Yay!!! It’s Pitch Wars Time!!!
I love, love, love Pitch Wars–it has completely shaped my writing career. I was Julie C. Dao’s mentee in 2016, and she helped me transform not just my manuscript, but the way I write. During the agent round, Melissa Edwards requested my manuscript, and one month later she offered me representation. Now I have a two-book deal with Sourcebooks, and my debut MG mystery, THE ORDER OF BLACK HOLLOW LANE, will be published in Spring 2019. And I get to mentor an up-and-coming writer and welcome them onto #TeamPygmyPuff!
I’m mentoring middle grade this year, and I love, love, love MG. When I got to university, I stopped reading for fun. Which was crazy. Middle Grade books brought me back to the world of literature and turned my love of reading into a passion for writing.
So who am I?
I’m a writer and writing coach, and I live in the one part of Canada that gets almost no snow (seriously, we went three years without seeing the white stuff.) I teach writing courses online, and I absolutely love helping writers dig deeper into their work and push themselves to create their best stories.
I am an unabashed geek. Somewhere in the depths of Youtube, there may or may not be footage of me and my cousin filming Lord of the Rings and playing every single character. But don’t tell anyone. I am obsessed with French baking and Italian cuisine, and am on a life-long quest to find the perfect ‘pain-au-chocolat’ (like a chocolate croissant, but better). I love growing my own food, and if anyone has tips for growing epic tomatoes, please @ me on Twitter ASAP.
What am I looking for?
- Mystery and Adventure with Heart and Soul. That means the mystery/adventure needs to have a real personal connection to the people involved–it needs to genuinely mean something to them, and not just be a fun ride. Ideally, it should reveal (and hopefully challenge) character. Make me feel all the feels! Bonus points for a really atmospheric setting and riddles that genuinely challenge me! My favourite examples in this category are THE SECRET SERIES by Pseudonymous Bosch, The ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS SERIES by Lemony Snicket, and THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY Books by Trenton Lee Stewart.
- Contemporary with a Twist of Magic. That means it needs to be set in our world. A SNICKER OF MAGIC by Natalie Lloyd is a great example of this.
- Kids Who Are Really Into Something. I love books about kids who are really passionate about something. Musical theatre, science, rowing, ninja training, whatever! My favourite examples are THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali Benjamin and THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH by Jennifer L. Holm.
- Books By Marginalized Authors. I want to hear from underrepresented voices! I don’t want to set narrow parameters, but if you are eligible for DVPit, I would love to hear from you. My all-time favourite MG book is LISTEN, SLOWLY, by Thanhha Lai, so if that’s one of your comp titles, I want your book in my inbox!
- General Themes I Like: strong friendships, relationships with conflict, LGBTQIA+ characters, whimsical books/books that make me laugh, whodunnits, boarding schools, secret societies, books that feature indigenous characters, neurodiversity, music, science, spies, thieves, twisty plots, surprise endings, unusual settings, heists, high stakes.
I am NOT the right person for fantasy, sci-fi, horror, paranormal, dystopian, historical, non-human protagonists, books written in verse, or books that come with trigger warnings.
Why should you pick me?
- I’m an experienced writing coach. I work with people all the time through my writing classes, and I love getting into the nitty gritty of people’s manuscripts. I will support you every step of the way and be your biggest champion.
- I’m a workhorse when it comes to critiques. I am constantly working through other people’s manuscripts, whether it is in my classes, as a beta reader, or with critique partners.
- Things I tend to focus on: Voice, character growth, POV, pacing.
What should my mentee expect?
- To work really, really hard. Two months is an incredibly short time to do the kinds of revisions you will have to do. A lot is going to have to go on the backburner in order for you to get these done. Make sure you (and your family!) are prepared for the amount of time you’re going to have to spend in the revision cave.
- To kill a lot of darlings. Are you ready to change POVs? To cut a character? To kill a subplot? To alter the voice? To re-write the third act? These are all things previous mentees have been asked to do. Remember that you do not have to make any of the changes I suggest–this is YOUR book. We will work together in a partnership, where we can discuss possible changes and work through them so you can create your best possible manuscript in the short time that we have.
- To be in it for the long-haul. Not everyone gets an agent through Pitch Wars. Not everyone who gets an agent gets a book deal. There is no such thing as a straight path to publishing, and this industry requires patience, guts, and resilience. But if you’re in it for the long-haul, I will be right there with you, ready to encourage and help you along the way.
- To be self-motivated. I will be your biggest cheerleader, but no amount of encouragement from me can replace your own drive and determination. This business is driven by deadlines, and it’s important to be able to meet them.
Thank you so much for reading my wishlist! If you have any questions, or you just want to say hi, you can @ me on Twitter or find me on Facebook. Just in case you missed it, the red word is ‘your’. Make sure you check out the rest of the fantabulous MG mentor wishlists below!