All posts tagged as #PitchWars

18 Jul

Pitch Wars 2017 MSWL: M.K. England and Jamie Pacton (YA)

In Pitch Wars by MK England / July 18, 2017 / 0 Comments

We are YA co-mentors M.K. England and Jamie Pacton. We’re Pitch Wars 2015 mentees turned mentors, and we’re here for your YA submissions! What’s Pitch Wars, you ask? Check out the shiny new Pitch Wars website and learn all about it. 

(Make sure you visit Jamie’s site, too!)

We met in the Pitch Wars 2015 mentee facebook group, took a shine to each other, and now we’re awesome friends who support each other through the ups and downs of publishing. We both got so much out of being part of PW that we want to give back to the community and help future generations of mentees. This is our second year mentoring together, we read all the things, and we want YOU to send us your YA manuscript. Jamegan: two mentors for the price of one!

WHY you should submit to us:

Jamie is a college English teacher and is one of the kindest, most supportive coaches you could ever ask for. M.K. is a YA librarian and knows her stuff about the market and YA voice. We’ve both successfully queried agents and have been on submission to publishers. M.K. has a book coming out with a Big 5 publisher next fall. Jamie is awesome at character development, relationships, and spotting opportunities for more detail and worldbuilding. M.K.’s biggest strength is pacing, tension, and the more mechanical stuff: flow, sentence structure, information handling, etc. Together, we fuse into one SUPER MENTOR OF JUSTICE.

WHAT you should submit to us:

Give us: Your absolute best effort. Unstoppable voice, believable characters (who don’t have to be likeable), settings that feel real. ANY GENRE except those listed in the ‘No’ category below.

Yes Please: LGBTQ+ characters, sci-fi/fantasy with fresh twists, historical fantasy/alt history, contemporary fantasy, straight up contemporary with a strong sense of place, fresh retellings (mythology from your own culture, non-fairy tales, etc.), interesting structure, #OwnVoices, science/environmental themes, complex friendships.

Bonus Points: A queer “This Savage Song”; positive representation of poly relationships; anything that makes us laugh out loud; awesome feminist ladies.

No Thanks:  Really intense horror, literary, sicklit, time travel, christian fiction, heavy issue books, anything super slow-paced and quiet or depressing. We’re not the best people to help shape works like these. We’re not wild about getting dystopian unless it has strong Sci-fi/Fantasy elements. We also have to pass on books set at conventions or that have fandom as a central element—Megan has seen a hundred of them on her librarian desk lately and has written one herself, so she’s a bit burned out on them.

Big Nopes: On-screen incest, rape, abuse– no problem if this is part of backstory and handled well, but we aren’t the best mentors for books that dig into these traumas. Bigoted or misogynistic narratives are never okay with us. Also, you don’t have to have LGBTQ+ characters, but we struggle with super heteronormative books where it feels like queer people don’t exist. Violence toward animals is also a pass.

HOW we work:

We start with an edit letter plus a phone call or google hangout meeting for big picture stuff first. Next up will be in-line comments for smaller stuff and style issues. We’ll do several passes through your query, pitch, and synopsis before the agent round to make sure you’re in the best possible shape to utterly rock it. Frequent communication via whatever method you prefer is on offer. If you’re ready to bust your butt, we’re ready to guide you and cheer you on. Revising is a collaboration, and we’re excited to work with you to bring your vision for your book to life!

WHO we are and what we like:

M.K. Writes: Both YA and Adult Space Opera, Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Contemp. And fanfic, because yes.

Jamie Writes: YA Fantasy, Alt History, Dark Fairy Tales. And funny MG books.

Comp Titles We Love: The Raven Cycle, Caraval, And I Darken, Carry On, Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, anything by Leigh Bardugo, Bitch Planet, Rat Queens, Saga, Little Brother, Wolf by Wolf, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Spaceship Next Door

Other Stuff We’re Into: Tabletop gaming, video games, Sherlock Holmes, Firefly, Star Wars, hiking, farming, dogs, the Wonder Woman movie, The Magicians, driving too fast on winding mountain roads, space.

More questions?: @Geektasticlib. @JamiePacton.

M.K. England is an author and YA librarian living in the mountainy parts of Virginia. When she’s not writing or librarianing, MK can be found drowning in fandom, going to conventions, rolling dice at the gaming table, climbing on things in the woods, or feeding her video game addiction. She loves Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if you never speak of Sherlock Holmes in her presence. You’ll regret it. Her debut YA space opera, THE DISASTERS, will be out in Fall 2018 from HarperCollins Children’s. Find her online at www.mkengland.com and on twitter, tumblr, and instagram.

Jamie Pacton is a writer and English teacher living in Wisconsin. She grew up down the road from the National Storytelling Center in East Tennessee; and, as the bossy oldest of ten siblings,  used to make her brothers and sisters act out her writing. These days, she spends her free moments wandering by Lake Michigan, checking out way too many books from her local library, chasing her children, and watching all the things on Netflix. She’s partial to history fun facts, adventure stories, The Magicians, Battlestar Galactica, Project Runway, and staying up way too late. Find her online at www.jamiepacton.com and on twitter.

Look *alive*, future mentees! There’s work to be done, lots to learn, and successes to be gained. We hope to see your submission in our inbox this August!

Check out the other YA mentors below:

Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.

17 Aug

Pitch Wars Homework Assignments

In Editing,Pitch Wars by MK England / August 17, 2016 / 8 Comments

Last year (2015) when I was waiting for Pitch Wars mentee selections to be announced, I was chomping at the bit, wanting so badly to get started on a new round of edits. Sure, I did some half-hearted planning for NaNoWriMo to distract myself, but what I really wanted was to throw myself back into my PW manuscript and make it better.

crazy typing

One of the first things my awesome mentor, Sarah Glenn Marsh, did last year was give me homework assignments right after I was selected. They were designed to help me analyze my book so I’d be in a better position to hit the ground running with revisions. And you know what? There’s no reason you can’t start on those right now, before Pitch Wars really begins, before you know if you’ve been selected or not. These assignments are great for anyone with a finished MS in need of revision, whether you’re participating in Pitch Wars or not, whether you get in or not.

So, without further ado, here’s your homework. Get as much done as you can before 11:59pm on August 24th. 

  • Make each chapter title a heading in Word for easy navigation (more info here). Even if you use Scrivener (which I love), you’ll need a word doc to share with your mentor or critique partners.
  • Make a list of all chapters with chapter wordcounts. Variation isn’t a bad thing, but if you have some major outliers, those might be chapters to look at for pacing issues, bulking up, or breaking into two parts.
  • Make a character arc chart for all major characters: who are they at the start, who are they at the end, how they get there, what their role in the cast is, what they want, what progress they make toward their goals, etc.
  • Do a goals & stakes analysis for each chapter. Look at how each chapter progresses the characters toward their goal, and how the stakes come into play depending on their progress. If a chapter doesn’t address the goals and stakes, it likely needs to be cut. If you have trouble with this, summarize each chapter in only one sentence listing the most important things that happen, then think about how those tie in to your overall plot arc/goals/stakes. Don’t force it—if a chapter doesn’t fit, it might need to be significantly rewritten or cut.
  • Start on your revision outline. This will change a lot if someone takes you on as a mentee, depending on the feedback you get, but it’s good to start brainstorming fixes based on your own analysis while remaining open to mentor suggestions. Note overall changes to make throughout the manuscript as well as chapter-by-chapter notes.
  • Read my post on Critiques and Cultivating Self-Awareness. It’s important to understand your own reactions to receiving critiques and be prepared for the emotions that come with. Developing this self-awareness is one of the most critical things you can do as a writer.

Here is your starting ctrl+F list, a list of things for you to look for in your MS using the ‘find’ feature of your word processor. These are common crutch words and bad habit red flag words that apply to pretty much any manuscript. This isn’t to say you should delete every single instance of these words, only that you need to look very closely at the usage and decide if it’s absolutely necessary. If Jamie and I decide to take you on as a mentee, we’ll also provide you with a customized one with any crutch words/phrases that are unique to you (for instance, I tend to overuse ‘a bit’ and ‘grin’).

  • That
  • Just
  • Filtering phrases (she saw, she heard, she smelled, etc.)
  • Thought phrases (she realized/understood/knew/wondered/remembered/thought)
  • Feeling words (sad/happy/angry/nervous/etc.)
  • Started/began
  • Really/very/extremely/absolutely + other empty modifiers
  • is/are/was/were (potential passive voice red flags)
  • Suddenly
  • Basically/practically/almost (I am so guilty of this)
  • ly (will help you catch adverbs)
  • If writing in past tense: this/now/here (words that imply present-ness)

When you’re using Ctrl+F to catch these filtering and thought phrases, don’t forget the sneaky constructions that slip under the Ctrl+F radar: I can see, I can hear, I suddenly realized, etc. For advice on fixing these errors, check out Pitch Wars class of 2015 alum Rebecca McLaughlin’s Show Don’t Tell series on her blog in which she reworks passages of her own writing.

Reading List (Choose One or More):

  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White OR Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Truss
  • A book in your genre you haven’t read before
  • A book on the craft of writing. Ask for recommendations if you need them!

Best of luck to everyone awaiting Pitch Wars decisions, and major props to anyone tackling a manuscript revision right now! You got this. You are great. I believe in you.

…now, back to trying to pick a mentee. *sweats*

Report back with your thoughts and progress!

han salute

Save

Save

Save

11 Aug

Synopses Are Actually Awesome

In Pitch Wars,Queries & Synopses by MK England / August 11, 2016 / 3 Comments

I honestly never thought I’d say those words.

It’s true, my attitude toward synopses has evolved over the years. At first, I utterly loathed them. Then, after my crit partner’s synopsis revealed a major plot issue I’d failed to spot while reading the actual manuscript, I acknowledged that though they sucked to write, synopses could be a useful analysis tool.

And now, after reading Pitch Wars submissions? Synopses are beautiful and valuable and should be written with care.

We requested synopses along with the full manuscript from every contender, and they’ve been so enlightening, illuminating issues with the manuscript that are difficult to see at ground level. Here are some of the most common problems we’re seeing with manuscripts via synopses:

  • No self-contained plot arc. This is the big one. Even if your book is planned as part of a series, the first book must be able to stand alone. Readers hate it when the core plotline of a book doesn’t resolve at the end. More importantly, though, you can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to sell the whole series. You might only sell the first book. The publisher might want it as a duology rather than a trilogy or quartet. Wrap things up in the first book and leave some intriguing threads loose to pick up. If your book is bought as a series, your editor will help you revise to reflect that.
  • Mushy middle. You get off to a great start, and you knew where you wanted to go, but you didn’t know how to get there and there were no tentpoles in the middle propping the story up. Critical things need to happen throughout the book.
  • Too convoluted. There seems to be a real push to make things too complex: Too many characters, too many new ideas or concepts crammed in, too many subplots, etc. Sometimes these are due to poor synopsis writing, which hey, it’s hard, I forgive you. But sometimes, those same issues are reflected in the manuscript, and the synopsis just makes it easier to see. It’s no fun getting to the end of a synopsis and thinking “…I have no idea what just happened”.
  • More love for worldbuilding than characters or plot. Jamie and I LOVE cool worldbuilding. We really, really do, and it can make a book shine. But your world is the stage for your characters and their actions. Make sure your worldbuilding always serves the characters and the plot.

All of these are fixable, and a dedicated writer CAN fix them in the two months allotted for Pitch Wars, but you have to be open to the kind of large-scale rewrite that these problems require. Are you willing to gut entire chapters, chop off your whole ending, and eliminate dead-weight characters? It’s fine—take a few days, cry, feel grumpy, curse our names, and do whatever else you need to do to mourn and digest the feedback.

Then sit down at your keyboard, crack those knuckles, and make your book the best, shiniest book it can be.

Sometime in the near future, I’ll write a post on non-painful ways to write a synopsis. In the meantime, check out THE classic post on synopsis writing over on pubcrawl.

How do you feel about synopses? Do you have lots of angry feelings about them, or have you kind of come to terms? Vent your feelings in the comments.

28 Jul

Pitch Wars Live Video

Last night I was on Pitch Wars Live answering your questions from Twitter about Pitch Wars wish lists, submissions, and the craft of writing. It was a TON of fun, and we got some really great questions! I haven’t been able to go back and watch it because I know I make incredibly stupid faces when I talk, but if you want to be entertained by my face, you can watch below, or on youtube here.

If you want to follow up on any of the questions I answered, or get answers to any of the ones I skipped, let me know in the comments!

27 Jul

Critiques and Cultivating Self-Awareness

In Editing,Pitch Wars,Writing Process by MK England / July 27, 2016 / 0 Comments

I’ve written about critiquing and revising several times before. There’s a reason for that—in the last two years, I’ve personally had to come to terms with how critiquing works, how it feels, what I should take from it, and what role it plays in an author’s career. I’ve also watched how those around me have learned to deal (or not deal) with critiques, from casual one-time crit acquaintances to long-term crit partners whom I adore and still work with. You really do go through the five stages of grief when learning to accept critiques, but successful writers eventually make it to the acceptance stage: critiques are helpful and healthy and the best way to ensure your story does what you want it to do.

But how do you get to that point? How do you eventually make it through the hurt and come to a place of understanding and acceptance? That, dear writer, is the million dollar question. And sure, there’s the usual answers of time, perseverance, blah, blah, blah, but what can you really, actually do?

so much pain

Long answer: For me, the answer is self-awareness. By this point, I know myself, and I know my reactions. I know that when I first get a large critique I will be very sad, and I need to give myself a few hours (or even days) to process that. I know that I’ll have a lot of emotional reactions to the feedback at first. How can I not? It’s like getting up on stage and being booed. It’s a mixture of shame and humiliation over making mistakes, anger over people “misinterpreting” things or just “not getting it”, and sadness for having poured so much of my soul into something and having it criticized. These are honest, real reactions, but they shouldn’t dominate the way you react to feedback, and they absolutely shouldn’t dominate how you revise. Because ultimately, that feedback is what’s going to make your book shine.

Short answer: Don’t bullshit yourself. Learn to spot when you’re bullshitting.

My common bullshitting reactions include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • But I like it this way
  • But I did it that way for a specific reason
  • But I worked so hard on that
  • But this scene is essential for Reasons
  • But does that little thing really matter?
  • But changing that will require huge changes in these twenty other places
  • I don’t get how they see it that way
  • NO. *growl*
  • This is terrible, I am terrible, there is no hope, I should give up

Other things to look for in your own reactions (mostly compiled from the #PitchWars class of 2015, thanks y’all):

  • A different crit partner didn’t have a problem with that scene, therefore I’m justified in not fixing it
  • I’m staying true to my art
  • They’re reading it wrong
  • Let me explain it and you’ll understand
  • That’s just the way I write
  • They just don’t get it

The answer to all of these is the same. It isn’t working for this reader. Their opinion is valid. Take a step back, take stock of what you’re feeling, and really think about what you’re hearing.

Next time you get feedback on a piece of work, try this:

  • Name the feeling you’re having. Anger. Shame. Embarrassment. Disappointment. Allow yourself to feel it. Don’t say or do anything to react to it, but specifically acknowledge it and let yourself feel it.
  • Let the feedback sit. A few hours, a few days, a few weeks, however long it takes for you to feel less emotional and be able to approach it more objectively.
  • What is it specifically about that one piece of feedback that bothers you? Is it the work required to fix it? Does it change something you’re particularly proud of? You can be proud of your writing and still acknowledge that it’s not right for the story.
  • What’s at the core of the feedback? Maybe you don’t agree with the specifics, but you can see that there’s something wrong. You don’t agree that the chapter should be cut, but you do agree there are pacing problems, etc.
  • Is it a grammar rule you’re having issues with? These are probably the easiest to let go of. Learn the rule, do better in the future. You might feel some embarrassment over having messed up, or defensiveness because you’ve always done it that way and you don’t think it sounds wrong, but when it comes down to it there’s no need to feel prideful over an established, industry-standard grammar rule. Follow the rule unless you have a really good stylistic reason for breaking it that others agree works.
  • Change your attitude going into the critique. When you first deliver your MS to your critique partner, say, “Do whatever you gotta do to make it awesome,” or, “Tear it up, I can take it!”. When it’s time to receive the critique, mentally prepare for it. Go into it calm, sit down with your crit partner, and say, “Okay, tell me how I can make this better.”
  • Set yourself up to receive the critique however you need. If you need to be alone to process, ask your CPs to send their critiques as edit letters or with track changes in Word or Google Docs. However, I’d really encourage you to try receiving your crits over the phone or in person. It reminds you that the person you’re talking to is a real human who cares about your MS, not a nameless enemy out to hurt you. It also lets them explain a bit about the suggestions they’re making, so you don’t see them in a vacuum.
  • Go into it expecting changes. I’ve talked about this before, but lots of people go into a critique wanting validation. That’s not the point. The point is to make the story better. You’re never done making changes until the book goes to print. A good crit partner will give you some cheerleading too, but that’s not what it’s about.

If, after you’ve done all this, you still feel that a piece of feedback isn’t correct, feel free to disregard it. No one critique partner is correct 100% of the time—not even a Pitch Wars mentor! But make sure you’re rejecting that feedback for the right reasons.

Learning to accept critiques is one of the hardest parts of being a writer, but it’s absolutely essential if you want to be a professional. Better to learn now than to try to learn when the critique is coming from an agent or editor!

For more on the subjects of critiques and revising, see my other two posts:
On Receiving Critiques
It’s Not Selling Out!: On Revising From Feedback

How do you react to critiques? Any strategies to share? Let me know in the comments.

19 Jul

Pitch Wars MSWL: M.K. England and Jamie Pacton (YA)

In Pitch Wars by MK England / July 19, 2016 / 4 Comments

We are YA co-mentors M.K. England and Jamie Pacton.

jamegan

We’re Pitch Wars 2015 alums turned agented authors, and we’re here for all your YA submissions! We are smart. We are funny. We read all the things. We will make you work, but you will have a better book by the end. JaMegan: two mentors for the price of one.

yay felicia day

Here’s what you should submit to us in 300(…ish) words or less:

Give us: Your absolute best effort. Unstoppable voice, believable characters (who don’t have to be likeable), settings that feel real. We’re best able to provide guidance for high-concept books with tons of heart or a rollicking adventure. We are writers today because when we were kids reading adventure stories made us feel empowered, like we could go out and take on the world. We’d love a manuscript that evokes that same feeling.

Yes Please: Sci-fi, Fantasy, LGBTQ, Contemporary, Mystery, Historicals with a twist (alt history/ historical fantasy). We’d love to hear from #OwnVoices; we want diverse books!

Bonus Points: Funny. Geeky. Quirky. Heists. Girls saving themselves. Badassery.

No Thanks: Horror, literary, heavy issue books, anything super slow-paced and quiet. We’re just not the best people to help shape works like these. We’re not wild about getting dystopian unless it has strong SFF elements. It’s fine if characters have faith as a part of their lives, but Christian Fiction or anything else very faith-focused is also not a good fit for us. (CLARIFICATION: The level of violence found in your typical YA genre book is completely fine with us! We just don’t like really gratuitous horror or violence, or any types of violence found in our Big Nopes below.)

Big Nopes: On-screen incest, rape, abuse. No problem if this is part of backstory, but we aren’t the best mentors for books that dig into these traumas. Bigoted or misogynistic narratives are never okay with us. Also, you don’t have to have LGBTQ+ characters, but we hate reading super heteronormative books where it feels like a queer person could never exist in that world.

Comp Titles We Would Walk Through Volcanos For: Bitch Planet; Rat Queens; Saga; Carry On; Little Brother; Six of Crows; Wolf by Wolf, The Name of the Wind (but with stronger female characters); an updated YA version of Mercedes Lackey’s By the Sword; An Ember in the Ashes; the Temeraire series; Sabriel; Graceling; Eleanor & Park; Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda; Into the Wild Nerd Yonder.

M.K. writes: YA Space Opera, Fantasy, LGBTQ+, and fanfic, because yes.

Jamie writes: YA Fantasy, Alt History, Dark Fairy Tales. And funny MG books.

How We Work: Edit letter for big picture stuff first. Line edit for smaller stuff second. Frequent communication as you prefer. If you’re ready to bust your butt, we’re ready to guide you.

More questions?: @Geektasticlib. @JamiePacton.

————

M.K. England is a writer and YA librarian living in the mountainy parts of Virginia. When she’s not writing or librarianing, MK can be found drowning in fandom, going to conventions, running through the woods, feeding her video game addiction, or improvising truly terrible songs about her dogs. She loves Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if she never speaks of BBC Sherlock. She has it bad. MK is represented by the incomparable Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Jamie Pacton is a writer and English teacher living in Wisconsin. In addition to writing Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, she also writes about autism for Parents magazine. She spends her free moments wandering by Lake Michigan, checking out way too many books from her local library, chasing her children, and watching all the things on Netflix. She’s partial to history, adventure stories, Project Runway, and– of course– the BBC’s Sherlock. Jamie is represented by the wonderful Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit

this is getting fun

Looking for our letter for the scavenger hunt? Gotta visit my co-mentor Jamie Pacton over here. For more YA mentor awesomeness, check out the YA mentor blog hop below:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

27.

28.

29.

30.

31.

32.

33.

34.

35.

36.

37.

38.

39.

40.

41.

42.

43.

44.

45.

46.

47.

48.

49.

50.

51.

52.

53.

54.

55.

56.

57.

58.

59.

60.

61.

62.

63.

64.

65.

66.

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

22 Jun

Pitch Wars is Coming!

In News by MK England / June 22, 2016 / 2 Comments

In the past two months I’ve moved to a new state, started a new job at a new library, become a first-time landlord (ugh), and… some other things that I can’t talk about yet. It’s a lot, y’all.

myfeelings

And on top of it all? I’m preparing to be a #PitchWars mentor for the first time!

Pitch Wars is the biggest writing contest in the twitterverse, hosted annually by Brenda Drake.
Potential mentees submit their query and first chapter to a select number of mentors reading in their genre. The mentors (agented/published authors) choose the best manuscript from their submissions and work with their mentee for two months, providing detailed manuscript critiques and advice about the publishing world. It all leads up to the Agent Showcase in November, where mentees get to post a 35-word pitch and 250-word sample of their manuscript on Brenda’s blog. Then, the agents who have committed to the contest (and a few ninja agents!) check out all the samples and request more pages from those that interest them. Here’s my Agent Showcase post from last year. There are two things that really make Pitch Wars priceless, though: Getting critiqued by someone farther up the publishing chain than you, and the amazing community that emerges from the experience.

Last year I made it into the Pitch Wars class of 2015, had a fantastic time, learned a lot, and met a community of writers that continues to be a crucial part of my support system. Our private facebook group is my solace, and they’re some of my most active twitter buddies and email pen pals. I was so grateful for the experience that I wanted to give back to the community, so this year I’ll be co-mentoring in the YA category with my fellow PW15 alumna, Jamie Pacton! Our manuscript wishlist will be coming out in July, but for now, just know that we’re looking for a hard worker with big dreams and a YA manuscript we can’t put down!

readingfast

If you’re planning to enter Pitch Wars, I hope you’ll consider donating to the cause. All of the mentors work for free, but it takes an enormous amount of time and expensive web hosting to make Pitch Wars happen. Everyone gets to submit to four mentors for free, but those who choose to donate $20 or more will get two extra submissions, for a total of six. All entries are given equal consideration (mentors will not know who donated and who did not), and smaller donation amounts are just as welcomed and appreciated!

To support the fundraising effort, the Pitch Wars class of 2015 will be doing a day of donating on July 15th. To show our appreciation for everything Pitch Wars gave us, we’ll all be donating what we’re able on that day. The first 100 people to donate at least $15 with us on the 15th will get a bonus swag pack of writing-related goodies! If you donate at least $20 on the 15th, you’ll get both the swag pack and the two extra entries. Good deal, right?

pwswag

Want to show your #PitchWars pride? You can also purchase Pitch Wars t-shirts and coffee mugs, and 30% of proceeds will go straight to the Pitch Wars fund!

If you have any question about Pitch Wars, please feel free to reach out to me on twitter @GeektasticLib. While I can’t answer any questions like “Do you want a manuscript that features X and Y?”, I can definitely tell you what being in Pitch Wars is like and encourage you to enter. If you need convincing, I’m here!

Are you planning to submit to Pitch Wars this year? Feel free to ask question in the comments!

09 Mar

Agent Announcement!

In News,Querying by MK England / March 9, 2016 / 0 Comments

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve signed with the incomparable Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency!

yay sherlock

I seriously have the world’s most intense and badass agent. She’s like being strapped to the front of a bullet train, but in the best way. One of these days I’ll write up more details about my agent search, but for now I’ll leave some querying stats for those going through the process:

Queries sent before #PitchWars: 12
Queries sent after #PitchWars: 28
Pitch Wars Requests: 10
Total Full Requests outside PW: 5
Total Partial Requests outside PW: 3
Total Rejections: 27
Outstanding Queries: 7
Offers of Representation: 3

Also, major props to my agency sisters, Sarah Nicole Lemon and Kerri Maniscalco, whose feedback guided me through the R&R that got me where I am right now. They are both immensely talented! You can add their books on goodreads:

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (Jimmy Patterson, September 2016)
Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon (Amulet, 2017)

I look forward to working with Barbara and IGLA!

28 Nov

Casting for Space Academy Rejects

In Book Extras,Writing Process by MK England / November 28, 2015 / 0 Comments

I was recently made aware that I’ve managed to write an entire novel without ever physically describing my main character. Space Academy Rejects is written in first person, present tense, so it was easier than you might think to accidentally accomplish this ridiculous feat, but it was a huge oversight nonetheless. Meanwhile, in the #PitchWars 2015 facebook group, folks were posting pictures and descriptions of their main characters for another mentee to draw, and I thought… damn, I really need to go digging for some photos.

And I have.

I present to you, the Space Academy Rejects look-alikes:

SAR cast(Image credits at the links below)

Nax (center) — Imran Abbas
Rion (top left) — Donald Glover
Case (top right) — Freema Agyeman
Zee (bottom left) — Jenna Talackova
Asra (bottom right) — Some random beautiful person on Pinterest who happens to look exactly like my mental picture of Asra (we need more hijabi actresses/models!)

Do yourself a favor and google more pictures of Imran Abbas. Go on. I’ll wait. I chose this one because he looks closer to the right age, but there were many, many options.

I was surprised to see how joyful this little exercise was for me. I’m giddy at seeing my characters’ faces like this, and I’m even more pumped up to work on edits now that I have a more concrete idea of their appearance in my mind. Lesson learned: I should cast all my books before I ever do my first round of revisions!

