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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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.

 

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I <3 My #PitchWars Ladies

I can hardly believe how fast the last two months have gone by. We are one week away from the #PitchWars agent showcase and I could not be more proud of our mentees!

As they say in Texas, my buttons are poppin’! 

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They have both done some MAJOR re-writing of their manuscripts. They’ve gone through several rounds of revisions, cutting/combining characters, setting changes, deepening their characters, clarifying motivations,  plot changes—SO many plot changes—Meghan even implemented an entirely new magical system. These ladies have worked their butts off in such a short amount of time, and I know it’s going to be worth it in the end.

We participated in some fun mini-interviews on Brenda’s blog:

COURT OF GLITTERING CRIMSON is Meghan Jashinsky’s YA Fantasy and is a dark twist on the PRINCESS AND THE PAUPER tale meets THE YOUNG ELITES that I’m co-mentoring with Lynnette Labelle. You can read our interview HERE.

THEN BEGGARS WOULD RIDE is Tracie Martin’s YA Literary Thriller and is reminiscent of THE WALLS AROUND US and THE DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD told as a prison confessional. You can read our interview HERE.

I know, right? Those sound amazing and they ARE!

 

The YA part of the showcase is on November 5th where these ladies get to present their manuscripts to literary agents and hopefully get a leg up on gaining representation for their work!

I’m so psyched for them and privileged I got to play a part in their writing journeys.

Crafting a Pitch

I’ve been working on pitches this week, trying to get a handle on how we’ll be pitching the #PitchWars books we’ve been working on.

Pitches aren’t easy and I tend to make mine WAY too long that they’re basically summaries instead of pitches.

What I’ve boiled it down to is a pitch needs to do the following:

  1. Name the main character
  2. Set the setting
  3. Give the stakes
  4. Give some comps

But then when I started researching pitches, I found that not all successful pitches had all 4 of the above components. Some just listed comps. Some didn’t include the setting. Some didn’t include the stakes. It was all about how it was crafted.

So is there a right way to write a pitch? YES, absolutely. And guess who can tell you about it way better than I can? Traci Chee, author of the incredible book, THE READER which came out last month.

Take a minute and check it out!

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#PitchWars Picks

So as I’ve mentioned earlier, I am a #PitchWars mentor this year and boy has it been fun!giphy

All in all, we had 141 submissions and of these we requested 28 fulls. You can find the exact breakdown of genre on Lynnette’s blog post HERE.

I was a little nervous going into this because Lynnette and I have never worked together before and all of a sudden, we needed to go through a ton of submissions and find ones that we could both agree on. How were we going to deal with SUBJECTIVITY??

But we had a great baseline: we knew we wanted something dark and twisty (probably in the Fantasy genre) and we both LOVE books. Those two factors were MORE than enough and we had a blast going through all the submissions. I was even able to tap into my nerd and made a Trello board that had 8 designations for requested materials.

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Half of our #PitchWars Trello Board

We were blown away by all the dark and twisty that ended up in our inbox and went through several “THIS IS THE ONE” wait, no, “THIS IS THE ONE” moments.

But then we came across Meghan Jashinsky’s A COURT OF GLITTERING CRIMSON and it was the first one that got an enthusiastic, YES from both of us. But we knew to make it more marketable, we needed to address the magical system which was going to be a big re-write.

We contacted Meghan before the submission period was over to see if she would even be open to making such a big change and she was. THEN came the part where we had to fight off other mentors from offering to mentor hers as well.

Long story short, we were able to snag Meghan’s manuscript and we couldn’t be more happy about it!

But that’s not where the story ends!

Lynnette and I had also loved Tracie Martin‘s THEN BEGGARS WOULD RIDE, a YA literary thriller that has a voice that will keep you up at night. BEGGARS was our #2 pick and we were campaigning hardcore behind the scenes to try to get other mentors to pick it up because it totally deserved some PitchWars love.

Then, the day of the big reveal, I found out I had won a wildcard spot and I could pick one more book to mentor if I so wished (or I could pass it on to another mentor). Due to Lynnette’s active editing business, she knew her schedule would only permit her to mentor one manuscript, but I felt so strongly for BEGGARS that I offered to mentor it myself!

SO there it goes!

I am mentoring both Meghan and Tracie for #PitchWars2016!

These books are high-concept, dark, gory, beautiful, and heartbreaking. You’re going to love them and I can’t wait to see these books shine!

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