To Pitch Madly: Dec. 2019’s #PitMad

I did #PitMad! My first rodeo.

On December 5th, I Twitter-binged for ~12 hours. Aaaand when logged off at 8 p.m., my eyeballs about rolled out of my skull. Took an hour for depth perception to return…

What’s PitMad?

It’s a Twitter event! Writers “pitch” their finished books to agents, who follow the #PitMad hashtag.

You get THREE tweets. Mine took ~2 days to compose. And 5 minutes to kill me, because they were terrible. @ZenaAZellers so generously let me DM her my tweets, gave me some advice and hope. And @KathiHuber, goddess that she is, helped me re-write.

But for me, the best part of PitMad was other people’s pitches. And several PitMad tweets grabbed me by the damn throat.

I don’t know if the following tweets got “likes” from agents. But what little I can offer (as a time-challenged writer of meager means myself), here it is: Everybody, I loved these pitches! Consider following these talented people.

As always, HORROR and SCIENCE FICTION are my favorite genres, but a few non-creepy pitches got my attention anyway.

— HORROR — 

What I liked: A hint of Coraline, maybe a touch of Pan’s Labyrinth? “The Echo” is a killer name for Rachel’s hidden world: fragile, haunting, inherently terrifying. It’s as good as “The Shimmer” from Annihilation. With war as a backdrop, and a child’s wish to save her brother as the driver, this story has all the tools to grapple with some brutal themes. All of this, and the pitch didn’t even have to tell me what “The Echo” actually looks like (although I sure want to know).

What I liked: As a pair, these two pitches floored me. The story’s foundation is a juicy, mysterious murder + 60 years of that very murderer enduring his victim’s ghost. Into that fertile ground is planted a moody, issue-riddled single guy (with his own densely packed baggage). What a beautiful goblet of swirling guilt, guilt, guilt… “New England Gothic” indeed.

What I liked: Chills. Jane is gritty. She’s seasoned. But whatever goes down in this Cuban hacienda is enough to test to her. All the tingles of a true mystery are here! Moreover, Cuba is an amazing setting: I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Havana a few years ago. It’s haunting, a city frozen in time. Staying connected was difficult even in the city proper—shaky internet. The isolation of an off-the-map home must be complete. And in all this atmosphere, there’s also a crisp strangeness at play… the “shadows” may or may not (or very well MAY) be paranormal.

What I liked: Aughhhh, yesssss… The names are fabulous. “The Moon Shack,” are you kidding?? Don’t drop the adjective “Lovecraftian” on me unless you can deliver, but that entity name is damn promising. And the implications of sight, vision, understanding, truth, etc. that go along with a cultist/murderer known as “The Eye Doctor,” wow. That this all goes down in a (presumably lovely?) American hotel that (again, presumably) smacks of The Shining only titillates further.

 

— SCIENCE FICTION —

What I liked: It’s wicked sick to weaponize a cure. Would you let a doctor pop an “implant device” into your brain if it might murder you? Uh, obviously no. What if the alternative was dying from parasites that would eat your brain?? Tougher decision. The heartache of seeing something so pure and well intentioned (and difficult to attain) turned into a tool for killing… I feel for Paden already, especially if she’ll have to stamp out her only remaining family to stop it.

What I liked: The disruption of a utopia feels like a fresh twist amid so many dystopias. Plus this plucked chords in my memory for several Star Trek episodes (e.g., “Random Thoughts” in Voyager)… always a win in my brain. Something about the “300 years” makes the whole set-up especially satisfying: This was not some fragile peace that fluttered apart at a predictable breeze. It’s the long-established norm that’s been upset—a boulder has been chucked into very still water. Fantastic peppering of details too, r.e., the implications: Zeno has nothing at his disposal to manage this challenge. Can someone so (presumably) innocent catch a villain whose nature is dark enough to overcome 300 years’ of peaceful nurture?

What I liked: Hells yes. First off, it deserves to be said. Two types of people in the world: those who admit they’d bang their clone, and those who lie about whether they’d bang their clone. Second, and more seriously, this is a fascinating premise. What does it mean “to be human?” How much of “us” is our experiences vs. our DNA? Such rich potential here to discuss salient themes of our time. Who defines humanity, reality, the value of a human? Are those definitions perhaps more fluid than we’re comfortable with?

