Allison & Juliana’s #PitchWars 2017 Wish List

Welcome, dreamers! We’re so happy you stopped by our wishlist ❤ We know you have a lot of mentor pages to go through, so let’s get down to business.


We’re looking for Middle Grade that includes any number of the following elements: non-western mythology, horror elements, girl antiheroes, clever characters who rely on their wits, lyrical prose, and peculiar & original magic.

If that sounds like your book/you’d like to see a collection of charming and painstakingly selected gifs, read on!


These Things Please:

-We’d love to see girl antiheroes who aren’t afraid to look out for themselves, utilize a little bit of trickery, or even be a teensy bit mean. Whilst remaining heroic, of course. On the whole. Mostly. Think a female Artemis Fowl, or a gender-swapped Nathaniel from the BARTIMAEUS SEQUENCE.

-We are very interested in clever characters, such Gen from THE THIEF, Sage from THE FALSE PRINCE, or Serafina from SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK. Ten points to Ravenclaw for every character with wit beyond measure!


-MONSTERS. We want ‘em. The big, scary kind, the kind that stick with you for a loooong time. The kind that have tentacles and teeth. Also wings. Sometimes they go bump in the night, sometimes they’re eerily silent. Being stalked by them makes you feel itty bitty, and slaying them makes you feel as big enough to conquer the world. HOODOO, THE NIGHT GARDENER, MONSTRUMOLOGIST, and THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE have some of our favorite creepy crawlies. Send us more!


-We both adore stories that center around strong, evolving sibling relationships, such as those in THE EMERALD ATLAS. Families are such a big part of MG life, and we’d love to see some stories where the ties of family are as complex and compelling as any adventure.

-Lyrical prose is one of our favorite things. We’re looking for a strong, clever voice and a writer who loves words as much as we do. FURTHERMORE, TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE, THE REAL BOY, and anything written by Frances Hardinge (FLY BY NIGHT & CUCKOO CALLING!) are great examples.

-We’d love to see stories that draw on mythology, especially of the non-western variety (or mythology of your own invention!) We love WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, THE JUMBIES, and HOROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES. We will fight for this. Hard and dirty. With flying fists of doom.


-Retellings! Send them to us! We’re interested in all kinds of familiar stories told in new ways, but a couple of our favorites are SHADOWS OF SHERWOOD (a Robin Hood retelling) and BOOK OF WONDERS (an Arabian Nights retelling).

-We both love magical realism like SAVVY by Ingrid Law. If you have a book that looks at the real world sideways and shows us something just a little bit magical, we want to see it (red). But like actually. Please. Our inbox is ready.

-Gears. Steam engines. Railroad tracks. Victorian dresses. Metal monsters with whistles and cranks made from all manner of machinery. We love steampunk stories like THE PECULIAR and THE LEVIATHAN, so send us your mechanical curiosities! We’ll get your book reading like a well-oiled automaton.


-Finally, we’d love to find books with positive LGBTQ representation, whether in main or secondary characters!

To Break It Down By Genre: We’re looking for fantasy (both high and low & both other world and contemporary), historical fantasy, horror, retellings, magical realism, steampunk, and timeslip.

I know. That’s a lot.


But there are a couple of things we’re not looking for.

None of These Things Please:

-Classical fantasy creatures, such as dragons or fairies
-Elemental magic
-Animal points-of-view as main characters


(We know. Dragons are cute. But not for us this year!)

Why You Should Choose Us!

-First and foremost, we are the cutest illustrations you’ve ever seen.


(A million thanks to @rosellewriter for making us look so cute! She’s a super talented writer and artist, and we’re so excited to have a little bit of her work.)

In addition to being cute, we know some stuff. Here’s a little about us:
-This is Juliana’s fourth year mentoring in PitchWars! She writes Middle Grade fantasy and is represented by Natalie Lakosil of the Bradford Literary Agency. In 2016 she mentored Lacee Little who had 24 requests during the agent round, in 2015 she mentored Julie Artz (who’s a mentor this year!) who had 6 requests during the agent round and is now represented by Jennie Dunham of Dunham Literary, and in 2014 she mentored Stacey Hackney who had 13 requests during the agent round and is now represented by Katie Grimm of Don Congdon Associates.

-This is Allison’s second year mentoring in PitchWars! Her rock star mentee in 2016, Chrystal Carver, received 13 requests last year. She was also Lauren Spieller’s PW mentee in 2014. She writes Young Adult fantasy and is represented by Emmanuelle Morgan of the Stonesong Literary Agency.

-Combined, some of the writing elements we can offer expertise on are: theme, plotting, world building, magic systems, character arcs, building tension, scene choice and placement, unpacking details in text, and show vs tell (aaand quite a few others–don’t hesitate to ask us on twitter if you have a specific writing element you’d like to ask about!).

–>We are also shamelessly good at writing queries and pitches.

-The two months before the agent round will be a whirlwind, please be prepared to work hard. We will gear edits toward what you and your manuscript need, but hopefully we’ll do editing in two rounds (yes, this is a lot of work over two short months). The first round will concern any overall structural issues your manuscript might have (plotting, pacing, character arcs, world building/magic system issues…) and the second will concern close line edits (sentence structure, show v tell, structure at the scene level). We are very excited to share what we’ve learned with you ❤


-Please do come find us on twitter @julianalbrandt & @alliegatorziggs; we’d love to chat and make new writing friends; we’ll also provide more in depth info as to our wishlists over there. Feel free to pop by and say hello!

If we like your submission, we’ll ask for the full manuscript and a synopsis, so be ready! As a note, we will not be able to respond to everyone who submits to us. We will do our best to respond to the people we request material from, but this is not a guarantee. The school year is just beginning for Juliana, and it’s neither possible nor healthy for us to promise to respond to everyone’s submissions. We understand how difficult the writing journey can be, and we do apologize for this.


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My #PitchWars 2016 Wishlist

Hey guys! I’m so, so, SO excited to be a Pitch Wars Mentor this year! I was a mentee in 2014, and this contest helped me so much. My mentor pushed me to dig deep, work hard, and make my manuscript better. I’ve learned so much about the industry from her and the wider Pitch Wars community, and I’m so happy to give back as a mentor. Buckle up, because it’s going to be an awesome couple of months.

A little about me:

As a writer, I’ve tried my hand at both MG and YA. I signed with my agent, Emmanuelle Morgen at Stonesong Literary Agency, in spring of 2015.

I’ve been critiquing fiction since the third grade, when my friend and I swapped stories about interplanetary immigration in the Sol system. My protagonist was from Neptune, hers from Saturn. I’ve learned a lot in the intervening years, and now acting as a critique partner is one of my favorite things about being a part of the writing community.

Fun facts:

1. I still remember that Neptune has nine rings from my days writing about a Neptunian girl.

2. I have over twenty first cousins. Thanksgiving is a rather involved affair.

3. My heart belongs to Mojo, who is a two year old Labrador Retriever. Her heart belongs to tennis balls. I forgive her for this.


What I want in my inbox:

I’m mentoring Middle Grade manuscripts only. That means I’m looking for all kinds of books about kids in that weird time when hormones are sort of a thing, poop jokes are still totally  a thing, and the world is starting to feel big and complicated just as kids are getting big and complicated enough to understand it. Sort of. As much as anyone can understand the world.

So bring me your big ideas and big worlds. Bring me too-big fears and never-too-big dreams. Most of all, bring me friendships strong enough to take down trolls with a wand up the nose.

(I swear I’m not gross)


(Okay, I’m a little gross)

I’m looking for books that have rich world building and a strong voice. I know that’s going to sound like I only want fantasy and science fiction, but there are tons of opportunities for world building in other genres, too. I want a mix! I want to see contemporary books about zany families or closed communities, such as a boarding school, small town, or secret society. I’d also love to read historical novels with a deep sense of place. If you can make me feel transported by your book, I’d love to help you nail down the rules, history, and atmosphere.


In addition, I have a few elements that I absolutely adore and you should send to me if you have them. Because if you don’t, I will be sad. You don’t want that, because I’m a very sad sad person.


A Touch of Religion: This can be almost anything–maybe there’s a fictional church with sinister motives like the Magisterium in His Dark Materials. Maybe your MC is a doubting Catholic, attends her friend’s bat mitzvah, or lives in a cult. Bring me your doubters and your faithful–I’m interested in all of it.

Deep Dark Shadowy Things: I love a little darkness in my Middle Grade reads. I love the malevolent worlds of Roald Dahl, the dangerous and  fantastic Series of Unfortunate Events, the demonic protagonist of the Bartimaeus Trilogy. One of my favorite recent protagonists is Kymera of Monstrous, whose predominate thought about her father’s sparrow/terrier hybrid creature is that it looks delicious.

Fat Positivity: Body diversity is something I’m intimately familiar with. I have always been a larger than average human, and I know what it feels like to look to stories and find that even magical worlds are full of fat jokes. So if you have a big protagonist who knows she doesn’t have to be skinny to be a warrior princess or ballerina or whatever she wants to be, I want to read her.

General Magic: I do love magic. Also dragons, fairy godmothers, magic systems, and all sorts of fantasy goodness. This is even better when paired with gorgeous prose.

Science-y Fantasy Elements: Okay, this is a bit of a wildcard. But if any of you out there have a book with fantasy elements drawn from science or math, like Madeleine L’Engle’s magical mitochondria in A Wind in the Door, I WANT it. Anything that can make you feel so big and so small all at once has a real magic to it, and I want to help foster that (and send it into the world!) The Artemis Fowl series also does this, but in the other direction — the fairies use science! This is also super fun. Please send.


What you should consider sending to other mentors:

I’m probably not the right mentor for very young MG or overly sweet stories. I like a little darkness. I want the things that go bump in the night.

Even though I mentioned religion, I’m probably not the right mentor for straight allegory.

Why you want to work with me:

I’m an alumnus of Pitch Wars. I’m far from the only mentor that can make this claim, but I can speak for myself and say I love this contest. I had an amazing experience with my mentor, Lauren Spieller, who has taught me so much about this industry and become a wonderful friend.

If you want a little taste of what my previous Pitch Wars experience has been, check out my success story! It contains happy times. Also more information about my nerdier tendencies.

Furthermore: as your mentor, I will fight for you. I will push you. I will hop on the phone to calm your fears and answer your questions. I will be a Category Five Brainstorm. I will send you funny GIFs when you’re feeling down. I will love your book. We will run off into the sunset as Mentor and Mentee, conquerers of revisions and pitches.


Congratulations! You got to the end, which means you get to pick up my clue for the scavenger hunt.

Letter F

Happy hunting, happy subbing, and happy writing! Be well, and see you around the writosphere.

































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