Saturday, August 2, 2014

My 2014 Pitch Wars Mentor Bio and Wish List! :)



Pitch Wars is finally here and I’m so excited! I’ll be a mentor for the third time! Can you believe how time flies?? =)

So! I’ll be mentoring someone with a YA ms, and we’re going to polish it to take it with a tuxedo and a tie to the agents’ round in November. And hopefully, this writer will get MANY offers of representation! *wink* 

Now my bio and my wish list!

Bio:
I’m a mother of three boys and owner of eleven hens. When I’m not collecting laundry or eggs, I write YA fiction. I’m represented by Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency, and I’ve worked with many published YA authors, such as Francisco Stork, Gretchen McNeil, Debra Driza, Kasie West—among many others. Some of the entries I've picked in contests from slush have had nice deals and one even sold for a six-figure deal. I freelance, too, and I absolutely love helping writers hone their manuscripts. (Some days I even prefer to edit than to write!)

Let me tell you what I want to read this year, but first, I’ll let you know what I DO NOT want to read this year:

- YA dystopian.
- A novel written in verse (unless it's done sparingly, like in WE WERE LIARS).
- A quiet novel. Like, a teen losing someone they love and the ms is just about this teen coping with this death… or something quiet like that.
- A novel that’s over 100,000 words. While there are a few debuts that are over 100k that get pubbed like Twilight, this contest will take place in just a couple of months, so I don’t think we’ll have time to edit thoroughly something that has so many words.

What I would LOVE to read:

-Contemporary YA.  
I love this genre. In fact, the first MS I picked in Pitch Wars was a contemp. YA that did more than well in the agents’ round.
I want an original contemp. YA with a hook—nothing that is too quiet (like I said above). Give me something fresh, and if it has romance, even better. I love girl POVs and guy POVs, love flawed characters that make you feel. (BTW, I’m writing a contemporary YA right now, and I’ve read tons of books in this genre. Also, I've been so lucky to beta some awesome contemp. YAs, like THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Kasie West /Harper Teen 2012 and VICKY by Francisco X. Stork /Scholastic 2015.) 
Seriously, if you have a contemporary YA, I'm your gal!

-Literary YA.
Last year, someone asked me about literary YA. So I want to specify here—think of a MS that is beautifully written, that it doesn’t only matter what happens in the book, but it also matters THE WAY it’s written. The cadence and rhythm is beautiful and the characters are complex and flawed and loveable at the same time. An example of lovely prose would be Lauren DeStephano’s WITHER. Or Nova Ren Suma’s IMAGINARY GIRLS.
If your MS has a commercial aspect, like an intriguing and hooking premise (again, that isn’t quiet), and it’s written beautifully, with a literary slant, then it’s very possible that I will pick your ms.

-Fantasy YA, and Urban Fantasy YA
I love fantasy, but not high fantasy. (High fantasy is something set in a very different world, sometimes with a different language, etc—like Eragon, Lord of The Rings, etc). I’ll tell you a few examples of Fantasy YAs and UF YAs I’ve loved:
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor, THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Steifvater, SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo, CRACKED by Eliza Crewe, etc, etc.

- Historical YA
Last year, I wrote a YA historical, and I read tons of historical YAs to get the language right and all. So I know my share of historical YA. The bad news is that I’ve also learned that is a tough genre to sell, so it has to be really awesome. And the writing must be smooth, and the plot shouldn’t be predictable, either. If you think your Historical YA is very original and your writing is there, then please send it my way!

- YA Sci-fi
I have to be honest. Sci-fi isn’t my favorite genre. But I HAVE picked sci-fi in contests before. Like one of the mss I picked for The Writer’s Voice 2012 was a great YA sci-fi that later sold to Disney Hyperion. What I’m trying to say here—I read sci-fi. I’m just very picky when it comes to it. But again, if I love it, I will definitely take it.
What would make me pick it? First, the voice. If you have an amazing voice, I’ll even read your grocery list. Second, if the sci-fi part in your book is just a small element—say, the setting is contemporary and there’s only one scientific thing on the MS… then, that would be nice. Think the TV series Heroes. There’s a lot of superhero fantasy stuff, but there’s also a little sci-fi thread in there, too. And the series isn’t 100% sci-fi. And third, if your book has a nice romantic plot, or if it feels like an adventure (even if it’s set in outer space), then, I’ll probably like it.

- Magical Realism YA
SURE!!! As I mentioned above, I loved IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma, and that is totally magical realism. Seriously. I love magical Realism. (Here’s a secret I’ll tell you: I’ve ALWAYS wanted to write a MR YA, but I still haven’t figured out the plot.)

-Thriller YAs
I love the nature of this genre—that it makes you flip pages because you really want to know what the heck is going on! And then there’s always a twist that you hopefully didn’t see coming and you’re like, WOW! Yeah. I want that. Said this, I have a couple of things to say. If it’s a YA thriller, I want a romantic subplot (it doesn’t have to be a huge romantic thing, just that there’s a love interest). And I want that there are enough teens around—let me explain. Sometimes YA thrillers include institutions like the FBA, CIA, whatever, and those are filled with grownups. Teens want to read about teens. So if your YA thriller has romance and there are a few teens around (without so much focus on what the grownups do), then send it my way, please!

-Paranormal YA
It makes me sad that editors aren’t buying Paranormal YA as they used to. Because come on! It’s a great genre. This being said, I'll be looking for something exceptionally good in this genre.

-Horror YA
Yes!! Send it my way. *thinks better of it* *shudders* Um, no!! Okay… yes? But promise you’ll send it during the day. Otherwise I won’t be able to sleep!! *wink* But seriously? Sure! I love this genre, too. I’m even in the acknowledgements of a YA Horror published by Balzer & Bray, and I loved that book.

YA Memoir
It has to be something original and that reads like fiction. I may fall in love with a YA Memoir!

LGBT YA
I just picked a LGBT MG for The Writer’s Voice this year that got 10 agent requests. Why did I pick it? Because it had a fresh twist in the same-old premise. If your LGBT YA has a VERY original twist, and it’s well written, and I love the voice, it’s very likely that I’ll pick it. One book I liked in this genre is SHINE by Lauren Myracle. I liked it because it had a crime, a mystery, and the writing was lovely. I’m stressing out that it has to be original with a twist, because after years of reading slush, I’ve came across many LGBT titles, but with very quiet premises.


If you can think of any other YA genre that I didn’t mention, then SURPRISE ME, and send it my way—unless of course, it’s something I specifically said I don’t want to read. ;) 
If I love your voice and writing, then I probably won’t care about the genre. Also, I'll be paying attention to whether you show instead of tell on the sample pages. Let me know if you have questions for me on the comments section of this post.

Why should you pick me?
Well, I’m going to let my former (and very awesome) mentees, Missy Mitchell and Rachel Coleman, to answer that for me:

“Monica is the mentor YOU need. First, she knows her stuff, which is totally important. She has a great eye for "big picture" and line-edits. She also helped brainstorm ideas with me to help bring my MS to the next level. And availability?? I have to tell you, Monica was available at a moment's notice. She was super fast with her edits and responses, even if I would send a regular old email to just talk about a MS idea. << This is super important during #pitchwars. Most important, I received offers from agentS and am now talking with publishers. 'Tis true!! So you should choose her. She's the one!”

"Working with Monica was sort of like earning a mini MFA in creative writing, she's that good! She worked on big picture things like cutting out an entire POV character; changing the "telly" parts of my MS to sound more like the internal monologue of my protagonist; as well as the minute details like word choice, grammar, and punctuation. When she finds something that doesn't work, she not only tells you why but also offers brilliant suggestions for fixing it. She has a knack for understanding the kind of story you are trying to tell, and then making your MS shine. She's also incredibly nurturing, finding ways to make every critique feel like a compliment. If you're looking for someone to cheer you on, and be super tough at the same time, you've found her. She's quick to respond (like supernaturally quick. I don't know how she does it!) and continues to keep in touch and mentor me long after the PitchWars contest is over. After working with her, I've had full requests from every agent I've queried. If you don't get chosen to be her mentee, you should totally hire her as a freelance editor!"

Also, you may want to check out my Editorial Services page, because I have some other testimonials there. And you can read the Love YA success stories, too.
And I’ll say what I said last year: you should pick me because I’m going to make you work so hard, you’ll fall off the grid while revising your MS. Because I have lots of experience editing mss, and I can help you brainstorm. And because we’ll have fun in the process!

Summing up, PICK ME! ;)

<3 Mónica

P.S.: This is the blog hop!

