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Pitch Wars 2018 Mentor Wishlist

Welcome to our 2018 Pitch Wars Wishlist! We are Team Mischief Managed!


(This list is the same as our post on Sam’s blog at


See the full Pitch Wars 2018 Mentor Blog hop here: https://pitchwars.org/pitch-wars-2018-mentor-blog-hop/.)

About us:

From Samantha:

I’m a YA/NA writer, hailing from Toronto, Canada. I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2014, and a mentor in 2015 & 2017. When I’m not writing or day-jobbing, I can usually be found baking all the things or performing on a stage somewhere. I’m a musical theatre nerd who thrives on all things Broadway. I’m a proud geek who loves all things Harry Potter (I’m a Slytherin), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Doctor Who.

Some random facts about me are I have some big collections (consisting of Funko Pops, The Wicked Witch from Wizard of Oz, and Behemoth from The Nightmare Before Christmas), I have four tattoos (with more on the way), and I have the most irrational fear of dinosaurs—hey, Jurassic Park could happen!


I’m represented by Kathleen Rushall from ABLA, and my books, FLIRTING WITH FAME and DEALING IN DECEPTION were published by Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster.

From Laurie:

I’m a YA writer, editor, web coordinator, and former English teacher. I joined the Pitch Wars community as a mentee in 2013 and mentored for the first time in 2017. I love reading, listening to alternative music, and my house full of animals! Of all the fandoms I adore, Harry Potter is my favorite; I’m a proud Gryffindor. A few random facts about me…I don’t eat mammals, I’ve lived on both US coasts, in California and Florida, and I’ve played eight musical instruments over the years.


I’m represented by Danielle Burby and Nelson Literary Agency, and I’m currently working on a YA contemporary novel.


How We Mentor:

When we found out about our similar taste in books and how perfectly our mentoring strengths compliment each other, we knew our we’d make a great team! We both believe in honest feedback and positive reinforcement. We know how scary it can be to have your work critiqued, and we’re grateful when anyone trusts us with their words. We want to work with you as a team to achieve your vision for the manuscript.


We’ll both read your full manuscript and combine our notes into one initial edit letter, with Sam focusing on plot and Laurie focusing on character development. We’ll help you develop a plan for revision, and we’re both available for our mentee’s questions through email, DM, etc.


For the second round of revision, we’ll address any lingering concerns with document notes and a second combined edit letter. We’ll also work though the pitch, query letter, and synopsis so you’ll be ready to submit to agents, and we both want to share our industry experience to help you move forward on your writing path.


Our Wish List:

In no particular order:


Send us all the contemporary! Make us laugh, cry, or swoon–we want funny, sad, romantic, or all of the above. We also want troubled characters and unreliable narrators in gritty, boundary-pushing stories.Give us stories like Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, or You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon.



We want all the dark, twisty stories to keep us up reading all night! Make us keep guessing till the very end!


Light Fantasy.

We aren’t the mentors for full-on fantasy stories, but we will gladly take your contemporary stories with fantastical elements.


Magical Realism.

We love magical realism! If your manuscript has an immersive magical element like Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, send it our way!


Light Sci-Fi.

Send us your near-future stories or a world like ours with a sci-fi twist. Something like Warcross by Marie Lu or a YA Black Mirror would be right up our alley.


Paranormal – Including Vampires!

We’re excited to see paranormal make a comeback! We would love a fresh, new twist in this genre. We both adored The Coldest Girl from Coldtown, which was such a cool take on vamps! This is what we’re looking for here—not another Coldest Girl exactly, but an entirely new take on the vampire theme.


Give us mysteries with a unique spin like People Like Us by Dana Mele or One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus.



We’re both fans of all kinds of retellings, from fairy tales to classics. Re-telling have become popular lately, so we want to see something different here, like maybe a gender-swapped story, or the tale of a character we’re not used to hearing about.


Some things we’d love to see in our subs:

Diversity and #ownvoices.

We’d love to see any of these in our subs, plain and simple. Send us your diverse stories!


Kick-ass girls.

We love strong girls who get things done. While we love physically strong girls, there’s something to be said for the emotionally strong ladies. A girl doesn’t have to beat someone up to prove her strength, and she doesn’t have to be mean to be tough.



Does the unique setting stand out in your manuscript? We would love to see a YA setting with the time-suspended feel of a Wes Anderson movie, Bates Motel, or Legion.  


Villains/Anti-heroes/Heroes disguised as villains.

We love a good villain/anti-hero! Give us villains we’re not sure of we should cheer for, but do anyway. Give us the baddies with hearts. There’s nothing better than watching a so-called villain grow, and prove they were the hero all along.


Dual or Multiple POV.

We love all kinds of POV! Single POV is great, too, but we included this in our list as we definitely aren’t against dual/multiple POV ending up in our inbox!



We love all the cute floofs and the loyal doggos. Animal companions tend to find their way into our hearts.


Food stuffs.

Who doesn’t love a good foodie story? If your character loves to cook or bake, we’d love to see it in our inbox!



We love all the swoons! Feel free to send us all the angst, but we’d also love to see a funny, fun romance story that makes us laugh and gives us all the happy feels.

On the “probably not for us” side:


Neither of us are huge fans of this genre, which means you’ll probably have better luck with a different mentor.


Excessive Gore.

We both get grossed out fairly easily. A little blood is fine (after all, we did ask for vampires above), but too much description of blood and guts might eek us out a little bit.



Neither of us love these eight-legged terrors. A small spider on the wall is a-ok, but a scene where someone gets covered in them might freak us out and make us stop reading.


Violence against animals.

We are both huge animal lovers and can’t read about animals being tortured or killed without getting upset. Note that an animal getting hurt in an accident is very different from an animal that is harmed on purpose. The first will make us sad, but isn’t a dealbreaker. The second is something our poor hearts can’t bear.


Heavy Sci-fi or Heavy Fantasy.

While be both enjoy some light sci-fi and fantasy, we aren’t the mentors for the really heavy stuff in these genres.


*If you know either of us personally, or if we’ve previously worked together professionally or as critique partners, beta readers, or writing group members, please do not submit to us for Pitch Wars. We want to be completely fair when making our decision, and there many other amazing mentors who would love your submission!


*We are not accepting New Adult (NA) this year.


That’s it! We can’t wait to see what you guys send this year! We know how hard it is to choose a mentor to sub to, and we promise to treat each sub we receive with the same care and attention. All subs will be read for consideration. We can be found on Twitter @SamJoyceBooks and @LaurieDennison if you have any questions about our wishlist. Please don’t pitch to us there, but feel free to clarify anything you might be confused by on our list. We promise we don’t bite!


Good luck in your Pitch Wars journey!


Pitch Wars 2017 Mentor Bio

Welcome, Pitch Wars hopefuls! My name is Laurie Dennison, and I am thrilled to be a 2017 Pitch Wars Mentor! I am a TeenPit mentor for Pitch Wars. TeenPit is a writing contest created by Michael Mammay and Kelly Ann Hopkins designed specifically for teen writers. (Click here for more info about TeenPit.) This year the top five finalists all earned a spot in the 2017 Pitch Wars agent round.

This means I already have a fabulous mentee, Ellie Firestone!

I am so privileged to be working with Ellie! Ellie writes YA and MG, and I am consistently impressed by her talent, her voice, her self-awareness, and her willingness to challenge herself. She is the best mentee I could have ever hoped for. Ellie is busy revising now, and you are all going to adore her amazing MG contemporary fantasy, The Dreamon!

I am not open to submissions this year, but there is a plot twist…I will also be taking the YA blog hop scavenger hunt winner as my mentee!

Some interesting things about me:

  1. I’ve lived on opposite sides of the US, in Jacksonville, Florida, on the Atlantic Coast and Monterey, California, on the Pacific.
  2. I’ve always loved books, and I still think of myself as a reader first and a writer second. I read and write YA, and I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, big, twisty paranormal like Cassandra Clare’s novels, fantasy like Graceling by Kristin Cashore or anything by Rae Carson, anything by Holly Black, contemporary like John Green, only more like Paper Towns than TFIOS, lighter fare like Stephanie Perkins or Jennifer E. Smith, and darker things like The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin or The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
  3. I’ve had a long writing journey, and I’m no stranger to online contests. I was a Pitch Wars mentee with a YA fantasy in 2012. That manuscript had tons of positive feedback, but I finally put it away for something new. My second, a YA magical realism, was a finalist in too many contests—The Writer’s Voice, Pitch Slam, Pitch Plus Five, PitchMas, An Agent’s Inbox. My current manuscript, a YA contemporary, landed me an agent the old-fashioned way: through the query slush. I am repped by the amazing Danielle Burby at Nelson Literary.
  4. The most important thing I gained on the contest circuit was a community of writers who have helped me, supported me, laughed, cried and celebrated with me. The people are the real prize, and I am so grateful to Brenda and all the others who volunteer their time so generously to help fellow writers. I have gained lifelong friendships and been rewarded with access to so many beautiful manuscripts before they’ve hit the shelves. I was also an SCBWI critique group leader for three years. If you write YA or MG, I highly recommend connecting with SCBWI.  I’ve looked forward to being a Pitch Wars mentor since I was chosen as a mentee, and I can’t wait to celebrate my TeenPit mentee’s amazing journey with her! And I hope I get the chance to work with YOU, too! So hurry up and complete the scavenger hunt!

Whether you end up with a mentor or not, reach out. Make connections. Take advantage of this opportunity to come together with other writers who share your passion.

One place to start is on social media! I'd love to connect with you, and I tweet @lauriedennison and Instagram @laurie.a.dennison. My mentee Ellie tweets @EllieFirestone1, and you can check out her website www.elliefirestone.com.

Click here to go back to the blog hop central. Continue on with the YA mentor blog hop below:

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Writer Resources

The online writing community can be phenomenal, but it can also be overwhelming. Some great resources have been shared on the Pitch Wars hashtag over the past week to help navigate the rules and language of publishing. Here are my favorites:

What is a WC, you ask? (Hint: It’s not a potty in France.) The publishing biz loves abbreviations. A few years ago Dahlia Adler shared a fantastic glossary to help you wade through the alphabet soup of MSs, LIs, and CPs.
Literary agent Janet Reid hosts this must-read resource for querying writers. Though new-comers should read the entire website, in the post linked above, the shark herself boils down the answer to the essential question: What is a query letter?
Literary agent Jennifer Laughran keeps her former blog open for references like these, and Wordcount Dracula is one of the most popular posts. In it she explains the accepted norms for word counts (WC) in children’s books.
Literary agent John Cusick addresses taking measure of yourself as a writer. He also recently posted here about effective queries.

2012 is almost over, and we’re all still here! I’ve been enjoying a relaxing week with my family leading up to Christmas. I’ve baked. I’ve written. I’ve read. A Lord of the Rings movie marathon followed our family reading and trip to see the Hobbit on the big screen. It’s been a good week, and it’s been a good year.
I am so glad to have spent another year blogging with you all in this fantastic community. Many thanks are due to Brenda Drake for all the work she does for fellow writers, and I am so excited to say that the awesome, startacular, brilliant Deana Barnhart, chose me as her teammate and mentee for Brenda’s Pitch Wars, a pitchfest involving 37 teams and 16 agents, continuing to the final round on January 23-24. For more information about Brenda and Pitch Wars, click here. And please check out my mentor Deana here!
In writing, I’ve sailed my YA fantasy Trespassers through more revisions than I can count, and I’ve nearly finished the first draft of my NaNoWriMo magical realism project.
In reading, the bookshelves keep overflowing. My TBR list continues to grow, and there are never enough hours in the day to read. I wanted to wrap-up with some of my top reads of the year.
Best New Voice:
The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Best Contemporary:
Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso
Best Fantasy World Building:
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Best SciFi /Adventure:
Midnight City by J. Baron Mitchell 
Best Adult Read:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Best Conclusion to a Series:
Black Heart by Holly Black
And for my music of the day, I picked my favorite new album of 2012:
Synthetica by Metric
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year everyone! May your stockings be filled with books, and your homes filled loved ones!