Welcome to my Pitch Wars 2017 WISHLIST!

If you’re here wondering what sort of story I’m looking for in the 2017 Pitch Wars mentor program, you have come to the right place!

Photo by sansara/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by sansara/iStock / Getty Images

I’m excited to be participating as a Pitch Wars mentor this year, and I'm excited to get started! I love the idea of authors helping other authors. Many, many people have helped me along the way. My agent, editor, publicist are wonderful, but for day-to-day questions and concerns, there's another great resource I love to reach out to: other writers who are going through the same thing I am! You will get further in your writing career by networking with other people who have experiences they can share and wisdom to bestow. 

I went to college at Tufts University and received my MA in Creative Writing at NYU. This was many years ago, and I studied with E.L. Doctorow among other wonderful published authors. My agent is Stacy Testa at the amazing Writers House (www.writershouse.com), and I have a 2-book contract with Kensington Books. If you want to read more about my debut novel The Astonishing Thing, you can look it up on Goodreads, where readers have started to post reviews. The book comes out October 31, 2017. And feel free to take a spin around my Web Site!

I've attended several writing conferences, and this year I attended Book Expo for the first time at the Javits Center in NYC, signing books in the Autographing Area. I felt like a rock star! 

I have a writing career: I started out as an editor and then became a medical writer and copywriter. I work at an advertising agency in New Jersey. In my office you'll find evidence of my fangirl lifestyle: a poster of Hamilton on Broadway, a model of Drogon (the dragon) from Game of Thrones, my U.S.S. Enterprise blueprint, and a stormtrooper mask...among other things.

My favorite genres to read are literary and commercial fiction. I love contemporary novels, but occasionally enjoy a story set in another time.

My preferences in Pitch Wars 2017 by genre:

MY WHEELHOUSE: Books shelved General Fiction at the bookstore. A compelling, emotional story that will get the adults in a Book Club talking, laughing and/or crying—preferably all three. 

MIGHT BE FOR ME...? Historical fiction, paranormal, murder mystery, erotica and/or romance. I would also consider a very compelling real-world—based sci-fi concept. I'm not sure how much agents are looking for that right now; however, the success of The Martian shows reader demand for a similar story. So if you've written the next Jurassic Park, that might intrigue me. 

NOT FOR ME THIS YEAR: Any book that would be shelved cozy/detective mystery, action/adventure (spy/espionage), fantasy (high concept/world-building), or fantasy-based sci-fi.

I prefer stories grounded in reality, based on honestly-drawn characters with quirks. Unconventional or unreliable narrators welcome. Creative approaches catch my attention.  

I'm not interested in clichés or predictability. I love to be surprised! Suspense and plot twists often grab my interest.

Overwriting tires me out. I prefer clean, simple writing—a tightly-written story without padding.

A sense of humor is welcome but not necessary.

I'd hope to see some specifics about the characters and plot in a query. Don’t generalize or worry about giving away spoilers. Word count should be between 65 and 85K.

I appreciate stories that reflect the complexity of living a modern life. Diversity is welcome, whether it be: race/ethnicity, gender/sexual orientation, abilities/disabilities, mental illness, etc.

I get swept up in stories with romance when it’s part of a larger story. I also appreciate stories with Something Important to Say About Life.

I am looking for the next unexpected, breakout bestseller!  


Some favorite adult stories:

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon

Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout


Some favorite New Adult stories: (These are shelved YA, but close enough. Does anyone know what NA is, anyway? Is NA still a thing? I love a great YA novel with adult themes.)

I’ll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson

Sex and Violence, Carrie Mesrobian

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chboksy


Here's what I can offer a potential mentee!

I enjoy working with other authors. I'm a full-time professional writer who works with editors/proofreaders. I've also had several professional literary editors edit my own manuscripts, so I have experience in seeing what types of "big picture" and structural comments/suggestions have been most helpful to me. I'm easily accessible via email and social media. The biggest group of book buyers out there are adults—parents like me, who are looking for a wonderful story to help them escape the stresses of their own lives for a little while... so let's give them the story they're searching for! 

You can read more about the other mentors on the Pitch Wars Web Site! Thanks for stopping by!

On WritingSandi Ward