Send me your YA: Pitch Wars 2017 Mentor Wish List

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AHHH IT’S PITCH WARS TIME.

*waves furiously*

[what my feels are doing right now:]

(nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!)

I’m looking for YA contemporary, fantasy, historicals, and historical fantasy! More details on that below. Feel free to skip around–read the wish list first, come back to the bio, whatever you want. 🙂

You can get all the info about Pitch Wars here.

Stuff About Me

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ALPACAS

I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2015, so I’ve been where you are right now. I’m so excited to be mentoring this year, and I can’t wait to find a story I love. I work in a library, and this fall I’ll be graduating with an English major and History minor.

Besides Pitch Wars, I’ve been an agent intern since 2014, so I’ve read a lot

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Cursed Child Midnight Release Party

of queries, sample pages, and manuscripts. I’m repped by Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency.

I was born, raised, and live in Brooklyn, NY! My parents are both immigrants. My mom came from the Philippines after graduating college, while my dad came here from Italy when he was seventeen. I’m a first generation American, and have been to both their home countries since it was really important to them that I know where they come from and where I come from. (I’ve also been to France, Spain, England, Canada–I loooove traveling!!)

Music wise, I listen to lots of Broadway, but you can always count on Florence and the Machine, The Killers, Twenty-One Pilots, and Arctic Monkeys to be nearby. Also movie/tv scores and Disney songs.

Fun Facts

  • I used to be a writer for the Vampire Academy fan site ShadowKissed.net. (Any VA fans here? :D)
  • 20141215_173718
    MY CAT

    I have the same birthday as Emma Watson (April 15 babies!)

  • I started writing because I read a High School Musical fanfic where Gabriella went to West High and Troy went to East High and there was a super intense, dangerous rivalry between the schools. I read it, loved it, thought “I can do this too!” so I did, and man I was bad. But I kept trying (with Draco/Hermione fanfic, obviously)
  • I saw Hamilton with the Original Broadway Cast 😀
  • I made it out of an Escape Room, so I’m clearly a time traveler from a Victorian mystery.
  • My latest writing fuel is an Earl Grey Latte.

Wish List (General)
All right, now for the fun stuff!! I’m only accepting YA manuscripts. I eat, sleep, and breathe YA. I read it primarily and completely adore it.

  • big yes to: contemporary, fantasy, historical fantasy, historicals
  • big no to: horror, gritty contemporary, thrillers, sci-fi, magical realism
    (i love a lot of these, i just don’t think i’ll be a good mentor for it–sorry!!)

mary-margaret-says-no ouat mm snow white once upon a time

Some blanket statements before I get to specifics: I’m a supporter of Own Voices projects! I want diverse characters, intersecting identities, and new perspectives.

If you’re writing outside your lane you must be open to feedback and have sensitivity readers. Be critical of yourself and your work. Think about why you’re writing this story and if you’re the best person to do it. **However, I do not want identity stories the creator does not ID as (think a story based around coming out written by a straight person, etc).

Here’s how I organized this monster. First there’s a list of tropes/premises/settings I love. Then there’s a list of tropes/~things~ I do not want. After that, I broke it down by genre (fantasy, historical fantasy, and contemporary). Each section shows you my favorite authors, books, and some more specific wants within the genre. All right, time to get to it!

Wish List (Specifics)
Here are some things, in any genre, I’d go to war for:

  • Write your resistance.
  • Girls helping girls! Girls being friends with other girls! Girls loving girls! Girls charging forward in the face of adversity! Girls smashing the patriarchy! Girls kicking ass! Smart girls! Weird girls! STEM girls! Nerdy girls! Lost girls! Bad girls! Quiet girls! Strong girls! Periods, sex, masturbation! Girls who may not want to have sex and are totally fine with that! Girls who do whatever the hell they want.
  • Basically, girls as the stars of your projects. That’s all I need.
  • An Anastasia retelling
  • Any feminist re-imagining of a fairy tale or myth
  • Watery books! Mermaids, pirates, sirens, sea monsters, privateers, islands, sailing, ships, cruises, swimming, marine biologists, a Jaws retelling with a female lead, scuba diving, coral reefs, did I mention mermaids…
  • little mermaid dramatic entry 10 points copy
  • I love summer camp settings!
  • Also love famous person meets normal person. Sweep me off my feet! (royalty x normal counts, too)
  • Morally questionable decisions
  • Secret pen pal relationships, bonus points when they hate each other in real life (think the modern classic A Cinderella Story and You’ve Got Mail; loved Alex, Approximately) (this totally works in a fantasy, too–imagine if Draco and Hermione/Harry were writing to each other in secret throughout their years at Hogwarts and had no clue?? gah!)
  • Honest, nuanced portrayals of trauma (pleasepleasePLEASE)
  • A brutal, bitter slow burn romance that has me dying and fanning myself every line  (think The Dark Days Club, Captive Prince, Captain Swan from Once Upon a Time, Stydia from Teen Wolf, Feysand and Nessian from ACoMaF). Burn me with that slow burn.
  • just kiss
  • An Amazing Race premise (think Alison’s Cherry For Real) (seriously, my dream is to host The Amazing Race, please call me Phil)
  • Stories set during lesser known historical periods/events
  • Girl anthropologist/paleontologist; Gender bent Indiana Jones or Rick from The Mummy
  • Boarding school books. Whether light or slightly more serious. This also works for fantasy, I mean, HOGWARTS.
  • A Shakespeare retelling that includes characters from multiple plays instead of a retelling of just R+J or Midsummer, for example

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I eat comps for lunch! If you can comp anything to… Six of Crows (!!!), Jane the Virgin, Once Upon a Time, Jurassic Park, Hamilton, 10 Things I Hate About You, Inception, Gilmore Girls, Legally Blonde, The Mummy (Rick/Evie OTP for life), Avatar The Last Airbender, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sense 8, Roman Holiday, Wonder Woman (!!!), Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, Bend it Like Beckham… send it to me!

Some things I do not like (ie do not send me):

  • The memory loss trope, or amnesia. I really don’t like it, especially when it’s a plot device to keep the ship apart (looking at you The Winner’s Kiss…)
  • Horror.
  • Slut shaming
  • An identity driven book you do not identify as
  • MCs that don’t sound their age. I really don’t like when a character is supposed to be 17 but sounds 14.
  • Sexual assault as a trope for the love interest to save the woman from, or poor representations of the aftermath. Also, I’d love to not read any attempted sexual assaults to establish A Strong Female Character.

What I Love in Fantasy
favorite authors: Leigh Bardugo, Laini Taylor
favorite books: Six of Crows, Strange the Dreamer, Rebel of the Sands, A Crown of Wishes, A Court of Mist and Fury, The Forbidden Wish, Shades of Magic Trilogy, The Winner’s Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, Stardust, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter, The Glass Spare, Carry On, Song of the Current, Truthwitch

  • fresh, unique worlds and characters
  • meaty lady anti-heroines (think The Young Elites trilogy, my bae Maleficent, And I Darken, Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy (she is the BEST), Azula and her mommy issues from ATLA (okay she’s not really an anti-heroine but she’s dark and messy and I love her)).
  • Calculating, manipulative, and intelligent characters (think my love Kez Brekker, Three Dark Crowns, Tommy Shelby Peaky Blinders season 1)–bonus points if they’re girls 😉
  •  Political fantasies that blend beautiful writing, rich complex characters, and important themes with action, too (think The Winner’s Trilogy, This Savage Song, The Hunger Games, Wolf by Wolf, Traitor to the Throne)
  • dragons, mermaids, witches, powers, all the stuff!
  • water tribe atla
  • I don’t need magic in my fantasy!! 😉
  • team dynamics, like the ultimate squad The Dregs, or lighter, shenanigans of the Tulio/Miguel or Heist Society kind.
  • Mistaken identity–whether intentional or serendipitous (again, think Tulio and Miguel stumbling into playing gods for light, and Laia going undercover as a spy in An Ember in the Ashes, Yael as Adele in Wolf by Wolf for darker)
  • Hate to love. I love ships that are on opposite sides (think rip Zutara), or not as dramatic and just “good” person falls for “bad” person (think Captain Swan, Rhy/Alucard, Cress/Thorne)
  • And as if you still didn’t get it: watery books! Mermaids, pirates, sirens, sea monsters, privateers, islands, did I mention mermaids…

What I Love in Historical Fantasy
favorite authors: Mackenzie Lee
favorite books: Wolf by Wolf, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, The Dark Days Club, My Lady Jane, The Girl with the Red Balloon

  • Extra points for diversity! “historical accuracy” is not a valid excuse. it is bogus and false and I have 0 tolerance for it.
  • Looking at my list of faves, I have a healthy mix of fun, sassy books and serious, deep books, so I really love both, it just all comes down to execution.
  • I actually super love this genre and feel like its super underrated, so please send me your stuff ❤ SUPER SUPER
  • an American Revolution fantasy (I can’t believe this hasn’t been done yet and if it has, someone please point me towards it)
  • SURPRISE ME. Seriously!
  • Agent Carter deserved everything! So literally, anything along those lines.
  • Claire Beauchamp-Randall-Fraser is one of my fave female characters, so if you love Claire too, we’ll probably be good friends
  • I’m a Doctor Who fan, though I quit watching during season 7 or 8 (I think). One of my favorites was the Van Gogh episode, so think bittersweet and heartfelt stuff. I like pain, okay? But I also like cute happy endings where everyone lives, so basically I am the worst and there is no pleasing me cause I love all the things.
  • just this once everybody lives doctor who 9

