Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist
Hello!! My name is Jessica Lewis and I’m so excited to be mentoring in Pitch Wars this year!! I’ll be mentoring YA, but I will not be taking NA.
Before we get started, what is Pitch Wars?
Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months with 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.
I’m a Black author from Alabama. I was a 2018 Pitch Wars mentee and a mentor for Author Mentor Match in rounds 7 and 8. My debut YA novel, BAD WITCH BURNING, came out August 24th (EEEEK, still not over that!!). It’s a contemporary fantasy with horror elements. I also have a MG contemporary out now called MEOW OR NEVER under my pen name Jazz Taylor. I’m repped by Holly Root!
As you might can tell, I have extremely eclectic taste/interests. My two moods are “murder/death/destruction” and “so sweet your teeth will rot out” lol. I love to read and write widely, though fantasy/SF/speculative is my first love and favorite. I’m a huge nerd and love anime, farming sims, and Pokémon (who’s excited for the DP remakes and the new open world game?!). I also love cooking shows and HGTV!
I consider myself a neurodiverse author: I have depression and anxiety, the latter of which is constantly wrecking my life. I don’t have that famous thick skin that everyone says writers have to have; I will literally cry at the drop of a hat. But the most important part is creating coping mechanisms that allow you to cry for a while, and then get back at it. So, if you also struggle with these things or worry you don’t have thick skin, welcome! And I see you!!
Now for the good part! The Wishlist!!
What I’m looking for
Sapphic books in any of those genres
This means fantasy set in the real world, with a fantastical twist! Magical realism, speculative, and paranormal (with a few exceptions down below) are welcome! I am not interested in second world/high fantasy of any kind. Though I like to read it on occasion, intense worldbuilding is a weakness of mine and I want you to have the best mentor possible for your book!
Same as contemporary fantasy—contemporary with a SF twist. I’m into a low-key alien invasion, or maybe a secret government project a small group of teens are part of, or maybe phones that can pause time! Nothing in the far future, set in space, or anything that can be comped to Star Wars or Star Trek. However, I do really love time travel. It’s difficult, but I’m up for the challenge!
I only want speculative mysteries. This could mean several things! Maybe your MC is a vampire and she just happens to be a detective solving a crime. I’m into it! Or, maybe your MC is a normal human being, but the crime was committed by a local monster or time traveling agency. Also into that! I am very interested in stories where the detective has a cool ability to solve crimes (pause time, can see the future, can talk to ghosts of victims, etc.). All of these examples welcome! But I am not interested in a contemporary, classic whodunit.
I am a huge wimp, but for some unfathomable reason, I love horror. It’s such an interesting vehicle for storytelling! I will take it all: monsters in the woods, something not quite right with this town, dogs acting strange, your skin is suddenly growing scales and that’s not ideal, on and on and on! I’m also likely to love any horror hybrids (fantasy, SF, comedy, mystery, etc.) My only caveat is that I don’t do well with pure slashers (unless the serial killer is a monster and then I’m in!) and I do not like anything involving demons/demonic possession/conversing with the devil, etc. Also, haunted house books literally scare me to death…but I could still probably choose one!! I love horror so much!
This gets its own category because I am SO PASSIONATE about getting more F/F books into the world. In 2021, pretty much every book I bought was sapphic and I’ve loved the vast majority of them. So if you have a sapphic horror/mystery/light SF/contemporary fantasy…what are you waiting for?! Sub to me!!
-Own voices (do not have to identify yourself if you don’t want to!) and especially novels by Black and POC authors. Queer books highly encouraged!!
-Platonic friendships! I love me a good friendship book, where the characters love each other and would do anything for one another. I also enjoy complicated friendships, as well as friend breakups!
-Genre-blending (horror-comedy, mystery-fantasy, SF-western, etc.)
-If you can comp THE DEAD AND THE DARK by Courtney Gould, do not hesitate, do not pass go, collect $200 because you’re amazing, and give it to me ASAP!!
