Saturday, 16 March 2013

Doing Stupid things for the fun of it.

So, I entered an online pitch contest.

 Find it here:

There are some great agents involved, and a boatload of hard work going into the process behind the scenes.

Right here, in front of the scenes, on centre stage:

Commence: -nail biting.
                    -excessive refreshing of twitter feed.
                   - repeated trawling of other entrants blogs
                     to read their pitches & make myself feel inadequate

My book is already under consideration with a publishing house. I know it's a long involved process. I know it takes a village to raise a child, blah blah blah.... but apparently it takes a whole CONTINENT to say yes before you get a book deal.

I have ADHD. So I am impatient. IMPATIENT, I tell you!!!!

Recently I bit the proverbial bullet and shopped it to a few other people, which I should have done months ago, if I was smarter. All these things are solitary worries, things hidden with the dust bunnies and old birthday cards under my bed while I get on with life.

Doing this pitch contest is a whole different animal. Suddenly I have been sucked into this warm huggy embracing writerly pit of  angst.... we're ALLLLL stressing.

Communally. So it ramps the anxiety up by INFINITY.

Anyways. Here's the pitch. It's probably not half as interesting as this blogpost. Which is a pretty dire attitude to have, I know.

Anyway. have at it.

TITLE: Blessing Hill
GENRE: YA Sci-fi, spec-fic
WORD COUNT: 100k (I know, shut up already)


  After militant climate refugees invade their remote island home, Azura and her friends must rise against their religiously fanatical captors before their entire way of life is destroyed.


“Scripture! Repentance! Scripture! Repentance!”  A grating voice screeches over the loudspeaker for the third time today. I barely flick an eyelid. Wiping the sweat from my forehead onto my sleeve, I slowly turn the heat off under the sauce. We never know how long a session will last and I’d rather not add burnt sauce to my list of things to repent for.

Lisa kneels beside me, smiling softly, pleased for the break. I don’t know what she’s accused of, but this morning there was a note on the board saying she was on solitary potato duty for the entire campus. All day. All twelve hours of it. We’ve only been here two hours and her hands are cramping, swollen and red raw. Peeling potatoes for the entire campus is normally a three person, six hour job. When I stand near her it’s hard not to wrinkle my nose, she’s already starting to smell of them; mildew, stale, damp. To help her along, every time our attendant Victory turns her back, one of us produces a peeler from our pockets, skinning a few to add to the pile.

Casting a disapproving eye around the room Victory passes scripture to all the girls kneeling restlessly with us. Every time she reaches towards one of us, her bobbed, dark hair sweeps across her cheek into her eyes. She tucks it behind her ear repeatedly as she bends and straightens, pulling books from the box.

My fingers stray to my own hair, pinned back tightly to my head, as required.


  1. Wow. This is really interesting. Good job and good luck!

  2. Your excerpt voice is amazing. I would keep reading. I wouldn't stress about the length as long as it has a purpose, like world building. I think the pitch is a bit broken. I don't yet understand what 'militant climate refugees' are, but that may be my problem. I've wrestled with my own pitch ever so much! Keep in mind, I'm a lowly querier like so many others, so take my opinions with a healthy dose of salt. Best wishes on your success!

  3. Looking at you being all brave and posting out here in the wilds! The pitch still squeezes in a lot of adjectives, but i think the voice of the expert balances it out. Good job.

    I love this line: "... I’d rather not add burnt sauce to my list of things to repent for."


  4. WHAT?! I just wrote my feedback & it disappeared...grrrrrrr

    Let's see if I can recap:
    First, spoiler alert: I host a writers' critique group and edit during the day...

    Lucas nibbled at my response, no, he pre-read my mind & stole it:)
    I agree about the pitch squeezing many adjectives & I also LOVE the line:
    "... I’d rather not add burnt sauce to my list of things to repent for."

    In addition, I thought repeating the opening words "repentance" & "scripture" was spot on (given the pitch) + I love how Lisa smells like potatoes.

    Nitpicky thingy:
    I tend to despise italics unless they're used to denote a foreign phrase, or something of that sort. It tends to make me feel like the author is telling me what to think. NOW, having said that, I've noticed way more italics in both YA and science fiction, so it could be a genre thing. Feel free to put this observation on IG (ignore) since I equalLY despise adverbs that end in "ly" - I must be editing too many of them out in my day job:)

    Most of all, Joanna, I'm captivated by the idea of climate refugees and how that plays please tweet me when it's published so I that I can!
    Btw, your voice reminds me of Swamplandia! (and that's a compliment)

    Best of luck in the contest!
    Dina (aka @tartanfrog13)

  5. I really, really like your excerpt! You establish the character and voice right away, which isn't easy to do. I also like the detail of Victory's hair constantly swinging down into her face. It makes the scene feel real. I sincerely think you'll get in to the next round. Best of luck to you!

  6. I would read the heck out of this! The voice is great (I'm joining the "burnt sauce"-loving chorus up there), you set the stage without exposition-dumping, and your descriptions really draw me into the scene. Your pitch could definitely be clearer--are the refugees the captors, or are those two different groups? what is Azura's way of life?--but if I were a slush zombie, this would get a wholehearted YES. :)

  7. Love the voice & your excerpt. Great job! I agree with the others that the pitch is adjective-heavy and I'm not sure what climate refugees are either. Then again I don't read a lot of YA and this got my attention. :) Hope you make it to the next round. Best of luck!

  8. This is fantastic! Great voice and such a something so different...good luck for the next round!