Greetings, Pitch Warriors!
It is no exaggeration to say that Pitch Wars 2014 changed my life. Seeing my name on the list of mentees was an indescribable thrill, followed by a whirlwind agent round with multiple requests and offers, and a contract with an agent who exceeds my expectations in every way on a regular basis. I owe a ton to this amazing contest and its generous organizer, Brenda Drake, along with my supportive mentor and pitch whisperer, Sarah Nicolas, and my awesome, sharp-eyed co-mentee, Shannon Cooley. I have met friends through this contest that I hope will be friends for life (waves to the supremely talented Mara Rutherford and Nikki Roberti.)
I’m so excited to be mentoring Middle Grade this year!
I work in a small town library and I have three boys, so my pursuit of great middle grade books is constant and enthusiastic.
My book, The Frost King, a YA fantasy that “won” the most requests in Pitch Wars last year, is represented by the supremely awesome Suzie Townsend (along with the amazing literary assistants, Jackie and Jaida) at New Leaf Literary & Media.
What I’m looking for in a mentee:
I’d like to work with someone who enjoys open communication, is willing to listen and discuss ideas, and who is willing to make whatever changes are necessary to make the book stronger. You don’t have to use all my suggestions but I ask that you consider them!
My critiquing style:
I’m a good cheerleader. I will tell you what I love, as well as what I think needs tweaking. I will (hopefully) not destroy your writerly soul with my critiques. I want to be your partner, your brainstorming help, your second set of eyes, and your biggest fan.
What I love in MG:
I love books I can read to my kids, but I also love books I can sink into and read on my own. Some of my favorite books:
The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney
The Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer (I’ve seen it as YA as well, so possibly straddles upper MG and YA)
The Thief by Megan Whelan Turner
The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh
anything written by Jonathon Stroud (creepy and full of voice)
anything written by David Walliams (heartwarming and funny)
The Timmy Failure books by Stephan Pastis
The Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey
The Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park
The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne (although I like her retelling of The Odyssey even more!)
The 39 Clues series
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
As a kid, I loved C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Joan Lowry Nixon, Gordon Kormon, Judy Blume, Alan Garner, Robin McKinley and many more.
Though I admire books in the literary vein, my tastes tend toward the commercial. In upper MG, I tend to like more fantasy or sci fi, including things with a bit of a dark and creepy feel. In younger MG, I love humor, even if it’s a bit rude! (I appreciate anything that is action-packed and/or funny and appeals to boys). I may not know what I love until I read it, so I’m open to seeing something new! Or a retelling of something old, like myths or fairy tales.
Your turn! I can’t wait to read your submissions. Pitch Wars is an incredible opportunity to get help polishing and perfecting your manuscript, as well as showcasing your pitch and opening to a bevy of interested agents. Kudos on taking the plunge. No matter what happens, you should take pride in having the courage to submit your work. Good luck!