-Anything weird. Unusual format, interesting POVs, prose that sounds like a dream sequence, etc. If you think “man, this book is so strange, it’ll never sell” SEND IT TO ME
-Monsters of all kinds! Monsters you want to kiss, monsters you need to kill or they’ll kill you, monsters that are ten feet tall or tiny or all in your head—give them all to me.
-Comedy!! I love funny books, especially horror that’s also funny, so send me all your banter and witty MCs!
-Werewolves! I’m determined to make them happen again (why do vamps get to come back and not our wolf bois?!) so I’m eager for a werewolf book! Bonus points if it’s outside the norm (really funny, really scary, genre-blending, etc.)
-Honestly, surprise me! As long as it fits my chosen genres and doesn’t have any of my no-thank-yous, send it my way. I read/watch so widely, I never know what I’ll love until I see it!
Do not send me
-NO SEXUAL ASSAULT OF ANY KIND. No vague backstory, no aftermath stories, and certainly not on page. Survivor stories are important, but I cannot read them. There are plenty of mentors who are a better fit!
-No romance UNLESS it’s sapphic. I know this is very specific, but this is the type of book I write and read, and have the best advice for!
-No high/second world fantasy. Seriously, do not waste your entry and send me a high fantasy, even if it’s sapphic. I can’t help with second world fantasy worldbuilding and you deserve a mentor who can!
-No demons/demonic possession/chatting it up with the devil
-No vampires unless they’re scary! Not interested in the sexy kind
-No retellings (UNLESS they’re lesser-known tales! Basically, nothing Disney has already covered)
-No love triangles
Though I’m friendly and a bit chaotic, I’m a tough mentor. Do not submit to me unless you’re ready to work! My previous two mentees (hi friends!!) both had full rewrites of their books. My strength is tearing a book down to the bones and building it back, brick by purposeful brick, until we have something irresistible.
That said, I’m not mean! I always make sure to tell you what I loved about the project as well as send encouraging memes at 3 am! I’m also mindful that not everyone has thick skin (not even I do, hello) so if you need a softer approach or a positivity pass, I can do that too. And please remember this is your book. If there’s something you absolutely do not want to change, that’s cool! We’ll find a way to work around the problem together. I’m interested in improving your vision of what the book should be, not forcing it to be my own version of your book.
My communication style is to have a phone call at the very beginning, before I send the edit letter, so we can get to know each other better! After that, I would love to communicate through twitter DMs because I am really bad at checking my email haha. I can always answer DMs at work too! I will not do video calls because I have a picture/camera phobia, so don’t worry about that.
Also, and this is the big one, once you have me as a mentor, you have me for life. I will be your annoying auntie that asks if you need to sleep or drink water while you’re revising. I’ll be there post-showcase, cheering you on in the query trenches. I hope you’ll ask me to CP your future books. If you need blurbs when you’re a millionaire bestselling author, I got you!! Whatever you need!! I’m your writing buddy for life!
This is less about my wishlist and more about you getting insight to me as a person. Here are a few of my favorite things:
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould, The Scapegracers by Clarke, Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth, Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (MG), One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (adult), The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich (adult)
Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, Ironman (the first one), Holes, The Half of It, Luca, Kitchen Nightmares, Masterchef, Fixer Upper, Love It or List It, Glow Up, The Witcher, Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts, She-Ra, Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, The Owl House (LUMITY FOR LIFE)
Mob Psycho 100, Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (season 1, not really liking season 2 :-/), The Devil is a Part-Timer, Love is War, Noragami, Spice and Wolf, XxXHOLiC, Attack on Titan (season 2 and 3 over season 1, you feel me), Jujitsu Kaisen, My Hero Academia, Princess Tutu, To Your Eternity (even though it kills me every week!!), ODD TAXI, and let me stop now because I can go on and on about anime!!
Thanks for making it this far!! I’m so excited to see your book!! If you have any questions about the wishlist or my mentoring style, you can tweet me @JLew100 and use the hashtag #askmentor. Please see the other YA wishlists below. Happy Pitch Wars!!