Monday, September 23, 2013

PITCH WARS!!! (Or, I Brag About Myself a Little)

This week, the fabulous Brenda Drake will be announcing the mentors for Pitch Wars, a very cool contest in which aspiring writers are paired up with more experienced mentors to polish their queries and manuscripts for submission to agents. And this year, I’ll be on that mentor list!

This means that all the aspiring writers (or at least the ones who are research-fiends like myself) will scuttle off to the blogs of all the mentors to figure out who they’d like to work with.

But here’s the thing—I just started this blog. And while you can find me at my website and some other places, I want to do a few posts to let Pitch Wars participants know who I am and why I might be a great mentor for their middle grade manuscript.

I’ve been mentoring writers for fifteen years. In a previous life, I was a playwright (more on that later). As a playwright, I spent a ton of time doing classroom residencies teaching playwriting. Working mostly with 6th-12th graders, I helped kids find their voice and helped draw out the story they wanted to tell. I’ve also worked with adult writers, teaching workshops and evaluating scripts for the literary departments of several major regional theaters.

I’m a freelance editor and ghostwriter. As a ghostwriter, I’ve written fifteen middle grade novels (plus more picture books than I’ve counted, and some adult projects, too). I’ve edited a wide variety of manuscripts, but my favorites are always children’s projects. Past clients and critique partners say nice things about me here. I also work as a PR assistant to a NYT-bestselling middle grade author.

Speaking of critique partners… My critique partners all have amazing agents and deals with major publishers. I know my way around a query letter.

I write middle grade, aside from my ghostwriting. My manuscript FRAMED made the longlist for the Chicken House/Times of London International Prize for Children’s Fiction. I’m about to join one of the awesome MG group blogs (and will update this as soon as it’s official). I’ve been in the query trenches, myself and with my critique partners. I know the market.

About that playwright thing … Writing plays is very different from writing novels. No question. But in addition to teaching me how to be a disciplined writer, how to receive feedback and revise, how to manage submissions and deal with rejection (SO much rejection), being a playwright first gave me a kick-ass sense of pace, plotting, character, and DIALOGUE. (I’m super good with dialogue, y’all.)

So that’s all my bragging for now. (It sounded really braggy, didn’t it?) Trust me, I have a million insecurities. But one thing I’m confident I’m very good at is helping other people make their work the best it can be.

Next time I’ll post more about who I am on a more personal level …


  1. Joy is an amazing critique partner--she is crazy mart, savvy about the market, and will make your pages better than you thought possible. That is all :)

    1. Um, that would be "crazy SMART," not "crazy mart"--see what happens when she's not helping me with edits and such!?!?!

    2. Hey, we offer all kinds of crazy at the crazy mart, too. ;-) Thanks, Jess!!!

  2. You seem awesome, Joy! Very nice to meet you. There is nothing better in the world than writers helping writers, if you ask me.

  3. Hi there! Sounds like you'd be a great mentor! I'm definetly browsing my mentor options for my MG. I'd love to hear more of your tastes. Do you like dark/creepy? High action adventure? funny? light and fluffy? Serious? Well, you get the idea. Thanks for posting :)

    1. Thanks, Stacey! I'm going to devote a whole post to that before Pitch Wars starts, but here's a short version - I don't want to rule anything out completely, but I'm probably not the best choice for HIGH fantasy, aliens, or zombies. (That said, I can think of examples I love for all of those!!) I'm definitely a good choice for literary, contemporary, and multicultural. Especially stuff that might seem too quiet for contests - I'm on the lookout for those! I'll post more soon. Thanks for asking!