My name is Emily Damron-Cox, and I’ll be submitting my middle-grade manuscript to Pitchwars this year.
What is PitchWars?
In August, scores of hopeful writers pitch their completed manuscripts to author-mentors who help prepare them for an agent showcase. PitchWars provides an incredibly supportive community for writers. To find out more go to: http://pitchwars.org/new-start-here/
What is #BoostMyBio?
Many of this year’s PitchWars mentors trawl Twitter feeds for potential mentees. #BoostMyBio provides them with a taste of the upcoming projects–and for the writers who created them.
Photo by Mohamed Abdelgaffar on Pexels.com
My Middle-Grade Fantasy, BROWNIES OF BROOKLYN
When 10-year-old Mac’s father is deployed overseas, Mac comes to live in Brownstone Brooklyn with relatives he’s never met. Here he discovers a whole world of magic, where mischievous sprites called Brownies exist, but so do terrifying demons that attach themselves to neighborhood bullies to assert their evil influence.
With Mac’s new friend’s father facing an unjust deportation, Mac, and his friends, Ali and Caity beg the Brownies to intervene. But even the Brownies’ help is not enough to save Mr. Kaouri. In this story of tolerance, friendship, and overcoming of obstacles, the three kids must learn to develop their magical powers so they can defeat the demons once and for all, and rescue Ali’s father before he’s sent back to his dangerous land.
At 74,000 words, BROWNIES OF BROOKLYN combines the magic of THE LOST HEIR by E.G. Foley with the intrigue and tone of K. Milford’s GREENGLASS HOUSE.
My greatest joy was watching a nine-year-old beta reader tear through an earlier draft of BROWNIES OF BROOKLYN in three sittings. Since then, I’ve worked with five skilled critique partners who have helped me hone plotting, character development, and overall craft.
After some great advice last fall, I cut a couple of subplots and 8,000 words from my story, but I need help determining how else to restructure. I’m passionate about getting this book into the hands of young readers, and I’d love to work with a mentor who believes in this project as much as I do.
At a recent march for immigrants’ rights
I studied children’s book writing and illustrating at Parsons School of Design and am a member of SCBWI. With my military upbringing and as a practicing psychotherapist in Brooklyn, the issues facing both military and immigrant families have always been close to my heart…and now more than ever.
Juicy tidbits: I love to cook, eat, swim, and bike ride (especially in the morning or at sunset after a long writing session). My critique partners and I go on retreat to Cape Cod every summer, where, yes, we cook, eat, swim, bike ride, write, (and also dish about politics).
My favorite way to unwind is to watch comedy videos with my artist husband. I’m convinced that laughter is the very best way to end the day!
The dog character in my book is loosely based on Mindy, the Best-Dog-in-the-World, who now watches over us from Sirius, the dog star.
Some Favorite Books
Catch You Later, Traitor (Avi)
Dogsbody (D. Wynne Jones)
Fish in a Tree (L. Mullaly Hunt)
Girl With the Red Balloon (K. Locke)
Greenglass House (K. Milford)
The Hate U Give (A. Thomas)
Holding Court (K. C. Held)
Howl’s Moving Castle (D. Wynne Jones)
The Incorrible Children of Ashton Place (M. Wood)
Last Bus to Wisdom (I. Doig)
The Lost Heir (E. G. Foley)
Love, Sugar, Magic: A Dash of Trouble (A. Meriano)
Moon Over Manifest (C. Vanderpool)
Mysterious Benedict Society (T. Lee Stewart)
The Penderwicks (J. Birdsall)
Some Fun Facts about Brownies
In Celtic traditions, Brownies were wee men who appeared at night to help with unfinished chores while weary households slept. But they were also found in other cultures under different names and in various forms. Brownies inhabited the same liminal spaces as elves, leprechauns, gnomes, fairies, and sprites. (I’ve always wanted help while I slept, haven’t you?)
In the late-1880’s, author-illustrator Palmer Cox popularized the Brownies and turned them into a multi-cultural, egalitarian band of helpful and mischievous sprites. Cox’s books were translated into a score of languages and distributed to children around the world.
In Cox’s books, Brownies often spoke in rhymes. As a published poet, I’ve continued this tradition. Here’s one example:
As elementals, many say we’re mischievous and full of play,
But if an injury befalls we’ll end our games in Brownie halls,
And rush to save whoever needs by harnessing our fastest steeds:
Shank’s mare and seagulls, dog, or seal, so speedily, we’ll dose and heal.
Some Creepy Facts About Demons
In my book, demons are the natural enemies of Brownies. They appear as toothy land or sea animals, and sport leathery bat-like wings, which enable them to menace Mac and his friends from the skies. The demons’ aim is to create chaos in the world–they are the ones behind all the wars. And they work on susceptible people to overpower and oppresss others.
The demons’ language takes the form of creepy rhymes. Here’s a snippet:
Smattering, chattering, Brownie dear,
We’ll wipe your mug from ear to ear,
Boil your toes in a kettle drum,
Gnaw your bones when we are done.
Me As a Mentee
I’ve gone through many drafts of this book (about 1,000 and counting??) cutting out characters, subplots, filtering lines, dialogue tags, you name it! My writing group will attest to my dedication, and to my commitment to making this manuscript the best, most publishable book possible. I would love, love, love! to work with a PitchWars mentor to make this dream come true!