Welcome To Pitch Wars!

It’s my first year serving as a mentor for Pitch Wars, and I’m going to be mentoring YA. And while I read (and love!) all genres, I’m most drawn to fantasy. High fantasy, low fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy: I love it all. I also love historical. Any time periods, though I particularly gravitate toward Tudor, Elizabethan, Regency, Edwardian, Stuart (if it’s English, it’s mine.) I also love sci-fi, adore horror, and they say dystopian is a hard sell these days, but I still love it.

I love well-drawn, complex characters: the funny, the angsty, the flawed (especially the flawed), the brash, the shy, the stubborn. The more, the better: I want them to be real. As for romantic leads, I’m drawn to beta males: the quiet, the circumspect, the smart. I want the guy who sits next to you in class who always has a spare sheet of paper for you to borrow (think Peeta). I don’t want the guy in the hallway tossing footballs (think Jace. Unless you want him taken down a notch. Then I do want him).

Speaking of footballs…I’m probably not the best one for sports stories. Ditto religion and politics, and, as much as I hate to say it, contemporary. I love to read it, but I haven’t a clue how to write (or mentor) it. I’d try and introduce a beheading or a haunting and you don’t want that (unless you do. In which case, please pitch me.)

Be prepared to work, and work hard. I’m nice, but I’m also honest. I went through a lot of revision to get my manuscript to the point where I got an agent…more to get a book deal…and even more preparing to bring it into the world.  While what I ask you to do may seem like a lot, it won’t be anything I haven’t done myself.

My YA historical fantasy THE WITCH HUNTER will be published June 1, 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Book 2 will follow in 2016, Book 3 in 2017. (You can read more about it here.) I’m represented by the incomparable Kathleen Ortiz at New Leaf Literary and Media and am a proud member of the 2015 debut author groups Freshman Fifteens, Fearless Fifteens, and Class of 2k15.

For more information about this year’s Pitch Wars agents and to submit starting August 18, 2014, please visit Brenda Drake’s website.  In the meantime, please visit all the Pitch Wars mentors and learn about all our wish lists!



Pitch Wars

54 Responses to Welcome To Pitch Wars!

  1. Pingback: Pitch Wars Mentor Bio | Ben L. J. Brooks

  2. Quiarah Butler says:

    Yes! I’m glad you’re looking for fantasy novels, especially High Fantasy! My MC is stubborn and a bit whiny. In short, he’s kind of unlikeable. Is that okay?

  3. So happy to see mentors who love fantasy as much as I do. Plus my manuscript has complexly flawed characters and a beta male! Looking forward to submitting.

  4. Stephanie Garber says:

    Ooh! How fun is your wish list? I absolutely love this line: I’d try and introduce a beheading or a haunting and you don’t want that (unless you do. In which case, please pitch me.)

    Whoever gets to work with you is so lucky!

  5. Elle says:

    I am so in love with your website, it’s one of the coolest I’ve come across.

    I’m also thrilled with the fact that you love sci-fi and fantasy. I mesh them together in my YA cyberpunk. Double the love!

  6. Paula Kouman says:

    I wish my MS was ready it’s fantasy with a beta male and complex characters. We were apart of the CP group for a minute. If I were in you’d be my #1 choice because you love fantasy :), and from your bio, I believe that you’ll push your mentee to make their MS the best it can be. Love that. Good Luck!

  7. Ron Walters says:

    So a fast-paced, spy-packed, slightly romancy YA contemporary fantasy set in Prague featuring a 17yo beta male who finds an old pocket watch that dumps someone else’s memories into his brain might be of interest?! (Man, that is an unnecessarily long sentence!)

  8. Dakota Shain Byrd says:

    You are amazing and I love what you’re interested in. I am curious about something though. Would you be interested in a YA novel that blends urban fantasy, contemporary fantasy (a fantasy set in the modern day in a magical place, in this case a magical island in the Bermuda Triangle), and light sci-fi? Now take that and add in four alternating POV’s–one of which is a mixed mage, another an escaped freak experiment who is a bumbling fool around his love interest, the third a girl hacker with earth magic, and the fourth a premonition-plagued teen actress. Oh, and did I mention that the mage and the hacker aren’t straight? Would that be up your alley?

  9. Jenna says:

    Haha. I love your beheading comment in contemporary. Please someone write that book!

    Are you only into beta love interests? I would love to submit to you but my YA fantasy has a MC who is more like an anti hero. He’s a pirate after all. But my MC is stubborn and feisty and it makes for a good sword fight.

  10. Jenna says:

    Hi Virginia! I’m trying to narrow down my list of potential mentors for PitchWars and was wondering if you’d be interested in a secondworld fantasy about an assassin girl (17) who discovers she can feel the pain of others. My love interest isn’t exactly a beta male, but they are both damaged 😀

  11. Luther Siler says:

    Virginia, it looks like you’re a YA writer but unless I’ve gone blind you don’t mention that you’re looking to mentor YA writers specifically. My book is adult but otherwise seems to fit into your approved themes. Would querying you be appropriate?

  12. Traci says:

    Hello Virginia! I’m so glad to hear you’re interested in beta males, alternating POVs, AND pirates! I’m trying to figure out which mentors would be a good fit for me and my manuscript, so I was hoping you’d answer a few questions for me.

    1. What are your strengths as a reader? What are you especially good at spotting and troubleshooting? (character? pacing? tension? world-building?)

    2. What’s your communication style like? With what attitude do you approach critiques? How often do you think you’ll communicate with your mentee and through what medium?

    3. What’s your approach when you come across a particularly thorny problem in a manuscript?

    Thanks! I hope we end up being a good match!

    • I just realized I never answered your question! My apologies! Okay, in order, here we go:

      1. I’d say my strength is in the details. I’m really, really picky on details and I have a great memory. So if you say something on page 50 that contradicts something said on page 10, I’ll remember it. But details go a long way with character and world building too (in other words, I use them to build up, not just tear down. 🙂 Pacing is something I struggle with as a writer. I like to linger on details sometimes and invariably end up pulling back on it during the editing phase, so it’s something I’m always keeping an eye on.

      2. I’m straightforward, but nice. I won’t lie to you, but I won’t be mean. 🙂 From a critique perspective, I’ll try and hit all the big picture items first, then drill down to the finer details once they’re fixed. It’s how all my editorial letters have been done, both agent and editor, and it’s worked wonderfully.

      3. Thorny problem – if we come across one we can email back and forth on it – or text – brainstorming ideas until we figure it out. And if it’s particularly big I’d probably want to hit it first, as however you choose to solve it will invariably affect the rest of the ms.

      Hope this helps!

  13. C.J. Malarsky says:

    I see that you adore horror but are not interested in contemporary settings. Are you open to horror set in a contemporary setting, or do you prefer your horror to be more of the Gothic variety?

    • I’m open to that! Two of my recent favorite YA horrors were Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Shutter, both horror, both contemporary settings, both terrifying. Bring it on!

  14. Amber says:

    Hi! I know that some mentors love working with mentee’s that write the same as they do, and I am wondering if you feel the same?

    My novel is about young witches, both male and female. The MC’s are all quite different- stubborn females, shy females, beta males, alpha males… in other words, all of them are very different, complex and complicated!

  15. Jerry Quinn says:

    Hello! You sound like perfect match, except for one question: I don’t know if my MS is acceptable as YA.

    It is about protagonists classically in the YA age range, BUT because it’s historical (12th century Normandy) they are experiencing things that I have been told are too ‘dark’ for YA. I have also been told there is no such thing as YA historical because teenagers in the past were experiencing adult things.

    Of course, the fact that you have a YA Historical Fantasy (EXACTLY what I think mine is, but everyone else has told me is a non-existent, self-contradictory genre) gives me faith.
    I would like to pitch you, but I don’t want to offend you by then having the work turn out to be too dark (no gore! just historically accurate emotionally tragic experiences that a teenager might experience like witnessing death, warfare and the galling experienced of killing your first person, arranged marriages, miscarriages caused explicitly by being too young to bear to term) to be acceptable.

