#TEAMVENOM PITCH WARS 2018 WISHLIST

pitchwars

20180810_173201_20180810174040913

Who We Are

We’ve been writer friends for a few years now and we have very similar opinions regarding the books we read, both published and unpublished. We’ve worked well together on numerous writing projects in the past and look forward to bringing our teamwork and work ethic into a relationship with a mentee. To us, being mentors means giving a writer an opportunity as well as the reassurance that they, and their novel, are appreciated and needed.


pixlr_20180810113026914_20180810213708101853466872.jpg

I am Kimberly Vale, a YA fantasy author represented by Amelia Appel at Triada US and a Pitch Wars Alumni. I live for fantasy–in books, movies, video games, everything. There’s something truly special about creating new worlds and diving into worlds created by other authors.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I started writing full-length novels at 18 and decided to try to make it my career two years ago. I worked full-time, went to college at night, mothered my two children, and found time to write in between moments in life. I know what it means to be dedicated to success and the sacrifices you have to make to get closer to reaching your dreams.

I wouldn’t be where I am as a writer if it wasn’t for Pitch Wars. Yes, I got my agent from the showcase, but I took away so much more than that. My mentors provided me with so many helpful insights into writing, revising, editing, basically the entire process, and I became a stronger writer because of it. I want to give back in the best way and give this gift to another writer. As a teacher, I think of myself as a mentor everyday and am so excited for this opportunity to combine my passions for education and writing/reading and expand my experience in a different, more personal atmosphere.

I live in Arkansas, the home of Wal-Mart, with my husband and two children and facilitate reading intervention at an elementary school. I love coffee, sushi, Game of Thrones, and gaming.


pixlr_20180810113026914_20180810213812261

I’m Francesca Flores, a YA fantasy author represented by Peter Knapp at Park Literary & Media. I’m also a reader for FORESHADOW, an online serial YA anthology dedicated to emerging, diverse voices. I love all things YA, but fantasy has always been my home. I first fell in love with the genre as a child by watching Sailor Moon and reading Harry Potter. I love reading books with characters who fight to rise above their circumstances and with atmospheric settings that come to life.

A little about my own writing journey: I first started writing novel-length projects when I was about 14 or 15 (so many vampire projects) and completed my first full manuscript when I was 18. I proceeded to write another sixteen manuscripts before deciding I was ready to query with a YA fantasy assassin novel I’d written. I signed with my agent, Peter Knapp, through PitMad.

I decided to apply to become a Pitch Wars co-mentor because helping people improve their manuscripts, while being encouraging and centering the author’s vision of the book, truly makes me happy. I think Pitch Wars is a great opportunity for writers and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. While I love plotting, strengthening characters, and bringing a new world to life, you can also count on me for the small stuff. I studied Linguistics, which taught me many things about grammar, sentence structure, and rhythm.

My home is San Francisco, but I love to travel. When I’m not writing or reading, I’ll be traveling, dancing ballet and jazz, practicing trapeze, drinking a cup of green tea, or watching a new drama.

20180810_173201_20180810174040913

What We Want

TEAM VENOM IS READY TO SINK THEIR FANGS INTO FANTASY.

We are exclusively looking for young adult fantasy. It’s what we both write and love to read, so it’s what we’d both be best at mentoring!

We are most partial to fantasy set in a different world than our own. Immersing a reader in a new world is important, so we’re looking for highly atmospheric settings that drop us right into the scene. We tend to prefer stories on the darker side of fantasy with fast-paced plots, unique magic systems, really strong emotional arcs, and diverse settings and characters that tackle the genre in a fresh way while still giving us all the things we love in YA fantasy.

The following are all things we would love to see in our inbox. So if you see something that fits the bill, send it our way!

give-it-to-me-gif-14

Story Elements

There are specific tropes, concepts and characters we absolutely love in fantasy and would want to see in a manuscript. These aren’t the ONLY things we’d love to see (we’d love to be surprised by some new concept that has the major setting and plot elements we described above!), but if you do have any of these, PLEASE SUBMIT TO US.

*italics recently added to list

  • Witches
  • Demons
  • Vampires
  • Monsters and creatures of all kinds
  • Girls in non-traditional roles, such as knights and warriors
  • Rich, detailed world-building
  • Girls who simultaneously kick ass and love the new boots or fancy dress they’re wearing; it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
  • Boys who show emotion
  • Unique twists on common tropes (lost princess, the chosen once, etc)
  • Fresh, diverse retellings
  • Fantasy that takes advantage of the story to deliver a social critique (subtle or obvious, either way is fine)
  • Ragtag teams
  • Characters who work their way up from nothing
  • Characters with secrets, mistakes, and major flaws
  • Enemies-to-lovers and lovers-to-enemies
  • Platonic relationships between m/f
  • Corruption and/or redemption arcs
  • Stories where romance is not the main goal; we LOVE a well-done romance in our fantasies, but not so much that it takes over the plot or becomes the catalyst in the plot.
  • On that note, a memorable romance
  • Complicated relationships (romantic, platonic, familial, whatever) that are more than what meets the eye
  • Multi-pov
  • Villains, anti-heroes, unlikable characters
  • Games, trials, races, heists
  • Girl squad/crew
  • Girls who don’t hate each other
  • Complicated family relationships
  • Unique royalty and court systems
  • Unique magic systems
  • Established relationships from the start and choices affecting those relationships
  • Different forms of love
  • Alchemy (make me feel smart)
  • DEEP CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
  • A compelling world without magic
  • Crime lords and ladies
  • Elemental magic
  • Revenge
  • Unique settings (deserts, islands, jungles, underground, in the sky, ALL THE PLACES)
  • Mermaids
  • Steampunk, industrial, or futuristic settings/elements in a fantasy world
  • Dragons in a non-western medieval setting
  • If you’ve been told your concept is overdone, but you know you’ve done it with a unique twist or if it’s told from a marginalized perspective, please send it to us!

Books/Movies/Media

These are books (a couple are adult, but still fit the purposes of this example) movies and other media, that have similar tones, settings, pacing and character arcs to what we’re looking for:

  • Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom
  • An Ember in the Ashes
  • The Cruel Prince
  • Jade City
  • The Poppy War
  • For a Muse of Fire
  • Wintersong
  • Children of Blood and Bone
  • Girls Made of Paper and Fire
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass
  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
  • Caraval
  • Wild Beauty
  • The Girl From Everywhere
  • Everless
  • The Night Circus
  • The Lunar Chronicles
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Star Wars (the characters. the stakes. the family drama. kylo ren.)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Kubo and the Two Strings

What We Don’t Want

Although there are some things we enjoy to read, as mentors we believe we may not be the right fit for them. Be sure to scour other mentor wish lists to find the perfect match for your manuscript.

  • Any genre that isn’t fantasy
  • New adult
  • Medieval-esque royalty (unless done in a really unique way, or from a marginalized perspective that doesn’t usually get the chance to be featured in royalty stories (PLEASE send these books to us) [Examples: Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, Girls of Paper and Fire]
  • Werewolves
  • Contemporary fantasy
  • Urban fantasy (unless done in a really unique way, or from a marginalized perspective that doesn’t usually get the chance to be featured in urban fantasy stories, or in cities we haven’t seen a lot of in urban fantasy before) [Good Examples: Heroine Complex, Dactyl Hill Squad, Labyrinth Lost, Not Your Sidekick]
  • Portal fantasy
  • Damsels in distress
  • Graphic novels
  • Toxic relationships depicted as romantic
  • Science fiction
  • Dystopians

If you’re still unsure whether your book is something we would be interested in, feel free to tweet @ us and ask (without pitching your book).

20180810_173201_20180810174040913

How We Mentor {Revision Plan}

Our Relationship with You:

-We are easily accessible and plan to be available to chat whenever you need it.

-We can talk via social media, phone, text, or email (edit letters will be sent through email, but general correspondence can be through many mediums).

-We are happy to do a group chat with you prior to sending the first edit letter to discuss your vision for the story and what you think the core of it is, as well as going over all general ideas for edits so you know what to expect from us. We are also happy to help you come up with a plan to tackle edits after receiving each edit letter, if that’s something you would like. We will be available for any questions you have regarding the editing process.

What Our Editing Notes Will Be Like:

-We practically live in fantasy. Our advice will be focused on expanding world-building, deepening characterization, plotting and scene-level development, pacing, and strengthening stakes-driven, attention-grabbing stories.

-Our first edit letter will be for big picture edits. This will focus more on plot and character development, expanding the world, and deepening the story’s emotion and meanings.

-Our second edit letter will be for more focused aspects of your story. This will include line edits, streamlining any scenes that still need work with pacing, enhancing the effectiveness of your prose, assisting with concise wording and a solid rhythm, and enhancing clarity on the scene and sentence level.

-We will encourage the use of deadlines to provide our mentee with exposure to working under a specific timeframe.

Our Ideal Mentee:

-POSITIVITY AND AN OPEN MIND – Every time that edits seem impossible to tackle, remind yourself that you’re doing it to make your book better and to reach your dreams of getting published. It’s worth all the hard work, and you made it this far. As your mentors, we believe in you and will be here no matter what! We will always point out the things we love in your book, but you should also believe in your writing. Many, many writers feel doubt and fear while revising or drafting. The important thing is to push onward and to want the best for your book!

-READY TO WORK – Our ideal mentee loves their book and is excited to put in the work to make it the best it can be. We both know the value of hard work, having rewritten huge chunks of our novels and editing for months, killing many darlings along the way, and we can both say that this is 100% worth it if it’s what’s best for your book. If you feel like you don’t want to change much in your novel (which is completely valid, it’s your book and you can do what you want with it), then we are probably not the best fit. We will not force you to change anything, but we will make the suggestions we think are best, and this may include cutting scenes or characters you love if that’s what will make the book shine. All we ask is that you keep an open mind regarding this.

A good way to deal with revising a novel is to think of 1-2 things (relationships, world details, themes, symbols, whatever) that you refuse to change because they’re the core of what the novel is about (for example a sibling relationship, or the character’s backstory), and tell yourself that EVERYTHING ELSE is up to be changed. If you focus on those couple things that the story is truly about, then cutting other things will hurt less, because you KNOW what the story is truly about and you’re working to polish that core of it into the best possible book it can be.

-TRUST – You know your book better than anyone. Keeping that in mind, if you become our mentee and you disagree with something in our edit notes, we are open to talk about it! We’ll re-center, focus on the vision for the novel, and see how the edits can best help that vision come out. You shouldn’t be afraid to cut or change things, and you should know we have your novel’s best interests at heart, but we also want you to feel comfortable defending certain aspects of your novel and talking them through with us to see what the best solution is, because sometimes you just need to talk it out to figure it out. If a disagreement ever comes up, it’s not a point of contention; it’s just another step toward finding the solution. With this being said, our ideal mentee is someone who will feel comfortable talking about their book, what they want it to be, what works/doesn’t work, and who is open-minded about changes.

-RELATIONSHIP – We are open to talk about anything and we hope our friendship and writing-relationship can continue long after Pitch Wars is over! Writing friends are the best friends to have because of the passions we share and the dreams we chase.

20180810_173201_20180810174040913

Connect With Us

Also, check out our query and synopsis tips for some pointers before the submission window opens!

We are so so excited to get started and find the third member of Team Venom!

20180810_173201_20180810174040913

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

27.

28.

29.

30.

31.

32.

33.

34.

35.

36.

37.

38.

39.

40.

41.

42.

43.

44.

45.

46.

47.

48.

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

#TeamVenom Synopsis Tips

pitchwars, writing

#TeamVenom is back with synopsis tips! If you missed out and have no idea who Team Venom is, who we are, and what is the meaning of life and queries, peep back to our last post.

52009a4440308fc82db50c4c90bc1b05
This year’s Pitch Wars submission requires a synopsis, along with a query letter. Writing one for the first time can be overwhelming if you’re unsure of what to include, but they are important to both you as the author and the agent looking at it. The in-depth summary shows if a character isn’t growing, or if they’re too passive in the plot, or if the plot meanders. The very structure of synopses can reveal these things, so it’s important for you to examine it and see if it reveals anything missing in your plot.


TIPS:

  • If you’re stuck on where to even get started (welcome to Kim one year ago), writing chapter summaries can help a lot. It’s even better if your manuscript is split into acts. You can even think of that as a “very long synopsis”. Since agents all have different preferences for synopsis length (we’ve seen as short as a paragraph and as long as 2 pages), we suggest having one longer version that can be shortened depending on requirements. A good standard length is simply one page.
  • Focus on the cause and effect of your story, so “When her sister is chosen for the deadly Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place.” Think of your story as the scenes proceeding with “therefore”s and “but”s between them to show their relation, rather than “and”s (one thing happening after another). Seeing your plot events in this light can reveal to you whether your story’s threads all tie together, rather than just things happening to your character one after another.
  • Focus on turning points in your plot to decide how to organize it; what makes your character switch their objective, their opinion, their desires. Stray away from showing too many subplots or extraneous details in the synopsis; only the plot-lines and details that contribute to the main action and emotional storylines should be shown.
  • Should exhibit your character’s internal arc and how they change with the plot and how the plot challenges them.
  • Use basic descriptions. This isn’t the place to try out new prose. If your character decides to move onto the next plot point because they’re frustrated, simply state the emotion, and keep it focused on the plot. “Frustrated her mother will not let her leave the tower, she forces Flynn Rider to escort her safely to the Festival of Lights.”
  • SPOIL THE ENDING. The synopsis is where you reveal all the major things. Most importantly, the way you present the ending should reveal the protagonist’s growth.
  • Don’t worry if it sounds dry when you read it. You’re summing up your entire manuscript in one or two pages, so you don’t have the space to include all those gorgeous descriptions and heart-wrenching emotions. But you should still try to convey the tone of your novel and you can fit that by being purposeful with your word choice.
  • Ask a few people to read it and see if they can point out anywhere that your protagonist loses agency, or where the plot derails, or if it seems like any major plotlines are left unresolved.

    Good synopsis links:

    1. Marissa Meyer – 6 Step Book Synopsis
    2. Jane Friedman – How to Write a Novel Synopsis
    3. Jericho Writers – Synopsis

    MOCK SYNOPSIS

    We wrote a synopsis example for Mulan at standard length.

    lets-get-down-to-business-gif

    After a failed and dishonorable attempt with the matchmaker, FA MULAN receives even worse news–her father has been conscripted by the Chinese EMPEROR to fight against the invading Huns. Unwilling to let her elderly father go to war, she steals his old armor and disguises herself as a man to enlist instead, despite the risk that she might die in war or get caught and executed. Upon her departure, Mulan’s ancestors convene and order MUSHU, a small dragon and disgraced former guardian, to awaken the great stone dragon to protect Mulan. When he accidentally destroys it instead, he takes on the role as his own and resolves to protect Mulan himself.

    As Mulan struggles in military training, Mushu attempts to teach her how to behave like a man. She gradually becomes a trained warrior under the command of LI SHANG. In an effort to see Mulan succeed and prove himself as a guardian, Mushu fakes an order from Shang’s commander father, ordering Shang to follow the main imperial army into the mountains. When they arrive, they see the camp has been burned down and learn that the troops were killed by the Huns. As they leave the mountains, they are ambushed by the Huns. Mulan, using her ingenuity and new military training knowledge, fires a cannon to cause an avalanche which buries most of the invaders. The enemy’s captain, SHAN YU, slashes her in the chest, and her deception is revealed when the wound is bandaged. She waits to be executed.

    But Shang, who is grateful for her friendship and witnessed her brave fight against the invaders, spares her life and expels her from the army instead. Alone, Mulan watches the other recruits head to the imperial city to report the destruction. However, she sees that several Hun warriors, including Shan Yu, have survived and are on their way to the city to capture the emperor. When Mulan arrives with the news, Shang is angry to see her and is unconvinced that she’s telling the truth about Shan Yu’s survival. The Huns capture the emperor and seize the palace. Shang finally believes her, but they now stand alone against the Huns.

    Mulan helps disguise a few soldiers as concubines to sneak into the palace. With Shang’s help, they defeat Shan Yu’s men. Shang stops Shan Yu from assassinating the Emperor. Mulan then lures Shan Yu onto the roof and engages him in combat by herself. As the fight turns dire, Mushu fires a large rocket at Shan Yu. It strikes, sending him into a fireworks launching tower, where he dies in the explosion.

    The Emperor and the citizens praise Mulan. She accepts the crest of the Emperor and the sword of Shan Yu as gifts, but she declines the Emperor’s offer to be his advisor and asks to return to her family. Her father is thrilled to have her back and safe. Shang, who’s fallen in love with Mulan, comes to the house and is invited to stay for dinner. Mushu is reinstated as a Fa family guardian by the ancestors for his valiant efforts to help Mulan and protect the imperial city.


    We hope our tips were helpful. Be sure to peep in for our next post where we will be revealing our mentor wishlist!

    giphy (3)

    #PitchWars 2017 – Pimp My Bio

    writing

    Oh boy.  I’ve done it.  I’ve officially decided to enter Pitch Wars, which then made me decide to create a blog, which then made me decide to perform the pimpage of the bio.  Breathe.  We will get through this together.

    (I have no professional headshots, so here is an amazing Snapchat filtered version of myself.)

    Who Am I?

    I am an avid YA fiction reader in all genres, but most specifically fantasy. There’s just something about young people facing dire circumstances with brave faces. I live vicariously through them because I’m an adult that is still afraid of the dark. I see you smiling. Don’t laugh! The night is dark and full of terrors.

    I’m a student, an educator, a wife and a mother of two children who don’t look like me.

    My first story was a zombie book that I posted on Wattpad. The writing is absolutely atrocious. But I have decided to keep it posted for aspiring writers to see because I’ve come a long way, like galaxies long, and I’m proud of it. I hope my experience can inspire others to keep writing because practice is everything.

    When I finish my middle school education degree, I want to open an elective course for students to explore creative writing as an expressive outlet.  Middle school is a rough time and I want to give kids a healthy way to express themselves and dive into an imagination they might have never thought they had.

    MY BOOK

    I’ll be entering my YA fantasy, A CROWN OF BONES.  It is PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN meets THE HUNGER GAMES with a diverse cast of characters, romance and kickass heroines.

    Because I love aesthetics:

    Show him you’re not a damsel to be trifled with.”

    Illustrations by AgataFiszer can be found on the art page.  Here is a delicious taste:

    A CROWN OF BONES EQUATION

    Pirates of the Caribbean + The Hunger Games + Six of Crows + Moana + girls who kick ass + girls who save themselves + romance + hot kissing scenes + an asshole named Pudge + angry land gods + sea sister goddesses + witty banter + betrayal + a pig on a leash + epic action scenes + love/hate relationship + best friends + island witchcraft + crafty metaphors

    Feels Soundtrack Includes:


    ME, THE MENTEE

    What I offer as a mentee:

    • Never-ending gratitude
    • Fierce determination.  I am a Slytherin after all.
    • An open mind to critiques
    • Gif magic
    • Game of Thrones references

    ALL THE FAVS

    MOVIES

    • Armageddon.  ALWAYS. BRUCE GETS ME EVERY DAMN TIME.
    • Kill Bill 1 & 2.  The Bride is my dream level of badass.
    • Everything Marvel.
    • Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews).  That movie is everything a musical should be.

    TV SHOWS

    • Game of Thrones.  Team Jon for the crown.  But I would still be happy if somehow he and D somehow split it.
    • The Walking Dead.  Richonne for life.  Carl needs to die already.
    • True Blood up to season 4.  I refuse to acknowledge the rest of the mess of that show.  YOU RUINED IT HBO.
    • My Little Pony.  After watching with my daughter, I’ve become addicted.  I’m a Pegasister and proud.
    • Stranger Things.  If I were a little boy, I would be Dustin.  He channels me.

    BOOKS

    • Harry Potter, obviously.  Slytherin in the house.
    • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
    • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
    • Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
    • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Mayer
    • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
    • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
    • Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
    • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

    EXTRAS

    • Pinapple/Canadian bacon pizza
    • Bacon burgers
    • Maple bacon donuts (I’m noticing a theme here…)
    • Football.  Arkansas Razorbacks. Green Bay Packers.  MY BOYS BETTER KILL THIS SEASON.
    • Moana is the best Disney Princess.
    • I can bend my pointer finger all the way back.
    • I grew up with a lisp and was bullied throughout school for it.
    • Video game wise: love the Sims, Assassin’s Creed, and beating my husband’s ass at UFC.

    I have done it!  I have finally created my first website and blog post.  Good luck to everyone in Pitch Wars!  Thank you to all the mentors for dedicating their time to help others and to Brenda Drake for her brilliance.