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We are 2021 Young Adult Mentors, Pitch Wars

Hoda & Lyssa's Pitch Wars 2021 Wishlist

For a plain text version of this wishlist, click here.

Hello, Pitch Wars Hopefuls! Welcome to Hoda & Lyssa’s 2021 wishlist – we’re so glad to have you here. Our wishlist is 2 parts: what we want (as seen below) and what we have to offer (as seen on this page). But first...


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. To read more about it, check out the website:


This year, Hoda is mentoring for the fourth time, and Lyssa for the first! We’re excited to tell you more about us--and why you should submit to us-- but first, let’s begin with the good stuff, shall we?



Our Wishlist

(To skip to our “About Us,” click here)


We’re thrilled to be mentoring YA. We’re also accepting submissions for NA, though we may ask you to make changes to make it suitable for the upper YA market.


  • Fantasy: We are huge fans of immersive, escapist fantasy stories, from romantic fantasies to fast paced, plot-driven adventures and retellings. Please--pretty, pretty please--send us stories that mix romantic and fantastical elements, including your swoony LGBTQ+ stories. Whether it be light, dark, angsty, frightening, or humorous, we'd love to read it! We have a particular soft spot for compelling voices and pretty prose, but will devour page-turners of all kinds. And although we enjoy a good epic/high fantasy, we're not the best suited to mentor this category.

  • Contemporary and Historical Fantasy: Give us allll the your stories grounded in this world with a speculative twist. Seriously. All of them. This includes speculative fiction, magical realism, historical reimaginings, and paranormal. We'd love a good witchy story this fall!

  • Contemporary: Another favorite of ours. Please send us all your voice-driven and quirky contemporary subs! Make us laugh, cry, or swoon (or all of the above!). Whether it’s light-hearted or more on the darker side – We’ll take it! And in case you can't tell, we have a weak spot for romance-- even if it's just a teeny, tiny taste of attraction/longing, we're satisfied. That said, if you have a YA The Hating Game, or a joyful rom-com from an undertold perspective--we want it! Bonus points if you can comp Netflix's Outer Banks (P4L!)

  • Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense: A page-turning mystery that keeps us guessing? A thriller that has me on the edge of our seats (like a YA version of IN MY DREAMS I HOLD A KNIFE)? Hurry up and send them our way! We're not the best-suited for excessive gore or horror, though we're not afraid to get dark and gritty.

  • Historical: Have a story that immerses us in the past? We’d love to see it! All the usual bonus points apply--for romantic elements, fresh perspectives, and a plot that keeps us up all night.


What we crave within these genres:

In ALL genres, we'd LOVE to read stories from a diverse array of narratives, written by authors with direct experiences within these communities.

We also gravitate towards stories with feminist themes and underpinnings.


Here are some more things we’d love to see:

(These are examples, not an exhaustive list!)

  • Slow-burning and complicated relationships

  • Heists

  • Anti-heroes and villains

  • Flawed/unlikeable/morally gray characters

  • Vampires, especially a fresh twist

  • Strong platonic friendships

  • Friendship breakups

  • Family/sibling relationships

  • Love triangles! When they’re done well, they’re magical (a hill Lyssa will die on)

  • Enemies to lovers

  • Friends to lovers

  • Childhood friends to enemies to lovers

  • Bromance!

  • Characters who banter

  • Multi-POVs or an ensemble cast

  • Unlikely allies

  • Retellings (LOVE a fresh take on a familiar tale)

  • Only one bed (really, just all the tropes)

And, so you can get a better idea of our taste, here are some books we love:

  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

  • Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

  • When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

  • Throwaway Girls by Andrea Contos

  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

  • Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

  • Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne Brown

And while we’re at it, some movies we love: Moulin Rouge, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Pride and Prejudice (2005), Crazy Rich Asians, Edge of Tomorrow, Parasite, Armageddon, Twister, A Knight's Tale, Romeo & Juliet (1996), Love Actually, Austenland.

Last but not least, TV shows we love: Friends, The Office, Never Have I Ever, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Game of Thrones (before S7, grr), Scrubs, Schitt’s Creek, Big Little Lies, Gilmore Girls, The Witcher, Modern Family, True Blood, Sherlock, The Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, Outer Banks


We’re not the right person for:

  • Excessive gore

  • Anything with animal cruelty

  • Rape as a plot device: If your story includes characters with a history of sexual assault or abuse, that’s within our comfort zones. But if your story includes graphic on-page assault, especially if it’s used primarily to make a (often male) character more protective or in some other way that limits the victimized character’s agency (making them a “plot device”), then we’re not right for you.

So that’s it for our wishlist! Time to tell you about us, our publishing experience, and why you should absolutely submit to us!

Click here to continue to Part 2!

Note:For a plain text version of this wishlist, click here. As mentors, we will strive to provide any reasonable accommodations for our mentee, so please don't hesitate to ask.

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