    I can absolutely promise you a beta male (underdog Evil Younger Brother) lead, if that helps. 🙂

    • Pshhhhht. Whoever told you there’s no such thing as YA Historical is obviously wrong! There are so many (not even including mine): Grave Mercy, A Great And Terrible Beauty, Diviners, Chime, The Ring and the Crown, The Winner’s Curse…that’s just off the top of my head but I’m sure I could find more. Anyway. Yes, YA teens in historians experience adult things but that’s what makes it great. My book is plenty dark: Death, unwanted affairs, burnings at the stake, war. 12th C. Normandy sounds delicious, and I’m intrigued by the Evil Younger Brother. Pitch me. There’s no such thing as too dark with me. 🙂

      • Jerry Quinn says:

        You’re on 🙂 You had me at ‘anything English.’ (Especially because that means you know why a historical fantasy based off 12th century Normans counts in that category… oh, my beloved Angevins. Such a *functional* family, no?) I’ve got the beheading covered (Evil Younger Brother, after all) but I’d never say no a little haunting.

        On a different-century note that has nothing to do with fiction, I’m gonna be on that side of the pond this winter and have plans to attend Richard III’s re-interment at Leicester next March. So excited.

        Looking forward to the 18th!

  16. Would you be interested in Djinn from the Middle Eastern mythology? They grant silly wishes, mess with people’s destinies, look for human brides and whisper bad advice. My main character is a psychic emotional succubus who pans for her twin’s boyfriend.
    Thank you for your answer 🙂

  17. Tara Sim says:

    Hi Virginia,

    I was wondering if you’d be interested in a YA historial steampunk? My beta male faces the dilemma of having a father trapped in time as well as navigating his first crush–on a boy who isn’t human.

  18. Jenna says:

    Whoa! Looks like you will have your pick of manuscripts! And I’m the third Jenna commenting (I hope we’re all different). Not many mentors have specifically mentioned low fantasy, so thanks for sticking that in there. What word count would be the highest word count you would take for YA fantasy? Mine’s at 86,000.

  19. Jennifer D. Bushroe says:

    I’m so pleased you’re looking for flawed characters. Sometimes whiny, selfish protags scare people away, but there’s gotta be room for growth, right? 🙂

    • My MC has her fair share of problems too, including being more than a little selfish. But yes to exactly that – more room for growth and change! I love flaws. I think that’s what makes characters real.

  20. Shyla says:

    Hi, Virginia!

    I’ve written a YA urban fantasy that blends romance, a touch of myth, and opens in a historical setting (a gaming hell, no less). My question is with the opening: most agents (and people in general) shy away from prologues. Mine isn’t a prologue. It’s chapter one. However, I’m realizing that it might not make a ton of sense coupled with my query letter. Is that a huge problem? Or should I scrap that first chapter until later on if I’m chosen, and simply start with the second chapter?

    • Well, in your mind, where does the story start? Is the first chapter world-building, or back story, or anything that can be woven in later? If the answer is yes, then Chapter 2 is probably where it really starts. Also that you’re questioning it tells me you might know it already. Smart girl! If you sub to me, go on and send Chapter 1 as it is, and I’ll remember what you said. Gaming hell…that’s hard to forget. 🙂

  21. Dustin Fife says:

    Beta males, eh? What if the beta male spends his off-romance time shooting guns and dropping bombs? 🙂

    Alpha at war, beta at home.

  22. Tamara says:

    Hi Virginia,

    Well, first of all, you sound awesome. I love that you’re interested in horror. Mine isn’t straight horror–more urban fantasy–but it definitely has a decent amount of horror in it.

    So, here’s my question. Are you okay with upper YA themes? Underage drinking, lots of cursing, drug use, sex references (no sex) If you’ve read Going Bovine by Libba Bray, think along those lines…

    Please let me know when you get a chance! Sorry for waiting so long to ask. You’ve been at the top of my list since the Mentor Wish Lists were posted–but it took me until yesterday to go through everyone and narrow down all the awesome choices! Anyway, I look forward to hearing back from you.Thanks for your time. 🙂

  23. BillScott says:

    Not a fantasy writer, but I love a good haunting.

  24. Quiarah Butler says:

    Hi Virginia, I just wanted to say that I’ve already subbed to you. You were a def. pick for me. Your mentor bio really spoke to me. Hope you enjoy my first chapter. But if you happen to pass, then thank you very much for reading! Either way, this contest was super exciting! Good luck on choosing a mentee! 🙂

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