Monday, August 3, 2015

Pitch Wars Mentor Bio AND Super-Awesome Wish List!!!!!!

This is it!!! The post of all posts! The post where I tell YOU, Pitch Wars Star Applicant, what I'm looking for as a 2015 Pitch Wars mentor!




I want your . . . .


But what kind of MG, you ask? This is a bit tricky to describe. I write contemporary fantasy with a sprinkle of science and am partial to fun, light-hearted stories. If your manuscript is a dark fantasy, an epic fantasy, or a realistic contemporary involving *serious* issues, I'm probably not your gal, and there are certainly other mentors who are a better match.

Here's some MG I've read and adored:

  1. Wendy Mass's Willow Falls' series (12 Finally, 13 Gifts, etc.) and, really, ANYTHING by Mass, including Every Soul a Star and The Candymakers
  2. Liz Kessler's Emily Windsnap series and Phillipa Fisher series
  3. Chris Grabenstein's Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
  4. Carl Hiaasen's Hoot, Flush, Chomp, and Scat
  5. Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series and Candy Shop War series
  6. Jennifer Nielsen's Ascendance trilogy
  7. Jody Feldman's The Gollywhopper Games
  8. Jodi Lynn Anderson's May Bird trilogy
  9. Natalie Lloyd's A Snicker of Magic
  10. Jessica Day George's Glower Castle series
  11. Megan Frazer Blakemore's The Water Castle
As you can see, I like my MG (for the most part) with some foot in the real world and a tad of whimsy or fantasy, but there's some straight medieval type fantasy and contemporary on the list. If your manuscript falls anywhere in the above range, even if you wouldn't necessarily use one of these books as a comp, SUBMIT to ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's what else I'm looking for in a mentee:

** Someone who has a polished manuscript you've just started querying OR are *thisclose* to starting to query. If you've already queried widely or if you already have full manuscript requests out with agents, your time is better spent working on a shiny NEW manuscript, not continuing to focus on this one.

** Someone who is open to comments/suggestions and really wants to take his/her manuscript to the next level, not just "get in" to Pitch Wars and then do nothing until November, when it's time to post your pitch for agents.

Here's what I'm NOT looking for in a manuscript:

** Perfection. Seriously. If you think it's perfect, there's no need for this contest. If your CPs love it, betas think it's great, and you've already received agent interest and things are rolling along, don't submit because . . . what do you need me for??!!! (Also, if those things are true--YAY for you!!) I'm looking for a manuscript that I think I can help, and that means polished, but it doesn't mean perfect.

** Anything that's not MG. Duh. MG' s target audience is 8-12 years old with the main characters no older than 13. Word count is about 40,000 to 65,000, but 65,000 is the end of the spectrum and usually limited to fantasy. That being said, word count is something we can easily work on, so don't fret too much about it.

Here's what you can expect with me if I choose you as a mentee:

** I read fast. You can expect a full set of comments/suggestions pretty quickly. I'll be open to discussion as you make edits/changes after my comments, but remember it's YOUR story and you'll know the characters the best, so after receiving my notes, it will be up to you to make any revisions you think will improve your manuscript.

** I'll read your revised manuscript again, with another round of comments (as long as time permits) prior to the agent-reveal time.

To Everyone who Submits to Me:

I will try and provide feedback to those who submit to me who I do not choose. I entered Pitch Wars twice and was not chosen either time, but yet I really appreciated any feedback the mentors gave me. So, I will do my best to offer feedback, even just a couple sentences, to everyone who submits to me.

More about Me:

I always struggled whittling down which mentors I was going to submit to, so if you're still wondering if I'm your gal, here's some extraneous info:

** My day job is a lawyer. I'm a big fan of strategic board games (mostly from Europe)--particularly those designed by Stefan Feld, but my new favorite game is Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Other hobbies are biking, fantasy football and baseball, and drawing with soft pastels. 

** Some favorite TV shows are Seinfeld, White Collar, Mad Men, Top Chef, and Once Upon a Time

** Some favorite movies are Star Wars, Shawshank Redemption, Pitch Perfect, Rounders, The Prestige, and The Devil Wears Prada

And I think that's it! Really, reading my MG list above is the best way to tell if your MG is something I'd be interested in reading, but hey if you're in doubt, go ahead and send it! You get to submit to FIVE mentors this year, so take a shot.

I read a lot of MG, YA, and adult fiction that includes contemporary, fantasy, horror, and everything in between. Overall, I just want to get lost in your story and root for your MC, whether she/he is training to be a trapeze artist, a spelling bee champion, or conductor of an animal choir. Make it fun, make it original, and I'm in. Totally. 

