Crafting Your Elevator Pitch

Nervous WreckI hope you’re learning something from this tutorial on verbal pitches! Today’s the day I’m going to ask for your pitches in the comments so pay attention.

One of the keys to pitching that I haven’t mentioned yet is the correct timing of a verbal (or elevator) pitch. When do you give one? The answer is…when you’re invited or when there is an appropriate opening.

You don’t want to accost agents and editors and say, “Listen to my pitch!” However, there are many times at conferences when you may be in, say, an elevator, or at a cocktail party, or at dinner, when someone looks you in the eye and says, “So what are you writing?” That’s your opening.

Now, another thing we haven’t discussed is the process of crafting the elevator pitch. I think your best chance for success is to take it seriously as a multi-step process (because I know you have nothing else to do) and put some time into it. The effort will allow you to overcome shyness, discomfort with verbal presentations, and even nervousness around publishing professionals. Preparation always boosts confidence, and if there’s one thing I see writers struggling with, it’s confidence. So how do you prepare?

8 Steps to the Perfect Pitch

1. Write it. Craft your pitch 10 or 20 different ways and different lengths. Don’t skimp on this step. Challenge yourself to get out of your mental box when it comes to the way you think of your own manuscript. Even if you’ll never use some of your attempts, it will tap your creativity and help you figure out what might make your project interesting to someone else.

2. Record it. Speak all your pitches aloud into a recording device.

3. Wait. Let some time elapse before going back to your recording.

4. Listen. Go back to your recording, and take notes as you listen to each pitch. Which parts work, which don’t? What do you need to improve about your delivery? Piece together the best parts and…

5. Rewrite. Try to come up with at least five good pitches based on what you’ve learned.

6. Record again. And let some time elapse before listening.

7. Final edit. Take one more shot at revising. Finish with at least three good pitches tailored for different situations or audiences.

8. Practice. Now’s the time to begin using the mirror, your spouse, your kids, your friends.
Don’t get so “polished” that you sound unnatural, but DO get to the point where you know your pitch so well you can rattle it off without thinking much.

REMEMBER as you craft your pitch: It’s a conversation. There’s a real live person standing next to you in the elevator. You only have until you reach the 16th floor. What are you gong to say?

Post your elevator pitches here. I will not be able to critique everyone’s pitch, but I’ll choose a few to critique on the blog. This won’t happen until sometime next week as I’m headed out to a conference until Sunday (where I’ll be listening to elevator pitches).

Update: Too late to submit your elevator pitches! I have over 100 and I can only critique a dozen or so.


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. E. B. Pike on March 16, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Wow, I love this! I’m going to a writing conference in May and I’ve been super nervous. Pitching on paper ain’t easy, but it I’d take it over a live pitch any day. This sounds like a great way to help me overcome my stage fright! 🙂

  2. tibia money on March 15, 2012 at 5:34 AM

    Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  3. buy daoc plat on March 14, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  4. altantica gold on March 13, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  5. 2moons dil on March 13, 2012 at 12:56 AM

    Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

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  9. Diane on August 2, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Hope is a 42-year-old mother of three nearly grown daughters. Men keep letting her down – her father walked out, her first husband killed himself driving drunk, and her current husband, Alan, is a workaholic. And God didn’t keep any of these things from happening. So when a disastrous business dinner ends in a hateful argument with Alan, she asks for a trial separation.

    Then when a visit to her doctor reveals that she is not suffering from early menopause, but is pregnant, she finds herself with a dilemma. She wants to terminate the pregnancy until she sees the baby, a boy, on the ultrasound. Alan, who has always wanted a son, is thrilled and wants to reconcile, but Hope is determined to go it alone.

    When prenatal testing reveals that their son will be born with Down syndrome, Hope is devastated. She goes through the motions of living, but can’t bring herself to feel any joy over the baby. Only after pre-term labor forces her on bedrest is she finally willing to ask for help. And when Alan quits his job to care for her, she finally begins to allow herself to be loved.

    But will she be able to bond with Joshua after his birth, or will her determination to go it alone win?

  10. Debbie Baskin on July 29, 2011 at 7:08 PM


    Thanks for your encouragement. I hope you get to read it – sooner rather than later.

    Be Blessed.

  11. Debbie Baskin on July 29, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Our world was shattered in 1989, when my parents kidnapped our two oldest children, Christi and Bobby. While our children were finally found 20 years later, we have yet to reconcile with them. My husband, Mark, and I are writing a book that briefly covers the kidnapping but the focus is about the ensuing years. Parts of our story are heart wrenching while other parts are amusing and filled with joy.
    We lost many of our dreams but God gave us new and better ones. We share leaving seminary, losing our faith only to find it had only grown deeper, adopting a baby, returning to seminary and the amazing people God ordained to be in our lives. No, our story doesn’t have a fairytale ending probably because the ending has yet to be written. But, our story is filled with hope and restoration!

    • Sylvia Smith on July 29, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      God bless you. You are remarkably courageous to share, and I would be pleased to read this book.

  12. Sylvia Smith on July 29, 2011 at 12:53 AM

    Correcting my website – thanks again. S 🙂

  13. Sylvia Smith on July 29, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    Hope I’m not too late – just found you:

    “Corners” follows three young women as they come of age among real historical figures of 1970’s San Francisco. On a ledge over a Hyde Street alley we meet 22-year-old Shelley, hopelessly in love with a mob-connected grocery boy. Then we meet Barb, torn between her Pentecostal roots and the Rastafarian she loves. Finally, there’s Jacki, climbing ever higher in Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple, wrestling with the demons that haunt her unholy mission. “Corners” will take you through the looking glass deep into the soul of the City, down the streets and alleys where the love generation was born.

  14. Drusilla Mott on July 29, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    Second Chances is a modern inspirational romance. The female lead, Shannon Merrill, is in an emotionally abusive marriage to a man that she is sure is cheating. She goes to a family reunion and notices a stranger that makes her feel the same yearning that she remembers feeling twenty years before.

    When her husband leaves her for another woman, and then is paralyzed in an accident, Shannon feels as though God wants her to let him come back home. They reconcile, but Paul eventually dies from complications from his injuries.

    It is after this that Shannon finds out that the man that they hired to make their home wheelchair accessible is the stranger from the family reunion.

    As she gets to know Ross Callahan, they begin to discover that they have been connected to each other for twenty years in numerous ways without even knowing the other existed.

    Before they can unravel all the mysteries of their past connections and begin a life together, Ross must deal with his own personal tragedy.

    Second Chances is based on a true story. Do you think it would be something you would be interested in?

  15. Beth MacKinney on July 28, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    In my middle grade fiction, Jackson Everly discovers that his grandfather is the AWOL navigator of a ruthless ship of time-traveling pirates who harvest their fortune from the timeline. When the crucial time piece that allows the pirate’s ship to navigate time falls into his hands, Jackson realizes that he holds the key to changing history and saving his dad from being killed as a medic in the Persian Gulf war. But when Jackson discovers that his new friend’s military father was saved by the same heroic act that cost his dad his life, he’s torn. Is there any way he can save his dad without erasing his friend from the timeline forever?

  16. Silvia on July 28, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    I can’t believe I forgot to return to this post!

    My novel is a YA fantasy set in a modern-day Korea where magic has been outlawed for the past fifty years. Ever since she was five, Misha’s had a gift to read people’s memories. Now fifteen, she tries to maintain a bubble of indifference, but works hard to gain her foster mother’s attention. In contrast, her foster mother, a powerful politician, is too busy playing a dangerous game in a war where both sides are vying to enslave the cursed dragon race. But when Misha discovers a secret to her pearl necklace, she pieces together a centuries-old mystery that may be the key to ending this war. And her foster mother will do anything to stop her from getting involved.

    Thanks, Rachelle, for offering this great opportunity! The other pitch critiques were very helpful 🙂

  17. Linda Joan Smith on July 28, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    I thought I had submitted this properly last week, but somehow it didn’t show up. I’ll try again and hope it’s not too late!

    I’ve just finished a story that’s set in northern England in 1850. It’s about a starving workhouse girl—the lowliest of the low—who tries to steal a peach from an Earl’s garden. The girl, Scilla, gets caught, but she’s mistaken for a boy and talks her way into a job scrubbing pots.

    The garden seems like paradise to her, especially when she falls in with a charming apprentice named Phin who wants the head gardener’s job. He sneaks her into the glass-houses to get peaches, helps her feel like she belongs, makes her skin prickle. But there’s a problem. Girls don’t belong in the garden. He thinks she’s a boy. And she doesn’t dare tell him otherwise.

    When he stumbles on her secret, and learns she’s getting tutored by the head gardener himself, danger slithers into paradise. And Scilla must risk losing everything she’s come to love in order to set things right.

    I’ve written the story for girls twelve and up; are you currently considering manuscripts for that age group?

  18. Carol M on July 28, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    Just in case I’m not too late to get in on this… Gotta get it ready for ACFW… 😉

    When a confirmed bachelor inherits his sister’s four kids, he turns to Craigslist to find a bride. Things with his new wife are going much better than expected when he loses his job, forcing him to become Mr. Mom and sending the whole family into a tailspin. Through it all, he learns again that love never fails and sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine.

    [Suburban Straightjacket is a contemporary romantic comedy, completed at 82,000 words.]

    And if I’m too late… ah well ;).

  19. Elevator Pitch Critiques | Rachelle Gardner on July 28, 2011 at 2:03 AM

    […] elevator pitches? I’m impressed and amazed at how many of you contributed them in the comments to my post last Wednesday. Obviously I won’t be able to critique most of them, but hopefully you’ll get something out of […]

  20. Dale S. Rogers on July 26, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Lighthouse on Tortola concerns a photo-
    journalist in her mid-twenties who tra- vels to the Virgin Islands on assignment.
    Dee meets an engaging tour guide from the
    U.S., but he seems to have a secret.

    As they fall into a friendly, then romantic relationship, Dee learns that Michael’s father, once a special agent
    for the FBI, has been discharged for
    a crime he did not commit.

    How can Dee help Michael prove his father’s innocence and convict the
    guilty party?

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  22. bobbie on July 25, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    Two pitches in less than a minute 🙂
    ‘Love, Revenge & Buttered Scones’ is a comedy of errors. Three people rush off to the Scottish Highlands to find their destinies mysteriously entwined around a reading group in the Inverness public library. Twists, surprises, very funny… but it also has dark, serious threads, and it keeps you guessing all the way.
    ‘Truth Games’ is completely different. We’re in 1970s London, the baking hot summers of 75 and 76, and a group of friends are getting way out of their depth in infidelity. Thought provoking, amusing and with guaranteed naughty bits.

  23. Candie Leigh on July 25, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Yay! Thanks for doing this. I love reading all of your advice. Here’s what I’ve boiled mine down to…

    SEEK is about girl who hunts parasitic shadows for the government, until she’s bitten and becomes her own enemy. Now her life is in the hands of the man she’s been sent to kill.

  24. Rachel Spies on July 25, 2011 at 2:10 AM

    “Well, I’m actually chronicling this crazy journey that my family and I are on right now. We decided to live out God’s command to live as justly as possible; so for the next year that is what we are doing and I am writing about it every step of the way.”


    “Oh, in a nutshell living justly entails giving up safe, comfortable living in order to become more concerned with the poor and marginalized all around us. For us this means changing where we purchase all of our food and clothing as well as how we spend our money on entertainment versus generous giving to those really in need.”


    “How do I know so much about justice? Well I don’t know everything there is to know, and I am constantly searching to know more. I have an insatiable need to know the ramifications of my actions. But to your question, I lead the Orphan Care ministry at my church and have for several years, and as an adoptive parent myself, am extremely interested in orphans and poverty around the world. I have worked with countless number worldwide organizations through different conferences and events that I have put together and attended.”


    “No that’s it. I am sitting down to interview my contacts at all of these NGO’s to find out more more more about what is going on in the world’s worst holes of injustices and what a mom like me with 3 kids at home can do to fight them. Will anything we do over this year of radically living justly make a difference?”


    “Thanks, me too.”

    • Kimberly Dawn Rempel on July 25, 2011 at 5:21 PM

      Oh! Sounds like our journey – something I’d read…

  25. Jenn Nguyen on July 25, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    “16th floor, please. Thanks. So are you enjoying the conference?”

    “It’s been great. I’m actually on my way to my room to catch a quick catnap before I continue the conference.”

    “Good. What are you writing?”

    “I’m writing a YA contemporary romance titled JUST A CON about a 16-year-old con artist. Or rather a con doodler since Megan Benson spends most of her time scamming teenage boys out of their lunch money. But one day Megan scores big time when she lands her and her mom a place living at the Keller mansion just her mom’s current boyfriend and target, kicked them out. All she has to do is play big sister to sweet naive the daughter, while her mother works her magic on the wealthy widower and owner of a successful catering company, and they’ll be set for life.

    Too bad Mr. Keller seems immune to her mother’s charms (and curves) and rather spend all of his time doting on his daughter, who hero worships Megan, making her feel like scum. The guilt grows when she’s confronted by Cammy’s cousin who sees right through her act from the start, making him the only person who seems to understand Megan, even if she doesn’t want him to.

    But with an empty bank account and nowhere else to go, Megan has to continue the con despite her growing feelings for the family. After all, it was either go big, or go to the homeless shelter.”

    “Sounds interesting. Is it finished?”

    “Yes, it’s completed at 55K. Would you like to look at a few chapters?”

  26. Kimberly Dawn Rempel on July 24, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    It’s a story of soul evolution; this 75 page poetry collection lies bare a mother’s soul on a journey from darkness to light; condemned to free. Darkness has many shades – pride, depression, isolation, addiction… and as each dark corner was submitted to Christ, His light transformed it into something beautiful.

    Vivid imagery and simple language make this heart-warming collection accessible to a wide audience, particularly relatable for moms. … would you be interested in reviewing my book proposal?

  27. Lisa Fredersdorf on July 24, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    In ‘The death rebel’ the world’s belief is turned upside down. God is evil, the devil is good. A fact that is kept secret to prevent the world from chaos.
    Jade is the first Fallen Angel for 50 years, and named in a horrible prophecy. She wants to change the world – end the fight between the Fallen and the Angels, and bring peace back. The novel is about her journey towards her goal, her escape from her Hunter, an Angel mentally bound to a special Fallen with the task to kill the Fallen, that sadly is no other Angel than Johnny – the guy who loves Jade from all his heart and is torn between his evil and good side… And Jade is forced to make a hard decision: to kill or love her only true love. And that is no easy decision to make when you’re, just by the way, trying to save the world without many followers and preparing for a speech with the devil himself…

    Well, yes, that’s about it.

  28. Melissa Mitchell on July 24, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    BRYNNA’S HEART is my 95k YA contemporary novel in which narration alternates between two protagonists, Beckett and Brynna. They just want to be normal teenagers in love. They will never be normal. Beckett is a nationally-ranked high school football star with a golden future, just begging for him to arrive. Brynna is beautiful and popular; Beckett would obviously fall in love with her. Only Brynna was born with significant heart defects and will one day need a heart transplant. She also comes with a side order of boy, her very best friend Adam, who has a guarded connection to her. However uncertain her future may be, Beckett vows to spend the rest of his life taking care of Brynna’s broken heart. He has made his choice about his future. He can live with it. WILL she? He is suddenly faced with the worst night of his life: the night Brynna’s heart fails.
    When a heart miraculously arrives at the hospital, the news of the accident travels fast. Brynna’s heart will be replaced with the heart from…

  29. Bonnie M. Evans on July 24, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Oh! Thank you for asking. My story is a childhood tale from the heart of the Delmarva Peninsula during the 60’s, where a young girl is suddenly taken from everything familiar; her loving grandparents who have been raising her and their farm. Even her name is changed-all three names first, middle and last. Armed with her beloved wishbone she clings to a promise she and her grandfather made as she struggles to find her place in her new surroundings. She meets a new friend and they embark on many exciting nature adventures. When her friend is taken ill she is given the gift that can make her well. When tragedy strikes her faith in God, instilled by her grandparents proves to be her stronghold. The genre is women’s fiction. So there you have it in a nutshell.

  30. Lanita on July 23, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    My mother was a character and drove us all crazy, so I’m writing a book about her journey and our difficult mother-daughter relationship. Since it’s from a Christian perspective, it’s different from most anecdotal mother-daughter books. The ones I’ve read either have the theme that “my mother ruined my life” or “I overcame in spite of a dysfunctional mother.”

    Instead, the point of my book is that Christ can help us overcome the difficulties of the mother-daughter relationship. I had trouble reconciling the critical, temperamental person she was at home with the charming, sociable person she was outside our home. People would say, “I just love your mother!” and I’d think “But you should live with her!”

    But we both evolved and were finally at peace with each other. Our story is humorous—because she was a hoot!—but also touching, and there’s a message there for women of faith who want to have a better relationship with mother or daughter.

    Are you interested in this idea? I’d love to send you a proposal with more detail.

  31. Debra Chapoton on July 23, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    I’ve written a YA novel about a boy born with a deformity that causes him to drag his foot like Quasimodo. He embraces the nickname Dragonfoot and sets his goal to become a champion skateboarder, but amputation, a mission trip to Peru and two girls that God puts in his path challenge his dream. I’ve told the story from four points of view: Dragonfoot’s, a girl who suffers a gang rape, the preacher’s daughter who hides a secret and the guardian angel who fights for Dragonfoot on another level. Would you be interested in hearing more?

  32. Cheri Gregory on July 23, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    When I started dating a great guy in college (a quarter of a century ago!) I told my parents he was “just like me!” But after we got married, I was dismayed by how UNlike me he really was. It wasn’t just opposites attracting; it was like he came from a completely different planet. Twelve draining years later I found out he really does live in his own world: the world of Asperger Syndrome.

    I bought dozens of Christian marriage books, but they just made things worse. I’ve found plenty of books on raising a child with Asperger, but only a few on Asperger adult relationships and just two from a Christian perspective.

    So I’m working on a memoir-ish marriage How-NOT-To dubbed “Just Like Me” for women who are tired of their expectations ending in disappointment, who are seeking hope and compassion: for themselves and their husbands.

    Frustrated to the max one day, I asked my husband, “What do you want from me?” His reply knocked me off my high horse of disappointed victimhood: “I need you to just like me…just like I am.”

    I’ve learned that my husband faces daunting challenges in our marriage…just like me. That he makes enormous sacrifices to make our marriage work…just like me. And that he wants to be loved, appreciated, and accepted for who he is (not some concocted version of who he “ought” to be)…just like me.

    My research suggests that Asperger-ish marriage issues have a rapidly growing audience. But my good friend and mentor (name drop a client of yours) has recommended that I lose the Asperger/marriage angle and broaden my topic to include all forms of difficult relationships. What do you think?

  33. Bronwyn S on July 22, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    My regency single title is about an Italian Opera singer who refuses to follow English Society’s dictates and take a rich lover. That is until her beautiful voice fails and she finds herself not only penniless and alone but relegated to the chorus. When a scandalous rogue offers her passage back to her homeland in exchange for her very public help in his scandal, it’s the hardest choice she will ever make. Sell her body to save her voice or see the degredations London’s gutters have to offer. But the thing about choices is that the harder they are to make, the more likely they are to backfire…

    Aussie elevators trips are usually a lot shorter than your sky-touching tower ones. I wouldn’t waste time with word counts or character names or settings. I would probably trip the words out and if you didn’t look bored or angry by the end I’d hand you my card and wish you a happy day!


  34. Meredith on July 22, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Hello, Rachelle. What’s the one thing that we cannot run from? The one thing that we all must face? Sometimes that “one thing” is a small line between our secret prayers and life itself. My secret prayer was to have another child, but her life ended before it ever began. She faced the one thing we all must face and through her death lives were changed. I know how to live through the death of a child. Do you?

  35. Jackie Ley on July 22, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    Hi, great to meet you. Okay – my novel, Gift of Sparrows, is upscale contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in South West France, an area I know well. The main character, Helen, has holed herself up in her ramshackle, nineteenth century holiday house, (the house is a character in its own right) trying to escape both her husband and herself for a few weeks. Her teenage son, Toby, has disappeared and her life and marriage are in shreds. Enter her eccentric, elderly British neighbour, Cassandra, the outrageous story-teller within the story, and the ultimate unreliable narrator. Gradually she infiltrates Helen’s life, appearing to know stuff about Helen no stranger has any business knowing. The key to the mystery turns out to be Toby. But even before his dramatic reappearance, we’re starting to suspect Cassandra might not be the only unreliable narrator in town. When we meet Toby firsthand, we discover he’s a very different animal from the paragon his mother’s depicted. The novel takes us on a mother’s journey to giving up illusions. She finds her son and has to let him go. The unlikely relationship between two women is also central to the plot. We’re drawn into the humour, pathos and mystery of seeing a friendship develop against all the odds. I think the novel contains plenty a women’s book group could get their teeth into. Does it sound like the kind of book you’d be interested in?
    Oh gosh, this is the 20th floor – did you say you wanted the 16th?

  36. Cora Allen on July 21, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    Hi, Rachelle. I’m Cora Allen.

    The book I’m working on is women’s fiction. The main character is a widowed gold digger who finds her social life is drying up because her friends don’t want her around their husbands, so she decides to buy their favorite salon, turn it into an upscale spa, and offer them free services. But she learns her husband wasn’t as rich as she thought, and the trust money he left has conditions on it. She must move out of her luxury condo into a small rental house across town, get a job and support herself for a year before she can get her hands on the money.

    Would you like to hear more?

  37. CT Marshall on July 21, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    “16th floor, please. Thanks. So are you enjoying the conference? Good. What are you writing?”

    Adventure…Heroes…But real heroes… Heroes with bad habits, nervous ticks, and pot bellies…Common men with callous stitched hands ignoring the fear in the pit of their bellies and facing terrific odds…That kind of thing…

    In fact, I’m currently querying my latest, Surfmen. It’s a historical about the infancy of the United States Coast Guard at the most dangerous surf on the planet, Cape Hatteras. The year is 1878. More than 1000 ships have been lost at the Cape and Diamond Shoals beyond. The South is still oozing blood from a decade of war, and the entire country is struggling to deal with new found realities of emancipation and reconstruction. For the first time since Appomattox, the reformed and reorganized US Government can agree and pledge that the sea will not continue to take their sons and daughters. That shipwrecks within site of shore should not be a death warrant. That the United States Lifesaving Service will be formed so that others may live.

    But that’s not what Surfmen’s about…Surfmen is about Captain Thomas Hooper and six other plain local men. A group of common men that have answered the Government’s call, and have sworn to keep the Cape Hatteras Lifesaving Station. To face a snarling sea at their very doorstep and to fight the storms of winter to the last so that others may live. It’s about facing the demons both that plague both the country and themselves.

    Ms. Gardner…Ms. Gardner…uh…this is your floor. I think you must’ve dozed off…here..let me get the door.

    • CT Marshall on July 21, 2011 at 10:03 PM

      Dagnabit’. How’d “both” get in there twice. Darn proofreading dog.

  38. Debbie Maxwell Allen on July 21, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    SpindleWish, is a young adult novel set in medieval Croatia.

    Wakening after a century, Sleeping Beauty’s chambermaid vows to find the powerful blood-tipped spindle before it can be used to destroy the remaining faeries.

    Tikva has been raised to serve, not to survive. Without the overbearing princess telling her what to do, and with her fiance left one hundred years behind, Tikva’s search is about to reveal the hidden possibilities within herself.

    Journeying through dangerous forests full of sinkholes and wolves, pursued by the evil faerie, Tikva soon discovers the greatest danger may be who holds her heart.

    I’d love to send you the first fifty pages.

  39. Kathleen Auth on July 21, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Seven hours later….

    “Hey, Kathleen, we meet again. Elevators bring all sorts of people together.”
    “They sure do. How was your day?”
    “Lot’s of interviews. We’ll see what happens. How about yours?”
    “I pitched to Rachelle.”
    “She liked the pitch and title, DAYBREAK PASSAGE, and she asked for a partial.”
    “Kathleen, congratulations. Go girl go.”
    “Say, just how does that story of yours end? Do the wife and husband get back together?”
    “Sort of but not in the way you think.”
    “Hey, how could you write about hell and heaven?”
    The elevator doors open. “See you. Good luck.”
    “You, too.”

  40. Tonya Kuper on July 21, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    I’m getting ready to query my young adult romantic comedy! Lucy is an aspring fashion designer who is named a finalist in the American Fashion Contest, a television phenomenon. She thinks her dreams are coming true until she finds out that her arch nemises, Vanessa, is her modeling partner for the competition. To make matters worse, the uber-hottie she’s been crushing on for the last three years finally takes notice. The problem? He’s Vanessa’s twin brother!

    What sets this teen chick lit piece apart from others is that it’s a parody. It pokes fun at all the teen movie and literature trends. For example,Lucy is a perpetual day-dreamer and in a couple of her fantasies she is a werewolf, then a vampire. She’s also made the laughing stock of prom — another popular cliche.

    What do you think? Is it something you might be interesting in?

  41. Kelley @ Between the Bookends on July 21, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    “16th floor, please. Thanks. So are you enjoying the conference? Good. What are you writing?”

    I am writing a young adult/crossover series called: The Children of Inaos. The reluctant protagonist, Ava Shore, leads her country in an uprising against its suppressive government. Think modern day Egypt and Lybia, cloaked in a riveting fictional tale whose characters remind you of your best friends, siblings and children.

    In the first book, Sacrifice, Ava is thrown into servitude after watching her government murder her mother. She spends three years in captivity, and then reemerges into civilization only to have the King’s murder placed on her head.

    Ava flees to the most dangerous part of the country and receives protection from the most feared gang in the land. She falls in love with a member of the gang and is content with hiding. But the government’s relentless pursuit forces Ava to make a stand. She loses what she loves the most, and gains the fervor to hide no longer.

    Could I interest you in taking a look at my full manuscript?

  42. Julie Jarnagin on July 21, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    I’m working on a contemporary romance about the director of a Las Vegas wedding chapel who‘s searching for a scheme to save the business owned by her family for three generations. When a famous musician arrives, he isn’t there for a wedding but to convince the director to sell him the chapel’s antique grand piano because he believes it will provide the inspiration he needs to become more than a one-hit wonder. Drawn to the soulful musician, the director agrees to let him use the piano after hours to write his next album, but keeping his presence at the chapel a secret could mean sacrificing the family business.

    I have three contemporary romance novels coming out with Heartsong Presents. Does this new project sound like something you might be interested in?

  43. Kathleen Auth on July 21, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    “Hey, Kathleen, how’s that book coming along? Is it finished?”


    “What’s it called? What’s it about?”

    “It’s titled, DAYBREAK PASSAGE … a contempory, literary novel set in the mid-1990s in California and Ireland. When a prominent physician who believes in nothing beyond this world loses his four-year old daughter to cancer, his wife has a major breakdown, and he has an affair. Their lives are torn apart as they turn the corner of hurt and devastation. Then, believe it or not, they move into another realm: a supernatural existence. She finds the daughter of her dreams, and he recaptures his soul after a terrifying walk in hell and an incredible glimpse of heaven.

    “Sounds interesting. How does it end? I’d love to read this book.”

    “Can you wait till it’s published?”

    “Maybe. I’ll give you a call. Perhaps I can help. Here’s my floor, sixteen, lucky number.”

  44. Mikalee Byerman on July 21, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    My marriage ended with a brick: a literal, ugly grey brick, engraved with words that forever changed my life.

    So because of this crazy-making end to my marriage, I started a blog called Me 2.0 that traces the journey to my 2.0 version, my next best self, after I was symbolically hit over the head with my brick. And it’s been a wild ride, with almost 100,000 hits and hundreds of subscribers and a link from TIME Magazine all in my first year.

    My non-fiction part-memoir, part self-help book has evolved from the blog. It’s called “Most Likely to Succeed…at Divorce?!?!” and gives the scoop on my crazy divorce, interspersed with tips from experts in the fields of post-divorce reinvention – who are also divorced. They’ve “been there, done that” – as have I!

    The stories in this book use humor and pluckiness and sass as an antidote to the dark side of divorce. My life is a constant case of “you can’t make this stuff up,” and people who’ve been in similar situations can relate.

    And the rest read because it’s a vicarious guilty pleasure…

    Would you be interested in hearing a little more?

    • Dee Dee on July 24, 2011 at 2:08 AM

      Mikalee, I took a peek at your blog and can pretty much guarantee you a “no” from Rachelle, at least if you’re wanting her to represent you. Your language is so foul. Why all the cursing, including “gd”? Sounds like a book/blog for angry, bitter women. Ugh!

      • Heather Davis on July 24, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        Dee Dee, I suggest if you really must express such an opinion, that you do so privately. I appreciate this blog for its tone of supportive constructive criticism.

      • Mikalee Byerman on July 24, 2011 at 8:48 PM

        Hi, Dee Dee –

        Thanks for the feedback; however, I was simply taking a stab at the pitch, as the exercise is encouraging us to do. I do not necessarily think, given Rachelle’s predominantly Christian slant, that she would be the one representing me — although I’d certainly be honored if she did!

        Yes, I swear in my writing. But I do so with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and many of my readers (who are among my target audience) enjoy that aspect of my voice. You clearly don’t enjoy that style of writing, and that’s perfectly OK — it just make you not a part of my target. But part of the reason I’m doing what I’m doing is to change the dialogue — to allow those who’ve been through horrible divorces to be able to speak, and do so with humor and sass — without being labeled “bitter.” If you read my blog at all, you’ll know that’s SO not me.

        But again, I did not intend to offend — though I certainly didn’t swear in the pitch. Therefore, I think I was simply taking advantage of a forum to craft and hone my elevator pitch — and as an avid follower of Rachelle’s great blog, I’m grateful for the opportunity!

  45. Heather G. Davis on July 21, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    RAVEN’S WING is a YA fantasy with SF and historic elements. The noble young woman Veldt escapes with her autistic brother while her sisters are made pawns in a game of power between the King and Temple. Veldt joins the rebels as a spy, but when she is betrayed, she is forced to kill her own brother to prevent him becoming victim of a cruel sacrifice. Veldt takes up the fight again as the pilot of a “wing.” When she is shot down and captured, she discovers who had truly betrayed her and must then decide between the two men she loves, her oldest friend and adopted people, and whether to risk everyone she cares for in an effort to overthrow the King and Temple. Thank you for listening. I’m happy to give you more details if you are interested.

  46. V.V. Denman on July 21, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    I’m working on a Women’s Fiction piece entitled Pierce My Ear. It’s about an insecure teenage girl, shunned by the local congregation. When she falls in love with the new preacher’s son, she turns the church upside down while he risks his reputation to be with her.

  47. Tony J. Alicea on July 21, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    My book asks the question: “Are your dreams God’s dreams?”

    These days there is no shortage of voices encouraging you to follow your dreams. Countless books and websites provide strategies to pursue whatever makes you happy. But what if your desires aren’t God’s will? How do you know?

    In Expect The Exceptional, I share the key to unlocking God’s plan for your life. The desires of your heart line up with God’s will when your identity is found in who you are and Whose you are. As the truth of God’s word is illuminated, His plan for your life is revealed.

    This understanding of identity has the potential to redefine our perceptions of full-time ministry. Whether you’re a missionary, own your own business or are somewhere in between, this book will show you how to line up your life to live exceptionally for Christ.

    You don’t have to second guess your passion. You can stop worrying if your dream is an idol. This book will help you reconcile God’s purpose to your passion and give you the faith to expect the exceptional.

    Expect The Exceptional
    When your dreams meet God’s dreams

  48. Debra Laughlin on July 21, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Heard the one about the prophet not welcome in his own country? What about the woman who left everyone she knew, made it big, and had no one to share it with? At 60, Geneva Porter is expanding her east coast business when two unsolicited bids arrive on the Midwest ranch that her folks left to her. One is from an alternative energy conglomerate; the other is from her old two-timing beau. She’ll need all the alternative energy she can muster to sort the flotsam of dormant dreams and awakening desire amidst a community that remembers as though no time has passed.

    It’s definitely a literary novel of about 100K words. It’s about lost chances and taking new ones during the sunset of life. Geneva learns, even though she resists, that family is permanent, her faith is shallow, and sand plums are bitter, but make delicious jelly.

  49. Paul Darilek on July 21, 2011 at 6:43 AM

    I’m writing a romance about you waking up to find yourself involved in a bizarre love triangle. ‘The Surface of the Deep’ is a love story about God, water and you. It starts in the beginning, ends with all things new, and in between there is love, deception, sex, murder, war, sacrifice, redemption, grace, and Spirit conspiring with water to woo you every step of the way–but will you notice? If you think you’re made of matter, can you notice a Lover who is Spirit? If you don’t, the wedding could be called off, but if you do, all of creation will be restored. It’s a story so outlandish and beautiful only God could make it up and only a well-drilling missionary could re-tell it in this way. 100% of author’s proceeds will be donated to provide safe drinking water in Jesus’ name through the work of Living Water International (, where I now work as senior director of communications. We will use the book to invite others into the love story and to save the lives of some of the 884 million people who lack safe drinking water, and to share with them the living water.

  50. Sana Quijada on July 21, 2011 at 3:17 AM

    I wrote a nonfiction book, that flips the Christian message around yet is still very Christian. It’s on self-care.

    Self-care sounds selfish. But when you look at it, it’s not. It’s unselfish. No one can give what she doesn’t have. My book empowers readers to be their own friend around disapproval. Nothing works if we don’t believe and feel empowered.

    Going at self-care as a Christian psychiatrist is hot because emotions and behaviors come from the brain – a human organ that can get sick – yet we define so much of morality by emotions and behaviors.

    Does this sound like something you might be interested in?

  51. Jodi on July 21, 2011 at 2:03 AM

    What I am working on is a fantasy novel about 95k words with a semi-modern setting. It’s called RESONANCE and it’s the story of the youngest of three heirs to a throne. Since the death of his mentor nearly a decade ago, Kayden has been outcast with few expecting to see him home for a coronation. Being gone for so long, Kade is unaware of a family secret peaking into violence and a coup designed to use Kade as the trigger. Once home, his first decision is whether or not to raise his army in the defense of a neighboring city-state. His father’s early retirement is awfully convenient and the man is nowhere to be found.

    If this is something you might be interested in, I would love to send you pages.

  52. Prue on July 21, 2011 at 1:01 AM

    Hi, a real pleasure to meet you in person Rachelle. So glad you asked. I’ve written about Carolyn, who returns to London after 20 years’ hiding at her B&B in Australia, to help her best friend find her son before she dies. She finds him, seeks forgiveness from Greg’s parents, sings at Miranda’s funeral and has a wild fling with Miranda’s driver before returning to Australia a much happier person. There’s lots more action. Can I tell you about it over a coffee?

  53. Sara Richardson on July 21, 2011 at 12:54 AM

    My book is called Moonlight in the Mountains. It’s a contemporary romance about Avery King, a 28-year-old heiress who’s recently been raked through the tabloid mud. Disillusionment leads her to volunteer at an inner-city crisis shelter for children in Chicago. When she learns the shelter is out of money, Avery turns to her real estate tycoon father for help. A diehard negotiator (think Donald Trump), her father promises to save the shelter as long as Avery agrees to travel to Colorado to spy on a rancher whose land is standing in the way of a new King hotel. It sounds easy enough until Avery gets to Aspen and meets the ruggedly handsome rancher, Bryce Walker. That’s when things get complicated and Avery has to make a choice: continue her façade and convince Bryce to sell his land so she can save the shelter. Or tell Bryce the truth about who she is and risk everything for a chance at love.

    That’s the basic premise. Does it sound like a marketable project in the current publishing climate? What can I do to make it more compelling?

    • Happy on July 21, 2011 at 3:07 AM

      this sounds great!

  54. Caryl on July 21, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    Hi, Rachelle. So nice to finally meet you.

    I’m working on a women’s lit novel about a young woman named Serena, who is the sheltered daughter of a fundamentalist Christian evangelist. Her family spent the first 12 years of her life moving all over the South. When they finally settle in one place, Serena is thrilled to make her first real friend, a free spirit named Cassie, who literally drags shy, socially-backward Serena into the real world and teaches her how to be a regular person. Much to the chagrin of their other best friend, Geoff, Serena usually goes along with whatever wild schemes Cassie comes up with that aren’t dangerous (much) or illegal, even once they become adults. But when Cassie wants them to join the cast of High School Heartthrob, a “Bachelor”-type reality TV show, Serena balks. Tolerating Cassie’s obsession once a week is one thing, but being on the show goes against Serena’s faith and morals. She refuses, until one of the producers threatens not to accept Cassie unless Serena comes too. Unwilling to dash Cassie’s dreams, Serena reluctantly agrees, thinking that she’ll be among the first sent home. But she’s not. And she soon gets caught up in the drama, finding herself seriously competing against Cassie for the attention of Trey, the boy they both crushed on in high school. Their unexpected rivalry ultimately reveals devastating secrets that destroy their friendship and shatter the very foundations of Serena’s life.

    This isn’t a romance novel or an inspirational novel, although it has strong elements of both. It’s more about what happens when faith and friendship are tested beyond all limits. I’d love to share more if you’re interested. Would you mind if I sent you the first few chapters?

  55. Heather Marsten on July 20, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    I’m writing a memoir, Tell Me What He Did, detailing my journey of healing from childhood sexual abuse. My father sexually abused me from the age of seven until I was fifteen when the courts removed me from the home. My mom knew he was abusing me and, after every visit, she said to me, “I heard him in your room last night, tell me what he did.” She filled up two notebooks of his “visits.” Feeling abandoned and desperate I coped with the pain by giving up on God, contemplating suicide, therapy, and avidly pursuing occult and new age practices to fill the void left by the abuse. Nothing worked. Until one day when I found a pastor who helped me to come to grips with my past and find lasting healing.

    Thanks so much for asking. I have gained so much from what you’ve been sharing here.

    • Heather Marsten on July 22, 2011 at 7:30 AM

      I should have added a few lines to my pitch – I had never written an elevator pitch before- thanks for realizing it is important to work on it.
      Last part of pitch:
      In my story I show what worked and what didn’t in my journey and provide inspiration and help to others who have faced similar trials.

      Thanks for asking.


  56. Mona AlvaradoFrazier on July 20, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    Lili Rivera has a vision plan for a new life after her marriage of seventeen years ends. But the road to her goals is crooked and bumpy, especially after she is arrested for drunk driving. Her ex-husband is a cop,his fiance is a Deputy District Attorney,and a drunk driver killed her best friend’s spouse three years earlier.
    Relationships are tested, secrets unfold, and Lili faces a full custody battle for her twin sons.

    • Mona AlvaradoFrazier on July 20, 2011 at 11:47 PM

      Drat, I cut off a sentence:

      This is a contemporary fiction novel of 65K words, title “Mariposa Hearts.” (Butterfly Hearts).

  57. Tracy on July 20, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    I am enjoying the conference, Thanks.

    I am currently working on a YA Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy called The Divine.

    It’s about Emelia Montgomery who is the sun in her universe. Her boyfriend and friends are all too happy to stay in her gravitational pull but it’s not her beauty or kindness that keeps them in orbit but she doesn’t know that.

    The women in Emelia’s family have always had an alluring power. Power deeper than beauty and strong enough to drive men mad but Emelia doesn’t know that either.

    This summer when she receives an invitation to stay with a distant Aunt Em will see the world with new eyes as she learns answers to things she’s never questioned. There Em finds what made her loved at home will now repel what she desires most.

    Now Em has to decide between the family way or the guy she’s falling for who despises what her family is.

    Thanks for listening. I understand you’re not accepting YA at the moment but could you suggest any agents you think would be interested or would you mind putting in a good word for me? I’d really appreciate it.

  58. Cheri Gregory on July 20, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    It’s nice of you to ask!

    I’m writing a book called “eBabies & iTeens and YouToo” that wrestles with questions about kids and technology. (It’s the book I needed to read before giving my own kids cell phones and computers!)

    I surveyed adults who care about kids: parents, grandparents, teachers, youth leaders, church members. They gave practical–and very diverse!–ideas for tackling issues that end up blind-siding a lot of parents:

    Like texting. When’s it okay? When’s it not? Say your 11-year-old’s friend is texting at your dinner table–because it’s okay at his house. What’s your plan for your house?

    Or, how to get kids to think before they hit “send” or “post”? My seniors thought “Weinergate” was funny, while my sophomores were horrified to hear that businesses check Facebook pages of potential employees. (A few remain convinced it violates their constitutional rights!)

    Or something simple, like losing a purse. Whose “fault” would it be if your 13-year-old lost her purse with $500 worth of techno-gadgets inside? And what would be reasonable consequences? (Not to imply that our daughters actually have $500 worth of technology, of course!)

    I’m not taking sides — I’m not “fer” or “agin” Facebook, for example. But when I found out that my daughter had a Facebook account for 2 years before I knew about it, I was against me, the adult, being that ignorant!

    So eBabies & iTeens & YouToo is both a 411 and a 911 resource for parents playing catch-up with Generation M.

    You’re a mom of two iTeens; what’s caught you most “off guard” in terms of kids and technology?

  59. Elizabeth Michels on July 20, 2011 at 10:45 PM

    I write historical romance. My latest manuscript, Thief of Hearts, is 90,000 words, set in Regency England and here is what it’s about. She is a straight laced old maid at twenty four, a seductress and a thief who steals from the wrong man-an eccentric Duke prone to wild behavior. Now, a year later, they meet again. He is set on payback while she is determined to stay away from the only man more disreputable than the men that drove her into a life of crime. Does that sound like something you would be interested in representing? *smiles and crosses fingers*

  60. William on July 20, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Thomas Hayden was a quiet man with a new life until his past caught up with him in the form of a letter from his estranged father.

    He was dying, the impending death of the name Thomas bore drove him to London where his father spoke of a mysterious past.

    This unknowingly propelled Thomas into a whirlwind of mystery, murder and one secret society with unspeakable power. Does Thomas face his past or cower in the darkness?

  61. Giora on July 20, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    A young Chinese woman gives up on her dream to become a famous author. Except she is already a famous author with the help of a young American woman. She is missing, persumed to be dead and many people are looking for her. After findind out with her husband that her dream came true she must appear in a NYC Court room with the woman who impersonated her, to decide who the real author is. Thanks for listening to my pitch about my commercial and romantic novel set mostly in China.

  62. Bethany on July 20, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    I actually just finished a modern-day version of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL that’s set in LA and Mexico. Are you familiar with the original story? You are? Oh, great!

    Well, in my version the ‘masked hero’ and his friends are living a double life of rich LA playboys by day, and rescuing people kidnapped by gangs in Mexico by night (instead of Englishmen saving French aristocrats from the guillotine).

    One of the guys falls in love with and marries a girl, only to find out she has deep ties to the gangs and is responsible for at least one murder. He has to keep her from figuring out their secret in order to protect his friends and their mission.

    I tried to give it the feel of ‘Batman The Dark Knight’ meets ‘Oceans 11’.

    Thanks for asking about it, does it sound like anything you’d be interested in?

  63. Suzanne Bailey on July 20, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    I’m writing a Young Adult Fantasy Series called The White Stone Trilogy. The first book, The Bornless One, is complete at 130,000 words.

    When royal twins, Julian and Sarah, escape from their icy prison and return to Thyria after seven years in captivity, they re-enter a land of darkness and discover they must embark on separate but converging quests to find The White Stone and restore The Law of The Kings. There’s just one problem. Julian’s memory remains trapped in the Fiada Fog even after he is retrained in the Law, and he unknowingly partners with the Enemy as he struggles to accept his role as King.

    May I send you my proposal?

  64. Karen A. Wyle on July 20, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    “My novel is science fiction, which I gather you don’t represent, but I’d love to tell you about it while we ride….

    “In TWIN-BRED, interspecies diplomacy begins in the womb. The human colony on planet Tofarn can’t communicate effectively with the native species.
    Things are getting dangerously tense. Scientist Mara Cadell has a way for host mothers to carry fraternal twins — one of each species. She hopes the bond between twins could help bridge the
    gap between species. Of course, things don’t go so smoothly, and some very different agendas reveal themselves.

    “As Mara tries to save the project from various catastrophes, she has some help — from her own fraternal twin, Levi. He died in utero, but she’s kept him alive in her mind, and he’s an important character in the book.

    I’d be thrilled if you happen to know of an agent who might be interested!”

  65. Barbara Britton on July 20, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    I think you might be interested in my YA contemporary novel. It’s about an eighteen-year-old Hawaiian surfer who is diagnosed with juvenile diabetes less than two weeks before a major surfing competition, and he has to learn to control the disease or risk losing his life on the North Shore’s killer waves. Would you like to see the first three chapters?

  66. Tracy N. Jorgensen on July 20, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    I’m writing a young adult fantasy, where a time-traveler ruins a classic love story when she saves the hero and he falls for her rather than his destined sweetheart. To really throw the fish in the fire, she lands him in a debtor’s work camp and attracts the attention of a witch who wants her time-traveling secrets. Now the hero must save himself, both girls, and decide between destiny and accidental love.

  67. Joseph Finley on July 20, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    (Revised version, including the missing closer … )

    I’ve just finished a historical fantasy novel called Enoch’s Device.

    It’s the story of a young Irish monk and his fiery mentor who journey across Europe at the end of the tenth century to find an angelic device with the power to prevent the Apocalypse. But they’re pursued by a black-robed bishop who’s determined to bring about the End of Days, and they’re running out of time.

    Could I send you the first ten pages?

  68. Lisa Marie on July 20, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    Hi, Rachelle, it’s nice to finally meet you in person. I have a completed, single-title romance called “See Sabrina Run.” Sabrina’s a Chief of Staff who works for a popular state representative. Scuttlebutt under the dome is that she’s next in line to the Hon. Rep.s’ seat when he retires. But Sabrina has a problem: she’s got payments due on a posh new townhouse she can’t afford. So she takes on a renter: Gage. Radio shock jock. Totally politically incorrect. Totally not her type. Except there’s some serious chemistry between these two. Sabrina wouldn’t mind a “no strings attached” situation – she’s too busy to for a relationship. But there’s a man of substance behind Gage’s outrageous on-air personality. A keeper. And he wants a more traditional relationship with Sabrina — marriage, family. She might have to step off the political fast track if she wants to keep him. Is this something you’d be interested in representing?

