Monday, August 3, 2015

Let's Do the #PitchWars Again

You guys!!!! It's #PitchWars time again!!

(For those who don't know what #PitchWars is - here's the deal: The brilliant amazing possibly super-powered Brenda Drake organizes this awesome contest that connects aspiring writers with mentors (like me!) and then we work together scrubbing and shining the aspiring author's manuscript until it is so stinking sparkly that agents will fight for the right to call it their own. For more info and to be part of the contest YOU MUST go to Brenda Drake's blog. Sound good?)

How excited am I to be a #PitchWars mentor for the second year in a row? 

Well it's sort of a combination of this

And this

So yeah. Pretty excited.

And adding to that excitement is that this year I am co-mentoring with Mindy McGinnis! Not only is Mindy an amazing author (see: NOT A DROP TO DRINK, IN A HANDFUL OF DUST, and the upcoming A MADNESS SO DISCREET) and a wonderful friend, but she is a fabulous critique partner as well. If you are a believer in the two heads are better than one theory, well you're in luck because Mindy and I will be working in tandem to make your manuscript shine. (And if you're wondering what kind of manuscripts Mindy will be looking for and how she likes to critique make sure to visit her blog as well!)

And like last year I (along with Mindy) will once again be mentoring...


Yep YOUNG ADULT!!! Yay!!

So what am I looking for in your young adult manuscripts? Well... Strong often unlikeable protagonists, complicated antagonists, kick-ass girls, romance, depth and darkness, fun, having my heart ripped out, laugh-out-loud moments, mystery, thrills, paranormal elements, realistic elements, cute puppies, and weirdness.

Your book does not need to have all of those elements. Actually, it definitely shouldn't because my head would explode and I don't think that's something any of us want to see happen. BUT the one thing I MUST have is strong writing. That doesn't mean it has to be literary or lyrical or bursting at the seams with similes (oh please definitely NOT that last one), but it needs to have that certain something that's a mixture of craft and voice and your own personal secret sauce that just makes every page sing.

So basically I am open to everything and I never really know what exactly will grab me. I am definitely NOT turned off by language, sex, or violence - in fact, when it's a necessary part of the story, I believe it's important to include these elements. But your character does not have to drop f-bombs for me to love them.

If you want a good idea of what I like to read check out my Goodreads. I try to keep this updated every few months with what I've recently read. 

So that's what I'm looking for. But this is about more than me falling in love, you need to find a mentor that fits into what you need as well. To that end, let me tell you a bit about myself and my critique style.

You could say I have a strong arts backgrounds. Or you could say I have two college degrees of questionable worth. I prefer the former. Anyway, from undergrad I have a BFA in theatre and then, after several years of graduate school, I gained an MFA in film and television production.

I am represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary. My own books are: ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE (HarperTeen 2013),  (DON'T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME (HarperTeen 2014) and the upcoming DOWN WITH THE SHINE (coming April 26th, 2016 from HarperTeen).

And here are a few places you can find me online:

Twitter: @katekaryusquinn (I'll be tweeting with the #PitchWars hashtag, so make sure you're following me!)
Tumblr: katekaryusquinn

So what kind of feedback can you expect from me? 

...Actually let me start with what you won't get from me. 

I am not big on correcting grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other things of that nature. That's not to say that these things are not important - they are. I am just not the person to make those elements shine.

I don't expect you to write like me. Or to write your story the way that I'd write it. Instead, I want to help you write the story in your voice and style, and tell it the way you need it to be told. I will, however, occasionally throw different ideas out. In my screenwriting classes ages and ages ago (see that MFA does come in handy!) my one teacher used to call the process of throwing different ideas out spitballing. Sometimes you use the spitballed idea, but mostly it just helps get your own ideas flowing.

I will never tell you that your story sucks. Or you suck. That doesn't mean I'll only have positive things to say, because ooohhhh trust me I will point out what is not working for me. But I also always make a point of talking about the things that are working oh so very well. Personally, I find the odd "YAY!!" "HEE HEE HEE!" or "LOVE LOVE LOVE!" comments can make an otherwise tough critique go down a lot easier.

Finally, do not expect only a line or two of notes for feedback. As you may have guessed from this blog post, I can be a little long winded at times. And yes, sometimes I do go on and on and on and... Okay, I'll stop now. The point is, I tend it give pretty long critiques with lots and lots and lots of thoughts.  

You can also check out the query and first page critiques I did on Brenda's blog a while ago to get an idea of how I work. 

Or you can look at my mentee and alternate mentee from last year. Danielle Mages Amato is a true #PitchWars success story. She found her agent through the contest and then just recently... well I'll just let the deal announcement speak for itself.

And here she is discussing the experience in her own words:

Last year, I had the crazy, once-in-a-lifetime, what-act-of-kindness-did-I-commit-in-a-past-life-to-deserve-this, amazing luck of having Kate Karyus Quinn as my Pitch Wars mentor. When I was first scanning the list of possibilities, I knew I wanted someone collaborative, someone who would not only point out places where my story could be stronger but would also help me brainstorm solutions. I craved as much feedback as possible and as many big-picture insights as I could get. In my heart of hearts, I dreamed of a fairy bookmother, who could wave a magic wand and make my manuscript sparkle like a glass slipper on its way to the agent round. I GOT ALL THAT AND MORE. Kate was unbelievably generous with her time and her praise. She pointed out all my plot holes and held my hand as I spitballed crazy ideas about how to fix them. She helped me answer big-picture questions about the novel, AND she opened my eyes to some of my bad writing habits on the scene and sentence level -- things I'd never noticed that, once addressed, made a global improvement in my writing. She was more than just the fairy bookmother I'd imagined, she was a true friend -- to both my book and to me. *gets weepy* Honestly, I lived the Pitch Wars dream: an ridiculously fantastic mentor, who helped me snag a killer agent (directly from the PW agent round), who helped me find an amazing editor at an amazing imprint for my debut. If you're thinking of submitting to Kate, stop thinking. Doooooooo iiiiiiiiit. PS: also read her books, because they are beyond awesome.

And my alternate mentee Tracie L. Martin is just amazing and talented in so many ways and I expect good news from her any day  now. And she was kind enough to write up a little endorsement as well.

I LOVE KATE. I’d tap it out in Morse code if I knew how. Each PitchWars mentor has a different style. Some are like life coaches. Some are like drill sergeants. Kate was like the best of writing partners:  smart enough to see my weaknesses immediately, generous with sharing her insider experience, and so whipsmart solid in the craft I could trust her judgement completely. You’ll love her sharp eye for plot-holes and her even sharper one on character development. If you like the weird and the wonderful and you want someone to help you take your writing to the level of quality those kind of books demand, then put her on the top of your sub list.

Okay, we're almost done here, but in case some of you are reading this and wondering, "Okay but what if I submit my work to you and don't get picked as your mentee, cause that sort of sucks." Well yes, it does suck (although hey if you want to be in this business handling rejection is unfortunately a huge part of it). BUT you might get chosen as someone else's mentee (which is why you get several picks) and that would be awesome! However, some people won't get picked and so Mindy and I had a discussion about what we can do for those writers. Cause let's face it - everyone can benefit from a little extra feedback. So we put our heads together and decided to offer a query and first page critiques which will be posted publicly our own blogs to those who submit to us but are not chosen as mentees. If you're interested in that offer we'll post it again once the mentee lists go up and all you'll have to do is simply email us at our Pitchwars email address ( to opt in. 

Okay, that's almost it from me except for one more thing...

A giveaway!!! To celebrate the awesomeness that is #PitchWars Mindy and I are co-hosting a givewaway of our new books. Enter the Rafflecopter below and you might win: a signed ARC of A MADNESS SO DISCREET, a signed ARC of DOWN WITH THE SHINE, and a copy of AMONG THE SHADOWS, an upcoming YA anthology of dark stories that Mindy and I (along with another very talented author Demitria Lunetta) edited and contributed our own short stories to as well. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1. Kes Trester (co-mentoring with Jennifer Hawkins)
2. Mindy McGinnis (co-mentoring with Kate Karyus Quinn)
3. N.K. Traver
4. Kristin B. Wright
5. Laura Heffernan
6. Mary Ann Marlowe
7. Joy McCullough-Carranza
8. Lisa Lewis-Tyre
9. Jenni L. Walsh (co-mentoring with Trisha Leaver)
10. Sarah Glenn Marsh
11. Julie C. Dao
12. Kellye Garrett
13. K.T. Hanna
14. Jessie Devine
15. Rosalyn Eves
16. Jami Nord
17. Samantha Joyce
18. Helene Dunbar
19. Jenna Lehne
20. Linsey Miller
21. Jessica Vitalis
22. Stacey Graham
23. Dan Koboldt
24. Brighton Walsh
25. Kate Brauning
26. Lisa Maxwell
27. Wendy Spinale
28. Sarah Cannon
29. L.L. McKinney
30. Juliana Brandt
31. Scarlett Cole
32. Hayley Stone
33. Jennifer Blackwood
34. Kendra Young
35. S.P. McConnell
36. Nikki Roberti
37. Emmie Mears
38. Lori Goldstein (co-mentoring with Chelsea Bobulski)
39. Jennifer Hawkins (co-mentoring with Kes Trester)
40. Elizabeth Briggs
41. Ron Walters (co-mentoring with Meredith McCardle)
42. Fiona McLaren (co-mentoring with Dionne McCulloch)
43. S.M. Johnston (co-mentoring with Stacey Nash)
44. Max Wirestone
45. Jaye Robin Brown
46. Molly Lee
47. Rachel Lynn Solomon
48. J.C. Nelson
49. Holly Faur
50. Sonia Hartl
51. Natasha Raulerson
52. Marty Mayberry
53. J.C. Davis
54. Rebecca Wells
55. Michelle Hauck
56. Tabitha Martin
57. Rebecca Petruck
58. Sarah Henning
59. Alex White
60. Jeanmarie Anaya
61. Laura Salter
62. Wade Albert White
63. Brooks Benjamin
64. Margarita Montimore
65. Megan Grimit
66. Charlie Holmberg
67. Diana Gallager
68. Stefanie Wass
69. Tamara Mataya
70. Rebecca Sky
71. Kara Seal
72. Lee Gjertsen Malone
73. Katie Bucklein
74. Kevin A Springer
75. Brianna Shrum
76. Kate Karyus Quinn (co-mentoring with Mindy McGinnis)
77. Kim Graff
78. Emily Martin
79. Trisha Leaver (co-mentoring with Jenni Walsh)
80. Kim Long
81. Catherine Scully
82. Stacey Trombley
83. Stephanie Scott (co-mentoring with Valerie Cole)
84. Valerie Cole (co-mentoring with Stephanie Scott)
85. Lizzy Charles
86. Dannie Morin (co-mentoring with Alexandra Alessandri)
87. Kate Foster
88. Elly Blake
89. Julie Sondra Decker
90. Lady Lioness
91. Susan Gray Foster (co-mentoring with Monica Bustamante Wagner_
92. Kelly Calabrese
93. Sarah Nicolas
94. Kelly Siskind
95. Roselle Kaes
96. Monica Bustamante Wagner (co-mentoring with Susan Gray Foster)
97. Renee Ahdieh (co-mentoring with Traci Chee)
98. Traci Chee (co-mentoring with Renee Ahdieh)
99. Janet B. Taylor
100. Jessie Humphries (co-mentoring with Mara Rae)
101. Lynnette Labelle
102. Erica M. Chapman
103. Summer Spence
104. Marieke Nijkamp
105. Meredith McCardle (co-mentoring with Ron Walters)
106. Thomas Torre
107. Phil Stamper
108. J.A. Souders