Brandi M Ziegler

Walking the path to publication one step at a time.

Category: Pep Talk

#PitchWars Feels

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

~ Maya Angelou


If you don’t know anything about #PitchWars, the most important part of this amazing online competition happens tomorrow.


These lovely agents will peruse the works of 75 hopefuls. If they like something, they’ll request pages.

The last two months have been leading up to this moment for me.

In September, I decided to try #PitchWars again. Yep. This is my second year entering (never give up!). I studied the list of mentors who pick the lucky mentees. I got my wanted list down to ten. But you can only choose four. So I did some thorough research and picked the four whose manuscript tastes fit what I had to offer.

I got a full request the same day I submitted my entry.

I was ecstatic, to say the least. A professional in the publishing industry wanted to read my book and possibly mentor me. This left me giddy for days.

And then my mentor, Marieke Nijkamp, requested a partial a few days later. Mind = blown. I had been daydreaming about my potential mentor experience with the other mentor who had my full, but as I went back through my research and realized how flippling awesome Marieke is, I was desperate to have her mentor me. That following week she started asking me questions like, How serious are you about revisions? Are you currently querying?

Then she said something along the lines of, Weeell, perhaps you should hold off querying for the moment 😉

I had to read this simple sentence over and over. What did this mean?! The mentor picks weren’t going to be announced for another four days! My poor husband. I was a wreck the rest of that week.

The night the mentees were posted, I was putting my toddler to sleep. And of course, he would Not. Go. The. F. To. Sleep. So I sat in the dark with him refreshing the page on my phone. Thousands of people were refreshing Brenda’s blog. I think we broke it. But a half hour after the posting, I was finally able to get through, and I scrolled down, down…

OMG my name is next to Marieke Nijkamp’s – this isn’t real! My book title is next to my name. I’m under the title “mentee”. I did a happy dance with the toddler and he conked right out afterwards.

Since mid-September I’ve been revising like a mad woman with Marieke and my tremendously talented alternate, Evie Bromiley*. I’m so pleased with the results. And beyond grateful for Marieke. For her decision to pick me and challenge me to do more with my work. THE SILENT SALT SHAKER is super shiny and ready for the agent round tomorrow.

I, on the other hand, am freaking out. I must keep myself busy, otherwise I’ll be glued to my phone. Thank goodness for busy, busy toddlers.

I cannot wait, ya’ll!

*Remember that name – Evie Bromiley – she’s going to be a #PitchWars alternate champ!


NaNoWriMo Note

“Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing… the rest will follow.” 

~ Jane Yolen

Dear NaNoWriMo Participants,

You are awesome! Whether you completed the 50k goal or not, I commend you for attempting such an amazing feat. If you did reach that lofty goal, I’m doing a happy dance for you! If you didn’t, I hope you strive to finish. And (with a few revisions), I hope some of your stories turn into books I get to grab off the shelves.

I didn’t compete this year (boo me), but I plan to next year. Please encourage me in the forums! My writing can be pretty sporadic. One day I’ll write 100 words and the next I’ll write 5k. I’d like to see how consistent I’d be if I had a 30-day deadline.

Give yourselves a pat on the back, participants! You did it!

Your Adoring Fan,


Pep Talk March 2011

I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter. 

~ James Michener


This is for those nearing the end of their revisions* before seeking representation.

Last month I was staring at a chapter I’d been having trouble with for weeks. I was also dealing with scattered, highlighted phrases and sentences that need fixing throughout ELEMENTAL SACRIFICES: THE GATHERING. Every time I looked at that chapter or those highlights my eye would start twitching. I wanted to die. I did not want to do one. More. Edit.

I loathed my MS. Why was there always something off, something my Critique Partners were asking me to fix? And dang it – why were they right? Why hadn’t I seen that? What else have I been missing? When was I going to be done?

I started to distance myself from ESTG. I took breaks. Long breaks. On some nights, instead of revising I curled up on the couch with popcorn (yum!) and watched reruns of Monk. When I sat at my desk I opened up Facebook or browsed blogs. My ridiculous writing standards wouldn’t allow me to abandon my MS completely. I reworked that chapter. I went through and confronted every highlight.

Last week I sent that awful (I’ll admit, there was name calling) chapter to my CPs for their approval. While I waited I tweaked the rest of ESTG. I refused to let my flawed MS hang over my head. I was making my friends and family miserable, sulking and daydreaming about my revisions. For everyone’s sanity I chugged through.


This is why I haven’t posted anything in weeks. I’ve been too busy kicking my MS’s ass.

Recently I got rave reviews from my CPs. They approved ESTG and wished me luck as I sought representation.


After their approval I scrolled through my MS. Finally, there was nothing else to edit. I paused and marveled at my own work. When you’re not agented yet, when only beta-readers, family, and friends have read your MS, you have to be your biggest fan. This week I fell in love with ESTG all over again. I know there’s an agent out there who will love my MS as much as I do. I’ve polished that sucker with my tears and found it respectable. You might be asking, “Is it worth it?”



 Remember that rush when you finished your first draft?
When you revise your MS to the point of letting a professional look at it; to possibly represent it and put their name behind it. That feeling of accomplishment, my friends, is so worth it, and it feels ten times better.

So for those nearing the end of their revisions: don’t give up. It’s okay if you hate your MS or if you feel it’ll never be up to snuff. We’ve all been there. But remember: you’re a writer. And if you’re going to go as far as finishing a novel (GOOD JOB!), then follow through and polish your work to make a CP, an agent, and an editor say, “I want in on this”.

Good luck and happy writing!

*This is the 5th time I’ve done revisions. You’re definitely going to need more than a first draft, and by that I mean at least a third. Give yourself time to discover every possible way you can improve your original draft. Otherwise why edit anything at all?