Monday, August 3, 2015

PitchWars Mentor Bio 2015--Pick us! Pick us!

Hi kids! Welcome to what I firmly believe is the best pitch contest on the internet. It’s my third year mentoring and I am so, so ready to kick ass and take names along with my co-mentor Alexandra Alessandri, who was one of my mentees in 2013.


About Dannie:

You can read my previous mentor bios here and here.

I have a kickass success rate in helping my mentees find fantastic agents. 4 out of 5 writers I've mentored in PitchWars are now agented, and I’m so ready to increase that percentage again this year. If you're new around here, I'm a big believer in Writing Contests--in fact I've helped many of this year's mentors find agents, too! I’ve also been on the other side of the aisle. I was an alternate in PitchWars 2012 and found my first agent through Trick or Treat with Agents in 2012. Here’s a little info about me:

1.  I’m repped by the incomparable John M. Cusick of Folio Literary

2. By day I’m a disability advocate and mental health/substance abuse counselor for middle and high school students. I’m a licensed professional counselor and licensed school counselor.

3. I’ve owned my own freelance editing business since 2009 where I focus primarily on YA/NA manuscripts. Many of the manuscripts I’ve edited have gone on to obtain book deals with major publishers including Harlequin, Harper Collins, and Penguin Random House.

4. I’m on submission currently with a gender-flipped contemporary YA retelling of Robin Hood set at the US/Mexico border. My other two WIPs are an NA Contemporary set on Broadway and a YA thriller with a MC with cystic fibrosis.

5. I run a support group for writers—published and unpublished—in the past year we’ve written over a million words and many of us have gotten agents and/or publishing contracts.

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.

7. A repeat from last year: 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 it’s not even funny. I'm a mentor because I had an incredibly talented mentor myself three years ago (whose book you SHOULD be buying because it is AWESOME) and I enjoy giving back.

About Alexandra: 

I am so ridic excited to be part of PitchWars and getting to co-mentor with Dannie Morin—my own mentor extraordinaire back in 2013!!! It’s so cool and fun to be on this side of the magnificent writing contest that is PitchWars. Not only is this a great way to get your work out there, but it’s also amazing opportunity for building friendships, improving craft, and connecting with like-minded peeps. You can read about my experience in PitchWars here and here.

A little about Alexandra:

1. I’m Colombian-American. Though I was born in the States, I spent many summers in Colombia, and I grew up deeply entrenched in my Colombian heritage.

2. I’m completely bilingual in Spanish/English. In fact, Spanish was my first language. There’s a funny story about me, kinder, and getting lost.

3. By day, I’m a full-time English professor. I teach composition, creative writing, and literature. I’ve been teaching (and grading and editing) since 2004!!

4. I’m also a full-time mommy and wife.

5. I tweet too much and blog too little. Pinterest and Starbucks are my best friends.

6. I write for kids of all ages: PB, MG, and YA, and I’m agented by the fabulous Deborah Warren of East West Literary. I’m currently on submission with a multicultural YA fantasy set in Cartagena, Colombia.

We’re only mentoring YA this year. What we’d love to see:

1. Magical Realism: We adore magical realism. In fact, Alexandra’s master’s thesis was a study on how Toni Morrison and Isabel Allende used magical realism in their respective novels, Beloved and The House of the Spirits. But magical realism is one of those genres that’s often misunderstood. In magical realism, the story is deeply rooted in the realistic with just a hint of magic that, in the world of your story, is accepted as normal. There are no witches, wizards, vampires, zombies, etc. in magical realism. Magical realism is not urban fantasy, fantasy, paranormal, or sci-fi. And there tends to be a heightened attention to language in magical realism.

2. Mythologies: especially those that haven’t been done or are non-Western in nature. We’d especially love to see South American, indigenous, and Middle Eastern mythologies woven into fascinating tales. The only caveat: we don’t want to see Colombian mythology and immigration stories as it’s too close to what Alexandra and Dannie are working on at the moment.

3. Contemporary: Do you have a contemporary that’s out of the box? A story that hasn’t been done? An interesting take on reality TV? Romance (but that’s not the main plot)? We want to see it! We’re searching for stories that are emotionally compelling and have an original hook that makes us desperate to read more, as well as characters who are engaging, complex, and real.

