Emily and I are super excited to be mentoring YA for PitchWars Class of 2020!
WHAT IS PITCHWARS? | Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more. You can find more about Pitch Wars here! As an applicant, you’ll get to pick four mentors to send your application to. And if you’re writing Fantasy or select Contemporary… we’d love you to SUB US!!!!!
P.S.: This is long, but hopefully entertaining. ENJOY! Okay, okay! Onward to our wishlist!
Emily and I have been CP’s since before I even had an agent. We work well together and our areas of strength are a good compliment to one another. Here’s a closer look at both of us. Find links to our full bios at the bottom of this post.
I’ve also mentored a few times before and well… it’s gone quite well:
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The must, must haves! Insider tidbit on what we LOVE:
- Character, character, character. No matter the genre, we LIVE to read characters we would DIE for. We love voices that draw us in hook, line, and sinker. We want to taste, smell, and see the story’s world and plot through the main character’s perspective. We want to be pulled outside ourselves and into someone else’s reality. We want to become them so we can change alongside them throughout the story.
- Rep! Rep! Rep! We want stories with diverse casts. Give us the stories we don’t see nearly often enough. If you don’t have a single POC in your story, it’s probably not for us.
We love both high and low fantasy, but we want to see unique twists on common tropes and designs. Give us worlds we can disappear into and never want to leave. In the real world, inner-city, or somewhere new entirely. We want to sink into world-building that’s tied to character arcs, like in the brilliant A SONG BELOW WATER, TRAIL OF LIGHTNING, and FIFTH SEASON. We love being swept away by settings that are revealed piece by piece in lush, atmospheric writing, as in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC. We loved the swoon-worthy romance and mythology in EMPIRE OF SAND. We want magic systems that are imaginative, but simple to understand, as in A SORCERY OF THORNS. Give us happy girls, morally gray girls, and angry girls. Our tastes here are wide. We *loved* the EMBER IN THE ASHES quartet and SHADOW SHAPER, as an example. Above all, give us your unique twists on common tropes, structure, and design. We want it fresh
We never tire of YA contemporary stories with a voice that pulls you in, and either makes us literally LOL, or walk away having learned something about the world. We’re really in the mood for playful, fun, full of joy contemps! But we can take a look at some light issue-driven narratives, too. Give us fun stakes as in YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN, page-turning thrill like THIS IS MY AMERICA, critical life lessons woven with a friend crush like in JACKPOT, make us want to wear yellow the way DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS did. Take us on a trip of self-discovery of heritage and roots the way DEAR HAITI LOVE ALAINE did. And if you have a literary finesse to your writing like the great Jaqueline Woodson and Jason Reynolds GIVE IT TO US.
[ROMANCE] We’d LOVE to see a strong romantic subplot, but it’s not an absolute must. We also love when said romance subplot doesn’t progress the way it normally does. Flip some tropes. Surprise us! Specifically, we’re looking for a fresh voice with an equally fresh premise. We want the fun stories, the cry stories, the laugh while crying stories. And don’t worry if your story doesn’t have flashy comps! We’d LOVE to see a story that is fresh and damn hard to comp because it’s that cutting edge.
[FRESH SETTINGS] Give us stories with food, dance, gymnastics, horses, dogs, annoying siblings, summer vacations, wise Grandma’s, sassy Aunty’s, something else? Got a story that takes place in a nail shop? Hair salon? Tattoo shop? Take us somewhere we haven’t been on shelves and suck me in. Make us love your character so deeply, we grieve the things they grieve and love the things they love. Rip our hearts out and stitch them back together. Or don’t. we’ll have Kleenex ready!
- stories about *and* from marginalized perspectives
- Black girl magic
- Black male protagonists
- Black joy
- a diverse cast of characters
- fantasy in a contemporary setting
- stories with a deeper message about society
- atmospheric writing with a strong sense of place
- enemies to lovers trope
- fake romance to lovers trope
- found family
- quiet stories
- romantic subplots (can be subtle or overt, we’re flexible!)
- revenge plots, particularly when social justice is involved
- angry girls
- inspired by lore/mythology we don’t often see on shelves
- anything rooted in Louisiana or creole culture
- anything where food plays a key role
- main characters with a laugh out loud no-nonsense voice
- worldbuilding that’s deeply tied to character arc
- books that play with structure, such as verse
- 1st person really close POV! (But we’re definitely open to close 3rd).
