Monday, November 10, 2014

MEET THE JUDGES! Pitchmas 2014 official judge list!

Introducing 2014's Holiday #PitchMAS participating agents and editors!

Logo Awesomeness courtesy of S.P. McConnell


We're waiting on a few more judges to confirm, but we couldn't wait to introduce you to our OFFICIAL judges!!


*Kevan Lyon is a Literary Agent and partner with Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She has more than 20 years in the publishing business, including 9+ years as a Literary Agent and 17+ years on the wholesale, retail and distribution side of the business, Kevan brings an informed and unique perspective to her work with clients. Her background on the buying and retail side of publishing affords her helpful insight into the challenging world of retail bookselling and distribution. Her list includes NY Times and USA Today Bestselling authors Jennifer Armentrout, Jennifer Probst, Kristen Proby, Molly McAdams, Jennifer Robson, Laura Griffin and several others.

Kevan works with her clients to help them realize their dreams of being published and to build a long term career as a writer. The Marsal Lyon Literary Agency strives to partner with their clients on all phases of the publishing path. When not reading clients’ work or obsessively monitoring email, Kevan loves to walk near the beach with her 4 legged office mates.

Wish List: Kevan handles women’s fiction, with an emphasis on commercial women’s fiction, young adult and new adult fiction and all genres of romance.

For more information on the agency and their client list, visit their web site at, visit their Facebook page, or follow Kevan on Twitter!

*Kathleen Rushall: After working at two previous agencies, Kathleen Rushall joined Marsal Lyon in 2011. She represents writers for all age groups of children’s literature, including picture books (fiction and non-fiction), middle grade, and young adult novels. In addition to her fiction list, Kathleen also represents select nonfiction and is interested in lifestyle, mind/ body/ spirit topics, yoga, alternative medicine, parenting, crafts, business, women’s interest, humor, pop-culture, and some how-to.

Wish List: Kathleen is also looking for fresh new adult, women’s fiction, and romance projects. The most important element that draws Kathleen to any project is a strong voice and unforgettable characters.

A few of Kathleen’s recent or soon to be published books include BACKHOE JOE by Lori Alexander (Harper Collins), CUT ME FREE by J.R. Johansson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), THE ONE THING by Marci Curtis (Hyperion), IT’S RAINING BATS AND FROGS by Rebecca Colby (Feiwel and Friends), FOREST FAIRY CRAFTS by Lenka Vodicka and Asia Currie (C & T Publishing), BHAKTI FLOW YOGA by Rusty Wells (Shambhala), THE WICKED WE HAVE DONE by Sarah Harian (NAL/Penguin), DARK PARADISE by Angie Sandro (Forever Yours/Grand Central), HOW TO OUTRUN A CROCODILE WHEN YOUR SHOES ARE UNTIED by Jess Keating (Sourcebooks), and DEAR DRAGON by Josh Funk (Viking/ Penguin).

*Abigail Samoun was an in-house children’s book editor for over ten years, working on a wide range of projects, from board books to young adult novels. Her books received such honors as the CCBC Charlotte Zolotow award, the New York Public Library Ezra Jack Keats award, and the Pura Belpre. In 2011, Abigail made the transition from editing to agenting, co-founding Red Fox Literary. She is the author of three forthcoming children’s books, What’s In Your Purse? (Chronicle Books, 2014) and How Aligator Says Goodbye and How Hippo Says Hello (Sterling Publishing, 2014).

Abigail likes to organize her library according to which authors would get along well together (the Brontes next to George Elliot, Lois Lowry next to Margaret Atwood). She’s shelved all her Tesla books next to Mark Twain’s so that the old friends can keep each other company. Abigail lives in Sonoma, California with her entomologist husband, two dogs, a gaggle of chickens, and a curious little boy named Tristan. Visit

Wish List: She’s looking for YA and middle-grade in a wide range of genres from high literary to historical adventure to a good creepy ghost story and everything in between.

*Patricia Nelson is an agent at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She started at Marsal Lyon in early 2014 as the assistant to Kevan Lyon, and has previously interned at The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency and in the children’s division at Running Press. Patricia received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 2008, and also holds a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the world of publishing, she spent four years as a university-level instructor of literature and writing.​

Wish List: I represent adult and young adult fiction, and am actively looking to build my list. On the adult side, I'm looking especially for upmarket women's fiction, romance (contemporary, historical, and New Adult), and accessible literary fiction. I'm also looking for all genres of YA, including contemporary/realistic as well mystery/thriller, horror, magical realism, light science fiction and character-driven fantasy. I'm always interested in finding exciting multicultural and LGBTQ fiction, both YA and adult. In general, I love stories with complex characters that jump off the page and thoughtfully drawn, believable relationships.

*Nicole Resciniti: Nicole has been listed by Publisher's Marketplace as a top dealmaker in the country, and named ACFW's 2012 Agent of the Year.
She loves discovering new talent and helping established authors to take their career to the next level. Nicole is a member of AAR, ACFW, RWA, and Mensa. She holds degrees in biology, psychology, and behavioral neuroscience. Nicole taught in the public school system and has worn many hats before heeding her calling to become a literary agent.

Wishlist: HEA’s are a must for romance. Mainstream suspense, thrillers, mysteries, YA and inspirational novels are welcome. A consummate science geek and card-carrying Mensa member, Nicole would love to find the next great science fiction/fantasy novel or action/adventure masterpiece. 

*Shannon Hassan, an agent at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, has worked in publishing and law for more than a decade.

Wish List: She represents authors of upmarket, women’s, and literary fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction, and select nonfiction. With respect to fiction, she is drawn to fresh voices, compelling characters, and crisp prose, and enjoys both contemporary and historical settings. For nonfiction, she is interested in exceptional narratives from authors with strong platforms.

*Laura Zats graduated from Grinnell College with degrees in English and anthropology. While completing her studies, she took advantage of her love of Young Adult (YA) literature and wrote a thesis on identity formation in YA. She’s been working as an editor since 2011 and has held positions at companies in both the US and the UK. In 2013, Laura joined Team Red Sofa as an intern but quickly became more of an apprentice, leveling up to Associate Agent in the same year.

Even though she loved YA books first, titles that are Middle Grade, romance, and Sci-fi/Fantasy have been slowly taking hold. Picking a favorite genre now would be like choosing between puppies and kittens. In her free time, Laura likes to craft, swing dance, bake, and binge on Netflix marathons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who.

Wish List: Young Adult — Fiction, especially contemporary. I love funny and gritty, especially when the two go together. Interested in geekery, retellings, innovative storytelling, and authentic voices. Please no paranormal romance, contemporary romance, dystopia, Chosen One plotlines, or didacticism.
Middle Grade — Fiction, especially contemporary. Prefers smart, literary writing disguised as adventures. Looking for books that are heavy with STEM and will appeal to girls and boys.
Contemporary Women’s Fiction — Looking for funny, lighter fare. Think Sophie Kinsella.
Science Fiction/Fantasy — Must pass either the Mako Mori or Bechdel tests. Love non-traditional settings, fast-paced storytelling, anthropological elements, and smart humor. Please no high fantasy.
Romance/Erotica — Especially contemporary. Must be feminist, have verbal consent throughout, and feature an independent, smart heroine. Please no vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, or mermaids.
New Adult — I want the same things as I want in YA, but will also consider contemporary romance.

Wish list for every genre and category: feminism, diversity (in all forms), unconventional storytelling techniques, and voice-driven narratives.

Jessica Negrón, Talcott Notch: attended University of New Haven, where she acquired a BA in English Writing. For five years she worked and interned with various small, local publications in both an editorial and design capacity, until she found her place with Talcott Notch. In January 2013, she began taking on her own clients, representing speculative fiction, psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and romance.

Wishlist: Books that catch her eye usually have incredible world-building, memorable characters, and a dash of darkness. Her primary focus right now is diversity--the world needs more authors of color writing SFF (and everything else, really), and more stories in all genres featuring characters of diverse genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, physical abilities, etc. Fair warning that books without any of these elements probably won't be attractive to Jessica.

*Julie Gwinn, Seymour Agency: most recently served as Marketing Manager for the Christian Living line at Abingdon Press and before that served as Trade Book Marketing Manager and then Fiction Publisher for the Pure Enjoyment line at B&H Publishing Group, a Division of LifeWay Christian Resources. Last year she was awarded Editor of the Year from the American Christian Fiction Writers and won B&H’s first Christy award for Ginny Yttrup’s debut novel Words. She has more than 25 years public relations and marketing experience and has also worked in marketing for several Nashville non-profit organizations including the TN Assoc. for the Education of Young Children, the Nashville Area Red Cross and the YWCA. She is married and has two children.

Wish List: contemporary romance, historical romance, spec/fantasy, YA.

*Terrie Wolf, AKA Literary: (Bio/Wishlist to come!)

*Kaylee Davis:Growing up in The Middle of Nowhere, Ohio, Kaylee’s lifeline to sanity was the local library where she nurtured her love of all things literary. Kaylee received a B.A. in English Literature and a B.A. in Sociology from Miami University, and she is certified in Copyediting from Emerson College. As an Associate Literary Agent with Dee Mura Literary, Kaylee is particularly interested in science fiction, fantasy, middle grade, young adult, new adult, LGBTQ, steampunk, and literary. You can find her hanging out on Twitter at @Kaylee_Davis_ and online at

Wish List: Kaylee is actively acquiring Upper MG, YA, NA, and Adult fiction. She especially adores science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary with a literary bent. She is interested in diverse protagonists taking charge and pushing the story forward, unlikely allies joining forces, flawed heroes coming into their own, and opposites attracting.


*Blair Thornburgh: Quirk Books: Quirk is an independent publisher and seeker of all things awesome, operating out of a former barrel factory in Philadelphia and distributed worldwide by Random House. We publish 25 “strikingly unconventional” books a year: fiction and non-fiction; adults, YA, and MG. You may know us from some of our bestselling titles like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, or the WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S STAR WARS series. Editorially, I love being hands-on with authors and helping them to think in all directions as we develop projects together.

Wish List: I’m actively seeking fiction—adult or YA—with a high-concept hook that’s backed up by excellent writing. Quirk is super-proud of our books’ strong, original writing and top-notch design, so stories with a visual element are an excellent fit for us. I’d love to find a fresh and unconventional love story, either with a great voice, an unusual couple or setting, or some intriguing narrative style. I’m really interested in creating something new, not chasing trends (I love zombies, I really do, but their time in the spotlight is over). I’m also after stuff that plays with narrative form (emails, diaries, whatever Internet media the kids are up to today). I love speculative concepts that follow through with beautiful writing (like THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, or Quirk’s LAST POLICEMAN trilogy). And I would love, love, love to find a Quirk-y female protagonist to add to our fiction roster.

*Latoya C. Smith, Samhain Publishing: started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing. It was there that she discovered her passion for book publishing. Latoya worked at TWP seasonally while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at Temple University. She graduated Cum Laude from Temple in August of 2005. She then attained a full-time position at Kensington Publishing in March of 2006. In October 2006, Latoya moved over to Grand Central Publishing, an imprint at Hachette Book Group. For the span of her eight years there, Latoya has acquired a variety of titles from Hardcover fiction and non-fiction, to digital romance and erotica titles. She was also featured in Publishers Weekly, USA Today as well as various author, book conference, and book blogger websites. She is the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year. In early 2014, she appeared on CSpan2 where she contributed to a panel discussing the state of book publishing. Now an Executive Editor at Samhain Publishing, Latoya acquires short and long form mainstream romance and erotica as well as African American fiction and non-fiction.

Wish List: Short and long form romance and erotica in all Contemporary subgenres (cowboys, military, new adult, romantic suspense etc) and paranormal for the mainstream, multicultural, and GLBTQ audiences. I tend to shy away from historical and sci/fi fantasy. We do not publish YA or poetry.

*Kerri Buckley, Sr. Editor Carina Press: Kerri Buckley got her first taste of the great editorial adventure during a semester-long internship at The Feminist Press in 2001. Thoroughly hooked, she joined Bantam Dell (a division of Random House) after graduating from Kenyon College and stayed there for eight years, editing both fiction and non-fiction for various imprints under the Ballantine Bantam Dell umbrella. Recent releases from Carina include Hate to Love You by Elise Alden, Blamed: A Blood Money Novel by Edie Harris, Knock Out by Michele Mannon, and Gun Shy by Eleri Stone.

Find her on Twitter @BuckleyKerri

Wish List: Thrilled to have been invited to the digital-first party at Harlequin’s Carina Press, Kerri is actively acquiring across all genres but is most interested in building her list in the following areas: romantic suspense, contemporary romance, New Adult, erotic romance, male/male romance, historical romance, and cozy or hardboiled mysteries.

I’m actively acquiring in all genres except for sci-fi. Here’s what I’m crossing my fingers to find in my submission inbox ASAP:
Dry, funny, or sarcastic mysteries, cozy or otherwise. If your gumshoe has a standout or off-color sense of humor, please send him/her my way
Darker, grittier mysteries, particularly psychological thrillers
Heroine-driven romantic suspense. Kickass girls with guns/knives/lasers/nunchucks. Unusual, non-traditional professions a bonus: female firefighters, submarine captains, military unit leaders, etc. Emphasis on the suspense (rather than the romance) or a 50/50 split
Contemporary *and* historical projects set in Eastern Europe and/or involving Eastern European families, traditions, mysticism, lore. A lot of flexibility here, but no time travel, please
An Army Wives-like contemporary series where the focus is on the homefront rather than the battlefield

*Meredith Rich, Digital Editor, Bloomsbury Spark: Meredith is the digital editor for YA and NA at Bloomsbury Spark. Her previous experience includes e-first publishing, years as a children's bookseller, and a professional storyteller, who now gets to help authors tell their own stories. You can find her on twitter at @MeredithJHRich.

Wish List: Bloomsbury Spark is a one-of-a-kind, global, digital imprint from Bloomsbury Publishing dedicated to publishing a wide array of exciting fiction eBooks to teen, YA and new adult readers. Our outstanding list features multiple genres: romance, contemporary, dystopian, paranormal, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, and we are always looking for new projects!

*Stacy Abrams, Entangled: Executive Editorial Director of Entangled Teen and Select
Stacy Abrams started in the publishing industry in 2002, and was previous an editor at Bloomsbury Publishing’s children’s division before joining the Entangled team. Stacy has edited such award-winning and high-caliber YA authors as Jessica Warman, Tracy Deebs, Cindi Madsen, and Rachel Harris, among many others, and her books have earned starred reviews from all the major review journals. In addition to editing, she has been a freelance copy editor for several major New York publishing houses. She earned her Bachelor’s in English at Northwestern University and currently resides in New York City with her husband and too-cute puppy. Find her on Twitter at @StacyAbramsEdit.

A few of Stacy’s recently published novels include Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton, Ready to Wed by Cindi Madsen, Chasing the Runaway Bride by Susan Meier, and Accidentally Married on Purpose by Rachel Harris.

Wishlist: Stacy is most actively acquiring for Entangled Teen’s soon-to-be-launched Crush and Crave digital teen category imprints. She’s looking for romantic comedy inspired novels for those lines that utilize tried-and-true category tropes in the teen world and format. Stacy is also looking for high-quality, high-concept full-length teen novels for the Teen print line and shorter, sweet adult category romances for the Bliss imprint.

*Katie Hamstead, Curiosity Quills Press: Fueled by her love of all things literary, and driven to help fellow writers bring their dreams to fruition, Katie Hamstead became an Acquisitions Editor for Curiosity Quills Press in July of 2013. She has acquired such published titles as THE DECEMBER PEOPLE and THE UNDEAD: PLAYING FOR KEEPS. A multi-published author herself, Katie knows the value of a distinct voice. She is always searching for something new and unique, with a compelling hook and an interesting voice that demands she read on well into the hours of the night.

Wishlist: Currently on the hunt for Speculative fiction of all varieties, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian, and historical manuscripts, Katie prefers her acquisitions with strong romantic elements.

*Curiosity Quills Press: Taking part in PitchMAS this year are a selection of Editors from Curiosity Quills Press including Managing Partner, Lisa Gus, VP of Operations, Andrew Buckley, and Acquisitions Editors, Katie Teller (bio and wishlist above), Kathleen Kubasiak and Vicki Keire.

At Curiosity Quills Press, we believe a book is a portal to another world, a break from reality that frees both mind and spirit. We want to bring a little piece of that magic to every life we touch with the written word. W. Somerset Maugham once said, “To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” Everyone needs a place where they can relax, become another person, travel to a different realm. Welcome to CQ Press :)

Wishlist: Here’s what we’re ideally looking for this year: Contemporary, historical romance, historical fantasy, dieselpunk, and anything MG.
xx Tam & Jessa

Friday, October 17, 2014

#PitchMAS: December 2014's dates have been SET!

More details coming soon! 

FRIDAY 12/5/14

(A blog post will go LIVE on 12/5, right here on the PitchMAS blog, where you will post your pitches in the COMMENT SECTION. Your peers will then hop around and critique/advise you on what works/doesn't work. Tamara and Jessa WILL NOT be participating in the workshop; this is for peer critique/help only.)

SUNDAY 12/7/14 - MONDAY 12/8/14

For this event, we will be accepting your 35-word pitch submissions VIA EMAIL ONLY--email address will be posted when submission window OPENS. Submission window will be open from Sunday 12/7/14 at 9:00amPST until Monday 12/8/14 at 6:00pmPST
We will delete any submissions received before or after that submission window, and it is up to you to figure out your own time zone differences.

THURSDAY 12/11/14
{35 Words or Less}
The TOP 50 pitches will go live on the PitchMAS blog at MIDNIGHT on Thursday, 12/11/14. Agents and editors will have the entire day (as well as all day Friday!) to comment and make requests. 
Please do NOT comment if you are not an agent or editor. THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE is if an agent/editor has asked a SPECIFIC question. Any other non-agent/editor responses or comments will be deleted. 

