Pitch Wars Wish List 2021

For an accessibilty friendly version of this wish list follow this LINK.

Hi everyone and welcome to my Pitch Wars wish list!

I’m thrilled to be taking part in Pitch Wars 2021, and I’m excited to find a great mentee to work hand-in-hand with. This year, I’m a YA (Young Adult) mentor. *Please note that I’m not taking NA (New Adult) submissions as there are other mentors better suited for that category.

Before I go into my wish list, please take note of the following trigger warnings (which means these elements aren’t a good fit for me):

Animal abuse.

These are due to personal subjectivity. I am, however, fine with other darker plot elements and intimacy.

Also, please note that I am VERY diversity-friendly and would love to discover stories from a diverse array of narratives, written by voices who have a direct experience within these communities.

CAVEAT: While it can be helpful to know which submissions are from these communities, please don’t feel obligated to share any personal information that you would rather not disclose.

Okay, other than that, let’s get down to business! And this is going to be a doozy of a post as I like to be thorough. However, I’ve titled each section so you can scroll to the bits that relate to you!

Who Am I and Why Should You Submit to Me?

First and foremost, I’m a book lover, devout reader, and story enthusiast. Whether it’s a scribbled piece of graffiti on an old, broken-down wall, or an epic tale on a university shelf, if it’s got words, it’s more than likely captured my imagination at some point. I’m looking for someone who gels with that.

Professionally, I am a full-time, freelance editor with Reedsy, and I have a host of clients who have published traditionally and indie to great success. Working with new and established authors gives me a great perspective on how to grow an author’s skills no matter what step on the ladder they happen to be on. If you’d like to see my past clients and their reviews of my work, feel free to hop over to the Reedsy website and check them out! I’m also a sensitivity reader for chronic illness, neurological conditions, and asexuality.

In the past, I’ve interned with two literary agencies, freelanced with a literary consultancy, and I’ve worked with a script-writing company. I’m also represented by Don Congdon Associates for my children’s fiction.

I have had the immense pleasure and honor of working with Pitch Wars mentees in the past. You can check out two of my past mentees’ amazing books here:

These two authors captured my eye because they had complex, layered characters, impactful emotional scenes, and worlds that popped to life. So what am I looking for this year?



FANTASY (in particular odd and quirky!)

Please note: What I love to see in thrillers might not be the same as what I love to see in fantasy, so it’s good to check the wishlist fully.

Okay, so I know that’s pretty broad, so let me break it down a touch, and please bear in mind that this is only my personal, subjective opinion and is not indicative of the publishing industry as a whole. They’re simply my tastes.


I am ALL IN with thrillers, mysteries, and suspense, especially those with unique settings and those that move from location to location (especially if those location changes are tied to character backstory.) I’d LOVE to find the next YA Dan Brown, James Patterson, Karin Slaughter, or David Baldacci. Give me teen heroes who have amazing, hard-earned smarts and who think outside the box, see the world in a different way, and who have flaws that both hinder and help them. And I’m keen to get some unreliable narrators, too!

Think: One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester, One by One by Freida McFadden, The Cellar by Natasha Preston, The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Peterson, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. And movies like The Orphan, Now You See Me, The Bone Collector, Hush, Memento, and Sixth Sense.

What I love in thrillers/mysteries/suspense:

  • Diversity in all its glory—culture, religion, disability, sexual orientation, etc. Give me your real, layered people and places!
  • Tight, impactful dialogue.
  • Protagonists with special skills.
  • Complex, layered clues that still have an easy-to-see logic in retrospect.
  • Unique settings.
  • Tight, fast prose that makes the story sprint along.
  • The secret society trope.
  • Psychological twists and turns.
  • Morally gray characters.

What might not suit me in thrillers/mysteries/suspense:

  • Novels that lean towards the literary end of the spectrum.
  • Villain diatribes that last long enough for the hero to escape and win.
  • Henchmen without a defined purpose outside of a plot device.
  • A protagonist or antagonist with unrealistic skills (I love special skills based on a solid backstory, though!)


A caveat: I won’t be taking on any Scottish mythology books as it is too close to the area in which I write and I want to avoid any conflicts of interest.

My major sweet spot in fantasy right now is anything that is super quirky and leans to the speculative/supernatural side. I love things that have witches, magic, ghosts, hauntings, gothic vibes, magical realism, mythological creatures, myth, retellings, etc.

Some of my favorites include: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, The November Girl by Lydia Kang, How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, Coraline (and The Ocean at the End of the Lane) by Neil Gaiman, and I am Legend by Richard Matheson. And movies such as The Haunting of Hill House , Stranger Things, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Blood Red Sky tick my boxes, too!