- clever, unique retellings
- thrilling/suspenseful undertone
- highly commercial hooks
- unreliable narrators
- magic schools
- anything comped to the Witcher or Knives Out
- Some fav books:
For this round of PW, these are all a **hard pass** from us:
- On the page rape
- On the page violence to a young child
- On the page suicide
- Any gratuitous violence that’s especially gore-y
- Over 2 POVs
- NO portal fantasies, historical, horror, dark contemporary, straight thrillers—these aren’t what we’re looking for, so please don’t send! There are other mentors out there who are looking for this!
- CLARIFYING HISTORICAL CONTEMPORARY AND/OR FANTASY: Inspired by history is absolutely fine, send it to us! But if it’s set in a time period before 1990, we’re not the best fit for it.
- Elves, fairies, orcs, or werewolves—again, not what we’re looking for, so don’t waste a submission on us!
- Dystopian (sci-fi. If you have fantasy dystopian, we’d love to see it.)
…CONFUSED ON IF YOURS FITS THESE?…
A NOTE FROM JESS: Okay, listen! I remember obsessing over wish lists two years ago as a Pitchwars hopeful and wondering if my story had any of the “please don’t send me” items for the mentors I wanted to sub. And I think I stared at the list so long my brain went fuzzy and my eyes crossed. LOL. Even still, I wasn’t completely sure if a scene my story hinted at qualified as a NO-NO for a mentor. And the LAST THING I wanted to do was piss a mentor off, lol. It was stressful. I remember that! So first, breathe. LOL. It’s gonna be okay. Mentors are human. (Well, I mean there may be a few werewolves and a couple of witches in the group, maybe even a few dragons… I digress.) We are people! Don’t be nervous to just talk to us. Ask!! Sometimes that’s just easier than stress-guessing.
We’re completely comfortable answering you in blog comment down below or on Twitter. I promise we don’t bite. Wishing you so much luck!
It’s gonna be bananas! Okay no, but really lol understanding how your mentor will work with you is critically important to the success of any mentor/mentee relationship! So here’s what we’re thinking! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or tag us in a #PitchWars post on Twitter (@emilygoldenedits & @authorj_elle). Seriously, you’re not a bother. We want to hear from you!
Understanding your vision. First and foremost, this is your story. As we work together, we never want to lose sight of that. In our initial conversations (between all three of us) we’ll dig deep into what you envision for your story, so we can understand where you want to take it. We will, however, make suggestions of how to elevate the heart of the story, which may reshape many of its peripheral parts.
Developmental Edits first! We will dig into a ‘big picture’ developmental edit. Together we’ll look at the story as a whole and breakdown what’s working structurally (from character arcs, to plot threads, to pacing) as well as what we need to level up to achieve your vision for the manuscript. This edit will be the most comprehensive, and can involve a significant amount of writing—but don’t panic! We’re both writing craft wizards and master project managers, and we’ll help keep you on track to fulfill your manuscript’s full potential by the PW showcase. You’ll be in excellent hands.
Line/Copy Edits & Showcase Prep. After the developmental edit is complete, if there’s still time, we will do line and copy edits, likely at the same time. This is when we go through the document and leave comments throughout. You’ll go through each comment and address it. One that’s done, we’ll prep for the Showcase together! (Including prepping a killer pitch for the showcase, query and, synopsis, as well as researching agents).
Honest, actionable feedback. We will be equally kind and thorough in our feedback. We will be candid about what we think the story needs because we can’t help you improve the story without doing so. BUT you can be sure that for every criticism, we will ensure you understand why we’re giving the feedback we’re giving, and how to act on it.
Communication is key. With three of us working on the manuscript, communication is essential. We’ll use a combination of phone, text, and email for communication. We’ll start with a Get To Know You call and tailor our methods of communication thereafter based on what works better for your working style. If you’re a phone person we can get on the phone. If you’re an emailer, that works too.
“Emily’s in-line feedback was personal, practical, and actionable. I sensed a true joy and passion for her coaching work by the way she engaged with my writing and with me. She made me feel comfortable, heard, and understood, which is crucial when entrusting someone with my creative work.” — Michelle W.
