If you’re viewing this post, you’ve probably written a book. I’m sending you virtual spirit fingers because GO YOU!!
What is Pitch Wars? Here’s a post from Brenda, the mastermind of this whole operation.
And if you’re interested in this contest, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you want help querying/catching an agent’s eye. AWESOME. Happy to have you here.🙂
So, at this point, you’re probably scrolling through mentor bios and checking the Pitch Wars hashtag…or obsessively checking your Twitter feed (what? Just me?) and wondering “who is this Jennifer Blackwood chick?” Okay, maybe you’re not, but humor me for a few mins, mmmkay?
A little about me: I’m a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. I’m probably best known for THE RULE BOOK, but I also have 3 other books under my belt. I am represented by the fabulous Courtney Miller-Callihan from Handspun Literary. Here’s my query that snagged her attention. My day job consists of corralling teenagers..erm…I mean, teaching language arts. In the past, I’ve also interned at a couple publishers (including Entangled) which means I have a good sense of what editors are looking for.
Why I chose to be a mentor: I’ve been waiting for months now to get back into the Pitch Wars ring and help potential mentees. Last year, I had to drop out because of a death in the family, but I’M BACK. I really love this contest. It is everything I wish I’d had when I first started out–someone to take me under their wing. Someone to tell me “JEN, STOP REFRESHING YOUR EMAIL EVERY 2.4 SECONDS.” Really, stop doing that. It’s horrible for your sanity. So, this is my chance to pay it forward. To help someone who needs that extra little push or guidance while trying to break into this tough industry. And if I can help even one person, then that’s what this is all about. If I pick you as my mentee, my support doesn’t end after the contest. I’m here for the long haul, so, sorry, you’re stuck with me.
My editing style: I will most likely do two passes of the project (possibly three). If you are going to work with me, I am not one to sugarcoat things, and I will always be honest with you. With that said, I offer constructive feedback and will never tear you or your writing down. Oftentimes, I pose questions to make you think about your book, about certain scenes, characterization, etc. I don’t like to outright tell you to “take this out”– unless your character says they hate DQ Blizzards, because that’s a deal breaker– because you are the person who needs to make those decisions. I will always point out what I think isn’t working or could possibly be tweaked to make it better. I urge all writers to listen to their gut when it comes to feedback. When I was first starting out, I took any and every suggestion I got in regards to my manuscript. Want to know what happened? My manuscript suffered because of it. With that said, I do expect my potential mentee to come into this with an open mind and be willing to dig deep to make your manuscript better. I’ve been in the business for a few years and have read A LOT in my genre. I can pretty easily spot what works and what doesn’t.
Here’s what edits will look like:
First pass: overall plot, characterization, making sure every scene moves plot forward
Second pass: fine tuning overall book, making sure everything is consistent, correcting any blatant grammar issues
Be prepared to work hard. I will make you work for this, but promise your manuscript will be 198543958439068 (this is a scientifically calculated number, I assure you) times better because of it.
My strengths: editing (I have a Master’s in English), query writing, humor, voice, characterization, spotting plot issues/inconsistencies, pointing out places to show vs. tell.
Hobbies: reading, binge watching shows on Netflix, hiking, dancing, silently correcting grammar, singing in the car, and eating..probably my favorite past time of all
Favorite TV shows: Gilmore Girls, Hart of Dixie, Supernatural, Suits
Favorite YA authors: Sarah Dessen, Miranda Kenneally, Jennifer Echols, Stephanie Perkins, Katie McGarry, Julie Buxbaum, Becky Albertalli, Sarah J. Maas
Favorite NA authors: Elle Kennedy, Kristen Callihan, Lia Riley, AJ Pine, Chanel Cleeton, Melissa West, Cindi Madsen, Lisa Desrochers
Now on to the good stuff.
MY WISH LIST!
YA: -I am only taking contemporary. Although I love to read YA fantasy (and will gush to no end about A Court of Thorns and Roses), paranormal, dystopian, etc. I do not feel like I’d be the best candidate to help you with your manuscript.
- Romance- I love, love, love YA romance. Anything that makes me swoon, laugh, stay up way past my bedtime is right up my alley. Books I’ve recently loved: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, In Real Life by Jessica Love, A Court of Mist and Fury (I said I don’t want fantasy, but if you have a Feyre/Rhys type relationship SEND IT TO ME RIGHT NOW). Although I’m not opposed to emotionally heavy topics, I love the fluff. Give me the fluff.
- Sports- I love books about sports, especially if it has an interesting twist like females kicking ass in a male dominated sport (Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally, anyone?)
- Mystery- I am DYING to read a book similar to Veronica Mars. I have a soft spot for witty/snarky characters, especially when the hero and heroine have a love/hate relationship. If you have something that, please send my way.
- Diversity- Some of my favorite books include Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Openly Straight, and One Man Guy. Is your book like any of these? SEND THIS TO ME RIGHT NOW. I need this in my life.
- Manuscripts in special format. Anything that includes cute things like emails, notes, poems, memos, etc.
- Shakespeare retellings. I’d LOVE to read a book in vein of She’s the Man (yes, the movie with Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, because UNF)
- Boarding school books or secret societies. I loved The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. If you have something with shenanigans at boarding school or secret societies, I am your woman.
- A study abroad novel. Something along the lines of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Kristen Rae’s Wish You Were Italian, Lia Riley’s Upside Down, and AJ Pine’s If Only. I asked for this last year, and no one sent me one. So I’m putting a shout out for it again!! If you have something like this, send it my way. I will die of happiness.
- Friendship books. I love complicated friendships. Send them to me. Seriously.
- Magical Realism
What I’d like to see in general:
- humorous writing/characters
- clear conflict that your characters have to overcome/ clear motivations and goals
- something that will make me smile. As said before, I LOVE the fluff
- Rory/Lorelai type relationship
- Strong heroines
- Nice guys, ones who treat women with respect.
- Smart, purposeful prose that will keep me flipping the page.
NA: For New Adult, I am only taking romance. The above wishlist for YA can also apply to NA as well. I am really enjoying older NA (characters out of college, out in the real world working their first jobs). If the book is set in college, there needs to be a hook that is fresh.
Tropes I love:
- Enemies to lovers
- Older brother’s best friend
- Second chance love
- Fake relationships
Not on my wish list:
- Science Fiction
- Anything involving rape or dubious consent
- Teen Pregnancy
- Slut Shaming
- Anything extremely sad (moments of sadness are fine, but if your book makes me cry 90% of the book, I’m not your gal)
And that’s it. Even if you feel your MS doesn’t fit this perfectly, if you think you have something that I’d love, send it to me! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
You’re a badass for putting yourself out there, and keep doing you❤
If you’re doing the scavenger hunt, here is my letter😉
and here’s a little *cough cough* hint…but you didn’t hear it from me!!
And here are the other fabulous mentors: