Hello there, friends!
It's that wonderful time of the year again when Pitch Wars hits the writing scene! For those who are unfamiliar with it, Pitch Wars is an online pitch contest created by author Brenda Drake. Writers submit their pitch and opening pages to carefully selected writing "mentors." Those mentors will then go through their submissions to choose one lucky entry to work with. Throughout the next two months, the mentor will guide the writer through revisions, prepping the manuscript for the agent round, where the new-and-improved, sparkly, polished pitches are posted live for agents to check out and hopefully make requests. More details about the contest and its submission guidelines are listed on Brenda Drake's site.
My experience with Pitch Wars began in 2014 when I was chosen an alternate (I later had to bow out of the Agent Showcase because I received an offer of rep). In 2015 I came on board as a YA mentor. So this will be my second year mentoring in the YA category. I am so, so excited to get the chance to work with another talented writer. Last year was so much fun. Without further ado, below are the genres I'm looking for in the YA category.
- Contemporary, realistic fiction.
I love it all--from dark and edgy to lighthearted and fun. I'm not the hugest fan of happily-ever-afters. Rather, I prefer those hopeful endings that make me fill in the gaps and wonder where the characters are one year from now.
Specifically, I'd love to see humor this year. If you make me laugh, odds are great that I'm going to keep reading. Don't get me wrong--the entire plot need not be laugh-out-loud funny. A plot with complexity is great too. I'm looking for something that has humor threaded into its voice and dialogue to balance the plot.
- Magical realism
Please, no paranormal or fantasy disguised as magical realism. I'm looking for something way more subtle than paranormal. Something like WE WERE LIARS, where the realistic world is firmly grounded, but there's a touch of something irrational or magical about it.
A little about my editing style...
I don't hold back when it comes to inserting comments in the margins of docs. I've been known to give as much as 300 comments to my critique partners. I strive to give the writer my immediate reaction, in real time. This will include a lot of "I like this!" or "Great line!" or "This doesn't make sense" or "Whaaaaat?" Of course, it will also include more in-depth comments when I identify an inconsistency of bigger problem. In addition to the document comments, I'll also prepare an edit letter that focuses on big picture issues, and I'll lay out an attack plan for you to follow while tackling revisions. I'm happy to be a hand-holder, as well. If you need moral support, or a virtual cookie, I'm here for you. For more about me, read my mini-interview on Brenda Drake's site.
A few examples of how I edit:
A little about my favorite books...
I have a ton of favorites--way too many to list.
MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera
THE LIST by Siobhan Vivian
WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart
WHEN IT HAPPENS by Susane Colasanti
BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray
CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers
DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Hass
EVEN WHEN YOU LIE TO ME by Jessica Alcott
ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Nivens
THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp
THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD by Emily Henry
I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES by Alexis Bass (I'm biased on this one--Alexis is one of my CPs.)
Anything and everything by Leila Sales. She is truly the master of balancing deep emotion with humor. I'm also a big fan of Kody Keplinger's work.
My favorite authors of contemporary fiction on the dark side are Lauren Strasnick, Courtney Summers, and Stephanie Kuehn.
My favorites on the lighter side are, as I mentioned above, Leila Sales and Kody Keplinger. I also enjoy Susane Colasanti, Miranda Kenneally, and Robin Mellom.
A few miscellaneous facts about ME...
I am a Harry Potter geek like no other. (Ravenclaw!)
I studied Latin for 7 years in high school and college. Caesar and Ovid are my jam.
My day job is in the surf/skate industry. If you can't handle tweets that include salty surfers, monster waves, or injury-laden skateboarders, I might not be the right mentor for you.
My reading resume goes a little something like this: Nancy Drew in elementary school, Sweet Valley High in middle school, and Christopher Pike and Stephen King in high school. By college, my tastes went a little haywire--I ranged from the horror-filled nightmares of John Saul to sultry, sexy stories by Jackie Collins.
I'm represented by the lovely Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freyman Literary Agency. For a not-so-brief summary of how I got my agent," check THIS out.
I'll be participating in one of the "Pitch Wars Live" shows featuring YA mentors at 8:00pm (EDT) on July 20th. Come join us!
Best of luck choosing your mentors!
See the full list of this year's YA mentors below: