Hi everyone! I’m THRILLED to be back as a YA mentor for Pitch Wars! 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! (Though if you’ve seen my editor MSWL, you probably know what’s coming 😉)
GENRES I’M LOOKING FOR — YOUNG ADULT (YA) ONLY:
- Fantasy – Everything! But I would especially love to find something epic in scale with high concept world building, or an atmospheric fantasy that offers a strong sense of place and time. I’m drawn to the addicting voice and daring mechanics of Sally Green’s Half Bad, fairy tale 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 Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone.
- Paranormal – but only paranormal that doesn’t feel like 2010’s Euro-centric vampires, angels, and demons. Really, I would love to find multicultural paranormal that showcases creatures of non-western folktales.
- 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 When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore 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.
- 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 SCA guild! 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 eighteen-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, African 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!
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, East Asia, 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.
- Folklore – retellings of obscure fairy tales and mythology, non-eurocentric folklore preferred.
- 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!
- 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 grounded. I just don’t read it and love it quite enough to steal you away from the other wonderful mentors who are looking for 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.
- Fairies, mermaids, angels/ demons, and superheroes – just not my thing.
- Nazis/ racists – I shouldn’t have to explain myself here, but you don’t see what comes to me in the slush.
- Rape as a plot device.
- 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!
I’m a Young Adult author and an Associate YA Editor at Page Street Publishing.
Page Street is a mid-sized publisher with distribution through Macmillan. Our books appear in all major retail stores as well as most independents! Publisher’s Weekly has recognized Page Street as one of the fastest-growing independent publisher’s in America two years in a row!
As an acquiring editor, I’m building my list in YA, and I encourage you to query me there regardless of whether you submit to me in Pitch Wars or not. (But, still, you should, ha!) If you want to know more about what I’m looking for, check out my MSWL page and my official profile over at Manuscriptwishlist.com (but hint, it looks a lot like my mentor wish list 😉)
As an author, I write speculative fiction (Southern Gothic and Fantasy) and am represented by the wonderful Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis Literary!
Why else should you pick me?
This is my second Pitch Wars rodeo, and last year, I had the pleasure and privilege of mentoring the FABULOUS Tomi Adeyemi and her game-changing YA fantasy CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE! Her manuscript went on to garner 33 (!) requests in Pitch Wars, and well…it did pretty well after that too 😉 (See: 7-figue book and movie deal announcement!)
(Also, Tomi is mentoring in Pitch Wars this year, too, and if you don’t check out her bio, I’m not sure what you’re doing with your life!)
Supposedly, the human body is 75% water. But I’m 50% coffee and 50% craft beer.
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 previous life, I worked as a producer for the Badger Sports Report, the football and basketball coaches’ television show for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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.
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. I also hope my mentee will be open to video chats! 🙂
For more information on what it’s like to work with me, check out the testimonials on my Editorial Services page.
Please note, due to time constraints, I won’t be able to respond to everyone who submits to me personally. I’m so, so sorry about this.
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!