About me: Hello! Thank you for stopping by! I’m so very excited to be a 2021 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!
My debut novel, VAMPIRES, HEARTS & OTHER DEAD THINGS, is out now 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. My second novel, CRUEL ILLUSIONS, comes out September 2022. It’s Buffy meets CARAVAL and has vampire-hunting stage magicians. 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 two-time 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.
This is also my second year as a mentor. My fabulous 2020 mentee, Angela Montoya, signed with an agent with her Pitch Wars manuscript. Here’s what she has to say about working with me:
Choosing to submit my manuscript to Margie was one of the best decisions I’ve made on my writing journey. She helped elevate my novel to a place I didn’t even know it could go. No lie. Margie understood my characters and plot better than I did most days. She was patient, reassuring, helpful, and all around fantastic to work with. If I could do Pitch Wars again, I would choose Margie every time, and I will happily shout her praise from any rooftop from here on out.
What you can expect:
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 anything sparks ideas for you.
I’m also not afraid to get into things at the sentence level. Years of also 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 to 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.
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.
- Retellings: I love a unique twist on something.
- 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.
- Historical: Any time periods. I’m also open to historical fantasy and alternate history.
- Contemporary: I 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. BUT I also love Rom-Coms, especially if they have rivals-to-lovers.
- 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 pining for:
- 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.
- Diverse casts of characters.
- I’d love a ghost story. It can be terrifying or romantic or both!
- Monster love interests.
- A creepy gothic setting in any genre.
- Creepy houses.
- Creepy woods. (I guess I want creepy things in general.)
- A seaside setting.
- 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.
- Secret Societies.
- Complicated family dynamics.
- Found family.
- Love triangles! Seriously can’t get enough of them.
- Enemies-to-lovers OR lovers-to-enemies OR lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers.
- I love romantic subplots in general, but they’re not necessary for me to fall in love with the story.
Things that aren’t for me:
Some books I love:
An Enchantment of Ravens
The Star-Touched Queen
Salt to the Sea
Ace of Spades
The Girls I’ve Been
Done Dirt Cheap
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
*Please feel free to DM me on Twitter if you have questions!*
Pitch Wars 2021 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists
- Mary E. Roach (Accepts NA)
- Amelia Diane Coombs (Accepts NA)
- Diana Urban
- Susan Bishop Crispell (Accepts NA)
- TJ Ohler (Accepts NA)
- Laurie Dennison (Accepts NA)
- Justine Pucella Winans (Accepts NA)
- Zoulfa Katouh and Molly X Chang (Accepts NA)
- Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
- Abigail Johnson
- Rosiee Thor and Emily Grey
- Carlyn Greenwald (Accepts NA)
- M.T. Khan (Accepts NA)
- Sarvenaz Taghavian
- Emery Lee
- Margie Fuston (Accepts NA)
- Aashna Avachat (Accepts NA)
- Allison Saft (Accepts NA)
- Fiona McLaren
- Jessica Lewis
- Brianna Bourne (Accepts NA)
- Jamie McHenry
- Meg Long and Rochelle Hassan (Accepts NA)
- Laura Weymouth (Accepts NA)
- Natalie Crown and Angelica Monai (Accepts NA)
- Skyla Arndt and Alex Brown (Accepts NA)
- Charity Alyse and Cimone Watson (Accepts NA)
- Emily Thiede and Lauren Blackwood (Accepts NA)
- Anna Sortino and Annika J. Cosgrove (Accepts NA)
- Jenny Perinovic and Kyrie McCauley (Accepts NA)
- Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
- Jamie Howard and Meredith Tate (Accepts NA)
- KL Burd (Accepts NA)
- Jennifer Yu (Accepts NA)
- Hoda Agharazi and Lyssa Mia Smith (Accepts NA)
- Em X. Liu and Grace D. Li (Accepts NA)
- Carly Heath (Accepts NA)
- Kiana Krystle (Accepts NA)
- Sarah Underwood and Kat Dunn (Accepts NA)
- Joel Brigham (Accepts NA)
- Dante Medema and Liz Lawson (Accepts NA)
- Aty S. Behsam and Maedeh B. Saaina (Accepts NA)
- Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
- Gabi Burton (Accepts NA)
- Aaron Cole and Tamara Cole (Accepts NA)
- Hannah V. Sawyerr and Olivia Liu (Accepts NA)
- Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
- Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
- Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
- 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.