I'm so excited to be a Pitch Wars middle grade mentor for 2020. I'm open to middle grade sci-fi, contemporary, and fantasy, as well as graphic novels and illustrated novels. I have a particular interest in #ownvoices from marginalized identities.
Wait... What is Pitch Wars?
Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more. Writers can apply to four mentors with a query, synopsis, and first chapter.
What I'm Looking For
I want to be entertained, moved, and shown a world I haven't before. Your manuscript doesn't have to be perfect, but it will show significant promise in premise, voice, and craft and leave me with all the feels. I lean towards commercial and high concept (with an emotional core) rather than literary and quiet.
I love all science fiction, so send me your space opera and adventure, sci-fantasy, cyberpunk, biotech, dystopian, time travel, and high tech stories. I'd love a story with:
Give me quirky kids, coming of age, and friendship and family stories. Social justice and environmental themes are great, as long as they are not preachy. Make me laugh, make me cry, or better yet, make me do both. Some favorites:
I have a long list of loves and some dislikes. Send me:
Diverse casts and #ownvoices from marginalized backgrounds are a plus. I'd love to see stories where the marginalization is not the focus, but the characters having adventures or facing world-ending threats happen to be Asian, Latinx, Black, Native American/indigenous, LGBTQ+, disabled, or neurodivergent.
Themes I love in all genres: found family, band of friends, family dynamics (parent-child; grandparent-child; siblings)
Having an art and illustration background, I welcome graphic novels and highly illustrated novels.
What I'm Not Looking For
I don't have blanket "no's" but you're less likely to be chosen if you submit:
I'm a former environmental attorney turned middle grade and picture book author (with a detour as a children's illustrator). I was born in Chicago to Chinese immigrant parents and grew up in Caracas, Venezuela (my languages in descending order of proficiency are English, Spanish, and Mandarin). I came back to the U.S. for college and law school, and my ten-year legal career (appellate, legislative, and policy work) focused on marine conservation, environmental justice, and Native American rights and tribal sovereignty. I quit the law to become a children's illustrator, which led to writing picture books and middle grade.
My books include:
I co-run the kid lit resource website, Kidlit411 and am represented by Jennifer March Soloway of Andrea Brown Agency.
What a Mentorship Would Look Like
I've been lucky to have mentors and teachers who've helped me throughout my writing career and I want to give back and help others achieve their writing dreams.
When I began writing novels seven years ago, I threw myself into classes, conferences, and found critique partners. I became a mentee in Author Mentor Match (AMM) in Spring 2018 for my upper MG sci-fi novel, which landed me my agent, Jennifer March Soloway, in January 2019. Since then, she has sold two of my middle grade novels, including my AMM novel. I continue to learn from my critique partners (published and pre-published MG and YA authors) and an advanced writing studio at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
This year, I've been mentoring a middle grade graphic novel through Author Mentor Match (ultra-talented Annette Hashitate), and last year I mentored a high school writer through The Muse.
Writing novels can be hard and lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve learned you can build a community that will help you grow as a writer and be there for you through the wonderful highs and frustrating slogs and disappointments. Having a professional a bit ahead of you in the creative journey believe in your work wholeheartedly and spend time to work with your whole novel is an incredible gift. Sometimes that’s all you need to push you to the next level, and I hope to do that for someone.
How I Mentor
As a mentor, I will do everything I can to help you achieve your story vision. I’ll provide an edit letter gushing about the things I love and sharing big picture feedback (character and narrative arcs, themes and conflicts, plot holes, pacing, etc.), and craft tips and line edits if needed. We’ll tailor the mentorship to your preferred working style (whether it’s email or phone calls or carrier pigeons) and figure out a revision plan. I’ll do a second round read/review and work with you on your query and pitch for the Agent Showcase.
I started writing novels as a pantser but have since learned to do some strategic planning at the outset while leaving room for fun and creativity. I’ll share these tips (worksheets may be involved!) and work hard for you, and we’ll hopefully have fun through it all.
Having been published as a picture book author and co-running Kidlit411 (and moderating the associated 10,000+ member Facebook group), I'm familiar with marketing and social media and can help you navigate that aspect of publishing as well.
My Ideal Mentee
Your story doesn’t have to be perfect; it can be a grand, weird mess, but you’re passionate about it and believe in it. You’re not afraid to work hard and make major structural changes if needed. You are flexible enough to take constructive criticism and you’ve had experience receiving and implementing writing feedback. When you receive critiques, you don't take them personally. If I pick you, I absolutely believe you can get your work ready to query and land an agent.
My criteria for picking a mentee will be:
P.S. Don't self-reject! Unlike the agent querying process, I don't expect query-ready manuscripts. The point of the Pitch Wars mentorship is to get you there.
Hope to see you in my in box!
f you have any questions, leave them in the comments below or use my contact form.
Hope to see you in my in box!
P.P.S. I will be online at a MG #AskMentor chat on Twitter on Thursday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m. EST, and at an all-mentors chat on Saturday, Sept. 26, 4 p.m. EST.
Pitch Wars 2020 Middle Grade Mentors' Wish Lists
Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors' Wish Lists