I hope you don't mind that I'm taking over Jenna's blog this morning. I couldn't help myself when I learned it was Jolene's birthday. To be honest, I can rarely help myself when it comes to her. Her presence is an exquisite place to dwell. If you're able, read her work. Your soul will thank you.
You're probably wondering who I am. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Strand.
Jolene, you are ineffable.
I hope you realize that your tireless efforts do not go unnoticed. You are a shining beacon of hope for this family you've created. You are brilliant. You are kind. You are worthy of every success.
On your birthday, I hope you are recognized for how extraordinary you are.
I wish you a year filled with creativity and passion. May you meet all of your goals and experience the truest love and light the world has to offer.
Wow! I can't believe it's time for Pitch Wars again! It feels like only yesterday that I was daydreaming about what kind I was crossing my fingers to find in my inbox.
Last year's PW was an amazing experience. I met Wendy, my mentee, who has turned into a dear, dear friend. (Hi, Wendy!! <3) She worked her butt off during revisions and it paid off in the agent round. She is now represented by Mary Gaule of Mary Evans. We stayed in close contact after the contest, so we celebrated each and every request and compliment and lamented over the passes together. When she got the call, I'm pretty sure I screamed loud enough that the nearby mountains shook. Meeting Wendy was by far the biggest highlight of my Pitch Wars experience, so I'm hoping I lightning strikes twice!
Anyhoo, let's dive in, shall we?
Who am I?:
I'm Jenna! This is my second year acting as a Pitch Wars mentor. I'm a Mom to 1.5 (one's in the oven), a wife, a writer, reader, and tea enthusiast. I'm a blogger over at www.midnightsocietytales.com where we blog about all things horror.
What's it like to be my Mentee:
If you're my mentee, you're pretty much stuck with me for life. When the contest wraps up, I'll be there to brainstorm more agents to query if need be. We can flesh out that awesome new book idea in the meantime. We can eat virtual ice cream over rejections and have twitter parties after a week of requests. Good or bad, I'm here for you. You don't just get a mentor, you get a friend!
Editing wise, I'm definitely at my best, critique-wise, when I type up my edit letter. I leave myself notes everywhere about things I like, don't like, what could use some work, what is so freaking perfect I don't even want you to move a period. You'll get a MONSTER of an edit letter and we can skype/text/email/chat/carrier pigeon about it afterward and make a solid revision game plan.
Once you're finished your revisions, we'll do a round of in-line notes and then we'll be off to the races!
First off, I'm a Middle Grade mentor!! I love Middle Grade so hard. I love tagging along with characters as they navigate new schools, new family situations, losing loved ones, and especially love watching them tread into that weird stage of discovering that boys/girls aren't so gross after all.
I have a special spot in the dark cavern that is my heart for horror. Some of my favorites are YEAR OF SHADOWS, CORALINE,DOLL BONES, and my all time favorite, SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. I love being scared, so if you have anything remotely spooky, please, PLEASE send it to me!!
I love contemporaries on both ends of the spectrum. WHEN YOU REACH ME is still one of my all-time favorite reads. COUNTING THYME is another great example of a contemporary that I'd die to see in my inbox!
I've been OBSESSED with fantasy lately. I just finished THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN and haven't been able to stop thinking about it it since. I love lush, brilliant new worlds that make me daydream about living in them. I love new societies, new laws, magical creatures, and normal people that can do extraordinary things. If you have fresh, gorgeous fantasy, well...
I really enjoy mysteries and thrillers, especially if they're full of twists and turns. If your query sounds anything like TREASURE AT LURE LAKE, I want it! Books that have some dark magic in them like THE NIGHT GARDENER make my heart race. I want them all!
I'm super open to diverse #ownvoices books, regardless of the genre!
In my dream of dreams, you send me something a little (or a lot) dark starring a Native American MC who kicks butt but gets super challenged and freaked out along the way.
I'm really open to pretty much anything. If you think we'd be a good fit, please sub to me :D
I think that's it for me. Remember to have fun and enjoy the process. You're about to join such a beautiful, supportive community that even if you don't make it to the next round you're going to have friends for life.
If you're stressed at all, here's something to color :)
Good luck and make sure you check out the other blogs below!
So I'm clearly the worst at blogging, ever. Well...not really. I just spend all of my time over at MidnightSocietyTales.com You can find yours truly hanging out there every second and forth Friday.
I have news, my darlings!
My dear friend / patronus / Creator of aforementioned Midnight Society, Jolene Haley, put a call for submissions for Pizza stories a couple months ago! And she picked my short, KNEADFUL THINGS, as one of the stories!
Book Name: A Pizza My Heart: An Anthology
Book Genre: YA fiction anthology
12, 2016 (National Pizza with the Works except Anchovies Day)
My name is Jenna and I'm a mentor for Brenda Drake's #PitchWars contest this year!
Let's jump right into the goods now, shall we?
I'm a mom/wife/reader/writer from Calgary, Alberta...(Canada). I'm represented by the amazing Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. I write both YA and MG. I tend to stick to horror but have been known to dabble in thrillers / dark contemporaries if the mood strikes.
