LET’S HEAR IT FOR MIDDLE GRADE SPIRIT!
Welcome to Team TLC, future Pitch Warriors. Coaches Laura Shovan and Tricia Clasen here.
I’m Laura Shovan. I am an editor. And a debut author. So check me out.
I’ve been training hard for PitchWars, Team. I’ve been on both sides of the editor’s desk and will use my knowledge to help you make your MG manuscript worthy of the perfect cheer. My past experience includes: freelancing for such publications as the Baltimore Sun, five years on the editorial staff of a nationally recognized literary journal, including three as its editor in chief, and editing two poetry anthologies. My twin passions are writing and education. I’ve been a visiting poet-in-the-schools since 2002, so my rhymes are fine. (Can I get a high kick?)
In 2013, my PitchWars mentor Joy McCullough-Carranza helped me polish my middle grade verse novel to a shine. I signed with agent Stephen Barbara after the winter 2014 agent round. Within three weeks of signing with Stephen, THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY sold to Wendy Lamb Books. You can read my Pitch Wars success story here.
When I’m not writing books or giving feedback to my critique partners I am a: poetry advocate, avid reader, mom to two teens and two dogs. I knit socks, and will occasionally break into Stephen Sondheim lyrics, ‘cause that’s how this girl spells R-O-W-D-I-E.
I’m Tricia Clasen. I debut this fall. I’ll help you pitch. So check me out!
Hi team! (Does toe touch–and probably pulls a muscle). I am so filled with the PitchWars Middle Grade spirit, and I cannot wait to help you get pitch perfect. (Does backflip–and likely falls on head.)
I’m a professor of communication and an avid lover of stories. The majority of my editing experience falls in the non-fiction realm. I thoroughly enjoy working with critique groups and serving as a beta reader for fiction, though. On Team TLC, you get the benefit of Laura’s detailed editing eye and my passion for making stories flow, for ensuring disbelief remains suspended.
In terms of PitchWars, I’ve been a sideline cheerleader for a long time. (Claps hands and yells “whoo!”) Shortly after my first attempting at landing a mentor, I signed with my agent, Jen Linnan. My debut novel, THE HAUNTED HOUSE PROJECT will be published in October by Sky Pony Press.
In addition to reading and writing, I spend most of my time shuttling my two girls to dance class and planning vacations. (Hoists Laura up on my shoulders while she waves her hands and cheers.)
WHAT GETS US WAVING OUR POM PONS?
CHARACTER DRIVEN MIDDLE GRADE
Contemporary MG is our wheelhouse. We are looking for projects that have a strong emotional arc. If elements such as plot and setting serve as the backbone for your main character’s growth, you’re trying out for the right squad. Team TLC is all about literary middle grade and protagonists who journey from childhood into adolescence.
Much as we love historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy, those submissions will be DQd. Team TLC is ONLY open to contemporary novels. We welcome humor and magical realism, but the heart of a story is first in our hearts. Is your PitchWars project written in verse? Coach Laura is an award-winning poet and verse-novelist. At Team TLC, we don’t need megaphones to be heard. We value the power of a quiet book.
A NOTE ABOUT DIVERSITY
#WNDB is more than a hashtag. It is reality for the schools and students Laura visits. Tricia’s primary teaching and research relate to gender and cultural issues. No matter which genre you write, middle grade readers are hungry for books that mirror their lives (DARIUS AND TWIG, Walter Dean Myers; GEORGE, Alex Gino), but also for books that help them understand a broad range of human experiences (WONDER, R.J. Palacio; THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN GIRLS, Erin Entrada Kelly). We will champion the heck out of submissions that include ethnic, socio-economic, and neuro-diversity as part of the deep fabric of the story.
TEAM TLC’S MIDDLE GRADE HALL OF FAME
SKELLIG, by David Almond
THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, by Christopher Paul Curtis
LOVE THAT DOG, by Sharon Creech
HOWARD WALLACE, PI, by Casey Lyall
SAFFY’S ANGEL, by Hilary McKay
ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, by Lewis Carroll
GINGER PYE, by Eleanor Estes
(Notice a British theme? Laura’s mom is from England. She *loves* British kidlit.)
Coach Tricia’s First-Place Reads trophies go to:
THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, by LauraShovan (had to be said)
OUT OF MY MIND, by Sharon Draper
WONDER, by RJ Palacio
LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE Series
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, by L.M. Montgomery
THE OUTSIDERS, by S.E. Hinton
ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY, by Mildred D. Taylor
(Notice a theme of realistic characters who overcome struggles?)
Here’s a great example of a character with an emotional arc, scavenger hunters:
COMMITTING TO OUR TEAM
If you choose us, expect to work on two rounds of feedback. The first round will focus on the big picture (your overall dance routine) and will likely involve some global changes. The second round will include intensive line edits (fine tuning your moves) on your book. This is a team effort. If you’re looking for a mentor to help you clean up an almost-there manuscript, someone else will be a better coach for you.
There’s so much middle grade goodness to choose from. If Team TLC isn’t for you, check out the many wonderful MG Pitch Wars mentors at the end of this post.