Ohhhaaii, Pitch Wars mentee hopeful! I’m Maxym M. Martineau, and I’ll be mentoring in the ADULT CATEGORY this year. Are you ready to get your edits on? Yes? Of course you are! But first, I’m betting you want to know a little more about me and my Pitch Wars wishlist. (If not, that’s okay, too — you’re welcome to stay. I have cookies. And Dean gifs. Lots and lots of Dean gifs.)
Note: If you’re just stumbling upon this and not entirely sure what Pitch Wars is, that’s okay! You’ve got time. Here’s a brief description, but I’d highly recommend you visit the site for more information:
“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.”
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, DEAN GIF!
If you’re having trouble reading this post due to the dark background, you can view a copy in Google Docs by clicking here.
I’m a fantasy romance author, and my debut, Kingdom of Exiles is out now with Sourcebooks! It’s the first in a six-book series, and it’s full of magical creatures, stabby, swoon-worthy assassins, beast charmers and kissing. Basically, it’s a dark, adult Pokemon. Or, Assassin’s Creed meets Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. (My gamer soul loves the comparison to Pokemon.) It’s been featured in The NY Times and Entertainment Weekly, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, selected as a June LibraryReads Pick, Amazon Best Books of the Month: Romance, Publishers Weekly Best Book of Summer 2019, and a Bookish Staff Reads Pick. If you want to learn more, just hop on over to my media kit.
As far as Pitch Wars goes, I was previously a mentee in 2016 with a different manuscript. I worked my butt off, learned a lot, and then went out and wrote Kingdom of Exiles in 2017 and was agented shortly thereafter (shout out to the lovely Cate Hart of Harvey Klinger!). The best thing about Pitch Wars is the community and the knowledge you gain, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with you.
What you can expect
Lots of encouragement. Lots of references to coffee. Lots of love for Dean Winchester. Even more love for my daughter (baby pics!). But also, some real, down-to-earth edits. I’ll give you plenty of compliments, I swear, but I don’t pull punches. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll be throwing haymakers left and right — that just means if I see something, I’m going to call it out. Why? Because not mentioning it doesn’t help either of us.
You’ll get an in-depth edit letter. You’ll get in-line comments in your MS. You’ll get a second pass. You’ll get a cheerleader who’s always open to toss ideas around. (We can discuss communication styles later, but email is a must and I’m a big fan of Twitter DMs for in-the-moment questions/brainstorming.) You’ll get someone who’s been through Pitch Wars before and knows just how hard it can be to really dig into your words. You’ll also get someone who’s looking to stand by you after the agent round and beyond.
Please note that I’m here to help you, and I fully understand that your work is your own. I’m not here to force you to do things my way (that’s silly). My feedback and edits will be mindful of your vision.
Note: If I’ve critiqued your manuscript before or we have an existing CP/beta read relationship, please refrain from submitting to me (if I’ve only seen your query letter, first chapters and/or synopsis, that’s fine). If you’re unsure whether or not you fall into this category, ask me!
All right, enough about me. We know why you’re really here.
Pitch Wars Wishlist — What I’m looking for
Fantasy! Romance! Voice! Action! Angsty characters! Diversity! Okay, I’ll break it down a bit better than that.
Note: Just to reiterate, I’m an adult mentor this year. I will consider new adult entries, but might ask you to age up the characters depending on the themes/story.
Things I love across the board
Regardless of the genres I’m accepting, here are some things I would do copious backflips for if I saw them in a Pitch Wars entry:
- Diversity (POCs, LGBTQIA+, neurodiversity, #ownvoices and beyond)
- In-depth worldbuilding
- Unique settings
- Morally gray characters (think: characters who do the wrong things for the right reasons and vice versa)
- Female characters with agency (I want bad-ass heroines who take charge of their destinies)
- Witty, angsty, brooding characters (*grabby hands*)
- A fantastic voice that pulls me in
Annnndd some things I really don’t like:
- Abusive relationships
- Anything military-oriented (I’m just not the right person to offer feedback on this)
IMPORTANT: I’m not accepting memoirs, nonfiction or graphic novels, as well as any other genre not listed below.
Fantasy is my bread and butter. It’s my favorite thing to read and write. I love the sweeping storylines, the immersive worldbuilding. I love magic systems that are complex and different. I’m particularly fond of fantasy romance because that’s my jam. (Bread, butter and jam?!) That said, romance is not required for fantasy submissions, and I still get lost in fantasy books all the time that don’t have a romantic plot. I just might ship characters secretly or search for Pinterest art to appease my romance-loving heart.
Here are some sub-genres that I’m definitely looking for:
- Fantasy romance
- High/epic fantasy
- Low fantasy
- Urban/contemporary fantasy
- Gothic/dark fantasy
- Portal fantasy
- Magic realism
To give you a sense of my tastes, here are some books I adore that have fantasy elements:
- Abhorsen series by Garth Nix
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
- Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope
- Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
- The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Note: I’m good with fairy tale retellings, shifters, vampires, fae, etc., but they must have a different angle to them. Give me a vampire who’s battling against her coven’s 300-year-old ideals and the conflicts that arise because of her new life vs. her people (or something). Why? Because fantasy is such a competitive field within publishing, and it needs to be a fresh concept. I love vampires. I’ll reread existing novels and still smile with joy every time I finish them, but for a new book to stand out, it has to be different than what’s already out there (and there are a LOT of vampire/shifter/fae/etc. books out there).
