#PitchWars YA Mentor Bio. Whoooo!
It’s Pitch Wars! WHOOO!!! This year I’ll be taking YA only!
It’s that time again where Brenda Drake and crew fill our email boxes with amazing words. I had so much fun with my mentees last year. They were amazing and I got to have kind of a two-in-one deal. I chose their MS because it was the one that haunted me, the one that if I didn’t pick it, I would regret it. It had me so captivated. And you know what? I had no idea I wanted it until I saw it. It wasn’t in a sub-genre that I was particularly looking for. It’s SO hard to know what you want until you see it. So just because a mentor says what they want, does NOT mean that if you don’t fit that taste mold that they won’t love yours.
So a little about me. I’ve been writing for over 8 years in total–3 years in pursuit of publication. My writing is represented by the amazing Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis (check out the new website!). I began in publishing as an intern for the incredible Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. Louise taught me (and continues to teach me) a lot of what I know about the industry and writing/editing. I was also an associate editor at Entangled Publishing where I had the opportunity to work with some amazing authors and edit with the talented Liz Pelletier and Stacy Abrams. I’ve learned a lot over the years about publishing, queries, voice, and most recently, story structure that I’m eager to share with my mentee(s). I’m a blog contributor for the YA Misfits and All the Write Notes. I love Lions and University of Michigan football, alternative music, going to concerts, singing, reading, good movies, and playing my guitar (when I can). I’m starting to think my spirit animal is a sloth. And I’m okay with that.
Now for the fun stuff.
I was asked a few questions on twitter. So here are my answers. I like chips over chocolate. I’m definitely #TeamLogan and #TeamPacey. I like character-driven stories over plot-driven. I think that covers the questions I received. Keep ’em coming!
What I’d love to see… in the YA category
This is always the hardest part for me. The truth is… I don’t know. I know what my tastes are like. I love YA contemporaries, lyrical writing like Maggie Stiefvater. I love stories about football, music, love interests who antagonize each other then fall for each other. Specifically, DIVERSITY – Multicultural, LGBT, disabilities – physical or mental (I have a few myself), whatever you got. There has to be TENSION and STAKES, CONFLICT. There needs to be a romance. I’d like to say I can hang with any story even without some type of romance but I’d be lying. I need it. YA needs it. Don’t scrimp on that. That doesn’t mean have them kiss on page 14. Have them almost kiss a few times then kiss somewhere around 60% or so, then tear them apart [insert evil laugh]. I want to stay up late reading your story. Torture me. Make me angry at you for not giving me what I want right away. Make me CARE about your characters. MAKE ME LAUGH. I love laughing so if your MC is funny AND has emotional baggage that’s a total win for me. Please no verse or lots of world building. And keep the info dumps in those beautiful brains of yours. Nothing really scares me off except people eating people. Horror – yes, Thriller- yes. Fantasy – yes, Sci-Fi – yes. I do love Dystopian but agents are shying away from it right now, so… unless it breaks the mold completely, I would submit something else. Same for paranormal romance. As I say every year, GREAT WRITING trumps anything I write in this bio.
What do we want?! VOICE. When do we want it?! ALWAYS!
My ideal love interest – Stiles Stilinski from Teen Wolf (if you’re not watching it, you’re missing out) – Why do I love him? Stiles is goofy, funny, sweet, loyal, smart. He’s kind of the whole package, folks. He makes you love him. Also, throw in some Mr. Darcy and you’ve got a dangerous combo.
My mentoring style
I’m pretty blunt when it comes to editing. I will say exactly what I think is missing and what I believe will help, even if it’s something that seems ridiculous (like changing your love interest – it happened, ask Linda). This does not mean you need to change anything. Feel free to tell me no. If I strongly believe something will help your story, I will push you to try to think differently. That’s our role–to guide you through this process. Many have pushed me to explore other opportunities in my stories. Sometimes I listened, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I was wrong and ended up changing it later. I will mostly point out big picture stuff; motivations, plot holes, structure issues, character arcs. As I say every year I do Pitch Wars, this will be a partnership. I want to work with you to make your story the best it can be.
QUERIES – Read your query and pages out loud. Read it as a reader would on the back of the book. Would you want to read your story? What is it about your story that you like best? Use that.
- Make sure to infuse your voice in your query (as hard as that is), that is what makes them stand out.
- White space is your friend. Push that return button to emphasize an important line or phrase.
- Pay attention to the structure. Don’t forget to tell us what will happen if the MC doesn’t reach their goal! Less is more.
- The only purpose of a query is to get us to READ MORE. That’s it. It’s a sales pitch for your book. You don’t need the kitchen sink.
PAGES – Your first line should introduce your voice as well as the tone of the MS. Make sure you snag us right away. Don’t bog us down in description and info dumps; it’s okay if we don’t know your MC yet, we shouldn’t! Just make them interesting and unique enough that we keep reading.
- Pay attention to the rhythm of the words too. Do they flow? Are there any awkward phrases? Look for sentences that are trying too hard, or repeat the same thing as the line before (I do this a lot).
- Check your dialogue. Does it sound authentic? Do they sound like real people/creatures/robots etc.? Read the lines out loud too.
- Make sure the actions you write are really possible. If you have your MC performing some crazy, flip-turn combo, make sure it’s something they can realistically do–in your world, of course.
- Most of all, don’t censor yourself or think about someone reading it yet. That’s where a lot of writers get hung up. Just let your voice shine.
That’s all I got for now, feel free to find me on twitter @ericamchapman if you have anything specific to ask. I’m thrilled to join the Pitch Wars team for the third time! Be sure to check out the awesome agents and my amazing fellow mentors to see what they’re looking for! GOOD LUCK!!!
For submission guidelines, please go to www.brenda-drake.com!
Stay cool, rockers!