My #PitchWars Wishlist

Well, hello YOU!

I’m excited to be involved with #PitchWars again this year and can hardly wait to meet my new mentee!

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.

Last year, I mentored two incredible ladies and am SO happy to say they both got agents within a few weeks! WOOHOO!

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(s) 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.

As far as my editing strengths, I particularly love helping hone character development and character consistency. You’ll hear a lot of “would your character really react like this?” or “This dialogue doesn’t sound true to your character. Maybe try ___.” I also really love helping with setting and making sure a reader “feels” the world you create. My goal is to go through your MS three times. First on the big picture stuff, second on line editing (smoothing out sentence structure, dialogue tags, tense, etc.), and then third as a last pass before the showcase. So yes, I’m going to require a lot out of you and you’re going to have to revise and write faster than you probably ever have before, BUT YOU CAN DO IT! I promise not to ask MORE than you can do in two months (think Professor McGonagall not Dolores Umbridge).

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(s), 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.

So now that I’ve given you the hard sell on why YOU MUST PICK ME, here’s what I’m looking for in a manuscript:

My YA Wish List: 

  • Fantasy
  • SciFi
  • Thriller/suspense/horror
  • Dark contemporary
  • Historical with a unique hook
  • Pretty much anything dark/twisted/creepy

More details:

  • I am a huge YA fantasy nerd and love it all. Epic, light, historical, retellings (as long as it’s not an overt retelling). The only thing I wouldn’t be a good fit for is urban fantasy because I just don’t read enough in the genre to feel confidant to edit it.
  • I also really love SciFi, so send me your aliens and space operas and star ships! The only thing I’ll say about it is keep your pacing TIGHT because I work with YA (not adult) and so pacing has to be spot on (not too wordy/world building at the beginning).
  • I would LOVE to find an incredible YA political thriller or something full of suspense that you just can’t put down. Oh and if it scares me, I’m even more excited 🙂
  • I am not a huge contemporary reader, but I do love dark contemporary. So if you have sad/twisted contemporary with no paranormal elements, send it to me!
  • I love me some historical novels, but want something with a very unique hook, so if that’s your MS, SEND IT TO ME!
  • I can’t accept MG, NA, or adult of any kind for this contest. I’m a YA mentor only.
  • I am not the right mentor for paranormal.
  • I feel like it goes without saying, but diversity of all kinds is welcome.
  • Please use industry standard formatting for your sample pages and manuscript. Times New Roman (or Courier, but I prefer TNR), size 12, 1” margins all around, ½” paragraph indents, double-spaced text, and only one space between sentences.
  • Your query needs to show me the stakes more than the characters. I do need to know who the story centrals around, but more than that, I need to see the plot and how the stakes function within the plot. Keep it tight! Every word counts!
  • Make sure to have your manuscript polished and ready to go. If I make a request, I’ll expect you to send it within 24 hours: It’s your first deadline. Be ready to meet it because it only gets more intense from here!
  • If you’re not sure if I’d be interested in your story, ask me!! @destinywrites. Seriously, DO NOT hesitate to @ me because I’d love to chat!
  • Lastly, you MUST be open to constructive criticism if we’re going to meet our deadline. Hear me on this: my goal is not to get you an agent, my goal is to help you improve as a writer. That means I’m going to pick apart your work because that’s the only way growth is going to happen! I’m honest, but you can ask my mentees from last year, I promise to always be kind and respect your vision for the book as the author.

So as you can see, I’m looking for a mentee who is open to working hard and going deep. I’m committed to matching you stride for stride, so you put in the work and I’ll put in the work. As your mentor, I am here for you now, but also after #PitchWars because believe you me, publishing is a crazy beast and I want to be there with you every step of the way.

 

I can’t wait to hear from you!

*pick me, pick me, but here are the other awesome mentors too*

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Looking Back at 2016…

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Another year has passed.

Can you believe it? Another year has passed.

I know I echo a lot of “year-end reviews” when I say this has been a tough year for a lot of people. In my own life, I dealt with a lot of disappointments that I had to learn to accept, but with that and the election and some personal goals that didn’t get met, the last several months of the year felt like a dark hole of suck.

And within that dark hole of suck, creativity has a hard time taking root.

I also stretched myself too thin in too many different areas and as a result, lost a lot of focus.

And focus is kind of a big deal when you wear as many hats as I do.

But all in all, I like to think that I learned a lot about myself in 2016.

Looking back, my word for 2016 is: boundaries.

I spent much of the last year discovering, setting, and testing out boundaries, then readjusting those boundaries and testing them again.

It was a year of leaning in to discomfort and discovering things about myself I wouldn’t have admitted were there a year ago.

It’s also been a year of putting my writing out there in a way I never have before and I’m proud of myself for that.

So in honor of focusing on the good, here are things I’m most proud of in 2016:

  • I became a Pitch Wars Mentor to two awesome ladies
  • Both of those ladies got literary agents within the first week of querying/agent showcase
  • Started a fun Texas State Park bucket list with my family we are checking off
  • Had some incredible wins at my day job and got a nice raise
  • Enjoyed several “me only” writers retreats in Tyler and Austin
  • Went to an invite-only social media summit that took place at DISNEY WORLD! (so much fun!)
  • Left a house that was falling apart around us and moved to the city I’ve been wanting to live in since we moved back to Texas from Europe 3 years ago
  • Finished the first draft of a new book
  • Outlined the ideas for two new books
  • Revised ALLIANCE again in September/October and love it more than ever
  • My kid trilogy is THRIVING! They are seriously the most hilarious, talented, fantastic kids on the planet
  • Celebrated 11 years of marriage with my Belgian waffle and we went on a grown-up vacation with our best friends to Cancun!
  • Bought a new couch (I know that seems weird to add here, but I’ve been wanting this couch for probably 10 years!)
  • Was asked to help coordinate the teen volunteers for the North Texas Teen Book Festival
  • Realized I’m living my best life.

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Yup, you heard me on that last one. I’m living my best life. Some time this summer, I was hit with this realization that I am—right now—living my best life. I’m not aiming toward living my best life… it’s happening right now and just realizing and then accepting that has really changed my perspective.

There is nothing important in my life that I am not passionately pursuing.

I am passionately pursuing being a published author.

I am passionately pursing being the best in my niche field within digital marketing/social media.

I am passionately pursuing being the best wife/mom/sister/daughter/aunt/friend I can be.

I am passionately pursuing knowledge and understanding how to use my privilege for good.

I am passionately pursuing generosity and giving of my money and time to worthy causes.

I am passionately pursuing my spiritual walk and finding peace within my boundaries.

Living your best life doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished all your goals or everything is going right. Living your best life means that you are in a passionate pursuit of life and choose to grasp hold of each day, each accomplishment, each failure and say, “I don’t care what I feel right now, I’m choosing to acknowledge that I am living my best life.”

It’s in that acknowledgment that true happiness digs its roots deep into your soul.

So here’s to 2017 and living our best life.

 

To the Dreamers…

Here’s to the ones who dream.

Foolish, as they may seem.

Here’s to the hearts that ache.

Here’s to the mess we make.

dreamI just saw the movie La La Land and am completely inspired. Such a raw story of pursuing your dreams.

It’s got me thinking about my own journey this year and now I’m completely introspective and need to get alone to listen to moody cello music and journal these thoughts into words.

But I do know this… pursuing your dreams is always worth it. Believe in yourself and hold tight to the core of who you are. Be flexible so the currents of life don’t break you, but know where you’re going and don’t give up.

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! 

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#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

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!

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