Hey there, Pitch Warriors!
I am so excited to be mentoring for Pitch Wars for a second year!
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME
I’m Jamie, *waves*. For my day job, I work in Sales Operations (think pricing analytics and strategic contracts), managing the Northeast & Rocky Mountain regions for a large medical device company. I live with my husband, son, and twin daughters in New Jersey, along with our three ridiculous pups.
I’m represented by the fabulous Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and I currently have five books out through St. Martin’s Swerve (Until We Break, Until It’s Right, Reluctant Hearts, All the Ways You Saved Me, and The Feeling of Forever) with another releasing in December (The Way Back to Us) and one more in 2018 (After All This Time). I also write both YA Contemporary and Fantasy and am currently in the submission trenches with my YA Fantasy tentatively titled Nameless.
Some random tidbits:
- I lived and breathed softball for the majority of my life. I’ve played every single position on the field, but I’m most at home on the mound.
- I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts, specializing in Drawing, Painting, and Photography. Which clearly has a lot to do with my current day job 🙂
- I was a first chair oboist.
- I’m addicted to television series but rarely watch movies. Some of my favorite shows are/were: Lost, Fringe, The 100, Pretty Little Liars, Friends, The Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy, Outlander, Ally McBeal.
- I am an avid supported of the Oxford comma.
- I love video games. I’m a Playstation girl myself with some of my favorite games being the Uncharted Series, Assassin’s Creed, and Resident Evil.
- I truly believe there is a Friends reference for every life situation, and I’m pretty sure I can communicate entirely in Friends gifs.
- I’m an early bird. Sleeping in to me is staying in bed until 7.
- I never, ever bother matching my socks.
- Slytherin. Enough said.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM ME AS YOUR MENTOR?
I plan to tackle all the big picture issues first and then work my way down to the smaller things and line edits. We’ll get to your query and synopsis at the end, too. I’m fully prepared (and excited!) to read your manuscript several times until everything’s as perfect as can be. I tend to comment pretty zealously on Word documents, so be prepared to find a lot of those sprinkled throughout your manuscript. To be clear, more than a handful of those comments will be utter fangirling.
You could probably describe my critiquing style as slightly blunt, entirely honest, but always kind. I’m a big fan of the compliment sandwich. Some things that I’m particularly good at fixing are pacing issues, increasing tension, making surprises/twists less predictable, and improving/complicating character relationships. I also have the odd knack of picking up on repeat phrases and words throughout the length of an entire manuscript.
I definitely see the editing process as a collaboration and ongoing discussion. I’ll give you suggestions, probably a lot of them, but ultimately I want to work with you to take your book to the next level. And the only way that’s going to happen is if we’re working hard together. I’m looking for a mentee who’s willing to work as hard as I am, someone who wants to dig deep and doesn’t mind doing whatever it takes to get your manuscript where it needs to be.
Pitch Wars lasts a few months, but it’s my expectation (and hope) to continue working with my mentee long after that.
SO, WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR?
I am here for all your Young Adult manuscripts. Okay, not all of them. Let me give you the specifics: I’m looking for Fantasy, Contemporary, and Paranormal.
There is one thing I absolutely have to have in every manuscript, regardless of genre. Unless your manuscript has a small thread of romance, I am not the right mentor for you. And when it comes to that romantic story line, I’d be happy with either M/F or M/M.
Your story doesn’t have to be romance-centric, but there has to be at least a teeny tiny romantic subplot. If I can’t root for two characters to get together, ultimately, I’m probably not going to love the story. Also, I fall into the Upper YA spectrum. I’m really looking for characters 16+.
In all the genres I’m looking for, here’s what I’m really hoping to find in my inbox:
- I’m moving this one to the top of my list because I am dying for a book that centers around villains and anti-heroes. Please, please, please, please, please send me these. I am a huge sucker for these types of characters. Even the ones who seem completely irredeemable, I promise you I will somehow have a soft spot for. The Darkling is one of my favorite characters ever. Characters that are ridiculously manipulative like Ben Linus are my jam. I have always been Team Damon, but I think my ultimate ship from The Vampire Diaries is Caroline & Klaus. And dear Lord, do I love me some Klaus.
Which leads me to…
- Morally gray characters. Give me a character that doesn’t always make the right decisions, or who makes the wrong decisions for the right reasons. If morality were a white to black scale, I prefer my characters to be a middle gray at least.
- Rip my heart out. Make me laugh, cry, or want to set your book on fire. The books I can get emotionally invested in are the ones I love the best. And for the record, there have only ever been two books I nearly hurled across the room in love/hate–Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo and In the Afterlight by Alex Bracken. I’d tell you why but the answer is full of spoilers.
- Damaged characters/love interest. Even better if that character’s issues cause conflict in your story. Think Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows or the Gansey/Blue conundrum from The Raven Boys. If the relationships in your book can be described as complicated or twisty, you have come to the right place.
- Strong, kickass heroines. Now, this doesn’t have to be literal. Your main character doesn’t have to wield a sword or fight crime (though I’m 100% for it if she does). But I’m also talking mental toughness, self-reliant, independent women. I love characters with strong juxtapositions. Show me an assassin who loves dresses and makeup.
- Retellings. I have a huge soft spot for retellings. Literary retellings, fairy tale retellings, Greek mythology retellings, all the retellings. To that I’ll also add origin stories or YA versions of movies (i.e. a YA version of Bridget Jones’s Diary). Whether it’s set in the contemporary world, has a fantastical spin, or a paranormal twist, I want them in my inbox. From the mainstream ones, to the more obscure.
- Alternating timelines. I love the complexities that come with weaving two separate yet intertwined stories together. A story like this would really appeal to me.
Alright, let’s get more genre specific…
My taste here runs a little bit darker. (You’re not surprised by this now, right?) Really light and fluffy fantasy is probably not for me. I love vivid world building and unique magic systems. Alternate histories are always intriguing. Did I mention villains? 😉 If you have a YA Suicide Squad and it doesn’t end up in my inbox I’ll be extremely disappointed.
I have to tell you that Contemporary Fantasy, specifically, is very high on my wishlist. Some of my favorite books of all time fall into this specific subgenre and I would fight someone for the chance to mentor a unique, dark Contemporary Fantasy.
Beyond that, I’m pretty open in this genre. As long as you’re hitting some of the above points, we’re good. Some favorites of mine:
- Anything by Leigh Bardugo
- The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater
- Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series by Laini Taylor
- A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas
- Legend Series by Marie Lu (Side note: this series had one of the best endings I’ve ever read)
You know how I mentioned I needed a small romantic subplot? This is super important for me in Contemporary. Right here is also where you can get me with your more light and humorous stories. Anything from light to really dark works for me in this genre. Here are some things I’d particularly love to see:
- Characters who play sports. Give me a girl taking on a male sport. A jock who falls for someone in the marching band. Really any type of athlete is a big win for me. Bonus points for baseball, softball, football, hockey, and swimming.
- If your romance involves a best friend’s brother, or brother’s best friend, I will absolutely love you forever.
- I’m also a sucker for enemies to umm…love interests.
- Strong female friendships and positive family relationships.
- A story where the female lead is more sexually experienced than the male lead.
- Gamer girls and boys.
- Authentic, cringe-worthy teen moments that are thoroughly awkward and amusing.
- Anything a la Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl.
- Complicated, messy relationships.
- Any story that can be comped to On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta or 99 Days by Katie Cotugno.
- Contemporary retellings of Pride and Prejudice.
- Small towns.
- A female James Bond.
- Unusual settings.
- Virgin heroes.
- Paranormal/magical twists in a contemporary setting. Think If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Or any sort of magical realism.
- Psychics/fortune tellers/tarot card readers.
Note: These are just things I’d like to see. The cherry on top of the sundae if you will. If your manuscript isn’t any of these things, as long as they hit on one of the 7 points in my wishlist above, no worries.
Favorites (some of these cross into NA):
- Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
- On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
- The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen
- I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
- Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
- The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
- 99 Days by Katie Cotugno
- Paper Princess by Erin Watt
This is where I’m going to get super picky. Really the only things I’m looking for here are Angels, Witches, Ghosts, and possibly made up creatures. Sorry, but it’s a no from me on Vampires, Werewolves, and Shifters.
I’d especially love to see Witches in a Contemporary setting. (I accidentally watched Witches of East End on Netflix, not knowing it was already cancelled, and I’ve been craving something similar ever since.) Angels are my Achilles heel. I’d love to see an Angel story that isn’t specifically wrapped up in the Heaven/Hell struggle. Another thing I’d go crazy for? A YA retelling of Meet Joe Black.
- Penryn & The End of Days by Susan Ee
- The Rephaim Series by Paula Weston.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THINGS THAT ARE JUST NOT FOR ME
- Anything that has to do with or touches on child molestation.
- Animal death. If your character is hunting to eat, that’s fine as long as it’s not overly graphic. But if your character kills puppies, or a lot of animals die in your manuscript, this will just ruin a story for me. Sorry.
Well guys, that about covers it. If you have any questions at all, please leave me a comment or come ask me on Twitter. I promise, I am more than happy to chat with you. Honestly? It’s one of the things I’m looking forward to the most!
While I can’t take any specific pitches, if you have any general concerns or if there’s something I didn’t mention that you’re wondering about, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Don’t forget to check out all the other fabulous mentors who are listed below (but still pick me!).
THANKS FOR VISITING AND GOOD LUCK!