Monday, May 4, 2015

Update on the Pride

It's been a very long time since I posted here and good Lord, a lot's happened since last March. 

Mainly, I got a new job. A job where I actually have to work during the day and where the Internet is monitored to the extent that it's filtered. So no more updating social media at work for me. I'm also frequently working overtime, and it's all computer-based, so by the time I get home, I don't want to get anywhere near my laptop. Hence the steep and sudden drop-off in my blog and Goodreads reviews. I am hoping to do better. 

But enough about me, let's talk about the lovely ladies of the Pride. 

My top pick, Marie Meyer, signed with a fabulous agent and then said fabulous agent sold Through the Storm (now entitled Across the Distance) to Forever Romance for a multi-book deal! Not only is Across the Distance releasing TOMORROW, but the companion book, Can't Go Back, will release on August 4th. You can read Marie's Pitch Wars wrap-up here

My first alternate, Sarah Blair, is currently working on a sequel to the manuscript she entered in Pitch Wars, as well as another sequel due to arrive in just under four more months (it's a girl!). 

My second alternate, Annie Rains, signed with a different fabulous agent and then her fabulous agent sold Forever Yours in a three book deal! Her series, Hero's Welcome, will begin releasing in 2016. It was a very busy 2014 for Annie as she also had a baby

Whee!!! I'm so proud of them all! 

Brenda announced on Twitter that I will be again mentoring in this year's Pitch Wars. Submissions open in August, so watch her blog for more details as August draws nearer. If you want to join the Pride, this is your chance. My tastes haven't changed since last time (except that I'm more picky if possible), so feel free to check out my old posts to get an idea of what I'm looking for, and I'll be posting newer entries over the summer. 

However, before you do that, don't forget to add Across the Distance to your TBR, because it's coming out TOMORROW at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and many other retailers. Marie will also be doing an event at Main Street Books in St. Charles, MO on May 9th between 12pm-2pm. If you go, tell her Lioness says hi! 


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Review: Across the Distance


Across the Distance
Across the Distance by Marie Meyer

The fact that I haven't written a review yet for Across the Distance when it's been released in TWO DAYS should give you an idea of how crazy my life has been over the last year.

So, back in 2013, I agreed to be a mentor in a contest, called Pitch Wars, that the fabulous Brenda Drake hosts every year. The premise behind Pitch Wars is that authors submit unagented and unpublished works for a chance to work with a mentor who is usually an agented and/or published author or someone connected to the industry. Authors and mentors work together editing the manuscript and then after about two months, the pitch & first 250 words of the manuscript are posted on Brenda's blog for agents to peruse. If they like what they see, they comment and request a sample. I had very specific criteria for my mentees. I wanted something rife with potential and I wanted it to be marketable.

Marie was my top pick.

A lot of editing ensued over the next two months. A LOT. I don't mean like tweaking or rephrasing, I mean like entire chunks of the book were cut or completely rewritten. Did I mention this was November into January? Right over the holiday season? And Marie has two kids? It didn't matter what I threw at her, Marie rolled with it and made it work. She completely revamped and revised her manuscript over two months.

As a native New Yorker, 9/11 is an important part of my history and one of the things that initially appealed to me about Across the Distance was how 9/11 was part of the story without being the focus of the story. Yet I started to question whether it really needed to be 9/11. Wouldn't the book still have weight and purpose if her parents died some other way? Wouldn't Jillian still be dealing with the same issues? I hadn't broached the topic with Marie yet when I received the next set of edits. I read the new chapters and I just started bawling. Marie had written a scene that was so poignant, so heartbreaking, it put all my doubts to rest.

Marie knows her characters to the extent that they're not just words on a page, but people.

After Pitch Wars, Marie got an agent (yay!) who sold the book (obvs!) to Forever Romance (yay!) and a wonderful editor who said this is a great start, let's make it even better (and they did!).

At its core, Across the Distance is a true new adult, a story of what happens when you move from one stage of your life to another. You leave some people behind, you bring some with you, and you meet new ones. It's a story that shows the past, who we were, it will never truly leave us, but that we can control how much impact it has on our future. Going away to college changes Jillian's life, but it doesn't magically make all her problems go away. Only Jillian can do that and over the course of the book, she fights for her future, for a chance to be happy. This is an angst-y book, but underneath it all, there's hope.

So I recommend Across the Distance for many reasons, but the most important one is this: if Jillian can do it, so can you. Fresh starts are possible and help will be there if you ask for it. Don't give up.

Across the Distance, May 5th, at your preferred e-bookstore.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

#PitchWars & #ThePride

So I think it's time for one of my rare blog posts, y/y? 

I spent most of December and January in an editing fog. Between Pitch Wars and Agent-Boss's clients, I was editing every day for almost two months. By the time I finished everything I was working on, it felt weird not to be editing. Like when you're on a boat for a long time and you get back to dry land, but you still feel like you're rocking on the water? That was me. I kept thinking, 'Oh, crap, I should be edit-wait, wait, no, I'm done. Pitch Wars is over.' I took a solid week off before I was ready to touch the Red Pen of Doom again. 

I had a blast doing Pitch Wars. My team, The Pride, consisted of Marie Meyer (NA Contemporary Romance Through the Storm), Sarah L. Blair (Adult Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance The Shifting Darkness), and Anna Rains (Adult Contemporary Romance Forever Yours). Since I'd done Pitch Wars from the agent side and had previous experience with the editing process, I mapped out a schedule beforehand and set deadlines for myself & The Pride. I have to say, I don't think it would've been possible to pull everything off if I wasn't off from work during the last two weeks in December. 

I did full manuscript critiques for each Pride member. In addition, I gave them extra optional assignments because it was important to me that they understand that a) this business is highly subjective and b) it is a business. The Pride was fantastic about rising to whatever challenge I set for them and I feel they all grew as writers during the time we worked together. Sarah came away with a fantastic pitch that highlights the core of her manuscript beautifully. Anna not only did extensive revisions, but we worked together to plot out a potential series and she was able to subtly weave in the groundwork for the next two books into Forever Yours. Marie had the longest edit letter and she exceeded all my expectations. She ended up cutting, I think, about 12k. A major character got the cut and several scenes were ripped out. I was brutally honest with her and she thanked me for it. Through the Storm is amazing and I don't think there's anything like it out right now.

I honestly don't know if I'd do Pitch Wars again. I had such a great experience with The Pride, my expectations for the next group would be probably be impossible to meet. I also don't know if I'd be eligible to do it next year or if I'd have the time to devote like I did this year. In any case, I hope The Pride felt they got their time's worth out of me and for my part, this solidified my desire to be an editor. 

As of this moment, none of The Pride have made any agent announcements, but I'm confident they'll come. These ladies have proven they're willing to do whatever it takes to have a career as an author and it was an honor to help them on their journey to meeting that goal. 



I realized I never talked about the Pitch Wars submission process. If you'd be interested in reading my take on that, please leave a comment. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pitch Wars Alternate Showcase


Welcome to the Alternate showcase!

Today I’m hosting some of the wonderful writers who participated in a six week boot camp where published/agented authors and industry interns mentored a team of writers to help them polish their manuscripts for agents. The mentors picked one to go into the agent round on Brenda Drake’s blog (http://www.brenda-drake.com/) and two alternates in case their top pick dropped out of the competition.

The alternates were amazing, so we wanted to do a showcase of their talent to reward them for their hard work. Following this post you’ll find the pitches for the writers I’m hosting.

This is not exclusive to the agents signed up for Pitch wars. All agents are welcomed to make requests in the comments of the posts!

This is not open for critiques. So if you’re not an agent, you may comment only if you want to show some love to the writers. Again, please do not critique in the comments.


Thank you!

ALT #14: A Breath of Silver (YA/NA Fantasy [Time Travel])
ALT #15: You'll Be Thinking of Me (Women's Fiction with elements of romance and suspense)

Other Alternates: 
Middle Grade: Veronica Bartles
New Adult & Adult: Nazarea Andrews


The Pride (my mentees):
Through the Storm (NA Contemporary Romance) - Top Pick
The Shifting Darkness (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance) - 1st Alternate
Forever Yours (Contemporary Romance) - 2nd Alternate

Pitch Wars ALT: LL-1 ICE FLOWERS IN WINTER


MENTOR: Susan Spann
FIRST ALTERNATE: Aimie Runyan
TITLE: ICE FLOWERS IN WINTER
CATEGORY/GENRE: Adult Women’s/Historical Fiction
WORD COUNT: 81,000

PITCH:  In 1667, an orphan, a baker, and a farmer’s daughter answer Louis XIV’s call for “mail-order” brides to marry settlers in the Canadian colonies; upon their arrival, the women must rely upon one another, and their unusual friendship, to find the strength to survive--and blossom--on the frontier.


EXCERPT:

May 1667: Salpêtrière Charity Hospital, Paris

One, two, three strokes up... Rinse. One, two, three strokes down. Rinse. Move three inches to the right...

Rose Barré scoured the floor on her hands and knees, her once fine hands now raw and bleeding, as she tried to rid the small room of the stench. The battle was futile. One clean cell would not mask the stink of filth and disease that permeated the dozens of others surrounding it.

This was one of Rose’s bad days where, no matter what she did, she could not stop scrubbing, even though her officière had forbidden the endless scouring. No matter how Rose reasoned with herself, she could never get the room clean enough to sate the urge. She wiped her matted black curls from her forehead with the back of her hand and moved the brush three inches to the right.

Officially, the Salpêtrière was a charity hospital for women. It served the poor, the homeless, the deranged, and—as in Rose's case--the orphaned and dispossessed. In reality, the Salpêtrière was a prison whose inmates served life sentences. A well-connected family member need only write a letter, and a daughter, niece, wife, or sister could find herself imprisoned in the Salpêtrière for life.

Rose was no exception. Her mother died in childbirth, and when her beloved father was shot over a hand of vingt-et-un, twelve year-old Rose was sent to live on her aunt and uncle’s estate outside of Paris, a place of crystal chandeliers, gilded furniture, and gardenßs manicured to the point they no longer resembled nature.

Pitch Wars ALT: LL-2 THREE CARD MONTY

MENTOR: Susan Spann
SECOND ALTERNATE: Ellis Callen
TITLE: THREE CARD MONTY
CATEGORY/GENRE: Adult Mystery
WORD COUNT: 60,258

PITCH:  When a child abuser turns up dead in an immigrant family’s home, a down-and-out security guard must find the killer, and the missing teenage girl accused of the crime, before the police—or the killer—discover the secret evidence that will force the security guard to take the blame.

EXCERPT:

Clifford reacted as if a corpse was a common thing to find.  Then again, he’d been to Vietnam.  And he hadn’t been in the hallway with that terrible thing--easy for him to play it cool.

I was … less cool.  “Jesus Christ, a freaking cadaver!  What the hell do I do?”

Cliff made the face that meant he wanted a cigarette – his face scrunched up when he thought about smoking – but I wouldn’t let him smoke in the store, even if either of us could afford the habit, which we couldn’t. 

“You’re real sure it wasn’t Rosa, right?” Cliff asked.

I thought about it.  True, I still didn’t know where Rosa was, which terrified me – Was everyone dead over there? – but I took some deep breaths and considered the shape in the stairwell.  It was all wrong for a teenage girl. Much bigger, much broader. Even without the head, I was a hundred per cent sure.

“Nah man,” I said. “It wasn’t her.  It was a dude.”

Clifford shrugged.  “Okay then.  I’m recommending doing nothing.”

“What?” I asked.

“Monty, how you even gonna explain why you were over there?”  Clifford settled into his seat and shook his head. 

Good point.  I’d taken off in the middle of my shift.  I’d left a homeless person in charge of the store.  In fact, the entire night’s events, which ended with me walking in on a headless corpse in a stranger’s unlocked house, sounded pretty unlikely. 

Forget getting fired, I’d probably get arrested.


Pitch Wars ALT: LL-3 CUT FROM THE EARTH

MENTOR: Heather Webb
ALTERNATE: Stephanie Renée dos Santos
TITLE: CUT FROM THE EARTH
CATEGORY/GENRE: Historical Fiction w/ Magical Realism
WORD COUNT: 117,000


Pitch:

When an earthquake devastates Lisbon in 1755, a Portuguese tile maker flees the wreckage to the Amazon. In the jungle Piloto falls under a female shaman’s spell and together, they must fight missionaries for their right to live.


Excerpt:

The sky was an ironed blue sheet without a crease of cloud. A solitary silhouette wheeled over the Atlantic, then cut inland to the outskirts of Lisbon. The shadow followed the Tagus River dotted with merchant ships.  In the distance seven church-spired hills blessed the skyline. Over terracotta roofs, cork orchards, and tile factory smokestacks the carrion crow sailed.  It swooped, coming to rest on the kinked branch of an olive tree, in the Fabrica Santa Anna’s red geranium-lined courtyard.  

The bird gave a guttural caw, and took flight again.

Piloto Manuel Pires arose from his workbench and set an ear to the door.

A boy as black as squid’s ink burst into the shop, pleading, “Pai! Padre! Help!” 

Piloto abandoned the pricking of holes into transfer paper. Ebony faces turned from their worktables pushed against whitewashed adobe. A worker slapped a ball of clay onto a gesso tabletop and halted. Dust floated in the air. Scents of loam permeated the space, room enough to house a king’s coach and steeds.

In the doorway of the draft room, Piloto’s wife Paulina, and their two daughters, Constanza and Isabella, froze and stared at the shop’s main entrance. He grimaced, fixing his gaze on the little boy and the shelf above him, where their ceramic statue of Saint Anthony was perched over the doorway. Light shone through the shop’s warbled panes, stacked crates of tiles called azulejos resting below.

Piloto stuffed his pouncing tool behind his ear, and swiped chalk glaze from olive-brown hands onto his smock, careful not to soil the Franciscan habit...