#PitchWars 2016: Mentor Bio + Wish List

Welcome, Pitch Warriors! You’ve found the wish list of the mighty YA co-mentoring duo, Rachel Lynn Solomon and Kit Frick. Which means, you’re in the right place if you want to work with the most kick-ass mentoring team on the planet. *Throw furtive glances at other awesome YA mentors.* *Get super soakers ready.*

WHO WE ARE

Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rachel LS

Hi there! This is my third year as a Pitch Wars mentor, and I love this contest so, so much — I look forward to it all year! I’m also very excited to be co-mentoring with Kit, a majorly talented writer and editor. I’m the author of two upcoming contemporary YA novels from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. My debut, Fingers Crossed, will be out in spring of 2018. You can add it on Goodreads here! I’m represented by the brilliant Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency.

My own road to publication has been rocky (you can read more about that here), and I find so much joy in working closely with other writers. I love passing on what I’ve learned so far, both about writing and the publishing world in general. This is a tough business, and I want to support my mentee through all the ups and downs. If you end up working with us, our relationship doesn’t end after the contest. We want to build lasting connections with other writers. That’s what this community is all about!

Speaking of community, that’s my favorite part of Pitch Wars. Many of my closest friends are mentors — though I’m ready to throw down if we want the same manuscript! And I’ve been so lucky that my past mentees have become more than mentees; we’re now critique partners and close friends. Both my 2014 mentees received multiple offers of rep just days after the contest ended, and one mentee’s Pitch Wars novel will be published by Penguin in early 2018!

Fun facts: I’m a tap dancer, a former NPR producer, and a Guinness World Record holder for the most natural redheads in one place! I’m a Seattle native, which basically makes me required to love rainy days (which I do). I’m slightly obsessed with my adorable 8-pound rescue dog, Wally. In high school, I fronted an all-girl punk rock band, but these days, I only sing karaoke. My go-to songs: “Surrender” by Cheap Trick and “Train in Vain” by The Clash. You can follow me on twitter @rlynn_solomon.

Kit Frick

Kit_DreamBig

Well, hello! This is my first year as a Pitch Wars mentor, and I am so thrilled to be co-mentoring with YA bad-ass Rachel Lynn Solomon! We met through this very contest last year: she was a mentor and I subbed to her as an entrant. I didn’t make it into the contest (*loud, pitying sobs*), but then I picked myself up and dove into revisions with my Pitch Wars manuscript. Even though I did not become a mentee, I did meet an awesome group of people through the 2015 contest–mentors, mentees, and fellow mentee hopefuls like myself. At first, I totally didn’t get what everyone was talking about on the hashtag last year about “the community.” I thought, “OK, maybe I’ll make a few new Twitter friends. It can’t be that big of a deal.” Wrong! When I finished revising my manuscript and was ready to query in December, I didn’t enter the trenches alone. Because of Pitch Wars, I had a whole group of new writer friends who were right there with me, and believe me it made the ups and downs of querying SO much easier!

In March, I signed with my agent, Erin Harris at Folio/Folio Jr, on the YA contemporary psychological suspense novel I’d entered into Pitch Wars. I’m currently writing my second YA psych thriller.

When I’m not writing, you can find me editing chapbooks for Black Lawrence Press and editing for private clients through Copper Lantern Studio. I hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University and have studied with book editors, copyeditors, and literary agents through NYU’s Center for Publishing. I also write poetry (I have two chapbooks published through Slope Editions and Rye House Press), love to cook (the slow cooker and microplane are currently my two favorite kitchen tools), get really into Eurogames (Seven Wonders and Dominion are my two current obsessions), and spend a lot of time snuggling with my two adorable cats. You can follow me on twitter @kitfrick.

f-train

WHAT WE WANT

We are looking for YA in the following genres: contemporary realistic, contemporary magical realism, contemporary suspense/mystery/psychological thrillers, and contemporary with speculative elements.

Here’s a sampling of things we love!

