|You guys didn't really think you'd be getting out of here Disney-GIF free, did you?|
I cannot believe it's #PitchWars time already. It seems like just yesterday I was explaining my rationale for all the insanity that was my decision-making process last time around.
Alright, I'm officially an "old person" around here.
But I'm glad to be back for my second year as a mentor and my third year participating in what I honestly think is the BEST Writing Contest on the internet. And if you're new around here, I'm a big believer in Writing Contests.
Also, links. Get ready because here come a bunch more.
If this is your first year considering me for your PitchWars mentor, you'll also want to take a look at last year's post. Most of this stuff still rings true, except for my wishlist which is VERY different this year. (Stay tuned!) Anyway, if those ten reasons aren't enough for you, here are ten MORE reasons you want me as your PitchWars mentor.
10. Last year was really fucking fun. Not only did I really enjoy the three incredibly talented writers I worked with last year, but we've had an ongoing partnership that has been invaluable to me as a writer. I'll let them speak for themselves as to how helpful it's been for them in the comments below, but really. I am incredibly honored to have mentored these women and I am so very much enjoying their journeys as a bystander now.
9. I curse a lot. What that means is that you don't have to be afraid around me--to ask questions that might be stupid, to bounce ideas you're not share are completely sane, to be candid in our dialogue about your work. I'm pretty hard to offend...most of the time.
8. Picking me for your mentor makes you eligible for The Clubhouse (as new spots become available), regardless of whether I pick you back. If you don't know, which you probably don't since we kind of keep things top secret around the Clubhouse, it's an online support group for writers on the journey to publication made up of people I've picked/mentored in writing contests. We have monthly meetings and homework (which we call "homeplay" because it's FUN) between sessions, beta read each other's stuff, and just generally have a good community going. It's worth the price of admission, I'd say.
7. Of writers I've tapped in Pitch Contests in the last year at least 50% of this totally made up number now have agents and/or publishing contracts. The percentage is phony because I haven't counted, but really, a lot of people I work with end up finding their agents, if not through contests themselves then by taking the learning that happens through these channels and turning them into kickass manuscripts. This includes four of this year's PitchWars mentors and two of my picks from last year's PitchWars. Alexandra Alessandri kicked so much ass on our revision that she landed an offer and had to be pulled from the Alternates Showcase on the day the Agent Round started!! Another one of last year's #TeamDannie has a BIG GINORMOUS ANNOUNCEMENT HAPPENING VERY SOON so I can't say anything more than that. IMPORTANT UPDATE-- SHE JUST ANNOUNCED! CONGRATULATIONS SONIA!!!!!!
6. My child is adorable. This has absolutely nothing at all to do with my skills as a writer or mentor but it's always worth mentioning because, well, she is. And you'll get to see for yourselves sometime next week. More on that from Brenda. :)
5. I'm totally in this for you guys. Every one of the PitchWars mentors works his or her ass off for the good of this community, so I say this not to dig at anybody whatsoever, but as a selling point, I feel like it is one. I'm not in this for brownie points, book sales, or promotional ish. I don't have a book coming out any time soon. I'm so booked on editing clients its not even funny. I'm a mentor because I had an incredibly talented mentor myself two years ago (whose book you SHOULD be buying because it is AWESOME) and I enjoy giving back.
A few things from last year bear repeating:
4. At the risk of sounding like an arrogant badass, my critiques are awesome to the power of sauce. If you're a member of Scribophile (or want to become one--it's free to join) you can see examples of the work I do with my critique partners there. I operate under the same screenname pretty much everywhere I go online, so I'm easy to find. Because of my critique skillz, this spring I was recruited for The Ubergroup, the most insane and highly efficient critique group on the internets.
3. I give personalized feedback to everyone. :Last year I gave lengthy feedback to everyone I requested a partial from--and there were a lot of you! But everyone got at least a couple sentences from me that was specific to their manuscript. This happened in the face of all the gmail chaos Brenda is busting her ass to avoid this year (because Brenda is THE AWESOMEST, you guys. For real.) How much feedback I'm able to give will vary depending on how big my slushpile is (63 writers last year, for those who are curious), how the timing of everything works (as a school system employee, this year's schedule is significantly more challenging than last year's which happened over winter break).
Also if Gmail decides to do this to your manuscripts again:
|No, I will never, EVER get tired of using this GIF.|
2. What you're getting from me is more than mentoring--it's essentially free editing services. You can read feedback from some of my editing clients here.
1. I've had my share of experience winning contests.
ALRIGHTY! So now that you guys are all...
Wait! You need to read my wishlist first!!
What I'm NOT looking for this year:New Adult :( While I had A BLAST working with my NA Mentee Sonia Hartl last year, I've decided to stick with YA this time. Honestly, this is just to narrow my slushpile because the timing this fall is wonky. As you guys are reading this I am preparing to return to a 40 hour workweek the same day you guys will be sending in your pitches. I am just taking YA this year.
Adult or Middle Grade I don't even read adult fiction and Middle Grade requires a brain that works in this incredibly rare creative way of which I am just not capable. Again, I am just taking YA this year.
Hardcore Genre Fiction: If your book stars elves, orcs, other planets, vampires, or zombies or takes place in the year 3000, I am not your gal this year. I'd like to keep my slushpile to more realistic fiction. So just to be clear no hard sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, steampunk, time travel, westerns, books in verse or anything that in any way involves clowns or zombies. Because clowns and zombies.
Romance as a main plot. If Sarah Dessen is your idol, you've come to the wrong mentor. There are other mentors who are FANTASTIC at that stuff. I'm not one of them. I like my book boyfriend gritty and my plots full of chaos.
In realistic fiction, any of the following: cozy mysteries, faith-based fiction, horror, historical--unless it's roaring 20s or 1980s I WANT ALL YOUR 1980s HISTORICAL YA IN MY INBOX RIGHT THE FUCK NOW. Or, ya know, when the window opens.
Books that include my personal triggers--NICU baby stories are not good for my soul. Also child homicide.
Books that are similar to what I'm writing right now--Contemporary retellings (no fairytales, please!), military recruits, or books that deal with Cystic Fibrosis. I consider these conflicts of interest and would just rather not get into a project that's too similar to my own.
People in the Clubouse, my CPs, people I crit on Scribophile, or via my editing business. You guys already get to pick my brain. But PM me if you need suggestions for other mentors and name-drop me if you like.
Finally, and most importantly, I am not the right mentor for you if you do not want lots and LOTS of feedback. Ask my girls from last year. We went through their first 50 pages TWICE with a fine tooth comb in addition to me giving them global crits of their full mss. I've been known to put over 400 comments in manuscripts I edit. If you're looking for someone to tell you that your book is perfect just the way it is, I'm not sure why you need a mentor to begin with.
WHEW. Sorry it feels like there's a lot on this NOT list. I just want you guys to use your queries wisely. There are a ton of authors to choose from after all.
Okay now here's what I AM looking for:
All the realistic YA. This includes straight contemporary, magical realism, thrillers, action/adventure, ALL THE BOY BOOKS, psychologicals, gritty contemporary, light sci-fi/fantasy--think THE APOLLO ACADEMY (if it were YA) NOT ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. Your book should take place in modern, near-past or near-future times in the world in which we are all familiar. Well, most of us.
Diversity done well: People with disabilities, mental illness, QUILTBAG, or stories outside of the Western hemisphere really grab my attention. WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS! This includes diversity in the writer as well as the content.
Anything outside of these that you've pitched me on twitter and I've said, hellz to the yeahz, send it my way.
I want to be pitched by teen writers! If you're a teen participating in PitchWars and you're writing YA, I can pretty much promise you I will request pages and give you some kickass feedback, at the very least. I would love, love, LOVE to have a teen mentee or alternate this year. Seriously, if you're a teen writer with a YA mss, include all the NOTs above and SEND. IT. MY. WAY.
Some specific ideas that would make my year to find in my inbox: Really compelling anti-heroes, very flawed but still likable protags, boy books that speak to mental health issues or disabilities, LGBT MCs in non-coming-out books--Gay YA that's not about being gay, strengths-based perspectives on disabilities in sports, invisible illnesses/disabilities, elements of magic found in very tangible worlds (like CONJURED), books by contemporary conservative writers or about conservative teens that do not feed into stereotypes, really killer authentic teen voice in pretty much any genre, character driven YA with strong plots from start to finish, and multicultural YA from non-Western cultures where the culture itself is a character, but NOT an issue.
Favorite reads include YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS by Meg Medina, FRACTURE by Megan Miranda, FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, ELEANOR AND PARK and FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell, THE WASTED SERIES by C. Elizabeth Vescio, THE APOLLO ACADEMY by Kimberly P. Chase, OPENLY STRAIGHT by Bill Konigsberg, CONJURED by Sarah Beth Durst, WILD CARDS by Simone Elkeles, MORE by T.M. Franklin, PROMISE ME SOMETHING by Sarah Kocek, THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass, SHADES OF EARTH by Beth Revis, UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi...
I seriously could keep going, but you get the idea.
Final Tips--Listen Up! ;P
I do like comparisons to other works, particularly works I've enjoyed. (If you really want to get stalkerish about that, I have a Goodreads account.) I don't like comparisons to television shows. I haven't had cable since high school, so chances are I haven't seen it.
Last year, you could tell me why you're "querying" me. This year, that's not an option, so engage me on social media. The mentors are doing #askmentor on 8/11/14 at 2PM and 6PM EDT on Twitter. So if you're not sure we're a good fit, find me there! Know that I'll be scoping you out, too.
Be sure to participate in the "Contestant Bio Hop" here on my blog when it goes live (details coming soon.) It makes my stalking life easier. :)
Understand that I absolutely will request additional pages before deciding on my mentee. And a dreaded synopsis. (You should have these things ready for agents anyway so stop glaring at me like that.)
Questions? Feel free to drop them below in comments.
UPDATE--please do not use the Blog Contact form to send me your pitch. You may post as a comment here or ask me on twitter, publicly, where everyone can see it. I'm aiming for transparency so this process can be fair and equal for everyone. I will not respond to emails sent through the blog contact form in my sidebar.
Alright, you've got work to do. Hop to it.