I love this contest so much. Each year, I've read incredible stories, made incredible friends, and seen incredible things happen for writers. So, first off, GO YOU! It's scary to put yourself out here like this. But like they say, you can't win the lottery if you don't play the lottery. And you baby, you just bought your ticket if you entered Pitchwars!!!
My wishlist this year is kind of simple. I want to be lifted up, swept off my feet, and transported. I want my heart to feel warm and my spirit happy at the end of the novel.
So, the big question, genres. Here's the deal. I write contemporary and am working on a sci-fi for fun. I love reading sci-fi and historical and adventure and magical realism and contemporary in equal measure. I like some fantasy but it's not the genre I gravitate toward in my reading and I prefer when modern worlds are mixed in (like Laini Taylor or Cassandra Claire). But I'm not going to say "only send me this" because I don't want to miss out on the book and writer that are right for me to mentor.
Here's what will get me to sit up and turn pages:
- Great dialogue
- Deep characterization and self-actualized characters.
- Rich, visual worlds (and yes this is possible in contemporary)
- Lesbians. Yep. But also any swoony love story of any sexual preference.
- Smart funny, quick wit, irreverance
- Things I personally love-- horses, dogs, the art world, quirky settings, off-the-beaten path locations, unusual journeys, the South, out-of-the-box characters, music, food, politics, religious issues, environmental issues.
- A great story!
What I don't want this year.
- Sad or heavy (a sad subplot is fine but no dead family members or cancer themes)
- Hard Sc-Fi - my taste runs more toward Beth Revis and Alexandra Duncan's type of sci-fi.
- Fantasy with unpronounceable names or plots that gravitate around war or elementals or stitching time or fairies.
- Time travel, Steampunk, Straight thrillers or mysteries (ok within a scifi or historical framework)
- Rape, Suicide, Addiction, etc.
- All white, straight casts of characters.
- Oppressed women.
Some of my favorite books from the last couple of years that made my "5 star - Hug The Book" shelf: The Elegance of the Hedgehog (adult), Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, I'll Give You The Sun, Salvage, Far From You, Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe, Tell The Wolves I'm Home (adult), All The Truth That's In Me, The Night Circus, Ask The Passengers. There are many, many more that I love, but these were incredible to me - smart, gorgeous, and engaging.
Some of my favorite TV shows, because wow there is some good stuff out there and I love to talk about them, are: The Wire, Justified, Game of Thrones, Sense8, Firefly, and, of course, Orange is the New Black. But, I've never watched The Bachelor and I haven't had real TV in over 15 years. Just Netflix.
So, why pick me? I have worked with two different editors, two different agents, a major publishing house, and have a published novel, a soon-to-be released novella, and another to-be-published novel in the works. A resource for what it's like on this side of the fence is an invaluable thing when you first sign with an agent and start to navigate publishing waters.
I will be your biggest cheerleader. Seriously. Feel free to reach out to my former mentees and alternates. My 2013 mentee signed with her PW manuscript and is out on sub currently after a major revision (and I think we came in 2nd in Pitchwars with requests!). My 2013 1st alternate signed with her 2014 PW manuscript (which I read, but didn't mentor) after multiple offers. My 2014 crew have not yet found their perfect agents but I do think they feel happy with their PitchWars experience - seriously contact any of them: @nina_writes @saille @aprilcrosebooks @krisrey19 @chelseyblair
As for my mentoring style - I'll do an overall read to make big picture suggestions and point out any writerly generalization type things and send you on your editing journey. Then, time permitting, I will do as much of a line edit as I can. I will be honest with you about my time and availability as I'll be working on a revision of my own as PW is happening. And I expect the same from you - open, great, kick butt mentor/mentee communication! In return, I expect you to have an open mind, a willingness to work hard, and the kind of "can't knock me down" attitude that is, what I think, is the critical component to success in publishing. And of course, we'll get that pitch and query super shiny.
Feel free to tweet me questions or ask them here, if you have them. Really looking forward to getting to know you all!