it is, but you may want to tinker with it a little to give it just that little bit extra.

  • Mara Rae says:

    Name: Mara Rae
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 85,000

    When Friday discovers she isn’t just an immortal, but also the only one capable of killing another, she must leave everyone she loves or risk becoming a deadly weapon in the world’s oldest blood feud.

    • First association here is The Highlander, except that only one of them can kill the rest. Considering what a cult favorite that is, the association will probably work in your favor. What I’m not seeing, though, is an idea of what kind of plot we’re looking at after she leaves. We have the setup: she’s special, so she has to leave or bad things will happen to her and those she loves. But the story itself likely has bad things happening anyway, so we should see at least a hint of that driving us to find out what goes wrong and how the story turns out.

      Also, you could strengthen this by breaking it into multiple sentences.

  • Name: Carla Cullen
    Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
    Word Count: 85,000

    To pursue her artistic dreams, 17 year-old Princess Delfina flees an arranged marriage. But when her intended groom–a prince from a rival kingdom–captures her, she must charm him or face life in prison.

    • This seems like two different stories: the story of a girl who wants to escape the expectations of her position to pursue her dreams, and the story of a girl trying to escape captivity. We need a hint of how charming him not only leads to her freedom, but leads to the freedom to pursue dreams. It’s also a little implausible, that charm alone is her only weapon to escape, and that the villain will fall for it. It doesn’t seem like anything overly original as far as rebellious princess stories. I’d advise you to reread your manuscript and look for something that makes this story different, work it into your pitch, and tie it to the core plot.

  • Lyric James says:

    Name: Lyric James
    Title: Under His Cover
    Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
    Word Count: 46K

    After slipping out of a wedding for a one night stand, a private investigator never expects she’ll be hired to go undercover and expose a blackmailer threatening to release a secret he’s kept for over fifteen years.

    • It’s not quite clear what the wedding and the one-night stand have to do with this new job, unless the one-night stand is the one offering the job; the pitch could be retooled to make this more apparent, and possibly cut out any extraneous details. Also, it doesn’t make sense that she’d expose the blackmailer–because once he’s exposed, he’d have nothing to lose and therefore would probably spill the secret anyway, just to be vengeful. When a pitch has contradictions like that, it makes me a little leery of the manuscript.

      The writing in this is fairly solid, and it’s a good example of how to do a one-sentence pitch that isn’t a run-on sentence, but you could tighten the phrasing a little, just for a little extra kick.

  • tangynt says:

    Name: L. L. McKinney
    Title: COVETED
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 82k

    Thanks to Caleb’s ability to raise the dead, the Seven Deadly Sins want his soul, and a super-powered hottie wants his heart. Between the two, he’ll be lucky if he keeps his sanity.

    • You’ve got a great rhythm here, between what the villain and the love interest want, and Caleb wanting to keep his sanity. It’s mostly the phrasing that throws this off; it’s close to being witty and snappy, but it’s a little jumbled and needs to be smoothed out before this pitch will really work. I think you’ve got a good start, and with a little more refinement it’ll really sell the book.

  • Name: Heather Hawke
    Title: RAVEN’S WING
    Genre: YA fantasy
    Word Count: 104k

    When a corrupt king tries to force noble-born Raven to bear his heir, she risks her life leading a coup. However, the real price of failure is slavery for everyone she loves.

    • It seems as if even if she hadn’t led this coup, she’d be facing the enslavement of those she loves–and that more than her own plight should motivate her to take action, because otherwise it seems like unless the king hadn’t come after her, she’d have endured everything else. Overall, though, this doesn’t seem anything all that unique from fantasy stories with evil kings who desire the heroine, and her mission to overthrow him. I think the voice isn’t really evident in this pitch, either, and in the end it would blend into the crowd. Can you find some way to present this from a different angle and show that this story’s different and has some unique appeal that will market it?

  • Melanie says:

    Name: Melanie Kramer
    Title: UCDs
    Genre: YA Dystopian Thriller
    Word Count: 91K

    Shawn Trey runs for her life after escaping her underground city and discovering that the world above ground was re-inhabited 60 years ago while the continued existence of her city has been kept a secret.

    • I’ve seen this premise in numerous short stories, books, and films, so this pitch really needs strengthening to make it clear this isn’t just recycling the premise without anything new. Right now I don’t see what the danger is here, either. Shawn’s running for her life, but why? Why does she have to escape her underground city? Why is the city kept secret? Who’s keeping this secret, and what danger do they pose that drives the central plot?

  • Annie Rains says:

    Name: Annie Rains
    Title: The Marrying Kind
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 75,000

    Desperate to keep a promise, Lexie plans on being engaged by summer’s end. What she doesn’t plan on is falling for the widowed firefighter who rescues her and who doesn’t intend to marry again.

    • Solid trope, good writing, good hook, though the opening line is a little vague–as I’m wondering who she’s keeping this promise to, and if there’s someone specific she’s planning on getting engaged to, until this firefighter arrives on the scene and changes her plans. I’d try to work in a little of the firefighter’s mutual interest in her, too, as otherwise this comes across as the typical story of a woman trying to finagle a reluctant man into marriage, and readers tend not to like that portrayal of desperation. That implication could make some people pass.

  • Name: Jody Wallace
    Title: Angeli
    Genre: SF Romance
    Wordcount: 58,000

    What happens after the Chosen One fails to stop the apocalypse? Gregori, a false angel, and Adelita, a human refugee, have one chance to save the planet…but no chance to save themselves.

    • This pitch doesn’t quite tell me what’s going on, just some details related to it. Is Gregori the Chosen One? Is Adelita? How can an angel be false? What is Adelita a refugee from? Are they saving the planet from the apocalypse? In a pitch session, this would convey that you’re not 100% confident what the concept of your story is. Work on narrowing this down to just a single bold statement of the central plot, then add in smaller details and stakes.

  • Giora says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    • There’s not enough detail here to really be sure what the story is, and it feels like we’re focusing on the wrong things, and some things don’t make sense.

      1. Why is a German fighting corporate America? Why is it important that she’s German?

      2. Why would she be fighting in the streets when in general, one fights corporate wars in the board room?

      3. Why wouldn’t she be able to trust her boyfriend? What are the reasons he might be untrustworthy?

      This feels less like a pitch and more like a quick note taken about an undeveloped plot idea. (I’m so sorry if that sounds mean–I don’t mean it to. But this does need to be fleshed out into something that gives us a better idea of the story and voice, because right now I don’t have any idea why any of this is happening, or the stakes.)

    • Giora says:

      Thanks Adrien-Luc for your comments, and you don’t sounds mean at all. I found about the contest late and put an incomplete pitch.
      1. It’s important that Petra is German because there’s another major storyline happening in Germany.
      2. She does fight in the streets, cause being a teenager she can’t fight in the board room.
      3. Her boyfriend works for Corporate America, her enemy, and she doesn’t know if his love for her is sincere.
      Best wishes and I enjoy following your tweets.

  • Allie B says:

    Name: Allie B
    Title: Night Circus
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Worked Count: 14,000

    Telekenetic performer, Ella Olson’s love for fellow performer, Maddock, was unshakable, until he locked up her memories and stole her from her father’s circus. Determined to remember, Ella realizes some memories are best kept secret.

    • One comma here makes the difference between Ella being a telekinetic performer, and her love being the telekinetic performer.

      Grammar nitpicks aside, the idea is here, but the presentation is a little off. The voice really isn’t coming through, and there’s not enough tension. In a pitch this short, you basically need a sentence to set it up, then a sentence to knock it down and ask the question that pulls readers to look for more. For that you need tension–anticipation. That’s not coming through here. An interesting premise that could possibly get a request, with a potentially dark storyline, is falling short in the pitch’s execution.

  • Name: D.R. Graham
    Title: 81
    Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
    Wordcount: 69,000

    After Tienne’s father is murdered, she leaves the dangerous world of outlaw motorcycle gangs and her biker boyfriend behind her. When her brother is found dead, she has no choice but to go back.

    • Good setup, though I’d swap the biker boyfriend with the outlaw motorcycle gangs (she leaves her biker boyfriend and the dangerous world of outlaw motorcycle gangs behind her). You give us emotional investment with the dead brother…but there’s no hint of what happens after that. How is her brother’s death connected to the motorcycle gangs? Why is she going back–to investigate? Does this pose a threat to her? How does this affect her former romance? You can work in a few words that will at least give us an idea of those things and wrap it up in a neat package.

  • nikkiurang says:

    Name: Nikki Urang
    Title: BROKEN
    Genre: YA Dark Contemporary
    Word Count: 59,000

    After an accident kills half her family, Dylan uses drugs to drown her feelings. When she falls for Matt, she must decide if she’s willing to quit using heroin and take a chance on love.

    • Wow. That has a lot of punch without dwelling too much on the angst. Simple and pointed. I think this is a pretty effective pitch as far as information presentation, and I think the rather dark, attention-grabbing storyline does help to compensate for the somewhat dry voice. But you could still work on strengthening the voice, and maybe infuse a little more detail on the stakes affecting the rest of her life, and not just her chance at a relationship.

  • Name: Vicki Tremper
    Genre: YA Time Travel/Historical
    Word count: 68,000

    When a modern ballerina ends up in 1895 Paris, Sophie must decide whether to give up dance forever for the man she loves or return to the mother whose secrets she uncovered in the past.

    • The random time travel doesn’t seem to tie in to the rest of the plot. Two plots, really. How do the mother’s secrets have anything to do with this budding romance? Why would she have to give up dance for love when ballet existed in 1895 and she could have found a way to get involved? It’s interesting, but not coming together into something that says you have a cohesive storyline, instead of just ideas. (Cool ideas, btw. I love dance-oriented stories. But the pitch needs a bit more development and tighter knitting.)

    • Thanks, Adrien-Luc. There’s a lot going on in the plot and a twist at the end, so it has defied all my attempts at writing a succinct pitch. I’ll keep working at it. Thanks again!

