Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pitch Wars Mentor Post!



Totally Professional Pitch Wars Mentor Bio/Wishlist

Hey, Pitch Wars 2014 peeps!

What. Is. Up. I am SO stoked for Pitch Wars this year. Pitch Wars is super close to my heart, mostly because this is the contest that got me my publishing contract for NEVER, NEVER with Spencer Hill Press. It's an amazing contest where you get to meet unbelievably awesome people, become part of a community, and get a real shot at finding an agent or editor. That rocks, right? And you probably already know that, which is why you're here. So let's get this thang started by me pimping myself out and telling you why you want ME to mentor you.

SECTION 1: YO! PICK ME! -or- Hello. My Resume.

So. The bio. I'm from Colorado, where I live with my husband, two little boys, and two awesome hound dogs. I am represented by the fabulous Bree Ogden of D4EO Literary, and my debut novel (did I mention that? Ya know? My Captain Hook POV Peter Pan retelling, NEVER, NEVER that you can coincidentally conveniently find out more about right HERE? Did I? Okay cool) is coming out in September of 2015 from Spencer Hill Press.

I taught writing classes for a couple years, and I'm in the middle of getting a bachelor's degree in Writing, so that's kinda fancy. Plus, I just started freelance editing, and I've been beta-ing and CP-ing for peeps for quite a while.

You want me if you want to get a DETAILED crit. I'm gonna go in-depth into your manuscript, and figure out where it shines (and I'll tell you everything I love. I love to freak out over amazingness in a manuscript), and where it could use work, on a major plot/character/world level as well as in the little things. My specialty is character and relationships, and I'm good at making those suckers deep. I'm also a total grammar freak, and will be going in looking for those things as well. I'm constructive, and I love to make you feel good about the things that are working in your ms, but I'm also a Candor, and I'm gonna tell you what needs to be done on a surface level as well as in-depth to get that MS in SHAPE.

I've been pretty successful in the past with contests; they are my bread and butter. So I'll be able to help you not only to get your ms shining, but also to sharpen that pitch.

Further, EVERYONE who submits to me is gonna get personal feedback. Might be in-depth, might be just a line or two, but you're gonna get feedback for sure.

Cool? Cool. Let's not talk about me anymore. Let's talk about BOOKS.

SECTION 2: WISHLIST, BABY! -or- Things I'd Like to Find in My Inbox

I'm mentoring YA and NA this year. There are a few things that transcend what I want in each genre, things I want to find no matter what:

*Passionate characters: I want characters that care about something, someone, characters with stakes.
*Give me diversity, guys! Of all types. Diversity is awesome and stuff.
*Did I mention characters? I want to care about your character. That's it. Make me care and we're good.

Now, down to the nitty gritty.

Let's talk about genres I want, then we'll break it down into some more specifics in separate category-wants.


*Realistic (And a million sub-genres of this): I'm into Contemp right now, in a major way. So I'm gonna prefer realistic stuff, generally. Within that big genre, I'll probably love a lot of stuff. Thrillers, straight-up contemp, psychological horror (character-driven), geek fic (yeah I just made that up, but I love ALL THINGS GEEKY), survival stories, retellings.

*Fantasy: I'm in a fantasy phase right now--I'm very much into it. But I AM going to be super picky here. I'll do fantasy if it's a retelling, magic realism or a VERY character-driven, close POV fantasy like Game of Thrones, Graceling, Anansi Boys, American Gods, Vicious, the show LOST, or a realistic fantasy/sci-fi like Jurassic Park or Outbreak or, ya know, that kind of stuff.

*Retellings: Hi, I'm Brianna, and I have a retelling problem. I love them hard.


* I love sci-fi. Like LOVE it. But for this particular contest, I'm not looking for it. (Unless it's barely sci-fi, as mentioned above.)
*No hard sci-fi OR fantasy, especially distant POV, dryer-voiced, etc.
*Genre Mystery
*Light NA Contemp Romance
*Cancer stories (Personal issues. Can't do cancer stuff. If your story has a strong cancer A plot or subplot, PLEASE don't sub to me. If I decide to mentor your project, then figure out halfway through someone is dying of cancer or has recently and it's a big thing, I'm gonna be unhappy. And cry. And not in the way you want me to.)

Now, let's break it down further. Specifics by category and books/movies I love/would kill to see. Please remember, I am only mentoring YA and NA. If your ms is MG or Adult, awesome, but sub to one of the amazing MG or Adult mentors! Thanks!


In YA, I love extremely dark to extremely light and everything in between. (I know. So helpful, right?)

In anything, dark to light, I love geek fic, foodie stuff, the arts, and travel/bucket list stories.

--On the Lighter Side--

*Funny, awkward, cringe-worthy, embarrassing stories. YES, PLEASE.
*Romance! Not a MUST in all YA subs, but if your book is light/funny, I, like, 99% need romance.
*Fave stuff like this: Easy A, Mean Girls, How to Love, anything Sarah Dessen, The Beginning of Everything

--Middle of the Road--

*Gray, between dark and light, with HEART.
*Characters I fall in head-over-heels love with
*Fave stuff like this: Eleanor and Park, Jellicoe Road, The Breakfast Club, Friday Night Lights

--The DARK Side--

*Very dark comedies, a la Fargo, Grosse Pointe Blank, Heathers, The Big Lebowski. 
*Dark and twisted antiheroes or flat-out villains. Oh my gosh. I LOVE VILLAINS. Send me ALL the villains. Like Breaking Bad.
*Psychological Thrillers, like Dangerous Girls.
*I don't care if there's romance or not. 
*Less abuse/bullying/sad dark, more crazy WHAT JUST HAPPENED freaky dark


Most of what I want in NA is dark. Like, crazy killer dark rather than abuse, similar to YA. This list is gonna be similar. There is SOME light stuff I'd be VERY interested to see in NA though. 

--The Lighter Side--

*Geeks. Bring on the GEEKS. I play D and D, I cosplay, (you can find photo evidence of this on Twitter ;)) I game, bring me anything geeky and I will LOVE IT OK.
*Foodie Stuff. Especially in NA. Culinary school? UH YES.
*The Arts: Give me something set in film school, a dance company, an orchestra (I'm a musician, and have been in orchestras. I can totes help with this.), anything like that. (But oh man please film school.)

*Lots of repeats from the YA list to come here*
*Psychological horror/survival: Especially, like, something in an abandoned ski lodge or something. Or the wilderness.
*Give me screwed-up, disillusioned characters in dark situations, like True Detective. Freaking Rust Cohle. Freaking True Detective.
*Weird stuff. I want bizarre, dark, weird, awesome stuff.
*Stuff where the setting is crazy, atmospheric. Think Louisiana swamps, Alaska, that kind of thing.
*Very dark comedies, a la Fargo, Grosse Pointe Blank, Heathers, The Big Lebowski. Anything the Coen brother would do, I WANT THAT YESTERDAY.
*Dark and twisted antiheroes or flat-out villains. Oh my gosh. I LOVE VILLAINS. Send me ALL the villains. Breaking Bad kind of stuff? AW YISS.

SO, that's about it! Any questions at all, let me know! Find me on Twitter and @ me (@briannashrum) and I'd totally love to answer any questions you have! 

Let me be your 

Yes. I did just intend to subtly imply that if you pick me, you can become Darth Vader.


(Head here for more info on how to submit!)

And back to your previously scheduled programming. Or, ya know, bloghopping.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

GIVEAWAY in Honor of We Need Diverse Books

SO, have we all heard of "We Need Diverse Books?" Here. Let me link you if you haven't. Check it out, yo.

Back? Excellent. Cause I want to give you free stuff. In honor of this campaign, on May 3rd, I will be buying a couple diverse books I have never read.



POINTE by Brandy Colbert.

So, I figured, I'll be reading these books for the first time, and I want YOU to read with me! I'll be picking 3 winners, and giving away ARISTOTLE AND DANTE to one, POINTE to another, and one of my favorite diverse books, OCD LOVE STORY by Corey Ann Haydu, to another. Sorry, international peeps. This giveaway is only for those residing in the U.S., because postage, and because I have no clue how to give away ebooks...Enter below and check back on May 3! #WeNeedDiverseBooks

ADDENDUM: If you are chosen to win a book you already have, you are welcome to choose a different one of the three to receive. For instance, if you are drawn to get OCD Love Story, but you already own it, I would be happy to get you Aristotle and Dante or Pointe instead. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Can We Talk About Consent for a Second?

So. Let's talk about consent. Cool?


This post is gonna deal with some frank stuff, involving sexual harrassment, assault, rape. So. Forewarning.

Still here? Okay. So, we've been teaching our toddler son about the idea of boundaries lately. Obviously not like, "Hey, 2 year old, you ever wanna make out with a girl and she says no, you back off, yo." Because that would make no sense whatsoever to a 2 (almost 3) year old. But about things that are like, "Kid, don't put your hand over my mouth. Don't jump on my back. Don't squish your baby brother's tummy until his innards beg for mercy."
"Awww, but why not?" he asks.
"Because," we tell him, "you need to ask before you put your hand over my mouth or jump on my back. You need to ask before you squish your small sibling with enthusiasm. We are people, and you ask, and when I say no, you say, 'Okay.'"
The two year old responded with, "I hafta ask before I put my hand on you mouf, move you arm, push you foot, or squeeze Baby Brother?"
Yup. Pretty much. My two-year-old gets it. So why can't the adults?

This whole thought process started with this stupid GoT Episode Seen Round the World. (GoT SPOILERS AHEAD.) I'm not gonna delve into it too deeply, because likely, you have heard of it. There are some fabulously written articles on it upon which I cannot improve. Basically though, after what was very obviously a rape scene in the show in every sense of the word, the director came out saying that it was, in fact, the end.

Um. What? The justification here is that Cersei wraps her legs around the guy at one point (let's just forget about how she is saying NO the whole entire freaking time.)