FRIDAY 12/12/14

{140 Characters or Less}
All day long on Friday, 12/12/14, we will have our PitchMAS Twitter Party! Agents and editors will follow the hashtag #PitchMAS, reading your awesome pitches. ANYONE can participate, even if you didn't make it into the 50 selected blog pitches. However, your manuscript MUST BE COMPLETED and POLISHED. 
Twitter pitches MUST BE 140 Characters or Less and HAVE TO include the hashtag. Don't make the agents and editors work by breaking your pitch into more than one tweet. That will just annoy them and your fellow pitchers. We also advise against making them click a link to get to your pitch. Guess what? They won't.  
Please keep your Twitter pitching to no more than TWO PITCHES PER HOUR. Do not fill up the feed with your pitch over and over again. This will annoy the agents and editors involved, as well as ruining it for everyone else and people WILL remember you for it. 

Follow along with the hashtag: #PitchMAS

Participating agents and editors will be announced soon! 

In the meantime, make sure you follow all of our blogs, and following us on Twitter probably wouldn't hurt either. (We often post the same #PitchMAS related info, but you never know when only one of us will tweet something important.)


We've posted a few #PitchMAS success stories (more to come!) here on the blog as well, so if you're curious, click HERE to view them! 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

PitchMAS in July 2014, or, Life is a bitch.

Jessa Russo and I have thrown 3 PitchMAS contests since December 2012, and we’d planned on continuing with the December/July format. Unfortunately, my mum is ill. We’ve known about her congestive heart failure for a while, but weren’t expecting her to need surgery for a few years. Unfortunately, her health has deteriorated to the point they’ve moved her surgery up first to July, and now June. In two weeks I’ll be going over there to be with her for the open heart surgery, and to help her recover. I’ll be gone for five weeks.

Because she is in England, and I am in Canada, this is a huge upheaval at the best of times. I have no idea how much help my mum is going to need, but I know she will need a lot of care and time. I haven’t seen her in about two years, and while it will be challenging, I am glad to get to spend some time with her.

The bad news, is that this year’s PitchMAS in July is cancelled. My mum needs my full attention, and I can't split my focus on a pitch contest during this period. 

We are so sorry that we’re unable to continue as planned, but this was unexpected for all of us.

We are planning December’s PitchMAS, so please stay tuned for that. We’re sorry for any inconvenience, but we wish you well with your writing journey. There are other opportunities out there, and like I said, we will definitely be back in December for our main event. PitchMAS in July was a bonus contest, and one we intend to continue in future years.

Tamara Mataya
AKA. Feaky Snucker

Friday, March 28, 2014

#PitchMAS Success Story #10: Stacey Trombley @trombolii

HUGE Congratulations to ANOTHER PitchMAS success story!

I'll let Stacey take it away!

I wrote my second novel, a YA contemporary, during nanowrimo 2012 and started querying in March. I am contest obsessed so I entered nearly every contest I could all spring and summer. I was picked for some, and not others.
One of the contest on the “not” list? PitchMas.

Ironic that I’m writing this success story for pitchmas when I was rejected for it, right? This is just a little more proof  that contests are subjective. I used the same pitch that I used for Pitch Madness when I was picked. But this time, I wasn’t chosen.

BUT, because the contest hosts are AWESOME, they give an extra opportunity for writers— all writers, rejected and accepted alike. They run a twitter pitch party.

Funny thing is, I almost didn’t pitch. This was in July. I’d already been querying and contest-ing for 5 months. I’d twitter pitched numerous times in the past and even though I’d usually ended up with a few requests, I was pretty convinced all the agents had already seen my pitch. So what was the point?

But then the crazy twitter pitching started and I just couldn’t handle it. The hype, the craziness, the fun, the hope! So I tossed in this pitch:

“Anna's busted for prostitution + sent back to the suburbs to be "normal" again. A geeky boy named Arney becomes her only friend #pitchmas YA”

AND… I got a favorite, from Stephen Morgan of Entangled…

Entangled is a publisher I’ve honestly admired for a while. The only reason I hadn’t already submitted to them before this twitter pitch opportunity was because I was focusing on my agent search. But once he requested my manuscript I came up with all kinds of excuses as to why I should send. It might not be following perfect etiquette, since I still had my work out with agents, but I’m very glad I did it.