  • Sara Biren says:

    Name: Sara Biren
    Title: CLOUD 9
    Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 54,000

    Cat makes her annual escape to Cloud 9, a 1950s-inspired campground, where everything is “just fine.” But this summer she’s got more problems than she can handle when she falls for her old friend Brad.

    • I love the idea of a 50s-inspired campground! That right there makes a great hook for this pitch, as it’s very different and sets the tone for the story as a whole. And it’s great that you work in the romantic conflict, with a pretty good voice and good pacing. My only question is…does Cat have a story other than the romantic relationship? Can it be shown in your pitch?

  • Name: Robin Alexander
    Title: Shadows
    Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction

    Newly widowed Rachel Bracket escapes to Montana to find danger, family secrets and a vicious surprise waiting in her backyard. Only the haunting voice of a stranger, Leonardo, offers protection from the creatures stalking her.

  • Name: Rebecca Stevenson
    Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 45,000

    When literary agent Tracy discovers a secret about her mother’s past while on vacation, will aspiring novelist Nathan help her cope with the revelation, or will their careers complicate and end their budding relationship?

    • Kind of like The Proposal meets The Siren, only without the BDSM or Ryan Reynolds’ abs.

      Damn it, now I need to go watch that.

      Silliness aside, while this isn’t as tight as it could be, overall it’s well-paced and gives the necessary information to have a good grasp on the story, but it does feel a little muddled once we get to the part about her relationship with Nathan. Maybe try rephrasing it for cleaner, sharper statements?

  • Cindy44 says:

    Name: CL Howland
    Genre: NA/Adult Fiction
    Word Count: 77,000

    Targeted by bullies, an overweight girl in home-made dresses discovers friendship, then love with an outspoken exotic boy. Her first adult act: to choose between the person she needs and the family who needs her.

    • I don’t really have much to offer on this one because it’s definitely appealing. The pacing isn’t quite what you normally see in a quick, zingy pitch, but what you have here works. There’s a certain offbeat appeal and a touch of charming homeliness to it, and while grammatically it stumbles a little, the sense of the story conveyed helps to compensate.

  • JaneB says:

    Have taken the liberty of putting this in again as i noted a typo! Sorry

    Genre: Time Travel Romance
    Word Count: 85,000

    Travelling back in time to Tudor politics wasn’t on Jane Seatoun’s holiday agenda.
    Tired of battle Lord Callum Broderick’s loyalty is divided. Does he save his lover or his neck from the executioner’s block?

    • Incorrect grammar makes for statements that can be easily misconstrued (for example, it’s written as if Lord Callum’s loyalty is tired of battle, rather than Callum himself). Overall, though, I see two statements of two character arcs, but not how they intersect to create a cohesive single storyline, or how they relate to the possibility of death by execution.

  • A.J. Locke says:

    Name: A.J. Locke
    Title: Ravishing Midnight
    Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 85,000

    Rieve unknowingly receives a demon’s heart, and becomes a pawn in the witches’ plot to destroy all demons. Turns out the witches are the ones in danger of being destroyed, and with them, Rieve’s heart.

    • This is pretty different from standard urban fantasy fare, and definitely has appeal, but the pitch wanders a little too much and focuses more on vague details instead of specifics. It feels detached, without much personal investment in the stakes of the story. Also, there’s nothing in the pitch to place this as urban fantasy, rather than just plain fantasy; reading this, I’d think I was dealing with a swords-and-sorcery fantasy world and would be surprised to find out it’s modern urban fantasy.

  • Name: Carlene Love Flores
    Title: Spare Hearts
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 60,000

    The last thing Army Sergeant Chanel Horton wants to do is give director Gabriel Gray a chance to explain his distasteful documentary. When he asks her to be his next subject, she is appalled.

    • If you’ll forgive the pun, this is the windup, but not the pitch. This is a contemporary romance, but there’s no hint of a potential romance between the two in the pitch. I’d say keep your first sentence, but tweak the second so that it’s more “When…but, etc.” So that we have a lead-in to the potential for an enemies-to-lovers romance while still retaining a clear sense of the obstacle between them.

  • Dianne May says:

    Name: Dianne May
    Title: Wynter’s Horizon
    Genre: NA paranormal romance
    Word Count: 105,000

    Wynter hates life until she falls for Beck, a reclusive SAS officer. But like Wynter, Beck is running from a mistake, and Wynter and Beck must face their pasts or lose their future together.

    • Pretty good, except it’s missing the paranormal aspect. Looks like a tortured hero trope with a good dash of redemption, clearly showing the stakes, but the pitch is telling me it’s contemporary, not paranormal. Is there a paranormal storyline tied in to their pasts? Are they in any sort of danger? What’s the plot outside of the romance and their interpersonal conflicts?

  • Sophia Chang says:

    Name: Sophia Chang
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 51,000

    Ambrosia Wyne: half-nymph, all-nerd…destroyer of Mount Olympus? It was a Really. Bad. Day.

    • This totally made me laugh out loud, and is probably the shortest effective pitch I’ve seen. You’ve got humor, a liberal dash of character voice, characterization, and your central plot in as few words as possible. My only tweak would be to “It was a really. Bad. Day.” While it’s cute and impactful, it seems not to be a direct answer to the question you pose in your opening statement. It’s close, but you just need to work on the transition phrasing a little more.

  • Kelley Lynn says:

    Name: J.S. Morris & Kelley Lynn
    Title: Already There
    Genre: YA Contemporary
    Word Count: 75,000

    In the midst of the Texas sun, horse dung, and hot ranch hands, Charlie realizes her future isn’t hopeless, as long as she believes in herself as much as her younger sister does.

    • Horse dung. ~dies~ That’s epic. Buuuut…I’m not really seeing the basis for Charlie’s conflict here. What about her future is hopeless? Is this supposed to imply that it’s a dead-end life and she feels like she’s stuck in a rut, or is there something else motivating this? How does believing in herself act as a catalyst to change her life? There’s not much here to tell me what actually happens in the story. All I know is there’s a girl on a ranch whose little sister believes in her power to change her life, but what does she actually do to change her life? What does changing it entail? What does she want, other than something different?

  • Kam says:

    Name: Kamy Chetty
    Title: The Rules of Dating Dr Death
    Genre: Sexy Contemporary
    Word Count: 55 000
    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…
    Sophie Redmond knew betrayal. Knew it enough to trust no-one. Can she trust Sheriff Damon Watson with her life, when history taught her all men lied?

    • First off, really catchy title. 🙂

      Starting a pitch with a tagline can be tricky, especially since it’s hard to deliver that in a spoken elevator pitch and keep a straight face as you switch from that first-person tagline to the third-person pitch statement. The fact that it’s a common colloquialism can help to play to common experience for an idea of what we’re getting out of the story, and as it stands the pitch probably wouldn’t be able to hold up without it. The problem is, it should be able to. We spend too much time talking about Sophie’s relationship with betrayal, and not enough looking at why she needs to trust Damon with her life so we know what the driving plot of the story is.

  • Shannon says:

    Name: Shannon Kline
    Title: The Long Way to Oceanwatch
    Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 57,700

    Driving cross-country with a black eye and a bruised heart, Olivia leaves behind a husband who isn’t worth remembering. Will Nick put big-city life behind him to embrace the new girl in town?

    • This one gives some interesting details, but doesn’t quite bring it home to a conclusion to make this an effective pitch. It feels like we’re missing something in the middle to tie it together cohesively, and there’s room for confusion when we’re talking about Olivia driving cross-country, but suddenly Nick is the one leaving big-city life behind…why? Have they both left their old lives to end up in a new place? You might try a new angle that focuses on that commonality between them: running away from something, only to find each other as they try to settle somewhere new.

    • Shannon says:

      Thank you very much for your comments! I really appreciate it!

  • Name: Juliet Madison
    Genre: Humorous Women’s Fiction with romantic elements
    Word count: 75,000 words

    Supermodel Kelli Crawford thinks her hotshot boyfriend is about to propose, but on her 25th birthday she wakes in the future as a 50 year old suburban housewife married to the high school nerd.

    • I think on another pitch I mentioned a resemblance to Drop Dead Diva, and this one evokes that again–but there are quite a few confusing elements, like how the pending proposal has anything to do with waking 25 years in the future. It’s written as if it’s cause and effect, when it’s not. Also, it sounds like she’s married to an actual high school age boy. Either that, or she’s married to the nerd from her high school–but since she starts off at age 25, her high school years don’t seem relevant to this.

  • Name: Jenna Grinstead
    Title: The Time Keeper’s Daughter
    Genre: YA Parnormal Romance
    Word Count: 63,000

    Rose is part of an ancient race sworn to move time forward. Eddie lives to change the past.
    When these enemies partner to save a life, they find a love that could destroy them both.

    • The first question that comes to mind is “Time moves forward by itself, so why is this ancient race necessary to make that happen?” I’m not trying to be snarky–just being honest about what pops into my head, as a pitch is basically ten seconds to a first impression, and that’s my first impression. Maybe you could say they exist to preserve the integrity of the current timeline, or something like that? Or say they exist to prevent people like Eddie from changing the timeline. Something to give us a better idea of the true importance of their purpose. Also, I’m not wholly sure what the central plot is. Why do they need to save this one particular life? What will happen if they don’t? Why will their love destroy them? Are they from opposing races, or is it their conflicting purposes?

  • Name: Ashley Turcotte
    Title: Diamond Tears
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 65,000

    In this modern day Wizard of Oz, Emma journeys through other worlds with a crew of magical misfits. But the more time she spends with Robin, the less interested she is in making it home.

    • Wizard of Oz retelling! That sounds fun, and I’d strengthen that association a little more. If there’s humor in the story, work it in–as while the general concept seems to have the potential for a lot of fun, the pitch isn’t really saying fun. It’s not really saying anything other than that there’s a romantic interest that keeps our surrogate Dorothy from wanting to go back to Kansas. For Dorothy there was no place like home, but for Emma, there’s no home better than Robin. Work with the famous recognized phrases from the Wizard of Oz to give this a sharper punch and give it more life.

  • Peter Andrews says:

    Title: Dream Crafters
    Genre: YA Science Fiction
    Word Count: 71,000
    On Corcoran, the dreams of young adults come true, making them the source of all new technology. Bridget, a vivid dreamer must defeat a tyrant who enslaves dreamers or freedom will disappear from her world.

    • The premise of this is throwing me off, as I’m wondering:

      1. How do the dreams come true? Is this just a thing that happens, or an engineered technology?

      2. How does anyone control their dreams? What do they do with the nightmare aberrations that can come from the human subconscious and manifest as terrible dreams?

      3. This tyrant who enslaves dreamers–unless there are a limited number of teens on the planet, how can the tyrant take freedom from her world when the opposing forces can just use their own cadre of dreamers to create counter-technology?

      Overall the details presented here are a little too loose, and make me question the foundations of the story enough that I’d be too worried about the plausibility to want to read more. On the technical front, the grammar is a little off, and there’s not much engagement in the language choices; it falls a little flat.

      I do think that there’s a really good core idea in there, and I have faith that my questions are actually answered plausibly in your manuscript. But I’d find a way to present the basic premise of the story without so many open-ended details that create the foundation for doubts that can lead to a no.

  • Name: Angela Parkhurst
    Title: Cinderella’s Glass Stiletto
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 79,030

    Pitch: Sent to a boarding school in Germany, nomad teenager Norah cannot believe her classmates are the crazed reincarnations of fairy tale characters. Or that she’d fall in love with the Big Bad Wolf.

    • Another awesome title. Your first sentence is a bit long, though, and could use either restructuring or even chopping apart into two sentences. I’d say try a different lead-in to make it more effective. Also, does she really count as a nomad if she’s being sent to a long-term boarding school? Lastly, what’s the conflict beyond the romance? Is the romance the main plotline, or is there some other adventure that these fairy tale reincarnations are involved in?

  • Robbin says:

    Name: Robbin Luckett
    Title: SPARKLE
    Genre: YA Contemporary
    Word Count: 53,000

    15-year-old Taylor Schuman discovers her BFF is adopted. If she exposes the shut-the-door truth, she could face juvie and risk losing her friend. But keeping a secret―now that’s a problem.

    • I would approach this from a different angle, as right now it looks like there’s a lot of unnecessary drama going on around a very commonplace event: being adopted. There seems to be something more sinister afoot that would result in Taylor going to juvie if she exposes the truth (btw, it’s not clear here that she doesn’t find out from her friend; she finds out through other means, and her friend doesn’t know). Is it because of who her BFF’s adopted parents are, or who her real parents are? Can you work in the reason why this secret is so imperative, beyond their friendship?

      Also, the last sentence is stating the obvious. Keeping secrets is generally difficult and often problematic. I’d get rid of “now that’s a problem” and instead add something about the stakes to heighten the tension.

    • Robbin says:

      Dear Mr. Adrien-Luc Sanders, You’re brilliant and I appreciate your feedback. Thank you! From Chicago 😉

  • Susanne Bradford says:

    Name: Susanne Bradford
    Title: The House: A Diablo’s Point Mystery
    Gener: YA Paranormal Thriller
    Word Count: 30,758

    Alexandria, suddenly attracted to her friend Hayden, is about to learn that her town is a hotspot for magic and that 2 of her best friends and not who or what they say they are

    • Typos in this are a point against you when presenting a professional pitch, but the main issue is that this is presented as one sentence that creates quite a bit of confusion by relating things that really aren’t. Alexandria’s sudden attraction to Hayden doesn’t have anything to do with her town being a hotspot for magic. And even though we have this magical setup, we don’t know what significance it has to the story, or what her friends’ alternate identities might lead to as an inciting event for the central storyline. These are introductory details, but not really a pitch.

  • Anonymous says:

    Name: Yolanda Sherwood
    Title: Clayton’s Jade
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 54,000
    Kaylee Thompson, a bob cat shifter, has dreams that seem to come true. When Clayton Howell, a berserker, shows up Kaylee ends up being thrown into a war to save earth from Ragnarok.

    • Be wary of the “seems to” trap. If she experiences this enough, she’d know whether or not they’re actually coming true, so you’re wasting words and softening the impact of the statement by using “seems to.”

      These two statements don’t seem to come together. Can you use her prophetic dreams to say she saw Ragnarok coming, but could never predict Clayton or the effect he’d have on her?

  • Anonymous says:

    Name: Lacey Marks
    Title: Sleepless Shawna
    Genre: Contemporary YA thriller
    Word Count: 76,000

    During her school’s annual Senior Lock-In, Shawna finds a friend kissing her long-time crush. The surprise moment was heartbreaking. Getting sympathy from a teacher was embarrassing. Finding a dead body didn’t help the mood, either.

    • Wow, I had completely forgotten about senior lock-ins. Now I’m remembering my own from my high school days. I love that you evoke that.

      You have all the right details here, and overall it’s a pretty engaging pitch, but it still feels a little stiff. I’d work on the sentence structure and try to smooth out the delivery so that when you read it aloud, it trips off the tongue a bit more easily. Basically try saying it aloud, and adjust the structure and punctuation to reflect what feels most natural when saying it.

  • AG says:

    Genre:Urban Fantasy

    After a 4,000 year loveless streak, disgruntled genie-turned-bartender Vess decides to take down the reality TV star who ruined her life and smashed her bottle. Too bad the only way is to end the world.

    • AG says:

      Name: Amanda Gardner @agwickedspirits contactamandagardner@gmail.com

    • You’ve captured the fun tone of this, but not really a single strong plot thread. What does her loveless streak have to do with smashing her bottle, ruining her life, or this person who did it? Who is this reality TV star, that the only way to destroy them is to end the world? I don’t feel like I know what the real story is here, just the subplots.

  • Name: Lisa Lueddecke
    Title: IMPERIUM
    Genre: YA Dystopian
    Word Count: 60,000

    As the only survivor of her plague-decimated village, Terra must hunt-down those responsible and find out why the invisible wall that has always surrounded her village suddenly disappeared.

    • This is cleanly presented, but it’s not quite connecting the ideas. Had the invisible wall kept the plague out, and that’s why she’s searching for those who brought down the wall? Or is that a separate idea? It feels like the danger here is more in the past; the plague happens, she survives…so what’s the danger to her now? Can you give a larger sense of the overarching purpose behind this and the key players so we have a bit more tension to draw our interest?

  • Stephanie S. says:

    Name: Stephanie Sauvinet
    Title: The End World
    Genre: YA Science-Fiction
    Word Count: 60,000 words

    Lana moves to The End World, a devastated parallel planet, to help survivors rebuild. When she learns her father was killed by the survivor’s leader, she needs to choose: follow her orders or seek revenge.

    • Survivors’, not survivor’s–plural possessive, since you’re talking about a group of survivors.

      You’ve got a great conflict, but I’m a little confused as to the timing. Was her father’s death something that happened in the distant past, or is this a recent thing? Did it happen before or after she moved there? If this is YA, and she’s a teen, how does she have the autonomy to move somewhere for a purpose without some kind of guardian?

      These are the kind of things you can work in carefully with just slight changes in wording, to strengthen the core idea of the pitch and help support the clear conflict you’ve created–though one thing missing from the conflict is the consequences of disobeying her orders, to tell us why we should care about this choice.

  • Name: J. A. Bennett
    Title: EXISTENCE
    Genre: YA Science Fiction
    Word Count: 60,000

    Chrissie Fox’s one focus in life is Time Curving. Everything changes when a friend, Ashton, discovers her watch and accidently takes them both to the past. The watch is stolen, threatening the earth’s very existence.

    • One fallback phrase you never want to use in your pitch is “everything changes,” because it’s generic stock phrasing that doesn’t really mean anything. In every story, things change. Give us more specific wording that gives us a glimpse of your writing style.

      I’d wonder, with this pitch, what the point of time curving is, and why Chrissie cares so much about it. There’s the GMC issue here–goal, motivation, conflict. We know what Chrissie does, but not what she wants; only that she’s reacting to a situation Ashton created. Who steals the watch? Why does the watch matter? Why would this person stealing the watch do something that threatens the earth, if they live on the earth and would be eradicated along with it? Overall I think the details here are a little too vague and general, and this pitch would be stronger with specifics.

  • Name: Abigail Springborn
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 65,000

    When sixteen-year-old Effie Flynn checks out the human bodies littering the forest she grows up in, she is kidnapped and tossed in a world of human and shapeshifter trafficking.

    • Incorrect verb tenses. You want to put your best foot forward when you only have a few seconds to make an impression with a quick pitch, so make sure your grammar is spot-on.

      This is the inciting event of the story, but not enough of a pitch to tell us the journey she’s facing–and what this sudden change in her life means. She’s tossed into the world of human and shapeshifter trafficking…but what then? What does she do about it? What obstacles does she face, and what is her final goal and the overall goal of the story?

  • Melissa says:

    Name: Melissa Long
    Title: Queen of Hearts
    Genre: Urban Fantasy with Romantic Elements
    Word Count: 85,000

    A Vegas vacation turns deadly when gypsy matchmaker Chai Macek makes enemies with a supernatural mob boss. Now her to-do list includes: blackmail, spying, illegal magick and a plot to take down the Inter-Magickal Council.

    • A gypsy matchmaker and a supernatural mob boss–I see why this got a request. 😉 This is a fairly tight pitch with a good level of engagement. I’d cut out the colon, though. Technically it’s correct, but it’s also correct without it–and it reads much more smoothly and strengthens the voice of the pitch.

      For some reason seeing magic/magick spelled that way always makes my editor!brain twitch, though I know it’s correct in context. So ignore me there.

  • Kristina says:

    Kristina Perez
    120,000 words

    21-year-old Lyra Vega is falsely convicted of murdering her parents and exiled to a parallel world where she must fight for survival, track the real killer and not fall in love.

    • You had me with a good, concise pitch until “and not fall in love.” It’s a negative action–not doing something–as opposed to the list of things she actually does. You could use a verb like “resist [name]’s love” to make it more active.

      The fact that Lyra is 21 throws me a little; I’m guessing this is for New Adult, but it almost seems like it would be better as YA simply because of the parents’ death being the inciting event.

  • AngiNicole says:

    Name: Angi Black
    Title: Lygos
    Genre: NA Paranormal Romance
    Wordcount: 75,000

    200 years hasn’t prepared Adella Dowling, a Lygos, for meeting Ian Walsh, a Hunter. One must kill the other or both their lines will end. Despite the danger, can you ever keep true love apart?

    • I’d avoid second-person address in a pitch unless the entire thing is done in second person, addressing the reader/listener. Also, this loses its effectiveness when we don’t know what Lygos or Hunter signifies, or why this conflict exists between them. You don’t need “Despite the danger,” as that’s overexplaining a little bit and using words you could spend on knitting this together a bit more tightly.

  • Name: Anjelica Jardine
    Genre: erotic comedy
    Word count: 70,000

    Quirky substitute by day and role-playing Domme by night, Cerise has nearly had it with the traditional BDSM scene until she meets William, who can make all her wacky fantasies come true. But he’s dead.

    • Love this title. Erotic comedy with BDSM…that’s not something you see often, and that alone I think would pitch this story just from sheer curiosity to find out how this works out. I’m not sure if “wacky fantasies” fits here, though, as it makes me think her BDSM scene includes dressing him up in a duck suit with a rubber clown nose instead of a beak, and that may be more comedic than you’re going for.

      You had me hooked until “But he’s dead.” After such a tight opening sentence, this short, choppy caveat feels tacked on.

  • SueJay says:

    Susan Bailey
    YA Paranormal

    Ana needs to know why demons are hunting her, and why Dreamboy gave her this strange fruit. Before Tam (sexy new guy) decides the bounty on her head is worth more than solving the mystery.

    • The parenthetical aside makes this read more like notes you took for later than a pitch, and overall it’s a bit confusing as to why Tam is interested in solving Ana’s mystery about the fruit, who Dreamboy is, and overall what the core of the plot is. You may want to try writing this from a different angle, with a different focus. I’m seeing more about the potential relationships than the plot.

  • Lynn says:

    Name: Lynn Zeuthen
    Title: Unscripted
    Genre: Brazen Romance
    Word Count: 76,240

    Private jets, romantic weekends and a dark secret. Lia Meyers’ ordinary world is rocked by the mysterious, sexy and charming Alastair Holden. Their bond is strong, but will it survive his hidden past?

    • You start off strong, but it kind of jumps over something critical once we get to “Their bond is strong.” This seems like a sudden sexy tryst with a lot of chemistry, so this strong bond seems like it doesn’t belong. I’d focus instead on the building relationship, rather than something that sounds like a foregone conclusion. Also, avoid vague wording like that; try to be specific in as few words as possible. Also, can you integrate a sense of the danger the dark secret poses?

  • Sarah Allen says:

    Trying this again as I didn’t add a word count last time

    Name: Sarah Allen (contact GJSNA412@att.net)
    Title: Secrets of the Dead
    Genre: Paranormal with romantic aspects
    Word count: 120,000

    Anya Callahan has had a love/hate relationship with the dead her entire life. Now she’s trying to juggle work, friends, and a romance with her growing talents, when she can get a word in edgewise over spirits clamoring for her attention.

    • Overall the details presented don’t quite make sense–I can get a love/hate relationship with a person, but with the general concept of “the dead?” It’s not quite meshing into something that creates a valid premise that holds my attention. Also, phrasing creates some misconceptions “and a romance with her growing talents” took a few reads to realize you meant she’s balancing a romance while dealing with her growing talents, not somehow falling in love with her talents.

      Also, an em-dash after “talents” would work better than the comma.

      This says it’s paranormal with romantic aspects, but the main thing that stands out in the pitch is the romance, as a driving factor for the story. I don’t really see what the story is, other than that she has these talents–not the story that’s built around them. Why do spirits want her attention? Is there a problem she needs to solve? At what risk?

  • Name: Jennifer Ball
    Title: The Coral Princess
    Genre: MG fantasy
    Wordcount: 45,000

    Sarah Solomon is not a boy. But she’ll have to sail the high seas amongst the beribboned buccaneers to find out what she really is. Is the adventure on deck… or in the ocean?

    • This opens with a declarative statement that Sarah’s not a boy…but we never get why this matters. Are girls not allowed to be buccaneers? Why not? What does her gender have to do with the fact that she has to sail the high seas? (Also, “beribboned” implies feminine in some ways–though I’m hesitant to point that out as that’s falling back on typical gendered assumptions, but since this seems to be going by the gendered assumption that Sarah being a girl is somehow a limitation to her adventure…)

      “To find out what she really is”–not a boy, but…not a girl? I’m really confused. You use a feminine pronoun and female name for her, so I think she’s a girl, but there’s the statement that she’s not a boy…is this a story to discover her gender, or a story to discover that she’s something other than human? How does this tie together? And the last question “Is the adventure on deck…or in the ocean?” is posing the wrong question to hook the audience. The location of the adventure shouldn’t matter so much as the significance of the secrets.

  • Name: Jessica Freely
    Title: All the Colors of Love
    Genre: LGBT YA Science Fiction Romance
    Word Count: 85,000

    Harry knows his super villain dad killed his mom, but he can’t do anything about it. Then he meets sweet, fierce Antonin, who makes all his dreams come true, including that one about getting revenge…

    • YA LGBT with super villains! I had a little squee moment there.

      Most of my nitpicks here are technical. Like “Harry knows…” You don’t need to say he knows. You can just say he did it, and since this pitch is about Harry, we know that Harry knows. There’s the generic “makes all his dreams come true.” I’d like to see something more evocative than that, as it’s a cliche. Also, it’s a little odd that Antonin is sweet, but he somehow enables revenge; that seems contradictory. But I love where you trail off here, and leave us wanting more.

  • Janet Wrenn says:

    Name: Janet Wrenn
    Title: Bound
    Genre: Covet – Contemporary Romance with a Paranormal twist
    Word Count: 74,000

    Finn Carmichael is seducing Janelle Clancy, but he’s just a character in a book. A hurricane, a book, and the longing to find a man who can’t possibly exist lead Janelle to a startling discovery.

    • …just a little too off-center. I’m intrigued, but the wording isn’t quite on-target and the question posed by the pitch is a little too open-ended. I really like your concept, but the structural/technical execution of the pitch is a little backward. Can you create more of a sense of anticipation, a little breathlessness that captures this longing for an impossible romance with a fictional character, and that breath of hope that maybe he’s out there somewhere? I know that seems like a lot to do in 35 words, but picking just the right words can really make the feelings involved hit people between the eyes.

  • Kristina says:

    Kristina Perez (kristina@kristinaperez.com)
    Genre: Ever Afters (When in Rome – Special Call)
    Word count: 33,000

    Princess and Oceanid, Aellai prefers piracy to royal duties. Torn between a sea-god and a sky-god, she holds the fate of Atlantis not in her hands – but in her heart.

    • This is another one that focuses more on the romance than on the story. Why is the fate of Atlantis threatened, or are we supposed to be drawing from common experience here regarding the mythical lost city? What does her piracy have to do with the central plot? There’s not enough of a hook here, even though that’s a clever closing line, albeit a bit ambiguous. Still has a nice rhythm to it and ends on a good note. I’d just like to see a bit of a tighter hook beforehand.

  • Name: Diane L. Kowalyshyn
    Title: Fatal Distraction
    Genre: Romantic Suspense with Paranormal Elements
    Word Count – 75,000

    He’s undercover military trying to save his sister–she’s a savvy businesswoman trying to rescue her father’s air-transport business–a cut-throat adventure from Maine’s rugged coast to the Peruvian jungle where they become the hunted.

    • Love the pun in the title.

      Each of those em-dashes should be periods. That’d ramp this up to the next level immediately. But the last sentence is a little bland, and “where they become the hunted” implies that previously, they were the hunters, when there’s nothing to imply that in the pitch. I see the two lead characters’ individual stories, but how does this tie together? Where’s the paranormal aspect, so that from the pitch we know what we’re getting into?

  • tcastleb says:

    Name: Nica Berry
    Title: Born in Beauty
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Wordcount: 50k

    Spencer’s a bassist wounded in hand and heart. Cara’s a jazz pianist hiding her name from Spencer and her talent from her family. Both must face the truth to free their love and their music.

    • I think we spend too much time on the intro sentences establishing characterization, leaving not enough time to really find out what’s going on. I’m not sure where the real conflict is–their secrets, or…? The impression I’d get from this is that it’s a rather slow-moving, almost literary story, when with this kind of tale you should be trying as hard as possible to convey the depth of emotion in the characters’ journeys. Also, why is Cara hiding her name from Spencer, and how is that significant to the story’s central plot?

  • Name: Marie Andreas

    Title: A Curious Invasion

    Genre: Steampunk

    Word Count: 100,000

    In an alternative Victorian London, a half-vampire coroner has to thwart an invasion from Mars.

    • That’s one heck of a mashup–alien invasions, half vampires, alternate Victorian London…but where’s the steampunk in the pitch? I don’t really see anything that indicates steampunk other than alternate Victorian London, and a lot of stories do that without it being steampunk. I think you might need to work in a little more characterization and some genre elements to strengthen this as a pitch, and not just a one-line summary.

  • Name: Wendy Delfosse
    Title: Torn
    Genre: YA Contemporary
    Word Count: 70,000

    This year Lexi’s determined to get a boyfriend and protect her best friend, Kat, but the one guy who finally likes her is the same guy putting Kat in danger.

    • This could be broken into more than one sentence for smoother presentation. Also, I’d like to see more of Lexi’s identity outside her desire to please other people. She’s determined to get a boyfriend…and she finally finds one guy who likes her. What about her standards? What about what she likes and wants–or will she just take any guy willing to have her?

      I’d also like to see more about this “danger” Kat might be in. Why does Kat need protecting in the first place? I’d spend more time focusing on that, less on Lexi and potential romance. Weave in the conflicting relationships more cleanly.

  • Leiann Bynum says:

    Name: Leiann Bynum
    Title: Grim Crush
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 60,000

    Xia, a seventeen-year-old grim reaper, won’t let even Death, her father, stand in her way as she breaks the Rules of Reaping by falling for a mysterious human boy who can see her.

    • It should be “when she breaks the Rules of Reaping,” not “as she breaks the Rules of Reaping.” Other than that, this is pretty well-crafted. I might be curious enough to give this a read if not for the fact that, like with the other stories I’ve pointed out with similar premises, there are just so many popular grim reaper YA stories out now and there’s nothing in this pitch to say this one’s different from the others.

  • Kelly Allan says:

    Name: Kelly Allan
    Title: SLATED
    Genre: YA paranormal romance (novella)
    Word Count: approx 40,000
    Pitch: Lydia’s alcoholic mother puts her on meds for her schizophrenia, but when a hallucination proves to be real, Lydia must decide to join The Reapers after she dies or sacrifice her only friend.

    • Interesting plot elements, but I don’t see how they tie together. How is Lydia’s mother’s alcoholism pertinent? Actually, even the schizophrenia meds are extraneous information. We should say that Lydia’s undergoing treatment for schizophrenia, but her hallucinations turn out to be real. Though how does this hallucination lead to this choice with the Reapers? The timeline is unclear: is the story about the choice made during life, before she lives out a full life, or does she die in the story and have to choose then? What’s the actual driving central plot? I see her conflict and her choice, but what’s driving this choice? Why do the Reapers care about her so much that her friend is now in danger? Who is this friend to her, so we understand why she cares and why we should care?

  • Annie Quinty says:

    Title : Reborn by Blood
    Genre :Paranormal romance
    Author: Annie Quinty
    Wordcount: 119,000

    When Clementine meets Ichiro, a vampire DJ who has been haunting her most intimate dreams, the synchronistic encounter opens a new chapter in Clementine’s life, one filled with intrigue, dangerous attractions and several bites.

    • Didn’t you enter another pitch for this same story already? Is this just offering a different version to see which one fares better?

      This one is a significant improvement–more polished, with a better overall hook and pitch presentation. I’d still break this down into shorter sentences, and the ending of “and several bites” seems a little off.

  • amandakbyrne says:

    Name: Amanda Byrne
    Title: Finders Keepers
    Genre: Urban Fantasy
    Word Count: 80,000

    Brenna gave up magic after a near nervous breakdown. But after her best friend loses a dangerous magical artifact and begs for her help, she can’t say no, even if it means losing her sanity.

    • Overall I like this, and I like the emotional connection created by the near nervous breakdown. The writing is good, clean and sharp. Two things that bother me:

      1. I would think this is a fantasy, not urban fantasy, as there’s nothing to hint at the setting.

      2. I don’t know why this magical artifact matters, other than that it’s “dangerous.” I’d like to know what happens if they fail, and if there’s further intrigue involved in the disappearance.

  • Name: Nazarea Andrews
    Title: Across the Stars
    Genre: YA Sci-fi
    Word count: 88,000

    When psychic twins Juhan and Chosi are stolen from their planet and sold into slavery, both will have to confront what survival will cost as they make their way back to each other and home.

    • I’m not sure what “confront what survival will cost” will mean as a conflict, and would rather see more concrete details, along with something that indicates how the fact that they’re psychic integrates with the overall plot. Is there a larger story arc beyond their journey home? Do their psychic powers play into that?

  • Artemis Grey says:

    Name: Artemis Grey
    Title: Thornbriar
    Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling
    Word Count: 77,000

    A rampant archer, angry hounds, bat confidants and a Beast husband who keeps trying to kill her. Married life isn’t what Beauty expected. Complications abound when she actually falls in love with her bestial husband.

    • Do you mean “confidantes” and not “confidants?”

      What is a rampant archer? The phrasing doesn’t quite make sense.

      “Complications abound” is generic fallback phrasing to avoid having to specify detail in as few words as possible.

      Yet I do like this–it sounds kind of crazy, like a really different Beauty and the Beast retelling. The phrasing and pacing just need work, as it doesn’t deliver smoothly.

    • Artemis Grey says:

      Hehehe, I knew this one needed work 🙂

      Both my dictionaries told me that “confidants” and “confidantes” are one and the same, so I’ll have to research that further and see if one is actually more formal and appropriate.

      Rampant is a hard one. I finally settled on that word because of it’s meaning, yet it sounds so much better than an ‘out of control archer’ or ‘a fanatical archer’. The point is that the archer in the story is a dangerous and terrifying, frienemy at best, but of course that’s difficult to describe. Similarly, I don’t want it to sound like he’s a maniac. I will have to ponder that one long.

      The ‘Complications abound’ is totally generic, and you caught me on that. I hadn’t planned on entering this one and didn’t have a pitch ironed out, but then we were allowed to enter a second ms, and I needed to get the romantic part of the story out front so it seemed logical as an entry. Guilty as charged on the short cut there.

      Glad that you do like it though! And I’m glad that is sounds a tad crazy. I was really going for a classically styled, yet very different version.

      Thank you again, so much, Adrien-luc! Your input has been invaluable!

  • Elizabeth Prats
    Genre: YA Myth Retelling
    Word Count: 56,000

    When Alex is cast as Cupid’s love and the Fate’s begin to replay his history, even a few kisses won’t be enough to make up for being possessed by his dead ex.

    • Fates–plural, not possessive.

      I’m not sure how Alex is “cast” as Cupid’s love–is this a play?

      This looks like several plot ideas that don’t come together into a cohesive story. We keep starting to explain the plot…then diverting into another plot element.

      When Alex is cast as Cupid’s love…

      The Fates begin to replay his history…

      Even a few kisses won’t be enough to make up…

      Being possessed by his dead ex…

      Each of those is a unique plot thread, but it’s written as if there’s causality between them, and there isn’t. The pitch isn’t telling me the link between these elements; it’s just telling me they’re there.

  • Amy Giuffrida
    Title: Ugly
    Genre: contemporary YA
    Word Count: 35,000

    Vanessa is the outcast, but popular Adam wants to be with her until one drunken night she falls prey to his evil nature. Travis is the bad-boy who shows her how beautiful she is.

    • The incorrect grammar here is clouding your meaning.

      1. If Vanessa’s an outcast, why does the popular boy want to be with her?

      2. Using “until” this way makes it sound like falling prey to his evil nature makes him no longer want to be with her.

      3. If he wants to be with her until she falls prey, does this mean he wasn’t evil before that drunken night?

      4. What are the consequences of that night, other than losing Adam?

      5. What does being an outcast have to do with not being beautiful? The story is called UGLY, but there’s nothing about that being a plot point in the pitch.

      6. What’s the story outside of the romance?

      7. So…Travis is a bad boy on top of Adam being evil? Is there a good guy in the story?

  • Nicole Zoltack
    Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
    Word Count: 80,000

    When Prince Henrick sets out to save a dragon-napped princess, he didn’t expect to learn that two princesses needed to be rescued. Or that he would fall for both.

    • I’d suggest working in a more playful voice for this, as it sounds like there are hijinks waiting in the wings and the voice of the pitch needs to reflect that. If there aren’t, the voice needs to reflect what’s there. Is it an angsty story? A sweet one? I can’t tell from the pitch; I can only guess based on my personal perspective, that leans toward something playful, funny, but romantic with a bit more meat underneath the lighter story. Five people could read this pitch and tell you five different versions of the tone of the story. So try to make the tone of the pitch reflect the story’s tone. Also, try to work in the consequences of his choice.

  • Name: John Lucas Hargis
    Title: Freeborn
    Genre: YA Sci-Fi
    Word Count: 80k

    With chrome rifles aimed at her face, Katia braces for the blasts. But a hot rebels kills her attackers, thrusting Katia into new revelations, human feelings, and a dangerous plot to free the enslaved clones.

    • This starts off as if we’re plunging in mid-scene, rather than reading a pitch to encompass the overall storyline. After that it’s too vague; is Katia not human? What are these new revelations pertaining to, at least in brief summary? Why are clones enslaved, and why does it say “the enslaved clones,” as if talking about a specific subset of them, instead of just “enslaved clones” (no the) in general?

      It seems like there’s the seeds of an interesting SF plot here, but they’re buried in odd details that focus too much on one specific moment and not enough on the core plot and selling points of the book.

  • Liv says:

    Name: Liv Rancourt
    Title: Forever & Ever, Amen
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 65,000

    Molly, a forty-something single mom, gets a hell of a hickey – really a demon’s mark. To get rid of it, she’ll need help from an angel, who risks his wings to save Molly’s soul.

    • Setup, stakes, all there, so this is a really good start toward a catchy, tight pitch; your timing is pretty good. One thing I’m missing is why. It seems like there should be some greater reason for the demon to give her the mark, and some reason for it to be such a terrible thing that she wants to get rid of it. Is the only cost her soul? Or is there some larger plot afoot, and the demon’s pulled her into it? Is the angel her love interest? I don’t think you should shift the focus of the pitch to romance–it’s good that it’s plot first, relationship second. But maybe a hint that the reason the angel is risking his wings is because of personal investment.

    • Liv says:

      Thanks so much, Adrien-Luc. I appreciate the time you took to review the pitch and give me feedback on it.

  • E. Arroyo says:

    Name: Elizabeth Arroyo
    Name: Elizabeth Arroyo
    Title: Mind Rift
    Genre: YA Thriller
    Word Count: 60K

    Pitch: After years of silence, the murders begin again and this time Carly can’t escape. Surviving means closing her mind rift and opening a path to something far darker than death.

  • Tamara Gill says:

    Name: Tamara Gill
    Title: Duke of Penworth – Elizabeth (book 1)
    Genre: Regency Romance
    Word Count: 80k

    Lady Elizabeth wants a marriage of convenience after a youthful folly, which nearly caused her downfall. But when the groom she once loved waltzes back into London an earl, imagine her surprise…and anger.

  • JelsaMepsey says:

    Name: Jelsa Mepsey
    Title: Facades
    Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
    Word Count: 89,000

    Max Prescott knows three things are true: No one should make decisions during a hangover, history always repeats itself, and girls cannot be trusted.

  • dawnall says:

    Name: Dawn Allen
    Title: The G.A.P. Project
    Genre: YA Sci Fi Suspense
    Word Count: 66,000

    For Ginny, being “freakishly awesome” is one way to get a guy to notice you. Too bad it’s because she’s a genetically engineered fugitive trying to put an end to a government project run amuck.

    • There’s a great YA voice here with that kind of youthful spark that appeals to that audience. If anything I’d say tighten up your sentence structure a little, and maybe make it clear who this guy is and how he’s involved in her attempts to stop this government project.

  • AngiNicole says:

    Name: Angi Black
    Title: Charcoal and Hot Chocolate
    Genre: NA contemporary romance novella
    Wordcount: 12,000

    Ellie, an art major, doesn’t talk to people, except her two best friends. And Matt, the man of her dreams. When a college project brings them together, she may get more than just an A.

    • The impression I’m getting is that this is a sweeter story, almost more YA in tone but with NA age characters. But I don’t really feel like there’s any depth to it, and no conflict presented to tell me that over the course of the story, these characters will develop in any significant way. What is the story about, other than an introvert finding romance?

  • Name: Natasha Hanova
    Title: EDGE OF TRUTH
    Genre: YA Dark Paranormal
    Word Count: 63K

    Rena Moon, a free-spirited teen in a dictatorial society, struggles to control her emotion-based power to trigger earthquakes until her best friend is held ransom for the one thing that would free her from oppression.

    • This seems almost more dystopian with supernatural elements than paranormal, just because you made the focus a dictatorial society. When you include elements like that in a pitch, it tells us they’re a focal point in the story…so if this isn’t a dystopian, and is just a dark paranormal, that shouldn’t be there.

      Your inciting event doesn’t make sense–that she struggles to control her emotion-based power until her friend is held ransom. Once her friend is held ransom, does she no longer struggle to control it? Even if she chooses to use it, she’d need to control it enough for it to be of use.

      Also, “held ransom for the one thing that would free her from oppression.” So Rena already has something that will free her? Why hasn’t she made use of it before all this happened? This isn’t quite coming together into something that makes cohesive sense and lets me know what kind of story I’m getting.

  • JelsaMepsey says:

    Name: Jelsa Mepsey
    Title: Roommates
    Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
    Word Count: 51,000

    Desperate to escape the memory of his twin brother after his suicide, Ash Kyser sneaks into a girls’ boarding school. His roommate happens to be obsessed with his brother, who was a famous solo artist.

    • I’m not following Ash’s logic here. How is sneaking into a girls’ boarding school a way for him to escape a memory? Has he snuck in as in he’s hiding there short-term, or has he dressed up as a girl? As if this was a cross-dressing story, that’d be a lot more interesting and would give you something more to hook readers. Also, how does his roommate’s obsession tie to the plot, other than making it impossible for him to escape the memory? This is the setup, but what’s the story itself? What is Ash’s struggle, in the end?

  • JelsaMepsey says:

    Name: Jelsa Mepsey
    Title: Going Once, Going Twice, Sold!
    Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
    Word Count: 50,000

    After Vikee Soh is auctioned to her worst enemy Jeff DeLion instead of her ex-boyfriend for a fundraiser, she’ll do anything to avoid being sold on him after he kisses her his signature three times.

    • This has a great premise that offers plenty of opportunity for romantic tension, humor, and angst, so you did a great job getting enough of the story into this to get that across. But the sentence structure is a little backward, and I’d try to make it clear that she’s hoping to get back with the ex. Also, it should be “sold to him.” Unless you mean “sold on him” as in convinced to like him, which leaves too much room for confusion considering the subject of the pitch. Lastly, the signature three kisses don’t really make sense–this is his thing? Or…it doesn’t make sense that kissing her would make her want to avoid him more, rather than less, if he’s the love interest. The ambiguity with “sold on him” also makes me wonder if he kisses her before he gets to “buy” her, and why.

  • Alex says:

    Name: Alexandra Milkey
    Title: DELUSION
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 79,000

    Jia always knew she was odd, but being descended from a Greek god and being the girl Fate depends on to fix a mistake made long ago is nothing she could have ever imagined.

    • The biggest problem with this is the run-on sentence. You might have a good story pitch in here, but the long string of modifiers makes it hard to follow and gets the story lost in these appended details. Break it up and remember: wind-up, then pitch. Clear, concise details. Tell me the actual story, not just generalities.

  • JelsaMepsey says:

    Name: Jelsa Mepsey
    Title: Secret Stalker
    Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
    Word Count: 45,000

    Savannah Shay, valedictorian and Secret Stalker of Washington High School, is about to meet her match in salutatorian Evan Schultz when he sends the Secret Stalker a message regarding her without knowing the connection.

    • In your pitches I’m seeing that you do have a talent for coming up with uniquely fun YA contemp ideas, but in the pitches I’m also seeing that the actual story comes across a bit muddled and there’s an assumption of knowledge the reader/listener wouldn’t have, like what a Secret Stalker is. I’m also not seeing the significance of the message, and what kind of threat it poses to her; I think working in what the message is about would help. Also, the grammar makes it hard to tell: is Evan’s message about the stalker persona, or about Savannah herself?

  • Name: John Lucas Hargis
    Title: Capritare: Discovery
    Genre: LGBT YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 62k

    Capritare has screwed up every one of his thousand lifetimes. With an adolescent body embellished with changing appendages, this is his final chance to learn what’s keeping him from the coveted Completion.

    • The only thing I’m taking away from this is that he’s going through some kind of transformation–but not what journey is taking him there, or any sense of the danger to him. I’m not sure what he is, so I don’t know the significance of the thousand lifetimes, or what it means that this is his final chance. Does he die? What is Completion, and why does it matter to attain it? This is a rather bizarre premise–and I mean that in a good way. I like stories that just make you stop and say “Wait, what?” because they’re so fantastical, and this sounds like it would deliver on that, and offer the story of a very unique character. The problem with bizarre, though, is that sometimes you have to normalize it to pitch it, so you can at least present it in a frame of reference the pitchee can understand without needing complex definitions of what Capritare is and what Completion means.

  • Kristina says:

    Kristina Perez (kristina@kristinaperez.com)
    Urban Fantasy
    95,000 words

    Kat’s sister is falsely accused of multiple murders. The bodies are drained of blood and covered with ancient symbols. Kat is determined to solve the case before the handsome FBI Agent. Only problem: they’re vampires.

    • Opening sentence is a good setup–we know the problem, and why Kat is involved, considering the relationship with her sister. But I’m not sure who are vampires: Kat and her sister, or the dead bodies? Is that why they’re suspects, because they’re vampires–and is that why it’s a problem to the story? This doesn’t really give us an idea of what the greater plot must be beyond the false accusation, and who’s really committing the murders, and why. Also “the handsome FBI agent” should be “a handsome FBI agent” because “the” implies we’ve known of this agent before and we’re making a reference to something we’ve encountered before–when this is the first time we’re hearing of him.

  • ilima says:

    Ilima Todd
    YA science fiction
    67,000 words

    Sixteen-year-old Nine can’t wait to ditch her weak girl body for a braver male one, but a crash en route to her Remake teaches her girls kick ass too.

    • I like that this plays with gender roles, and with teaching girls to accept themselves as equal to boys and not inferior–but I’d like to see a little more detail as to why the crash teaches her this lesson. I’m not sure of the setting; does she crash on another planet, since this is sci-fi? Does her vehicle crash in the wilderness? What struggle does she have to face after the crash? Without that information, this is just a setup without an actual pitch.

  • Kristina says:

    Kristina Perez
    YA Contemp (with paranormal elements)

    There’s a tree by the lake, older than time itself. We call it the Wishing Tree. The thing is, once the Tree has granted your wish, it wants something in return. And Olivia is addicted.

    • This switches between first and third person, so that’s a little confusing. I like the storyteller voice here, and it’s a good tack to take to establish voice and engage the reader. It’s almost mysterious. But that tense shift is incorrect.

      I do wonder what Olivia is addicted to, and while the pitch could be stronger with a hint of that information, it’s not 100% essential. It’s just odd that she grows addicted to paying her price without knowing the form the payment takes–or is she addicted to the things she receives, and this is the story of the consequences of her greed?

  • Jennii says:

    Name: Jennifer M. Putman
    Title: Things Unseen
    Genre: YA Paranormal, Romance
    Word Count: 112,000

    Haven Allain’s plans to spend the summer relaxing away from the boyfriend she’d rather not see are ruined by an encounter with a strange boy, forcing her into a world of ghosts and demons.

    • The voice in this isn’t quite coming through; it reads a little passive, and I think the run-on sentence with numerous modifiers is muddling it further. Try to go for short, sharp sentences that focus less on the extraneous details and more on playing up the potentially spooky atmosphere of the story, and what it signifies that she’s thrown into this world of ghosts and demons. What’s the danger to her, what does she stand to lose, and what action does she take to escape?

  • Kelly Metz says:

    Kelly Metz
    Urban Fantasy
    110,000 words

    Alexandra Callahan searches for a murderer despite the pack’s insistence she leave the investigation to them. But they’re ignoring an important witness: her dad. The reason: he’s been dead for thirteen years. Good thing she never intended to listen to them.

    • Is it the pack, or her pack? One connects her to this concept, the other doesn’t.

      This feels like it’s missing some key element to tie her dead father in to her intentions to find the murderer. Like if the person murdered is her father; it’s implied, but too vaguely. How is she supposed to use him as a witness, btw? Can she communicate with the dead? The last line would probably be better spent exploring this and building up to a cliffhanger hook. We already know she’s not going to listen to them, because you told us she’s searching for a murderer despite others’ insistence that she let them handle it. So you’re losing precious space to redundant information.

  • Kristina says:

    Kristina Perez (kristina@kristinaperez.com)
    YA paranormal murder mystery
    95,000 words

    At Warwick Hall, the living and the dead both have secrets. Cassie is waiting for her body to be found. And something is with her in the darkness from which even death is no protection.

    • Ambiguous phrasing–is the thing death can’t protect her against the darkness itself, or the thing waiting in the darkness?

      I really like your opening line, though. Creates a strong sense of mood and tone, immediately evoking a spooky, dark story. I’d avoid use of passive voice(is waiting) and try to strengthen this using more active, engaging language so that the sense of atmosphere pervades.

  • Nicole Zoltack
    Title: ELENA’S PEN
    Genre: Younger YA/MG Fantasy
    Word Count: 65,000

    Almost everything Elena writes with her new pen happens, but whenever she uses it, someone turns into a demon. After a demon kidnaps her family, she’s willing to risk turning into one to save them.

    • This is a fascinating premise–reminds me of the very first episode of Mushi-shi, and the boy with the god hand where the things he writes with his mushi-tainted hand come to life, but with a darker bent. I’m curious, though…how can she risk turning into a demon, when the pen’s effects seem to be projected on other people, not on the user? That’s the implication I’m getting, anyway. The only thing that feels missing here is a sense of motivation–why the demons would want to kidnap anyone, and basically the point of these events. Otherwise, though, it’s a cleanly written pitch.

  • Scottie says:

    NAME: Scottie Honeysuckle
    Title: Check Me Out
    Genre: Contemporary Novella – Flirt line
    Wordcount: 12k

    When Dani finds herself locked overnight in the library with a sexy stranger, passion ignites between the stacks. Surrounded by fictional happy endings, can this shy bookworm write her own real-life happily ever after?

    • I don’t even–I can’t find anything to nitpick about this, and it’s making me a tiny bit crazy. Seriously, even though I normally hate seeing “finds herself” in anything, from a pitch to a query, it works here. It’s clean, seamless, well-timed, great voice, great tension, all the key details there, and your ending tease is catchy and well-phrased.

    • Well, that critique made my day thankyouverymuch. I will keep it in mind to avoid “finds herself” – good to know it can be a pet peeve.
      Thanks so much for all the time you put into this!

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Melissa Glasser
    Title: No Such Thing as Normal
    Genre: YA Comtemporary (some romance)
    Word Count: Approx 70K

    Dear Cancer,
    You lit up my scan like the Empire State building. I’ll tell Katie tomorrow. Thanks for the deja vu. Remember when I promised I’d fight? Not so sure this time.
    You Suck,

    • This is one of those few instances where I’d actually say a first-person pitch works better than a third-person pitch…in text. Spoken, this won’t work, and pitches are more designed to be spoken than delivered via textual medium despite the platform of this contest. I really like this, though, so instead of tweaking it I’d say have an alternate version in third person that takes a completely different tack and can be delivered smoothly in conversation.

      Actually, I’m not sure how I missed this; I’d really like to see the full. (I don’t think it’s on anyone else’s request list–if it is and I overlooked it, ignore me. If it’s not, could you send the full as a .RTF to adrien-luc(at)entangledpublishing(dot)com? Thanks!)

  • Kam says:

    Name: Kamy Chetty
    Title: Don’t go Breaking my Heart
    Genre: sexy Contemporary
    Word Count: 55 000 words

    Maybe the Tanner charm came with an expiry date and someone forgot to inform infamous flirt and country doctor, Jace Tanner. Well Emmie Smith was about to show him who was boss. City Style.

    • Now I have that song, “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart,” stuck in my head. Only not the real version. The Minnie Mouse version that used to come on this weird ABC Disney musical special when I was a kid.

      Yeah. Don’t ask.

      Right! The pitch. Okay, so I’m tentatively getting this idea that Jace is trying his infamous charm on Emmie, and it’s not working? That’s not clearly conveyed, nor am I sure why she’d have to “show him who was boss” when it doesn’t really seem like he’s trying to be the boss of her. The contrast between country and city isn’t really coming through all that cleanly, either; the elements are there, but they aren’t solidly positioned to oppose each other so the execution has the right snap.

    • Kam says:

      Thank you for the feedback. I can see what you mean so I really appreciate the help:-)

  • Kelly M says:

    Name: Kelly Moton
    Title: Lost Ties
    Genre: YA fantasy
    Word count: 83000

    When Sora learns that revolutionaries are after her once heroic brother, she sets out to bring him home–and hopefully keep him alive.

    • Another one where I think the setting details are a little too skimpy, as without the details at the top telling us that it’s fantasy, this could be anything. I might even think it was a Civil War era historical, or the Revolutionary War. This might even be a contemporary with revolutionary terrorist groups. Without those setting details we don’t know what kind of former hero we’re dealing with, and there’s a big difference between a fantasy hero and a historical hero.

      We’re also missing the driving impetus of why they’re after her brother. And while he’s characterized here as a former hero, she’s really not–when she’s the main character. The pitch should be about her, who she is, and what drives her, not about his past.

  • D.R. Graham says:

    Name: D.R. Graham
    Title: Looking For Orion
    Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
    Wordcount: 51,000

    Mike Carter doesn’t want to become a cliché screw-up just because his parents are divorcing, but he’s making all the wrong choices and everything he cares about is sliding out of reach.

    • Nice–just enough to pull me in and make me care about Mike’s situation, and what will happen to him. It also establishes him as a sympathetic character who makes mistakes and has room to grow over the course of the story. The only thing I’d change is maybe specifying what he cares about, that he’s on the verge of losing. Just to bring it home a little more.

  • Name: Sherry Parker
    Title: Forsaken Ones
    Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
    Word Count: 88K

    Gargoyles are on the move and won’t rest until they have Kierna’s transformative powers under their control. Emris of Palaten promises to help, but can Kierna trust him with her kingdom and her heart?

    • Kierna is the main character, but we don’t really know who she is and the pitch is only somewhat about her, as if coming at it sideways. I’m guessing she’s nobility, with the kingdom…but what’s her role in the story other than the object of the gargoyles’ hunt? Who is she, so we care why they’re trying to harness her powers? Also, “Emris of Palaten” assumes a familiarity we don’t have. Normally I prefer seeing names in the pitch, but in this case I think it would make more sense with something like “the devious prince of a neighboring kingdom” or something like that. Give us his role in the story and what he means to her conflict.

  • Name: Nina Hamilton
    Title: Chopper Rescue
    Genre: Category Contemporary Romance (Indulgence)
    Word Count: 50,382

    Strapped together, ten metres above a sea platform, forces a quick intimacy between workmates. Former US medic Matt Roberts will have to fight for distance from Dr. Brigid Adair to keep his emotional walls intact.

    • Incorrect grammar in the first sentence makes this stumble. “Being strapped together” would fix it, or changing the last clause to “Matt and Brigid are forced into a hasty intimacy.” (Quick is an odd word to choose–hasty might get the idea across better.) The second sentence is a little passive and flat, and doesn’t ask a question that makes me want to read the book to find the answer. It’s more just a quiet summary of events with no anticipation.

  • Caroline says:

    Name: Caroline Storer
    Title: Mistress To the Roman
    Genre: Historical (Roman)
    Word Count: 45,000
    Famous charioteer Aulus Epidius Marsallas wants revenge against Justina Philipus – the only woman he’s ever loved. Why? Because she had betrayed him by becoming his uncle’s mistress.

    • Nice enemies to lovers trope, though if there are extenuating circumstances involving Justina becoming the uncle’s mistress, maybe you could spend a few words hinting at them to create sympathy for the heroine. Otherwise we have a somewhat unsympathetic h/h that won’t inspire a deeper read. That “Why?” is throwing the balance off, as well. I’d try rewriting from a different approach because right now, it’s a little jerky. A pitch needs just the right sense of timing.

  • Eve Devon says:

    Name: Eve Devon
    Title: The Seduction Plan
    Genre: Contemporary category romance – Indulgence line
    Word Count: 50000

    Sassy Amanda really should have thought before kissing her friend Jared. Now the plan-phobic personal assistant and ex bad-boy businessman are about to discover that life AND love happen while they’re busy making other plans.

    • It’s kind of contradictory to say she’s plan-phobic and yet was making other plans, only for life and love to interrupt.

      Other than that, though, this looks fun–like you’ve got a good balance between humor and romance, and that comes through well in your pitch with enough characterization to grab our interest and make us want to get to know these two and see how they manage to fall in love.

  • C A Leezer says:

    Name: Carole Leezer
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 54,000

    Rowan McGregor falls for Marco Balam, an archaeology student with a secret; he’s a were-jaguar. Together they expose a drug syndicate at an archaeology field school in this CAT PEOPLE meets INDAINA JONES tale.

    • INDIANA JONES. (Typos do kind of rack up points against your pitch.

      This is something I haven’t seen many do with their pitch–use pop culture references to convey the ideas involved quickly and neatly. It’s quite effective, and you do it well here. The only thing that’s missing is really making Marco’s were-jaguar nature more relevant to their relationship and to the drug syndicate. You could work on the phrasing, too, maybe try a “When ______, then _____________” setup–that one’s a quick and easy way to craft an effective pitch.

  • Ashley Noelle
    Title: Tattletale
    Genre: YA Contemporary
    Word Count: 114k

    Fiona Davidson’s life has been full of secrets; secrets she had been good at keeping. Until one night the secrets she’s kept all her life and people who’ve been there for her might just do more damage than the want to keep everything secret.

    • The repetition of the word “secrets” here makes it lose all meaning, combined with a second sentence that’s kind of overstuffed with too much detail for one sentence. Plus you lose me at “than the want to keep everything secret.” The phrasing is awkward, and I’m not sure how her desire to keep the secret is damaging. Just the simple desire doesn’t do anything. It’s how she acts on it. Overall it’s mostly just vague talk of secrets that doesn’t give me enough of the story to capture my interest.

