Hello all you beautiful people! You’re looking quite smashing today. Is that a new shirt? It looks lovely on you.
(I figure maybe if I ply you with compliments first, you won’t notice I’m basically recycling my wishlists from the past two years. Is it working?)
This will be my third year mentoring for #PitchWars, and I’m so excited to be back!
If you want my super official bio, that baby is plastered on my website, as well on the back of my books and all over Amazon, Goodreads, etcetera. But what fun is an official bio? I think the unofficial one no one would let me put on my books is better:
Aficionado of smut, tiaras, and tutus, Brighton Walsh has spent her last *coughmumble* years searching for the perfect dessert, finding any excuse to wear a dress, and swearing as much as humanly possible while not around her children. Fortunately, she can now make her characters do the latter for her, in sometimes extremely satisfying ways. She does not enjoy walks on the beach (sand gets everywhere, and if she wanted a workout, she’d go to the gym), but she does enjoy walking on the nice trail near her home that surrounds the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. A big lover of romance—both writing and reading—she takes her HEA very seriously, and if you mess with that in any way, you are dead to her. She lives in an average home in an average neighborhood with two (above-average) kids she loves dearly but who drive her crazy and a(n also above average) husband who puts up with her bullshit.
…something about it being too candid and not professional enough? Idk idk idk.
Between that info dump, plus 2014 and 2015‘s posts, as well as my legitimate bio, you’ve probably got a pretty good handle on me. But just so you don’t have to dig any further, I’ll get serious for a minute and tell you about my professional accomplishments, lest you think I’m just some rando with a blog. I’ve been published since 2013 and have had the opportunity to work with several publishers, including Harlequin’s Carina Press, Penguin’s Berkley, and Macmillan’s St. Martin’s Press. I also recently incorporated my own publishing company for my self-publishing adventures. In 2015, Caged in Winter was named one of the 101 best romances of the past decade (!!!), and Exposed was named one of the best romances of 2015. I’m repped by the super fabulous, gif-wielding agent extraordinaire Mandy Hubbard of (newly founded) Emerald City Literary Agency, and one of the amazing agents who will be participating in Pitch Wars.
Still wondering if I’m the mentor for you? Lemme see if I can swing this in my favor… *smooths out yoga pants and sits up a little straighter* This will be my third year mentoring for Pitch Wars, and I’ve had some awesome mentees thus far. Kelly Siskind, my mentee from 2014, was agented and snagged several book deals shortly after Pitch Wars 2014 ended. Her Pitch Wars novel also garnered her a Golden Heart nomination (RITAs are the Oscars for published romance novels and the Golden Heart award is for their unpublished counterparts). And Suzanne Marie, from Pitch Wars 2015, is agented and currently on submission to publishers with her Pitch Wars entry. I’ve been beta’ing and critique-partnering (yeah, I just made up a verb) for nearly eight years, for both agented and unagented, published and unpublished writers, not to mention the hundreds upon hundreds of romance novels I’ve read (staying current with the trends…this job is super rough, you guys). What I’m saying is, I love romance and I know what makes one good.
I went to Twitter and asked hopefuls what they’d like to see on mentor wishlists. I couldn’t quite fit all twelve thousand questions on here, but I tried to cover the big ones…
Why do I mentor?
For me, the why of becoming a Pitch Wars mentor is an utterly selfish reason. It makes me feel good. That’s it. It makes me feel good to be able to share whatever knowledge I’ve gleamed in my time as an agented and published author with someone who’s feeling as terrified, anxious, and uncertain as I was in the beginning. It makes me feel good to be able to help my mentee work and mold and polish their manuscript until it shines. And then I love seeing that mentee go on to do amazing things.
Bottom line: It makes me feel good to watch my past mentees succeed in this very fickle industry, in part because of the help I gave.
Realistic dialogue and plot
Sex scenes (I’m totes the reigning Smut Queen of 2015-2016)
If any of those are a concern for you, I’m your girl. If, on the other hand, you’re worried about world building? You should probably cross me off your list.
While I prefer e-mail for ease and efficiency, I’m pretty open here. If phone calls do it for you, I have no problem doing that (though finding a time to be able to sit uninterrupted for a phone call may take a bit longer). Same for Skype. Basically whatever flips your pancakes will work for me.
My plan for my mentee:
As much of a planner as I am, I hate setting down specifics here, because situations can change (and because I don’t want to dissuade anyone from submitting to me because I didn’t say I’d read your book fourteen times, and that was your magic number). Plus, not everyone’s book will need the same level of work. However, going by what I’ve done in past years, I’ll read over your manuscript (several times—pre-selection, post-selection, and additional times if necessary and if time allows) and give it back to you with an edit letter as well as developmental edits. This is where we’ll focus on characterization, pacing, arc, plot holes, etc. Once that’s done, we’ll delve into the nitty gritty. You’ll get homework (yes, I said homework. Teach a man to fish, and all that…) to do on your own so you can learn the parts of your writing that need work, what crutches you use, etc. Doing this will help you with each and every future book you write. Then we’ll polish that baby and get it prepped and shiny for the agent round. We’ll also get your query in tip-top shape.
What I expect out of my mentee:
You must be willing to put in the work. A lot of work. You must also be open to feedback and be able to take critique and suggestions. I think this is a no-brainer if you’re entering a contest like this, but it’s super important to come into these things with an open mind. If you’re looking for a quick fix, I’m not the mentor for you. I want someone who wants this bad enough to bust their ass for it without complaint. The publishing industry is hard. Trust me when I say this is nowhere near the hardest.
What you can expect from me as a mentor:
In addition to all the sparkly edits I’ll be doing, I’m also on tap to offer advice, encouragement, snarky e-mails, therapy sessions, hand-holding (but not too much hand-holding…I’ll shove you when needed), cheerleading, and inappropriate jokes to cheer you up or just for the hell of it. One of the things I love most about Pitch Wars is the community. There are life-long friends, critique partners, and relationships to be made. I don’t see this as a two month job. My previous mentees all know I’m here as a sounding board, critique partner, or idea bouncer, forever. If I choose you, I have to like you–and vice versa!–because I plan to be with you for a while. If that sounds good, and you want to grow your writing and are willing to strip down your manuscript and rebuild it if necessary, then I think we’d be a good fit!
What I’m looking for:
GIMME ALL YOUR NEW ADULT AND ADULT ROMANCES RIGHT NAOOOOOOOO!
What I mean to say is, I’m seeking adult and/or new adult romances of the contemporary, paranormal or suspense variety. I love character driven stories, and while high concept are always a bonus, I won’t turn my nose up at quiet books. Things I’m not looking for? High fantasy, magic realism, historical romances (unless by historical you mean set in the 80s or 90s, in which case *grabby hands*), sci-fi romance, inspirational romance. I’d also say no to horror (egads!), crime, thriller, non-fiction, memoirs, and women’s fiction (<—-this is important! Don’t waste your mentor pick on me if your manuscript is solidly in the WF genre. Not sure if it is? Hop over to Twitter and we’ll chat.).
Now, let’s narrow down those very broad contemporary / paranormal / suspense genres, shall we? Here’s more of what I’m looking/not looking for from you:
1. I only do HEAs. HFNs (happy for now, i.e. there doesn’t have to be a wedding and babies) are also acceptable. That should be pretty self explanatory in the romance category, but I just want to be clear.
2. If you have a cheater, mosey on out of here. I don’t care the circumstances. This is a hard limit for me and will never not be. Please note: This only applies to the h/h. I don’t care if anyone else in your story cheats. And because there are always extenuating circumstances, feel free to clarify with me on Twitter.
3. I love tropes done well–brother’s best friend/best friend’s brother, marriage of convenience, enemies to lovers, BFFs to lovers, second chance romances, and on and on and on. I love almost all of them them, and if you execute them properly, you’ll have me eating out of your hand.
4. Writing trumps everything. I love purple prose as much as the next guy, but it can’t overwhelm your manuscript. I want to read something that stands out, something that makes me anxious to turn the pages. I want your query to leave me having to read the rest. Also, because I will do copy as well as content edits on my mentee’s manuscript (seriously, I can’t just leave an error if I see it), you must must must have a decent grasp of grammar to help me stay sane.
5. Humor is always welcome. I knew I’d pick 2014’s mentee’s manuscript because I laughed out loud three times in the opening paragraph. If you can do that to me, you’ve got a fan for life. I love a fresh story that will make me laugh. While the entire MS doesn’t have to be a romantic comedy, a few well placed lines are fabulous. My favorite author example of this is Jill Shalvis. Light-hearted and funny.
6. If your goal is to rip the reader’s heart out, I’m probably not the mentor for you. I like my heart just where it is, thank you very much.
7. Sex is my favorite. You can take that however you want, but mostly I mean in books. If your characters are doin’ it, I want to read about it. Fade-to-blacks are my nemesis. Romance and erotic romance are both welcome. Dirty talkers are my jam. Erotica? Not for me. Also not for me? BDSM (in any variation, even light).
8. I have absolutely no preference on POV or tense. Whether it’s first or third, present or past, I expect to get lost in the story. That’s the bottom line. You can do that with any of the above. I read and love all variations (though I’m not a fan of omniscient), and I’ve written in first/present, first/past, and third/past. To check out samples of any of my books, you can download them from Amazon.
9. Things I’d love to see (include but are definitely not limited to):
- Jordan Catalano in book form
- sexy camp counselor NA
- bad boys gone good (or plain old bad boys)
- a spin of basically any 90s cult classic movie
- fun, quirky romance set in the 80s or 90s
- small town romances
- unlikeable heroines
- nice guys (I like alpha heroes, but I also like beta heroes, and gamma are my absolute favorite)
- BFFs turned lovers (triple bonus points if they’re roommates)
- snarky heroines with backbones
- NA a la Gilmore Girls when Rory goes off to college (gimme Logan!)
- blue collar heroes
- traditional gender roles reversed (in occupations, life, everything)
- dirty talking alphas
- heroes who wear scrubs
- hot single dads
- h/h forced together through extenuating circumstances
- super sexy stuff (still no BDSM)
- PNR including witches, made up creatures, or shifters (bonus points for dragons)
- romantic suspense with an uber alpha man who’s gaga over the heroine
- gritty, emotional romance that will stay with me long after reading
- sports romance–pretty much any sport, but bonus points for hockey, MMA, football or baseball
- firefighters (bonus points for lady firefighters!)
- romances set in another country (bonus points for a study abroad NA or a finding her/himself adult CR)
- pierced heroes…*cough* pierced. Yes, I mean there. And tattooed. Gimme
- band of brotherhood
- diversity of any kind is welcome and encouraged
10. Things that aren’t for me:
- super dark romances
- abuse disguised as romance
- graphic or over the top child abuse or rape (used as a backstory or character history is fine)
- non-consent or dubious consent
- closed door (aka sweet) romances
- Erotica (aren’t sure if your book is erotica, erotic romance, or romance? Go here.)
- previously mentioned: historical (unless 80s-90s), inspirational, high fantasy, sci-fi, horror, crime, thriller, non-fiction, memoirs, magic realism, and women’s fiction
Some of my favorite books in the genres I’m seeking:
Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor series (or all her books, tbh).
Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series (specifically The Deal and The Score)
Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl
Make Me by Tessa Bailey
Sustained by Emma Chase
Elle Kennedy’s Killer Instincts series (specifically Midnight Captive)
Tessa Bailey’s Crossing the Line series
Mia Thorne’s Protecting Their Mate serial
Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh
Head over to Twitter and chat with me. With the extra entries for a donation option, the mentors won’t be able to swap behind the scenes this year. Because of that it’s incredibly important to vet the mentors you’re looking at and find the ones who are actively seeking your MS. If you’re unsure if your book is something I’d like, please swing by and chat. I’m always available to answer (vague) questions regarding if your book would be a good fit for me, so hit me up!
For more information on how to submit, go to Brenda Drake’s site!
So now I think there’s only one thing left to say… Okay, two:
To see what the other mentors are looking for, here’s a comprehensive list! (But still submit to me…)