Friday, 14 September 2012

Foreverafter Pitch Contest Winners

Hello people,

Apologies to keep you waiting. But the wait is finally over and we have our results. The contest was mind-numbingly awesome to host and the entries were super fantastic.

But before we move to to the contest results, I have the pleasure of introducing Caterina Torres who so kindly assisted Terri in sorting through the entries and making it easier for her. She is an awesome sport who is nuts about the undead. Here is her unique take on zombies - the Zombie Whisperer. Do read it - its worth every second you spend reading it!

We also put a cute small photo of her, so you can recognise the pretty face if you bump into her.

So with Cat's help, the awesome Terri Bruce picked her top 10, which were then sent over to the overlordess (yes, we invented that and copyrighted it) and master judge, Erin Lale - Acquisitions Editor of Eternal Press.

Before we reveal the winners, we have a huge surprise for you. Terri and Erin provided us their thoughts on all the top 10 pitches and we are allowed to share it with you! So, here goes and hope the comments help strengthen  your pitches even more.

1. Name: Cheryl Koevoet -
Genre: New Adult Speculative Romance
Word Count: 86,000

Marisa MacCallum always believed she’d find her soul mate out there somewhere. The problem is, he’s in a parallel universe.

Terri’s Vote: Yes
Terri’s Comment: AWESOME! No other word for it. I want this book!
Erin's Comment: Yes. Original, intriguing, and well stated. I would definitely read this for publication.

2. Name: Nick Wilford -
Genre: Adult psychological thriller
Word Count: 75,000

Can Helen keep her sanity when she runs over a stranger, wipes his memory, and claims him as her husband?

Terri’s Vote: Yes
Terri’s Comment: “keep her sanity” seems a little overblown and confusing (why is her sanity challenged by her actions?), but despite that, the rest of it is AWESOME! Another book I would totally grab off the shelf!
Erin's Comment: What? Isn't it HIS sanity that's threatened by having his memory erased and having some strange woman claim him as his wife? The erased memory / new wife thing has been done and done. The new remake of Total Recall is in theaters right now. It's even been spoofed on an episode of Monk. Over-used tropes can be made fresh by an outstanding author (like, say, Philip K. Dick), but since the pitch sentence was confusing, I'm not putting this is Phillip K. Dick territory. Sorry, pass.

3. Name: Kendra Conine -
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 90,000

Young Ashley Vaandere has more pressing issues than most...such as embracing her newfound control over fire to redeem humankind.

Terri’s Vote: Yes
Terri’s Comment: the last three words are confusing—I’m not sure how humankind needs to be redeemed or how Ashley learning to control fire helps with that—but despite that…ABILITY TO CONTROL FIRE!!! Fire Starter is one of my favorite movies and if I had a super power, I think I’d want it to be FIRE! So…awesome!

Erin's Comment: Yes. Although I found the "to redeem humankind" part a bit of a non sequitur, I can easily imagine that someone with this power would find themselves drawn into larger or older battles after being brought to the notice of others. Controlling fire is a cool power, and although it isn't really original, books aimed at the YA audience don't have to be as original as other books because it's new to them. Also, learning to control a startling new power for which one is unprepared is a very appropriate theme for YA, as it parallels the coming of age issues of every teen, fire in this case standing in for the sexual awakening of puberty and learning to control fire symbolizing the maturity to control one's sexuality, a universal theme of immediate interest to the YA reader. I would definitely read this one for publication.

4. Sarah J Schmitt -
The Acada Chronicles
YA Thriller
89,000 words

16-year-old Emily survives a global outbreak only to become part of a government cover-up of bio terrorism and genetic manipulation.

Terri’s Vote: Yes
Terri’s Comments: I love a good conspiracy story!

Erin's Comments: Yes. Although it has similarities to some other books, it sounds like the elements have been remixed in a new way. I'm not really clear on what Emily's role is, but then pitches are very short so not everything can be packed in. I would read this for publication.

5. Name: Katherine Amabel -
Title: The Hourglass Bridge
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 95, 000

Hauled into medieval Wales, a teenage history-buff must embrace her bloodline’s destructive powers to stop a war she potentially started.

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: The pitch is really good, though the story sounds a bit “and the kitchen sink” (I would have been happy without the magical powers). Personally, I would LOVE this if it was humorous/light hearted, but it sounds more on the serious/epic side of the genre. Just a note – this doesn’t sound like Urban Fantasy (?) – UF is set in a city, using involving a paranormal element, and usually in a contemporary setting.

Erin's Comment: Yes. I like the idea and I also like the way the sentence is written. This is not urban fantasy, though. Depending on how the time travel happens, it's either fantasy if it's a black box or done with magic, or science fiction if there is a reasonable explanation. This is basically the same type of story as A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, which would probably have been published as fantasy if such genre distinctions had existed back then. I think you are confusing "urban fantasy" with "paranormal" which is easy to do since the publishing industry itself has confused the terms and allowed the one to morph into the other over time. "Paranormal" I will grant you, for the use of magic. Paranormal Science Fiction isn't actually a genre, though-- that's called fantasy. I have a particular love of time travel stories (as you could probably tell, since I was already publishing the Time Yarns Universe before I became Acquisitions Editor at Eternal Press and Damnation Books) and so I've seen lots of lots of time travel stories. This one doesn't sound exactly like any of the others, though. I would read this for publication.

6. Name: Danielle E. Shipley -
Title: "The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale"
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 60,000

Robin Hood’s band is enjoying eternal life in a modern-day Renaissance Faire, little knowing eternity may not last much longer...

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This story sounds like it has the potential to be really awesome, but the pitch is a little vague – why/how is Robin Hood’s immortal existence imperiled? I ‘d like a better sense of the danger/threat. I’m also unsure how this plays out as a YA book – sounds like it should be intended for
adults (since Robin Hood and his men are adults) (BTW, it would be awesome if it was for adults! I love Robin Hood!). Also, this is another one where I question that it’s Urban Fantasy – if it’s set at a Ren Faire, then that usually isn’t in a city; sounds more like contemporary fantasy or just fantasy (?).
Erin's Comment: Maybe. Although I read a Robin Hood book over and over when I was in 5th grade myself (the one written in Middle English, but that's just me-- that's the sort of person who grows up to read books for a living) I too am wondering why this is aimed at YA. Renfaire might have a few kid-friendly shows, but it's an adult playground full of more sex and booze than a Las Vegas casino. Rennies supervise their kids very carefully at faire, even when they're old enough to be presumed safe around lots of sharp pointy objects. I would go ahead and read it, because Robin Hood is just so cool, but I'd be reading it with an eye to reclassifying if it I decided to publish it, depending on how it reads. In addition to wanting to know more about the threat to their eternity, I'd also like to know how they became eternal in the first place -- is it a case of American Gods, human men rising to have eternal life because so many people believe in them? If so, is Batman going to be in here too? (Not really, of course, since that's a copyrighted character, but you get the idea. If one group of people passes into the collective unconscious and becomes a group of demigods, others should too.) I would read this, but it would have to satisfy my questions in addition to just being a good book before I would publish it.

7. Name: T.J. Loveless -
Title: Burning Bridges
Genre: Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Word Count: 85,000

Pitch: Aurora is handpicked to save mythical creatures on parallel worlds, while fighting the gods for her daughters, the powerful Valkyrie.

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This one was a toughie—the first part is great and I would have said yes based just on the first half, but then it got very confusing. Are the Valkyrie the gods she’s fighting or are they Aurora’s daughters? And why is she fighting the gods on her daughters’ behalf? I didn’t understand how the first half and the second half of the plot fit together, but the first half is intriguing enough I’d want to read a bit of the story to see what it was about.

Erin's Comments: Maybe. I'm with Terri on this one. First half, great, sounds intriguing. Second half, huh? If her daughters are Valkyries, then she was already something special before being "handpicked." And picked by whom? The only beings with authority over the Valkyries are Odin and Freya, who are gods, so which gods is she fighting? That part doesn't really make sense. I would give this a chance and start reading it, but if the mythology was too mixed up and was not making any sense, I'd stop. This book would have to have a well developed, easy to understand reason behind the mythological elements for me to publish it.

8. Name: Vicki Lemp Weavil -
Title: The Light from Other Suns
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Word Count: 99,000

Artist Karen Foster draws while dreaming. Scientists believe she's a valuable commodity. Aliens know she's their perfect messenger

Terri: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This was another toughie—I love Sci Fi involving aliens, especially first contact, but this pitch was a little generic and didn’t really grab me. Why do the scientists think an ARTIST is a valuable commodity (is it because of the sleep drawing ability (which doesn’t seem like it would be all that interesting to scientists) or what she’s drawing? What does “messenger” mean here—do the aliens think she’s a prophet or do they want her to deliver a message for them (and how do they find her of all the millions of people on the planet?!).

Erin's Comment: Maybe. I only understand the connect between the drawing, scientists, and aliens because I'm already familiar with the concept of automatic writing and know that some psychics claim to be channels for aliens and that in history some scientists explored psychic phenomena, particularly Soviet and American intelligence agencies during the Cold War, because they were just that desperate to one-up each other. However, the connection between these things is not spelled out very well in the pitch. I would give this a chance and start reading it, but if it seemed either stereotyped with over-used tropes or if the book was just as confusing as the pitch, I would stop. This book would have to be exceptionally well-written for me to publish it.

9. Name: Annie Yuan -
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 90,000

A girl discovers her imagination can come to life…including her worst nightmare.

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This one was right on the line—it’s competently written and sounds like it might be an interesting story, but didn’t grab me. It feels kind of vague and generic; I think the author could give a better sense of the danger, the stakes, and make this reach out and grab the audience.

Erin's Comment: No. Without more specific details, it sounds exactly like the plot of The Indian In the Cupboard. I'm hearing the Buzz Lightyear toy in my head. The pitch itself is well-written, but it just sounds like a thousand other stories. Make it specific to show me your originality.

10. Sarah J Schmitt -
The Partizans
YA Paranormal
79,000 words

Becoming a witch isn’t what 16-year-old Hannah had in mind when she enrolled at the prestigious Piaculum Academy.

Terri’s Vote: (a reserved) Yes
Terri’s Comment: This is a good pitch, and the story sounds interesting. I’d probably pick it up, but my concern is that there are already so many stories about kids going to magical/paranormal schools on the market.

Erin's Comment: No. Not another witch/ wizard school. Please g*d, not another witch/ wizard school. As with any other over-used trope, truly astonishing writing can save it. But I'm not seeing truly astonishing here, just competent. OK, so she's a witch, then what? This might be a good opening line for a 5-line pitch, but by itself it's not enough. I'd like to hear something about the plot before saying yes to this pitch.

For the ones beyond the above 10 who garnered no's, we do have comments for you which we will be emailing individually, so it's not a total loss for you. Let no one say they went empty handed from Pineapple Lightning Foreverafter!


Wait, what, there isn't one...Of course not! There are TWO!

Congratulations to Cheryl Koevoet for The Carnelian Legacy and Kendra Conine for Flame Dancer. You guys just won a copy of Terri Bruce's awesome book- HEREAFTER! Email her at tbruce(at)terribruce(dot)net.

Wait, something's buzzing in my ear. No way! THIS JUST IN. The winners also get...wait for submit their full manuscripts to Erin Lale. Details of how to submit to Erin have already been mailed to the lucky twosome. So, jump in joy and rejoice.

It was incredible fun hosting this contest and although, we didn't do much, Cat, Terri and Erin took it to a stupendous level. Our heartfelt thanks to all the judges for the time and effort they put in and we are also grateful to everybody who participated. 

We hope to host more contests soon and hopefully, we'll have more good news to dole out.

Also don't forget, today is the last day for Terri's blog tour and there is still one amazing event left.

Twitter bird

Friday, September 14th
Twitter chat at 8 pm EDT with...Terri! :-) Tess Watson of My Pathway to Books and Faye Rogers of A Daydreamer's Thoughts will be your hosts. Should be a lot of fun. #hereaftertour

Don't miss it!

Signing off,
The Boys of Summer


  1. Wow! Thanks to the readers for putting me through. I had wondered about the "keeping her sanity" part of the pitch, so this will definitely be revised. Congrats to the winners. :)

  2. Oh my gosh, all of these pitches were so awesome!! I love them all! Thank you to Cat, Terri, and Erin, Utsav, Brighton, everyone. (:

    Ah, those last three words were a doozy. I didn't want to stick with a cliché like 'save the world' or 'defeat a tyrant' or something like that, and I ended up with that. I've come up with a new pitch recently that I like so maybe I'll combine the two. (:

    Editing right at this very moment!

    1. Yay, Kendra!

      "Whoo-hoo, Ashley!" Will Scarlet's noisy applause blows mine out of the water. "Shoulda been me, but hey, at least it's you! Go send 'em up in flames with your symbolic sexual awakening whatsits!"

      (Publish button, publish button, I never hit it quite soon enough...)

  3. Haha wow, wasn't expecting to end up in the top 10! My MS is mainly set in a modern day city (as the protagonist smuggles her own 'prince charming' to safety and attempts to form a game plan to stop the war), so I think it could still be urban fantasy, but it's an invaluable reminder that what limited information I give in a pitch will determine what it's interpreted as. Thanks for the opportunity!

  4. Wow - I can't believe I won something! Thanks so much, Utsav for hosting this and Caterina, Terri and Erin for the great prizes! Hopefully now I'm one step closer to publication!

    Cheryl Hettick-Koevoet

  5. And a last minute substitution - Kendra had already won a copy of Hereafter in a giveaway, so I am sending Nick a copy of Hereafter.

    So many great entries - thank you all! I hope I see you all on the shelves in the near future :-)