Older PitchWars (prior to ’18)

Looking for information about PitchWars 2018 and my and Lee’s Wish List?

Click on the link above for PitchWars 2018 for our Wish List

& the PitchWars Mentor Blog Hop!





Pitchwars 2017

Hi! Thanks for stopping by.

Marty Mayberry & Léonie Kelsall are co-mentoring ADULT this year!

Léonie’s repped by Amanda Ayers Barnett of Donaghy Literary Group, and writes adult romantic suspense and erotic romance, and YA contemporary and historical. She lives in Australia. Léonie recently finaled in the contemporary category in the YARWA’s Rosemary Award.

Marty’s repped by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency. While she writes both adult and YA, in adult, she writes Contemporary, Romantic Suspense, and light fantasy. She lives in New England. Marty recently finaled in the new adult category in the YARWA’s Rosemary Award.

In the past 2 PW years, Marty has mentored four authors: Becky Dean, Laura Creedle, Lana Pattinson, & Alex Reda (formerly Amelia Creed). Three signed with agents for their PW books, and it’s just a matter of time for the fourth mentee (because her stories are fantastic!). Laura’s book, THE LOVE LETTERS OF ABELARD & LILY will be out with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt late this year. This book is awesome. You should add it to your TBR list! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33413929-the-love-letters-of-abelard-and-lily?ac=1&from_search=true

What are we looking for in a mentee? Someone who wants to work hard and fast, who’s able to take constructive criticism, and who wants to take their manuscript to the next level. Our mentee must also be prepared to stand up for what they love most about their manuscript. No god complex over here, we’re not pretending we ‘know it all’. While we’re prepared to make every effort to help, and will tell you straight up how we think your manuscript should go, you need to love your characters enough to fight for some points.

Oh. And our mentee must have a sense of humor. Because Léonie likes to think she’s pretty funny. Marty doesn’t necessarily agree.

What will we offer? Character development, enhancing setting, deep pov, fix show/tell, and tighten/lower word count as needed. We’re kind but honest. As above, we don’t expect you to automatically adopt all our suggestions. This is a partnership; we just ask that you think about them objectively and talk it through. The bonus in having two mentors is that, though we love each other’s work, we don’t always agree, so you benefit from an additional, subjective opinion – if you’ve received even one rejection, you’ll know how important this balance is!

We’ll provide initial edits, and if there’s time, read the MS through a second or third time. We’ll help with your query, synopsis, and agent round pitch. We’ll stick with you long after Pitchwars ’17 is over, offering advice on offers/being on sub/etc.



Contemporary Romance

Romantic Suspense

Fantasy Romance

Sci-fi Romance

Historical Romance

Erotic Romance (we need story, not just sex) *no plain erotica*

Romantic Comedy

Historical Light Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Women’s Fiction

Select Retellings


Do you sense a theme here?

We Want YOUR stories

But we also want MSs with some Romance



(but we’re open to sweeter stories that have some heat)

Alpha or Beta heroes

Heroines with agency

First or Close Third. Dual or single pov

There must be CONSENT 

If you’re calling it your MS a Romance, it must have a Happily Ever After

or a Happy For Now

Diversity & LGBT is 100% ALWAYS welcome


Please don’t send: Paranormal, Crime/heavy procedural, Inspirational, memoirs, non-fiction, novellas

Favorite tropes: friends-to-lovers, secret babies, second chance romance, older brother’s BF, military, blue/white collar, sports, romance in foreign settings

In fantasy, we’d love something like Marie Rutkoski’s YA series – heat it up and send it to US! Or Roshani Chokshi. Think a rich world like GOT, but with romance and a happy ending.

In suspense: Give us twists, hard-core bad guys, relationship conflict—don’t get them together too fast. Make our hearts race. Think Kat Martin, Diana Gardin, Katie Ruggle, Scarlett Cole.

