Sneak Peak: A Crazy Kind of Love by #Pitchwars Mentor @maryannmarlowe

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This looks like such a fabulous take on the rockstar romance trope! And given how much fun her Some Kind of Magic was, well, we all know this is turning into one of my beach reads this winter. (What? I’m going to Hawaii this winter! It’s going to be AWESOME!)

 

Release Date November 28, 2017

Synopsis

In this irresistible new novel by Mary Ann Marlowe, one woman’s up-close and sexy encounter with a tabloid sensation reveals the dizzying—and delicious—dilemma of dating in the spotlight . . .

Celebrities hold zero interest for photographer Jo Wilder. That’s a problem, since snapping pics of the stars is how the pretty paparazza pays the rent. So when Jo attempts to catch a money shot atop the broad shoulders of a helpful bystander, the only thing she notices about the stranger she straddles is that he’s seriously hot. Only later does Jo learn that he’s also Micah Sinclair—one of rock’s notorious bad boys…

Soon Jo is on the verge of getting fired for missing a Micah Sinclair exclusive. Until she’s suddenly being pursued by the heartthrob himself. But how can she be sure the musician’s mind-blowing kisses are the real deal? Her colleagues claim he’s a media whore, gambling on some free PR. But something has Jo hoping Micah’s feeling the same powerful pull that she does. A pull so strong, she can’t resist becoming his latest love, even if it means she might become the media’s latest victim . . .

Praise for Mary Ann Marlowe’s Some Kind of Magic

“Marlowe makes a name for herself in this hilarious and sexy debut.”
Booklist

“Frisky, Flirty Fun!”
–Stephanie Evanovich, New York Times bestselling author of The Total Package

 

Available November 28, 2017 from Kensington. Pre-Order at all digital retailers:

Amazon | BN | Kobo | Google Play | Goodreads | BAM!

 

Excerpt

More people rolled in, either on foot or via personal motorcade. The feeding frenzy intensified as the level of fame increased. Some celebrities disappeared as quickly as possible. Others walked the runway, stopping to give the photographers ample time to capture them, only answering questions about whichever project they wanted to publicize.

By the time Micah Sinclair emerged from a black sedan, tall and confident, voices had reached fever pitch.

Micah, over here!

As his car drove away, Micah stood a moment to take in the scene. Rather than escape the fishbowl or pose for publicity shots, he shook hands with one of the reporters and chatted for a few seconds before he came my way. He tilted his head back, and his face lit up.

“Wally!” He crossed over, hand outstretched. “Haven’t seen you around in a while. I hope everything’s good at home.”

Wally actually put his camera down to shake Micah’s hand. I glanced around. Nobody was taking pictures. Was there something inherently un-newsworthy about a guy talking to the media? I lifted my camera and started shooting. The whirr of my camera caught Micah’s attention, and he turned away from Wally with a wide-eyed look of recognition.

He put his hand up against the flash and peered around his fingers. “Jo-Josie from Georgia! I didn’t expect to see you again so soon.”

Since he was facing me, I kept snapping pictures. Knowing that Andy would want me to at least get a comment if I could, I blurted out, “Hey, Micah. Are you here alone tonight?”

I knew I should have asked him something more specific, but he was smiling that cocky-bratty grin, and it was messing with my killer instinct. If I had a killer instinct.

“I am. Or at least I came here alone.” The cameras around us began to flash, but Micah kept his cool, eyes on me, as if we were still standing on the sidewalk in Park Slope, all alone. His lip curled up on one side, like he was gearing up for a challenge. “How’d you like to be my date?”

Now I dropped my camera, and it slammed into my gut. Oof. Damn if Andy hadn’t called it. I still couldn’t process the invitation. “Sorry, what?”

He gestured with his head toward the steps. “Come on. You’ll get better pictures inside.”

I threw a glance at Wally who looked as envious as Charlie Bucket when the last golden ticket was found. He nodded me forward. Now that fantasy had turned into reality, I realized I wasn’t remotely prepared to rub elbows with the same people I needed to exploit. “Sure. But are you sure it’s okay? Nobody will mind?”

“Eden will, but I owe you one. And besides I have an in with the guy throwing the party.” He offered me his elbow. “Come on. Don’t be shy. You might get that Pulitzer prize shot.”

I gathered my gear together. Micah stopped and looked down at me while I threw my camera bag and backpack over my shoulder and straightened up. At my full height, he only had a couple of inches on me. I put my hand around his proffered bicep, completely aware of the feel of his skin on my fingertips. He turned his blue eyes on me, and I forgot how to breathe.

The smile dropped from his face for a second, and he asked, “Everything okay?”

I sucked in a lungful of air and laughed off my nerves. “Entering enemy territory for the first time.”

His confident, charming smile returned, and he led me up the steps into the brownstone—my own personal Trojan horse.

Micah nodded at the burly man inside the door as we passed. “This is Jo. She’s with me.”

The bouncer shot me a look of grudging respect. “Good luck.”

As Micah pulled me along, I looked back, unsure what the bouncer meant by that, but he’d already turned his attention away, so I faced forward, glancing around wildly for any A-list celebrities.

And it hit me for real. I was on the inside.

Author Bio:

maryannmarlowe

Mary Ann lives in central Virginia where she works as a computer programmer/DBA. She spent ten years as a university-level French professor, and her resume includes stints as an au pair in Calais, a hotel intern in Paris, a German tutor, a college radio disc jockey, and a webmaster for several online musician fandoms. She has lived in twelve states and three countries and loves to travel.

Connect with Mary Ann

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Cover Reveal: Asleep From Day by #Pitchwars Mentor @damiella

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 Just chiming in to say this book sounds like the kind of dark, twisty things I adore. Definitely putting on the high priority To Be Read list! ❤ -JamiAFD cover teaser

A Note from the Author:

Hi there! I’m super-excited to share the cover reveal of my debut novel, Asleep from Day. Before we get to the main event, I wanted to share a little about what inspired this book:

 

Back in the ‘90s, I came across this human interest news story that stuck with me ever since. A guy met a woman on a bus in Boston, they chatted for a few minutes, and the woman left before he could get her number. The guy was so taken with her and eager to find her, he plastered fliers all over the city with details of their brief chat (which, at one point, mentioned Kevin Bacon—insert Six Degrees joke here). Remember, this was in the 1990’s, back before Missed Connections and social media. He didn’t have online tools to help him find the woman. The fliers got so much attention, news outlets picked up the story and the guy ended up on TV talking about his search for this woman. I don’t remember if he ever tracked her down, but I was fascinated by the lengths this man went to for a woman he met for only a few minutes. It was romantic, sure, but also a little crazy and strange.

 

Many years later, the seeds of that story took root and grew into something different as I found my premise: What if a girl met a guy and spent a seemingly perfect day with him, then got hit by a car the next day and completely forgot him? What if, as she started to remember, she wondered if those memories were real? What if she had strange dreams and surreal experiences that made her worry she might be making him up and question her sense of reality? Add a 1990’s Boston setting and Asleep from Day was born.

 

It had to be the ‘90s, because technology makes it easier to find people and back then, it was easier to lose track of someone. It had to be Boston because I lived there during my college years and wanted this book to be my love poem to that city.

 

In terms of genre, here’s the thing: I like stories that aren’t one thing. I get more excited when a book or movie or show has layers of different genres. And I got more excited about this story when adding layers to it; I wanted it to be realistic yet surreal, romantic but twisted, with darkness and uncertainty to balance out the sweetness. It’s not psychological suspense or romance or mystery, but it has elements of all of those.

 

For the cover of Asleep from Day, I was hoping for something dreamy and a little strange, but still beautiful. I love the final design Terry Montimore came up with.

 

 

 

About the Author

MM author photo looking down

Margarita Montimore received a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She worked for over a decade in publishing and social media before deciding to focus on the writing dream full-time. She has blogged for Marvel, Google, Quirk Books, and XOJane.com. When not writing, she freelances as a book coach and editor. She grew up in Brooklyn but currently lives in a different part of the Northeast with her husband and dog.

 

Newsletter Signup, Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram.

 ASLEEP FROM DAY_COVER_1600x2400 FINAL

About The Book:

 

Astrid can’t remember the best day of her life: yesterday.

 

A traumatic car accident erases Astrid’s memories of September 9th, the day she spent with an oddly charming stranger named Theo. Ever since, she’s been haunted by surreal dreams and an urgent sense that she’s forgotten something important. One night, she gets a mysterious call from Oliver, who knows more about her than he should and claims he can help her remember. She accepts his help, even as she questions his motives and fights a strange attraction to him.

 

In order to find Theo and piece together that lost day in September, Astrid must navigate a maze of eccentric Boston nightlife, from the seedy corners of Chinatown to a           drug-fueled Alice-in-Wonderland-themed party to a club where everyone dresses like the dead. In between headaches and nightmares, she struggles to differentiate between memory, fantasy, and reality, and starts to wonder if Theo really exists. Eventually, she’ll need to choose between continuing her search for him or following her growing feelings for Oliver. Astrid might go to extreme lengths to find what she’s lost . . . or might lose even more in her pursuit to remember (like her sanity).

 

Asleep from Day will be released in paperback and ebook on January 10, 2018. Pre-order it here and be sure to add it to Goodreads.

 

 

HAPPY (Belated) BOOK BIRTHDAY BROKEN CHORDS BY @JBaylissWrites

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Sorry for the day’s delay, blame #Pitchwars brain.

 

BC Cover FINAL - Drop ShadowThey rip, they tear, they feed, and you never come back again.

Here’s how last year’s Gypsy Cob Music Festival should have gone. Lenora “Lenny” Ragno was supposed to rock her duet with her long-time crush, Jeb, during the open-mic competition. Then, swept up in the glow of success, he’d finally kiss her. Instead, Lenny choked on stage and spent the whole year dodging him online. And avoiding playing her fiddle in public. She thought her worst nightmare was behind her, but she was way wrong.

Now, she’s back at Gypsy Cob where avoiding a public performance is about as impossible as hiding from Jeb. She thinks facing him will be the scariest part of the festival, but when one of their friends talks everyone into trying astral projection, Lenny catches the eye of a demonic entity that marks her as its own.

Whenever it wants, the demon can pluck Lenny from her reality and transport her to a hellish between-world, haunted by its countless, gruesome victims. If she doesn’t want to become one of them, she must discover the nature of the demon’s hold on her and remove it. But how can she defeat a literal demon when she can’t even get over her personal ones?

 

GIVEAWAY: see below in this document for link and embed code

 

BOOK Q&A:

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

The inspiration really came because I had to pee in the middle of the night. Not what you were expecting, right? So, there I was, camping on Martha’s Vineyard with my husband, and I had to pee in the middle of the night. For anyone who’s ever camped, you know that the bathrooms are never conveniently located. To reach it, I had a bit of a walk, and the fastest route was through a playground. So, there I am, wee hours of the night (no pun intended), and it’s all cold and misty. And I’m in this playground, and I think: If those swings start moving right now, I’m so out of here.

Lucky for me, that didn’t happen, but once I was safely back in my tent, I decided I’d write a story about a haunted playground someday. The other major inspiration is a blue grass festival we like to attend. The layout, the campgrounds, the pirate truck, even the creek behind the clearing in the woods—it’s all inspired by that festival.

As for the astral projection, that came from the fact that I read and enjoyed a YA about astral projection back in my teen-aged days. I often start my books with the question: what would I want to read? (Or, what did I like to read back in the day?)

Put that all together, add in a little romance, and you’ve got BROKEN CHORDS.

What about your musical inspiration?

Ah, yes. Many bands show up in BROKEN CHORDS, including some of my favorites: The Greencards, Nikel Creek, and Crooked Still. Fans of these folks will definitely pick up on some references in the book. One traditional folk song, in particular, was a huge inspiration. It’s called Wind and Rain. I did some research on this song, and it turns out, there have been versions of this—in song and in poem form—for hundreds of years. It dates back to mid-seventeenth century and its origins are the UK. It’s had different names, including The Two Sisters and Twa Sisters, but every version includes the story about how one sister killed the other. In most versions, including the one in my book, the older sister kills her younger and yellow-haired sister out of jealousy over her having landed beau. Creepy for sure. And, in all versions—creepiest of all—the murdered sister’s body is turned into a fiddle! I can’t remember if I decided to use this song first OR if I decided Lenny was a fiddle player first, but needless to say, it all came together so beautifully (or, perhaps the best words is horrifyingly).

Why horror?

That’s one of those questions I can’t exactly answer. I just love it. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been totally fascinated by scary stuff. I do believe that my very first short story was about a haunted house. I wrote that in 2nd grade for a classroom assignment. Needless to say, my mother received a call. My relationship with the frightening, creepy, and macabre was quite love-hate in those early days. In other words, I was a chicken. I’d read scary stories (SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK comes to mind), but I was totally afraid to watch scary movies until I was around twelve. But, once I did, I was hooked.

And paranormal horror is my favorite. I like to describe BROKEN CHORDS as POLTERGEIST meets INSIDIOUS at a music festival. Maybe that comes from some of the ghost stories told by members of my family (I still have nightmares about my grandmother’s attic and that house has been out of the family for seven years).

How do you meld the supernatural with the human?

Lenny’s story is not only one of surviving a paranormal/demonic attack, it’s also about facing fear and trust and so many other things?

Ah, yes. But that’s what I love the most about really good horror, fantasy too. These kinds of books allow us to explore all sorts of things but under the guise of other. I will be honest, I’m not much of a drama fan. Partly, that’s because my work as a psychologist is drama enough, but also because it’s just too much in your face. But, when you throw in horror or a speculative element, now I can go to those deep emotional places without feeling swamped. It’s like how I hide my dog’s pill in some sliced turkey. You can hide the tough human experiences within stories with speculative elements.

In BROKEN CHORDS, we get to see Lenny face all sorts of things: fear and phobia (like, legit stage fright), she learns how to trust others, and, perhaps her biggest journey, she learns to trust herself.

 

 

Jeb’s voice ebbed and flowed, his fear growing and sending out seedlings of dread to take root in my own chest. He must have woken the entire camp by now. I fumbled open my tent flap, stumbled outside, and zipped the flap shut with trembling hands. When I turned around, I knew immediately why no one put a stop to Jeb’s calls.

 

He wasn’t in the normal world anymore.

 

Neither was I.

 

Despite not asking for it, something twisted and bitter in this universe had bestowed it anyway. We’d been transported to the astral plane.

 

The world was bathed in dark beauty, like velvety gauze or some tranquil digital camera filter, making everything hazy and wavery with dim blue-white light. I could actually see the air – or matter or ether or whatever it was – that made up the world around me. When I waved my hand, contrails showed its swishing progress long after I’d ceased movement. Like, whatever I was made of in this form could interact with the very construction material holding this universe together. Or, maybe whatever I was made of in this form was the very construction material of this universe.

 

“Oh God,” I whispered.

 

That meant, behind me, within the tent I’d just fled, my body lay prone. Not in sleep, and not a trance. Not dead, but not really alive either.

 

An empty shell.

 

I stared at the dark green vinyl before finally getting up the nerve to look inside. My body lay on my air mattress, curled up as if I were merely sleeping. My chest rose and fell as my organs responded to signals from the most primitive part of my brain, which kept the basic functions of human life online even though the system user had abandoned the controls.

 

I breathed in time with my body. I wasn’t sure if I was really moving air around in my spectral form, but the reflex to carry out the action was strong, and it still felt soothing when I blew what might be nothing out of lungs that probably weren’t there anyway. I took another deep, fake breath and closed my eyes. My brain attempted to point out the ridiculousness of this – how I still felt normal even though I was nothing but a ghost now. A spasm of laughter escaped my throat, but I swallowed it down. If I let my mind think too hard about things like where? and what? and how?, I’d crack. Game over.

