Thanksgiving is a designated time to remember what we are thankful for in life. For many, it’s having our health to spend time with family and friends while gorging on amazing meals until our stomach feels like it will explode. But there are others who might be joyful they survived a fatal illness to be here celebrating with people they love. Or maybe, there are those thrilled to still have a job, maybe paid a mortgage off, or even happy because they got that iPhone they’ve always wanted.

As for me, I’d like to thank:

  • My family and friends who’ve supported me with my writing.
  • My readers. (Because without y’all, I’d have no reason to have a blog!)
  • All my critique partners, beta readers, and anyone who has ever glanced at a few pitches/pages/chapters and offered feedback (The list is SUPER long and I LOVE you guys!).
  • Contest hosts for supplying fabulous opportunities with agents and mentoring, and for selecting me at some point in the past for one thing or another. (For example: Brenda Drake, Authoress, and Jessa Russo.)
  • Slush readers. (I know your eyes cross and we don’t send enough chocolate!)
  • The creator’s of Preditors & Editors, Writer’s Beware  and Absolute Write Forums. (Trust me when I say they’ll save you from agent and publishing scams.)
  • All the Amazing author’s who’ve allowed me to interview them this year!
  • And finally (but not last), to God for giving me the strength to get through each day. (For numerous reasons, but especially my health.)

I’m sure there are many things and other people I may have forgotten, and ask forgiveness if I have. Everyone in my physical and virtual life are very important to me. Y’all give me strength to become the best me. And yes, you complete me! (Go ahead, grab a tissue.)

Whatever your reason for being thankful today, I wish you the Happiest of Thanksgivings!


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

Critique Partners


If you’re a writer, I can’t stress enough the importance of finding critique partners/beta readers. That’s right, I spoke in plural terms. Each partner might uncover different aspects of your story, such as weaknesses in your character, plot holes, typos, stilted dialogue, pacing and much more. No matter how perfect you think your story is, someone will find an error. And it’s better to find as many errors as possible before you start submitting to agents or publishers, and most importantly BEFORE you self publish!

So where do you find these partners? I found most of mine on Twitter hashtags during writing contests. Someone almost always puts a call out to swap stories for critique. Many times, you gain a permanent partner. There are private writing groups on Facebook that you can join, or places like CPseek. Absolute Write Forums, Write On Con events, local writing groups, and even English departments at your local college and university. Also following blogs of agented writers (such as Brenda Drake or Authoress for starts), can help you find opportunities for free critiques. I’ve found that the writing community is extremely supportive of one another, and among them is a wealth of knowledge!

Things to look for in a partner:

  1. They not only praise but offer the needed critique. If a partner does nothing but praise over your work, they don’t offer you any room to improve.
  2. They offer suggestions. Okay, this doesn’t mean they tell you exactly how to fix something, but at least tell you why something doesn’t work for them. This way, you know what direction to go.
  3. Similar tastes. If you write for middle grade, you may want to find someone who does the same because you both understand ‘voice’ for that genre. Or maybe you write strictly fantasy and want someone who writes the same. But remember, finding someone who writes exactly the same genre and category isn’t completely necessary, as long as they have a passion for the types of stories you write. (But it does help.)
  4. Can meet your dead line. That’s if you have a dead line. If you do, be clear up front and state the time frame. (Ex: You hope to polish your manuscript before entering an upcoming contest.)

There might be other things you desire in a critique partner, but this list is just a starting foundation. For ideas on the worst critique partners, read Chuck Sambuchino’s The Top 10 Worst Types of Critique Partners

As always, good luck and happy writing!

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

Pitch Contest with Entangled Publishing, hosted by Brenda Drake

The Queen of Contests, Brenda Drake, is hosting a pitch event with Entangled Publishing on November 10, 2014. If you write romance, or have romantic undertones in your novel, this pitch event might be for you.

To enter, you’ll need a 100-word pitch (max) and the first 100 words of your manuscript. You will also need to research which line your MS falls under and know what the editors are looking for.

Single-title Imprints

Category Romance Imprints

Brenda breaks these lines down and offers a link to the editors likes here. The event will be live on Brenda’s blog, so be sure you’re following her! You’ve only got a few more days to polish those pitches.

