Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Twitter Pitch With Gusto!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group has a special event coming
on January 20, 2021:  Its annual IWSG Twitter Pitch!

And today we have just the person to explain all things Twitter Pitch,
IWSG founder and science fiction writer Alex J. Cavanaugh.
His expertise can help you pitch your manuscript to publishers and agents.

Twitter Pitch With Gusto!
by Alex J. Cavanaugh

If you are a writer preparing to query your manuscript or you’ve been in the trenches awhile, you’ve probably heard the term Twitter pitch party. Maybe you’ve participated in one with no results. We can help you prepare and get the most out of an event.
What is a Twitter pitch party? It’s an event put together by an organization for writers to pitch their manuscripts to agents and publishers on Twitter. Writers pitch their manuscripts in a tweet with the appropriate hastags, and agents and publishers heart the ones they are interested in seeing. It usually occurs over the course of a day, allowing time for multiple pitches and time for agents and publishers all over the world to check the feed. It gives writers an advantage over those sending in unsolicited submissions because when they query a manuscript that received a heart during the pitch, it’s been requested!
Each Twitter pitch party has its own set of rules, but here are the general guidelines:
* One pitch per hour. Writers can send multiple pitches if they are for different 
* Use appropriate hashtags. Those pitching should use the hashtag of the 
   Twitter pitch (for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, it’s #IWSGPit), 
   the hashtag of the genre (#SF for science fiction, #R for romance, etc.), 
   and the hashtag of the age group (#YA for young adult, #A for adult, etc.).
* Only agents and publishers interested in a manuscript are allowed to heart
   the tweet.
* Writers can retweet their fellow writers’ pitches.
* No images allowed in tweets.
Who is a Twitter pitch party geared towards? Any writer with a complete and polished manuscript that is not committed to an agent or publisher. Writers should also check the guidelines and be sure their manuscript’s genre fits the event. No need to pitch a young adult adventure book during a science fiction Twitter pitch!
Before the event, compose several tweets. There’s not any room for fluff in a 280 character tweet. Plus all appropriate hashtags need to be included, which makes it even shorter. A pitch needs to convey the story in one to three lines and pack a punch in the process.
What needs to go into the pitch? Debra Dixon says to always include Goal-Motivation-Conflict in any manuscript pitch. You probably also heard about including the “who-what-where-when-why-how” in a pitch. But in approximately 200 spaces, you need to identify the main character, his motivation or goal, and the crisis. Composing several different pitches lets you try each one several times during the day, and you’ll know by hearts which ones are the most effective.
Before the event, it’s also best to run those pitches past others. Send them to your critique partners or a couple trusted writer/author friends. The more pitches you can compose for them, the better. They can help you narrow down the best three or four. There are also online groups and forums where you can post your pitches for feedback. Polish those pitches right up until the day of the party.
The day of the event arrives – you’re ready! Be sure to double-check the times and the rules. When the pitch opens, send out your first pitch, and pitch again at the appropriate intervals. Remember, no images and only retweet your fellow writers’ pitches – don’t heart them. Keep an eye on the feed to see what is being pitched and who is hitting the heart button on those tweets. Check on your own pitches periodically for hearts. If you get a heart, that means some agent or publisher is interested in your manuscript. Get excited!
The event will end, but that’s not the complete end. Don’t send out any more tweets, but do keep checking earlier ones. Some agents and publishers can’t tune in the day of the event but they search the hashtags later for manuscripts of interest. A heart could turn up several days after the party.
It helps if you can research agents and publishers before the event, but that’s not always possible. (You can research them during the event as their hearts appear on pitches.) But if you’ve received some hearts, check out those agents and publishers before sending them anything. Check their site and Google their name. You can search Critters Workshop and SFWA for them as well. Make sure it’s someone you can trust and that they offer what you want in terms of publishing.
After receiving a heart, go to their Twitter page. Often agents and publishers will post exactly what they want to see if they have clicked the heart on your Tweet. Then go to their submission guidelines on their website. Just because they hit the heart button doesn’t mean you can just query them any old way. Follow their guidelines on their site and for the Twitter pitch event. Unlike an unsolicited query though, yours has been requested! So be sure to note in either the subject line or in the email that they hit the heart button during the pitch event.
Several things can happen after a Twitter pitch party. Those with hearts on their pitches get to send in queries. Those queries can turn into partials or full requests. They might even turn into a signed contract for a manuscript! (My own publisher has signed four authors from Twitter pitch parties.) But what happens if there are no hearts? That usually means one of two things—either timing was bad and the right agents and publishers weren’t watching the Twitter feed or that the pitches still weren’t quite right. Don’t despair! Learn from the event. Keep polishing those pitches. Get outside help to make them shine. (And of course, keep sending out query emails and letters.) There is always another Twitter pitch party on the horizon.
Ready to try your hand at a Twitter pitch? Then join us January 20, 2021 for #IWSGPit - And polish, polish, polish those pitches. Good luck!

     IWSG's Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which hosts #IWSGPit every January. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Visit Alex at 

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Coming on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 . . .
Our next post will be on IWSG Day in December.  A number of us are participating in this year's NaNoWroMo during November, so it's going
to be a busy month.  Have a great November and enjoy Thanksgiving!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue 

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If you haven't read this year's IWSG anthology 
VOYAGERS:  The Third Ghost, you can find it here.

You can order a copy of
VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost 
at the links below.

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99

Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure /
Fantasy & Magic

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Voyagers Author Beth Anderson Schuck and a Labor of Love

Today our blog showcases 
Beth Anderson Schuck, 
the author of "The Orchard" 
published in the
2020 IWSG anthology
Voyagers:  The Third Ghost

Beth is sharing her current WIP,
a middle grade historical novel 
with the working title 
Alma’s Recipes for Life.

A Labor of Love
by Beth Anderson Shuck

     I have been working on a middle-grade historical fiction manuscript since I retired a few years ago. The story is based on my Norwegian grandmother’s teen-age years, which occurred in the early years of the 20th century. I have combined her life events with my research on the setting and time period in Marshalltown, Iowa where the story takes place. It has been a labor of love to bring her story to light. 

     I have always loved historical fiction especially stories set long ago and those involving women taking on new roles in society for their time period. I suppose I believe in the adage that if you don’t understand history, you are doomed to repeat it. Thus, it seems reading about history even via fictional works, is a great idea for young people.
     The setting for the story allows me to showcase some topics that still challenge our society today and so I hope this personal story will resonate with readers. Child labor and the accompanying lack of formal education and the challenge for new immigrants to assimilate while retaining their ethnic identities are some of the issues I raise in the manuscript. It includes some adult themes such as death and a bit of romance so I would call it upper middle grade appropriate, for ages twelve to fourteen. 

     The story focuses on Alma, my paternal grandmother as she experiences working as a cook for a wealthy family. At age 13, she quits school to work full time, as her family needs money. Her employers, the Sowers live a life very different from hers and she compares their experiences with her own.  Alma begins to realize her parent’s preferences for her differ from her own goals especially as her world expands via her work. Through the story, Alma determines how to balance her family’s beliefs with her own and what she wants to carry forward into her adult life.

Beth's Grandparents, Frank and Alma, in their Easter Finery
Photo Courtesy of Beth Anderson Shuck

     There is a tragic element to the story as Alma’s younger sister dies from tuberculosis, (TB). During this time period, TB was endemic in some urban areas often affecting the poor. Treatment prior to antibiotics was isolation often at a sanitarium. To avoid sending their young child away and to avoid the stigma associated with the illness, the family hides the diagnosis. This, of course creates issues for Alma. 

     My grandmother’s sorrow from these events wasn’t evident or even known to me, her youngest grandchild. I appreciated her love, of course, and her baking, sewing and sense of humor. My grandfather grew up just a few blocks from her and was friends with her brothers. He was a ‘railroad man’ from an early age. He won Alma over after a long courtship and they were married for 74 years! He plays a role in the story, as does a ruby ring they gave me when I turned thirteen. It was a special ring my grandfather gave to Alma’s sister as a birthday gift. Since she died young, it was returned to Alma and she chose me to have it.  I treasure the ring and the story behind it. 

     I’m in final editing mode with the help of my critique group and hope to shop the manuscript in 2021.  The current title is Alma’s Recipes for Life as her recipes play a role in the storyline and I’ve included them as part of the manuscript.

