S. M. Nystoriak's Writer's Block

A place for writer's and readers to meet!

Nest Pitch agent round is now on!

 Drafy Nest Pich Logo last stage

The Slush Bilbies have sorted through the entries to help the Nest Bloggers whittle down the entries. Now the top seventy-two entries have made it through and are waiting for agents to hop on by to make requests.


Please remember that until the agents have finished making their selections, comments are for agents only. If you want to cheer on your favourite prior to then, you can do it in the comments of this post, or on Twitter using the #NestPitch hashtag.


Between now and 8am April 19th USA EST


To find out more about the Nest Pitch Easter Pitch Hunt go here: http://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/easter-pitch-hunt-welcome-to-nestpitch/

For the Rules and Conditions, go here: http://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/nestpitch-update-rules-conditions-whats-a-bilby-anyway/

You can find the full schedule here: http://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/have-you-been-paying-attention/

You can find a list of the participating agents here: http://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/agent-reveal/



Below are the blogger’s sites:


Brooke Powell  www.thecakenovelist.blogspot.com 

Kimberly P. Chase  http://kimberlypchase.blogspot.com.au/ 

Jeffe Kennedy  http://www.jeffekennedy.com/category/blog/

Tina Moss  http://www.tinamoss.com/  

Amanda Foody  www.amandafoody.blogspot.com 

Dannie Morin http://dcmorin.blogspot.com.au/ 

Sharon M Johnston   http://downunderwonderings.blogspot.com.au/ 

Sharon Bayliss  http://sharonbayliss.blogspot.com.au/ 

Stacey Nash  http://www.staceynash.com/


Good luck to everyone who has made it to here. May your nest be filled with lots of chocolaty request.






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Living Dead Lovers: A Postman, A Gypsy, and Clairvoyant Cabbage

It is really an exciting thing for me to have a return guest to my blog! Today on my Writer’s Block, we will be chatting with Author Jonathan Dunne. A year or so ago, I had him on my blog and we discussed his first novel, Balloon Animals, the interview for which can be found here:  http://wp.me/p35Mk4-3c.   Today he is back, talking about Living Dead Lovers, his second book.

LDL photoLDL_book cover


Susan: It is a privilege to have you here again. Living Dead Lovers is available now, and I have just read it. I love the cover! Who designs them? Do you design them yourself?


Jonathan Dunne:  It’s probably a collaboration between my wife Ruth and I. We decide what we want and the cover artist comes up with something similar to what we’re looking for. Ruth came up with the idea of having the caravan in the fortune teller’s ball.


Susan: I love the titles of your books! As a writer myself, one of the most difficult parts for me is coming up with titles.   Did you know right away what the title for Living Dead Lovers would be? Or did evolve over time?


Jonathan Dunne:  Normally, the title comes to me within the first few pages. I need a title to hang the story on. In this case, with my second book, I didn’t want to have a hyphen between ‘Living’ and ‘Dead’ because that suggests debasing them to zombies and who needs another zombie story, right? … I wanted to have a little more respect for my characters and decided that one character is very much alive and one is very much dead and there will never be a middle-ground (okay, that’s debatable at the finale of Living Dead Lovers novel)


Susan: One of the things I admire about you as a writer is your character development. Your writing manages to capture every quirky essence which becomes the character’s identity. When meeting people in real life, is that what you see?


Jonathan Dunne:  I can’t help it! Yes, it’s what I see. I’m an observer and mannerisms is something I find peculiar and characters can be defined by mannerisms and tics. Such a little thing but gives us insight into the character rather than how they react in a situation.


Susan: In our last interview together, you described yourself as an outsider. You do not identify yourself as being Irish or Spanish. Does that still ring true? If so, I can’t help but see parallels to both of your books.


Jonathan Dunne:  Yes, I’m in Limbo! I never thought about those parallels with my books but now that you mention it… in Living Dead Lovers, the main character is in a Limbo of her own and so is her guardian, Mr. Brick. As matter of fact, every character is in their own private Limbo! Susan, what have you started here? Cabbage’s romantic father Willy is stuck in a Limbo both metaphorically and literally and Cabbage’s mother is in a literal limbo. Keyword: Limbo.

It can also be said for a few major characters in Balloon Animals also… like Jonny Rowe’s grandfather who lives on in a balloon, yes, that could be seen as Limbo. You’re correct, Susan. I suppose every book has the author in them on a subconscious level – curious.


Susan: Both of your books, Balloon Animals and Living Dead Lovers, feature main characters on the road during much of the story. Growing up, was there a lot of travel in your own life?