Things I’m not looking for:
- Historical fantasy (I’ve just never been able to get into historical anything)
- Anything too Tolkein-esque (unpopular opinion — I’m not a huge fan of the books)
- Sci-fi (SFF gets grouped together a lot, but I’m the wrong person to offer feedback, here. That said, I do offer a caveat below in the romance section — keep reading.)
- Dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic (I’m just not super into dystopian, especially dystopian set in a sci-fi esque world — the only caveat here is my love for the Kate Daniels series where magic is a big influence in the post-apocalyptic setting)
- Steampunk (I just don’t know enough about this to offer feedback)
A note about word count
When it comes to word count, stories with more than 130,000 words (particularly in fantasy) might be difficult to offer thorough feedback and edits in the time allotted for Pitch Wars. Stories with less than 65,000 words might need a bit of extra detail. While this certainly isn’t a hard-and-fast range for submitting to me, do keep in mind that novels that fall outside of this spectrum might need more attention than the time we have available to us.
In case you haven’t figured it out quite yet, I like romance. No, I LOVE romance. I love character-driven plots with well-developed, leap-off-the-page-and-smack-you characters. I love people coming together against all odds to rise above their conflicts. I want them gritty and real. I want impossible situations that test their love at every turn.
I’m good with almost all heat levels, but I really like on-the-page details (so I have to be reeeaaallly taken with a sweet romance to pick it).
Here are some sub-genres I adore:
- Fantasy romance (hehe, see what I did there?)
- Paranormal romance
- Contemporary romance
- *Sci-fi romance
*This one is interesting, because I’m not really taking straight-up sci-fi. I just don’t feel qualified to offer feedback because I don’t read enough of it. But, sci-fi romance a la Amanda Bouchet’s Nightchaser is fine by me. The romance has to be integral to the plot, and the sci-fi terms have to be not crazy, sciency level. I’m good with faux science. I’m even good with real science (or some blend of magic and science), but if it becomes too hard for me to follow, then it’s not going to work for me. (Read: If a basic understanding of quantum physics is necessary to follow the plot of your story, then it’s probably not for me.)
Not sure if your romance is integral to the plot? Here’s how you figure it out. If you take the romance out of the story and the plot still progresses without a hitch, then it’s not a romance. And unless it’s a tried-and-true fantasy (see above), then it’s probably not for me.
Tropes that make me swoon:
- Enemies to lovers
- Second-chance romance
- Friends to lovers
- Forbidden lovers
- Hot nerds/unusual professions
- Forced proximity
To give you a sense of my tastes, here are some romance novels I adore:
- Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet (if you’re a fantasy romance author and don’t submit to me, I’ll cry)
- Night Huntress series by Jeanine Frost
- Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
- Playbook series by Alexa Martin
- The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
- When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
- Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Things I’m not looking for:
- Women’s fiction
- Historical romance
- Inspirational romance
- Erotic romance
- Romantic suspense
- Sudden baby trope
- Love triangles
- Rape, pedophilia, necrophelia
Questions? I’ve got answers!
Because I’m human, I’ve likely forgotten something. (I also just recently birthed a human, and pregnancy brain is real.) If ANYTHING on this list is confusing, contradictory, or if you just have a question about something, feel free to ask. I hang out on Twitter. A lot. (Super great for productivity.) I’m happy to answer any questions about my Pitch Wars wishlist throughout the blog hop to help you determine if we’re a good fit!
And let me just say THANK YOU. Thank you for considering me as your mentor. It’s a big deal to trust someone with your words, and I’m humbled you’re mulling over my Pitch Wars wishlist.
Best of luck!
Pitch Wars 2019 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists
- Paris Wynters
- Kathleen Barber (Accepts NA)
- Ian Barnes
- Mary Ann Marlowe (Accepts NA)
- Elizabeth Little
- Hayley Stone and Erin A. Tidwell
- Gwynne Jackson (Accepts NA)
- Maxym M. Martineau (Accepts NA)
- Katie Golding (Accepts NA)
- Ava Reid and Rachel Morris (Accepts NA)
- Carolyne Topdjian
- Natalka Burian
- Tim Akers
- Alex Segura
- Michelle Hauck and Carrie Callaghan (Accepts NA)
- Laura Brown (Accepts NA)
- Mia P. Manansala and Kellye Garrett (Accepts NA)
- Kerbie Addis and Ren Hutchings (Accepts NA)
- Susan Bishop Crispell (Accepts NA)
- Kelly Siskind and Heather Van Fleet (Accepts NA)
- Janet Walden-West and Anne Raven (Accepts NA)
- Kate Lansing (Accepts NA)
- Kristen Lepionka and Ernie Chiara
- Alexa Martin and Suzanne Park (Accepts NA)
- Gia de Cadenet (Accepts NA)
- Rob Hart
- Layne Fargo and Halley Sutton
- Michael Chorost (Accepts NA)
- Sarah Remy (Accepts NA)
- Nicole Glover (Accepts NA)
- Farah Heron (Accepts NA)
- Samantha Rajaram
- Keena Roberts (Accepts NA)
- Rebecca Enzor (Accepts NA)
- Matthew Quinn Martin (Accepts NA)
- Denny S. Bryce (Accepts NA)
- Meryl Wilsner and Rosie Danan (Accepts NA)
- P.J. Vernon and Kelly J. Ford (Accepts NA)
- Gladys Quinn (Accepts NA)
- Diana A. Hicks (Accepts NA)
- Damyanti Biswas
- Stephen Morgan (Accepts NA)