Adrianna & Sarah's Pitch Wars 2019 Wishlist

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We are excited to be mentoring Middle Grade for PitchWars 2019! Here's what you need to know about us.

WHO WE ARE:

Adrianna Cuevas is a middle grade writer whose debut NESTOR’S GUIDE TO UNPACKING will publish from FSG/Macmillan on May 12, 2020. A former Spanish and ESOL teacher, she currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and son. When not working with TOEFL students, she enjoys attempting new recipes to varying success and tackling her ever-growing reading pile. This is her second year as a Pitch Wars mentor. She is a proud Ravenclaw.

Sarah Kapit is a middle-grade writer. Her debut novel, GET A GRIP, VIVY COHEN!, is coming out from Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House on February 25, 2020. In her past life she was an academic and earned a PhD in history from UCLA. Currently she lives in Bellevue, Washington with her husband and their goofy orange cat. Her non-writing hobbies include knitting and watching baseball. She currently serves as chairperson for the Association for Autistic Community. This is her first Pitch Wars as a mentor. Like Adrianna, she is a definite Ravenclaw.

Adrianna and Sarah met in 2017 at the WriteOnCon forums. We became critique partners and both participated in Pitch Wars 2017 as mentees. Now we're mentoring PitchWars together!

WHAT WE WANT:

Across all categories, we want an irresistible middle-grade voice and one-of-a-kind characters that kids will love. We prefer fast pacing to a more literary style. Serious topics are fine so long as they are handled in a kid-friendly way. (For examples, see our list of comp titles!) However, if your book deals with death or child abuse as a primary subject, we probably aren't the best fit. Humor is always a big plus!

Books with graphic elements are very welcome, as are other alternative formats. However, we won't be accepting full graphic novels or novels in verse.

We would love to see works from writers who have traditionally been underrepresented in publishing. We particularly welcome Latinx, LGBTQ, and neurodivergent representation.

As #ownvoices writers who write books that tend more towards the commercial side of MG, we are very interested in books where the characters' marginalization isn't the major point of the story. We believe that marginalized people have so many stories to tell beyond stories of tragedy and pain. (Our favorite books include many such examples.)

Contemporary--

We want heart-warming contemporary stories. Give us stories about families, friendships, first crushes, and kids who are passionate about their interests. We are interested in coming-of-age stories of all kinds. Although we are not looking for "issue books" per se, a book that can discuss an important social issue in an accessible way would be very welcome in our inbox. (For examples, see THE EPIC FAIL OF ARTURO ZAMORA and PIE IN THE SKY.)

Historical--

We are interested in historical fiction that hits the same notes and themes that we're looking for in contemporary stories. We're particularly interested in stories that show time periods and communities that are less well-known. Historical stories with fantasy elements are very welcome.

While we're open to all historical books, recent historical settings (the 1980s-2000s) can be a hard sell. If you are setting your book in this period, the book should explore a specific historical event or cultural milieu. IT AIN'T SO AWFUL, FALAFEL and PLANET EARTH IS BLUE are great examples of recent historical books that do this well.

Fantasy--

We are interested in light fantasy stories and contemporary stories with fantastical elements. We would especially love to see unique magic systems and diverse cultural mythologies. Contemporary stories that include just a few fantasy elements are very much in our wheelhouse. We also love character-driven fantasy stories that explore common MG themes such as family and friendship. (LOVE, SUGAR, MAGIC is a great example of this.)

We aren't the best fit for high fantasy/secondary world fantasy. If your book begins with a map, it probably isn't for us.

Note that light contemporary fantasy is different from magical realism. Magical realism refers to a specific literary style rooted in the cultural experience of colonialism and post-colonialism.

Please do not send us books with any of the following elements:

  • Pirates

  • Animal protagonists

  • Solving puzzles as the major plot

  • Dementia

To give you an idea of our tastes, here are some comp titles we'd love to see in our inbox:

  • THE EPIC FAIL OF ARTURO ZAMORA and other books by Pablo Cartaya

  • LOVE, SUGAR, MAGIC

  • BETTER NATE THAN EVER series

  • PIE IN THE SKY

  • TRACK series

  • THE MIGHTY HEART OF SUNNY ST JAMES and other books by Ashley Herring Blake

  • IT AIN'T SO AWFUL, FALAFEL

  • AMINA'S VOICE

  • YOU GO FIRST and other books by Erin Entrada Kelly

  • ALL FOUR STARS

  • THE EVIL WIZARD SMALLBONE

  • OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY

  • THE SCANDALOUS SISTERHOOD OF PRICKWILLOW PLACE

  • HURRICANE SEASON

  • STELLA DIAZ HAS SOMETHING TO SAY

  • CHARLIE HERNANDEZ AND THE LEAGUE OF SHADOWS

  • SAL AND GABI BREAK THE UNIVERSE

  • TIGHT

  • BRACED

  • ME AND SAM-SAM HANDLE THE APOCALYPSE

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU WORK WITH US:

As mentors, we are tough and encouraging.

We'll start off by sending you an edit letter. The edit letter will be broken down by plot, character, worldbuilding, and writing style. We invite you to ask lots of questions about our revision ideas. Ultimately, this is your book, so if there's something in there that doesn't feel right to you we'd like to talk it out. Hopefully we can create a plan for revision together.

We will be available for you to talk throughout the revision process. Typically we prefer to communicate by email or Twitter DMs. Once you're done, we'll take a look at your new draft and provide feedback. We will help you refine your pitch and query letter for the agent round.

Once the agent round ends, we will continue to offer sage advice. (Well, at least we hope it's sage.) We will give you thoughts on agents and querying strategy. Neither of us signed with an agent from the agent round when we did PitchWars, so we know that the agent round is just one opportunity of many! We want to stick around to make sure that you feel confident going forward in your career.

We can't wait to read your stories!

Sarah Kapit