Onward to the good stuff . . .
MY 2016 AWESOME WISH LIST!!
1. Anything science, technology, or STEM related/influenced, bonus points if it's a female MC. My writing always has a tinge of science--so far I've included comets, teleportation, a supervolcano, and alchemy. I've even made up sciences--like wishing science and luck science. So anything contemporary with a real or made-up scientific element (robots and engineering tech, an environmental angle, i.e. Hiassen, and computer science all count) is right up my alley! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE send me your science and tech-themed babies!!
2. Anything revolving around a competition/tournament. Think GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES, ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY, BOOK SCAVENGER, THE CANDYMAKERS, THE LEMONADE WAR. And, similarly, if you have a group of kids who have to figure out how to work together in some sort of game or puzzle or even to solve a cool mystery, I am totally in! (I've also written a tournament book that is currently on sub, so I totally understand the issues that can crop up in the puzzle-like environment!)
3. Any contemporary fantasy that takes place in our world, such as the Fairy Godsister books, Emily Windsnap, Fablehaven, The Sixty-Eight Rooms . . . I cannot tell you how much I love contemporary fantasy. Our world with a touch of magic (magical realism or straight fantasy) is exactly what I write, and there's just not enough of it out there to read! If you have a story involving any kind of magical element in our world, you have no choice but to send it to me! (*I'm waving my hand and using the force right here, so, no, you really don't have a choice.*)
4. Any fantasy that takes place completely in another world. What this means is that I am not the best for portal fantasy. Secret doors/passages, etc. that lead kids to another magical land have to be REALLY different and special to grab and hold my interest. Yes, they can be done well, but I find myself having a hard time getting into them. There are a lot of other awesome mentors doing fantasy, so your chances might be better with them.
As for those other worlds/other magic systems/other lands . . . the more off-the-wall, the better! I have totally been on a whimsical kick lately--the Iremongers (HEAP HOUSE, FOULSHAM), to UN LUN DUN (Mieville) (and yes, technically this is a portal fantasy), to fellow MG mentor Wade White's forthcoming novel (releasing September 2016!) THE ADVENTURER'S GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL ESCAPES, and YA mentor Charlie Holmberg's PAPER MAGICIAN series! Finally, I can't neglect to mention my beloved AGATHA H (steampunk). Basically, if you've got a super-weird manuscript where it rains squid, books have legs, and camels have five humps (two for storing sprinkled donuts), let me have at it!
5. I have some favorites where genre really doesn't matter. I love baseball and like most sports (football, tennis, hockey, basketball), board games, mazes/labyrinths, video games, cooking competition shows, HGTV (new obsession: tiny houses!), Springsteen, Star Wars, cephalopods, llamas, and owls. I also have a thing for amusement parks, circuses, safaris, anything nautical, and treasure hunters. If your manuscript has any of these, you will not go wrong SENDING IT MY WAY!
Have something else? Don't fret! Thing is, I read a LOT of different genres in MG. That's why I shaped my wish list to focus more on topic than genre. Semi-serious contemporary a la Lisa Graff (i.e. UMBRELLA SUMMER & LOST IN THE SUN) will work if it has a dose of humor/light-heartedness. I also enjoy light, funny horror, like MAY BIRD and voice-y contemporary with humor (Paul Acampora, Kristen Tracy). And, finally, while I like new worlds, let's face it, a good traditional fantasy with swords, magic, and fantastical beasts can never be wrong!
Hmmmm. What else can I tell you?
The high end on word count for MG is about 50,000 (with a few exceptions). We only have a couple months to whip your MS into shape, so the cleaner it is by submission time, the better. I'm not setting a word limit on submissions, but regardless of who you submit to, keep word count in mind and trim before you submit. If you do have a 75,000 word MG, please know I am going to do my best to streamline that sucker!
Which leads to a bigger point--if you sub to me please keep an open mind and be ready to REVISE, REVISE, REVISE. The idea of Pitch Wars isn't to pick perfect manuscripts, it's to pick manuscripts where we think we can add something to help it get an agent's attention and then get published. If you're unwilling to consider suggestions and revise, then, as much as I'd love to read your baby, please reconsider subbing to me.
Getting substantive notes doesn't mean your manuscript sucks or your writing sucks. I just got chapter notes back from a CP, and they're littered with suggestions and comments. Criticism is intended to help. We're all in this together, and if I mention something it's because I think it will make your book better in the end. Yes, revisions take time and it can be difficult looking at your story a new way after the months/years it took you to write it, but just because something is hard doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.
And on that note, the goal here is not to make something "good enough" for an agent. The goal is to make your manuscript AWESOME and the best it can be. Team Kraken will not stand (or swim) for anything less!!
Last year I promised feedback to everyone who submitted to me, but some people really seemed not to care. It takes a lot of time on my part to craft feedback, and there's no sense in spending the time if people don't want it. So, new rule: I will give feedback only if you request it! The best way is probably to just tweet me (@theSol23) after the mentees are announced. I'll add you to the list and get back to you!
This really depends on what changes I think are necessary. The plan is to email an edit letter within the first week, and from there be available for bouncing off ideas. The revising is obviously up to you, but if we can get it to the point where I can read and do line edits before the agent round, I'm all for it.
I tried to be specific but not too specific in crafting this wish list, but I know I'm overlooking something! Last year was my first year as a mentor, and after my list posted I saw mentees tweeting away and was like, "I want that too! And that, and that, and that!" So if you have any doubts, feel free to tweet and ask! If it's for me, I'll let you know, and even if it's not, I can try to steer you to other mentors who may be a good fit.
For me, I'm essentially looking for a story that is well written that I can get lost in! I will read your pages regardless of the quality of the query. I'm not an agent. I'm a writer, like you, and my goal here is to find a manuscript that I can help. The pages will play so much more of a role in my decision than your query (and synopsis, if you have one), so don't let query/synopsis fears play a role in subbing to me. We can fix that later.
Last words in my attempt to garner your interest if you're on the fence about picking me: Brenda has increased the number of mentors you can submit to if you make a donation, so go on and donate and give me one of those extra spots! Lol.
Thanks so much for reading, and best of luck!
Oh, and last but not least:
Don't forget to read about the other MG mentors! Hopefully the links display below, but if not go directly to Brenda Drake's website to visit the MG Blog Hop!
** And for clarification, my secret letter is W.