Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! (AKA My PitchWars Bio)

I'm so excited!! It's PitchWars time!!!!!

Okay, I'll cool it with the exclamation points. For now, anyway.

I can't wait to get the best ever PitchWars team put together (you hear that, other MG mentors?)!

So, why in the world would you want me as your PitchWars mentor when you can choose any of the other stellar MG mentors?


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1) I beta read like a madwoman. Honestly, I can't even remember how many manuscripts I've beta read this year. I'm a member of MG Beta Readers, an amazing talented group of writers, and together we run the Kidliterati blog. I'm also part of a semi-local MG and YA critique group. So, yeah. I beta read a lot. And no one's complained yet. I also tend to make random comments in your manuscript that may or may not make you laugh. (They make me laugh, anyway...)

2) I can spot your typo from a mile away. I did time in grad school editing academic works for professors, and held the ever-so-enviable position of Articles Editor on my law school's scholarly journal. (Now watch me have a typo in this blog post...)

3) I LOVE middle grade! Really, I'm the oldest twelve-year-old in the world. I recently spent all my downtime at a writing conference watching the Disney Channel. (Seriously. I don't have cable at home, people!)

4) I'll focus not just on shining up those first few pages, but making sure your entire manuscript is agent-ready. I'm talking plot, character arcs, pacing, writing quirks - all that good stuff! I want to help you make your manuscript as perfect as possible.

5) I have chocolate! See:

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Okay, I'll get to the important stuff now.

What am I looking for?

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Hamster! Not on a boat, but whatever.

1) Anything MG. I know, I know. Not helpful. But I read widely, and would never pass up a manuscript based solely upon genre. So throw it all at me: contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi, historical, speculative romantic hamsters on a boat, whatever. It just has to be MG.

But, since everyone has soft spots, here are mine:

2) Contemporary. I write it. I love it. Funny, heart-wrenching, girl, boy, commercial, literary, all of it!

3) Historical. Any place, any time. I have a BA and a MA in history. I was the kid who dressed up as a Laura Ingalls-esque pioneer girl for three Halloweens in a row. 'Nuff said.

4) Twists on Contemporary and Historical. Meaning magical realism, time travel, alternate history, historical fantasy.

5) The funny stuff in any genre. Ah, those books where I have to go find my asthma inhaler because I'm laughing so hard I can't breathe. Send me those.

5) Voice. A killer voice is one that grabs you on the first page and tosses you into the story so fast you can't even remember what it was you should be doing instead.

6) Random things: sports, travel, performing arts, spooky stuff, mysteries, fish-out-of-water situations, how-the-other-half-lives stories, outdoorsy stuff, first crushes, friend stories, animal stories, smart kids, oh whatever -- I love it all!

Hey, wait, who am I?

I'm a contemporary middle grade writer, represented by Julia A. Weber. My debut, DON'T FALL DOWN, will be published in Spring 2015 by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. I'm a business attorney by day (meaning, I write contracts so dry your eyeballs would fall out before you finished reading them).

In the past, I've moonlighted as a homeless shelter worker (best job I've ever had), a somewhat friendly retail associate (I can fold a sweater like no one's business), that nice lady who answers the phones at your ophthalmologist's office (where I learned how to spell ophthalmologist and understand things like PRN and HBP), and an ice rink Jill-of-All-Trades (I could rent you skates and get you nachos at the same time).

Photo courtesy of
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Ah, nothing like the aroma of hundreds of old, wet skates...
I'm obsessed with travel, camping, figure skating, cats, spinach, and Jason Isbell. I have a two-year-old daughter who is the light of my life.

Who are the PitchWars Agents?

  1. Louise Fury - Bent Agency
  2. Suzie Townsend - New Leaf Literary
  3. Nicole Resciniti - The Seymour Agency
  4. John M. Cusick - The Greenhouse Agency
  5. Sarah LaPolla - Bradford Literary Agency
  6. Victoria Marini - Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency
  7. Jessica Sinsheimer - Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency
  8. Pam van Hylckama Vlieg - Foreword Literary
  9. Quinlan Lee - Adams Literary
  10. Jen Udden - Donald Maass Literary Agency
  11. Emily Keyes - Foreword Literary
  12. Brianne Johnson - Writers House
  13. Carly Watters - P.S. Literary
  14. Lana Popovic and Natasha Alexis - Zachary Shuster Harmsworth
  15. Molly Jaffa - Folio Literary Management
  16. Evan Gregory - Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency
  17. Stefanie Lieberman - Janklow & Nesbit Associates
  18. Rena Rossner - The Deborah Harris Agency

Yeah, you're great and all, but who are the other PitchWars Mentors?

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

For Redheads Only! (Or not.)

RedRed by Alison Cherry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A well-executed, unique concept. It would've been easy to just let the book ride on the premise, but Felicity's emotional growth throughout the book is what really made the story. I also especially liked the way the love interest developed - it was believable and had me turning pages to see what would happen.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The story of DON'T FALL DOWN

At this time last year, I was finishing up revisions on my latest manuscript, a middle grade novel about a figure skater who says all the wrong things and ends up having to start over with the sport's misfits.

I was busy querying another manuscript, but I'd entered this new one -- DON'T FALL DOWN -- into the yearly contest at the SCBWI Midsouth Fall Conference in September. I didn't expect to win anything, so I'm sure I looked completely confused when they actually called my name as the winner of an honorable mention.

That was exactly what I needed. I finished revising and decided to enter DFD into blog contests. Maybe a few too many contests (I really like writing contests). Somehow, I made it into the granddaddy of writing blog contests - the Baker's Dozen. (You can see my entry here.) I even got bids!! I was super afraid that the entries would go up and all I'd hear was crickets.

At around the same time, I threw the pitch for DFD up on Twitter for #PitchMas. Amazing agent Julia A. Weber requested it (and she already had a full on my other can see where this is heading!).

So if that's not enough, during one of these Twitter pitch parties, Kate Messner favorited my pitch for DFD. KATE MESSNER, y'all. And then she said nice things that I can't even remember because I was trying too hard not to faint and/or fangirl out.

I entered more contests -- won one at Project Middle Grade Mayhem, didn't even get selected for others -- but the support and camaraderie from these contests was enough to make me start traditionally querying DFD. And then Julia offered representation. Which I accepted, of course!

Fast forward through revisions and the submission September I got THE email from Julia. The one that pretty much made me unable to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

It was an offer.

And not just any old offer. It was from an editor at Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

OK - so you know how when you start writing, people give you the sage advice to, "Go to a bookstore and see where your book might fit in"? I did that early on. And I stumbled across these fun, light-hearted, middle grade books from Aladdin. As I stood there in Barnes & Noble, flipping pages and admiring cover art, I thought, These people would so get my writing.

So...I'm bouncing-up-and-down excited to say that DON'T FALL DOWN will be published by Aladdin/S&S in Spring 2015!!

And this is where I say THANK YOU to my critique group, my beta readers including the ever-amazing MG Beta Readers group, writing friends, non-writing friends and family, everyone in SCBWI Midsouth, all of the hard-working writing contest organizers and the awesome writers who enter those contests, the incredible writing community on Twitter, and pretty much everyone who's ever said anything nice about my writing.

A little encouragement goes a long way, folks. I only hope I can pay it forward. :)

You can follow my fabulous agent, Julia Weber, on Twitter here.  And my equally fabulous editor at Aladdin, Annie Berger, here.

And here's a Firefly gif. Just because...well, it's a Firefly gif. And you read all the way to the end, so you deserve a dancing Nathan Fillion.