Old Pitch Wars Wishlists
2013 & 2014
Pitch Wars is here! This year I am once again mentoring The Best Category (aka middle-grade), and will choose one mentee and one alternate for the contest. I’ll also be giving brief entry feedback to everyone who applies to me. Read on for all the juicy details!
Pitch Wars and I are best buds. During our first encounter two years ago, I was chosen as an alternate and scored my agent (Louise Fury of The Bent Agency) as a result. Last year I served as a contest mentor, and when I realized how much I loved the manuscript-coaching process, I decided to do it year-round by becoming a freelance editor. This will be my third year involved with Pitch Wars and I can’t wait to see what sorts of amazingness we’ll be throwing at each other this time around. I especially can’t wait to fall in love with a fantastic middle grade diamond-in-the-rough and help polish that sucker til it’s so shiny it’ll blind all the agents!
In between Pitch Wars-ing, I also judge Query Kombat (another cool online contest), write quirky middle-grade books (mostly about unicorn riders), and re-watch BBC's Sherlock. If you’re on Twitter you can follow me at @NaomiLHughes, where I tweet about my fiery love of writing, editing, and the publishing industry.
What to Expect When You Apply to Me:
-I will give brief (a few sentences) personalized feedback to every applicant.
-I will give my alternate an in-depth query and first chapter critique.
-I will give my mentee a query and full-manuscript critique (equal to my Souped-Up Beta Read critique).
-Due to time constraints, I won’t be able to re-read any material after edits (for my mentee or my alternate), but I will happily answer any questions on my notes or on publishing in general.
What I want:
-Humor in any genre! The book doesn't have to be non-stop funny, but I love a character who makes me smile. A caveat: I’m not the best audience for heavy sarcasm or potty humor.
-Upper MG more than lower—I’m more of a FALSE PRINCE gal than a DIARY OF A WIMPY KID aficionado.
-Thrills and stakes. I’d love to get a MG thriller or a contemporary with a ticking clock (and maybe a science-y twist, just for fun). I also love books that have strong stakes. Note that strong stakes don’t mean “big” stakes; you don’t have to save the world, you just have to make me care.
-I’ll always adore fantasy, sci-fi, and all their offshoots, especially if you have a strong hook or a unique premise.
-I am NOT a good audience for anything really dark, tragic, heavy or scary.
Some of my all-time favorite MG books: ARTEMIS FOWL and AIRMAN by Eoin Colfer, THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan, OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY by Karen Foxlee, anything by Hilari Bell, anything by Jordan Sonnenblick, and THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer Nielsen. Also, I adore all the books in THE QUEEN'S THIEF series by Megan Whalen Turner. It's more of a MG/YA crossover, but if you have anything like it, gimmee the goods!!
In the tradition I started last year (and because I write poetry when provoked), here is my bonus what-I’m-looking-for poem, set to the tune of “Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music:
Fun-hearted thrillers with tons of great tension
Friendship themes, harebrained schemes, monstrous inventions
A Loki-esque villain would sure make my day
(Or Moriarty if that’s more your way).
Self-confident characters who know their own goals
A group of heroes who each play their own roles
If you have a voice that’s fun and sincere
Or true love or bromance, then send it in here!
I’d love an adventure that’s fresh, fun, and thrilling
A unique genre-combo would be so fulfilling.
If you have a plot twist that I’ll never guess,
I’ll adore you forever (though it’s got to make sense)!
That’s it! Send me ALL THE AWESOME. Also, make sure you follow the #PitchWars feed on Twitter—you’ll make all sorts of great connections and find out about new updates quicker (plus we mentors usually tweet teasers as we start in on the applications). If you have any questions, feel free to tweet me (@NaomiLHughes). See you on the 18th!
Pitch Wars is here! I got my own agent from this contest last year, so I understand how tough it is to choose mentors, to wait to see if you got in, and to dig with semi-obsessive terror/delight through the tweet feed for ANY TEENY-TINY HINT AT ALL of how your manuscript is faring. But I’m here to help! I’ll coach one middle-grade manuscript and two alternates, and I also plan to help everyone who applies to me (details below).
Bio: I grew up in an unusual family (seriously; my mom is a veteran, a ventriloquist, AND used to be a professional belly dancer). I was homeschooled as a kid, and the combination of semi-isolation and familial quirk turned me into the type of person who folds her rejection letters into cat origami and laughs at her own jokes. Now, I live in Oklahoma with my hubby, daughter, and Border Collie. Though I’ve always enjoyed storytelling, I fell head-over-heels in love with it last fall when I wrote a book about a Unicorn Rider and entered it into Pitch Wars. As a result, I got signed by my amazing agent Louise Fury, and I’ve never looked back!
Why you should pick me:
-I have tons of beta-reading experience and have critiqued manuscripts by unagented, agented, and published writers.
-I will give extensive notes and advice to my mentee. I’ll only read the full manuscript once, but I will re-read your all-important pitch and first page as many times as it takes to make that thing so shiny that IT BURNS USSS. *Gollum voice*
-I will give my alternates a detailed critique on their pitch and first page, and will read several drafts of it if necessary.
-I will give brief pitch-and-first-page feedback to EVERYONE who applies to me. Depending on circumstances, this could range from a sentence to a short paragraph.
What I want:
-Fun, in any genre! I love humor, and a fun plot, voice, or character gets me every time. Think The Lightning Thief, Indiana Jones, Princess Diaries, How to Train Your Dragon, Rise of the Guardians, or Artemis Fowl.
-Speculative fiction, especially fantasy. If one of your comparable novels is by Gail Carson Levine, SEND ME THE GOODS.
-Quirkiness in any genre. I want a character I haven’t met before, or a plot twist I’ll never guess, or a voice so fantastic I forget I’m reading a story at all.
What I DON’T want:
-Excessively dark and/or scary. Feel free to send me fun spookiness and merited angst, but if you send me anything where the dog dies, it’s not happening. I’m also probably not the best candidate for serious/heavy books that revolve around the main character dealing with grief or loss.
That’s it! Send me ALL THE STUFF. Just for fun (and because I write poetry when provoked), you get bonus points if your story has anything in the following poem (to be sung to the tune of “Favorite Things” from Sound of Music):
Heroic swordfights and epic betrayals
Quirky best-friendships and sci-fi portrayals
Self-confidence, humor, and kids with big dreams
Skullduggery, secrets, and villains with schemes!
Mysterious islands and clever inventions
Monsters and magic and unknown intentions
True love through hardship and self-sacrifice
And cocky heroes who never think twice.
I love me a plot twist I’d never see coming
If you’ve got a bromance then you’re in the running
The hardships of queens and the duties of kings
These are a few of my favorite things!
Naomi Edits | Naomi L. Hughes