Posted by Thomas Torre at 7:02 AM
Insert obligatory "feed me seymour reference"
Looking back, and thinking about what the heck I'm looking for this time around, I ultimately decided that this year is basically PITCH WARS version 2.0. I STILL have an insatiable appetite for helping people with their manuscripts. Just call me a sucker for taking a manuscript and putting it through the doo-hickey of a machine I'd like to call "Tom's ultimate manuscript destroyer." Trust me, I mean that in the nicest way possible. Sometimes you've go to destroy the manuscript to bring it to that next level of awesome-ness.
And yes, I still take some sort of sick pleasure in wielding my fiery war-axe of monstrous editing and hacking away at the pages. Crazy much? But of course! I'm an author, and what author isn't crazy.
If you're here, and you don't know what the post is about, go ahead and click up there. Come on..click it..this is all about PITCH WARS, baby!!! Heck yeah! Side note - anyone ever been paintballing before..is that a word? Well..story time. I got nailed in the hand one time with a paint ball, and that's like the spot where you really don't have any protection. Needless to say, I have very little feeling left in my thumb. Quick, go tell your friends.
Now that you know what PITCH WARS is, you're probably wondering "who the heck is this guy and how can he possibly help me?" Let's take this opportunity to figure that out, shall we? Stay awhile, grab a chair or a bean bag cushion, and listen to my tale. A tale of mystery, and triumph! A tale of heartbreak and passion!
And whiskey....good....monkey shoulder....bourbon.
Actually, it's more of tale of me being a mega-nerd, but whatever...ahem....
Who Am I?
Well, for starters you can find me on twitter - @COPERNICUSNERD
that's right..Copernicus Nerd..what's that? You'll find out soon.
First and foremost, I'm someone who likes to milk the juices out of my ever-imaginative brain. Seriously, just stick my brain in a Nutribullet and drink the goo that comes out. You'll be granted with some phenomenal cosmic powers!!!!
Thanks, Genie. Appreciate the support.
Anyway, I live in the good 'ol state of NEW YORK, out in that little dinky island that sticks out of the US. We call it Long Island, or with my accent it would be LAWNG ISLAND. I have a house, a wife ( who is my bestest-est friend in the whole, wide, world), a massive 100 pound doberman, and 4 cats....although 1 lives inside and the rest are just my outdoor kitties that hang out in the garage. We're one big happy family, and we're a bunch of nerds. Heck, I graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a degree of Cartooning. No joke, my diploma says "CARTOONING MAJOR" - I work in the comic book industry on the side..hence all the illustrations you may have seen haha.
In case you didn't realize by stumbling upon my other blog, I'm a huge gamer. I collect games, I play games, and to this day I don't know why my wife puts up with it. But you know what being an epic, gamer nerd did for me? It helped me create my first MG Book, COPERNICUS NERDICUS that snagged me an agent who I couldn't be happier with!
Who is she, you ask? Why, it's Dawn Fredrick of Red Sofa Literary (be sure to follower on twitter, @RedSofaLiterary). How awesome is she? Well, let's just say she used to be a Roller Derby ref. You can't beat that.
I'm sure that's what you wanted to hear about, so let's get on with what the heck do I exactly write?
What do I write?
I focus primarily on middle-grade, and it's middle-grade that really pushed me over the creative edge with writing. The first book I had in the works, was COPERNICUS NERDICUS. Care to know what it's about, well why don't you swing on over to this page HERE and check out my query at the bottom. I'll give you a sneak peak..it's got mind-controlling video games, giant robots, and evil criminal organizations.
We had that juicy tale on submission last year, but decided to hold off due to some feedback from publishers. There was a lot of love for it, but apparently, video games were a big thing and we just missed the boat. Needless to say, we're on the path to submitting my second MG journey, which I'll tease you with the title....
LUCAS PEREGRINUS and the ESCAPE FROM MANUKI ISLAND. Think of goonies ,meets Indiana Jones, on a quest to discover the hidden secrets of Easter Island. Treasures, bad guys, giant birds, volcanoes, booby-traps (did you say booby traps?)
What am I looking for in PITCH WARS?