4. Diversity: (when done well, sans stereotypes) Send us your diverse stories! If it’s a culture that is underrepresented, even better! We’d also be interested in seeing stories with characters who have chronic illnesses, but whose stories aren’t about the illnesses. But really, all diversity. *grabby hands*

5. Boy Books: Books that give voice to contemporary issues facing young men, straight, gay, queer, or questioning with authentic boy voice.

We wouldn’t be a good fit for:

1. Satire

2. Mysteries or thrillers

3. Gothic

4. Historical fiction (though near-historical or near-future are ok, e.g. Eleanor and Park)

5. On-the-page rape or child homicide

6. Memoir

7. Hard fantasy or sci-fi

8. If in doubt, ask us!

Some tips for pitching to us:

1. Dannie hasn’t had cable since 2003 and Alexandra rarely watches, so TV comparisons are not really helpful to them.

2. We’re both pretty Google-able and accessible on social media for all your mentor stalking needs. Occasionally, we’re even friendly. We're both going to be around for the video chats, #askmentor, etc between now and the submission window.

3. On the flip, we’re both really good at stalking people’s profiles. We might go CIA-style on you. Just sayin’. ;)

4. We will request additional pages AND a synopsis before we pick our mentee. So if you haven’t written your synopsis yet, the clock is ticking. You need to have these things ready for agents, so stop glaring at us like that. If you’re not sure how to write one, check out this Publishing Crawl article.

5. We don’t mind cursing. We do mind bigotry for the purpose of shock value.

6. We are both professional editors as well as writers. If you’re looking for a mentor to say “your book is awesome just the way it is, welcome to the agent round!” we are probably not your gals. Embrace the digital red pen.

7. We give feedback to everyone who pitches to us. It may be brief—it may be more detailed—depends on what our inbox looks like. But we will reply to everyone.

Collectively, we’re fans of the following books/authors: GILDED series by Christina Farley, SUMMER OF YESTERDAY by Gaby Triana, EIGHTH GUARDIAN by Meredith McCardle, ELEANOR & PARK and FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell, THE RED PENCIL by Andrea Davis Pinkney, PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi, OLIVIA TWISTED by Vivi Barnes, JUST A DROP OF WATER by Kerry Cerra, UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi, SHADOW & BONE by Leigh Bardugo, SEA CHANGE by Aimee Friedman, THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Mass, IF YOU FIND ME by Emily Murdoch, THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND and YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS by Meg Medina, FRACTURE by Megan Miranda, FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, CONJURED by Sarah Beth Durst, THE APOLLO ACADEMY by Kimberly P. Chase, THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR by Sarina Bowen, KISS THE SKY by Krista and Becca Ritchie, THE ONE by Kiera Cass, OFF THE RECORD by K.A. Linde, SANCTUM by Sarah Fine, IF I STAY by Gayle Forman, WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart.

That’s it for now! If you’ve got questions, throw them down in the comments below (please do not use the Blogger Contact Form to contact us—we will only respond publicly.) We’re looking forward to seeing your precious word babies in our inbox!

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  1. Dannie is a YA/NA goddess. She fights hard for what she believes in. I've heard rumor of a badass members-only mentee clubhouse. I'm pretty sure Dannie doesn't sleep. Ever. She's been a crit partner of mine for a few years and I adore her. I know you will too. Pick her! (Do. It.)

  2. I can tell you that Dannie brings forth all the awesome. She is a fabulous crit partner, great writer, and all-around cool gal. Plus she comes with a former mentor this year. That's like a 2-for-1 deal! Whoever manages to snag her is one lucky writer.

  3. Alexandra is an amazing critique partner! She has helped me with two manuscripts now, and her notes are always on point and comprehensive. She is the perfect blend of supportive and tough. She will tell you what doesn't work and suggest alternatives, often opening up new lines of thinking. Anyone who picks her will not be sorry!!!

    (Original comment deleted because of iPad autocorrect!)

  4. Whoever snags this fantastic duo as mentors will be one lucky author! That is all.

  5. Write a brief biography to introduce yourself, highlight achievements, list credentials and any notable projects with which you are involved. Bios should be short and concise, listing only relevant information. Avoid listing personal statistics, such as family and hobbies; instead angle the bio to the intended audience, whether for a personal website or a professional networking website.See more company biography.