August 2018 Archive

Juliana & Lacee 2018 #PitchWars Wishlist


Welcome dreamers and dream-thieves! It’s Juliana L. Brandt and Lacee Little here, and we can’t tell you how happy we are to have you stop by. We are very excited and hopeful for PitchWars 2018! As a small note, we are both die hard Diana Wynne Jones fans, so do please send us all the seven-league-boots you find along your journey.


Before we get into the nitty-gritty, please know this above all else: we are here to invest in you and in your writing; we are so very proud for you that you’ve decided to take this leap this for yourself. We hope everyone submitting to us feels comfortable and safe in doing so. We will cherish your words and do our best to take care of your story.


-Magic. Unexpected, wild, hungry magic. Magic that hasn’t been seen before, that dives into deep systems or skims the top. If you’ve ever thought, “Can this be magic? Does this work in MG?” send it to us.  We are passionate about magic systems in any and every form. Please. Send. (eh em, for those who may be interested, Lacee especially has an undying love for witches). Do note, this includes both huge, explosive magic systems, or the most quiet, subtle of systems. We have created and worked with both and are here for whatever you may bring to the table.


-Mystery. We both adore stories with puzzles and twisty turns. Weird and unexpected hijinks. Mythic or ghostly-story elements mixed in. Stories with bad guys who don’t feel like bad guys, because hey–every antagonist is the hero of their own story. Make us guess what’s coming next and be surprised if we get it wrong. Give us all the shocking story parts that you can. We both have a soft spot for sneaky stories that twist clues together for a genius ending.

-Mythology, legends, folklore, and places steeped in tradition. Send us a people, a place, a world that feels real in all aspects of life. We are particularly interested in stories that are not Western oriented. We will have the utmost respect for what you send our way.

-Hope and whimsy–not to be confused with lightness and the trivial. To us, hope is one of the most compelling themes in Middle Grade, and whimsy makes our hearts pitter-patter. Both of these can be (and often should be) included in dark stories. If hope is a theme in your writing (no matter what kind of story it’s wrapped up in), we want to see it.

-Fantasy of all subgenres. Large scale world building. Political intrigue. Magical mayhem. Dynasties and matriarchal societies and utopias and post-apocalyptic battle grounds. Send us your worlds with intricate maps attached. Toss everything you’ve got at us! Do your worst. That being said, we both adore stories of our world but shifted in slight, purposeful, and creative ways. This also includes fantasy that does NOT include magic. When we say fantasy of all subgenres, we mean it.

-Relationship driven tales. Sibling relationships. Parental relationships. Best friends. Enemies. Kids who don’t know how to form friendships, and those who fall into friendships faster than a kid dives into Lucky Charms. We very much want to see stories with interesting, deep, and compelling relationships.


-Other things we adore and would be very *grabby hands* to see: good mental health and LGBTQ and multi-cultural representation, humor, clever and witty characters, lyrical prose, monsters and strange creatures, horror elements, thick atmosphere, quests and journeys, strange story-structure, fearsome grandmothers, environmental elements, retellings that don’t feel like retellings, multiple points-of-view, characters who must make difficult choices, magic that *already exists* at the start of the story, characters with soft hearts, writing with strong voice, a hopeful who’s highly motivated to learn their socks off and edit their work thoroughly and doesn’t shy away from mentors who will push them to write the best novel they possibly can (did you read this far??).

Genre summarized: mystery (contemporary or fantasy), fantasy (current day, aka: contemporary or historical, high and low, otherworld or here, dark or light), retellings, timeslip, historical fantasy, steampunk, horror, and sci fi. And please, mash-up these genres! We like a good twist on genre. As a note though, we read, write, and edit many sub-genres, and as long as something has interesting voice & concept, genre truly doesn’t matter.

Please read this thread clarifying our “Do Not Send” list. Lacee explains what we think of with portal & chosen one stories, especially. She includes ways these two tropes might be more interesting to us.
-Contemporary–books set in our current world that live by our current worlds very unmagical rules (unless it’s mystery)
-Sports books (unless the sport is sword-fighting and we’re hunting for murderous unicorns)
-Animal POVs (unless the animals are dragons or griffins)
-Chosen one stories
-Portal stories

magic howl

High-Fantasy: Furthermore and Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi
Fantasy without magic: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Lyrical Writing: Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
Light Fantasy: The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman, and Savvy by Ingrid Law
Magical Creatures: The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
Historical Fantasy: Cuckoo Calling by Francis Hardinge, and The Mesmerist by Ronald L. Smith
Post-Apocalyptic & Sci Fi: The Boy at the End of the World by Greg Van Eekhart
Horror: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste, and The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Ghosts: Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud and Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
Mythology: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Witches: Love Sugar Magic by Anna Meriano, and The Thickety by JA White
Quests: Voyage to the Magical North by Claire Fayers
Mystery: The Emperor’s Riddle by Kat Zhang, and Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Timeslip: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Steampunk: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachman
Retelling: The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, and The Real Boy by Anne Ursu


(Be forewarned, we’re weird and involved and probably care about PW–and about YOU–too much.) Expect encouragements for self-care. Expect clear communication. Expect us to push you hard in your writing. Expect to work, and expect that we’ll work hard as well. Expect two rounds of revisions with us (not including any new critique partners you might find and match up with over the next months). Expect one round of larger edits (story structure, character arc, world building–whatever your manuscript may need), and one round of smaller edits (close, line-by-line scene & sentence/continuity issues). Expect help you with your query, synopsis, and pitch to prepare for the agent round, as well.

But most of all, more than anything else, expect to learn.

Because communication is important, we’ll most be readily available through email and on gchat; all communication will go through both of us–you won’t ever receive differing notes or responses to questions.

You can find any of our info in our bios, but here’s the short version: combined, we have six years of Pitch Wars experience. Juliana has worked four mentees in past years (if you head over here, you can read all about her past mentees–their manuscripts, their experiences, how they did in the agent round, and who their agents are now); this year, she’s also serving on the PitchWars committee as one of their mentor liaisons. Lacee has been a mentee twice. You can read about her experience with PitchWars here. We know and deeply understand how this process works. We have pushed ourselves as authors and writers to understand craft, how to analyze manuscripts, and help others learn. This is a passion of ours, and we take the job quite seriously.

We pride ourselves on having particular expertise in regards to overall story structure, as this is where we’ve spent the last years in focused study. If you want to learn how to plot, and plot well, we’re your team. We will help you make sure theme, character arc, and plot all twine together to create a cohesive work. We can promise that if you join us, the following months won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. We are also quite meticulous in consistency in line-edits. And…shameless plug in that we are very good at pitch & query writing.

As a last little note, we made a Pinterest Board for PW ’18, if anyone is inclined to check it out. It’s filled with inspiration pictures, quotes, and comp novels. If you have any follow up questions regarding our wishlist, please contact us on twitter at @julianalbrandt and @laceelh. Thank you so much for stopping by. May the writing muses send you inspiration in the smallest details, ferocity in the face of doubt, and courage (and good friends!) to drag you along when you have neither.




To go to the main Pitch Wars page with the linky there, go here!























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