Pitch Wars 2017 is upon us! A big thanks to Brenda Drake for extending me an invitation to be an Adult mentor this year. It’s my first time participating in the contest, but I’ve seen enough as a spectator to be excited for what’s to come. Read on for my bio & wishlist for Pitch Wars 2017!
Who Am I?
I’m David Mealing, author of SOUL OF THE WORLD, published by Orbit books in June 2017 as the first book in The Ascension Cycle trilogy. This is my first year mentoring for Pitch Wars, though I’ve been around the literary block so to speak, both in learning from my wonderful agent Sam Morgan of Foundry Media, and in looking over Lindsay Mealing’s (my amazing wife’s!) shoulder in her work as a literary agent for Emerald City Literary. My day job background is as a product & project manager in the tech world, so consider yourselves warned: I don’t mess around when it comes to deadlines, scheduling and hard work.
What am I looking for?
Adult Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I’m pretty wide open as far as subgenres, with some exceptions.
Do send me: epic fantasy, swords & sorcery, historical fantasy, grimdark, space opera, cyberpunk, hard SF, military SF, contemporary fantasy.
Don’t send me: romance-first fantasy romance (though I’m A-OK with romantic elements in fantasy books), spec thrillers, steampunk, magical realism, urban fantasy, PNR.
My ‘don’t’ list is really there for your protection. I can fall in love with anything if the storytelling is tight, but I haven’t read enough in these spaces to be a good guide for which tropes to hit, which to avoid, and what’s most likely to sell and capture an agent/editor’s interest. That said, one of my favorite books I read last year was THE DUCHESS WAR by Courtney Milan, so if you want to send me something out of my comfort zone, you just might capture my attention anyway!
I do have one *big* pet peeve though: please don’t send me anything with ‘stock’ fantasy races. Fae, werewolves, vampires, elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls, goblins… nothing against writers who work with these, it’s just not for me. I want to read something new.
A word on wordcount
I thought this deserved its own section.
I don’t care about wordcount at all.
My debut was 210,000 words. I have nothing but empathy for those poor foolish souls who, like me, opted to write giant doorstop epics. Just be sure you need every scene. The worst sin of storytelling is being boring.
What will working with me be like?
Well, as I mentioned, I was a product manager in a past life. I’m big on setting strict deadlines and measuring progress to make sure a project stays on track. I can be a great resource for you to improve your work habits, and I will be something of a brutal taskmaster when it comes to getting work done. Brenda has done a fantastic job of making Pitch Wars mirror the sort of timelines you’ll get from professional editors, and that means you can expect to be working *hard* for the next few months revising your project and getting it ready. Your book should be in a state right now where it’s as good as you think you can get it, but you should also be humble enough to trust we can work together to make it even better.
Methodology-wise, I’m a pure discovery writer, so although I respect the benefits of planning & outlining, I’m also huge on creativity and letting the story surprise you. As a mentee, you can expect long and in-depth brainstorming sessions where we try to soak problems and find unexpected, creative solutions to improving your story.
And finally, it is *your* story. As much as I want to help find the best version we can find, I recognize that my way isn’t always right, and that you have the final say. Just be prepared to fight for every idea. I’m a mean negotiator and I will grill the hell out of you to make sure you can defend every arc, every plot twist, every character defining moment. If there’s a better idea waiting to be found, I will push hard for it, even if it means rewriting large chunks of the book.
This process hurts sometimes. But my goal isn’t to give you a decently polished manuscript – it’s to get you an agent and put you on track to publishing your work. In a world where perfect sometimes isn’t good enough, I will feel like I’ve failed you if I haven’t driven you to pour everything you have into making your manuscript great.
Best wishes to everyone involved in Pitch Wars 2017. It’s going to be a fun few months. I’m far from the most active person on social media, but feel free to connect with me on Twitter (@ddmealing) if you have any questions about me, my writing, or what I’m looking for. Good luck to everyone and, no matter what happens, keep writing!