Balzer + Bray Submissions for SCBWI Members

SCBWI logo-scbwi         BalzerandBray

Balzer + Bray is an imprint of HarperCollins with a list made of picture books, middle grade, and young adult. While they normally don’t take unsolicited submissions, they’ve been accepting them from SCBWI members only the past few months. Whether you were aware of this or not, I wanted to make sure everyone knew the deadline is approaching. If you are a member and want to submit, make sure to do so by December 1, 2015. For more information and how to submit, read the interview here.

As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Blogger and writer of MG/YA fiction



Oh my goodness, a contest for writers to find a literary agent with a Hogwarts theme! This is pure heaven for all the Harry Potter fans. On October 21st, writers will submit a 35 word pitch and first 250 words from their completed and polished manuscripts. What’s that? Your pitch and 250 words need another looksy? Have no fear, there are critique rounds before the final submission dates. On October 17th, 150 pitches will be selected for critique. Then on October 19th, 150 entrants of the first 250 words will be selected for feedback. But don’t worry, on the 21st of October, there will be no limit for submissions into the actual contest.

For all important dates you can go here or here. And be sure to watch the host’s blogs/websites (L.L. McKinney & Kimberly Vanderhorst) for contest rules, judge information, and participating agents.

As always, good luck and happy writing!

P.D. Pabst
Blogger and writer of MG/YA fiction

Release & Giveaway: TOUCHING FATE by @brendadrake #TouchingFate, Launch via @JenHalliganPR



Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift—with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.

Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday—and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.

Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help–or that he’s about to die.

But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.

TOUCHING FATE: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble



Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling.

So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram




Giveaway is 3 winners of …

Grand Prize of the Kindle + Swag Pack (US/Canada)

$50 Amazon Gift Card (INT)

$50 Amazon Gift Card (US/Canada) 

Rafflecopter Link 


Nightmare On Query Street is Coming! #NoQS

Oh yes, another wonderful contest to connect writers with literary agents! SUH-WEET! Please get familiar with these important dates:

Submission Window Opens: October 15th 4:00 pm EST
Final Picks are Announced: October 20th undecided time
Mentors Go to Work: October 21th – 26th
Revised Entries Due Back: October 26th at 8 pm
Agent round: October 29th – 30th


The contest is hosted by Michelle Hauck and Michael Anthony. So far there are twenty agents signed up, but Michelle hasn’t posted them yet. However, she has revealed the mentors that will help winners perfect their query and first 250 words. They are:

  1. Colleen McCoy
  2. Kathleen Allen
  3. Jamie Zakian
  4. Rena Olsen
  5. Amy Trueblood
  6. Tracy Townsend
  7. Wade Albert White
  8. Ashley Hearn
  9. Jessica Kapp
  10. Melissa Caruso
  11. Judi Lauren
  12. Amanda Heger
  13.  Marty Mayberry
  14. Michelle Hazen
  15. Christina Dalcher
  16. Heather Van Fleet
  17. Richard Pearson
  18. Kim Long
  19. Judy Clemens
  20. Betsy Aldredge
  21. LS Hawker
  22. Wendy Nikel
  23. Erika David
  24. Nicole Tone

To learn brief bios on all the mentors you can visit half of them on Michelle’s site and the other half on Mike’s site. There is also a FREE PASS contest on Michelle’s site to go straight to the agent round! And don’t forget to watch for the list of participating agents, as well as pay attention to rules and formatting.

As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Blogger and writer of MG/YA fiction


Police Lights

When I found myself in the backseat of a patrol car gazing thru the mesh-like cage that divided the rear from the front seat, realizing I couldn’t unlock the doors from the inside, I was reminded how precious freedom is—and thankful I had parents who had raised me right! My second thought was how authentically I can now describe the vehicle in stories I write, because yunno, my mind is always on writing.

