Another Pitch Wars alum success story… with Laura Shovan & Joy McCullough-Carranza!
Jul22

Another Pitch Wars alum success story… with Laura Shovan & Joy McCullough-Carranza!

The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we are so happy to have Laura Shovan and her Pitch Wars mentor, Joy McCullough-Carranza, here for a little Q and A. Laura recently signed with Stephen Barbara with Foundry Literary. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview. Laura, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Joy? I was on the fence about applying. High-concept novels earn a lot of attention in pitch contests. I wasn’t sure that my novel-in-verse, written in the voices of an entire fifth grade class, was a good fit for an online competition. Pitch Wars mentor Veronica Bartles, who is one of my CPs in real life, encouraged me to give it a try. Before I applied to anyone, I queried each of the MG mentors about novels-in-verse. Were they open to working on one? Joy’s response was an enthusiastic yes, with a list of her favorite MG verse novels. I also applied to Joy because of some things we (freakishly) have in common: both of us have worked in the schools as writers-in-residence; Joy is a playwright, I have a BFA in Dramatic Writing. Add to that some Harry Potter geek-banter on Twitter, and I knew Joy and I would work well together. You definitely seem cut from the same cloth. And Joy, what about Laura’s application made you choose her? I knew the moment I read Laura’s query and sample pages that I really wanted to dive into this manuscript. I loved the premise, the diversity of the characters, and the sheer amazingness of the POETRY. I also knew it was a manuscript that might not shine in a contest setting – sometimes the quieter ones just don’t, and I had been there myself, futilely entering quiet manuscripts into contests. So I decided I didn’t care about that – I wanted to work with Laura, and my only concern was that I might not have that much to offer her. She’s a brilliant poet, and I know extremely little about poetry. But I knew my background as a playwright would lend itself well to the ensemble nature of her book, and I saw ways the story could be strengthened to really let her characters shine, which I hoped would make up for my lack of poetry knowledge. I’m so, so happy it worked out. Well, it seems it definitely helped. So Laura, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? The actual revision period is a blur now! A few months before...

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July Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Natasha Neagle & Shana Silver!
Jul22

July Workshop with Pitch Wars Mentors … Natasha Neagle & Shana Silver!

Welcome to the July Query & 1st Page Workshop with some of our PitchWars mentors. We selected many wonderful writers from a drawing held in June to participate in the workshop. Each mentor has graciously critiqued either a query or first page for two writers. The writers are anonymous and the titles/genres are hidden. Follow along all month to view the critiques. We welcome comments and further suggestions, but please keep them kind and respectful. Here are the next two mentors and their critiques …   Natasha Neagle Website | Twitter | Facebook Natasha writes diverse YA thrillers about characters with more guts than her and is represented by Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc. She considers herself a diehard fictional character shipper and has way too much fun shopping for makeup and shoes. She is a firm believer that the best way to hear music is live, and can always be found on Twitter, especially if Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead is on. Natasha lives in Northern Virginia with her superhero husband, two crazy-smart kids, and their demon-possessed cats.   Natasha’s critiques …   Critique #45 – First Page: Hazy voices floated into the kitchen of The Chocolate Cottage, whispering of true love and destiny and happily ever after. My first thought is that this feels wordy. You could essentially say the same thing by flipping the sentence and cutting some of the words to tighten it. Whispers of true love and destiny and happily ever after floated into the kitchen of The Chocolate Cottage. Penelope Dalton rolled her eyes at the love-sick customers out front. Is it necessary to give us Penelope’s last name right away? You tell it to us when you could always introduce it later in dialogue or internal thought. You give us some body language here and introduce us to the character, but I’d like to know her thoughts. In the next sentence you do that, but it feels more like you’re telling us her thoughts than simply giving them to us as internal. You have a chance to reel in your reader with her voice and hook us in the first paragraph. Consider rewording the following sentence to do that. It’s not that she didn’t believe in the magic of her chocolates, but why someone would pin all of her happiness on finding a man eluded her. Sighing, she refocused on the bowl of dark chocolate melting on the gas burner. I highlighted the word chocolate to show its repetition. Consider rephrasing to avoid this issue. When I see the word too close together, I’m pulled out of the story...

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