So. Consent. Consent is NOT:

1) The word No. Even one no
2) But s/he kissed me! Obvs. s/he wanted to bone! Nope. Still not consent. Someone can want to kiss a person one minute and change their mind the next. For any reason. Literally any reason is acceptable. Someone can not want to kiss someone for any reason at all and that's IT.
3) Being drunk. Listen. If someone is totally drunk (not talking a little buzz here. I am talking unable to consent.) and you are not, you don't get to sleep with them. Sorry. No sex for you. Deal.
4) GoT SPOILER------------Cersei freaking wrapping her legs around Jamie after he had already initiated sex without her consent.
5) Dressing in a provocative way....She was TOTES asking for it. Cause she was standing there with BOOBS. Don't. I can't even discuss this it's so unbelievably ridiculous.
6) Saying no, but you can tell s/he secretly wants it. Nope. Nopenopenope.

Consent is someone wanting to do whatever it is you want to do, being fully capable of consenting to it, and you mutually agreeing that, yes, this is something we are both into.

This stuff is important. I have read stats that say 1 in 4 or 1 in 6  (depending on the study) women experience some sort of sexual assault in their lifetime. I don't know the stats for men, but they do experience it too, fyi.

I have never experienced sexual assault. I have, however, experienced sexual harrassment. I have a very vivid memory of being 13 years old, fresh from homeschool, entering a public school in the middle of 8th grade. There was this one guy, also in the 8th grade, who was super hot. Popular, charming, on the football team...anyway, he started kind of paying attention to me. Flirting, winking, talking to lame, nerdy, wears-shirts-with-puppy-dogs-on-them ME. I was SO excited.

Then one day in this bio class, miracle of miracles, we were grouped together. He started talking with me all cute and charming with his bedroom eyes and bad-boy YA love interest lopsided smirk. SCREW BIOLOGY. I'm gonna flirt. WITH A BOY.

But then, the conversation got weird. He started talking about what I'd done with a boy (hint: nothing. Ever.), how I liked it, did I like them long and hard, did I like to go all night....a bunch of super vulgar stuff that got more and more vile the longer it went. When the conversation went there, I asked him to stop. To please be quiet. Then to shut up. (Something I never said. I was the most innocent 8th grader on the planet.) I may have even called him a dick. I don't know. What I do know is that the stuff he was saying to me was making me shake, scaring me, and that I made it as clear as I possibly could that he NEEDED to stop. Bad enough that the second he left the table his best friend and another boy at the table, eyes wide, looked over at me and said, "I am SO sorry. He isn't usually like this. But this is messed up. I'm really sorry," and when he got back and started in on me again, both of them told him to knock it off. He didn't.

I left the classroom. My best friend (who was a dude) was waiting outside my class, and I clearly remember walking up to him, trying to keep it cool, and saying, "Hey, man, I had the worst--" then just bursting into tears in the middle of the hallway. Like, weeping, gasping tears. I told him what happened and he was PISSED.  Rightfully.

I told my mom but begged her not to tell my dad because I didn't want Gary to get in trouble. (What the crap?) The next day, I walked to bio like I was walking the Green Mile, knowing I was in for another scary, vile hour, but he was packing up all his stuff and moving to a different class because he had been forced to switch out of mine. Mysterious.

I don't know, to this day, who told the teacher what happened. I suspect, though, that it was either my best friend or his. Whoever it was, THANK YOU FOREVER.

I should have told. I should have walked out. I didn't because he was hot and popular and cute, and I was the nerdy new girl. One of the only devoutly Christian people I knew, and what if I got made fun of for being lame? Too religious? Too conservative? Too sensitive? What if he thought I was a loser? Ugh, this is pissing me off just writing about it. 

I hope he learned that you can't just control people like that. Which, by the way, is what rape, sexual assault, harrassment, is about. It's not about sex. It's about domination and humiliation. What I dealt with that day was not even close to rape. It wasn't even physical. Girls get harrassed all the time. But even ifit wasn't physical, the root is the same. The guy got off on embarrassing me, scaring me, on putting me in a mostly powerless situation...I wasn't asking for it in my puppy shirt and too-flat hair and face with not enough makeup to cover my acne. Just like the girl who wears a short skirt and low cut top isn't asking for it. Just like the guy or girl who gets black-out drunk at a party isn't asking for it.

That harrasssment should not be normal. Should not be something nearly every girl experiences. A couple steps further, assault should.not be COMMON. 

People are PEOPLE, not objects to spout off your sexual fantasies to, or force into acting them out with you. And consent doesn't just  mean it "becomes consensual by the end." It is consensual from the beginning or IT. IS. ASSAULT. Always. Every time. The end.

So I'm calling it out. And by teaching my sons to respect people, respect their wishes, be considerate of other people's feelings, to ask permission before jumping on someone, to stop when someone says stop, I'm doing what  I can to make sure that girls aren't harrassed on the subway, on the sidewalk, in an 8th grade classroom, in a bedroom, and that when a non-consensual sex scene is shown on TV, whether or not it was rape is not a freaking question.