All you have to do is tag Facebook posts that brighten your day with #LightTheWorldWithBooks and you and your friend are entered to win. There’s a new book (and new contest) every day! And #LightTheWorld is sponsored by the LDS Church, but participants and their posts don’t have to be LDS to win (and most of the books are for a general readership). So, get out there, brighten up Facebook, and win some free books!
The submissions window is closed, and the mentors are now frantically reading through the subs, looking for “the one.” When I was a hopeful, this was the stage where I was biting my nails and checking my email every 10 (5? 3?) minutes, so I want to let y’all know what things look like on my side of the inbox.
I got a little over 100 subs, and you guys brought your A-game. I’m super impressed with the quality of the writing and the intriguing ideas I’m reading. I’m still in the process of requesting fulls. And I have to choose just one manuscript to work with. This is going to be hard. As in, I’m going to loose sleep over this decision. When concepts and writing are this strong, it’s going to come down to which story clicks with me the most–something that’s completely subjective–and I think the other mentors are in the same situation. Agents are too, and I have a lot more sympathy for them now.
So, to everyone who subbed to me, congratulations on finishing a manuscript, on polishing it until it shines, and on being brave enough to put it out there. No matter what happens with Pitch Wars, you are doing amazing things. Pitch Wars is awesome, but it’s not your one and only chance. I was a Pitch Wars alternate (when such a thing existed). I ended up publishing that manuscript with a small press. Then I found my agent in a different pitch contest. And the journey doesn’t end with getting published or getting an agent. There are still revisions and rejections and waiting and waiting and waiting.
So, take a deep breath, soak in a warm bath, eat some good chocolate. Find something else to work on for the next month so the waiting doesn’t kill you. And no matter what happens with Pitch Wars, it’s just one step on your path. Keep going!
Welcome to my Pitch Wars wish list! This is an awesome community, and I’m excited for the chance to give back this year as a mentor in the adult category.
My official bio: E.B. Wheeler grew up in Georgia and California. She majored in history with an English minor and earned graduate degrees in history and landscape architecture from Utah State University. She’s the award-winning author of The Haunting of Springett Hall, Born to Treason, and No Peace with the Dawn (November 2016), as well as several short stories, magazine articles, and scripts for educational software programs. She was a 2014 Pitch Wars alternate, and her work is represented by Abigail Samoun of Red Fox Literary. In addition to writing, she consults about historic preservation and teaches history at Utah State University.
Like an agent, you want a mentor who clicks with you, so here’s a little more about me: I’m married with two kids, ages 4 and 7. We have a mini mini-farm with gardens, two woolly rabbits, four chickens, and a cat. I love Corgis, but I’ve promised my husband no more pets for the time being. 🙂 I love Indian food and cheesecake. I’m a Mormon. I have a rare neurological condition called Brown-Sequard syndrome from a spinal cord injury. My favorite color is burgundy. The most amazing places I’ve visited are the Pantheon in Rome, Charlemagne’s Palace in Aachen, Little Bighorn in Montana, and Wales–yeah, the whole country–I love it. 🙂
Books and shows I think are brilliant and can’t get enough of: Jane Eyre, Lord of the Rings, Northanger Abbey, Arabella, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Secret Garden, The King of Attolia, Calvin and Hobbes, most of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, The Scarlet Pimpernel (the musical even more than the book), Les Mis (ditto), My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The West Wing, Stargate: SG-1, and the BBC’s Merlin.
My critiquing style: For the person I select, we’ll go through your manuscript at least a couple of times, first for plot and character arcs, and then for fine tuning to bring out the best in your book. I’m honest in my critiques, but not crushing. I expect you to be open to feedback, but, ultimately, it’s your vision, and we can brainstorm together on trouble spots.
My critiquing strengths: I’m good at spotting sagging plot and character arcs and eliminating inconsistencies in both, ratcheting up the tension and stakes. I’ll also help you tighten up your language–make every word matter and cut the stuff that doesn’t add anything. Not sure if you have enough historical detail, or too much? I’m your girl. I worked writing scripts, so I’m good with dialogue too.
Things I love in a book:
Interesting characters who feel like real people I want to spend more time with. I especially love a cast of great characters. Bonus points if one of them has a disability that affects them but doesn’t define them.
Realistic emotions–give me the whole range: laughing, crying, scared, excited–but I prefer an overall optimistic/hopeful tone, at least in the ending.
Strong voice and gorgeous (but not purple/distracting) writing
Wit and/or humor. I don’t expect to be laughing through the whole book, but I love clever dialogue and funny situations.
A good love story. That can mean romance, but also love between parent and child, siblings, friends, etc. Code Name Verity was gorgeous and broke my heart and I loved it, and it’s all about friendship.
At least a little bit of mystery (Gothic romances are my guilty pleasure)
New insights into the world or the human condition
A historical angle, especially about a lesser known person, place, or event
What I don’t love:
Books that put down or stereotype any ethnicity, religion, etc. Individual characters can have prejudices, but the general tone of the book should not be derogatory (To Kill a Mockingbird does this well).
On-screen rape or child abuse. If it’s a necessary part of the story and it happens off-stage or is not graphic, I can deal with it, but I just can’t “watch” it happen.
Ditto with extremely graphic violence. I can handle blood and death, but I can’t do detailed murder scenes, or battle scenes that get down to the nitty-gritty of individual organs. If you’re describing someone’s squishy entrails, I may barf on your manuscript. 🙂
Graphic sex. I like my romances on the “sweet” side (though kissing is great!), and if sex scenes are necessary, I prefer them closed door. I don’t expect a sexless world, I just don’t need to see it happen.
Historical settings or characters that aren’t really historical. If Wikipedia was your only research source, it’s probably not historical enough for my tastes. Likewise if your historical character is abnormally “enlightened” for his or her time period–really just a modern person stuck in a historical setting (unless they really ARE a modern person stuck in a historical setting 🙂 ). Obviously fantasy worlds are different, but they should still have strong world-building.
I’ll look at anything that fits my likes/dislikes, but to give you an idea what I prefer, here are some of my favorites genres:
Upmarket historical fiction–the kind of books you might read in book club–either set in the past, or moving back and forth between past and present (The Help, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Shape of Mercy, The Rent Collector, Lynn Austin’s Candle in the Darkness)
Fantasy, especially with a historical angle or feel (Tim Power’s The Anubis Gates, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Patricia’s Wrede’s A Matter of Magic)
Retellings of myths, legends, folktales, and classics–historical or modern setting (Tim Power’s The Drawing of the Dark, Steven Brust’s The Phoenix Guards)
Historical mystery–either set in the past or with modern people trying to solve a historical mystery (ranging from Anne Perry to Clive Cussler/Dan Brown-esque books)
Clean historical romance. I love a good love story, but I’m also kind of picky about them. There has to be more keeping the characters apart than a misunderstanding that could be cleared up with a five minute conversation, and I like to see both of the main characters grow. “Enemies-to-lovers” is my favorite romance trope–love that chemistry.
I’m not the greatest Tweeter, but I’ll try to hop on every evening to answer questions until the submission window closes. Also, I usually try to follow other writers back, but I’ll wait until after the mentees are announced to avoid any mixed messages. I will give feedback to everyone who queries to me, though it may take me a couple of weeks to get to them all.
And now, a message for my readers 🙂 : If any of you bought the Kindle version of Born to Treason recently and found that the file was corrupted, the publisher has re-uploaded a fresh, shiny file to Amazon, so you should be able to update it by the end of the day. Sorry for the inconvenience. Isn’t technology a wonder? Such a headache sometimes, but it’s also amazing what it can do. Thanks for reading!
So, I’ve been quiet this month because I’ve been busy editing and marketing, but I have a couple of exciting pieces of news to wrap up the summer.
First, The Haunting of Springett Hall won the 2015 Gold Quill for best young adult fiction from the League of Utah Writers at their annual conference last weekend!
Second, my next book, Born to Treason (an adult historical fiction about a Welsh Catholic girl who has to choose between her country and her faith during the Reformation) will be published by Cedar Fort in May 2016!
Happy book birthday to my first novel, the Haunting of Springett Hall! Check out these first stops on the blog tour to read reviews and see what people are saying about it:
“The story itself was brilliant, I loved the romance and the paranormal and the bravery these two characters showed in the face of not just evil, but also their own faults. ” Reading Lark
“I loved this book! It was not at all what I expected and I was really distressed that I didn’t have the time to devour it like I normally might have. Every time I had to put it down I groaned and inwardly complained about the other things I had to do instead.” Literary Time Out
“This book has mysteries, suspense and danger around every corner. Just when I thought I had it figured out, the characters would unravel something new that messed up my theory. You’re going to want to stay up late reading this one!” My Book a Day
“I get a little leery of paranormal stories because some of them are really far out there, but this one, even though there’s black magic and the occult, was handled in a clever way that didn’t leave me feeling icky. I really enjoyed the mystery of it all and the way things unfolded. There’s plenty of adventure, magic, and creepiness (especially the rats) mixed in with a great clean romance!” Katie’s Clean Book Collection
“This book grabs your attention from the beginning and pulls you along for a great mystery and romance.” Bookworm Lisa
“Definitely a great ghost story and the romance was a great add to the story!” Community Bookstop