What I liked: Arrival is a stunning film. Those spidery, crab-like giants spitting ink-symbols into the mist… But I won’t lie. When I bought my ticket, I was craving what this pitch seems to promise: a genuine focus on the practical challenge of communicating with aliens who are profoundly different from us. No time-travel quirk in the end. Plus, the unsettling concept of face-lessness here is thrilling. It evokes so much folklore and fear. It also suggests perhaps a (somewhat) humanoid alien? Maybe?? At the very least, perhaps one that’s more (slightly) more accessible, not housed in a glass tank? A psychologist is the perfect person to explore alien creatures without a face… I’m imagining trying to teach someone blind and deaf how to sign… only the person might not even know what water is in the first place. This story sounds like a brilliant puzzle.

What I liked: Beautiful. This is a big part of why I adore science fiction. Just a tap of the sci-fi wand, and a young contemporary Black woman can literally converse with her great-great-grandmother, who is herself a Black woman in the 1920s. While operating in the 1920s, Mara seems likely to have experiences that are disturbing, heartbreaking, inspiring… What “memories” does Mara have to keep? I don’t know why, exactly, but I sensed a touch of Wrinkle in Time? A breath of The Giver? This pitch was clean, simple, clear. Yet the satisfying emphasis on a bond between women, at the micro-level, despite the ominous, macro-level threat of oblivion, held my brain happily hostage for quite some time.

 

— OTHER —

What I liked: HUMOR. This pitch is hilarious. I got so much of Ilias’ personality (I think) in such a compact space. Plus, because @lyrsaz oriented us with that baseline of “what Ilias wanted,” the scale of “what actually happened” is a serious gut punch! Uh, something did not go to plan. There’s also already clear space for Ilias to undergo significant character growth.

What I liked: First: Love the art style. Feels nostalgic, somehow? Haha, and that color palette: All those pastels, and poor Jed is just orange. Go check out @SuitedDevil’s Twitter to see a little more. Second, how is this premise not CHARMING. Holy crap, it’s bubbling with charm. And yes, please to more explorations of meaningful male friendships. Also, don’t get me started on how, at a glance, it seems to almost playfully subvert the “demonization” of non-conforming people (especially in small-town areas like “a dying Arizona suburb”) with grace, humor, and warmth. I really hope this project finds success.

What I liked: Dragon ghost, dragon ghost, DRAGON GHOST. And a “battle poet” is the guy we’re all turning to? This multiverse sounds cool as hell. Coral’s drama is flaunting drama: who is this “masked killer,” and how does she know Cyrus in the first place, and—I’m sorry—a dragon’s ghost???

— MY SQUAD —

Two of my local writers group members participated! 

Why I love her: Kathi is a writer who backs up her explosive universes with fact. She has spent nearly a decade lovingly crafting this novel. She brings the soul of the Nazca spirit to life, informed by her own lifetime in Peru with her Peruvian husband. Patya’s visions are vibrant and visceral. The world of the Nazca, so distinct from anything we’re accustomed to, nonetheless stays accessible and human: social strife, anxieties over climate change, humans (men and women) writhing under the rules and wounds of patriarchy… Give @KathiHuber a follow. She’s a kind and supremely talented author.

Why I love her: Dina has workshopped this children’s book with tremendous focus and care. I’ve been so impressed to learn from her and @safajarwrites how much craft and skill goes into kid’s literature: When word count is that strict, every image has to count. Every character has to be key to the story. And notably, Dina is an excellent reader. I might lean toward horror and science fiction, but there’s something super soothing about getting story time when our kids lit writers have their next draft ready.

 

MY TAKEAWAY

I believe that healthy creativity feeds other creativity.

Our mental soil gets richer, the number of seeds dropped is higher, if we surround ourselves with other creative people. Creativity works like Tribbles? Get a few together, they’ll be clogging your deflector emitters before you can shout “Beam me up, Scotty!”

Whatever the metaphor, the point is that creatives thrive in creative atmospheres.

Seeing the outpouring of creativity last Thursday was great, and I’m glad I got to be a part of it. Carry on, fellow writers.

3 Comments

  1. Absolutely knocked out to be among this group, thanks, J. When you see all the tweets like this, and read these pitches, you wonder why they aren’t all published authors by now. Such great creativity to squish an entire novel into one (or two) pitches. Damn, but I want to publish them ALL!

    Liked by 1 person

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