2016 Pitch Wars Mentor Bio

Hi everyone! I’m THRILLED to be a YA mentor for Pitch Wars this year. Stick around for more information about me and my mentoring style, but first, I’ll jump right into what I know y’all have been waiting for!

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GENRES I’M LOOKING FOR — YOUNG ADULT (YA) ONLY:

  • Southern Gothic – My first love. I live and breathe the salt marshes and sweet tea, porch swings and haunted plantations. Give me your haints and spirits, your family secrets and hoodoo rootworkers. Basically, if you have a Southern Gothic YA and you don’t sub to me, I will find you. I’ve particularly loved Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker and The Heirs of Watson Island series by Martina Boone. I’m especially interested in Southern diversity, and I would love to find an #ownvoices manuscript based on New Orleans Voodoo or Lowcountry rootwork.
  • Gothic/ Horror – I love all things creepy. No matter how gory, I can take it! Give me your Victorian gothics like This Monstrous Thing by Makenzie Lee, your creeptastic cult stories like Blood and Salt by Kim Liggit, and your bloody, vengeful ghost stories such as Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.
  • Magical Realism – Stories grounded in the world around us, but with a touch of the surreal, like Bone Gap by Laura Ruby and Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black. Give me something contemporary, but weird. Something historical, with a strange new twist. As always, the darker the better.
  • Fantasy – Everything! But in particular, I’m on the lookout for atmospheric fantasy that offers a strong sense of place and time—be that contemporary, historical, or alternate world fantasy. I’m drawn to the addicting voice and daring mechanics of Sally Green’s Half Bad, fairytale retellings based on non-eurocentric folklore like The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh or The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, unique and diverse urban fantasy such Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper, and fantasy that’s epic in scale yet still character-driven like Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes. I also love retellings that subvert its source material in new and engaging ways such as Wendy Spinale’s Everland.
  • Contemporary – My tastes here run voice-driven and quirky, see Julie Hammerle’s The Sound of Us. I would love to find a story with a unique setting, like a Renaissance Fair or ComicCon! As a sports producer and fan, I’m always on the lookout for a sports-centered romance (bonus points for LGBTQ!)—hockey, basketball, football, ice-skating, track and field, surfing, rock climbing, competition cheerleading…bring it all! I LOVE watching the Olympics, too! So if your manuscript features an athletic phenom like Simone Biles or Gabby Douglas… maybe your hero is seventeen-year-old US soccer star Christian Pulisic? Send it to me!
  • Historical – Romance, alternate universe, and retellings of historical legends. I’m particularly interested in colonial America and the US Civil War, Greek and Roman History, Persian history, and Biblical retellings. Would love to find a YA Trojan War or Alexander the Great (…or a gender-swapped Alexandra the Great!) story, a kick-ass YA Esther, or something in the vein of WGN’s Underground. Swash-buckling lady swordsman like Julie d’Aubigny (La Maupin) are always welcome!

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IN ALL STORIES, I LOVE:

  • Setting! – I would love to see novels set in unexpected or underrepresented locales such as Africa, the Arctic, the Himalayas, the Pacific islands, the American West, and the deep south. I love enclosed spaces and settings that seem normal on the outside, but are strange on the inside. I especially love settings that feel like characters themselves. Take me to new places and teach me about different cultures!
  • Folklore – retellings of obscure fairy tales and mythology. Particularly interested in American, Japanese, and African folklore, or a YA retelling of the Kalevala (Finland) or the Shanhnameh (Persia).
  • Romance – trope-driven and slow burning. No insta-love. Enemies-to-lovers and forbidden romances are my favorite. I love romance that starts out as a rivalry!
  • LGBTQIA+
  • Diverse characters and diverse perspectives! #ownvoices!
  • Boy POVS! 
  • Strong sibling relationships

I’M NOT THE RIGHT PERSON FOR:

  • Sci-fi – Unless the sci-fi elements are very, very light. I just don’t read it and love it quite enough to steal you away from the other wonderful mentors who live and breath it.
  • Issue-driven contemporary – Cancer stories, coming-out stories, suicide stories… these books are so important, I’m just not the right mentor to do them justice.
  • Books without romance – I prefer at least a romantic subplot.
  • Fairies and mermaids – Weird, I know. I just have trouble suspending my disbelief with these particular creatures.
  • Angels and demons – Personally, still not over the market burnout here.
  • Entirely white/ het/ cis/ able-bodied casts.
  • Manuscripts over 120K words – Personal decision given the time constraints.

Still here?! Awesome! I’m guessing that means your manuscript fits something on my wish list. So now, let me tell you why you should MUST send it to me!

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PICK ME!

I’m Young Adult author, a freelance editor, and an editorial intern for Kate Brauning at Entangled Publishing.

As an editorial intern, I evaluate incoming submissions and write reader reports, so I know what stands out in the slush pile. I also work with client manuscripts at both the developmental and copy editing stages. Recent work includes edits for Erica Cameron’s upcoming YA fantasy ISLAND OF EXILES (Winter 2017), Ingrid Paulson’s WHY I LOATHE SUMNER LANE (Summer 2017), and Nicola Davidson’s SURRENDER TO SIN (Fall 2016).

As an author, I write mostly Southern Gothic YA and am represented by the wonderful Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis Literary! I am a member of SCBWI and RWA, and I have been a part of a weekly online critique group for three years. While this may be my first Pitch Wars rodeo, I have mentored (and participated!) in a number of other contests including Nightmare On Query Street and FicFest.

ABOUT ME!

Supposedly, the human body is 75% water. But I’m 50% coffee and 50% craft beer.

Gilmore Girls coffee IV

Lorelei Gilmore taught me everything I know…except when it comes to sports. I’m a huge sports fan. Even though I grew up in Atlanta, my family is nothing but cheeseheads. Go Pack! I also love college basketball, and in my non-writing life, I’m lucky enough to work as a producer for the Badger Sports Report, the football and basketball coach’s television show for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. On Wisconsin!

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I’m an unabashedly proud geek. Wanna know how I got into writing? Years and years of toiling over my (epic) Legend of Zelda fan fiction!

Some of my favorite fandoms include: Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Legend of Zelda, and Harry Potter. Go Gryffindor! My favorite anime are Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Death Note, Fate/Stay Night. And my favorite movies include The Empire Strikes Back, Godfather I, Princess Mononoke, and Beauty and the Beast.

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MY WORK STYLE:

If you think you’re ready for the agent round today, I’m not the mentor for you. My edit letters are thorough and meant to push your story to the next level. I will scrutinize your choice of POV/ tense. I will pick apart your plot, slash weak scenes, eliminate traces of convenience, intensify your character’s motivations, and push you to construct the most tightly-woven version of your story you can manage.

In the past, my mentees and clients have cut entire plot arcs, changed tenses, eliminated POV’s, and re-ordered their chapters. For more information on what it’s like to work with me, check out the testimonials on my Editorial Services page.

If time allows us, I plan on doing two rounds of edits with my mentee before the agent round. The first pass will be based off an edit letter. The second will be line edits to polish up. I also hope my mentee will be open to video chats! 🙂

If you have any questions about my wish list or mentoring style, please do not hesitate to reach out on Twitter @AshleyHearn! I will do my absolute best to respond to all inquiries.

Also note! If you feel like we’d make a mentor/ mentee dream team, have your first 50 pages and a 1-2 page single-spaced synopsis ready! I will be requesting them along with the query history for your manuscript.

Good luck! And I can’t wait to read your fantastic stories!

Check out more awesome mentor bios by clicking the links below!

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