#Pitchwars 2018 Mentor Wishlist:
Who I am:
I’m a former psychology professor turned butcher based out of Seattle, WA. I’ve written five books including my 2017 #pitchwars mentored Urban Fantasy, Nightmare Ink. When I’m not writing, I play board games (Gloomhaven), DnD, and occasionally PC Games (Fallout, Dragon Age, and Total War being among my favorites). I married my high school sweetheart, and we're expecting our first child this February.
Why I’m here:
Last year an amazing #Pitchwars mentor (Michelle Hauck) took a chance on me, and made me her mentee. This began a few of the most magical (and nerve-wracking) months of my life—a span that restructured my understanding of my own writing and helped me take the next step in a literary career. Now I’m back to pay that forward by sharing what I’ve learned with a mentee from this year’s class.
Categories I am considering:
Adult fantasy, science-fiction, and (some) horror
What I’m Craving:
In fantasy, I’m hungry for deeply-flawed characters with enough redeemable characteristics that I still want to hang out with them for the next five months. I’m your guy if you’ve got an anti-hero who needs to grow, but we’re wondering for most of the book if they’ll take the necessary steps.
I prefer protagonists with fully-formed lives stepping into chapter one, rather than those just learning about themselves and their worlds. These kind of coming of age tales are great for YA fantasy, but I’m keen to examine some different themes for an adult book. This is a two-parter for me. One: Having adult relationships we might see in the real world. IE: parents (who aren’t dead by chapter five), siblings, a partner(s), children of their own. Two: Talents, abilities, and aptitudes realized before the book starts. If your protagonist can do magic, I’d love a story where they can do it at the beginning of the book. (For examples of these things at work, see: The Fifth Season by NK Jemesin, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson—what do all these books have in common besides being some of my favorites? Protagonists who come into the story with power AND issues that can't be solved by it.)
I’m also asking for villains who think of themselves as the protagonists of their own story. Extra points if you can make me sympathize with their reasons for causing havoc.
I like worlds that feel big while I’m sinking into them, but I don’t want to get lost in lengthy stretches of exposition. Ideally, I’d like you to take me to settings/places I haven’t seen before. If you have a second-world epic fantasy that doesn’t resemble medieval Europe, I WANT IT.
(Note: This doesn’t mean I don’t want your medieval European fantasy, it just means that the characters and world-building are going to have to wow me that much more).
In sci-fi, I’d really like a book that makes me feel some hope for the future. Maybe one where humanity has figured its shit out, and isn’t off ruining other planets. How did we get there? What is the conflict of the future? You tell me.
I’m also interested in something near future that examines humanity’s changing role with tech (think Black Mirror).
Most of all, please send me any book that subtly uses science-fiction tropes to examine a contemporary issue. IMO, science-fiction is at its best when it gets people out of their preconceived notions about how the world works and makes them examine an issue before they can raise their defenses.
What I might also be interested in:
Horror—but with some very specific rules in mind. I’m a little strange (OK, very strange) and I actually like pulpy, B-movie-esque horror—especially when it revolves around satirizing or dismantling our expectations for the genre. It’s a tightrope, but a funny, horror/thriller book with some speculative fiction elements (like a monster feature) might win me over.
I am not interested in horror without a speculative element.
So, Cabin in the Woods? Yes. Christopher Moore or Max Brooks, yes!
The Shining? Thomas Harris or Gillian Flynn? No. (There are better mentors for these—DM me on Twitter you need a suggestion).
I’m not the right mentor for:
Books containing sexual assault—especially if this assault promotes unhealthy narratives such as toughening the character or making them stronger. Sexual assault is a serious issue, but it needs to be handled with extreme care, and I am not the mentor for this topic. Please respect my boundaries and either remove this from your work prior to sending it, or select another mentor to submit to.
Books that end on an irredeemably depressing note: A bittersweet ending—great, but one that leaves me wanting to throw your book at a wall—NO! If your book ends with your protagonist’s death and their goal unfulfilled, I’m out.
Same goes for protagonists who spend most of their time whinging. I read F&SF to escape and explore, not to listen to your protagonist piss and moan for four hundred pages. (I hear plenty of that in real life, thank you very much.)
Time travel. Sorry, but every time travel story I’ve read has left me bewildered. Other mentors are better options for subgenre.
Lastly, oppressive dystopia isn't for me. Future Cormac McCarthys need not apply. (See above where I mention a hopeful vision of the future.)
Why you should want to work with me
I understand that you’re entrusting me with not just your word-baby, but your hopes and dreams. I know how much writing means to you, or you wouldn’t sign up to do several months of intense revisions.
I was where you were at last year. After revising Nightmare Ink for #pitchwars 2017, I came away with four offers of representation. I signed with an amazing agent (Lauren Spieller, y'all) who also happened to be the first one to request my full during the #pitchwars agent round. Because I’ve been through the trenches, I know what you’re up against. I’m going to do my damnedest to get you where you want to go.
My greatest asset as a mentor is being able to see in other people’s work how to elevate what they’re already doing well and how to patch what isn’t quite working. I’ve honed this sense by participating in weekly critique group for the past ten years and reading every manual on the craft I can get my hands on.
As for my credentials specifically, I’m going to level with you:
- There are more experienced mentors on here.
- There are mentors with better connections in publishing.
- There are better line editors and copy editors.
- I can’t promise if I mentor your book, that someone will offer representation.
What I can offer is a mentor who cares intensely about what happens to not just this book, but the next one you write, and the one after that. The mentee I pick is going to be the one whose work I love so much that I can’t help but be invested in their career going forward—regardless of whether or not it is perfect now.
If that sounds like what you’re looking for as well, I hope you’ll let me read your fabulous book!
Other Adult 2018 #pitchwars Mentors: