Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Duchess of Yowl wants petting not pitching

Petting is the order of the day, not this crazy pitching stuff. Get busy!


So, what did you think of the pitch post yesterday?

53 comments:

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I love the pitch posting and will read them all over again and comment later.
But I'd love to cuddle up to the Duchess, if she gave her royal permission. She is a beauty.

Ramona would have my hide if I even touched another feline royal!

EmilyaNaymark said...

I thought it was really interesting to see what people are writing. Also, seeing the difference between the paragraph and the pitch was kind of fascinating. My hands down favorite was Steve Stubbs. Both the paragraph and pitch were strong, had a great hook and voice.

PAH said...

I think I hit submit at the exact moment comments were closed. So bummed about that. Fun reading what others got going on. Appreciate Janet for doing this. Even though I couldn't submit, it was a worth while exercise and helped mm query a lot!

Richelle Elberg said...

Loved this! Thankful that I don't have to choose--so many interesting entries. The diversity of stories is just awesome! Thank you Janet. Definitely a valuable exercise.

Jen said...

Thank you for taking the time to do this. It means a lot, even to those of us not pitching. Seeing things from an agent's perspective is a God-send. I can't imagine how tough it must be trying to filter through 100-150 of these every day!

Barbara Etlin said...

Thanks for doing this, Janet. Many of them are intriguing pitches. I found that I liked the humorous ones the best.

french sojourn said...


I must say I was floored by the talent circling this wonderful reef. I wanted to jot down a note for each pitch, as they were spectacular each and every one.

ngcornett's Appalachian King lear...or would it be Queen Lear...hit me the hardest. I loved her line,

...in her later years, is staring over the edge and wondering if what her children are offering her is a hand or a fist.

(The imagery reminded me of a scene by Akira Kurosawa in his Hidden Fortress movie. Rumoured to be the basis of Star Wars.)

LynnRodz, you nailed the intricate picture that was your query, well done.

Cheers Hank.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Lots of lovely pitches!

The ones that stood out for me (pitch and/or storyline):

Barbara Lund - sounds like Tana French's The Trespasser which I loved
AJ Blythe - love the badass female mechanic
Raina Xin - Cool pitch: Unchosen one follows Chosen BFF with Douglas Adams vibe
Barbara Etlin- I want to know more about Manuelo
Cipher - love the line 'missing becomes murdered'
Gigi - gotta love a woman who trades her castles for a pirate fleet
Susan Bosscawen - you had me at heist!
Mark Conard - want to know more about Robbie.
Megan - love and science! and now I know what an issue book is :)
LynnRodz - sounds like there's a heartbreaking twist in there

Good job, everyone!

Julie Weathers said...

Every time I look at the DOY, I think Egypt. She just has that timeless kind of face.

There were a lot of very interesting submissions. The paragraph definitely gives a better idea of a lot of them. Some, I was disappointed in because I thought the premise was certainly there, but it wasn't presented strongly.

I'll have to read them again, but none jumped out at me as strongly as Arlette did last time. Maybe it's because it was so unexpected and it was like a jack-in-the-box type of surprise.

I'm not good at pitching. I'm terrible at writing query letters and I haven't started one for The Rain Crow yet, so I hesitate to critique anyone else's efforts. However, I think if a work has great humor, suspense, horror, whatever, it's best to demonstrate it and not tell the reader it does.

One thing early readers bits of RC have commented on is the humor. I have to balance it out because some pretty terrible things will also happen. We're going to war. Besides, it's just me. I'm not going to mention in the query letter, "You'll love the humor." Who knows, they may not.

PAH I almost missed it and there were only 2 up when I put my message in the box, but I was busy reading and re-reading again to make sure I didn't mess something up while I was fiddling.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

This was a fantastic exercise. I really enjoyed reading what everyone was working on. I am looking forward more than ever to Julie Weather’s book. It also made me more appreciative of how hard it is to stand out for agents and editors in such a crowded field of talent.

By the way, all if you haven’t, check out Jeff Somer’s fantastic book Writing Without Rules. Maybe the best on the subject ever and with wonderful humor.

Julie Weathers said...

To Janet, I think this gives us an idea of what you do and I don't envy you sifting through these. There's a wealth of talent here. Thank you so much for your generosity.

Dena Pawling said...


So many great stories in the works. And reading all of these gave me good insight on what to do with my query and pitch. So thank you all! And thank you Janet.

KDJames - I recognize your story. So glad you decided to do something more with it =)


Kitty said...

