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What is 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.

Who are we?

Skyla Arndt has always loved the creepy, crawly side of life. When she was younger, she thought that love might translate to hunting Bigfoot, but luckily for him, writing proved easier. She was a 2020 Pitch Wars mentee so she knows a thing or two about multitasking revision with doomsday prepping. Her debut novel TOGETHER WE ROT is coming out in 2023 from Viking/Penguin.

(PICTURED: An announcement for TOGETHER WE ROT)
(PICTURED: An announcement for TOGETHER WE ROT)

Alex Brown is a queer, biracial Filipino American writer who loves rooting for the final girl–especially if she’s also a monster. Alex is no stranger to horror, as she’s worked as a Showrunner’s Assistant on the final season of Supernatural, as well as the upcoming Resident Evil live-action adaptation for Netflix. Alex is also the co-creator of The Bridge, a narrative fiction podcast that’s had over 1,000,000 downloads to date! Alex was a Pitch Wars Alternate in 2014, and has previously served as mentor in Author Mentor Match. She will have a short story published in Tori Bovalino’s THE GATHERING DARK: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FOLK HORROR, which will be out in Fall 2022 from Page Street.

Visit her website HERE.

 (Pictured: An anthology announcement for THE GATHERING DARK).
(Pictured: An anthology announcement for THE GATHERING DARK).

Together we are looking for the spooky, swoony book of our dreams. If you would describe your story as horromance then you’re in the right spot. We are mentoring YA this year, but we are open to NA as long as you are willing to potentially age your story down. We promise to be your biggest cheerleader and to get your story as spooky as possible.

Alex and Skyla with their YA Horror-only MSWL:

A photo of Sabrina the Teenage Witch next to a demon.
A photo of Sabrina the Teenage Witch next to a demon.


Ok, onto the fun part. Time to scream about what we want:

  • Give us ALL THE HORROR! Nothing is too much for us. 
    • Is there a creepy manor with forbidden wings and brooding lords? Is there a local urban legend plaguing a small town? Ghosts? Ghouls? Vampires? Werewolves? 
      • Bonus points if anything listed above is done in a fun, diverse, and interesting way! Would love some cool takes on werewolves in particular (i.e. Netflix’s The Order)
A screenshot from IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY with the caption "All right, what are some of your likes?"  "Uh, ghouls."
A screenshot from IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY with the caption “All right, what are some of your likes?” “Uh, ghouls.”
  • More bonus points if the love interest or main character IS the monster
A photo that says "hey there demons, it's me, ya boy."
A photo that says “hey there demons, it’s me, ya boy.”
  • Can you comp your story to one of the following?
    • Wicked Deep 
    • House of Salt and Sorrows
    • Rules for Vanishing
    • Hades/Persephone (bonus points for Hadestown)
    • What We Do In the Shadows
    • Knives Out (BUT HORROR)
    • The Babadook
    • Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House
    • Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural
  • Voice, voice, voice
  • Villain love interests. Yes, please.
    • Does the main character become a villain, too? Also yes
A tweet from user "emonormie": "obsessed with these vibes," I say, entering a situation so wretched and foul."
A tweet from user “emonormie”: “obsessed with these vibes,” I say, entering a situation so wretched and foul.”
  • Lush, eerie settings that swallow you whole and refuse to let you go
    • Should we fear the woods? The ocean? That one oddly menacing rock in the center of town? Anything that’s as creepily atmospheric as BIOSHOCK
    • “The ocean is terrifying and lovely.” Something like that.
A photo of Zak Bagans saying "I feel very welcome here" in front of a graffiti wall with "666" printed.
A photo of Zak Bagans saying “I feel very welcome here” in front of a graffiti wall with “666” printed.
  • Generational curses and whispering pines, doors you shouldn’t open and teeth too sharp
  • Stories that give off any of the vibes of our visual wishlist
  • Lyrical, atmospheric prose 
  • A sharp sense of humor
  • Enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, summoner and demon to lovers–
  • A fun horror take on a concept that’s usually a different genre (like HAPPY DEATH DAY and time-loops or FREAKY with body swaps) would also be a scream
  • Dark comedies! If your book is like ELECTION but also horror WE WANT IT!!!
  • A diverse cast of characters
  • If it’s fun + meta + kinda campy + horror then it’s for us!
  • If it has the feel of a found footage movie, we’re automatically in!


We’re not a good match for the following:

  • Non horror contemporary 
  • High Fantasy or Sci-fi
  • Anything without a romantic subplot
  • Anything that redeems an abuser 
  • Stories that revolve around–or make light of–suicide

Mentoring Style

The two of us are prepared to love and protect you–and we will! Publishing can be filled with some pretty epic moments, as well as some devastating low points, and we plan to be there with you every step of the way! 

We like to start with big picture thoughts first and drill down from there as the revision process goes on. We think it’s important to have a conversation with our mentee first to discuss the broader revision ideas that we have in mind and see if our vision aligns. We also love to brainstorm during these chats and bat ideas/thoughts back and forth. To us, this process is highly collaborative, and it’s also driven by what our mentee wants their story to be. We can throw out fifty ideas, but at the end of the day the ones we want to focus on/help our mentee work into their manuscript are the things that they’re most passionate and excited about. 

After we’ve had our initial conversation and we have a better idea of what revisions will look like, we will craft that edit letter and send it along! If there’s a tv show or movie that feels like something our mentee is trying to do, we also strongly urge that they watch a certain episode or the film in order to see how a certain plot element/character/reveal/theme is carried out in another piece of media. We really do think we can learn a lot about writing books from different sorts of media and try to incorporate that into the edit letter when we can.

Once we get past the first revision, we’ll do a line edit pass and also leave some comments in the MS. Some will be about what could still be fixed up, but for the most part it’ll be us fangirling over how awesome all the changes are and how badass our mentee is!

We’re always available if our mentee needs to chat in any way that makes them feel comfortable. Communication is key! If you don’t want to Skype/Zoom and only ever want to IM, that’s cool! Just let us know and we’ll adjust to you!

A meme of two Kirby plushies holding knives with heart emojis.
A meme of two Kirby plushies holding knives with heart emojis.

Pitch Wars 2021 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Mary E. Roach (Accepts NA)
  2. Amelia Diane Coombs (Accepts NA)
  3. Diana Urban
  4. Susan Bishop Crispell (Accepts NA)
  5. TJ Ohler (Accepts NA)
  6. Laurie Dennison (Accepts NA)
  7. Justine Pucella Winans (Accepts NA)
  8. Zoulfa Katouh and Molly X Chang (Accepts NA)
  9. Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
  10. Abigail Johnson
  11. Rosiee Thor and Emily Grey
  12. Carlyn Greenwald (Accepts NA)
  13. M.T. Khan (Accepts NA)
  14. Sarvenaz Taghavian
  15. Emery Lee
  16. Margie Fuston (Accepts NA)
  17. Aashna Avachat (Accepts NA)
  18. Allison Saft (Accepts NA)
  19. Fiona McLaren
  20. Jessica Lewis
  21. Brianna Bourne (Accepts NA)
  22. Jamie McHenry
  23. Meg Long and Rochelle Hassan (Accepts NA)
  24. Laura Weymouth (Accepts NA)
  25. Natalie Crown and Angelica Monai (Accepts NA)
  26. Skyla Arndt and Alex Brown (Accepts NA)
  27. Charity Alyse and Cimone Watson (Accepts NA)
  28. Emily Thiede and Lauren Blackwood (Accepts NA)
  29. Anna Sortino and Annika J. Cosgrove (Accepts NA)
  30. Jenny Perinovic and Kyrie McCauley (Accepts NA)
  31. Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
  32. Jamie Howard and Meredith Tate (Accepts NA)
  33. KL Burd (Accepts NA)
  34. Jennifer Yu (Accepts NA)
  35. Hoda Agharazi and Lyssa Mia Smith (Accepts NA)
  36. Em X. Liu and Grace D. Li (Accepts NA)
  37. Carly Heath (Accepts NA)
  38. Kiana Krystle (Accepts NA)
  39. Sarah Underwood and Kat Dunn (Accepts NA)
  40. Joel Brigham (Accepts NA)
  41. Dante Medema and Liz Lawson (Accepts NA)
  42. Aty S. Behsam and Maedeh B. Saaina (Accepts NA)
  43. Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
  44. Gabi Burton (Accepts NA)
  45. Aaron Cole and Tamara Cole (Accepts NA)
  46. Hannah V. Sawyerr and Olivia Liu (Accepts NA)
  47. Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
  48. Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
  49. Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
  50. 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.

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