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47 comments:

  1. Excellent! *twiddles fingers Mr. Burns style*

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  2. Hi Monica,
    If a manuscript has a nineteen-year-old mc, but the tone of the story is YA rather than NA, could we sub to you? Thanks!
    Chrystal

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    1. Hey Chrystal,
      Sure! I just finished writing a contemp YA with a 19yo love interest (and a 18yo MC). Like you said, it's about the tone of the story. :)

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  3. Hi Monica,
    here's my mini pitch like we discussed on Twitter. Let me know if it sounds like something you'd like to read more of or if it's not for you at all. I really appreciate you having a look!

    Sixteen-year-old Delaney Delgado knows miracles aren’t real – if they were her kid sister wouldn’t have died from cancer. After religious signs begin turning up all over Del’s town, tiny Clemency, Texas, is overrun by news vans and religious pilgrims searching for God in the discount aisle of the grocery store. Determined to prove the miracles are fake, Del unearths the truth behind Clemency’s sudden miracle mania. But exposing the hoax will threaten Del’s relationship with her best friend, leave Clemency in disgrace and implicate someone Del has known and respected her whole life.

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  4. Hey, Jenn! As I said on twitter, I'm only giving general thoughts. This sounds like a contemporary YA, and "contemporary YA" is in my list. This being said, the "cancer" part of the pitch isn't for me. (I've written a book that deals w/ cancer and read many about diseases, and I want something different now).
    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks so much for having a look and letting me know this may not be the right novel for you. I really appreciate it!

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  5. My book, Aswang, is somewhere between a YA and NA; would that still fall under your realm? Thanks

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    1. Hey, Heidi! If it can be pitched as YA, then yes. :)

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    2. Yay! Now I really can't wait till august 18th.

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  6. I love how specific you are in what you like/don't like! It makes it so easy to pick you! (My thriller with a romantic subplot and a tiny but very important piece of sci-fi fits right in :)

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    1. Oh, I'm glad you liked me being oh-so-long-winded! Ha! :D Thx for stopping by.

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  7. Romantic subplot. Check. Gay character. Check. Teens working to solve the mystery/case with very little adult involvement. Check. NOT quiet. Check.

    Adding you to my list of possible mentors. :)

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    1. Yay for all those check marks! It makes me happy to know I might get to read your entry. :D

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  8. Hello co-mentor... Wait a second, you don't love high fantasy? But SHADOW AND BONE *is* high fantasy! By the author's own admission, no less: http://www.leighbardugo.com/tongue-twister/ . Come on, admit it, you love high fantasy too.

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    1. *waves enthusiastically hi* Just twitted you back! :P

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  9. Hi Monica!

    I have a very dark UF that is very Thriller-y (but I still refer to it as UF because of it's bombastic plot and supernatural stuff), set in modern day Earth. My question is, what are your thoughts towards anti-religious overtones? Is that something you want to shy away from? Mine has it in spades and doesn't shy away from religious conspiracies/controversy and...uh..."killing God." Kinda like a more modern, less fantasy His Dark Materials.

    Just curious if that stuff turns you off.

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  10. Hey, Patrick! Sure, I'd be interested as long as the conspiracies are well founded. Like, if someone wants to "kill God" I need to buy his reasons, so I'm thinking the character has to be really fleshed out. Also, I've recently watched a lot of conspiracy documentaries (I found this AWESOME documentary site--read: a new way to procrastinate, haha!), and I've realized that conspiracies intrigue me only if I buy them 100%. HTH! :)

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    1. I get ya. You don't want things to just come out of nowhere and you want to totally be behind the guy doing the job. I'm guessing you don't want something out of left field where they say "Oh hey, let's go kill the man upstairs" Everyone: "YEP!" Right?

      The plot's deep and involves clones of religious figures, demonic possession epic huge scale fights in major cites and destroying holy stuff along the way. It definitely leads to that point, and the reason the protagonist does it isn't to save the world that's about to get nuked (by that point he could care less), but more out of rage because someone close to him is essentially eliminated at the last second to bring this God-like thing to earth.

      It's placed in ya contests out of hundreds, and gained praise, but you never know if a mentor could be made uncomfortable given the subject matter, so I wanted to ask. Last thing I want to do is be hopeful about someone and inadvertantly piss them off.

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    2. Thanks for asking!! And, no, those things you mention wouldn't upset me. :)

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    3. Yet another mentor to add to the list. Serriously, you guys don't make this any easier.

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    4. Haha!! Yeah, I can imagine how hard it must be to choose! :)

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    5. Then again, each of you get a few hundred so maybe choosing 4 out of 70 isn't so bad.

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  11. Any pointers on historical YA? I am also discovering that it's difficult to sell.

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    1. Hey, cboye! Hmm, pointers? Well, I'd say the writing has to be even better than with any other novels, and the voice too. I'd love something with glamour, maybe, or with epic romance, and with awesome characters. Also, as I say above, the plot twists would have to surprise me--and if I'm interested in a YA historical, then, I might ask for a synopsis.

      And yeah.... historical YAs are a bit harder to sell. :(

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  12. omg. can it be possible to fall in love with someone by simply reading their word?

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  13. Hi Mónica! My fantasy is about a girl assassin who discovers she can feel others' pain. It's kind of dark but not TOO dark. Should I keep you on my list? ;)

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    1. Sure! I like dark, too! Thanks for considering me. ;)

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  14. Really awesome post! I love all the details, and I'm totally jealous of your hens. That's one of my goals when I move out of this city someday... You did mention you're writing a YA contemp. Are there plot details in it that you would want to avoid seeing in manuscripts? (If they're covered and not named in your bullet points, that makes sense too :)

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    1. Hey, Writer Carrie! Oh, I hope someday you can have hens and fresh eggs. :) About your question... I guess that in contemp, I don't want to see "disease mss" this year. I can't think of anything else right now! :) HTH!

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  15. Hi Monica :)

    Dual POV YA fantasy/romance--a metaphor for Iran-US relations. It's a dark--not too dark--'make your choice' kind of story taking place in a portmanteau of Iran & US. Should I keep you and your awesomeness on my list? (hope you're okay with foreign writers, I'm Iranian) :)

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    1. Hi, Aty! Sounds like a fun premise. :) What exactly do you mean by "make your choice" kind of story? And of course I'm okay with foreign writers! I'm a foreigner myself. I was born in Peru and now I live in Chile. :)

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  16. Another question for you about historicals! Do you have any settings/eras you're particularly interested in? Any you're not that into? Thanks in advance!!

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    1. Hi, Kip! Hmm, I like pre-historicals, Victorian age, Egypt, a historical set in an unusual setting/time. About ppl colonizing places, too. I'm not *that* drawn to Roman and Greek historicals, but then, it's not an absolute no. (By reading Hunger Games blurb, I was determined not to like it, but I did. :P)

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  17. I have a YA UF that focuses a lot on an emotionally abusive parent/child relationship, would you consider that that too quiet? There is a handful of action though as my MC is basically an assassin/thug, though.

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    1. Hey, Antonin. Sorry I didn't reply yesterday. Somehow I didn't see your comment.
      Anyway. I like that there are inner demons for your MC and also that the MS has action because of what the MC is. If I like the writing/voice/mc then this could be up my alley! :)
      I hope this helps!

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    2. It does, thank you very much! :)

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  18. Hi Monica,
    You mentioned paranormal. Would you consider a genie who messes people's lives? What about a doomed love triangle? Some people run away from them.
    Thank you kindly :)

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    1. I like love triangles! (In fact, the ms I just finished has one.) If the genie messes up ppl's lives, then I would look for a redeeming quality. But so far, the concept sounds nice.

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  19. Love your bio here and adore the video clip you shot to say what you were looking for. Your "Pick me!" is super convincing. My fantasy is low, so I'm excited to pitch to you!

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    1. *blushes* You have NO idea how nervous I was shooting that video. :P Excited to read! :)

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  20. Hi Monica! I love this post! I subbed to you, but rewrote my query based on peer feedback. It completely misrepresented my MS as dystopian, which it's not. Is there anyway I can resend it to you? The neurotic perfectionist in me at least wants you to reject my MS based on story, not a bad query that misses the essence of the MS. (See why I need a mentor?!)

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  21. Hi Lisa, you say you subbed to me... I did a quick search in my inbox, and I don't have any entry with the name Lisa... Did you sub under another name? And about re-subbing, please ask Brenda. I don't know how she's handling re-subs, because she's the one managing the online forms. I'm fine with whatever she decides. :)

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  22. Thanks, Monica! I must've accidentally subbed someone else. No worries! You're all awesome. :)

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