    ::This is the part where I run away, trembling::

  69. Alli on July 20, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    Thanks for asking! Vestige is an 85,000 word romantic adventure. Flight attendant Tess Garibaldi becomes an Indiana Jones in heels when she discovers she’s a Vestige—a reincarnated soul sent to protect civilizations. Haunted by her failure in a past life to save her Incan soul mate and his people, Tess sets out to destroy an Incan relic that causes death by incurable disease. To stop the artefact’s deadly powers, she must find out if her dodgy ex-husband or a handsome anthropologist is a reincarnation of her Incan lover. If she doesn’t choose the right man, Tess will not only lose her soul mate forever, the wrong choice could set off a chain of destruction.
    Does this sound like something you’d be interested in?

  70. Laurie on July 20, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    My story’s a YA fantasy called Niko and the Shadows. Scrawny 15-year-old Niko, sent to court by his powerful family, faces monsters and black magic to solve a murder in the royal family, even though his family has ordered him not to get involved. But the young prince, heir to the throne, looks like he might be the next victim, and Niko won’t let him be assassinated like the prince’s father, the Crown Prince. To save him, Niko will venture even into the Dark Myre, the valley of monsters, and finds that the oddest people can make the best friends. And that humans can be far more monstrous than the most terrible monsters.

  71. DR on July 20, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    Tis but Death’s Claim, a YA fiction novel following a 14 year old girl named Evylyn, who’s watch tells of the date she will die, and become Death’s Assistant, an all important task which, among other things, involved transitioning souls and keeping Life in order.
    If you get anything from that, its this: Life’s a Witch.

  72. Dustin Scott on July 20, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    The year of my 20th anniversary to my wife I wrote her a love letter a day for a year. It was a life changing gift to her and myself. When I completed my dedication to her I wrote a memoir to share the experience. I grew as a man, my marriage grew stronger, and I know it will be as intriguing to read as it was for me to experience. If you want I could leave you a love letter to read or some sample pages if you’re interested. Here’s my card with my Twitter, FaceBook, and e-mail.

    I believe this is your floor. Have a great conference.

  73. Stephanie Shaw on July 20, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    I’m having a fantastic time. Thanks for asking.

    I just finished a picture book manuscript ‘Sheldon Steiner Super Whiner.’ It’s about a boy who needs to get rid of his excessive whining before he starts kindergarten. He finally does and he also foils a bank robbery in the process.

    It was really fun to write and I didn’t have to go far to do the research on whining. Thanks so much for asking about my work.

    • Elizabeth Kitchens on July 20, 2011 at 7:46 PM

      I like the sounds of your story and the way you delivered it! I could stand a lesson on how to quit whining, too.

    • V.V. Denman on July 21, 2011 at 11:12 AM

      This sounds really cute!

  74. Loree Huebner on July 20, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    I’ve just finished an inspirational historical romance…Civil War era.

    One Strong Shoulder is a tale of what happens after a hero takes a fall. With her family impoverished by the war, 19-year-old, Poppy Walker, takes on a job as a companion for a wounded infantry officer. The major, is the son of a wealthy grain merchant in the city of Chicago. Major Evander Thompson was wounded in a battle and scarred emotionally as well as physically leaving him on a downward spiral from his medicinal opiates.

    Although addiction was not understood at that time, Poppy learns that with faith and compassion, the simple touch of a hand can heal the heart more than any conventional remedy.

    From the start their mutual attraction is apparent, but there are obstacles due to a wide social gulf between them.

    After reading you blog for several years now, Ms. Gardner, I believe this book is something you may be interested in. I would love to talk more when you have the time…there’s a Starbucks around corner…my treat.

  75. Elizabeth Kitchens on July 20, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    I write young adult fiction of the light-hearted fairy tale adventure type. In my book The Prince and the Potion an old king throws a Cinderella/Prince Charming type ball for his grandson fully expecting him to choose a wife at the ball. But at one minute past midnight, there are very few ladies in the ballroom and a large pile of slippers on the stairs. Yet, instead of being let off the hook, Prince Royce is told to choose a slipper and go find his lost love. But since he doesn’t have a love, lost or otherwise, he goes to visit his friend Oliver in the Valley of the Enchanters, where he falls in love with Oliver’s cousin Vi. So now he just has to find a slipper to fit her (and to convince her to wear it). His friends turn cupid to help him, but soon they realize that there’s a lot more to worry about than elusive slippers. A couple of ambitious men are trying to get hold of the eccentric Priscilla Dumel’s “I’ll Do Anything You Want Me To” potion and take over Royce’s kingdom. This leads to some swashbuckling fun, some more crazy potions, and a good dose of an eccentric great aunt. This is one of the three stories in The Valley of the Enchanters series. Thanks for asking! How are you enjoying the conference?

  76. Shelly Bell on July 20, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Because of your interest in commercial women’s fiction, I thought you may want to see my manuscript, A YEAR TO REMEMBER.

    It’s comparable to the style of Jennifer Weiner, in that it’s humorous but also introspective as well. The story is about a food addict’s journey to recovery as she searches for her soul mate under the watchful eye of the nation.

    Food addict Sara Friedman thinks she’s hit rock bottom when the wedding toast of her vowing to meet and marry her soul mate within the year goes viral and she agrees to allow the Today show to chronicle her search.

    While she plunges into the shallow end of the dating pool under the watchful eye of the nation, Sara’s journey leads her to question the true meaning of friendship and soul mates as she decides between fulfilling her vow to marry before her thirtieth birthday or following her heart’s desire.

    But before she can make the biggest decision of her life, Sara must begin to take her first steps towards recovery from her addiction to food.

    The manuscript is complete at 90,000 words and I’d be happy to email you a copy for your review.

  77. L.H. Dougherty on July 20, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    My current project is a work of YA speculative fiction about a boy, Ben, who has the ability to bring out, literally, the best qualities in those around him. Like a magnet, he draws in others like him and with a simple touch ignites different, unique powers in each.

    Even as his circle of powerful friends expands, evil closes in, in the form Searchers from a hidden world, determined to lie, kidnap and even commit murder in order to coerce Ben into opening a secret portal connecting the two worlds. The Searchers are desperate to bring Ben through with them, believing that Ben is the key to saving their world.

    Ben must make a decision between finding, finally, a little happiness of his own, or leaving behind forever everything and everyone he loves in order to fulfill a destiny he never knew existed.

  78. Taryn on July 20, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    I write YA of all genres, and I currently have a high concept, speculative fiction novel. It is set in a future where science and the corruption of man have made religion illegal and laughable. Through a friendship with a girl with religious sympathies, the protagonist discovers a clue that may lead to a secret hidden by the government–a secret which may prove that religion isn’t as dangerous as the public believes. She decides to follow this clue, despite the fact that her journey has the potential to destroy the only goal she’s ever had: the goal to become her society’s idea of a god.

    PLAYING GOD is complete at 75,000 words, and I’d love to send you the full query if you are interested.

  79. Susie Finkbeiner on July 20, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Thank you for asking.

    I’m working on a novel about a mother and daughter who struggle with life. All throughout the pain of abandonment, rape, death and isolation, God is faithful. The characters are flawed and broken; a mother in a mental ward, a daughter in a safe house after being trafficked, a pimp trying to change. But through their unfaithfulness God proves His power and care for His children. It’s called “Paint Chips”.

    Do you think there’s a market for such a book?

  80. Natasha Crozier on July 20, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Hi Rachelle,

    I have the same question as Colin Smith above about pitching even if we know the agent doesn’t really work with our genre? My pitch is for non-fiction and everything so far in the comments looks like it’s fiction.

    “I’m working on a book called WHAT IS MY CALLING, an in-depth guide for Millennials searching for meaning as they enter the working world. This book helps my Millennial peers understand the cultural context we’ve been raised in: our world of work, church and how we try to create meaning. It provides a framework for understanding why calling is so essential to our lives, what it looks like when we live out our callings and how we find out what our personal callings are. Philosophical and practical, it provides answers to young people wanting “more” out of life.

    Have you ever wondered about finding and following your calling? Would you be interested in discussing the project further?”

    “Great! I’m totally available for coffee!” (even though I don’t drink it . . . 🙂

    • Natasha Crozier on July 20, 2011 at 9:37 PM

      I thought of two posible answers to my own question. 1. Pitch anyway and ask for a critique so when you do meet an agent who works in your genre, you’re better prepared and/or 2. pitch and ask for a REFERRAL to another agent.

  81. Jared Garrett on July 20, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    Hey, thanks for asking. You’re Rachelle Gardner, right?

    I’m Jared Garrett, nice to meet you.

    I’m not sure if my current novel would appeal to you right now, at it is a YA urban fantasy. I’d love to run my pitch by you, though, if you’d be willing.

    My book’s working title is A Town Called Solemn. The story starts as Hannah Praetor’s family moves to Solemn, whereupon Hannah discovers that Solemn is far more than a regular small town with a strange name. Solemn occupies the site of an ancient fortress-temple that guarded powerful secrets and objects, and kept a mysterious gate between a fantastic plane of magical beings and the world of humanity closed. But by discovering the truth, Hannah has also plunged herself in the middle of a millennia-old war for control over the gate. As she struggles to fit into her new life and deal with the appearance of a hated family member, not to mention cope with the attentions of Solemn High’s cutest boy, she must also discover the truth about her own family and unlock abilities she never imagined she could wield. And she must unlock her powers fast, before an evil as old as creation takes control over the gate and destroys the world as she knows it.

    So I know you don’t represent this genre, but do you have any thoughts on my project or pitch?

    Do you have any recommendations as to an agent I should talk to?

    Thanks for your time!

  82. Heather Sunseri on July 20, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    “Well, I’m writing a young adult novel for the general market about the seventeen-year-old daughter of an embryonic stem-cell researcher who announces to the world that he successfully cloned a human being. When Sasha’s father is murdered, she turns to the son of her father’s colleague to find the journals detailing the two men’s controversial, and illegal, scientific breakthrough. Their pursuit exposes a past that threatens to fracture their growing attraction to each other and throws into doubt everything they thought they knew about their families. Sasha must decide who she can trust, because trusting the wrong person could result in the journals landing in the wrong hands or cost Sasha her life.

    Does that sound like something you might be interested in?”

  83. Erica Lucke Dean on July 20, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    I’m writing a paranormal commercial women’s fiction tale about an unsuspecting kindergarten teacher who discovers she’s a witch after accidentally transforming her cheating husband into a skunk. She enlists the help of her shopaholic best friend and a sexy magician in a literal game of cat and mouse to change him back before she’s arrested for his murder.

    I’d love to share if you have time.

    • GLJ on July 20, 2011 at 4:51 PM

      Okay, you’ve got my interest!

    • Tracy on July 20, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      This sounds like fun. I’d read it.

    • Crafty Mama on July 20, 2011 at 7:12 PM

      This does sound interesting! 🙂 My only question is, you said it was a “literal” game of cat and mouse: Are the friend and magician a cat and a mouse?

      • Erica Lucke Dean on July 21, 2011 at 3:36 PM

        I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but cat and mouse do play a part. I am half way through with the MS, and I have the outline for the rest. I’m excited to actually send a query for this once I’m finished. 🙂

    • GLJ on July 21, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      The only thing I’d note is that you describe it as “paranormal commercial women’s fiction”. Agent blogs I’ve read say to pick a single genre and not represent your story as falling in multiple genres. I guess publishers want to know essentially where it would be shelved in a bookstore. There is no “paranormal-romance-western-steampunk-YA” shelf, for example.

      It is either literary or commercial, so no need to include “commercial.” So you may need to decide whether it is best categorized as “paranormal” or “women’s fiction.”

      • Erica Lucke Dean on July 21, 2011 at 3:34 PM

        Thanks for the tip! This would definitely fall in paranormal then I suppose. 🙂

  84. J.L. Mbewe on July 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    I’m writing a fantasy story about a young woman who discovers her father is the secret keeper of an ancient dagger. The murder of her father sends her world into chaos and she must join forces with a half-elf widower to find her mother and free the plains people from a curse before the sorceress unleashes an immortal evil.

    So what do you think? Does that sound like something you’re interested in?

