Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

PitchWars 2017 – The Wishlist July 18, 2017






PitchWars Mentoring: Year Two…








Yes! I’m so excited to be back for a second year as a PitchWars mentor. I will be mentoring YA again and I’m on the lookout for an amazing manuscript. Before I get to the nitty gritty details of my wishlist, here is a little about me beyond the regular bio…





Who am I?








I’m the youngest of five kids. At the dinner table, I had to claw (and sometimes bite) my way to an extra slice of bread or last scoop of chocolate chip ice cream (Yum!), so I’m prepared to battle for a story that transports me to another world, makes me feel all the feels, and has lush, beautiful writing.


I was a PitchWars mentee twice! First for a YA contemporary thriller, and then for a YA historical that will be my debut in March 2018! That year I did not go all the way through the process because I signed with an agent, but I did get feedback from, in my opinion, two of the most amazing writers in the YA category… Stacey Lee and Stephanie Garber.


Hmmm, what else can I share? I have a degree in Journalism and spent my first year out of college working in entertainment in Los Angeles. After that, I moved on to advertising and eventually landed in the world of books helping to promote stories coming onto the market via Ingram Book Group.


When I’m not writing, I’m worshipping at the altar of Netflix, binge-watching bad crime dramas or rewatching every episode of Sherlock ever made. I also love biking, running, Arnold Palmers (flavored iced tea mixed with lemonade) and Red Vines, (seriously not in that order!)











Why do I mentor?


This question is easy to answer. Since 2012, I’ve been writing this blog (Chasing The Crazies) about my ups and downs in publishing. Along the way, I created a few features I hoped would help writers with the process. After being in the query trenches more than once, I learned a thing or two and wanted to share that experience with other writers. All of this culminated in being asked to judge contests and eventually host one (Sun vs. Snow). So for me, being a Pitch Wars mentor was a natural choice. I love writing, revising, and editing and want to use my knowledge to help a fellow writer achieve their dream!





My Strengths:



















Communication Style:


Fair warning – I’m kind of an extrovert. I want to wave at you in person and gush over how much I love your story and your writing so at first I’d like to chat via Google Hangouts. At that time, we will discuss big picture issues. I also want to get a feel for what you’re struggling with in your manuscript and discuss the process moving forward. After that, we can continue to chat via video feed or can work via email and text, whichever you prefer.




What my mentee can expect?


Homework. Lots of homework at the beginning. I’m going to ask you to fill out a character questionnaire, walk me through your story beats, as well as chart the emotional arcs of your characters. Then I’m going to ask for a chapter-by-chapter summary to confirm each scene is necessary and moving your plot along. We will also have regular check-ins to chat about how you’re feeling about the process and discuss any issues that come up as you are revising.





What I’m looking for:



YA Contemporary (Any and all of it – but here are some of my favorites)


Complicated family dynamics like in WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI


Sports-related drama in the vein of Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series or Ginger Scott’s LIKE YOU duology


Sibling rivalry and support as seen in Huntley Fitzpatrick’s MY LIFE NEXT DOOR


Fish-out-of-water stories like ANNA and THE FRENCH KISS


Someone who has an unusual hobby that helps form their character


A setting different than a hometown that acts as a character in the book


Stories where friendship plays a main role




YA Historical


This is my love! Send me anything and everything, but I have specific interest in…


Lush dramas like Stacey Lee’s UNDER A PAINTED SKY


Clever storytelling combined with mystery as seen in GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE to VICE and VIRTUE


A twist on a well-known historical figure in the vein of Broadway’s HAMILTON or MY LADY JANE


An unknown part of history that has dramatic impact like WASP (Women’s Army Service Pilots) in Sherri L. Smith’s FLYGIRL




YA Magical Realism* (A contemporary world with a hint of magic)

If you have a book like Emily Bain Murphy’s THE DISAPPEARANCES, please sub it to me!


*Please see note below about this category. Only MR manuscripts please! Do not send me any YA Fantasy or Science Fiction books. There are tons of other YA mentors who are looking for these genres!



YA Thriller and Mystery


I’m a huge fan of the whodunit.


Send me manuscripts like Karen McManus’ ONE OF US IS LYING, Kara Thomas’ THE DARKEST CORNERS, or Gretchen McNeil’s TEN. HUGE bonus points for an unreliable narrator!!


Secret societies also pique my interest. If you have a manuscript similar to THE LIAR SOCIETY or the THE CONSPIRACY OF US series, please send it!!


Spies and international intrigue are also high on my list, too!  If your book is like Ally Carter’s GALLAGHER GIRLS or EMBASSY ROW series, I’d love to see it!!!


Basically, if your book is anything close to Veronica Mars – PLEASE. SEND. IT.












Things Not for Me:


  • Science Fiction or Fantasy manuscripts
  • Books with a ton of gore or grisly scenes
  • Gritty, dark stories which include rape or self-harm of any kind
  • Cheating parents or boyfriends/girlfriends
  • Alternate history
  • Romance that does not have a HEA (Happily Ever After)





To get one last hint at my personality here is a list of my favorite books, music, TV series and movies:









Wink Poppy Midnight – April Tucholke

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Simon Versus the Homosapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

Such A Rush – Jennifer Echols

Paper Towns – John Green

The Boy Most Likely To – Huntley Fitzpatrick

City of Bones – Cassandra Clare

Dumplin – Julie Murphy

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin







Arctic Monkeys


The xx

Snow Patrol

Saint Motel


Cage The Elephant

Arcade Fire

Atlas Genius

Young The Giant




TV Series


Veronica Mars




Stranger Things

Boardwalk Empire







Sixteen Candles (Anything John Hughes to be honest!)

Ten Things I Hate About You

Veronica Mars (movie) – Yes, slightly obsessed

Super 8


Field of Dreams

Somewhere in Time


Easy A

Empire Records









Still have a question or unsure about my wishlist?


Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@atrueblood5). I’m always open to answering more specific questions about what I’m looking for in a potential manuscript. I’m also happy to field general questions about Pitch Wars, too!








WHY (hint…hint…) don’t you check out Brenda Drake’s blog for more details?



Don’t see a description of your manuscript on my list? I highly encourage you to check out the other AMAZING YA mentors below.




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QUITE THE QUERY – Laura Weymouth and THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLDS July 12, 2017






If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few authors say writing their query took them almost as long as drafting their book!


Some people have the talent of being able to summarize their book in a few sentences, but for those who don’t I wanted to provide a resource where writers could learn what works, and what doesn’t, in a query.


With that in mind, I’m pleased to share today’s successful query from Laura Weymouth. This great query connected her with her agent, Lauren Spieller of Triada US Literary.





A queen crowned in the Woodlands is a queen forever.


These are the words Evelyn Hapwell lives by. Six years ago, Evelyn was swept away to a strange and beautiful kingdom, where she ruled alongside her brother and sister for decades. But the Hapwell children were sent back to their old lives in our own world, and each day, Evelyn wakes up waiting to return to the Woodlands. As it becomes increasingly clear that there will be no triumphal home-going and that she is in fact, a queen in exile, Evelyn struggles to come to terms with how to live in this world, and how to build a kingdom here. Because foreign policy and governing a country are simple enough, but boys and boarding school and friends in post-war England are another matter entirely.


Your sister’s gone missing.


Four words are all it takes to shatter Len Hapwell’s self-imposed exile in America. After fleeing from the fight to keep Evelyn grounded in reality, Len returns to London to find her sister has vanished, and no one knows what’s happened. Riddled with guilt over abandoning Ev, Len searches for answers while dealing with the fallout of Evelyn’s disappearance. To uncover the truth of what happened to her sister, Len will have to confront how deeply troubled Evelyn really was, and the lengths she was willing to go to for a chance at returning to the kingdom of her heart.


A dual point of view YA fantasy complete at 60,000 words, THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN will appeal to older readers of EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire. It blends the wonder and nostalgia of childhood portal fantasies such as THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA with the realism and emotional tension of LOOKING FOR ALASKA.





Fun Tidbit:


Prior to querying THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN (which is now titled THE WEIGHT OF WORLDS and will be published by HarperTeen in fall 2018), I queried an entirely different MS for a year and a half. While I received a reasonable number of requests, no one ever loved it quite enough to offer. So when I first sent out this query, I was mentally prepared for a long process. To my very great surprise, I received my first offer 10 days after the above query first left my inbox!





Laura Weymouth is the author of the THE WEIGHT OF WORLDS, a YA Fantasy out in Fall 2018 from HarperTeen. Billed as Lev Grossman’s ‘The Magicians’ meets CS Lewis’s Narnia, THE WEIGHT OF WORLDS follows two troubled sisters, bound together by blood and fate, as they struggle to find their place in our world after spending years in another realm of myth and magic. A Canadian exile currently residing in the wilds of Western New York, Laura spends the majority of her time kid-wrangling, chicken-raising, and word-smithing. When not engaged in the previous three activities, you can find her in the garden, consuming copious amounts of tea and trying to convince her husband that a miniature cow would make the perfect family pet. Her online home is She’s also on Twitter (@lauraeweymouth), Facebook (/lauraeweymouth/), and Instagram (@lauraeweymouth)



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