In contemporary: Read up on Jennifer Blackwood, Maisey Yates, Heather van Fleet, Kelly Siskind, Jill Shalvis. We’d kill for something like The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne.

In historical, we like Highlanders & unusual Regency. Tricia O’Malley, Karen Moning, Suzanne Enoch, Joanna Shupe, Jess Michaels, Julianne Donaldson, Elizabeth Holt

In Sci-fi, we’re prefer less tech, more like a space opera. Think Star Wars with extra romance, These Broken Stars (which is YA, but you get the idea: spice it up!)

Unsure if we’re a fit?

Ask us on Twitter @marty_mayberry @leehotline

Opposite sides of the world, there’s always one of us awake!

Thoughts from Marty’s ’16 mentees:

Alex Reda (formerly Amelia Creed): Marty’s been my constant mentor, supporter, and friend ever since she sent me the Pitch Wars e-mail of my dreams. When I squealed and did my happy dance at being accepted into the competition, I had no idea how much time and effort she would dedicate to not only making my MS stronger, but helping me become a better writer. For as long as words will flow from my keyboard, I’ll know that I could’ve never done it without her.

Lana Pattinson:  Reads faster than an ARC display disappears at BookCon, more powerful romance arc ideas than a Nora Roberts novel, able to see your book’s Big Picture in a single bound. (LOL!) Marty is the Woman of Steel: You-er (blue) A SuperMentor!

Check out the other Mentors here:






































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PW 16

Hi! Thanks for stopping by. I’m Marty Mayberry, and I’m repped by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency. I write YA novels in just about every genre, including romance, sci-fi, and fantasy. I also write adult contemporary romance and historical fantasy.

This is my second year with PitchWars.

Last year, I mentored Laura Creedle & Becky Dean to PitchWars success.

Becky received 6 requests in the agent round and went on to sign with Christine Witthohn of Book Cents.

Laura received 18 requests in the agent round and got nine offers of rep. She signed with Jim McCarthy, and her book sold shortly after going on sub to Houghton Miffin.

24 requests through PitchWars!!

Can I take credit for their success? Hard to say. My mentees put innumerable hours and a lifetime of sweat and tears into their manuscripts. But I believe I gave their novels that edge they needed.

What I can take credit for is picking entries agents wanted in PW ’15.

I’m determined to do it again this year.


What am I looking for in a potential mentee?

Someone willing to work hard and fast. Becky & Laura spoiled me with their enthusiasm and dedication.

What will I offer the author I choose?

My strengths include: enhancing character development, setting, and deep pov. I’m great at coming up with creative ways to fix show vs tell & filtering. I’m a lean writer, which means I can point out ways to tighten/lower word count (as needed) without losing voice, beauty, or story.

I savor writing that speaks to me. I’ll help a mentee enhance their voice and make it shine.

My critique style (in my opinion) is kind but honest. If you’re looking for a mentor who will be brutal with you, I’m not the right pick. My goal is to be constructive and completely honest, but phrase suggestions in a way that make you eager to dig in and work on your MS, not torch it. 🙂

What I’ll give my mentee:

In ’15, I critiqued each mentee’s manuscript three times during the two month editing period. We worked on their queries and synopses, and did multiple passes to hone their pitches for the agent round to best represent their books while maintaining voice. I was privileged to share in their excitement about offers.

Now, we’re friends who chat about our ongoing publishing journeys and share new writing.

Here’s the deal:

Since I’m willing to take time from my personal life/put my writing on hold to work with a mentee, I expect the same effort from you.

I don’t expect you to ignore your personal obligations. I work full time as a nurse and have three children, a house, an elderly dad who keeps breaking limbs and needs help, etc. Believe me, I get it. Life’s important. I’m flexible. But I expect you to put 100% into this project, because I’ll do the same.

I won’t ask you to do anything I’m not willing to do myself.

What am I looking for?


Young Adult



Show vs tell, filtering, typos, & grammar can be fixed.