  85. Amy J on July 20, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Pleased to meet you. Why am I here?

    I’m looking for an agent to rep my new contemporary romance – It’s Best In Show meets The Perfect Man.

    In a world of riotous dog shows and nutty family antics, Rebecca Lee manages to remain in a protective cocoon of loneliness. Widowed with two teenaged kids and a business to run, Rebecca cannot dare to dream of dating, even after ex-football star, Matt Johnson, shows up to buy a Chihuahua. But when Matt’s irresistible grin melts the ice encasing her heart, she’s torn by an inner battle – her fear of being hurt and smoldering feelings for Matt. Can Rebecca put her tormented past behind her and find the strength to follow her dreams?

  86. Rebecca LuElla Miller on July 20, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    I’m working on an epic fantasy — The Lore of Efrathah.

    Professional basketball did not prepare Jim Thompson for the parallel world he’s fallen into—a land ruptured by rebellion. Enemies target him for death and friends trust him for deliverance, all because he uncovered a weapon of uncontrollable power. His one goal is to find the way home, and yet he owes his life to the group of exiles who befriended him. He determines to figure out how to get back to his world as well as to help his companions as long as he’s in theirs. But that was before the Vacant Ones started their hunt.

    Book one, Hunted is an 85,000 word completed novel. Would you be interested in hearing more?


  87. BJ Pramann on July 20, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    I rewrite classic fair tales with untraditional endings, and use fantasy to expand the world they occur in as well as emphasize the inner strength and moral of the original story.

  88. Hilarey on July 20, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    I recently finished a story about a teenager who accidentally becomes a stripper. When she wants out of the industry she’s hunted by sex traffickers.

    Do you think a first person account from a stripper is too tough to sell to the Christian market?

    • Happy on July 21, 2011 at 3:20 AM

      Hi Hilarey- you could really have a great story here, but it’s hard to tell because you haven’t given enough info! how does someone accidentally become a stripper? I’m not sure accidentally is the right word to use, but if reasons beyond her control have pulled her into this world, then that’s what we need to hear in your pitch! I think you need to tell us about her and make us care about her plight. 🙂

  89. Mary Ruth Pursselley on July 20, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    “16th floor, please. Thanks. So are you enjoying the conference? Good. What are you writing?”

    “Well, right now I’m looking for representation for my fantasy novel, Son of The Shield. It’s about 100,000 words long and it starts out with my heroine, Orienne, who’s a diplomat, meeting with a foreign diplomat, hoping to negotiate peace after twelve years of war between their countries. Of course Orienne wants the war to end for her country’s sake, but she has a personal agenda too, because more than anything she wants a family and a life that’s not affected by war. So when her older brother’s best friend from childhood shows up, apparently out of nowhere—and he’s not a soldier or involved in the war in any way—Orienne sees a chance to get the life she wants and it’s not too long before they’re engaged.
    “Meanwhile, though, the peace negotiations have failed and the war is taking another downturn. Things keep getting worse until it becomes evident that someone is giving information to the enemy. Come to find out, Orienne’s fiancé Sorek switched sides years earlier and has sold them all out. So, in her pursuit of the life she wants, Orienne has entangled herself even more deeply into the life she doesn’t want.
    “What I’m really having fun with is the fact that Son of The Shield is the first in a series of seven, and each story is the fulfillment of a prophesy. Together, the prophesies will culminate in that world’s version of the Second Coming, in the last book.
    “Does it sound like something you might be interested in reading or maybe hearing a little more about?”

  90. Aurora m. on July 20, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    OK I am going to try this off the cuff. First I did Love your article and will use your suggestions in the future.

    Have your ever had a dream that wouldn’t leave you the next day? I am writing a YA Paranormal which shows a young girl haunted by her dreams which leads her to a summer with her Grandmother in a small and boring Maine town. Her nightly dreamy wishes become her tomorrows realities. If your every wish could come true, what would you do? and would you be willing to face the cost?
    If this sounds interesting, I could mail you a few chapters.
    Hope to hear from you very soon.

  91. Lacie Nezbeth on July 20, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    “Thanks for asking. I’m working on a historical romance called Prairie Breeze. It’s a mail-order bride story gone terribly wrong. My heroine, Victoria Sutton, impulsively accepts an advertisement to marry Benjamin Black, who is headed west to Oregon Territory. Only Benjamin has no interest in marriage whatsoever and is clueless to the marital ad his well-meaning father placed in his name. When the two meet, naïve to the others’ identity, sparks fly. But not just the good kind. Does that sound like something you’d be interested in hearing more about?”

    • Lisa Marie on July 21, 2011 at 6:00 AM

      Wow! I like this pitch! 😀

  92. Casey on July 20, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Again, so very helpful and I thank you. I will be attending ACFW this September and have thought many, many times about my elevator pitch. For what it is worth, here is my pitch…

    All Jenna Hutch wants is a chance at normal newlywed bliss. But a haunting past and the secret of an unborn child threaten to unravel the fragile hope she has placed in tomorrow.

  93. Nancy S. Thompson on July 20, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Why yes!  Thanks for asking. 

    I’ve written an adult thriller called The Mistaken about revenge gone wrong. 

    It’s the story of Skylar Karras, whose life tailspins into depression and alcoholism following the death of his pregnant wife. He can’t seem to recover and spends his time fantasizing about getting even with the woman responsible. His brother, Nick, hatches a plan, but his scheme involves his associates in  San Francisco’s Russian mafia.  Dealers in human trafficking, they offer to take the woman. And though he’s reluctant to resort to such measures, Sky sees it as an opportunity to finally free his brother from the Russians control.  So he offers an exchange: he’ll deliver the woman if they allow Nick to leave the business for good.  With a deal struck, Sky makes his move. 

    There’s just one problem:  he grabs the wrong girl. 

    Stunned by the repercussions of kidnapping an innocent woman, Sky must now protect Hannah Maguire from the men he’s mistakenly set upon her. With his brother’s life in the balance, Sky seeks to renegotiate, but the Russians are unwilling. They’re holding Nick as leverage to force Sky to complete their deal. Caught in a desperate dilemma, Sky must choose:  save his brother or save the girl.  

    Is that  a story you might be interested in?

    • GLJ on July 20, 2011 at 4:48 PM

      I like this. The conflict is a great twist.

      That said, it seems like it could be condensed a bit. I would suggest not going into so much detail as to why he hates his sister-in-law.

  94. Kim Meyer on July 20, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    My contemporary romance, The Real Farmwives of Harvey County, is the story of spoiled city girl Andi Brynn, who lets go of her past and trades her stilettos for shitkickers when she falls for northwest Ohio farmer Dylan Cooper. When someone from Dylan’s past steals his land out from under him, Andi will do anything to save his third-generation farm, even if it means stepping into the arms of the enemy.


    • GLJ on July 20, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      Well done. This gives me a good sense of your story and the conflict to come.

      • Crafty Mama on July 20, 2011 at 7:03 PM

        I’d have to disagree with you on that one. What’s Andi doing? Just, like, hanging out with Dylan? How did she go from stilettos to, uh, boots? What part of the plot provoked her to such an extreme? Is she working on Dylan’s farm? Did she tip his cattle and is working for him to pay him back?

      • Crafty Mama on July 20, 2011 at 7:05 PM

        They need to be working together toward a goal. She thinks he’s cute, but why should he care?

        • Kim Meyer on July 20, 2011 at 7:34 PM

          Thanks to both of you for your input. Since this is an elevator pitch, I kept it short and sweet. The purpose, according to pitch classes I’ve taken, is to grab the agent’s attention, to hook him or her, in a short amount of time. I know just how busy agents are at conferences, and I value their time, so I’m not going to hold them up when the elevator stops at their floor just so I can finish a pitch that may answer all of the above questions, but is lengthy. If the agent is interested, I’m sure they’ll ask more questions, or hand me her card. Maybe I’m wrong, and hopefully Ms. Gardner will clarify.

          • Happy on July 21, 2011 at 2:39 AM

            I like it. It’s short, but you’re going to need a short version. This has all the elements I need but also leaves me wanting to know more about your book. I think it’s polished and professional-

  95. Rick Morley on July 20, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    I’m writing a novel about a young Philistine boy who’s struggling with his father and his faith during the time of the capture of the Ark of the Covenant in Ashdod. As his community deals with decapitated idols, golden hemorroids, and other smitings the boy finds freedom and life in unexpected places.

  96. Marilyn Rodwell on July 20, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    It’s 1919, rural Trinidad. Latchmin is still only ten years old when her mother tells her of their decision for her to marry. The news comes after they have eaten a curry feast her mother has prepared from a chicken she caught in the yard that day, the same day she finalised the agreement with they boy’s parents.

    The news of her marriage comes as a complete shock to Latchmin, as her mother always said she herself, wishes she had the opportunity for an English style education. She promised to allow Latchmin to remain at school, especially as the girl had missed a whole year due to typhoid.

    But that evening, her mother begins to explain. As Indians, they will always be strangers in Trinidad. They are not Catholic, or Creole, or white, so they must keep their own tradition, and follow the Hindu custom. Besides, it is unlucky for a girl to begin puberty while still in her parents’ home. They must now give something back. It is good dharma. But Latchmin is not going to be fooled into believing that her recovery was due to the goddess Lakshmi Mata. She might look feeble, but she will fight.

    But she and her mother have a close bond since the illness,and Latchmin wouldn’t dream of disobeying.

    Her friend Sumati is planning to runaway with a boy she has fallen in love with, and swears Latchmin to secrecy. She encourages her to follow her too. But Latchmin is not so impulsive.

    But when Sumati’s plan backfires horrendously, Latchmin is left suffering for a long time. Her resolve to fight is weakened, and escaping is no longer on her mind. Because of that, she has to withstand much suffering. But what happened to her friend, never leaves her. She must discover what really happened to Sumati to cause her to take her own life.

  97. Melissa Alexander on July 20, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    My novel is about an estranged uncle and his suddenly fatherless nephew who find a common purpose in turning an injured dog into a champion.

    Former runaway, Charm Freeman, returns to his old life after his sister’s husband dies. Initially planning to fulfill his brotherly obligation then disappear for another twenty years, Charm reluctantly agrees to stay and help with his sister’s injured son, Lucas, but they clash over how to best help the ten year old deal with the death of his father.

    Before the accident, Lucas and his father were training a neighbor’s retriever for a field trial. The boy desperately wants to fulfill his father’s dream, but his mother believes anything to do with the dog is a setup for heartache. The past belongs in the past; the way forward is forward. Against his sister’s wishes, Charm and Lucas join together to turn an injured retriever into a champion, a journey that forces the family to face the issues that tore them apart in hopes of finding salvation in the past they tried to forget.

  98. Colin Smith on July 20, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    A question for Rachelle:

    What if I know the agent with whom I’m sharing the elevator doesn’t represent my genre? For example, I have a completed YA novel, but I know you are not representing YA at the moment. While I would be delighted to meet you in an elevator, I would be hesitant to pitch my novel. Could I answer your question with: “it’s a YA novel, and I know you’re not looking at YA at the moment, so you probably wouldn’t be interested”? Or would you still want to hear my pitch, just in case it is *the* YA novel you have been waiting to get? 🙂

  99. Wanda Fittro on July 20, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    My novel is a 55,000 word contemporary romance titled, Beyond the Horizon. Katie Sullivan is running for her life. She doesn’t know where to, but it has to be better than the abusive relationship she’s in. Her boyfriend, Rick, is a powerful drug dealer. She’s left him before, but he’s always found her and forced her back. This time though, she has a feeling in the pit of her stomach, if she doesn’t succeed, she may not survive another brutal attack.
    When her car breaks down in the middle of Kansas, an elderly farm couple rescue her and give her a place to stay. There she meets Josh Warner, a widower, who works on the farm. He juggles his farm responsibilities, raising his young son and his rodeo career. And he also has a past he wants to escape. Katie finds herself falling for him, but she knows if she stays much longer she not only puts her life in jeopordy, but everyone’s around her.
    Katie and Josh must defeat their pasts in order to find a lasting love with each other.

