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

Interview with Paul Durham: Author of THE LUCK UGLIES

When a story stays with you weeks after the read, you know a fantastic story fell into your hands. That’s what happened with THE LUCK UGLIES by Paul Durham. Once I cracked open the pages and started reading about Rye’s life on Mud Puddle Lane, I couldn’t put the book down. The story led me on a path of secret rooms and tunnels as truths unfolded in Village Drowning. If you’re not afraid of what lurks under masks and roams in the dark, I recommend reading this awesome story!


HarperCollins listed synopsis (provided by Paul Durham): Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has eleven-year-old Rye O’Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. Now Rye’s only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can’t be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning’s maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she’ll discover the truth behind the village’s legends of outlaws and beasts . . . and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.

The first in an irresistible fantasy adventure trilogy that The Peculiar author Stefan Bachmann hailed as “an action-packed adventure with heroes you’ll root for and baddies you’ll hiss at . . . funny and magical,” The Luck Uglies overflows with secrets, friendship, and heart—and is imbued throughout with the magic of storytelling. (Read the rest of interview.)


It’s true. I’m a sucker for great cover art. I’ll pass over a book without reading the blurb if the cover doesn’t lure me to pick up the novel. With a blackened figure of a young boy wearing antlers on his head , BONE JACK by Sara Crowe made me want to know in what type of world a boy would have them on his head.  Then I read there were ghosts in this story about a stag boy and I love ghosts!



Ash’s dad has returned from war. But he’s far from the hero Ash was expecting. He’s close to a breakdown, lost in a world of imaginary threats. Meanwhile, Ash’s best friend Mark is grieving and has drifted away into his own nightmares. Ash’s only escape is his lonely mountain running, training to be the stag boy in the annual Stag Chase.

But dark things are stirring. Ghostly hound boys prowl the high paths, and in the shadows a wild man watches. Ash begins to wonder if the sinister stories about the Stag Chase are true. Could Mark and Dad be haunted by more than just their pasts?

The first paragraph promised danger in the pages to come and I devoured the entire book. Therefore, I reached out to the author for a little Q and A. (Read full interview.)


4th of July Photo

Hooray! It’s another year of celebrating the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted 238 years ago on July 4, 1776. It’s a time of celebration with our families and friends, watching fireworks, and eating lots of food.  As you prepare for your day of fun, here are a few facts you may not know:

  • Although adopted on July 4, it wasn’t officially signed on this day.
  • More than one copy exists.
  • A riot broke out in New York upon the news and a statue of George III was melted to shape more than 42,000 musket balls.
  • Eight of the 56 signers were born in Britain and not America.
  • Richard Stockton became the only signer to later recant his support of the revolution.
  • One of the copies sold for $8.1 million.

For expanded explanations and additional things you may not know, go to And as always, be safe and have a great day!

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


This is not an event where writers sit around a table spitting saliva all over each other fighting for a chance to get the attention of the agent they strapped to the center, all while spewing their loglines. Oh no, this is much safer…and dryer. I promise.

Girls wanna have fun

(Photo used with permission.)


This is a wonderful contest hosted by the contest queen herself, Brenda Drake. What’s great about this particular contest is the winning entrants get mentored by either an agented (and published) author or a professional editor. These are people who’ve been in the trenches and/or worked in the writing industry long enough to offer priceless feedback. And further, they will critique the winner’s entire manuscript. That’s right…THE WHOLE ENCHILADA.

And after months of the winners pulling their hair out making all requested edits, they will be rewarded with an agent round. It begins November 4, 2014. What does that mean? The participating agents will begin requesting their favorite entries to read from pitches posted to the blog. This years agents haven’t been revealed yet, but you can go here to see the agents from the previous Pitch Wars.

You must have a polished manuscript to enter the contest, but no worries because submissions start August 18, 2014. But know, this date will fall upon you before you realize. So, get to crackin’, er tappin’!

And don’t forget, check out the mentors for this year here and be sure to follow Brenda’s blog for updates on the contest.

As always, good luck and happy writing.


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