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Pitch Wars

Pitch Wars 2017 Mentor Bio

Welcome, Pitch Wars hopefuls! My name is Laurie Dennison, and I am thrilled to be a 2017 Pitch Wars Mentor! I am a TeenPit mentor for Pitch Wars. TeenPit is a writing contest created by Michael Mammay and Kelly Ann Hopkins designed specifically for teen writers. (Click here for more info about TeenPit.) This year the top five finalists all earned a spot in the 2017 Pitch Wars agent round.

This means I already have a fabulous mentee, Ellie Firestone!

I am so privileged to be working with Ellie! Ellie writes YA and MG, and I am consistently impressed by her talent, her voice, her self-awareness, and her willingness to challenge herself. She is the best mentee I could have ever hoped for. Ellie is busy revising now, and you are all going to adore her amazing MG contemporary fantasy, The Dreamon!

I am not open to submissions this year, but there is a plot twist…I will also be taking the YA blog hop scavenger hunt winner as my mentee!

Some interesting things about me:

  1. I’ve lived on opposite sides of the US, in Jacksonville, Florida, on the Atlantic Coast and Monterey, California, on the Pacific.
  2. I’ve always loved books, and I still think of myself as a reader first and a writer second. I read and write YA, and I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, big, twisty paranormal like Cassandra Clare’s novels, fantasy like Graceling by Kristin Cashore or anything by Rae Carson, anything by Holly Black, contemporary like John Green, only more like Paper Towns than TFIOS, lighter fare like Stephanie Perkins or Jennifer E. Smith, and darker things like The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin or The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
  3. I’ve had a long writing journey, and I’m no stranger to online contests. I was a Pitch Wars mentee with a YA fantasy in 2012. That manuscript had tons of positive feedback, but I finally put it away for something new. My second, a YA magical realism, was a finalist in too many contests—The Writer’s Voice, Pitch Slam, Pitch Plus Five, PitchMas, An Agent’s Inbox. My current manuscript, a YA contemporary, landed me an agent the old-fashioned way: through the query slush. I am repped by the amazing Danielle Burby at Nelson Literary.
  4. The most important thing I gained on the contest circuit was a community of writers who have helped me, supported me, laughed, cried and celebrated with me. The people are the real prize, and I am so grateful to Brenda and all the others who volunteer their time so generously to help fellow writers. I have gained lifelong friendships and been rewarded with access to so many beautiful manuscripts before they’ve hit the shelves. I was also an SCBWI critique group leader for three years. If you write YA or MG, I highly recommend connecting with SCBWI.  I’ve looked forward to being a Pitch Wars mentor since I was chosen as a mentee, and I can’t wait to celebrate my TeenPit mentee’s amazing journey with her! And I hope I get the chance to work with YOU, too! So hurry up and complete the scavenger hunt!

Whether you end up with a mentor or not, reach out. Make connections. Take advantage of this opportunity to come together with other writers who share your passion.

One place to start is on social media! I'd love to connect with you, and I tweet @lauriedennison and Instagram @laurie.a.dennison. My mentee Ellie tweets @EllieFirestone1, and you can check out her website www.elliefirestone.com.

Click here to go back to the blog hop central. Continue on with the YA mentor blog hop below:

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Writer Resources

The online writing community can be phenomenal, but it can also be overwhelming. Some great resources have been shared on the Pitch Wars hashtag over the past week to help navigate the rules and language of publishing. Here are my favorites:

What is a WC, you ask? (Hint: It’s not a potty in France.) The publishing biz loves abbreviations. A few years ago Dahlia Adler shared a fantastic glossary to help you wade through the alphabet soup of MSs, LIs, and CPs.
Literary agent Janet Reid hosts this must-read resource for querying writers. Though new-comers should read the entire website, in the post linked above, the shark herself boils down the answer to the essential question: What is a query letter?
Literary agent Jennifer Laughran keeps her former blog open for references like these, and Wordcount Dracula is one of the most popular posts. In it she explains the accepted norms for word counts (WC) in children’s books.
Literary agent John Cusick addresses taking measure of yourself as a writer. He also recently posted here about effective queries.

2012 is almost over, and we’re all still here! I’ve been enjoying a relaxing week with my family leading up to Christmas. I’ve baked. I’ve written. I’ve read. A Lord of the Rings movie marathon followed our family reading and trip to see the Hobbit on the big screen. It’s been a good week, and it’s been a good year.
 
I am so glad to have spent another year blogging with you all in this fantastic community. Many thanks are due to Brenda Drake for all the work she does for fellow writers, and I am so excited to say that the awesome, startacular, brilliant Deana Barnhart, chose me as her teammate and mentee for Brenda’s Pitch Wars, a pitchfest involving 37 teams and 16 agents, continuing to the final round on January 23-24. For more information about Brenda and Pitch Wars, click here. And please check out my mentor Deana here!
 
In writing, I’ve sailed my YA fantasy Trespassers through more revisions than I can count, and I’ve nearly finished the first draft of my NaNoWriMo magical realism project.
 
In reading, the bookshelves keep overflowing. My TBR list continues to grow, and there are never enough hours in the day to read. I wanted to wrap-up with some of my top reads of the year.
 
Best New Voice:
The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Best Contemporary:
Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso
 
Best Fantasy World Building:
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
 
Best SciFi /Adventure:
Midnight City by J. Baron Mitchell 
 
Best Adult Read:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
 
Best Conclusion to a Series:
Black Heart by Holly Black
 
 
 
And for my music of the day, I picked my favorite new album of 2012:
Synthetica by Metric
 
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year everyone! May your stockings be filled with books, and your homes filled loved ones!