Pitch Wars 2018 Wish List


Welcome, Pitch Wars peeps, to my 2018 Wish List! I’m over the moon to be back mentoring again, and can’t wait to see what lands in my inbox this year!


Requisite biographical information:

My name is Lyndsay Ely (that’s eel-ee, like an eel), and I am the author of GUNSLINGER GIRL, a YA Western SFF dystopian genre burrito that came out in January 2018 from Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown. In 2015, I entered GG (under a different title) into Pitch Wars, and was lucky enough to be mentored by the incomparable Elizabeth Briggs. I am now represented by Laura Zats of Red Sofa Literary, agent and co-host of the Print Run podcast. By day, I’m a marketing graphic designer at a Boston publishing house (which means my life feels like publishing 24/7 sometimes) and organizer of a local speculative fiction writing/critique group. 

When I’m not working, writing, or reading, I love searching for antiques and vintage collectibles, finding a great new craft cocktail bar or brewery, playing Pokemon Go!, geeking out at cons, and…other stuff.


Hey, that’s nice and all, but what kinds of manuscripts are you looking for?

Okay, okay—this is supposed to be a wish list.

Once again, I’m just a young adult mentor asking you, the prospective young adult mentees, to send me all of your fantasy, light scifi, historical fiction (especially if it’s SFF), and genre-bent fiction that defies easy categorization. Gimme your complex, morally complicated characters, your worlds saturated with baroque levels of detail, and plots that will twist and turn more than a pair of headphones buried at the bottom of my oversized and rarely cleaned purse.

Got a YA fantasy reminiscent of Marjorie Liu’s MONSTRESS? I want to see it.

An unusual, razor-edged take on familiar elements like THE CRUEL PRINCE? Yes, please!

Lush worldbuilding like THE BELLES or a historical setting with a healthy dash of dark fantasy like GRAVE MERCY? *points at my inbox* It goes in there!


More about what I’m looking for:
  • Diverse casts, relationships, and settings of all kinds (including, but not limited to, LGBTIQA+, neurodiversity, and #ownvoices)
  • Feminism, badass ladies
  • FANTASY—high fantasy, low fantasy, historical fantasy, diet fantasy, extra spicy fantasy, cold brew fantasy—all of them!
  • SCIFI—hard, ultra-sciency science fiction isn’t my thing, but an adventure story that utilizes science (for example, like A WRINKLE IN TIME) might catch my eye
  • HISTORICAL—Got something like a young adult HARLOTS, GODS OF GOTHAM, or SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN? I have a weakness for period pieces, SFF or not
  • GENRE-BENDERS—I love to be surprised!
  • Unlikeable or anti-heroes, vigilantes, and redeemable villains
  • Unusual magic systems (though this doesn’t mean I don’t like the usual ones too)
  • Adventures! Heists! Treasure hunts!
  • Dark! Gritty! Grim dark!
  • Positive fat representation (of any gender)
  • Departure from traditional gender roles (for all genders)
  • A CITY OF BRASS-esque YA
  • Twisted stuff, like a YA version of PREACHER or PENNY DREADFUL
  • Retellings aren’t my favorite, but if you have an unfamiliar or rarely traveled one, especially with lavish prose like in UPROOTED, I’d be interested in seeing it
  • Graphic novels? YES, PLEASE. I cut my storytelling teeth on comic books, so I am here for GNs.



Okay, what do you NOT want?

This is always tricky to answer, because just when you think there’s something you couldn’t possibly enjoy—like a space book about singing—an author comes along and upends that. (*glances at SPACE OPERA by Cat Valente*)

But, in general, I’m not looking for:

  • Mermaids, werewolves, or angels vs. demons (Note: If these exist as elements in your story or world, that’s 100% fine; If they are the main focus of your story, it’s less likely to entice me.)
  • Love interests whose biggest selling point is smouldering hottiness, or Insta-love™
  • Contemporary (unless you have a reallllly dark Gillian Flynn-esque practically-a-murder-ballad YA contemporary)
  • Epistolary novels, novels told in text message, verse etc. (Just not my thing.)
  • Rape as a character motivation, or excessive use or threat of sexual assault as a device to create danger (Again, it’s okay if these elements exist in your world, as long as they are not used excessively or as a main motivator.) I’ll also note here that no trigger warnings are necessary in my case, but please be aware of any noted on other mentors’ wish lists.
  • White saviour stories, or narratives about discrimination that center the experiences of the privileged class
  • Any plot that leans on “MC overcomes challenge despite the fact that / even though she’s a girl.” (Girl MCs who have to pretend to be boys is gonna be a tough sell to me too, though I won’t say it’s 100% out.)


I’m still not entirely sure what you like. Do you have a list of favorites that can better help me understand?

You bet your backside I do!

Favorite books/comics: The Count of Monte Cristo, the Young Wizards series, Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom, The Cruel Prince, Gods of Gotham, A Darker Shade of Magic series, The End of Mr. Y, The Stand, Strangers in Paradise, Monstress, Saga, Transmetropolitan, Preacher, Fables.

Favorite authors: Leigh Bardugo, V.E. Schwab, Diane Duane,  Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Scarlett Thomas, R.L. LaFevers, Lyndsay Faye, Warren Ellis, Terry Moore

Favorite TV/movies: Battlestar Galactica, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Archer, Rick and Morty, Steven Universe, Venture Bros, Harlots, Dangerous Liaisons, Titus, Deadpool, Heathers, Muppet Treasure Island, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Favorite characters: Holland (from A Darker Shade of Magic series), Katniss (from THE HUNGER GAMES), Nina (from SIX OF CROWS), Amethyst (from Steven Universe), Starbuck (from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), Maeve (from WESTWORLD), Zuko (from ATLA), Leia (from STAR WARS), Katchoo (from STRANGERS IN PARADISE)

Favorite Pokémon: Sandshrew


So what can I expect from you as a mentor?

To start, doing what it takes to get you the materials you need to revise in a timely manner. This will include an edit letter, feedback on revisions, help on your query, synopsis, and pitch, as well as assistance in finding sensitivity readers, if applicable. (Plus, a hand with anything else that might come up.) 

And if you need some words of wisdom, one of the wisest mentors out there once said: “There’s no different angle, no clever solution, no trickity-trick that’s going to move that rock. You’ve got to face it head on.”

The rock is your manuscript. And we’re gonna face it head on.


What are you looking for in a mentee?

Someone passionate about their writing and the amazing opportunity that is Pitch Wars. Someone who can take criticism, and search for the kernel of truth within it even when it doesn’t entirely make sense to them. Someone who won’t just kill their darlings, but turn their back on them as they are dragged kicking and screaming into the underworld.


And, most importantly, someone who will do the hard work and hit the deadlines, no excuses.
(Barring unforeseeable events, of course.) I am a very deadline-oriented person, and I’d like a mentee that is too. Revisions can be intense, even with the extended timeline this year. But if you’re willing to to put in the effort, so am I!

Are you ready?


Return to the Pitch Wars 2018 Mentor Blog Hop main page or continue browsing the YA mentors’ blogs via the links below!

















































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27 thoughts on “Pitch Wars 2018 Wish List

  1. Lyndsay, your gif game is ON!

    I was wondering how important plot is to you when making a decision? If you love the characters and the premise of the book and the plot elements, but the actual plot is messy and a bit all over the place, is it something you’re committed to help your mentee with or you’d suggest hopefuls to have plot figured out before submitting to you?

    Thank you!

    1. Thank you!

      And I definitely don’t expect perfect manuscripts to come in (because then what’s the point of PW?) I would be happy to work through plotting with a mentee if I thought the prose, characters, and premise were strong. In fact, this is probably the biggest thing I worked with my mentee last year. There were many long convos as we worked to link together all the great pieces she had into a fully-realized plot line.

  2. Hey Lyndsay!
    Are you open to Portal fantasy as well? It’s more of the “Coraline” approach with travel back and forth.

  3. Hi! How would you feel about mermaids, werewolves, vampires, and witches being used in a unique way? Think contemporary fantasy similar to the Mortal Instruments, but Clary falls in love with a Downworlder that she’s supposed to kill instead of Jace. The main focus would be on witches and their magic system but the love interest is a werewolf which is why I thought to ask.

  4. Hi Lyndsay,

    How would you feel about a dark-comedy dystopian YA manuscript with 4 diverse POVs? (When I say “dark-comedy dystopian YA, I mean like Black Mirror meets Heathers.)

    Or is 4 POVs too many for your taste?

    Thanks for reading!

  5. Hey Lyndsay! I see from the questions and replies that you’re pretty open to genre-blending (Science Fantasy), werewolves, and dystopian. But what about manuscripts “written like an anime”?

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