Thursday, February 12, 2015

February Mystery Editor REVEAL and WINNERS!

Today's the big day! Everyone please give a very warm Operation Awesome welcome to McKelle George from Jolly Fish Press!

McKelle has very generously chosen seven winners with awesome prizes!

Full Manuscript Request:

Darkness Whispered by Amber Riley
-I’m not particularly looking for YA Fantasy, there is a LOT out there, but this is a good example of how a good idea and good writing can triumph over timing. The pitch was really excellent, and the opening got right to the point of what made the premise interesting, which was a smart move.

Malicious Desire by Leehotline
-I felt the premise was dark and interesting, and when I read the first line, I really wanted to know in more detail what the “human line” meant.

Boldly Go by Kara Reynolds
-I’m actively looking for Women’s Fiction right now, and I admit I have a weakness for family secrets.

Rescue Me by Kelly Heinen
-Most LGBT pitches seem to be YA-based lately, and a contemporary, mature take on an LGBT marriage had my editor’s heart salivating.

First Chapter Critique:

Between Good and Evil by Remington Cross
-I really liked the pitch of this one. Very catchy. The first line, however, almost lost it for me. Wordy and sort of unclear; a dense, verbose opening of setting description, which is never a good idea if you can help it. Overall though, I’m really intrigued by my what happen.

Donovan by Gifford MacShane
-I’m a sucker for crime westerns (especially with a hint of romance), but I felt the voice was a bit bland and modern for first person. However, I’d really like to see what could be done with it.

The Scent of Bergamot by Nikola Vukoja

-The pitch told me essentially nothing about the story, but I really liked the first line. Caustic and funny, and also interesting.

Please email us a operationawesome6 (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject February ME Winner for further instructions.

McKelle was kind enough to answer a few questions for us so we can get to know her a little better.

OA: Any tips for writers struggling with their pitches? Common mistakes you see in them?

MG: Especially for editors and agents who see a lot of pitches and queries, it’s important to get to the heart of your story quickly. Too often I see pitches that are essentially a description of the main character, or a description of the setting. Get to the story arc. The conflict. The hook. Don’t be cute or teasing or ask rhetorical questions. Be plain and clear as you can.

OA: What books have you read lately that you’ve fallen in love with (manuscripts you’re currently working with or others)?

MG: I recently read Flora and Ulysses for the first time, which won the Newbery last year. It was quirky, smart, and adorable. I loved it. I loved Grasshopper Jungle for its allegorical weirdness—it was a book that did something I hadn’t really seen much in YA. And as I mentioned earlier, I’ve gotten a craving for books like Liane Moriarty’s—which are often about murder and stalking and mystery, but the voice is always funny, domestic, and personal.

OA: What are you seeing a lot of in your slush pile lately? What would you like to see?

MG: I see a lot of YA Fantasy, and a lot of Contemporary with premises that are just okay and a voice that doesn’t really carry the weight of a “been-done” premise. Because I work with a small press, and I really feel that’s a great avenue to keep a talented author published until they have something mainstream enough to catch the eye of the one of the Big 5, I’m always looking for manuscripts that do something different, that tackle a hard issue or try a style no one has before.

OA:  Any exciting news to share?

MG: Jolly Fish Press has recently signed with Gotham Media and we’ve been getting a lot of movie deals for our authors, which has been especially exciting to see since we’re still pretty young.

OA: And a few just for fun:

Favorite caffeinated beverage? Dt. Mt Dew
Sea or mountains? Mountains (I live right in the Rockies!)
Chocolate or bacon? Chocolate-covered bacon?
Ebook or print book? Print
Favorite TV show? Right now, it’s Parenthood (see? I just love domestic drama.)

Thank you so much to McKelle for being our Mystery Editor this month! And congrats to all the winners!

Stay tuned for info on our next Mystery Agent contest!


  1. Congratulations to all the winners! And thanks, McKelle, for giving them all some precious feedback in addition to the requests!

  2. Welcome, McKelle! And huge congratulations to the winners!

  3. Congratulations to the winners! Thanks so much for the contest and to McKelle for taking time from her busy schedule to do this. Y'all are awesome.



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