Pitch Wars 2019 Wishlist!!

Welcome To My Wishlist!!


Hello hello!

I’m Andrea and I am a returning mentor from 2018!

My debut, THROWAWAY GIRLS, will be out in fall of 2020—it’s a 2017 Pitch Wars success story, (if you’d like to view my entry, it’s right over here.) I owe so much to this contest and all the friends I’ve made through it, so I’m thrilled to be able to give back again this year!

Last year my co-mentor and I had a fabulous mentee whose beautiful book captured my heart from the first page. If you’d like to read exactly how that first page looked in the agent round, where she got requests from some truly fabulous agents, you can see it here!

I am still so incredibly thrilled to say she is now agented, and I fully expect to hold her Pitch Wars book in my hands someday.

I am THRILLED to be able to mentor again this year, and I can’t wait to read all the gorgeous words I hope you’ll send my way!

Me, watching all the fabulous ideas/snippets/aesthetics on the Pitch Wars #.(Woman whispering, “I want that.”)

Me, watching all the fabulous ideas/snippets/aesthetics on the Pitch Wars #.(Woman whispering, “I want that.”)


What Is This Pitch Wars Thing?!

Most of you are probably very familiar with Pitch Wars, but in case you’ve stumbled on this page by accident, here’s the quick version: Pitch Wars is a writing in contest in which writers mentor other writers.

Here’s the more detailed version. Pitch Wars is a writing contest founded by the incomparable Brenda Drake. If you want the official description, as well as any FAQs, you can find them all here!

You can (and should) read through the site, but if you want my version, here it is:

Actual footage of mentees during the agent round.  (Muppet panicking)

Actual footage of mentees during the agent round.

(Muppet panicking)

Writers who have some experience in the publishing industry volunteer to mentor other writers and help them improve their manuscript in preparation for the agent round. Hopefuls submit their query and first chapter to several mentors of their choice, and then those mentors spend a few months feverishly reading submissions and falling in love with too many books while angsting over which manuscript they can help the most. But then mentees are chosen and the real work begins!

Revision revision revision.

Excitement nerves (slight) terror.

And the agent round goes live! Agents then request materials and hopefully fall just as in love and offer representation!

But here’s the most important part of this contest—the relationships you’ll form. No seriously. I didn’t get into Pitch Wars when I applied in 2015, and was I disappointed? Of course! But I made friends. So many friends. So many friends I’m still friends with four years later! And I learned so much about writing and the industry in general.

The truth about Pitch Wars is that you decide how much you get out of it. It’s not all about getting chosen. It’s not all about getting an agent. Those are both wonderful things that should absolutely be celebrated. But neither are the end-all. And those friends you make? You’re going to need them. This is tough industry, and your friends will get you through.

You don’t need to be chosen to make friends and learn, and if you do both of those things, then none of the time you put into applying is wasted.


My Mentoring Style!

Mentoring is a partnership. That means I’ll never force my ideas on you or dictate what your book should be. Those decisions are yours and this will always be your book.

My job as a mentor is to use my skills and experience to make your fantastic book even better, and to pass on some of the knowledge I’ve gained.

I’ve spent a lot of time in this industry, and I’ve learned a lot too. I written in multiple age groups and genres. I know what it’s like waiting for responses to full requests—or to feel like you’re screaming into the query void.

I’ve also been alongside friends who’ve gotten agents, left agents, and gotten new ones. I’ve seen what works in agent relationships and what doesn’t. And I’ve worked through revision with my own CPs, my agent, and my editor, and I’d like to think I’ve learned from every one of them.

I’ve been through Pitch Wars as a mentee and as a mentor. I was incredibly lucky to receive an amazing number of requests during my stint as a mentee, so I know how exciting and incredibly stressful a busy agent round can be! But I also had so many friends with fabulous books that didn’t get tons of requests, and I know what it’s like to prepare a mentee for any and all outcomes.

I’ve been through this fabulous Pitch Wars thing from both sides now, and I had such a wonderful experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything.

One change for last year is that I am mentoring solo this year! I am super excited and also slightly 😬so ummm…please send me subs so I’m not sad and lonely?

And if you need a testimonial, I am happy to report that my mentee from last year still likes me!

See? She likes me. I did not pay her to say this.

See? She likes me. I did not pay her to say this.

So what can you expect if you’re chosen as my mentee?

I’ll be available for DMs, emails, Skype calls. Whatever you need to feel comfortable. And once selections are announced, I’d love to have a Skype/Google/whatever chat so I can ramble semi-incoherently about how much I love your book and how much time I spent hovering over your entry! This is not mandatory though! I know some people don’t do video or calls and that is perfectly okay!

This will be me. Consider yourself forewarned.  (Woman saying, “I am fangirling.”)

This will be me. Consider yourself forewarned.

(Woman saying, “I am fangirling.”)

You’ll likely receive your first edit letter prior to the call, so you’ll be able to read and come up with any questions or comments before we talk. That way we can discuss or brainstorm whatever we need to before the real work starts!

I usually make inline commentary as it relates to the bigger-picture items you’ll find in the edit letter, so chances are good you’ll receive not only an edit letter, but your full manuscript with inline comments as well. As a writer, I always find it helpful to see exactly where someone would suggest I address big-picture concerns, so I try to do the same for my mentees.

After you revise, I’ll read again and make notes of any lingering big-picture items, as well as inline commentary focusing on things like word choice or sentence structure.

We’ll also work on your pitch (which you’ll need for the agent round!), your query (which you’ll need for agent requests and, well, queries) as well as your synopsis.

I love both big-picture AND sentence-level revisions. I am primarily a mystery/thriller writer—even when I wrote SFF my plots always involved some element of mystery! So I’m very well-versed in tightly-plotted manuscripts, unexpected twists, and I understand the importance of pacing, tension, and stakes. And my agent is a fierce wielder of the red pen, so I have learned how and where to tighten and refine at both a big-picture and sentence level.

I also write a damned fine sentence. That means I can definitely help with streamlining and refining your prose, as well as adding texture and flow to your writing. So often, agents reference the importance of voice, which is a very hard thing to teach. But sometimes sentence-level changes can clear away the clutter and bring out the voice that’s been buried beneath it.

I believe critique can be honest without being hurtful. I don't give feedback with the intent to make someone cry. Critique can hurt—it's hard to see someone pull apart something you've worked so hard on—but I believe pointing out a manuscript's weaknesses also helps bring out its strengths. And I believe pointing out the things you’ve done well is just as important!

I am not a plotter. I am a capri-pantser. A semi-plotter/touch-my-capri-pants-and-I'll-kill-you-in-my book sort, if you will. I start off with an idea, and an end, and a few plot points along the way. About halfway through, I usually outline the rest of the book.

It makes no sense, but it works for me. Whatever works for you, works for you. So I won’t make you to fill out a detailed outline or beat sheet (they give me hives,) but I will give you some suggested reading for craft books that have made an impact on my writing. And we will review your overall plot, your character arcs, and how your themes pull through your entire narrative.

More than anything, I promise to take the entire process seriously--because I know this is your career, and that your manuscript means as much to you as mine does to me. But I also believe you have to laugh when you can. So, we're going to make your amazing manuscript even better, but we're going to have fun while doing it! And then we’re going to celebrate all your successes!

A Few Andrea Fun Facts!

* I adore all things fluffy. See evidence —>

The kitty is Jack and the puppy is Winston. Jack is a very good kitty and Winston, well…we’re working on it.

* I have two amazing little girls who inspire, motivate, and challenge me daily. Some days are more challenge than anything else, but I think that means I’m doing things right.

* I bake birthday cakes for those two girls every year, and they are always ridiculously time-consuming, but I can’t stop because they make them happy.

* I recently discovered chocolate gives me migraines and I’m still in mourning.

* I love the ocean and we’ve gone to visit every year for four years now. I would move to the coast in a millisecond.

One day……


* I work out nearly every day because I super suck at managing my expectations of myself, and I have a bit of a perfectionist streak. Exercise seems to keep my brain in check so I don’t melt into a puddle of stress.

* I adore all my writing friends—so many of whom are not pictured here. I could not do this without them and I wouldn’t want to.

Let’s Get To The Good Stuff Already!

These are the genres I’m accepting! Young Adult and New Adult only!

(Pink My Little Pony pulling down goggles beneath the words: “Let’s do this.”)

(Pink My Little Pony pulling down goggles beneath the words: “Let’s do this.”)

<)   )╯ Mystery  
/    \

(   (>   Thriller
/    \

<)   )> Contemporary
/    \

Genre Breakdown!

✷Give me all subgenres of YA mystery & thriller!

※ Mysteries and thrillers, psychological suspense, cozies, whatever! If there’s a mystery, lots of twists, or suspense elements, I’m in!


I’m also open to horror along the lines of Danielle Vega’s THE HAUNTED. Something that has mystery and a creepy, psychological angle. I’m not the best choice for lots of gore and excessive violence.

 I love speculative twists and/or elements, including magical realism and fabulism.

※ Contemporaries or mystery/thrillers that are set in our world and have speculative twists and/or elements. I’ve written fantasy before, so I have experience with all sorts of speculative elements! Last year my mentee’s book had a supernatural bent as well!


※ This includes Contemporary Fantasy as long as it’s firmly grounded in our world. But please DON’T send fantasy or sci-fi. I love them, I do. But if your book is about dragon lords or space elves, then it’s fantasy or sci-fi. There are so many amazing mentors accepting those genres so please don’t waste your pick. So, nothing with fairies, demons, angels, were-anything, spaceships, or robots etc etc

✷ Contemporary!

※  From light to dark and everything in between! As long as it has heart and makes me feel all the things, I’d love to see it!


✷ Disaster/survival contemporary. 

※  Think: I AM STILL ALIVE Or anything with the environment as a character or threat. Snow storm, desert, middle of the ocean—give me all the threats of death!

✷ I am accepting NA manuscripts. HOWEVER, NA is a difficult sell, and I will likely ask you to change your manuscript to YA if chosen.



All the things that make my heart happy!  (Man saying, “Yes, please,” and pressing Enter on a keyboard.)

All the things that make my heart happy!

(Man saying, “Yes, please,” and pressing Enter on a keyboard.)


  • Feminist themes! Any and all. Bring it.

  • Inclusivity! I want diversity in all forms and love #ownvoices books

    * Sidenote on #ownvoices—I recognize not everyone has the privilege to be vocal about their marginalizations, so I won’t ask if you share your MC’s.

    * I’m open to any and all romantic subplots, but serious bonus points for f/f representation.

  • Sex positivity

  • Unlikable female characters (this is an always-and-forever love—I am 100% committed to letting girls be “unlikable” without having to apologize for it.)

  • Lyrical and literary writing. I love gorgeous prose and beautiful turns of phrase.

  • Unusual formats or structures. I wrote a book with a POV character who isn’t named. If, while writing, you thought to yourself, “I will never pull this off,” I’ll probably love it.

  • Complex friendships, especially between girls.

  • Complex parent/child relationships.

  • Sisters!

  • Enemies to lovers.

  • Romantic subplots! I love a slow-burn with lots of surrounding plot! Insta-love™️ is hard to pull off believably, but if you give me insta-chemistry and an earned romance I am all in.

  • Twists! Give me all the surprises and unexpected endings! (Or midpoints! Or all points in between!)

  • Immersive settings. Settings that feel like another character. Settings woven so seamlessly into the narrative they color the entire book.

  • Anything dark, gritty, and raw.

  • If you’ve got something that makes me feel like the intro to Mindhunter I will cry if you don’t send it to me.

  • Major thanks to Kelsey Rodkey’s trash talk for reminding me that I’d love a circus setting!



These are the things that make my heart sad. (”Woman saying, “No thank you, please.”)

These are the things that make my heart sad.
(”Woman saying, “No thank you, please.”)

  • Rape as a plot device or method for character agency (this includes no rape of female-identifying character as a way to provide agency or motivation for male-identifying character.) If it’s handled with care and is necessary for the story, then I’m open to seeing it. If it’s just because your character needs a tragic backstory, then it’s not for me.

  • Discrimination or bigotry, or anything that tells a story from the POV of the oppressor.

  • On-page abuse or death of young children

  • Manuscripts that center on abuse or addiction. You can have these elements in your manuscript, but if the main premise is your MC enduring or recovering from them, then it’s probably not for me. (Feel free to ask on the forums or my twitter feed if you’re unsure if your ms applies!)

  • Historical. I’d love to see anything as far back as the 80s, but nothing beyond that. I’m just not the best fit.

  • Clowns


Still Have Questions?

Feel free to reach out on twitter (@Andrea_Contos ) or the Pitch Wars forums!

I have an AMA on the forum here. 

I'll also be participating in the Pitch Wars #askmentor twitter events, and the video chat on 9/14, from 1-2pm!

Pitch Wars YA Blog Hop!

If you’d like to be taken back to the main Pitch Wars Blog Hop page, you can click right here!

Andrea ContosComment