Pitch Wars 2019 Wishes

Thanks for stopping by! I’m really excited to meet some new characters!

About Pitch Wars:

Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for an agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents.

About Me:

I’m a young adult author! I’m a Pitch Wars alum. In 2016 my manuscript UPSTAGED was mentored by the inimitable Karen McManus. I got some great requests and some close calls as a result, but that book did not result in me finding an agent! That’s OK! 

My debut book came out in January. The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me is a contemporary YA about a girl who has never been kissed, but winds up being the sex ed guru at her conservative, small town high school. It’s about close friendships, first loves, feminism, consent, sex positivity, and music. 

I’m on my third agent. What this means for potential mentees: 

  • I understand it’s not always a straight line from querying to publication.
  • I have queried a lot of books. Some successfully, some not so.
  • I have had good experiences with agents, and also some not so great.
  • I have opinions about what makes a good agent.
  • I am really eager to continue mentoring after the contest, especially when it comes to querying and choosing representation.

Other professional stuff:

Along with being an author, I’m a freelance writer that covers children’s literature for romper.com. This means I read a lot of kids’ books. I interview authors, get to do cover/excerpt reveals, and come up with lists by topic. What this means as a mentor, is that I feel pretty well-versed in what’s in the market and I’m happy to mentor writers who write across categories for kids, even though I’m strictly mentoring young adult manuscripts.

Personal stuff:

My identity! I am a white, ciswoman, and I’m demisexual and pansexual. I have invisible illnesses including a mental illness: panic disorder with agoraphobia. I have close family members who are non-binary gender. I also have ADHD-inattentive type.

I have three kids, ages 2-9. My littlest was actually born while I was a pitch wars mentee. I finished my revisions, gave birth, then stalked my agent requests with a newborn in my arms. I totally get the challenges and joys that come with being a parent/caregiver and a creative human. I’m always working on work/life balance and I’m eager to share the things I’ve learned about this!

My communication/mentoring style:

Some of my best ideas have struck when I’m talking to another person, whether it’s an editor or a critique partner. Ideally, I’ll give a really in depth edit letter. Big picture stuff. And then the author gets time to digest it. I would love a mentee that might be up for a video call to discuss stuff, because I honestly feel like that really helps there be a back and forth. Beyond that, I’m open to DMs/PMs/emails/texts once we have a rapport. I don’t expect to be the final word on your book. It’s *your* book. But what I do want is a chance to explain why something isn’t working for me and for us both to be open to things going in a new direction. Lastly, I might suggest you start the revision with a blank document. This is totally how I work when structural stuff is happening. I make an outline and indicate places where new scenes need to be written and where old scenes can be pasted in. It’s not for the faint of heart! But I swear by starting a new doc so you don’t get too attached to those darlings that need to go. 

Without further ado…

What I’m Looking for:

Young Adult with a quirk. If something is off-beat and a little weird, I’ll probably like it. Genre is not as important, because I’ll read and love almost anything.

In contemporary YA:

I still want vivid worldbuilding. I want fully realized and quirky characters. I love romantic and platonic feels. I love beautiful writing and characters who see the world in a unique way. (I’ll Give You The Sun, Graffiti Moon, Jellicoe Road) 

I always dig dark or suspenseful (Female of the Species, Allegedly, or anything by Karen McManus–my pitch wars mentor! or Courtney Summers)

In fantasy/sci-fi/magical realism etc, I love: 

Unexplained magical/supernatural happenings. Give me Bone Gap or The Astonishing Color of After or Before I Disappear or Wild Beauty or Scorpio Races.

If it’s fantasy set in a different world, I want it to have real-world politics. I also like fantasy/sci-fi with unexpected cultural/technological references. Give me trench warfare or early civilization or Norse mythology. (I love The Light Between Worlds and Unhooked and the TV shows Vikings and Firefly) 

Give me new political systems or religions. (These Rebel Waves, or Black Wings Beating). 

Give me a new take on tropes, like in Damsel. 

In sci-fi, I love the movies Arrival and Interstellar. I love to think about what’s possible and what might be out there and how it may come to be. 

I also love the game Overwatch and would read the heck out of books set in that world or similar. (larger than life characters and interesting technology that’s woven in throughout.)

(Photo: Tiled book covers of Scorpio Races, Jellicoe Road, The Female of the Species, Sky in the Deep, Wild Beauty, Black Wings Beating, Sadie, Damsel, Bone Gap, Graffiti Moon, These Rebel Waves, Allegedly, The Astonishing Color of After, One of Us is Lying, I’ll Give You The Sun, Before I Disappear, Unhooked, and The Light Between Worlds)

Bonus Points:

  • Music or art or theater (I have experience with all of these, so I love realistic/well-researched) 
  • Queer characters with a loving community of support or where their queerness is accepted and not a stumbling block
  • Characters who are still questioning and exploring their identity
  • Mental illness depiction that isn’t doom and gloom–characters taking psychiatric meds with it being not a big deal is great too!
  • Romantic tension
  • Central platonic relationships
  • Unreliable or “unlikeable” narrators
  • Physics and astronomy
  • Ace-spec characters, pan/bi characters
  • Disability/illness rep, I’m particularly interested in deaf/hard-of-hearing, IBD, and anxiety
  • Breaking stigmas of any kind
  • Outdoorsy. Give me your rock climbers, backwoods camping
  • Characters that break gender molds, even if they are cis. 
  • Horses! I was a horsey girl. 
  • Make me laugh
  • Make me cry

Please don’t send me:

  • Tragic gay/queer plotlines
  • Fluffy romance where the characters would get together if they would just talk to each other (No shade, it’s just not my fave!)
  • Magic systems where a character just needs to tap into something in their thoughts and feelings
  • Though I like mental/chronic illness rep, I don’t want it to be solely about that. I like a lot of “issue books” but I like it when characters are living with illnesses but are still focused on love/art/rescuing kittens etc
  • Violence for shock value, or extreme cruelty
  • While I’m fine with sex on the page  (I wrote a book about this!), I’m uncomfortable with anything in YA that’s clearly meant to be erotic. I have an ick feeling when people fancast their stories with underage actors knowing the characters have sex.
  • I also don’t like “chosen one” tropes–I mean, unless you totally subvert it in a zany way.

That’s it! Best of luck in your search for a mentor!

Pitch Wars 2019 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Aiden Thomas (Accepts NA)
  2. Kelsey Rodkey and Rachel Lynn Solomon
  3. Nancy Werlin
  4. Olivia Hinebaugh
  5. Abigail Johnson
  6. Rebecca Schaeffer
  7. Rebecca Coffindaffer (Accepts NA)
  8. Laurie Dennison
  9. Sam Taylor
  10. ST Sterlings (Accepts NA)
  11. Brenda Drake and Kyle T. Cowan (Accepts NA)
  12. Carrie Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
  13. J. Elle
  14. Andrea Contos (Accepts NA)
  15. Raquel Vasquez Gilliland and Sandra Proudman (Accepts NA)
  16. Ayana Gray (Accepts NA)
  17. Susan Lee and Auriane Desombre
  18. Julia Ember (Accepts NA)
  19. SA Patel
  20. Kat Dunn (Accepts NA)
  21. Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie
  22. Jesse Q. Sutanto
  23. Ray Stoeve
  24. Aty S. Behsam and Kylie Schachte
  25. Cole Nagamatsu
  26. Rachel Griffin
  27. Adalyn Grace
  28. Adrienne Tooley and Kelly Quindlen (Accepts NA)
  29. Ciannon Smart and Deborah Falaye
  30. Kristin Lambert, Sasha Peyton Smith
  31. Kimberly Gabriel and Dawn Ius
  32. Lyndsay Ely
  33. Jamie Howard
  34. Jenna Lincoln (Accepts NA)
  35. Jen Marie Hawkins and Anna Birch (Accepts NA)
  36. Judy I. Lin
  37. Leila Siddiqui
  38. Zach Hines (Accepts NA)
  39. Hoda Agharazi
  40. Michaela Greer (Accepts NA)
  41. Liz Lawson and Jeff Bishop (Accepts NA)
  42. Lindsey Frydman (Accepts NA)
  43. Chelsea Hensley (Accepts NA)
  44. Isabel Ibañez