My Girls Have Agents!!

Oh y’all, I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of Meghan and Tracie and all their relentless hard work! Because… was it worth it? YES! 

giphy
#TeamDominate TOTALLY dominated!

Within a week of Pitch Wars, Meghan and Tracie had received offers (emphasis on the plural) of representation!

AHHH!

Congrats to Meghan Jashinsky who is now represented by Jessica Watterson at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency!

And congrats to Tracie Martin who is now represented by Lauren Spieller at Triada US!

Lynnette and I had such a fun time finding these ladies in the Pitch Wars slush and working to help make their manuscripts shine! It’s an incredible honor to know I played a small part in helping them get to the next milestone in what I know will be very long and successful careers.

*happy sigh*

congrats

Advertisements

The #PitchWars Showcase Is Live!

I am so thrilled to introduce you guys to our two amazing mentees!

Meghan Jashinsky’s A COURT OF GLITTERING CRIMSON:

Title: Court of Glittering Crimson

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: 75,000 words

Princess Skylla is a nightmare from which her kingdom will never wake. She’ll use their bones to clean her teeth and wear their intestines like ribbons. It’s the least they deserve after what they did to her family the night of the Slaughter.

But the rebel leader Ariadne and her people refuse to continue living in fear. They must overthrow the princess, and this time, they’ll get it right.

It’s THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER meets THE YOUNG ELITES.

Excerpt:

That imbecile got blood on my crown.

I should have Ero’s fingers cut off for this. He’s worked for me long enough to know the consequences. Still, it’d be a shame to disfigure a body that impressive. Besides, this isn’t one of his usual responsibilities. I’ll give him one last chance.

“I’m sorry, your Majesty.” He casts his dark eyes to the blood-stained floors.

“You should be,” I say. “Fix the hem. It’s uneven.”

He stumbles to the back of my train and gives me a look mingled with terror and awe. It sends a thrill down my spine. Days away from turning sixteen, the orphan princess has managed to strike fear into her own Captain of the Guard.

They cower in my presence. I love it.

I grin at my reflection, my teeth brilliant behind my black silken veil. Ero dips a syringe into one of the many buckets stationed around my dressing room, sucking up the thick blood.

And Tracie V. Martin’s THEN BEGGARS WOULD RIDE

Title: Then Beggars Would Ride

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Literary Thriller

Word Count: 64,000 words

Everyone believes Gwen’s boyfriend is a cult leader. After disappearing without a word, he’s resurfaced as the Beggar with a goal to spread “The Message” far and wide. Not willing to lose him, Gwen hits the road to bring him home. But as she and his ragtag disciples trail in the Beggar’s wake, Gwen discovers his mission is much more sinister than just preaching.

Told as a prison confessional, it’s THE WALLS AROUND US meets THE DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD.

Excerpt:

Transcript #1

 First, you’re going to ask how we met. Everyone does. It’s not even the stupidest question people ask. That’s “How did you shave?” Once, I would have fucked with you, pretended that I cared if hair bloomed out of my armpits while I tracked my boyfriend from coast to coast as he meandered his way to hell. But now, I’ve watched people drown and I’ve broken a good man’s heart. I’ve killed someone. It’s no pleasure anymore to waste the few words I have left.

What you really want to know is how a good girl like me could fall for a killer. You’re looking for specific beats in our origin story: he bewitched everyone with his charm, but in hindsight you could see the dark spots. I get this question most often from those with a strong belief that all people have souls, and by ‘souls’ I mean unchangeable cores of either good or evil. I get it. It’d be nice to think that Saul was born black-hearted.

But he wasn’t.

Click on the links above to access the original posting on the #PitchWars site (and see if they’re getting any agent love- pssst, they are!). I’m so ridiculously proud of these ladies and all the work they put into their manuscripts. We asked a lot from them and they TOTALLY delivered. Any agent would be ridiculously lucky to represent them!

Crossing ALL THE THINGS for lots of requests!

giphy

The Role of an Editor

I’ve spent the last two months doing more deep editing than I ever thought possible… and it wasn’t even for my own books (well, I did complete a revision on my book, but that’s beside the point).

I had to read several drafts, write edit letters, brainstorm in totally out of the box ways, and locate plot holes, character inconsistencies, define character arcs, sharpen plot devices, tighten pacing, motivation, setting…

I grew as a writer myself as I learned to recognize things in other people’s writing that could be tightened and improved. It was a lot of work, but a ton of fun!

I also have a WHOLE new respect for agents and editors as they acquire manuscripts. I have read each of my mentees’ books 3-4 times over the last two months. My own agent has read 5 different drafts of one of my books. You have to LOVE a manuscript like something fierce to be able to read it that many times without having your eyeballs begin to bleed. That’s why they’re so picky about what they acquire.

But all this editing got me thinking about the role of an editor. Not an editor at a publisher, mind you, but someone you’re either paying or asking to help you take your manuscript to the next level.

As an editor, once you fall into the cadence of a manuscript and begin pulling back the skin to get to the marrow of the story, it almost starts to feel like you’re the one writing it. Like you’re the one who knows the character best. You’re the one who created that world.

But you’re not.

An editor’s role isn’t to get the author to write the story the editor would write.

An editor is there to guide you, not write through you.

