Saturday, 7 September 2019

Hello, potential future mentees! We’ve been waiting for you. Pull up a chair (or a bean bag or one of those chaise longues people like to faint on) and let’s get to know each other, shall we?

This year we’ll be mentoring YA!

(Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more.)


Who We Are

SONIA: I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2013, and I’m forever grateful for the experience. I learned so much about pacing, plotting, dialogue, balancing showing and telling, and inserting emotion into prose. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to pay that forward, having been a mentor since 2015. The last two years I co-mentored with Annette, who was one of my 2016 mentees and one of my favorite people on the planet, and it was so much fun we decided to do it again this year. My debut YA contemporary, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME, is out now, and my sophomore novel NOT YOUR #LOVESTORY will be out Fall 2020. I’m rep’d by Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency, and I’ve published short stories in a variety of journals. When I’m not writing, I like playing board games with my family, trying new breweries, or doing anything outdoors in the fall.

ANNETTE: In 2016, Sonia selected me to be one of her Pitch Wars mentees. In 2017, Sonia and I got Pitch Wars-married. This is our third year co-mentoring and the love is still very much alive between us and our past mentees. I have a theatre degree, which means I have a background in acting and working odd jobs. I’ve published articles with The Guardian and HelloGiggles, and am currently working with the fabulous Alloy Entertainment. My debut, DEAR NEMESIS, will be released Fall 2020 through Audible Originals. I write contemporary YA, adult romcoms, and Women’s Fiction. I’m repped by Jess Dallow of Brower Literary Management.


What We Do 

If selected as our mentee, you’ll get an initial edit letter from us. This may include sweeping changes or small tweaks (or both). We’re here to talk through any questions you may have as you revise. Once you’re finished with this draft, we’ll do at least one more read-through with you to do line-edits (and gush about your story). We’d also like to have a video chat with you as we prepare your pitch and partial for the Agent Showcase, though this is not required if you feel more comfortable communicating in type.

In addition to our overlapping craft and editing strengths, we come with our own Super Mentor Powers.

SONIA: Setting and humor are my favorite things. I love the kind of setting that feels like another character, where the entire atmosphere can be used to convey the mood of the story, and I especially enjoy settings that work against the main character in humorous ways.

ANNETTE: I specialize in voice and dialogue.My background in acting has given me a leg up here. I’ve also cracked that pacing nut and can help you turn your manuscript into a page-turner.


Why You Want to Submit to Us

Since we’ve both been mentees before, we know what it feels like and what to expect. We will work hard to help you whip your manuscript into shape while still respecting the vision you have for your story. We promise to support and nourish your manuscript as well as you as a writer (and a human). We understand there will be moments during the process of revising your manuscript when you will want to laugh and cry and cry while laughing and laugh while crying, etc. Revising a manuscript can be painful. We’re here for that. We’ll keep our wits about us if you lose yours. We will mentor you in a way that is collaborative and encouraging, and you will leave our loving arms a better writer. Except don’t go too far, because we want to support you well after Pitch Wars is over.

Also, all of Sonia’s YA mentees are agented (and are Pitch Wars mentors!) and Sonia and Annette’s 2017 mentee sold her Pitch Wars book, which will be debuting in Fall 2020. While those are completely their accomplishments, being a small part of that journey has been rewarding and it’s amazing to have a built-in support system in our coven.


What We Want in Our Inbox

We’re looking for YA Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction from 1920’s and up, and Paranormal Romance (we prefer paranormal that is unique and grounded in the contemporary world).

Give us your strong female friendships, your feminists, and your HEA (or HFN) intersectional queer stories. We want to see complicated families and the families you choose. We love sex positivity and big issues that are worked through with hilarity and heart. And if your MC has ever been described as ‘unlikeable’ there is a solid chance we’re going to love them.

If you can give us goosebumps with spooky settings and unreliable narrators, we want those too. We’ll fall for anything that can keep us guessing until the end. We especially love mysteries that subvert familiar tropes and classic settings with a modern voice.

A mystery with a gothic atmosphere would be awesome! Same for suspense, that slow building sense of danger with a thick atmosphere is the best. We’d love a suspense that borders on horror, not gory, but that creeping sense of dread. For thriller, anything with a fast pace that keeps our hearts racing would be excellent.

We like to feel all the feelings. We love wit, we love to laugh until our sides hurt, and we love the strange and the quirky. We want to care about your characters so much we have a book hangover from reading your words.

We’re also highly interested in seeing epistolary and verse novels and any other unique formats that play with narrative structure.

If you want a peek at the type of books we enjoy, our goodreads bookshelves are linked here:




Things We Would Be Willing to Enter an MMA Cage Match For

  • A funny and completely unique vampire story in a contemporary setting (think What We Do in the Shadows), especially interested in feminist vampire stories that completely subvert the toxic mansculinity from days of yore
  • An F/F story with a focus on sex education for girls who like girls
  • A historical that makes us feel like the first time we watched Dirty Dancing
  • An irreverent look at an institution (eg religion, school clubs & administrations)
  • A book with a circus setting and a killer plot
  • Classic tropes in romance subverted and made completely fresh and different
  • ‘Bad’ girls paired with soft boys (think Grease 2)
  • A YA version of The Hating Game
  • A dark and twisted cult novel
  • Something totally bananas…but bananas in a really great way


What We’re Not the Best Mentors For

Fantasy (we would be open for a contemporary fantasy involving witches, though we’d want it grounded in the real world, no historical or secondary worlds for these)


On page sexual assault/rape, also not a good fit for stories where this is the main plot (though it is fine if it is both off page and something that is part of the story but not the main plot)



Good Luck to all participating this year!

No matter what happens, you wrote a book! That’s amazing! Have fun, get to know the community on the #PitchWars hashtag (if you want to, not required), and be proud of yourself for being bold enough to put your work out there.

If you have any questions about specifics, feel free to @ us on Twitter: @SoniaHartl1, @MsAnnetteMC

Also, make sure to check out Annette’s website too!

For all the 2019 Pitch Wars mentor wishlists, click here

Pitch Wars 2019 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

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    Sonia Hartl
    About Me

    Sonia Hartl is a YA author who calls Michigan home, even though she’s lived in several different states. Her debut novel, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME is forthcoming from Page Street Publishing.

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