Sunday, August 2, 2015



Can I just take a moment to tell you how freakishly excited we are to be a PitchWars mentors again this year. The manuscripts, the authors, the agents...just WOW! Mentor wish lists are being posted today, the rules, the regulations, the how-to's of the submission can be found on Brenda Drakes blog 

Now comes the hard part, trying to convince a pool of crazy talented writers that Jenni Walsh and I are the co-mentoring team you all want.

Who the heck are we?

We both have canned bios. They are pretty and formal and make us look all official.  You can read them on our websites www. and, but here's a quick glimpse at the real us!
Trisha Leaver

I live on Cape Cod: land of sun and perpetual traffic. I hate sand, am easily irritated by tourists, and I have no tolerance for supermarket parking lots. I am a mom with an insanely organized carpool schedule, a wife to a husband with mad sailing skills, and the proud owner of a black lab named Orphie.

I am a member of the SCBWI, the Cape Cod Writers Center, and the YA Scream Queens— a group of nine female authors who are deathly serious about their horror.  My YA Contemporary, THE SECRETS WE KEEP (FSG/ Macmillan, 4/28/15), received a starred review from VOYA and was named one of the best YA Novels for summer by Teen Vogue.  I also write YA Psychological Horror (CREED, Flux, 11/8/14) YA Historical Fiction (SWEET MADNESS, Merit Press 9/15/15) YA Sci-Fi (HARDWIRED, Flux 11/8/15), and Short Stories (I SEE REALITY, FSG/ Macmillan 1/26/16)

Jenni L. Walsh
Jenni L. Walsh spends her days knee deep in words in Philadelphia's suburbia. Copywriting, freelance editing, blogging for Kick-Butt Kidlit and authoring ... she does it all and loves every second of it! is an author of YA fiction, a freelance editor, and a copywriter. Her passion lies in transporting readers to another world, be it in historical or contemporary settings, and her latest project tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s. Jenni's agent, Stacey Glick from DGLM, is currently trying to find it the perfect home.

Beyond words, Jenni is a mama (of an almost-2-year-old, a babe on the way, and a need Goldendoodle), a wife, and a lover of carbs and Swedish fish. (ideally one after another.

What we bring to the table as PitchWars Mentors!

Between us, we have a wealth of information. Jenni is a PitchWars graduate herself. She's been through the process and come out the other side, signing with an agent just weeks later. It just so happens that I was Jenni's mentor. (proud mentor moment) 

This is my third year as a PitchWars mentor, my second year co-mentoring. I was on the NESCBWI conference faculty in 2014 and 2015 where I taught workshops on psychological horror, short stories, crafting HEN’s (Happily Ever After NOT endings) and most importantly PITCHING!!!! With that experience comes lots of practice tweaking, polishing, and finessing a manuscript until it shines.

What can we offer to an author?

We're going to get down and dirty with our mentee's manuscript. And, we'll be candid about how. First: developmental edits. We'll hone in on all that big-picture stuff (voice, pacing, tension, dangling threads) while also cleaning up those pesky grammatical and sentence-structure no-no's.

Second: we'll take your MS line by line to give it that agent-ready sheen. We'll be doing a lot of heavy lifting, but so will our mentee (and we want someone ready to get their hands dirty).

In a world where we are often told no, we think it is  important to point out what does work in a manuscript. By highlighting those scenes/ chapters/ beautifully-written phrases, the writer knows what to expand on and what to give the reader more of. That leads to...

What are we looking for?

YA Contemporary Think SAINT ANYTHING or WE WERE LIARS.  Give me a literary feel, beautiful prose, and characters that will stay with me for years to come. Don't tiptoe around difficult topics, dive in and tear it open. Life and emotions are messy. Own them and let us feel them as we read. Issues, edge, language, sex...not a problem. I not afraid of dark topics or Happily Ever After NOT endings. But that said, I am a sucker for a good romance.  What can I say, I want all the "feels" LOL

YA Historical Fiction:  We are looking for beautiful writing that captures the depth of the time period. Connect us to the setting and the characters, have us longing to live in the past when life was harder and the problems were equally as complex. I have a particular affinity for anything set in colonial America and or 17th - 18th Century Europe. 

YA Psychological Horror: There is nothing more frightening than the evil that lurks inside a chosen few. The sociopath who thinks he's sane. The delusional man who subscribes to his own truths. The tormented soul who embraces the darkness raging in his mind. No paranormal or half-dressed girl running away from a chain-saw wielding maniac for this horror fanatic. Bring us straight psychological horror with a heavy dose of "oh crap...that really could happen!"  Think less gore and more twisted reality.

YA Fantasy: We're shying away from high fantasy, but the rest is fair game. Show us your imaginative world building, strong characters, and adventure. Curious as to what I mean...think Becky Wallace's THE STORY SPINNER. It has a historical feel, romance, and a literary feel. Love retellings of obscure fairy tales. In fact, I may just be writing one right now :) 

YA Thriller: We are walking a fine line here between our tastes in psychological horror and psychological thrillers. Give us a fast-paced, character-driven manuscript where the stakes are high and the voice is authentic, and we will fall in love every time. Give us tension, suspense, and a cast of characters we neither hate nor trust.  Startle us, confuse us, let us second guess our own intuition. We want to dig for clues, get angry that we didn't see a twist coming, and curse ourselves for naively "believing" that seemingly honest character.

YA Science Fiction: Keep it based in reality and set on this planet and we are game. I like my sci-fi contemporary based: a medical break through that has devastating consequences. A world dictated my gene testing. A technological advancement gone awry. Toss us into another galaxy with flying machines and mutating aliens and we’re lost every time.  Oh… and feel free to throw in some romance too.

Counterfactual Fiction: I love alternate histories and new spins on well-known crimes. If you are blending fact and fiction and using the ambiguous side of history as your launching pad for creative retellings, then I'm your girl!

Any co-authoring pairs out there in the mentee pool?  I know a thing or two about co-authoring: how to find a cohesive voice, how weave two distinct plot ideas together, and how insanely fun and sometimes challenging the process can be. And as my go-to critique partner for all my co-authored projects, Jenni is as in-tune with the co-authoring process as me!

Do you think your MS could be a match? Any questions for us? Feel free to comment below. We'll also be around on twitter (@tleaver and @jwalshbooks) so don't be shy. PitchWars is all about connecting, and the mentor/mentee relationship is one that'll extend well beyond the agent showcase. *waves to our PitchWars family*

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  1. YA gothic horror an interest? Frankenstein retelling with Jack the Ripper elements, Female protagonist. Not trying to pitch, just wondered if you like your historical YA blended with horror. Thanks.

  2. Absolutely!!! My upcoming release, SWEET MADNESS, falls in the category of Historical Horror.