Pitch Wars 2020 Wishlist

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About Me:

Hello! Thank you for stopping by! I’m so very excited to be a 2020 YA Pitch Wars Mentor. As a two-time mentee myself, I believe in this program, and I’m thrilled to get the chance to help a fellow writer make their story the best it can be.

In case you’ve stumbled here and don’t know about Pitch Wars, Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months 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 live in the woods of California where I spend most of my time writing novels and renovating homes. I can take a manuscript OR a house down to the bones and rebuild it. (But I’m only volunteering for the manuscript!) I love spending my free time outdoors. I also spend way too much time catering to my rather demanding cats. But the thing that makes me happiest is hanging with my nephews. My writing fuel is tea, tea, and more tea, and I love baking cookies!  

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Hunting for treasure with my nephew.
A sassy cat named Oliver.

My debut novel, VAMPIRES, HEARTS, AND OTHER DEAD THINGS, comes out next summer with McElderry/Simon & Schuster. It’s a YA paranormal about a girl who travels to New Orleans in search of a vampire to save her dying father.

I’m represented by the amazing Rebecca Podos.

My Experience:

I have an MA in Creative Writing, and I spent five years teaching creative writing at the university level—I’ve devoted most of my adult life to learning the craft and mentoring others. I’m also a former Pitch Wars mentee, and I received an offer from my marvelous agent a week after the 2018 showcase. But I also know what it’s like to not get an agent from the showcase, and I’m here to guide you through any scenario. I’ll be in your corner long after Pitch Wars is over.  

What You Can Expect From Me:

I’m definitely an encourager and a cheerleader. I believe it’s just as important to point out a gorgeous sentence or a perfect character detail as it is to point out something that’s not working. That said, if something needs work, I’ll be direct about it.

Plot is one of my strong suits, so if you know this is your area of weakness, I may be the mentor for you. I love brainstorming plot fixes. I can highlight what’s not working, but I won’t leave you hanging there. I’ll also toss out ideas to see if any spark something for you.

I’m also not afraid to get into things at the sentence level. Years of teaching college composition does have its benefits, so if we need to get nitpicky with the commas, we will.

I LOVE queries and pitches so don’t fret if you need help in that area. We’ll get them in shape together.

We’ll start with an initial edit letter to tackle big picture items like plot, character development, world building, etc, but I’ll also include some in-line comments at this stage to point out specific examples of what I’m referring to in the edit letter. We’ll agree on a finish date for the first round that leaves me time to do another round of in-line comments focused on scene-level issues and playing with sentences.

I’ll be around all the time if you need a sounding board or just need to vent. Revising is hard. I get it. I’ll be there to encourage you through it.

I’m open to whatever style of communication works best for you!

What I’m looking for in a mentee:

I want someone who’s not afraid to dig into their manuscript and cut things they love if it means a stronger book in the end. But it’s your book and there SHOULD be parts you absolutely must hold onto because they’re the core of what you want to achieve. I want someone who will always hear out why I feel something needs to change and can be open to bouncing around ideas, but at the end of the day, I want to make YOUR story the best it can be, not turn it into mine.

My Wishlist:

I read and love A LOT of different genres, so I’m pretty open to most things, but here are the specifics of what I’m looking for:

  • Fantasy: Any type! I love it all.
  • Paranormal: I’d like to see something besides vampires since I write vampires, but I’m open to anything else!
  • Horror: I love it. Please stop me from sleeping at night, but don’t make me nauseous. I like my horror without too much gore (some is fine).
  • Historical: Any time periods, but I’m probably going to be more drawn to things set pre 1900. I’m also open to historical fantasy and alternate history.
  • Contemporary: I tend to like darker and grittier contemporaries that deal with heavier topics, but I do love humor as well. If you can make me cry and laugh, I’m interested.
  • Dystopian: I’m open to it as long as it’s not heavy on the sci-fi elements.
  • Novels-in-verse: my first love was poetry, and I studied and published poetry in grad school, so I’m definitely open to working with this.