I had a difficult time writing mine until I realized the focus of my story was all wrong. What an eye-opener!

C.M. Monson said...

There was a lot more YA than I expected. And it seems most of us needed more than 15 words for their pitch. One or two stood out more than others, but some didn't fit their first paragraph descriptions, I thought. I found that to be the most interesting.

Thank you for doing this, Ms. Reid. I am sending Duchess of Yowl *virtual* scratches behind the ears.

Gigi said...

Oh man, I need to read Jennifer Rueff's book like yesterday! I'm a sucker for true stories that seem kind of unbelievable (and this sounds like something from My Favorite Murder).

Thanks again for doing this, Janet!

KariV said...

I honestly preferred many of the 15 word pitches over the 30 words with paragraph. Some of them felt muddied to me. Too many words. But that's why this is such a great opportunity! Practice now means perfection later.

I liked Julie Weathers', GiGi's, and Steve Stubbs. There were others that stood out but I don't remember them all. I want to go through and read them all again.

BrendaLynn said...

My copy of Jeff’s book hasn’t arrived yet but maybe that’s because I’m in Canada.
I went through the entries and picked my favourites. It will be interesting to see how far off the mark I am.

CynthiaMc said...

Comments were open when I started typing and closed when I finished typing. Just as well. I liked my paragraph but not my pitch.

Keep this up, Janet. Practical and fun.

Alina Sergachov said...

Julie Weathers, I really want to read your novel. It sounds awesome.

Janet, thank you very much for this opportunity. I didn't even start writing my novel yet, so it was hard for me to come up with a paragraph... The result wasn't good. But thanks to you I've a better understanding of the stakes and plot. Thanks!

One Of Us Has To Go said...

I'm just tuning back in to my favorite blog (had no internet recently), catching up with the posts from the last days, starting with this one to send a hello from Colorado to all Reiders :).

To all Americans on this blog (and I suppose that is A LOT of people): You've got such a beautiful country, guys! STUNNING!!!

Karen Nunes said...

I have to say, I have many fav’s here, even a couple of historical romances which I never read. I’m making notes to pass on.

I hesitated to enter because I had a pitch and a 100-word query developed during a Catriona McPherson workshop from back when I had a very rough draft of this project. I can’t say enough wonderful things about her.

Recently, I had a chance for feedback from an agent on Twitter and was told it was too vague. I went back to the drawing board and entered what I came up with in one day.

Kate Larkindale said...

I missed out again. I'm juggling too many time differences at the moment, and must have had a brain blank.

But I don't mind too much because everyone has such great pitches! I feel like mine would have been out of place.

Emily Kelly-Padden said...

This was a fantastic opportunity, thank you so much for the practice! I agree, the stories pitched yesterday were so interesting I found myself wanting to read genres I don't normally. ;) This was so hard, I had a 300 word "paragraph" that I kind of liked. Cutting down to 100 was so brutal! (I don't think the results were good, keep practicing then)

Theresa said...

A fascinating group of pitches! I enjoyed reading through them and wondering what Janet's responses will be.

Sending virtual petting to the gracious DoY.

Sarah said...

So many incredible pitches! These are the ones that stood out to me:

Unknown. Because I really want someone to get those guys.
Jennifer Delozier: ".... bumbling but sincere protector...." I'm in.
Jessica: "But Terryn isn’t the only magical stranger in town." That's when I wanted to read more.
Mori Irvine's pitch. "Until now." Love that!
Raina Xin, because accidentally becoming an Evil Overlord sounds awesome.
Barbara Etlin. It was the paragraph that caught me: I can't imagine five boys having to tackle the job of an adult crew.
Miriam. Holy crap, what a pitch!
Diana. Loved the pitch
Gigi. Because pirates and revenge.

And yes, Julie Weathers! the DOY makes me think of Egypt, too.

Karen Nunes said...

Fav pitches, randomly selected:
Sarah
Mallory Love
kdjames, kickass with a hint of humor
EmilyaNaymark, especially the line: Then her boy vanishes.(Though I think instead of she quits, I’d prefer Laney quits.)
French Sojourn - and the humor in his query paragraph.
Janet Haigh
Sophistikitty
Jennifer Rueff, I never read memoirs but this pitch tells me all I need to know without my reading one sentence of the query.
Steve Stubbs - though, I’d suggest deleting line two and working in the amnesia angle here instead.
E.M. Goldsmith
Gigi’s Pitch and query.

Karen Nunes said...