But a voice that pulls me in & won’t let go until I reach THE END?

THIS is what I want to find in my inbox


I prefer first person pov (past or present), but I’m open to close third.


I’m looking for (in no particular order): YA sci-fi, speculative fiction, something exciting in fantasy, romance, retellings, all varieties of contemporary, time travel, thriller/suspense, gothic, & horror.

I’d love to find a funny, contemporary YA about dating rules or break-ups.

Or a creepy book about ghosts, witches or haunted houses.

Or a softer sci-fi that takes me to another world (space opera?).

Or something unexpected.

Surprise me.

Unsure if we’re a fit?

Ask me about your MS on Twitter (@marty_mayberry).

I’m not your best choice for:

graphic rape (it can be eluded to/part of someone’s past), abusive parents, murdered children or pets (unless it’s vital to the plotline), paranormal (unless it’s new & different), or memoirs.


Diversity reflects life—SEND ME your diverse entries!


Examples of my critique style: http://www.brenda-drake.com/2016/06/day-5-part-2-june-setting-workshop-pitch-wars-mentor-marty-mayberry/


Quotes from my ’15 mentees:

Marty Mayberry has amazing editorial instincts. She knew just what I needed to do to turn my pretty good novel into a marketable novel. I don’t think I’d be here without her. Laura Creedle

Her entry from ’15 PitchWars: http://PW Laura

Marty is great at helping identify what’s not working in a manuscript, but what I loved best, was she then worked with me to figure out how to fix it. She had insightful suggestions, but ultimately supported my vision for the story. She’s great at suggesting possibilities and helping brainstorm ways to address the problems. She also gave me some great tips in general, not just on my Pitch Wars book, that I’ll keep using in future stories, too.  Becky Dean

Becky’s entry from ’15 PW: http://PW Becky

YA Books I’ve loved (off the top of my head): Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater, The Winner’s Trilogy, Marie Rutkoski, The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi, The Selection Series, Kiera Cass, Into the Dim, Janet B. Taylor, Under a Painted Sky, Stacey Lee, Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea, Morgan Callan Rogers, Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card, Thief of Lies, Brenda Drake, Future Shock, Elizabeth Briggs, Wool, Hugh Howey (?YA), HP & everything ever written by Stephen King (enough said).


Plus books by Sarah J. Maas, Lauren Oliver, Stephanie Perkins, Beth Revis, James Dashner, Rainbow Rowell, Rick Yancey, Jennifer Armentrout, Veronica Rossi, E. Lockhart, Leigh Bardugo, Rysa Walker, Maureen Johnson, Robin Hobb, Amie Kaufman, Elizabeth Peters, among others. I could fill 15+ pages with the names of authors I love.

Submit to me, & let’s get started!

Random facts about me: I love Earl Grey tea and iced coffee (decaf French vanilla). I *shhh* prefer Dunkin’ Donuts over Starbucks. Islesboro, Maine (pictured at the top of my page) is one of my favorite places in the world. I’d love to live in Costa Rica. I could visit Disneyland once a month and never get bored. I’m an older mentor; my kids are grown, which means not much bothers me. I’ve moved beyond moody & have infinite patience. I love to travel and was an exchange student in Braunschweig, Germany for six months. I’m addicted to Smarties and peanut butter M&Ms. I write a large part of my books on paper then put my notes into the doc & flesh them out. This is how I wrote an 84K book in 29 days. My Fitbit goal is 14,000 steps/day. Vegetables are my favorite food group. And cheese. I wish I could lose 20#. I don’t like heights, although I’ve ziplined 3 times (with my eyes closed LOL). I’m a tequila snob. I prefer red wine over white. I love archaeology & exploring ancient ruins. To me, a fun day is mining black tourmaline in So. Paris, Maine. If I could live close to the ocean, my life would be complete.

Why make this complicated?

The letter is:

 Letter N