Hi, there! Welcome to the #PitchWars page of Adult co-mentors Clarissa Goenawan and Shari Schwarz. #PitchWars is a contest where authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. (Read more about the contest here)
ABOUT CLARISSA GOENAWAN
I’m an Indonesian-born, Singaporean writer. I’m represented by Barcelona-based Pontas Agency (can’t gush enough about the diversity of their authors!) I studied novel writing with Curtis Brown Creative.
My debut novel, Rainbirds, came out from Soho Press in March 2018. It’s a literary mystery with elements of magical realism set in Japan. One of this year’s most anticipated reads according to Bustle, amNY, BookBub, iBook, The Huffington Post, etc. Also, the Book of The Month’s pick for March 2018. Ten translation deals so far; some already published this year.
I love rainy days, pretty books, and hot green tea.
ABOUT SHARI SCHWARZ
I’m thrilled to be a Pitch Wars 2018 Adult mentor. This is my third year mentoring. In 2016 and 2017 I mentored Middle Grade, so this is an exciting change for me!
Treasure at Lure Lake is my debut MG adventure novel for kids of all ages (or 9-12 if you want to get technical!)
More about me:
–I’m a literary intern for a top New York literary agent and have been for the past 3 ½ years where I focus mostly on Adult manuscripts
–author of the YA short story, TRAPPED, published in Writer’s Digest 2015 short story anthology
–freelance editor of picture books through adult books—check out my editing link at the top to see my client feedback
–former teacher-librarian –former gymnastics coach –mom of 4 boys (ages 6 to 18)
–hiker, reader, coffee drinker, weight-lifter, sports-watcher (of my boys’ sports)
–INFJ and lefty –beach and ocean lover
**Mystery, suspense, and thriller Adult**
(no MG or YA though we do love you too!)
– Strong hook and intriguing premise.
– Novels written in literary / upmarket tone.
– Clear and concise writing. Think Hemingway.
– More contemporary and dark. Less traditional and cozy.
– Well-developed, flawed characters – because no one is perfect.
– Word count: in line with the market’s expectation for the genre.
– Standalone only. A standalone with series potential is okay too.
– Multi-cultural and #ownvoices stories. We need more diverse voices!
WE’RE NOT THE BEST MENTORS FOR . . .
– Erotica. Sex scenes are fine if done tastefully.
– Horror, gore, slasher, gangster stories. We need to be able to eat and sleep after reading your manuscript. 🙂
– Science Fiction and High Fantasy. No werewolves, vampires, zombies, mermaids, fairies, dragons, or magical portals. They’re all super cool, but we’re not the right mentors for these.
– A romance-only plot. Romance as a sub-plot is fine.
– Non-fiction projects, for example, a memoir.
MYSTERY / SUSPENSE / THRILLER BOOKS WE’VE ENJOYED
~ Clarissa’s Bookshelf ~
All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Malice by Keigo Higashino
Please Look After Mum by Shin Kyung-sook
The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
The Earthquake Bird by Susanna Jones
The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
~ Shari’s Bookshelf ~
(Some aren’t necessarily suspense/thriller, but they’ll give you a picture of the type of writing I like!)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Beartown by Fredrick Bachman
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner
The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
WHY PICK US?
– I *prooooobably* know a thing or two about writing an award-winning novel. My debut novel, RAINBIRDS, won the 2015 Bath Novel Award. It was a finalist for the 2015 Dundee Book Prize, and shortlisted for the 2015 SFWP Literary Award and the 2016 First Novel Prize.
– I’m also a mother of three young girls, so if you’re a hands-on parent, we probably have some things in common to talk about. Like, why do they keep falling sick? And will they be able to sleep through the night one day? (Answer: they will… but perhaps not as fast as you’d like it to be)
– If you’re writing about Indonesia (I was born and raised in Surabaya), Singapore (where I am now), Japan (I read way too many manga), or Korea (and watch way too many K-dramas), I might be able to give some cultural input.
–I’ve been a literary intern for a top NYC literary agency where I read, review, edit and take part in monthly meetings, work on revision letters, submission letters etc… for over 3 ½ years. So, I have an insider perspective on what it really takes to get published.
–As a freelance editor and intern, I’m constantly learning more about the craft of writing and I have mentored and edited for authors who have gone on to get literary agents and book deals with the Big 5 publishers.
–I’ve gone through the trenches of getting my first book published and have experience with drafting and revising; querying and entering contests; working with an agent and editor; marketing and celebrating the birth of a dream come true! I can empathize with you every step of the way. And I can’t wait to find a diamond in the rough and help you polish it up!
MENTORSHIP AND COMMUNICATION STYLE
– I’m encouraging, but also honest. I hope you can take my critique positively. I want to help you polish your manuscript to its best potential, but ultimately, you make the final choice. I’m not going to force you to make any change you’re uncomfortable with.
– I’m not so much of a phone / video call person, so most of our communication will be via email. Social media messenger is another possibility.
I’ll address things like plot, characters, character arc, theme, structure, writing, voice, pacing, grammar, etc… Also, if it jives with your style, I have graphic organizers to help with any major weakness I spot. I am pretty matter-of-fact with feedback unless you need me to be otherwise. Generally speaking, I will value your time and mine by being straightforward and honest. I am open to communicating by text, email, Skype, telephone, social media etc… whatever is most comfortable for you! If I pick your manuscript, I will pick it because I LOVE it, and therefore, I will CHAMPION it until it is published and soaring out into the world!
OUR IDEAL MENTEE
Clarissa and Shari:
You’re hard-working, positive, open-minded, and do NOT give up easily. You’re able to put in a significant amount of time working on your revisions and you’re prompt at communicating with us. Your manuscript has been edited and workshopped numerous times. It’s all right if you’ve queried your manuscript before, as long as it hasn’t been queried to death! 😊 We can’t wait to meet you!
CONNECT WITH US
And go here or to the links below to read up on the other fabulous mentors!