 

Instead, I chanted Jeb’s mantra: “Just go with it.” Then I turned to face the astral plane.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

 

Jessica Bayliss is a clinical psychologist by day and a writer all the time. She has been a lover ghost tales and horror since her days scanning VHS rental shelves—admittedly with eyes half-averted from the gory covers. She also loves to eat, cook, and exercise—in that order—and is a firm believer that coffee makes the world a better place.

Look for her upcoming release, TEN AFTER CLOSING (Sky Pony Press, spring 2018). For more information about Jessica and about PsychWRITE, her series of courses and workshops for writers, visit: http://www.JessicaBaylissWrites.com.

 

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GIVEAWAY: One free copy of BROKEN CHORDS

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HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to the Fabulous THUNDERSTRUCK by @BrendaDrake

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You know by now that I love Brenda’s books. This one surpasses even my usual adoration though. I read it in a single night, the pages flying by. Stevie is a geeky girl after my own heart, and Blake is DELICIOUS! The tension between them is awesome, and I’m so excited this one is out for you to all enjoy! (In fairness, I read the draft of this one, and then reread the ARC because it’s just that freaking GOOD!)


Thunderstruck
Brenda Drake
Published by: Entangled Crave
Publication date: September 11th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Mythology, Romance

Stevie Moon is famous…at least to the subscribers on her comic review vlog. At school, she’s as plain as the gray painted walls in the cafeteria. So when Blake, the hot new guy at school, shows an interest in her, she knows trouble when she sees it. Been there. And never doing it again.

As the son of the god Thor, Blake Foster’s been given an important mission—to recover the Norse god Heimdall’s sacred and powerful horn before someone uses it to herald in the destruction of the entire universe. But while Blake is great in a fight, the battlefield that is a high school’s social scene is another matter.

Blake knows his only choice is to team up with the adorable Stevie, but she’s not willing to give him even the time of day. He’ll need to woo the girl and find the horn if he hopes to win this war. Who better to tackle Stevie’s defenses than the demi-god of thunder?

“Every page brims with captivating Norse mythology and deliciously creative worldbuilding.” Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

EXCERPT:

After disposing of the troll, Blake rushed to May’s house and showered. His thoughts kept going to Stevie. After hearing what Jörd said to him, he wanted to see her. The pull to go to her was too strong. He had no choice but to give in to it.

He climbed the tree outside Stevie’s room and sat on the branch. A blue light blinked on and off inside the room. He lightly tapped on the window. Muffled voices from within the room hummed against the glassed pane.

The curtain pushed aside. Amira was close to Stevie’s back when the curtain slid to the side. Stevie said something to Amira that Blake couldn’t hear through the thick glass. Amira turned away and dropped onto the bed. Stevie flipped the locks and opened the window.

“You scared the shit out of us,” Stevie snapped.

Amira crossed her arms. “Yeah, we’re watching scary movies here.”

Blake tried not to laugh, but he couldn’t hold it in. “My apologies. Can I have a moment alone with you, Stevie?”

“With me?” She glanced back.

“No.” Amira heaved a sigh. “With the other Stevie in the room.”

“Where do you want to go?”

He reached his hand out to her. “Out here is fine.”

She narrowed her gaze on him. “I don’t think so.”

“Come on,” he said. “It’s perfectly safe. This branch is thick. Trust me.”

“Stop being a chicken and go already. I have to pee.” Amira shuffled off.

Stevie hesitated before grabbing his hand and letting him guide her out the window and onto the branch. “This is crazy, you know that?”

“If you never throw caution to the wind, you’ll never be rewarded.” He sat on the branch and held her hand as she came down beside him. Her hand was warm and soft in his, and he wanted to hold it forever.

The loose pajama bottoms she wore had cats on them. Her pink tank top rode up a little and exposed a bit of her midriff. Her light-brown hair, the color of the acorns he’d gathered with his grandmother when he was a boy, rose in the wind behind her. Wide, dark eyes met his, her full lips parted in a smile.

“What did you want?” She glanced at the ground. “Wow, this is pretty high.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t let you fall.” He slid his hand across her lower back and held her waist. She shivered. “Are you cold?”

“A little,” she said.

“Hold on.” He let her go, shrugged off his hoodie, and draped it around her shoulders.

“Thank you.”

She held it closed at the zipper. He returned his arm around her, grasping her waist. She shuddered, and he smiled at her response to his touch.

“You didn’t answer me,” she said. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

“Actually, I’m not here to talk,” he said. “Have you ever had an urge to do something, and once it’s in your head, you can’t sleep or think until you do the thing?”

“I guess.” When she looked over at him, they locked eyes and an intensity passed between them like the energy he felt in the handle of his hammer after catching lightning with it. He noticed a faint scar just above her cupid’s bow.

“How did you get the scar?” he asked.

“Scar?” She glanced down at her chest.

“Not there,” he whispered, lifting her chin to look into her eyes. “On your lip.”

She touched it. “Oh this? It’s an embarrassing story. Let’s just say, I learned to watch where I’m walking, especially when poles are around.”

He chuckled. “I can imagine what happened.”

She lowered her head again, her feet kicking back and forth.

