Friday, August 14, 2015

Pitch Wars YA Mentor Bio: Stephanie Scott & Valerie Cole

Pitch Wars is back! The epic contest that pairs agent-seeking writers with a mentor prior to an agent pitch round will soon be open to entries. Read on to see if we might be a good match. All the contest details are here on Brenda Drake’s blog

This year, we’re co-mentoring! We live and breathe the contemporary YA world. We were signed to agents from contest entries (after receiving multiple offers), and know how to polish an entry so it shines like a diamond among the slush. For the last 3+ years, we've had our eye on the YA publishing market to know what types of manuscripts agents are looking for and what is selling to publishers. We will work hard to make your entry stand out in the agent round!

Stephanie Scott: I’m a Young Adult writer represented by Sarah LaPolla at Bradford Literary. My debut contemporary ALTERATIONS is set for release in 2016 by Bloomsbury Spark. I’m a returning Pitch Wars mentor, and a new addition to the monthly 1st 5 Pages Workshop on the Adventures in YA Publishing blog.  As an active member of Romance Writers of America, I regularly judge partial manuscripts through chapter contests and yearly judge for the Golden Heart. I serve on the board for the online YA chapter YARWA. Beyond writing, I enjoy dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving me broke. I have half a dozen cosplay ideas (mostly Star Wars) and I’m a Ren Faire regular. You can find me chatting about TV and all things books on twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA

Valerie Cole: Valerie Cole lives in Philadelphia with her guitar builder husband and lovable cocker spaniel. A graduate of The Art Institute of Philadelphia and Drexel University, her love of storytelling began as an intern in MTV’s animation department. She signed with literary agent Lauren MacLeod in 2012 after her entry in The Writers Voice caught Lauren's attention. She hosts the highly successful agent interview blog series Agents Like Us. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @ValerieColeYA.

What we are looking for: 

A writer who is ready to take the next step in their career. Someone who has passion and drive, who isn't afraid to kill their darlings, and is ready to revise (maybe even heavily) to nab the agent of their dreams. Young Adult fiction only. 

Basically, we want to find a manuscript that makes us…

Seeing how we're contemporary YA girls, we'll definitely be looking for lots of realistic YA fiction, but we’re looking for GREAT STORIES across all genres. What makes many books incredibly successful is the author’s ability to root common emotions and relatable characters in wildly unique situations. For instance, take a look at Maggie Steifvater’s The Scorpio Races. Sure, there are crazy demon horses that rise out of the sea TO EAT YOU ALIVE, but Steifvater also tells the story about rich vs. poor, girl vs. boy, girl horse meets boy horse, and builds relationships so you are rooting for someone to win at the end. We want to find great stories. Period. The end. So surprise us!

 We’ll be working collaboratively, but here are some of our personal interests and favorites:

Stephanie's Interests:

 -High concept premises*
-Strong friendships or family relationships
-Diverse characters and diverse authors (see the We Need Diverse Books site )
-Unique settings or time periods
-Upending tropes (make a common premise fresh)
-Characters who are skilled at or passionate -- sports, arts, sciences, etc. Teens who have their own interests and goals, even if the goals are thwarted (and they should be = conflict!)

Books I’m a fan of:

 To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han - the sweeter side of YA that’s fresh, funny, and heartwarming
Just One Day by Gayle Forman - beautiful writing, self discovery, rich locale, deep family issues
Past Perfect by Leila Sales - forbidden romance set at waring historical re-enactment camps!
Deception So Deadly: Run to You by Clara Kensie - fast paced YA suspense 
Tiny Pretty Things by Sonia Charaipotya and Dhonielle Clayton - multi-POV, high-stakes ballet academy with a diverse character cast
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma - complicated sister relationship, gorgeous writing, magical realism
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - world travel, art meets fantasy, escapist adventure 
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis - survivalist to the core. Gripping pacing.
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee - on-the-run girls disguised as cowboys on the historic Oregon trail!
Every Day by David Levithan - inventive and inspiring 
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - This book has everything: deserted pageant contestants, wicked satire, on-fire feminism. Volcano lairs, Lady Bird Hope, taxidermied sidekicks. 

Valerie’s interests:

- Heart-wrenching contemporaries with high stakes
- Real teens dealing with real issues
- Unconventional families (especially blue collar)
- Diverse characters
- Twisty turny psycho thrillers

 Books I’m a fan of: 

Anything by Sara Zarr, especially How to Save a Life and Story of a Girl
A.S. King’s Reality Boy and Please Ignore Vera Dietz
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
On the paranormal side, vampires and witches aren’t quite my thing, but I’m a huge fan of Maggie Steifvater’s The Raven Cycle series.
Anything that blends folklore, mythology, faerie tales with modern themes. 

* High concept means you can easily pitch your idea in a few words. For example, last year in Pitch Wars, there was a YA entry about a teen fashion blogger exiled to Amish country. Paired with a funny title, and right there, you get an idea what the story might be like. If your manuscript has that mass appeal, we will fight all the other mentors off with a samurai sword for you.

Our editing style

The focus will be developmental. This means big picture edits--plot, character development, pacing. While we may comment on word choice, grammar, or specific details, this isn't meant to be a line edit. Most of all, we want to help a writer craft their best story using their voice. It's not about us imposing our writer voice on someone else. We want to help your entry stand out in not only the contest and agent round, but among published stories. 

