Brenda Drake is hosting the Can You Hit a Perfect Pitch? Blogfest Contest January 15-17. The judging agent will be Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, who is currently closed to submissions. Participants post a one- or two-sentence pitch (of about 35 words) and the first 150 words of a finished YA or JA/MG manuscript, and then critique others’ entries. (My old-fashionedness is showing yet again, because the designation Middle Grade, MG, didn’t exist when I was a preteen and started seriously writing. I continue to think of and refer to it as JA, Juvenile Adult.)

Since I still have to write a few new chapters for The Very First and have to transcribe Saga I of Cinnimin, along with probably copious editing, revising, rewriting, and polishing, I’m going with the first Max’s House book. (Until earlier this year this series was named Maxwell House, but I finally admitted that was a stupid title unless I wanted to get sued.) It still needs a bit of tweaking in spots, but I think it’s in pretty good shape now that it’s in the third draft. (The first draft was written from 7 December 1991-7 April 1993, the second draft came into shape when I was transcribing it in my belovèd MacWriteII in 1999, and the third draft has come together over this just-past year.) The title is New Beginnings, which I now realize is extremely boring, generic, and cliché, but I don’t have a new title in mind yet.

I still have four more completed MH books to convert out of MacWriteII and reformat, and still have a lot of work to do with editing and reformatting #6 and #7. In my dreams, the evil Word would be able to open and automatically convert obsolete file formats, or at least I’d be able to install MacWriteII or even ClarisWorks on my modern machine. (I also miss rotary phones, prefer vinyl to CDs and MP3s, dream of buying a purple Remington Portable typewriter, miss my family’s first computer, the ’84 Mac, and would love to buy a couple of antique cars if I had that kind of money. Isn’t it obvious why my genre of choice has always been historical fiction?)


Pitch: During the summer of 1941, Max Seward struggles to come to terms with his new stepfamily while his cousin Elaine struggles to gain acceptance in her new town, and they both navigate their first relationships.

First 150 words (fifth version of the opening):

There she was.  Alexandria Kate Scots, the girl of Maxwell Stanley Seward, Jr.’s dreams, whom he’d had a crush on for years.  As he walked down Jennifer Street on the last day of school, he could see her making a beeline for him and actually smiling at him for a change.  He returned the smile and ran his hands through his hair, assured he looked the picture of coolness and confidence.

“Hey, Max, I was wondering if I could come over to your house.”

Max nodded, his tongue stuck in his throat.  Al had been over to the Seward mansion quite a few times with their friends over the years, but never before had she gone there alone.  This was the best start to summer vacation he ever could’ve hoped for, and as they walked on, he felt positive the summer of 1941 would be a summer to remember.

5 thoughts on “Can You Hit a Perfect Pitch? Blogfest Contest

  1. I dig the opening and I like that it’s a “period” piece. Also, I enjoy that it’ll discuss a teenage boy and his feeling on love and romance, etc. We don’t often see that side of romance in YA books.

    I have to say though, the pitch doesn’t do much to grab my attention. Yes it tells what the story is about, but not in an overly interesting way. Try to spice it up a bit. Maybe explain what some of the problems are that he’s having, what is going on that she’s struggling with, etc.

    Best of luck!


  2. I really love your idea, and your excerpt! I agree that the pitch could use some spicing up, though, but I know how hard it is to fit the whole story into 35 words. If you don’t want to completely change it, I’d at least exchange one of the “struggles” with something else so it doesn’t sound so repetitive.

    Great job!


  3. This sounds really interesting! I really like your excerpt. Unfortunately, I also didn’t get hooked by the pitch. It reads fine, but that’s just it – its fine. What makes this story special? 35 words is really, really tough – I know!


  4. I like the tone – I think it’s perfect for this time period. I also like that it’s the boy’s voice… almost never read any historical fiction from the male perspective.

    I know I’m being repetitive but I agree on the pitch. You give a good preview of what will happen, and it’s interesting, but I think it needs to be snappier.


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