Remember, Remember to Give Thanks in November

First off, how many here feel personally victimized by November?

Yup. It was a hard month. Not just for me, but for the many, many people who were affected post-election. Like so many others, I had a difficult time processing and writing because to me it felt like, in Hamilton terms, the world turned upside down. And not in a good way, but in the way that feels like all of what’s surrounding you has become so topsy-turvy that you hardly recognize the home you’ve been living in for your entire life.

At heart, I’m a happy, positive, and optimistic person—and November really challenged that side of me, the one that strives to always find the silver-linings that help me accept and process the hardest of times. But even though it was challenging, I’m happy to report that as we welcome in December, November never beat us. Though we were struck hard, we got back up with a fury. We continue to fight, even as we still heal.

I just wanted to write that all out first because it’s been weighing heavily on my mind for a while, and it would be a flat-out lie in my heart to gloss over November and say it was amazing. Some parts were (like family! Food! Thanksgiving! Becoming a godmother! Writing!), but there was a dark cloud hanging over it that could not be ignored. To push it aside would be to push aside your pain and the pain of so many others, when in reality, I confront pain because it pushes me to act. Grief over a hard loss pushed me to bring a story to life, just like an intense bout of hopelessness has now pushed me to keep working on the story that I wish can bring hope to others.

From all the artists and writers I follow, it’s been uplifting to see such amazing responses of encouragement, solidarity, and above all, creating important and powerful stories in this time of need. I’ve definitely been taking to heart the inspiration that’s risen from these times, and I’m hearing loud and clear the call for more diverse books and voices. It’s prompted me to tackle my revisions with a vengeance, and the work I’ve put down feels stronger than ever with an emotional heartbeat that just keeps pounding louder and louder.

Though lots of emotional head space in November was occupied by everything above, there were also so many positive highlights. I’m now an official fairy godmother to my BEAUTIFUL nephew, saw lots of my family, had tons of puppy therapy with Master Skywalker, aaaaaaand ate all the food during Thanksgiving.

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GODSON, I am your crazy fairy godmother

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THE TURKEYS HAVE THEIR REVENGE: In which a flock of turkeys aggressively invaded the front lawn on Thanksgiving morning

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Master Skywalker’s “please let me cuddle on the couch” pouty face

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Dat Thanksgiving spread

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Thank you snapchat for giving me the ability to make a fried turkey terrified

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Our other turkey baby ❤ (who we definitely did not eat)

Along with cool family and food shenanigans, more updates and good news were what kept my spirits up during November. First off, MY PITCH WARS MENTEE HAS AN AGENT!!!!!!!!!!!!

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-2-03-50-pmI am so, so, SOOOOO proud of Judy. It was an honor to co-mentor her in Pitch Wars with Axie, and nothing has made me happier than to see her rise like a star from our slush pile four months ago to becoming an agented writer this week. She rocked the agent round, and it’s been nothing but constant cheerleading and hip-hip-hooraying for all the awesomeness that Pitch Wars has brought. Oh Judy. If you’re reading this, sorry for gushing so hard BUT I CAN’T HELP MYSELF. You’re an amazing storyteller with such a great heart, and I can’t WAIT to see you take the publishing world by storm….and also to get my copy of HUNGRY GHOSTS in hardcover soon in the future ❤

Mentoring a writer has been one of the biggest highlights for me this year. To help other writers on their journey is so rewarding, but finding life-long friends makes the mentee-mentor experience even greater. With that said, because I just can’t get enough, I’m part of ANOTHER mentoring program called Author Mentor Match, spearheaded by the lovely Alexa Donne and Heather Kaczynski!

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It’s a new program that’s just launched this year, and the submission period opened recently enough that you can STILL submit if you have a polished MS ready and are interested in a mentor to help you brave the next steps of the publishing journey! Deadline to submit by is December 6th, and there are SO many fantastic authors and agented writers who are offering to mentor (whaddup Axie, Kat, Katy, and Mara) so you really can’t go wrong  😉 For insights on my mentoring style, check out my profile where I basically am just begging for friendship and fun!!

All in all, November was tough, but toward the end when Thanksgiving hit, you can’t help but also reflect on the things that bring you light and that you’re grateful for. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities this year has presented, for the friends who always keep me sane and inspired, for the new people who’ve come into my life and have helped me grow, for the family that’s always supported and believed in me, and last but not least, for writing—for the stamina to keep at it, the endurance to push through the frustrating times, and the passion to love every single second of it.

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Pitch Wars Wish List: Team Rocket Edition

WARNING: Ridiculously awesome gifs and pictures ahead! Beware all ye who enter here!

Janella is Jessie because she has great hair. And Axie is James because she has a sexy voice.

Check out Axie/James on her blog HERE!

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Whenever we meet up, snapchatting madness ensues!

Once upon a time, two newly agented writers met in an agented author hook-up and decided TO BE FRIENDS FOREVER! No, but seriously, after meeting in person for the first time in Las Vegas at the 2016 RT Convention, we realized we had a lot more in common than we thought. We both read and write YA SFF. We both love the writing community. And most importantly, we both support and write diverse stories!

Enter Pitch Wars.

Same as us, Brenda Drake attended RT—and after meeting her, we had a light bulb moment. Despite neither of us having made it into Pitch Wars (though not without trying!), we’ve both always admired the contest for its supportive presence in the writing community, and how it’s helped so many writers and manuscripts throughout the years. Having recently gone through the querying process ourselves and signed with our agents, we thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to the writing community as mentors in Pitch Wars!

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If you join our team, you’ll receive lots of snaps!

We’re excited to embark on our first Pitch Wars adventure together, and we hope that YOU will join us! Since we call ourselves Team Rocket, we won’t be complete until we have our very own Meowth mentee.

CATEGORY:

YA

GENRES:

Fantasy (including all sub-genres: urban, contemporary, historical, etc.)

Science Fiction

FOCUSES:

Diverse stories and perspectives

Unique settings

Retellings/Mythology/Folktales

Is this not the best gif ever? (Orig posted: argynw)

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR/ELEMENTS WE LIKE:

Beautiful and unique storytelling; we have a weakness for lyrical and atmospheric writing

Strong relationships across the whole spectrum (romantic, family, friendship, enemies)

Enemies to lovers or friends to lovers; basically, ANYTHING to lovers ❤

Slow burn romances or complicated romances as seen in the tension-filled WINNER’S CURSE trilogy and CAPTIVE PRINCE trilogy (esp PRINCE’S GAMBIT)

Unlikely allies, friendships, and unbeatable group dynamics

Anything to do with music or the arts

Villains and antiheroes a la the Darkling, Klaus Mikaelson (everyone on The Originals), Phantom of the Opera, etc.

Complex characters (they can even be unlikable!)

Masked crusaders or vigilantes LIKE TUXEDO MASK!!!!! (We’re not kidding)

Lush worlds that have an edge of darkness to them like the Grisha trilogy

Non-western settings a la THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN

Characters in unique roles (thieves, pirates, gangsters, femme fatales)

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Our rendition of “characters in unique roles”

SOME OF JANELLA’S FAVORITE BOOKS:

Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), The Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo), The Star-Touched Queen (Roshani Chokshi), Fire (Kristin Cashore), Vampire Academy (Richelle Mead), Vengeance Road (Erin Bowman), The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), Tiny Pretty Things (Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton), Enter Title Here (Rahul Kanakia), Captive Prince trilogy (C.S. Pacat), The Wrath and the Dawn (Renee Ahdieh), The Lumatere Chronicles (Melina Marchetta), Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor), Truthwitch (Susan Dennard)

SOME OF AXIE’S FAVORITE BOOKS:

Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones), His Dark Materials trilogy (Philip Pullman), The Winner’s Curse series (Marie Rutkoski), Chime (Franny Billingsley), For Darkness Shows the Stars (Diana Peterfreund), The Queen’s Thief series (Megan Whalen Turner), Dragon Sword and Wind Child (Noriko Ogiwara), Wildwood Dancing (Juliet Mariller), Under a Painted Sky (Stacey Lee), The Changeling Sea (Patricia McKillip), Sabriel and Shade’s Children (Garth Nix), Serpentine (Cindy Pon), The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (N.K. Jemisin)

MORE THINGS WE LIKE IN OTHER MEDIA:

Sci-fi movies with great worldbuilding & characterizations like PACIFIC RIM, The Edge of Tomorrow, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park

Hayao Miyazaki films (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke)

Korean dramas (love the tone & atmosphere of School 2013 and Shut Up Flower Boy Band; also BROMANCE)

Girl power and friendship a la SAILOR MOON

Epic, adventure-filled stories such as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy, Mad Max: Fury Road, the Dark Knight Trilogy, X-Men

Classics such as Jane Austen (EMMA), Anne of Green Gables, The Scarlet Pimpernel, etc

DISNEY (Mulan, Pocahontas, VERY excited for the upcoming Moana)

Strong worldbuilding, group dynamic, and character development as seen on Avatar the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra

MUSICALS!! Les Miserables! The Phantom of the Opera! Hamilton! Wicked! Rent! The Lion King! Grease! Moulin Rouge! Razia’s Shadow! Anastasia the Musical! All in all, music/musicals are our JAM! (pun FULLY intended)

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We are slightly random

HOW WE OPERATE:

Our style is very collaborative, communicative, and slightly crazy, but ultimately and most importantly, constructive! We are always on board to fangirl and cheerlead our mentee on, but we are also there to first and foremost offer critique and whip that manuscript into the best shape it can be. Our game plan is to ensure our mentee has as much editorial support and back-and-forth communication as needed from both of us throughout the revising stage. Aside from collaborative edit letters, we would also love to schedule Skype calls to discuss editorial notes, brainstorm, and answer any questions the mentee may have so we can all be on the same page. From big picture edits to smaller details to everything in between, we want to make sure our mentee comes out of Pitch Wars with an awesome experience, as well as a polished manuscript to take into the agent round.

WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE US! (Pokemon style)

Axie is the author of the YA Sci-Fi novel, THE AMATERASU PROJECT (title subject to change), scheduled to be released in Fall 2017 from Lee & Low Books/Tu Books. She is represented by the fabulous Patricia Nelson of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She is currently pursuing an MFA (in Writing for Young People) at Lesley University. Her knowledge of the publishing world has come through internships at Writer’s House and Folio Literary Management.

Janella is a YA writer represented by the amazing Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She recently graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. Along with her coursework, she’s completed various publishing and editorial internships, and was most recently a YA/MG intern for the Bent Agency. She’s also currently a team member of the Boston Teen Author Festival.

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Axie’s website: https://about.me/axieoh

Twitter: https://twitter.com/axieoh

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15243084.Axie_Oh

Tumblr: http://axieoh.tumblr.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gdkgents/

 

Janella’s website: https://janellaangeles.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/janella_angeles

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/janella_angeles/

Tumblr: http://janellaangeles.tumblr.com/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/janella_angeles/

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For more info about Pitch Wars, check out Brenda Drake’s site!

If you join our team, you will have TWO mentors, two cheerleaders, two sets of eyes, two motivators, two snapchat fiends who will champion your work in this year’s Pitch Wars and beyond!

IMG_6078Best of luck to you all, and be sure to check out all of the other amazing Pitch Wars mentors!!

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