He decided to take his chance and cupped her face in his hands, bringing her face to his and kissing her. It was a gentle, wanting kiss. Her lips were soft and warm against his. She tasted like May’s brownies. When Stevie hadn’t responded to his kiss, he was about to release her, but then her lips began moving with his. He cradled her in his arms and they balanced together on the branch.

Author Bio:

Brenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

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Happy book birthday Sweet Reality by #Pitchwars mentor @LH_Writes!!!!!

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This book looks like SO much fun! You know, if you’ve followed me for long, that I adore steamy romances, but this is the rare sweeter romance that I like. Not too sweet, not too steamy, but a good mix of both. And it’s out today, so instead of listening to me chatter, give it a look!

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Synopsis

SUGAR, SEA SALT, AND SHOW BIZ Jen Reid’s life after walking off a reality show has been great–she’s gone from being a broke twenty-four-year-old Seattleite with no love life and no job to the twenty-five-year-old who got the guy, moved to Miami, and is starting a bakery with her best friend. She thinks her showmance love might be about to propose. And with mouthwatering goodies based on everyone’s favorite shows, her business, Sweet Reality, is destined for success. That is, until a killer competitor opens right across the street. If she’s going to save Sweet Reality, Jen has to come up with a secret ingredient–like the recipe that won Totally 80s Bake-Off. Jen can get it–if she steps back into the spotlight. Soon she and her boyfriend are out to sea on a cruise ship full of reality stars, including her nemesis, Ariana; her lying, cheating ex; and some wicked producers looking to bring the drama. Separate cabins, “surprises” from her past, and scenarios tailor-made to spark fights are just the beginning. But with her self-respect, her business, and her future on the line, the fallout from this made-for-TV plotline will be all too real . . .

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About the Author

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers get married, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the Northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

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Post #Pitchwars Postmortem

So now that revisions are firmly under way and I’ve caught back up on the housework, a few thoughts for you.

  1. Most importantly, why did we pick the one we did? A couple reasons.
    1. A strong romance element, like we asked for. Many got eliminated because the romance element wasn’t clearly present or wasn’t prominent enough. There were several we requested that just didn’t have the romance featuring as much as we wanted, and it could only be developed further by changing more of the core of the story than we’re comfortable with suggesting. One thing I advise to all writers, is to know what the core of your story is, and what you’re willing to change. Keep that core,
    2. Jessie’s MS is an Ownvoices trans story, and my SO is trans, though they’re heading opposite directions. I saw immediately areas to improve in the MS, while I was also enjoying it enough to really want to go through it a few more times. This is the kind of project I realllllly want to see in the world, because it’s not about the character being trans. It’s about her falling in love, and has a fabulous thriller angle that reminded me of Lisa Jackson.
    3. The marketability was the strongest out of the bunch.
  2. We will be sending feedback to some of the ones we requested, at least the ones that we feel our feedback would be useful on.  Those that will be getting feedback should have it this month. If you don’t get any feedback by then, we probably didn’t get far enough in to end up with much for you to work from. Some requests had the misfortune to be read after Jessie’s, at which point we read just enough to decide we weren’t going to pick it, and that doesn’t necessarily give you anything useful to work from. The time crunch was serious, and while I’d gladly edit many of the projects as part of Chimera, I don’t have time to do much feedback from the contest aside from that and my other commitments. I’ve got a lot on my plate this month, so don’t read anything into it if I can’t get to you.
  3. What about those we didn’t request? Why didn’t we? There were a few others who caught our attention and had really good writing, but just weren’t as marketable as the ones we requested from. Some, the writing wasn’t quite there, or we didn’t feel the concept was something we really wanted to work with. Like, there was this REALLY cool sounding one. The head hopping perspective would have driven me up the wall in short order, and that’s super subjective. Not really something I’d thought to add to the wishlist as something I didn’t want. (It will make the list next year, along with Historical set stuff if paired with KT. We get too hung up on the details on those). There were a LOT of projects I think we could help, if they were Chimera projects, but pitchwars mentoring is very different. We have such a limited time to make the changes, and we do try to pick something the agents involved in the contest are likely to take at least some interest in.

I’m really thrilled with both Jessie’s story and how amazingly we’ve hit it off. We have an amazing amount in common, and we’re having a lot of fun digging into her story to make it even better. There’s only one gif that fits this:

tenor

THUNDERSTRUCK Cover Reveal for the fabulous #Pitchwars queen, @BrendaDrake

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Just saying-This book is so good. I know I say this about a lot of her books, but you guys, she always impresses me! She writes such vivid, vibrant characters, while having a very deft hand with the world building. Her plots keep me turning the pages even when I should be good and go to bed (I know, classic book nerd problem! At least I rarely stay up til 4am reading anymore!). Definitely a fun, sweet romance, with an awesome Nerdy Norse twist!

 

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Releasing September 11, 2017
Entangled Teen – Crave

Pre-order today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble (coming soon)
Add it to Goodreads

About the book …

One strike will bring them together.

