PITCH WARS 2018
Hi, old readers and Pitch Wars hopefuls! This is my third year mentoring and my second year co-mentoring with one of my best friends and most cherished CPs (well I cherish her in all things TBH), Rachel Griffin. I’m SO EXCITED to dive into our submissions this year to find the perfect-for-us manuscript and writer to mentor and adore together. To check out our fellow mentors’ wishlist, head over to the Pitch Wars mentor blog hop! Also be sure to check out Rachel’s blog, too!
Without further ado…
Welcome to the mighty co-mentoring team of Heather Ezell and Rachel Griffin! We’re so glad you’re here! It’s finally that time of year when life takes a full swing into PITCH WARS MANIA AND WE’RE HERE FOR IT.
If you’re looking for relentless enthusiasm, excessive capitalization, and a ton of exclamation points, you’ve come to the right place! Especially if you write young adult because that’s all we’re accepting. 😉
For those of you keeping track, our wishlist is quite similar to last year’s. It’s a bit more specific now, and we prioritized what we’re looking for to make it easy for you to decide if we’re the right fit. We’re also including books we loved that are great examples of what we’re looking for under each bullet point. So let’s get to it!
What do we want?
- At the very tippy top of our list is contemporary with a side of something extra: magic, the supernatural, the absurd, and more. Send us your speculative fiction, light/contemporary fantasy, and magical realism. We want magic rooted in the world we know, that could potentially pass as our own if we turned our heads upside down and blinked twice.
- The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
- The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker
- A Million Junes by Emily Henry
- The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
- The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
- A YA version of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
- The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
- If I Stay by Gayle Forman
- Next up, we want your natural disasters, survival stories, and apocalyptic settings (not dystopian), especially when disaster drives the plot in unique and vivid ways. We are OBSESSED with weather and nature, so send us your stories that immerse us in them!
- I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshal
- A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor
- ATMOSPHERIC NOVELS YES PLEASE. If your setting is so alive that we can feel and see it, we neeeeeeed it.
- Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell (Rachel added this and refuses to take it off!)
- The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker
- For contemporary YA, our tastes are widespread (the above two bullet points cover some of what we’d love to see in contemporary!). We like it dark, we like it twisty, and we like it real. Life is messy and unpredictable, so show us that in your novel. We can also get behind light-hearted reads that make us smile so hard our cheeks hurt! And finally, we love to SWOON. Send us your romance, whether it’s the primary thread or a subplot that leaves us weak in the knees. We want it.
- Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
- I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
- Up to this Pointe by Jen Longo
- Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
- And we love the tone and voice of both Courtney Summers and Nina LaCour
- We ache for subtle lyricism and gorgeous prose that have us reaching for a pen to underline.
- YES to diversity, especially more f/f representation.
- Sister stories. We have them. We love them. We want them.
- We love whimsical novels and voices and want them both in our inbox!
- Tropes we love: enemies to lovers, slow burn romance, forced proximity, secretly royal or magical, and a well-done chosen one.
We will not be mentoring:
- Anything that isn’t YA
- SFF/high fantasy. We love it, but we’re not the right mentors for it.
- Historical fiction. Again, adore it, want to read it, but we’re not the right gals.
- Horror. Rachel doesn’t like being scared.
- We love heavy books with lots of layers but aren’t looking for anything that would be categorized as an issue book, or one that specifically features self-harm or suicide.
- Abuse of any kind: sexual, substance, or abuse toward animals.
- We’re not the right mentors for sports books.
Still with us? Fantastic!
YOUR POTENTIAL MENTORS!
We’ve both been through Pitch Wars as mentees (Heather was Rachel Lynn Solomon’s alternate in 2014 and Rachel was Heather’s mentee in 2016!) and made it through to the other side, both with stronger manuscripts, agents, and incredible friends. We’re utterly passionate about this contest, this community, and helping other writers, and we both have backgrounds in teaching. Mentoring is a fabulous way to tap into that love for both of us. We can promise you that when we fall in love with your manuscript, we’ll be your fiercest champions and most loyal fangirls.
Here are some of our strengths:
Heather is great with emotional arcs, atmospheric writing, building up your setting so it jumps off the page, and helping writers develop and grasp their voice.
Rachel is great with pacing, getting your hook in deep and early, setting up stakes, and character motivation.
So what does our mentoring style look like?
We do everything together. We’ll both be involved with all elements of the process, from big developmental edits, all the way down to line edits. We’ll push you harder than you thought possible, and we’ll make you work. We won’t sugarcoat anything, just like we won’t hesitate to tell you how much we utterly LOOOOOOOVE something. We’ll cheer you on the entire way, pick you up when you’re down, and give you all the pep talks when you need them. And, come February, you’ll have a stronger manuscript and an incredible sense of accomplishment. We want to make you feel damn proud of the work you did during your two months with us, and we hope you love your manuscript more than you ever have before.
ARE YOU OUR MENTEE?
You’re ready to work. We’re not going to give you a few line edits and send you on your way. Nope. We’re going to pull your manuscript apart and help you stitch it back together. (When Rachel was a mentee, she started her edits by rewriting her entire manuscript in first person present, from its original third person past. And that was just the start. Then we did developmental edits, character arcs, subplots, and line edits!)
Communication is extremely important to us. We want you to come to us with questions, concerns, brainstorming, and if you just feel like something isn’t working. We are always here and don’t want you to be shy. Writing is a vulnerable process, and you can be vulnerable with us.
We’ve both been on the receiving end of many editorial letters, so we know how painful it can be to approach revisions and all that follows. As your mentors, we promise we’ll be here to support you, send love and make game plans, talk through the roadblocks and more. We will communicate primarily via email and, if you’re into it, text messaging (we’re into it, especially when it’s time to gush, share nerves, and burst into excitement).
You’re open to changes. We’ll never say you have to make a specific change, but we want you to really think through our suggestions and be ready to answer questions.
You believe in yourself and your writing. This is a big one.
You’re motivated and self-disciplined.
You’re awesome and friendly and won’t be weirded out by our constant enthusiasm and mushy tweets about how much we adore you.
STILL WANT TO KNOW MORE?
I’m a PNW native and absolutely looooooooove it here. LOVE. I graduated from Seattle University with a bachelor of science in diagnostic ultrasound because seeing inside the body is SUPER cool, but I was always writing in my spare time. After a shoulder injury required a career change, I became employee number six at a financial technology startup where I managed our customer support, brand personality, content creation, and social media.
That’s where I met my husband, my biggest support and absolute love of my life. One evening he suggested I quit my job to pursue this writing thing full time, and after a bit of coaxing on his part, I took the plunge and haven’t looked back. That was three years ago, and in that time I wrote my second book, got into Pitch Wars, signed with an agent, wrote my third novel, mentored in Pitch Wars, and now I’m drafting my fourth novel. (I’ve since parted ways with my agent, something that is fairly common but not talked about much. I mention this because no two paths look alike, and I think being transparent when able and showing all sides of the journey is important!)
I have a schnoodle named Doppler and I absolutely ADORE her. I think nature is magic. I love hiking, reading, drinking lots of tea and coffee, playing the flute, and playing chess. Twilight foreverrr. Battlestar Galactica is the greatest television show of all time. I’m an optimist through and through. I have a twin sister who was my very first soul mate (I’m very lucky to have two!). My husband still gives me butterflies. I’m an INFJ. I’m not a morning person. I love fashion, red lipstick, and the King of Pop. I’m blessed beyond measure and love this beautiful life.
I’m a Southern CA native, Colorado Springs adoptee, once-upon-a-time-Alaskan, and currently a Washington State resident. I earned my BA from Colorado College in English and started my MFA in fiction at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where I taught college comp (have to note this because it’s my favorite job to date) and hope to return to finish my degree soon. These days I’m a full-time freelancer: editing, author coaching, tutoring, professional reading, copywriting, and staring at a dry erase board in my loft. I do it all!
My own writing history? I penned my first novel at thirteen, revised for an agent at fifteen, wrote a second book at sixteen, and so the cycle went on. Though I didn’t sign with an agent until I was twenty-three, I was constantly learning about the industry and my craft through the thick of it. If you go back through my posts here, you can read about my various detours of this long-haul journey. But, ultimately, I signed with my agent, Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary, and we sold my debut, NOTHING LEFT TO BURN, to Razorbill/Penguin, which released this past March. I’m still wrapping my head around it.
I live less than two hours south of Rachel depending on whether or not the I-5 behaves. You can bet we’ll be discussing our submissions by her pool with some wine (yes, Rachel, totally inviting myself over!). My apartment has a spiral staircase and, when I cross the street from my home, I can step into a rainforest and, from there, I’m a mere fifteen-minute walk to a beach. I REALLY love that forest and that beach and my eleven-year-old black lab, Bellatrix, does too. Below is a picture of Bellatrix and me in Forks, WA. Forks is great for its proximity to hiking and killer beaches, and for embracing my inner fourteen-year-old (and forever) fangirl. I also like to get fried chicken and beer to take to La Push, but that’s another story.
Some trivia: I moved some fourteen times between 2009 – 2016, don’t have a spleen, prefer -30F to 80F degrees, completed my BA in 2 1/2 years, started writing seriously after a fabulous stint of Harry Potter fan-fiction, can’t live in cities because of the stimulation, am naturally blond, and I’m not a fan of the sun.