WIPs Category Archive

Interview with #PitchWars 2015 Mentee, Julie Artz

I can hardly believe that we’re starting to gear up for #PitchWars 2016, but here we are, and I could not be more excited!

In 2014, I had a breeze of a time choosing which manuscripts I was interested in working with. They called to me, and I snatched them right up! 2015 was a different story though. I had a handful of manuscripts that I felt strongly about, that I thought could do well in the agent round, and that I knew I could help make into stronger novels. I ended up choosing Julie Artz’s incredible QUEST FOR THE KALEVALA in the most super secret of ways (I’m still snickering over this, Julie!). I hadn’t requested Julie’s manuscript, but rather had gotten the full from another of the mentors she’d submitted to. I’d heard about how fantastic she was from those same mentors, too. I ended up reading her manuscript just a few days before we had to announce our picks. By then, I decided to keep it a secret that I was looking at her book at all! Julie was an absolute dream to work with. I could not have been happier. Below, you’ll find her answers to the same questions I asked Stacy and Dana back in 2014.

If you’d like to read the interview with my 2014 mentee and alternate, go here. Read on below for Julie Artz’s thoughts on Pitch Wars 2015, and what it was like to work closely with me in preparation for the incredibly exciting agent round.

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Me: There are a few parts to PitchWars, the first of which was deciding which writers you wanted to submit to as potential mentors. How did you decide who to send to?

Julie: As soon as the mentor list was announced, I followed all of the MG mentors (and most of the YA/Adult ones too, to be honest) on Twitter and started keeping an eye on the #PitchWars thread for tips as I madly polished the manuscript I was entering. Then, when I was ready to start narrowing down, I did a first pass through the middle grade mentors to come up with a list of folks who were interested in MG fantasy. Of those, ones who had an agent I loved or who specifically said they liked something similar to my Pitch Wars manuscript got a highlight on my spreadsheet–Yes, I had a spreadsheet. I listened to the mentor Q&A sessions and further narrowed down the list. Juliana already had a star for Howl’s Moving Castle (one of my all-time favorite books), but she got another one when she tweeted about being great with character emotion and arcs, something I’d struggled with while revising my dual-POV story. When I had the list down to about seven, I pinged some of my trusted critique partners and they helped me narrow the list down to five. I’ll be honest, though, it was tough!

Me: For the 2016 PitchWars hopefuls, what was it like to have me as your mentor? (Feel free to be honest :P)

Julie: I was thrilled to have Juliana as my mentor. She understood how to fix my story right away and by the time we finished our first Skype conversation, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I learned so much about structure and how it supports character arc. How to write better emotion. How to keep propelling the story forward. All from her excellent notes and homework assignments. In addition to providing so much great feedback during September and October, she’s been a constant source of encouragement since the Agent Round. I feel so lucky to have her as part of my tribe!

Me: *all the hugs!* Seriously, the best part of PitchWars is the close writing relationships you end up forming!

Me: What was your overall experience with the editing/revising process? Was there a certain part that was particularly difficult or rewarding?

Julie: I completed a major structural revision of my story in a few short weeks, which was all-consuming and completely exhausting. But I also learned so much during that time period that I walked into my next story with a lot more confidence in my ability to tell a story than I’d had before Pitch Wars. And I went from hating revision to understanding what a powerful part of the writing process it can be (even as I vowed never to write another story without thinking about arc and structure up front).

Me: Were there any parts of your PitchWars experience that you were surprised at? Submissions? Edits? The agent round?

Julie: The Agent Round was both thrilling and terrifying. My fellow 2015 mentees are so amazing that the agent-offer frenzy started the second the Agent Round ended and hasn’t really left us in the months since. As a middle-of-the-pack entry with a respectable number of requests, I knew my querying road was going to be a bit longer. That was harder emotionally than I thought it would be, but I am really thankful for all the support I’ve gotten from Juliana and from my amazing 2015 mentee pals.

Me: If you could choose to do PitchWars all over again, would you?

Julie: Absolutely! Anyone who is serious about their work, but struggling to find an agent, should enter this contest. The community created around Pitch Wars is fantastic and the time, energy, and love each mentor puts in is such an amazing gift to the writers who enter!

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Be sure to check out Brenda Drake’s website for more information on Pitch Wars and follow her on Twitter for updates!

The Next Big Thing!

 

Thanks Lauren for tagging me in The Next Big Thing meme–this has been one I’ve enjoyed reading on other blogs! (Including Jaye’s, which you all should check out. She did her post on Sing to the Wind, which comes out in 2014!) Lauren’s Next Big Thing is about her new young adult WIP titled DIVE. How awesome of a title is that?!

