It's Time for Pitch Wars 2020!

I’m honored to serve as a mentor for Pitch Wars, an enormously successful mentoring program that pairs industry insiders (such as published and agented authors) with unagented writers. The event begins with a submission period in September and ends with an Agent Showcase in February. During the intervening months, the mentor (me) works with the mentee (you—fingers crossed!) to polish and revise a completed manuscript.

Are you on the hunt for a Pitch Wars MG mentor? 

If you have questions about my wish list, please post it on the AMA: Erin Entrada Kelly, MG Mentor thread on the Pitch Wars Forum.

I’m accepting MG novels of any genre, except graphic novels.

My tastes lean toward historical, realistic/contemporary, and Gothic fiction, but I also love science fiction, verse novels, paranormal, dystopian, speculative, you name it.

For me, CHARACTER and VOICE are more important than genre. 

What about fantasy, you ask? I enjoy fantasy. My fifth book is fantasy, after all. But I am annoyingly particular when it comes to this genre. Here are some specifics:

  • I’m not interested in high fantasy, unless it’s Filipino-inspired. In this case, I define “high fantasy” as a story that is set in an alternate world that operates with its own set of physical laws, wherein the consistent rules of daily life differ from our world. With high fantasy, the world as we know it does not exist. Think Lord of the Rings or Dungeons and Dragons.  
  • am interested in low fantasy. In this case, I define “low fantasy” as a story that is set in a world very familiar to ours, wherein magic exists. In Christina Soontornvat’s A Wish in the Dark, for example, the characters live in a world where light is controlled by magic. Their daily lives, however, closely resemble the real world. If someone dropped you in Soontornvat’s world, it would look familiar. No dragons overhead and no goblins underground. Same for Anne Ursu’s The Lost Girl. Low fantasy is often described as “magical realism” or “contemporary with magical elements.” 
  • I am not interested in portal fantasy of any kind, unless it involves time travel, such as Nicole Valentine’s A Time Traveler’s Guide to Relativity.
  • Anthropomorphic animals in the real world? Yes, please. 
  • I am not interested in superhero fiction of any kind. 

A few additional FYIs:

  • If your book revolves around cooking and/or baking, I’m not a good choice.
  • If your book has pirates, I’m not a good choice.
  • I’m unlikely to select a chapter book (i.e., geared toward ages 6 to 8; less than 20K words; features a character in grade 4 or lower).
  • Toilet humor isn’t my thing.
  • I prefer #ownvoices manuscripts, but I understand that some authors may not wish to openly align their identity with their protagonist. 

My goal is to cheer you and challenge you. I’m honest, constructive, accessible, and approachable. I’ve worked as an editor and book publicist and have lots of experience as a teacher of creative writingI’m a professor and thesis advisor with the Rosemont College MFA Program, I teach at Hamline University’s prestigious MFAC program, and I’m on faculty at the Gotham Writers Workshop. Books—reading them, writing them, and teaching them—are my passion. I’m also passionate about the industry itself, despite its faults and frustrations. With me as your mentor, you get an editor, reader, writer, and publicist, all rolled into one Filipino Jane of All Trades.

Email communication works best for me, but I’m also happy to schedule periodic Zoom appointments. If you are disabled, I’m happy to accommodate.

My strengths as a mentor are character development, voice, pacing, and clarity. I’m less focused on plot and more focused on characters. 

  • Has a polished middle-grade manuscript. 
  • Genuinely wants and appreciates feedback. 
  • Is kind, respectful, and supportive of other writers.
  • Has a good sense of humor. 
  • Reads lots of MG.

My ideal manuscript is a polished middle-grade novel with a well-developed protagonist and castsimilar in tone, style, and/or atmosphere to some of the titles featured below.

Elements that will REALLY pique my interest:
* anything Filipino and/or otherwise #ownvoices
* characters from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds
* character(s) who use assistive technology (#ownvoices preferred)
* LGBTQ+ protagonists (#ownvoices preferred)
* horror/thriller, especially ghosts
* time travel
* historical

If your book is #ownvoices, please mention it. 

Here are a few of my MG favorites, to give you an idea of my book taste.