This post is my mentor wish-list for Brenda Drake’s pitchwars contest. In it you’ll find a little about me, what I’m like, and what I’m looking for:
I’m a native Texan but I’ve lived so long in the Pacific Northwest, I melt at temperatures past 85 degrees. I’m a caffeine addict in the recovery stages (as I’m recovering from a lack of caffeine this morning nicely), a fan of white mochas, and a belief that coffee is proof that god loves us and wants us to be productive. I write fantasy of several flavors, but mostly urban fantasy. My most recent book is The Reburialists, from Ace. If you prefer lighter humor, my Grimm Agency series from Ace books is lots of fun. Writing as Jaycee Nelson, I’ve even published a rom-com, Toys, and am currently drafting a romance. If you want to know my writing style, check them out. Those books got their start in Pitchwars. Yours could be next.
What I’m Looking For:
Age Range: Adult. Don’t even bring NA this time to lay at my doorstep – I’m not the right person for it, and if you have a heartwarming YA middle grade erotic picture book, feel free to look at the other mentors. I’m here for the big boys and girls and looking for a story aimed at them.
Genre: This year, I’m primarily looking for science fiction of all scales of hardness. One big lie? Bring it. Sci-fantasy? You bet. When it comes to SF, I am particularly interested in the type that makes me question what it means to be human, or what effect technology has on society as a whole. Think Ghost in the Shell (original, not whitewashed, Japanese version with the ending that defies our desire for satisfaction). I also love fantasy, but this year I’m looking for SF Primarily and Fantasy second. If you send me fantasy, it has to knock my socks off, and I am very attached to my socks. If you’ve got quirky, funny, downright strange in your manuscript, regardless of genre, look me up. And more than anything, I’m looking for that story telling voice that makes me lose myself in the piece so that I get to the end of the sample pages and whisper dark curses on you, your descendants, and your meter-man for not having more of the story.
Things I detest:
- Love triangles where one leg of the triangle is obviously not equal to the others:
“Biff is a strong neurosurgeon with the body of a male swimsuit model, who rescues ducklings as a hobby and volunteers at the Children’s hospital when he isn’t flying across the world to do life saving brain transplants. But Scuz? He’s the bad-boy meth addict with no teeth who pawned my phone to get high. He’s stolen my heart–and my wallet, several times. Sure, he has syphillis and breath that would stop a garbage truck in its tracks, but when he gives me that toothless grin, my heart melts even as my stomach turns. How ever can I choose between them?”
- Female Screaming Furniture: If I can replace your female characters with an avocado-green ottoman that occasionally screams, and the book otherwise reads perfectly well, you’ve failed and I’m going to be miffed. If it’s fantasy with dragons, why not throw in some agency with the rest of it?
- Rape scenes: Do you really, really need to have yet another woman getting reduced to the sum of her genitals, to either give her an emotional wound, or drive a male character’s motivation? You want to give your character a wound, you know what works? Molten copper. And if you are having your FMC get raped just to motivate your MMC, don’t even bother. If that’s what it takes to get your main character interested in taking down the bad guy, your main character is an oxygen thief who should be in a love triangle with Scuz the meth addict.
I’m perfectly fine with dark. Twisted. Morbid. Awful. This ain’t a taboo that says “You include any of this crap and I’ll print out your manuscript, burn it, pee on the ashes, grow a tree in the ashes, burn the tree that grows from them, and flush the ashes of the tree.” It’s just to say that if you want to play with fire, you’d better do so very, very well.
I have female characters who treat sex as a power tool to get what they want, male characters who have left a trail of bodies in their wake, and flesh-eating crab-spiders who are the single most beloved part of one book. Yes, you read that right. The eight-legged, eight-eyed, ravenous razor-sharp flesh-eating venomous crab-spiders who literally devour people are reader favorites. So do dark, morbid, twisted, awful, but damnit, do it well.
Why You Want to work with Me:
I’m brutally honest, and yet your biggest fan. I believe in stories that deliver endings which make you say “Of course. That’s how it had to end.” See here for an entire post on endings. I will snark at you, write “Really?” or spin lengthy scenes in my comments to illustrate why you might want to be more specific. I’ll read your baby and treat it like my own (which does not mean dropping it on its head). I won’t be nice to shield your feelings, because an agent or editor won’t be either, but I’ll support you through the process of doing the hard work of taking good to great.
How to enter:
Go to Brenda Drake’s website. There’s an online submission form.
I won’t accept critique partners or folks I’ve beta read for. I’m sorry, but I’ve already helped you as much as I can. Pick someone else and I’ll root for you, too!
Why I am awesome: I kept bees for years. Have you ever picked up a swarm of bees with your bare hands? I have. Also, I have four children and all of them are somewhat socially adjusted. I write fantasy that you may love and am going to hell for laughing at things that should not be funny (but are!).
To help you find your way onward, here’s a linky. Enjoy!