Not seeing what you've written in this blog post? Try us! We're open to finding something really awesome and it just might be you! Make sure to follow us on Twitter @StephScottYA and @ValerieColeYA and watch for us on twitter with the #PitchWars hashtag. 

We can’t wait to read your pitches! The submission window opens August 17 on Brenda Drake's blog.

If the Linky below does not work, here's the full mentor bio blog list.

1. Kes Trester (co-mentoring with Jennifer Hawkins)
2. Mindy McGinnis (co-mentoring with Kate Karyus Quinn)
3. N.K. Traver
4. Kristin B. Wright
5. Laura Heffernan
6. Mary Ann Marlowe
7. Joy McCullough-Carranza
8. Lisa Lewis-Tyre
9. Jenni L. Walsh (co-mentoring with Trisha Leaver)
10. Sarah Glenn Marsh
11. Julie C. Dao
12. Kellye Garrett
13. K.T. Hanna
14. Jessie Devine
15. Rosalyn Eves
16. Jami Nord
17. Samantha Joyce
18. Helene Dunbar
19. Jenna Lehne
20. Linsey Miller
21. Jessica Vitalis
22. Stacey Graham
23. Dan Koboldt
24. Brighton Walsh
25. Kate Brauning
26. Lisa Maxwell
27. Wendy Spinale
28. Sarah Cannon
29. L.L. McKinney
30. Juliana Brandt
31. Scarlett Cole
32. Hayley Stone
33. Jennifer Blackwood
34. Kendra Young
35. S.P. McConnell
36. Nikki Roberti
37. Emmie Mears
38. Lori Goldstein (co-mentoring with Chelsea Bobulski)
39. Jennifer Hawkins (co-mentoring with Kes Trester)
40. Elizabeth Briggs
41. Ron Walters (co-mentoring with Meredith McCardle)
42. Fiona McLaren (co-mentoring with Dionne McCulloch)
43. S.M. Johnston (co-mentoring with Stacey Nash)
44. Max Wirestone
45. Jaye Robin Brown
46. Molly Lee
47. Rachel Lynn Solomon
48. J.C. Nelson
49. Holly Faur
50. Sonia Hartl
51. Natasha Raulerson
52. Marty Mayberry
53. J.C. Davis
54. Rebecca Wells
55. Michelle Hauck
56. Tabitha Martin
57. Rebecca Petruck
58. Sarah Henning
59. Alex White
60. Jeanmarie Anaya
61. Laura Salter
62. Wade Albert White
63. Brooks Benjamin
64. Margarita Montimore
65. Megan Grimit
66. Charlie Holmberg
67. Diana Gallager
68. Stefanie Wass
69. Tamara Mataya
70. Rebecca Sky
71. Kara Seal
72. Lee Gjertsen Malone
73. Katie Bucklein
74. Kevin A Springer
75. Brianna Shrum
76. Kate Karyus Quinn (co-mentoring with Mindy McGinnis)
77. Kim Graff
78. Emily Martin
79. Trisha Leaver (co-mentoring with Jenni Walsh)
80. Kim Long
81. Catherine Scully
82. Stacey Trombley
83. Stephanie Scott (co-mentoring with Valerie Cole)
84. Valerie Cole (co-mentoring with Stephanie Scott)
85. Lizzy Charles
86. Dannie Morin (co-mentoring with Alexandra Alessandri)
87. Kate Foster
88. Elly Blake
89. Julie Sondra Decker
90. Lady Lioness
91. Susan Gray Foster (co-mentoring with Monica Bustamante Wagner_
92. Kelly Calabrese
93. Sarah Nicolas
94. Kelly Siskind
95. Roselle Kaes
96. Monica Bustamante Wagner (co-mentoring with Susan Gray Foster)
97. Renee Ahdieh (co-mentoring with Traci Chee)
98. Traci Chee (co-mentoring with Renee Ahdieh)
99. Janet B. Taylor
100. Jessie Humphries (co-mentoring with Mara Rae)
101. Lynnette Labelle
102. Erica M. Chapman
103. Summer Spence
104. Marieke Nijkamp
105. Meredith McCardle (co-mentoring with Ron Walters)
106. Thomas Torre
107. Phil Stamper
108. J.A. Souders


  1. Yay for Pitch Wars hosts! I LOVE that contest. It's gotten HUGE since I came and played, and what a great opportunity for helping others.

    1. Thanks! if you're looking for my IWSG post, it's below this (have to keep PW at top)

  2. This sounds like a wonderful contest. What a wonderful way to help other writers. :)

  3. This sounds like an amazing contest and a wonderful opportunity for many. :)

  4. Hi!
    Any interest in a YA contemporary with a superhero (YA contemporary fantasy)? It includes humor, romance, and of course some action. :)
    Thanks in advance!

    1. It's hard to answer without reading the query and pages. I think the superhero angle can work with a high concept hook and unique premise. We are certainly open to reading if you decide to submit to us! We're also striving to give feedback to everyone who submits to us. That would come in September.

    2. I wanted that to sound more helpful... point is, we will try to help even though we can only pick one final manuscript to mentor. :)

    3. You are helpful! Thank you for your words! :)


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