What about straight up historicals, you ask? Give me complex women in textured settings. I don’t have any specific wants; I devour all things history. The first historical I read was The Rossetti Letter, which is adult, but I have a deep and abiding love for it. Recently, a YA historical I loved was Blackhearts and Under a Painted Sky.

What I Love in Contemporary
favorite author: Emery Lord
favorite books: Fangirl, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, The Truth About Forever, All the Rage, Everything Leads to You, Heist Society, Girl Against the Universe, The Moon and More, The Sun is Also a Star, The Secret of a Heart Note, Nothing Left to Burn, Eliza and Her Monsters, The Unexpected Everything, The Upside of Unrequited, Alex, Approximately

  • swoony boys, sex positivity, body positivity, sister feels, settings (small towns, beach towns, cities, boarding schools, house boats, trips abroad, etc) that come alive and make me wanna go there, fandom, friendship feels, fun hobbies
  • take me on an emotional journey. smack me with your characters’ feelings, whether it be the excitement of love, grief, heartache, anxiety… I want to feel something when I read your book.
  • i want a unicorn
  • YA parents. There are so many good ones (think Starr’s in The Hate U Give, Sloane’s in This Adventure Ends (her dad writes Teen Wolf fanfic!), Simon’s in Simon VS), but there need to be more so give it to me!
  • As you know, I adore hate to love, but there’s something especially fun about it in contemporaries, especially when the characters are forced together, whether it be through a job, friends, or shenanigans.
  • Adorable little siblings and fun huge families (think My Life Next Door, Lady Midnight (I know, it’s fantasy, but the Blackthorns are precious), When We Collided, P.S. I Like You)
  • Voice is key for me. I want your characters to leap off the page. I want to know how they think and what they love and what they want.
  • Let me remind you again, watery books 🙂
  • This is by no means an exhaustive list–I actually found it really hard to narrow down what makes a contemporary for me and I’m sure I’m missing stuff–so please, if you feel like your story is similar to any of the books I’ve listed here, then please sub to me!

Why Me?
I’m good at queries. I love queries. Hate ’em? I’m here for you, mentee!
I’m good at big picture edits and spotting plot holes.
I read for character and detail, so I pay special attention to stuff like that.
I don’t dole out fake compliments. When I love something, I will fangirl over it and you’ll know I mean it. I’m also direct and honest when I think something isn’t working, but I’ll never force you to change something you don’t want. This is your story, and I’m only here to help. I ask questions and provide suggestions, and I’m always around to talk through something/let you ramble and brainstorm.
I care a lot about your characters having agency and being drivers of the story.
I think my strongest suit when it comes to writing is voice, so if you’re struggling with it, or lacking in places, I’ll help make your voice stand out and command attention.
It’s possible I will use some aspect of The Hunger Games to contextualize a point I’m trying to make.

  • Don’t forget to pick up your scavenger hunt word while you’re here: go. (note the punctuation)

What I Want in a Mentee
Someone open-minded and ready to do the work. I’m not saying I’m gonna make you do an entire rewrite–I have no idea what kind of shape your ms will be in. But it’s always a possibility! Mainly though, someone fun and positive and looking to gain the community Pitch Wars has to offer. I want PW to be an experience you look back on and are happy about.

**noteynote: If I request from you, I’ll be asking for a 1 page synopsis. This is my favorite resource–just follow the template and you’ll be fine. From the synopsis I want to know you at least have the bare bones of your story in place. I might ask for partials, but I’ll definitely be asking for fulls, so have them ready 🙂

And don’t worry, I’ll read sample pages even if your query isn’t as strong. I’ll probably only skim the query to begin and get right to the pages.

–I will try to provide feedback to everyone who submits to me, but it depends on how many subs I get. I’ll update on that during the submission window. *thumbs up*

My plan is to do a big picture edit letter and then a second round of line edits.

I hope this wasn’t overwhelming! I know I threw a lot of things here, but that’s mainly because my taste is very varied and I don’t want to accidentally miss out on something I love. Feel free to drop any comments or questions below, or reach out to me on Twitter. If you’re unsure if I’d like something, just ask me.

I’ll try to sum up: YA contemporary, fantasy, historical fantasy–anything but horror, mainly. Feminist stories, with feminist characters (both male and female! :D), voice, and emotion. Smack me in the face with heart and adventure.

~~

Go here to check out the full mentor blog hop! (but remember to sub to me <3)

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Favorite Reads of 2014 (and Hotly Anticipated in 2015)

With the year winding to a close, I wanted to take a look back at some of my favorite reads of 2014. Hopefully, you’ve all read these, but if you haven’t, here’s a great page of recommendations.

(in no particular order)

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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Look at that GORGEOUS cover! How could anyone NOT be lured in? Thankfully, this is not one of those cases where the cover is the best part of the book. This is a really great YA fantasy/romance. Kestrel and Arin’s relationship develops beautifully and I love how each of them stay in the roles they are assigned: Kestrel, mistress and Arin, slave. There’s no cheesy declarations or one of them sneaking out to see the other. It’s a very well played dynamic that is interesting and totally absorbing. Very excited to see where this one goes.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

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One of my favorite books ever! This came out in 2013, but I didn’t finally read it till this year. And oh man was I crazy to put it off for this long! This is a beautiful, beautiful story set in New Orleans in the 1950s! Everyone knows the 50s is the era of women as homemakers, but there are some amazing women filling the pages of this novel. It is not one to be missed!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater 

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The Raven Cycle is one of my favorite series, so the third installment had very high expectations and each one was surpassed. Seriously, one of the best series being written right now. Dead Welsh kings, seers, small towns, friendships, family, humor, haunting writing, there is nothing this series does not have. I’m equally excited and equally horrified for book 4, the end, next year.

Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Formerly Shark Girl

Another book that came out a year ago and took me forever to read. I loved Shark Girl, Kelly Bingham’s first novel about Jane. I must have read it at least four years ago at this point and had no idea there was a sequel until I randomly found it at work. Told in poems, it was simple and evocative.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 

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I’m sensing I was really bad at reading debuts this year. *hides in shame* Anyway, I’m sure you all know by now Eleanor and Park is a great book. Romance, the 80s, diversity, and Rainbow’s amazing writing. There’s nothing more needed!

We Were Liars by E Lockhart 

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Man, I totally and completely hated this book. I actually wanted to throw it when I finished. Which is clearly the sign of a book that delivered emotionally. Also, look at that amazing cover. Can we all agree it is quite a beauty? I have plans to reread this, but man, this is one messed up book.

  • Honorable mentions that are currently on my Christmas list:
    A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
    Zodiac by Romina Russell

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(DON’T YOU SEE HOW BEAUTIFUL THEY ARE????????)

And now, for 2015 books I’m really excited about:

-We Can Work it Out by Elizabeth Eulberg (January)
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Love, loved The Lonely Hearts Club! Stoked to read this.

-First & Then by Emma Mills (Fall)
I’ve been following Elmify on Youtube for years and she’s amazing. Really excited to read this.

-Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (May)
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I feel so grateful to have read a tiny piece of this thanks to intern perks. Seriously, this is going to be a hell of a book and I’m really, really excited about it.

-The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall (January)
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Look the pitch says it is perfect for fans of Ally Carter and I really, really love Ally Carter! I also am a sucker for pretty covers. I also love when novels take me to lots of different countries and this novel promises at least Paris and Istanbul. Sign me up!

-Poisoned Apples by Christina Heppermann (September)
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Fairy tales and poems! HELLO.

-Princess Diaries: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot (June)
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It’s a novel about one of my OTPs getting married. Hell yes, I am excited!

-Raven Boys book 4 by Maggie (WHO KNOWS WHEN BUT MY HEART CAN’T TAKE IT)
No words needed, really.

-The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
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Another amazing cover. A story I want to devour.

-Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (April)
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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

If that doesn’t make you want to read this book, I can’t help you.

-None of the Above by IW Gregorio (April)
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Faking It is one of my favorite tv shows and it is the first show to feature an intersex character. I’m thrilled to see a YA novel tackling intersex characters.

-Winterspell by Claire Legrand (September)
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You say New York and 1899, I’m there.

OMG MY MISTAKE THIS WAS A 2014 BOOK. MUST GET.

-This Monstrous Thing by McKenzie Lee (September)
Frankenstien and steampunk and 1818 Switzerland?? I’m salivating.

-Second Position by Katherine Locke
Ballet and romance and angst. Written by my buddy 🙂

I seriously did not mean for my 2015 list to be longer than my 2014 list. Oops. Looks like 2015 is a busy year! Hopefully a lot of these picks make it onto my favorites list of 2015! We’ll see.

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I can’t wait!