Alma's Recipes, Ring and Spices
Photo Courtesy of Beth Anderson Shuck

Beth Anderson Schuck is a retired librarian who believes reading can take you anywhere.  She writes historical fiction featuring willful female characters. Being in nature whether hiking, birdwatching or gardening makes her whole.

Visit Beth at Instagram | Twitter 

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Coming on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 . . .
Would you like a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents?  Well, you're in luck, because on January 20, 2021 the Insecure Writer's Support Group will be hosting its next Twitter Pitch.  Come back next Wednesday, IWSG Day, to get some great information on twitter pitching from IWSG founder and science fiction author Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue 

* * * * * * * * * *

If you haven't read Beth's short story "The Orchard" 
in VOYAGERS:  The Third Ghost, you can find it here.

You can order a copy of
VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost 
at the links below.

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99

Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure /
Fantasy & Magic

"The Orchard" ~ A mystical story with young protagonist Nels, 
whose magical powers connect her to nature in rugged, remote Utah.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Yvonne Ventresca's Compelling Young Adult Novel "Pandemic," a Great Read for This Trying Time

Today our blog showcases Yvonne Ventresca, the author whose short story 
"The Third Ghost" won the top honor in the Voyagers anthology, giving the book its title and cover.  Yvonne is sharing the backstory to her award-winning young adult novel Pandemic.

Winner of the Crystal Kite Award
given by The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators


Behind the Scenes:  Researching Pandemic Before the Current Pandemic

My young adult novel, Pandemic, is a contemporary story about a teenager struggling to survive a deadly flu outbreak. Although it was set in present-day New Jersey (before the current pandemic), I spent time researching the Spanish Flu of 1918 and used that disease as a model for the fictional one in my book.

Here are a few things I learned while researching Pandemic:

The influenza pandemic of 1918 is commonly called the Spanish Flu, but it didn’t originate in Spain. In March of that year, known cases occurred among soldiers in Kansas. But in June, Spain informed the world of a new disease in Madrid, and the Spanish Flu was belatedly named as it spread worldwide. It killed more Americans than all of World War I. 

The Spanish flu had a different mortality pattern than previous flu outbreaks, with the highest death rates occurring in adults between the ages of twenty and fifty. The reasons for that pattern are still not entirely understood, but according to the US, the 1918 virus “evolved directly from a bird flu into a human flu.”

In 1918, sanitation measures included wearing face masks, blow-torching water fountains, hosing down streets, and locking public phone booths. 

In a time before technology, colored ribbons were placed on doorways to indicate a flu death in the household. The color of the ribbon indicated the age range of the dead. White, for example, was used for children.

Katherine Anne Porter’s short novel, Pale Horse, Pale Rideris set during the 1918 Influenza. It’s a work of fiction (published in 1939), but was no doubt influenced by Porter’s memories of the pandemic and her own illness. The tragic story provides a sense of the war, the disease, and the desperation of that time.

Beds with patients in an emergency hospital in Camp Funston, Kansas.
The flu struck while America was at war, 
and was transported across the Atlantic on troop ships. 
Date: circa 1918 

Excerpt from PANDEMIC:

At this point in Pandemic, there have been local cases of the Blue Flu, including one death. Lil visits her best friend, Megs, who is getting dressed to meet a boy she has only corresponded with online. This scene is a snapshot of both the mundane aspects and the very deepness of their friendship.

I found Megs surrounded by a dozen shirts heaped on her bedroom floor.

“What should I wear?” she asked. “I need something to go with my favorite jeans.” She plopped on her bed, face flushed.

I hesitated, torn between worrying about her safety and wanting to support her romantic longings. “You’re sure you want to go through with this?”

She nodded.

“Then don’t worry, we’ll find something. You have great clothes.” I glanced at her alarm clock. It was 6:15.

She followed my eyes. “I’ll be fashionably late.”

I pulled out a turquoise blouse that had fabric cutouts in the back.

“I need to look good from the front, not when I leave,” she said.

“Right.” I told her about Ethan while I searched her closet for something better.

“Are you sure you want to start with him again?” she asked.

“I don’t know. He made it sound like, how could I not give us one more chance?” My phone pinged. “Ugh.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Ethan’s already texting me.” I sighed. “He’s looking forward to tonight.”

“Ah, it’s nice to see he hasn’t lost that stalker-ish quality.”

I glared at her.

“Lil, you know I’m right. If your heart’s not in it, don’t go.”

