Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pitch Wars Mentor Wish List for Team Pusheen!

T is for...Team Pusheen!

Welcome to the Team Pusheen Wish List for Pitch Wars 2016! My co-mentee Joan He and I are soooo excited to be working together this year. It took us a while to discover our shared love of all things Pusheen, but once we did, our team name was a no-brainer. In addition to our Pusheen addiction, we both love speculative fiction, and we can't wait to find another awesome writer to add to the fun!

Who are we?

I'm Mara, a 2014 mentee and 2015 mentor who currently lives in Lima, Peru. My husband is a U.S. diplomat, meaning every few years we move to a new country. Our first post was Yekaterinburg, Russia, which inspired the novel I entered into Pitch Wars '14 (I signed with an agent just a few weeks later). We have two sons, Jack (6) and Will (2), and in addition to writing and reading, I love exploring new places and cultures, doing pretty much anything with my identical twin sister, and chatting with my Pitch Wars writer friends, who are my support system no matter where in the world I am. They are without a doubt the BEST part of Pitch Wars. 

And from Joan: Hi guys! I’m Joan, a psychology major at UPenn, a major lover of wombats, anime, and art (writing included, obviously), and represented by John Cusick of Folio Literary. Last year, Mara and I were mentor and mentee, and I’m eternally grateful for all the guidance and support she provided me. Hoping to give it back this year to all you hopefuls! I’m going to try to keep a lot of stuff short so that I can reduce your stress-level by being more detailed in the What I’m Looking For section.

What we're looking for in a manuscript: I'll let Joan take it away for this section, because her tastes are a little more specific (my thoughts in red):

Mara and I are looking for all the YA speculative fiction (bonus points if you take us to new worlds. HUGE BONUS POINTS!). So, YES’s to fantasy, scifi, and things in-between. But since that’s still really broad, I’ll give you as many details as I can about some particular things I look in books, with some real book examples:

- Games—all kinds of games. Mind games, board games, military games, cat and mouse games, etc. (THE WINNER’S TRILOGY, ENDER’S GAME, HUNGER GAMES)
- Art. If you have any kind of art (visual, literary, auditory, etc) featured in your book (in your premise, or as part of a character’s hobby), I want.
- Between the two common subgenres of fantasy—adventure-based and political intrigue—I’d probably enjoy the political intrigue more (THE WINNER’S TRILOGY). That being said, I also enjoy a healthy mix of both (THE GRISHA books, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT). I’m pickier when it comes to more straight-up adventure books—I always need something more than just sword-fights—but compelling characters can do the trick for me (it helps when they are whip-smart like Kaz Brekker from SIX OF CROWS). I probably prefer adventures, but as Joan says, a healthy mix of both is always good.
- Life and death stakes that are actually built into the premise. This isn’t a book, but ideas like the anime Sword Art Online, where characters are trapped in a video game (here we go with the games again) and will die in real life if they die in-game, really hook me. Also, anything with spying in it (AM EMBER IN THE ASHES).
- Smart, thought-provoking premises (UNWIND, WOLF BY WOLF)
- In my fantasy, I don’t need magic, but I need the epic (this doesn’t mean loud—a quiet fantasy can still be epically meaningfully)
- In my sci-fi, I don’t need hardcore science, but I need a human element to drive the story forward (something important at stake, and strong motivations from the character) (FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON—not YA, but a must-read).
- Though I appreciate a good one, I do not NEED romance in my books. I’m quite picky about the romance, and only when I'm onboard a ship 110% percent will I like seeing a large chunk of the plot devoted to it. I actually really, really love a good romance. It doesn't have to be a huge part of the plot, like Joan said, but I like the kissing if I'm being honest.
- I prefer tragedy to comedy. A good cry does a lot more for me than a good laugh (typing that out just felt really depressing, but I can’t be the only one who searches for emotional, this-will-make-you-cry music on youtube…right?)
- If you surprise me with a twist, GIVE ME (ENDER’S GAME, WOLF BY WOLF). If you leave me mind-blown, I will love you forever.
- Structurally unique, but not confusing (ALL OUR YESTERDAYS)
- Really atmospheric tones (think anything by Brenna Yovanoff, especially THE SPACE BETWEEN)
- Lush, haunting writing (anything by Lauren DeStefano)
(I'll add a few of my favorite books here: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, A COURT OF MIST AND FURY, THE SCORPIO RACES, SHADOW AND BONE, etc. - Strong female characters and amazing world building are basically no-brainers for me. Originality is key, too, because it's super competitive out there!)

Why Joan?

On the editing front, I’m good at figuring plots, twists, character motivations and psychology, and line-level writing issues such as when to add/cut description and exposition, etc.

On the personal front, I’m not on top of my gif game like some other mentors, and I’m pretty out of the loop in terms anything pop-culture. In other words, I’m really uncool. That being said, I, just like Mara, have gone through the experience of PW myself. I’ll be there for you when you get heartburn right before the entries go live because I was in your shoes a year ago.

Why Mara?

I won't pick a book unless I love the premise, but in terms of big picture stuff, I'm told I'm good with pacing, world building, and dialogue. That said, I'm great at catching the small stuff - I have copyediting experience and I'm repeatedly told I draft very clean.

Personally, I like to think I'm a great cheerleader, equal parts reassuring and empathetic, because I've been at this for a long time. I'm a quick reader, and because I'm super deadline oriented, I won't keep you waiting for notes or feedback. Joan and I are both busy, but we went back and forth four or five times during the revision window last year. Pitch Wars has been instrumental in both of our careers, and that's why we love paying it forward! 

What we're looking for in a mentee:

Simple: someone who’s genuinely nice and willing to grow. If it’s not necessary, we're not going to have you rewrite your book, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to work. If you can approach this experience with an open mindset, then we'll be a great match! Also, a love of Pusheen doesn't hurt.

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Candace Davenport said...

What a great pair you make- you complement each other!

Stephanie Ward said...

I'm crushing on your wishlist. Is it August third yet?

Greg S. said...

How do you both feel about a dark, tense, dystopia/post-apoc?

Mara Rae said...

I like dark as long as there's something to brighten it. - a romance or some humor. If it's like "the road"...well, I can appreciate it, but not sure id be the right mentor.

Anonymous said...

I read Ender's Game when I was 13, and it was the first book I wanted to start re-reading as soon as I finished it. I'm glad you're interested in characters who are artists by hobby--I will definitely be pitching to you two! Confession: I had to google "Pusheen"--I hope that's not a deal-breaker. ��

Leanne said...

Hello! Just stopping by to personalize my query. I’ve submitted to you because my book, THE MIRROR CRACK’D, is an other-world, epic fantasy featuring political intrigue as well as some adventuring. It features a main character who is a fiber artist (the Lady of Shalott) and another character whose music is central to the story. There are several strong female characters; the story is told in multiple close third POVs. It would be an honor to work with you (and I intend to work very hard!). Thank you for your time.

Mikki said...

Hi, Team Punshee! Just wanted to let you know real quick why I subbed to you guys. My mss is a character-driven space opera inspired by Frozen's Elsa and her struggles, in addition to my love for Star Wars. You wanted new worlds, political intrigue, and adventure. Hope this delivers, because I would love to work with you 2 in taking this story to the next level. Thanks, and have a wonderful weekend! Mikki Tolley (THE LAST RELIC)