Pitch Wars Wishlist!

I’m breaking a looooong blog hiatus for a very good reason–Pitch Wars!

Pitch Wars is one of those things I saw on Twitter all the time, and I wondered how to get involved but never really followed through, because, you know, LIFE. But when Helene asked me about co-mentoring with her, I jumped at the chance, because Life is so much more fun with a friend! Below are our bios and wishlist…and the super secret scavenger hunt letter:

ABOUT Helene:

I’m the author of THESE GENTLE WOUNDS (Flux 2014 – named one of Buzzfeed’s Best Books of 2014 as well as one of Epic Reads 30 Books That Will Change Your View of the World), WHAT REMAINS (Flux 2015) an BOOMERANG (Sky Pony 2017). I’m agented by the amazing Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency. When I’m not writing fiction, I work as a communications manager and freelance journalist.


I’m a freelance editor and ghostwriter, and my YA fiction is represented by Logan Garrison of the Gernert Company. Mostly I write fantasy, but I’ve got a historical WIP and I read pretty much everything. I have my master’s degree in linguistics and I’m a sucker for worldbuilding that includes distinctive use of language.



Here’s what we are NOT looking for:

  • A novel much over 100,000 words (although if you have something with amazing characters, go ahead and try).
  • High fantasy
  • Southern Novels
  • Horror (Unless you’re talking Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens and Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Black. Why? Because while the story is fantastical and horrific, the characterization drives the story)
  • Thrillers (although, see above…)
  • Teen pregnancy novels. Just seen too many of them.
  • Novels with scenes of graphic rape or abuse (Beth is too sensitive)


-Contemporary YA. Make us cry. Make us swoon (Beth in particular loves to swoon) and root for complex and flawed characters (Helene in particular loves flawed characters). If your book is heavy on action, but not on character development, we’re likely to pass, but we’re open to quiet novels that stay in our heads long after the cover is closed.

– Urban Fantasy YA If you’re writing somewhere in the vein of Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely, Maggie Steifvater, or Holly Black’s books, then send it.

– Historical YA Particularly historicals set in cities in the 20th century. Notice. Cities. If your rural southern town is a character, it’s unlikely to hook, but if it’s full of 60’s politics, 20’s flappers, 70’s flower children or almost anything in the 80’s, there’s a good chance we’ll fall for it.

– Magical Realism YA/Paranomal Merging MR and Paranormal here, because the line can be so murky given the way MR is currently thrown around. Think Maggie Steifvater’s books, which Helene loves.  Again, because, above all else, her characters are at the forefront of the story.

– YA Memoir Helene particularly loves memoirs, but they’re a hard sell. So you’re going to have to wow us.

-LGBT YA Yes. Please. Particularly where the characterization goes much further than a coming out story. People are complex and we love books that show that complexity (Think Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, or Teeth). The top things we read for are voice and complexity.



Some of Helene’s:

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater
The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
Invisible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz
Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

 Some of Beth’s:

Scarlet Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Fire by Kristin Cashore

Why should you pick us:


My first agent found me through Authoress’ Baker’s Dozen contest and I really believe that these opportunities are invaluable. My long-term crit partners (of which Beth is one) would probably tell you that I’m not one for mincing words, but that when I fall in love with characters or plots, I fall all the way. My strength has been helping them to round-out their characters and dialogue in ways that can illuminate their character’s inner core. Also, I love brainstorming in long, multi-colored emails so expect a lot of discussion about motivation and voice and intense inner workings!


I’m a geek for plot and structure and I adore those “big picture” reads where I see how everything fits together. If things don’t fit together, I’m determined to figure out why it isn’t working and how it can be fixed. Also, with my experience in freelance editing, I’m particularly adept at that final polish, working to make sure the lines flow easily and every punctuation mark is in its place.

To find out more about Pitch Wars, visit the wonderful Brenda Drake’s blog. And don’t forget to check out all of this year’s amazing mentors!

(Note: I’m on a family vacation, so I’m turning off the comments for this post. I look forward to interacting with Pitch Wars mentors and mentee hopefuls when I return!)

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the last dance

(with 2 bonus sweater-destroying illustrations!)

I’ve had a blast with this blog. It began accidentally in January 2010, with this post on Two Rules of Storytelling. I wasn’t after a blog; what I really wanted was a website. I thought I needed one, so that droves of literary agents and editors could find me and request my stuff. (This happened…once. And I still consider myself lucky for it.) And while exploring website options I found WordPress, and the rest, as they say, blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah. That’s what I’ve felt like lately. For some reason, nearly four years later, it’s stopped being fun. I took some time off, hoping to be recharged and work up really cool things to share, but instead, as that month wore on, I got more and more stressed out, worried about what I would say. There isn’t anything to say.

Or is there?

When faced with the prospect of writing a “Fare Thee Well, Blog” post, I’m feeling a little panicked. Unsure. Do I really want to say goodbye? Leave my site up with a static front page explaining who I am & please, by all means, browse the archives, but I’m leaving the dance floor? Can I give up Colonel Shifty and my Microsoft Paint illustrations?

sweater 5

Well, that’s the thing. I don’t have to. I’m blogging every couple of weeks at the YA Muses, a fantastic site with regular writing themes and the occasional “open topic” weeks, with eleven different voices to keep things fresh. And I can always nip back into this blog and post news or Colonel Shifty illustrations.

I’m constantly whining about not having enough time for my fiction, and Maverick’s naps aren’t getting any longer. Letting go of this blog will free up more time, allow me to focus a little better. I’ll still be checking in on everyone else. If you haven’t already, feel free to subscribe by email so that if I decide to dance this bloggy dance again, you’ll know.

I love you all. Thanks for reading. Have a great new year.

if you want to destroy my sweater

While on the way home from school, Weezer’s “Sweater Song” came on the radio, and Z was intrigued. “Can you really destroy a sweater like that?” Not being a knitter, I don’t know the answer, but I said you could definitely do some damage. Then we brainstormed other ways to destroy a sweater. Here are three:

Run over the sweater with a car.

sweater 1

Bake the sweater in a pie.

sweater 2

Bake the sweater in a pie and feed it to an alligator.

sweater 3

When I listen to the song, I always picture the sweater as red. Not sure why that is.

NaNoWriMo continues to be fun! I’m going to run out of story before I hit my word count goal, but that’s what revision is for, I guess.

one gopher says "Did you eat all the Halloween candy already?" and the writing gopher responds, "Don't talk to me. I have a masterpiece to create."

And the beat goes on…

I’m having a blast with NaNoWriMo. The one big tragedy that I confessed to a writing friend the other day is that sometimes I write a scene that cracks me up, and I’m laughing out loud while I type it. This is great, actually. The tragedy is that I can’t share it with anyone. It would require so much explanation that by the time I get to the punch line, it isn’t even funny anymore.

So I live in the hope that a) leftover Halloween candy is calorie-free, and b) when I finally revise this monster and work up the guts to share it with critique partners, it comes back with LOLs written in the appropriate margins.

There was another big tragedy – for awhile, every time I thought about the story, the soundtrack from Disney’s Aladdin got stuck in my head. Specifically “Friend Like Me” and “Arabian Nights.” I like these songs. They have their place in my childhood and in my heart – I don’t need them, however, stuck in my head for a week. Thankfully, this has mostly been remedied by Christiane Karam, a vocalist/composer I stumbled upon on Youtube. I don’t really have the vocabulary to talk about music intelligently, but I really like the songs of hers that I’ve listened to so far.

And since I’m sharing videos, I just finished reading the ARC of Stasia Ward Kehoe’s THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, and the main character plays this song, which I now love so much I think I’ve listened to it eight times since yesterday. Probably more. As Z would say, “Seriously. I’m not teasing.”

Now. Go. Have an amazing weekend.

One gopher saying to other gopher, "Yup, you're still crazy, I see." The other gopher stands in front of laptop with a box of Leftover Halloween Candy next to her, with thought bubble, "But I'm having fun!"

And let the madness begin…

National Novel Writing Month has begun. I wrote straight through Maverick’s nap and am 63% of the way to my goal. For the day, people! Not for the month!

Blog posts will be short on Fridays (or not at all) while I join in the writing frenzy this month.