I'm a huge fan of Brenda Drake and the internet-things she accomplishes on a daily basis, so I was thrilled to be invited to be a mentor for the 2015 edition of Pitch Wars! I'm a little bit of a dark horse, so I don't blame you if you have no idea who I am! Read on to find out a little about what I'm looking for and why you should pitch ME your manuscript:
What I'm Looking For: MIDDLE GRADE!
This may surprise some of you who know me (I write mostly YA), but I'm a huge fan of middle grade. Science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, mystery, I read it all. The MOST important thing to me is a captivating voice. If you nail the voice I'll read it, no matter the genre. Middle grade is very difficult to write, which means I love it all the more when I find it done right. That said, you might find me an amazing fit if your manuscript touches on any of the following:
- Historical fiction with cleverness and spunk. Think The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, and Chains/Forge.
- Complex, fresh fantasy, especially fairy tale retellings. Beastkeeper and Breadcrumbs are two of my recent favorites in this category, as well as Savvy, The Princess Curse, The Thirteenth Child, and, of course, the life-changer that is Ella Enchanted. Also, if you are Diana Wynne Jones reincarnated, I must read you.
- Contemporary fiction with unputdownable voice. I cry every time I read Walk Two Moons. Other favorites include Mockingbird, The Second Life of Abigail Walker, Brown Girl Dreaming, and Chained.
- Diversity (in all forms) a plus in every category.
I'm probably not your girl if your manuscript includes a predictable "chosen one," magic school, portal into another world, a lot of fourth-grade toilet humor, or characters with little to no agency in their own adventures. HOWEVER, I'm always open to being convinced otherwise. If you have something new to say with classic ingredients, I want to see it!
Why You Should Pitch to Me:
I'm new to Pitch Wars this year, but I've been reading, writing, and critiquing for a VERY long time. I'm a children's bookseller and writer represented by the inestimable Rebecca Podos at Rees Literary Agency, and I'm currently working on a YA fantasy involving too many cracked up fairy tales to count. In non-writing areas of my life, I play a lot of soccer, sing along to Broadway musicals, dance the blues, and drink too many cups of tea. And I'm always up for making new writer friends!
My critique experience includes university workshops as well as an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. I've interned at a top U.S.-based literary agency and the editorial department at Charlesbridge Publishing, where I read requested material and submitted reader's reports as well as revision recommendations to my supervising agent and editor. Which is to say, I may be new to this particular game, but I do have the chops to help you turn your manuscript into something truly eye-catching.
At the end of the day I'm interested in helping you find the heart of the story you want to tell, and help it flourish. I'm both big-picture and tiny-detail oriented. My critiques start with the big picture ("What is the story you're trying to tell?") and then drill down into the nitty gritty. If you're up for it, we can cover a LOT of ground during our two months together. Come prepared to work!
Feel free to ask whatever questions you have in the comments or on Twitter - I'll be watching closely over the next few weeks. (And there's more information about Pitch Wars on Brenda's website!) I'm really looking forward to seeing what you talented people bring to the table!
Looking for the rest of the 2015 Pitch Wars mentors? Look here: