Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pitch Wars 2017!

Hellooooo!! *waves enthusiastically* I’m so super excited to be doing Pitch Wars again (click here for details about the writing contest). This will be my 6th time. Whoa! Time flies. O.o

Anyway! This year, I'm co-mentoring (fantasy YA & contemporary YA—more about the wish list below) with the FABULOUS Kerbie Addis-Owens again!

I'm super excited about that. I met her via Pitch Wars, and she’s become a CP and awesome friend. I think she's so smart and talented, and her writing reflects that. 
Here's her bio in her own words: 

Hello potential mentees! *waves*

I'm Kerbie (yes, that's really my name). I was a mentee TWICE in Pitch Wars and was a mentor last year to the amazing Amaris Glass. Currently I'm an intern for a top NY literary agency, but for confidentiality reasons, I can't disclose who. I have an English BA and I'm in a master's program to become a librarian.

Fun stuff about me: My husband's a 1LT in the Army. I have a chubby black cat named Eve who has dominated my Instagram. I wrote my first 'book' when I was 4 and my first 'real novel' when I was 11. I can talk for hours about Japanese horror, feminism, and psychology, and have even presented at academic conferences on those topics.  

In my internship and my years CPing for friends, I've worked on manuscripts that went on to be published by Penguin Random House, Sourcebooks, HarperCollins, and other houses. I've also worked with writers who signed with agencies like Writer's House, The Bent Agency, Curtis Brown, etc. You get the idea. I kinda have a magic touch :P

I also have a unique advantage as both an intern and a librarian-in-training. I've seen what is considered "marketable" from both sides of the publishing industry--what publishers look to sell, and what gets booksellers/librarians to purchase. I have a pretty good eye for what will sell and what won't. This doesn't mean you should sit out because you don't think your book is "marketable." We can help get it to that point! :)

So why should you submit to me and Monica?

1. We're clearly awesome at what we do! 
2. Two heads are better than one! Usually Monica handles big picture edits (which we discuss) and I help the writer with line edits. 
3. We read quickly and reply to emails quickly. From experience, I know Pitch Wars can be nerve-wracking, and you definitely want someone who will be there for you and won't take forever to read your stuff!
4. We don't hesitate when it comes to editorial bluntness. We show tough love, but the more notes we give, the more we love your manuscript!
5. I'll send you pictures of my cat for every chapter you edit. :-3


This is Mónica again.
Okay, now about me.

I was born in Peru, and was raised in Chile. I’m a native Spanish speaker, and it took me years to learn the necessary English to, you know, be able to write a book! Now, I live in a rural area with my hubby and three boys, near a Chilean beach, and close to many mountains (a very earthquake-y zone!). Here, I have dogs and a cat and hens—and wild rabbits.

I’ve been a freelance editor for over six years, and I love to edit (not copy edit, though—for some reason, I’m not so good with typos!). I got my first agent in 2010 for a YA fantasy that didn’t sell. Then, after regrouping, I auditioned at Paper Lantern Lit (now Glasstown Entertainment, the imprint founded by NYT best-selling author Lauren Oliver and editor Lexa Hiller), and got a NA deal for a packaged book (the Frosh trilogy). It was a three-book deal, so was busy with that for a while.
I learned so much there, working with two editors. Alexa Wejko, and Roda Belleza. Rhoda is now a YA/MG editor at Imprint/MacMillan, and Alexa still works at Glasstown.

Now, I just signed with my third agent (the amazing Stacia Decker at Dunow Carlson, & Lerner) with a YA fantasy I’m currently revising to go out on sub. By the way, that’s something I adore—YA fantasy!

I’ve betaed/edited a lot of books (and my name is on many acknowledgements), like THE MEMORY OF LIGHT by Francisco Stork, CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber, UNDER A PAINTED SKY by Stacey Lee, POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil, ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman, TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini, THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING by Krista Van Dolzer, and I’ve worked with Evelyn Skye, and Kasie West, and many other authors. If you want to learn more, you might want to take a look at the editorial services page of this blog. You’ll find testimonials there, too. Oh, and you might want to check the success stories on this blog, too. There are many. =)

Here's a picture of a few of the books I edited--you can see my name on the acks (more books on the editorial page):

See, this is why I think you should submit to us. We’re the perfect bridesmaids, and we really want to take your book to the altar, so to speak, like we’ve taken so many other books there. We’ve both worked with dozens of authors, helping them get ready to sell their mss, and more than once, help them get six-figure deals. And we both LOVE Pitch Wars wholeheartedly. =D

What we want to see this year:

1) Just like last year, we want YA fantasy.
Pretty please.
*grabby hands*

Let me specify:
We don’t care if it’s historical fantasy YA, or high fantasy YA, or dark fantasy YA, or any kind of YA fantasy, but we want some romance. :) It doesn’t have to be the main plot, but there has to be at least a romantic subplot for me. Also, we’d love it if the ending is unpredictable (though I think that can be edited).

There’s only one kind of YA fantasy we don’t want: boy YA fantasy, like ERAGON.