It took about 2 months for him to email me asking to talk on the phone. He wanted to work with me to revise my novel. He loved the writing, the voice, the concept, but thought the plot/structure needed some work. So I spent months emailing him back and forth, talking on the phone (more than once) until we got to a point that he felt her could take it to acquisitions (he took only a beat sheet and a new first 3 chapters to acquisitions, which was pretty insane.)

Another 2 months went by before I got another call from him. “Are you sitting down? It’s good news!”

They offered and I accepted!

This road was long and hard but totally worth it. I’m so excited to say that my debut novel will be published with Entangled Teen in 2015!

Thank you to the lovely ladies at Pitchmas for introducing me to my amazing editor and my amazing publisher. I owe you much!!
Read my full success story here:

Follow Stacey on twitter!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

#PitchMAS Success Story #9: Linda Brendle @LindaBrendle


It's another success story! 


We'd like to invite you to join us in congratulating Linda Brendle on her publishing contract with Anaiah Press! We are so excited to share this success story with all of you! 

Take it away, Linda! 

A Long and Winding Road to Publication | by Linda Brendle

My book was conceived in September of 2007 while I was making plans for an RV trip with my husband and my parents. I’m a bit of a control freak, and one of the ways I attempt to control my life is by making lists, and this epic trip was going to take a lot of control and a lot of lists. David and I had owned our motor home for less than two months, and we planned to visit 16 states in 7 weeks. To add a little extra drama, my mom had Alzheimer’s and my dad had vascular dementia. In the preceding few months I had written several articles on Facebook about my caregiving experiences, and since this trip seemed like it might provide plenty of good writing material, I added a spiral notebook and several of my favorite Precise V5 pens to my shopping list.

I filled the first notebook and bought a larger one, and 4 years and 14 edits later I had a memoir called A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos. Then the question was now that I’ve written it, what do I do with it? I talked with other authors and sought out sources to educate myself about publishing, and I learned about queries and pitches and rejections. In late 2011 I signed with an agent, but by early 2013 I wasn’t where I wanted to be, so I decided to strike out on my own.

In July of 2013, one of the members of my author support group posted information about PitchMAS, and I decided to give it a try. I didn’t make the top 50. Crushed but not broken, I put it on my calendar, and on December 15, I tried again. This time Jessa and Tamara included the top 75 in the final blog group, and on December 19, my blog pitch was posted in the #73 spot. Almost immediately I received a request from Kara Leigh Miller, Managing Editor at Anaiah Press, asking for a query and the first five chapters of my manuscript. I responded that afternoon, and the next day I received a request for the full manuscript from Jessica Schmeidler, Senior Editor of the Inspirations imprint at Anaiah.

I was excited but a little disappointed that I got no other requests, but I’ve been told that memoir is the hardest genre to sell unless you’re a celebrity, so I was grateful for Anaiah’s enthusiasm. One thing my education in publishing had taught me was that the wheels turn slowly in this business, so I settled in for a long wait. But this time was the exception. On December 26 I received an e-mail from Eden Plantz, Executive Editor at Anaiah, offering me a publishing contract. It has been a long road since I first bought that spiral notebook and those pens, but thanks to the wonderful ladies at PitchMAS and the extraordinary staff at Anaiah, I’m reaching my destination.

Anaiah Press is a Christian digital-first publishing house dedicated to presenting quality faith-based fiction and nonfiction books to the public. A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos will be released July 1.

You can find me on my blog called Life After Caregiving, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Assisted Living Directory (

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

#PitchMAS Success Story #8: Eve Castellan @EMCastellan

We're stoked to bring you ANOTHER success story! Don't forget that #pitchMAS is held twice a year, with a slightly smaller event in July, and our main event in December! 
(Quick side note: We've had a few submissions via the contact form here on the blog--this is not how to participate in #PitchMAS.) 

Stay tuned for more success stories!

For now, we'll let Eve take it away! 

Two times a year, the amazing Jessa Russo and Tamara Mataya organize PitchMas, a contest where writers can pitch their novel and editors/agents can request them. 

In July 2013, my YA Historical Fantasy LILY IN THE SHADOWS was polished and I was ready to start querying it. Because it was already a finalist in two(!) contests that month, I didn’t enter the first part of the event on the PitchMas blog. I did, however, take part in the Twitter Pitch Party on July 13th

I tweeted my pitch a couple of times, and received 3 requests. 

One of the agents who favorited my tweet was Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management. She was (and still is) closed to queries, and her website stated she wasn’t looking for YA. 

I was both very surprised and flattered she was willing to take a look at my material. Out of the 3 requests I had during PitchMas, one turned into a nice personalized rejection and two into full requests. 

One of these full requests was from Erin. 

Still half-convinced this was all a misunderstanding (She doesn’t want YA, does she…!?), I sent out my full to Erin and the other agent and waited. 

Fast forward to November 2013: I’ve been querying for a few months now, getting requests and rejections, but also R&Rs (Revise and Resubmit). I have 3 agents who sound especially interested. Having not heard back from Erin, I nudge her at the beginning of November with a revised version of my manuscript. Erin says she’s already read and loved my first version, but she’ll read my revised draft. In December, we exchange more emails, until Erin offers representation on January 2nd 2014. 

I accept her offer on January 10th. (Insert note from Jessa: WEEEEEEEEEEEE!)

What this means:

  • Summarizing a 70K novel into a 140-character tweet ISN’T impossible
  • Agents DO request during those Twitter pitch parties
  • These requests CAN turn into an offer of representation and happy endings
  • Querying takes A LONG TIME. Erin favorited my tweet on July 13th 2013. I signed the agency contract on January 13th 2014. That’s 6 MONTHS.
  • Jessa and Tamara are AWESOME for organizing such a great event twice a year.
Thank you, Jessa and Tamara! PitchMas rocks :)

Thank you, Eve! We think YOU rock!!!

Be sure to connect with Eve online so you can watch her awesome journey to publication unfold!

EM Castellan
YA Fantasy writer, worlds builder & insatiable reader

Thursday, January 23, 2014

#PitchMAS Success Story #7: Jennifer Novotney @jennovotney

We are thrilled to bring you yet another awesome success story from PitchMAS! 

We'll give Jennifer Novotney the floor so she can tell you all about her recent publishing deal with Anaiah Press!

Take it away, girl! And HUGE congratulations!!! 

It all started when I saw the Twitter/blog contest for Pitchmas, a pitch party run by Jessa Russo and Tamara Mataya, where editors and agents can see your novel pitch and request material. The first part of the event was on the blog and only the top 75 entries got in. Honestly, I was hesitant to enter it. During the query process for Winter in the Soul, while I had managed to rack up at least 40 agent rejections, a successful, high powered literary agent expressed interest in it and was reading the full manuscript. I didn't know if I should try and pitch it, but I gave it a shot anyway. I also sent in two other pitches for my other unpublished works. One of them, not for Winter in the Soul, got in and was displayed on the blog. The first request I received was from Kara Leigh Miller, the managing editor of Anaiah Press, who requested to read the first three chapters. It got even better because just four short hours later, she asked to read the entire manuscript. I was ecstatic! This was the farthest I had gotten with a publisher and I couldn't wait to hear back from her.
The next day was the Twitter Pitchmas pitch party where any writer could pitch their work for the day. No one was biting on Winter in the Soul. The other work, the same that had come in at number 11 on the blog contest, was getting all kinds of requests. I saw that Kara from Anaiah Press tweeted about wanting a young adult story written in third person and I told her I had one. She asked me to send the first three chapters and I waited patiently for her to request the full, just like she had so promptly with the other one. Only this time, nothing happened, at least not right away.  Six days later, she requested the full manuscript and then the next evening, just 31 hours later, she emailed to offer me a contract for publication with Anaiah Press.
I couldn't believe it. I wasn't even seriously pitching it and now, I had a bona fide offer. I had some thinking to do. I didn't even have an agent yet and I didn't plan to publish my work before getting one. I let the agent who was reading the full manuscript for Winter in the Soul know about the offer, but without a written contract from him, I decided to go full speed ahead with Anaiah Press. For one, they are amazing. Every single staff member I've interacted with so far has been professional, positive, and excellent at their job. This gave me so much confidence in them that the choice was clear. I wanted someone passionate about Winter in the Soul to be behind the book and since Kara had read it in nearly a day, I knew they were the ones to do it.
I am looking forward to working with a small press who can give me the attention I deserve for my debut novel. I'll be posting updates along the way so follow my blog to keep up to date on my publishing story.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

#PitchMAS Success Story #6: Vicki Leigh @vleighwrites

We're so happy to bring you yet another awesome success story! This one not only includes a publishing contract, but an awesome agent as well! Woot! 

HUGE congratulations, Vicki! 

Now, we'll let Vicki take it away! You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, her website, and Goodreads

The short version:
In July 2013, I participated in Pitchmas. All total, I received partial requests from six agents and three full requests from editors. After completing a R&R for Alison, an editor at Curiosity Quills, she excited me with an offer of publication! At that time, I queried a few agents, requesting help negotiating the deal with Curiosity Quills, and was absolutely thrilled when Sarah Negovetich offered representation! And on December 16th, I signed the paperwork with Curiosity Quills. Thanks, Jessa and Tamara, for hosting such an amazing event. Pitchmas helped make my dreams come true! 

The long version:

Now that things are official, and I've sent my first round of edits to my editor, I can finally share my success story with you all! (I can't believe I'm writing this post.)

Last July, I participated in Jessa and Tamara's fantastic event called Pitchmas. For those of you who don't know what that is, head over to their website right now and check it out. You won't regret it, because all this good news I'm about to share can come down to one word - Pitchmas.

All total, I received partial requests from six agents and three full requests from editors during the event. Which was freaking amazing in itself. After lots of squealing, I sent off my submissions to these nine fantastic publishing professionals and waited like a kid the night before Christmas for their responses. Would they like it? Those that had partials, would they ask for more?

A few weeks later, Alison, an editor at Curiosity Quills Press, told me she loved my story but wanted a few changes before she could make a final decision.

Um, can we say AWESOME??!! 

There are three types of responses you can receive from agents/editors: 1) No, 2) Please revise and resubmit, or 3) Yes, I love this! Two of them are positive. And I just got a request for an R&R. My first one ever.

I spent days working with my critique partners, pouring over her notes and making changes to my manuscript like my feet were strapped to a bomb if I didn't finish fast. After my CPs liked my new changes, I sent it back to Alison. 

And then a few weeks later, everything changed: She not only loved my changes, but she excited me with an offer of publication! 

Immediately, I queried a few more agents, seeking help negotiating the deal with Curiosity Quills. (Don't underestimate the fantastic-ness of agents, you guys. They are so incredibly wise and they know the business.) Again, I got three more requests for my full manuscript, one of them being the absolutely amazing Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

A couple days later, I signed the contract with Sarah, and on December 16th, I signed the paperwork with Curiosity Quills. 

What a ride, let me tell you. A terrifying, exciting ride. 

If you have a chance to participate in Pitchmas this year, I so recommend it. Doing so literally changed my life. 

Thank you, Jessa and Tamara, for hosting such an amazing event. Pitchmas helped make my dreams come true!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Twitter pitching, lovelies! #PitchMAS


*Throws confetti and donuts*

WOOHOOO! It's time! It's time! 

--->We go live at 5:00 AM pacific time on 12/20/13, and the pitching will continue all day long. The agents/editors will respond to the pitches they want to request. IF an agent or editor does not respond, but favorites your pitch instead, please view their feed to see if they've mentioned what they want from starred pitches, OR ASK ONE OF US FOR HELP.

-->NEVER NEVER NEVER pitch directly to an agent or editor UNLESS THEY HAVE ASKED. 
Please follow this simple rule . . . at all times, not just during pitch events.

--->If you did not get through to the top 75, and even if you did, please join us for the Twitter Pitch Party!
ANYONE can participate!


Did you read that? Go back and read it again. I'll wait. *whistles*

Completed and polished. Please, please, please do not pitch a bare-bones idea/concept or a half-written manuscript. No one will sign that, and they'll just be disappointed when they request pages that don't exist. This makes us sad.

--->Twitter pitches MUST BE 140 Characters or Less, and they HAVE TO INCLUDE THE HASHTAG. Don't make the agents and editors work to read what you're pitching because you've broken your pitch into more than one tweet. Don't make them follow a link. Just, NO. 

That will just annoy them, irritate your fellow pitchers, and ensure that your pitch gets lost among the others.

--->Please keep your Twitter pitching to no more than TWO PITCHES PER HOUR, per manuscript. Do not fill up the feed with your pitch over and over again. This, too, will annoy the agents and editors involved, as well as ruining it for everyone else--which I know you don't really want to do, do you? (Plus, people WILL remember you for it.)

Twitter pitch parties are a LOT of fun--trust us, we've both done many as both hosts and pitchers--but please don't get carried away. TWO PITCHES PER HOUR is plenty, and doesn't bog down the feed.

Please respect us, the agents and editors participating, and your fellow writers by respecting these rules.

You are welcome to pitch more than one manuscript, but please only pitch EACH manuscript no more than TWICE per hour.

Follow along with the hashtag: #PitchMAS

Make sure you follow us on Twitter. (We often post the same #PitchMAS related info, but you never know when only one of us will tweet something important, AND we tend to tweet from our personal accounts way more frequently than our poor neglected PitchMAS account.)




For the list of awesome participating agents and editors, please go HERE.

PLEASE ask any and all questions in the comments below or by tweeting to us directly (@feakysnucker or @jessarusso)! One of us will respond as soon as we can.

Jessa & Tamara