Stevie Moon is famous…at least to the subscribers on her comic review vlog. At school, she’s as plain as the gray painted walls in the cafeteria. So when Blake, the hot new guy at school, shows an interest in her, she knows trouble when she sees it. Been there. And never doing it again.
As the son of the god Thor, Blake Foster’s been given an important mission—to recover the Norse god Heimdall’s sacred and powerful horn before someone uses it to herald in the destruction of the entire universe. But while Blake is great in a fight, the battlefield that is a high school’s social scene is another matter.
Blake knows his only choice is to team up with the adorable Stevie, but she’s not willing to give him even the time of day. He’ll need to woo the girl and find the horn if he hopes to win this war. Who better to tackle Stevie’s defenses than the demi-god of thunder?
“Every page brims with captivating Norse mythology and deliciously creative worldbuilding.” Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author
About the author …
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Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
Brenda Drake is a New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2), and Thunderstruck releasing September 11, 2017. She hosts workshops and contests for writers such as Pitch Wars and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). She’s represented by Peter Knapp at The Park Literary Group.
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Mid-reading #Pitchwars Note

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Hey, how are you all holding up?

Some people seem to be pretty frustrated this year, more so than I noticed in past years. So I figured I’d share my perspective on the contest, as I think it might help.

1. #Pitchwars will not make or break your writing career. Repeat this to yourself as many times as needed until it sinks in. Yes, it can be a major boost for some, but even when selected, it doesn’t mean your book will be published. Of my past mentees, one went on to self publish her MS, three have trunked the MS and moved on to other projects, and one has gotten an agent and her book released through a big 5 digital sub-imprint. Not because any of their writings were bad, but because some genres are just REALLY hard to break into. Romance, for example, is a hell of a lot easier than adult SF/F right now, because there’s a lot more romance publishers than SF/F.

2. This is an incredibly HARD industry. If you’re serious about pursuing this dream, you’re going to get rejected a lot. Everyone does. Yes, including authors you can’t imagine everyone not groveling at. Find a good coping mechanism now, be it eating a piece of chocolate, ranting at a friend on DMs, or writing a short story where you are a best selling author yourself and get those agents/publishers to beg for your next book. Whatever makes you feel better, just keep it private. Agents DO check your social media if they consider representing you, (One agent I interned for would check it before even requesting the MS!) so make your public face professional. Keep a side account if you really must put it out there, and keep that locked down to friends only or similar, and don’t add the professionals to it. Same with, for example, the pitchwars boards. Not saying you have to be all rainbows and smiles, but bashing the people you want to work with isn’t going to make them want to work with you, no matter how good your writing is.

3. With a contest like this, there are inherent limitations. I have a dayjob, editing work, at least some social events, household tasks, my own writing, and other things that take up the vast majority of my time. I’ll give you guys some stats after the contest, but suffice it to say, I don’t have nearly enough time to request and read everything I would want to. There are easily another 10 MSs I could have requested, and a few I’m still considering requesting anyway, just because they’re still sticking in my mind. Even the best MS in our pile right now has things to improve, and even the entry we liked the least does some things really well. Getting requests, yes, is a good thing. It means your writing caught our attention, and your concept was something we think might have a shot in the current market based on our understanding of it. We did research, in addition to my usual habit of keeping up with what’s going on in publishing. But we’re not the queens of publishing, and it is SUPER subjective. We can only pick one, so we have to prioritize. We only have so long to edit this, we have to think the author can pull off the changes in the 2 months. Last year, our mentee really struggled to do that, and we really did ask a lot from her. She did her best, and life got in the way. So this year, we’re probably going to be tougher on that, and pick something that needs a bit less changed, that we otherwise would have just sent them the feedback and encouraged them to refine based on that and then query.

4. Oh, did I mention KT and I often give feedback to the ones we requested if they don’t get picked by us or other mentors? Cause we do. We’re in no way REQUIRED to, but we make these notes as we read anyway, so we may as well give them what we came up with. Yes, this also means it takes a lot longer to read than if we were just reading for pleasure. This means we do try to limit the number of requests we make. I can read a book, with no notes, for pleasure, in about 3-4 hours for a 90k MS. With notes, for editing or critique, you’re looking at about 8-12 hours for that same MS, depending on the shape it’s in and what level of critique I’m doing. Plus I take a bit of time (an hour or two at least) to put together some overall thoughts after I’m done reading and sort my notes into categories. We requested a total of over 800k words so far, on top of all the queries and first chapters of the rest. It’s physically impossible to request and read even all the good ones we would want!

5. Some really didn’t seem like the kinds of projects we were looking for. We specifically wanted romance PLUS other elements, so straight up romance, or projects where we couldn’t find the romance element, we were less likely to request. Targeting the right agents will be the same kind of issue. Yes, it takes time to research them, just like it took time to go through the blog hop. You may be thinking, oh, but mentors can swap, so it doesn’t matter. Well, except if we look at it and go, nope, not for us, we’re not throwing them into a huge pile for everyone else to look through. The only swapping that happens is when a mentor LOVES more than one MS and another mentor isn’t falling in love with their submissions, and wants to see it. There’s only been one of those we even asked to see the query/first pages on, because the concept sounded like it’d be right up our alley when a couple of the mentors were talking about it.

6. Take a deep breath, and talk with other entrants. Make friends. At the risk of sounding like a Care Bear, that’s the biggest prize in this contest. Find your people, find CPs, get feedback and apply it. It’s one piece of a very long journey, and you’ll need them all along the way. I wouldn’t be where I am now without my friends. And I’ll be further along later, because of friends, and they’ll be further along too because we all work to help each other. You can do this!

(Crossposting to the forum as well)

Excerpt for #Pitchwars Mentor @LH_Writes

This sounds DELICIOUS! Laura’s a fabulous writer, and this looks like such a fun read!

