Pitch Wars 2014 - Pick Me As Your Mentor!

I am so excited to be a Pitch Wars mentor for the third time! This year I’m looking for both Young Adult and New Adult books. (Note: I am NOT mentoring Adult.)

Genres I’m particularly interested in:
-Contemporary Romance
-Science Fiction & Fantasy
-Mystery & Thriller

I would especially love to see books with ANY of the following:
-High concept premises
-Diverse, disabled, or LGBTQ characters
-Romance that makes me swoon (and yes, steamy scenes are fine!)
-Strong friendships or family relationships
-Unusual settings or time periods
-Anything that makes me laugh
-Something that turns YA/NA tropes upside down
-Characters who are skilled at or passionate about something (music, gymnastics, baking, molecular biology – whatever!)

I am NOT the best mentor for:
-Paranormal or Urban Fantasy
-Dystopian or Post-apocalyptic
-Dark contemporary (except mystery/thriller)
-Novels in verse
-Literary novels
-Fairy tale retellings
-Vampires, zombies, were-anythings, angels/demons, mermaids, or fairies
-Anything involving rape, sexual abuse, or animal abuse/death

Why you should pick me:

This is my third time mentoring Pitch Wars and BOTH of my former mentees have gone on to get agents. Also, this year I was a coach for The Writer’s Voice and my team won with the most requests – and some of those authors have already signed with agents, too. You can check out my 2012 and 2013 Pitch Wars teams, along with my Writer’s Voice 2014 team, if you’d like to see what kind of entries I've picked before. Many of my team members have become friends and CPs with each other, and I make it a point to check in every so often with my former Pitch Wars mentees and alternates. Team Briggs is for life!

My 2012 mentee Stephanie & me
In the last few years I’ve been on many different sides of the publishing world. My New Adult romance MORE THAN MUSIC came out in June and the prequel novella MORE THAN EXES will be out soon. I also write YA sci-fi and I’m represented by Kate Testerman of KT Literary. I interned for literary agent Jill Corcoran for over a year, interned for Entangled Publishing, and worked as an editor for Curiosity Quills Press. I can get your work in the best shape possible and can give you advice about the many different publishing paths available right now - and help you figure out which one might be best for you.

My dogs helping me proof my book
When I’m not working on my books, I mentor at-risk teens in writing and volunteer with a dog adoption group. I’m a huge geek who’s been to Comic-Con seven times and even cosplayed for a few of those. Music is my other passion and I have three guitars, though I don’t practice as often as I should. My husband is from England and has a sexy accent, rides a motorcycle, and makes chain mail in his spare time. We live in Los Angeles with five fluffy rescue dogs.

In my Katniss (book version) costume
You can find out more by checking me out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr.


Please only apply for me if you are open to honest, constructive criticism and are willing to work hard on revisions. If you think your book is ready to be published as-is, I am not the mentor for you.

Also, if I have critiqued for you before (in a contest or otherwise), please do not apply for me – I like to work with new people for Pitch Wars to give as many people a chance as possible.

Look around my website, and if you think I'm the right coach for you, send me an application on August 18. Please visit Brenda's site for more info on the participating agents and all the submission guidelines. Good luck!


I'm currently working hard on MORE THAN EXES, the prequel novella to MORE THAN MUSIC about Jared's brother Kyle. I hope to have more information available soon, including a full description and a release date. For now I can say that it's set at the Battle of the Bands about a month before the start of MORE THAN MUSIC, and it's the story of Kyle reconnecting with his high school sweetheart Alexis. Jared and Maddie will both make appearances in it, of course!

I'm preparing to reveal the cover for MORE THAN EXES soon. If you want to see it first all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter!

Tomorrow I'm heading off to Comic-Con, my favorite event of the entire year, and I hope to see some of you there. I'll be at most of the book panels and will be accompanied by a tall guy in a chainmail hoodie, so please say hello! I'll have pretty bookmarks to give away! Or if you're not going you can follow me on Twitter, where I'll be posting updates and photos throughout the con.

Pitch Wars & Writer's Voice Success Stories!

I'm so excited to announce that my 2013 Pitch Wars mentee Audrey Coulthurst has signed with Alexandra Machinist of ICM Partners. Yay! Dancing pony time!

I had a great time mentoring Audrey and an even better time becoming friends with her over the past few months. Plus I absolutely loved her YA fantasy about a princess who falls for the horse-training sister of the prince she's betrothed to. I can't wait for it to sell so everyone can read it too!

BUT WAIT... there's more good news! Two of the people I coached in The Writer's Voice 2014 have also signed with agents! Huge congrats to LT Host for signing with Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency and Breanna Shields for signing with Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency!

I'm so happy to have played a tiny part in these three authors' journeys. I predict great things for all of them!

Psst... I'm going to be mentoring again in the 2014 round of Pitch Wars. My wish list will be up soon and I'll be looking for YA and NA this year, so get cracking on those revisions so you can apply on August 18!

Critique Partner Appreciation Giveaway!

MORE THAN MUSIC has been out for a month and the response has been even better than I expected! Thank you to everyone who has read it, reviewed it, or supported it in any way!

I truly could not have written or published this book without the help of my amazing critique partners. Today I want to show my appreciation for three of them by giving away copies of their awesome books. (And I plan to do another giveaway later for my CPs whose books aren't out yet - so stay tuned for that one too!)

