PITCH WARS MENTOR BIO 2018


Breathe.

Release the tension in your neck, loosen your hands.

Benedict Crumplebutt tells you to breathe.

This is not your only shot. I promise. If you've finished a book, I think you are incredible. If you are willing to work hard in order to make your story publishable, I THINK YOU ARE BRAVE. And if you are researching the Pitch Wars mentor posts, know how important it is to have a writing community, and are excited to work with others to make your dream come true, then you have everything this business takes.

I think you are amazing.

So no matter what happens for you from here on out, if you get into Pitch Wars this year, or if you don't. KEEP GOING! Publishing is for the stubborn.

The world needs your stories. The world needs your voice. And I, for one, cannot wait to see your story on the shelves, no matter what path takes you there.

Now, let's get started.

WHO I AM AND WHAT I WANT


This is my face!
Howdy! I'm Sheena Boekweg and I'm the author of THE WIRE CROWN (Winter 2020, FEIWEL AND FRIENDS). It's a YA Fantasy about the daughter of an executioner and the traitorous prince she can't kill, who reluctantly join forces to dethrone a paranoid queen after discovering they are trapped in a FANTASY VIDEO GAME (I know) where one wrong move means game over in that world—and death in the real one. It's nerdy and feminist and somehow contains my entire heart.

Add it on goodreads here!

I'm a mom of three, a theatre geek, and a former mentee (class 15). My strengths as a mentor are with character, worldbuilding, tightening pace, deepening emotional moments, and romance. I've studied story structure, and literally majored in character. I'm not just here to help your manuscript shine, I'm here for pep talks, for advice, for plot breaks down, and hand-holding, from now on until forever. 

I'm looking for someone who is ready for this. I'm looking for that person who has tried and tried to get their foot in the door, and can't understand what is blocking them. I'm looking for someone who can hear critiques as solutions. I'm looking for someone with ambition. Someone with hustle. Someone who shoots for the moon and won't be satisfied until they touch the sky.

Oh won't you be #teamshootforthemoon with me?

 WHAT GENRES?



I'm open to ALL fantasy. FANTASY IS MY FIRST LOVE. I particularly love Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, and fantasy novels set in worlds without magic. I'm not the best fit for Paranormal or Urban Fantasy but I can be convinced if the concept is fresh enough.

In sci-fi, I prefer novels that are light science/heavy characterization. I love sci-fi with big concepts and warm authentic characters. I particularly love Black Mirror type stories, and sci-fi that takes place in near future type worlds (although I adored Firefly, and love anything SET IN SPACE). Other favorite sci-fi shows: X-Files (especially the quirky episodes), Fringe, Primeval, Falling Skies, The 100, Timeless, Dark Matter, and Continuum.

In horror, I need the story to have a sense of humor and a balance of light. I'm not squeamish, but I am empathetic, so I probably won't choose something that means going to a dark place emotionally for the length of the entire story, no matter the genre. Think STRANGER THINGS level of scary. I'm also looking for stories which are spooky, not scary.

I'm especially interested in stories that mix elements of all three genres.

I'm not taking Contemporary, Graphic Novels, Memoirs, Thrillers, or anything too far above a PG 13 rating. I can handle triggering subjects pretty well, but please no graphic violence towards young children or dogs. I'm also steering clear of stories involving VR or video games because of similarities with my own book.

In all genres... 

  

GIVE ME YOUR WEIRD!


handy VENN DIAGRAM with three circles of things I want.
First circle labeled WEIRD.

The weirder the concept the more I want to request.


I'm looking for a story as weird as my most favorite movie, PENELOPE, which I'm watching as I write this, so this whole post is basically GIVE ME PENELOPE and I'm not even sorry.

Penelope is the story of a pig-faced girl, and it is available on Netflix.


I love stories with absurd concepts taken extremely seriously. I love stories about girls who turn into trees, or love interest who also happen to be statues sometimes, or aliens who fly on rainbow bridges while swinging magic hammers. I love the Luna Lovegood of stories, the quirky, oddball, outcasts, or misfits.

And on the flip side, I love stories about deeply serious concepts taken with an absurd amount of joy. Like a YA THE GOOD PLACE would be EVERYTHING. Books like basically everything Gina Damico has ever written, but especially WAX. I love funny books, and feel very comfortable working with humor and will happily add more jokes to your manuscript.

As you can tell from the description of THE WIRE CROWN, I'm a big fan of stories that walk the line between genres and are kind of hard to place. I love stories that take elements from scifi and put it in a horror, or elements from fantasy and put it in space. I love weird stories that take the familiar and show it in a new light.

I'm looking for stories like CINDER by Marissa Meyer (fairytale retelling staring a cyborg girl on a planet ruled by an evil queen, YES!) or SCYTHE by Neal Shusterman. 

I love stories where the impossible happens for logical reasons. I love deeply researched magic systems like, well, everything by Brandon Sanderson or V.E. Schwab, or like the magic system based in bone magic, where the MC's wields magic teeth, in the upcoming THE MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owens. I love stories with RULES, and MAPS, and THREE RING BINDERS FULL of worldbuilding details.

I also love stories where logic is thrown out the window. I absolutely loved THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER by Emily X.R. Pan, a lyrical lush literary story about a dead mom who turned into a bird. So MR or fabulism is a yes for me!

I especially like when tropes are twisted on their head. I unironically love all Disney Channel Movies, so don't hesitate if your story is by the book, BUT GIVES SOMEONE NEW A CHANCE TO STAR. I'm very interested in fresh voices, diverse characters written by diverse writers. Books like WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT by my CP Isabel Ibanez, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi, or THE DISASTERS by MK England. 



via GIPHY


I ask that if your story is about what it's like to be a certain marginalization, you be of that marginalization. I believe there is a difference between inclusion and representation. I think anyone can do inclusion, provided they research, get sensitivity readers and are empathetic people. Representation is something that should be reserved for people with the life experience.

SUPER BIG MAJOR SHOUT OUT FOR FAT CHARACTERS. If you can comp DUMPLIN' in any way SEND TO ME. DUMPLIN' in space, DUMPLIN' in the Fae Court, fat love interests, fat people living and being happy, or being heroes, or being worthy to love. Even fat minor characters. SEND IT TO ME.  My book THE WIRE CROWN has a fat main character, and knowing teens are going to meet Dagney and see her get her HEA makes me giddy. I'd love to have a hand in seeing more fat characters go to print.

 

GIVE ME YOUR FEMINIST STORIES!


VENN DIAGRAM: One circle says weird, second circle says feminist


If you just eeped, send me your stories.

If you can comp your book to OCEAN'S 8, send it to me. (Yes, I love heists, but mostly I love a group of women working together to heist.) I'd love to see mentor type characters like General Leia training MC's in the ways of the...um magic system. I'd love to see books with a mostly female cast. I love girls who get stuff done, who move the plot. I love girls wielding battle axes, and also women who are strong in distinctly feminine ways, girls who bake their way to victory, or who nurture others. I love unlikable female characters who do bad brave things but you love them anyway. I love Shuri, Leslie Knope, Luna Lovegood, and Lane Kim. I loved Lada, Delilah Bard, Willowdean, Nina, and Inej. I love fabulous well-written women with goals and flaws. My feminism is inclusive.   

I love genderbent stories. I love any story that can comp MOXIE by Jennifer Mathieu, or BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCullough, but like...in a speculative way.

It can also be as simple as a message of self love. I love stories with messages of self acceptance.

Penelope likes herself the way that she is.
 This moment in the movie makes me cry every single time,
 and I want it in more book forms.

So give me anything that can comp GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson, THE LAST NAMSARA by Kristen Ciccarelli, EARTH GIRL by Janet Edwards, or GOOSE GIRL by Shannon Hale.



GIVE ME SOMEONE TO SHIP!

The VENN DIAGRAM is completed: weird, feminist, and kissing.


In fact, feel free to give me a whole cast to ship. I LOVE multi pov stories with large casts, (like the most perfect YA fantasy of all time SIX OF CROWS) and love octagons (like a love triangle, but messier). I love a good HEA power couple, but I especially adore stories where love is more realistic to teenage experience. I love the sweetness of freaking out because the MC is holding someone's hand for the first time. I love the newness of every surge of hormones. I love stories where the romance doesn't need a kiss in order to ship it, but I love a gooooooood kissing scene, hoooboy, do I love a good kissing scene. Here's one from PENELOPE, and it's about as perfect as a kiss can get--you have theme, delay, and James McAvoy.



My favorite couples help each other, and challenge each other, but don't complete each other.


Oh I love this movie.


Of the three (weird, feminist and kissing) kissing is the least important, so if you don't provide a shipped couple, I will provide my own.

*whistles*

*edited to add-- I DO NOT NEED A ROMANCE. I'm especially drawn to stories where the characters go through an emotional connection arc, which does not have to be romantic. Found families, parent/child relationships, friendship stories, etc all would count. 

OTHER THINGS ABOUT PENELOPE THAT I'D LOVE TO SEE.


  • ATMOSPHERIC WORLD BUILDING

Every shot of this movie is magic, I swear. I love gothic stories, or stories where you can feel the heat of the desert or taste the spicy peppers, stories where the mood or the setting is basically a character of its own. Stories where the woods are alive, and not just with the Sound of Music. (My mentee can expect quality theatre puns like this one.)






  • DAMAGED BOYS WHO ARE INSPIRED TO DO BETTER BECAUSE OF LOVE.



I blame Jess Mariano and Shaun Hunter who imprinted on me early.

  • ANTAGONISTS WHO SPEAK THE WORLDS OF THE MEANEST VOICE IN THE MC'S HEAD.


I love antagonists who make sense. Like in WARCROSS by Marie Lu, or the Darkling. Also send me anything with a part for Catherine O'Hara. 

Catherine O'Hara ICON



  • Also WITCHES, 
  • CURSES, 
  • GREAT CLOTHES, 
  • MATCHMAKING or ARRANGED MARRIAGES, 
  • FOUND FAMILIES,
  • and FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS. 

THINGS NOT IN PENELOPE BUT I STILL LOVE AND WANT TO SEE



  • Theaters, 
  • ghosts, 
  • ghosts in theaters,
  • cults,
  • unlikely alliances,
  • dragons,
  • super heroes,
  • characters who die,
  • quiet stories set in HUGE worlds (Like THE QUIET PLACE),
  • stories that take you on an EMOTIONAL RIDE,
  • vengeance, 
  • soft boys, 
  • awkward smart kids,
  • monsters,
  • robot buddies,
  • characters with mental illness treated in a loving way, 
  • fat characters (yes I said this nine times, I NEED IT)
  • best friends to lovers, 
  • also enemies to lovers, 
  • also lovers to enemies, 
  • killer world building,
  • literally world building that might kill me, 
  • TWISTY STORIES
  • book foods, 
  • nerd culture, 
  • characters who care too much,
  • characters who don't care at all (lies),
  • band geeks, 
  • theatre nerds,
  • puns, 
  • humor,
  • bookish characters, 
  • high stakes, 
  • characters in disguise, 
  • royalty in disguise
  • royalty in new ways (send me your fat queens or princes with depression!)
  • MC's who are on the wrong side but don't know it, 
  • testing family loyalty, 
  • villains that need to be killed, 
  • villains who get what is coming to them, 
  • punching villains in the face, 
  • also anything that feels like a new fairy tale or folklore.

*inhale*

Thanks, Benitin Cowsrumple. I also needed the reminder.


When it comes down to it, I will know the story when I find it, and I will fight for it. I will be there for you as you revise, I'll be cheering you on twitter, chatting through g-chats any time you need, helping you throughout the entire Pitch Wars period, and beyond.

Having a mentor means not going this scary thing alone. 

I'm so honored to have your stories in my inbox. If you have more questions, please comment below and I will reply below. Also, I will be at the #askmentor on the 16th, so feel free to @ me with any questions you might have then.

And mentee of mine, whoever you are, you are going to be family to me and I can't wait to meet you. 

FIGHT ON, my friends! I can't wait to see your books on the shelves! 

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Comments

  1. I LOVE PENELOPE!!! I don't know if I'd say it's my favorite movie, but it's in my top 3. Unfortunately my book is not quite that weird but it might still fit? (More wish lists to read ;)) But *if* I submit to you, and you pass over me for a YA Penelope? I'd be TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT, so long as I could read it one day ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. As someone with a tree-girl unironically in my story, I particularly liked that bit of your post. Also THANK YOU FOR THE PENELOPE REFERENCES! I watched that film as a kid, and after my first viewing, I watched it like every day for two weeks. Such a good film with a great message! I also love the concept of your book- mixing genres like that is my JAM. Also, I was wondering, how dark do you like your fantasy? And would you except something a bit on the longer sidE?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hello! I love fantasy stories that are dark and twisty, and light and magical, so i guess my answer is yes. And if i fall in love with a longer story, i'd definitely be working alongside my mentee to trim it.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the wish list, Sheena! Also, are you open to considering retellings?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely. Especially if there's a twist, like a genderbent, or in a different and unusual world.

      Delete
  4. What an awesome wishlist! My MS has so many elements you're requesting. My only question is referring to you not wanting anyt hing VR. Do you specifically mean along the lines of video games etc...? Or would this include a new twist on an Inception/Matrix-like plot. Asking for a friend 😉

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you (or your friend) think your book is too similar in elements to mine, then don't send it.

      Delete

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