Pre Pitch Wars Help Available Here!

Hello, writers. Are you thinking about entering Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars? Are you nervous about the effectiveness of your pitch? Would you like a little help before the contest begins?

If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, I believe I can help.

I’m offering four Pitch Wars hopefuls query critiques and one grand prize winner an additional first chapter critique. All you have to do is type your query in the comments below.

Who am I, and why would you want my help?

I’m glad you asked, but know that I really don’t like tooting my own horn. It makes me feel like a douche. Anyway, I’m an author of horror and dark fantasy, who is represented by Gina Panettieri, of Talcott Notch Literary Services, and also recently signed a three book deal with Permuted Press. My short story, COVERT GENESIS, will be featured in Snafu: An Anthology of Military Horror, available July 11th, from Cohesion Press. My work was also featured in Volume 11 of The Siren’s Call e-magazine and will appear in The Dark Carnival anthology this fall from Pen & Muse Press. Plus, from July through December of last year I interned for Inklings Literary Agency evaluating full submissions. And on top of all that, I was an alternate mentee in Pitch Wars two years ago.

I learned everything the hard way, by rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. I also spent six years in the United States Air Force as an Aircraft Fuel Systems Specialist so I know the meaning of hard work and effective communication. If you’re looking for a pat on the back, or sugar coating, I’m not the guy you’re looking for. If, however, you’re looking for honest feedback from an author who will treat you the way they would like to be treated, then you came to the right place.

I would say I specialize in genre horror for adults, specifically horror. I’m also an avid fantasy reader. If you’d like some help with your pitch and you think I may be able to help, please type your query in the comments below. I’ll accept entries until midnight EST, July 4th. I’ll announce the top three winners on July 6th, at 8AM EST. My top choice will also receive a first chapter evaluation (if they so choose).

I am by no means an expert when it comes to queries or sample pages, but I’d like to think I know my way around the block. I’d be leery of anyone claiming otherwise. All entrants should also remember that the business of publishing is subjective. Just because one person likes your pitch doesn’t mean a literary agent will, or anyone else will. There are no guarantees, only hard work.

DISCLAIMER: All opinions are my own and are totally independent of my agent. I am not affiliated with Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars contest in any way, shape, or form.

RULES: This contest is open to any writer thinking of entering Pitch Wars. Keep in mind I specialize in genre fiction for adults, specifically horror. Things like MG and romance probably won’t appeal to me. I’ll provide a sample entry below. The contest is open from right now, until midnight EST on July 4th. Winners will be announced July 6th, at 8AM EST. This will give winners enough time to receive feedback before the submission window for Pitch Wars officially opens.

SAMPLE QUERY: Please format your query as follows…

Name: Brian W. Taylor

Genre: Adult Horror

Word count: 92,000 words

Email address:


Dear Agent,

Every family has secrets. Mitsuko Nakamura’s may be the death of her. She has no idea angel blood courses through her veins. But when an unholy alliance of fallen angels and vampires kick down her door, murder her best friend, and infect her mother with tainted vampire blood, their dark intentions are clear: They want back into heaven and believe she holds the key.

Thrust into an age old war, Mitsuko forges her own alliance with the head of the vampire nation and the remnants of the angelic race. Their goal is simple: suppress the vampire rebellion and keep the fallen angels from taking back heaven. But nothing is as it seems and all factions have ulterior motives, even Mitsuko, who seeks the forbidden fruit of knowledge to cure her mother’s vampirism. Outnumbered, surrounded, and betrayed, Mitsuko must find a way to embrace her heritage and discover who, or what, she really is before heaven and earth fall, and humanity is harvested for its most precious resource—blood.

Complete at 92,000 words, my book, BETWEEN SHADOWS AND DARKNESS, is equal parts horror and fantasy. This book could either be a standalone project or the start of a series and will appeal to fans of “The Strain Trilogy,” by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, and “The Blood Gospel,” by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell. Thank you for your time and consideration.