“I miss my old life before . . . everything.” I kept flipping through her closet.

“But dating Ethan again won’t magically turn back time. It won’t make the other stuff vanish.”

“I guess you’re right,” I said.

“Hmm . . . at least we both have dates tonight.”

“It’s not a date. I’m going over to his house.”

“I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about tomorrow,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m finally meeting him.”

Near the back of the closet, a black top with three-quarter sleeves was lodged between two camis. I didn’t even take it all the way out before Megs shook her head. Her face was shiny and I realized she was sweating. “Are you nervous?”

“A little. I’m not feeling great. I think it’s all the excitement.”

“You shouldn’t go if you don’t feel well.”

She scowled at me. “I have to go. I can’t explain it. It feels like part of something bigger, like destiny.”

I pursed my lips together to keep from spouting my opinion. After pulling out a pale blue shirt, I held it against her. “This will look good with— ”

My fingers brushed against her arm. She was burning hot. I put the back of my hand against her forehead the way Mom always did to me. “You feel feverish.”

“I’m fine.” She swayed as she tried to stand.

“Megs, you’re sick.” Fear made my voice quiver.

“You can’t go. This is crazy.”

“It’s too late to cancel.” She sank onto her bed, coughing. “Can you get me a glass of water while I change?”

“Sure.” I hurried to the kitchen. Mrs. Salerno sat at the counter, a newspaper spread in front of her.

I had to tell her about Megs. She’d forgive me for missing her date, eventually. “Mrs. Salerno, I . . .”

She looked at me, waiting.

Then we both heard it: the crashing sound from Megs’s room.

We raced up the stairs. Megs lay sprawled on the floor next to her toppled bedside table.

“I felt dizzy, and then . . .”

Mrs. Salerno scooped her up and laid her on the bed. “Let me get the thermometer.”

After her mom left the room, Megs looked at me, pleading. “I need you to do me a favor.”

I knew what she was about to ask. “No way.”

“Please? You don’t have to talk to him. It’ll be crowded, so he won’t notice you. Look for the guy carrying a book, something that would have meaning to me. Then I’ll tell him later how sick I was, that I couldn’t make it.”

“I’m supposed to meet Ethan soon. And a crowded shop mean germs.”

“Could you tell him you’re running late? It wouldn’t take much time. If you walked in and out, it’s like two minutes of exposure.” She widened her eyes, pleading.

This was important to her, no matter how much I disapproved. I considered it. For my best friend, I could probably handle a few moments in a public place.

More about Pandemic:
In Pandemic, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder's sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak, Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness. With friends and neighbors dying around her, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

To connect with Yvonne: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter 
To buy Pandemic: Indiebound | Amazon 

More about Yvonne:
Yvonne Ventresca is an award-winning author dedicated to writing suspenseful stories that readers can’t put down. Her Crystal-Kite-winning YA debut, Pandemic, continues to be a timely read about surviving a widespread deadly virus. Her second novel, Black Flowers, White Lies, explores toxic relationships and won a Gold “IPPY” for best YA fiction. Her latest short story, “The Third Ghost,” is now featured in the latest IWSG anthology, Voyagers: The Third Ghost, a collection for nine to twelve-year-old readers. For more information, and for free resources for writers, visit her website at

A 2017 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Winner!

A Last Word:
Over the past two nights I was up very late devouring Yvonne's book Pandemic.  
It was a strange feeling to be reading about a pandemic while in a pandemic.  
What I kept thinking over and over was how eerily prescient the novel is.  
Yvonne's portrayal of an epidemic is vividly real, and I liked the juxtaposition 
of Lilianna's story with the objective quotes of officials on the Blue Flu 
pandemic at the beginning of each chapter.  Lil's voice is authentic.  Her 
experiences put me right back into the angst of being in high school, the 
rollercoaster ride of young love, and the drama of close friendships.  I'll join 
Booklist, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews in recommending this 
fast-paced apocalyptic novel.  It touched me deeply, and I will not forget it.      

I'll be back on October 28th with another post.   

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue 

* * * * * * * * * *

If you haven't read Yvonne's short story "The Third Ghost" 
in VOYAGERS:  The Third Ghost, you can find it here.

You can order a copy of
VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost 
at the links below.

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99

Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure /
Fantasy & Magic