Pitch Slam Support: YA Gothic

So I entered my first pitch contest this week. It’s called PitchSlam, and my favorite part about it so far is the fact that we’re given a chance to revise our initial submissions! You can learn more about it here or search #PitchSlam on Twitter if you’re interested to see what’s going on!

Here’s what I have so far:

17-year-old Amelia hasn’t seen the  Woman in White, who haunts the forest surrounding Asylum, Pennsylvania, since the night her brother died. The ghost seems to have abandoned the forest–at least, until Charlie Blue moves into the creepy old house next door. Amelia can’t help liking him; he’s smart, funny, and too cute to ignore, even if everyone in Asylum knows that MacAllisters are cursed. Even if she spent her entire childhood thinking that his grandmother was a witch. Even if she suspects that he might be the reason why the Woman in White has reappeared in the woods.

Together, Amelia and Charlie explore the woods’ dark, twisting paths and the dusty, cavernous rooms of the MacAllister House. As they uncover clue after clue about Charlie’s MacAllister ancestors, the Woman in White’s true identity, and the history of their town, Amelia decides to do whatever it takes to help the ghost trapped in the woods find peace. They learn that the playground rumors are true:  a talent for witchcraft runs in Charlie’s family, and with the help of Ransom Smith,  a college student interning at the Asylum Historical Society, Amelia and Charlie start preparing a spell that they think will help the Woman in White pass over.

But then Amelia’s classmates start to turn up dead in the Susquehanna River, and rumors swirl around town, blaming  Charlie and his grandmother for the deaths.  As they race to uncover the real killer and clear the MacAllister name, Amelia and Charlie learn that in a town like Asylum, some ghosts are better left dead and buried.


Original Pitch Slam Pitch: 
When a cute boy named Charlie Blue moves into the creepy MacAllister House next door, seventeen-year-old Amelia learns that in a town as small as Asylum, Pennsylvania, some ghosts are better left dead and buried.

Pitch Slam Feedback: 
We get a sense that there’s a really cool, creepy story to be told here, but your pitch isn’t conveying it properly. There’s some information included that doesn’t seem relevant, and some information lacking that’s rather crucial. When it comes to pitching, trying to be mysterious often backfires. Specific story details win the day, and we need more of them here. Ask yourself the standard pitch questions. What does your character want, what’s stopping her, and what are the consequences of failure? As to what to leave out, do we need to be told Charlie Blue is a cute boy or can you imply that by Amelia’s interest in him? Is he super important to the story or is more about the ghosts? Do we need to be told the name of the town? Instead, tell us what your character is up against, what she actually has to DO. Learning something is a very passive story conflict. We have a feeling there’s a lot more to this story than we see in this pitch. Show us!

Revised Pitch:
Amelia wanted to help the ghost in the woods–she didn’t count on unleashing a curse. As the bodies pile up, she must find a way to stop the evil before she ends up dead.

Revised Revised Pitch:
Amelia wanted to help the ghost in the woods; she didn’t count on unleashing a curse. As her classmates’ bodies start piling up, she must exonerate the boy next door — or be the next victim.

What do you guys think?

My Writing Process Blog Hop

The lovely, lovely Faith McKay tagged me in this blog hop! Here my answers:

1) What am I working on? At the moment–nothing. I finished Book 1 of AMD&B on Thursday (hooray!) and that’s out with my CPs/Betas at the moment. Once I get their feedback, I’ll make any necessary adjustments and then query! I also have a few thousand words written of the circus book, and a vague sketch of a NA romance floating around in my head. But at EXACTLY THIS MOMENT, I’m taking a little breather.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? Ooof. That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Well, I like to think that I do a pretty good job of blending fantasy with historical fact–and I especially love crafting entire stories around little known historical places, events, or figures. I also love playing on readers’ expectations. For example, AMD&B has the seeds of a good, old-fashioned Southern Gothic ghost story–but it’s set in the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and I added some witches for good measure. (Book 2 is going to have zombie/thrall-ish characters involved, so you know it’ll be a good time!)

3) Why do I write what I do? I write stories that won’t leave me alone, that keep me up at night asking what if until I can’t help but sit down and start writing. I write the type of books I want as a reader. I write because I believe these stories can have a home one day. 

4) How does my writing process work? I always, always, always start with a question. With daydreaming and doodling and scribbling down lines until the main character’s voice becomes clear to me, until it’s almost like he or she is peering over my shoulder and prodding me to write.

And then I start drafting. I tend to outline as I go–normally I like to have a chapter or two written to get a feel for the voice before I even attempt an outline.  The outline changes anywhere from 5-500 times over the course of the first draft, and once I’m finished writing the first draft I usually end up tossing the outline completely and starting from scratch and seeing what bits of the first draft I can use in the second.

The second draft–especially in the case of A Magic Dark and Bright–is when the really hard work starts. It’s the thankless draft–the draft where things were almost-but-not-quite-right. I usually get so frustrated with this draft that I have to bribe myself to finish and figure out what still isn’t working.

And then eventually there’s this giant lightbulb moment that causes everything to come together. And then from there it’s making sure all of the pieces are in the right place and making them tidy and as perfect as I can before I start feeling satisfied with what I’ve written. But it does happen, eventually. And that’s my favorite part of the entire process. :)


And I’m tagging :

Valerie Lawson

Alyssa Hatmaker

Sarah Kettles

FRAGILE LINE Cover Reveal!

This has been an awesome week for cover reveals! Here’s the cover that I designed for FRAGILE LINE by Brooklyn Skye, which was revealed earlier today:

Book Cover for FRAGILE LINE by Brooklyn Skye

Book Cover for FRAGILE LINE by Brooklyn Skye

It can happen in a flash. One minute she’s kissing her boyfriend, the next she’s lost in the woods. Sixteen-year-old Ellie Cox is losing time. It started out small…forgetting a drive home or a conversation with a friend. But her blackouts are getting worse, more difficult to disguise as forgetfulness. When Ellie goes missing for three days, waking up in the apartment of a mysterious guy—a guy who is definitely not her boyfriend, her life starts to spiral out of control.

Perched on the edge of insanity, with horrific memories of her childhood leaking in, Ellie struggles to put together the pieces of what she’s lost—starting with the name haunting her, Gwen. Heartbreakingly beautiful, this poignant story follows one girl’s harrowing journey to finding out who she really is.

Add it to Goodreads today.