    Thanks for your time!

    • alisha on July 29, 2011 at 4:20 PM

      Wanda, I want to read more!

  100. Linnette on July 20, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    I’m writing an inspirational romance sprinkled with a touch of mystery and suspense. “Finding Beth” is the first book in my “Flying with Broken Wings” series. It’s about a runaway bride-to-be, a southern boy-next-door, and a possessive fiance` determined to make her his – one way or another.

    An issue driven novel, it’s written to entertain. Is this something you might be interested in?

  101. Tom Corcoran on July 20, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    Hmmm – my pitch. 1st I need to write it, than practise it, record it, listen, wait and do it all over…I’ll get back to you after I’ve taken the steps you’ve mentioned 🙂 Pretty tricky of you to test who was really “listening”!

  102. Linnette on July 20, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    I’m writing an inspirational romance with a touch of mystery and suspense. “Finding Beth” is the first book in my “Flying with Broken Wings” series. It’s about a runaway bride-to-be, a southern boy-next-door, and a possessive fiance` determined to make her his – one way or another.

    • Linnette on July 20, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      Oops! Forgot my closing. See below.

  103. Giulia Sandelewski on July 20, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    I am working on the final draft of a high fantasy/urban gothic crossover.

    Entitled Of Men and Misfits, it follows a group of monsters and other outcasts who are fleeing human and divine persecution. A parable of racial and religious intolerance, it documents the escalation of hate crime, culminating in an inevitable holy war. Monsters, human and gods all get their say, demonstrating how no one is above prejudice – and no one, for that matter, is below love and friendship.

    An exploration of what it means to be human, it should appeal to fans of the outsider fiction of Martin Millar, as well as those who enjoy the lyrical fantasy of Patricia A. McKillip.

  104. Larry Shallenberger on July 20, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    I’ve completed a retelling of the myth of Icarus. Icarus is trapped in an unlivable life. He suffers the indignities of being raised by the town drunk. Meanwhile their home, Pillar Island, has been slowly sinking into the sea for centuries. Time is running out. Soon their civilization will be drowned under the ocean’s depths. Just when the citizenry is at the height of their alarm, the ancient griffin returns to terrorize the Houses of the two Titan brothers, Prometheus and Dionysus. Icarus finds himself thrust into a world of ancient secrets and feuds, magic, and a supernatural entity only known as the Divine Presence. Icarus must save the island and his king from the winged beast and the island’s inexplicable descent before it’s too late.

    With your permission, I’d love to forward you a full book proposal.

  105. Kim Wollenburg on July 20, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    I write paranormal romances that mix archeology with mythology, particularly Egyptian mythology which is my first love.

    My current one is the story about the half-immortal children of the Egyptian gods and goddesses. In this one, my heroine, a tomb raider, is forced to hunt for the flaming arrows of Sekhmet. Her search triggers a chain of events that shove her and her ex-lover, into a war between the Egytian gods and goddesses. Soon, my heroine learns she is surrounded by secrets that will shape her future. If she can survive them.

    It’s complete at about 85,000 words.

    By the way, I love your blog and tweets. Thanks so much for continuing to do these.

  106. Emily McKeon on July 20, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    I’m working on a retelling of PANDORA’S BOX entitled PANDORA REVISITED. The battle for Afterlife is fought on a corporate level. When Chaos gets mixed in, it’s up to our heroes to save everything.

    As the fight for eternal souls rages on in what is known to immortals as Afterlife, deities, myths, legends and platypuses all continue the daily grind.

    Life is fairly normal until some Chaos gets into the mix, leaving all immortals at risk. Now it’s up to Ollexander, a faun that just wants to get through his daily routines, Pandora of box fame and a platypus named Darrell to set things right.

    Thanks for asking. Would you be interested in hearing more?

  107. Ane Mulligan on July 20, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    With a friend like Claire, you’ll need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel

    Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends CLAIRE BENNETT and PATSY KOWALSKI. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds.

    Claire, a pottery artist, stumbles through life with her foot in her mouth. When she became a Christian, she thought life and her marriage would be included in the new creation part. But her thighs are just as big and her husband, JOEL, is as ornery as ever. She’s become nothing more than a sheet-changer, a towel-folder, a pancake-flipper. Her life is humdrum and she’s tired of being taken for granted.

    • GLJ on July 20, 2011 at 4:40 PM

      What is the conflict here? All I get from this is that she’s not terribly happy with her life.

      • Crafty Mama on July 20, 2011 at 6:28 PM

        I concur; it sounds like you stopped mid-pitch.

  108. Angie Dicken on July 20, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    I have a completed historical romance. It’s about a tribal chief’s daughter who is desperate to escape a pre-arranged marriage to a savage beast, so she indulges in a forbidden love. But the Spanish explorer who has her heart, pulls her away from her village only to lead her into the hands of her worst enemy.

  109. Kay Elam on July 20, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    MURDER ON MUSIC ROW is a cozy mystery about a thirty-something Nashville hairstylist who finds her famous ex-boyfriend bludgeoned to death with his own Grammy Award. She and her zany friends comb the Music City for clues to prove her innocence and find the killer.

    Readers who enjoy light-hearted southern mysteries with lots of mayhem in the style of Anne George, would also like this book. Does this sound like something that might interest you?

    • Sarah Thomas on July 20, 2011 at 11:17 AM

      Kay- I like how you summed it all up–sounds like a fun read!

    • GLJ on July 20, 2011 at 4:26 PM

      The first sentence really caught my interest. But all the second sentence really says is that she must solve the crime. This seems terribly implicit. More detail here would really help. Must she go undercover as an accordian player? The second sentence does not live up to the first.

  110. Jenna B. on July 20, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    I’m working on a story called Mr. Perfect. It takes place in a theater town similar to Ashland, Oregon. My main character, the lonely and lovely Violet, wants to become a serious playwright, but to pay the bills she is secretly a successful steamy romance novelist who cranks out story after story using the same cheesy formula. She has made it to the finals of a contest that could launch her career in the world of theater, when disaster strikes: The leading men from her romance novels begin coming to life. A latin lover, a cowboy, and “Mr. Perfect” roam the streets, seranading tourists and charming the ladies, while Violet desperately tries to find a way to get rid of them. Will Violet ever find true love and the success she so desperately desires?

    • GLJ on July 20, 2011 at 4:28 PM

      I don’t know anything about your story, but it seems like the leading men coming to life and causing havoc is your main conflict. Yet you lead off with her dreams of making it to the theater. Personally, I would emphasize her dilemma, as the theater aspirations seem ho-hum by comparison.

      And why is it important that the town is “like” a town in Oregon? It strikes me as completely unnecessary info.

  111. Crafty Mama on July 20, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    LOL I do like yours, Richard! 😉

    Reading these pitches has proven quite interesting. Although I have to say, Michael Seese, your idea intrigued me the most, but you didn’t pitch anything! If I were an agent, I’d love to hear the plot of your book!

  112. Jonathan on July 20, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    Well first I have to tell you, I’ve followed you for some time, and I know my current work is not a genre you normally agent. I am nearly done with the first draft of a literary science fiction work that uses four forms of faster than light travel as metaphors for the four major religions as described by CS Lewis. My protagonist, Abe Hannah, the last avid follower of one form stumbles upon the ultimate form. Along the way he uses the second, and his partner breaks off to find the third. The Adonai he uses requires the need for grace and faith in many different ways. At the end of the story, it is revealed that only the Adonai method leads to eternal life while the others to eternal death. This is the elimination of the Trouble With Travel, which is my working title.
    I’m anxious to finish, having just set myself a personal goal to do that before Halloween. One reason I’m anxious is to get to the editing. I’ve identified a few areas already. More importantly, I want to find an agent who can see the potential in both the story and my writing because I recognize the need for guidance in sharpening them both in advance of publishing. That’s the real reason I’m here today. What do you think?

  113. Michele Philhower on July 20, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    My novel is dystopian fiction. All CHI can remember are her endless days of remedial education on Luna-C, on of 26 colony satellites orbiting the Moon after a total apocalypse on Earth. When she finally succumbs to the programming and progresses to her next assignment, she realizes that she has graduated into sex-slavery to the top ranking officials. This opens her eyes to the real Luna and the fact that others see it too. After taking the ultimate leap of faith rather than submit to another officer, 935-CHI’s dramatic past is revealed and she joins the struggle for freedom as the façade of Luna crumbles. Just as her heart begins to heal, her warrior lover is captured and she finds out she is pregnant. Now it is up to CHI and a ragged band of rebels to infiltrate the corrupt Luna to free the others from the dehumanization and injustice threatening them all. Is this something you would represent?

    (I know this is not your genre, but I love to practice!)

    Thanks for the awesome posts!

  114. Diane Holmes on July 20, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    What an excellent article on pitching, Rachelle!

    Being conversational is one of the big things I didn’t understand for a long time (not just giving a monologue and suddenly ending.) And I love your process of practicing, taping, taking notes, and writing many versions.

    I think we writers get caught up in finding THE pitch. There isn’t just one pitch that will work, which is kind of a relief! It’s about creating many pitches and finding the most effective pitch (or three).

    Here are some links to articles, if anyone wants to read even more about the points Rachelle makes. 🙂

    “First you write your book’s pitch, then you memorize it, right? Uh, no.”

    “How to Pitch Your Book – Moving From Monologue to Conversation”

    And a couple fun articles on how NOT to pitch (the right time to approach… or not):

    “Lesson 24: How to Pitch Your Book… Without Striking Out (funny videos; great advice)”

    “Lesson 13: Pitchy Behavior”

  115. Michele Philhower on July 20, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    My novel is dystopian fiction and around 86,000 words. All CHI can remember are her endless days of remedial education on Luna-C, on of 26 colony satellites orbiting the Moon after a total apocalypse on Earth. When she finally succumbs to the programming and progresses to her next assignment, she realizes that she has graduated into sex-slavery to the top ranking officials. This opens her eyes to the real Luna and the fact that others see it too. After taking the ultimate leap of faith rather than submit to another officer, 935-CHI’s dramatic past is revealed and she joins the struggle for freedom as the façade of Luna crumbles. Just as her heart begins to heal, her warrior lover is captured and she finds out she is pregnant. Now it is up to CHI and a ragged band of rebels to infiltrate the corrupt Luna to free the others from the dehumanization and injustice threatening them all. Is this something you would represent?

    (I know this is not your genre, but I love to practice!)

    Thanks for the great posts!!!

  116. David Todd on July 20, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    Thank you for asking. My novel is a sports thriller, about attempted Mafia influence in baseball. A Kansas prairie farm boy breaks into the big leagues as a pitcher for the hapless Chicago Cubs. He pitches so well that he is the spark that can lead the Cubs to their first World Series victory in over a century. But if the Cubs do win it, a New York Mafia Don will lose an $80 million bet to a Chicago rival Don. To prevent this, the New York mobster becomes the pitcher’s enemy, and the Chicago Don his protector. Both try to manipulate his off-the-field life to suit their interest. The young pitcher can’t understand why all these strange events are happening to him. He just wants to play baseball.

    It all culminates at the seventh game of the World Series, Cubs against Yankees, with a crossfire set up in Yankee Stadium to take the pitcher out if the Cubs are in a position to win. Will it trigger?

    May I send you my proposal?

    • GLJ on July 20, 2011 at 4:37 PM

      I really like the set-up and conflict in this. You give a good picture of what is happening. The stakes are very clear and the tension is obvious.

      I don’t know if you need the second sentence (“My novel is…”), as the description is so much more interesting than this summing up.

      I don’t know that you need to say “hapless”, as everyone knows this about the Cubs.

      Great glimpse of the final conflict. But your last line puzzles me. Is the “crossfire” some sort of computerized gun? That is the impression I got. Why wouldn’t whatevver it is not trigger? For $80 million, wouldn’t the mafia don have something more foolproof set up? Like his best shooter?

      Plus, personal taste here, I hate rhetorical questions in any pitch or query. It gives the reader the opportunity (and permission) to put whatever he or she wants in there. And that could go wrong.

      Or, it could lead the agent to ask, “What are you talking about? Trigger what?” So maybe that is what you are going for.

      • David Todd on July 20, 2011 at 7:02 PM

        GL: Thanks for the comments. You are likely right about not using my second sentence. My reasoning for doing it is information from a class taught by David Morrell. He said behind each novel is a platform. He didn’t mean that in the sense that platform tends to be used today (which is the ability of the writer to present the publisher with a ready-made audience). He meant it as the underlying subject matter of the book. For his most recent book (at that time), the “platform” was urban exploring. For my book, the “platform” is baseball, or Mafia influence in baseball.

        Possibly that isn’t important in a 30 second verbal pitch as opposed to a written proposal, but thinking it might be, and building upon Morrell’s suggestions, I included it. Perhaps Rachelle will comment on whether that’s a good idea or not.

  117. Richard Mabry on July 20, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    I have the next best-seller, better than anything J K Rowling ever wrote. And God gave it to me, so it’s got to be a smash. Since none of the other agents were interested, I thought you might want a crack at it. (Ding) Oh, here’s my floor. Want to meet for breakfast to talk about it?

    Oh, wait. That was the “don’t ever do this” example. Sorry, I misunderstood.

  118. Rachelle Gardner on July 20, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    So far, almost everyone is going to be facing an awkward silence at the end of their pitch. The agent will finally say, “Well, thanks, enjoy your conference!”

    Remember when I said you need to put a finish on it?

    If you don’t have an appropriate closer, you’re going to just be standing there feeling mortified at the end of your pitch. No one will know if you’re done and they’re supposed to say something, or what. Go back and read my post on Your Verbal Pitch.

    End your pitch appropriately! If you don’t finish well, you won’t DO well.

  119. Joseph Finley on July 20, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    I’d like to tell you about my historical fantasy novel, Enoch’s Device.

    It’s the story of two tenth-century monks who journey across Europe to find an angelic device with the power to prevent the Apocalypse, while pursued by a black-robed bishop who’s determined to bring about the End of Days.

  120. Kimmy on July 20, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    My book is a middle grade adventure called Trusting Trinity. Thirteen-year-old Trinity Bishop lied about getting abducted by aliens last summer, so when she runs into real ones on vacation, she’s unable to convince her parents she’s telling the truth. Together with her best friends Maya and Nick, Trinity sets out to stop the aliens from attacking her cruise ship. But when the aliens kidnap Nick, Trinity must figure out how to save him and prove she’s not a liar before her next alien abduction story comes true.

    • Kimmy on July 20, 2011 at 11:29 AM


      My book is a middle grade adventure called Trusting Trinity. Thirteen-year-old Trinity Bishop lied about getting abducted by aliens last summer, so when she runs into real ones on vacation, she’s unable to convince her parents she’s telling the truth. Together with her best friends Maya and Nick, Trinity sets out to stop the aliens from attacking her cruise ship. But when the aliens kidnap Nick, Trinity must figure out how to save him and prove she’s not a liar before her next alien abduction story comes true. Would you be interested in reading more?

  121. Madison on July 20, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    Some people yawn or shake their fists when they hear about global corporations and the intermingling of goverment and free market. I grab iPad and create stories that take the theme of global World Is Flat market into the future and outer space.
    My current project?

    A UFO crashes in New Jersey. The remains of the ship display Made In China inching. Two US soldiers and a Chinese woman come in a possession of a tool that allows them to travel for free any place on the world. How are those two incidents connected? Will it be possible to mend the global crisis that follows?

  122. Michael Seese on July 20, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    Hi. You’re Rachelle Gardner, aren’t you? I’m a HUGE fan of your blog. (OK, that’s a little over the top.) I’m working on a novella called “Udopia.” It’s set in the future…not the “Star Trek” future, but rather ten years from now, in a future which could come to pass. It’s a cautionary tale about what could happen if we as a society let down our guard, and give too much of ourselves to the government and, more critically, the Internet. I could not have written this ten years ago, because there was no Facebook, no Google, no geo-tracking, and no 9/11. But now, thanks to the first three–and others as well–our lives, our actions, our THOUGHTS, our associations, indeed our complete dossiers are online. And because of the fourth, the government has a vested interest–in the name of national security–in owning that treasure trove.

    Would you like to see it?

  123. Natalie on July 20, 2011 at 3:56 AM

    I’m working on a stand-alone fantasy novel aimed at young adults. An isolated village has been attacked by two dragons who enslave the people, steal the magic artifacts which are their livelihood, and are draining the magic from all the high-level mages which will eventually kill them. The unwilling, frightened heroine has been chosen by the rebellion and kill the dragons because she is one of the few who has close contact with them, and she still has a moderate level of magic. She teams up with a young mage who was unwittingly instrumental in the victory of the dragons, and who feels lost and worthless without his magic. What no-one knows is how heavily the female dragon is invested in stealing the villagers magic – she is using it to keep her son alive.

  124. Deborah Hughes on July 20, 2011 at 3:52 AM

    My book is about a medium, Tess Schafer, who is having a hard time dealing with the death of her husband. She travels to a haunted resort on the coast of Maine where she meets an ex-marine, Kade Sinclair, who is recovering from injuries sustained in Afghanistan. Although Kade doesn’t believe in ghosts or Tess’s ability, he soon finds himself trying to help her figure out what is going on for suddenly all sorts of unexplainable things are occuring. Just as Kade begins to think maybe spirits do exist and are causing all the troubling acitivity occuring at the resort, Tess gets a strong feeling that danger lurks from someone very much alive and it isn’t the spirits they need to worry about.

  125. Lisanne on July 20, 2011 at 3:05 AM

    “I’m writing a contemporary women’s novel about a wannabe journalist who uses the secrets she learns as an environmentally-friendly, party-planner-to-the-stars to start an anonymous celebrity blog. As she manages an expanding web of deceit, she struggles to keep her life from imploding. She is forced to face the consequences of her passive, accidental, life choices and learn how to make the things she wants – career fulfillment, financial security and love – happen. I’d love to send you some pages if you’re interested.”

  126. John Davidson on July 20, 2011 at 2:21 AM

    The novel that I am writing is a comedy that takes place during World War II. It is more of a satire on Captain America. Three soldiers are inoculated with a ‘super soldier serum’ serum and successfully receive super powers, however the serum drops their IQ’s so sharply that they now have the mental capacity of small children.
    Now it is the job of one general and a team of doctors to train these three soldiers to control their newly received powers. As well as lead the fight against Hitler and the Axis armies. Who now have help from an extra terrestrial race.

  127. Kate Larkindale on July 20, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    I’ve written a contemporary young adult novel about a brother and sister who have nothing in common but their genetic code. When their parents are killed in a car wreck, they have to deal with each other in a way they never have before. Both have secrets – he’s harboring a secret crush on his best friend, Jake, while she knows something about the accident that sends her into a spiral of self-destruction. As they reconcile a lifetime of jealousies and petty conflicts, they discover they have more in common than they thought.

    • RaeLynn Fry on July 21, 2011 at 3:50 PM

      Wow. Great pitch, Kate. If I were an agent, I’d ask for more.

  128. john on July 20, 2011 at 2:04 AM

    “16th floor, please. Thanks. So are you enjoying the conference? Good. What are you writing?”
    “I write historical fiction.’FALLEN’ follows the lives of two people during the Cathar wars in 13th century Languedoc.
    “Two stories become one when the characters meet amid the strange chaos of the Albigensian crusade.
    “Beatris is one of the local preachers. She returns to her childhood village in order to baptize her dying uncle, but finds herself in the path of a devastating holy war. Besieged by the Catholic army, she begins to doubt her vocation as one of God’s elect.
    “Jacques is a carpenter in the crusader army. What begins as a search for absolution, leads him far from home and puts him on the front line against the enemies of God.
    “Amid violence and bigotry on all sides Jacques and Beatris form an alliance that leads them towards ever greater danger; theirs is a world where love cannot survive without them both sacrificing all they believe in. It is also a world where heretics are burned alive, and traitors are hanged without trial.
    “I’d love to show you some of it.”

  129. Heidi Anderson on July 20, 2011 at 2:01 AM

    “Hi Rachelle.”
    “Currently, I am working on a 70,000 word contemporary paranormal romance called, ‘Mending Butterfly Wings.’ It’s a dark piece that mixes the enchantment of The Sookie Stackhouse series, the angst of Vampire Diaries, and the magic of Harry Potter into one exciting read.
    The heroine is a shape-shifting veela who is cursed to never find lasting love. If she attempts to keep a lover they are fated to die a tragic death.
    In the opening chapter, this ferocious curse takes her lover from her and she vows to seek revenge. As the novel moves forward, she finds herself allied with a tortured werewolf who believes that, thanks to his werewolf identity, he will never rise above being monster.
    In him there is a glimmer of hope when he is instructed to kill the heroine, but he finds that her nymph-like beauty is overwhelming and he decides to revolt against his master. Without her being aware of his intended objective, they join forces as they seek revenge.
    As they move closer to their goal, they realize that their feelings for one another have grown, but the lies of their pasts keep them apart. When they are faced with their enemies, their lies are exposed and they must mend the love that they had begun to feel.
    Through life-saving adventure and the defeat of their adversaries they rekindle their feelings. And their enemy’s secret that once almost killed her, is used to protect the hero from the curse that embodies the heroine. As the novel ends, the reader walks away with the knowledge that each character has found illusive, ever-lasting love.”
    “Thank you for asking.”
    “I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference. Here is my card if you are interested.”

  130. L.M. Orbison on July 20, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    My story is about a group young of siblings that lose everything important to them in a house fire; the challenges they face in the magical world of Auren give them the skills to help rebuild their lives after the tragedy.

    I have really enjoyed this tutorial, Rachelle. I absolutely am terrified of public speaking and I think somehow my brain translates verbal pitch to something equally as horrifying. I tend to freeze up, even if I know how to answer. Maybe I should try the recording method. I haven’t tried that one before. Thanks again!

  131. Rochelle on July 20, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    I’ve completed a murder mystery. It takes place in Montana, at the Miss Montana Pageant. The pageant director is killed and my protagonist, who is a pageant coach, is dragged into solving the mystery, because her client, the newly crowned Miss Montana is implicated. I’d love to send it to you, if you think you might be interested.

  132. Samantha on July 20, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    I’m writing a fantasy based in an alternate world with Walking Magics and a society that is overbearing. My heroine’s job is to take down the Society of Mages (as the reincarnated Queen)and free her people from their overbearing clutches. Thus, bringing peace to the world. But it isn’t as easy as it’s said. She struggles with her own personal feelings for a man (also reincarnated) that takes responsibility for her death in the first life. Plus she has to win over allies and over come the loss of some of the people she’s closest to.

    • joan Cimyotte on July 20, 2011 at 4:06 PM

      What am I writing? It’s called “Miner’s Pass”. There’s this man whose family is killed by a drunk driver. The story takes place in the Colorado mountains. I guess you would call it “Chick Lit” or “Women’s Fiction” or something. It’s about finding faith and happiness again. These two people meet when she rescues him from a ditch. It’s romantic but it’s not a “Romance Novel”. They both have tragedy in common. He’s from New York City and she’s from the Colorado Mountains. It sounds sad but it’s not. It’s funny. How long is it? It’s a little over a hundred thousand words. Yes, it’s a completed manuscript. You want to read it? Oh yeah, I can Email it to you. Wow, Thank you!