I can give ideas for plot fixes, I can say, “hmm, I’m not sure this character would react like this,” but in the end, the writer is who knows the story best. The writer is the one who crafts the voice in a piece of dialogue. They are the one that hides the red herrings and the one that crafts the big reveal. You suggest, they implement (and FYI, suggesting is WAY easier than implementing — so no matter how hard you work as an editor, the writer works twice as hard to execute your notes.)

If I, as an editor, try too hard to push my view of the manuscript, I’m going to end up breaking the book.

I also need to be careful because my opinion is weighted heavily and I don’t want my mentees to make decisions they don’t feel comfortable with because they don’t want to tell me no. It’s a fine balancing act of confidence and respect.

I am lucky enough to have an agent who is extremely editorial, yet extremely respectful of my role as the author. Her insight and editing has been invaluable, but her support of my story is what makes it work between us.

So the moral of the story is editors are SO important, but they should always be there to help you improve the story, not write through you.

 

an editor is-2

#PitchWars Mentor Bio (and Scavenger Hunt Letter!)

Well hello all you fantastic writers visiting my little corner of the internet!

I’m excited to be involved with #PitchWars this year and am beyond-belief excited that Lynnette and I get to work with one of you!

I was an alternate in 2014 (way back yonder when they had mentees and alternates) and ended up finding my incredibly amazing literary agent, Kirsten Carleton, after she requested at the agent showcase.

So, let’s get down to it…

Why should you pick me as your mentor?

Well, aside from the obvious hilarious comments in the margins of your MS (I personally think I’m super funny), I am an agented writer who knows what it’s like to write and revise a book and get it ready for editors. Another plus is I’m a professional writer in my day job, focusing mainly on digital marketing. That particular skill gives me an eye to scrape away fluff and restructure writing in a way that makes your message clear so the impact is felt. Lastly, I was an intern for two different literary agencies and so I feel I have a good handle on the YA market, what’s selling, what agents are looking for, and what type of query is going to hook agent interest.

For more about me and Lynnette, you can CLICK HERE for our Mini-Interview on Brenda’s site.

You can also read my SETTING Critique on Brenda’s site.

As far as my editing strengths, I love line editing! I’ll be working with you on a line by line level as we smooth out sentence structure, dialogue tags, tense, etc. We’ll work on making sure your POV is deep enough on a sentence level and eliminating “crutch” words.  Although Lynnette is going to be working with you on the big picture revisions, I’ll be here to lend my voice and help in whatever way I can!

Finally, I’ve been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to read an edit letter for the first time and wonder how in the WORLD you’re ever going to accomplish everything. I know what it’s like to re-write a book, cut characters, shave off thousands of words, deepen characters, deepen your setting… you name it, I’ve been through it in my own personal writing.

As you’ve read on Lynnette’s blog, we’re looking for a mentee who is open to working hard and going deep. We are committed to matching you stride for stride, so you put in the work and we’ll put in the work. We’re #TeamDominate and that’s just what we’re planning to do, DOMINATE #PITCHWARS! As your mentors, we are here for you now, but also after #PitchWars because believe you me, Publishing is a crazy beast and we want to be there with you every step of the way.

giphy

Since you’ve hopped over to my blog from Lynnette’s, you already know what we’re looking for in a YA manuscript. So I’ll end this by giving you the next letter for the Scavenger Hunt!

il_570xN.442378057_kudk

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Does #PitchWars Increase Your Chances of Signing with an Agent?

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a huge fan of Brenda Drake’s #PitchWars!

I was in #PitchWars in 2014, received about 7 agent requests for my manuscript, and one of those requests later turned into an offer of representation!

The majority of the #PitchWars2014 class are still in contact thanks to a not-so SUPER-SECRET Facebook page, and although I can’t attest to the entire #PitchWars class (there were over a 100), I do have stats for the 85 mentees who participate in our group.

So, does being in #PitchWars increase your chances of getting an agent offer? I would say, YES! Out of the 85 mentees who participate in the Facebook group, 50 are agented and of those, 18 have book deals.

BONUS FOR INQUIRING MINDS: I would say the majority of those offers happened between January and July of 2015, but mostly toward the beginning of the year. For example, I was the 18th one in the group to receive an agent offer and I received my first offer at the beginning of February.

But HOW #PitchWars helps you get an agent may not be the way you think.

I did a poll of the 2014 mentees and 49 people responded…

blog data

Out of the 36 people who responded that are now agented, only 5 of those offers happened because the agent requested via the #PitchWars agent showcase.

So, the numbers don’t lie. It is VERY clear that #PitchWars does indeed help you get an agent, but not necessarily because agents are going to see your work at the showcase. #PitchWars helps you get an agent because it’s one of the only contests that focuses on craft over connections.

@destinywrites

In #PitchWars, you’re working with mentors who have been around the writing block a time or two and are committed to seeing your manuscript become the very best it can be. They are committed to helping you fill in the plot holes, tighten up your dialogue, and make your manuscript and query so polished that when you start querying (which you will RIGHT away, trust me), you’ll start getting requests. Then when other agents read, they get all grabby hands with your book.

giphy

Not only that, but working with a mentor also teaches you how to edit with an edit letter, hone your query, develop a pitch, and also exposes you to other writers. And finding your writing community is the only thing that’s going to get you through this crazy journey.

If you’re a writer of any genre who is looking for that extra edge before they start querying, give #PitchWars a try! You can find out all the info HERE.

And I’m so excited to be a #PitchWars mentor this year with Lynnette Labelle for you YA authors out there!