Thursday, August 12, 2010

16 New Contest! YA/MG Pitch to Query Letter Starting 8/19

It's contest time again at Adventures in Children's Publishing, and we’re thrilled to announce that our upcoming contest will be judged by Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown, Ltd. Our panel of guest authors will choose the top 20 query letters, and then Sarah LaPolla will request the top three finalists, and offer the grand prize winner a three-chapter manuscript critique. Second and third place finalists will receive a two-chapter and one-chapter critique respectively from one of our panel of mentoring authors. (See below for bios.) All entries will receive feedback along the way from other contestants and our mentors.

So here's how it's going to work. Ready?

• 8/19: We'll post an announcement at noon eastern time and open the contest to the first 50 entries. To enter, post a comment including:
  • Your name or screenname
  • The title of your project
  • The genre of your project
  • Your pitch, no more than 175 words that briefly synopsize your story.
  • If your online profile doesn't include an email address, either provide it or email us privately at kidlit (at) so we'll have a way to contact you. We will not accept anonymous entries or entries without contact info this time. (We spent WAY too much time herding contestants last month!)
• 8/26: We'll post the 50 pitches and open them for critique. If you enter, we'll expect you to offer courteous, helpful comments on at least 5 other entries. Our panel of mentoring authors will be helping, too. The goal is for everyone to get their pitches query-perfect, and the process of the contest will be a learning opportunity.

 • 9/02: We'll accept one-sentence logline (elevator pitch) entries.

 • 9/09: We'll post all the elevator pitches for critique. We'll expect contestants to offer comments on at least 5 entries, and our panel of authors will help.

• 9/16: You'll put the pitches all together into your query letter, and we'll accept query entries.

• 9/23: We’ll post the author's picks for the top 20 query letters along with their comments, and announce the judge's top three finalists, including the winner of her three-chapter critique. We'll also open the query letters for critique. All contestants will be expected to critique at least five entries alongside our panel of mentors.


Sarah LaPolla began at Curtis Brown in 2008, working with Dave Barbor and Peter Ginsberg. Sarah is interested in literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction, literary horror, and young adult fiction. She loves complex characters, coming-of-age stories, and strong narrators. Sarah graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Writing and English, and went on to receive her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. She is always on the lookout for debut authors and welcomes email submissions at sl [at]

  • P. J. Hoover grew up visiting museums and dreaming of finding Atlantis. She eventually married and had two children, shifted her dreams to reality, and began a writing career. PJ enjoys writing fantasy for middle grade and teen readers, boys and girls alike. Her middle grade fantasy novels, The Emerald Tablet and The Navel of the World, chronicle the adventures of a boy who discovers he's part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea. Prior to writing full time, PJ worked as an electrical engineer designing chips in Austin, Texas. She is represented by Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
  • Award-winning journalist, freelance writer and book reviewer, Michele Corriel's debut middle grade novel, Fairview Felines: A Newspaper Mystery, comes out this summer and her debut picture book, Weird Rocks, will be out this fall. Michele is also the Regional Advisor for SCBWI's Montana Chapter and conducts writing workshops throughout the year. She is represented by The McVeigh Agency.
  • Michelle Hodkin is a lawyer and YA author represented by Diana Fox of Fox Literary, LLC. Her debut novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, will be published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in Fall 2011.
  • Tahereh a.k.a. T.H. Mafi works as a graphic designer. Her blog Grab a Pen consistently entertains the masses. She writes YA novels and is represented by the ever-fabulous Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency.
  • Lisa Green is not a demon, ghost, vampire, fairy or shape-shifter*. She has, however, enjoyed reading and writing about them since the age of seven. Her short stories and poems have been featured in several online magazines and her manuscripts are represented by the amazing Rubin Pfeffer of East-West Literary. *Please note that the exclusion of werewolves above is strictly coincidental.
  • J.A. Souders was born with an overactive imagination and an abundance of curiosity that led her to befriend the monsters under the bed. When she grew up, she decided to put her imaginary friends to work and started writing. She lives in the land of sunshine and palm trees with her husband and  their two children, and is an active member of the RWA, CFRW, and the SCBWI. She is represented by Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
  • After a successful career in journalism, Debra Gersh Hernandez works with press and media advocacy groups as an independent communications consultant. Her first picture books  "The Sneaky Snackers," illustrated by Eric MacDicken, features furry, funny monsters and an easygoing lesson about tolerance. She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero at the L. Perkins Agency.
  • Nikki Katz is a freelance writer, author, wife, rocket scientist (aerospace engineer), mother of three, friend, daughter, sister, and often-times more. She lives in San Diego, CA where she works from home as the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld blog. She has published four nonfiction books, and her first novel, a young adult urban fantasy, is represented by Bree Ogden at Martin Literary Management.
  • A.E. Rought's love of fantasy started with listening at her mother's knee and turned to writing after she got married and had two beautiful kids of her own. Her work includes children's fiction as well as adult fantasy and paranormal. Her first novel, Nuermar's Last Witch, which has been called a 'spellbinding fantasy,' was published in 2007, with a number of other books published since and more in the works. She is represented by Gina Panettieri of Talcott Notch Literary Services
  • Elana Johnson's debut novel, Possession, will be published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster) in Summer 2011. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download. School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or her website. She also co-authors the Query Tracker blog, the League of Extraordinary Writers, and What Writers Read. Elana is represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary.
  • Hilary Wagner lives in Chicago with her husband, Eric, two crazy kids and her dog Louie, who sometimes thinks he's human. Her debut novel, Nightshade City (Holiday House) releases October of 2010, with Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles releasing next year. She loves classically written stories with a creepy slant and knows she's read a good book when she's sad she has no more left to read! Her guilty pleasures are bad reality TV, candy corn and Cheetos!
  • Tiffany Strelitz Haber lives for adventures. Her obsession with rhyme began at the age of 3, when a nursery school admissions scout asked her, “What is a flower that rhymes with nose?”, and she proudly shouted: “Rose!”. Twenty-five years later (give or take), now married with two sons and coming off of a twelve year career in finance, she has reconnected with her love of words and rhyme. Her two debut picture books are The Onster (Holt / Spring 2012) and Ollie and Claire (Penguin / Spring 2013). She is represented by the fabulous Teresa Kietlinski of Prospect Agency.
 Get your pitches ready!