Release Date: September 5, 2017

 

Synopsis

SUGAR, SEA SALT, AND SHOW BIZ

Jen Reid’s life after walking off a reality show has been great–she’s gone from being a broke twenty-four-year-old Seattleite with no love life and no job to the twenty-five-year-old who got the guy, moved to Miami, and is starting a bakery with her best friend. She thinks her showmance love might be about to propose. And with mouthwatering goodies based on everyone’s favorite shows, her business, Sweet Reality, is destined for success.

That is, until a killer competitor opens right across the street. If she’s going to save Sweet Reality, Jen has to come up with a secret ingredient–like the recipe that won Totally 80s Bake-Off. Jen can get it–if she steps back into the spotlight. Soon she and her boyfriend are out to sea on a cruise ship full of reality stars, including her nemesis, Ariana; her lying, cheating ex; and some wicked producers looking to bring the drama. Separate cabins, “surprises” from her past, and scenarios tailor-made to spark fights are just the beginning. But with her self-respect, her business, and her future on the line, the fallout from this made-for-TV plotline will be all too real . . .

Goodreads

 

Excerpt

 

Sarah kissed both our cheeks before pulling away and handed me a small, clear plastic container. “You’re the best, both of you. I gotta go before they tow my car. Love you all, I’ll see you next Sunday. Bring me alcohol, and try not to get into any trouble. Especially you, Ed.”

He winked at her, and Justin pulled her aside, supposedly to talk about their mother for a minute before dropping our suitcases with the porter. I suspected he had another reason for this conversation, which made me grin far more than I should at the prospect of having my luggage checked.

This excitement would not be contained. Nearly two years ago, I’d been so sure my ex-boyfriend planned to propose right before I found out he was married. I’d been excited then, but the thought of spending my life with him never sounded as perfect as marrying Justin. He was my other half, the absolute best partner for me.

Sarah winked at me over his shoulder, her way of telling me she’d slipped him the ring. I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, wishing I could share my excitement with someone, but got distracted by the massive ocean liner casting shadows over the dock. More specifically, by the lifeboats.

Eyeing the orange rubber vessels lining the sides, I turned to Ed. “Do you think they brought enough lifeboats?”

“Yes. Also, this isn’t the Titanic. We’re not gonna sink. We have communications devices to call for help. And you, Jen, have your very own hunky stud in Justin to save you if anything goes wrong. Relax. Take your Dramamine.”

I rooted around in my carry-on for a moment before giving up. “My Dramamine must be in my big suitcase . . . which I probably shouldn’t have given to him to check. At least not without putting this Tupperware in first. The carry-on is about to burst.”

Ed gestured at the container Sarah handed me before leaving. “What’s that for?”

“So I can bring her one of Tammy Rae’s cupcakes. They’re doing a tasting after the bake-off tomorrow, remember?”

One of the onboard events pitted reality stars against each other in a baking competition, which Ed apparently forgot to sign up for. Hopefully, he wasn’t going to wing it. My friend created excellent meals for everyone while we were in the Fishbowl, but his laissez-faire attitude to cooking wouldn’t produce the same delicious results in baked goods.

Instead of competing against Ed, I signed up to judge with Justin. Partially as a way of getting on Tammy Rae’s good side, and partially because rumors said everyone involved got to sample her winning cupcakes after the event. I needed to be in the right place to snag one. Well, two. One for me, one for Sarah. Then I could verify whether these things tasted as good as the inter-webs claimed and butter Tammy Rae up by raving about what a baking genius she was before begging for a favor.

Where was Tammy Rae? Hopefully she hadn’t changed her mind and canceled at the last minute. According to E-Entertainment News Online, she’d mysteriously pulled out of Celebrity Poker Match a few years back, despite being a favorite to win. I scanned the docks, looking for her.

With luck, the recipe would be in my hand and I’d be lounging by the pool before the ship arrived in our first port. But one thing at a time. First, Justin and I needed to thoroughly explore and “enjoy” our cabin. Our glorious private cabin where we wouldn’t have to worry about my boyfriend’s sister or his somewhat creepy roommate hearing us through the paper-thin walls of our respective apartments. Or well, at least we wouldn’t know the people on the other side of our walls, so it wouldn’t matter what they heard.

Ed’s voice called me away from those thoughts, back to our conversation.

“What?” I asked.

“I said, calm down. Justin will be back soon, Tammy Rae will arrive before the ship leaves, and your suitcase, with Dramamine, will be delivered to your cabin sooner rather than later.”

“Why didn’t I take seasick pills before leaving home?” I moaned. “Why am I doing this?”

“You mean, freaking out over nothing? I couldn’t tell you.” Ed hugged me. “Really, Jen, you’ll be fine. I’ve cruised before. You won’t feel a thing.”

Finally, Justin walked toward us, sans luggage. I found myself relaxing as he put an arm around my waist and squeezed. I kissed him.

“Ugh. Lovebirds!” Ed moaned. “Get a room!”

“Hey, Ed, isn’t your boyfriend around here?” Justin asked good-naturedly. “Why don’t you go find him?”

Ed met his boyfriend Connor, formerly known to me only as Curly Beard, while filming The Fishbowl. Although the Network strictly prohibited staff from socializing with the contestants, they still found a way to make a connection. More importantly, they’d managed to keep it going ever since. The Network promoted Connor from production assistant to camera operator, and Ed recently moved from Boston to Los Angeles to be with him while pursuing a stand-up comedy career. I couldn’t have been happier for them.

“He’s doing some pre-boarding filming. I’m not allowed,” he said to Justin. “Besides, someone had to keep your belle here from having a panic attack. Did you know she gets seasick?”

Justin tilted his head at me the way he did when he didn’t want to say he thought I wasn’t being one hundred percent truthful. “You never mentioned that. You do?”

“I don’t know. When I was in high school, I threw up on the swan boats at the local fair.”

“Wasn’t that right after you bought tacos out of some guy’s van? Because I’m not sure that was the boat’s fault.”

This was the problem with dating someone long enough for them to hear all your stories. “Maybe…”

“You’ll be fine!” Ed said. “Now, let’s go before they take off without us.”

“Depart,” I said. “Or set sail.”

“Whatever.” Ed took off for the ship, luggage in tow.

“What’s really wrong?” Justin asked.

He gazed into my eyes until I realized I’d been freaking out over nothing. “I don’t know. I’ve been on edge all week. Partially it’s the bakery. What if Sarah can’t come up with new recipes? What if Tammy Rae hates me?”

“You are a resourceful, brilliant woman. You can be very persuasive. Plus, Sarah’s a genius in the kitchen. Even if Tammy Rae says no, the two of you will come up with something.”

I sighed. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I’m being stupid. I don’t know why I’m so jittery.”

Behind me, someone walked by wearing a t-shirt showing a woman with long, dark hair, pouting out from the inside of a clear fishbowl. And suddenly, I realized exactly why I felt so on edge: Ariana. The one person who could always make me act like my brain took a vacation without my body. No one confirmed whether she’d be onboard. I couldn’t relax until we set sail without her.

 

 

Giveaway

$20 Amazon Gift Card

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b1257f8d94/?

 

 

About the Author

 

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers get married, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the Northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

 

Connect with Laura

 

Newsletter Sign Up: http://bit.ly/2tXagfL

Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/2s3Cq7J

Goodreads Author Page: http://bit.ly/2sySwcP

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2tCbFsT

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2wEDilT

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2sJNQz8

BookBub Author Page: http://bit.ly/2umbMwF

 

Cover reveal for #Pitchwars Mentor @Michelle4Laughs

Here’s what Michelle has to say about her cover. I haven’t read this series, I’m waiting for it to be done before I binge read it, I had a feeling from the first book it would be one of those series for me. If you’ve loved it, tell me why!

It all starts, of course, with getting hit with the writing bug. You have an idea for a story. You bravely sit down and write it. You learn that you don’t know how to write quite yet and you begin to gather experience plucked from other writers farther down the road. 

A manuscript or four later your craft has improved enough to land an agent. Your brilliant story goes out to the scary land of editors and may or may not sell. But you persist. You write other stories if the first one fails. And eventually you make your first sale for, say, three books.

Now you are faced with the scary fact that you need to write your first sequel and carry on a story line. You get the wonderful news that the characters you adore will live on. At the same time, you are full of anxiety that a sequel is a daunting thing and you’ve never tried one before. Bravely you forge forward and write a sequel that meets your editor’s approval. 

A new first appears now that you conquered the other challenge. You now have to write the ending book of a series. You have to take all the characters and all the obstacles you created and bring them to, not just an end, but a highly exciting end. Once again you doubt your talent and ability. You plunge forward nonetheless. And you succeed.

Cover reveals. Release days. Publishers Marketplace announcements. All those days are great days, but they are blips on the actual journey. The true test is the challenge you meet everyday to go out and do what scares you because you might fail– and see yourself instead succeed. 

So a cover reveal is not so much a celebration of art as it is a celebration of spirit. Another test passed. Another doubt proved groundless. A forging forward on the journey of you, whether you are a writer or something else. 

Proof I climb this mountain in the form of a third cover for my Birth of Saints series. Thank you for being a witness and may you climb your mountains. 

 Do what scares you my friends and face those challenges.  
Against an angry god whose only desire is to wipe out all life, what hope is there to survive?

The army from the north has left a trail of burned and captured cities. In trying to stop them, Claire and Ramiro unleashed the northern god, Dal, but now they face two monstrosities and no amount of honor or hope can stop the killing as Dal grows in power.

Searching for a miracle, Claire finds the elders of the Women of the Song, who might teach her a thing or two about using her voice magic to fight back—if they can put aside their own problems first—while Ramiro searches for truth in his dreams, leading him to the northern priestess Santabe, the only one who could share her knowledge of Dal and the mysterious magical Diviners. 

Claire must unite the Women of the Song in the face of utter destruction, and Ramiro must decide how far he will go to get the answers he needs to defeat the rampaging god.


It will take nothing less than a saint to rise and face the leviathan before they all become martyrs. (unofficial blurb)

Steadfast releases December 5, 2017


Enter Giveaways to Win Signed Copies of Grudging and Faithful:


A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.




Following Grudging–and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall–religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck’s Birth of Saints series!

A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.




About the Author:

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two college-going kids. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, Picture Book Party, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging (November 17, 2015) and Faithful (November 15, 2016) and Steadfast (December 2017)  is published by Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing.

Find her on twitter at @Michelle4Laughs or at her blog.