Still have questions? Comment below or tweet me - @theSol23! 

And please visit the Blog hop! to see the other mentors' pages!!

Find Other Pitch Wars Mentors Here

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Sunday, July 26, 2015


All of the important dates can be seen at Brenda Drake's blog. I'm not allowed to announce my wish list yet, but make sure to join us for the blog hop on August 3!!!!

Monday, July 6, 2015

AFTER Query Kombat!

Query contests are always thrilling. Throwing your work out there to be judged takes courage, and if you're lucky enough to make it into a contest, your work will be posted/commented on/seen by others. It's easy to get caught up in votes, moving on, agent requests, and the whole whirlwind of twitter activity.

But eventually the contest will end. They all do. So what's next?

Um, old-fashioned querying! You've evaluated feedback and made your revisions. You're ready to send out that shiny new query!

But my advice is to wait a second and take a good look at your entire manuscript. If you received comments regarding your first 250 words that your language was too flowery, was it really the case that you were too flowery only in the first 250? If you received feedback that your language tags were confusing--check and change throughout your manuscript. If you received comments that you were repetitive (and I saw a LOT of this), I doubt that issue was limited to only your first 250 words.

So before you jump on querying, take a look at the suggestions you received, and if you think there's merit--if you revised your first 250 based on those critiques--do yourself a favor and apply those same principles to the rest of your manuscript. Your work will be that much stronger for it, and when you get that full request from an agent, you can feel comfortable sending it off without first diving back in and trying to make a bunch of quick fixes before you press send.

Good luck everyone!

OH! And since I'm a part of Michelle's guess the QK judge contest, all I can say is: 138.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Query Kombat - Standing Out 

Last year I entered my MG contemporary fantasy into Query Kombat. It was the first contest I entered with that MG, and I was thrilled when Michelle chose it for her team. I subsequently advanced through a few rounds and received a few agent requests. While those didn't pan out for me and I eventually found my agent through the slush pile, more than a few of my former competitors did obtain their agents through Kombat. I also found CPs and beta readers during the fight, so yeah, in case you didn't know before, it is a big contest.

Of course, before you even get to the Kombat stage, you have to be picked by one of the three creators: Michelle, SC Write, or Michael Anthony for their team. They get only 21 picks each, and with hundreds of entries expected, that in itself is going to be a challenge. So how can you stand out? Here's a huge tip from what I noticed last year:

*** The queries chosen were not perfect. ***

I know, right? But for real--I saw typos, unclear thoughts, queries with no stakes, queries a bit too long (ME!), etc. Thing is--this is a query contest, but it's also a mentoring contest in that, when voting, the judges offer suggestions and critiques on how the query can be stronger and complement the first 250 words. The entrants then get to make changes to their queries and first 250 as they advance. This means that the queries chosen are not necessarily the most expertly written, but they do have one thing in common:




ALL of the entrants that made it into Query Kombat had one or more of these things in common. They had a clever hook or a fresh idea or voice that killed. Something to make Michelle, SC, or Mike sit back and think, "Hey, if this query was better, this could rock."

I'm not saying you shouldn't proofread, and I'm not saying you shouldn't format your query the right way. What I'm saying is that to stand out in this contest, you need to provide that spark or glimmer of a cool idea to show you're different from the others and can benefit from the structure of the contest.

How can you do that?


None of these:

"If Kim can't defeat the king, the kingdom will fail."
"Kim has to choose between her heart and her career."
"Kim discovers a secret that will change everything."

You get the idea--nothing vague. Offer us those details that show you're story is different.

Instead of "must save her kingdom":

"If Julie can't travel to the neighboring solar system, steal the sun, and trap its rays in the bottle, her kingdom will freeze."

Instead of "choosing between heart and career":

"If Amy accepts the appointment to the bench, thereby fulfilling her life-long dream of becoming a judge, she'll miss out on moving to Wyoming and being with the man she loves."

Instead of "discovers a secret":

"Then Carrie discovers her rescue dog is a robot and is just one of many animals the government is using to collect secrets on its citizens."

It's those details that peak our interest and make us stop and think, "Hey, this sounds neat. Yeah, the query could be clearer, and I'm not sure about the first 250, but the idea's intriguing. I want to see more."

THAT type of thing gives you a better chance of making it through than a perfectly written, dry query. For more ideas of what caught each judge's attention the first time around, head over to the three judges' blogs. I know Michelle still has last year's rounds on her blog--you can see what caught her eye!

Good luck! Can't wait to read!