Emmie Mears
SFF. Queer AF.

#PitchWars Padawans: Here’s What I’m Looking For

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#PitchWars Padawans: Here’s What I’m Looking For


Fire up the X-wings, #PitchWars Padawans, because it’s time to pew-pew-pew our way to pairing you up with your very own Jedi! To make your life ever-so-slightly easier, here’s some info on me and what I’m looking for so we can see how strong the Force is with our match-up.

Me: Your #PitchWars Jedi

My Arsenals and Allies

Long ago, in a state far, far, away, I dreamed of having an agent.

I’ve been through the query trenches three different times. If you take the time to read those three blog posts, you’ll also notice that those three stories are very, very different. These days, I am represented by the amazing Sara Megibow of kt literary. I have three books out in the wild and another coming in a month. And a whole bunch more are coming down the pipeline. (Some of the books are very big. Avalanche-like. Look out.)

Why do you want me as your mentor? Well. I’ve faced just about the biggest nightmares this industry can offer, and I’ve come out of it successfully. I had three books orphaned and a contract fall through in a month. My first wonderful agent left the business (but not my heart…d’awwwwww). I’ve heard the word no hundreds of times from the Powers that Be. There may have been some serious Vader NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO moments for me in the last three years, but what I bring to the table is experience, tenacity, and a sharp eye. I’ve read a lot of queries, and through my former critique business and various beta reads for other writers, a lot of unpublished manuscripts. I’ve made my home in the SFF genres/subgenres my entire life, and I’m well familiar with the tropes and genre conventions that populate them. I keep my own hands sunk up to the elbows in SFF, and have had the enormous pleasure to work with executive and senior editors at major publishers, as well as celebrities and some hero authors.

I also don’t really like tooting my own horn. *fart noise* (Couldn’t resist.)

You: My #PitchWars Padawan

What I’m Questing For

First things first: I am looking for adult books only. Much as I love other categories to read, the adult shelves are where I live and splash around. You don’t want me to try and be a Middle Grade Jedi. I’d probably accidentally lob off my nose with a lightsaber. Or your nose. And you need your nose. *boops your nose*


I’m going to be as specific as possible here to give you the best idea of what’ll hit with me and what’ll miss.

Science Fiction I Want:

Climate fiction(think Paolo Bacigalupi)
Dying Earth fiction
Space opera
Hard SF
Soft SF
Mundane SF
Pretty much anything with the -punk suffix (cyber/steam/genome/whateva) (somebody write genome-punk, plz…like the splicers in BioShock….*grabby hands*)

Science Fiction I’ll Probably Pass On:

Military SF (I haven’t read enough of it to be a good fit)
Colonisation SF (Same)

What’ll Make Me Flail:

I’m looking for vivid, imaginative worlds, whether your story is set in a near-future version of Earth, an 1800s alt-history Earth, or in a galaxy far, far away. I want something that pulls me. Get me lost, either in characters so real I bleed for them or an adventure so magnificent that I want to hop the next ship out of the solar system. Show me an adult version of A Wrinkle in Time. Something as revolutionary as Ancillary Justice. An idea as compelling as Lock In. I am especially interested in seeing underrepresented voices and worlds that dare to think outside the box of our own. Show me something deliciously different.

Fantasy I Want:

Non-European, non-medieval epic fantasy
Unique, trope-twisting urban fantasy
Magical realism*
Weird spec fic

Fantasy I’ll Probably Pass On:

Contemporary fantasy

What’ll Make Me Flail:

Fantasy is a really tough genre to stand out in. Urban fantasy specifically. If you want to turn my head, you’ll need a unique concept, excellently-worked characters, and a world I’ve never seen before. Take me somewhere new.

I grew up on David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Kathrine Kerr, Lloyd Alexander, LJ Smith, Christopher Pike, RL Stine, and more. In epics, I love worlds that I feel like I could dive through my book and come out in a place I know well enough to navigate. (This doesn’t mean chapters of wildly detailed descriptions! Build the world; don’t tell me about it.) I want characters who I can see expand and grow. I want magic that sets itself apart, has a price, and makes my skin tingly. Give me something beyond the classic tropes and genre conventions. I love a good quest as much as the next person, but show me deep-seated motivations and characters so interesting the plot swirls around them. In urban fantasy, I like grit. Give me grey areas and doomed worlds. Show me characters reinventing themselves and evolving. In magical realism, make me feel like I could walk down my own street and feel the breath of magic. That I could wonder if my eyes deceived me. Make me question the mundane in delicious ways.

Urban fantasy is a veryveryvery crowded genre right now. I am looking for fresh, fresh ideas. Think whimsy and grit. Think whimsygrit. Like Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere! Like Alis Franklin’s Liesmith! Here’s some things I’ve loved recently.

The Padawan of My #PitchWars Dreams

I am looking for someone who wants to work. I think in depth about my critiques, and I put a huge amount of time into them. I will always be constructive, but I will be very candid. Publishing will require a thick skin at every single stage. This wasn’t easy for me to build, but it is necessary. I want to work with someone who, when I give my notes will:

-engage thoughtfully with them
-open a dialogue if there is confusion
-work tirelessly to make the manuscript as strong as possible
-be bold

A Couple Things to Ponder

I want diverse stories. Show me stories that know their genre conventions but don’t rely on genre tropes (or if they do, twist those tropes until I’m surprised by their outcome). I am particularly interested in underrepresented voices. Show me women in space, people of color saving humanity, neuroatypical people being heroes. Show me GLBTQIA characters with complexity and power and nuance. Representation matters deeply to me. I am a bisexual woman who was raised in poverty. I am a feminist and a survivor of abuse. This doesn’t mean I don’t love Rand al’Thor, a straight (though poly?), white farm boy who is born to save the world — it just means that I dream of a future where people who live the spectrum and diversity of human experience are given the space to see themselves in fiction, saving the day, and being allowed for the same breadth of representation. Art ain’t a zero sum game, my loves. There’s room for all of us, and I believe in the beauty and the possibility of science fiction and fantasy to make us more empathetic, more compassionate, more adventurous, and more open to exploration. Here’s some stuff I’ve loved lately, which I said once already but am saying again.

I like romance in small doses — and I am a sucker for a bittersweet ending. Make me curse your name and also want to hug you at the same time.

A request, because I am a survivor and protective of my mental bandwidth in this arena: please do not submit stories to me where rape or sexual assault is a focal point or common plot device. (I love Game of Thrones, but that aspect got to be exhausting for me.) If your book contains it peripherally, as backstory or threat, I would greatly appreciate a trigger warning. If it is central, I may not be the best fit at this time.

And that’s that! I can’t wait to see what wonderful words you’ve all made!

Check out the other fantastic mentors below!

Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Auto-Linky widget will appear right here!This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.

*Couple notes, because there tends to be some head scratching about this subgenre. Magical realism and contemporary fantasy are not the same. Magical realism takes place in a world where the magical elements are not codified or even necessarily remarkable. They simply are, and they are taken at face value. One of the big differences between fantasy and magical realism is a stratified magic system. For instance, Harry Potter is fantasy for many reasons, but it has a magic system that works like our laws of physics. In magical realism, the magical aspects are often unpredictable and unexplainable. Some examples of magical realism are: Chocolat by Joanne Harris, pretty much anything by Gabriel García Marquéz, etc.

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Author | Emmie Comments | 2 Date | August 2, 2015


When You Can’t See the Bridge | Emmie Mears

[…] If you’re one of the folks thinking of entering PitchWars, you are brave. I salute you. (You can read my mentor bio here.) […]

August 14, 2015 | 8:12 pm

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