Monday, March 25, 2013

First Five Pages Success Story - Brenda Drake

Brenda Drake's journey kickstarted right here on Adventures in YA Publishing and in one of our First Five Pages Workshops.

Brenda Drake writes young adult and middle grade novels. Look for her debut young adult novel, LIBRARY JUMPERS, coming February 2014 and its sequels February 2015 and February 2016 from Month9Books. Find her on her blog, Brenda Drake Writes, or on Twitter. She also has a new round of Pitch Madness coming up!Brenda Drake Writes. . .

I'm so excited to be sharing my success story here on Adventures in YA and Publishing. There was a time when I huddled, scared, in my writing cave. I was afraid of venturing out into the world of more seasoned writers. I started a blog. No one ever stopped by and commented on it. I started a Twitter account. I only had a few followers. Some were spam. But then I started participating in blog hops and stumbled across a workshop on the Adventures in YA and Children's Publishing blog. To my surprise, I made it into the workshop. Martina Boone and Lisa Gail Greene were so kind and helpful. My query was extremely long and did not focus on the plot. My 35-word pitch was confusing. With the critiques from their guest author, JA Souders, Martina, Lisa, and commenters, I was able to get my query into such wonderful shape.

When I queried with the shiny new query, the partial and full requests started rolling in. I went from no response to many. I soon got an agent and sold LIBRARY JUMPERS in a three book deal. I think this is where I fell in love with the 35-word logline. Why? Because it taught me to narrow in on the plot of my stories.

Before I got my agent, I entered my middle grade novel into the First Five Pages Workshop Martina and Lisa put on. The workshop helped me find the voice for my story. Workshops like that are invaluable. I received many helpful suggestions and encouraging comments.

I was so amazed at Martina and Lisa's dedication that I threw my own contest to give back. Before long Pitch Madness took off, and other contests followed. If you are new to the wonderful world of writing, the best gift you can give yourself is to put yourself out there. Don't be afraid to let others critique your work, enter contests, make friends with the participants, join Twitter, and make many writerly friends. Surround yourself with your peers and learn from each other. Going it alone, without any feedback, may keep you from taking flight and finding the perfect flock of like-minded friends.


  1. Love Brenda Drake (and her contests) and am loving First Five pages (May 2013 participant). Lots of love here tonight! :.)

  2. Well said Brenda and it is thanks to you and #pitchwars that I have the strength to polish my query, synopsis and ms.

  3. Hi Brenda, I believe it was 2012 when I first found the first five pages workshop and around the same time discovered your pitch wars contests. I tried each and my story blossomed and bloomed. First pages tightened my story and doing short pitches focused my plot ideas. I won a critique and did the pitch and 250'words and won another critique. This gave me the confidence to start submitting and it didn't take long. I received a contract from my wonderful publisher. I have been able to enjoy my dream of being published, doing author visits, and influencing students on reading and writing. Thanks for creating these contests!