Martina & Marissa


  1. Why how nice of you! Good luck contestants!

  2. Great contest ladies! Sarah is fantastic! good luck to the contestants!

  3. Wow, this contest rocks, as do both of you.

  4. This sounds great! I'll defintely crit even though I probably won't be able to enter. :)

  5. This contest looks awesome! And it sounds like the critique sessions will be a great learning experience.

  6. This sounds great! I have lots of revisions I need to do, and this gives me an incentive. Thanks!

  7. Thanks everyone! I can't wait to see your queries :)

  8. Woo hoo, I have internet connection where I'm staying on vacation. I can enter after all. Now I just have to work on my pitch. :D

  9. Not to be the confused one, but what's the difference between the 175-word pitch of round one and the one-sentence elevator pitch of round two? Wouldn't they amount to the same thing? I tried looking through the pitch stuff on the blog and couldn't find something that illuminated the difference.

  10. Anita, Renae, Bane, Julie and Stina, thanks for commenting! We're really excited to be able to offer this opportunity, and hope anyone who is getting ready to query takes advantage of it.

    Sarah, thanks again for judging! We are thrilled and looking forward to seeing what you pick!

    Anonymous, the 175-word pitch is a one or two paragraph short synopsis of your novel. It's one of the elements of the query letter, and that's why we are working on it together.

    The logline *can* be another element of the query letter. It's the shortest description of what your novel is about. It's one sentence -- closer to 175 characters than 175 words, although we haven't set a limit. (A full manuscript page is 250 words.)

    Look up loglines, elevator pitches, and query letters. Study the techniques writers are using. There are some excellent resources listed in our various Friday round-up posts!


  11. Can you enter the contest with a WIP?

  12. The top three will be requested by Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown. That is an amazing opportunity, and I'd hate to take it away from someone who is genuinely ready to query and submit. That said, if you have your ms written and critiqued and are in the process of making final revisions, I would think that would be all right.


  13. Name: Marlene Allen
    Title of Project: "The Frog and the Mermaid"
    Genre: Illustrated Children's Book on the adventures of the frog and the mermaid
    Synopsis: This book (which could be made into a series) will provide an adventurous tale about an adorable lovable frog who meets a beautiful mermaid. While entertaining the reader with adventures, the story will also provide learning opportunities for the children about safety, responsibility, accepting others for who they are, and other valuable lessons. Example: When the frog and mermaid first meet, they are afraid of each other because of their differences. But they soon learn to accept and eventually love each other for who they are, and learn that their various talents can benefit each other to become stronger together, and enjoy life more by having the other one in their life.
    Email address:

  14. Name: Matt Musson
    Title: The 51 Rocks: Batboy on the Worst Team Ever!
    Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

    51 Rocks is a fictionalized account of the amazing true story of the 1951 Granite Falls Graniteers, a team that made baseball history – twice!

    This small town squad achieved the worst record in the history of professional baseball. But that’s not all!

    In ’51 Rocks, ten year old Bobby McRainy relates the day to day struggles of a losing ball club, while confronting the moral challenges of whites only baseball. When the team signs a Cuban shortstop , Bobby wrestles with the arbitrary nature and unfairness of segregation.

    Through a long hot summer, the Graniteers sweat out a 14 – 96 season. New coaches, a name change (to the Granite Rocks) and even ‘Black Cat Night at Granite Falls Stadium' cannot turn the tide.

    Finally, team owner Finley German does the unthinkable. The Rocks hire five Negro Leaguers and become the first Southern ball club to break the color barrier! And, Bobby the batboy learns that even a losing team can have immortal moments.

  15. Shannon Wixom (

    Royce Larkin doesn’t like video games. Not even cool, futuristic ones.

    Unfortunately she also has a weak spot for friends who beg while batting their eyelashes, so she’s stuck attending a video game party. It’s bad enough that she has to watch her BFF flirt shamelessly with her ex-boyfriend, Beck, but now she’s supposed to play the video game too. The virtual reality aspect makes her feel like she’s really being attacked by horrific creatures, hunted by hooded figures and earning status with special abilities. All while trying not to fall in love with Beck again.

    Everyone thinks Omega is the ultimate video game except Royce. Nope, she still doesn’t like them. Especially cool, futuristic ones that converge with reality. Like, one minute she’s on her morning run, and the next she’s dangling from a cliff over a lava ocean. No way should that be possible, which is why no one will believe her.

    That is, until Omega kills one of the players. For real.

    OMEGA is a genre-bending, contemporary YA, complete at 97,000 words.


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)