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!

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.

5 Stages of edit letter grief-2

Is There A “Writer Type”?

Sometimes I think I have a weird personality for a writer.

I’m not emotional enough.

Not artistic enough.

Not introverted enough.

Instead, I’m a Type-A personality. Driven. Focused. Blunt. Organized. Business minded.

I set goals quarterly and focus on the future and have professional goals outside of publishing.

Because of this, people often discount the creative in me. They are surprised that I write. They are surprised that I struggle with depression. They are surprised that I feel things on so many levels at the same time. Surprised that I internalize my emotions.

“Oh, I wouldn’t have guessed that about you,” is something I hear often.

And it’s been that way my entire life.

I used to think that writing was just what everyone’s go-to outlet was. That it was normal that I obsessively wrote in my journals as a teen. That it was normal I penned poems on scraps of paper and then threw them away in between class. That everyone needed to write out their emotions in some weird poem or story to understand what exactly they were feeling.

But I wasn’t a writer.

I was going to be a lawyer. A businesswoman. A politician.

I wasn’t creative enough to write.

And so that’s what I believed for years and years.

Until I grew so tired of telling myself I wasn’t a writer that it forced me to realize that being a writer was all I ever was.

So maybe I’m not the classic “writer type.”

Maybe I’m not traditionally creative and maybe marketing comes easier than beautiful prose.

But I’m still a writer.

I write to explore the world around me.

I write as an answer to the stereotypes that push against me.

I write to discover who I am outside of labels and categories and expectations and fears.

I write because that’s how I answer my own questions about faith and love and forgiveness and pain and bigotry and motherhood and so much more.

I write for me. I write for you.

I write.

write