Hello everyone, welcome to our Pitch Wars 2020 wish list! We’re Denny and Leslye a dynamic duo of co-mentors in the Adult category.

If you don’t know, Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published or agented authors, editors, and industry professionals choose a writer and guide them through the process of revising and editing their manuscript and crafting their pitch and query letter. It culminates in an agent showcase where agents can check out the writer’s work and request to read more.

Who Are We?

Denny writes historical fiction and dabbles in urban fantasy (actually, I have an epic urban fantasy in my Scrivener, fighting its way to the surface:). Her debut historical fiction, Wild Women and the Blues: A Novel is set for release from Kensington Books on March 30, 2021 (I’m pretty freaking excited about it). She has won multiple awards including the RWA Golden Heart and twice a finalist for Wild Women and the Blues. She also was selected for a Tin House fellowship. She currently is a book critic for NPR.org and has written for Harper’s Bazaar, FROLIC, Washington Independent Review of Books, and USA Today Happy Ever After.

Her first love in the writing biz was fanfiction. Her fandoms included Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel (the TV series), Being Human (BBC), and Leverage. But her most recent fandom (for which I don’t write fanfiction) is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. She has been a recapper of the episodes on STARZ since Season 2, writing for USA Today Happy Ever After and now FROLIC.

Denny & Leslye

Leslye (aka L. Penelope) writes fantasy and paranormal romance. Her epic fantasy series, Earthsinger Chronicles, which started out self-published, was picked up by St. Martin’s Press for publication. The first novel, Song of Blood & Stone, was chosen by TIME Magazine as one of the top 10 fantasy books of 2018. She is also the winner of the 2016 Best Self-Published Ebook Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

She was the Co-founder, Publisher, and Fiction & Nonfiction Editor for The Quotable, a quarterly literary journal. Leslye is also an alum of the VONA/Voices and Hurston-Wright Writers Workshops.

Leslye, Denny and Pintip Dunn

Leslye, Denny and Pintip Dunn

As her official bio states, she’s been writing since she could hold a pen and still has the first “book” she wrote at five-years-old. Since then, she’s learned a lot, not the least of which is how to actually plot a book and write one more than two pages long. Leslye came to speculative fiction via classic television shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and modern classics like Twin Peaks and The X Files which all stoked her love for other worlds and magical metaphors. These days you can find her reading most flavors of romance, especially fantasy and paranormal, and re-watching various Jane Austen films or Black Panther for the ninety-eleventh time.

What Are We Looking For?

We are looking for adult fantasy, romance, and historical fiction. Also, we’re open to love stories or manuscripts with a central romance.

  • Fantasy
    • Epic
    • Urban
    • Historical (including Alternate)
    • Time Travel
  • Historical
    • African American 20th Century
    • Book Club, Literary, and Commercial
    • (No Regencies, Ancient, or Biographical Historical Fiction please!)
  • Romance
    • Fantasy
    • Science Fiction
    • Paranormal
    • Edgy and Contemporary

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What Do We Love?

  • Complex/Heroic Female Protagonists
  • A diverse cast of characters
  • Unique settings and worlds
  • Historical Mysteries/Fantasy
  • American Historical Fiction
  • Urban Fantasy (with a Central Romance)
  • Historical or Contemporary Magic/Magical Realism
  • Time Travel
  • Protagonist over 35, 40, or 50
  • #OwnVoices
  • The first book in a series
  • Worldbuilding that knocks our socks off (but avoids cliches)
  • Stories with a central romance
  • Intriguing magic systems
  • Timely themes

What Don’t We Love?

  • Women’s Fiction
  • Amnesia tropes
  • Alpha A-Holes (Male or Female)
  • Regency, Victorian, Ancient Historical Romance
  • Angsty Contemporary Romance
  • Dark or Bully Romance
  • Thrillers or Horror
  • Stereotypes
  • Marginalized characters in stereotypical roles
  • Lazy research
  • Erotic romance or Erotica
  • Inspirational or Amish Romance
  • Stale, overused fantasy worlds/settings
  • “Hard” science-fiction
  • Grimdark fantasy

Why Choose Us as Mentors?

We both believe that novels are made during the revision process. As you might have heard, good writing is rewriting.

  • We’re both craft junkies
  • We love to hone our writing process
  • We’re experienced writers who studied the craft and continue to do so
  • We understand each writer has their own process that we’re here to support. We won’t try to make you clones of us.
  • Between the two of us, we have years of editing and mentoring experience as well as book criticism.
  • We’ll communicate primarily via email, with Zoom calls as needed.

What Are We Looking For in a Mentee?

  • Committed to the process
  • Ready to dig in and do the work
  • Values constructive feedback
  • Interested in pursuing traditional publishing (at least with this novel)
  • Able to meet deadlines
  • Hard-working and flexible

Check out the other wishlists below:

Pitch Wars 2020 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

    Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists