Nestpitch 2015 Teams – Simply Smawesome!

91aab551Hello all,

I guess it would be no big revelation if I said I make stuff up, given my chosen profession. The thing is I also make words up, usually by accident. That’s what happened yesterday morning. I was working on the Nestpitch Team bio’s and as I got further along, it hit me at how amazing this years Mentors & Slushies are.

I also talk to myself. Well that and the cats, which is kind of the same thing. So there I was, working on the Team bio’s talking to myself when my brain, which often works way faster than my mouth (& that’s saying something!), was thinking “these teams are Super, Magical, Awesome– and what came out of my mouth (literally) was smawesome – & that’s what these Team’s are – SMAWESOME! So I’m coining the word as my own & who knows? It might just catch on 🙂thebestdayyet

Below are the Teams and when you read them you’ll agree, they are smawesome, but before you look through the Teams, I wanted to run through the selection process. Now, don’t freak out too much as a full list of dates, rules and conditions will be posted on the 23rd / 24th of March. For now just mark March 23rd /24th and April 1st (submission date).

The submission consists of:

(i)                 35-word pitch

(ii)               Answer to this question: If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would s/he be? (no more than 15 words please)

(iii)             1st 300-words of your manuscript*

*1st 300 = if you have a prologue, then your 1st 300 starts from your prologue. If you don’t think your prologue is strong enough then perhaps you need to rethink your prologue.

Finish at the end of a sentence. This is 300-word MAX, so your last word is 300-words. If your sentence finishes on 292-words, submit that. If your sentences run into 30 or more words, then rethink the length of your sentence(s). Broken sentences do no one favours.

This year we will not be accepting PB’s – I have something special planned for PB’s (and perhaps MG’s) for December 2015 assuming I can get all my ducks in a row 😉

defeatistTwo things to add/note:

(1)               A condition of entry is any MS #pitch submitted to previous #pitches, which resulted in being selected, in the twelve months prior to April 2015, is ineligible.   The only sub-clause to this is #PitchSlam. Please let us know if  you have the same MS in #PitchSlam & #Nestpitch, and again if you’ve been selected. I have spoken to the Host of PitchSlam & we’ve agreed to work closely on this one.

(2)               This year there will be less final selection featured pitches. (Expecting final the number to be around 40). With each Team concentrating on fewer submissions, we can be more hands-on with feedback and mentoring. By doing this, not only will the pitch + 300-words be stronger, but so will the entire MS. This year there will be rounds.

Harry potter styl image 1a.      Round #1: Last year I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt when errors were made in following guidelines. That will not be the case this year, aside from formatting issues (which happen). To get past #1 author’s must be able to follow guidelines.

b.      Round #2: This year each Team will select and initial 5-8 submissions and then request more pages/material. Based on the additional pages/material, each Team will drill their selection down to between 4-5 to go to the next round.

March-06-2012-17-18-53-tumblrltqwvxV4261qlcw7co1500c.      Round #3: On having picked their final 4-5, each Team will then critique the first 2,500-words and ‘get to know’ the author(s). This is a 3-fold process. Being selected does not necessarily mean being featured. Teams will want to know the author(s) are willing to accept feedback etc.  The Teams will work with their author’s for 3 weeks, offering feedback, sharpening pitches, & suggesting improvements. After this, the author’s have a full week to re-read their MS in full & make any final changes; before the agent round.

 From the Slush-pile Picks.

My Team, #Team2Beat, will be hunting through the slush-pile and the reserves, looking for gems that have been missed. We will have the option of selecting between 1-5 pitches (at our discretion) to feature. This is basically a bonus-pick so, you may just get an email after the date, but if you do, expect to work twice as hard as the other author’s as you’ll have less time – so be ready!

All of the above, together with dates and other conditions will be posted on March 23rd / 24th in an information post  – so keep a look out for that post.

And now, (in no particular order), bathe in the smawesmeness of our Teams! 

SCSC_Author – Mentor 

Twitter:  & blog:

Co-host of “Query Kombat” and “Nightmare on Query Street” and the host of “The Writer’s Tank” and “Become an Agent,” SC founded the#WriteInclusively pact in efforts to promote creative writing that has diversity as a focus. SC also wrote: “There’s a story behind my icon pic, a story that used to be funny a few years ago. I’m on the quest to find a new icon, though. Stay tuned!  Slushies: 

Laura HeffernanLaura Heffernan – Slushie – Laura is a California-born women’s fiction writer, represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary.. One Saturday morning when she was four or five, Laura sat down at the family’s Commodore 64 and typed out her first short story. She’s written both fiction and non-fiction ever since.

In her spare time, Laura likes travel baking, board games, and new experiences. She lives in the northeast, freezing like the true California girl she is, with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts. Her fuzzy sock collection is becoming impressive. You’ll find Laura on Twitter here: 

Heather MurphyHeather Murphy Capps – Slushie – Heather is an MG/YA author of adventures and thrillers with light sci-fi, magical, or ghostly twists. When not writing, she’s wrangling her most important beta readers — her children. She also teaches and design courses (for adults) in writing and public speaking. Heather often features as a guest blogger on several popular blogs and recently wrote a guest blog on SC’s blog about her experiences as a writer & person of mixed cultural background.

You’ll find Heather on Twitter here: 

LouiseLouise GornallMentor

Twitter:  Blog:

YA author of urban fantasy and horror stories, Louise like her art on the dark-side. She describes herself as “Identical twin, junk food aficionado, book bird,film nerd, Jedi” & is represented by Mandy Hubbard at D4EO. Also, she’s from the UK so you know her voice will be as hot as her photo!

Lou’s Slushies:             

Sarah CarlsonSarah Carlson – Slushie Sarah loves writing (and reading) Young Adult Contemporary fiction that touches on social issues. She recently relocated from Singapore back to Wisconsin with her husband and two dogs to return to working in schools. Sarah is represented by fabulous Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Regal Literary Management. You’ll find Sarah on Twitter here: 

Kate FosterKate Foster – Slushie -Kate is a freelance editor and proofreader, writer of middle grade fiction and reader of all things dark and disturbing. Her first novel, Winell Road, is set for release later this year with Jet Black Publishing. Originally from the UK, she now lives on the gold Coast in Australia with her husband, three sons and pet spoodle.  (we’ll claim her as an Aussie!)

You’ll find Kate on Twitter here:

Sharon Bayliss picSharon Bayliss – Mentor

Twitter: & Blog

Author extraordinaire with Curiosity Quills, (yes I’m a super-fan of her December People Series), Sharon lives in Texas with her hubby & gorgeous children where, between chasing after her boys, she  tweets, writes & helps other authors too.

Sharon B’s Slushies: 

Katy Katy Upperman – Slushie Writer of YA & represented by Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency, Katy describes herself as a wife, mama,avid reader and country music fanatic who likes baking, cheap beer, long runs, Jelly Bellies, sunshine, social media, and yoga. You’ll find Katy on Twitter here: 

Jessika FleckJessika Fleck – Slushie – represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley at Inklings Literary, Jessika is a lover of art and booksbut it wasn’t until she put the two together that Jessika discovered the magic of storytelling. Jessika lives in quaint, small town Vermont with her sweet family, growing collection of vintage typewriters, and bevy of characters who often keep her up at night. You’ll find Jessika on Twitter here: 

Stacey Nash picStacey Nash – Mentor

Twitter: Blog:

Author of YA & NA (HarperCollins), and fellow Aussie, Stacey is also part of the blogging team at AussieOwnedAndRead. When not writing, Tweeting or Facebook- ing, she can be found spending time with her family.

Stacey’s Slushies: 

Kathy PalmKathy Palm – Slushie – Magic-wielding, TARDIS-traveling, stay-at-home mom, and YA fantasy/horror writer Kathy recently signed with REUTS Publications, her debut DOORS to be released in winter of 2016. She loves chocolate and all the weird, creepy, and fantastical words. You’ll find Kathy on Twitter here: 

LivLiv Rancourt – Slushie – Liv writes romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire…or sometimes demon. She writes funny, not angst. When not writing Liv takes care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. She describes her husband is a soul of patience and her dog as the cutest thing evah(!) You’ll find Liv on Twitter here: 

sharon jSharon Johnston – Mentor

Twitter: & Blog:

Another fellow Aussie, and talented writer, like Stacey, Sharon is also part of the AussieOwnedAndRead blogging team. She is also involved with several other #PitchComps, hence why wenicknamed her #ThePitchWhisperer

Sharon J’s Slushies: 

E.L WickerE.L Wicker – Slushie  – E.L is, in her own words “mildly (massively) obsessed with new Adult” (another reason I like her!). If she’s not reading it, she’s writing it. Among her favourite pastimes is hunting out new books by sparkly new authors. Author of the Bearwood series and blog assistant to Sharon Johnston (& now Slushie too), Emma is a lover of the contraction, a hater of the ‘off of’ & like the rest of us, a writer doing her thing. You’ll find E.L on Twitter here:  

JC NelsonJC Nelson – Slushie –  J.C is a born Texan living in the Pacific Northwest. Software developer by day and by night, an author and herder of Children and chickens. J.C.  writes Urban Fantasy blended with fairy tales, such as the Grimm Agency series. You can find J.C. on twitter here:

Amanda Foody pic Amanda Foody – Mentor

Twitter: & Blog:

Repped by Molly Jaffa at Folio Literary. When not writing YA, or reading a book, you’ll likely find Amanda sprinting across her campus to another accounting class – yes there are author’s who are also accountants!

Amanda’s Slushies: 

photoNiki Cluff – Slushie – Niki was one of our success stories from last year and has joined us this year as one of Amanda’s Slushies. Niki is represented by Cate Hart at Corvisiero Literary Agency.

You’ll find Niki on Twitter here:

JenaJena DuBois – Slushie – Jena is a English Major (in other words, grammar, syntax and spell WILL COUNT) as well as an aspiring author. As a BETA to her fabulous Mentor for the past two years, Jena knows how to edit and how to spot those plot holes 😉 You’ll find Jena here:  

brooke PBrooke PowellMentor

Twitter: Blog:

Also signed with Folio Literary, Brooke like her subjects and her characters to stretch the readers perception of normal, she calls it “contemporary fiction that tends to twist and turn toward the more taboo side of things” When not writing, editing or social media-ing, Brooke can be found making cakes looks like works of art.

Brooke’s Slushies:

Heather BHeather Bryant – Slushie – Another Aussie, Heather lives in a little city in Australia with far too many voices in her head. When not reading, writing or sharing tweets online, Heather is another contributor on the AussieOwnedAndRead blog. If you have a purple unicorn, let Heather know! You’ll find Heather on Twitter here:  

Kristy Shen PicKristy Shen – Slushie – Computer Engineer by day and one half of a writing duo by night. In her spare time, she likes traveling to exotic places, eating strange foods, and scaring the locals with her unintelligible hyper-babble and insane ramblings. Her debut MG novel LITTLE MISS EVIL has just been released through Spencer Hill Press. Kristy is represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley at Inklings Literary. You’ll find Kristy on Twitter here:

LaurenLauren McKellar – Mentor 

Twitter: & Blog:

uthor, editor, AussieOwnedAndRead blog contributor and yes, another Aussie, Lauren’s debut novel, Finding Home, was released through Escape Publishing Harlequin Australia, on October 1, 2013. You can find out more about her Contemporary Crazy in Love series via her blog.

Lauren’s Slushies: 

Tracy JoyceTracy Joyce – Slushie – Tracy is an Australian Author of speculative fiction  who grew up in rural Victoria.  Her debut novel, Altaica: Book I in The Chronicles of Altaica, has been published by Odyssey Books. Tracy has long been a fan of the Fantasy genre, but particularly likes novels that deal with deep characterisations and that don’t flinch from the gritty realities of life. You’ll find Tracy on Twitter here:

Karen McCoyKaren McCoy – Slushie –   As a writer who also works as a librarian; Karen must have the second most wanted profession for writers, the first being one-after-the-other best sellers! Author if MG & YA, Karen also an MFA student. When not reading, or writing or studying, you’ll likely find Karen on her blog or blogging on the Operation Awesome blog. You’ll find Karen on Twitter here:


Nikola Vukoja – Mentor Twitter: Blog:

Host & creator of #Nestpitch & co-host of Post-it-Forward, Nik’s tastes tend toward NA & Adult in both reading and writing, Nik likes her stuff to either be on the dark side or historical or have a social message, ideally all three! When not writing, you’ll find Nik working on her visual art, cooking, gardening & following orders from her Feline Overlords.

Nikola’s Slushie: 

JadahJadah McCoy – Slushie – Jadah lives in Nashville, TN and works as a legal coordinator. When not babysitting attorneys she can be found desperately juicing her brain for creative ideas or fantasizing about her next trip out of the country (or about Tom Hiddleston as Loki – it’s always a toss up when she’s fantasizing). Her debut NA sci-fi is forthcoming from Curiosity Quills Press. You’ll find Jadah on Twitter here:  


And now – let the Easter Festivities begin! 

#Nestpitch 2014 First Success Story

pinkie pie party cannonHello all, 

Well, I’ve been holding on to this news and been bursting at the seams to share… and at last I can; #Nestpitch 2014 First Success Story and I couldn’t be happier. So (whee I’m actually squealing here), let me introduce to you Ms. Kimberly Ito. P1020267

Kimberly was one of the pitchee’s in Dannie Morin’s Team, though her pitch had more than one or two grabby-hands from the other Mentors. Kimberly’s entry was one of the 2-3 LGBT entries we got and I have to admit, when I saw we had LGBT entries, I kept my fingers crossed that at least one would be a knock out – and it was. To refresh your memories, here is the Entry (without the first 300-words)

Genre: Adult, commercial fiction (LGBT)
Word count: 88,000
Pitch: In this LGBT retelling of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, a Japanese glam
rocker must re-examine sexuality, career, and ideas of beauty when he falls for a scarred, disabled composer with ghosts of his own.
Answer to question:
He’s a fuchsia malted milk egg: flashy outside, sweet inside, with a surprisingly strong core.

March-06-2012-17-18-53-tumblrltqwvxV4261qlcw7co1500Seriously, what’s NOT to like here? Not only did Kimberly follow all the guidelines (and people that’s a biggy) but she did exactly what a pitch should do. She told us enough to entice and created interest by showing what was unique. I mean come on, a re-tell of Phantom of the Opera, but with a Japanese Rocker and its LGBT, how could we not read on?

And we did, and so did a few of our Secret Bunny Agents. One of them, GinaPanettieri, President of Talcott Notch Literary Services, literary-agent-jessica-negron wasted no time in upgrading the partial to a full. She also passed on Kimberly’s full and profile to Jessica Negrón. When Kimberly emailed Dannie and me about the upgrade and Jessica, I remember nodding. Jessica is also Emmie Mears’ agent and I could see how Jessica’s taste and Kimberly’s style would work brilliantly together. It seems so could Jessica!

As it’s been just over two months since the requests went out, I expect to hear many more success stories after the (northern) summer, but for now, let’s woo-hoo Kimberly and Jessica and while we are at it, let’s get to know Kimberly better. (spoiler alert- some of you have surely seen the tweets about another success story – well it’s true! & we’ll have all the details in another Q&A soon)

Getting to know Kimberly Ito

Kimberly, aside from being an author, tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up, what you do that pays the bills, when and where you write, anything at all you’d care to share.

I grew up in the US, but I’ve lived in the Tokyo area for the past 12 or 13 years.  I’m primarily a stay-at-home mom, but I do some freelance work: teaching English (as a foreign language), editing, proofreading, and translating Japanese to English. I usually write at home, after my kids are asleep.  I P1020227don’t have a lot of time for hobbies, but I love cooking, butchering 8-minute-long power ballads at karaoke, and playing with my dog and kids. NOTE FROM NIK: take a look at how cute Kimberly’s dog – Holly – is!

Qu1. Nik: As I said above, your pitch and first page instantly stood out because it was so unique and yet also so universal, where did the idea come from?

Kimberly: Well, I’ve always been interested in PHANTOM – the book, the musical, quite a few of the movies – and Phantom retellings. Brian de Palma’s 1974 film, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, has always been a favorite, and I just really enjoy seeing those themes explored in different eras and locations. As far as the setting, well, I live in Japan and actually met my husband in this particular subculture, so you might say it was a matter of “write what you know.”

NOTE FROM NIK: That last bit “write what you know” it may seem like a cliche but there was never been more truer advice, to make your scenes and character’s authentic you need to understand who and what you are writing about.

Qu2. Nik: Was this the first time you’d entered this manuscript into a pitch competition?

Kimberly: I had done a few Twitter pitch competitions, but this was the first and only time I did anything beyond 140 characters!

Qu3. Nik: Tell us about your experience with #Nestpitch and with Dannie, you’re Mentor.

Kimberly: I almost didn’t enter! My decision was really last-minute, and it all seemed to happen so fast.  I did have a lot of fun watching the slush pile readers and then bloggers give vague hints about what they were choosing, and even more fun reading the other selected pitches.  After a lot of querying and waiting, it was nice to feel like I was being active and DOING something to get my work out there.  Dannie was great.  She helped me fine-tune my pitch before it went live and was very encouraging and supportive throughout the contest, and beyond.

Qu4. Nik: I remember getting that first update when Gina requested the 25-page partial to a full and how happy I was for you. Tell us how it felt and (aside from doing a little happy dance) did you do anything before sending, like re-reading the manuscript?ImageProxy

Kimberly: Well, it was actually Jessica who requested the full, and I was thrilled and a little shocked (see answer #5), because she was someone I’d wanted to work with for awhile. As far as special preparation, I don’t think so.  I’d been kind of fine-tuning for a couple of months, so I was pretty confident that it was ready to go.  I emailed my CP to give her the good news, and then I attached the file and hit send!

NOTE FROM NIK: Again wonderful advice here folks. Don’t rush it, *if in doubt, leave it out* that goes for scenes and entering/submitting work.

Qu5. Nik: With regard to Jessica Negron, what was it like sending that first email to Jessica? Did you do any research beforehand or did you already know of her?

Kimberly: I had actually queried Jessica before!  It was a rejection, but she gave me some great feedback which I used to completely overhaul my book, deleting large chunks and rewriting others.  I remember feeling extremely disappointed at the time, because I really wanted an editorial agent, and felt like we would have clicked!  Fortunately, she remembered me and saw that I had taken her advice, and it ended up being a match after all!

Qu6. Nik: Now I know that while you were waiting to hear back from Jessica, you also had interest from other agents. What was the waiting like? What did you do while you waited?

Kimberly: Well, I did keep querying other agents, and I also started a second book, which is nowhere near complete enough to talk about… but I kept querying, and I kept writing, and stuck to my writer friends for support!

NOTE FROM NIK: And here is another example of Kimberly being proactive. Even though she had requests from Nestpitch, she understood a request is not an offer, as I’ve said several times “It’s a long way from bended knee to altar.” Do not do yourself a disservice and put all your hopes in one basket, if an offer does come through, you can (and always should) approach the agents with partials or fulls at that point. 

ImageProxyABCQu7. Nik: OK, the one we have all been DYING to ask, tell us about THAT CALL, the one from Jessica, and please don’t leave anything out.

Kimberly: I think it was pretty typical, even if typical meant “terrifying” for me! Most of my writing friends I met online, so it had probably been a couple of years since I had actually talked about my writing, or even spoken my characters’ names aloud! But Jessica is SO nice, and that definitely calmed my nerves a little bit. The first thing I did was to give her a slightly more detailed version of the “how I came up with the idea” answer above. Then she told me what she liked about my novel, we discussed revisions, and then I had a chance to ask her some questions. I had a couple of days between when we scheduled the call and when it actually happened, so I had done my research, figured out what questions I needed to ask about her agenting style, and which questions could be answered just by reading her profile or existing interviews.  I was getting a little bit teary eyed at one point, when she said she loved one of my characters particularly (and we were on Skype, doing a video chat, so I was really fighting not to let it show!).  But other than that… Google “What to do when you get the call,” and that was pretty much what happened!

Qu8.  Nik: After having gone through the query process and the #pitching competition process would you recommend your aspiring author friends do pitch competitions? And what advice would you give them?Selena_gomez_falling_confetti

Kimberly: I would, if they feel comfortable with it. One of the main reasons I almost *didn’t* do NestPitch was because I’m just usually very private with my writing. It definitely made me feel exposed to have even a small excerpt out there!  So I do understand why some people don’t want to.  However, it’s also a really great way to meet other writers, to get your pitch in front of a variety of agents in one shot, and to get some helpful feedback from mentors.  The best advice I can think of (besides polishing your pitch to perfection, anyway) is to choose your pitch contests carefully.  I entered NestPitch because the majority of the agents involved hadn’t seen my query yet, and because a few of them seemed like they were interested in similar projects.  Don’t enter every contest you see, even if they’re legit!  Be sure that at least a handful of participating agents rep your genre and
category, and haven’t already seen your query.

Qu9. Nik: What do you say to people who dismiss the Slush Pile and/or #pitching competitions in general?

Kimberly: Wow, are there still people who dismiss the slush pile?  I’d say that every agented writer I personally know connected with their agent one of three ways: the slush pile, a pitch contest, or a conference.  I know that some writers get their foot in the door by knowing someone who knows samuel-l-jackson-catsomeone… but I think that’s actually a pretty small percentage.  Especially if you’re not able to make it to conferences because of location, like me, or for any reason, pitching and querying are the best ways to make it happen!

Qu10. Nik: So what’s next, I mean after you’ve got over the giddiness and the copious congrats and thank-you’s, what happens now?

Kimberly: Well, edits, first! Jessica has some great ideas to strengthen my novel and I’m going work through those first… and then maybe again, and again, until we’re both completely happy with it. And then I suppose I get to go back to book #2 while she works her submission magic? Signing with an agent is definitely a big milestone, and it feels a little like reaching a goal… but our work definitely isn’t over!

Thank you so much for taking part in this Q&A Kimberly, I know the entire #Nestpitch Team are so very happy for you, and promise, when you have your first book deal, you’ll come back and visit (and share the cover too) 😉96781-Anna-excited-gif-Imgur-Frozen-j9Hv

If you want to follow Kimberly’s progress, you’ll find her on Twitter here: and her blog. Kimberly actually wrote a great blog post on April 17th just before she submitted to #Nestpitch as to why she entered with us. The blog post is called: In which I enter #Nestpitch – and its a really interesting read. Some of her answers above are covered in this post, but if you’re an aspiring writer, reading this from her prospective prior to getting an offer is extremely interesting; especially her point about judging if the agents represented are ideal for your manuscript. Kimberly looked at it from the “have I submitted to most of these agents before” prospective – a very important point. Other factors should be “are there agents in this competition that cater to my category & genre” and (also mentioned by Kimberly) “is my manuscript truly ready” – perhaps the most important point.

And don’t forget to congratulate Kimberly’s awesome agent Jessica on her great taste and foresight – you’ll find Jessica on Twitter here: and Jessica also has a great section on her blog on how to submit to her called “How to Submit to me” that you’ll find here:

berry-break-018Final thoughts: Pitch competitions DO WORK – period. No, they are not for everyone and no, not every pitch that is selected to be featured will result in an offer from an agent. Not even every pitch that has a request by an agent will end in an offer of representation, but as Kimberly pointed out, pitching competitions offer so much to all those who enter.  You *meet other authors, people with whom you can form relationships, some of whom will become friends/BETA readers/CP partners. You extend your contact list to include successful authors and not just successful but successful generous authors who give freely of their time, people who are there for you well beyond the pitch-faze. You increase your presence on social media. You develop confidence.

These are all intangible but invaluable benefits to entering pitching competitions. Oh yes, and you might get yourself an agent too! So, as you look at upcoming events (and there are several excellent ones in the next 6-months which I will be posting updates on), and as you scroll through the Mentors and the Agents, don’t dismiss the opportunity and positive effect of #Pitch Competitions.



The Masked Songbird by Emmie Mears Q&A + Review

Hello All, Today I have a super-special treat for you because today I’ve got the wonderful Emmie Mears with me. Now, I first *met Emmie way-back-when we were both hitting it hard with queries and slogging it out and sharing … Continue reading