Mel + Alechia’s Pitch Wars Wishlist

2018-YA-CoMentors-BANNER

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Category: YA

Genres: Sci-fi, Fantasy, bonus if foodie!

Who we are: Hey, we’re Mel and Alechia! Between the two of us we have: twenty-two years writing experience, five college degrees, fourteen novels, over a dozen short stories (that’s all Mel, she’s a genius—no seriously, she even learned Ancient Greek to read The New Testament), have published food articles (that’s Alechia, food writing is her thing), two agents, and one BIG, shared dream of getting our books into the world.

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Why you should submit to us: Um, because we’re awesome? Lol. No, you should go with us because we are driven, dedicated, and determined writers. We plan on using those traits as mentors for you. We’ll champion your work and help you through this long, emotional, daunting process from query to offer. We will challenge you, but we’ll do it with love, excitement, and hope.

What we’re looking for:

We are open to everyone as long as their work is inclusive!! So let’s begin!

We’re rooting for everybody Black (and all other marginalizations too—see below). Give us your Black: witches, vampires, elves, folks in space, chosen ones, dystopian, #BlackBoyJoy, #BlackGirlMagic, and—do we dare to make up a new hashtag? We dare!—#BlackFolksLaughing. Worried your story is *too* Black? We want to see it. 

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Not a Black book? No worries! PLEASE GIVE US the immigrant, LGBTQIAP+ (particularly ace spectrum), mental illness, disabilities, fat positivity, multiracial, cultural/multicultural (any and all) experience with all the intersections in between.

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Give us characters that pull at our heartstrings, who either want to save or destroy the world or maybe just navigate it enough to leave their mark. Give us music, friendships, unreliable narrators, MCs that have weird, odd interests and hobbies. You can make us laugh—we LOVE that, or you can make us cry, we dig that too. Give us the whole range of Titus reacting…

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We like our stories dark or happy, magical and/or suspenseful. We enjoy basically all sub-genres like adventure, thriller, comedy, and a touch of romance. Are you getting that we like basically everything yet? Because we’re here for urban fantasy, high fantasy, paranormal, magical realism, sci-fi set in the here and now, in the future, or in space. 

We just want your beautiful words!

We’re both classically-trained professional chefs so please give us your food stories. We have a particular soft spot for pastries and food traditions. Immerse us into the tastes and textures that mean something to the world you created and the characters who live within them. 

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We’re into innovative formats. Have something new and dope? Something you think hasn’t been done before or done often? We want it. We’re pretty much into any format from first person to third person, multiple point of views, epistolary, etc.

**A note about historical fantasy—we are interested, but it must be well-researched, okay? We want to spend our time helping you shape story to make it the best it can be, not necessarily scouring sources to see what they wore in 1700s Scotland in the Highlands. You know what we mean?

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What we’re NOT looking for: Any sexual assault/rape, suicide, domestic abuse, brutalization of the disabled, or fat hate. No military scifi or sports stories as significant themes (unless it’s a made-up magical sport). No straight up contemporary—there are plenty of amazing mentors taking that, and sadly, we just aren’t a great fit for it.

Communication: In regards to communication, we’re both pretty open. We have a Google Hangout account where we can chat “face to face” and also have a joint email where we can be contacted. A group Twitter DM is also an option. We will talk communication styles with our mentee and choose what’s good for everyone. We’re both in different countries, so it will also probably depend on where you are located as well.  

Here’s what you’ll get with us: Two Black aunties who’ll cheer you on and help you feel confident in yourself and your story!

We’ll be with you in the margins and on every step of the journey. Yes, we’ll send you an edit letter, but we’ll also dive into your book with your permission—track changes of typos (we will not rewrite your book), and comments/thoughts throughout. Mel loves editing/development, Alechia is big picture and pacing. We have different strengths that’ll work together to round out your story. The ultimate goal is to help you access the tools within yourself that will prepare you for a future of writing!

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TEAM NAME:

Our team name is very near and dear to us. We’ve been there for each other since we both got agents. Trying to get a book published is hard and it’s even harder doing so as Black women. When one of us feels down or defeated the other says, “You gotta stay hustlin’.” Because that’s what we both feel we’ve done our whole lives to try to make it in every space we’re in. We gotta keep going and dreaming or this world will swallow us whole. There are generations behind us waiting to see themselves in stories. They need to see faces like theirs, like US. They need to see YOU. So we present:

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Thanks for reading, and we look forward to your submissions!

2018 Pitch Wars Schedule

  • July 15, 2018: Mentors Announced

  • August 14 – 27, 2018: Pitch Wars Mentor Blog Hop

  • August 27, 2018 (midnight EDT): Mentee Submission Window Opens

  • August 29, 2018 (10PM EDT): Mentee Submission Window Closes

  • October 12, 2018: Pitch Wars Mentees Announced

  • February 6 – 11, 2019: Agent Showcase

  • February 6: Adult entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

  • February 7: MG entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

  • February 8: YA entries are live on the Pitch Wars site

 

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I’m a Pitch Wars Mentor!

I’m so excited to say that Mel Howard and I will be co-mentoring in Pitch Wars this year!! When the wishlists go up next month, please do consider us :))))

You may be asking what Pitch Wars is, right? It’s a mentoring program where aspiring authors submit their stories to mentors, and the mentors select a project. After four months of revisions and learning from each other, there’s an agent showcase. The manuscript is pitched on the Pitch Wars site, and agents get to read them and request! How awesome is that?

Last year, I submitted to 6 really cool mentors. But I didn’t get in. Wah, wah…yet the community was so kind and amazing that I kept engaging anyway. I got help with my query and pitches, and made new friends. A few weeks after, I pitched my book at PitMad and received several agent offers! I could not have done that, or felt nearly as confident as I did, without Pitch Wars. So for me, I’m really grateful to be a part of this community in a capacity where I can use my experience (and whooo boy did I learn some things over the past year) to help someone on this publishing journey.

Here is my mentor bio: Alechia Dow! And here is my co-mentor’s bio: Mel Howard.

Yayyy! Anyway, see you all back here for the WISHLIST post! Good luck to anyone entering 🙂

 

 

Weekly Reading 3/28

What I read over the weekend:

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli

I know what you’re thinking: OMG how have you not read this yet? Guys, sometimes I live under a rock—and worse yet, I tend to avoid contemporary. BUT with the movie coming out (not until June in Germany), I bought the book, got in my most comfy lounge clothes and immersed myself into this gorgeous world. Five hours–and one good cry later– it was over! I LOVED it. If you haven’t read it, pick it up. It has the kind of writing that is easy to read, which means it was beautifully (and arduously) written. It deserves everything.

 

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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Another one of those, why haven’t you read this already? Well, after I finished Simon vs., I was looking for another love story in my stack of books. I bought this a while ago but ask around—when you’re trying to write your own stories, finding time to read is tough. Anyway, this is a combo of the things I love: LOVE, scifi, Cinderella retellings, and enemies to lovers (sorta). I had a fun time with this; no surprises but loads of love for scifi + conventions and nerds. I ended this with a big ole’ goofy smile on my face.

 

 

These are the cookbooks that have arrived in the last two days and I’m currently digging through. I’ll be making the Buttermilk Cornbread from Brown Sugar Kitchen (by Tanya Holland) this weekend, and the Ramen with Crispy Duck from Between Harlem and Heaven (by JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls) ASAP—I LOVE RAMEN. These are both beautiful cookbooks that I can’t wait to enjoy with my family. They are easy to read, easy to follow, and have gorgeous pictures! I’ll post on here once I do a few recipes (if you’re interested)!

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I got an agent!

You may be shaking your heads, saying: ummmm didn’t you have an agent, like last month? Correct! But sadly, that agent and I parted ways. What caused it will forever be between the two of us, so no questions, please! It was sorta devastating, and I’m going to leave it in the past where it belongs. I will say though, I’m forever grateful that they took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to pursue this writing dream of mine. I wish them nothing but the best, and I have no doubt of their future success.

So. Picture it. I just got home from seeing Black Panther, my heart felt full, my mind was still reeling from Killmonger’s arc, “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar + SZA was on repeat, and I opened my email to find out that I was unagented. PANIC!

I took a week off to come to term with my feelings—I’m an emotional sort, which you can probably tell. It’s surprising that week didn’t extend to a month or even a year: failure is one of my top three greatest fears/disappointments. I was having a rough time of it.

The week passed, but I was a miserable, whiny whatnot with friends. I have no doubt that I was frustrating to talk to. (If you guys are reading this, I’M SORRY. I CAN GIVE YOU CHOCOLATE?) And then I got to work.

You guys may not know this about me, but I’m a hustler. I started early too. By eight, I was shoveling driveways in my tiny Boston suburb for money. By eleven, I was cleaning neighbors’ houses and helping them bring their groceries upstairs for change. By thirteen, I was polishing silver at the antique store downtown. By fourteen, I got my first “official” job as a Page at the local library. This left a lasting impression on me. From there on out, I knew my life would–and should–always revolve around books.

Many years–and jobs (including: Usher Captain at Trinity Rep, food critic for The Cranston Herald, pastry chef, baker, food creationist, a clerk at 7-Eleven for one day, page–again, bookseller at Border’s Books, RA/SRA/GA, Cooking Instructor, Kindergarten Teacher, Children’s Librarian for Brooklyn Public Library<—one of the greatest highlights of my life, and an aspiring writer throughout) later, and here I am. Living abroad in Germany, writing. And not just writing aimlessly, I’m writing YA scifi and fantasy that could one day be published!

By some miracle, I have a truly exceptional agent. Nothing is lost on me. I’m a biracial black woman writing about black teen girls saving their worlds, falling in love, and jamming out to their favorite songs. A few years ago, I would be considered a tough sell. Maybe I still am. But my agent understands me, what I’m going for, is supportive, honest, has great hopes for me, and is 100% a joy to talk to! I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. I HAVE hit the jackpot. I don’t know what the future holds, but it looks bright.

So, to conclude this long post, keep dreaming, never give up, persist until you must desist, keep fighting the good fight. Failure is natural. It’s ok to fear it, but don’t let it conquer you. And here’s something that’s not said enough– writers part with their agents ALL THE TIME. Not everyone feels a story the same way. Visions don’t match up. Communication styles don’t fit. Maybe there’s not enough time. Maybe you’ll want to write something your agent doesn’t rep. The list goes on. You just can’t let it break your heart and resolve. You are a writer. Your MCs probably don’t give up, so why should you? This industry is subjective. Things change. It’s unpredictable. That’s life for you. It’s so incredibly short that you have to reach for the stars, but also the longest thing you’ll ever do, so why not make the absolute best of it?

Thank you all for the support. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it or how much it means to me. And thanks for reading!