With warm regards,

Brian W. Taylor

PRIZES: Three winners will be plucked from the slush and receive query critiques. One grand prize winner will receive a query critique, and a complete first chapter critique. All winners will also receive a critique of their revised query letter.
It should be pretty self explanatory after seeing that. Don’t worry about your sample yet. If your query letter does its job and interests me, then we’ll talk about sample pages. I hope everyone is clear about the rules and formatting. Feel free to send any questions you may have my way and I’ll do my best to answer them. My contact information can be found under the “Contact” page. Good luck to everyone entering. You’ve got a week. What have you got to lose?
More information about Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars can be found here:


  1. Name: Kathleen S. Allen
    Genre: YA dark contemporary thriller
    Word Count: 70,000

    Dear Brian (assuming the agent’s name is Brian, of course),

    Fifteen-year-old Zoey doesn’t need to be reminded of her kidnapping ordeal two years earlier because she relives it every time she has a panic attack. Even though the police claimed to have shot and killed the man, the body was never found. Being transplanted from her east coast existence to life in California doesn’t help her anxiety. As a goth-dressing freak who writes morbid poetry at a new high school where everyone is blonde, gorgeous and rich, she’s never going to fit in.

    When a senior boy takes an interest in her, she hopes this is her chance to finally put the six months she was held hostage behind her. Except she can barely tolerate him touching her. Zoey is thrust back into the national news spotlight when a trusted family friend publishes a tell-all book about Zoey’s abduction and escape. A phone call from someone who claims to be the kidnapper makes Zoey’s inner turmoil unbearable and she attempts suicide. After a stay in a psychiatric unit, she finds a new way to cope: cutting.

    Even the cutting can’t erase the fear that she’s being stalked and when a neighborhood girl who looks eerily like Zoey goes missing, she realizes that she must conquer her fears to find her kidnapper’s newest victim before it’s too late.

    SHATTERED is a dark contemporary YA thriller. It’s complete at 70,000 words. Laurie Halse Anderson’s, SPEAK meets Cheryl Rainfield’s, SCARS.

    (bio here).
    Thank you for your consideration,
    Kathleen S. Allen

  2. Name: E.G. Moore
    Genre: Upper MG Contemporary
    Word Count:39,000

    Dear agent,

    I’m seeking representation for my 39,000 word upper middle grade contemporary novel entitled ROWDY DAYS OF DOM SANDERS.

    12-year-old Dom’s summer’s getting better. He’s beaten up his rival, Taylor and kissed the new girl in town, finally gotten his horse, and built an awesome fort with his big bro. But while squirrel hunting, Dom witnesses the savage murder of a deputy by a local outcast, and he’s pretty darn sure it’s related to the marijuana economy blooming in Millville.

    Unsure of whether the killer saw him retreat, Dom pretends he didn’t see anything. But then Taylor’s pocketknife and Dom’s footprints are found at the crime scene and Taylor’s arrested. Dom must decide whether to swallow the guilt and let an annoying, if innocent, jerk go to juvie, or take the stand and risk his own life by revealing what he knows.

    I don’t claim to be Mark Twain, but this novel is a modern retelling of THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER, so expect lots of boyish escapades. It might also appeal to fans of Mika Ashley-Hollinger’s PRECIOUS BONES.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    Emily Moore

  3. Name: M. Mayberry
    Genre: YA Science Fiction/Thriller
    Word count: 88,000 words

    Dear Agent:

    Earth’s been dying for as long as sixteen-year-old Lesha can remember. Her once-green planet is as brown as the color of her skin. She dreams of growing old in an unpolluted world, far from the clutches of Riley, her predatory Relocation Instructor. But her ship veers of course and crashes into the desert wasteland of her new planet. Only eighteen people survive. With no rescue in sight, the group heads toward a distant mountain range, hoping to find the colony.

    Snake-like creatures emerge from the sand and attack. One of the survivors dies from the poisonous bite. Panicked, they fight over what’s left of their food and water. And while Lesha knows she counted the group a dozen times, someone’s gone MIA. As they continue toward the mountains, she finds the missing teen’s tortured corpse impaled in some sick desert shrine. Earth was wrong when they said her new planet was uninhabited. Dead wrong.

    Lesha’s ready to give up until Malik, a boy with eyes as dark as his Latino skin, promises to help her get everyone to safety. To reach the mountains alive, they must evade the predator before more kids are picked off. But their indigenous stalker isn’t the only problem the teens face—Riley survived the crash as well. He’s declared himself dictator and wants Lesha by his side, no matter the cost.

    Complete at (approx.) 88,000 words, Phoenix Rising is a young adult science fiction thriller.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  4. Name: Carl Hackman
    Genre: YA, contemporary fantasy
    Word Count: 67,000

    Dear Awesome Agent,

    Valaria is young, in prison and pregnant. She is also a jaguar.

    The brutal slaying of her mate prompts her to escape from an illegal predator collection on the edge of Exmoor Forest, England. Heavily frequented by humans, the woodland presents an even more dangerous proposition than her natural home in the lush rain forests of South America. But Valaria finds an unexpected, and unlikely, ally in the form of a local shepherd, Tom Smith. Not only is he a farmer but he is also an active member of charities that help endangered species.

    Her captor and tormentor, Edward Forsyth, is in hot pursuit and must track Valaria down and kill her. If his private collection is discovered then he is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars. For Edward this is not an option and his greatest desire is to hang her head on his trophy room wall.
    Valaria intends to ensure her cubs reach maturity and remain free. Putting herself between the barrel of a gun and her offspring may be her only choice.

    JAGUAR is a YA, Contemporary Fantasy and is complete at 67,000 words.

    I am a full time writer and an active member of SCBWI.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Best regards

    Carl Hackman

  5. Name:Kathleen Palm
    Genre: YA fantasy
    Word count: 93,000 words

    Dear Agent,

    In DOORS, my 93,000 word, young adult, fantasy, escape takes more than opening a door.

    On the island world of Solun, sixteen-year-old Bryn lives tucked under her ma’s thumb, following the rules, reciting her prayers, and completing her chores. But the rituals lose their meaning and thoughts of defiance enter Bryn’s mind. When she learns that a secret vow keeps her from choosing her life, Bryn questions everything and her ma’s rules tighten.

    She explores the island, something her ma hates, to escape. A door standing in a field holds a promise of other places, but it won’t open. When Bryn learns that the price of questioning Solun’s beliefs is a life locked away under constant watch, she runs to the door. This time it opens. An infinite number of doors lead to other worlds, scary worlds with monsters. The stairs crumble, cutting off her way home. The only way to go is forward. To survive, she faces dangerous worlds and fight fierce beasts, in hope of discovering where she belongs.

    I earned a degree in art, became a stay-at-home mom then started writing, because that’s how life goes. My young adult story ‘Marked’ was published in Leading Edge Magazine. After receiving two honorable mentions in Writer’s Digest’s short story competitions, I placed ninth with my young adult story ‘A Ring of Mushrooms’.

    Kathleen Palm

  6. Name: Karli Watson
    Genre: Adult Contemporary Fantasy / Horror
    Word Count: 70,000

    Dear AgentWithTheNameOfAnAgent,

    All Dan wants is a juicer. Healthy, fresh juice every morning seems like a good way to start changing his life for the better. And maybe, just maybe, a new and improved Dan will be what Stephanie wants. What he doesn’t anticipate is a juicer possessed by the spirit of an ancient, evil necromancer trying to escape into the world and turn us all into his personal playthings.

    The first sign that something isn’t right is the juicer’s ability to extract knowledge and abilities from anything Dan puts into it. He soon learns what it is to be an orange, how to read newspapers without actually having to bother reading newspapers, and how to become an expert climber without all that tedious training malarkey. Incidentally, that last one wouldn’t have worked nearly so well without a light dusting of ground-up Spiderman toy.

    But every time Dan uses the juicer, the necromancer strengthens his evil influence. When Stephanie dies, Dan is driven by sorrow (and, don’t forget, evil) to juice one of her fingers. The ghastly concoction siphons her final moments into Dan’s brain where he experiences her death first-hand (well, first-finger). She was murdered. Now, as well as endangering the planet with the potential release of an unimaginably powerful foe, Dan has a murderer to catch. And it seems this murderer may have strange powers of his own.

    Can Dan and his ever-dwindling supply of friends bring the murderer to justice without destroying the world along the way? Perhaps, but Dan can’t help wondering whether his life would be easier if he’d just bought fresh juice from a supermarket.

    JUICE is an adult contemporary fantasy with a touch of horror and is complete at 70K words. It would appeal to readers looking for something a bit different and unpredictable or for genre fiction that isn’t purely plot-driven. Lovers of Joss Whedon, Neil Gaiman and Charlie Kaufman might also be tempted. JUICE is my first novel, although I have had numerous non-fiction “how to program” type books published in the past and am familiar with publishing in general. I work in the IT industry but spend most of my spare time on my fiction writing. Please let me know if you would like me to send anything further.

    (+ Personalisation based on agent research…)



  7. Name: Christopher J. Pearson
    Genre: New Adult
    Word count: 68,792

    Dear Agent,

    The Kingdom of Calantris is a land of beauty and virtue, secrets and lies. Into this royal bloodline is born the headstrong Princess Ana-Mar who only desires the glory of the kingdom. Thanis, the Crowned-Prince of Calantris, wants everything, everything but the crown that he must one day wear.

    When a servant under her care is violated, and the assailant goes unpunished, Ana-Mar does the only thing she believes can be done: She calls on a part of her family that she and Thanis were never supposed to know existed. Only too late does she recognize her mistake as bloodshed follows. The Cult of the Ever-Watch, built upon an ancient hatred for the royal line, is unleashed upon the kingdom. In the chaos, Thanis is forced to flee their homeland, while Ana-Mar must contend with the reality of her choices.

    Meant to be the first in a series, A HOUSE FALLEN, a complete manuscript at 68,792 words, is a new adult fantasy novel. It will appeal to those who would enjoy reading the novels set in the Forgotten Realms. It is an enjoyable mix between the writings of R.A. Salvatore and Rick Riordan. Thank you for your time and consideration.


    Christopher J. Pearson

  8. Name: Vanessa Lillie
    Genre: Psychological Thriller
    Word Count: 120,000

    Dear Agent,
    In my psychological thriller, The Lineage, Dr. Ben Spencer’s dream of finding a genetic cure for why people kill was immolated in a firestorm of media scrutiny along with his promising but short career. He never expected to study a psychopath again. He certainly never expected to fall in love with one or find the cure for “Killer DNA” in her genome. Eight years later, he’s proven very wrong.

    Offered a chance at professional redemption, Ben arrives in rural Georgia to study the Killer DNA in Dylan Smyth and his sister Evelyn. As Ben makes progress, he learns the Smyths can use his report to escape the Lineage, a centuries-old underground dynasty of psychopaths organized for profit and power.

    Ben lets his obsession with Killer DNA pull him deeper into this dark world. From studying young psychopaths at the “Hogwarts for serial killers” training facility, to attending lavish parties at Versailles with the world’s deadliest assassins, Ben again puts everything on the line.

    But his success is about more than research. He’s in a deadly love triangle with Evelyn and the dangerous man leading the Lineage. If Ben discovers what he once thought impossible, the Killer DNA cure, he can bring down the evil organization and save Evelyn and her family from joining the next generation of psychopaths.

    (Bio stuff) In the vein of Heartsick by Chelsea Cain or Thomas Harris, this novel explores the complexity of Hannibal Lecter-type characters with the secrets and emotional drama of family sagas. It’s complete at 120,000 words, and I believe has series potential.

    Thank you for your consideration,

  9. July 1st, 2014

    Dear Agent,

    Nobody expects their world to end, not to a plague of madness, but that is what happens to nineteen-year-old Coree. After surviving the horror, she’s kidnapped by the Imani, the immoral race of aliens who crafted the disease. On their world, she endures years of drugs, experiments, and pain. But as they learn about her, she learns about them. And when she comes too close to the secret about their genetic code, and figures out a way to use it against them, the Imani try to dispose of her.

    They fail.

    Coree escapes their ship injured with no memory of how she got there. She wanders into the Fost, the Imani’s ancient enemy. Their war with the Imani is old and based on magic that the Fost once had and the Imani craved. Magic that she soon discovers she’s developing along with strange tattoos and disturbing memories of her past. The Fost help her and take her to their hidden home. There she’s drawn to their world of two suns, glistening lakes and olden ways; and to Finn, the Fost clan leader. Unfortunately, the Imani have not forgotten about her. Coree must die along with anyone who shelters her.

    If Coree doesn’t master her new abilities and remember what the hell it is she knows, she may not be able to save the people she’s grown to love.

    I’m seeking representation for my New Adult Science Fiction Romance entitled Remember, complete at 68,000 words. Knowledge is power, but there should always be lines. It will appeal to fans of Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher and Kim Harrison.

    Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon.


    Colleen S Myers

    1. Hi, Colleen. You didn’t put an email address down so I can’t email my query critique. If you would like the crit, send me an email. You’ll find my email address on my Contact page. Thanks so much. Hope to hear from you soon!

  10. Since only nine brave souls entered, I thought I would give everyone a query critique. You’re all winners!

    I’ll be announcing the grand prize winner (who will get a second query critique along with a 1st chapter critique) along with the three runners up (who will get a second round of query feedback if they wish) tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s