A Little About Me
This'll be my third year mentoring, and I'm so excited to get this party started. I'm a mama of two and a book mama of one, with three on the way. I'm published with Macmillan, under their Tor/Forge imprint. My novel, Becoming Bonnie, is the coming-of-age origin story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s. Next year, the companion novel Bonnie will be hitting shelves, telling the duo's crime spree story. I'll also be beginning a narrative nonfiction series, called Brave Like Me, with Scholastic for middle graders. As a mentor, I believe I can bring some experience to the table as far as working with editors and publishers, along with agents. I am repped by Stacey Glick of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.
Also, if you want to get an idea of how I became agented and received my offer of publication, I wrote about it over on Writer's Digest (as you'll see, I'm a real believer in Pitch Wars). I'd also love for you to get an idea of my writing style. If you hop on over to Amazon and click "Look Inside" on the cover, you can preview the first chapter or so.
What I'm Looking For
This year for PItch Wars, I'm narrowing my wish list considerably. I'm looking for... adult historical fiction. That's it. If you've got it, I want to see it.
For me, any era will do. I'm down with various subgenres: women's fiction, mystery, thriller, fantasy, literary. Male or female protagonists. Past or present. First or third POV. What will push your submission to the top of my consideration are these two factors:
1. An intriguing concept
Books that I get grabby hands over have a high-level concept (i.e. premises that are easily explained) that I simply have no choice but to see how the author brought it to life. Here's a few examples of books that recently had me itching to read.
2. Great technical writing
I don't need your manuscript to be perfect, but I'd like to know you put in the time to prepare for Pitch Wars. That shows me you're ready to work. Your solid writing skills will also give me confidence that you'll be able to expertly implement feedback. My friend Google has tons of checklists/tips for ways to tighten and improve technical writing, so I'd recommend giving those a gander before the submission window opens.
Basically, dangle your killer concept and your awesome writing skills in my face, and, if chosen as my mentee, together we can work through any plot-related and character-related improvements.
What questions do ya have for me? Don't be shy, just give me a shout @jennilwalsh or leave me a comment!
Disclaimer: I know this is vague, but my interests in historical fiction are vast. I literally choose books by covers (which you obviously don't have yet) and a great premise. What keeps me turning the page is great writing (hence my two points above).
Also, please consider donating while applying. I won't see a penny of it (nor should I; I'm contributing my time/energy to an awesome cause: your career). Likewise, Brenda and her admins won't profit from your donation. Your hard-earned money will go toward offsetting the high financial and time-related costs of running this amazing contest.
To check out the other Adult/NA mentors--because you get to submit to four of us (plus two additional mentors if you donate)--keep hopping:
This month, Brenda Drake’s blog is doing something special. The Pitch Wars mentors are sharing specials moments of the past year and what our hopes are for the new year.
Mine are about books and family. And more importantly, how books are helping me live the kind of life I want with my little family.
I’m in awe of those overnight-success authors. I’m also in awe of the authors who have to claw their way to their publishing goals....
Continue reading »
It's official, for Pitch Wars 2016, I'll be working with the insanely talented Sarah Van Goethem on her young adult Speculative Historical Fiction novel, Sassafras Road.
In a few words, here's what the story is all about (but trust me, it's so much more than this. Sassafras Road is raw and gut-wrenching and funny and sweet and simply amazing):
In 1924 a four-year-old girl vanishes from Sassafras Road. In 2000, a four-year-old girl is found in the exact same spot. In 2012, sixteen-year-old Ada Mae Baker stumbles upon Sassafras Road, falling back in time to 1936 and into her old life, unlocking memories she had long forgotten.
YA agents, we can't wait to share the story with you in the Agent Showcase <3
Gimme your high-concept
Plain and simple, if you can explain your book in one sentence, no matter the genre, I wanna see it. Being able to understand your story so quickly, and get me excited about it, is a really appealing thing for me.
Here's an example, using my CP's book: a kid-friendly parody of the television show Breaking Bad, where an honor student grows in popularity by hawking essays under a pen name.
And another example, using my own: the untold story of how seventeen-year-old Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s.
I hope you'll say, "yes, please!"
And here's a quick article defining 'high concept' by Rachelle Gardner.
HERE's WHAT Else I'm AFTER...
The genres I tend to pick up are fantasies and historicals, though I'm open to all genres if the concept/setting has me itching to read on. Like... books that drop me in a new place, a new time, or a new world. That's not to say that contemporary novels can't fit this mold as well. If you have a setting/situation that's atypical (think how Pitch Perfect immersed people in its acappella world), chances are you'll have me sitting up a bit straighter.
I also adore retellings. There's just something so interesting about taking the familiar and giving it your own unique spin. Marissa Meyer killed this in her science fiction series, The Lunar Chronicles. I was also completely captivated by Megan Shepherd's historical fantasy series, The Madman's Daughter.
Other elements I'm drawn to (in no particular order):
Probably not the best fit for...
Generally speaking, I don't typically pick up books that include nightmare-inducing horror, non-human-like aliens, half-humans (think: centaurs. I'm okay with fae, mermaids), zero romance, or strong themes of suicide, rape, or school shootings. So, if your book aligns with those elements, I may not be best for you. BUT I betcha there's a mentor out there who is thinking, "Jenni, you're a fool." And, they're probably right.
WHY PITCH TO ME?
I'm a rather passionate, tireless person, who is surrounded by words (and a 6-month-old, two-year-old, needy goldendoodle, supportive husband, and carbs). I'm a copywriter for an advertising agency. I'm a freelance editor. I blog for Kick-Butt Kid Lit. I've got a book I'm super proud of coming out from Tor/Macmillan. And I also have a little something new I'm anxiously waiting to talk about...
Besides that, I've been through the ropes of pitching and querying, heartbreak, fist pumps, finding an agent (twice), heartbreak, fist pumps, revising, being on sub, the good fortune of having my dreams become a reality, and working with an amazingly talented big 5 editor. And, I'm really excited to help my mentee on his/her journey to publication.
To get a better idea of my editing style, check out my 500-word critiques on voice and setting. You can also get to know me a little better through this interview, which includes my plan of attack for my mentee's manuscript. And just so you know, if you work with me, you're stuck with me. My Pitch Wars family grows larger every year and I wouldn't have it any other way.
eally important announcement: When submitting, please donate. I won't see a penny of it (nor should I; I'm contributing my time/energy to an awesome cause: your career). Likewise, Brenda and her admins won't profit from your donation. Your hard-earned money will go toward offsetting the high financial and time-related costs of running this one-of-a-kind contest.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll consider pitching to me. Just like for the mentees, there's A LOT of stiff competition out there for the mentors, as you'll see in the bios below. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or chat with me @jennilwalsh.