Posted by: Katie B | September 13, 2020

#PitchWars Returns!

The 2020 Pitch Wars mentors are live!

For those unfamiliar with Pitch Wars, it’s a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine. The mentee then revises their manuscript for about three months under the guidance of their mentor. The mentor also critiques his/her writer’s pitch and query letter to get it ready for the agent showcase in February.

Think you might want to participate? You should!! But you need to get cracking. The submission window is from September 27 – September 29, and that’s it! Once it’s closed . . . well, it’s closed.

Want more information? Find out more about Pitch Wars here:

And for the best part, here’s list of this year’s mentors along with their wish lists:

Best of luck!!

Posted by: Katie B | August 21, 2020

Book Launch: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Abby and I

I was thrilled when left-coast native, Abigail Hing Wen, made her way to Books of Wonder’s Upper West Side New York City location for the launch of her New York Times Best Seller debut novel Loveboat, Taipei. You can see by the book’s tag that I was #2 in line; I was that excited to see her! And, of course, I had to sport some VCFA pride in our signature lime green. Or is it chartreuse? It’s so hard to say. Nevertheless, Abby had a lovely presentation which was standing room only despite it being a very bitter Sunday afternoon. Nothing will keep New Yorkers away from a good book, not even the artic winds of January.

If you haven’t had the chance to read Loveboat, Taipei, there’s no better time than during a pandemic. If you can’t travel to the lush, tropical climate of Taipei, you can at least read about it!

Let me know what you think of the book. Happy Reading!


My friend, Gilbert Ford, is continuing his virtual book launch, this time in conversation with Mary Quattlebaum at Politics and Prose in Washington, DC. I know you have nothing better to do, because, well – COVID. So come out and support your indie authors! Here are the details:

Politics and Prose bookstore, in Washington, DC, is hosting free live virtual author events. On August 13, Thursday, at 7 p.m., award winning author/illustrator Gilbert Ford will be in conversation about his intriguing new middle-grade novel, with Mary Quattlebaum, children’s author and Washington Post/Kids Post reviewer. The Mysterious Messenger features a talking parrot, scheming psychic, Beat poets, and a lonely, endearing protagonist.

The event includes a short clip of Gilbert’s process and a live drawing demonstration as well as Q&A from the audience.

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Mary, Gilbert, Emily, and I in the VCFA Chapel

Purchase The Mysterious Messgenger

Posted by: Katie B | August 7, 2020

Book Launch: The Mysterious Messenger by Gilbert Ford

Gilbert Book

Isn’t this cover delicious? There’s something so enticing about an illustrated middle grade novel, and this fast-paced story complete with psychics, ghosts, and hidden treasure is no exception. Author-illustrator Gilbert Ford’s debut novel The Mysterious Messenger is super-fun and super-cute, perfect for any reader of any age who wants to curl up on a couch and escape. (You don’t have to be ten to enjoy an illustrated novel. I won’t judge!)

Travel from present day Brooklyn to Greenwich Village’s mysterious past, full of abstract art, beatnik poets, and dizzying jazz. When you return, you won’t be disappointed!

Let me know what you think when you’re done giving it a look. Happy reading!

gilbert fan club

The Gilbert Ford Fan Club

Of all the things that can cause writers to break out into a cold sweat, pitching your book is usually at the top of the list. We are masters of words–lots of them. Writing a 300 page novel? No problem. Crafting one line–one–that encapsulates your entire story? Impossible.

And a pitch is important, even if you are an established author. Why? It helps the agent, editor, marketing team, publicists, and so on understand what’s at the heart of your story. Because in the end, publishing is a business, and the goal is to get your book into the hands of readers. To do this, you need to know what your story is about–in one line–in order to sell it.

So how do you do this? I have a trick that I’ll share. It seems so simple, but it does work. Try it out and feel free to respond to this post with your results. What you need to do:

  1. Start with your story question. What does that mean? Well, the story question is the one “overarching” issue that you are grappling with as you create your story. In the case of my Zombie young adult novel, the story question would go like this:
  • What happens when a freshly turned Zombie teen tries to change the world’s intolerance of people that they fear with the power of cheer?

