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 …
Janella Angeles & Co-Mentor Axie Oh
Janella Angeles is a Filipina-American YA writer and a team member of the Boston Teen Author Festival who currently resides in Massachusetts. She graduated summa cum laude from Emerson College with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, and is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
Axie Oh is a graduate of the University of California-San Diego where she studied Korean history and creative writing. She was the recipient of Tu Books’ 2015 New Visions Award, awarded to an unpublished author of color. Her debut YA Sci-Fi novel, THE AMATERASU PROJECT, is scheduled to release Fall 2017. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Lesley University and is represented by Patricia Nelson of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
ONE: We are looking for something that pulls us in – writing, worldbuilding, characterizations, and plot. A unique setting and complex characters will always catch our attention. Most every issue – starting in the wrong place, grammar, word choices – can be fixed. The main reason for passing would be if we didn’t connect with the voice or the writing. We really want to love our mentee’s work in order to champion him or her through Pitch Wars and beyond!
TWO: Our style is very collaborative, communicative, and slightly crazy, but ultimately and most importantly, constructive! We are always on board to fangirl and cheerlead our mentee on, but we are also there to first and foremost offer critique and whip that manuscript into the best shape it can be. Our game plan is to ensure our mentee has as much editorial support and back-and-forth communication as needed from both of us throughout the revising stage. Aside from collaborative edit letters, we would also love to schedule Skype calls to discuss editorial notes, brainstorm, and answer any questions the mentee may have so we can all be on the same page. From big picture edits to smaller details to everything in between, we want to make sure our mentee comes out of Pitch Wars with an awesome experience, as well as a polished manuscript to take into the agent round.
THREE for Janella: Without a doubt, my all-time favorite books would have to be the Harry Potter series. Not only were they the books that got me obsessed with reading and writing (*cough* lots of fanfiction *cough*), but they were the books that introduced me to spectacular worldbuilding, amazing characters with fantastic arcs, and most importantly, fantasy and magic.
THREE for Axie: His Dark Materials trilogy! These books made me a reader. They were filled with such complex characters, plots, worlds (yes, plural), themes, relationships, emotions… I could go on. My daemon would be a flying squirrel.
Jamie Pacton & Co-Mentor M. K. England
Twitter | Website
Jamie Pacton is a writer and English teacher living in Wisconsin. In addition to writing Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, she also writes about autism for Parents magazine. She spends her free moments wandering by Lake Michigan, checking out way too many books from her local library, chasing her children, and watching all the things on Netflix. She’s partial to history, adventure stories, Project Runway, and– of course– the BBC’s Sherlock. Jamie is represented by the wonderful Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit
Twitter | Website
M.K. England is a writer and YA librarian living in the mountainy parts of Virginia. When she’s not writing or librarianing, MK can be found drowning in fandom, going to conventions, running through the woods, feeding her video game addiction, or improvising truly terrible songs about her dogs. She loves Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if she never speaks of BBC Sherlock. She has it bad. MK is represented by the incomparable Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.
ONE: Above all else, we’re looking for a voice that grabs us and won’t let go. We’d also really like to see some robust world-building (even in a contemporary) so we can help refine the world and deepen it. Our ideal mentee is a hard worker who is willing to bust their butt to achieve their Pitch Wars goals!
A pass for us would be anything where we can tell we don’t have the author’s best effort. A few typos or some misunderstandings about grammar won’t be a pass, because everyone’s human, but you need to have put in the work. A word count far outside the norm for your genre is also a big red flag. There are also a few particular things that are a major NOPE for us both, which you can look out for when our wish list is up.
TWO: We like to do one read-through on paper for large-scale stuff (plot/character/flow/structure) and another read-through in MS Word with track changes and commenting for style and grammar. Then, we’ll have calls/emails/hangouts to talk with our mentee about the revisions. We want this to be as collaborative as possible.
THREE for Jamie: I struggle with “all-time favorites” but my current favorite YA novel is Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin. I love the alternative history in that story, her sentences are heartbreaking, evocative, and lyric. I found myself reading and re-reading WBW in order to emulate Graudin’s style. I’m also a huge fan of Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes and Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte.
THREE for MK: Asking a librarian about favorite books is never a good idea unless you have LOTS of time, but when pressed I’ll usually say The Raven Cycle (particularly The Dream Thieves) by Maggie Stiefvater. That series had a huge influence on the way I look at language and sentence structure. The characterization is masterful.
Jenni L. Walsh spends her days knee deep in words in Philadelphia’s suburbia. Copywriting, freelance editing, blogging, mentoring for Pitch Wars, and authoring—she does it all, and loves every second of it.
Jenni’s passion lies in transporting readers to another world, be it in historical or contemporary settings. Becoming Bonnie (Tor, 2017) is her debut novel, telling the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the Roaring 20s. The novel has been optioned for TV by Edyson Entertainment. She also has a yet-to-be-announced series that she’s eagerly waiting to add to her bio. Stay tuned.
ONE: First and foremost, I want a premise that I can’t get out of my head. That’s a bit vague. But if you can describe your premise in a single sentence, you are barking up my tree. Then, when I dive into your pages, I want your writing to make it obvious you’ve put a lot of time into your craft. This means time spent with beta readers and critique partners. This shows me you take your writing seriously, which means I’m going to take you more seriously. Writing is one of those skills that can always be improved (whether you’ve sold a zillion books or you’re still writing your first WIP), so there’s a lot I’ll forgive. I’m just looking for someone who has already worked their butt off and is looking to work their butt off for another few months to (hopefully) reach the finish line.
TWO: We’re going to work at a pretty breakneck pace because I’d love to read my mentee’s manuscript at least three times. The first go-around I’ll give my mentee chapter-by-chapter notes. The second round is where I’ll hone in sentence-by-sentence. Then my third (or more) round of review is where we’ll do gut-checks, tweak minor elements, and polish.
THREE: I have a few “all-time favorites”, but I read the Vampire Academy series prior to starting my own writing journey, and it’s stuck with me all this time. I found the setting and characters so compelling and real. For me, they both jumped off the page. I’m always looking for books/series where I feel fully apart of the story. And those are the types of books/series I want to write as well.
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