What is the working title of your book?

CADAVER DOG

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After a tribe of his own kind, Cadaver Dogs, slaughters Jacob’s village, he’s left to fend for himself in the desert filled world of the future.

What genre does your book fall under?

CD is (in my mind) post-apocalyptic YA.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Honestly, I’ve never been one to think too hard on actors for my characters, but I can post pictures about Jacob’s most striking feature- his eyes. In CD, all Cadaver Dogs have beautiful amber eyes, much like a dogs.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am represented by the dream-agent Emmanuelle Morgen of the Stonesong Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hmm, if I’m remembering correctly, it took me a few months to write the first draft of CD. Since then, it has gone through a few major revisions, each taking about a month to complete.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I gave the comp. title of The Forest of Hands and Teeth when I was querying. It has a similar feel of a journey book.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired by two thoughts before I started writing CD. The first was the question of: What would the world look like if a drought swept over the earth and never went away? And the second was: What if people could smell as well as dogs?

Interestingly, I had never heard the term ‘cadaver dog’ before. I heard it on the news one night and immediately started researching. These dogs are trained to locate human remains and are used in disaster areas- how incredible is that?!

Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed researching the dog’s scenting abilities and figuring out how to incorporate that into my writing.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Most obviously, I think the unique setting and the fact that much of my book centers around Jacob’s scent abilities will interest readers. But my very favorite part of the book is a small girl named Sam who has a very big secret…but I’m going to refrain from saying anything more on that ;)

And now it’s time for me to tag another writer! I’m passing the torch onto my lovely super-CP Ari Susu-Mago whose writing always gives me the chills.

It’s All About Pictures, Y’all

I have been thinking recently about how much we put out there concerning our WIPs. I know a variety of writers who feel completely alright sharing any and all writing online and others who never talk about their WIPs.

I’ve always been okay posting my writing, but not with this most recent WIP. The best way I can put it is that I’m possessive over it. I’m keeping this very close to my heart and am hesitant to put anything about it online.

Because of this, I’ve had the idea that one of the weeks during the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest won’t require you to put up a query/pitch/excerpt/summary of your WIP – none of that. Instead, it’ll be all about pictures or music, your choice. I know that a lot of you keep folders of pictures and/or music that remind you of your WIP. So, start collecting and picking out the pieces you love most to showcase them during the fest.

If you still haven’t signed up, go here and leave your e-mail. Of course, you’re free to just jump in each of the weeks, also.

And, what do you think? Do you feel okay sharing your WIP online? I’m really curious to see what you think. :)

Ponies!

Rebecca Enzor of Stickynote Stories is hosting a My Little Ponies contest and everyone should go check it out!

The contest is to make a pony based on one of your own characters and the prize is to have the pony actually made! Eee!

I got so into the contest I ended up making three ponies:

My Little Pony

Jacob

Jacob is nice and tan because he lives in the desert. I’m in the middle of this WIP and don’t want to give too much away, but I will tell you that Jacob’s job has a lot to do with death- check out that cutie mark. ;)

My Little Pony

Kira

Kira is Jacob’s leading lady. She too lives in the desert, but she burns easily and doesn’t have that nice tan skin that Jacob does. She has the North Star for a cutie mark because she knows the stars like the back of her hand and uses them to navigate during the night. She’s one mournful girl who needs a little happy in her life (cue Jacob).

My Little Pony

Farrah

This beauty is Farrah, the main character of my fantasy YA. She lives in a mountain (hence the cutie mark and pale skin). She’s one tough cookie and takes her life and job very seriously (she’s a bodyguard for the prince).

So, which one do you guys like? Which one do you think I should use in the contest??

(p.s. I stole the poll idea from Beth Revis who has some amazing ponies up on her blog too, go check ‘em out.)

Also, I just found out I won second place in Rachael Harrie’s flash fiction contest- the first part of her Campaigner Challenge. Y’all should have heard me squealing when I found out. I’m ridiculously proud of that piece. She’s now my favorite and all my other WIPs are jealous. :D

I’m Giving Up Writing

Just kidding…but it made you look. ;) I mean really, writing isn’t something you can actually give up, is it?

*sigh* I can’t think of a darn thing I want to post about today, so instead, I’m going to post some pictures that will hint as to what my current WIP is about.

Just try to put the hints together, I dare you!

(And NO cheating for those of you who actually know.)

Dog
Person
Bike
Pack of Wild Dogs
Desert
Drought