Want to see what you can win?

All of these books are signed by the authors! I'll also throw in some goodies and swag from Comic-Con. Maybe a bag? A poster? An ARC of an upcoming book? It will be a surprise - and the more entries we get, the more stuff I'll throw in! Unfortunately, since this will be a pretty big package this giveaway is for US only. Sorry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal for PHOBIC by Cortney Pearson

You may remember Cortney Pearson from an interview I did with her. She's been one of my critique partners and a great friend for many years, and today I'm thrilled to host the cover reveal for her upcoming YA Horror PHOBIC, along with a guest post about the inspiration behind it (and a giveaway!).

Fifteen-year-old Piper Crenshaw knows her house is strange. It’s never needed repairs since it was built in the 1800s, and the lights flicker in response to things she says. As if those things aren’t creepy enough, it’s also the place where her mother committed murder.

To prove she’s not afraid of where she lives, Piper opens a forbidden door, which hides a staircase that leads to the ceiling. That’s when the flashbacks of the original residents from 1875 start, including a love affair between two young servants. Each vision pulls Piper deeper into not only their story, but also her house. Piper confides in her best friend, Todd, whom she's gradually falling for, but even he doesn't believe her. At least, not until her house gets axed during a prank, and the act injures Piper instead, cutting a gash the size of Texas into her stomach.

Piper realizes her house isn’t haunted—it’s alive. To sever her link to it, she must unravel the clues in the flashbacks and uncover the truth about her mother’s crime, before she becomes part of her house for good.
Isn't it deliciously creepy? If you're a fan of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD or MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, trust me, you want to add this book to your TBR list! It comes out in September, but you can add it to Goodreads now.

Now read about Cortney's inspiration behind PHOBIC, and then enter the giveaway at the end:

As writers we are constantly gathering inspiration (whether we know it or not). An overheard conversation, watching people interact, teenagers laughing together, hearing others tell stories. I believe we subconsciously refer to our life experiences as we write and create stories. We have to. In order to generate realistic emotion and detail that readers can relate to, we have to have some kind of jumping-off-point to base them on. I'd like to share just a few things that sparked ideas for me as I created the world of PHOBIC, a world which is based on the ethereal aspect of seemingly ordinary places.

Inspiration #1: My great aunt lived alone in this fantastic old house built by her father, my great-great grandfather. And it felt like stepping back through time every time I walked through the door. BUT. Right off from her back door--the entrance we always used--was a staircase. It wasn't long. It wasn't even hidden like those in my story. But this staircase led to Aunt Vay's basement with its concrete floor and old cast iron stove and that pair of metal roller skates that always sat alone on a shelf. I hated going in that basement, especially by myself.

Looking back at these pictures now I wonder why I'd been so scared, but as a kid that basement was terrifying!
The basement in PHOBIC plays a huge part in the mystery of the house Piper lives in. It's a place she's been forbidden from entering, but this time she's determined to find out why. 

Inspiration #2: Another instance happened at Aunt Vay's when my mom, sister, and I had pulled in late at night to sleep after traveling from California to Utah all day long. We were tired. It was cold and windy outside. And my mom couldn't find her key to the back door. We tried that knob several times and then as I went to reach for the knob again, the door opened. All on its own. OPENED. My mom, sister, and I all exchanged looks and when I checked the knob (on the now open door), it was still locked. True story! So it prompted the opening and this scene in PHOBIC: 
My best friend Todd’s red pickup appears at the curb, spewing exhaust like the truck has a cigarette up its backside. I jerk up. My pulse kicks at the sight of him. That’s been happening a lot more lately, my insides flaring up and doing some sort of spastic dance whenever I catch sight of his alluring smile and dark curls.

Leaving the second Pop-Tart on the table, I stuff my phone in my pocket and snatch up my backpack and clarinet case. I dart past the round, velvet-topped table in the wide hallway to the front door.

I reach for the knob. It won’t turn.

Heart pounding, I try again. One way, then the other. Chick. Chick. The lock mechanism is vertical. The door isn’t locked.
“Not now,” I say under my breath. “Please not now.”

The hairs at my nape skulk up one by one until they all stand on end. My wrist flicks, and the obstinate knob makes the same chick chick sounds. The eerie feeling spreads down the length of my arm, making the knob cold under my touch. What is going on? I’m used to my house doing strange things, but why won’t it let me out?
Inspiration #3: The Winchester Mansion in California has also been intriguing to me, especially the staircase that leads to the ceiling. This whole house is completely creepy, but especially this:
Piper's house also has a hidden staircase similar to this one. Her discovery of it knocks her sense of reality way off course, and she begins seeing flashbacks of the original residents of house. Which leads to... 

Inspiration #4 
I LOVE romances, along with Victorian/Regency-era stories. So my final inspiration for the story--particularly the flashbacks that Piper has to the past--is:
Downton Abbey (I know it takes place after the two eras above-mentioned. But still, inspiration.) It was after watching the first few episodes that my two star-crossed servants in love sprang into my head. 

There were many other sources of inspiration as well, but these are the main ones. What about for you? What inspires you when you write?
Cortney Pearson is a book nerd who studied literature at BYU-Idaho, a music nerd who plays clarinet in her local community orchestra, and a writing nerd who creates books for young adults. She lives with her husband and three sons in a small Idaho farm town.