I also loved CARAVAL, but I might be biased, since—like I said—I betaed that awesome book. I loved WORDS OF RADIANCE—what a GREAT fantasy, but I’m mentioning it last because that’s an adult book.

2) Contemporary YA!

We only want something that is NOT quiet, with a unique premise. Said this, the MS could either be funny and makes us laugh, or dark (we both like dark—not downright hopeless though), or both—funny and dark.  It’s a plus if it has a romantic thread (doesn’t have to be the main plot).

YA contemporaries we’ve liked: ELEANOR & PARK. THE HATE U GIVE. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. Oh, and this isn’t a YA contemporary, but an adult romance: ARCHER’S VOICE by Mia Sheridan. If you have a YA version of that book? OMG, I NEED to see it, please! And if you have something contemporary that’s like Veronica Mars, then I want to see it too. You guys already know I’m a Latina, so Latinx characters would be awesome, too. If you have an exchange student story, I’d like to see it, too.

Overall: If your writing is literary and evocative, then chances are, we’ll fall in love. But, like we said, we don’t want anything that’s too quiet. We also want plot and twists.

While we enjoy other genres, like paranormal, historical, etc, we won’t be taking those this year, because we realized that receiving less entries means that Kerbie will be able to give overall feedback to everyone who submits to us. Isn't she amazing? Anyway, that’s why we won’t be accepting all the genres this year.

If you are not sure whether to submit to us, then I think it would be a good idea if you could check out the PW pages of my previous mentees. There are a couple published books from my previous Pitch Wars teams, too. :) Like this one, and this one. Here are a few other entriesthis onethis one, and this oneAnd if you still want to take a look at more mss that I’ve picked to see my tastes, you can poke around on my blog and see The Writer’s Voice entries. Some of them, like STITCHING SNOW (which landed a six-figure deal) and RESURRECTING SUNSHINE are published, too. Pay attention to the voice of all those entries. If you like them, then we probably have a similar taste.

This step in choosing a mentor is really important, IMO. When I queried, I checked out lots of entries in contests to decide which agent might have similar tastes. I jotted down which entries I liked, and saw the agents who had requested those. Turns out, I had a much bigger success ratio with the agents who had requested entries that I’d liked, versus the ones I hadn’t liked so much.

My editing style is like this: I’ll point out the things that aren’t working for me and tell you why. For example, I might comment that I think the pace is slow, or the characters seem two-dimensional, or there’s a plot hole, etc. I’ll put my finger on what exactly isn’t working for me and tell you why . Then, I’ll give you a few suggestions, examples of how you might want to fix it. Then, I'll leave it up to you. If you want to fix something differently, be my guest. The key to it all is communication. Then, the second round of edits (the line-edits) will be made by Kerbie, who has a lot of experience since she works for a *very* awesome agent at a *very* awesome agency. :) 

Let me know if you have general questions on the comments section of this post. You can tweet to us too.

Good luck!



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Gearing up for Pitch Wars 2017--Chapter critique giveaway!

Hi, guys! It's going to be Pitch Wars time again this year! And I’ll be mentoring a YA MS for the sixth time ! =D (Details about the contest coming soon.)

For the ones querying, this is a wonderful opportunity to polish your MS and get an agent. Now, gearing up for the contest, you can win a chapter critique by Lorena Hughes. She’s giving this critique away to celebrate that her book, TheSisters of Alameda Street, releases today! She’ll have the critique ready in time for Pitch Wars.

A bit more about my friend Lorena:
Lorena Hughes was born and raised in Ecuador until moving to the U.S. at 18. She has a degree in fine arts and mass communication & journalism from The University of New Mexico. Her previous work won first place at the 2011 Southwest Writers International Contest in the historical fiction category, earned an honorable mention at the 2012 Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and was a quarter-finalist for the 2014 Amazon Breakout Novel Award. The Sisters of Alameda Street is her first novel.

I’m really excited about her book! In case you like generational sagas, with some romance and Latin historical fiction, you might want to check it out.

Here’s the summary:


When Malena’s tidy, carefully planned world collapses with her father’s mysterious suicide, she finds a letter, signed with an “A,” which reveals that her mother is very much alive in San Isidro—a quaint town tucked in the Andes Mountains. Intent on meeting her, Malena arrives at Alameda Street and meets four unconventional women who couldn’t be more different from one another, but who share one thing in common: all of their names begin with an A.

To avoid a scandal, Malena assumes another woman’s identity and enters their home to discover the truth. Could her mother be Amanda, the iconoclastic widow who opens the first tango nightclub in a conservative town? Ana, the ideal housewife with a less-than-ideal past? Abigail, the sickly sister in love with a forbidden man? Or Alejandra, the artistic introvert scarred by her cousin’s murder? But living a lie will bring Malena additional problems, such as falling for the wrong man and loving a family she may lose when they learn of her deceit. Worse, her arrival threatens to expose long-buried secrets and a truth that may wreck her life forever.

Set in 1960s Ecuador, The Sisters of Alameda Street is a sweeping story of how one woman’s search for the truth of her identity forces a family to confront their own past.

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