#PitchWars 2017: Wish List & Bios!

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Hi, and welcome to our Pitch Wars bio/wish list!
We’ll be mentoring YA this year!

A Little About Us:

SONIA: I write YA contemporary and mystery, and I’ll be mentoring YA with Annette, who was one of my mentees from last year. YAY! I’m represented by the fabulous Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency, and my work has appeared in several publications, including The Writers Post Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, and the anthology Bearing North. When I’m not writing, I’m wrangling my two kids, trying out new restaurants, or relaxing on my porch with an Oberon. This is my third year as a mentor, and I couldn’t be more excited!

ANNETTE: I write contemporary YA and dabble in magical realism. This is my first year on the other side of Pitch Wars and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m represented by Jess Dallow of Brower Literary Management, who is wonderful. I’ve written articles for various online publications and plays for theatre festivals on both sides of the Canadian-American border. I currently live in Canada with my husband and two kids. Also, I was once paid $9/hour to pretend to flirt with a 90’s heartthrob in a Disney made-for-tv movie.

Why You Should Pick Us:

SONIA: I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2013, and it was an amazing experience. Since I’ve been there too, I know what it feels like and what to expect. I will work hard to help you whip your manuscript into shape while still respecting the vision you have for your story. I learned the ins and outs of plotting and crafting compelling characters from one of the best, and will pass on everything I learned from my mentor. The last two years I gave personalized feedback to everyone who submitted the genres on my wish list, and this year I will be keeping feedback to anyone who specifically wants it (I’ll ask on Twitter if you want feedback), because I know how valuable critique can be when you’re getting ready to march into the query trenches. (For those who send me things not on my wish list, I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to give feedback. I’m not as familiar with those genres, so I fear I might hurt more than help in those areas). Most of all, I really want to give back and find a manuscript that’s almost there, but needs just a little bit of love. And I will continue to support you on your journey long after Pitch Wars is over.

ANNETTE: I’m a 2016 mentee and I was lucky enough to have Sonia as my mentor. She is so dedicated and talented. Not only did she help whip my manuscript into shape, she became a friend and CP. I love her. She’s very lovable. She’s also very loyal and will protect you with the ferocity of a jaguar (the animal, not the car). Sonia and I have both been in your shoes and can empathize with your hunger for the next step in your journey as a writer. We promise to support and nourish your manuscript as well as you as a writer (and a human). We understand there will be moments during the process of revising your manuscript when you will want to laugh and cry and cry while laughing and laugh while crying, etc. Revising a manuscript can be a painful TIME. Sonia and I are here for that. We’ll keep our wits about us if you lose yours. We will mentor you in a way that is collaborative and encouraging, and you will leave our loving arms a better writer. Except don’t go too far, because we like to keep our Pitch Wars buddies close.

What We Want to See in Our Inbox:

Contemporary

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Historical (realistic or mystery, 1920’s and up only)

More specifically, we’re all about strong female friendships (must pass Bechdel test and must not call other girls sluts and whores), complicated sibling relationships, and swoon-worthy romance. We’d love to see MCs with interesting hobbies: fire eating, scuba diving, owl figurine collecting. The stranger, the better. Anything with a circus or carnival setting would be amazing. As would anything disaster/survival related (like a YA Twister or Castaway). And we really, really, really want HEA, intersectional queer stories (we have a special place in our hearts for sweet f/f romances) and sex-positive stories that really capture all the messy and complex feelings of coming into your own. We love friendship stories, and we especially love to see girls championing each other. Contemporary retellings are fun, and we’d love to see one in our inbox. We also love blackmail, revenge, and scandals, anything that would make proper old ladies clutch their pearls. Teens who pursue their dreams will always get our attention. Thespians, artists, dancers, athletes, musicians, engineers, taxidermists, whatever it might be, as long as they’re passionate. And we love road trips, bucket lists, scavenger hunts, and love letters. We’d trade a kidney for politically active MCs, whether that be on a small scale (challenging the school board) or on a larger scale (teen spends a summer occupying Wall St.), we want to see it all. Especially if your MC was warned, was given an explanation, and nevertheless, she persisted. If your MC has ever been described as ‘unlikeable’ there is a solid chance we’re going to love them.

As for mysteries, we’ll fall for anything that can keep us guessing until the end. We especially love mysteries that subvert familiar tropes and classic settings with a modern voice. We love unreliable narrators and characters who surprise us by hiding a darker nature under a cool façade. We wouldn’t mind a ghost story with a mystery at the heart. Actual ghost is cool, but ambiguous ghost is cooler. Make us question whether or not the haunting is real or all in your MCs mind (think an updated YA version of THE TURN OF THE SCREW). A mystery with a gothic atmosphere would be awesome! Old money families rotting away from the inside, dark secrets, and creepy ass attics full of dusty clothes and heirlooms. Same for suspense, that slow building sense of danger with a thick atmosphere is the best. For thriller, anything with a fast pace that keeps our hearts racing would be excellent.

SONIA: Setting is one of my favorite things. I love the kind of setting that’s like another character, where the character’s mood and tone of the story can be felt in slants of light, shadowy corners, and objects falling apart and being built back up around them.

ANNETTE: Sonia’s the Setting Guru, for sure. I’m all about dialogue. Give me great, layered dialogue with imperfect listening and silences that speak. I earned my BFA in Acting and my PhD in Being a Smartass, and I love banter more than anything. Gimme some of that, s’il vous plait.

We like to feel all the feelings. We love wit, we love to laugh until our sides hurt, and we love the strange and the quirky. We want to care about your characters so much we have a book hangover from reading your words.

The Top 40 Hits, otherwise known as our absolute favorite YA books, (and if you can comp any of them to your ms, we will love you forever and ever):

I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart
POINTE by Brandy Colbert
SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli
IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo
THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES by Rebecca Podos
FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD by Emily Henry
FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe
THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner
BONE GAP by Laura Ruby
THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzi Lee
FIRST AND THEN (and THIS ADVENTURE ENDS) by Emma Mills
GET EVEN (and GET DIRTY) by Gretchen McNeil
MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick
UNDER A PAINTED SKY (and OUTRUN THE MOON) by Stacey Lee
THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST by Emily M. Danforth
OPENLY STRAIGHT by Bill Konigsberg
ALL THE RAGE (and SOME GIRLS ARE) by Courtney Summers
NONE OF THE ABOVE by I.W. Gregorio
THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger
HOW TO MAKE A WISH by Ashley Herring Blake
TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY by Kathryn Ormsbee
THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU by Lily Anderson
THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen McManus
A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE by Brittany Cavallaro
MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera
WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon
PHANTOM LIMBS by Paula Garner
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
YOU KNOW ME WELL by Nina LaCour & David Levithan
FANS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE LIFE by Kate Scelsa
THE TRUTH COMMISSION by Susan Juby
SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN by Jeff Garvin

We’re not  the best mentors for the following

Fantasy

Sci-fi/Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic

Paranormal other than ghosts (vampires, werewolves, zombies, angels, etc.)

Graphic on-page rape

Major story/character arcs featuring sexual assault

Anything related to medical stuff or diseases, Sonia’s a huge hypochondriac and just can’t

Queer kids being killed off, we’re 110% over that trope (disclaimer: by this we mean the only queer kid in a story being killed off specifically because they are queer, and having more than one queer character in a story helps eliminate this trope)

We will be requesting a synopsis if the query and pages catch our eyes, but don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be full of voice or contain every detail. We just want to see if your plot architecture holds up. If you have any questions about specifics, feel free to @ us on Twitter: @SoniaHartl1@MsAnnetteMC (And hop on over to Sonia’s blog here.)

For submission guidelines, please refer to Brenda Drake’s website. And please consider donating to keep Pitch Wars running, and receive extra entries!

Check out the other awesome YA mentors here:

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