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 …
Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. When she is not writing young adult fantasy about spectacle, extravagance, and prestige, she is figuring out this whole “adult” thing. After graduating from the College of William and Mary, she now lives near Philadelphia, PA with her many siblings and many books.
Her first novel, DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY, will be published by HarlequinTEEN in August 2017. Her second, ACE OF SHADES, will follow in Spring 2018.
ONE: I can forgive essentially everything except writing and imagination that do not fancy me. Everything else can be improved.
TWO: I like a lot of conversation and discussion. I also like to challenge. On a technical level, I intend to tackle both macro revisions and line edits, but expect me to ask you why you chose to plot things the way you did, why you added this element to a character, etc. No decision you made is arbitrary, and I will challenge my mentee to consider every ingredient they add to their story, its purpose, and how it can be improved.
THREE: I am obligated to answer Harry Potter. I grew up and learned to read on those books. The level of complexity of its details still continues to inspire me as I write today.
A devotee of reading and writing from an early age, Amy Trueblood grew up surrounded by books. After stints working in entertainment and advertising, she began writing her first manuscript and never looked back. Currently she is a freelance editor with Wild Things Editing. Her work is represented by Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.
ONE: I’m looking for a manuscript with a unique concept and a killer voice. I’m pretty forgiving in first pages as I know starting a book can be rough. Things like filter words, too much telling versus showing, etc. can all be fixed. If a manuscript is front-loaded with too much backstory or riddled with cliches it would be a pass.
TWO: I’m a big picture editor. Things like plot holes, inconsistent voice, and issues with character arcs are big for me. Once I feel these issues are fixed, I’m open to drilling down deeper to more copy editing if time allows.
THREE: Hands down, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I think what struck me most was Harper Lee’s pared down writing that still managed to move you. Forced you to think about your own life choices and whether or not in a difficult position you’d be strong enough to take the moral high ground. After finishing the final page, I knew I wanted to be a writer.
Ashley Hearn is a Young Adult author represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis, a Freelance Editor, an intern for Entangled Publishing, a Sports Producer, and a proud Gryffindor. When she stops guzzling coffee long enough to save gas money, she can be found scouring the Georgia and South Carolina Sea Islands for ruined plantations, folk magic, and a fresh story.
ONE: If I’m connecting to the characters and conflict, I would forgive a story that feels like it’s starting in the wrong place. We can always change the starting point in revisions. A pass for me would be a voice I can’t connect with. As an editor, I feel like tinkering with a character’s voice is messing with the author’s unique style.
TWO: You can expect to do two rounds of revisions with me. One round based off an edit letter, similar to a first-pass letter you would receive from an editor or agent. The second round will consist of in-line comments and line edits to polish up. I also hope my mentee will be open to video chats 🙂
THREE: I refuse to pick a favorite (sorry, Brenda), but most inspirational might be Faulker’s AS I LAY DYING. Besides sparking my interest in Southern fiction, it made me realize that being a writer is the closest you can come to being a god.
Austin Aslan is the author of the highly-acclaimed eco-thriller series The Islands at the End of the World. The Guardian recently ranked his debut novel as a top-ten read in the awakening genre of climate fiction, and Kirkus Reviews hailed the series opener as a “Best Book of 2014.” Austin earned a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology while living with his wife and two children on the Big Island of Hawai`i. A Northern Arizona native and long-distance backpacker, he can often be found exploring the world’s last wild places while sleeping on a punctured air mattress. Follow his globetrotting and outdoor adventures on both Facebook and Twitter at “Laustinspace,” and on the Gore-Tex® “Experience More” blog.
ONE: I’m excited to field material that comes with a compelling initial hook (the elevator pitch has to impress me and make me curious). The sample must showcase well-drawn characters who act logically and who pop out at me. I need the author to have a sense of voice. (What does that mean? I don’t know. I know it when I see it. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, you should be concerned. Voice is the DNA of your novel.) In terms of story and narrative, I’ll forgive a lot as I scan initial pages, but a generally clean edit is a must (I don’t have time to fix punctuation and spelling errors–if you’re proud and serious about your material, that’ll be taken care of before your ms ever reaches the likes of me). A really sloppy voice or little command of sentence structure will quickly earn a pass. The story has to feel anchored immediately. I need to be grounded, know where I am, what’s going on, and why I should care.
TWO: I’m an okay copy editor, but I notice trends in errors and understand how grammar is supposed to work. There will likely be repeated errors in any ms, and I’ll address these with a few examples and lessons for how to fix the problem, then expect the author to weed all similar incidents out during the next revision. I’m far more interested in troubleshooting the content of the story, the elements that are lacking or weak, of discussing how to make plot and characters stronger and more vibrant, and how to tighten, tighten, tighten. I suspect there will be room for three rounds of revision in the two months. I personally work fast. The author should take more time, really try on what we discuss, and create distance between revisions for the sake of clarity.
THREE: This is a fool’s question. I have no favorite child, and the best books I’ve read are all unique enough to defy direct ranking against each other. But for what it’s worth, my best reads have all been somehow transcendental, somewhat epic in form, and illuminate something profound of the Human condition. 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera fit the bill. LOTR does, too. Brothers Karamozov. The Gunslinger and The Shining. Cloud Atlas, for its sheer versatility. And one of the few series I read over and over again: Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea books. Simply sublime. I don’t know what these books do to my own writing, except to humble me, and ignite my love for the written word.
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