Jonathan Dunne:  No, but I did travel around a bit after leaving school, just me and my backpack … Europe… India. I love India. I think I live through my characters and get to do what I’ve always wanted to do. One part of me wants to take to the roads in a caravan or go to the USA with a balloon. My new book, The Nobody Show, will turn all that on its head though, and makes a point of it too. I won’t say too much for now… I’m tempted and have just thought about writing just a line but it’d give too much away so I’ll say nothing. I also have another book planned (very loosely) after The Nobody Show and that won’t be a road-trip either. The very opposite, as matter of fact: it will be based in a hotel. But the thing is that a hotel is a little microcosm of its own, and in a way, that too is travelling. This is getting too deep for me… I’m dizzy. Next question.


Susan: Another similarity: both stories feature the dead. Is that a coincidence or is the notion of death/the afterlife something that you have often wondered about?


Jonathan Dunne:  I tend to worry about death, yes. More so to the fact that I can do nothing about it. I’ve been trying some experiments lately to see if I can find the trick to eternal life but the experiment ends in an explosion every time. I cannot comprehend how, one day, I will cease to exist, just as before I was born. But I suppose it won’t be too bad because I wont have the option to think too long about it when I’m dead – that would be depressing. Who needs to be depressed AND dead? Yes, the dead and death do interest me and am known to go for an occasional walk in the old cemetery here in Toledo, Spain.


Susan: Well put.  When I read Balloon Animals, a family member was in the ICU and your book provided me with a much needed laughter. I recently downloaded Living Dead Lovers during a very busy and stressful time, and once again, your writing delivered! I want to thank you for that! I get the feeling that your personal life must be filled with laughter! Is that a fair theory?


Jonathan Dunne:  I think I have as many laughs as anybody else. I’m not a person who goes around laughing all day. Actually, it’s hard enough to get a laugh out of me but some situations just crack me up. I tend to be serious (so my wife says) when in company. I keep telling her that it’s just my face that’s serious but I’m actually rolling around inside. I don’t feel the need to laugh a lot of the time, unlike Cabbage’s father who retires to his bedroom in the caravan for half an hour each day to purposefully laugh his head off because it’s his way of getting back at the world. I live when I’m writing and there are no limits to the world while I’m writing and I’ve decided that, if my books are going to have an element of humour, then make it as good as possible because I feel that if my books are going to gain momentum, it will be for the comedy and the odd situations plus the characters. While I’m writing these people and situations are very real and the characters must act accordingly. This is why, I think, many reviews say the same thing: such an unbelievable story but somehow logical. If you take your characters seriously, the reader will take them seriously.


Susan: I found that in Living Dead Lovers, my emotions ran the gamut. I laughed hysterically at the crazy images your writing conjured during those opening few chapters as you introduce the reader to Nicolasia and Willy. And as Cabbage speaks to us from the womb, then as a girl growing up, I felt such compassion for her loneliness. Brilliant. Can you tell us how you see those three characters?


Jonathan Dunne:  I see them as the reader sees them.


Susan: Another aspect of your writing that I adore is how you take unbelievable irony and make your characters go through it, and come out the other side, somehow. One such scene that comes to mind is the birth of Cabbage. Without getting too graphic, how on earth did that scene come to you?


Jonathan Dunne:  That’s a good question. I don’t know, what image lead to another, I suppose. The thoughts of Cabbage’s mother running around a cabbage patch under a full moon was beautiful and wild. Then you’ve heard the expression, maybe, ‘Cabbage-Head’. It was kind of born from that, no pun intended. Susan, I don’t know how to answer the question. The image just came to me and I thought it would be the best place for Cabbage to be born. My writing is organic, as organic as the cabbages that grow in the cabbage patch, and to capture something of the magic is impossible.


Susan: A general comment: Your characters have great names.  Great job with that!  Now, next question:  I am almost afraid to ask this, but what would Willy, being a romantic, have on his iPod?


Jonathan Dunne:  I think Will would probably listen to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata over and over again because of its haunting, romantic quality.


Susan: Do you have a favorite character in Living Dead Lovers? If so, who?


Jonathan Dunne:  Can you pick a favourite from your own kids? I can’t.


Susan: Great point! Tell us: What writing projects are you currently working on?


Jonathan Dunne:  Yipee! I get a chance to introduce my new book (it’s not really a book yet) . The Nobody Show is about a bunch of nobodies who want to be somebodies but sometimes we have to settle for just anybodies.  Did you get that? Good. All I can say is that, if you like what I’m doing, then stay tuned… It should be out at the end of Summer (I said that the last time).


Susan: I want to thank you for taking the time to do another interview with me. My Amazon review of Living Dead Lovers is here:  http://www.amazon.com/review/R10F3FSXFTU5LM/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00H881V14.  I look forward to your next effort with great anticipation.

Jonathan Dunne:  Thank you, Susan.


