Pitch Wars 2019 Wishlist

Welcome to my 2019 Pitch Wars Wishlist! If you aren’t familiar with Pitch Wars, it’s a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to mentor. Mentors read the entire manuscript and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch and query for an agent showcase in February 2020. I’m thrilled to be mentoring YA again this year. (Click here for a link to a text-only version of my wishlist.)

My Pitch Wars Journey

I write YA of many genres, most recently focusing on contemporary. I’ve been a part of the Pitch Wars community since I was chosen as a mentee in 2012. I was a solo mentor in 2017 and a co-mentor with Samantha Joyce in 2018. I was sad that Sam couldn’t mentor with me this year, but I applied to mentor solo again because this community changed my writing life, and I want to continue to pass that forward to more writers. For me, Pitch Wars is more about a long-term support system than a single manuscript or milestone.

My Qualifications

I have a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in professional writing and a master’s in English education and educational technology from the University of Florida. I’ve been a freelance editor for nine years, and I’ve worked in desktop publishing for over four years. I’m currently an editor at The Editor Garden, based in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve also critiqued fiction independently and as a group leader through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators since 2013. My work is represented by Danielle Burby at Nelson Literary Agency.

More than you probably want to know about me

Outside of writing and professional life, I love reading, listening to alternative music, and my house full of animals! We have two dogs, three cats, two goats, and lots of chickens and tropical fish.  

Music is a major part of my life. I’ve driven hundreds of miles to see Andrew McMahon and Muse in concert. Also, I don’t let the muggles get me down; I’m a proud Gryffindor, and Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite. (#HPforever)

I would read Holly Black’s grocery list, and I would love to read something with a fresh concept akin to White Cat. Sonia Hartl’s Have a Little Faith in Me is the most amazing YA I’ve read in 2019, and if you could comp it for your manuscript, please submit to me!

I cried when Shadowhunters ended–I’m a fan of the books and the show. (Don’t @ me.) And don’t get me started on the season four finale of The Magicians. (But can we please get an album of Hale Appleman singing every song, ever?)  

A Gif of Hale Appleman from The Magicians saying, “Our kingdom awaits.”


How I Mentor

I believe in positive reinforcement, so I will definitely tell you all the things I love about your manuscript! But I also believe in honest feedback in the areas where I think your work can grow and improve. I know how scary it can be to have your work critiqued—it gets easier, but I still have serious nerves every time I send my work to readers. I’m always grateful to anyone who trusts me with their words.

A Gif of Amy Poehler from Parks and Recreation saying, “Do it. Fierce. Power.”


My goal is help you achieve your vision for the best version of your manuscript. That might mean a lot of work on your end, but I will help you through it. I’m always available for questions through email, DM, etc., and I’m up for calls or video conferences if you are!

I’ll start with an initial, overarching edit letter, addressing any aspects of the manuscript that might need work. We’ll work together to develop a plan for revision, and we’ll set a timeline for sending back the next completed draft. 

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

Now, without further ado, the reason you’re here!

My 2019 Wishlist


I want contemporary YA of all flavors, including lighter, heartwarming stories, like Sonia Hartl’s Have a Little Faith in Me, and serious ones with darker themes. In this area, I love mystery, suspense, and thriller elements, like Dana Mele’s People Like Us or Kara Thomas’s The Cheerleaders.

A Gif of Lili Reinhart from Riverdale looking serious at Pop’s.


I also savor YA with a literary voice, like Laurie Halse Anderson’s work. Brainy STEM girls are my jam, like Dimple from Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi, and so are girls with passion and ambition, like Bri from Angie Thomas’s On the Come Up.


In fantasy, I’m open to urban or contemporary fantasy, stories with magical elements, and paranormal. The main thing I’m looking for here is a fresh, unique character and/or concept. I loved Christine Lynn Herman’s The Devouring Gray, I’ve read all of Cassandra Clare’s books, and I adore Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince. Truly, if you can comp your manuscript to any of Holly’s books, particularly White Cat, please send it my way!

Science Fiction

Here I’m mainly looking for light or soft science fiction, with a particular interest in near future, like Marie Lu’s Warcross. I’d enjoy time travel with a fresh take, and I’d love to see a unique alternate history. If you’d classify your sci-fi as a space opera, with plenty of drama and a romantic element, I’d be glad to take a look!

Speaking of Romance…

I love swoon-worthy love stories, and I enjoy a strong romantic element in all genres.

Other Areas of Interest

A Gif of Jeff Goldblum from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou saying, “What’s your dog’s name?”


Atmospheric Settings

I love stories where the setting is another character in the story, and if your writing evokes the feeling of a Wes Anderson movie in any genre, please submit to me!

Diversity and #OwnVoices

We live in a diverse world, and teen readers need to see that in the books they read. I’m looking for diversity of all types in all genres.

Complicated Families

Again, families in the real world are complicated and complex. I love to see this reflected in all genres.

Things That Are Not the Best Fit for Me

This list is purely based on my personal taste and experience, for various reasons. There are lots of other great mentors who are accepting these types of manuscripts!


Horror (or any manuscript with excessive gore)

Sports as Central Plot Elements

Heavy or Military Sci-fi

Heavy or Epic Fantasy

Novels in Verse


I think that about covers it. Thank you for checking out my wishlist. I can’t wait to read your words!  

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

**I am NOT accepting New Adult (NA) this year.

Click here to go back to the Pitch Wars Blog Hop or continue with the YA Wish Lists below.


Pitch Wars 2019 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

    12 Responses
    1. Hi! Your wishlist sounds amazing…I think I may submit to you! 😄 Are you interested in seeing a futuristic fantasy ft. space battles, fierce girls, snarky villains, and an epic love triangle?

    2. Gina D.

      Hi! Love your Pitch Wars blog post! You indicate both contemporary YA and fantasy are on your wish list. Do you prefer one over the other?

      1. Laurie Dennison

        Honestly, I wouldn’t say I prefer any one genre over another. I just want something that resonates with me and something that I think my skill set can help. Most of the items on my not-the-best-fit list are not because I don’t like them. I just don’t think I’d be the best mentor to help with those genres.

    3. Gina D.

      Thank you for your quick reply. It’s so nice that you’ve made yourself available for questions. There’s so much info to wade through!

    4. Rachel

      Hi Laurie!
      Thank you for sharing your wishlist! I’m interested in submitting to you but wanted to know how you feel about historical fiction? When I saw that you love romance in your stories and complicated families, I thought my novel might be a good fit for you! It’s set in 1912 in Richmond, Virginia and is multiple POV (think an Americanized Downton Abbey!). Thank you in advance for any insight you can provide!

      1. Laurie Dennison

        Hi Rachel, I would be open to historical, too! It’s not an area I have a ton of experience with, but I wouldn’t say no to seeing some, and I adore Edith Wharton. Thanks for checking! Best of luck to you!

    5. Hello Laurie,

      Thank you for such a detailed wishlist! How would you feel about multiple POVs with a short story theme to each chapter? My book focuses on different perspectives, though all of the stories are intertwined.
      Thank you in advance!

      1. Laurie Dennison

        I am fine with multiple POVs. I really liked The Ravel Cycle–I think Maggie Stiefvater is one of the best at having more than one main character. Best of luck to you!

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    Laurie A. Dennison

    I write books for young adults. I love books with complicated relationships, traveling, and alternative and indie music.

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