Monday, November 23, 2015


PitchWars is at its heart about the writing community. And even though at the end of the day Mindy McGinnis and I were only able to choose two mentees, we still wanted a way to give feedback to the many many many others who had been kind enough to share their work with us. Our decision to do this via our blogs, rather than a private email, is so that (hopefully!) everyone can learn a little bit from this feedback.

I'm happy to say that quite a few people have been generous enough to take us up on this offer! So, through November, Mindy and I will be posting these critiques on Mondays and Wednesdays. Make sure to look for them on both of our blogs as we'll be posting totally different critiques.

And for anyone out there looking for personalized feedback, I am now offering manuscript critique services which you can find out more about here.

You'll see my comments in red.

Dear Agent,

MY SISTER'S DATING A SERIAL KILLER (64,000 words) is a fast-paced YA thriller with a soup├žon of magical realism. So this title feels a little lifetime movie-ish to me. Or else meant to be a bit comedic. Not sure if either of those is your intention. 

Sixteen-year-old Cammie insists her eighteen-year-old sister is being a lovesick jerk, as usual, and denies anything’s wrong with her psychopathic boyfriend—the richest and scariest guy in Sleepy Valley SC. I am really confused by this sentence - it is unclear exactly who is denying that there's anything wrong with the psychopathic boyfriend. I read it like five times and was still confused. Reading further I see it's meant to be the sister. I'd suggest giving the sister's name to help clarify and also making breaking this up into 2 sentences. Cammie’s watched too much CSI to buy her sister’s romantic tripe. He burned down the pastor’s barn and experimented with small animals in his basement lab.Two things everyone knows are marks of a serial killer. 

Too bad Cammie’s cried wolf too many times about suspects who turned out to be innocent, so just about nobody, including the police chief, believes the sixteen-year-old’s you already told us that she's sixteen claim her sister’s boyfriend is a serial killer. When a magical spirit appears to help, Cammie freaks out because not only is she alone in the struggle to jail a serial killer—she’s seeing things. If Cammie doesn’t hurry and get enough evidence to send her sister’s boyfriend to the slammer, both girls could end up in tiny pieces in his basement lab.So is most of the story Cammie trying to get evidence to prove her sister's boyfriend is a psycho? If so maybe focus more on that, which is the heart of the story.

The University of South Florida's PALM PRINTS, published one of my short mystery/thriller stories, RIVERWALK published another online. I also took first place in a Virginia Romance Writers contest and second place for a YA novel in a Florida State Writing Competition.

Thank you for considering MY SISTER'S DATING A SERIAL KILLER.


Chapter 1
Road Kill
      A Mercedes convertible turns onto Donner Woods Road behind me. I don't think this first sentences is doing you any favors. It has no voice. No mood. Even, "The Mercedes had been following me for the last five miles, shadowing me turn for turn all the way to my own street." That at least gives us a hint of danger. 
      I, Cammie Carter, am about to die. This might be a better first sentence.
      Panic sends my mind flashing back to watching the pastor’s barn burning down. Everybody huddled there has This isn't happening right now, so should be "had" horrified looks on their faces except one person. The roaring fire shows showed a gleam in his eyes and a grin of excitement on his face. He’s the barn burner. This might have more impact if we had any clue who he is.
      I flip the right gear to a faster speed on the racing bike my parents gave me last week for my sweet sixteen. So she's on a bike? Like peddling not motorcycle? This also would be great to know sooner - like in that first sentence, because bike vs. car is not a good battle to be in (well if you're the bike it's not).
      A second flashback directly referring to the flashback seems a bit clumsy lands me in my hometown library in Sleepy Valley SC. The barnburner, AKA driver of the convertible honing in on me, grins from behind a bookshelf after Jeb Fox tells the librarian, “Chickens disappearing from my hen house and our terrier is gone.”
      The driver of that car heading straight for me has at least two of the characteristics of a serial killer listed on page 64 of my Forensics Manual.
      AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap blasts on his car radio. Tall trees and heavy underbrush dim light in the forest and muffle sounds, so nobody can hear it.
     There aren’t any houses on this road either, so no sense shouting, “Help.” 

You start to gain momentum here with these last few sentences. I really like the specific details you use to ground us in the story from the Forensic Manual to the song blasting from his radio. I think you need more of that toward the top of this page to really pull the reader into your story.

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