Turning the Man-u-stuck Into a Manuscript

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Welcome to Pitch Wars! If you haven't dipped your toe into these waters before, starting is simple--match yourself with the mentor that best suits your interests, writing style, and the perfect fit for your manuscript. What's not so easy comes next: months of editing, possibly killing off characters, and not being butthurt when your mentor tells you the truth about your ugly baby (all manuscripts are ugly babies).

About me
I'm the author of four books: Zombie Tarot (Adult - Quirk Books); Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls, and Other Creepy Collectibles (Adult - Llewellyn); The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide (MG - Sourcebooks Jabberwocky); and The Boxcar Children Guide to Adventure (MG - Albert Whitman & Company). I am also the author of one screenplay and multiple published short stories. I was the founder and editor of the humor website, An Army of Ermas, and have additional websites at The Zombie Dating Guide and Wee Ghosties: A Beginner's Guide to Ghost Hunting. I blog for the Huffington Post. My work has been featured in BUST and Rue Morgue Magazines, and Zombie Tarot was chosen as a Summer Reading Pick by the Los Angeles Times in 2012.

If you'd like to learn more about my books and websites, please click on the Books & Media page above.

You may have noticed a trend here: I like spooky. Even the Boxcar book had its creepy moments. I'm looking for middle-grade books that focus on the fuzzy bits of life that we can't always define. Special preference will go to well-crafted ghost stories. I also love humor so if your first chapter has me snorting and scaring my dogs--you're in like Flynn.

Books I love
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
  • The Graveyard Book
  • Nancy Drew series
  • Superfudge
What I'm looking for
  • Clever characters that aren't know-it-alls
  • Well-developed sub-characters 
  • Creepy humor
  • Flat-out humor
  • Manuscripts that have been well-edited before they head my way. No first drafts, please
  • Ghost stories or mysteries that aren't blamed on the dog
  • "Strange little girl" protagonists (think Merricat Blackwood) 
  • Authors that want to learn the business of being a working writer

What I am not looking for
  • MG is tightly written. Please no projects over 55,000 words unless it's a whiz-bang of a story and you don't mind slashing chapters
  • No fantasy
But wait, there's more!
What can I offer an writer looking for more than a quick tumble in a Twitter contest?
  • One-on-one editing: We'll look for plot holes, boost character development, and be an overall pain-in-the-butt until the manusuck turns into a manuscript
  • Advice on the seedier side of being an author: marketing, social media, when to say no to one more pencil at an author table, book signings, what's the real skinny on being a working writer, and time management skills 

Additional bits
I am a freelance editor and an apprentice agent for Red Sofa Literary. (I will not be open to queries until after Pitch Wars.)

I will be taking part in the MG Pitch Wars chat on August 4th at 8p EST. See you there!

I look forward to seeing you on Twitter and on Facebook! Good luck!

To learn more about Pitch Wars and how to submit, visit Brenda Drake's site!

1. Kes Trester (co-mentoring with Jennifer Hawkins)
2. Mindy McGinnis (co-mentoring with Kate Karyus Quinn)
3. N.K. Traver
4. Kristin B. Wright
5. Laura Heffernan
6. Mary Ann Marlowe
7. Joy McCullough-Carranza
8. Lisa Lewis-Tyre
9. Jenni L. Walsh (co-mentoring with Trisha Leaver)
10. Sarah Glenn Marsh
11. Julie C. Dao
12. Kellye Garrett
13. K.T. Hanna
14. Jessie Devine
15. Rosalyn Eves
16. Jami Nord
17. Samantha Joyce
18. Helene Dunbar
19. Jenna Lehne
20. Linsey Miller
21. Jessica Vitalis
22. Stacey Graham
23. Dan Koboldt
24. Brighton Walsh
25. Kate Brauning
26. Lisa Maxwell
27. Wendy Spinale
28. Sarah Cannon
29. L.L. McKinney
30. Juliana Brandt
31. Scarlett Cole
32. Hayley Stone
33. Jennifer Blackwood
34. Kendra Young
35. S.P. McConnell
36. Nikki Roberti
37. Emmie Mears
38. Lori Goldstein (co-mentoring with Chelsea Bobulski)
39. Jennifer Hawkins (co-mentoring with Kes Trester)
40. Elizabeth Briggs
41. Ron Walters (co-mentoring with Meredith McCardle)
42. Fiona McLaren (co-mentoring with Dionne McCulloch)
43. S.M. Johnston (co-mentoring with Stacey Nash)
44. Max Wirestone
45. Jaye Robin Brown
46. Molly Lee
47. Rachel Lynn Solomon
48. J.C. Nelson
49. Holly Faur
50. Sonia Hartl
51. Natasha Raulerson
52. Marty Mayberry
53. J.C. Davis
54. Rebecca Wells
55. Michelle Hauck
56. Tabitha Martin
57. Rebecca Petruck
58. Sarah Henning
59. Alex White
60. Jeanmarie Anaya
61. Laura Salter
62. Wade Albert White
63. Brooks Benjamin
64. Margarita Montimore
65. Megan Grimit
66. Charlie Holmberg
67. Diana Gallager
68. Stefanie Wass
69. Tamara Mataya
70. Rebecca Sky
71. Kara Seal
72. Lee Gjertsen Malone
73. Katie Bucklein
74. Kevin A Springer
75. Brianna Shrum
76. Kate Karyus Quinn (co-mentoring with Mindy McGinnis)
77. Kim Graff
78. Emily Martin
79. Trisha Leaver (co-mentoring with Jenni Walsh)
80. Kim Long
81. Catherine Scully
82. Stacey Trombley
83. Stephanie Scott (co-mentoring with Valerie Cole)
84. Valerie Cole (co-mentoring with Stephanie Scott)
85. Lizzy Charles
86. Dannie Morin (co-mentoring with Alexandra Alessandri)
87. Kate Foster
88. Elly Blake
89. Julie Sondra Decker
90. Lady Lioness
91. Susan Gray Foster (co-mentoring with Monica Bustamante Wagner_
92. Kelly Calabrese
93. Sarah Nicolas
94. Kelly Siskind
95. Roselle Kaes
96. Monica Bustamante Wagner (co-mentoring with Susan Gray Foster)
97. Renee Ahdieh (co-mentoring with Traci Chee)
98. Traci Chee (co-mentoring with Renee Ahdieh)
99. Janet B. Taylor
100. Jessie Humphries (co-mentoring with Mara Rae)
101. Lynnette Labelle
102. Erica M. Chapman
103. Summer Spence
104. Marieke Nijkamp
105. Meredith McCardle (co-mentoring with Ron Walters)
106. Thomas Torre
107. Phil Stamper
108. J.A. Souders


  1. When you say "no fantasy," do you mean no fantasy elements at all? Thanks!

  2. When you say "no fantasy," do you mean no fantasy elements at all? Thanks!