#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.

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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!

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We can’t wait to hear from you!

The Writing Journey

If you’re a writer, I’m assuming you have a goal.

Whether that goal be finishing your first draft… finishing your revision… getting agent representation… the ever elusive book deal… the NEXT book deal… getting starred reviews… hitting the “lists”… being translated…

The moment you achieve one goal in this writing journey, another hundred swim into view and the constant reaching for “the next” can become exhausting.

But there is something happening beneath the surface whether you realize it or not. You are becoming refined and the way you react to each success or failure is creating in you the strength and determination to make it through the next success or failure. 

Goals are wonderful. I LOVE goals, but the journey of who you become while going after those goals is what’s the most important. 

How do you react when you deal with a failure?

Do you break… or are you going to be the person that stands in the face of a storm and shouts back that you will not move?

How do you react when you encounter success?

Do you immediately assume this is the new normal and forget the path through the storm… or do you use your platform to connect and uplift those behind you on the journey?

I want to be the second version of each and I think that’s what we all want to be.

But it’s the journey we’re on RIGHT NOW that determines your reaction, not the moment of success or failure.

So pay it forward NOW. Refuse to give up NOW. Be a support NOW.

Let the journey toward your goal refine your character and strengthen your core.

what you get by ACHIEVING your goals is not as IMPORTANt as what you become when achieving your goals.

 

 

The 5 Stages of Edit Letter Grief

It’s an exciting time in a writer’s life! You’ve taken your book as far as you can get it by yourself and you send it off to your CP/Agent/Editor and they turn around and give you an edit letter detailing the good, the bad, and the ugly about your manuscript and lots of notes on what needs work.

It’s like standing at basecamp on an enormous mountain, looking out on the beauty around and marveling at how high up you are… You take a deep breath and while you’re filling your lungs with all that delicious oxygen, your guide sneaks around and gut punches you then points to the top of the mountain and yells, KEEP CLIMBING!

Getting an edit letter—be it your first or one thousandth—you’re bound to go through at least a few of the stages below.

  1. Denial. My editor has NO idea who my characters are, has no concept of the heart of the story and is ABSOLUTELY wrong! These are NOT the changes that need to happen in this story!
  2. Anger. Well crap, my editor is right. The book really does need these changes, BUT THEY ARE IMPOSSIBLE! How in the world can she even ask me to do them? Her notes were too vague. She’s basically setting me up to fail!
  3. Bargaining. Okay, I can see how to do a few of the notes, but the others? No idea! What about  I change these few things, then I bet it won’t be necessary to do the rest of your suggestions… okay? Not enough? What can I give you to just lie and say it’s ready?
  4. Depression. I’m finally vibing with all these suggested edits, my editor was totally right. Why didn’t I think of these changes in the first place? It’s because I’m a TERRIBLE writer with no imagination! My editor should just finish this manuscript because she obviously knows better than I do. I suck. I suck. I suck.
  5. Acceptance. I just fell in love with my manuscript all over again after finishing these edits. I love writing! I love my editor! I love edit letters!

Any of this sound familiar? Oh it sure does to me because I’ve been there… many times!

A tip for working through these stages as quickly as possible? When you get your letter, let the notes sit for awhile before you start trying to make it work. If you sit down and try to start implementing before they’ve had time to marinate a bit, you’re going to get stuck in one of the first four stages and it will take you longer to move on to stage 5…

If you’re wondering how I tackle edit letters, check out these blog posts.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

Writing Routines…

So I’ve been thinking a lot about writing routines and how I can implement them in my own life.

I’m busy… I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that a time or two thousand times. But I also could do better with time management. Discipline is always something that I strive for, but tend to burn myself out on trying to be too strict. However, I’ve discovered that I need more time to write than what I have right now and the only way to find that time is to make the time.

I recently enrolled in Jessica Brody’s time management course for writers and I think the most significant thing I got out of it (besides a nifty word count tracker spreadsheet that ignites my competitive spirit) is the fact that I need to establish a writing routine.

For me, it’s not something I should do, but rather must do. If I’m going to be an actual legit writer who writes at least a book a year—while maintaining a full-time job, family, and social life—than I must establish a writing routine or I’ll fall flat on my face.

Jessica is big on the writing routine, even if it’s for short periods of time, which is good because it’s all I can give at the present. I’m thinking if I could just get in one dedicated hour in the morning before all the hassle of my day begins (and before I check work email or social media), then I can still write at night like I currently do, but it will be bonus words versus my only words.

So here’s what I’m thinking…

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I won’t get in to all the tips Jessica gives (because you can just sign up for her class and get them all yourself… It’s super cheap!) but I really loved getting an insight into a successful author’s routine. I’m also interested to find out other writer’s routines. I’m going to be asking around, so I’ll post a follow up to this blog with some helpful tips! I’d also love to hear from you in the comments!