About me (Why you should pick me):
Let me start by saying I’m a huge fan of eighties music. If you become my mentee, I will most likely discuss the great artists with you. And maybe force you to listen to a song or two. I’m a huge fan of Friends (Chandler is the best), Supernatural (Dean! Also, I wouldn’t mind seeing a YA book like this show), Christmas music, bookstores, all things Paris, road trips, and long walks on the beach (not really, but it makes for a nice ending).
Now that my infomercial stuff is out of the way…I’m represented by the awesome Tina Schwartz of the Purcell Agency, and I interned at Entangled Publishing for a while before becoming Lydia Sharp’s editorial assistant. Which means I get to spend my days reading and eating bon-bons, right? I’ve worked with a lot of YA for Entangled, as well as for separate clients. I was a mentor in Nightmare on Query Street (of 2015) where I went over the query/first 250 for both mentees. Both signed with agents shortly after the contest. They were that awesome. I mentored in FicFest earlier this year, which just came to a close with the agent round ending on July 14th. I mentored three writers (don’t ask) and my chosen mentee ended up with several requests through the contest. Because he’s awesome, he kindly had this to say about his experience working with me during FicFest:
“No matter how many times you look over your own manuscript, there are going to be areas of need you don’t see. Judi was amazing at seeing where I needed to develop on big picture area (character development, theme), the craft of my words (I think she had ‘show, don’t tell’ pasted on repeat) to mechanics of the English language I was embarrassed to have misused (tenses…wow). My manuscript wouldn’t be what it is today without her help. She pushed me and that is exactly what you want in a mentor. Besides that…Judi is a fan. If she is your mentor, she is a fan of your work and a fan of you. It’s a pretty great feeling to have someone like that in your corner. This isn’t something she does on the side, writing finds its way into every facet of her life. If you are lucky enough to be partnered with Judi, your manuscript and writing in general will flourish.”
-Adam Schmitt (2016 FicFest mentee)
If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. So let’s move on to the good part.
What I’m looking for:
I’m a YA mentor this year, so I can only accept YA manuscripts. Please don’t waste one of your mentor picks on me if you’re subbing anything other than YA. If you need submission guidelines for this year’s Pitch Wars, you can find them here.
Contemporary—I love dark, angsty stories. I love mystery and thriller and romance (your book doesn’t have to have romance for me to pick you.) I love realistic contemporaries that show the gritty side of life. I don’t shy away from abuse/assault stories, as long as the crimes are shown as being wrong. I’m very up for dark subject matter: kidnappings, trafficking, death, abuse, torture, runaways, etc. I sound like a sadist, but send it to me!
Light fantasy—pretty much the same as contemporary (including the dark subject matter). My favorite fantasy books are ones that are very character driven, like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. If your book focuses more on the world building over anything else, it’s probably not right for me.
Light sci-fi—same thing as fantasy (with dark subject matter). I love, love stories that are character driven, so give me characters I will fall in love with. Think We Are the Ants.
Horror—I love character driven horror as well. Very high stakes, and have-to-flip-the-page urgency. Nothing’s really too dark for me.
Basically, I’m very open to a lot of things. I’m open to characters with disabilities, LGBTQ themes, characters of different races, etc. AND if you have a book that’s dark, but also humorous, I’m more than up for that, as long as I can fall in love with the voice.
Voice is very important to me. I’m sure you guys have seen that a lot, but it’s true. I have to connect with the voice of the story, and to me that (and characters I love) is more important than anything. We can fix dialogue and pacing and weird plot holes big enough for someone to fall through, but voice and characters are really important to me. I love to see characters survive something horrible/terrifying and how they deal with the aftermath.
I’m a fan of layered characters that have to make difficult choices but have the voice that’ll make a reader still love them. I love strong characters who pop off the page and leave me wanting to read more into their lives, even after the book is over. I am definitely fine with language, sex, and violence, but your characters don’t have to do all these things to make me love them.
I love stories set in big cities like New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Chicago, L.A., etc. If it’s set in a small town, I like it to feel like a small town. I like road trip stories and circus/carnival stories, but I also like books that don’t focus on travel. I told you guys I was open for a lot of things.
What I won’t read:
So this will be a short list.
Don’t send me a book where a little boy dies. If the book opens and he’s already dead, that’s fine. If he’s older than like 13 and dies, that’s fine. Younger than 13 and he dies on the page, I don’t want to see that. I’m fine to see them hurt or in peril, but if he dies, you’ve lost me.
I’m not the best for epic fantasies and/or books that revolve heavily on sports. If your character is part of a sports team, but it’s not the main focus of the story, I’m up for that. If it’s a big part of his/her life but not THE biggest part, I’m up for that too. Think the characters of One Tree Hill.
I may also not be the best choice for historicals, unless they’re very character-driven. I will take books based in the 60s-early 2000s.
Lastly, nothing with a preaching message. I don’t read to be taught some kind of lesson, so please don’t submit books like that to me.
And that’s it! Told you the list would be way shorter.
What to expect of me as a mentor:
Other than my awesome emails at two in the morning? If I choose you, I’ll do at least one pass through your manuscript and query letter. This includes line edits as well as a letter of big picture edits I feel need to be addressed. We’ll do a second pass if we have the time (I did it for my FicFest mentee). I’ll help you brainstorm. I’ll cheer you on. I’ll be around when you feel like giving up. I’ll be there for you long after the agent round is over. Basically when the picks are announced, you may meet your next best friend.
Favorite books (in no order):
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
You Don’t Know Me by David Klass
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Nothing to Lose by Alex Flinn
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (still reading, but LOVE it)
To name a few. But if you don’t see anything similar to what you write on here, don’t fret. I have about two hundred other books I don’t have room to list and I never know how much I’ll love something until I actually read it.
I’m going to try to offer some type of feedback to those who submit to me. It may not be detailed, and depending on the number of subs I receive, it may not be feasible, but I will try my hardest. If I request a full MS from you, and don’t end up choosing you, then I will offer feedback definitely on it.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment on this post or find me on Twitter @judi__lauren and I’ll give you an answer. Sending your work out takes a lot of guts for every one of you, whether you submit to us in PitchWars, or find another path. If you sub to me and aren’t chosen, know that I got my agent through my query letter. It does happen. Good luck to all submitting!
Oh and by the way, my letter for the scavenger hunt is L. Not even going to hide it from you in this incredibly long post.