“Pitch Madness” again

The latest Pitch Madness contest opened a little while ago, and it’s on until midnight Eastern on the night of the 24th.  Details at Brenda Drake’s blog.

I pitched Zorya again, but just for fun I did a test pitch for Castle Falcon. It’s not eligible for the contest, so I didn’t enter it, but here it is, a 35-word pitch and the first 250 words:

Tom Alan Brosz
CASTLE FALCON
YA Fantasy
Word count: 145,000

Pitch:

Two modern children exploring their ancient and mysterious castle home discover frightening secrets about their father’s history, along with strange creatures and dark forces that could be unleashed onto the world.

Excerpt:

Once upon a time, there was an immense castle crouched near the base of a range of low, heavily-wooded mountains.

This was no elegant fairy-tale castle with flag-topped towers spiking into the sky. It was vast and sprawling, with massive turreted outer walls built of gigantic blocks of roughly-hewn stone, black with the patina of centuries and crusted with moss and lichens. Within those walls the castle’s grounds were covered with mansions, halls, outbuildings and scattered ruins, laid out in a maze with no pattern or architectural consistency. Inside these buildings were hundreds of rooms of all shapes and sizes. There were dark catacombs, airy parlors, hidden chambers, attics, quiet cloisters and expansive courtyards open to the sky. There were corridors and passages beyond counting, soaring stone buttresses, and worn slate roofs with brooding and broken gargoyles perched on their edges.

Two children had lived in this castle all their lives, and they loved their ancient home even more than they loved video games.

Katie Falcon and her brother Zach simply called it “the Castle.” In nearby Monte Vista, an isolated small town in the American Northwest, people called it “Castle Falcon” when they were talking to tourists but sometimes called it “The Wizard’s Place” when they were quietly talking to each other.

It was the first really warm day of spring. Katie, who was almost fourteen and eager to be sixteen, had kicked off her tennis shoes and was curled up in a nest of pillows on the cushioned platform of the big bay window in her room.

PitMad

Once in a while, there’s a “Twitter pitch” party online. I just went through my first one March 29th (details here.)

The basic rules: the pitch for your book has to be 140 characters or less, including the hashtag for the party (“#PitMad” in this case)

I pitched two books. I didn’t get any requests or “hits” from agents, but fortunately there are still a lot of other things you can take away from a pitch party.

You learn things. Not least is developing the skill of distilling your concepts down to minimum length while (hopefully) maintaining maximum punch.  Since I am a complete Twitter noob, I also learned a lot about how the system works.

You get exposure. Your name, your books, and your ideas get out there. Every re-tweet can get you into a wider universe. If you’re on Twitter, make sure your personal Twitter page has your website on it! Who knows who might come poking in there?

You discover new agents and publishers, and learn more about ones you knew. When agents or publishers popped into the feed, I pulled their individual Twitter pages off into browser tabs of their own, and then moved out into their websites. I found out more about what familiar agents think, and what they’re looking for. If an agent I don’t know shows up, they may be a potential target for a conventional query later. Remember, the feed goes by so fast, there’s little or no chance that your pitch was seen by every agent, so you really have nothing to lose and maybe something to gain by pitching them through normal channels later on.

A couple of days later, Carissa Taylor came out with a detailed list of pitches that got “hits.” This is useful information if you’re trying to get a broad idea of what’s attracting agents out there.

These contests and others pop up periodically. I have a pretty good record of discovering them by accident about two days after the entry deadline, but I lucked out on this one. To find things like this before they close, you could do worse than checking out Brenda Drake’s website now and then, and following up on links you find there. Kimberly Gabriel’s website also tracks contests. I’m sure there are others.