As always, good luck!

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


Contest: 2014 Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction by Authoress

This post is to remind you that the submission window opens tomorrow for the 2014 Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction. This contest is hosted by Authoress on her blog Miss Snark’s First Victim. Here are some important dates to know:


October 28: Adult fiction (no erotica), 9am-5pm EDT (100 max)
October 30: Adult fiction (no erotica) , 9am-5pm EDT (100 max)
(Note: NA is included with the adult rounds and should be labeled as such.)

November 4: YA/MG fiction (all genres), 9am-5pm EDT (150 max)
November 6: YA/MG fiction (all genres), 9am-5pm EDT (150 max)

November 14: Adult winners will be notified via via email (25 total)

November 21: YA/MG winners will be notified via email (35 total)

November 28: The 60 winners will be posted on Authoress’ blog
December 2: Agents begin placing bids at 11am EDT (Auction closes 11pm)

December 4:  Winners announced

Authoress has lined up a total of TWENTY-ONE agents for this contest! How awesome is that? Here is a list to entice you to enter:

If you’re not familiar with this contest, know that it has an entry fee of $15 US dollars. Follow Miss Snark’s First Victim blog for further details!

As always, good luck!

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


October is the time for ghosts and ghouls to scare the bejeebers out of us as they creep out of the closet. Even more exciting…it’s NIGHTMARE ON QUERY STREET month! This is a fabulous writerly contest hosted by Michelle, Michael, and SC.

What’s that? You don’t have a scary manuscript to enter. NEVER FEAR! The contest is designed for only your pitch to be scary. You need to write a paragraph of no more than 100 words about what the most fearsome obstacle your main character has to overcome and submit with your query and first 250 words of your manuscript. So, your MC doesn’t have to be fleeing a group of vampires to be entered in this awesome contest. Oh no! Your MC’s most fearsome obstacle could be the eight-year-old nosy neighbor that will rat him out about the party he threw last week if he doesn’t buy that $500 WII system for her.

Now hurry and get to planning your pitch! The submission window opens at 12 noon (EST) on October 15th. The window will close at 12 noon (EST) October 17th or when they receive 225 entries. But know there are rules to be followed, so read everything here to make sure you clearly understand the submission guidelines.

As always, good luck!

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





The #Pitmad Pitch Contest on Twitter

It’s #Pitmad time! This is a contest on twitter, hosted by the fabulous Brenda Drake, where literary agents troll the tweets to see if they want to make a request for your story. Remember, this is for completed manuscripts only! How to enter:

  • Create a 140 character pitch, including the category and genre. (Hint: Abbreviate the category. Adult=A, Young Adult=YA, Middle Grade=MG. And do the same for the genre. Urban Fantasy=UF, Fantasy=F, Paranormal Romance=PR…etc.)
  • Be sure to add the hashtag #Pitmad in the 140 character pitch or it won’t be seen in the feed.

Rules to follow:

  • If you see another person’s tweet you like, DON’T favorite it. (This is for agents only.) However, you can retweet the pitch.
  • Switch your words, category, and hashtag around when you pitch. (Twitter sometimes won’t repeat the same tweet.) You can also have creative alternate pitches to use. I’d recommend having at least three different pitches for the same story.
  • Don’t overpitch. Check Brenda’s blog for her exact rules, but usually she asks writer’s to pitch only once every thirty minutes to an hour. This keeps the feed from being clogged up and agents running away screaming.

How to know if an agent likes your pitch and what to do:

  • If an agent or editor likes your pitch, they will favorite your tweet. (That’s the little star that turns yellow when they like it.)
  • Agents and editors usually will tweet what to do after they favorite your pitch, so check their twitter feed. Some may want only your query, others may want pages from your manuscript. Follow their rules! If you can’t find their guidelines, ask them politely. They may just want you to follow their standard guidelines on the agency website. (I recommend adding the #Pitmad hashtag in the subject line of any email sent so they know they requested your material.)

The contest runs today, September 9, 2014 from 8:00am-8:00pm EDT. So you’ve plenty of time to join the fun.

Good Luck!

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


Secret Agent Contest by Authoress

Just a quick post to inform y’all that the Secret Agent Contest submissions are open until 6:00 PM EDT. This is a wonderful opportunity hosted by the infamous Authoress on her blog Miss Snark’s First Victim. Here is the page that lists the guidelines for submission. (Note: the guidelines is an earlier post by Authoress and can mislead that the contest isn’t open. If you click on the link I provided above “Secret Agent Contest”, you’ll see she IS in fact open for submissions now.)

Good luck!

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



You’re writing dialogue between your characters and it goes something like this:

“Wait up Jack,” Elise said.
“I have to hurry or I’ll be late for work,” Jack responded.
“Work?” Elise questioned.
“Yeah, people do that you know.” Jack said.
“What happened?”
“Macorp closed it’s doors.” Jack muttered.

The problem is the reader doesn’t know what’s going on during the conversation. It kind of makes them go huh. They don’t know where the characters are, or why the dialogue is important. In order to help a reader engage you can use your senses to describe additional things. Put yourself in your characters shoes. Look around and describe what you see, hear, smell, or taste. Let us know how the characters feel about the situation. With that in mind, let’s rework that dialogue.

“Wait up Jack,” Elise said, slipping through two parked school buses and into the car lot. A gust of wind sent leaves drifting to the ground and carried the chatter from students rushing to their vehicles. Elise quickened her steps, uncertain if Jack had heard her.

“I have to hurry or I’ll be late for work,” Jack responded without looking back. Cursing, he fumbled the straps on his black moped to secure a satchel to the rear.

“Work?” Elise questioned, helping Jack strap his bag. Spasms drifted through her stomach knowing Jack wouldn’t be at rehearsals. The contest was in one week and she needed her pianist. Heck, he needed the money as bad as she did to help with college, or they’d both be stuck in this podunk town forever.

“Yeah, people do that you know.” Jack said, attempting to start his rust-bucket of a ride. Gas fumes filled the air and caused his nose to curl.

“What happened?” Elise demanded an answer. Just last week Jack had proclaimed his love for her and now he was giving up on both their dreams. She stomped her foot into the gravel, sending rocks rolling into his tire.

“Macorp closed it’s doors.” Jack muttered the name of his Dad’s ex-workplace, nostrils flaring. The moped coughed to a start and Jack eased out of the parking space.

Elise watched Jack drive away with her heart thumping in her throat. He didn’t have to say another word. She had seen the past due bill for his Dad’s mortgage sitting on his kitchen counter yesterday. A tear streamed out the corner of her eye, leaving salt across her lips as it continued down her chin.

Okay, so my examples were a quick ten minutes of my thoughts spewed out onto my blog. I know you can do better! But you understand how descriptions can make a difference to help readers know what is happening during your dialogue. Readers need to see what is happening and feel the emotions of the characters.

Good luck and happy writing!

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


In case you’re wondering, PITCH WARS is a super cool contest hosted by the fabulous Brenda Drake. And, of course, it’s a writing contest. What else would I post? And what’s seriously special about this contest is writers will be selected for mentoring. That’s right, winners will get help polishing their ENTIRE manuscript to get it ready for the agent round.

Girls wanna have fun

Today Brenda posted the awesome lineup of agents that will be participating from agencies such as The Bent Agency, Dystel & Goderich, Sarah Jane Freymann, Park Literary, Writers House, Andrea Brown Literary, and—and more! So go check them out here.

The submission window is fast approaching…August 18th, 2014 to be exact. Get your fingers flying on those keyboards and finish that novel to submit. I know you can do it!

Good luck and happy writing!

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


16th Free “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest

Oh, I’m late to the game…again! But there is still time people. Don’t. Panic.

Writer’s Digest is hosting it’s 16th “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest via Chuck Sambuchino (Guide to Literary Agents). This one is open for “unpublished, completed book-length middle grade fiction”. The agent judge is Peter Knapp of Park Literary Group. What you could win:

  • First ten double-spaced pages critiqued by Peter.
  • A free one-year subscription to
  • Peter’s right to request your manuscript and possibly offer representation

Yes, some past winners landed their agent through this contest. Isn’t that fantastic? But as always, there are RULES PEOPLE! They must be followed. To enter the contest, go here to get all the information needed for a successful submission.


Good Luck!

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