I love ALL things horror: books, movies, TV shows, forums, art, whatever gives you the chills, I want it. I also love tea, carbs, attempting to cook, dogs Matt, and tiny humans named Jasper.
And you know what else I like? Your manuscript.
Because I'm awesome!
Oh, you need more than that? Well. I found my agent with my third book, so I know all about the dark, stanky trenches. I've made some bad career choices, which has taught me a lot about what NOT to do. Learn from me, grasshopper.
I'm super accessible, so if you have a question or something you want to brainstorm about, I'm here for you!
Pick me because I will be 100% dedicated to making your MS sparkle like a freaking diamond. I want you to get an agent. I want you to get that drool-worthy announcement in Publisher's Marketplace. I want you to get a sick movie deal and cast me with Robert Pattinson (my Twilight love will NEVER die).
What I'm looking for (MG ONLY):
1. I'm going to get into some genres I'm interested in, but it really comes down to VOICE. Introduce me to a character I want to adventure with and I'm yours.
2. Like I said above, I LOVE horror. And not just horror. Give me your thrillers, your mysteries, your dark, intense contemporaries (but send your lovely, happy ones somewhere else <3). If someone has shuddered while reading your MS, send me your application. If you have to research with the lights on, I want your words. Nay....I need them.
3. I love stories that - regardless of the subject manner - have some heart. I love love love stories that mix real life issues with the horror/thrillers etc. I want your haunted-hospital-exploring-MC to be searching for a cure for her grandmother while she's fending off ghosts. (YEAR OF SHADOWS is one of my favourite MGs of all time. So if that's a comp title for you, please pick me :) )
4. I love a good twist. Especially if there are a few red herrings to throw me off along the way.
5. I miiiiight be interested in urban fantasies, but they have to be super original and the writing needs to be on point.
I'm not the mentor you're looking for if you write:
Westerns (unless it has any of the characters from Tombstone. Then I might be down)
I can forgive a not-so-hot query if the pages are fantastic, but it doesn't work the other way around.
I'm a good person to work with if:
You prefer a 3-5 page edit letter (maybe longer - I tend to ramble). I'll go through your MS and leave in-line notes, but I'm most likely to address issues in the letter.
*If I notice one big thing off the bat i.e.: WAY too many dialogue tags, I'll probably mention that as something to get started on while I finish reading*
If our schedules are meshing well, I'm totally open to do as many rounds as we can fit in before the agent round. I know that life happens, and revising more than once probably won't happen, but I'm open to it.
Books I love:
This is just a mixed category list of some books I've loved: WHEN YOU REACH ME, THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST, YEAR OF SHADOWS, SHARP OBJECTS, THE WINNER'S CURSE, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, and I'm currently reading THE NIGHT GARDENER and loving it so far.
Remember to double-check your query for spelling mistakes and HAVE FUN!!
If I don't tickle your fancy, someone below surely will!
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As most of you know, I'm a giant horror fan. If you don't know that, I really need to work on this whole brand thing. Anyway, another thing I love is advanced movie screenings. When you mix the two together, you have one happy Jenna.
Last night, the two came together fantastically and I went and saw the advanced screening of THE GALLOWS. This name sound familiar from the "Charlie, Charlie, are you here?" viral video that went around a month or so ago. If you STILL don't know what I'm talking about, here is the trailer!
The evening started off with a little giveaway. Pro Tip: Always know a few little bits of trivia about the movie you're going to see. Most of the answers are in the trailer :) I won myself this sweet swag pack!
I LOVE the t-shirt!
Now, let us get to the goods.
20 years after a tragic accident, a high school drama class is about to present the play that started it all...THE GALLOWS.
Only they don't get to the play part. The night before the play is set to open, the star (Reese), his jock best buddy (Ryan) and his cheerleader girlfriend (Kassidy), break into the theater to destroy the set. Though this may seem like a dick move (and it kind of is) they have honorable intentions at heart. Reese is a miserable actor but unfortunately he's starring aside his crush, Pfeifer, the girl who brought the show back to life in the first place. Rather than bomb on opening night, Reese and his friends think Pfeifer will handle a broken set better than a bad show.
A few broken trees and a partially deconstructed hangman set (the Gallows, I guess) later, they hear a loud bang. Pfeifer shows up and is super upset that Reese would even consider damaging the set. While Reese chases after his sobbing lady love, Kassidy and Ryan soon discover they're locked in the school...and they're not alone.
Dun Dunn Dunnnnnn.
The rest of the movie is spent following the teens around as they taunt, and then flee, Charlie, our noose-wielding ghost.
While THE GALLOWS (TG) does nothing too original to earn it's shrieks, it earns them none the less. Whenever that white noise kicks in (ie: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY), you just know something scary is about to happen. A fair number of scenes had the camera staring into the dark, where sometimes a hangman's mask-wearing ghost lurked with his constantly-creaking noose.
There's a tricky little twist at the end that I didn't see coming until it was thrown right in my face...and I'm usually pretty good at twists.
You will like (perhaps love) this flick if you: Are a horror buff in general, were even remotely involved with theater in high school, or are afraid of hanging / the dark / heights.
You won't like it if you: Are sick of found footage movies or get nauseous easily.
Since I don't have a legit rating system, I"ll give this one a very solid 3.5/ 5.