So, you want to pitch me in Pitch Wars

Captain America twirling a chair to sit on it backwards

Okay, now that I’m sitting…(jk, I’m definitely not Captain America)

Hi there! If you’re here it’s most likely due to Pitch Wars. If you don’t know, Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more.

I’m one of the mentors for the Adult category and will accept NA if it can be queried as an adult book. In general I’m looking for sci-fi, science fantasy, and fantasy, but there are specific things and do not wants listed below. I’m excited to work with you!

Who I am

First and foremost, I write under the name K. A. Black (she/her). By day, I work as a systems engineer and by night I write–usually science fantasy or sci-fi.

The engineer life: This doesn’t come into play much, if at all, in writing but I do think my degree and work gives me a handle on sciencey stuff.

The author life: I’ve been represented by Kat Kerr of Donald Maass Literary Agency for over a year now and am out on submission to publishing houses with a space opera. I’ve been through editing rounds, querying, a revise and resubmit (R+R), and then two more editing rounds with my agent. Since being out on submission, I’ve been keeping myself busy writing a weird dark sci-fi book and am now planning a neon utopia while that’s with beta readers. So, if you’re looking for someone who knows how to plan and edit, I’m your gal.

Within my books you’ll usually find the following: A bi-woman as the lead, chronic illnesses portrayed either in hidden ways or right in your face, found family, fantasy elements mixed with science, robots, people making hard choices–and sometimes failing spectacularly to pick the right one, realistic characters and dialogue, and sweeping worlds and descriptions.

Those first two are important to me, because those are attributes I share. Though I do wish I was a robot and joke about it often. Damn these knees.

What I want

I don’t blame you if you skipped straight down to this section, and if you did, let me highlight the two points you missed: I like planning and editing (I’m rather good at them), and my genres of choice for writing are science fantasy and sci-fi.

That doesn’t mean dear old fantasy gets left out though. I started writing in fantasy and read it quite often.

Within all the genres and subgenres listed below I am looking for commercial or literary voices, ownvoice narratives, neurodivergent rep, chronic illness rep, and/or LGBTQ+ rep. To sum that up, if you can submit to DVPIT, I’m here for you and want to see your work. I feel like this should go without saying, but just in case, I want to see diverse worlds. If you have an all white, cis, straight cast I’m not the mentor for you. I want to read your morally grey characters who either have stayed that way at the start, who are trying to be better, or who have succumbed to being terrible. I want to see characters that break free of gender roles or gender expectations. I want to read fun books that aren’t afraid to experiment with unexpected stories and characters. I don’t know where to put this, so I’m putting it here. Give me dinosaurs. I love first, second, and third POV so don’t hesitate on those.

And, finally, here is a bulleted list of what I’m looking for:

  • Sci-fi:
    • Both hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi
    • Space Operas
    • Stories featuring robots/AI either as the main character or a very strong secondary/supporting character
    • Near-future settings
    • Time travel
    • Quiet stories with small casts or non-world changing stakes
    • Environmental/Climate change/Clifi/Biopunk–however you want to call it, I want to see it
    • Cyberpunk or it’s opposite, hopepunk. I will also include vaporwave inspired stories within these
    • Sci-fi with romantic subplots, but if it requires a good understanding of Romance genre beats it’s not for me.
  • Science-fantasy
    • Books that mix sci-fi with fantasy such as: Jemisin’s Broken Earth Series, Brown’s Red Rising series, Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, and Bacigalupi’s The Wind-up Girl
  • New Weird/Weird Fiction
  • Horror based in sci-fi, science-fantasy, or fantasy such as: Power’s Wilder Girls and Starling’s The Luminous Dead.
  • Retellings
  • Fantasy
    • Urban/Contemporary–more in the vein of Stout’s The Carter Archives or Bright (yes, I am the 1% that likes that film), less Butcher. Please don’t get me wrong, I’ve read every Dresden File’s book, some multiple times, but I want to see something different–unless you are a POC mentee, then feel free to send.
    • High/Epic–however if you could comp your book to Lord of the Rings, it’s not for me–unless you are a POC mentee, then feel free to send.
    • Portal
    • Magical Realism
    • Paranormal
    • Steampunk
    • Quiet stories with small casts or non-world changing stakes
    • Dark Academia in the vein of Ninth House
    • Fantasy with romantic subplots, but if it requires a good understanding of Romance genre beats it’s not for me.

Tropes I adore

If you have these in your book, I’m gonna want to see it: found family, enemies to lovers, one bed, the reluctant hero, the overly confident hero used in a humorous way, the character that appears cold and heartless but is a teddy bear, fake dating, bad heroes, and good villains.

What I want to see more of in publishing

If you have these in your book, I’m gonna want to see it: the girly girl who got her nails done and is in high heels but isn’t about to let that stop her from kicking someone’s ass, something fun like a pop star as the main character of a space opera, chronically ill characters living outside of their illnesses, queernorm, afrofuturism and this as well for latinx/e and asian stories.

