Pitch Wars Wish List 2018

About RuthAnne: I currently write YA and my debut YA contemporary novel, THE GIRLS OF MARCH, is coming out from Sky Pony. I live in Utah with my husband and one good dog and one naughty dog. I’m an attorney and lover of horror movies, pie baking, and hiking. My agent is the fabulous Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary.

Some of my recent and all-time favorite reads are, in no particular order:

Contemporary:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Speculative:
Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Remember Me by Christopher Pike

RuthAnne’s mentoring style:

I will provide my mentee with an edit letter of my overall thoughts regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript. I will also go through the entire manuscript, marking up line edits as I go. I am up for bouncing ideas around, helping restructure plots, or reading a second time after my mentee has done a revision (assuming we have time!). A lot of it will depend on my mentee!

I also subscribe to the philosophy that when a reader thinks there is a problem with a story, they’re usually right. When a reader thinks they have a solution, they’re usually wrong. This is your story, I am just trying to help you make it shine! So when I see a problem, I’m going to point it out and usually offer 2-3 potential solutions. If you disagree with my ideas, that’s totally okay! I’m mostly suggesting them to see if they spark with you, or if they inspire you to start brainstorming a different solution. The main thing is that we find the solution that YOU need for your story.

RuthAnne’s editing strengths:

In addition to feedback on pacing, plot holes, and character arcs, I have a good grasp on basic grammatical issues. I was an editor and proofreader for my college newspaper, so I will also keep an eye out for little errors as I read through for big-picture problems.

RuthAnne’s Random bonus skills?

Why yes, I DO have some random bonus skills! If you have a manuscript dealing with legal or political issues, I’m your girl. Seriously. Even if you want to totally abuse the Rules of Evidence, I will help you think of a good way to do that.

 

About Destiny: I am a YA writer, lover of books, and unapologetic fangirl. I also work in digital marketing and social media for my day job. My agent recently left the business and I’m about to dive into the query trenches for the first time since I was a mentee in 2014! This is my third year mentoring and I’m looking to continue my streak of having my mentees agented within the first few weeks! * fingers crossed *

Instead of listing favorite books, I’ll just tell you my current auto-buy authors:

Marie Lu
Sarah J. Maas
Nic Stone
Gillian Flynn
Karen MacManus

Destiny’s mentoring style:
Well, aside from the obvious hilarious comments in the margins of your MS (I personally think I’m super funny), I am a writer who knows what it’s like to write and revise a book(s) and get it ready for agents and editors. I’ve successfully queried (and dealt with multiple offers) and have run the gambit on the submission cycle with publishers. 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.

Destiny’s editing strengths:

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. RuthAnne and I’s 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, we’re 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! We promise not to ask MORE than you can do in a few months (think Professor McGonagall not Dolores Umbridge).

Destiny’s Random Bonus Skills:

I’ve got lots of good writerly skills to offer (for instance, I’m a freelance copy editor for an economic publisher), but I think something that’s important I bring to the table is empathy. 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.

Wish list:

We are mentoring YA and would LOVE to see manuscripts along the following lines:

  • Contemporary! Give us friendships both positive and toxic, sibling relationships, parents who exist, and realities like after-school-jobs. We also like a dash of romance—and more than a dash is lovely as well 😉 If you can make us laugh, you are golden. If we laugh AND cry, we’ll definitely want to battle some fellow mentors over you. Fluff, serious, that lovely mix of both—we love it all.
  • We would be completely obsessed with a political thriller or mystery. We miss Veronica Mars in our lives. We’d love to meet a teenaged Olivia Pope. Is there a young adult Big Little Liesout there somewhere? If so, we want to read it.
  • We love horror. Scare the pants off us, please! We would seriously shank some of the other mentors for an old-school Fear Street-style manuscript. Evil cheerleaders in contemporary can be overdone, but you can never have enough evil cheerleaders in horror.
  • We would be super into a retelling of classic literature that hasn’t been done before. (We love you, Jane Austen and Peter Pan, but we’ve read a lot of you lately and need a break.) The Odysseyin space! Jane Eyre in the wild west! LGBT Moby Dick! Gender-swapped Vanity Fair!
  • We love sci fi, fantasy, and horror elementsin an otherwise contemporary or historical setting. Does your book have a touch of sci-fi or magic in it? We are all over that. Think Firefly the TV show, Holly Black’s White Cat trilogy, or Game of Thrones.
  • Note: We do not want high fantasy or hardcore sci fi. Repeat: We do not want high fantasy or hardcore sci fi. If you have a question about where that line is, ask folks on the twitter feed, ask your CPs and betas, or drop one of us a line in the comments section. Don’t waste one of your precious spots sending to us when there are better mentors in the contest for you, friends!

What we want to see in a manuscript, regardless of genre? High concept ideas, unique and voicey characters, a diverse cast, a strong sense of place and time, and a unique perspective or angle (whatever that may be!). It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be promising!

We’re committed to matching you stride for stride, so you put in the work and we’ll put in the work. 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.

Questions, comment, concerns? Hit us up in the comments section or on Twitter @ruthanne_snow and/or @destinywrites

 

 

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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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2017 Resolutions

a-goal-without-a-plan-2

I heard Dr. Henry Cloud speak last night and he said something I really appreciated:

If you want your life to be different, it’s a good idea to sit down and figure out what you want that different to look like. You need vision.

Such a simple statement, but I think this is something that can easily be forgotten at the beginning of the year when we’re all setting our resolutions. It has to be more than just, “I want to have x accomplished,” it’s about clarifying your ultimate goals and then identifying the small/attainable steps you can make in the short, medium, and long term to get there. To use an example: Losing weight can’t be the goal—that’s a step toward an ultimate goal of something else and you need to be able to identify what that ultimate goal is or you’ll lose motivation.

And so that’s why goal casting is always a really big deal to me. I don’t just randomly make goals and throw them into the air hoping something sticks. I’m purposeful about what I want, what I need, and realistically what I can accomplish in a given set of time. So that being said, I have 7 goals this year:

  1. Hike 5 Texas State Parks with my family
  2. Finish revising TSBTS
  3. Draft/Revise historical adventure
  4. Write “Lyric’s story” (a MG novella for my daughter)
  5. Read one published book a week
  6. Finish getting out of debt (so close!)
  7. At least 4 family meals around the table a week

Things that aren’t goals, but are lifestyle changes I would like to see happen include becoming more disciplined about my writing time and drinking more water.

Things that I am putting into the universe that I would LOVE to have happen (but of which I have no control): selling a manuscript (or more!) and getting a promotion at work.

Let’s do this 2017!

Making Time for Writing Retreats

I had a goal to go on four personal writing retreats this year… It’s not always easy to get away with a full-time job, freelance work, kids, husband, friends… but then again, it’s not always easy to find time to write! I have to guard my writing time closely and short writing retreats give me SUCH a huge head-start on a project.

Well in 2016, I only did 3—but I’m still pretty dang proud of myself considering how busy this year was.

For 2017, I’m going to still plan on doing 4, but I want one of those to be with a group of a writing friends, not just by myself.

So here’s hoping for lots of writing time in that cabin in the woods.img_4497

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