I will take a look at epic/high fantasy (though it’s not my main focus, but I’m willing to be surprised). In this area, I’m particularly interested in ones based off diverse cultures, religions, and led by diverse protagonists (and antagonists and anti-heroes!)

Favorites include: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (anything by Neil Gaiman, really!), The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Myer (though this is a rare sci-fi love of mine), and Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve.

What I love in fantasy:

  • Diversity in all its glory—culture, religion, disability, sexual orientation, mythology, folklore, etc. Show me the world and the myriad of people in it.
  • Lush prose and evocative descriptions that use the five senses.
  • The quirky, odd, and surreal.
  • Characters with agency and heart.
  • Morally gray characters.
  • A world that is off-kilter from our own.
  • Weird, wonderful, unusual styles of writing.
  • Enemies to lovers trope.
  • Found family trope.
  • Magic with a price!

What might not suit me in fantasy:

  • The Chosen One or prophecy storyline.
  • Medieval-style settings.
  • The damsel in distress (unless there is an upended trope here!)
  • Teens who learn amazing skills very quickly.
  • Books with lots of training scenes.

PLEASE NOTE: If you’re not sure if your genre fits here or if you have a mashup genre, please feel free to touch base with me via Twitter to ask if it’s on my wishlist. I can’t answer pitches, but I can answer genre questions!

My mentoring style:
I am highly collaborative with my authors and believe that every writer needs a different approach and every book has its own, specific needs. I will read the manuscript a minimum of two times, but the process in which we go through this will be discussed and decided amongst mentor and mentee. My job is to help get your manuscript to the best possible place in the best way that suits you. I am open to email, Twitter, and audio/video calls as preferred methods of communication. AND I WILL GIF YOU IF YOU LET ME!!!

All right then! If you’ve made it all the way to here, congratulations on getting this far! I hope you’ll consider me as your mentor and I look forward to having the honor of reading your words.

Good luck!

Pitch Wars 2021 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Mary E. Roach (Accepts NA)
  2. Amelia Diane Coombs (Accepts NA)
  3. Diana Urban
  4. Susan Bishop Crispell (Accepts NA)
  5. TJ Ohler (Accepts NA)
  6. Laurie Dennison (Accepts NA)
  7. Justine Pucella Winans (Accepts NA)
  8. Zoulfa Katouh and Molly X Chang (Accepts NA)
  9. Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
  10. Abigail Johnson
  11. Rosiee Thor and Emily Grey
  12. Carlyn Greenwald (Accepts NA)
  13. M.T. Khan (Accepts NA)
  14. Sarvenaz Taghavian
  15. Emery Lee
  16. Margie Fuston (Accepts NA)
  17. Aashna Avachat (Accepts NA)
  18. Allison Saft (Accepts NA)
  19. Fiona McLaren
  20. Jessica Lewis
  21. Brianna Bourne (Accepts NA)
  22. Jamie McHenry
  23. Meg Long and Rochelle Hassan (Accepts NA)
  24. Laura Weymouth (Accepts NA)
  25. Natalie Crown and Angelica Monai (Accepts NA)
  26. Skyla Arndt and Alex Brown (Accepts NA)
  27. Charity Alyse and Cimone Watson (Accepts NA)
  28. Emily Thiede and Lauren Blackwood (Accepts NA)
  29. Anna Sortino and Annika J. Cosgrove (Accepts NA)
  30. Jenny Perinovic and Kyrie McCauley (Accepts NA)
  31. Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
  32. Jamie Howard and Meredith Tate (Accepts NA)
  33. KL Burd (Accepts NA)
  34. Jennifer Yu (Accepts NA)
  35. Hoda Agharazi and Lyssa Mia Smith (Accepts NA)
  36. Em X. Liu and Grace D. Li (Accepts NA)
  37. Carly Heath (Accepts NA)
  38. Kiana Krystle (Accepts NA)
  39. Sarah Underwood and Kat Dunn (Accepts NA)
  40. Joel Brigham (Accepts NA)
  41. Dante Medema and Liz Lawson (Accepts NA)
  42. Aty S. Behsam and Maedeh B. Saaina (Accepts NA)
  43. Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
  44. Gabi Burton (Accepts NA)
  45. Aaron Cole and Tamara Cole (Accepts NA)
  46. Hannah V. Sawyerr and Olivia Liu (Accepts NA)
  47. Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
  48. Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
  49. Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
  50. Karen Bao (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2021 Mentors’ Wish Lists. To view the wish lists by genre, visit this link.

Published by fmclaren

Fiona lives on the sun-soaked island of Cyprus and is a full-time editor and author. She is represented by Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon Associates.

3 thoughts on “Pitch Wars Wish List 2021

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