Pitch Wars 2015 Mentor Wishlist!

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Welcome… to Pitch Wars 2015!

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I’m thrilled to be participating as a mentor this year! My experience as an alternate mentee last year was transformative, and I’m excited to be paying it forward. If you’ve stumbled upon this page by mistake, check out Brenda Drake’s post for rules and info. For the rest of you, I know you’re all eager to know what I’ll be mentoring, so let’s get to it!

I’m looking for Adult fiction with strong speculative elements, as well as non-speculative historical fiction.

What the former translates to: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Magical Realism, Historical fantasy, Contemporary fantasy, and most subgenres that fit in the category of Speculative Fiction, unless otherwise specified below. Use your best judgment.

Regarding historical fiction: My areas of expertise include the Viking Age, Tudor England, Puritan New England, and the American Old West. If your story involves any of those time periods, chances are good that 1) I will be totally into your MS, and 2) I will be able to assist you in fact-checking and adding more historical detail. If your story does not involve those time periods, no worries! I’m not averse to doing some research to ensure your novel is historically accurate. Plus, I have access to some databases that may prove useful for further inquiry.

More specifically, I’d love to see any of the following:

  • “unlikable” protagonists, especially female leads
  • a story that passes the Bechdel Test
  • charming villains
  • a cast that features awesome POC characters (bonus points for women of color!)
  • romance as a subplot, not the story’s primary focus
  • a story where platonic love is shown as just as important as romantic love
  • historical fantasy that is accurate, yet also reveals aspects of the period not usually seen or discussed
  • dark fairytale/myth retellings
  • prose that borders on poetry; language that is vivid and precise; imagery that bites
  • a nice balance of humor and drama
  • hopeful endings (it doesn’t have to be happy, per se, but I’m not fond of complete downers)

Basically, I’m looking for manuscripts that feature complex characters with agency, and a setting I can lose myself in. Language, sex, and gore don’t bother me, as long as all are utilized purposefully.

In the words of Joss Whedon, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.”

Examples of fiction I’ve enjoyed:

  • God’s War by Kameron Hurley
  • Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
  • Giants of the Frost by Kim Wilkins
  • On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
  • The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
  • Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover

Please DON’T send me:

  • Genre Romance
  • Dystopian
  • Mystery
  • Crime/Legal Thriller
  • Satire
  • Hard sci-fi (I don’t have a technical background, so I probably wouldn’t be able to fact-check your science)
  • Stories where women are killed/raped/brutalized for the purpose of male angst/character development

no sansa disgusted

Now that you’ve been through the lists, I know what you’re asking yourself…

Why should you choose me to submit to?

As an agented author, I have been through both the querying and submission processes, so I know exactly the kind of obstacles new writers face in the trenches. I served as a judge for the 2015 NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge, providing feedback to dozens of writers in a clear and concise manner, and have provided helpful edits for CPs who have then gone on to become published, even bestselling authors.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in German, which basically means Ich bin eine Nerd. It also means I have a thing for Germanic folklore, vikings, doomed queens, and long essays on women’s roles in Old Norse society. Trust me when I say I can tell the difference between necessary exposition and an info dump. If your historical novel starts to read like a final research paper, we’ll fix that.

I am also a proud feminist, so send me stories featuring brave women, cowardly women, smart women, stupid women, women who love, and women who hate. I’m all about it.

anne boleyn looking up

On the more practical side of things, I will be providing my mentee with: query polishing, line edits, and big picture feedback. Whatever we need to do to get your MS ready for querying, we are going to do. A quick sidenote regarding my critiquing style: I can be harsh. I don’t coddle writers when it comes to their prose. Be prepared for massive edits, if need be.

To sum, I have a passion for storytelling and an instinct for making plot and characters work. If you choose me, you’ll not only be getting someone with a professional eye for editing, but also a cheerleader. I want you to succeed. If that means helping brainstorm new scenes, offering survival advice for the trenches, or merely cheering you up with wacky gifs, I’m prepared to take that bullet.


With that said…

What are you waiting for?! Go submit to me, and let’s do this!

for gondor

P.S. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment below, or hit me up on Twitter.

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  1. When you say you don’t want mysteries, does that include historical mysteries?


    1. Author

      Historical mysteries are totally fine. With regards to crime/thriller, I just don’t want contemporary settings. No cop dramas. That sort of thing. Not that they’re bad genres; I simply don’t read them widely enough to be of much help there.

  2. I think we’d make a great team. I keep putting you on the list–then taking you off. Here’s the issue: there is an attempted rape (and the MC gets in some great hits) in the first chapter. This works to set up the tension (physical, mental, sexual) between our MC and her archenemy. I don’t want to disrespect (in any way, shape, or form) what you are saying you want to read and don’t want to read. Are you okay with this?

    1. Author

      Hmmm. It’s really difficult to say without reading it, but if it’s from the female main character’s POV and serves a purpose other than mere shock value, it might be okay. Mostly what I hate is the fridging of female characters for male angst or character development (which this doesn’t sound like is the case). If it truly doesn’t work and/or there’s an alternative way to set up the tension, that’s something I’d work on with a mentee, anyway, provided I loved the characters, writing, storyline, etc.

      So I’m going to yes. I’m okay with it in this specific instance. I hope that answers your question! 🙂

  3. I think your requests fit perfectly with my speculative fiction.

    My question is that I technically classify the book as YA because the main character is 18.

    But I think it can still fit within what you’re looking for because the book does not fit the typical YA tropes.

    The adult perspectives in the book are crucial to the full understanding of the story. Yes, a “young adult” provides the driving force, but her perspective only accounts for 20,000 words (out of 60,000 words). The remainder of the novel involves points of view from four other adult characters.

    Even if I technically classify it as YA, would I still be able to submit it to you considering the above?

    1. Author

      If you’re classifying the book as YA and plan to query it as such, then no. I’m only mentoring adult fiction.

      However, from what you’ve told me, it sounds like your book could be adult. YA revolves around certain themes such as self-discovery and figuring out one’s place in the world. I don’t think any YA features adult perspectives (or it’s seldom done), whereas adult fiction can feature younger perspectives. Example: George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has the POVs of young girls in it, but it is most certainly not YA. Does that make sense?

      Ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out where exactly your story fits, and who its audience is.

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