Here are some more books I love if you want some more ideas on what I want to see

Beyond the ones I’ve already listed that I love, here are others: Murderbot series, Beneath the Rising, The Raven Tower, This is How You Lose the Time War, House of Salt and Sorrows, The Chronicles of Ghadid trilogy, House of Leaves, Waking Giants, The Three Body Problem, The City We Became, Darker Shades of Magic series, The Book of M, The Transall Saga, Slaughterhouse-Five, We Were Liars, and Educated.

What I don’t want

Please do not send the following:

  • Sci-fi:
    • Evil robots
    • Superheroes
    • Military stories that go deep into military life
    • Virtual reality or video game type books
  • Fantasy:
    • Dragons
    • Gods, angels, demons, or zombies
    • Talking animals
  • Love triangles
  • Rape or any sexual assault
  • No explicit sex scenes
  • Please know the range for word count for your genre or subgenre. If you send me a 200k urban fantasy most likely I’m going to ask you to cut a lot to get to a number agents are used to seeing and we’re going to be on a tight and fast deadline. Saying that, if you send me a 130k space opera I’m not going to balk. I love descriptions, I get it. Just…be mindful of what is expected from publishing.
  • If you send me something that requires a good understanding of pop culture I’m sorry, I’m not going to get it. It’s me, not you.
  • Same with sports. I won’t get it.
  • Chronically ill or disabled characters getting magically “cured”
  • A mentee writing outside of their lane

Editing Style

I will provide an editing letter along with a commented version of the book. The letter includes my thoughts on plot, pacing, characters, world building, etc. Having gotten this from my own agent I have a good sense of what to look for and what to point out. These questions or comments would of course be up for conversation with you, the mentee, as would anything else you have questions about.

As I am one person, I hope you understand that I do not know everything! Especially about you! If you have a reason for not changing something I would want you to tell me as it’s very possible I’m missing something. If it’s important to you that something is included, I don’t want you to feel like I am destroying your dream, your book, or to satisfy what I think an ever changing and subjective industry wants. However, if it is something harmful to a group I believe that is a deeper conversation to have. Words have power and especially if you are coming from a place of privilege you must use them wisely. Saying that, I would never ask a mentee to change something like ownvoices representation nor will I represented a mentee writing outside of their lane.

After first pass, the mentee will incorporate changes and I will reread the book and then maybe another light editing pass depending upon if needed/time/your life. I want this to be a welcoming and enjoyable experience for you.

At any point feel free to ask me questions about querying, synopsi, being agented, being out on sub, or any other question. I’ll answer if I can.

Ways we can talk:

  • twitter DM’s (easiest way to reach me throughout the day)
  • email
  • slack
  • text (I can’t have my phone on me at work though)
  • calls (I will warn you I am awkward on the phone)
  • zoom (equally awkward, but now on video!)
  • any other way that works for you. I’m open to a variety of things, just let me know

Pitch Wars 2020 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Mia P. Manansala and Kellye Garrett (Accepts NA)
  2. Rochelle Karina (Accepts NA)
  3. Ren Hutchings (Accepts NA)
  4. Mary Ann Marlowe
  5. Rachel Lynn Solomon
  6. Anna Kaling
  7. Gwynne Jackson (Accepts NA)
  8. Kristen Lepionka and Ernie Chiara
  9. Rachel Howzell Hall
  10. Lyn Liao Butler
  11. Michael Mammay and AR Lucas
  12. Paris Wynters (Accepts NA)
  13. K A Black (Accepts NA)
  14. Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla (Accepts NA)
  15. Hudson Lin (Accepts NA)
  16. Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie (Accepts NA)
  17. Taj McCoy (Accepts NA)
  18. Ian Barnes (Accepts NA)
  19. Keena Roberts (Accepts NA)
  20. N.E. Davenport (Accepts NA)
  21. Elizabeth Little
  22. Anne Raven and Janet Walden-West (Accepts NA)
  23. Charish Reid and Denise Williams
  24. Kalyn Josephson and Kat Enright (Accepts NA)
  25. Gladys Qin (Accepts NA)
  26. Tanen Jones (Accepts NA)
  27. Clay Harmon (Accepts NA)
  28. Jake Nicholls (Accepts NA)
  29. Layne Fargo and Halley Sutton
  30. Denny S. Bryce and L. Penelope
  31. Roselle Lim and Farah Heron (Accepts NA)
  32. Morgan Rogers (Accepts NA)
  33. Samantha Rajaram
  34. Rob Hart
  35. Damyanti Biswas (Accepts NA)
  36. Maria Heater
  37. Cynthia Pelayo (Accepts NA)
  38. Gia de Cadenet
  39. Nicole Glover (Accepts NA)
  40. Rosie Danan and Ruby Barrett (Accepts NA)
  41. Cole Nagamatsu and Sequoia Nagamatsu
  42. Carly Bloom and Sam Tschida
  43. P.J. Vernon and Kelly J. Ford (Accepts NA)
  44. Matthew Quinn Martin (Accepts NA)
  45. Stephen Morgan (Accepts NA)
  46. Alex Segura and M. J. Soni
  47. Roma Panganiban (Accepts NA)
  48. Tricia Lynne (Accepts NA)

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

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