Pitch Wars and Other Writing Accomplishments in 2017


My manuscript was showcased in Pitch Wars 2017. It is a significant writing accomplishment and I’m proud. If you haven’t heard of Pitch Wars yet, then I’m sure you will learn more about it this year. Pitch Wars is kind of like Cupcake Wars for novelists but on Twitter.

Pitch Wars is gaining notoriety especially after 2016 class mentee, Tomi Adeyemi, attracted agents who sold her YA fantasy trilogy and struck a movie deal for CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE. This year, our very own 2017 class mentee, Rena Barron and her debut novel, THE LAST WITCHDOCTOR, was spotlighted in The Hollywood Reporter.

Pitch Wars is a contest conceived and run by the New York Times bestselling author, Brenda Drake. The concept is simple yet so smart. Published/agented authors and editors, choose one (or two) writers each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for the agent showcase. I can’t remember the exact number but out of approximately 2800 manuscripts that were entered into the contest, I’m proud to say that my manuscript was one of 183 that were chosen to participate. This means so much to me because I have poured endless hours into writing my novel.

During the agent showcase, each mentee is featured in a post that includes their pitch and the first page of their manuscript.

I can’t explain the overwhelming feelings of excitement, fear, joy and impostor syndrome that I had when I saw my name and the title of my novel on the list of chosen manuscripts. Melissa Marino, published author of the Bad Behavior series, picked two authors to mentor. I won’t lie, I was shocked that I was one of them along with the fabulous Brooke Salesky. At first, I confided to Melissa that I figured I must’ve been her pity pick. Apparently, this was not the case, and instead, she identified with my main character and loved my story.

When I tell you the revision process was grueling, that puts it mildly. Under Melissa’s tutelage, I received enlightening advice, and I revised according to her comments for hours on end. I was thrust into a full-time job just polishing this manuscript for the agent round. Melissa also selflessly offered up information about how things work in the industry. Beyond refining my craft, I learned how to revise efficiently and meet deadlines all of which were a huge learning curve. I’m so grateful to have been partnered with Melissa.

Pitch Wars catapulted me into a community of talented, driven, professional and kind-hearted writers. This was a benefit I didn’t even know existed and to be honest, aside from gaining a friend and colleague in Melissa, this is probably the best perk. Every single person in the 2017 Mentee Class has taught me something and is an inspiration. I’m grateful to have this crew by my side.

If you’d like to learn more about Pitch Wars and the brilliant mentee class of 2017, take a look at some of these posts that they have written about Pitch Wars and the writing life. These guys are all spot on.


Emily Thiede – How does this work, exactly? (How to get a Book Published)

Victoria Lee – How I got my agents!

Michelle Faszold Mason – My Favorite Reads 2017

Mia P. Manansala – Obligatory End of the Year Post (AKA Holy Crap, I Made It To the End of this Insane Year)

Ellie Firestone – My Pitch Wars Experience

Shelby Mahurin – #PitchWars: The (Not So) Quick and Dirty

Scott Rhoades – What it’s like to be Chosen in Pitch Wars




I met Jessica Strawser, author, and editor-at-large of Writer’s Digest Magazine. She inspired me when she spoke about her writing journey. I drank up every single piece of advice she imparted at the Writer’s Digest Conference. I followed her around a bit, and I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of her novel ALMOST MISSED YOU before it launched. I loved the well-written and gorgeous work of women’s fiction she produced, and I asked her for an interview. I was beyond psyched when she agreed to speak with me. I wound up placing two Q & A’s with Strawser in both Brain Child, Magazine and Literary Mama.

I also wrote a heartfelt piece Important Notes for Middle School to my daughter as she entered this next phase of her life. Sammiches and Psych Meds published it the first week in September. I cried a lot while I wrote it and I’m happy I found it a home.




I became a member of American Society of Journalists and Authors this year. I wrote many articles that counted as reputably published credits which are required for admission into this organization. The ASJA conference is always top notch and this year was no different. Estelle Erasmus headed it, and she did a superb job. I was especially excited she secured editors from the top women’s magazines. It was a truly informative panel.

I also joined the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and The Romance Writer’s of America. I look forward to meeting new friends and colleagues (and maybe some fellow Pitch Wars mentees) at these conferences, and through workshops they conduct.

I’m very proud of my achievements from 2017 and I hope 2018 is an even better year.


With Gratitude,


Holly Rizzuto Palker


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