Wednesday, October 4, 2017


I LOVE being a mentor for PitchWars. BUT there is one bad part - having to choose just one manuscript to mentor when there are so many with so much potential.

And so, wanting to give something back to those who chose Mindy McGinnis and myself as one of the mentor teams to submit to, we decided to offer first page and query critiques on our blogs. 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.

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

Query letter:

Pampered, indulged teenagers, Judith Marie Freeman, 14, and her brother Lance, 15, are orphaned when a car accident kills both parents. Thinking to transfer their dependence to their elderly next door neighbor, Miss Hattie Strang, they are startled when Miss Hattie insists on providing what she believes they need most: “Supervised Adversity.”  Bypassing the usual bickering, Judi and Lance narrow their priorities to one: staying together. Reluctantly, they give up their family home, then a modest motel room, and wind up living in a boxcar on an abandoned railroad spur. Okay, I was with you until the "supervised adversity" bit. What does that mean? And everything that happens after is because they are running from Miss Hattie or stuff she is doing or has nothing to do with her? This needs to be clarified.    
UNTIL THE MEEK INHERIT is complete at 61,000 words. You need to specify what this is. Young adult contemporary? YA mystery? Whatever it needs to be there. Also... where is the rest of your query? The above paragraph is only set-up. I want to know what the main conflict in your story is. Also who the main character is. Also what's at stake. What you have above is not enough.
A former newspaper reporter, I have a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Thirteen of my manuscripts are now available from print/royalty companies and online. No. 14 is to be released in March, 2018. My short work has appeared in “Newsweek,” “Time,” “True Love,” “Whispers from Heaven,” “Arabella,” “Pray!” “The Harvard Review,” and other national magazines. I am active on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, have a blog (, and a website ( I am active in Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Texas Writers Guild, the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., and a local critique group. 
The mother of four grown children, I work half-days in my husband and son's law office. While nice, I don't think you need this last bit about mother of four grown children, etc.


Chapter One

Judith Marie Freeman’s head jerked forward as sleep, the Nemesis of 14-year-olds, almost defeated her again. nemesis doesn't need caps. Also not sure if sleep is the nemesis of 14 yr olds specifically. She had to stay awake. She patted her cheeks and sat up straighter. She wanted her parents to see she was the adult in the house, able to last beyond her 10:30 curfew.
Judi celebrated through the whole day of being on her own, her private joy marred only by Lance’s interruptions. what interruptions specifically?
“You are such a toad,” she whispered toward his six-foot frame slumbering on the long couch. She flashed him her superior look. “I outlasted you, you big wuss.” She gloated quietly, loving the one-sided conversation.
“You are not two years older than I am. Only twenty months.”
At five-feet-six-inches, Judi was tall for her age. She resembled her brother, slim with sandy hair and bright blue eyes, although she had a quicker, more inquisitive mind, at least that’s what she told people. 
A car? Was that a car in the driveway? Two car doors slammed. Try not to repeat the same word several times like this.
“They’re home,” she blurted, then clamped a hand over her mouth, eying Lance. He didn’t stir. Let them see the real Lance, slack-jawed, drooling, and the real Judi, alert, taking care of business.
Her arms and legs flailed in four directions as she struggled over the arm of the chair, dropping the Afghan in her flight. Wearing panties topped with one of her dad’s old T-shirts that covered her to her knees, she bounded toward the entry hall, then ran back to retrieve the Afghan. This reads more like middle grade than YA just from the character's description and mindset about wanting to be seen as older more mature, but coming across as very very young.

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