Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)

Welcome! I assume you're here for the #PitchWars Mentor Blog Hop. Or maybe you're just here for the gifs. Either way, you're in the right place! So welcome!

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. 

So this year marks my fourth go round as a PW mentor... which wow. It's really such an honor to be a part of this amazing contest. The reason I chose "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)", the iconic pump-up jam from C&C Music Factory, as my blog title this year is because everybody is dancing (and sweating a little bit) as part of this contest. Right now this blog post is my chance to dance and hopefully get the attention of some folks out there with some wonderful manuscripts that maybe need just a little extra loving to put them over the top. I want the chance to give that extra loving! 

So this blog post is really just me, doing my little dance, trying to convince you that I would be an amazing mentor. Then later, when it's time to submit queries and first chapters, it'll be the mentees turn to show off their moves.

Alll their different moves.

And by dance I, of course, mean write. Dance gifs are just way more fun than writing gifs. Well, except for this one.

Oh, if only I could write like that.

This year, though, I am not doing the **Please Pick Me For Your Mentor** dance alone. Instead I am once again be co-mentoring with the amazing Mindy McGinnis! 

Because two mentors are way better than one.

Not only is Mindy an amazing author (see: NOT A DROP TO DRINK, THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES, GIVEN TO THE SEA, and the upcoming THIS DARKNESS MINE) 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! She also has the mystery word you'll need to complete the scavenger hunt AND a giveaway to win an ARC of her newest book releasing this Fall.)

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

Yep YOUNG ADULT!!! Yay!!

Mindy and I are looking for a mentee we can dance with. Now what does that mean?

Well for me... I love 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/historical/SFF elements, contemporary type hi jinks, cute puppies, Wes Anderson style quirkiness, and some old fashioned (or new fangled) weirdness.

Your book does not need to have all of those elements. Actually, it definitely shouldn't because my head would explode and that would impede my mentoring abilities. 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 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 what am I gonna do for you? You'll get all of my best moves.

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 DOWN WITH THE SHINE (HarperTeen, 2016).

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!)

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. If I notice them, I'll mark them, but I'm not the eagle-eyed type who catches everyone of those things.

I also 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 first page critiques that Mindy and I did on Brenda's blog to get an idea of how we dance (and critique) together. Usually, we're pretty closely in sync.

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 email you once the mentees are announced and let you know how to collect on that offer. (Pssstt... I also offer paid critique services which is another option if you are not chosen for PitchWars. I try to keep my prices low to make it a manageable expense. You can find more about all that here.)

Okay, how was that dance? Are you convinced that Mindy and I would be the best mentor for you and that come November we'll all be doing the happy celebratory dance together? 

If you still have questions, you can find Mindy and me on Twitter. Or hit me up here in the comments. In fact, leave a comment here and on July 26th I'll do a first 500 words critique for one randomly chosen commenter. If you don't have a question, feel free to instead tell me what dance gif I should have included in my collection here. 

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