Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pitch Wars - PICK ME, PICK ME!!!

Pitch Wars writers! Hey, thanks for coming by! I’m thrilled to be a middle grade Pitch Wars mentor for the first time. I’ve been mentoring writers for about fifteen years, and I’m really excited about coming alongside one of you and helping you make your manuscript better than you ever dreamed.

This is how much I want your application—I’m going to do a query critique for everyone who applies to me.  

About Me:

I have a degree in theater from Northwestern University, where I focused on playwriting. Then I spent fifteen years writing plays (and submitting them and learning about rejection and self-promotion and discipline and feedback, etc. etc.). I also spent most of that time in classroom arts residencies, helping kids find their voice through writing. I make my living as a freelance ghostwriter (mostly writing middle grade fiction) and editor (mostly of fiction, but sometimes non-fiction, too). I started writing middle grade about four years ago. Earlier this year, I made the longlist for the Chicken House/Times of London International Prize for Children’s Fiction. I blog at Project Mayhem and I work as an assistant to a NYT bestselling middle grade author.

You can find more about me HERE and HERE and HERE

I still write plays, though my focus is middle grade these days. I live in the Seattle area with two amazing homeschooled kids and my incredibly awesome husband who I met when traveling through Guatemala for a year. I’m kind of a hermit, never happier than when I’m home reading and writing. And eating chocolate.

About You:

I want to work with someone who’s open to feedback, passionate about writing middle grade, willing to tear their novel apart as needed, and willing to keep trying no matter how many times they’re knocked down. I’ve been knocked down a lot. My getting-back-up muscles are incredibly buff. (They are, full disclosure, my only buff muscles.) I will help you get back up.

What I’m Looking for:


I don’t want to rule anything out completely – a couple years ago, I probably would have said, “No zombies.” But then I read Zombie Tag by Hannah Moscowitz, which is all kinds of awesome. So really, I’m open to anything that’s fantastically written. But to give you the best idea of my tastes, I’ve listed a bunch of middle grade books I LOVE. 

I’m limiting this list to the non-obvious, because Rowling, Cleary, Dahl, White, etc. - please.

But here are a few less obvious but still amazing books on my favorites list:

The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall
Splendors & Glooms AND A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Wonder by RJ Palacio
The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards
His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (also Flora & Ulysses and Winn-Dixie)
Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshish
Walk Two Moons AND The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech
The Winnie Years series by Lauren Myracle
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
May B by Caroline Starr Rose
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams

And if I can place a special request—do you have a manuscript you think might be too literary or quiet to stand out in a contest? I’ve got a special place in my heart for you. (But send me your rollicking adventures, too—I really love all things middle grade!)

So, What Next?

On November 25th, go to Brenda Drake’s blog for all the details about submission.

But for now, go ahead and salivate over this super amazing agent list:

And, okay, I’m not the only mentor in this thing. (But send me ALL THE MIDDLE GRADE!) Check out the amazing array of mentors Brenda has gathered – read up and find the best fit for you!

(Oh, and p.s., don't tell anyone, but the SECRET LETTER is R. Like Ron Weasley. Or Roald Dahl. Or Reepicheep. Or Ramona Quimby. You get the idea. Good luck!)

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  1. I just want to say that as Joy's critique partner, I can tell you that you will get incredible, insightful and spot-on comments if you pick her. She is AMAZING!!!

  2. Ditto to what the above CP said~ I wouldn't have gotten agented without Joy!

  3. Chiming in to third Ann and Jess's comments. Joy is a fantastic writer and excellent close reader/crit partner. She will make an amazing mentor!

  4. Hi, Joy. I sent you a quick email. My middle grade novel is in verse. Are you white-space friendly?

    Laura Shovan

  5. Everyone's already said this, but Joy is fantastic. And a FREE QUERY CRITIQUE FOR EVERYONE SUBMITTING?! Without her, my query would be terrible. Send your MG novels her way--I certainly would if I could! Oh, and hi, Joy! I'm finally getting out of my three-boys-is-way-more-than-two stupor to start submitting again (I've been writing, but not submitting since last year). Have fun being a mentor!

  6. Aw, thanks Brenda! So great to hear from you! I cannot even imagine three kids. Yay for getting back in the trenches!