Saturday, August 2, 2014

It's PitchWars time again! Read all about me here...



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 mentee and alternate (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?

Well...

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1) Brag time: my mentee from last year's PitchWars, Abby Cooper, just signed with agent Rebecca Sherman from Writers House!!

2) I beta read like a madwoman. Honestly, I can't even remember how many manuscripts I've beta read. 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...)

3) 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...)

4) I LOVE middle grade! Really, I'm the oldest twelve-year-old in the world. I spend all my downtime at writing conferences watching the Disney Channel in my hotel room. (Seriously. I don't have cable at home, people!)

5) 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.

6) 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.

Middle grade!! I read widely, and love all sorts of genres (including last year's speculative romantic hamsters on a boat....okay fine, I only mentioned that so I could keep the cute picture to the right). However, this year I'm ONLY looking for:

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

2) 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.

3) Twists on Contemporary and Historical. Meaning magical realism, time travel, alternate history, historical fantasy, mystery. Also, ghost stories, just because I feel like making an exception for ghost stories. If you're not sure whether your manuscript falls under this "twists" category, shoot me a tweet or leave a comment here, and ask. :)

4) The funny stuff. 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 (so long as they fall into categories 1-3).

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. (Again, categories 1-3 apply.)

6) Random things I love: characters who are passionate about something, 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. So long as they fall into categories 1-3. ;)

7) My favorite authors include: Meg Cabot (the voice...*swoon*), Janet Fox (lush, fabulously-written historicals), Veronica Roth (love her sparse style), Courtney Stevens (every sentence is perfect), Gennifer Choldenko (a lesson in how to make MG historical exciting, relatable, and completely un-teachy), and my fellow Aladdin M!X authors (fun, light, voice-y upper MG). This is just a snippet of my favorites, of course. But I hope it helps give you an idea of what I love.

***Please note: If I've read your work as a critique partner, or if you know me in real life, please apply to another mentor. I want to avoid any kind of bias, plus you already have me as a crit partner! :) If I've read your query or pages as a result of your winning a contest, you are welcome to apply to me as a mentor.***


Hey, wait, who am I?

I'm a contemporary middle grade author, represented by Julia A. Weber. My MG debut, BREAKING THE ICE, will be published on January 13, 2015 by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. I'm also co-writing the RSVP books with Jen Malone, the first of which will be out on May 19, 2015 from Aladdin/S&S. I'm a grant writer for a non-profit by day.

In the past, I've moonlighted as a personal injury attorney and a business attorney (one of these was better than the other), 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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/lotterymonkey/
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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 indie music that makes me cry. I have a two-year-old daughter who is the light of my life.

Questions for me?

Ask in the comments, or tweet me! I love questions.


How do you apply to be my mentee?

Go here.

Who are the PitchWars agents?

Go here.


Yeah, I'm great and all, but who are the other PitchWars mentors?

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22 comments:

  1. You and I have a heart for MG! It cannot be explained. It cannot be replaced. And it should be fed with humor, the Disney Channel and chocolate. Love your bio:)

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    1. Thanks!! And I completely agree! :D

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  2. Psssst! I have a secret to tell you guys about Gail: she’s waaaaaaay too modest about how awesome she is. Everything she says above is true: she’s a BEAST with typos and grammar (I thought I knew grammar, but I did not. She catches everything—like things you didn’t even know were things—and it will blow your mind.) Her comments are hilarious (not to mention smart, honest, and incredibly helpful. She really knows MG. Really.) And yes, she really does have chocolate, and she will discuss it with you and even eat it with you IN REAL LIFE if she happens to be driving through your city. (Best. Day. EVER.)

    Gail is also amazingly supportive throughout the process. She’ll answer all your questions, respond quickly to your e-mails, and reassure you that said questions/emails are not of the stupid variety even when you’re convinced that they are. She’s on your team, always. When Pitch Wars ended, we still communicated a lot—commiserating over my rejection letters, celebrating full requests, and yes, continuing to discuss chocolate. Mmm, chocolate. Not only is she a wonderful mentor; she’s also a genuine, caring friend who will be there for you no matter what.

    I’m happy to answer any questions you have about Gail and/or the overall Pitch Wars experience. Feel free to get in touch! Good luck,

    Abby
    @_ACoops_

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    1. <3 I wish Blogger had "like" buttons, Abby!

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  3. A tween at heart? I bet we could be friends! I write a blog for kids at heart who like to write too:) Loved your bio. I have a MG high concept contemporary. I'll be sending it your way. :)

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  4. Thrilled that you like ghost stories & twists on historical fiction! Wondering how you feel about Southern "boy voice" with a dash of steampunk?

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    1. Hi Kendra! I looooove a good Southern voice and a good boy voice. :) Dash of steampunk is great too, so long as it's low on the tech-y bits. I tend to prefer steampunk when it's more about the setting/ambiance than in-depth descriptions of the gadgets. (I wrote all of that and now I'm hoping it actually makes sense! Let me know if it doesn't. :)

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    2. It absolutely makes perfect sense! I loved steampunk before I even knew it had a name. But I've found that some steampunk focuses so much on the tech that the characters seem to become second (in my opinion, anyway). I used steampunk to punctuate the transition between Oliver's normal world and the "new world" he discovers. Trying not to say too much - don't wanna break any rules!

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    3. :) Oh good! (Also, that sounds pretty awesome!)

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  5. Oh, oh, I have a question for you, Gail!!! Will you swing by and pick me up so we can ride off into the sunset on Wanda?

    Seconding Abby's modesty comment. This lucky co-writer has been privy to everything from brainstorming to editing with Gail and she's ah-mazing at all of it. ALL of it. Plus, she's downplaying those funny in-text comments. My shirts are coffee-stained from the number of times I've spit out a sip while reading a beta note of hers (you'd think I'd learn my lesson). She could probably publish them into a book all by themselves.

    In short, pick Gail. Pick her, pick her, pick her, pick her.

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    1. Jen, I owe you a bottle of Shout. teehee! And I would totally ride off into the sunset on Wanda with you! ;)

      I couldn't ask for a more awesome co-author than Jen. PitchWars peeps are totally missing out on your mentoring this year! :D

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  6. Gail, I just added BREAKING THE ICE to my list on Goodreads, so I can read it when it comes out. Congrats! Wow, the comment here from Abby pulled me right in -- I'm sold. I'm planning to send a contemporary upper MG your way...

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    1. Aw, thanks Rachel! :) I do love upper MG. Most of what I write tends to skew toward the older MG crowd.

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  7. Oh, yeah, you are definitely on my "possible 4" list after that great advice you gave me on a 1-paged query letter a few months ago (lucky me!)

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    1. Yay!!! So glad that what I said was helpful. :)

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  8. Are there any historical settings you like more than others, or ones you're not so keen on? Also, would you be interested in a historical MG involving the struggle to balance religious observance with becoming an American?

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    1. I'm more into modern history than ancient. Though with good writing and a compelling plot and cast of characters, I could go ancient too. :) I studied US history, so that's always a favorite (especially from mid nineteenth century through start of WW2). I love reading about the immigrant experience too. I also have a soft spot for French history.

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    2. How do you feel about King Arthur times?

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    3. Carol, funny you should ask... :) If I could figure out how to post a picture here, I'd show you the shelf in my bookcase that's devoted to Arthurian legend. I had a huge King Arthur phase in college, and I still really love reading it.

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  9. You had me at Meg Cabot. Love, love, love her. :) But on to writerly stuff, would consider a MG story set in 1976 as a historical? No fantasy elements. Just your basic kid growing up in the mid-seventies type story.

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    1. :) Yup, '70s is historical. Even '90s is considered historical, which makes me feel old!

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