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Hello, Pitch Wars Hopefuls! What is Pitch Wars, for those of you who might have randomly landed over here? Well, it’s a contest where emerging writers submit a completed manuscript to a group of mentors. If chosen, the emerging writer and the mentor work together to bring that manuscript to its full potential so that it’s ready for the eyes of dozens of agents in the final round. Ideally, Pitch Wars means a dynamic, supported path toward publication, but often it means much, much more. Not every one of you will find a match with a mentor here, but hopefully you will all have found new members of your writing community, and maybe even learned some unexpected and helpful things about writing and publishing. I’m so excited for all of you to begin this transformative journey, wherever it takes you.

This year, I’ll be mentoring adult fiction, and I CANNOT WAIT. Narrowing down my wish list was a real challenge this year. I’ve been reading especially widely recently, and loving every minute of it. First off, I’d love to see some thrillers and mysteries in the spirit of Laura Lippman’s LADY IN THE LAKE, Louisa Luna’s TWO GIRLS DOWN, or Sarah Waters’ LITTLE STRANGER—even something like Danya Kukafka’s GIRL IN SNOW. And plenty of Shirley Jackson type stuff – anything gothic! I like the idea of a novel set on an island, or some other closed system. Give me your darkest, moodiest books.

But also give me your speculative books—if your book is anything like the OA or Helen Phillips’ THE NEED, I’m going to need to see that. Is it like the Netflix series Dark? Then I definitely want to see that, too. Also, send me your magical realism, please! I’d love to see any book that tests the boundaries of our world, and any work that bends the limitations of time and space.

Send me your retellings a la Madeline Stevens’ CIRCE, and please, please, please send me your historical novels. I’d really love a story with the historical grounding, mood, and emotional complexity of The Favourite. Although, fair warning, I have WW II fatigue. Unless it’s something really unusual and surprising—along the lines of Inglourious Basterds or something—books in which the Second World War is integral are probably not for me. 

I haven’t forgotten about you romance writers out there, either. I’d love to see beautiful writing with a lot of heart, and plenty of sparkling, snappy dialogue. Anything like Linda Holmes’ EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER, Jen DeLuca’s WELL MET, or Sally Rooney’s NORMAL PEOPLE would be spectacular. If your work is anything like Mhairi McFarlane’s or Jasmine Guillory’s, send it over!

Just generally, I love books featuring  travel, music, and/or food, and I’m always (ALWAYS) up for humor. My ideal mentee will be willing to work, and have a real respect for deadlines and clear communication. I’d love to work with someone who has substantial changes to make; if your book needs a touch of spackle here, and a grammar check there, then I’m probably not the mentor for you. I’m hoping to work with someone who has a clear vision for their story, but might have some issues with structure and pacing. Helping out with character development, and brainstorming solutions to plot problems is kind of my thing.

Why should you submit to me? Well, it’s not my first rodeo. Technically, it’s my second rodeo, but my first rodeo was pretty wonderful. In 2017, I had the pleasure of working with Isaac Fitzsimons, the author of a beautiful YA novel now titled THE PASSING PLAYBOOK. Isaac signed with Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary, and his book will be published by Dial in 2020. Working with Isaac was one of the highlights of my writing life, and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with another talented new voice in fiction.

I’m especially eager to mentor an adult manuscript this year because my own debut is coming out next year with Park Row Books. And, because I’m in the thick of a new publishing experience, I’d love to share everything that I’ve learned so far. Mentoring style-wise, I’m enthusiastic but also realistic. I will celebrate all of your triumphs and strengths, but will strive to make meaningful change wherever we need to. If all of this sounds good, please consider submitting to me; I can’t wait to meet you, future mentee!