“J.Elle has that great marketing eye to determine when key plot points need to happen and when certain characters need to appear, guiding the rest of the story into place.” -Mahjabeen S., Booklist reviewer & querying writer
“Working with Emily over the past few months has changed the writing process for me completely. She gives me the right number of “glows” and “grows” in terms of feedback that I feel challenged and supported. Emily’s feedback has given me the confidence I need to see this book through to the end.” — Brit Y., coaching client
“J.Elle has such a keen eye–for both large developmental issues as well as sentence-level ones. Her speed is awe-inspiring, her notes are clear, and her suggestions are usually nothing short of brilliant.” -Sarah J., author mentor
“Emily helped me step back and fix the root of my problem. She pushed me to flesh out my main character like I never had before and nail down the problems I was having with her. The end result was going into my next big revision with a clear idea of how to fix it.” — Jess F., querying writer
“J.Elle is straight-up masterful at helping fix a plot. If plot is getting you down, J.Elle is your Wonder Woman.” -Rosie V., querying writer
…I WANT TO LEAVE YOU WITH TWO TIDBITS…
1. YOU’RE DOING A BRAVE THING | By submitting to PitchWars you’ve already taken a HUGE step in seriously pursuing your writing. Be proud for putting yourself out there. So that’s my first tidbit for you–after you submit, celebrate! You *have* to cling to the small successes in this industry because it’s a long journey wrought with rejection, but each step does count. This is a BIG step. So celebrate! And I wanna hear how you chose to celebrate! Comment down below or share a pic and tag me on Twitter after you submit, so I can celebrate with you. Pat yourself on the back. You did it!
2. CONSIDER WRITING THE WAIT | It’s a long several weeks waiting to hear from PitchWars. If you get requests for a full that only makes the time pass SLOWER. As you probably know, I didn’t get into PitchWars last year, but I did get a few full requests. And MY GOODNESS the time slowed wayyyyy down. I think I refreshed my email inbox literally every hour. Check out the #writethewait hashtag on Twitter and consider working on a different project in the meantime. I did that! And guess what? It turned into my debut, a lead title out with Simon & Schuster in Spring 2021. So, I’d say writing the wait was positive for my mental health AND pretty damn productive!
And I’d appreciate it if you’d CLICK —->ADD WINGS OF EBONY ON GOODREADS!
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Pitch Wars 2020 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists
- Aiden Thomas (Accepts NA)
- Sarvenaz Tash (Accepts NA)
- Chloe Gong and Tashie Bhuiyan
- Abigail Johnson
- Kit Frick and Carlyn Greenwald
- Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
- Laurie Dennison
- J.Elle and Emily Golden
- Andrea Contos (Accepts NA)
- Emily Thiede (Accepts NA)
- Amanda Panitch
- Allison Saft and Ava Reid (Accepts NA)
- Emery Lee (Accepts NA)
- Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
- Shannon A. Thompson and Sandra Proudman (Accepts NA)
- Adiba Jaigirdar and Gabriela Martins
- Michaela Greer (Accepts NA)
- Tash McAdam
- ST Sterlings (Accepts NA)
- Maiya Ibrahim and Ayana Gray (Accepts NA)
- Meg Long and Xiran Jay Zhao (Accepts NA)
- Margie Fuston
- Jamie Howard
- Nova McBee
- Amelia Diane Coombs and Sophie Gonzales (Accepts NA)
- Rachel Griffin
- Susan Lee and Auriane Desombre (Accepts NA)
- Ciannon Smart
- Sasha Peyton Smith and Kristin Lambert
- Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
- Lyndsay Ely (Accepts NA)
- Anna Sortino (Accepts NA)
- Jennieke Cohen
- Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
- Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
- Kat Dunn and Daphne Lao Tonge
- Sheena Boekweg and Alechia Dow (Accepts NA)
- Liz Lawson and Dante Medema (Accepts NA)
- Sarah Dass (Accepts NA)
- Zach Hines (Accepts NA)
- Hoda Agharazi (Accepts NA)
- Dawn Ius and April Snellings (Accepts NA)
- Kara McDowell and Kimberly Gabriel
- Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
- Deborah Falaye
- Rona Wang (Accepts NA)
- Becca Mix and Grace Li (Accepts NA)
- Aty S. Behsam (Accepts NA)