Pick Your Favorite Pitch

So the other day I had this brilliant idea: instead of writing a book and then trying to come up with a good pitch for it – why not write excellent pitches first and then write books based on the pitches.  That way, when you’re done writing and are all up in the craw of the story, unable to sort the essentials from the superfluous anymore, you’ll already have a great pitch written.  I was thinking of nominating myself for some kind of writing genius award until my writer friend told me that that’s actually how most screen writers work.  Pitch first, write later.  Damn.  So no awards to me and my late to the party ideas.  Whatever.  So I spent my weekend writing pitches for books I haven’t written yet.  And then I wrote a pitch for the book I haven’t finished.  And then I wrote the pitch for the book I already wrote.  The one that’s killing me slowly.

I was going to put all of them here.  Now I’m wondering if I need to be paranoid and not share in case my ideas get stolen?  That’s not really my way, however.  I was thinking I wanted to know which story to develop later.  And also show that my pitch for Cricket and Grey doesn’t suck as much as it used to.  I keep having to go and read chapters from the book to convince myself it’s not complete shit.  It’s not.  Really, it’s a good book.  I have to keep reminding myself that not everyone is going to love it, or even like it.  That’s how it is.  Fact.

So here, then, are some pitches.  I’ll tell you what, these are some fairly distinctive ideas and if you write a book based on them, I’m going to know.  Others who read this post will also know.  So don’t be bastards.  Okay?  These are my pitches:


Baby Girl Six’s whole life has been like a twisted reenactment of Little House on the Prairie. Born to a family of fourteen kids in the woods outside of town with no modern conveniences, endless hard work, and assiduous devotion to scriptures, she has seen the rest of the world from the window of her father’s truck and monthly visits to the downtown stores. On her twentieth birthday she has only one wish: to leave her family compound and never come back.

She leaves with everything she owns wrapped in an old sheet and comes to town to forge a new life with running water, free thought, and possibilities. The only problem is she has no social security number, no birth certificate, no identification of any kind. She doesn’t, in fact, even know her real name. Without her parents’ help she can’t prove her citizenship but they won’t help her become part of a system they believe is evil.

Her upbringing made her resourceful and scrappy but nothing has prepared her for life on the streets.


Lydia, a shy librarian, is settling into the Victorian duplex she just bought, realizing a lifelong dream.  One night she comes home to find a man living in her house that she’s never met before who claims he has a deed to the duplex and won’t leave claiming that her deed is fake and she is the one who has to move out.  Before she can get a lawyer to untangle the legal mess, someone tries to strangle her in her sleep and her attacker is scared off by her hostile roommate.  Now she’ll have to trust him if she wants to live long enough to kick him out.


After being raped and beaten by her mother’s boyfriend when she was thirteen Jane Bauer left home to live with her best friend Tim and his family, determined to rebuild her life and move on from her terrifying experience. Aside from Jane’s inability to sustain a relationship due to a crippling inability to have sex without becoming violently sick, she has built a quietly fulfilling life for herself in which she feels safe.

But when her mother Pat resurfaces thirteen years later with the news that she’s dying of cancer Jane finds out she’s still living with the boyfriend who almost destroyed her life. Jane refuses to see Pat who begins harassing her with pleading phone calls to let her back into Jane’s life. In desperation to make her mother and the past go away Jane threatens to report her rapist to the police, something she’s come to realize she should have done years ago.

Now her childhood rapist is circling around for a second act and this time he wants to take more than her body, he wants to take her voice.

Lastly, and with great sweat and tears… here’s the latest CRICKET AND GREY pitch:

Cricket thinks the worst thing her day will bring is the burial of her father, leaving her alone in the world. She’s a scrappy fiercely independent apothecary just getting by at the end of the twenty first century in a poor isolated town.  And she’s wrong. The day brings much worse than a burial. It brings a complete change in life as she knows it with the discovery that her parents led a double life as smugglers of medical supplies and her father left behind years of unpaid property taxes the feds are now demanding in full. If she can’t raise the money by the deadline she’ll lose her property and her livelihood with it.

In desperation she takes a job with the local Mormon crime boss as an armed guard. She thinks all she has to do is earn enough money to pay off her property taxes and she can move on with her mourning and the rest of her life. She doesn’t think she needs anyone’s help solving her problems. She’s wrong.

Her father’s death has uncovered more than unpaid taxes, it has uncovered the shocking truth about her mother’s murder three years ago making Cricket the next target of her mother’s murderer. If she wants to live long enough to pay off her taxes she’ll have to learn to trust those who want to help her and make peace with her parents’ duplicity.

The last one is a completely finished novel whose pitch I’ve been working at for months now.  The Winter Room is an incomplete novel.  The other two are just bald pitches.  If you could choose which book I work on next, which one are you most interested in reading?  Please leave a comment and tell me.  I really want to know.


  1. Aimee says:

    C&G’s pitch is sounding much better!!!

    I’m really intrigued by both Baby Girl 6 and The Winter Room, but especially by Baby Girl 6!!

    I hate to say this, but I know you want truth: The Quiet Librarian’s pitch sounds like the back of several dozen bad romance novels, almagamized (new word!).

  2. angelina says:

    Well, it’s true that pitches should sound like the back of books – they serve the same exact purpose but it’s not meant to be a romance and certainly not a bad one. So clearly I have missed my mark BIG TIME on that one. But with such a small pitch I’m surprised it managed to sound like several dozen bad romance books. I’m almost impressed with myself.

    So that’s a vote for Baby Girl Six.

    Thank you.

  3. Chelsea says:

    Um…you forgot to write an Occupy McMinville pitch…which would be f*%#in’ hysterical, if you ask me

    just kidding. I love the Baby Six pitch, that’s my favorite. The librarian needs a twist, like, the unknown roommate is an agoraphobic with an obscure literary bent…insert here…that helps them communicate in a nerdy librarian lingo when captured by psychos…just an idea, can you tell I’m not a writer?

    The Cricket and Grey is interesting…I never thought of a thriller involving property taxes but, who knows, in this rotten economy, that might be right pitch…

    …okay, shutting up now…

    can you tell I’m almost done with finals? I’m completely sapped out of (helpful) creative ideas….

  4. Chelsea says:

    Gosh, in my effort to respond, I need to do a better job of checking my grammar and spelling. Please feel free to edit my responses (it might be incredibly cathartic)

  5. angelina says:

    Every time I read comments on Cricket and Grey based on my pitches I am reminded afresh how abysmal my pitching skills are. I’m tired of it. It’s a thriller because the death of Cricket’s father reveals the truth about her mother’s murder and the job she has to get to pay her taxes is what propels her forward and reveals more about her parents’ smuggling activities.

    Seriously. I’m done. I’m giving the fuck up on writing novels.

    The Librarian story I loved but gave few details. Every time I add details to a pitch, I’m told I’ve put in too many non-essential details. Every time I take them out – nobody gets what the hell the story is about. The man who comes to live in her house is Basheed, his family owned the house and it was sold without his permission. He has come down from Washington State where his family moved to investigate the disappearance of his sister and thinks the clue is in their old home. When he gets there he finds the librarian living in it. There is more. But why bother?

    I’m so perverse that the more everyone likes Baby Girl Six the less I want to write it. No wonder I’m not a person who is capable of success. And if Baby Girl falls for someone and it works out in the end, will it be considered a stupid romance?

    I have spent the last six months doing no real writing but working on that god forsaken pitch for CandG. If I can’t write a great pitch in six months that’s a strong indication that I am not a good writer. Six months is a quarter of the entire time it took to write the whole book. Other people have offered up their efforts at a pitch for it and the only comfort I have is that their pitches weren’t good either.

    I feel like I’ve wasted two and a half years of my life.

  6. angelina says:

    Oh – there’s another story I have that I didn’t include and I’m thinking it might be good. A gay archery champion gets embroiled in a murder. Yay. She falls for her biggest rival, a really tall blond chick name Lisa.

    And Occupy McMinnville has much potential but I don’t write funny things. I think I only write twisted things with happy endings.

  7. fala says:

    They all sound interesting, but I think The Winter Room strikes more of a chord with me than the other two. And I think your newest C&G pitch is light years ahead of the last version you showed me, it’s really coming together and gives me a much better idea of the book and the plot. Don’t be so quick to beat up on yourself; there are tons of awesome writers who struggle with pitches. I hate hate hate trying to write pitches and queries! You deserve a medal for bravery and a stiff drink, in my opinion. If it helps at all, I got to meet one of my most favorite writers ever last year, and she told us all about how painful and difficult it is for her to write. I found it so encouraging to know that even someone who has published a couple dozen wonderful books struggles. It is REALLY REALLY hard and I so empathize with your frustration. Hang in there, please!

  8. Chelsea says:

    Gosh, I just stepped in it…I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.

    I think your blurbs are excellent- keep writing them. As far as C & G- maybe you need to step back for a while. D something new and then you might feel reinvigorated. If your blog writing is anything to go by, then the publishers who turn you down are idiots. Your writing has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and though I may not always comment, I do check in daily to see new entries.

    I don’t think I could ever write a mystery or thriller, which is sad, because that is primarily what I am drawn to . I’m just not clever enough to piece together a plot. I would probably focus more on humor, because if I didn’t find humor in my daily life I’d walk off a cliff, which is also interesting, because with the exception of Laurie Notaro and a few others, I can’t stand reading humorous autobiographies. How odd. SO, with that said, I feel even more in awe of you…

    Don’t let the bastards get you down. Write what you want, make yourself happy.

    PS just wondering…what would the occupy McMinville movement be protesting? I mean, you must be living in Tea Party central up there…

  9. angelina says:

    You didn’t step in it and you didn’t hurt my feelings. There’s nothing like hard truth to slap you around. Every time I put my pitches out there and hear comments back it tells me a lot about how well I’ve communicated, and the truth is that I haven’t communicated at all well. I’m supposed to be good at this shit. I wasn’t putting my pitches up today for evaluation, just wanted to know which story sounded the most interesting to others. I have my answer, obviously, but I got more than I asked for. So it threw me for a loop.

    At this stage, six months into writing ONE FUCKING PITCH, my confidence is at a crushable all time low. I am also becoming convinced that the majority of my friends will probably not enjoy the kind of books I want to write. I thought quite a while ago that my friend Aimee and my other friend Amy, two avid book readers, would not enjoy my work. I now don’t think you would either Chelsea, nor my friend Fala, nor Jess. I think my favorite books in the world are not well known because they aren’t a popular genre. This leaves me with a quandary: do I keep writing books most people aren’t going to enjoy and be unsuccessful or do I try to write books I think people will enjoy?

    Everyone will want to say (and do say) “Write the books you want to read!” and “Be true to yourself!” and all that shit. The real truth is that if what you want to read is not what many others want to read then you’re pretty much writing for your own amusement, not for a career. I may not find the truth comfortable but I know it when I see it. I will never stop writing because whether I’m a good writer or a bad writer doesn’t change the fact that I am a writer and I’ve been compulsively writing for 31 years. The only question is whether or not it’s worth putting more into the effort into trying to get published or whether it’s time to accept that I’m not good enough.

  10. EmmaC says:

    Sorry – a little late to the game, here! I think you’re getting really close with the C&G pitch – it’s concise, sums up the key plot points, and also sounds engaging. Possibly the only thing missing is a mention of Grey? His name is in the title after all, so a reader might be left wondering who this guys is and why he’s important enough to be in the title but not the plot summary. I think in one of your previous versions, you said something like, “She doesn’t think she needs anyone’s help solving her problems, especially not her father’s smuggling partner Grey.” Even just that brief mention would do the trick, I think.

    As for the other pitches, I’m most intrigued by Baby Girl Six and Winter Room. The Quiet Librarian has potential, but sounds a little too disjointed right now to make sense. Good luck with the projects!

  11. angelina says:

    Good point, Emma. I kept adding him in and taking him out because most people who have tried doing their version (not all) have wanted to cut out the whole Grey part of the story. Also, I’m becoming increasingly concerned that the fact that the two main characters pair up means people will see it as nothing more than a little romance book. He’s extremely important to the story I have just struggled with how to include him without that sounding cheesy. Your suggest is pretty good and I’ll play with it again. Because obviously I’m going to be writing this pitch for the rest of my life.

    I should probably just remove the librarian pitch. It’s becoming quite a sore point with me. This wasn’t supposed to be a serious exercise in pitches. It was just a fun game to see if I could write any good pitches for stories that I haven’t actually written. The clear winner is Baby Girl 6 and because I’m such an asshole, I was slightly starting to resent that so many people are interested in that one. It was the most ridiculous pot-boiler one I could think of. I’ve decided to write it as serial on my blog. Not for getting professionally published. Magazines used to publish story serials and I’ve enjoyed them and thought it would be fun to do that. I will work on my librarian story out of the public eye, stealthily, and some day you will all be very surprised.

    Provided I don’t die a fiery death before I ever get published.

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