Erin's 2021 Pitch Wars Wish List


I am so excited to participate in Pitch Wars as a middle grade mentor for 2021!


Download a text-only version of my wish list here.


What is Pitch Wars?

Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months revising and polishing a manuscript for an Agent Showcase in February. Read more about Pitch Wars here.


About me:

I have a background in science and my experience from the lab and love of science inspires my writing. I am the author of the Kira Bailey series (American Girl, Girl of the Year 2021), the Luciana series (Girl of the Year 2018), Survivor Girl (Clarion, 2019), and The Friendship Experiment (HMH, 2016). When I’m not writing, I’m probably having some kind of adventure with my active family who likes to do dangerous outdoor things – or, even better, watching them safely from the beach or under a tree with a good book. I read a lot and can talk about books, dogs, and coffee for hours.


The Friendship Experiment, Luciana, Luciana Braving the Deep, Luciana Out of This World, Survivor Girl, Kira Down Under, Kira's Animal Rescue

Why you should submit to me:

It took me nearly ten years of writing and rewriting before my first book contract. During this time, I took classes and joined critique groups and, on a whim, applied to be a reader for a literary agent who represents children’s book authors – and got the position. Working for this agent, screening query letters and writing reader reports for requested materials, was hands down the most valuable experience for improving my own writing. I worked as a reader for nearly two years and learned so much about what can make or break a query or manuscript and what it takes to get the attention of agents. I used what I learned to polish my own writing and now I hope to use that experience to help other writers in the query trenches.


How I’ll mentor:

After an initial edit letter to get us started where I’ll gush over your writing and provide feedback for improvement, I’d like for us to work closely to get your manuscript in the best possible shape. I’m available to talk through any notes and help brainstorm solutions with you – over email, phone, or zoom. Revision is my thing and my favorite part of the writing process and I’m hoping to work with someone who is not afraid of big changes if it feels right for the book.


My goal is to read the book twice, working on big-picture items like plot-character-pacing, and then hone in on details in a second round. Together we can look at the calendar and set some goals and deadlines to make sure your manuscript and pitch is ready for the showcase and your query letter is ready to submit to agents.


What I want:

Send me your middle grade STEM books! I love all sorts of contemporary middle grade (for all ages – upper MG and lower MG) – light and funny or more serious and issue-driven. I also like middle grade adventure stories where the stakes are high and I love a story with a human vs. nature element. I’m also open to historicals, science fiction (especially if it’s near-future or post-apocalyptic or set in space), and light fantasy.


For me, characters are so important in middle grade and I’m looking for three-dimensional characters who I can fall in love with and who really jump off the page. I’m looking for stories with humor and heart and a strong voice.


What I don’t want:

I feel like I am less equipped to mentor authors who are working on graphic novels, novels in verse, high fantasy, or horror.


Some of my favorite books:


Merci Suarez Can’t Dance by Meg Medina, The Magnificent Mya Tibbs by Crystal Allen, From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks, Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee, 14th Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm, Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed, The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser, The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, The Line Tender by Kate Allen, Alone in the Woods by Rebecca Behrens, Clean Getaway by Nic Stone, We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly, Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman, Not Your All American Girl by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang, Front Desk by Kelly Yang, Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte, War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus, Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland, A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat, Almost There and Almost Not by Linda Urban, The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm, Space Case by Stuart Gibbs



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