Category Archives: Twitter pitches

Learn how to write a pitch for your novel.

#PitMad – for writers & readers (plus a giveaway!)


Hey YABookcasers,


I know #PitMad on Twitter is about to hit tomorrow, and that hundreds of new writers in search of agents and publishers are going to be pitching their novels in hopes of getting their books in bookstores. But not only is this a wonderful place for new writers to pitch their work, it’s a great place for readers to scan and see what trends in fiction seem to be on the rise, and what type of books to expect on the bookshelves in the coming years. Continue reading #PitMad – for writers & readers (plus a giveaway!)

#PitchWars mentor – Twitter Pitch Advice

Hey YABookcasers!

It’s that time again. In just 8 days, #PitMad is going to strike and I’d like to give you some advice from a Pitch Wars mentor! It’s one of the most exciting times of the year, and everyone is revving up to go. For those of you who know the drill, you know there’s going to be a lot going on, and that you need to really stand out to be noticed. The same goes for people entering for the first time, but don’t let that dissuade you, because a great Twitter pitch is all it takes to get noticed – there’s no preferential treatment as everyone only has 140 characters to pitch their work. Check out the rules here on Brenda Drake’s site (the wonderful creator of all things #PitMad).

As a Pitch Wars mentor (on a year’s sabbatical this year though!), I know Continue reading #PitchWars mentor – Twitter Pitch Advice

Pitch Wars Wish List

First things first – we all know there is a Scavenger Hunt going on. So,  in order to find the letter you need from this blog, find the hidden link that will bring you to your letter…

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…

It’s that time of year again – Pitch Wars has hit 2016! Welcome everyone new, and welcome everyone who’s been here before.  This year, Dionne McCulloch and I have teamed up once again to mentor YA – go team McC!!

Strength and Honor

This is a wonderful opportunity not just for someone to get mentored by seasoned professionals, but for the whole writing community to come together, bond, support and help each other to the next level! So here’s to the war paint and the writing tribe we’re all honored to be a part of!

Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys (and girls). Make your lives (read: manuscripts) extraordinary!

To help you decide if we’re the right mentors for you, here’s our wish list of genres, followed by notes on elements in books that we either like, or not so much:


Strong sense of place

Cowgirls – strong female gangs would be great (in any genre, actually)

Contemporary (but no issue books)





Unreliable narrators

Fantasy (caveat: writing should be in a modern style. Love all forms of fantasy, but writing must be fresh)

Diversity of all kinds


Deep horror/gore

Issue books

Romance/Sex where this is the main theme


Straight historical




A main character or characters with clear internal conflict

A specific reason why only YOUR character can tell THIS story

Quirky, realistic, odd-ball families

Really tight, complex stories


A little love in the mix

Risk taking and pushing boundaries in all areas of writing, character & plot

A voice that blows us away (come on, guys, you knewthat would be in here. Twice.)

Characters  – it’s all about the characters.

Emotion, emotion, emotion – make us uncomfortable, happy, sad, afraid and everything in between.



No tropes or cliché

Sorry, but we’re stepping aside from werewolves/vampires this year

Placeholder dialogue

Sloppy writing that hasn’t been edited at all

I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse…

And that’s it. We can’t wait to read your writing and your wonderful words and are so excited that you will submit to us if you fall into our wish list categories. But if not, never fear…go through the blog hop and see all the other amazing, wonderful, super-spiffy mentors! You will be blown away by all the awesomeness.

You talkin’ to me?


“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

Or…if you want to be picky about it: My name’s Fiona, I’m repped by the Blake Friedmann Literary, TV & Film Agency. I’ve interned with two literary agencies (Inklings & Holloway). I’m a full time scriptwriter with my first production coming out next year; I teach creative writing to home schooled kids; I work alongside Cornerstones Literary Consultancy; I have published numerous in print and online articles/short stories/etc; I’ve worked as a copywriter, and in media, too. More importantly, I love horses (especially mine), I miss my two boys (Hugo and Harry) too much to put into words, I have a bad addiction to Coca Cola, and I live in Cyprus, where I write lots of run on sentences just because I can and no one can stop me because it’s my blog! Lol.

Three of my mentees have had success through PWs – one published, one agented, and the other with a deal from HarperTeen!

It’s you and me babe, how about it?

(side note: if anyone knows where that quote comes from, you get brownie points from me!)


And I’m Dionne. Hello! I’m represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House in NYC and am the US Managing Editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. I also freelance as a book and script editor and am a judge for the Bath Novel Award. I write a monthly column about how to work with an editor for The Writer magazine. I live in England with my dog, husband and 3 kids (no order of preference!) and challenge myself to always jump in the ocean, no matter how cold it is.

P.S. If you really, really, really can’t find the Scavenger Hunt Letter, let me know and I’ll slip you a clue! ;-)

May the odds be ever in your favor!



































































Pitch Wars Writing Tips

Hey guys!

I am so excited as Pitch Wars is just around the corner! I bet you guys are, too, and I’m assuming you all know what this event is. If you don’t, let me know and I’m happy to explain!

I thought it might be a good idea to cover a few writing points that will help you get ahead of the pack when it comes to standing out to a mentor (well, at least for me!):

1) Know why your MC wants what they want. What is their motivation? This is one of the most crucial elements. It can’t just be “because they want it” or “so they don’t die” or “to save their sister”, etc. It needs to be specific. Look at books such as “My Sister, My Keeper” by Jodi Picoult, where this child is conceived as a child donor – now there’s a motivation for a book that’s super personal for her to live her own life.

2) Conflict, conflict, conflict! Both plot and internal conflict are super important. Look at The Hunger Games as an example: Plot conflict: having to survive the games when all odds are against her. Internal conflict: the conflict of the morality of kill or be killed. Of course, there is so much more to this book, but these highlight some of the conflicts.

3) Character. A reader enters the book with no concept of who your character is. Your job is to show the facets of them and who they are. What makes them tick? What are their secrets? What do they fear/love? How did they become who they are? However, the key is to show this just enough for the reader to understand them, but not so much you have lumps of exposition everywhere.

4) Pacing. This is vital. Get your book moving. Your book can only move if your characters are moving forward, being active, doing things. This can be hard to balance. Maybe you think the character is doing something, but really sit down and evaluate this: if you took the scene or action out of the book, would it really affect the story line? If not, it has to go.

5) Dialogue. Please don’t get caught up in fussy dialogue tags such as “he intoned”, “he chortled”, etc. They mean your dialogue isn’t strong enough and your reader gets pulled out of the story.

6) Description. Characters all notice different things depending on who they are and what mood they’re in. Make sure you make their observations authentic and not just general. General descriptions are lazy.

7) Be interesting. That might sound obvious, but there are a surprising amount of stories that are rote, general, flat and predictable. This doesn’t mean they can’t be amazing stories. It just means the author needs to work harder to put new elements into their work: whether it means adding more character, adding a plot twist or two, bulking up the depth of theme, etc.

I think that’s enough for the moment! Lol. There are a million different things a writer can work on and the writing craft can be daunting at times. But just tackle it a step at a time. I think those things mentioned above will really help your manuscript come alive.

Now, if you’ve got any questions on these points (or you want to ask another craft question), please don’t hesitate to let me know!!

Happy Pitch Wars!

Check your elevator pitch

Hey – so today I want to do a little thing with elevator pitches. In fact, I want to do something with your elevator pitch.

The thing is, elevator pitches are tough. And it’s hard to be objective. So I’d like to offer a pair of objective eyes. I’m an agented author and full time scriptwriter (I also have a copy and content writing background in marketing) so I‘m not a bad pair of eyes, I don’t think.

So short and sweet: feel free to post your elevator pitch below and I’ll give my honest response and advice that I think might improve it.

Not sure what an elevator pitch is? Well, the dictionary defines it as “a succinct and persuasive sales pitch.” At the end of the day, we need that to sell a book – to an agent, an editor, the sales department, the bookstores, a whole host of other people involved in the publishing process and finally, the reader. 

 Things your elevator pitch needs to be:

* Unique
* Easily communicated
* Concise
* Done in 30 seconds

What forms an elevator pitch:

* Genre
* Character
* Setup
* Conflict
* Consequences

Here’s a great post by my agency: Elevator Pitches

So let’s have at it.

Post your pitch below and I’ll give you my feedback!

P.S. You can see one version of my elevator pitch here in my About Books section (just scroll to the bottom of the page.

P.P.S. At least once a month I’ll be posting with something I can help you with – first lines, queries, how to improve one of your scenes, etc. So make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out!   

Mentor wish list blog hop!

It’s Pitch Wars time and I couldn’t be more excited! Well, actually, WE couldn’t be. Yup, you heard me right…there are two of us this year!

So, who is my illustrious partner in crime?
It’s none other than the AH-MAZING Dionne McCulloch (who, I have to tell you, is not only one creative and talented dynamo, but so darn funny and pretty to boot!). You’ll find our bios at the bottom of the page so go check out all the awesomeness that Dionne brings to the table.
Okay, onto the wish list: we had a super good chat about what we’re looking for, and we’ve come up with some vital ingredients. First off though, let us clarify our category:
MG (Middle Grade)

If you’re not an MG author then thank you very much for stopping by, but you should pop on over to the YA/NA/Adult blogs (and best of luck from our team!).
Still here? Then you write Middle Grade. Super. One thing to point out right at the start:
  • We are looking for a writer who has been thoughtful and careful about their craft. We’re looking for work that you feel is almost ready to submit to agents but needs that final nudge. No first drafts, no mss that you know in your heart are in bad shape but you just want a mentor to fix it, and no unfinished manuscripts. We want the very best you can offer…and then we’re going to show you how to make that baby shine!
Genres we’re interested in:
  • Adventure – Imaginative, fun, extraordinary, quirky and fresh adventure stories that fill you with curiosity and wonder. It’ll get brownie points if it’s sailing, jungles or any other outdoorsy pursuit! We don’t even mind a bit of fantasy!
  • Humor – Laugh until your sides hurt, kooky, quirky humor that stands the test of time (ala Roald Dahl, David Walliams, Andy Stanton, Laura Dockrill…).
  • Nature themes – jungles, woods, mountains, on the sea, on the North Pole, the Serengeti, the souks of Morocco, Antarctica…take us somewhere adventurous!
  • Science themes – NOT science fiction. Anything quirky, innovate and new in common science. Sprinkle it in and make us want to explore.
Okay, so those are the broad strokes. So, what do we NOT want?
  • Issue books.
  • Dark books.
  • Books where one/both of the parents have died and this propels the plot.
  • We LOVE diversity but not as the only topic of the book.
  • Heavy narratives.
  • Serious books with a maudlin overtone.
  • Snarky, whiney, depressed or otherwise moody characters.
What we will love you for:
  • Characters full of wonder and curiosity.
  • A fresh, unique tone. A character who has a ton of personality and a great sense of humor.
  • Outlandish ideas made plausible.
  • Tight word count combined with a light hand.
  • If you know Neil Gaiman (or are Neil Gaiman) then this will be a HUGE advantage. 😉

Right, onto the bios (which will have some hints and tips about our individual likes too):

I’m a YA author, book and script editor who started out producing and writing for television, and am now writing my second novel while paying the bills editing books and film/TV scripts. Prior to TV I was a travel writer, played in a band in LA, and was an intern for President Clinton. I also grew up in India, Costa Rica, Spain and Texas and now live in England. I’ve traveled throughout Europe and Africa, pausing to live in South Africa where I met Nelson Mandela! So… I LOVE an adventure.
And that’s what I’m looking for in our PitchWars mentee… someone with a sense of adventure that bleeds into their writing. Curiosity, playfulness, humor and a stoncking good adventure tale, I’d like the kind of book that you just CANNOT put down until you reach the back cover.

I’m a freelance ghost writer and script writer – working on a feature length animation right now, so SQUEE! I’ve published over 300 different articles/short stories/DVD narrations/etc, and a lot of children’s books for a children’s charity that provides educational materials for 3rd world countries. I interned with two literary agencies (and that was a BIG learning curve) and I also work doing content and copy writing for a marketing firm.
Unlike Super Woman, I have not met Nelson Mandela or Bill Clinton. I have, however, tried stunt riding, swam under a waterfall, taken 7 horses through Europe and been under the Cheese Cutter bridge…oh and I speak reaaaaally bad Greek ;-).
I am very partial to anything reminiscent of Indiana Jones for kids. I’d be intrigued by something like Artemis Fowl for girls. I’d die over a “choose your own adventure” and I’m a sucker for really quirky structure. Fantasy is A.OK for me!

Now go check out the other wonderful mentors!!! Linky’s Magical Widgets — Auto-Linky widget will appear right here!This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.

Have You Got What It Takes?

Hey hey!

And how are my intrepid readers doing today? If you’ve stumbled across this post, it’s more than likely that you’ve got a pitch that needs some polishing. As Pitch Madness is just around the corner it’s time for you to polish your pitch to the highest standards possible. That’s why I’m offering my gut reaction to pitches that you post here. I’m part of The Red Team this year, and I’ll be looking for specific, unique, concise pitches.

So, feel free to put your pitch here and I’ll give you my gut reaction to what you’ve got. Be warned – 100% honesty is going on here, so if you’re looking for someone just to boost your ego, then you might be best looking elsewhere. That’s not to say if I love it I won’t tell you (I certainly will!) but my aim is to tell you whether it works for me or not and why/why not. And to help you on your way, check out my post on the dos and don’t in pitching:

So go on, give it a go…

Three Dos and Don’ts in pitching…

Howdy, guys! Pitch Madness is on the horizon and I’m teaming up as a reader with the fabulous Naomi Hughes for The Red Team.

First off, I suggest you go check out Naomi’s website. She is a kick ass freelance editor, agented author, and an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing, so she knows her stuff like the cat’s pajamas!

We’ve got the honor of reading for the inimitable Brenda Drake and the kick-you-in-the-pants amazing Kimberly Chase. Go check them out on the Team Listings!

Before we get started on my pitching tips for the event, I urge you to go and check out the books by these wonderful ladies. If you want to know how to make your writing sing, your blurb tap-dance, and your characters spark, their writing will certainly show you how!

Oh and you’ll want to check out the Agent List too! Now there’s some ripe picking there!

Now onto the pitching tips… En garde…

The DOs

1) Make your stakes super clear and specific. The most important part is how specific you make your stakes. Things like “the world will end” “she will die” “everything will be lost forever”, etc are not specific stakes. You want your reader to know how heart-wrenching it will be for THIS character if they lose the ONE thing that matters to THEM. Lack of specific stakes it the main thing that makes me pass on a pitch.

2) Highlight your conflict. What is the ONE thing standing in your character’s way that will stop them from getting their heart’s desire? Again, be specific. And make the conflict almost insurmountable. Big conflict means big drama means big investment from your reader.

3) Remember to show the agonizing choice of your character. They must make a decision to tackle the core of the plot conflict. Show what this is and how terribly difficult it is going to be.

The DON’Ts

1) Have no character name. DON”T do this. Give your pitch a warm touch by letting us know who it is about. If we don’t know, we can’t care.

2) Use so much tricky, pun-laded, clever writing that we can’t see the pitch. Yes, a dash of clever or a sprinkling of smart writing is awesome but if it gets in the way of understanding what’s happening, then it’s going to be a pass.

3) Vagueness. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again – do not be vague. Remember, the person reading your pitch will know nothing about your book, so don’t assuming anything. Don’t assume we’ll know that “hexitaks” are an alien race, or “Jamie” is a girl not a boy, or that magic is common place in your world. Tell us.

And that’s the main three dos and don’ts on my list. There is a lot more to look for in a pitch, but these will make the difference between whether I pass or whether I put it in my yes pile.

Stay tuned for my tips on the first 250 words!!

And best of luck!