Writing Contests

#TeamWordsOnFire Pitch Wars 2018 Wish List


Hi there, potential Pitch Wars mentees, how’s it going?

First of all, congratulations on finishing that manuscript! You’ve taken that all-important first step that so many people dream about and you should be proud of yourself. As former PitchWars mentees, we’ve both been in your shoes. It’s terrifying. It’s exhilarating. It’s kinda confusing at times (which mentor do I pick? is my MS ready?), but we’ll do our very best to guide you through it.

We’re going to be there for our mentee since the moment we first send that edit letter, through to line edits (however many we may need), wrangling that query into submission, and making the whole synopsis-writing as enjoyable as humanly possible.

If you’re wondering what Pitch Wars even means, because you somehow just fell into this blog post, and the image below represents you…

…don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

Unofficial and probably unhelpful explanation:

Since we (co-mentors Alex and Renée) met on the #PitchWars Twitter feed years ago (as you can see from the tweet bellow – go here to read the complete story), we say Pitch Wars is the greatest writing mentoring program ever.

Official and much more helpful explanation:

Pitch Wars is 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 for the agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents. Mentors can participate solo or pair up and co-mentor. (To learn more, click here)

This year, we’ve been chosen as co-mentors and we’re SO excited to be a part of this community and find the person who will join us on this amazing ride. Don’t worry, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

At this point, you might be asking, Who are you, exactly?

You can find out more about us, our mentoring style, our skills, and random stuff over at Renée’s post on Who We Are. And trust us, you want to check that out and see if we would be a good fit for you and your MS. 

What we want

We’ll be mentoring YA and we’re open to NA* this year.

*Fair warning when it comes to NA: we’ll probably ask you to age it down to YA. That might require substantial revisions or it might mean only adapting small things, depending on the manuscript.

Give us your:

  • Diverse Fantasy: that includes high fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary fantasy, fantasy romance and retellings

When it comes to Fantasy in general, we want beautiful writing, rich world building, vivid characters and a story that flips a trope on its head.

For retellings, we should say we’re OBSESSED with Beauty and the Beast, but we’d like to see less explored fairy tales, too. And we’d love to see something inspired in tales from different cultures.

Some of the recent YA and NA Fantasy books we loved are:

  1.    SIX OF CROWS, by Leigh Bardugo
  2.   A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, by Sarah J. Maas
  3.   JADE CITY, by Fonda Lee
  4.   THE WRATH & THE DAWN, by Renée Ahdieh
  5.   FLAME IN THE MIST, by Renée Ahdieh
  6.   AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, by SabaA Tahir
  7.   THE FORBIDDEN WISH, by Jessica Khoury
  8. SKY IN THE DEEP, by Adrienne Young
  9.   TO KILL A KINGDOM, by Alexandra Christo
  10.  ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE, by Gail Carriger
  • Twisty Psychological Thriller/ Mystery/ Thriller

Renée has a problem: she tends to guess the big twist early on, so to keep her interested, the story needs to (a) have a bunch of mini twists that are just as good as the big one; (b) have characters that are so interesting, she won’t mind knowing what will happen because she wants to follow them; or (c) prove her wrong.

Here are some examples of books we read and liked:

  1.    GONE GIRL, by Gillian Flynn
  2.   THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson
  3.   ONE OF US IS LYING, by Karen M McManus
  4.   SOMETIMES I LIE, by Alice Feeney
  • Cute Contemporary Romance.

We want to SWOON, but it’d also be nice to read about a new culture, or maybe learn about an activity/hobby not a lot of people know about, or watch the amazing dynamic of an interesting and fun family. We’re especially interested in cute and diverse romances.

These are some of the books we thought were extremely cute:

  1.    FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE, by Sandhya Menon
  2.   ADORKABLE, by Cookie O’Gorman
  3.   OVER THE FENCE, by Kasie West
  • ·  Distinctive Paranormal Romance.

Yes, that means we’ll consider Fae and Vampires, but we’re looking for originality. While we tend to prefer our supernatural creatures if they are on the dark and dangerous side (and still manage not to be complete jerks), we would love to see a nerdy vampire. Maybe even both combined. That’d be a dream.

  • Light or Dark Contemporary

Here, we want all types of narratives. We’re open to issue-based stories, but we would also LOVE to find something funny and light. Engaging family dynamics and/or beautiful and complex friendships will also be a plus.

Some YA Contemporaries we liked:

  1.    THE HATE U GIVE, by Angie Thomas
  2.    AMERICAN PANDA, by Gloria Chao
  3.    THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER, by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  4.   UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, by Louise Gornall

Here are some of the things and themes that will make us cry tears of joy, so send them our way:

  • VOICE! Not the singing competition, but your character’s voice should be distinctive, engaging and it should make us want to keep reading right from the start.
  • Diversity. By that, we mean diverse authors and/or characters. Diverse worlds. Diversity in all forms. All we ask of authors is that they make sure the diversity in their stories is respectfully represented.
  • Feminist books
  • Strong female characters
  • Smart main and side characters
  • Underrepresented characters in familiar tropes. P.S.: We’re not the biggest fan of the Chosen One trope, unless it’s super unique.
  • Romance (or at least great tension)
  • Slow burn
  • Enemies to lovers
  • If you can compare your heroes to Kaz and Rhysand, we want it. Desperately. If you have a YA version of Jericho Barrons, then Renée wants it, even if Alex hasn’t been officially introduced to him, yet.
  • Ensemble cast. We want interesting characters with different personalities coming together to get stuff done. We want tension between them, too. We tend to get bored if everyone gets along fine the ENTIRE time.
  • Complex and/or adorable friend dynamics
  • Serial killers/psychopaths. Give us the YA Dexter or Gone Girl, please.
  • Family drama and coming of age stories
  • STEM
  • Humor
  • Great relationships with grandmas and grandpas. Bonus if it makes us cry or laugh really hard
  • Please don’t make the love interest an asshole/abusive/inconsiderate. It’s not sexy/cute
  • We’re open to both to character-driven and action-driven stories
  • Something weird. This one is hard to explain. But if you think you mixed themes well and it looks a little weird, but reads like a lot of fun, then we want to see it.

Here are some of the things and themes that will make us cry tears of sadness, so please DON’T them our way:

  • Sexual assault
  • Animal abuse
  • Cheating
  • Insta-love
  • Slut-shaming/girls hating on other girls for no reason
  • Shifters
  • Special snowflakes
  • Portal Fantasy

We think that’s it.

We’re looking forward to Pitch Wars 2018. We can’t wait to see all your amazing stories in our inboxes and we hope you’ll consider us as mentors. If you have any question, please leave a comment on this post or contact us on Twitter (our DM’s are open). Even if you don’t, come say hi! We’re friendly and we love meeting new people.

Now that you’ve read our WishList and think your MS might be a good fit, be sure to check out more info about us over at  Renée’s beautiful blog (if you haven’t already), to see if we might be a good fit personality-wise. 

You can find us on Twitter here: @ReneeAPrice and @Alex__Reda (and it’s the same handle on Instagram, too)

Thank you for stopping by and come join #TeamWordsOnFire!

2018 Pitch Wars Young Adult Mentors

















































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ramblings, writing, Writing Contests


(Originally posted in 2015)

Note: Spoiler alert, I didn’t get in that year. 

So. Whether or not I get a mentor (though we all know what I’m crossing my fingers for, right?), I decided to make a little #PitchWars daily diary.

I. Thank the Twitter gods I remembered when this contest is being held. With everything going on in my life right now, losing the deadline was a very real probability. Buuuut I even managed to remember the contest before the mentors’ bios went up. Yey me, all adulting and stuff.

And the best part of it is that I managed to find an awesome CP. I have someone to critique my work AND go through the #PitchWars jitters with me.

Also, I got a bit of fabulous advice that I should change my NA into an A submission. I’ve been seeing a lot of tweets that also give me pause. What to do, what to do, and what ice cream to eat while deciding.

II. The mentors. My God, the mentors. So many to choose from. I think I have a list of about 20, but it largely depends on whether I submit my MS as A or NA. Some of my favorites accept both genres, but three of them don’t. And I thought writing the damn novel was the hard part.

III. Tweeting like mad on the #PitchWars thread. Got to talk with some amazing mentors and I even found out a potential mentee is visiting my country. So if anyone has any doubts about this contest being about community first and foremost, I’m the perfect example right here.

IV. I think I might have overtweeted my share and I’m starting to annoy some of the mentors I like. Time to scale it down and relax. Breathe.

On the plus side, my wonderful CP has sent me her notes on my query and first chapter. I can’t believe how many things I overlooked the first time. I’m still waiting to hear from my beta on the full MS (second round and all), but I don’t think the feedback will arrive in time.

I also participated in the #WWWriting live twitter chat. I’m going with A. Hope I’m not making a huge mistake.

And editing is kicking my butt. I now realize that the first edits I did were superficial at best. I guess I always knew, in the back of my mind, but being confronted with that reality is kind of hard to swallow. However, even if I don’t get picked, my MS is going to be stronger. That’s the point of the whole thing, isn’t it?

Also found out what a beat is. I’ve been using them for years but had no freaking idea what people were talking about. Hey, I’m already learning some new stuff.

V. Finally have my short list. So many amazing mentors had to be cut simply because my MS didn’t fit their wishlist. Once again, hope I’m not making a huge mistake. They all seem like amazing people to work with, but if they don’t want romantic suspense, well, they don’t want it. I hope I get to interact with some of them after the competition’s over.

VI. Starting to doubt my decision.

I don’t know if I should enter or not. I’ve been seeing a lot of #PitchWars games, like #firstline, #lastline, the song that embodies your MS. For the life of me, I can’t think of ONE song that’ll fit. I have about five that I keep using while editing, but none of them capture the entire feel of the MS. Does this mean mine’s fragmented? That it’s not cohesive enough? That I have this huge glaring problem that I just can’t see and that my CP is too kind to point out?


I’m also starting to doubt my voice. I checked my MS. None of my first and last lines seem strong enough. I know I have a few good turns of phrase here and there, but I don’t think it’s enough.

With that being said, I added a few new pages to my MS. Needed to hash out some things and I think they work.

VII. Reading other potential mentees’ first lines and realizing mine sucks.  Golly gee, ain’t I the smartest pea in the original pod?

VIII. Is it okay to freak out that I’m gonna miss the 12-hour submission window because I might miscalculate the time zone differences? No? Just me? Alrighty then.

IX. One of the scenes between my MCs is giving me a headache. I’ve edited it 5 times. I don’t know what’s not working. And for a romantic suspense, this is problematic.

X. Holy crap. The window opened earlier. That’s the best news an anxious writer can ever receive. I’ll wait a day and then buh-bye MS.

XI. Sent.

Time to start eating shitloads of chocolate and brainstorm the next WIP.

XII. Requests!!!!!!!!!!!!!

XIII. Okay. I kinda wanna interact with the mentors, but I’m afraid they’ll think I want to suck up or something. Decisions, decisions.

XIV. Interacted with some great writers. Possible CPs. Life’s good.

XV. Okay. Some of these teasers from potential mentors are so freaking far away from my MS that….I don’t think I’m getting in. But it’s fine. It was fun.

Got to meet some great people. Found some awesome books, films, and gifs.

XVI. *Sigh*

Next year it is.