My wishlist and what you can expect from me as a mentor.
If you’re still new to this whole Pitch Wars thing, let me give you a little info. This is an awesome competition where you enter your manuscript for a chance to get paired with a mentor who will help you get your book into the best shape possible. Then, you get to go to the agent round where a captive audience of agents (not literally captive, though, because that would be creepy—in a bad way) reviews all the subs and requests fulls. In other words, if you get chosen in Pitch Wars, you have an excellent chance of getting an ADVANCE TO FULL REQUEST card. And even if you don't sign, there's a lot you will LEARN, so let's get started.
For more information about Pitch Wars, click HERE.
So, who am I & why you might want to choose me as a potential mentor?
1. 11 is my lucky number.
2. I’m a new mentor this year, but I was selected as a MENTEE in a very similar competition last year, Pitch2Publication. As a result of that, I signed with my dream agent, Dr. Uwe Stender, president of Triada US Literary Agency. He went on to sell my P2P book, TEN PAST CLOSING, which will be published next spring by Sky Pony Press.
Because I’ve been in YOUR shoes, I know how nerve-wracking and exciting and scary and hard this whole thing is. I’ve been on the receiving end of a massive edit letter and line edits up the wazoo. I worked my butt off and then worked my butt off some more. And a little more. Then I waited. OMG, I waited, and I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. But. I. Survived. (So will you.) And I want to be there with YOU when it's your turn.
4. No one wants a crabby mentor. If you check out my blog, you’ll see I strive to inspire and motivate writers. My Number 1 Motto is: You can’t fail if you don’t give up. I believe 100% that if you want to be a published author you will, as long as you keep at it. That’s the spirit I’ll bring to this competition.
5. Because I’m a psychologist, one my strengths is in creating authentic, realistic characters that drive the action of the story. Being EITHER a character-driven or plot-driven author is so last year; I want to help you be both.
6. This is my dog. He’s not going to be helping out with mentoring this year (which is a very good thing because he can't read no matter how much he fakes it), but he’s a cute little bastard.
9. I’m looking to develop a real relationship with my mentee. Our friendship won’t end when the competition is over. Once I work with you, I’m going to be so excited to hear about all your doings and happenings. I hope to be a resource for the long-haul. (And don’t be surprised if, down the line, I bug you to be a resource for me. It’s all about writers helping writers.)
10. I love to eat. Pizza (as above), ice cream, donuts, cheese. All the cheese. And coffee. I make a MEAN pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. But, most of the time, I’m into eating healthy. I’ve tried at least half the recipes on Skinnytaste.com, and I’m huge into working out. It’s my foundation. Finally, thanks to a friend in my writing group, I recently got into Bullet Journaling because colored markers and stickers and washi tape, and OMG, it’s so fun.
11. I did NOT start out as a writer. I DO NOT have an MFA. I didn’t study writing in college or grad school. But writing a book was something I always wanted to do, and one day, I said: Let me see if I can do it. And that started me off. I’ve been writing for only seven years, so I know what it’s like to be a constant learner. I’m still learning. So, unless you’re Shakespeare (you're not are you? Because if so, OMG, vampire), I totally expect that you’re still learning too.
I’m a practicing, licensed clinical psychologist. I work with people every day on figuring out what their strengths are, understanding their barriers & things that limit them from reaching their potential, and setting the kind of goals that work. On the education front, I’ve been teaching and mentoring students at all levels (from college to post-grad) for over ten years. My Number 3 Motto is: It’s not about being good. It’s about getting better.
What can you expect if you work with me?
- When I read your book, I’ll be looking to understand the book as you envision it, then work with you to further hone the things that are already working well and identify places where you can bring out the heart of your vision even more.
- You can expect a combination of questions to help you think more deeply about your plot and your characters along with actionable items--specific, concrete ideas of things you can try.
- Speaking of character, it's one of my specialties. I may even share my special Character Map with you. (Who am I fooling, I'm totally going to share it.)
- Once I’ve read the whole thing, I’ll send you an edit letter with all my thoughts on what I love, your characters, character interaction, pacing, plot weaknesses/inconsistencies, etc. I’ll give you some time to read through it, then we can communicate about it (video chat, phone, email—whatever) and come up with a solid revision plan.
- Once you complete your revisions, I’ll read through the book again and give you comments in the margins.