Fav Lines:
Sherry Howard: Scholarship, status and loyalties collide when Hunter believes teammates are taking deadly drugs.(I think would make an awesome pitch.)
Arri Frranklin: Sometimes Hurshash hates his conscience.
Alina Sergachov: the transition space between neither this nor that, not longer and not yet,
Richelle Elberg: white ash coating his $800 loafers.
Ngcornett: Faye Presley is an Appalachian woman who, in her later years, is staring over the edge and wondering if what her children are offering her is a hand or a fist.
Julie Weathers:Sometimes spies wear crinolines.
Raina Xin’s: Turns out, this Villain thing is kinda fun.

kdjames.com said...

This was an interesting exercise. Really helped me think about not just conflict and stakes, but how to express them in abbreviated form. My main takeaway is that it's a damn good thing I'm almost never in a position where I have to "pitch" my writing to anyone.

So many interesting entries, including a few that really confused me, but I was mostly skimming. I can't imagine being an agent and having to ponder and evaluate great numbers of these daily. Can't wait to hear Janet's thoughts and get a glimpse into that process.

Dena, thank you!

Alina Sergachov said...

kdjames.com, I really liked the pitch + para. Tough female protagonist and a temperamental dragon? Sounds fun! It reminds a bit of Kate Daniels series written by Ilona Andrews.

And I liked Gigi's pitch about Jeanne de Clisson.

Elissa M said...

I forgot about it being Saturday. I did my usual morning routine of barn chores and drawing, then perused my email a bit. It was almost by accident that I clicked on the blog and had my "Oh, shit" moment.

I'd been working on a pitch, but hadn't gotten it right. Well, time was up. I did some quick copy/pasting and posted. I was like a runner sliding into home and just made it.

I know my pitch etc. is bad, but that's the beauty of Janet having these pitch sessions. I'm learning a bunch just by reading everyone's pitches. And being forced to try to condense an extremely complex plot into a few words has been really helpful. I think the next time I sit down to write a one page synopsis, it'll feel like a breeze.

kdjames.com said...

Thank you, Alina. (And Karen too, for the mention.) I think I bought the first Kate Daniels book, but haven't read it yet. I'm half afraid to get sucked into a multi-book series like that one, because I'm sure I'd love it and then get absolutely NO writing done. But man, if it has dragons . . . maybe that can be my reward once I finish a final draft.


LynnRodz said...

So much talent here at the reef! I know one day were going to be in a bookstore somewhere and we'll pick up a book and read the back cover and say, "Hey, wait a minute, I've heard this story before." and then we'll realize we read it here first on Janet's blog. There are a few I would buy in a heartbeat. Off the top of my head, Steve Stubbs is one and so is Jennifer Rueff's memoir.

I'm sure many of us were waiting for 10 o'clock to arrive. I pasted my comment 3 minutes after, there were only 6 comments that had been posted. By the time I finished rereading what I wrote and hit publish a few minutes later, 40 comments had been posted!

Janet, you're a saint for doing this. Thank you. And thanks, Hank, I did struggle, and Cecilia, you hit the nail on the head.

Craig F said...

I had a previous engagement yesterday morning, so I didn't expect the amazing offer to be open when I was finished. I find, to my joy, that any spot I might have filled was filled by a new voice. There were so many of them and their talent rode high.

Steve Stubbs sounded very polished to me, but I was in the mood for crime fiction at the time. I will be happy to read a great many of these when they make the big time. Or before if any of you need someone to run through your work. cfenner13 at the gmail thing.

Barbara Lund said...

Several of these pitches were ones I wish I had written! You all are amazing, and I enjoyed learning from everyone else's words.

Virtual petting for the Duchess... especially since I'm allergic. Oh, the shame. :)

April said...

I was so disappointed to miss the chance to post. Next time, could you please include the time zone to the time listed for when you're going to open the comments? It wasn't my 10 o'clock, and it wasn't the time zone I guessed, either.

But still, I'm thankful for the opportunity to do this even if I couldn't post. It helped me find my story's focus. I look forward to your critiques of the ones that did get a chance to submit.

Tony Clavelli said...

I love seeing the variety of styles in the pitches. I haven't participated in anything that's required me to pitch, but now I really want to.

What helped the most was just reading through them all and finding what works and what doesn't. It's so interesting when the query text is exciting and then the pitch is really hard to read--it feels easier to spot where the changes need to be made. Sometimes it's the other way too--where the query feels clunky and too much and then the pitch is such a riot I would definitely read it. Each part tends to be good at showing what the other needs.

It's hard not to like reading pitches--so much potential and excitement packed into a tiny space.

I'm definitely playing next time! Also, hi! I haven't posted in years but been here hiding.

Mallory Love said...

This was fun and rather difficult. Even though, in reality, I'm nowhere near the query phase, I feel like writing a great one is like pulling off a seamless magic trick. And some of you guys are real magicians. There were a lot of great pitches that grabbed me. I just want to give Jennifer Rueff a hug ( and read her book) because that sounds like a rough seventeen years to live through. Steve Stubbs' pitch is eye catching and sounds really enticing. Miriam's pitch reminds me of my favorite book when I was in 5th grade, Wait Till Helen Comes. Sounds really interesting. KD James's pitch had such a great voice and interesting twist. There were others I remember really liking but can't remember the specifics off the top of my head. Everyone did a fantastic job, I thought, especially considering the word limit. Can't wait to see which ones of these end up in bookstores in the near future.

Julie Weathers said...

I'm going to list the ones that stood out to me. Now, keep in mind this is really subjective and one that several people like was very confusing to me. I had to read it over a few times to figure it out. So, that means my opinion is worth spit.

Sherry Howard ticked off all the points on the list. It's not something I would normally read, but I think she did a good job. As an aside, my youngest son was asked to appear in the Friday Night Lights movie when they filmed it. He declined.

Alina Sergachov had an interesting pitch and the sidekicks sold me.

Kate Higgins: Who wouldn't want to try out that story turned upside down?

KD James: "To say nothing of the dragon." I laughed. I want to read more.

C.M. Monson: I think this has all kinds of potential and the comps worked well.

French Sojourn: I got images of the Pelican Brief here. So, shallow of me. Still, I liked the premise. The long sentences could be broken up a bit. You've been taking lessons from me, haven't you? Don't do that.

Karen Nunes: Yup, I'm in. Well done.

Sophistikitty: It's not really my forte, but I thought this was well done and sounds like a good story.

Kerry Bernard: Well, who wouldn't want to save a pet like that? I loved it.

Erin Price: I love it. What a fresh take on magic. Good luck!

Barbara Etlin: Yup, I'd pick that up. I love truth is stranger than fiction stories.

Elise: Yes, all kinds of stuff going on there and it's a new take on fantasy. I'd pick it up.

Cipher: Yes, I'd read this. I love historical mysteries. I thought you did a good job with the pitch.

I planned on picking out five or six favorites. See how well that worked out? I had to just stop writing things down. Y'all did a great job.

The memoirs were heartbreaking and really tugged at me. I hope they find a home because the stories sound interesting.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

My two cents. I was impressed with all of these and so glad Janet is doing this.
These are the ones I thought were very good.

Mallory Love, well done
Alina Sergachov, immigrant kids gets mistaken for alien, sounds like fun.
KD James, temperamental dragon!
Emilya Naymark, good lines
Sophistiktty, the story is set up well in the one paragraph
Steve Stubbs great set up and intriguing.
Mori Irvine, also a movie. well done pitch.
Kitty I like the paragraph writing.
Barbara Etlin, this sounds like a good story and the pitch is well done.
AJ Blythe, well done.

and these are the ones I would read
Jennifer Rueff (this sounds amazing and I would read it)
Jennifer Delozier, Superheroes Inc. A movie sale!
NGcornett, I’d read this Appalachian memoir.
Miriam, this is one of my favorites, ghost boy on a farm. I’d read this.
Gigi, oh yes pirate girl. I’d read this. (pick up Dust of a Hundred Dogs for fun and pirate girls)

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

After I posted my comments I was thinking, what is it that made some of these stand out for me? Some were very well done but the story sounds like many others. The ones that I liked the best had a great story idea or a line that hooks.

The true life murder and the Appalachian memoir with the possibly deceitful children. The woman turned pirate. The farm boy ghost. A girl mistaken for an alien. A company that turns men into superheroes. The man who finds a body in his living room and the police insist it is him. Pretty nifty ideas.

Julie Weathers said...

Elise, thank you. Your lips to God's ear that it ever sees daylight. I stumbled across a story about a young, firebrand woman from the south whose mother refused to give her permission to marry the man she loved. After three years, the mother finally gave in. They had a gorgeous wedding with all the elite of the south. Three weeks later he was killed. It got me to thinking about her story and that's where The Rain Crow was born.

Hetty took hold of my heart and wouldn't let go. How could I not write a story?

Thank you, KariV.

Alina, once again, your lips to God's ear and thank you.

Thank you, Karen.

Elissa, the pitch wasn't bad, but it was catchier the first time. Odd how that happens.

Gypmar said...

For starters, I had no idea there were so many Reiders out there writing middle-grade fantasy! I especially enjoyed seeing those pitches, as that's what I'm working on myself.

I thought there were a ton of great pitches. Some of you are SO GOOD at this. I will be interested to see if what stood out to me stands out to Janet. Pitching is a weirdly specific skill. Being good at it doesn't *necessarily* mean you can write a good book. And vice versa. And I think some genres lend themselves better to pitching than others.

All in all a very worthwhile exercise, and I hope we get to do it again!

Alina Sergachov said...

Karen, Julie, and Sharyn: Thanks heaps for your kind words!
kdjames: Sorry, no dragons in Kate Daniels series... but lot's of humor and a badass heroine. I'm not sure why your pitch reminded me of that author. Maybe the voice. Perhaps the plot. IMHO, the Hidden Legacy series is way better. And shorter. Give it a try (and ignore the cover).

There were lots of excellent pitches. Many of them were well-written and interesting. I just wanted to add that I mentioned only three entries not because I didn't like the rest, but rather because of my personal preferences. I picked them because I would have asked for pages. And it's very subjective. Can't wait to see what Janet chose.

Claire Bobrow said...

Long day - chiming in late. It was a blast to read all the entries, and so interesting to see what people could do with an expanded format. Congrats to all, and thank you for sharing!

Here are the ones that stood out for me:

Sherry Howard
KdJames
Kerry Bernard
Julie Weathers
Miriam
Gigi
Mallory Love
Jennifer Rueff
Jennifer Delozier
Raina Xin
Barbara Etlin
Diana
AJ Blythe

Kate Higgins said...

I thought it was a great exercise! Thanks to all that flash fiction we do, it was nice to 'do it' to my own work; shorten, make every word count (and word count -30).

Julie: I'm glad you got the upside down story! It's been very challenging and educational and I love working on it. And I can't wait to read your book and how Miss Crinoline handles the misogynists of the 1850's!!

Kate Higgins said...

Julie: 1860s I almost wrote 1960s and I knew that wasn't right. Time to go to bed

Aphra Pell said...

Antipodean greetings to the DoY from Monday morning.

What hit me is how darned hard it is to make perfectly good work stand out to a busy / skim reading eye. Which is a useful, if slightly daunting thing to know.

The ones that did hook into my brain were:
- kdjames - the combination of burnt-out bad-ass trope with the dragon.
- Kerry Barnard - the nicely inverted concept of adult highwayman as the 7 yr old's pet.
- Steve Stubbs, because I want to know what's going on.

I wrote a couple of pitches during the week, but I couldn't decide which to post, and procrastinated my way out of action, woodland creature style.

french sojourn said...


Julie, thank you for your input, it is much appreciated. I am sharpening my quill as we speak. Cheers!

celeste said...

Your Sharkness, Queen of the Depths, thank you ever so much. It was invaluable, a rare chance to learn and tempt you with bait. May your teeth always be pearly and knife sharp.
Reiders, the talent in those pitches. I’m giving myself a good talking to about being more specific and less clich├ęd - so obvious now. Here’s a random few I admired and why (not that I’m an expert or anything about this, just what I felt when I read it):

Sarah – the last line of your pitch, brilliant.
Gigi – she turns pirate, yes!
Karen McCoy – hooked me with Priya’s story.
Alina Sergachov – your fresh take on mistaken identity.
Arri Ffranklyn – the first line of your paragraph and the unlikely pair.
William Darrah Whitaker – I am actually genuflecting.
Mark Conard – intrigued by Owen.
Jennifer Rueff – that question you left open is compelling.
Cipher – great character’s voice in a few words.
Katelyn Yaeger – instantly drawn in by the contradictions you set up.
Miriam – everything Janet said.
Barbara Etlin – boy and adventure, bring on those sea monsters.
Julie Weathers – pitch masterclass, nailed in four words.
Emilya Naymark –pitch and paragraph, perfect.

Best of luck to everyone and I hope there might be a chance for those who missed out this time to have another chance. I’m heading back to my safe cave to watch from a distance again!

Karen McCoy said...

Thank you, Celeste! Missed this yesterday because I was traveling...

kdjames.com said...

Alina-- Ah, got it, no dragons but plenty of other good stuff. I checked my kindle and I actually have the first book in the Hidden Legacy series too, so I'll start there. Thanks for the rec!

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

This was like a crash course on pitching. Thanks, Janet!

Btw, Nathan Bransford's post today is also about pitching.