Pitch me on #PitchWars 2015! (Adult Fiction)

I’m a #PitchWars mentor!

That means I’m actively looking for some special author that needs an agent. If you’re not familiar with Pitch Wars, I suggest you go take a look at Brenda Drake’s website and get briefed. Basically, it’s a contest where agented/published authors like me choose a manuscript to critique and read, then try to get an agent for our mentees.

So you want to know about me? Check out my bio. My book, EVERY MOUNTAIN MADE LOW, commanded a handsome advance from a really good publisher, and you’ll be able to buy it in every bookstore in America and Britain in 2016.

Let me save you some time.

  • Adult fiction only. No anything else.
  • No regular-ass, unmodded niche genres. I don’t want to read plain steampunk. Regular space opera doesn’t interest me. Get in there and shake things up.
  • No mean people… except in your stories. I love mean people in stories.
  • This is a trad pub contest. If you bash trad pub all over the internet while we’re working together, I can’t be motivated to help you.
  • No memoirs.

I want to see your queries in a concise format, similar to the one suggested here.

Basically what I want

I enjoy heavily remixed genres with super-strong spices. I’m a post-modern dude, and if you tell me you poured a western together with a bit of magic and a strong splash of drama–strained through the filter of stage magic–you can count me in. I’ve always liked the video-store categories more than the bookstore categories: action, comedy, horror, drama, thriller, etc. Any query that references the core emotion their book evokes is more likely to catch my eye than the competition.

I don’t need genre fiction. I can do real-world stuff, too. Please send me broken molds.

Potent characters wanted!

hate hate hate concept-only plots. No puzzle boxes, no labyrinths. If you wrote the next Interstellar, that’s great for you, but send it to someone else, please. For me, stories are all about the people involved. I need multi-dimensional, exciting characters who passionately pursue their goals for good or ill. I need them to fail, to be flawed and to be flummoxed. I need to feel like every core character could have their own story, and I particularly enjoy sympathetic villains.

Let’s put strong women in stories, and no, I don’t mean that they’re great with a sword. Expose me to points of view other than Pouty McManpain, the goth/loner/gun enthusiast vigilante. Please ensure that your core characters can make it to the other side of this flowchart. I mean, the chart isn’t the end-all be-all of character development, but it’s a start.

New perspectives needed.

Look: I’m a southern, white American male . I live in the suburbs and long for escapist fiction. For fuck’s sake get me out of here. Send me somewhere I don’t know, or show me a side of life I never see. I absolutely freaked out on Khaled Housseini’s THE KITE RUNNER, because I know almost nothing about pre-war Afghanistan. My next book to read is Nnedi Okorafor’s BINTI, because I’ve never read Nigerian sci-fi. This isn’t about global positioning, either: I enjoyed the hell out of Sara Gruen’s WATER FOR ELEPHANTS because I’m completely ignorant of circus life in the 1930s, and it was a fascinating journey into the unknown.

Challenge me. Fight me. Show me something that makes me question my own human experience. Transport me. Be intimate and educate me. I don’t care about European fantasy, or libertarian space operas. I don’t need another rich, crime-fighting playboy, either. Just concentrate on what makes your work authentic and connect me with a life experience other than my own.

Do not send me any stories about disaffected suburban dudes who move to New York/LA and fall in love with baristas.

Make me cry.

I fucking love to cry. I’m basically an oversized baby with a handlebar mustache, so just hit me as hard as you can. Take my candy away. Kill my characters. Get into my guts and twist me up with a fork until all I can think about is your amazing story of loss and triumph. Risk it all. Make me afraid that we’ll never see tomorrow. Show me how your characters fail, and fail, and fail… until they don’t.

What will I do for you?

Hopefully, I’ll get you an agent, but that all comes after the work we’ll do together. Here’s the thing: I’m not a line editor. I expect potential mentees to have excellent copywriting skills. If I’m making truckloads of line edits per page, I can’t help you yet. I will know within a single page if I can help you or not.

I’m a phone/Skype guy. I love to chat voice-to-voice, and if that doesn’t work for you, we might have a problem. I want to deliver my developmental edits to a human being, and I must be able to communicate clearly in ways that chat/email might not work.

Where problems occur, you’ll get solutions. I’m inherently optimistic. Mentees must be willing to discuss why I’m wrong when they disagree with me, and educate me about their reasoning. I know I’m wrong with striking consistency, so don’t worry; I’m open to hearing that.

I’m friendly and easygoing, and I want both of us to have a stress-free, exhilarating experience. We’re supposed to be a winning team. Aggression frightens me and sticks with me for days afterward. It ruins all my hours in between the shouting and the next interaction and consumes my every thought. I will instantly drop any mentee that lashes out at a critique, and there is no appeals process. I just can’t handle shouting–I’ve no emotional bandwidth to spare for assholes.

Most importantly, be yourself.

If your words are your mouth, and your story is a clear gaze straight into your eyes, you can feel free to ignore anything I’ve said above. Connect me with humanity, and I am yours to command. Powerful, intimate stories are what I crave.

So basically, that’s it. Good luck, and I look forward to reading your queries and sample chapters!

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11 thoughts on “Pitch me on #PitchWars 2015! (Adult Fiction)”

  1. Hi Alex. Are you on Twitter? I’d love to follow you there as well as here. I’m looking forward to the Rocket City Lit Fest this October and possibly seeing you there.
    BTW, I was born in Mississippi (in a stereotypical tiny town just 20 miles or so from Jackson), I’ve lived in the Houston, TX area, and I’ve called Huntsville home for many years. Not the strangest coincidence by a long shot, but for some reason, I was startled when I read that one of the #PitchWars mentors is right here in Huntsville. Go figure.

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