Category Archives: Pitch Wars

Before we announce our official Pitch Wars mentee and alternate, we want to thank everyone once again for submitting to us. Stacey and I were both overwhelmed by the quality of entries and the amazing enthusiasm we felt from all of you on Twitter. It’s been so fun reading everyone’s work and connecting with all of you.

We genuinely wish we could pick more than one mentee. But since we can’t, we’ve decided to give a few additional awards for some of the extra delightful things that jumped out at us as we went through our Pitch Wars inbox.

Best Personalized Query

Genevieve Angelique Artel, author of FORGOTTEN.

She managed to include all mentors in her query. Awesome job Genevieve.

Most Original Fairytale Retelling/Fairytale Mashup

Rena Traxel, author of THE WITCHES BREW.

We really hope to see this Hansel & Gretel retelling in our local bookstores someday.

Most Memorable P. S.

Adam Hughes

“If you google me, I am not the same Adam Hughes who draws nearly-pornographic comic book illustrations. Just for the record, I can’t draw.”

This made us both laugh out loud. Well said, Adam.

Tweet That Made Stephanie Smile

Eustacia Tan

“Thought I saw an email from @SGarberGirl and my heart stopped for a while. Turns out it was just a blogger comment update :p #pitchwars

I don’t know that anyone has ever been so excited about an email from me before. Thanks, Eustacia!

Tweet That Made Stacey Smile

Sammy Azzouz

After Stacey tweeted for people to check their spam folders:

@moabsam1 tweeted: “I don’t think I ever wanted spam before”

We actually think this tweet made a lot of people smile.

Most Likely To Make Us Wish We Were Mentoring MG

Rebecca Rice Birkin, author of LAWNMOWER, LEAVING

You hooked us from the first line of your query: “Cole’s Fear List won’t stop growing.”

Most Likely To Appeal To Theater Geeks Like Us

THE GISELLE PROJECT by Heather Harris-Brady

We also loved the title for this one.

Most Unusual Historical Setting (Babylon)

TRADE WINDS TO MELUHHA By Vasantrai Purushottam Davé

We could feel the atmosphere just from the query for this one.

Eeriest Japanese Folklore

YOKAI by David Ferraro

We still feel a little haunted by this one.

Book We Wish We Could Get Lost In

ENCIRCLED by Summer Spence

This story hit all our favorite notes–castle, princes, faraway places, historical awesomeness!

Best High School Musical MS

Kim Pierson, author of THE DEAR JANE LETTERS

When we read these pages we felt like we were watching a movie.

Most Unique Title

THE SHADOW OF BABA YAGA by Antonin Korenek

Doesn’t the title for this just make you want to read more?

Favorite First Line

Marisa Hopkins author of CALLING THE GHOST

“I was having a Lady of Shalott Moment.”

Great opening! We’re not sure if you were going for this, but we immediately thought of Anne Shirley.

Best Comp Titles

Jenna DeVillier,  Amira Sayler, & Jerry Quinn

Jenna DeVillier for using GRAVE MERCY

We both love Robin LaFevers!

Amira Sayler for using FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK

FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK is Stephanie’s absolute favorite!

Jerry Quinn for using Stephen Sondheim’s INTO THE WOODS, which Stacey saw for the first time a few months ago

Most Original Twist on Shape-Shifting

Somer Givens, author of ARANO

Bone marrow disintegration is kind of freaky, but flying is pretty awesome.

Best Mentee Bio

Dakota Shain Byrd

Find his awesome bio here!

He had us the moment we saw Inigo Montaya.

Coziest Cozy Mystery 

UNEASY GRACE by Susan Paxton

We wish we could cuddle up with this one.

Voiciest Query

Ashley Hearn, author of BOOK OF ADAM

We also loved the setting for this one—definitely fit with our wish list.

Most Heartfelt Tweet

Katherine A. Pisana

“The one thing I want more than anything: to be an author. Wanting something so bad means I feel the rejection & disappointment keenly.”

So many of Katherine’s tweets are heart felt, but we especially loved this one. All of you should follow her.

Most Timely Entry

Steven Rogers, author of SONG OF THE VALKYRIE

Thank you for being the very first to apply to us. We know you all get nervous about being chosen, and we’re the same way. Thanks for choosing us.

Query That Dazzled Us


We could have picked this one, but another mentor found it first. J

Favorite Contemporary

ANYONE’S GHOST by Emily Marquart

This was a close one for us. We liked it so much we shared it with other mentors.

In addition to the prizeless awards above, we’ve also given three honorable mentions. These are for manuscripts we came this-close to picking. For all three of these manuscripts we’ll be giving the authors query critiques.

Honorable Mention

FOR BEARED OR WORSE by Jennifer D. Bushroe

We felt this fantasy was completely original, and the pages were well-written, too.

Honorable mention

JC Davis, author of CHEESUS WAS HERE

We both loved the concept behind this, but we think she’ll do fine without us.

Honorable Mention

  1. A. Mages author of THE MEMORY OF OBJECTS.

This one was a close call for us. We both loved the concept of this as well, and we’re so glad another mentor loved it, too!

Thank you all for making us laugh and smile. Almost every entry actually made us smile; these are just a few of the ones that stood out a little extra.

And now it is time to announce our official Pitch Wars mentee and alternate.

Stacey and I are really excited about the manuscripts we’ve chosen! But the fun doesn’t stop there. We’ve had so much fun making videos for Pitch Wars, that we plan on making more. You can find them here, on our official Tumblr page.

And, if you have a writing question you’d like us to answer in one of our videos feel free to email us at:  stephandstacey (dot) pitchwars (at) gmail (dot) com.

Coming up later this week:  People have requested we do a post where we talk a little more in depth about how we made our final choices. We also plan on highlighting some common mistakes found in queries. So be sure to check back!

If you subbed to us, thank you once again! And if you’re just stopping by to see who we chose, thanks for that, too.

Hi! Today Stacey and I are chatting about a few recurring problems we’ve been seeing in our #pitchwars inboxes, and how to fix them!

I’m having some technical difficulties imbedding the video with our tips, but you can find it by clicking here.  

Howdy all! I hope you’re all hanging in there as you wait for the #Pitchwars results.

Stacey and I figured it could be a rough wait, so this last weekend we got together and made a few videos describing what exactly was in our mysterious inbox.

We had both read all the entries that landed in our inbox (and continued to read together as they came in, see all the pictures taken by Stacey’s daughter).

Our video is down below.  But, please note, the stats have changed since then, as the majority of people sent in their apps on Monday (8/18), which was the deadline.

And without further ado, here is that video of WHAT’S IN OUR PITCHWARS INBOX.

Hopefully this helps with some of the waiting.  If anyone has any specific questions, please feel free to leave a comment. Stacey and I have a lot of fun making videos, but ultimately we do them because we want to share with all of you.

And, make sure to check back. We have another video coming, as well as a special announcement!


P.S. If you missed any of our earlier videos, you can find them here.

First off, I just want to thank everyone who submitted to us once again. Two years ago, when I applied to this contest I remember how much thought I put into the mentors I chose–so every query we’ve received means a lot.

We’re also having a lot of fun reading every query!

Me and Stacey Lee

Mentor picks won’t be announced until September 3rd, but since Stacey and I like to involve other people in our fun, we may be sharing a few videos over the next couple weeks that talk a little more about some of the trends–and fun things–we’re seeing inside our Pitch Wars inbox.

So, make sure to check back either here, or on Stacey’s Blog. We know how hard waiting can be, so we definitely want to share updates while we keep you all in suspense.

Thanks again for stopping by! And if there’s anything else you’d like Stacey or I to share, please feel free to let us know in  the comments.


Hi! Welcome to Pitch Wars!

Thank you so much for stopping by. I am so excited to be mentoring for the second year in a row, and even more excited because this year I am co-mentoring with my dear friend, the amazing Stacey Lee!

We are both looking for YA manuscripts, and if you pick us, you’ll be getting two awesome mentors for the price of one!  Pretty good deal, huh?

We’ve had a lot of fun putting together our wish list. This year we would love to see:

Novels set in exotic, unexpected, or underrepresented locales: the Arctic, jungles, foreign countries, the American West. We’d love to read a character-driven stories set on a ranch in the contemporary West, the deep south, a Tahitian island, the Mongolian Steppes. . . we are suckers for adventure and romance (especially the forbidden kind) and we love to be taken to new places and to learn about different cultures.

We also love retellings/re-imaginings of myths, fantasies, fables, and classics. If you have a modernization of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, or Antony and Cleopatra, send them our way.

If your novel has structural quirks—alternating POV, alternating Before/After sections, stories told in reverse—even better.

When it comes to contemporary we like the quirky and the off-beat (think Sherman Alexie or Maureen Johnson).

More than any specific genre, we’re looking for a story with heart, and an MC we can root for. But, for those of you who like specific genres, here are the genres we’d like to see most this year:

  • · Action-adventure
  • · Contemporary
  • · Fantasy
  • · Historical
  • · Historical-fantasy
  • · Humor!
  • · Magical realism
  • · Mystery/thriller
  • · Multicultural

A few more things we really like:  Geniuses, sailors, castles, love triangles, the marginalized, culture clashes, strong friendships or strong sibling relationships, damsels with cheek and slightly baffled heroes. Parents. Villains you love to hate. We would especially love a boy-view, or a coming-of-age story, and a combo of the two would be even better.

Unfortunately we are not the biggest fans of horror, and this year we are also not going to be looking for any science fiction.

 Why you should pick us:

If you’re still not convinced here are some more facts:

We have four years of Pitchwars experience between us.
Last year, Stacey won Pitchwars with her awesome mentee Bethany Smith.  Beth wrote an informative series on the subject of What To Expect From Pitchwars.
Stephanie is a college creative writing instructor and knows her stuff!
Stacey has a historical YA fiction debuting next March (UNDER A PAINTED SKY) and can edit in her sleep.
We love goofing off together–and promise to make this fun!

Thanks again for stopping by!

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment (I respond to all comments), or find us on twitter. Here (for Stacey) and here (for me).

And, if you’d like to see more videos, Stacey has posted a couple here!

And don’t forget to check out all the other awesome mentors!


1. Kes Trester 26. Erica Chapman 51. Kristen Strassel
2. Jennifer Blackwood 27. Lori Goldstein 52. Shana Silver
3. Elizabeth Briggs 28. Sarah Guillory 53. Jaye Robin Brown
4. Joy McCullough-Carranza 29. Marieke Nijkamp 54. Sharon Johnston
5. Stephanie Garber 30. Juliana Brandt 55. Ronni Arno Blaisdell
6. Veronica Bartles 31. Michelle Hauck 56. Mina Vaughn
7. Dannie Morin  32. Ben Brooks 57. Mó nica Bustamante Wagner
8. S.K. Falls 33. Sarah Nicolas 58. Fiona McLaren
9. Jason Nelson 34. Ricki Schultz 59. Lauren Spieller
10. Charlie Holmberg 35. Rachel Lynn Solomon  60. Lindsay Currie
11. Sarah Henning 36. Naomi Hughes 61. Meredith McCardle
12. Gail Nall 37. Maggie Hall 62. Whitney Fletcher
13. Dionne McCulloch  38. Brooks Benjamin 63. Jessie Devine
14. Natasha Neagle 39. K.T. Hanna 64. Cat Scully
15. Amy Reichert 40. Stacey Trombley 65. Kate Karyus Quinn
16. E.M. Caines 41. Stephanie Wass 66. Jessie Humphries
17. Brianna Shrum 42. Kelly Loy Gilbert 67. Trisha Leaver
18. Emily Martin 43. Molly Lee 68. Evelyn Ehrlich
19. Rae Chang 44. Trisha Leigh  69. Stacey Lee
20. Dan Koboldt 45. Eden Plantz 70. Jami Nord
21. N.K. Traver 46. Diana Gallagher 71. Kara Leigh Miller
22. Renée Ahdieh  47. Brighton Walsh 72. Rebecca Yarros
23. Karma Brown 48. Virgina Boecker 73. Cole Gibsen
24. L.S. Murphy 49. Jaime Loren 74. Cecily White
25. Stephanie Scott 50. Julie Sondra Decker 75. Thomas Torre