Oof, this is a tough question. REALLY tough question. Part of me has those grabby hands that just wants to get hold of all the insanely awesome writing that I know is out there. Trust me, I've been around the block a few times getting involved in these contests, so I know how many awesome writers are out there. I've made a large number of great writer pals by taking part in these. So just a word of advice before I even continue with what I want. Consider just being part of this competition a win in itself. The amount of experience, knowledge, and new friendship you're going to get out of this is priceless.
Anyway, on to what I'm CRAVING.
For Pitch Wars, I am looking for anything MG. Give me that MG adventure with a crazy cast of characters reminiscent of The Goonies, or a MG Sci-Fi / Fantasy with a world beyond anything I could have imagined. Heck, give me a MG contemporary with gut-tearing, laughter-inducing dialogue, and I'll still be all over it. But, it's gotta follow a few bits of criteria to REALLY spark my interest.
- A POWERFUL middle-grade voice. Middle grade is ALL about the voice, and it's really one of the hardest things to accomplish when writing a MG novel.
- A cast of believable and lovable characters. Can't stress how important this is. I need to be able to relate with each character, no matter how minor they are.
- Rolling-on-the-floor and / or BELIEVABLE dialogue. I need it to flow to the point where I forget I am even reading, and feel like I'm actually listening to your characters.
- A unique premise. It's a tough one, but I really want to see something that hasn't been done before, or if something similar has, a really, REALLY interesting twist. Gotta keep it fresh!
But don't let those requirements scare you. If you think you've got an epic MG novel that just needs reading, send it on over. I want something that's going to stop me dead in my tracks and bring my brain to overload mode!
What I don't really want?
- Anything that's not MG - that's pretty much a given. I'll take lower MG, or Upper MG...but please know your age group. If you think you have a MG, but it's actually YA, I'll know lol
- A little bit of the ultra-violence (clockwork orange anyone?) - Erm...this doesn't really go over well in MG, so I'd like to avoid over-the top violence. Blood and gore is okay, but it has to be MG tasteful.
- Leaning more toward the heavy emotional contemporary - I'll be honest, I wouldn't be able to get a handle on helping with an emotionally heavy contemporary MS, as it's something I'm still working on myself. For me, it's all about pleasing that reluctant reader. I'm more of the "humor" based contemporary.
- Re-tellings - As much as I love 'em...just can't wrap my head around 'em :)
Why should you even pick me!?
Hmm, let's see. Because I command you to...follow the watch...follow it closely...your eyes are getting sleepy....and you want to CHOOSE ME as your mentor...YOU KNOW IT IN YOUR HEART TO BE TRUE. IT IS YOUR DENSITY...I mean...your destiny. trust me, you're made for me if you know what movie that's from. Here's another HINT -
- Okay, well I've been around the block with querying and had a pretty darn good success rate. Even had managed to get multiple offers of representations before deciding to settle on my current agent (IT WAS A GIVEN though..she's so awesome)
- I've assisted in numerous other contests before as judge / jury and assistant, and I guess I'm pretty well liked in the writing community? Right? People like me? Hope so....lol
- I know how important face time is, so of course I'll try to be available for a few skype sessions and really talk through the ins and outs of your MS. ITS GO TIME!
- I am an active contributor to the awesome group known as MIDDLE GRADE MINDED!! Heck, we're a group of MG writers that just love to offer out some Middle Grade Advice! There's a few of us out there on the Mentor list! That's how awesome we are!
No, but seriously. If there's one thing I love to do with my fellow writers, it's to help my fellow writers advance. There's something about taking someone's manuscript to the next level with a few helpful words of advice. I know how hard it is to try to work on a manuscript that you've been blinded by for the past year. It's almost impossible to see what's wrong with it, and you'll always need that extra pair of eye balls to tell you what's what.
I'm harsh, but fair. And I always love to use a sandwich method when I critique. Good - bad - good. Because I know, there is ALWAYS more good than bad in your writing. Just by getting this far, you each have an amazing talent, and I just want to use my knowledge of the MG world to help you take that manuscript to that level of super-epic-awesomeness....and I know we can do it together. YOU KNOW WHY? This is why...
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