Hi. We Want Your #PitchWars YA MS!
It’s Pitch Wars! WHOOOOOOOO!!! This year I’m teaming up with my CP and awesome BFF, Brenda Drake! We will be accepting in the YA category and can’t wait to read your beautiful words ;o)
I’m so excited for Pitch Wars this year! I actually joined the party a little late, but I’m so glad my co-mentor Brenda Drake asked me to participate! I’m so proud of my mentee, Whitney Taylor from last year. I had a blast working with her and reading her amazing words. There were many times I uttered the word, “Wow.” I absolutely love her voice and writing and I’m seriously excited that she signed with the wonderful Maria Vicente at P.S. Literary Agency! YAY!
Previous years I worked with more amazing writers. I even had a sister duo! Leah and Kate Rooper were so much fun to work with and their MS JANE UNWRAPPED was just sold to Entangled Teen Crave!! I also had an excellent experience with my very first mentee, Linda Budzinski. You can read our story here. You can also find her awesome novel THE FUNERAL SINGER here!
I’ve been writing for over 9 years in total–3 years in pursuit of publication. I’m going to recycle some of my bio info from last year because it hasn’t changed. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? #clicheoftheday
My writing is represented by the amazing Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis. I had the pleasure of meeting her this year and I am incredibly proud and happy to call her my agent. She’s patient, kind, communicative, creative, and just the best.
A little about us (Brenda and me)…
We met during National Novel Writing Month 2010. And I knew instantly that she was a friend for life. Brenda is so talented and smart about her writing and plot choices. She won’t settle for the ordinary and instead pushes for the extraordinary! Which is why I’m so so so happy and lucky to have her be my co-mentor this year!! She knows a lot about world building, description, plot, voice, query writing… I could go on and on. So this year you get both of us! YAY!
My history in publishing…
I began in publishing as an intern for the incredible Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. Louise taught 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 editors including 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 the Detroit Lions and University of Michigan football, alternative music, going to concerts, singing, reading, good movies, and playing my guitar (when I can). My spirit animal is Lorelai Gilmore.
What I’d love to see in the YA category… (Brenda too!)
This is always the hardest part for us. The truth is… I don’t know. I know what my tastes are like. I love YA contemporaries, a great sic-fi or thriller. I love stories about football, music, love interests who antagonize each other then fall for each other. DIVERSITY – Multicultural, QUILTBAG, disabilities – physical or mental, whatever you got. There has to be TENSION and STAKES, CONFLICT. A good romance is always fun to read. 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.
STILL VALID —> 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 doesn’t 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.
Some of my favorite books:
GOING TOO FAR by Jennifer Echols (really, anything by her)
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir
The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson (anything by her, but this is my favorite)
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
UNDER A PAINTED SKY by Stacey Lee
THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp
THIS SHATTERED WORLD by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater
OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord
THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey
SHUTTER by Courtney Alameda
THE NATURALS by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno
DEFY by Sara B. Larson
JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta
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 fourth time! Be sure to check out the awesome agents and my amazing fellow mentors to see what they’re looking for! GOOD LUCK!!!
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