Pitch Wars 2018 Wishlist – #TeamMischiefManaged



About us:

From Samantha:

I’m a YA/NA writer, hailing from Toronto, Canada. I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2014, and a mentor in 2015 & 2017. When I’m not writing or day-jobbing, I can usually be found baking all the things or performing on a stage somewhere. I’m a musical theatre nerd who thrives on all things Broadway. I’m a proud geek who loves all things Harry Potter (I’m a Slytherin, if you couldn’t guess), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Doctor Who.

Some random facts about me are I have some big collections (consisting of Funko Pops, The Wicked Witch from Wizard of Oz, and Behemoth from The Nightmare Before Christmas), I have four tattoos (with more on the way), and I have the most irrational fear of dinosaurs—hey, Jurassic Park could happen!

I’m represented by Kathleen Rushall from ABLA, and my books, FLIRTING WITH FAME and DEALING IN DECEPTION were published by Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster.

From Laurie:

I’m a YA writer, editor, web coordinator, and former English teacher. I joined the Pitch Wars community as a mentee in 2013 and mentored for the first time in 2017. I love reading, listening to alternative music, and my house full of animals! Of all the fandoms I adore, Harry Potter is my favorite; I’m a proud Gryffindor. A few random facts about me…I don’t eat mammals, I’ve lived on both US coasts, in California and Florida, and I’ve played eight musical instruments over the years.

I’m represented by Danielle Burby and Nelson Literary Agency, and I’m currently working on a YA contemporary novel.

How We Mentor:


When we found out about our similar taste in books and how perfectly our mentoring strengths compliment each other, we knew our we’d make a great team! We both believe in honest feedback and positive reinforcement. We know how scary it can be to have your work critiqued, and we’re grateful when anyone trusts us with their words. We want to work with you as a team to achieve your vision for the manuscript.

We’ll both read your full manuscript and combine our notes into one initial edit letter, with Sam focusing on plot and Laurie focusing on character development. We’ll help you develop a plan for revision, and we’re both available for our mentee’s questions through email, DM, etc.

For the second round of revision, we’ll address any lingering concerns with document notes and a second combined edit letter. We’ll also work though the pitch, query letter, and synopsis so you’ll be ready to submit to agents, and we both want to share our industry experience to help you move forward on your writing path.

Our Wish List:


In no particular order:

Contemporary:  Send us all the contemporary! Make us laugh, cry, or swoon–we want funny, sad, romantic, or all of the above. We also want troubled characters and unreliable narrators in gritty, boundary-pushing stories.Give us stories like Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, or You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon.

Thrillers/Suspense:  We want all the dark, twisty stories to keep us up reading all night! Make us keep guessing till the very end!

Light Fantasy:  We aren’t the mentors for full-on fantasy stories, but we will gladly take your contemporary stories with fantastical elements.

Magical Realism:  We love magical realism! If your manuscript has an immersive magical element like Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, send it our way!

Light Sci-Fi:  Send us your near-future stories or a world like ours with a sci-fi twist. Something like Warcross by Marie Lu or a YA Black Mirror would be right up our alley.

Paranormal (Including Vampires!):  We’re excited to see paranormal make a comeback! We would love a fresh, new twist in this genre. We both adored The Coldest Girl from Coldtown, which was such a cool take on vamps! This is what we’re looking for here—not another Coldest Girl exactly, but an entirely new take on the vampire theme.

Mysteries:  Give us mysteries with a unique spin like People Like Us by Dana Mele or One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus.

Retellings:  We’re both fans of all kinds of retellings, from fairy tales to classics. Re-telling have become popular lately, so we want to see something different here, like maybe a gender-swapped story, or the tale of a character we’re not used to hearing about.

Some things we’d devour in our subs:


Diversity and #ownvoices: We’d love to see any of these in our subs, plain and simple. Send us your diverse stories!

Kick-ass girls: We love strong girls who get things done. While we love physically strong girls, there’s something to be said for the emotionally strong ladies. A girl doesn’t have to beat someone up to prove her strength, and she doesn’t have to be mean to be tough.

Atmospheric:  Does the unique setting stand out in your manuscript? We would love to see a YA setting with the time-suspended feel of a Wes Anderson movie, Bates Motel, or Legion.  

Villains/Anti-heroes/Heroes disguised as villains:  We love a good villain/anti-hero! Give us villains we’re not sure of we should cheer for, but do anyway. Give us the baddies with hearts. There’s nothing better than watching a so-called villain grow, and prove they were the hero all along.

Dual or Multiple POV: We love all kinds of POV! Single POV is great, too, but we included this in our list as we definitely aren’t against dual/multiple POV ending up in our inbox!

Animals:  We love all the cute floofs and the loyal doggos. Animal companions tend to find their way into our hearts.

Food stuffs: Who doesn’t love a good foodie story? If your character loves to cook or bake, we’d love to see it in our inbox!

Romance: We love all the swoons! Feel free to send us all the angst, but we’d also love to see a funny, fun romance story that makes us laugh and gives us all the happy feels.

On the “probably not for us” side:

Westerns:  Neither of us are huge fans of this genre, which means you’ll probably have better luck with a different mentor.

Excessive Gore:  We both get grossed out fairly easily. A little blood is fine (after all, we did ask for vampires above), but too much description of blood and guts might eek us out a little bit.

Spiders:  Neither of us love these eight-legged terrors. A small spider on the wall is a-ok, but a scene where someone gets covered in them might freak us out and make us stop reading.

Violence against animals:  We are both huge animal lovers and can’t read about animals being tortured or killed without getting upset. *Note that an animal getting hurt in an accident is very different from an animal that is harmed on purpose. The first will make us sad, but isn’t a dealbreaker. The second is something our poor hearts can’t bear.

Heavy Sci-fi or Heavy Fantasy:  While be both enjoy some light sci-fi and fantasy, we aren’t the mentors for the really heavy stuff in these genres.

*If you know either of us personally, or if we’ve previously worked together professionally or as critique partners, beta readers, or writing group members, please do not submit to us for Pitch Wars. We want to be completely fair when making our decision, and there many other amazing mentors who would love your submission!

*We are not accepting New Adult (NA), Memoirs, or Graphic Novels this year.

That’s it! We can’t wait to see what you guys send this year! We know how hard it is to choose a mentor to sub to, and we promise to treat each sub we receive with the same care and attention. All subs will be read for consideration. We can be found on Twitter @SamJoyceBooks and @LaurieDennison if you have any questions about our wishlist. Please don’t pitch to us there, but feel free to clarify anything you might be confused by on our list. We promise we don’t bite!

Good luck in your Pitch Wars journey!

Check out all the other amazing YA Mentors at the  Pitch Wars main site (https://pitchwars.org/pitch-wars-2018-mentor-blog-hop/) or click on individuals below:

















































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Dealing with Deception


DEALING IN DECEPTION (Love in Disguise #2) 

In this stand-alone companion to Samantha Joyce’s Flirting with Fame, Veronica Wilde finds that playing make-believe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be—especially when it’s keeping her from pursuing the one man who makes her heart go wild.

As an actress-for-hire, Veronica Wilde has made a living out of pretending to be other people. It’s the one thing at which she’s always excelled: taking on someone else’s personality and running with it. So after Elise Jameson, author of the bestselling Viking Moon series, decides she no longer requires Veronica’s services, she needs to find a new gig—and fast.

But when her newest client hires Veronica to help him make his small business look more successful than it actually is, the sparks that fly between them are definitely not part of the act. Suddenly, Veronica finds she’s tired of playing pretend for a living. She’s been acting for so long, she’s blindsided by the one man who sees her for who she really is. And the most terrifying part? She might actually like it.

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Flirting With Fame

FLIRTING WITH FAME (Love in Disguise #1)

After a freak childhood accident leaves her deaf and physically scarred, nineteen-year-old Elise Jameson retreats into a world of vibrant characters she creates on her laptop. She is shocked when her coping mechanism turns into a career as a phenomenal bestselling novelist. Fans are obsessed with Elise’s Viking Moon series and its author—a striking girl with zero resemblance to Elise who appears on the back covers. Elise sent the randomly Googled photo to her editor following a minor panic attack. Now, horrified to learn she is expected on set of the television pilot based on her novels, Elise tracks down her anonymous stand-in. To Elise’s surprise, Veronica Wilde has been taking credit for Viking Moon for years. She eagerly agrees to keep up the charade if Elise will pose as her assistant.

It’s hard for Elise to watch a stranger take credit for her work and get all the perks she desires, including admiration from the show’s heartthrob star. Edged onto the sidelines of her own life, Elise reconsiders her choice to stay anonymous. Is she ready to come to terms with her true identity—and with the long-buried secrets that could cost her her career, her fans, and the few precious friendships she’s made?

This clever, coming-of-age debut is for anyone who has ever felt unsure in their own skin.

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Pitch Madness 2017 Candyland Edition…Game On!

Image result for candyland candy castle


Welcome to Team Candy Castle! It’s been a long week of reading through all the amazing pitches. Our wonderful readers have narrowed the slush, and your team hosts have chosen seventy pitches for the agent round. To meet the slush readers and hosts go to this post here. And you can find out more about the participating agents on this post here.

For those of you not familiar with Pitch Madness, it’s a contest where agents compete in a game against their peers for pitches and you can find the rules and instructions of the game here.

I’m co-hosting with the amazing Mary Ann Marlowe! Check out her site and follow her, you’ll be happy you did.

Mary Ann Marlowe

Mary Ann Marlowe

Blog | Twitter

Some Kind of Magic is Mary Ann Marlowe’s first novel. When not writing, she works by day as a computer programmer/DBA. She spent ten years as a university-level French professor, and her resume includes stints as an au pair in Calais, a hotel intern in Paris, a German tutor, a college radio disc jockey, and a webmaster for several online musician fandoms, plus she has a second-degree black belt.

Scroll down to view all 10 picks for my blog or click on the links to each post …

Middle Grade

Young Adult

New Adult/Adult

Comments are set to moderation so the agents won’t see the other agents’ requests. Please no comments other than those from the agents. After the agent round, we’ll release the moderation and let you all comment on the entries.

We’ll reveal the agent requests on March 17 starting at 4:30 Eastern time. All the twitter fun will happen on the hashtag #PitchMadness, where we’ll tweet the results of the agent round.

Join us for the Twitter Pitch Party on March 23 from 8AM to 8PM Eastern time on the hashtag #PitMad. It’s open to everyone!

How do you twitter pitch? You can find all the details here.

A huge HUGE thank you to my team and to the wonderful agents!

Go to all the hosts’ blogs to read more winning pitches …

Team Ice Cream Sea – http://www.brenda-drake.com/
Team Peanut Brittle House – https://pintipdunn.wordpress.com/
Team Licorice Castle – http://sharonmjohnston.com/
Team Peppermint Forest – http://wadealbertwhite.ca/blog/
Team Candy Castle – http://samanthajoyce.com/




Title: Upstaged

Age Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Word Count: 47,000


In a diverse, gender-swapped A CHRISTMAS CAROL retelling, an ambitious twelve-year-old actress, Ebi, vows to scare her co-stars into quitting. But a theatre ghost complicates her plans, insisting Ebi experience her past, present, and future.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

Act I, scene 1

Auditions began with dancing, which was both cruel and stupid. Why make a bunch of kids get all sweaty, before they read? For all the directors knew, half these kids couldn’t deliver a line to save their souls. If Ebele Xia Scott ran auditions they would be much more efficient and much less smelly.

Of course, they also wouldn’t be auditioning for A Christmas Carol in August. The humidity was killing her. Ebi tore her eyes away from the horror of her frizzing bun in the giant wall of mirrors and focused on the assistant choreographer.

When Beatrice crooked her finger, Ebi crooked hers; when she tilted her head at an angle, Ebi mimicked the exact tilt; when Beatrice did a little hop before a spin, Ebi hopped a little before spinning.

Beside Ebi, her sister technically followed the steps, but added a subtle hip-shimmy to the standard chasse.

Typical Tilda.

Even more typical, all of the adults sitting behind the casting table seemed drawn to Tilda’s lengthy grace despite her sloppy improvising.

Ebi bit her lip and danced harder, wishing she could be long, and thin, and blonde like her sister. But Ebi, the adopted sister, didn’t have even an ounce of Mom’s bombshell DNA. Just once she wished people would be awed by her beauty.

Not that she wanted to upstage Tilda. They both had to be cast or neither would be allowed to participate, per Mom and Dad’s new rules. Something about family togetherness, blah, blah.


Title: Lucky

Age Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 42,000


Twelve-year-old Ryan’s family crumbled post-lottery win. With Granddad dying, Ryan sets out to find his missing mom. But when his insulin’s stolen, Ryan must decide if he’s willing to risk his life to reach her.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

I’d never waste a magical wish on something like being all-powerful. I wouldn’t ask for super strength, either, or the ability to fly. For all their powers, superheroes never seem happy. If the ability to blow things up with your eyes can’t make you happy, what’s the point? No matter how many people they save, the public always turns on them eventually.

My mom never understood this. She had this thing. She thought posing like a superhero made you do better on tests because pretending you had super strength made your mind powerful, and that made you do great at everything, including algebra. Way back in the fourth grade, when I had to give a three-minute speech on tornados to my class, she showed up, pretending I needed a shot of insulin, and dragged me into the hall to make me puff my chest out like Superman.

Of course, I’d refused.

In the echoing hall she’d whispered, “Ryan! This has been researched. It works. Just do it.”

I wouldn’t look at her.

Through gritted teeth she whispered her favorite slogan, “Fake it till you make it!”

I crossed my arms, and I couldn’t help but think I’d seen Superman stand the same way. Of course, my mom didn’t notice any of this.

Finally, she had said, “You can use the bathroom. I’ll time you from the hall.”

Alone in the boy’s room, I made stupid faces in the mirror. Then, since my mom wasn’t around, I sort of squared my chin and looked up at the sky out of the corner of my eye like Superman does.


Title: Curse of Silver Lake

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Word Count: 68,000


Gender-bent Swan Lake meets small town high school when untrained teenage witch, Maggie, becomes Ethan’s only chance at freedom from his jealous brother’s curse. If she fails, the popular quarterback will remain a swan forever.

First 250 words of manuscript:

Maggie slumped down in the seat of the truck and pushed her knees up against the dashboard, letting the semi-cool air of the vent blow through the holes in her torn jeans. The Texas highway was womb-dark, and almost deserted. There were no other cars in sight. Far in the distance, the prick of lights from some other town, in some other place glittered in the black night.

She focused on that spot in the distance, her mind strangely blank. Her cell phone lay face-up in her lap, the last message from her mother still displayed on the screen.

It was only eighteen words long. Just enough to crush her heart.

Mom: Your father is being released from the hospital now. Stop calling. He doesn’t want to talk to you.

The lock screen photo of her friends Cory and Eli outside the All Graces No Fire concert shimmered and went blurry through the tears in Maggie’s eyes.

“Are you going to keep looking at that thing, or do you want to talk about what happened?” Her grandma asked, startling Maggie out of her thoughts. Elena kept her eyes on the road, guiding the huge pick-up further and further away from the lights of Dallas, toward the small town of Silver Lake. It was almost five in the morning. Maggie had been up all night. She should have been exhausted, not just empty.

“My Dad’s being released from the hospital.” She let the phone screen go dark.


