R you ready for #PitchWars? I am! But first, there R some things you need to know about me:

Can I get an aaarrR?


But enough with the pirate love. A year ago, I was where you are. Right now.

Sitting at my computer, staring at the screen with a stomach full of knots and butterflies. Scouring mentor bios for the ONE who would love my book like only I can love my book. The person who would nod and say, ‘Yeah. This is the manuscript.’

I get it. I’ve been there, right where you are.

Fast forward to 2016. I did not enter #PitchWars last year, but I would have if not for a twist of fate and a successful Twitter pitch in June. By mid August, I signed with my agent, Sue Miller of Donaghy Literary Group.

#PitchWars is about getting read–by mentors and agents who will hopefully get your writing career rolling. There are no guarantees, but as a mentee, you will be joining an incredible, vibrant writing community and that is worth its weight in words.

But, enough about that. Why should you pitch to me? What do I want to see in your manuscript? And more importantly, what do I NOT want to see?

Why me? No it’s not a lament. It’s an honest question that you need answered as you make your mentor decisions. By day, I am a middle & high school librarian, and I teach juniors and seniors how to be creative writers. I lecture on Celtic Mythology and publishing, specifically queries, pitches, and social media.

That said, as a librarian and teacher, I read lots of books in the YA genre and I am a practiced editor with a mighty red pen. One of my students told me that ‘no other teacher gives as much feedback as you do.’ That’s because I view every writing sample as an editing job and a learning experience. My kids deserve honest, constructive feedback. So do you.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in English/Secondary Education and a Master’s in Library Science (with an emphasis on Children’s Literature). I have written a YA Fantasy based on Celtic Myths, and a dark, edgy YA Contemporary. I have also completed an adult romantic suspense.

Personally, I love to travel and my trip to Italy, France, and Germany in 2012 was a life-changing experience. It was when I decided there was more out there for me, and I began to write with abandon.


Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time on the Gulf of Mexico… You should, too.


In a tiki bar, at sunset… Sigh.

I am a child of the 1980s and 1990s, and I still believe the X-Files are real.  (I once dressed up as Scully for a Halloween party, but that’s another story…)


Bottom line—I’m not an editor that’s going to give you feedback and a shove out of the nest. I’m here. You can email me and ask questions. It’s OKAY. Editing is the work of writing. When we work together, your success as a writer is as important to me as if it were my own book.

What do I want to see? 

YA Fantasy& Contemporary/Spec/Paranormal/Thriller/Action Adventure/Historical/Light Sci-Fi

I love fantasy, especially mythological retellings and well-researched historical pieces with strong female leads and characters that make me care. Strong world-building skills are a must, as is a knack for visual storytelling. (If you don’t know what I mean by visual storytelling, watch the opening abduction scene of the very first CRIMINAL MINDS episode on Netflix. It is BRILLIANTLY done. Another great one is the Paul Walker ending montage in the most recent FAST & THE FURIOUS, or Bella’s transformation montage in BREAKING DAWN PART 1). If your story is about a world that only exists in your head, I need enough information to ‘see’ what you see. Give me details. What catches your character’s eye? See the magical world through their lens and feed those great character development pieces back to the reader.

Wizards, witches, the Fae, the occasional vampire (but not in a leading role), and magic are high on my list. Let’s dance on the dark side of contemporary spec fiction, not only in setting but in human nature. Knights, castles, pirates, and strong female leads are also big pluses. My favorite books reflect my MSWL in fantasy: THE HUNGER GAMES, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES (love, love, love this book), ALL SOULS TRILOGY (adult), THRONE OF GLASS SERIES (YA), THE HISTORIAN (adult), HARRY POTTER (YA), THE FEVER SERIES (adult), DIVERGENT SERIES (YA). I want writing that drags me between the pages and characters who I can cheer for even when they get their hands dirty. I want survivors that are willing to risk everything for what they believe in and who they love.

Show me motivation. Show me love. Show me what your character is willing to risk, give up, or walk away from. Let them snark because we all need a little sarcasm in our lives. Again, strong female leads are important, but the guys can’t be pushovers either. Think like a teenager and write what is the truth for them. They suffer from heartbreak, depression, addiction, broken homes, homelessness, and indifference. Show me their successes and failures so that my students learn something about themselves when they read your books.

What I do not want to see:  Age appropriate to YA, please. I’m going to say no to dystopian at this point (contemporary spec fiction is OKAY), even though my students still come in and relentlessly ask for it. (Did you hear that publishing gods?) Please do not send me manuscripts that you have not thoroughly edited for typos and the correct form of ‘your or there.’ (It’s a teacher thing) Show me you have done your homework. Romance within the story is A-OKAY.

And, finally, follow the #PitchWars submission guidelines. Send me your query letter and first ten pages. In a comment to this post, tell me why you submitted to me. Honestly. No butt kissing allowed. Why do you think we’d be a good match?

If we don’t connect, it’s nothing personal. You will find the right match. Trust in your words to lead the way.

And now for the link that will begin your journey:



































































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91 thoughts on “#PITCHWARS IS HERE!!!

  1. Where can we to include the “why we’re submitting to you” in our queries (I’m really excited for this!)? In the details it said there are no personalized queries this year and that they’re being submitted through a submission form? Just don’t want to do it wrong >_<


  2. You are not seeking my genre, but I had to tell you how much I laughed about your Scully costume. Right on! We are not alone. Have fun being a mentor this year. 😀


  3. Hey there. I really liked your mixing of genres and think you may like my work. I was just curious what your thoughts are of anti-religious overtones. It’s nothing preachy, but it’s definitely something along the lines of a more blunt His Dark Materials.


    1. Hello! It’s so hard to say without seeing the book. I’m not against exploring the problems of organized religion in writing. Those are social issues that need to be addressed. Out-right religion bashing is not for me. Thanks for the question!


  4. Great bio. My dream is to greet each sunset from a tiki bar on the Gulf some day! I’ve spent a lot of time there, and miss it! Great bio, and you have such great background and skills to offer as a mentor!


  5. Oh, I want to submit to you (you’ve got such a great background for mentoring and my book has magic, fairies (Fae), castles, sword-fighting, and a strong and somewhat snarky female lead) but I don’t know that my writing is focused enough on the visual. Thanks for being a mentor, though!


    1. Thanks for checking in, Clara! One of my jobs as a mentor is to work with writers on things such as visual storytelling, so, don’t let that stop you from entering! Best of luck!!!


      1. Hmm, now I have to reconsider my list of mentors again. That’s both good and bad 🙂 Thank you for the thoughts, and I hope you enjoy sorting through your submissions!


  6. Per your request, I am leaving a comment on why I submitted to you. My manuscript is called COLORBLIND. I believe it is a good fit for you because it is a YA fantasy that features a strong female lead. The plot revolves around my main character seeing colors for the first time which ended up involving a lot of visual storytelling, so I am excited about your comments on wanting this. I also love that you are a creative writing teacher. I graduate from college this year and plan on becoming a teacher myself.

    Thank you so much for your consideration. In case you want to look into me further my twitter handle is @katiebhudson.

    -Katie Hudson


    1. Hi Kate! You’ve got me thinking of a silent movie in black and white. 🙂 There’s nothing like teaching. It is truly a calling, not just a job. If you want to share what you know with the world, it’s the place for you! Good luck in the contest!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Kelly!

    I subbed to you because you mentioned strong world building and visual storytelling. I struggle with finding the right balance between too much world building or not enough. I’m also a visual storyteller—I love to describe settings, really ground the reader in the scene. That said, I feel like sometimes I can go overboard. I hope to have someone with that same love help me reign my description in!



    1. Hi Ashley! Especially in YA (any writing really), being able to convey visual cues is huge, not just to setting, but also to character development. Why does a character focus on one thing verses another? What does that say about them? I love the possibilities visuals give. Good luck!


  8. I am also a child of the 1980s and 1990s, and I also believe the X-Files are real. LOL! I submitted my YA fantasy to you because, in a word–MAGIC! Would love to work with you. Thanks for the opportunity! 🙂


    1. Hi Mariely! Great to hear from you. What are you talking about? Of course the X-Files are real! Looking forward to reading your pages. Best of luck!


  9. I have completed my Pitch Wars submission and chosen you as part of mentor wish list. I enjoyed reading your bio and think your background is positively enviable. Being a librarian has been my dream job since age 8 (I wanted to be Florence Nightingale for half a second before that).
    The written word is my passion, and I believe my manuscript falls in line with several of your desired elements: strong female lead, castles, fantasy, etc. In short, I hope it piques your interest.
    Like most writers, I definitely want to be published, but I want the final product to be worth reading as well. You have a clean, lighthearted style I like and would appreciate your help with polishing my own work.


    1. Hi Christine! Thanks for your submission! Yes, yes, and YES. I love all those things! Being a librarian and a creative writing teacher is a dream job. I can’t wait to meet my new crop of fledgling writers in a few weeks! Good luck! I look forward to reading your pages.


  10. Hi Kelly! Like you, traveling has changed my life. All my books are based in places I’ve lived (San Francisco and Paris) or traveled to (after a recent trip to Croatia, I’m working on a book set during the Bosnian War – light reading, I know). I’m also a fan of the mighty red pen and love having my work torn apart so that it can be made stronger.

    Hope we get the chance to work together!


    1. Hi Dawn! Croatia? That’s ambitious! I appreciate the opportunity to look at your submission. I’ve got to get back to Europe. I really hope the world calms down enough that I feel confident to do so. Best of luck!


  11. I’m so excited about participating in Pitch Wars this year! I chose to submit to you because I loved your bio, and that you are interested in fantasy, well-researched historical settings, and have a background in Celtic mythology. That lines up really well with my own interests! My novel is set in Norman-occupied Ireland, but is also a fantasy and delves into early Irish mythology as well. Your feedback might be just what my manuscript needs 🙂


    1. Hi Angie! Best of luck in PW! I’m surprised how many people dip into Celtic Mythology for their stories. I fell in love with the Tuatha De Danann. Bres the Beautiful is the villain in my YA Fantasy, THE CHILDREN OF DANU. Looking forward to reading your submission!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Kelly,

    I submitted to you because I think that our tastes align very well based on your wishlist, and I think that visual storytelling is a personal weak point for me that I would welcome feedback on. Also, I love the X-Files, and there are some elements in my story that are X-Files-esque, so I thought it might be a good fit. Anyways, I wish you luck in sorting through everything.


    1. Thank you for submitting! I look forward to reading your ms. Visual storytelling is something a lot of people don’t think about–like we expect readers to see what we see. There’s a fine line between too much visual and not enough, for sure!

      Good luck in the contest!


  13. Hi Kelly! I just submitted to Pitch Wars! A few reasons I chose you are: your zest for traveling, your interest in contemporary spec fiction, and your background in teaching (creative writing). I too was a child of X-Files and was glued to the new season released in January. The fact that you teach teens how to be creative writers is a quality that can be extremely helpful when critiquing YA manuscripts, and I’d be fortunate to have your guidance. I’m totally not sucking up, but I LOVE traveling too. I haven’t been to many places, but the countries I did visit, left an impression on me for a lifetime.


    1. Hi Dawn! Thank God for Netflix that I can get my Mulder and Scully fix on. Happy to look at your query and chapter. Best of luck in this contest!!!


  14. Hello, Kelly! I submitted my manuscript to you because you are taking YA fantasy, and I thought your editing style would mesh well with me. I’m a college student, so I know how to work with teacher styles. You also mentioned you want fantasy with knights, snarky protagonists, and (I believe on twitter) mentioned you are fine with more character driven fantasies. Thank you for being a PitchWars mentor! 😀


    1. Hi Allie! Thank you for your submission. I wish I took more writing classes in college. I was too busy reading 16th Century British lit. I’m looking forward to reading you sample! Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Kelly! I just submitted my fantasy YA MS to you because I think I’m trying to do with Japanese mythology a similar thing to what you do with Celtic mythology, and I think you’d have a ton of insights into how to work with semi-historical material. (I’m a lapsed historian). Finding that balance between history, mythology, and fantasy is really tricky (and yet so very rewarding.) Thank you so much!


    1. Thanks for the info. Japanese fantasy? I love picking up books based on the myths of other cultures. It’s amazing to see how their superstitions and myths have evolved, often parallel to others. Best of luck in the contest!


  16. I have completed my Pitch Wars submission and chosen you as part of mentor wish list. I enjoyed reading your bio and think your background is positively enviable. Being a librarian has been my dream job since age 8 (I wanted to be Florence Nightingale for half a second before that).
    The written word is my passion, and I think my manuscript falls in line with several of your desired elements: strong female lead, castles, fantasy, etc. In short, I hope it piques your interest.
    Like most writers, I definitely want to be published, but I want the final product to be worth reading as well. You have a clean, lighthearted style I like and would appreciate your help with polishing my own.


    1. Thank you for your post. It’s a lot of fun being a school librarian. I love putting books into kids’ hands. I love when they ask me what they should read. It’s like having my own Barnes & Noble. 🙂


  17. Hi Kelly! I just pushed the submit button, and you’re on my list. I wanted to apply for you because I like your style from what I’ve read of your blog, and that makes me feel confident that I would receive the feedback I need in the way that I need to hear it. I feel that I also fit your list, as I have written a YA fantasy with strong female leads, with female friendship at its core. We also have a few YA highlights in common (not to mention THE HISTORIAN!)

    I also look forward to the possibility of discussing travel and the X-files with you.

    And I hope this doesn’t fall in the realm of kissing up, but…Pitch Wars really is the coolest contest I’ve heard of, and I think it’s awesome that you’ve donated your time to participate. No matter what happens, I hope that you and your mentee have a fantastic time together.


    1. Hi Claire! Thanks for the submission. So you like the HISTORIAN? I swear, after reading that book, I believe Dracula is still out there. One of these days, he’s gonna drop one of those creepy little books in my library book return.

      Best of luck in this contest! Thanks for your patience as I read through the pile of submissions!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I submitted to you because you are living my dream life. Travel, teaching teens writing, librarian, and author? Sign me up!

    In all seriousness, my manuscript fits many of the things on your wish list, mythology twists and tapping into the darker side of YA. I love all things history and magic. But, mainly, I’m submitting to you because of the paragraph about capturing what teenagers truly face in their lives, including so many broken and scary things. As a teenager from a broken home, I often felt there wasn’t much out there that captured the feelings of isolation, darkness, and confusion that were much of my childhood. I wanted something that gave me hope of something better, if I could find the strength inside myself to overcome. That’s why I started writing in the first place.

    For more technical reasons, I would love to learn about visual storytelling, and master blending a gripping plot with powerful character journeys. Thanks for your consideration. 🙂


    1. Thanks, Marla. It’s great to hear that writing is such an outlet for you. Kids need to read books that make them feel less alone with the challenges of growing up. I think that’s what draws me to fantasy. Fantasy novels can parallel experiences without those experiences ruling the story. They allow for exploring themes while still giving us that escape. Good luck in the contest! I look forward to reading your pages!


  19. I submitted my Pitch Wars entry with you on my mentor list. I chose you for many different reasons. Firstly, I also dressed as Scully one Halloween and NOBODY got it. Not even after waving my cross necklace at them. (I subsequently got new friends.)

    Secondly, I think we’d be a great match because my manuscript is a historical fantasy based on Mayan culture. (Points up to your Gulf of Mexico photo and bats eyelashes.) I’ve been told by crit partners and beta readers that I have a knack for visual storytelling, so I know that’s something you’d respond to.

    And finally, I am eager to have a critical eye and crave detailed feedback. I appreciate that you encourage questions and want to become a partner to your mentee. I feel like you’d be a great source of information, cheerleader and support during the editing process.

    I hope you connect with my manuscript, but if not, the truth is STILL out there.


    1. If you’re watching my Twitter feed, you saw my I WANT TO BELIEVE poster go up in my office at school. Thank you for your comments. I want to connect with a mentee. I hope to come out on the other side of this experience with not just a successful partnership, but a friendship. Best of luck and I look forward to reading your submission!


  20. Hi Kelly! I picked you because I would love someone with a very good red pen and loved your background – I teach creative writing to middle and high schoolers as well. Also, our tastes align regarding series and what we look for in stories, and my book takes place in a heavily Irish-based country and blends some Irish/Scottish mythology, so I thought you would be a good fit!


    1. Hi Megan! I was in school today to put materials together. It will be here before we know it! Thanks for your submission. I’m working hard to get through the inbox! Best of luck in the contest!


  21. I started off reading your blog thinking : I love Johnny Depp. Also, I’m friends with my local pirate community (think Renn Faires/SCA, not criminals (I think)).

    Growing up with a HS librarian for a mom, I know the value of a librarian who hangs out with the people I’m writing for (well, them and ME! I’m also my own target audience.) Additionally, you teach creative writing, pitching, and queries. So, you have the skills to help me bring my stuff to the next level.

    I share your mythology buff status and I’d love help making sure that my world’s mythology is strong and well sprinkled in.

    As I’m addicted to sunset pictures, that was a bonus. (My instagram feed is 50% sunset pics).

    My story features a strong female lead, world building, magic, love. But I’d love to get it more visually appealing, without resorting to info-dumps, so could use some help there.

    I’ve got motivation, stakes, love, and family.

    My MC gives up her family and then her new lover in the search for safety and a community. Then, she risks it all to save her sister.

    Plus, some snark, because that’s what clinched the deal for me. I’ve got a bit of snark in me that my character channels.


    1. Hi Morgan! Good luck in the contest! I’m taking a break from the inbox. The eyes needed it. What’s not to love about Johnny Depp? I mean…really? There is nothing like turning a student on to a new series, a new book. I meet kids at the door with books I’ve pre-checked out in their names saying: YOU’VE GOT TO READ THIS! NOW! It’s the best part of my job, for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Hello Kelly,

    My hands are shaking-part nerves, part excitement-because I just finished my submissions for PitchWars. When I read your mentor profile I knew you would be on my list because:

    -My MS matches your wants… a reworking of Norse mythology, female and male leads in and alternating POV, romance and snark, dirty deeds and bravery.
    -We are both teachers (I’m at the elementary level, Gifted Ed k-5) and know the value of communication.
    -Some of my students are strong writers and I, too, enjoy editing for them-this often evolves into fun conversations.
    -My bestie at work is the school librarian 😉 and I’ve seen firsthand her thrill of getting the right books into the right kids’ hands.We travel together to give the occasional professional development presentation.
    -Speaking of books, you and I like a few of the same things… I’m currently in withdrawal from the Fever series (even read the spinoff series). Can you imagine if it was made into a movie like The Hunger Games or The Divergent series? I’m impressed with The Historian because I’m always intrigued with secret family connections (there’s a *bit* of that in my MS). Have you ever read Phedre’s Series by Jaqcueline Carey? The first one is called Kushiel’s Dart.
    -When I hit the gulf, I usually go to Galveston, TX. The sea breeze and fresh seafood are my favorite part.
    -My favorite vacation spot is Scotland and I must say I have never felt as tranquil and rooted as when I found a secluded stone circle, well secluded except for all the sheep. Imagine the heavy grey atmosphere of early morning, being surrounded by green pastures and waist-high stones, and no one around for miles.
    -Lastly, I’ve got plans for a historical romance (1500’s France/Italy, young prince Henri and the daughter of an Ottoman pirate) and would love a future critique partner who knows her way around a romance novel.

    Cheers, Katie


    1. Hi Katie! Thanks for getting in touch and giving me a glimpse of who you are behind the words. I envy your experiences in Scotland. I have not gotten to Ireland. MUST DO THIS. And you are right: WHY IS THERE NO FEVER SERIES ON TV? Ugh! I’d LOVE to see that. Take a deep breath. Your sub is in my box. I’m working through yesterday’s backlog, so it’s going to be a bit before I get there. Best of luck! I’m always looking for CPs. I also write adult romantic suspense, so…. 🙂


  23. I picked you for so many reasons! You mentioned mythology, a personal love of travel, and a strong female lead. My story centers around a strong female MC & her family, a trip around the world, and blended mythology that becomes more and more prominent as the story progresses. I also am a huge X-Files fan and was so happy to see that in your bio 🙂 I want my book to be amazing, the story in my heart is amazing, and I am hoping that as a teacher you – and your love of solid grammar! – will help me get my book to that level!


    1. Hi Gabrielle! There are more X-files lovers out there than I imagined. I watch those and think: “Why can’t I write like this?” LOL. Looking forward to reading your sample chapter. Best of luck!


  24. Kelly,

    The Captain (yes, I wrote Captain) Jack Sparrow gif was one of the first things that caught my eye. I knew I wanted to scroll down the blog and find out exactly what you were looking for in a manuscript. Then there is the fact that you have fantastic tastes in books. My own personal book shelf is loaded down with my favorite titles and houses all of the titles that are your favorites.

    I picked you for multiple reasons. You want some type of fantasy/sci-fi novel. But then you hit on most of my underlying comparisons in my book. You love mythology, retellings and historical pieces. My piece may not be a historical tale but it does have historical places that I had to research until I found what I wanted. My novel weaves in magic and types of magical people that are high on your list. It also incorporates the darker versions of fairy tale characters.

    Lastly, my mom is an English/Reading Resource teacher. I love that you are a teacher/librarian. I am always drawn to learning how to improve my writing techniques. I wanted to look for a mentor who can steer me in the right direction with all the proper techniques.


    1. Hello Emily! Thanks for your sub! Aye! That’s Captain Jack Sparrow to you. 🙂 Love those movies. I love putting my own spin on myths, especially the Irish ones of my childhood. It’s fun, and there is already a basis to hang the story on. It’s like writing on a scaffold! I’m looking forward to your pages. Good luck in PW!


  25. Why I’m subbing to you:
    1. Jack Sparrow gif (I kid, but only a little)
    2. Celtic myths and retelling (this is incredibly specific to my story)
    3. You said something awesome about Twilight, Fast & Furious, HP, and The Historian (all of which I like or have learned from)
    4. I want to believe, too…in my story and it’s ability to kick ass and be better


    1. Good luck in the contest! I tried to make my post say something about my personality…good or bad. Glad we can connect!


  26. Hello Kelly!

    I submitted to you and am leaving my ‘reasons why’ as requested. In your wishlist, you mentioned that you love fantasy, especially mythological retellings, and I think it is for this reason you’re going to love THIS IS WAR. As Hiro goes face to face with one of the Horsemen of the apocalypse, mythology is brought to life as he desperately tries to save his family.

    Additionally, (aside from the fact one of my main characters is a strong, independent female who took a note from Beyonce herself), Hiro is willing to do whatever he needs to in order to save his family. But when it comes down to whether or not he’ll kill someone to rescue them, guilt and morality truly unravel his personally – showing just how desperately far he’ll go to save the ones he loves. This passion and willingness to risk it all is something I think you’re going to love reading.

    On a working-level, I think we’ll be a great match. We both value Harry Potter and travelling, and you love giving feedback and I love collecting red marks on my papers. There’s nothing more satisfying than crunching through hours of edits to see the glorious light at the end of the day and how shiny a newly-revised chapter is. I’m willing to work hard and give it my all and prove that Pitch Wars is so much more than a competition to me. It’s a step towards fulfilling my goals, and I know I can make them happen.

    Thank you for your consideration,


    1. Hi Sarah! Finding a great mentee I can work with is almost more important to me that perfection on the pages. Yes, the pages matter, but it’s conversations with my mentees that will make the difference in my choice. Thank you for subbing and GOOD LUCK!!


  27. Dear Kelly,
    Selecting you as a mentor was a bit of a no-brainer. Not only do we both teach creative writing and have similar tastes in fiction, but my story delves into Celtic and British Mythology, so I thought, “Wow! She might totally dig this!” And honestly, I like your writing’s rhythm and appreciate your honesty. While my students don’t seem to care for my marks in “red ink,” I continually tell them that I would LOVE for someone to take so much care with my own writing (not that you’d need that much red ink—I swear!). Anyway, I know you will have many great manuscripts and I don’t envy your decision making process. Thanks for taking the time to give back to the writing community.
    -Craig Schmidt


    1. Hi Craig! Thanks for the sub! I love British lit. I can geek-out over Phillip & Mary Sidney any day. Love the British Victorians, as well. I’m a serious editor with my kids. I lay it out, first week, what to expect from my editing style. It’s tough love for writers, but we ALL need that occasionally, right? Good luck! Looking forward to reading your chapter.


  28. Hi Kelly!

    I considered subbing to you because you are looking for many things that I think my story contains, but then you really won me over in the live chat last week with your comments about the straddle between YA and NA and figuring out what the MC would risk at each point in the story. I also really enjoy working with teachers – almost everyone in my family is a teacher. I look forward to the possibility of getting assistance from you in visual storytelling and having the red pen all over my story!


    1. Hi Julie! Risk and motivation is the engine of the story. If your character isn’t in danger of losing something important to them (love, self, home, family, fortune, etc.), the book just isn’t going to engage the reader. This year, I’m using Apollo 13 & The Martian to teach plot twists during my #SFF unit. We should all take lessons from those! Good luck in PW!


  29. Hi Kelly!
    I submitted my manuscript to you for Pitch Wars and per your request I am commenting with why I picked you and what I hope to get from you as a mentee.
    I chose you because you mentioned that you like mythological retellings and my manuscript is a fairy tale retelling, that weaves in mythology as well. You mentioned if we have a fantastical world we should show it to you through our characters’ eyes. I have taken a couple online workshops on Deep POV in the past couple years and have been working on building my skill in this regard. I’d love to show you what I can do and learn from you how I can do it better.
    I chose you as well because I like the fact that you are both an editor and an educator.It’s awesome to have an extra set of eyes on a manuscript, but even better is having someone who can explain why this is distancing, or the second half is overwritten, or this plot twist doesn’t make sense. I’m here and I’m ready to learn.
    Thanks and have a great day!


    1. Hi Kimberly! Thank you for subbing to me. I’m excited by all the myths that have landed in my inbox. Those workshops are invaluable.I can’t tell you how many different conferences and presentations I have attended which helped to get me to this point. So valuable. I’m looking forward to reading your chapter! Good luck!


  30. Hi, Kelly!
    Thanks for asking for more info from the writers who submitted to you! You stood out to me for many reasons, the first of which is your love for mythology. I am a passionate student and writer of comparative mythology, and the novel I’d love your help with, THE OATHKEEPER, is based on the cults of ancient India, pre-Hindu pantheon. We also have a lot in common. I teach writing at the University of Colorado, Boulder and I know that librarians are superheros and have tremendous insight into books and their audiences. More than anything I am seeking a awesome friend in this process. Someone who can give me honest feedback and who can take me and my novel to the next stage. 😉

    Olivia Chadha


    1. Hello Olivia! Thanks for the submission! I have a dear friend who spent many years in India and wrote some great YA about those experiences. One of the things that fascinates me about mythology is the cross-cultural impact. We all borrow from each other! I’m looking forward to reading your pages. Best of luck in PW!


  31. Hi, Kelly! Your bio leapt out at me right away, calling for me to submit to you. I’m also a teacher, and almost all of the books you listed are favorites of mine (and the other two are on my TBR list).

    My submitted book, THE MIRROR CRACK’D, includes a retelling of the Taliesin mythology, as well as other Arthurian tales. The main character is the Lady of Shalott. It also features multiple major female characters who are strong in different ways, challenge each other, and work together. And castles and knights abound!

    It would be an honor to work with you (and I do intend to work incredibly hard). Thanks for your time.


    1. Hi Leanne! The school year is coming fast. I’m seeing a lot of teacher mentees. We’re all going to have a ton of work to do this fall. I love Arthurian myths. British lit is my jam, so…I guess that’s why the Medieval appeals to me. I’m looking forward to reading your pages! Good luck. 🙂


  32. Hi Kelly! I chose you, because…

    1. You want YA action adventure and historical manuscripts.
    2. Your editing background
    3. You’re a high school English teacher and librarian. Librarians (especially school ones) are awesome. I reshelve books at my daughter’s elementary school. I love to eavesdrop on the librarian reading a book to a class and how fascinating her little lessons are. Also, my best critique partner is a HS English teacher.
    4. What your student said about your feedback. I didn’t get that until college when a professor truly helped me with my writing. All the rest just threw grades on the paper.

    And to throw in a silly reason, 5. You love pirates. One of my favorite books is Treasure Island. When I was a kid, I wrote fanfiction about a girl in Treasure Island, because it needed one. She was Captain Flint’s long-lost granddaughter and just happened to look like me, because I had a huge crush on Jim Hawkins.

    And my favorite Celtic mythology characters are Finn MacCool and the Fianna.


    1. Hello Melissa! What’s not to love about Finn MacCool? He figures in my YA Fantasy, The Children of Danu, but I pull more heavily from the lore about the Tuatha De Danann. I like your Treasure Island spin. You should write that book! Good luck in PW!


  33. I submitted to you as well.

    I chose to submit my story to you for several reasons:

    1. You are looking for paranormal and most mentors weren’t.

    2. You teach my target audience. You know what your kids are looking for in a story.

    3. You have the number 13 in your Twitter handle – that’s my lucky number.

    4. Since you provide editing services as well, I think you’ll be able to help me get Blipping Out agent ready.

    Thanks for your consideration.
    Amy Townsend writing as Dolly Burke


    1. Hi Dolly! Thanks for your submission. 13 is my lucky # as well. Born on the 13th, married on the 13th, got my BA on the 13th, son born on the 13th, my daughter was born 4 years and 13 days after he was, and my book life began last year on August 13th with my agent. So it rules my life! Not to mention the X-Files 1013 references. Don’t let me go there or I’ll never read these subs! Good luck in PW!


  34. I only found out about Pitch Wars less than two days ago, so I’m still deciding who to submit to (eek), but your bio leapt out at me. Less because I think the book I’m querying would be a good fit, and more because we sound like we have a lot in common. I’m a student of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic currently working on a dissertation on Medieval Irish Lit focusing on Otherworld inhabitants (mainly the Tuatha De Danann), and I’ve also worked as a school librarian. Are you sure we’re not the same person? 😉


    1. Hello Miriam! A dissertation on the Tuaths! How great is that? I’m giving a lecture on Celtic Mythology, specifically the Mythological Cycle of the early Tuaths. It’s just fascinating. I’m looking forward to reading your entry. Hopefully, I will get through my inbox in the next few days. Good luck!


  35. Hi Kelly —

    (My apologies if this is a repeat submission; I wrote out a comment before but I don’t think it posted).

    I chose you as a mentor in part because of your background, in part because of the types of books you enjoy, and in part because of your experience as an editor. For the first, I’ve also enjoyed traveling around Europe, and my novel brings in some of the continent with it. I am glad to have found a mentor who will be sympathetic to and also enjoy the setting. While I wouldn’t describe my book as mythological, it brings up some elements of classic tales, so that was also a way in which I thought you would connect with my book.

    Of course, as I’m writing fantasy, I liked how you were open to a variety of kinds. I am not always sure where my book fits in the high/low fantasy distinction, but it’s just not going to appeal to someone who doesn’t have an appetite for reimagined worlds.

    Finally, I appreciate your editing style and focus. I think that someone who has spent as much time as you have editing papers and books means that you’ll have a sharp eye for the soft/weak points in my book. I also like how you’ve had a lot of time to practice giving feedback and making it useful to writers. In addition, I thought your advice about visual storytelling was spot on, and it was in the back of my mind as I completed edits on my manuscript before submitting to #Pitchwars.

    If you enjoy what you read, I’d be more than happy to have you as a mentor.




    1. Hello Bob! Thank you for subbing to me. I really focus on the visual when I write, especially for teens. I think it is important that they ‘see’ what they’re reading because of the video-based world in which they live. I’m my comments helped you to take another look. Good luck in the contest!


  36. Hi Kelly!
    I haven’t subbed to you yet, but you will be getting my sub sometime tonight. 🙂 As for my reasons for picking you?
    Well first off, when you critiqued my query and 10 pages, I felt a connection with your critiquing style, and I loved that you were always available to answer my questions. I wanted to keep working with you, I wanted to know what else you had to say about my work. You had some great suggestions, and you were super supportive. 🙂
    Second, we have a lot of similar interests, so I think our personalities would mesh well. I love reading about Celtic mythology and retellings are my thing. I just can’t get enough!
    Third, I know you can forge my story into what it needs to be. You don’t seem like the type to pull punches, and I need that. I’m ready to listen and absorb what you say because I want this, I want to be better so badly. And I know you can get me there. 🙂
    Anyways, I really hope I get the chance to work with you again! 😀
    Twitter handle @kbarina113


    1. Hi Kelly! Thanks for subbing to me and trusting me with your work a second time. I’m glad my edits were helpful to you, and I’m interested to see what you did with the opening pages. Good luck in PW! You’re going to get there with this book. Keep on working!


  37. I sent “The Company” your way because it’s a good match for what you’re looking for. (Here’s hopin’). Admittedly, I was worried to send to you as it does deal with some heavy issues, and you don’t mention you’re open to taboo matters. However, it’s all done in an age-appropriate way (scout’s honor), and is an entirely honest acknowledgment that sometimes, people endure hardships at too young an age. (Though, some things are never ok, regardless of age). At any rate, I sent to you out of fear, but in the hope you’ll love my collection of words! Thanks!


    1. Hi Jennifer! Sending your work into the world is stressful, but don’t fear!

      Kids deal with heavy issues. Sometimes, reading about them helps they deal with issues they shouldn’t have to face. Life’s not always kind…
      I look forward to reading your work. Best of luck in PW!

      Liked by 1 person

  38. Hi Kelly! I submitted to you yesterday!! *hyperventilates* haha

    In all seriousness, there are a ton of reasons why, but mainly because I think you’d really help improve not just my current manuscript but my writing overall. Your attention to detail would be great for me to experience as sometimes I struggle with descriptions of places/settings. That being said, I feel my strengths as a writer is developing my characters, so I think you’ll connect very well with mine, especially the female MC! Also, the book is based on Hindu mythology… Set in a kind of fantasy type India. Right up your alley!

    I enjoyed your answers on the live chats and got a great vibe from you! You seem extremely dedicated, and I know we would work very well together! Thank you for your consideration and taking the tim to read all our entries! Also, very jealous of all the traveling you’ve done. I’m taking my first out of the country trip in December! 🙂


    1. Hi Samantha! You won’t be sorry once you start traveling. Are you headed to India, or somewhere else? I desperately want to get to Ireland to do some boots-on-the-ground research. I’m looking forward to reading your sub. Have a great weekend and good luck!


  39. I chose you as a mentor for lots of reasons. I have been a librarian, tutor, teacher, and so on. I also am from Pennsylvania and miss it so much. Finally, every time I took a look at my mentor list, yours was the first name that was always on my save list. There is just something so familiar about the way you write, and I love it.


    1. Hi Kathy! Nice to meet you. Pennsylvania can be beautiful, but my heart is tied to the Gulf of Mexico. Retirement will find me on a beach in Heaven’s waiting room, for sure. Good luck and thanks for the submission!


  40. Hello!

    I just sent my submission your direction!

    One of the reasons I picked you is because of your interest in mythology, world-building, and strong heroines. I also picked you after we chatted on Twitter and you said that the medieval time-period is one of your favorites. My story isn’t high fantasy, and one thing I’m looking for in a mentor is someone who can help me make sure my magic system/fantastical elements are strong and consistent. My story’s world might be only a step away from ours, but I want that to be a really extraordinary step. 🙂 And I thought you sounded like the perfect mentor for that!

    Also, I have participated in twitter contests before and made wonderful friends, and I’m looking for a mentor who wants to stay in touch long after #pitchwars is over!

    Thanks so much for reading my submission and for volunteering your time for this contest!




    1. Hi Christine! The best part of Twitter is the connections you make. I honestly didn’t begin my account until last June, but since then, I’ve made so many friends. I hope that everyone stays engaged after the PitchWars picks come out. We’re our own best support system! Thanks for subbing to me and good luck!!!


  41. Hi Kelly!
    I LOVE Germany. I just got back from my second trip visiting family, and Germany is by far one of my favorite places!

    There are a lot of reasons why I chose to submit to you, but one of the top reasons is because of your love of visual storytelling. I love, love, love that. When I was in high school, I’d watch nothing but music videos all day; so many of them are lush and painful and could tell wonderful stories. I adored old Blink 182 videos, but one of my new favorites is for a song called Island by Coheed and Cambria. I watched that video so many times just for the story. Also, every music video Marc Webb directed was fantastic. I was thrilled when he started directing films like 500 Days of Summer, and I adore every film I’ve ever seen by Tarsem Singh. There are scenes from The Cell and The Fall that are so beautiful it hurts.

    *Deep breath* Like I said, I was really excited about your love of visual storytelling, lol. On a side note, based off of your likes, I hope you’ll enjoy my submission. It’s a reimagining of East of the Sun, West of the Moon with a Silas Marner twist. No matter the outcome, I’m really excited I got to submit it to you!

    Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to do Pitch Wars! 🙂


    1. Hi Leann! Thanks for sharing some of your faves with me. I’ll have to check those out once my reading pile calms down. My stays in Germany were very brief, but my sister has been there on vacation. I have so many places I want to visit in Europe. It’s truly breathtaking to be surrounded by all that history. Best of luck!


  42. Hi Kelly! I just subbed to you this afternoon. Here are some of the reasons why I chose you:
    1) Your interest in fantasy, adventure, light sci-fi, and history re-envisioned (from your tweet). Also, your MSWL includes Harry Potter, The Historian, and Hunger Games–my favorite books too!
    2) Like you, traveling inspires me.
    3) You are open to questions and have great editing experience. Your honest red pen will definitely help me grow as a writer, especially to make sure the characters are authentic teens. I’m not sure if I have great world-building and visual storytelling, so I am also hoping that you could help me with these too.
    Thank you for your time!


    1. Hello & thanks for the sub! One of the biggest problems with YA is making the characters relatable. Readers need to care and believe the characters share similar experiences whether their story takes place in high school or on the high seas. Working with teens every day certainly helps to form that perspective. Good luck in PitchWars!


  43. Hi Kelly! I subbed to you because of your relentless love and dedication towards creating a world that informs the characters and their story. The setting is vital and important to me, as it’s a historical fantasy/reimagining story, and I’d love to take your feedback and work on improving it. In addition, your wish list items (strong females, myths, etc.) align extremely well with my manuscript, and I get the sense that our visions for the manuscript would blend well. I’m very ready to work on making it the best it can be, and feel your dedication and perseverance would be a valuable tool. I appreciate your time and consideration, and hope all is well with you. Thank you!


    1. Hi Elizabeth! Fantasy writing is all about making our ideas real to the reader. It’s a delicate balance between too much information and leaving the reader with an incomplete picture. I love crafting settings that never existed before. I’m looking forward to working with a mentee to bring their setting into focus. Best of luck in PitchWars!


  44. Hi Kelly! I know I’m a little late answering your question here, but I wanted to tell you why I chose to submit to you: I really like your vibe, humor, and love of travel. Going to Europe last year changed my life, too. I feel like my manuscript fits with several things on your wish list, and I also connected with how you detailed your editing style. I always appreciated when teachers would actually give us reasons why our writing was or wasn’t working–if we don’t know what we’re doing wrong/right, we’ll never figure out how to grow. Thanks!


    1. Hi Dana! Thanks for subbing to me! You’re right–there’s not way to get better if you don’t know what’s wrong. So much of being a beginning writer is trial and error. I’m looking forward to working with my mentee to help them add that final polish to their manuscript. Good luck!!

      Liked by 1 person

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