Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Midway Inbox Update

So here it is...midway update on what I'm feeling from the inbox:


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Inbox Update

Want to know what's working for me in the inbox and why?  Want to know how it works?

I hope this is helpful, and thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, 10 August 2014

First 250 words from a mentor!

Are you wondering if I'm the right mentor for you?  If so, maybe I can help.  I decided to post the first 250 words from my WiP so that you can judge whether you think I have something to teach you.  Some people might love this; some of you might hate it.  Either way, you'll know if we're a fit!

Genre - YA Folklore Mystery

The news came just after dawn.  The officer arrived at the door, the peak of his cap dripping rain water, hands clutched around a bundle of paperwork.  Splotches of rain dampened the folder.
“It’s him, isn’t it?” said Lucy.
She already knew.  She could feel it in her gut.
The officer nodded and handed her the papers.  “Do you want me to”-
“No.  No, thank you.”  Pins and needles overwhelmed her body and she fought to keep herself in focus.  “I’ll tell her.  Thank you.”

The door closed with a final thump, blocking out the rain.  Thank you.  Two little words.  So wrong.  So wrong but what else could she say?

She pulled open the living room door, and stared at her Ma, whose flimsy hands clutched a cup of cold tea, her rice-paper cheeks grey and fluttering.  Lucy stood, unable to move for the barest of moments, as though removed from her own actions.  He had been the one to do these things, to handle everything that life threw their way, not her.
Ma caught her staring.  “Is it”-
Lucy’s eyes burned.  The prickles grew.  Suddenly, she was floating.  And yet somehow she anchored herself.  Pulled herself from the fuzzy outlines of her body and back to what she had to do.  Opening the door hadn’t been enough.  He would have expected more from her.
She drew breath.  “Yes.  It’s him.”

Friday, 8 August 2014



Right, since it's only TEN days until submission day, I thought it only fair I fill you in on what would be an instant autoreject from me in a submission.  I'm telling you this to save you a wasted entry, because I want each and everyone of you to succeed.

So here goes...

1)  Opening in a dream sequence.  Really, even if you think yours is super different, it's not for me.  I want to see MCs in active scenes, not dreaming about something and being in bed.  If you still want me as a mentor, please shoogle this scene to a later date.  ;-)

2)  Characters describing themselves in a mirror.  Just no.  Not now, not ever.  I hate this.  It's probably my biggest bugbear ever.  Show me you have skill as a writer and go another route!

3)  Animals being hurt.  I'm sorry but there is no way in my lifetime I can do this.  I turn off movies that show this.  I throw books at the wall that show this.  My little animal crazy heart can't do this (and if it is a dog or a horse, then woah...I am not your friend!).

4)  Too much exposition.  I don't mind a little, but if you explain everything to me, I'll feel you don't trust me to work out some things on my own.

5) Too much snark.  I love witty characters, but snark feels fake and forced if it's piled on too high.

6) Queries with insanely high word counts.  I can handle too high (as I can help you cut) but if we're talking plus 125K for a YA novel, then I don't have a big enough axe handy to chop that baby!

7)  Unclear, vague queries (ala "events unfold").  Yes, I would assume events unfold, because it's a book, but WHAT events?  Keep your query really, really simple.  CHARACTER, CONFLICT, STAKES.  That's it.  Don't try and wow me with mysterious angles.  All I want is a clear query that gets right to the bone of the matter.  THAT impresses me.

8)  Arrogance in a query.  I can't work with someone who is arrogant.  Confidence is awesome, but arrogance is a turn-off.

9)  Reams and reams of description.  I LOVE description.  Evocative wonderful words that paint the scene - but if you give me pages and pages with no action...I'm not going to fall in love with your book.

10)  Gory, explicit violence.  *shudder*

So there you go.  Those are usually autorejects for me.  That's not to say an agent, mentor, publisher or editor might not love these things; it;s just saying they are not for me.

Remember - research your mentors to give yourself the best possible chance!

I wish you all the best of luck!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Please Be Nice!

I wanted to take a little minute, before subs flood in for Pitch Wars, to ask all our wonderful potential mentees to remember a few things about our mentors:


P.S.  I know most writers are very polite, but I'm hoping this will convince the extra few who don't realize that mentors work so hard for this contest, that it is about mutual respect and helping each other out!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Hook Me

Alright #PitchWars peeps.  I want you to sum up your book in a ONE sentence hook.  And I will comment on how I think you can improve it.

To start you off, here's an example from my book:

"When sixteen year old Lucy's brother washes up dead on their Scottish island, she's determined to find out what happened - murder, accident, or legend come to life."

