Pitch Wars 2020 Wishlist

Adrianna Cuevas and Sarah Kapit are excited to mentor Middle Grade for Pitch Wars 2020!


Adrianna Cuevas is the author of Nestor’s Guide to Unpacking (out now!) and Cuba in My Pocket (Fall, 2021). She is a first-generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida. A former Spanish and ESOL teacher, Adrianna currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and son. When not working with TOEFL students, practicing fencing with her son, or watching k-dramas, she is writing her next middle grade novel.
Find out more about Adrianna at her website, or on Twitter and Instagram.

Sarah Kapit is the author of Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen (out now!) and The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family (March, 2021). In her previous life, Sarah earned a PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is active in the neurodiversity movement, serving as chairperson for the Association for Autistic Community. Sarah lives in Bellevue, Washington with her partner and their goofy orange cat, Allie.
Find out more about Sarah at her website or on Twitter.

Adrianna and Sarah met in 2017 in the WriteOnCon forums. They became critique partners and both participated in Pitch Wars 2017 as mentees. This is their second year mentoring together and Adrianna’s third year mentoring.


Across all categories, we want an irresistible middle-grade voice and one-of-a-kind characters that kids will love. We prefer fast pacing to a more literary style. Serious topics are fine as long as they are handled in a kid-friendly way. For examples, see our comp title images. However, if your book deals with death or child abuse as a primary subject, we probably aren’t the best fit. Humor is always a big plus- the more kid-friendly, the better. Since this is middle-grade, we are totally okay with fart jokes.

Books with graphic elements are very welcome, as are other alternative formats. However we won’t be accepting full graphic novels or novels in verse.

We would love to see works from writers who have traditionally been underrepresented in publishing. We particularly welcome Latinx, LGBTQ, and neurodivergent representation.

As ownvoices writers who write books that tend more towards the commercial side of MG, we are very interested in books where the characters’ marginalization isn’t the major point of the story. We believe that marginalized people have so many stories to tell beyond stories of tragedy and pain. We want books that capture a spirit of hope and possibility. Our favorite books include many such examples.


We want heart-warming contemporary stories. Give us stories about families, friendships, first crushes, and kids who are passionate about their interests. We are interested in coming-of-age stories of all kinds. We love flawed, relatable protagonists that capture all of the messiness of being a middle grade kid. Although we are not looking for “issue books” per se, a book that can discuss an important social issue in an accessible way would be very welcome in our inbox.


We are interested in historical fiction that hits the same notes and themes that we’re looking for in contemporary stories. We’re particularly interested in stories that show time periods and communities that are less well-known. Historical stories with fantasy elements are very welcome.
While we’re open to all historical books, recent historical settings (1980s-2000s) can be a hard sell. If you are setting your book in this period, the book should explore a specific historical event or cultural millieu. We are not interested in stories set during World War II.


We are interested in light fantasy stories and contemporary stories with fantasy elements. We would especially love to see unique magical systems and diverse cultural mythologies. Contemporary stories that include just a few fantasy elements are very much in our wheelhouse. We also love character-driven fantasy stories that explore common MG themes such as family and friendship. We also enjoy a new twist on old tropes. Stories that blur the lines between fantasy and science fiction are always welcome in our inbox.
We aren’t the best fit for high fantasy/secondary world fantasy. If your book begins with a map, it probably isn’t for us.
Note that light contemporary fantasy is different from magical realism. Magical realism refers to a specific literary style rooted in the cultural experience of colonialism and post-colonialism.

Please do not send us books with any of the following elements:
Animal protagonists
Solving puzzles as a major plot
Greek/Roman mythology

Book Comp Images:
Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy
Stand Up, Yumi Chung by Jessica Kim
Pepper’s Rules to Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald
Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse by Susan Vaught
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
Keep It Together, Keiki Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon
You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Love Sugar Magic series by Anna Meriano
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman
Charlie Hernandez and the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo
The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf


As mentors, we are tough and encouraging.
We’ll start off by sending you an edit letter. The edit letter will be broken down by plot, character, world building, and writing style. We invite you to ask lots of questions about our revision ideas. Ultimately, this is your book, so if there’s something in there that doesn’t feel right to you we’d like to talk it out. Hopefully we can create a plan for revision together.
We will be available for you to talk throughout the revision process. Typically, we prefer to communicate via email or Twitter DMs. Once you’re done, we’ll take a look at your new draft and provide feedback. We will help you refine your pitch and query letter for the agent round.
Once the agent round ends, we will continue to offer sage advice… at least we hope it’s sage! We will give you thoughts on agents and querying strategy. Neither of us signed with an agent from the agent round when we did Pitch Wars, so we know that the agent round is just one opportunity of many! We want to stick around to make sure you feel confident going forward in your career.

“Sarah and Adrianna took a manuscript I already thought was strong and proved why good mentorship is key. They noticed mistakes I never would have, and helped me get to the heart of my story. All the while, we had a blast! Without my two mentors, I never would have landed an agent within a month of finishing revisions.” –George Jreije, Sarah and Adrianna’s 2019 mentee

We can’t wait to read your stories!

Pitch Wars 2020 Middle Grade Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. K.C. Held and Shana Targosz
  2. Jessica Vitalis and Julie Artz
  3. Erin Entrada Kelly
  4. Rochelle Hassan
  5. George Jreije and Long Quan Nguyen
  6. Lisa Moore Ramee
  7. Sofiya Pasternack
  8. Sylvia Liu
  9. Rebecca Petruck
  10. Rajani LaRocca and Remy Lai
  11. Reese Eschmann and Christina Li
  12. TJ Ohler
  13. Darlene P. Campos
  14. Gail D. Villanueva
  15. Chad Lucas
  16. Shakirah Bourne
  17. Eric Bell
  18. Kim Long and Jennifer L. Brown
  19. Adrianna Cuevas and Sarah Kapit

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists