From June 27th through July 18th, we’ll be posting mini-interviews with most of the Pitch Wars mentors so you can get to know them. Many of the mentors also hang out on twitter. Follow the links to their Twitter accounts and say hello. They’ll be on the #PitchWars hashtag tweeting advice and answering questions.
We will also host live chats from July 19th through August 2nd, and the Pitch Wars submission window will open on August 3rd!
We asked our mentors to answer these three questions …
- What are you looking for in a submission and what would you forgive as far as issues in the sample pages? In other words, what do you feel is an easy fix and what would be a pass for you?
- What is your editing style and do you have a game plan to tackle edits with your mentee in the two months given for the contest?
- And lastly, what is your all-time favorite book and how did it inspire your writing?
And here are their answers …
Sarah Nicolas & Co-Mentor Leigh Mar
Sarah Nicolas is the author of DRAGONS ARE PEOPLE TOO and KEEPING HER SECRET. She has worked as an author assistant, publicity director, book cover designer, and in the editorial department of two small publishing houses. She also writes romance as Aria Kane.
Leigh Mar lives in the DC area and writes YA because she never intends to be a day over fast cars and freedom. She was a Pitch Wars ’15 mentee and is thrilled to give back this year as a ’16 mentor. Leigh has an excellent sense of direction and only ever gets lost on the internet.
ONE: We’re looking for an original story and a talented writer! Something new and fresh that draws us in and makes us feel like part of your character’s world…even if that world may need a little work. As long as we can see a clear path to fix a story, we wouldn’t shy away from something that needed big changes (Leigh’s MS last year did!). Grab us early with clear stakes and a strong voice, and we’ll follow you to the end.
TWO: We’ll confer together on an edit letter for our mentee, tackling any big picture developmental issues first (plot holes, pacing, character development, missing motivations, etc.). Then, as long as there’s time, take a closer look to catch the more granular things (was your character holding a red coffee cup on page 3 and suddenly it’s a blue cup on page 5?) with in-line notes. We’ll make sure your first page, query, and pitch are in their absolute best-possible shape for the agent round and beyond.
THREE for Leigh: My favorite book is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which is further proof that books are magic.
THREE for Sarah: The Giver by Lois Lowry has been my favorite book since 5th grade and has survived many re-reads over the years. I love how it says so much MORE with such a great economy of words.
Sonia writes YA contemporary and mystery. Her work has appeared in the The Writers Post Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, and the anthology Bearing North. She’s a member of SCBWI and represented by Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency.
ONE: I’m looking for a great voice. Anything else can be fixed if someone is willing to put in the work, but voice is something you can’t teach.
TWO: I plan to do two reads. The first will be to look for big picture issue, and I’ll provide an edit letter with a break down of thing I think should be tackled regarding character and plot, on my second read I do line edits to tighten up the little stuff.
THREE: Just one? I suppose what inspires me depends on what I’m working on, but for the past year and a half whenever someone asks me what my favorite book is, Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun is still at the top of my list.
Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult stories about teens who put their passions first. She’s an active member of Romance Writers of America and its online YA chapter YARWA, and a current writing mentor in online pitch contests. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. She lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about all things books on twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA. Her debut ALTERATIONS about a fashion-obsessed loner who reinvents herself releases 9/6/16 from Bloomsbury Spark.
ONE: High concept pitch, a BIG idea, or an easily-pitchable idea. Forgiveable issues: sagging middle, slow start, pacing issues. Harder to fix is a story concept that lacks enough conflict.
TWO: I judge a lot of contests with RWA, and I work with a critique group monthly. I like to encourage what is done well, while also giving sample suggestions for wording, but only to give an idea. I will point out grammar issues but not every instance–each writer needs to be responsible for writing mechanics. My goal as a mentor is to help shape and polish the story.
THREE: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. It’s ridiculous, it’s feminist, it’s wicked satire. This book proved to me you can have a message and still be funny.
Thank you, mentors, for your marvelous answers. We appreciate you so much!
Pitch Wars Schedule:
June 27-July 15 Mentor Mini Interviews
July 19-August 2 Live Chats with Mentors
July 20-August 3 Mentor Blog Hop
August 3rd Pitch Wars Submission Window Opens
August 25th Mentees Chosen and Announced