  • Anything that makes you wonder, “can I do this in YA?”
  • Complicated, flawed characters who make mistakes
  • Female characters who could be called unlikable
  • Characters with unique or unusual hobbies/interests
  • Artistic characters and art in general
  • Diverse main characters, diverse casts of characters, #ownvoices. Racial diversity, LGBTQ+ characters, characters with disabilities
  • Realistic high school relationships and sexual experiences
  • Romances with tons of delicious tension and chemistry
  • Toxic friendships
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Complex family dynamics
  • Books that play with structure/timeline in any way; any kind of nontraditional narrative structure. We LOVE nonlinear books!
  • Moral gray areas, books that take risks, books that aren’t afraid to mine the dark depths of the human soul. We love dark and gritty.
  • Twists and turns we didn’t see coming; sophisticated suspenses; thrillers that use emotion, character, and setting to create page-turning tension
  • Gorgeous writing that reels us in
  • A voice that grabs us and won’t let go
  • Transportive settings
  • Bittersweet endings

Obviously, your manuscript doesn’t need to contain every single element on the above list. That would probably be impossible! But this should give you a good sense of our YA interests–and what we’d love to find in our inbox!

FAVORITE BOOKS, MOVIES, AND TV SHOWS

Rachel

  • Favorite authors: Nina LaCour, E. Lockhart, Courtney Summers, Hilary T. Smith, Corey Ann Haydu, Amy Reed, Morgan Matson, Katie Cotugno, Emery Lord, Lauren Strasnick, Rachael Allen, Jenn Bennett, Abigail Haas, Jandy Nelson, Jennifer Mathieu, Aisha Saeed
  • All-time favorite books: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara, Hold Still by Nina LaCour, Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, Forever by Judy Blume, Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott, One Day by David Nicholls, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Favorite movies: Rushmore, Sixteen Candles, Before Sunrise, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Ghost World, Groundhog Day, You’ve Got Mail
  • Favorite TV shows: Gilmore Girls, The Fosters, Felicity, Party Down, Veronica Mars, Parks and Rec, Jane the Virgin

Kit

It’s probably not a shocker that my list has a lot of overlap with Rachel’s! So, I’m going to challenge myself to not repeat favorites TOO MUCH. But hint hint, I also love E. Lockhart, Courtney Summers, Prep, Before I Fall, Felicity, Before Sunrise–and about 15 other things on here. See, I already cheated!

  • Favorite authors: Stephanie Kuehn, Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Curtis Sittenfeld (I would read ANYTHING by these four rockstars)
  • All-time favorite books (in YA): Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn, Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  • Favorite movies: Reality Bites, Zoolander, The Princess Bride, Romeo + Juliet, Father of the Bride, Back to the Future, Labyrinth, When Harry Met Sally, Can’t Hardly Wait
  • Favorite TV shows: My So-Called Life, Dawson’s Creek, Alias, The OC, The Americans, 30 Rock, Orange is the New Black, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

NOT FOR US

There are a few things that we definitely know aren’t right for us. You have a limited number of mentors to sub to, so if you’d describe your book in one of the following ways, it’s best to know upfront that it’s not going to be right for Team Rachel + Kit. Fortunately, you have a long and awesome list of YA mentors to choose from! We are not looking for:

  • Plots that revolve around sports as the book’s central focus. (We know of at least a few YA mentors that are dying for sports books, so send them their way!) Athlete MCs are great if sports are secondary to the main plot. We’d happily consider a book about dance, though, since dancers are both artists and athletes.
  • Light, humorous fare (which can of course be fantastic, but we wouldn’t be the best mentors for those projects)
  • Anything involving violence toward animals

OUR MENTORING STYLE

If you work with us, here’s a sneak peek at what your next couple months will look like:

Rachel

Kit and I will split up your edits, so definitely plan on two rounds of work! Round one will be big-picture notes and an edit letter, and round two will be line edits. As a mentor/editor, I’m tough but extremely encouraging! I never tell someone, “change this” or “I don’t like this.” Rather, I give suggestions, ask questions, and turn it into a discussion. You can expect novel-length emails, chats, Skype calls, telegrams, Morse code messages — whatever works best for you! We WILL push you because we know you can take your amazing book to the next level.

Kit

My agent likes to say — and I agree — that editing is a collaboration, not a dictatorship. That said, Rachel and I will absolutely push you to do the work necessary so that your manuscript is the best version of itself and ready for the agent round / querying. You’ll have a great team behind you, providing guided feedback and encouragement.

That’s it! If you submit to us, feel free to include a line about why you picked us. It can go at the end of the query. We’re SO excited to see all your awesome, gritty, risk-taking YA books in our inbox this year!

And don’t forget to check out the wish lists of the other amazing 2016 YA mentors. (I mean, don’t do that, they’re the competition!) But really do:

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