Pitch Wars! Pitch Wars! It’s almost time for Pitch Wars!
Hello, potential mentees, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I can’t believe I’m now into my third year as a mentor, but I am more pumped than ever to get this year’s contest underway. Reason being, I have gained two amazing new friends in my 2015 and 2016 mentees, a menagerie of acquaintances via social media, a wealth of ever-growing and delicious knowledge, and a never-ending, burst-proof passion for helping new writers. Phew. What a list! But it’s true. This contest is a win win win for pretty much everyone involved – from mentors to mentees, from entrants to agents, and from the cheerleaders to acquiring editors. Pitch Wars is the place to be!
Plus, Pitch Wars has given me so much for which I am unlikely to ever be able to repay in full. Shortly before last year’s contest kicked off I lost my dad. It was a heartbreaking time and probably one from which I haven’t completely recovered. But, knowing I had the focus of Pitch Wars, the excitement of getting stuck in to editing a manuscript I loved, and the chance to meet a bunch of new writers was such a rock in keeping me grounded. My dad was a tough cookie, always seeing the bright side, and Pitch Wars allowed me to do the same during a pretty dark time.
Anyway, enough of all the gushing, you’re here to peruse my 2017 wishlist. So, wait no more, here we go...
I’m playing it simple this year. I want whatever you’ve got – provided it’s MG, of course, because that’s my category. I read pretty much anything I can get my hands on and it still remains impossible for me to predict which books I’m going to fall for. I am fickle and proud!
Sometimes, a book I’m recommended or new release I’ve been itching to get my sticky fingers on can end up being one that disappoints me or, worse, one I can’t even get through. Yes, shock confession: THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY BOOKS FOR ME TO NAME THAT I’VE MARKED DNF. I juggle a lot of life balls, so my time is limited and there are too many luscious books awaiting my eyeballs, so I feel no guilt.
On the flip side, the book I buy on a whim or read because I’m twiddling my thumbs and it’s the first one within my grasp, can be the book of my dreams – or maybe the one that inspires my dreams.
But, specifically, I do love that dark touch. A plot or character that is a little twisted or unhinged. I lap up horror and mysteries with plenty of suspense and tension. I love to be surprised as I’m the type of audience member who tries to predict the end of a book or TV show at nearly every new scene. So when the writer throws in a curve ball I am always particularly impressed.
Although, despite my ability to see more in a shadow than exists or recognise the murderous thoughts in the glistening eyes of my dogs at 2 a.m., I am also a major sucker for soft, emotional, and feel-good books. I don’t particularly like being made to cry, but saying that, one of my most favourite ever books took me days to read because I wept at every freaking new page!
I care more for characters than I do plot, although that isn’t to say the plot shouldn’t be solid. But I can immediately tell when an author has put time into developing their characters because I care about them. And when I care about the characters, I’m hooked on the book.
And finally voice. Yep, we all hate that “I just didn’t connect with the voice” comment. Urgh. But, different voices sing to different ears, and this is where that brilliant element of subjectivity comes in. Who would want a world where we all liked the same books? What a hideous thought! Voice is you; the words you use, the order in which you place them, and the tone of your story telling. It’s what makes you stand out from the crowd.
So do it! Give me...
Voice-y but original and hopeful contemporaries
Suspense-laden thrillers and mysteries
Dark and twisted horrors
Clever and rich fantasies
Quirky and smart sci-fi
Spooky and heart-pounding ghost stories
Warm and belly-laugh humour
Some of my favourite books that have stood the test of time, and those that are recent additions, include:
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Pass the tissues)
The Unwind Series by Neal Shusterman (YA, I know, but I can’t not mention the genius!)
Winell Road by Kate Foster (Wait. Who put this here?)
Delayed by J.S. Roberts (My 2015 mentee’s mystery!)
Cheesus was Here by J.C. Davis (Another YA but by an MG Pitch Wars mentor of whom I am her number one fan!)
Skellig by David Almond (A masterpiece!)
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (Classic, magical adventure!)
There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom by Louis Sachar (One of my favourite authors ever!)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (Clever clever work!)
What will you get by picking me as a mentor?
The other MG mentors are all pretty amazing, to be honest, and if I were you I’d be struggling to decide too, but what’s different about me is that I like to think of myself as more than a gift you receive just for Pitch Wars.
I’m invested. 100% at your disposal to use and abuse throughout the submissions round, the entire mentor round, the agent round, the winding down stage, and on and on into the distant future. Look at the horizon and you’ll see me waving! I’m like a leech that will refuse to let you go. (That doesn’t sound creepy, no?)
I won’t scrimp on the time I give you but I will expect you to be willing, motivated, open, and ready to work your undergarments off. I will give you plenty of ideas and tell you what is and isn’t working. I will be hands on and give examples rather than just saying do this and do that.
I will do my best to make you laugh, and we can talk movies, TV shows, books, dogs, chocolate, and cookies – whatever you like! Oh, and maybe a bit about Tom Hardy...
I will expect us to squeeze in at least two edits in the two months – one structural and one line – but I also understand about life so won’t be pushy and impatient. (Oo, teeny weeny lie there. Maybe there’ll be a little of the latter – it’s in my nature, sorry!)
I will always be supportive, positive, and upbeat, regardless of my situation.
I am an editor, a publisher, and a writer, and I care. A lot. Writing can feel like a total drag sometimes: what on earth is the point in taking book creation so seriously when there’s no life saving involved? I get it and I hear you. So, I’m here to remind you why you ever wrote in the first place, and to take things back to that original love and passion. Writing well shouldn’t be easy but it should always be driven by excitement and a basic desire to put fingertips to keys. We are the world’s storytellers and we should be proud!
Check out my sample edit on Brenda’s blog here and also the page one critiques I do on my #EditFoster blog so you can see my style. And, definitely check out the past few blogs here as they are all MG centred and might assist with your revisions.
If you want to find out more about me, I did take part in #pwsummersplash on Instagram (@winellroad)...
And that’s it. I could say a lot more but I won’t; I’ll save that for Twitter! But hit me up, chat with me, and then send me all your lovelies. And definitely DON'T go and check out all of these other delicious MG mentors. Got that?