Pitch Wars 2019: #BOOSTMYBIO

My WIP: THE KEEPER OF THE KEY, YA Horror/Dark Fantasy

This is my entry for #BoostMyBio for Pitch Wars 2019. Thanks so much to Auggie for hosting again this year. 

Thanks also to Sarah Nicolas, the Pitch Wars mentors, and everyone else who’s providing all of us with this amazing opportunity.

Finally, GOOD LUCK to everyone hoping to become a Pitch Wars mentee this year! My email and Twitter are always open to you if you’ve got questions for someone who’s been there, and I’ll be around on social media to offer support, advice, and humorous GIFs even if I’m not chosen this year.

About my WIP:

(Note: I submitted this story to Pitch Wars last year. It has been significantly rewritten since then.)

I love retelling old fairy tales and giving their female characters way more agency than they had in the originals. At some point I started musing about the Bluebeard story. What would have happened if the woman in that story hadn’t had to wait for her brothers to rescue her? How might she have gotten herself away from Bluebeard if the cavalry wasn’t coming?

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is another favorite tale of mine, and slowly, the two stories started forming a new narrative in my head. And so THE KEEPER OF THE KEY was born. Even if you know the Bluebeard story and Hill House, I hope you’ll be surprised by what happens in the book. 

I also snagged a secondary character from an early and unsuccessful YA manuscript of mine and gave her the starring role in this novel. Rachel is awesome and I’m hoping more people will get to meet her in her new life. 

And so:

Sixteen-year-old Rachel is reeling after her father’s death, and she isn’t exactly thrilled when her mother announces they’re going to live with Mom’s boyfriend Geoff in Morgan House, an old, run-down mansion.The best thing about Rachel’s new hometown is Nick, a guy she knows is worth keeping when he takes her to a cemetery on their first date.

Geoff’s got a mile-long list of annoying house rules, and Rachel’s baffled by his insistence that she stay out of the basement. But Morgan House has other ideas; night after night, an unknown force pulls Rachel down to that forbidden basement to show her terrifying visions of a shadowy man and murdered women.

Geoff claims Rachel’s making up stories to cause trouble between him and her mother, but when she discovers he had a previous marriage he never got around to mentioning, she wonders what else he might be hiding. 

But after someone breaks into Morgan House and kills Geoff, Rachel learns a devastating truth about her late father and finds that Nick may know more about Morgan House than he’s told her.

As Rachel and her mother come to terms with Geoff’s murder, the man in her visions begins coming after her. And if Rachel doesn’t heed the warnings of the dead and see things as they really are, she’ll become part of Morgan House forever.

Why I’d Be A Good Mentee: First of all, I’ve done this before. I was mentored by the amazing Peter McLean in Pitch Wars 2017, and I know the drill. This is going to be a lot of hard work (I literally fell asleep in front of my computer in the wee hours of the morning during PW revisions), and I’m going to hear some hard truths about this manuscript. But I take criticism well and I’m ready to work. And I’ve attended two writing workshops this year in which I heard criticism about my work made right to my face. I’m not afraid to hear what isn’t working.

I also have realistic expectations. You win in Pitch Wars by making your MS the best it can be and gaining a whole new slew of writing friendships. Anything else — agent requests during the showcase, and agent and publisher offers after that — is gravy. 

About Me:

Photo by Bill Murphy

I’m Nicole. Hi there! I live in Virginia with my husband, two cats, and a rotating cast of backyard wildlife. 

There are two things you should know about me right off the bat: I love to write, and I love horror and dark fantasy. When I was eight, I wrote Star Wars fanfic, even though the Internet didn’t exist back then and I had no clue that what I wrote was called “fanfic.”

One summer, I read a cousin’s battered copy of Dracula. I fell hard for Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi when I saw the film adaptations of the novel. And when I stumbled across my first Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe stories, that was it. I will read fiction in almost all genres, but nothing gets me more excited than discovering a new (to me) and wonderfully spooky horror novel.

I’m a regular contributor to the Weekly Knob, which is a prompt-based weekly writing challenge. The Knob featured me in their Author’s Gold series, so if you’d like to see a sampler of my short fiction, check it out.  I also spent a year writing 50 Word Horror Stories for the Writing Cooperative’s 52-Week Writing Challenge.


Although my to-be-read pile is always high enough to be life-threatening, I will add to it with anything from Cherie Priest, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Erin Morgenstern, or J.K. Rowling.

In my non-writing life, I’ve been a web editor, an editorial assistant, and a Jeopardy contestant. I would love to add “agented novelist” to that list.

If you want to join my mailing list and get a short story as a thank-you gift, sign up here.

Thanks for reading, and good luck again!

4 thoughts on “Pitch Wars 2019: #BOOSTMYBIO”

  1. I LOVED “The Haunting of Hill House” and the story of Blue Beard has always terrified me. This combination sounds right up my alley! Sounds like your love of horror and dark fantasy are coming through perfectly.

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