Rachel's Blog

< All Posts

Pitch Wars 2020 Wishlist

Hello, Pitch Wars Hopefuls!

Today's the day!

I can't believe it's Pitch Wars season again! I love this program so much, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be back for my fourth year mentoring. Pitch Wars is an absolute highlight of my year, and I'm so glad you've decided to check it out and stop by my wishlist!

Before we get started, if you've stumbled upon this post and have no idea what Pitch Wars is, not to worry! It's a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, and industry interns each choose one writer to spend three months revising with. We read our mentee's full manuscript, offer feedback, help guide them through revision, and work on a pitch and query letter. It ends in February with an agent showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and request to read more. If you're a writer with a finished, unpublished manuscript, check out pitchwars.org for more info!

First up, my wishlist! If you're ready to work and are 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 I'm accepting. :)

I've prioritized what I'm looking for and included some books I love to help make it easy for you to decide if I might be a good fit for you and your manuscript. For those of you keeping track, what I'm accepting is very similar to previous years, but there are some changes, so pull up a chair, grab your favorite beverage, and read on!

The Wishlist:

So excited!!

So, what am I looking for?

At the very top of my list is contemporary/light fantasy. Show me our world or a world that feels like ours with a side of something extra: magic, the supernatural, the absurd. Curses? Yes, please. Ghost stories? Definitely. Deep forests that may hold more than just trees? Absolutely. Paranormal, urban, and portal fantasies rooted in our world are very welcome here, and friends, I LOVE vampires. If you have a fresh take on vampires, please send it to me!

  • Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
  • The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
  • The Rattled Bones by S. M. Parker
  • The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Next up, I'm completely obsessed with nature and weather, so send me your stories that immerse me in them. I want your natural disasters and survival stories, especially when disaster or nature drives the plot in unique and vivid ways. I also want your atmospheric settings—if I can feel where your book is set, and if the setting itself is almost its own character, I want to see it! I have a particular love of forests and oceans, but any setting that comes alive is high on my list.

  • The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska
  • Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell
  • I am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall
  • A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor
  • A YA version of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

For contemporary, my tastes are widespread (the above paragraph covers some of what I'd love to see!). I love light, funny reads as well as all the romance! Whether the romance is the primary thread or a subplot that leaves me weak in the knees, I want it. And finally, life is messy and unpredictable, so show me that in your novel. Raw, darker stories are absolutely on my list.

  • Anything by Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • Anything by Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
  • Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennet
  • I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Finally, I LOVE love. This year, I'm only looking for stories that have a romantic subplot. It can be small, but give me a couple to ship! Here are a few of the tropes I adore: friends to lovers (alllll the pining and longing), enemies to lovers, forced proximity, forbidden romance, hate to love, rivals, and slow burn romance.

Delena forever.

And here are some extras that I LOVE:

  • Lyrical writing and gorgeous prose. Subtle lyricism and taking me right up to the edge of purple are both welcome.
  • Character driven stories. I want access to all of your character's messy, raw thoughts. I love feelings and emotions, so you can hit me with ALL of them. You will likely never hear me say that a book is "too quiet."
  • The main character falling for the monster or villain? YES PLEASE.
  • YES to diversity, especially more f/f representation.
  • Sister stories (but must have a happy/hopeful ending! I have a twin sister and can't take sister stories that deal with death or hatred toward each other.)

I will NOT be mentoring:

  • Anything that isn't YA
  • Witches. I'm so bummed to say this because I LOVE them, but I'm drafting my next book which is very witchy, so I'm avoiding any stories that center them right now.
  • Mysteries/thrillers. If your story includes elements of these, that's great, but if the entire plot hinges on the mystery, I'm not the right mentor.
  • SFF/high fantasy
  • Historical fiction
  • Horror. I don't like being scared. I'm all about atmospheric and creepy (some of what I've listed above fits that description!), but anything that's going to make me scared as soon as the sun goes down or give me nightmares isn't right for me. (I absolutely LOVED Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters, which is about as creepy as I'll go.)
  • Anything with self-harm or suicide
  • Anything that deals with death of a sibling
  • Abuse of any kind: sexual, substance, or abuse toward animals.

Okay, still with me? Fantastic!

Your Potential Mentor:

Author headshot!

