Hey Readers 🙂 Or should I say Pitch Wars Warriors *grins*

If you’re here, it’s likely to view my wishlist (mwahahaha) but first, a little about me:

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I love Once Upon A Time, although as with all the shows I watch, I’m severely behind

I participated in Pitch Wars in 2014. I was one of Marieke Nijkamp’s alternates (along with Brooks Benjamin, who’s also mentoring, and Genetta Adair! We were #TeamAllonsY <3). I’ve been championing Pitch Wars ever since. It taught me so much and allowed me to connect with a lot of writers. I see that now, but I didn’t then. As a little girl, writing was fun. It was a way to retell stories (aka early fan-fiction). But then as I strove to make a career out of writing, I forgot about the heart and soul of it. I told myself I was a failure for being unagented even after being chosen for contests, with a couple manuscripts under my belt, and with agents who’d asked to see the next thing I wrote. I never once thought that someone would choose to not query a manuscript. I never once imagined that someone on the “publishing road” might write something just for themselves.

I wrote solely for publication. I rushed everything. I stopped enjoying writing, stopped exploring and honing my craft. I became obsessed with not just getting an agent, but getting published. And so I burnt out.

I pretty much didn’t write anything last year. At the time that was really hard, but looking back it was exactly what I needed. That year off gave me perspective, and now that I work in the industry on the editorial side (I’ve previously worked with an agent and then in marketing and publicity) I finally understand what people mean by “it’s about the journey not the destination.”

This year has been my best writing year. (Coincidentally it’s been my best “me” year.) I’m enjoying writing again, having fun with it, exploring, and I’m taking time to work on my craft. As an editor by trade, working with writers is one of my favorite things to do. I was thrilled when Brenda asked me to mentor MG. In life, in this writer community, it’s so important to give back. I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of so many mentors and writer friends, and so, without further ado, here’s my wishlist:

Drumroll, please.

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Drumline is one of my all time favorite movies…I was a theater geek, I started in middle school…bonus wishlist: would love to see a middle schooler into the arts that’s different from what’s currently on the market (with a girl MC because “arts books” often focus on boys). 

Writer wishlist:

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  • I’m looking for a writer ready to dig into revising. I love brainstorming and editing, so while we don’t have to brainstorm together, I want a writer with whom I can talk about your manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • I want a writer who understands that if they don’t get any requests it’s not game over. Rejection is a big part of this industry. No matter what side you’re on, you will face rejection. I face it every day as an editor. Don’t worry about the rejections, they’re merely fuel for our bonfire, it’s the yeses that count, but sometimes it takes a while to get the right one.
  • I want a writer who wants and needs someone like me. Anyone will tell you, I give the best, erm, the cheesiest pep talks. But they’ll also say I like to keep it real. I’m a very frank person. Only you know the story you’re truly trying to tell. My job is to help you convey that as clear as possible to requesting agents. I’m definitely willing to concede when it comes to elements you know must stay in your story. But, if you’re going to debate me about every change, we won’t work well together.
  • My goal is not to get you published, my goal is to make your manuscript better and strengthen your confidence in yourself.
  • Ultimately I want someone who loves to write, who remembers why they came into the game, and who is willing to keep searching for the yeses.

Story wishlist:

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Must love Despicable Me

  • Folklores and fantasy. Science-y Science Fiction.
    • Girl MCs and friendship, please!
    • Retellings not based on Greek or Roman mythology. I’m a HUGE mythology buff, so I’m ready to learn more and be surprised
    • Favorites across all ages: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Red Pyramid, The House of Hades, Six of Crows, The Wrath and the Dawn, The Star-Touched Queen, The Reader, The Girl at Midnight, The Sword of Summer, Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities, Shadowshaper, The Abyss Surrounds Us, The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles, Serpentine by Cindy Pon, The School for Good and Evil, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Ash by Malinda Lo, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
  • Smart, clever, brainy, complicated girls across all genres
    • Bonus points if they’re unlikable…give me your girl Slytherins
    • Favorites across all ages: Alanna, Nancy Drew,  Amy March, Jo March, Veronica Mars, Adelina Amouteru, Katniss Everdeen, Kenzi from Lost Girl (I really want a character like this in MG), Hermione Granger, Rose Zarelli from Confessions of an Angry Girl, the protagonists from Tiny Pretty Things, Chelsea Knot from Speechless, the main characters from Courtney Summers’s books, the girls in Nova Ren Suma’s The Walls Around Us, and Cookie Lyons from Empire (I’m not a huge fan of the show, but this is what I mean when I say complex and hard to love)
  • Genre-benders
    • I live for and love genre mash-ups. If you have something you don’t quite know how to categorize that has elements of multiple genres, send it to me, please!
    • Favorites across all ages: Kindred, The Girl From Everywhere, Blade Runner, The Matrix, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Artemis Fowl, Shutter by Courtney Alameda
  • Heists
    • I want these set in any period…bonus points if not in contemporary times
    • Favorites across all ages: The Great Greene Heist, Heist Society, Trust Me, I’m Lying White Cat by Holly Black, Leverage (TV show), InceptionOcean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen (movie trilogy)
  • Horror + Spooky Mysteries (with a dash of humor)
    • Yes, I said it. I want more Middle Grade horror novels that chillingly scary. Bonus points if there are ghosts or spirits.
    • Favorites across all ages: The Jumbies, The Diviners (but MG), Seraphina and the Black Coat, The Darkest Corners, Coraline, I Hunt Killer, American Horror Story: Coven
  • Stories that are unafraid to touch on real issues
    • Middle Grade is going where it never went before, and I love it.
    • Favorites across all ages: George, Wonder, Rain Reign, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The World From Up Here, What the Moon Said, Pointe by Brandy Colbert, The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi
  • Bittersweet and/or humorous coming of age tales
    • Favorites across all ages: El Deafo, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, My Seventh Grade Life In Tights, Esperanza Rising, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (this but with friendship for MG), To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Run (by Kody Keplinger), Counting Thyme, and Listen, Slowly
  • Southern Gothic and/or Stories Set in the South
    • I’m from Texas and a lot of my family is from Alabama. Southern Gothic + Southern Settings hold a special place in my heart.
    • Favorites across all ages: Servants of the Storm, Beware the Wild, Gone Crazy in Alabama, Beloved, Kindred, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

Bonus points for humor and snark in all genres, especially if it’s with a girl main character (there’s a misconception girls are often dark and serious but not funny).

Above all else, I want it diverse.

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Promoting diversity within and outside the industry is really important to me. I want voices and stories that don’t yet exist.

And I don’t just mean, “oh, look, I can make this character black.” I want organic, authentic diversity. Whether own voices or not, show me you did your research. Rich, lush places set in other worlds and nations. Characters straddling multiple cultures. Voices that catch me off guard and pull me in.

I want the books of your heart.

Stories that make me miss my train stop.

I’m so excited to work with you. Thanks for considering me for your mentor! I’m @whimsicallyours on Twitter if you have any questions!

Want to learn more about me? Read my “About Me” page.

Want to find out about the fabulous agents joining us this year? Go to this post and this post to find out.

What is Pitch Wars? Go to this post here.

Never give up <3

Patrice

P.S. Because I’m always repping #TeamAllonsY: Brooks’s debut is My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights (Delacorte, April 2016) and it’s out and amazing and Marieke’s is This Is Where It Ends (Sourcebooks Fire, January 2016) and it’s entering its 18th(!!!) week on the NYT Bestseller List. If you haven’t read them yet, you should.

Want to see what other MG mentors are participating? They’re all here 🙂

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Written by Patrice

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