Hello! I’m Kylie, and I’m a YA & NA mentor taking every genre except historical or memoir.
Beyond genre, I am also not accepting any graphic novels or stories in verse–so if that applies to you feel free to skip reading the rest! And FYI, I’ve created a plaintext version of this list without gifs, which you can view here.
Still here? Okay, cool! Then…
PITCH WARS 2020 LFG!!!
(white man in golf clothes saying “Let’s f*cking go.”)
Uh, now would probably be a good time to mention that I swear…a good and normal amount…so just FYI if you’re reading this at work.
(white woman swearing up a storm while someone covers a child’s ears)
But seriously, Pitch Wars is one of my favorite times of the year, and I’m so glad to be back mentoring in 2020! Before we get into my wishlist, let’s talk a little bit about what Pitch Wars even is…
ABOUT PITCH WARS
Pitch Wars is a mentorship program where authors & other industry professionals choose one writer each to mentor. Mentors read the entire manuscript and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript, pitch, and query shine for a showcase, where agents can read the pitch & short sample and request to see more material. If you want to learn more, check out the Pitch Wars website!
WHO I AM
(photo of me)
I’m Kylie Schachte, author of the YA noir mystery You’re Next, released this year from Jimmy Patterson Books. You’re Next was actually my Pitch Wars book when I was a mentee in 2017, and my first year participating as a mentor was in 2019. I live in Oregon, and I’m a queer anti-zionist Jew who uses she/her pronouns–just to put an ultra-fine point on all my identities.
(photo of the You’re Next cover)
If you want to learn more about my book, you can find more information, including buy links, on the homepage of my site.
A NOTE ON NEW ADULT (NA)
This year, I am accepting New Adult entries, but I will be looking for books that can be re-packaged as YA. This might mean aging your characters down, or adjusting the themes or plot to feel more relevant to a YA audience. If you have questions about whether your story skews younger or older, please feel free to DM me. I cannot speak to whether your specific pitch is a good fit for me, but I can give you my (totally subjective!) opinions about age categories.
Okay, and now for the fun part!
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR…
Strap in because I have extremely broad tastes for fantasy so I have A LOT to say about what I’m looking for.
(Man popping out a fold-out chair to watch some kind of sporting event)
I am accepting all subgenres of fantasy: contemporary, high fantasy, portal fantasy, fantasy romance, historical–if it has magic & shit, I’ll take it. So what exactly would I like to see in this genre?
I love BOTH epic, fast-paced fantasies like Girls of Paper & Fire AND stories with exquisite, lyrical writing like Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor or The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.
I love fantasy that draws from real world cultures, mythologies, folklores, eras of history, and locales. Examples: A Song of Wraiths & Ruin, the Grishaverse.
I’m especially interested in stories inspired by cultures that are not just the “usual suspects” (ie: all white medieval Europe). Would love to see stories drawing from the cultural traditions of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and eastern Europe. This is not to say that western cultures are totally out, but I would love to see people dive into less represented regions and subcultures–where’s my fantasy Iceland, Portugal, Croatia? Or inspired by like, I dunno, the Battle of the Bucket in 14th century Italy (look it up, history is weird).
Those aren’t specific requests, but what I’m looking for here is a sense of specificity, authenticity, and a deep, fully imagined history. The same is true for contemporary fantasy–I want to feel ultra grounded in a highly specific setting: the Everglades, a strip mall suburb in Southern California, the wilds of Patagonia.
If your fantasy has any kind of romance plot in it, make sure to check the “Romance” section below to see what kinds of tropes I love.
Here’s a random collection of other shit I love in fantasy:
- Stories that draw from Americana (ex: Ghost Wood Song, Dread Nation)
- Magic that deals in unique trades and skills–clockmaking, cartographers, woodworking, beekeeping, FOOD–anything special and highly specific turned into enchantment (ex: Woven in Moonlight)
- Fairytale retellings–especially stranger, wilder, lesser-known fairytales or non-Western fairytales (ex: House of Salt & Sorrows)
- Fantasy romance in which a demon/god/monster is turned into a total yearning wreck over their lover (ex: The Cruel Prince, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
More favorite fantasy books: Six of Crows, A Blade so Black, Tess of the Road, anything by Naomi Novik, The Bear & the Nightingale, We Set the Dark on Fire, The Light Between Worlds, The Poppy War, The Starless Sea, Winterwood, Incendiary, Legendborn
If you have beautiful, lyrical writing that places magic in our real world without explanation or reason–please send!!
Give me your bizarre, uncanny enchantments that bend reality into something surreal and dreamlike. I especially love when this type of writing is grounded in the legends & folklore of an #OwnVoices cultural tradition.
More favorite books featuring magical realism/fabulism: Dark & Deepest Red (or anything by Anna-Marie Mclemore), Don’t Date Rosa Santos, The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.
I am taking all kinds of contemporary — Dark, Light & Funny, Romantic, Serious–but I have very specific tastes in each category…
Light & Funny Contemporary: I would do actual crime for a raunchy, sex-positive YA comedy in the vein of Book Smart, Sex Education, or Blockers–and I especially want to see these stories with marginalized kids of all kinds.
(Blockers two teenage girls at a party, “All right. It’s fuck o’clock.”)
Random shit I want to see for light/funny contemp:
- Sex pacts!!!!!!
- Wild roadtrip shenanigans (ex: Unpregnant)
- Prank wars
- “One Crazy Night” stories where characters are just trying to get to prom, graduation etc but keep getting sucked into increasingly bonkers misadventures
- Music festivals!! (Especially in combination w/ the above point)
- Break-up stories
Dark Contemporary: The darker the story, the prettier I want the writing to be–whether that’s super lyrical or sharp, incisive prose. Examples: Foul is Fair, everything by Courtney Summers or Mindy McGinnis.
Serious or Issue-Driven: For serious/issue-driven books, I am only looking for books with super fast, propulsive pacing or a high-concept hook. One of my favorite recent examples is This is My America by Kim Johnson, which explores the intergenerational legacy of racial injustice, but does so through a classic murder mystery structure–and that makes the whole book so tense, so gripping you simply cannot put it down. Slower, more introspective books are totally wonderful, I’m just not the best mentor for them.
Romance: I am looking for a great, high-concept hook. One of my forever favorites is Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka–the whole idea of Megan being the permanent Rosalind (the girl dudes date before they meet their One True Love) grabbed me right away. Other high-concept examples: The Henna Wars, Red, White, & Royal Blue, I’ll Be The One, The Voting Booth. Make sure you check the romance section below for some tropes I especially love.
More favorite contemporary novels: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno, Loveboat Taipei, Slay, Dead Queens Club, You Should See Me in a Crown, Far From the Tree, Sadie, anything by Tiffany D. Jackson
I am accepting YA romance of all kinds, gender pairings, and genres (except historical). I am a total sucker for a good ship, so please send me all your swoony, dreamy, yearning shit!!
A non-exhaustive list of my favorite tropes:
- bad girls/boys/anyone (I have a special soft spot for bad boys that subvert or add nuance to ideas of toxic masculinity. Ex: Cemetery Boys, Six of Crows, or my own book–You’re Next)
- ANGST & YEARNING
- Sloooooow burn
- Battle couples
- “I am bound by duty/honor, but this devious wildcard has shown up in my life and I will never be the same”
- Sunshine & the Grump
- OH NO, THERE’S ONLY ONE BED
- Excessive use of nicknames until a Soft™ moment
- “I show you I love you by holding a knife to your throat” (if you can comp Jude x Cardan from The Cruel Prince, hand it over)
- Monsters/gods/demons in love (ex: The Bear & the Nightingale)
- Back from the dead!! Or just any variation of people with a Complicated Past who haven’t seen each for A Very Long Time, and then they’re reunited and it’s Messy
Repeating myself but I am especially hungry for aching, angsty love stories. Characters that have real, legitimate reasons that they can’t (or think they can’t) be together. I want pining, yearning, tear your guts out kind of love. This doesn’t mean it can’t have a happy ending, but I love to suffer along the way. Example: Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices trilogy).
(Veronica Mars: Logan tells Veronica “Our story is epic. It spans years, continents. Lives ruined. Bloodshed.”)
Please check the section for your romance genre (ie: fantasy, contemp) for more notes on what exactly I’m looking for.
More favorite romances (across all genres): The Bear & the Nightingale, Cemetery Boys, Serpent & Dove, You Should See Me in a Crown, Crier’s War
I am very picky about mysteries & thrillers, and I’m looking for two things: VOICE and HOOK.
I want big, voice-y super commercial writing, and I love it when the CHARACTERS are the star of the show, rather than having the sole emphasis on solving the puzzle. Examples: One of Us is Lying, A Study in Charlotte
And when it comes to the HOOK, I’m looking for fascinating, totally unique premises that will make for a killer pitch. Think Sadie, with its completely original story structure and exploration of the true crime trend, or All Your Twisted Secrets with its Saw-like murder house.