My debut novel, The Nature of Witches, is releasing in May of 2021 with Sourcebooks Fire (if you're interested in reading about my path to publication, you can find it on my Instagram here!). I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2016 with the incredible Heather Ezell as my mentor, and we went on to co-mentor together in 2017 and 2018! As a mentee, my manuscript got stronger, my craft improved, I got my first agent, and I made some amazing friends. I'm utterly passionate about this program, this community, and helping other writers. I have a background in teaching and co-created the revision-focused blog, Be Your Own Mentor, and I can promise you that when I fall in love with your manuscript, I'll be your fiercest champion and most loyal fangirl!

Some of my strengths include pacing, getting your hook in deep and early, setting up stakes, character motivation, and satisfying character arcs. Get ready to hear me ask "how does your character FEEL about that?" a lot!

I'll communicate primarily via email and, if you're into it, text messaging, video chats, or whatever you need!

As a mentor, I'll push you harder than you thought possible. I'll make you work. I won't sugar coat anything, just like I won't hesitate to tell you how much I utterly LOVE something. I'll cheer you on the entire way, brainstorm with you, encourage you when you're struggling, and give you all the pep talks whenever you need them. And, come February, you'll have a stronger manuscript and an incredible sense of accomplishment! I want you to feel damn proud of the work you did during your three months in Pitch Wars, and i hope you come out of this loving your manuscript more than you ever have before.

I thought it would be fun to ask my amazing mentee from last year, Karyn Riddle (hi Karyn!), what it was like to work with me—here's what she had to say!

"There are so many wonderful things to say about Rachel, but here are the two biggest reasons to choose her as a mentor. One, she will be your biggest cheerleader, supporter, and fan. She is warm, supportive, and encouraging. Hypothetically speaking, of course, if you should have a total breakdown come January and think you're not good enough or won't finish revisions in time, Rachel WILL BRING YOU BACK from the brink of despair and get you back on track. Two, you will receive THE MOST AMAZING edit letter. Rachel knew what needed to be fixed in my manuscript and provided me the guidance and framework I needed in order to revise. She has an eye for building tension and stakes, and my manuscript improved considerably based on her feedback."

Are you my Mentee?

You're ready to work. I'm not going to give you a few line edits and send you on your way. Nope. I'll thoroughly read your manuscript and give you a very detailed edit letter (my past edit letters have been around six single-spaced pages!) and we'll set up a game plan for tackling those edits. When I was a mentee, I started my edits by rewriting my entire manuscript in first person present from its original third person past. And that was just the start! Then I did a full developmental revision, working on character arcs and subplots, then line edits.

Communication is very important to me. I want you to come to me with questions, brainstorming, and if you just feel like something isn't working. I'm always here and don't want you to be shy. Writing is a vulnerable process, and you can be vulnerable with me. I've been on the receiving end of many edit letters, so I know how hard it can be to take them in and approach large revisions. As your mentor, I promise I'll be here to support you, make game plans, talk through the roadblocks, and more.

You're open to changes. I'll never say you have to make a specific change, but I want you to really think through my 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 my constant enthusiasm and mushy social media posts about how much I adore you.

Still want to know more?

Meeting birds of prey in Ireland

I'm a Pacific Northwest native and absolutely love it here. LOVE. I graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelor of Science in diagnostic ultrasound because seeing inside the body is super cool. 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.

Snow day!

That's where I met my husband, my biggest support and absolute love of my life. I now write full-time from my home in the Seattle-area and couldn't be happier.

I'm an INFJ, an enneagram 4w3, and a Pisces. I have a schnoodle named Doppler who I ADORE. I think nature is magic. I love thunderstorms, hiking, reading by the fire, drinking lots of coffee and tea, and playing chess. Twilight foreverrr. Battlestar Galactica is the greatest television show of all time. I'm an optimist through and through. I watched the 2017 total solar eclipse from an airplane my husband was flying, and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I have a twin sister who was my first soulmate (I'm very lucky to have two!). I'm not a morning person. I hope more vampires decide to settle down in my beloved PNW.

Have questions? Just want to say hi? I love meeting new people, so feel free to stop by on Instagram or Twitter! (I don't spend much time on Twitter, but I'll hop on occasionally during Pitch Wars season to make sure I don't miss any questions! I love hanging out on Instagram, though, so definitely find me there if you're on it! And I'll be doing an Instagram takeover of the Pitch Wars account on October 7th if you want to follow along.)

Thank you so much for stopping by my wishlist! To see the rest of the YA mentor's wishlists, you can visit the blog hop on the Pitch Wars website here, or use the links below!

Check back for event updates soon!