Hi there, Pitch Wars hopefuls!
I had a blast mentoring a fantastic YA sci-fi in Pitch Wars 2015 and guiding my first mentee to success. This year is going to be twice as fun, because I’m co-mentoring with Shana Silver! Read through our wishlist here, then click here to go to her website and find a letter for the scavenger hunt!
Shana and I are looking for YA manuscripts only. That being said, here’s our wish list!
-Fantasy of all sorts, but especially epics. Also, historical fantasy in the vein of A Darker Shade of Magic.
–Sci-fi of all sorts; give us Killjoys or Dark Matter or Farscape for YA!
-Magical Realism a la Bone Gap or The Raven Boys
-Mystery/Thriller with a supernatural element
-Horror (ghosts/psychological horror only, no gore)
–Historicals featuring time periods not often explored in YA. Give us a YA book about Vikings, or something like And I Darken.
*Note: we won’t be looking at much contemp, but in this genre, we’d love a YA version of The Big Bang Theory or Weeds!
Things we’d love to see in all of the above:
-LGBTQ+ characters as MCs, whose stories aren’t about coming out
-Diversity in all its forms, #ownvoices encouraged
-Multi-POV without head hopping
-Strong female characters
–Anything reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s work (Witty dialogue, misfits banding together to form a family of sorts)
-Anything reminiscent of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra (The diveristy! The well-rounded characters! The sweeping plot!)
Even more things we love include:
Bad boys who turn good, castles, ghosts, hate-to-love relationships, girls in STEM, mythology that’s rich and ever-present in a narrative, strong relationships of any kind (love, friendship, sibling), f/f romance, gorgeous writing, settings that become its own character, epic kisses, rivalry, girls with swords.
Please do NOT send us:
-Gory horror/anything else with excessive gore
-Animal abuse, even if it’s a minor element
-Religious themes in any genre
^ The above will be an auto-pass from us, so please don’t waste anyone’s time!
This is my second year mentoring in Pitch Wars, and over the past couple years, I’ve mentored in many other writing contests like Query Kombat and Sun Vs. Snow. I’m also a mentor for Adventures in YA Publishing’s monthly First 5 Pages Workshop. And if your novel features bisexual characters, I can offer a sensitivity read as well.
My Pitch Wars mentee from 2015, M.K. England, is now represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Agency; M.K. and I had a great time working together, and have become good friends! Also, she’s a Pitch Wars mentor herself this year, so be sure to check out her bio!
Between picture books and YA (the two age groups I write for), I have 6 books announced/forthcoming: three picture books with Abrams Kids and Sterling Children’s, and three young adult novels, a historical fantasy with Sky Pony Press and a dark epic fantasy duology (with f/f romance, yay!) coming from Razorbill/Penguin. I understand how to write effectively for the YA market, and I’m willing to share all aspects of my own experiences–from the joys to the painful rejections–as I help you take your work to the next level.
My support won’t end when Pitch Wars does, and it’s my hope that our 2016 mentee will view me as a friend for life!
*Here are some fun facts about me:
–I have two greyhounds, two Italian greyhounds, one Bourke’s parakeet, too many fish to count, and one husband-creature–in other words, I have my own small zoo! I also love to ride horses. In short, if you love animals, you are my people.
–I have a Master of Science in Education (preK-6)
–I’m very interested in genealogy and am descended from some fun people including Eleanor of Aquitaine and Isabella, She Wolf of France.
–I love video games. Right now, I’m playing a lot of Fallout 4!
–I also love tabletop games, general nerdery, and attending cons. See below for a few photos of my con adventures!
–Some of my favorite fandoms include Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Firefly, Game of Thrones, The Legend of Korra, and all things Marvel.
–The last sci-fi book I read and loved was Becky Chambers’s The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.
–The last fantasy book I read and loved was Kiersten White’s And I Darken.
–And now, here’s some photographic evidence of the weirdness that is me, one half of your co-mentor team:
This is also my second year mentoring Pitch Wars. Though I was never a participant, I entered quite a few contests a few years ago, such as The Writer’s Voice. In one contest, I received 10 agent requests! So I know how to create an entry that hooks (AND a query letter). Each time I queried, I had about a 90% request rate. I’ve also finaled in several RWA writing contests.
I have formal training in creative writing from Syracuse University where I studied under some renowned literary authors. My short stories have appeared in a number of literary magazines. And I used to work in publishing in NYC! So I can offer insight from both sides of the desk. I also have a traditionally published YA book from a mid-sized press under a pen name.
My strengths lie in query pitch writing, synopsis writing, line edits, figuring out solutions to impossible plotting problems, and enhancing voice so it leaps off the page.
Like Sarah, my support continues after Pitch Wars!
*We will give a brief amount of feedback (where we stopped reading and why) to any entrant from whom we request material. However, we will not offer feedback to queries we’re passing on, due to our packed schedules.
*With our mentee, I (Sarah) will be doing the big-picture editorial letter in September, which I’ll send to you fairly quickly after mentees are announced! Then, once you’ve finished revisions, you’ll send the manuscript to Shana in early October, and she’ll do line edits and help you polish things up from there!
*We will, of course, both be available for questions and commiseration and cheering at every step of the way!
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I love the wishlist for you and Shana. I have a question about ‘religious theme’ and hope you don’t mind clarifying. My YA Sci-Fi doesn’t have a religious theme overall, but in it the antagonist (a female version of Hitler) tries to rewrite history and one way she does this is to create her own version of a Bible and states that God is behind the reason why male babies have ceased to be born. Due to these two references to the Bible and God I thought I’d better ask you if this is considered too much theme. That’s the only part in the book that refers to it. Thank you for your thoughts on this!
Thanks so much for reaching out with a question; I appreciate it! What you described isn’t a religious theme as far as I’m concerned, so you’re perfectly good to sub to us if you so choose! 🙂 Let me know if you have other questions, either here or on Twitter, and good luck!!!
Fantastic! Thank you!
Hi ladies! Just wondering if your fantasy MSWL includes Urban Fantasy w/vamps and weres in it? They’re not the main focus, but I know a lot of people are turned off by their inclusion! I really hope this genre digs itself further out of the grave soon, eek!
Thanks so much for the question! We will definitely accept urban fantasy, but while I love vampires (the Anita Blake series is a favorite of mine, as is True Blood!), they would have to be incredibly unique in order to stand out in our sub pile! I know that’s a bit of a vague answer, and I apologize, but it’s all in the execution–is your vampire and were mythology something that hasn’t been done before? If it’s a new take, we’d be open to a look! Thanks again and GOOD LUCK! 🙂
Hey ladies! Thanks for Mentoring in Pitch Wars! I have a question – how blatant do the religious themes have to be to be discounted from your work? One of my main characters is the Angel of Death and others do have elements of faith to their character (Methodist, Catholic, Muslim, etc…) but the story is not about the main lead signing up for a Judeo-Christian salvation narrative. Would this be too religious? Just want to make sure. Thanks for your time!
Hi Mariel! Thank you so much for the question 🙂 Unfortunately, what you’re describing is too much religion for us, and it seems like it would be wise for you to choose different mentors who may be more interested in that subject matter! Best of luck in the contest going forward!!!
No problem! Thank you for clearing that up. Best of luck with your Mentees! 🙂
Hi! I’m stopping by to personalize my query. I’ve submitted to you because my book, THE MIRROR CRACK’D, is an epic, multi-POV fantasy that features several strong female characters, romance (including hate-to-love), castles, and girls with swords. It’s infused with mythology; it includes a reimagining of the Taliesin myth (as well as the Lady of Shalott and several fairy tales). It would be an honor to get to work with you; thank you for your time.
Thank you, Leanne! 🙂
Hi ladies! Thanks for the detailed list about what you’re looking for, and for mentoring in Pitch Wars! I am here with another question about religious themes, as other than that what you’re interested in seems to be a really good fit with what I’m writing (LGBTQ+ MC without coming out focus, yes!!).
My novel is a YA urban fantasy with a witch main character who was born into an anti-witch cult. Religion isn’t a major focus in the work, but the cult was founded on being opposed to witches (though not LGBTQ+ people) on religious grounds, and during the novel my MC struggles some with how to reconcile this to her life now–in the broader context of dealing with her past. (When the novel starts, the cult was disbanded a few years ago).
When you get a chance, please let me know if this sort of thing would be a deal breaker for yoU!
Hi Sam, I’m so sorry I didn’t see this before the sub window closed- we had company over today! Best of luck in the contest though!!!