Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Introducing my PitchWars people...and how I chose them
I received upwards of 60 queries for PitchWars. And there wasn't a single dud among them. Not a one that made me cringe and think, This person really shouldn't be writing. Talk about an eye-opener. When I was entering contests, I had no clue how steep the competition was. Being on the other side made me feel a heck of a lot better about all of those times I'd entered contests and didn't get picked. Because it was tough, guys! I read every single query and attached pages. And by the time I got through them all, I'd identified 16 as top choices.
Yeah, it was NOT an easy decision. And this, folks, is where that subjectivity thing comes in. You know, why agents request from some awesome queries but not from other equally awesome queries? That.
Add to that what the PitchWars agents are looking for, and I was finally able to narrow down my sixteen to end up with three.
So, who did I end up picking? And why?
I'm glad you asked...
My mentee is the absolutely hilarious Abby Cooper. (You can visit her blog here and find her on Twitter here.) The moment I read the query and first few pages for her contemporary MG STICKS AND STONES, I knew. I mean, I didn't KNOW know, but I immediately requested more because I had to see if the manuscript continued to be as funny and voicey and just completely amazing as the first few pages had been. And it was! As I mentioned in my PitchWars bio, I'm a sucker for something that makes me laugh. This did, and it had a main character who was SO relatable, plus a unique concept, and did I mention the voice? Abby's manuscript has that knock-you-down, make-you-forget-what-you're-doing kind of voice. As I debated my top 16 choices, hers jumped out really early as the frontrunner. And now for the subjectivity thing: it's what I write. Not the exact same, obviously, since we don't share a brain or anything, but if Abby's book were published, I would use it as a comp title for my work. I didn't go into this thinking I'd pick someone who wrote in a similar manner as I do, but you write what you write for a reason -- because you love to read it.
My first alternate is Pat Martinez. (You can visit her blog here and find her on Twitter here.) Pat's entry was for a MG historical called MIMI LOST AND FOUND, set in World War II Paris. I had two historicals in my top choices, and both were so different (voice and setting-wise) and SO good. This was one of them. Pat's writing has this lovely, lyrical quality. It's completely different from how I write, and I absolutely love it. The book has a concept that fascinated me right away (and it's based on something that actually exists!). That's all I can say without giving too much away. You'll just have to read Pat's entry tomorrow to find out more. :) Pat's query was somewhere near the top of my PitchWars inbox, and it stuck with me as I read through the other 60-odd queries. Hers is probably my most subjective pick. She hit upon two things that are personal to me (and that I didn't mention in my bio post, and that aren't really public knowledge): 1) I love all things France. I did a study abroad in Paris in college, and minored in French., and 2) One of her supporting characters is Armenian. I'm one-quarter Armenian, and grew up with a fabulously vowel-laden Armenian last name. And these are exactly the kinds of things that might strike agents when you query them. You have no idea if there's something in your query or pages that an agent can personally identify with.
My second alternate is Amy Kinzer. (You can visit her blog here and find her on Twitter here.) Amy's book, THE INVISIBLE GIRL, is a heartfelt and compelling contemporary MG. Amy's writing has a wonderful literary quality, and yet it's very readable and full of emotion. The concept is intriguing and timely. This was an entry that haunted me, and one that I couldn't let go of as I tried to whittle down my top choices. I requested more pages, and I found myself disappointed when I'd reach the end -- not disappointed because I felt let down, but because there wasn't more to read! So what was subjective about this entry? Amy's writing, and her subject matter, reminded me of one a critique partner's writing. As I read, I couldn't help thinking how much my CP would love this manuscript. And while my CP is not an agent, if I'm thinking about how much someone else would love something I'm reading, chances are more people would love it too...like agenty-people.
So there you have it. I can't wait for everyone to see these entries tomorrow! Check back then for links to Abby's, Pat's, and Amy's entries...