Pitch Wars 2021
Pitch Wars is "a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to mentor. Mentors read the entire manuscript and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for the agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents." Click here to read more about the program and about the agent showcase!
WHO I AM:
This year, I'm excited to serve as a mentor for adult books! My debut adult novel, SADIE ON A PLATE, comes out from Berkley/Penguin in March 2022. It's a rom-com starring Sadie, a chef who needs to win the hit reality cooking show Chef Supreme if she wants to save her career. She thinks things are looking up for her when she has a meet-cute with a hot chef on her flight to the show… only to discover, when she gets on set, that she's just made out with the new judge. Whoops. That's going to make things awkward.
I also write young adult and middle grade books and have one of each coming out in 2022 as well. GONE DARK, which comes out in April 2022 from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, is a YA speculative thriller about a girl who must forge a path across the country to the survivalist compound of her estranged father… but as much as she's running toward safety, she's also running toward the dark secrets of her past. And THE TWO WRONG HALVES OF RUBY TAYLOR, a MG contemporary fantasy about a Jewish girl who needs to fight a dybbuk in order to save her cousin, comes out in January from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan.
Before full-time writing, I spent years working in the publishing industry. I was a literary agency assistant at Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents (then Lippincott Massie McQuilkin) for three and a half years, and before that interned at three different literary agencies. I know how to make your query, first pages, and manuscript enticing to the people reading the query pile because I spent so long as the person reading the query pile. I actually took part in Pitch Wars on the agent side several years ago! I know what made things stand out to me, and I can help you get to that point.
You should apply to be my mentee if you're not afraid of hard work—I'm never mean, but I will go into detail about what isn't working in your manuscript (along with what IS working, too—I'm not a monster!) and help you brainstorm how to fix it. I love the editorial process, which is the thing I miss most about working in publishing. At the same time, I'm respectful of the fact that this is your book, not mine, and I won't protest if you decide not to take some of my notes. It's your book, and ultimately you know what's best for it. I'm also always there to answer questions or talk through anything writing- or publishing-related (especially if you bribe me with cute pet photos!). Re: communication style, my preference to is start off with a get-to-know-you video chat, mostly so that I can tell you face-to-face how much I love your book, and then move to emails/texts/Gchats/whatever form of text communication you like. I'm not a huge phone person, but if you are, I can work with that!
WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR:
This year I'm primarily looking for rom-coms, contemporary romance, women's fiction, contemporary fantasy, and historical fiction with or without elements of fantasy. I am accepting new adult submissions, provided that we can agree to age it up to adult.
—I would love to find a fun, funny, and swoony rom-com or romance novel! Some of my favorite tropes are enemies-to-lovers, forced proximity, workplace romance, and forbidden love, though that's by all means not a complete list. I love stories that feature heroes/heroines who have out-of-the-ordinary jobs or hobbies, are set in diverse communities, and/or contain mouthwatering food descriptions. A twist of fantasy or sci-fi is okay as long as the book is grounded in the contemporary world (think ONE LAST STOP or VANESSA YU'S MAGICAL PARIS TEA SHOP). The rom-coms and romances I tend to gravitate toward are usually single-PoV—so much of the fun for romance with me is the exciting uncertainty of what the other person is thinking!—but not exclusively, so if you think your double-PoV book sounds otherwise like a perfect fit, I'd love to see it. Some of my favorite recent rom-coms and romances that I've read are WELL MET by Jen Deluca, BEACH READ by Emily Henry, HANA KHAN CARRIES ON by Uzma Jalaluddin, THE EX TALK by Rachel Lynn Solomon, ONE LAST STOP by Casey McQuiston, LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT by Suzanne Park, and ONE TO WATCH by Kate Stayman-London.
—While I hate the term "women's fiction" (what's "men's fiction"???), I am looking for it, especially if it has a strong romantic subplot! Bring me the out-of-the-ordinary jobs or hobbies, diverse communities, and mouthwatering food descriptions here, too. Recently I've really enjoyed in this category books like A SPECIAL PLACE FOR WOMEN by Laura Hankin, THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by Abbi Waxman, and QUEENIE by Candice Carty-Williams.
—I tend to be pickier with my historical fiction, but I would love to see some of it in my inbox too. I'm especially interested in time periods pre-1960s (anything later than that would be a hard sell for me) and settings that haven't seen a lot of exploration in historical fiction yet. For example, I've read a ton of WWII historical fiction set in the UK, but was fascinated by Kate Quinn's codebreakers in THE ROSE CODE. Other historical books I've loved recently include A THOUSAND SHIPS by Natalie Haynes, FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER by Rachel Beanland, CONJURE WOMEN by Afia Atakora, and THE ISLAND OF SEA WOMEN by Lisa See.
—Finally, I'm looking for contemporary or historical books with elements of fantasy or science fiction. If your book is mostly set in the real world but has a time travel twist or some magic in it, I'd love to see it! Some books in this vein I absolutely love are OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, THE OTHER BLACK GIRL by Zakiya Dalila Harris, MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab, and THE NIGHT TIGER by Yangsze Choo.
Here are some random, sometimes highly-specific things I love, in case your book contains any of them!
—Richly detailed settings that feel like characters in their own right
—Video games and the tech world
—Jewish culture and/or history! Bonus points if it's not strictly Ashkenazi
—Broadway/musicals/music in general
—Enemies-to-lovers (I know I already listed it above but I REALLY like enemies-to-lovers okay???). And they don't necessarily have to be ENEMIES enemies – I'd love to see anything where they start from a place of distrust or dislike or suspicion!
—Anything involving France or French (fun fact: I used to be fluent in French but am now a bit out of practice)
—Anything that comps to some of my recent favorite TV shows: Outlander; Downton Abbey; Kevin Can F— Himself; Parks & Recreation; The Office; Shtisel; Brooklyn 99; Schitt's Creek; Mad Men
—Family secrets, especially if it involves a sprawling manor with secret passages
—Actually, just a sprawling manor with secret passages
—Millennial angst and figuring out who you are as part of that (my) generation
—Service jobs and student loans and crappy apartments
—The fashion world and fashion as art
—A surprise! Most of my favorite books include things I didn't know I loved until I found them
THINGS NOT TO SEND ME:
—I'm not looking for graphic novels or novels-in-verse—while I love reading both, I'm not confident in my ability to evaluate or edit them well this early in the publishing process.
—Epic fantasy (meaning fantasy set in another world), hard science fiction, or mystery/thrillers (though elements of suspense in another genre are okay!).
—I'll specifically be avoiding topics and themes too close to what I'm currently working on (to avoid any conflicts of interest), meaning that, as much as I love food books, I won't be taking on books where the main characters are chefs, food bloggers, restaurant reviewers, or on a reality TV cooking/food show. I would be happy to clarify this point further and let you know if your book sounds too similar to something I'm working on if you message me!
—I'm not the best mentor for your project if your main character has an eating disorder or practices self-harm, or if it takes place during the Holocaust.