Meet the #70pit16 Cohosts!

“70pit16” is the tag for this year’s contest. You’ll still see #pg70pit (the name of the annual contest), but anything tagged with 70pit16 is specific to this year. 😘

The Band Manager

I’m just your friendly contest coordinator (and judge).

Lara Willard, editor
Host, Lara Willard

Lara Willard is a pixelsmith and wordherder, freelance editor and writer, and writing instructor at She’s edited for literary agents, Marvel Comics editors, poets, authors, and comic creators. While scribbling in margins and gutters, she sometimes tweets editing tips @LaraEdits. Lara lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, sons, and dog-show dropout Havanese. Connect with her on Twitter, on Instagram (@larathelark) or here on her blog!

The Disc Jockeys

Introducing the 70pit16 cohosts! In addition to the 7 MG, YA, and Adult entries posted on Lara’s blog, each cohost will select up to seven entries to feature on their own blogs! These will also be available for agents to read. That’s a total of 42 winners!
Elizabeth Buege, editor

Co-host for Adult Entries, Elizabeth Buege
Elizabeth Buege is a writing teacher and book editor with a B.A. in English Writing. She offers copyediting services and manuscript critiques over at, where she also blogs writing tips and other helpful topics for writers. She’s in love with the magical way words can become living, breathing stories and extensions of an author’s voice, and that’s why she loves cohosting #pg70pit. She can’t wait to see the magic of your voices!
Kaleigh Walter, writer

Co-host for YA Entries, Kaleigh Walter

Reader, writer, editor, and Academy Award enthusiast, I enjoy staying indoors, the occasional sunshine-filled afternoon, and dreaming about Paris (the city…not the socialite). Some of my closest friends live in the pages of YA. But don’t worry, I have friends IRL, too. We eat food together and laugh over glasses of red wine.
JD Burns, writer

Co-host for MG Entries, JD Burns
Hi there! I’m JD Burns, a writer of middle grade fiction, the father of a 13-year-old reading maniac, and a man afflicted with a serious chocolate addiction. No really—I once ate an entire gallon of Rocky-Road while sitting in my recliner, watching Godzilla 1998. OK, I made that last part up—it was actually the 1956 American adaptation with Raymond Burr. BTW, anyone know where I can get my hands on an unedited 1954 version … and a stomach pump?

I’ve written two Middle Grade series, and I’m currently represented by the wonderful Rebecca Angus of Golden Wheat Literary agency. I love the writing community, and I’m a frequent contributor through forums like Absolute Write, #p2p16, and my blog (which you can read more about here: Ink2Burn). In 2015, I was a winner of the Pitch to Publication contest, and in 2016 I’m excited to be a cohost for the MG category of the #pg70pit contest run by the incredible Lara Willard.

The #pg70pit event is unique because it drops you right into the middle of a story. Evaluating a manuscript based on the 70th page is a completely different experience from judging a story’s opening. However, the one thing that will always catch my eye is Voice. That’s true of any age category, but most especially with MG. So pull out those manuscripts and polish up your 70th page! I can’t wait to see all your fantastic entries.

meet the 70pit16 hosts pg70pit

pg70pit writing contest logo

#pg70pit Feedback

This is going to be the final pg70pit “nitty gritty” post until next year, unless we get some good news from the winners! (Winners, if you receive representation, even if not directly due to the contest, let me know! I’d love to interview you!) I will, however, deconstruct one or more of the winning entries so you can see why we picked them. If you have a request for an age category and/or genre, comment below, and I’ll see if one of them received a perfect score.

Normal blogging will continue soon!

Raffle Winners

The following people won free feedback on their pg70pit entry:

  • Pj Feldsine
  • Diana Arellano Hicks
  • Denise Stanley
  • Myra Fiacco
  • Robyn Arrington
  • Elesha Halbert-Teskey
  • KK

How to still get entry feedback

If you’d like entry feedback and didn’t win the raffle, enter the form below, and I’ll email you back with payment information. Cost is $7 per entry, paid via PayPal. You’ll receive an email with encouragement and ways to improve.

If you have more than one code name, include each on the line, separated with a semicolon (;), and include the age category for each.

I have reserved the second week in August to respond to these requests.

Query Critiques

If you submitted to pg70pit, I’m giving a 50% discount on query critiques. Email your code name and query to querylara[AT] with the subject “pg70pit query” to receive payment instructions. Cost is $17.50 with discount. Your email address and code name must match the ones used when submitting to pg70pit.

I currently have about a 1-week wait list for queries. If you wait a few weeks, my turnaround will be back to 2-3 business days.

Manuscript Critique

My intern Meghan is doing a full manuscript critique as part of her summer internship. Interested? Apply here by August 1st.

pg70pit writing contest logo

#pg70pit Editing Giveaway!

Quick FYI, I (Lara) am on vacation this week, but I’ll be reminding agents that they can still request #pg70pit entries. If you receive a request after 7/20/15, I’ll email you!

If you see your code name below, hold tight until we can connect your email address with your editor’s. If you don’t see your code name, see below for a chance at feedback on your entry.

Editing Giveaways

Meghan Barret

One seven-page edit

  • Dream Weaver I Believe

Megan Ruesink

Three five-page edits

  • Cockles & Mussels, Alive Alive-O
  • In My Field of Paper Flowers
  • Are We Human

Elizabeth Buege

Four five-page edits

  • We Can Be Heroes Forever and Ever
  • That’s Some Hot Dish! Fondue for Two!
  • As the Sun Burns the Ground
  • Dreams of You Are Hard to Erase

Kaleigh Walter

Two five-page edits (still deciding which gets which!)

  • Where Courage Was Contagious
  • Like a Book Elegantly Bound

Five one-page edits

  • Raise You Like a Phoenix
  • Can’t Turn Back Now
  • Trapped Between Two Lungs
  • Bullets Catch in Her Teeth
  • Ring of Fire

Lara Willard

First Chapter Critique

  • Not a Novice Any Longer
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow
  • Take a Chance on Me
  • I’m Hero Zero with a Capital Z
  • Shock Me Like an Electric Eel
  • Chasing After Time
  • Words are Weapons

Chance at pg70pit Entry Feedback

I wish I could give personalized feedback to every one of you! Unfortunately, I took off two weeks from work to host this contest, so there’s no way I can look through each entry and send detailed feedback. However, I’ve created a raffle so that seven of you can receive feedback on your entries. Enter here, via rafflecopter.

I’ll announce the winners of the raffle next week. If you do not receive the raffle and are desperate for feedback, I can email a quick note of encouragement and constructive criticism for $7. I’ve blocked off time during the second week in August to respond to these requests and will answer in order of receipt.

pg70pit writing contest logo

#pg70pit Surprises and Slushies!

I’m delighted to not only introduce you to the fine people judging the pg70pit contest, but also to announce some exciting developments in the contest!

But first, let’s get us out of the way—

The Band Managers

We’re just your friendly contest coordinators.

laraHost, Lara Willard
Lara is a fiction and visual storytelling editor who graduated summa cum laude from the University of Northwestern—St. Paul with a bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies (writing, literature, editing, art, and design) in 2010. Fluent in English grammar and geeky GIFs, she’s also studied Spanish, Italian, Koine Greek, Quenya, and body languages. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in literary mags InkstoneThe Cedarville Review, and Revolver. Lara lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, sons, and dog-show dropout Havanese, Neville Shortquarters.


Assistant, Meghan Barrett
Meghan, from the frozen world of northern Minnesota, is a senior at the University of Northwestern—St. Paul who is spending her summer as Lara Willard’s intern and enjoying it immensely. Meghan loves watching movies, going to the theater, being a savvy Old Navy shopper, and, of course, reading. She has been known to channel Lucille Ball, Monica Geller, and Scarlett O’Hara—sometimes all at once. If she could, she would eat tacos every single day.

The Disc Jockeys

Introducing the pg70pit co-hosts! In addition to the top 7 MG, YA, and Adult entries posted on Lara’s blog, each co-host will select up to seven entries to feature on their own blogs! These will also be available for agents to read. That’s a total of 42 winners!


Co-host for Adult Entries, Elizabeth Buege
Elizabeth graduated from Northwestern College (now the University of Northwestern—St. Paul) with a B.A. in English Writing and internship experience in nonprofit writing and book editing. She now provides critiquing and editing services to authors of fiction and memoir. In addition to editing, Elizabeth teaches secondary writing classes at a homeschool co-op. When she isn’t working, she’s probably reading or writing stories full of longing, struggles, and hope.


Co-host for YA Entries, Ethan Vaughn

Ethan Vaughan is a freelance editor and former literary agent. He began as an intern with Folio Literary Management  in 2011, then served from 2011–2015 as a reader and agent with Kimberley Cameron & Associates. He is now earning a master’s degree in history and takes on editing clients throughout the year.


Co-host for MG Entries, Carissa Anna Taylor
Carissa is an author of YA sci-fi/fantasy, graduate of Arizona State University with a PhD in Sustainability, drinker of Earl Gray tea, lover of Firefly, and player of nerdy board games. Originally from Washington State, she now lives with her husband and spazzy kidlet in Sydney, Australia. Her novels are represented by Jason Anthony of Lippincott Massie McQuilkin.

The Bouncers

Our slushies are an integral part of this contest. They not only vote on the entries, they also nominate their favorites to win giveaways! Make these ladies happy, and they can make your dreams come true. But hey—no cash bribes, K?


Slushie, Yolanda Ashton
Yolanda Ashton is the alter ego of a thirty-something mother of three. Her favorite things to do in the world (outside of family) are reading and writing—she fell in love with words at an early age. Yolanda loves creating worlds with them and entering new worlds designed by them. Throughout her life she’s always felt the epitome of a great “me” day is one spent reading a book or creating one.


Slushie, Jo Wu
Jo Wu is a student at UC Berkeley, where she studies Integrative Biology and Creative Writing. She has been published in a few anthologies, and one of her short stories, “Devoured by Envy,” was praised by Publishers Weekly. When she’s not writing, she’s modeling under the alias Carmilla Jo, drawing, painting, or sewing. She’s looking forward to reading your entries and seeking awesome fantasy and sci-fi stories for adults and middle grade!

The Simon Cowells


After the 21 42 top entries are published on the blogs, five editors will peruse the entries and dig back into the slush to pick recipients of free editing services! In addition to Lara, Meghan, and Elizabeth above, two MS Editors will give away the following:

Editor, Kaleigh Walter

  • Five one-page edits
  • Two five-page edits

Editor, Megan Ruesink

  • Three five-page edits

The giveaways will be announced one week from July 7th (7/14/15), right here on my blog, so stay tuned and be sure to subscribe!