Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pitchwars 2016!!! I want your MG!!

It’s PitchWars time again!!!!!


(We start the storytelling early in my house.)

I love this contest. Highest of fives to you for taking your work seriously enough to even consider entering. This road can be long, but there’s no reason it has to be lonely, and PitchWars is an AMAZING way to plug into the writing community.

Last year, I had three Pitchwars mentees. (Long story, unusual circumstances.) My mentee Eric Bell “won” the contest with 25 requests in the agent round, ultimately selling his MG contemporary ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD at auction to Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins. (Though I really think anyone who participates in Pitchwars wins, even if you’re not selected by a mentor. That’s not a rah-rah everybody-gets-a-ribbon mentality. It’s my experience heading into my fourth year as a mentor, seeing what writers can get out of this contest if they truly invest themselves in the community that’s offered.)

Also last year, my mentee Shanna Rogers signed with Julia Weber of JAW Literary Agency, and mentee Amanda Rawson Hill (who’s a mentor this year) signed with Elizabeth Harding of Curtis Brown. I expect we’ll hear great news from both of them soon.

Here's what those three mentees from last year had to say about working with me: 


The best thing about Joy is that she is able to see right down to the heart of your story and knows just how to draw it out. I learned so much about how all the pieces of a story should fit together from her. It has fundamentally changed the way I write. 
Amanda Hill, Pitchwars mentee 2015 


Joy is the master of all mentors. Yes, I am biased, but I can't imagine anyone else approaching this process with the care, love, and skill that Joy brings. She is a multi-year veteran and her experience shows. Joy pushed me to go deeper with my characters than I ever had before, and her insights left me thinking, Why didn't I think of that? She sees right through to the heart of a story.  
Shanna Rogers, Pitchwars mentee 2015


Working with Joy was an incredible experience. Her enthusiasm and love for my book were boundless, but it didn't stop her from taking an objective editorial approach to revisions. She helped build up the good parts and honed in on key areas that needed to be strengthened. Joy was available at every step of the process: she helped with my pitch, my query letter, and with general advice and questions of all kinds. Submit to Joy—she will be your biggest cheerleader and your fairest critic, and she will take your manuscript to the next level!
Eric Bell, Pitchwars mentee 2015

That's my first PW mentee's book!
My mentees from previous years include current MG mentors Laura Shovan and Ellie Terry, who both got agents and book deals with the Pitchwars books they worked on with me. You can buy Laura’s THE LAST FIFTHGRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House) now and pre-order Ellie’s FORGET ME NOT (Feiwel & Friends/ Macmillan) here.

I LOVE this contest, because I have seen the results and built relationships that have lasted. I have one previous mentee who has not signed with an agent yet, but I have seen the growth in her work too. I continue to read for her and encourage her along the journey. It’s different for everyone and I know the long road better than most.

That's the MG reader who lives in my house, in her reading nook.

SO WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR?

I'm a ghostwriter, freelance editor, and MG writer represented by Jim McCarthy. I have a degree in theater and also write plays. I spent more time in previous wishlists explaining my credentials, and you can see those here and here

I LOVE MIDDLE GRADE. Most especially realistic contemporary, verse, multicultural, and magic realism. I LOVE funny and heartbreaking, and if you can manage it – both! I’m wide open to “quiet” and literary, but also love the commercial and adventurous. Diversity of all kinds is always welcome. Above all, it has to have TERRIFIC VOICE.

If your manuscript has anything in common with these MG titles, PLEASE send your submission my way!!

ROOFTOPPERS by Katherine Rundell
FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo
THE PENDERWICKS by Jeanne Birdsall
BETTER NATE THAN EVER by Tim Federle
THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER by Dana Allison Levy
INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thannha Lai
MAY B by Caroline Starr Rose
LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech
GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead
MATILDA by Roald Dahl
A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT by Linda Urban
THE WINNIE YEARS series by Lauren Myracle
A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness

Some personal elements I’m likely to connect to in a manuscript (or chatting with you on Twitter) – performing arts, bicultural families, homeschooling, Latin America, dogs, feminism, social justice issues, and chocolate. (In no particular order!)
Oh look! Some books fell off my shelves 
and just happened to land in an 
interesting shape! Is that a letter…?    

(But maybe your manuscript has none of the above and that’s TOTALLY fine. If it’s got great HEART and VOICE, I want to see it!!)

I'm open to a touch of magic but I’m not your best bet for sci-fi, horror, or high fantasy (elves and witches and systems of magic and whole other kingdoms). I’m also not your best bet for animal main characters (unless you’re Kate DiCamillo. And if you are—can you mentor me???).



WHO DO I WANT TO WORK WITH?

You don’t have to have ANY credentials, aside from stellar promise in your manuscript, as long as you’re willing to dig in and do the work. If I choose your manuscript, there’s a good chance you’ll have major revisions ahead of you. Previous mentees have added or cut major plot elements and entire characters, changed POVs, and pretty much worked non-stop for the entire revision period. (But you won’t be required to implement any revision suggestions that don’t resonate with you. It’s YOUR book, after all.) So I’m looking for someone who’s willing to WORK, who’s not precious about changes, who’s in this for the long haul, and who wants an agent, a book deal, AND a sense of community.

I can’t promise you the first two, but I’ll throw everything I’ve got into getting you there. And I CAN promise you as much support and encouragement as you can possibly stand!

I LOVE to watch my kids unlock whole other
worlds, build empathy, and become more creative,
intelligent, compassionate people through the stories
they read and tell. 



Here's where you can check out the rest of the amazing MG mentors!



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2 comments:

  1. Hi Joy! I'll be submitting for YA but I just wanted to stop by and say how much I love what you said here about community, having a willingness to work and the desire to really dig deep in order to improve.

    I help college students with their essays so I'm familiar with the revision process on that end of things. I definitely believe that as long as someone has a positive mindset and a willingness to implement changes in order to improve then that alone can make a world of difference.

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