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 …
Holly grew up traveling all over the western U.S. and Germany pretending each long car ride was by covered wagon. She now lives in her birth state of Michigan with her husband and four little ruffians where she write modern historical fiction about wonderfully complicated people. She keeps a garden, tackles the art of baking French macarons, loves the Great Lakes, and can’t live without her Wellie boots. She’s represented my Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary
ONE: Something exciting! Sorry, that’s so vague. Easy fixes would be too much back story up front or a little too much telling vs showing. Grammar slips are totally expected, but if they are quite heavy in only a few pages, I might have to pass.
TWO: I go line by line and leave lots of notes, along with an edit letter. I’m hoping for a mentee who likes emailing back and forth, brainstorming ideas and scenes. I want to help out along the way while they tweak if I can and I’m totally game for reading over track changes and giving more feedback on the new material.
THREE: Hmm. My all-time fav is Three Men in a Boat (Not to Mention the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome. But I can’t say that it’s influenced/inspired my writing at all. Other than realizing there’s nothing wrong with writing for sheer enjoyment.
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two college kids. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly query contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, Picture Book Party, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints trilogy from Harper Voyager starts with GRUDGING (November 2015) and FAITHFUL on (November 15, 2016). She has another epic fantasy entitled KINDAR’S CURE.
ONE: I’m looking for a unique idea and concept or something unique in the world building. I like deep characters and stories with a great balance of action, dialogue, and inner thought. It should have good pacing and flow, and not need a complete tear down. Give me detailed characters and world building!
TWO: I like to go through and do a first pass for big picture issues and line edits using track changes in Word, giving my reasoning behind any suggestions. Then we Rinse and Repeat from there until done and move on to working on the pitch and query letter.
THREE: Now I’m stumped. In my genre I love so many books. I’d say Wheel of Time and anything by Brandon Sanderson influenced my own writing. Those books demonstrated the pacing and flow with the sort of in-depth character creation I really admire.
Two-time RITA finalist, Scarlett Cole, is a contemporary romantic suspense / contemporary romance author (represented by Beth Phelan at The Bent Agency). Author of the Second Circle Tattoos Series. The Strongest Steel was a Best Debut Goodreads Author Finalist 2015, and Authors on the Air Global Radio Network #1 Contemporary Romance Pick for 2015.
Having recently signed a 7-book deal with St. Martin’s Press, she is hard at work on two new series, PRELOAD, and LOVE OVER DUTY. When Scarlett isn’t writing, she spends her time reading, hoarding mason jars, and working out to off-set an epic sour candy habit.
Having travelled the world for work and fun, Scarlett is a citizen of both Britain and Canada. A true city-dweller, she considers Toronto and Manchester home and likes to set her books in vibrant locations such as Miami, Toronto, and San Diego.
ONE: What am I looking for? Great question. It’s simple. Something I haven’t read before. The story needs to feel fresh, even if it is a trope that has been written a million times before. I want those opening pages to blow me away and show me you know exactly where you are going with your story. Make me care… make me invest in your characters before I hit page ten. Character development is a must for me.
Why would I pass? Long and rambling prologues that tell me how tortured your characters are rather than weaving details through the story. Disjointed plots that would require a huge structural overhaul. Weak heroines who float aimlessly through the story like a tree branch bobbing along the river. And my pet peeve – repetitive use of the same word at the start of the sentences (especially in first person – please check your use of ‘I’ at the door). It is easy to fix, but shows a lack of creativity.
TWO: My plan is to get an editorial letter with all the developmental edits identified during the first read through out to my mentee within a week of the selections being made. This is food for thought and helps set the tone for the edits to come. Call it brain fodder – it’s to start you thinking about the larger issues within the story. I’ll follow that up with more detailed edits. While I am not a copy editor, I will address line edits as I find them. Then we iterate, iterate, and iterate until it’s done. I’ll video chat with you frequently (if you are cool with that!).
I only have two expectations of my mentee:
– I work hard and expect you to do the same. If you don’t have the time to do the edits, don’t enter.
– I don’t expect you to take all my feedback, but I do expect you to at least consider it.
THREE: Hmm… all-time favorite book and how it inspired me? That’s a tough one. I’ll go with Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes. It absolutely made me want to write suspense into my stories. From a plot perspective, I loved the high stakes, the suspense, the revenge, and the love story. From a character development perspective, the heroine’s arc is perfectly executed. I reread it often, even though it is nearly twenty years old.
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