First, let me clarify that everything is okay. I’m not a trouble maker (Sorry to disappoint all the rebels out there!) I had the unfortunate instance where I lost both my headlights and the officer was kind enough to give me a ride home after escorting me to park my car in a nearby parking lot. Let me say this again—THE OFFICER GAVE ME A RIDE HOME! (See folks, policeman really are kind—meaning they aren’t out to “get us”—and want nothing more than to keep us safe!) A huge shout-out goes to the Carterville Police Department and the officer who had to endure this task. (The officer requested not to have his name published for several good reasons.) He even explained how to remove the headlight so I could replace the bulbs myself, surfed net trying to find a better price, and named a place to look that I hadn’t realized was near me.

I know a few of you might be laughing at my unfortunate circumstance, but think about all the things they do every day that no one ever hears about, besides the fact they save lives by responding quickly to calls and work hard to keep criminals off the street so we can enjoy our freedom. With all the bad media lately, I thought it’d be nice to give credit where credit is due. These folks are overworked and underpaid in my opinion. So the next time you see a cop, smile and thank them for volunteering to put their lives in danger EVERYDAY so yours can be safer!

Now, on to writerly things. I wouldn’t be a good writer if I hadn’t engaged the officer to learn a few things:

  • When you see a patrol car fly past your vehicle with no sirens or lights flashing, don’t get upset. They aren’t abusing their power! Most likely they are in close range of where they are heading and don’t want to announce their arrival. One example would be a domestic call.
  • Cell towers can ping the wrong address. When this happens, they still have to check out the incorrect location. But don’t worry folks, if you call 911 and the dispatcher feels your life is in danger, they’ll contact your service provider for the correct address. (The wrong pinged address gave me a brilliant idea with a novel I’m writing. Oooh yes!)
  • The officer had to report his start mileage and end mileage because he was transporting a female. A female cop would have to do the same thing if she transported a male. I didn’t realize this, but it makes sense. And yes, I got another idea from this.
  • Ride-alongs can sometimes be applied for even in rural areas. He named three facilities close to me that allow ride-alongs. Applications can usually be picked up at the facilities. After you clear a background check, you will be permitted to ride along IN THE FRONT SEAT! (If you’re not wearing a badge, this is about the only way you’ll ever sit in the front seat.) An average time to expect to be in the vehicle is four hours.

If I lived further away, I could have gotten more information! Sure, a lot of stuff can be searched on the net, but nothing beats hearing things straight from the source. And now I can not only describe how the inside of the cop car looks, I really know how it felt and smelled. As writers, we have to use all our senses. And truthfully, I can’t wait to do a ride-along. If there are dead peeps in my stories (and there usually are), there are definitely cops lurking about. I need to know their perspective to write my characters better.

Again, thanks to the CARTERVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT and their fantastically kind officer! Now go forth and write people!

P.D. Pabst
Blogger and writer of MG/YA fiction



There are so many places to go to find help for writers on the web, it’s hard to know where to start. In past blogs, I’ve posted links to check credentials of agents and publishers, perhaps even a few links for helpful books. But there are other published writers, agents, and editors that have cool sites where a writer can find some great tips.

  • Let’s start with PubCrawl, where helpful ideas and tips for writing are posted from published authors and things they’ve learned along the way. And even cooler, they’ve started a podcast. Here’s a link to their first one!
  • Next we’ll visit Writers Helping Writers. On this site the authors have created helpful tools, resources, webinars, and a bookstore. And holy-moly, they’ve even listed several thesauruses for sale that isolate certain moods and linked expressions!
  • Whiskey Wine & Writing is another great site. They have articles to read and vlogs to watch. Even though they are taking a hiatus right now, don’t worry, they’ll be back!
  • Query Shark is a blog more specific to helping with queries. Read all the archives to get ideas where you might need help with your own query and read the great articles. You won’t be disappointed, however, I’m not responsible for the fear you’ll fear from those Q.S. teeth!

These are just a few links to get you started. There are so many–many more! Follow other writers, agents, editors, and publishing houses to get great tips or watch for them to post other helpful links to follow. As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Blogger and writer of MG/Ya fiction

Twitter-Brenda Image

#PITMAD, hosted by @BrendaDrake is TOMORROW 9/10/15

Don’t forget the quarterly pitch event with Brenda Drake is tomorrow Thursday, September 10, 2015 on twitter under the hashtag #PitMad. If you are new to the game of writing, this is where you create a 140 character pitch for your FINISHED manuscript and tweet for agents to read. Things to remember:

  • Pitch submission time is 8am-8pm EDT (New York time)
  • You must fit the hashtag of #Pitmad within the 140 characters.
  • Include the category hashtag (#YA, #MG, #A, #NA, #PB, and #NF)
  • Include the genre hashtag (Ex: #PR for paranormal romance or #M for mystery)
  • Change tweets up. (Twitter will remove identical ones thinking they are spam.)
  • DON’T FAVORITE TWEETS! This is for agents or editors only. (If you want to support a friend, do it by retweeting.)
  • If you won’t be available this day, schedule tweets using Tweetdeck.
  • Only tweet once per thirty minutes so you don’t congest the feed.
  • Don’t tweet agents and editors directly unless they tweet you first, or openly state it’s okay to tweet them direct.
  • Scammers can’t be controlled on an open pitch party. DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you submit from a favorite. You can check against Preditors & Editors, Publishers Marketplace, or Absolute Write Forums.

For additional tips, go to Brenda’s Drakes Pitmad page. As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

DIVIDED by Sharon M. Johnston (A Pitchwars Mentor), Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

I’m very excited to be a part of Sharon M. Johnston’s cover reveal for her book DIVIDED! I’m squeeing over the shattered heart effect. Gimme-grabby-hands!

DIVIDED full digital

Book Blurb

A new heart should mean new life, instead it’s a living nightmare. 

Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, she has the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull her new dream world.

Yet, life starts to unravel when Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab, but she can’t ignore the strange instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed.

Torn between love and obsession, Mishca must unite her divided heart and decide between the two men. But when the truth about her weird powers comes to light, she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.


Praise for Divided

“DIVIDED is a fast-paced adventure filled with mystery, romance, action, and humor.

Mishca and Ryder rank up there with my favorite heroines and heroes ever!

Sharon M. Johnston is an author to watch out for.”  

  • WENDY HIGGINS, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author.

********Preorder Your Copy Now!********

About the author


From sunny Queensland in Australia, Sharon writes weird stories and soulful contemporaries across a number of categories. Working as a PR specialist by day, in her spare time she writes, blogs, plays with her fur babies and plays computer games with her family. She’s also been stalked by women wanted to know where she buys her shoes.

Find her on: Her website  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads


(Sorry y’all have to use the link to go to the giveaway, but WordPress won’t let me post the Rafflecopter. *Long sigh*)

A Pretty Much Foolproof, Never-Fail, Silver-Bullet Query Opening


I wanted to share this great article about how to write the foolproof query from literary agent, John Cusick. If you haven’t seen it on his site, you must read this now! He kinda takes the “oof” out of the “fool” for struggling writers. I hope this helps.

P.D. Pabst

Originally posted on John M. Cusick:

Hello there.

A few days ago I posted about my move to Folio Literary, and what I’ll be seeking.

As I rev up the ol’ query inbox (which is already rumbling with submissions), I figured I’d take a moment to talk a bit about the query letter.

How— I mean, for serious, how on earth— does anyone write a query letter?

It seems so difficult. Not only are you trying to put your best foot forward and stand out from the dozens— no, HUNDREDS UPON HUNDREDS— of other queriers, you’ve got to summarize your manuscript (impossible), make it sound exciting (huh?), comp it to other titles (um), talk a bit about yourself (embarrassing), and keep it all under half-a-page (yeah okay no).

As if writing the book wasn’t hard enough in the first place.