Now it's your turn...go! 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Pitch Wars Mentor Bio & Wish List

It's Pitch Wars 2014!!!!  And I am blessed to be a mentor, which means I get to work with one of you fantabulous people! are you?  What are you writing?  And I want to know why you write it!

Oooh, nothing like a picture of the beach for a winter Pitch Wars!  Lol.  Actually, it's perfect for a writer who lives in sunny Cyprus in the Mediterranean, which is yours truly!  (yeah, and I would totally bribe summer holidays if I can get your rocking pitch!).

Since you've stopped here (thank you!), it's time for me to tell you a little about me and you can consider whether I'm the right mentor for you.  If you're still here after that, then you can have a look at my wish list and see if we're a good match.  I encourage you to ask questions and you can leave comments on the site and I'll do my best to answer.  I am a big fan of communication, transparency and honesty.

Right, time to sell myself...


P.S. Here's an extra "why you should pick me" - Both my previous mentees raked in lots of requests over the months, and my first mentee published her book "Awakenings".

There is a HELP ME button when it comes to me being your mentor...see...

Nifty, eh?

Okay, for me, the competition is not a popularity contest.  If I'm not the right mentor for you, then that's fine - what I want is for EVERY writer to get the best opportunity, whether it's with me or another mentor.  Our goal is to achieve goals - as many as we can for as many people as we can.

That said, it's time for me to tell you what genres I am looking for.

* YA only (sorry adult and MG folks - I love you, but I can only have one genre!
* Folklore (preferably little known, ethnic, or a very original slant on known folklore)
* Mythology (same as above)
* Historical or alternate historical (nor romance only based; I prefer more action)
* Anything with an archaeological, religious, historical bent (preferably in thriller form)
* Very original mysteries
* Literary
* Epistolary novels, novels in verse, or something unusual and unique (think outside the box)
* Gothic

Those are the best genres that fit with me.  I will look at contemporary and straight thrillers, but they are not high on my list so would have to be spectacular to catch my eye.  I am not really the girl for trope romance (but I will look at original romance), science fiction (I love it but it's not for me this year), epic fantasy (I've had an overload lately), or anything supernatural (unless it has witches, mythology or is folklore based - no common tropes please).

Okay, now you know what genres I like, here's some tips on what catches my eye (still with me?):

*  I am a sucker for unique structure (novels in verse, epistolary, something unique)
* Scene reversals and unexpected twists capture me
* Characters doing unexpected things that still fall within their realm of logic
* Gorgeous writing - show me all the beautiful, sun-soaked, rain-splashed words you have
* Characters with multiple dimensions
* Tension, tension, tension
* Raw talent

P.S.  If anyone has worked through Donald Maas's book "Writing The Breakout Novel" I'd love to know.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.  If you have a question you want to ask in private, ask me on DM on twitter.

Good luck and I can't wait to work with you!

P.S.  If you need any more convincing, here are some thoughts from my previous mentees:

"...During Pitch Wars the fabulous Fiona picked me, and my book Awakenings, to mentor. I was shocked, I was awed, I may have fainted...just a little though. After I recovered from the shock, Fiona and I got to work. Let me tell you, she was an absolute dream to work with! She was so supportive and the critiques she gave were right on the mark. My book came away cleaner and much stronger, so much so that on the day of the contest I got three full requests!

Just two months later I received a contract that I accepted. Awakenings hit the market and within three weeks broke into the 100 Best Selling YA Paranormals, making it all the way to number eighteen. I could not be more pleased with the results and I could not have picked a better mentor.

So what are you waiting for! Pick her and just bask in her awesomeness. You will not regret it. :)

J.E.Shannon author of Awakenings (Entranced Publishing)"

And from my other wonderful mentee:

"Hi all! I was lucky enough to be Fiona's pick during the last round of Pitch Wars. First, let me say this: Fiona picked me without requesting any additional material, so to everyone thinking "If I don't get a request, I didn't get picked", that may not be true.
Fiona was wonderful to work with. When she says "in-depth critique", she means it. She helped me with some of the more advanced writing mechanics, story structure and character development, and I know my novel is stronger for it. As a bonus, she is one of the most positive people I know. The only reasons I can think of to not consider Fiona is if: (1) you need a mentor to keep after you to get things done; (2) you don't like really great Scottish accents."

Jordan Teos, author of Melin's Flight

P.P.S  If you still need's me teaching my horse how to pull a boat through a flooded forest.  HOW can you say no to that?  (Oh his name is Roger - the horse, not the boat!).


Okay, so time for the mentor blog hop!  Please go and check them all out, as each and every one of them is amazing!

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