  • Sue Child says:

    Name: Sue Child
    Title: PR Wedding; Contract Bride
    Genre: Contemporary Romance (Indulgence)
    Word count: 47,000

    Italian arranges PR wedding to prove he can make it past the honeymoon. But when employee-bride discovers paper marriage equals confetti between the sheets, will she make it as far as the altar?

    • Catchy phrasing undermined by fragmented writing. It looks like some words got cut out to make the 35-word limit, but it makes it come across stilted when the goal was to craft a complete, evocative pitch in 35 words. Also, while it sounds clever, “discovers paper marriage equals confetti between the sheets” is kind of ambiguous. Does that mean the contract gets shredded into confetti when things don’t go the way she anticipates? Or that it’s a burst of confetti when they come together in bed? If it’s the latter, why would that stop her from making it to the altar if she’s enjoying herself in bed, which would seem like an added perk?

  • Ryan says:

    Name: RC Hancock
    Title: An Uncommon Blue
    Genre: YA sci-fi w/fantasy elements
    Word Count: 91,000

    When Bruno grabs the hand of a suicidal Green, he saves the boy’s life and forever alters his own. Now he must choose between tearing down Télesphore’s color barriers, or saving his own crumbling future.

    • I don’t feel like we have enough of a foundation to really know what’s going on here with the concept of a Green, and that maybe instead of using specific terms you should instead focus on the overarching idea of racial tension, since this seems to be an allegory for modern and historical racial prejudices exaggerated in a science fiction world. The problem is the pitch only gives us a hint of that allegory, and not really anything to make it personal to the character. When your theme is this obvious and doesn’t have much characterization to support it, it tends to turn people off from a genre story.

  • Anya Harker says:

    Name: Anya Harker
    Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-telling
    Word Count: 78,000

    An enchanted book sends seventeen-year-old Gwen back in time to Camelot. Merlin wants her married to Arthur, Arthur wants her gone — and an evil sorceress wants her dead. Gwen just wants to go home.

    • This looks fun, but not like anything really new; I’ve seen this premise in several movies and books in the last twenty years. The writing itself is snappy enough that I think it’d engage enough for many people to take it on faith and hope it was something with a new twist. I think you’d strengthen the pitch a lot, though, if you found a way to present a unique angle. Otherwise it’s a retelling of a retelling of a retelling.

  • Darci Cole says:

    Name: Darci Cole
    Title: THE SIGHT
    Genre: YA High Fantasy
    Word Count: 68,000

    When her power of The Sight is revealed, 17-year-old Kolina must trust her grandfather’s story and her own heart to overthrow an evil king and save a land she didn’t know was hers.

    • You’ve got your basic concept down, but I feel like I’m missing the key details that would make this personal. I’d like to feel more about the personal stakes to Kolina, and why this story has any significance to her, to the kingdom, and to this strange power. An evil king is a pretty generic villain, and I’d like to know what this evil king has done (or is doing) that makes him her personal enemy. I’d try the pitch again from a wholly different angle, focusing on different details.

  • sallybosco says:

    Name: Sally Bosco
    Title: Gods or Demons
    Genre: YA historical paranormal romance
    Work count: 80,000

    In fourteenth century France—when the daughter of the Baron of Normandy purchases a boy, Tristan, in order to save him from a horrible fate, she doesn’t expect to fall in love with him. Her father returns home and banishes Tristan for having a dalliance with his daughter. Camille tries to run away with him but is foiled by her father’s guards. Years later Tristan returns to save Camille when her father’s realm is falling apart during the years of the black plague. But he’s hiding a dark secret about how he’s earned his riches.

    • This isn’t a 35-word pitch; it’s a 95-word query blurb. The goal of this contest was to encourage writers to create a quick elevator pitch: 1-3 sentences that can be delivered smoothly and in a matter of seconds, that encompass a story’s concept and central plot. Try to take this and trim it down to only the essentials.

  • Name: Stina Lindenblatt
    Title: Shot in the Dark
    Genre: YA contemporary with romance and suspense
    Word count: 72 K

    After her brother commits suicide, seventeen-year-old Maddie and his best friend dig into the steroid-trade culture of her town—unknowingly making them a target to those desperate to see the secrets kept, at any cost.

    • There’s some awkward phrasing that’s throwing me off, and this is another that would be stronger broken into multiple sentences. I’d like to see a clearer connection between Maddie’s brother and the steroid trade, and how it led to his death. You could probably cut out “unknowingly,” as they’ll know soon enough when they’re targeted and people start taking action against them. Overall, though, you’ve got a strong enough hook in there to get people interested.

  • Lady Lee says:

    Name: Molly Lee
    Title: Judges
    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 95,000

    A faithless Harley Locke is Called to be one of God’s Judges and finds herself facing a cult, demons, and a forbidden romance with her mentor.

    • This is really just skimming the surface of the story, and needs to be expanded a little into something that sinks its teeth into the meat of the plot with stronger, cleaner writing and a more expressive voice. A lot of the pitches I’ve queried made me ask questions–some good, some bad. This one doesn’t leave me with any questions because there aren’t enough details to raise curiosity. Ask yourself: what primary question does my story answer? Then try to work the setup for that question into your pitch. It’s like a Q&A; your pitch is the question, your story the answer.

  • Name: Vicki Tremper
    Title: Kwizera Means Hope
    Genre: YA Multi-cultural
    Word count: 58,000

    When sixteen-year-old Hutu, Cecile Kwizera, survives the Rwandan genocide, she’s left wracked with guilt. If she can’t put the past behind her, she’ll lose the love of the Tutsi soldier who sees beyond her ethnicity.

    • Mostly pretty good–character motivation, deep-seated conflict, current conflict all presented succinctly. But I can’t help but wonder: what’s her conflict past her romance, and her history? Where’s her real story, beyond a relationship and dealing with her guilt? Can you work that into your pitch so that we know there’s a solid story here underneath her character development?

    • Thanks! I normally tack the romance onto the end of the pitch, so her story goal got lost to the short word count.

  • Name: Your Name
    Title: Sweet Traditional Romance
    Word Count: 85,000

    Newly dumped fiancé Megan loathes men but performing on a cruise meets charming Bryant who must make a difficult life decision but as their relationship heats up, Megan’s former fiancé returns with a malicious surprise.

    • This needs to slow down–we’ve got a run-on sentence that comes across a bit stream-of-consciousness, making it hard to digest the actual meaning of the words. Break it up.

      Since this is Megan’s story, the pitch is basically from her POV, and I don’t think she’d refer to herself as a fiancé. Especially when she’s just been dumped by her fiancé.

      What does Bryant’s difficult life decision have to do with their relationship? Can you tie that in? What about an indication of Megan’s conflict, considering her lack of trust? It seems like her trust stops being an issue after she meets Bryant.

  • Name: Connie E. Sokol
    Title: Caribbean Crossroads
    Genre: Sweet Traditional Romance
    Word Count: 86,000

    Newly dumped fiancé Megan avoids men but performing on a cruise meets charming Bryant who must choose between two life paths but as their relationship heats up, Megan’s former fiancé returns with a malicious surprise.

    • I’m guessing you posted this twice to get feedback on two different versions of the pitch. This one is a little bit stronger with Bryant specifically having to choose between two life paths, but the run-on issues and other questions I posed in the other version are still there.

  • Name: Connie E. Sokol
    Title: True Story
    Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance
    Word Count: 93,558

    Small-town Katie yearns to make her mark through an internship for rising global British star Ian but their unexpected attraction, a vindictive supervisor, and childhood guy friend threaten her success while revealing her true destiny.

    • This could be saved from run-on territory by adding an em-dash: “global British star Ian–but their unexpected attraction, etc.”

      “Childhood guy friend” is awkward.

      “Revealing her true destiny” is vague.

      There’s a spark to the story idea, though, and if you can refine your pitch I think your premise could really grab attention. Work on the grammar first, then on adding a bit of flair by infusing your style.

  • Ally Hayes says:

    What am I doing wrong? I continue to hit load more but it does nothing. I can see my comment from Adrien when I hit post comments but cannot reply to thank. So awesome of you to do this and hate to bug, but so anxious! Thanks.

  • Nice metaphor and atmosphere, but there’s no solid skeleton to hold it together. I’m not sure what the frame of reference is for “the murders,” phrasing that implies we should be familiar with what these murders are, or why Carly is involved in a way she can’t escape–or even what she’s trying to escape other than these vaguely referenced murders. There’s nothing to give us an idea, in context, of what a mind rift is, or what the real danger is. While the writing is pretty, sometimes you have to shave off some of the pretty words to focus on functionality.

  • Good pacing, good characterization, but the details aren’t really making sense. It looks like it’s written from a perspective too close to the story, so you’re filling in the blanks automatically when we don’t have the background of familiarity with the story to do the same. We’ve got the youthful folly and near-miss downfall as a reason for wanting a marriage of convenience, but the reason doesn’t really seem like a logical path leading to this desire for a marriage of convenience without key information as to why these youthful mistakes affected her future choices about marriage. I’m guessing this folly has something to do with the groom (do you mean horse groom, or bridegroom? Can make a big difference), but it’s not clear. If he’s a horse groom…how did he buck the system of nobility to become an earl? Or was there a deception in their past, and that’s the reason for her anger? That, too, is a little too vague.

  • It’s catchy, it’s well-written, but it’s not really a pitch because it doesn’t give us any idea of what the actual story is. If you’re going to use this format, I’d go with:

    Max Prescott knows three things: girls can’t be trusted, his life is over, and last night he gambled his Dad’s car away. He’s always made his worst decisions when hung over–but he’s about to find out he made the worst choice of his life, courtesy of Captain Morgan.

    That’s kind of weak, because the pitch hasn’t given me enough story details for me to know what I’m working with so I can make up something that fits plausibly. With more information I could make it snappier–but it’s an example of building up throughout the list to save the one with the most punch for last, then close it out with something that gives us an idea of the predicament he’s in, leaving us hanging with a bit of tension.

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