Hello Pitch Wars Hopefuls!!
If you are looking for our special letter, you’ll need to go here.
For the most awesome of you (i.e. the MG crowd) we want to tell you a bit about us, why you should sub to us, and what we’re looking for!
Cindy: I’ve always been a compulsive reader (when I was out of line as a kid I’d lose reading privileges for a day!), and that love of words and stories spilled over pretty early into a writing obsession. I’ve written five novels, the last of which got me my amazing agent! I’ve learned a lot along the way, including how to revise like a boss and how to keep trying even when success isn’t forthcoming—the part of the writing journey that’s tougher than anything else, at least for me.
I’m a Southern girl who now lives in Portland, OR, but who will always miss hot nights and fireflies and accents like warm honey. I usually get my word counts in during the evenings, after my irrepressible three-year-old is in bed. My writing interests tend to span the gamut, but in fiction my first love is YA or MG magical realism.
In addition to writing, some things I love are: super-dark chocolate, cooking, spending time outside, nearly every BBC period drama or mystery series I’ve ever seen, all things ocean- or beach-related, the South, hugs, herbal tea, and red toenail polish. I have secret, unattainable pipe dreams of subsistence farming, through-hiking the Appalachian trail (sidenote: if you don’t pronounce it app-a-LATCH-un, you’re doing it wrong), or living on a sailboat. I was diagnosed at six months old with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis, and would love to see a story that deals with chronic illness in a sensitive and realistic way!
Amanda: I’ve always loved to read…children’s books. They outnumber adult books in my house 3:1. And that is not just because I have kids (though they make a great excuse to feed my obsession.) I have not, however, always loved to write. Actually, for most of my life I would have told you that I hate writing, except for the occasional, angsty teen poetry. I never saw storytelling as my thing. But then everything changed in one night a little over four years ago when I couldn’t fall asleep and here we are! Because I never considered myself a writer, I’ve always approached it with the understanding that I’m not very good at it and have so much to learn and need lots of practice. This attitude has served me well.
I’m a Wyoming girl living in California. I homeschool my three kids using the Waldorf philosophy (and if you know anything about that, you realize that makes me a bit of a hippie). I teach educational enrichment classes, play the piano, garden year round, knit/crochet, and also have this not-so-secret dream of subsistence farming. What the heck, Cindy? Come live with me and let’s get this started! I may have promised my kids chickens when we buy our own house.
Things I geek out over: GoT, Battlestar Galactica, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jane Austen, The Beatles, Disneyland, Yosemite, Yellowstone, physical chemistry.
The two of us met when we were both mentees last year, and after Pitch Wars ended we became CPs. We’ve since signed with the same agent in addition to being Pitch Wars co-mentors, so yeah, we’re basically bonded for life now.
Our favorite genres are MG contemporary, Magical Realism, and historical. Within those genres we are particularly looking for stories usually labeled, quiet, character driven, heartfelt, and literary. The comedic and quirky is not really in our wheelhouse. That’s not to say that we don’t want a book that has quirky or comedic elements (we love those!), but that shouldn’t feel like the main focus or strength of the story. We want FLORA AND ULYSSES, not DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. We are particularly looking for stories the revolve around big, hard, real-world problems. If somebody has ever said, “Wow, isn’t that a little heavy for MG?” We want it. If somebody has ever said, “This is really sad.” We want it. We want to feel something. We want to bawl our eyes out. We want to see beautiful, powerful prose (or poetry). We want books that exemplify the quote “When a subject is too hard for adults, I write it for children.” We want books that tackle tough subjects in a hopeful and life-affirming way. We want big philosophical ideas handled with the grace, wisdom and innocence of this age group.
We’re accepting SFF as well, but tend to be pickier about those genres. We love books that use a fantasy framework to tackle big, real-life issues. We love books that draw on mythology in interesting and classic ways. We love books that use their fantastic settings uniquely, to draw back the curtain on things in our own world. We’re less likely, however, to be the right mentors for adventure fantasy—think CIRCUS MIRANDUS or WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON rather than FABLEHAVEN or PERCY JACKSON.
Other things we’d be excited to see:
::Diversity, especially of ability, neurology, class, and religion
::Characters influenced by faith but not in a faith-based story
::Unique structures and formats
::Anything involving the ocean
::Strong, vibrant settings
::Science incorporated in a beautiful, meaningful way! (THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. or THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH.)
Our strengths (aka Why You Should Choose Us):
::Setting as character
::Beautiful prose (Cindy does a mean line edit)
::Emotional resonance (Amanda is really good at big picture threads)
Ever since Pitch Wars last year we’ve been CPing for each other, and had a front-row seat to see each other’s strong points! Here’s what we have to say about each other:Cindy: Amanda is terrific at honing in on which areas of a story’s plot could be made bigger, more vibrant, and carried through better—and she’s also a fantastic cheerleader and knows just how to make you feel great about your writing! (Plus, she’s a beautifully supportive and generous friend.)
Amanda: Cindy is my favorite person I got out of Pitch Wars. She is an excellent cheerleader. Craft wise, she helps me hone my words to be more poetic and has a good eye for what I think of as “micropacing.” Noticing those moments in your writing where you need to pause, slow down for a few sentences, and stretch out the moment.
Together, we think we are a great team help a manuscript on a big picture scale as well as sentence level to get the biggest emotional bang for your buck without becoming saccharine or sentimental.
If any of these could be a comp title…grabby hands!
Anything by Kate Dicamillo, Sharon Draper, Lynda Mulally Hunt, or Sharon Creech
THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH
A SNICKER OF MAGIC
COUNTING BY 7’S
DEAR MR. HENSHAW
SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL
THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE
WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON
HOUR OF THE BEES
GOSSAMER (Lois Lowry)