A lot has been written on strategies for great query letters. There are templates…

View original 403 more words

My Mentee BIO for Pitch Wars

Hello wonderful mentors of Pitch Wars and thank you for stalking visiting me!


I hope this means you like my first pages and want to know more about me. I write both young adult and middle grade, generally with a creepy vibe. So far, I’ve 68 (and climbing) ideas for stories and struggle to choose the next one to start. THIS SCARY MANOR BLOWS is my third completed manuscript, so as you can see, I’ve many more to go!

But don’t let this spine-chilling tale-telling girl fool you. I must admit a few ideas in my notebook aren’t always eerie—such as my underwater, alien-ish world adventure or the car that time travels with fun loving brothers. Sometimes, I just like a good laugh around my weirdness.

Some of my favorite pastimes involve anything in an ocean: swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving (I once swam over a Manta ray), cave exploring, hiking (especially in the mountains), whitewater rafting, repelling, jet skiing, painting, cooking, movies, hanging with the family, and writing (of course). When I write, I can be found sipping tea—okay, a LOT of tea—and eating cheese. I also shove chocolate down my throat when I’m waiting for contest results and stalking hashtags. Eating jalapenos with most meals is a craving, not an obsession—I swear! And lobster (or any seafood) is my absolute favorite meal. But I love all ethnic foods; my tongue has no limit for the goodies!


But, sometimes goodies have a limit. Like, who’s eating whom here?

Okay, enough about scrumptious stuff or I’m gonna have to take a break to feed my face (yes, I really didn’t say mouth or stomach. I hear you mentor). You might be wondering what I like to read. Dude, I’m all over the place. But here are a few books I’ve enjoyed:

• The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (but anything by Neil really!)
• Doll Bones, Holly Black
• Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
• Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rolling
• The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
• Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
• The Luck Uglies, Paul Durham
• Ink and Bone, Rachel Caine
• We All Looked Up, Tommy Wallach
• Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
• Watchers, Dean Koontz
• Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

What am I going to buy at Barnes & Noble later today? Not what you might think, a young adult book. Hey, don’t snarl at all that’s not middle grade, yo. The cover grabbed my attention on Holly’s site!


And of course, I must mention some of my favorite movies. In no particular order:

• Hocus Pocus
• The Goonies
• Harry Potter
• Pirates of the Caribbean
• Twilight
• The Notebook
• Frozen (Okay, so it’s an animation. Watcha gonna do about it?)
• Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992 directed by Francis Ford Coppola)
• The Mummy (1999 with Brendan Fraser—and OMGosh people, a reboot is coming in 2017!)
• 2012
• The Hunger Games
• Phantom of the Opera (1925 with Lon Chaney. Yes, I watched many old—old movies with my momma; basically she’d turn on anything with Lon, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and pirate movies with Errol Flynn. And no, I’m not an old hag peeps, I’m only 46.)

Phantom of the Opera-Lon Chaney

Of course, I also like Pride & Prejudice but hey, I threw the Notebook in the list and didn’t want you to think I was all about the mooshy-mooshy. (But, I might be, especially with a good mysterious creature or ghost!) Oh, that makes me think of Ghost with Patrick Swayze (sad moment). Dang, that was a good movie!

In my non-writing life, I’m a retail manager. So, I’m accustomed to setting goals with deadlines, and creating a marketing plan to promote product. I’m also a good listener to customer needs to turn the knowledge into a sale. These skills are handy to have as a writer. And lastly, I’m a quick learner and pretty easy going. So, even though I’m a panster, I’m trying my hand at outlining on my next novel (cuz I’m not scared). And if you’re blunt with critiques, I swoon at the words.

So there you have a brief summary of who I am. Good luck with finding an awesome mentee, but…PICK ME!

Pick me

(BTW, this picture is super cool and creepy with the ice hands, but I have to clarify—I hate Pepsi! I’m a Dr. Pepper kind of girl.)

P.D. Pabst
Blogger and writer of MG/YA fiction