In this example, I don’t tell you any more about the story other than the overarching issue my main character is dealing with. You only know the specifics that are important (she’s a teen, a Zombie, and freshly turned). You don’t know the specifics that would make the pitch too detailed (what she looks like, who her friends are, where she lives, who she has a crush on, etc). And the question goes to the heart of what I’m trying to explore. What would happen if she tries to use the power of cheer to change the world? The rest of the story stems from this one question. How would she do it? Who would help her? How does it come about? Why does she have to change the world? What would happen if she doesn’t succeed?

The story question doesn’t answer everything. It whets the appetite. It gives the reader a taste of what they are going to be reading, and it begs other questions that they want to have answered.

I like to start with the question because it is often easier for the writer to pin down. It can be more playful, and it seems to have less pressure attached to it. It’s not a pitch–it’s a question. Nothing to be worried about! So have fun. Play around with several questions. Don’t force yourself to find that “one” right away. Write them down and let them sit. Later, edit and play. See which one speaks to you.

2. Next flip the question into a statement that describes what the story is about. This flipping brings you to your pitch. Using the example question above, my statement would look like this:

  • In Daphne Dapple *Hearts* Zombie High, a moderately transformed Zombie teen tries to change the world’s intolerance of what they fear by using the power of cheer.

The final pitch statement can be closely related to the question, as this one is. But it doesn’t need to be that way. The question simply leads you to the statement. You can add or subtract details and expand or contract your message as you see fit. Regardless, the idea is that you don’t go straight for that one line pitch. You start with the question and use the question to lead you to the pitch.

Using my Mrs. Claus picture book, here is another example of how this would work:

Question: What if Mrs. Claus were more than a secondary character in her own life?

Pitch: In Hedda Claus Finds Her Talent, Hedda finds that her talent isn’t baking cookies in the family bakery, it’s running the business–any business–including Santa’s.

In this example, the final pitch statement differs a lot more from the story question than in the first example. It expands on it, which is fine. Same as before, the story question was a tool to lead me to the statement / pitch. However you use the question to get to the final product is fine. As long as you get there!

Now neither of these are perfect, so the title of this post is misleading. But this process got me started down the right path and stopped me from pulling my hair out. Try it yourself and see how it works. Share your results!

Posted by: Katie B | November 27, 2018

Playlist Favorites



Music has always been a big inspiration in my life and not just for writing.  It can affect my mood, my cooking, my driving ability, and my relationship with the world and the people around me.  Here are a few of my recent favorites – the ones which always get the stories flowing. What are yours?

Thunderclouds LSD ft. Sia, Diplo, Labrinth
Dusk Till Dawn Zayn ft. Sia
Chandelier Sia (yes, I’m a little bit obsessed with her)
Runnin’ (Lose It All) Naughty Boy ft. Beyonce, Arrow Benjamin
Black and White The Staves
The Ballad of Mona Lisa Panic! At the Disco (actually anything by Brendon Urie)
Aldnoah.Zero – “aLIEz” AmeLee
Crush (Goshfather & Jinco X JayKode Edition) Jennifer Paige ft. Lauryn Vyce
The Gold Manchester Orchestra
Open Your Eyes Snow Patrol
Dimelo Marc Anthony (the Spanish version)
Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit) Mr. Probz
November Gracy and Tony
The One That Got Away The Civil Wars
The Funeral Band of Horses
Bang Bang Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj
Bad Romance On The Rocks (Acapella Version)
Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do Black and Blue (Musical)

For more of my favorites visit my Playlist page.

Have you ever wondered what really goes on at 25,000 feet?

Dear Passenger

Debut author, Elizabeth Calwell, spills all in Dear Passenger: Welcome to my Wacky World as a Flight Attendant. This super-cute, easy read lets you in on the secret, inner life of the flight attendant and the crazy situations (dare I say people) they encounter in the skies. Some of these experiences had me squirming in my seat, and some of them had me laughing out loud. Either way, I will never look at a flight attendant and the job they perform in the same way again!

You can find the book on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback form. Sit back and prepare for takeoff!

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