It's Pitch Wars Time!

It's time for #PitchWars, and I'm SO excited to be a mentor this year!

If you're not familiar with the rules of PitchWars, make sure that you check them out HERE.

If you're searching for a mentor and you have a Young Adult Novel, you're in the right place. 

So why do you want me to be your mentor?

No, wait... I know this one. 

Maybe it's my sparkling personality?

Yeah... you're probably right. But if you like dry humor with a twist of sarcasm, I'm your girl! If you, too, have a dry sense of humor and speak sarcasm like it's a second language, we probably will get on smashingly.

Still not enough to convince you?

Well... How about the fact that I have a PhD in Literature, so I'm basically a certified expert in analyzing stories? Or the fact that I've taught writing for *cough cough* years? I'm pretty excellent at seeing what someone is trying to do with their writing and helping them get to the heart of how to fix it. 

Not doing it for you, eh?

How about that I'm represented by the fantabulous Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon and have four books under contract. I write dark and magical YA, usually with a twist of romance and history. I'm published by Flux (Sweet Unrest and Gathering Deep) and Simon Pulse (The Stars Turned Away), and I can tell you all about the differences between smaller presses and the Big 5. I'm here to answer any questions you have about this whole crazy business.

Still not what you're looking for? What if I tell you that I've also worked since 2010 as an editor? I did an internship with Entangled's YA division, where I read and evaluated submissions, and I was an acquisitions editor at Samhain, an e-first romance press.

I know what stands out in the slush pile (the good and the bad), how to take a manuscript from draft to final book, and how to help an author find their own best story instead of imposing my own style, story, or ideas in the book. I've worked with first-time writers and USA Today Bestsellers, and I know how to write a hella good edit letter. A hella good edit letter.

That being said, my edit letters are usually straight to the point and contain a bit of that dry humor and snark we talked about earlier. If you're going to need someone to hold your hand a lot or you want more praise than hard truth, you might want to find a different mentor. 

Still here?? I haven't scared you off??

Excellent... Because I want your words! And I want to help you make them even better! So send me your heartbreakingly beautiful sentences, your swoony, impossible romances, your characters that feel so real, I want to take them out for coffee.

I'm a sucker for a strong voice and beautifully wrought phrases. I love a good romance, but I like darker stuff too. Basically, if it's beautifully written and a compelling story seething with conflict, I want your words.

But will your words be right for me? Who knows. But here's some more information to help you make up your mind.

My favorite authors/books:

The professor-side of me cut my teeth on Toni Morrison, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Joseph Heller, Tim O'Brien, Octavia Butler, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, TS Eliot, James Joyce. Basically, I love a good post-modern plot structure if it's done well, so if your book is non-linear or employs multiple POVs, it might be right up my alley.

The reader in me loves Diana Gabaldon, Deborah Harkness, JK Rowling, Nora Roberts, Eloisa James, Laini Taylor, Jennifer Echols, Tessa Gratton, Maggie Stiefvater, Karen Marie Moning... and a list of Romance writers that goes on and on. Basically, if a book is beautifully written, has some epic romantic tension, characters that feel real enough to be your friends, and some sort of magic, I'm in. (A hot Scott in a kilt never hurts, either.)

Recent Books I've Loved:

BONE GAP by Laura Ruby- I just finished this one and was blown away by the whole thing. I couldn't figure out how it was all going to end until the author wanted me to know--amazing plotting and world building. 

THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma- I've been a fan of hers since I picked up IMAGINARY GIRLS, but this one really hooked me. The plot felt effortless, and the writing was spot-on and drool-worthy.

THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater- I know, I know. Everybody else read this one ages ago, but it's the kind of fantasy I really love--the type of fantasy that takes place in a world that feels like our own. I love that idea that magic could really be there, just waiting below the surface if only we looked for it.

RITES OF PASSAGE by Joy Hensley- This is a great example of the kind of contemporary I love. No magic in here and it's not technically a romance, but I read this one in a single sitting, with my heart in my throat the whole time. 

THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT by Jason Reynolds- Again, an amazing contemporary. Immersive voice, diverse main character, and a emotional story that kept me hooked.

What I'm Looking For:

  • YA- Contemporary or historical, some fantasy elements
  • Romance- Even if it's just a subplot, someone needs to smooch by the end and the story has to deal with that relationship as part of the conflict 
  • Strong, clear voice- Manuscripts with a natural sense of the rhythm of language
  • Clear sense of setting- I love it when books feel like the place they're set and that place is essential to the story. Sink me into that world.
  • Magic- It's not a deal breaker if you don't have a supernatural element, but then your characters and situations better be so real and immediate that I don't care.
  • Magical Realism- I mean real magical realism. Not paranormal that you're calling magical realism.
  • Diverse Characters that aren't tokens.
  • Books with a literary voice- If you feel like this is how you'd describe your own writing, I'd probably be interested in taking a look, even if your book fits into the "What I'm Not Looking For" list.

What I'm Not Looking For:

I kind of hate making this list, because if the writing is good enough, I always have exceptions.

  • High fantasy - There are always exceptions to this, like SNOW LIKE ASHES or the SMOKE & BONE trilogy, but for the most part high fantasy (completely invented worlds, languages, and names that are hard to pronounce) isn't usually where I gravitate.
  • Books about child abuse or rape- I think these books are so important, but I have a hard time with explicit scenes where people (especially children) are being tortured. People always die in my books (and often in not-pretty ways), but it's the emotional turmoil of the abuse that I have a hard time with, and I don't think I'd be the best person to help polish that book.
  • Books without romance- If there's not some sort of sexual tension or attraction, I'm probably not your girl.
  • Hard Science Fiction- Give me a romance set in space, but if the emphasis is on the science of your science fiction, I'm probably not your girl.
  • Mysteries- I don't read them that often, so I don't know enough about plotting them to really help you.

That's it! I've been so grateful to all of the authors who helped me get to the point where there are books on the shelf with my name on them, and I'm super excited to pay that generosity forward. So if that sounds good, send me your pitch!

And I guess, you know, if you want, you can take a look at these other people, too...

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