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 …
1. 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?
2. 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?
3. And lastly, what is your all-time favorite book and how did it inspire your writing?
And here are their answers …
Kara Leigh Miller
Kara Leigh Miller combines her knowledge and prior editing experience with a passion for the written word and a love for all things romance. Represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Kara is a multi-genre published author, and an avid reader with eclectic tastes that range from the tame to the taboo. She currently lives in Michigan with her husband, three kids, three pit bulls, and two cats. When she’s not busy writing romance novels that leave readers swooning, she’s spending time with her family.
ONE: I’m looking for a submission that puts me through a range of emotions; a story with characters who will grab me from the start and keep me thinking of them long after I finish the last page. I’m a sucker for the most common of tropes as long as I can relate to the characters.
As for issues in the opening pages, I’m willing to forgive quite a bit, but some deal breakers for me include: too much narrative and/or lengthy descriptions, or head-hopping / POV issues.
TWO: I’m very laid back when it comes to editing. I like to keep an open dialogue with the author — whether that be via email, messages, or phone calls. I believe the editing process is a partnership and in order for it to be successful, we need to work together. My plan to tackle edits for PitchWars is to start with an in-depth email (or phone call) outlining the big picture issues, and then work our way down to small, line edit type stuff.
THREE: The Twilight Saga. I know, I know. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of groans and eye rolls for this one. I’ll be the first to admit that the writing itself isn’t the greatest, but the author created something so amazing, something that took the world by storm, and I always strive to create something that incredible in my own writing.
Kelly is the author of CHASING CRAZY and MY PERFECT MISTAKE, the latter the first of her Over the Top series, all published through Grand Central’s Forever Yours. A small-town girl at heart, she moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in northern Ontario. She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—gummy bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.
ONE: Voice. It’s hard to teach voice in a short period of time. If a writer has a grasp of their character—what makes them unique and interesting—and is able to convey that through word choices and internal thoughts, sign me up! If the writer hasn’t begun their story in the right place, that’s what I’m here for. If he or she needs help developing their character’s arc or building tension, I’d still be all over that, as long as the voice is strong. I’d like to see a good grasp of grammar, too. General fixes are no big deal, but the main concepts need to be understood.
TWO: I do two reads before I send notes to my mentee. The first is done during the submission window. Once I’ve chosen my mentee (weeeeeeeeee), then I do a second read and delve into that sucker. I’ll tell them what I love, but I’ll be honest about what needs work. There will likely be a lot of red marks on the pages. My mentee then panics and cries and pulls their hair, and then they settle in to do the hard work necessary. Then I assign line-editing homework. THEN I read the MS one more time to offer more suggestions. And presto. My mentee has a sparkly, query-ready MS!
THREE: One of my many all-time favorite books was Ayn Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED. She wrote that novel in the fifties, and one of the things that resonated with me was how strong and powerful she made her heroine, especially at a time when women didn’t run massive corporations. All my heroine’s have issues they need to overcome and face, but I have them make those final strides on their own, without the hero’s help. I make sure they are strong.
Laura Brown lives in Massachusetts with her quirky abnormal family, consisting of her husband, young son, and three cats. Hearing loss is a big part of who she is, from her own Hard of Hearing ears, to the characters she creates. She’s represented by Rachel Brooks of L. Perkins Agency. Her upcoming NA, SIGNS OF ATTRACTION, will be released by Avon in June of 2016.
ONE: I’m looking for a novel with voice that jumps off the first page and gives me all the feels. I want to swoon and fall in love with the characters, get me hooked and I’ll never want to let go! Some grammar and plot issues will be easy to fix if the voice and overall attachment to the story is already achieved. What would make me pass would be a novel in the early stages, that really needs a few more rounds of edits and critique partner feedback first.
TWO: I like to make track changes and notes directly into the document. And some of those notes will be me swooning, I’ve been known to propose to a character before! Once the edits are handed back, ideally in a week or two, I’m game for discussing plot issues, in fact, I love talking about plot holes and working out a solution!
THREE: Choosing just one is so hard, because many novels have inspired me in different ways. I’m going with an older one, BET ME by Jennifer Crusie. During my reading drought, this was the one book I could read. I love the mix of comedy and romance, and the slow burn of this book.
Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. REALITY STAR, the first book in the REALITY STAR series, is coming from Kensington’s Lyrical Press in March 2017. When not watching strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, seeking to have cookie dough recognized as a food group, and new experiences. She’s ecstatic to be mentoring PitchWars this year for the second time. Laura is represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary.
ONE: I’m looking for something polished that will suck me in and make me groan to get to the last page and see there’s no more. Voice is key. If I’m distracted by a lot of grammatical mistakes in the first few pages, I won’t keep reading. In this type of contest, you need to know that stuff before you submit.
TWO: I’m pretty hands-on. I’ll give a general edit letter fairly soon after the mentees are posted. Then, I’ll do a second read to review the changes and give line edits after the first pass is done. If there’s time or the mentee has questions, I can read again to help give insights on a final polish.
THREE: How can anyone pick ONE all-time favorite book? Ok, it’s probably The Awakening by Kate Chopin, which fueled my love of unexpected endings. Or The Likeness by Tana French. I still think about that book years later, and I want to write books that resonate with readers. I also adore the Shopaholic series. Wanting to write something fun helped inspire the REALITY STAR series. Sorry, that’s like 8 books. I have a lot of favorites.
Caitlin Sinead’s novels, HEARTSICK and RED BLOODED, have received positive reviews from Library Journal, RT Book Reviews, and USA TODAY. Her writing has also earned accolades from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Glimmer Train, and Writers & Artists, and my stories have appeared in multiple publications, including The Alarmist, The Binnacle,Crunchable, Jersey Devil Press, and Northern Virginia Magazine. She earned a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University and has also studied writing at the College of William and Mary and Yale University. She is represented by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger, Inc.
ONE: Fixable things for me include line edit quirks, such as filter phrases, issues with blocking, etc. I also think most structural and pacing problems can be fixed and I love tackling those!
Things that would make me pass: boring premises and stale writing.
TWO: My game plan would depend largely on what type of revisions are needed and what works well for my mentee.
THREE: Nope, I can’t pick a favorite book!! But here are a bunch of books I love: WINESBURG OHIO, GONE GIRL, CHARM AND STRANGE,
THE ROAD, HARRY POTTER, HUNGER GAMES, TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, SAMMY’S HILL, I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, UPROOTED, OUT OF NOWHERE, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, HIGH FIDELITY, HEART OF DARKNESS, FIGHT CLUB… that’s not an inclusive list, but should give you an idea 🙂
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