Jonathan can be found in the following locations:










Jonathan’s Amazon Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Jonathan-Dunne/… Jonathan’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jonath…



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It’s NestPitch Time!!! The Submission Window Is Now Open!

Drafy Nest Pich Logo last stage


The submission window for NestPitch NOW OPEN, and will remain open for 24 hours 12-noon 1st April to 11.59am 2nd April (USA EST) There’s no cut off number. Everyone who submits during the window will make it into the contest.


All entries will receive a receipt.  If you don’t, check with Nik Vukoja on Twitter @nestpitch and/or @nik_vukoja

Send your entries to nestpitch @ outlook .com (no spaces)


For formatting instructions and rules go to this post go to: http://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/nestpitch-update-rules-conditions-whats-a-bilby-anyway/


NestPitch is a contest where participants email their 35-word pitches together with the first 300* words of their (finished) manuscript,(100-word for PBs).


The selected pitches will be featured on these blogs:

Brooke Powell  www.thecakenovelist.blogspot.com 

Kimberly P. Chase  http://kimberlypchase.blogspot.com.au/ 

Jeffe Kennedy  http://www.jeffekennedy.com/category/blog/ 

Tina Moss  http://www.tinamoss.com/  

Amanda Foody  www.amandafoody.blogspot.com 

Dannie Morin http://dcmorin.blogspot.com.au/ 

Sharon M Johnston  http://downunderwonderings.blogspot.com.au/ 

Sharon Bayliss  http://sharonbayliss.blogspot.com.au/ 

Stacey Nash  http://www.staceynash.com/


Then agents, their identities hidden, will leave a request for pages, partials and/or fulls of the featured pitches.


Entries must be embedded within email (no attachments) with following:



Genre: Category/Genre of Manuscript (i.e. NA Romance)

Word Count: (nearest 1000)

PITCH: 35-word (max) log-line

Answer to qu:

(question:in one sentence, max 15-words in the sentence: If my Main Character were an Easter Egg, what flavour would he be & why)


First 300-words of your manuscript. If the 300th word falls in the middle of a sentence, go to the end of the sentence. For Picture-book submissions please only submit 100-words.  If the 100th word falls in the middle of a sentence, go to the end of the sentence.

Please ensure

(i)                 your manuscript has not been featured in another Pitch Competition in the past 12 months – that’s ANY pitch competition (not twitter pitches), from the period April 1st 2013 to 31st March 2014

(ii)               your manuscript IS NOT published.  This INCLUDES self-published.


Our Slush Bilbies & Nest Bloggers will read through the pitches and pick the top 72 pitches for the agent round; April 17th – 18th

We try to get a good mix of various genres, but the writing comes first. Basically, if the submissions aren’t ready, it’s in your best interest that we pass, the last thing anyone wants is your manuscript to be old & tired from “doing the rounds” before its ready.





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Have you been paying attention…?


OK everyone, This is going to be amazing! Get your submissions ready!

Originally posted on nestpitch:

samuel-l-jackson-cat Well if the answer is YES, then you’ll notice we now have TEN agents from NINE different agencies taking part in #nestpitch with the lovely Erin NiumataSenior Vice President – Folio Literary Management  joining us!  school-pics-9-3

Now, for those playing along, you’ll know that Erin will have taken on a Bunny Mask; which one?  Some of you will know straight away, the rest… told you to follow us.

We have such a STELLAR list of agents and agencies. I would like to take a moment to personally thank every single Agent and Agency, not just those participating as Secret Bunny Agents, but those who’ll be playing along as Magic Bunyips and those who couldn’t be part of this year’s fun but wished the best for #nestpitch.  I feel honoured and a little humbled by your support – THANK YOU ALL!

I’ll also send out a wonderful THANK YOU…

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The NestPitch Pay-It-Foward PItch Clinic Is Open!


Pitches are open for comments!

Originally posted on Rhiann Wynn-Nolet:

Hello Everyone!

Those of you following @nestpitch and/or this blog already know that today Nik Vukoja and I are posting a small selection of 35-word pitches for critique as part of our Post-It-Forward concept, to help perfect a winning 35-word pitch.

Sadly, we ended up with not a single NA or MG pitch, but we have several YA, a few Adult, and one PB.  While every story is different, a winning pitch, though hard to define, is easy to spot.  We hope that by providing direct feedback to the pitches below, everyone involved will gain some insight into what makes a “perfect pitch”.

Sometimes, seeing or reading something makes magic happen for the reader also, a light-bulb moment.  If anyone gets such a moment, please feel free to share.

Nothing is more contagious than enthusiasm – the more you spread, the more you have.

So how will this work? 

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This is going on right now! just a few hours to go!

Originally posted on nestpitch:

Hi everyone,

In the spirit of pay-it-forward, the lovely Rhiann Wynn-Nolet has offered to help me run a pre-pitch-post.  That’s why we are calling this blog update Post-It-Forward.