Random mystery/thriller wishlist items:
- Authors of color taking conventional mystery tropes and giving them a new perspective (ex: This is My America, Allegedly, Monday’s Not Coming)
- Mysteries set in unusual insular communities (like a religious sect, or a commune?)
- A wacky, hijinks-y gay ensemble mystery. Like if you have, I dunno, a book about a bunch of gays trying to solve a murder (or cover up a murder???) at Pride
More favorite mysteries: The Inheritance Games, Truly Devious
Similar to dark contemporary, I am looking for gorgeous, haunting, lyrical writing in my horror submissions–I especially love horror that veers into fabulism & magical realism. I am most interested in books that are creepy and chilling, more so than traditional monsters and gore. Examples: Wilder Girls, Sawkill Girls, Mexican Gothic
The horror stories I am most excited about right now are those written by women, queer people, and BIPOC who are using conventions of the genre to examine the real-world horrors of their identity through a fantastical lens. Examples: Lovecraft Country (TV show), Her Body & Other Parties.
(Letitia from Lovecraft Country smashing the windows of an old car while a cross burns in the background)
Honestly if you really want to know my taste in horror, check out my 2019 mentee’s showcase entry. I almost didn’t even take horror last year, but Ann made me a full convert!
More favorite horror novels: Agnes at the End of the World, Ninth House, The Year of the Witching, The Diviners (fantasy, but scared the shit out of me)
My tastes for gothic overlap with fantasy, horror, romance, and magical realism–so you may want to check those sections too–but please send me all your dark, romantic, and creepy shit.
(creepy ass Victorian goth ladies standing next to a tree, holding a raven)
Would love to see gothic stories set in non-Western/white cultures & settings. And just…please send me your gothic romances. Please.
More favorite gothic stories: Ghost Wood Song, House of Salt & Sorrows, Mexican Gothic.
I love sci-fi with big ensemble casts and a focus on the characters, rather than the spacey gadgety worldbuilding-y stuff. Examples: The Illuminae Files, Battlestar Galactica (TV Show).
(Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck jogging alongside Admiral Adam)
Assorted wishlist items:
- Sci-fi mashed up with tropes & stories from other genres. A sci-fi Fast & the Furious? Sci-fi Ocean’s Eleven?
- A sci-fi fairytale or folklore retelling
- Unique & vivid settings
More favorite sci-fi: The Sound of Stars, Once & Future, Gunslinger Girl, Wilder Girls
A COLLECTION OF RANDOM SHIT I’D LIKE, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER…
- Queer romance of all kinds, all gender pairings, all genres
- Bi/pan/queer boys
- Found families
- Monster (or Monstrous) Girls – I want bad girls of all kinds, and I do not care if they are “redeemed” or not
- Jewish characters & folklore – especially fantasy (ex: Spinning Silver) and especially non-white Jews
- Creepy old houses
- Weird jobs – Does your main character work at a creepy amusement park? A novelty souvenir shop? Oh, and I love weird family businesses–are they helping out at their family’s crime scene cleanup business? Rent-by-the-hour motel?
- All the atmospheric shit: give me ~vibes~
- Ocean/water stuff
- Wintery worlds & settings (related: Russia/eastern Europe)
- Occult/dark religious iconography (ex: The Year of the Witching, Ninth House)
- Disaster/chaos kids of all genders — please give me all your fuck ups
- Anything of any genre that comps The Fast & the Furious
- Anything of any genre that comps Birds of Prey
- Deals with the devil both literal and figurative
- Thieves of all kinds
- Anything involving bees
- Revenge! Both light & dark-hearted
A NOTE ON #OWNVOICES
I would love to work with an OwnVoices author drawing from their own experience and cultural history–regardless of genre. I would love to see OwnVoices stories about marginalized characters that re-purpose “overdone” tropes, like Portal Fantasy or The Chosen One! Examples: A Blade so Black, Cinderella is Dead.
Similarly, a new twist on paranormal stories inspired by non-white/European legends, like Lobizona with its Argentinian werewolves. Ditto all kinds of retellings, from fairytales to “the classics.”
And while I am accepting serious or issue-driven books (see above), I would also be SO HAPPY to see OV stories that are all about joy, first loves, hijinks, etc. Examples: Cemetery Boys, You Should See Me in a Crown, I’ll Be The One.
Important caveat: I will never ask you to specify or validate your identities–I respect that not everyone has the privilege of being public with their marginalizations. If you’re not comfortable using the OV tag for any reason, that is 100% okay.
WHAT I DON’T WANT
Here are all the genres & plot-types I will not be accepting this year. It’s nothing against your book–I’m sure it’s wonderful!–I just wouldn’t be a good match for the following:
- Graphic Novels
- Novels in verse
- Non-speculative Historical: the only type of historical fiction I am taking is historical with speculative elements (ie: fantasy, magical realism/fabulism, sci-fi, steampunk, etc). If you have that–great, send it my way! Anything without magic (or the like) I will be no help to you. For the record, I count historical as anything set before 1990–yes, I know 1990 is technically historical now, but I refuse to acknowledge that.
- Fantasy based on/inspired by Medieval Europe is not a hard no, but I’m looking for someone who’s done their research and found a fresh, compelling take on it. If you can find an ultra-specific facet of that period to dive deep on, or if you want to write about women/queer people/POC in Medieval Europe (they existed!) then yes, I 100% want that.
So that’s what I’m looking for. I know it’s tempting to tap out now that you’ve read the fun part, but if you are seriously considering me I highly, highly recommend you keep reading to learn about me & my mentoring style–which should be important considerations as you select the mentors to query!
WHY YOU SHOULD SUBMIT TO ME…
(David from Schitt’s Creek saying “I’m wildly popular. Some might even venture to call me beloved.”)
I was a mentee myself
I understand the pressure and the commitment. Pitch Wars is a ton of work, and it can feel like your One Big Shot(™) to land an agent and sign a book deal (spoiler: it’s not). Not only will I be there to guide you through the process and help you find the most effective ways to put in the work on your manuscript…we will also be approaching this process from a place of self-care–prioritizing mental health and learning how to establish meaningful boundaries in this industry.
I am your collaborator, not your boss
As your mentor, I am here to provide creative support–not to tell you what to do. If I choose you, it’s because I believe in your writing and your potential. That means I will trust your decisions no matter what. I am here to provide support & suggestions about how to make your story as powerful as possible, but I will always approach that from a place that centers your creative vision.
I know how to teach writing
Being a good writer and being able to explain how to write are not the same thing. I’ve been tutoring & mentoring writing for 8+ years, working with people of all ages to bring their stories to life.
I am very good at writing pitches
It’s a whole separate skill to condense your 80,000+ word book into a few sentences, but I weirdly love doing it?? I promise we will come up with one hell of a pitch together for the showcase!
Because my mentee from last year says so…
Here’s what my 2019 mentee has to say about working with me:
“From the beginning up through now–far past the end of PW 2019–Kylie has been an absolutely stellar mentor. Enthusiastic, thoughtful, smart as hell. She really helped me both to sharpen my craft and to bring my book to life, respecting my vision at every step of the process, pitching her own ideas to draw it out further, and line editing (TWICE!) to enhance and streamline. Not only that, she’s been an excellent cheerleader and source of support throughout PW, the showcase, querying, and submission, with indispensable advice at every step of the way. I could honestly gush for an embarrassing amount of time, but the point is: she’s an awesome person and an awesome mentor. Highly recommend.”
Ann is a brilliant genius and an incredible storyteller so you should definitely listen to her! And you should go congratulate her on some truly excellent news she got to announce this week!!
(Kids celebrating & throwing confetti in in a high school hallway)
MY MENTORING STYLE
Before I get into this, I want to make one thing very clear: I will respect any and all boundaries you set. I am here to support my mentee in the most helpful, least stressful way possible–whatever that means to them.
That said, my natural mentoring style is very hands on. I will make myself available for constant, ongoing support. If you want to text or DM every day–I’m game for that. But if you need to go off into your editing cave and have total silence for a few weeks, I’ll roll with that too.
(Simon Cowell saying “I wanna hang out with you.”)
If you’re open to it, I always like to start the relationship with a phone or video call, just so we can get to know each other face-to-face and discuss potential edits. We can continue to have these kinds of calls as frequently as you like. However, this is NOT a requirement, and I’m open to any form of communication you prefer. We can work that out together.
We will collaborate on at least two rounds of edits. Shortly after choosing my mentee, I will provide them with a detailed, big picture edit letter, including both my critical feedback AND my shrieking adulation for how WONDERFUL AND AWESOME AND GENIUS your story is.
This edit letter will likely also include homework–such a beat sheets and character arc exercises–tailored to your story’s needs. We will discuss the edit letter in depth and come up with an action plan together. Second round edits will address any lingering issues as well as line edits. If we have the time and feel it is necessary, we may add additional rounds.
Closer to the showcase, we will also work together to develop your query, synopsis, pitch, and querying game plan so that whatever the outcome of the showcase is, you will be prepared to send your manuscript out into the world.
And, as I’ve mentioned before, your health & wellbeing will be at the center of this entire process. Especially right now, I know many of you are juggling new schedules, work habits, homeschooling, existential dread, etc…we will figure out a way to manage these edits and all of that stuff in a way that doesn’t end with total burnout.
SOME FINAL NOTES…
Sex Scenes & other “mature” content: Editing this post because someone asked–yes, sex scenes are totally fine. Same goes for substance use, swearing, all that stuff. This is NOT a requirement–some teens have sex, others don’t!–but just know that I have no problem with this type of content in a manuscript. If it verges into assault or anything dubiously consensual, please see the next note…
Content Warnings: In your query, please include CWs for sensitive topics, especially sexual assault, animal death/mistreatment, eating disorders, self-harm, or child abuse. I am open to these stories, but like knowing what to expect. If you’re unsure what merits a CW, don’t hesitate to ask me on Twitter.
My DMs are open: to that last point, please feel free to DM me if you have any questions about my wishlist (regarding content warnings or anything else). You can tweet @ me too, but just know my DMs are open. Not all mentors feel this way, so please respect other people’s boundaries. I’m @KylieSchachte on both Instagram and Twitter.
Hang out with me on social media! Here are some upcoming events where you can hang out & ask me questions:
- Saturday, 9/12 – Instagram Takeover for the @PitchWars account
- Saturday, 9/12 at 4 pm eastern – #AskMentor all age groups chat on Twitter
- Sunday, 9/13 at 8 pm eastern – #AskMentor YA chat on Twitter
- Sunday, 9/20 at 1 pm eastern – YA mentor LIVE video chat on YouTube
- Friday, 9/25 at 8 pm eastern – #AskMentor YA chat on Twitter
- Saturday, 9/26 at 4 pm eastern – #AskMentor all age groups chat on Twitter
- I have an ongoing AMA on the PW forums, where you can ask me questions directly any time (you’ll need to create an account & log in to see the thread)
- And I’ve been doing a (sort of) weekly series of Pitch Wars revision advice on my blog
Wow, that was a lot–but I think we got it all. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the mentor’s wishlists through the links below.
(Michael from The Good Place saying “Take it sleazy.”)
I CANNOT WAIT TO READ ALL YOUR STORIES–GOOD LUCK!!!!
Pitch Wars 2020 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists
- Aiden Thomas (Accepts NA)
- Sarvenaz Tash (Accepts NA)
- Chloe Gong and Tashie Bhuiyan
- Abigail Johnson
- Kit Frick and Carlyn Greenwald
- Sonora Reyes (Accepts NA)
- Laurie Dennison
- J.Elle and Emily Golden
- Andrea Contos (Accepts NA)
- Emily Thiede (Accepts NA)
- Amanda Panitch
- Allison Saft and Ava Reid (Accepts NA)
- Emery Lee (Accepts NA)
- Carrie S. Allen and Sabrina Lotfi
- Shannon A. Thompson and Sandra Proudman (Accepts NA)
- Adiba Jaigirdar and Gabriela Martins
- Michaela Greer (Accepts NA)
- Tash McAdam
- ST Sterlings (Accepts NA)
- Maiya Ibrahim and Ayana Gray (Accepts NA)
- Meg Long and Xiran Jay Zhao (Accepts NA)
- Margie Fuston
- Jamie Howard
- Nova McBee
- Amelia Diane Coombs and Sophie Gonzales (Accepts NA)
- Rachel Griffin
- Susan Lee and Auriane Desombre (Accepts NA)
- Ciannon Smart
- Sasha Peyton Smith and Kristin Lambert
- Lane Clarke (Accepts NA)
- Lyndsay Ely (Accepts NA)
- Anna Sortino (Accepts NA)
- Jennieke Cohen
- Bethany Mangle (Accepts NA)
- Sunya Mara (Accepts NA)
- Kat Dunn and Daphne Lao Tonge
- Sheena Boekweg and Alechia Dow (Accepts NA)
- Liz Lawson and Dante Medema (Accepts NA)
- Sarah Dass (Accepts NA)
- Zach Hines (Accepts NA)
- Hoda Agharazi (Accepts NA)
- Dawn Ius and April Snellings (Accepts NA)
- Kara McDowell and Kimberly Gabriel
- Kylie Schachte (Accepts NA)
- Deborah Falaye
- Rona Wang (Accepts NA)
- Becca Mix and Grace Li (Accepts NA)
- Aty S. Behsam (Accepts NA)