Do you make pinterest boards or cast characters from your own writing? Link me in the comments and I’ll take a look!

10 Nov

#PitchWars Wrap-Up & Celebration

In Editing,Publishing,Writing Process by MK England / November 10, 2015 / 1 Comment

Okay. I think I’m finally ready to talk about #PitchWars, the novel contest that has been consuming my life for the past two months. Between the agent round of #PitchWars and the start of NaNoWriMo, my feelings lately have been a lot like this:

at-at_faceplant

But here’s the real talk: participating in #PitchWars has been THE single most valuable experience of my writing life.

— But MK, I heard that #PitchWars is two months of complete editing hell! How did you deal?

Not gonna lie. The going got rough for a while, but I’m the sick sort of person that thrives on that kind of thing. I love it. Give me an impossible deadline and I will pound the caffeine and go hard until I make it. Is it healthy? Mmm, maybe not, but it sure is satisfying. It’s the same sort of feeling I get from crossing things off a list. I love to work really hard and feel things falling before me like opponents on a battlefield. Look how much I’m getting accomplished! Like a BOSS. Personal validation, you are MINE!

roar

Here’s a look at my #PitchWars timeline:

  • September 1st: Selected to be a #PitchWars mentee by the fantastic Sarah Glenn Marsh! I blogged about it here.
  • September 2nd: Received edit letter from Sarah, along with homework. Created a revision outline based on Sarah’s feedback, mapped out character arcs more thoroughly, and discussed changes with crit partners. Also submitted answers for my joint interview with Sarah.
  • September 13th: Began revisions, with a rough goal of one chapter per day and a finish line of October 2nd. Some chapters took more than one day, others took less.
  • October 3rd: Sent revised manuscript out to critique partners and new beta readers. Breathed a huge sigh of relief. Immediately read books, played video games, and wrote fanfic to recover. Somewhere in here I submitted my 50-word pitch and excerpt that became my #PitchWars contest entry.
  • October 16th: Beta reader feedback deadline. Read over comments from six people and digested the feedback. Discussed all feedback with Sarah, made minor changes to fix how people were perceiving two characters, and fixed typos/consistency errors.
  • October 21st: Delivered final manuscript to Sarah for one last read through. Tweaked paragraph spacing, and DONE!

You may notice that I devoted nearly as much time to creating my revision outline and brainstorming solutions as I did to actually revising. That’s pretty typical for me. I have to know the solution to a problem before I can start trying to fix it. I’ll roll around and brainstorm and pace and go crazy asking ‘what if?’ questions until every plot hole is plugged and every character is ready for their final bow. After that, it’s only a matter of execution.

My revisions took about 2.5 weeks of going to work, coming home, grabbing a quick dinner, and sitting down to revise until about 11pm. I had to take a cheat day in the middle to give my brain a break, but I managed to finish on time and get the manuscript to give my beta readers two weeks with it. It was intense.

crazy typing

I have never been happier with this manuscript. I was already in love with it, but I worried that after working so hardcore I’d end up sick of it. Not the truth at all. I believe in it more than ever, love it more than ever. And I can’t thank the incomparable Sarah Glenn Marsh enough for guiding me through this experience. She’s been my greatest cheerleader, my window into the publishing world, and her incredible eye for character really made this manuscript shine. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor!

comforting

One of the best things to come of #PitchWars has been the community of mentees. The #PitchWars class of 2015 is full of amazingly talented folks with stories that need to be shared with the world, and the support and camaraderie in our group in unparallelled. It’s been fantastic celebrating everyone’s successes and rejections as a group. Thanks for being awesome, fellow mentees!

everyone in this bar

I am so incredibly grateful to Brenda Drake, Sarah, and everyone else involved in Pitch Wars behind the scenes. Y’all are effing rockstars. You’ve really built something great.