- We’ll pay extra attention to your first chapter and your query; I’ll also do a line edit of your first 50 pages, and then you can take those suggestions and carry them through the rest of the book.
- I’ll be here to cheer you on the whole way, including providing support during the hardest part of the competition—the waiting phase. We’ll get through it together with pizza, donuts, wine, and all the cheese.
My wish list (Yay! This is the best part.)
- Voice, voice, voice.
- My number 1 request is some good MG horror or anything creepy/scary/eerie.
- I’m also looking to see contemporary books full of thrills.
- My favorite type of horror is paranormal/supernatural, so bring on your ghosts and demons.
- Witches in contemporary settings are great too.
- I’m a SUCKER for a haunted house story. (My secret ambition is to write the world’s best haunted insane asylum book, but if you beat me to it, send that baby over here please.)
- I’ll take my horror with a dose of silliness or keep it straight. I love HECK, WHERE THE BAD KIDS GO (by Dale E. Basye and Bob Dob) and THE MONSTER SQUAD, so feel free to send me your humorous horror.
- I’m open to MG horror with a more literary vibe too, like A MONSTER CALLS (by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd).
- I’m all about seeing creepiness in the mundane, so more subtle stories or MAGICAL REALISM are very welcome (e.g., DOLL BONES by Holly Black).
- I’m open to portal-style books like THE SPINDLERS or LIESL AND PO, both by Lauren Oliver. Books like the SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (Holly Black) would be great.
- Adventures and thrillers? Yes, please. I’m dating myself here, but I’d love to read the next GOONIES. OMG, if you wrote STRANGER THINGS for MG, that’s for me. Or STAND BY ME. Or something like CLOAK AND DAGGER.
- Scavenger hunt stories would be fun (especially if there’s a creepy element).
- I’m a sucker for kids getting stuck somewhere and having to survive something (lost in the woods, stranded on a desert island, accidentally locked up somewhere—OMG, if they’re accidentally locked somewhere and there also happens to be a ghost or monster, that book is for me. Clearly there’s a theme here.).
- I will take fantasy if it’s rooted in the contemporary world (e.g., SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES by Holly Black).
- I’m open to some SCI-FI, but again, rooted in the contemporary world.
- Detective stories, especially with humor. My favorite movie of all time is CLUE. If you’ve written CLUE for MG readers, me wants…
That's it for me. You can read ALL the MG mentors' bios and wishlists at the bottom of my page.
Please read my WHAT I'M NOT LOOKING for list below.
What am I looking for in a mentee?
- flexible and open-minded about revisions? Listen, when you sign with your agent (and you will, I know it), you’re going to continue to get tons of feedback on your work. Then you’ll sell your book (totally, it will happen), and your editor is going to have a ton of changes for you to make too. So, revisions are a normal and natural part of the writing process. (Personally, my favorite parts of all my books are born in revisions). So, if you’re open-minded and willing to do an overhaul if it’s in the service of your vision, I really want to work with you.
- not afraid to work hard? There’s a timeline in Pitch Wars, and you will likely be eating, sleeping, and breathing your book. Are you reading this saying: Bring it on!—good!
- serious about your writing career? I can’t promise that if you work with me you’ll get an agent and a book deal. I can promise you’ll learn from this experience, and your book will be better than when you started. So, if you don’t sign, are you still going to be as motivated to keep trying as you were the day you entered this competition? Will you keep querying that book until you find your dream agent? Will you write a new one and query that if this one doesn’t get you there? Yes? Then send me your submission, my friend.
What I'm NOT looking for.
- Quiet books. I’m a genre girl, so I’m looking for books with thrills and scares.
- Pure contemporary. I love these books (think BFF BUCKET LIST by Dee Romito or THE SLEEPOVER by Jen Ramone), but I’m not looking for that this time around.
- High fantasy.
- No vampires or werewolves (UNLESS it’s a silly take on the trope. Think FAT VAMPIRE for MG or THE MONSTER SQUAD.)
- No space stories.
- No dystopians, please.
- Books full of grammar errors and typos and that are overall poorly written. Pitch Wars is for books that are complete and somewhat revised (but perfection is not expected, so don't worry if there are some errors). If your book requires too many basics to get it into shape, we just won't have the time. So please, read and edit your book now before the submission window opens.