Here are some more specific things I’m longing for:

  • Diverse casts.
  • Gorgeous lyrical prose. If you’d comp your writing style to Roshani Chokshi, Sarah Nicole Lemon, or Anna-Marie McLemore, I’ll be hooked.
  • If you can make me cry while also making me feel a painful kind of hopefulness (in any genre), I’ll be preparing to go to battle for you. A couple books that do this for me are Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
  • Things that don’t fit nicely in any genre. I love risk taking. If you’re doing something odd that you’re not sure will work, I want it. If you can’t find comp titles, I want it.
  • I’d love a ghost story. It can be terrifying or romantic or both!
  • Vampires are back, and I’m dying to see more of their furry frenemies the werewolves.
  • A creepy gothic setting in any genre.
  • Contemporary worlds with just a hint of magic are my catnip.
  • Faeries!!! I’m always going to love them. I’d love to see any fresh take on them.
  • Horror that keeps me guessing.
  • Cults.
  • Secret Societies.
  • Complicated family dynamics.
  • Found family.
  • Love triangles! Seriously can’t get enough of them.
  • Enemies-to-lovers OR lovers-to-enemies.
  • I love romantic subplots in general, but they’re not necessary for me to fall in love with the story

A few things I don’t want:


Fluffy Rom-Coms. I love reading them, but I’m not the best mentor fit.

No dead cats please. I can handle other animals but not cats.

A short list of books I love:

An Enchantment of Ravens

The Star-Touched Queen

Mexican Gothic

Salt to the Sea

Done Dirt Cheap

Scorpio Races

Jellicoe Road

The Wrath and the Dawn

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

The Starless Sea

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Serpent & Dove

The Grace Year

The Wise and the Wicked

The Cruel Prince

Feel free to reach out on Twitter with any questions! My DMs are open. If you want to know more about me, you can also check out my Instagram.

Pitch Wars 2020 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Aiden Thomas (Accepts NA)
  2. Sarvenaz Tash (Accepts NA)
  3. Chloe Gong and Tashie Bhuiyan
  4. Abigail Johnson
  5. Kit Frick and Carlyn Greenwald
  6. Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
  7. Laurie Dennison
  8. J.Elle and Emily Golden
  9. Andrea Contos (Accepts NA)
  10. Emily Thiede (Accepts NA)
  11. Amanda Panitch
  12. Allison Saft and Ava Reid (Accepts NA)
  13. Emery Lee (Accepts NA)
  14. Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
  15. Shannon A. Thompson and Sandra Proudman (Accepts NA)
  16. Adiba Jaigirdar and Gabriela Martins
  17. Michaela Greer (Accepts NA)
  18. Tash McAdam
  19. ST Sterlings (Accepts NA)
  20. Maiya Ibrahim and Ayana Gray (Accepts NA)
  21. Meg Long and Xiran Jay Zhao (Accepts NA)
  22. Margie Fuston
  23. Jamie Howard
  24. Nova McBee
  25. Amelia Diane Coombs and Sophie Gonzales (Accepts NA)
  26. Rachel Griffin
  27. Susan Lee and Auriane Desombre (Accepts NA)
  28. Ciannon Smart
  29. Sasha Peyton Smith and Kristin Lambert
  30. Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
  31. Lyndsay Ely (Accepts NA)
  32. Anna Sortino (Accepts NA)
  33. Jennieke Cohen
  34. Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
  35. Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
  36. Kat Dunn and Daphne Lao Tonge
  37. Sheena Boekweg and Alechia Dow (Accepts NA)
  38. Liz Lawson and Dante Medema (Accepts NA)
  39. Sarah Dass (Accepts NA)
  40. Zach Hines (Accepts NA)
  41. Hoda Agharazi (Accepts NA)
  42. Dawn Ius and April Snellings (Accepts NA)
  43. Kara McDowell and Kimberly Gabriel
  44. Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
  45. Deborah Falaye
  46. Rona Wang (Accepts NA)
  47. Becca Mix and Grace Li (Accepts NA)
  48. Aty S. Behsam (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists

  6 comments for “Pitch Wars 2020 Wishlist

  1. Hermit Thrush
    September 14, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    Would you accept a manuscript that has sci-fi elements? Mine has a contemporary superhero/capepunk setting, but mostly explores the fantasy side of the genre.
    Thanks for your help!


    • margiemayfuston
      September 15, 2020 at 3:45 am

      Yes! If the sci-fi is pretty light, and it leans more toward a different genre then I’m okay with that. Thanks for asking!


    • Chimdiogo
      September 23, 2020 at 2:49 pm


      Just wanted to know if you would accept a manuscript based on African-themed fantasy and a little bit of time travel.

      Thanks for your help!


      • margiemayfuston
        September 24, 2020 at 3:52 am

        Yes! I’m good with a little time travel as long as it doesn’t get too heavy on the sci-fi side 🙂


  2. September 21, 2020 at 3:05 am

    Hi there! I was wondering if you would accept a murder mystery with speculative elements (the main character is a clone, but the story is really more contemporary than Sci-Fi)? It features a few of the things listed in your wishlist but you didn’t say whether you were or were not interested in mysteries/thrillers. Thanks in advance!


    • margiemayfuston
      September 24, 2020 at 3:56 am

      Yes! I’m open to mystery/thriller elements!


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