Rhiann the co-founder, along withKristina Perez, (http://www.kristinaperez.com/), of #LV14Contest;http://likeavirgin.kristinaperez.com/ and & #CriTiki Lounge, is an active member of the writing world.  Rhiann photo

It would be well worth it to follow Rhiann and Kristina, and #LV14 is also running a #pitch competition in April (April 4th for YA & NA COMPLETED & POLISHED novels). 

Rhiann is represented by Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit.

You can find Rhiann’s blog here:


Rhiann on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RhiannWynnNolet

And a great interview she did with Michelle4laughs blog back in Feb 2013 on her journey to getting an agent here:


So now that you’re stalking, following Rhiann, Kristina, Michelle and Stefanie, (wait what? You’re not. OK, go…

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Secret Agent Bunny Masks – Can you guess the Agent hiding behind the Mask?


NestPitch is coming soon! Get those pitches ready!!!

Originally posted on nestpitch:

Time to reveal the Bunny Masks! 

How this works:bunnyegg  present 1

Each of the agents has taken on a Secret Agent Bunny Mask and your job is to identify who is wearing which Mask. (you’ll find the Agent List here: http://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/agent-reveal/ )

There’s an Amazon Voucher in it for the first correct answer.  For more info, go to: http://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/operation-unmask-the-agent/

For those who haven’t been watching/listening carefully, this is how #nestpitch will work.  On April 1st, you will send us your pitch + 300.  Go to here: http://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/nestpitch-update-rules-conditions-whats-a-bilby-anyway/ for all the rules and conditions, and please follow the rules.

Then our Awesome Super-Cala-Fragile-Istic team of Slush Bilbies will pick the top 100-odd.  For more information on the Slush Bilibies, go to here: http://nestpitch.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/slush-bilbies-revealed/ bilby 4

From there our Scrum-didle-iumptious Team of Bloggers will each pick their favourite pitches to post on their blogs.  The selected pitches will be notified via email also. …

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Five Minutes With… Agent Cate Hart – Corvisiero Literary Agency

Originally posted on nestpitch:

Here at NestPitch we will run a semi regular page called Five Minutes With…jobinterview Cat

where we will have a quick chat with Agents, Authors, Editors, Publishers… the idea is to offer insight into the agenting/publishing industry from all angles & have some fun doing it too :)

For our first Five Minutes With…we have the great privilege to interview Cate Hart, the newest recruit to Corvisiero Literary Agencyhttp://www.corvisieroagency.com/  Cate has recently become a Junior Agent and is now actively seeking submissions in her preferred genres An author herself, is also participating in #NestPitch, so reading the below may help you not only with submitting to her in the future, but may also assist with your #Nestpitch submission. There could even be a clue or two in the answers below as to which Bunny Mask Cate’s hiding behind!

A little about CatePictureCate

Cate is all about guilty pleasures…

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Calling all aspiring writers!

Recently, I have been putting a lot of energy into my NA Historical Fiction/Time Travel book.  Its story is very near and dear to my heart, and I have been polishing it like crazy in the hopes of it catching the eye of someone in the publishing world.  This has made me think a lot about my own path to becoming published.

On this blog, I interview a lot of published and soon-to-be-published writers, as well as those fortunate souls who have recently been represented by agents.  Today, though, I would like to focus my post on those of us who are not there yet.  We are in the beginning trenches of this process.  Every one of us has a different beginning, and once we start on our paths, I am fairly certain that we all have different twists and turns to navigate as we travel toward becoming published.

As my blog and Twitter followers know, I am a Music Educator.  I have been a band director for the last twenty years, and I have always loved it.  My goal to become a published author came about seventeen years into my teaching career, when a scene came to me and wouldn’t let go until the entire story played itself out.  The idea had been with me for so long, I swear I heard crickets when I typed “The End”, and it was finally out!

I tend to be inspired by travel and the arts.  My stories are set in real world places, either modern day (or near future), as well as the past.  I draw from my own experiences when I write.  My current NA draws on topics and places I experienced while in college and abroad.

I like to read the types of books I write:  Speculative Fiction, settings in Europe, mysteries and thrillers.

Here is where you come in!  If you are an aspiring author, I’d love to hear from you!  You can respond to the following in the comments if you like, or just comment however you wish:

1.  Did you always know you wanted to be an author, or did the idea of writing occur to you later on?  Describe the circumstances which led to that choice.

2.  What are the things that inspire your work as a writer?  Music, art, people, travel, life in general?

3.  What types of books are you drawn to reading?  What types of books are you drawn to write?

Thanks in advance!



#NestPitch is coming!!!  Get those pitches ready!  Here is the AGENT REVEAL.

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