Title: Gravity Road

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: LGBTQ+ Contemporary Romance 

Word Count: 98,000


Closeted sixteen-year-old Monty plays it cool after “straight” boy-next-door Jake comes home with a college boyfriend. Monty deflects his infatuation with over-the-top antics that backfire, making his inadvertent coming out even more uncomfortable.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

One week into the summer before junior year and one day before this year’s Hudson Valley Pride, Jake Ainsworth parks across the street from my house and changes my life forever. It doesn’t matter that I can’t see his car anymore. It’s definitely him. I’d know his car anywhere. Among other things, he’s driven the same faded green compact SUV since he left for college last year.

Ethan and I happened to be in the middle of a training sprint when the car trundled past us, taking a right turn onto our street only moments before we did the same. The thing is, as it drove by, I thought I saw something different about it. Something important. I clocked it immediately but as he got further, it got smaller again and now I’m no longer sure it exists.

See, I thought I saw a sticker placed in the center of the back bumper just above the license plate. It isn’t just any sticker, either. Nor was it there during his last visit. Nor have any announcements of importance been made from his family to mine.

Following that observation, two distinct possibilities occur to me. One: that isn’t Jake’s car. Two: I saw the sticker wrong. I’m still a fair distance away. There is definitely a sticker but I can’t yet confirm what it is. If it turns out that neither of those possibilities is true, it would reveal an improbable truth that I’ve not yet prepared for.


Title: The Fire Before

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Word Count: 90,000


When the cursed entities called the Fury compel people in her hometown to commit escalating acts of violence, Kindred Walker must use power she never knew she had to stop them before her world burns.

First 250 Words:

On the day the Fury came to Exeter, I was stuck in detention.

I should have been outside that October afternoon, kicking fallen leaves and breathing in the chilly air. The brown and red trees I could see through the windows at the back of the room taunted me. Instead of playing outside, I was trapped in the Davis School’s study hall, kicking the leg of my cramped desk and sneaking guilty glances at my friends Dawn Cale and Elena Garcia. Last week, I’d convinced them that nobody would miss us if we snuck out of school to go for some frozen yogurt. I was wrong, and here we were.

The pale green walls in the study hall made everyone in the room look slightly nauseated. Banners with quotes from famous women decorated the walls. I sat closest to “‘Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You’ – Eleanor Roosevelt.” Well, coming to school every day scared me at least a little bit; I figured that had Eleanor covered.

I tried to puzzle through my Algebra 2 homework, but my plan of staring at the numbers and symbols until they magically made sense didn’t work, as usual. The school had cranked the air temperature up to “Suffocate” and the heat made me feel sleepy and stupid. I twisted a strand of my long hair around a finger and tugged, trying to keep myself from dozing off. 

A low, hissing voice snapped me out of my boredom.

Leave now. Save yourself.


Title: Saving Sophie

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Word Count: 83,000


Seventeen-year-old Gabe finds himself falling for Sophie, a disabled girl and the sole survivor of a devastating accident. Everything is perfect—as long as Sophie never learns Gabe’s brother was the cause of her tragedy.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

Her name is Sophie.

I’ve been watching her for a while now, taking notes in my head. I know more about her than any stranger should ever know about a person. It’s scary how much I know. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning the guilt presses so hard on my chest that I stay away for a few days. I tell myself to forget about her. But I always come back.

I know what you’re thinking, but don’t judge me yet. It’s complicated.

Sophie lives on a serene tree-lined street of mini-mansions. It’s so serene that there’s an actual Buddhist temple almost directly across the street from her house. The temple has a Yoga Mom’s class every morning at seven. The parking lot is always packed and that’s where I hide—sandwiched in between the minivans and Priuses.

I’ve been here so often that I could close my eyes and draw Sophie’s house from memory. All the houses on her street are unique, but the one she lives in is by far the coolest. Whoever designed it must have been stoned. The style is what I like to call “twenty-first century medieval gothic.” The house is tall and brooding with shuttered windows and all these little turrets everywhere. Basically, Sophie lives in Dracula’s castle.

I thought the place would rock out on Halloween, but they didn’t put up one decoration. Maybe the house speaks for itself. Or maybe Sophie’s new family has had enough horror for one year.