Tuesday, July 18, 2017

PITCHWARS 2017: Let's Do This!!!

It’s Pitchwars time!!!

Yes, that is me with a puppy in a baby carrier.
This may tell you all you need to know about me.
This is my fifth year as an MG Pitchwars mentor and it never gets any less thrilling to be entrusted with your beautiful words and stories and hearts. Thanks for stopping by on the blog hop, and thanks for opening yourself to the possibility of going on this wild, amazing ride! Maybe even with me!

So first things first. This year, I will only be accepting subs from writers from underrepresented groups.  A few important points about that:

·      For these purposes, underrepresented refers to people of color and Native writers, LGBTQIA+, those from religions aside from Christianity, disabled or neurodiverse people, immigrants and refugees, or those living at or near the poverty level.

·      Your manuscript does NOT have to be “own voices.” As in, your main character does not have to share your marginalization. (For more information on what own voices means, see this post.) I want to support an underrepresented writer, regardless of what they’re writing about. (I’m all for own voices stories, though!)

Me and another puppy. Henry is a serious snuggler.
·      I’m not the identity police. I grappled with how to handle this, because I don’t want to force anyone into disclosing an identity they’re not comfortable disclosing. I will not require anyone to justify their identity to me, but in subbing to me, there is a certain amount of admission, since I’m only taking subs from underrepresented writers. You can trust that I will treat your sub with the utmost confidence, and no one needs to know who you submitted to besides the contest administrators and those who receive your subs. (Though if I select you, people will know you subbed to me. J) If you’re not comfortable with that, I completely understand and you may simply want to sub to someone else.

·      I want to be clear that I am not an under-represented author myself. So I’m not able to offer sensitivity feedback in those areas, but as needed I would help you find sensitivity readers.

·      I know this leaves some people out. But it’s in the interest of lifting up those who are left out much of the time for reasons beyond their control.

OKAY! So if you are writing MIDDLE GRADE and you identify with one or more underrepresented groups, let me tell you a little about myself and what I’m looking for!!


WHO I AM:

I write middle grade and young adult. I’ve had a loooong road to publication, which you can read more about here. Short version: ten manuscripts, three hundred queries, two agents, five novels on submission, and finally (finally!) my debut book deal, BLOOD WATER PAINT, a YA novel-in-verse that will be published by Dutton Young Readers in 2018. 

This is my actual dog, Athena. 
The only way I survived that incredibly long road? The amazing writing community. I have sought out and been blessed by INCREDIBLE critique partners. Pitchwars has brought more wonderful CPs and writing friends into my life. And my Pitchwars mentees have become a valued part of that. Even when my books were not selling, my mentees were succeeding, and that fueled me on in my own writing. (You can read what my previous mentees said about working with me in my wishlist from last year.)

In addition to mentoring, I’m the Pitchwars Mom (aka, the mentor liaison), I’m a ghostwriter and author assistant, I’m a playwright, and a homeschooling mom.

On a non-bookish note, I live in the Seattle area. I fell in love with my husband atop a Guatemalan volcano (but that does NOT in any way mean I am outdoorsy. It took a lot to get me up that volcano and it will never happen again). I love theater and chocolate and dogs (could you tell I love dogs??).


WHO YOU ARE:

This is Luke. I desperately wanted to bring him home
with me from Guatemala. 
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!


WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR:

Above all, I want a manuscript with incredible voice. And heart. Voice and heart. The rest is negotiable. I tend to lean toward character driven stories and beautiful writing. I lean toward stories that are grounded in the real world, though that’s not hard and fast as you’ll see from my list of favorite books…

While I love humor (see my PW mentee Eric Bell’s book ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD!!), I am also totally open to darker, edgier topics and voices. If you’ve ever thought, Can I do that in MG? then I may be the mentor for you! (Though if you wonder if you’re treading a line between MG and YA, I did a video on how to tell the difference here.)

I also LOVE interesting form and structure. My debut novel is a novel-in-verse, and I’ve mentored two MG verse novels (to publication). I’m open to graphic novel scripts (though I could only critique story, and not art). I love epistolary stories and interesting timelines. Basically, if you’re trying something new and different, I’m eager to see it.

Here are some of my most favorite MG books (at least on the day I made this list, and leaving out classics, because this post is already long enough…)


FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo

GHOST by Jason Reynolds


THE PENDERWICKS by Jeanne Birdsall

ROOFTOPPERS by Katherine Rundell


GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead


INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thannha Lai

ROLLER GIRL by Victoria Jamieson

A BOY CALLED BAT by Elana K. Arnold


YORK by Laura Ruby

THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill

BAYOU MAGIC by Jewell Parker Rhodes

LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech



ECHO by Pam Munoz Ryan

THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER by Dana Allison Levy

FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE by Tim Federle





I’M NOT THE BEST FIT FOR:

Horror, hard sci-fi, high fantasy (Tolkein-esque)



WHY SHOULD YOU SUB TO ME?:

Most of my past mentees have gone on to sign with wonderful agents, and several Pitchwars books I’ve worked on have gone on to publication, including:


THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY by Laura Shovan (Wendy Lamb Books)

 ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD by Eric Bell (Katherine Tegen Books, 2017)



FORGET-ME-NOT by Ellie Terry (Feiwel & Friends)


THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC by Amanda Rawson Hill (Boyds Mills Press, 2018)



Of course, I can’t guarantee anything. And Pitchwars is truly so much more about the process than the product. I want you to have an incredible experience, regardless of the immediate outcome. (And the outcome might not even be clear until further down the line than you imagine.)

Whether you sign with an agent or get a book deal for your Pitchwars book, when you enter into a mentoring relationship with me, I am ALL IN. (Does anyone else automatically think of Luke & Lorelei whenever they hear, “All in”?)

Our relationship doesn’t end with the agent round. (I mean, unless you want it to.) I will support you through querying, through signing with your agent, through the submission process and on it goes. Most of my mentees have gone on to be very good friends. I am, quite frankly, insulted when they DON’T ask me to critique a new manuscript. 



Please don’t hesitate to ask questions here on the blog post, or engage with me on Twitter. And whether you choose to sub to me or not, highest of fives to you for putting your work out there. I know what it feels like and it takes all the courage. You are already Pitch Warriors!


RIP best puppy in the world, my beloved Owen.

To check out the rest of the Pitchwars mentors, go here. Now keep hopping...may you find the perfect mentor for you!!



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7 comments:

  1. If an immigrant author of color writes MG fiction about main character of similar color but from a very different country, is that acceptable to you? The story is set outside the U.S.

    P.s. My other novel (YA) is set partly in Guatemala,so Luke might enjoy it, especially the the three dogs in the story ..:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes! I do not want to police ownvoices identities. If you are an immigrant author of color, I am interested, regardless of the main character's identity. And ooh, yes, if I were mentoring YA I'd DEFINITELY want to see a story set in Guatemala! I lived there for a year and my husband is from there. Thanks for your question.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 17-year-old Carlos from Guatemala is the second/third main character in my YA fiction. He's from the Maya people, and the story there is set in Guatemala City and the Suchiate River. If you don't know this song, put on YoutUbe "Ricardo Arjona - Fuiste Tu feat Gaby Moreno". Enjoy

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello! I'm participating in PitchWars, but I don't write MG. I am simply commenting to thank you for the photo of the puppy in the baby wrap.

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, thanks Gia!! :-) We all need more puppies in baby wraps, I think.

      Delete
  5. Yes! I do not want to police ownvoices identities.

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    ReplyDelete
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