First Pitch Week Results



Awards a Six-Figure Publishing Package to First-Time Author Vivian Ruth Probst

Rochester, VT, September 30, 2013– Author Vivian Probst, of Waukesha, WI, outscored three other finalists, this past weekend, to take first prize in Pitch Week, a new, twice-a-year juried book competition sponsored by local writer’s colony When Words Count Retreat. As winner, Probst received what When Words Count Retreat calls the “literary trifecta,” a traditional publishing package that is designed to help launch her book to ‘breakout’ status. The prize includes:

Ruth Theobald-Probst

Probst, an as-yet-unpublished novelist, won Pitch Week on the strength of her manuscript, Death by Roses, and for her performance in three days of closed-ballot competitions designed to demonstrate her marketing savvy, book-packaging know how, presentation skills, backstory and personality.

She learned of her victory at the Saturday night Pitch Week awards dinner, when hosts and book coaches Steve Eisner and Jon Reisfeld opened dozens of sealed envelopes containing the judges’ secret ballots and tallied all the scores. Probst won all five categories, but in several instances, by as little as one point. “It was absolutely terrifying,” she said, of the experience. “I had to put my accountant’s hat on just to try and keep up.

“It’s a writer’s dream,” she said of the literary trifecta prize. “Instead of feeling like I’m in a tiny boat on a big ocean, I now feel that I am on an ocean liner that has the power and fuel to bring it home.”

Probst competed with three other authors. Roger Corea, a first-time author from Rochester, NY, took second place in the Pitch Week competition for his literary novel, Scarback, a fishing-related drama set in the 1950s Italian community of his youth. Roger ended in a near dead-heat with Brooklyn, NY-based author Marc Abbott. Marc’s urban, paranormal thriller, Sinister Rising, tells the story of a campus love affair that is nearly wrecked when a bullied vampire attempts to transform himself with the aid of a human ‘subject.’

Abbott was followed closely by emerging author Sharon Spies, of Albany, NY, who took fourth place with her memoir, Pipe Wrenches and Pink Chiffon. Sharon’s book chronicles the challenging decade she spent, as a young woman, working as a journeyman in an almost exclusively male New York pipe-fitters union.

Roger Corea

Marc Abbott

Sharon Spies

Pitch Week differs from other literary competitions in several respects. The competition is “by invitation only” and is limited to former guests of the retreat, who have not yet had a breakout book. It also considers the literary merits of the manuscripts (fiction or non-fiction) and the marketing savvy, promotional talents, back stories and personalities of the authors. In fact, the author’s “pitching skills” weigh most heavily in the balance, accounting for 60 percent of the total score.

“Through Pitch Week, we are attempting to open a new path to traditional publishing for first time writers, who are frequently left out of the equation,” says Steve Eisner, CEO of When Words Count Retreat. “The Pitch Week competition gives them a faster, surer route to publication, and a better overall chance of success.”

Pitch Week’s judges included: Kenzi , Nancy and Kenichi Sugihara (Publisher, Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of Global Marketing, respectively, of Select Books); Meryl Moss, CEO of Meryl Moss Media Relations, Inc. and Rachel Ekstrom, literary agent with the Irene Goodman agency.

About the company:
When Words Count Retreat is a writer’s colony located in the Green Mountains of east-central Vermont. The retreat opened, in the fall of 2013, at Mountain View Farms, a fully restored and modernized 1809 farmhouse and former country inn, located 5 miles outside the town of Rochester. Since it opened, in October, 2013, the retreat has provided quality lodging and book coaching services to a community of more than 200 authors.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Jon Reisfeld at 443-413-1596 or email him at

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