Pitch Wars 2020 Wishlist!

Hello, Pitch Wars hopefuls! This year I am partnering up with the fabulous Sandra Proudman to mentor a young adult science fiction or fantasy writer for Pitch Wars. We are Team Snickersnee! A snickersnee is a large knife used in combat. The word also makes us giggle a lot, so it felt like the perfect fit. We’re going to work hard and fight hard for you and your book, but we’re also here to have fun and be supportive. If you want more information about Pitch Wars, check out pitchwars.org for more info. If you’ve somehow arrived at my blog first, please take a minute to go visit Sandra Proudman’s blog, where she talks about who we are, what we’re about, and lists the movies, TV shows, and books we absolutely love! Who knows? You might find a good comp title in there 😉

Below, you’ll find our mentoring style as well as our official wishlist!


  • Character development
  • Dialogue
  • Line edits
  • Pacing
  • Stakes
  • Query letter
  • World building 

If you’ve won a critique from us in the past or know us from social media: Please feel free to still submit to us! We’ll be removing names from submission items to be as impartial as possible.

Our Communication Style:

We’ll be with you every step of the way during your Pitch Wars journey. From explaining why we might be offering a certain comment/suggested change to guiding you through the querying process if this is your first time entering the querying trenches. Our goal is that by the time the showcase comes around, you’ll feel confident querying your work, whether you get one request for pages or thirty. 

We talk on Zoom a bunch, so we are always open to hopping on a Zoom call. If you’re not into video conferencing, we can always hop on the phone or chat online. We’ll work with you at your comfort level! We believe in equal access, and we’re willing to be flexible with deadlines.

What We Are Looking for in a Mentee:

We are looking to work with a passionate writer who is dedicated to making their story the best it can possibly be, even if this means a possible complete rewrite. Be positive and ready to put in hard work. There is, of course, a temptation to say ‘yes’ to be selected even if you don’t think your novel needs lots of work; if you truly know that you would not be open to major revisions, we may not be the best selection for you. 

CATEGORY: YA and, if willing to age down, NA


  • Fantasy (portal, magical realism, other)
  • Horror
  • Steampunk
  • Sci-Fi (space opera, near future, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk, soft, time travel, other)
  • Retellings
  • Romance (sci-fi, fantasy)
  • Contemporary with a dash of speculative

And now….


Diverse characters written as the heroes of their own stories written by diverse writers. Sandra is Latinx, so Latinx (especially Afro-Latinx) stories hold a special place on our wish list. 

Horror with twists and turns at every corner. We want witches/brujx, ghosts, haunted forests, bloodline curses, all of it! 

Speculative science fiction or space operas. Give us apocalyptic scenarios, androids/robots/AI, alternate history and parallel universes, all the geeky stuff.

Romance! Fresh takes on love triangles, slow burns, the complicated love stories, enemies to lovers. Basically, all the fun tropes we all know we love in a speculative setting with a unique take.

Strange, never-seen-before fantasy, ala “Magonia” by Maria Dahvana Headley.

Steampunk, but also other types! Dieselpunk, solarpunk, cyber noir, etc. 

Fierce girls that don’t need a hero to save them / girls who kick ass in her own way: Ex. A skilled makeup artist who can disguise her heist team.

Retellings, especially with a diverse twist and/or unique tales/myths/creatures.

SF/F heists and competitions, bonus if combined!

Lush fantasies with a diverse cast of characters set anywhere!

Immersive settings and awesome world building!

Epic action scenes reminiscent of the Agni Kai scene between Zuko and Azula in Avatar the Last Airbender!


Stories about found family and uncanny friendships, witty banter a plus!

What we’re likely to pass on:

  • Most importantly, we are not a good fit for stories with themes of terminal illness or explicit scenes of sexual violence or assault. Please no stories that would require a heavy trigger warning. 
  • We are not mentoring Adult or MG books. Don’t waste a slot sending us your book if it’s in these age groups! We are open to NA, as long as you are willing to age your MC’s age down to YA.
  • We are not the best fit for sports books or hard science fiction with a lot of technical aspects. There will likely be a lot that we couldn’t comment on or help with.
  • Please eliminate as many typos as you can prior to sending as they can often distract from getting into the story!

We cannot wait to read your submissions and no matter what happens, you finished a manuscript, you are amazing!

With all our support, 

Shannon & Sandra

Pitch Wars 2020 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Aiden Thomas (Accepts NA)
  2. Sarvenaz Tash (Accepts NA)
  3. Chloe Gong and Tashie Bhuiyan
  4. Abigail Johnson
  5. Kit Frick and Carlyn Greenwald
  6. Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
  7. Laurie Dennison
  8. J.Elle and Emily Golden
  9. Andrea Contos (Accepts NA)
  10. Emily Thiede (Accepts NA)
  11. Amanda Panitch
  12. Allison Saft and Ava Reid (Accepts NA)
  13. Emery Lee (Accepts NA)
  14. Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
  15. Shannon A. Thompson and Sandra Proudman (Accepts NA)
  16. Adiba Jaigirdar and Gabriela Martins
  17. Michaela Greer (Accepts NA)
  18. Tash McAdam
  19. ST Sterlings (Accepts NA)
  20. Maiya Ibrahim and Ayana Gray (Accepts NA)
  21. Meg Long and Xiran Jay Zhao (Accepts NA)
  22. Margie Fuston
  23. Jamie Howard
  24. Nova McBee
  25. Amelia Diane Coombs and Sophie Gonzales (Accepts NA)
  26. Rachel Griffin
  27. Susan Lee and Auriane Desombre (Accepts NA)
  28. Ciannon Smart
  29. Sasha Peyton Smith and Kristin Lambert
  30. Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
  31. Lyndsay Ely (Accepts NA)
  32. Anna Sortino (Accepts NA)
  33. Jennieke Cohen
  34. Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
  35. Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
  36. Kat Dunn and Daphne Lao Tonge
  37. Sheena Boekweg and Alechia Dow (Accepts NA)
  38. Liz Lawson and Dante Medema (Accepts NA)
  39. Sarah Dass (Accepts NA)
  40. Zach Hines (Accepts NA)
  41. Hoda Agharazi (Accepts NA)
  42. Dawn Ius and April Snellings (Accepts NA)
  43. Kara McDowell and Kimberly Gabriel
  44. Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
  45. Deborah Falaye
  46. Rona Wang (Accepts NA)
  47. Becca Mix and Grace Li (Accepts NA)
  48. Aty S. Behsam (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists

11 thoughts on “Pitch Wars 2020 Wishlist!

  1. Hi there! I had a quick question about the genres you’re accepting. You said you were looking for “Contemporary with a dash of speculative”, and I was wondering if that included a contemporary murder mystery with speculative elements (the MC is a clone, though that’s the only speculative element and the rest of the novel is very contemporary).

    Also, you said you aren’t looking for stories that require a heavy trigger warning. Would discussions of su*cide (but no actual self-harm on- or off-page) and detailed depictions of grief count toward that?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. Under “most likely to pass on” you mention sports as something you aren’t best for. Would that include esports (competitive gaming)? It’s not what dominates my manuscript, but it is an important aspect for the characters involved.


      1. Thank you so much. With only four submissions per mentee, I want to make sure I select the best fits. I appreciate your help.

  3. Hi! I was wondering if you can answer a couple of questions for me.

    1. My main MCs are 14 (almost 15) and 20 years old. Would you consider this as YA or NA?
    2. One of my MCs has Huntington’s. Is this a hard no for you (you mentioned you wouldn’t be a good fit for themes of terminal illness)?

    Thank you.

    1. Thank you for asking!

      1. YA/NA would probably depend on your themes in this case. Ex. Seeking independency/who am I? = YA. What will I do with independency/what will I do now that I know who I am? = NA.

      Considering how young one of your protagonists is, though, I would guess YA. A good comparison is American Royals by Katherine McGee (YA, one POV is 20, the others are teens) and Contagion by Erin Bowman (has a POV in her 20s, an adult POV, and some teens), also YA.

      2. We’re okay with Huntington’s, as long as it’s not the focus of the book.

      We hope this helps!


      1. Thank you so much! The way you put it, I will definitely go with YA. And no, Huntington’s is not the focus.

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