Writers are supposed to be good with words, but all I can think to say is--I am so thrilled to be a Pitch Wars mentor this year! (If you're not familiar with Pitch Wars, it's a fabulous contest hosted by the equally fabulous Brenda Drake, where unpublished writers work with a mentor to polish their work before agents request pages. You can read a fuller explanation here).
I was lucky enough to be mentored by the fabulous Virginia Boecker last fall, and her insights made my book so much better. I got my agent (Josh Adams) a month after Pitch Wars ended, and sold my YA fantasy debut, THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION (Fall 2016, first in a planned trilogy) to Knopf/Random House in February.
Pitch Wars was definitely instrumental in my success, and I'm so excited to get to pay it forward this year!
What I'm looking for:I'm a YA mentor.
I read widely in YA, so I'm open to anything, as long as it's well written. That said, I'm partial to fantasy (contemporary or historical) and historical novels. I love reading contemporary (Jandie Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun blew me away, and I adore Rainbow Rowell), but I was a bona fide nerd in high school and my high school experience is a bit dated. I do love a good sci-fi novel, but I lean toward space opera (think Miles Vorkosigan or Firefly) or light sci-fi. You can take a look at my Goodreads book shelf to see what I've read and liked, or scroll through some of the reviews on this blog.
I have a serious weakness for BBC period dramas: if you've got anything reminiscent of Poldark, Wives and Daughters, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Sherlock, etc., I will fight to the (figurative) death for your book! I take my historicals with or without magic. I'm not picky. But give me drama, an authentic setting, a bit of manners, smart dialogue, and a healthy dose of romance, and I will love you.
I also love fantasy: rich, sweeping epic settings with high stakes (think Marie Rutkowski's The Winner's Curse, Megan Whalen Turner's Attolia books) or vivid worlds with a folkloric feeling (Naomi Novik's Uprooted, Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing), send them my way!
I adore contemporary romance (Kasie West, Stephanie Perkins) and would seriously consider anything in that vein, but I might not be as helpful as some of the contemporary mentors.
Mostly, though, I'm looking for someone who's not afraid of working hard to make their book better. If you're just hoping to make surface level revisions, or for someone to put their stamp of approval on the book, I'm probably not the right mentor. Good revisions take work--last year, I rewrote nearly 1/3 of my manuscript for Pitch Wars. While the revisions I suggest may not be that drastic, you need to be prepared to cut and rework.
I'm open to diversity as long as you've done your research and the characters are fleshed-out, compelling, and respectfully presented.
What I'm not looking for:I'm not a huge fan of thrillers or hard-boiled mystery novels; I also don't do straight-up horror or anything that's ultra violent. Dark, gritty realistic fiction is probably not a good fit for me either. I don't mind some sex or swearing in books, but lots of it is a turn-off for me (esp. in YA).
Anything above 100k words. Two months is not a lot of time to workshop an entire novel, and I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to give the level of attention I need to a longer novel.
What I can offer you:I'm good at giving feedback on both big-picture and sentence-level issues. I have a PhD in English from Penn State, and I've taught college writing for over a decade. Giving feedback is part of what I'm paid to do professionally, and I love it. There's something so rewarding about seeing a piece of writing go to the next level.
For Pitch Wars, my feedback will focus primarily on big-picture issues: plot arc, characterization, setting, description, dialogue, etc. I won't focus on editing for grammar, though if there's a recurrent issue I will point it out.
Beyond that, my entry was fairly successful last fall in Pitch Wars (twelve requests and three ninja requests), so I have a reasonably good sense of what it takes to craft a compelling pitch and opening page.
My plan is to provide you with an edit letter that gives an overview to the strengths and weaknesses in your book, along with more detailed line edits in the manuscript itself. Ideally, we'll finish one round of revisions with time for me to do another read through before Pitch Wars.
Sometimes it's also helpful to know about mentoring style: I'm most comfortable working via email or google docs (I'm available to talk on the phone for crisis issues, but generally speaking talking on the phone makes my introvert self break into hives). I typically respond promptly to emails.
More about me:If you're still reading, you're either unusually persistent or you're considering me as a mentor. Either way: hooray! I live in the red rock of the Southwest with three small children and a chemistry professor husband. When I'm not reading and writing, I enjoy cooking (if someone else cleans), watching BBC dramas with my long-suffering husband, hiking, traveling, and generally avoiding housework. I love: anything British, European cities, mountains, fog, rocky coasts, good chocolate, and sleeping.
If you think we'd be a good fit, send your manuscript my way! If you have questions relating to Pitch Wars, just send me a tweet @rosalyneves or comment below.
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