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 . . .
Rachel Lynn Solomon & Co-Mentor Kit Frick
Rachel Lynn Solomon is a Seattle native who loves tap dancing, red lipstick, and new wave music. Her debut contemporary YA novel, FINGERS CROSSED, will be out from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse in spring 2018, with a second book to follow in 2019. She’s represented by Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency.
Kit Frick is a YA writer and poet living in Brooklyn, NY. Her fiction is represented by Erin Harris at Folio/Folio Jr. Kit received her MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She is a Senior Editor at Black Lawrence Press and Founding Editor of the private editorial practice Copper Lantern Studio. She is thrilled beyond words to be co-mentoring in Pitch Wars for the first time this year.
ONE for Rachel: I would love to see something fresh, something that pushes boundaries, something complex that challenges me as a reader. Something with a moral gray area, perhaps. I love “unlikable” female characters. I can forgive typos and a few grammar and punctuation errors. Just about anything can be fixed during Pitch Wars — my mentees have done massive overhauls in the past — if the submission has a great hook and a strong, unique voice!
ONE for Kit: I’m looking for that killer combination of gorgeous writing, a compelling hook, and a voice I need to listen to. Rachel and I have very similar tastes in terms of complicated characters, toxic friendships, and provocative, boundary-pushing narratives, so I think we’ll both be seeking similar stories in our inbox! There’s a lot I can forgive in the sample pages as long as the writing, hook, and voice draw me in. (Which is a already a tall order!)
TWO for Rachel: I’m tough but extremely encouraging! I never tell someone, “change this” or “I don’t like this.” Rather, I give suggestions, ask questions, and turn it into a discussion. I WILL push you because I know you can take your amazing book to the next level. This is my first year co-mentoring, so Kit and I will split up the edits. Round one will be big-picture notes and an edit letter, and round two will be line edits.
TWO for Kit: My agent likes to say–and I agree–that editing is a collaboration, not a dictatorship. That said, Rachel and I will absolutely push you to do the work necessary so that your manuscript is the best version of itself and ready for the agent round and querying. You’ll have a great team behind you, providing guided feedback and encouragement.
THREE for Rachel: My all-time favorite book is PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a coming-of-age story about a Midwestern girl on scholarship at a prestigious East Coast boarding school, and it follows her through all four years of high school there. It’s fearless, acerbic, and brilliantly written. It’s taught me to embrace all the uncomfortable moments of teenagerdom. I don’t write clean, sanitized books, and my characters are whole, imperfect people.
THREE for Kit: Ugh, I *love* PREP. Since Rachel stole mine (just kidding), I’m going to go with Lauren Oliver’s BEFORE I FALL, which is a contemporary YA about Sam Kingston, a popular and only sometimes likable high school senior who lives the last day of her life seven times, trying and failing and trying again to leverage her strange position to make a difference in someone else’s life–and her own. BEFORE I FALL taught me a lot about “unlikable” female characters (and how much I love them), about playing with narrative structure, and about merging my love for contemporary YA with the strange, the speculative, and the fantastical.
Rebecca Sky & Co-Mentor Stacey Trombley
Rebecca Sky is an author from the icy tundras of Canada. She dreams of living in New York with her rock star hubby and their two four-legged children. When not writing you can find her reading, traveling, shopping for books, going to shows, and shopping for books! At heart she’s a lipstick bohemian, lover of exclamation, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.
Stacey Trombley lives in Ohio with her husband, baby boy and the sweetest Rottweiler you’ll ever meet. She thinks people are fascinating and any chance she has, she’s off doing or learning something new. She went on her first mission trip to Haiti at age twelve and is still dying to go back. Her “places to travel” list is almost as long as her “books to read” list.
Her debut novel NAKED released in 2015 from Entangled Teen, and her second novel CULTURE SHOCK is due out Fall 2016 from Entangled Crush.
ONE for Rebecca: I’d overlook a few typos or tense slips if the voice blew me away. No voice or a tired trope, I’ll most likely pass.
ONE for Stacey: I’m looking to be hooked. Mistakes don’t matter so much so long as you show competence and the emotion/tone/writing/story make me want to keep reading.
TWO for Rebecca: I tend to leave a bunch of comments while I go, so the author gets a feel of what a reader is thinking as they read. But I also write up a long editorial letter outlining plot/pacing/character arc/world building, and a few other fun things. I’m really excited to be working with Stacey! We’ll be discussing our thoughts, ideas, and putting our heads together to bring our mentee the best possible support we can.
TWO for Stacey: Every manuscript is different.A simple edit will usually be comments as I go, and then adding more detail/explanations in a long edit letter. But sometimes it takes more than that. Last year one of my mentees needed a pretty big structural revision so before I even touched in-MS notes we brain stormed together how the plot/structure needed to change. She was amazing and we got on the same page super quick and her changes were awesome, THEN I did a read through of smaller changes. Rebecca and I will are both pretty go with the flow but we’ll be planning out how we’d like to go about editing together, but things may change based on the needs of our Mentee!
THREE for Rebecca: My current all-time favorite book, (yes, it does change often), is THE NIGHT CIRCUS. Erin has this ability to put readers in the scene: taste the tastes, smell the smells, etc. Her sensory skills are something I aspire to.
THREE for Stacey: What an impossible question, ha! Some of my all-time favorites are Jane Eyre, an out of print Christian Fiction book called Refiner’s Fire by Sylvia Bambola, and Harry Potter (And the Deathly Hallows, if I have to choose one). I guess… I have eclectic tastes. I like books that make me think, books that make me feel, but that can mean a lot of different things.
RuthAnne Snow was a sorority girl in college and social activities director in law school—which was a lot like being back in the sorority. She has interned for the U.S. Senate, worked on policy papers for Congress and the State Department, and once spent a year sorting through emails looking for fraud. It wasn’t nearly as fun as writing fiction. She loves travel, dogs, horror movies, and baking.
ONE: Voice, humor, originality. I can forgive (and help!) minor grammar errors, pacing problems, and plot holes.
I don’t have many automatic pass buttons, but if it’s obvious you’ve declined to do your research, I will definitely back off. I am far from an expert on MANY topics, but if even a novice can tell you haven’t fully investigated the topic you’ve chosen to write about, that’s an issue that probably can’t be fixed in two months. If I can spot big, big mistakes without a thorough knowledge of the topic, I can bet there will also be little ones that I won’t be able to find.
TWO: My style is to read the whole manuscript and edit/comment as I go, then provide my mentee with an edit letter of overall thoughts. I’m going to make myself available to answer questions during the revision process and hopefully re-read again, but other than that just let my mentee go after it! I’m a big believer in the idea that when a reader or editor finds a problem, they’re usually right, but when they offer a solution, they’re usually wrong. I want to help my mentee find the problems and I’m happy to help brainstorm solutions, but in the end it’s the writer who will have to find the right answer.
THREE: The Stand by Stephen King. I think I read it as a teenager and it impressed upon me the importance of giving every character in a story an inner life and motivation (even if, in most cases, you don’t end up telling the reader what that is!)
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