pitch wars

Pitch Wars 2018: Kai’s Mentor Wishlist

Pitch Wars Adult Mentor BadgeHi, Pitch Warriors, I’m Kai! Now I know you’ve got a lot of mentors to sift through, so I’m gonna offer a little tl;dr up front, and then if you’re intrigued, you can keep reading.

[Aside: If you’re not here for Pitch Wars, feel free to skip this post. I promise things will return to cat photos and word count metrics shortly.]


I’m a debut fantasy author with an eye for structure, character arcs, and Cool Stuff. Looking for adult second world fantasy.

Bonus points for:

  • f/f,
  • grim without the dark,
  • honestly anything QUILTBAG,
  • hopepunk / grimhope
  • cool magic,
  • villains you’re uncomfortably rooting for

Candid Pic of the Author Having Her Face Smooshed by a Small HumanAbout Me
I’m thirteen squirrels shoved into a gator suit –

Wait. No. Let’s try again.

This is my first year mentoring and you’ve probably already read my official bio – transient author who’s a jack of all trades and master of none – so let’s skip that. I write fantasy, I read every genre, and my debut The Perfect Assassin – murder! historians! dangerously high heat index! – comes out from Tor in March, 2019.

As for me as a person… I’m a type A Virgo mom with high anxiety levels and a penchant for baking and running. One, unfortunately, does not entirely outdo the other. If I’m not freaking out about a deadline, I’m usually curled up on the couch with two cats and my wife, watching the Great British Bake Off and crying because Sue is so perfect. I also have a small human, who has most recently unlocked Serious Side Eye and “blueberries!”

I still secretly pretend that one day I’ll have time to game again. Although at this rate, that will coincide with Valve releasing Half-Life 3 (see: never).

Why Me
I know my genre like the back of my hand – that is, with relative confidence until someone actually asks me to pick my hand out of a line-up, and then I get all flustered and start to question myself. I did my time in the query trenches (three projects over four years) and also interned at a small agency and read their slushpile, so I’ve seen what agents get and can gently talk you down from the terror cliff that queries always somehow summon.

I’m very good at picking things apart and putting them back together again and making sense out of chaos. Also deadlines. I love deadlines. There’s beauty in having a ticking clock to guide you through uncertainty.

I’ve also, you know, written a few books under contract and deadline, and I’ve gotten my fair share – and given my fair share – of crit. I understand what’s useful and what’s not and I love talking through plot tangles.

What You Can Expect from Me
A thorough yet concise edit letter and lots of ridiculous comments in your manuscript. I won’t shy away from pointing out where the plot loses steam or doesn’t make sense, or where characterization goes off the rails. I’m not one for line-edits, but I will point out anything egregious/repetitive. I’ll also give you deadlines and work with you on a realistic schedule and offer generous heapings of encouragement along the way.

I am absolutely up for hashing out plot problems over chat/email. But fair warning: I can be pretty chatty.

Okay Cool, But What Am I Looking For
Adult, second world fantasy with rich, fully-realized worlds that are just as full of diversity and life and complex choices as our own, where just as much care is taken building the people as it is the magic system(s).

Think: Mistborn, Tiger’s Daughter, and the Traitor Baru Cormorant.

BUT ALSO worlds that are a closer mirror of ours, that are not our own, but could be with just one or two variables shifted.

Think: Amberlough or Vicious.

  • I want blurred lines between protagonists and antagonists, where one could easily be the other if you just switched POV.
  • I can’t do straight up grimdark anymore, but I still love some grim – murder and demons and blood magic are right up my ally.
  • I want hope. If you’ve got hopepunk, GIVE IT TO ME. If not, just enough hope sprinkled throughout or at the end will do. Is grimhope a thing because yes, please.
  • I want queer, preferably f/f, but honestly anything QUILTBAG (and yes, the ‘A’ stands for Ace, not Ally). Also, I want there to be more than just the single queer character/pair – after all, we travel in groups. Just one obvious queer isn’t a dealbreaker, but be aware I will ask for more in revisions.
  • I want magic. Even if it’s just on the margins, I like my fantasy full of the fantastical, thank you very much. If you’ve got a cool magic system like in the Rithmatist or Elantris, yes please. If you’ve got a world that is so real that it might as well be magic (see: Amberlough), I’ll be content.

So basically: magic and murder and mayhem!


What I’m Really Not Looking For:

  • Straight up heroes and villains.
  • Grimdark
  • Anything over 150k words (unless you’re willing to chop hard)
  • Rape
  • Violence toward children (see further clarification in comments)
  • Unquestioned/gratuitous violence
  • Urban fantasy
  • Science fiction
  • Medieval European-esque settings that don’t do something new/fresh/interrogative

I realize I’m being pretty open and vague here (except with the No’s, which are definitely hard no’s), so if you’re not sure, don’t self-reject. If you have any questions, feel free to find me on zee Twitterz (@KA_Doore) or comment below. I reserve the right to come back and update this with clarifications as need be.

Good luck, y’all!
Head on back to the main Pitch Wars Bloghop Master Post or select another mentor’s blog below!






































Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

20 thoughts on “Pitch Wars 2018: Kai’s Mentor Wishlist”

  1. Hi! I’ve so enjoyed this post. You have no idea lol. Ok so clarification on your hard passes:

    My story does NOT incorporate any scenes of active violence against children. However there’s an understanding in this world that the oppressors don’t discriminate by age in whom they harm. It’s never shown. In fact the opening chapter presents the protag with the option to harm a young person and he chooses not to.

    Aside from the oppressors “standards” two young sisters get in a scuffle but it’s very much a realistic sibling fight sort of thing.

    Does that put my story in the definite “no” category?

    1. That’s okay! As long as it’s not gratuitous, and your MC choosing otherwise is helpful.
      I’m more trying to weed out the intense, on-page violence toward younger children that usually is only found in grimdark.
      Thank you for asking!

  2. I’ve been waiting since first scoping out PitchWars to see your wishlist!!
    But the word count No worries me. I’m wildly over industry standard for Fantasy, even Epic! Obviously, part of my need for a mentor is to help scale my 250k tome back to something pitchable. But are you willing to take on such a Herculean task? (I’m saying Herculean instead of Sisyphean because I know it can be done…with help!) 😁
    And, btw….I LOVE the term “grimhope”!!!
    So so so much more what I have than standard “grimdark.”

    1. Such a high wordcount would definitely mean I’d have to fall head over heels for your story and you’d have to be willing to do some heavy chopping. If you are up for it and think I’d be a good fit, don’t self-reject. But if you find another mentor who has epic fantasy chops, just keep in mind that I don’t.

      1. Of the five mentors I’ve top-listed, you’re WAY closer in wishlist-vs-my-story-elements than my stand-in number five. I just can’t imagine choosing them instead of you due to word count.
        ESPECIALLY if you’re saying “gimme all the f/f,” because my No 5 choice is merely saying “diversity is great!” And I definitely have the f/f. 😉
        I’ll compile questions of better detail for the mentor Q&A and come back to this topic of genres & word count then.
        Thank you so much for answering here! 😁

  3. Hi there! I love your wishlist! I’ve even used the term ‘Grimhope’ to (jokingly) describe my MS in the past so was delighted to see it make an appearance here!

    I just have a question about the ‘Violence toward children’ no – as I do have some scenes that may border on this. A teenage character (with a very important plot related healing ability) who is on the receiving end of some violence (quite important to show their healing ability) and one scene of an (unborn) child killed on-page, but it really is one scene in the entire novel, and definitely not for gratuitous violence, but actual plot. Is this an automatic no for you?

    Thank you. 🙂

    1. I thought over this a lot because I really want to read some grimhope, but I also want you to know where my limitations lie.
      You should feel free to sub to me, but if the child death is very significant to the plot (which I’d hope so, otherwise you could cut it), I may have difficulty helping you with its emotional bearing etc.
      This is very much a “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of statement, but it’s true, hah. Does that help?

      1. Thanks for taking the time to think your response over, I really appreciate it. Yes, this is very helpful, I mainly wanted to check I wouldn’t be sending over anything that would offend or trigger you. 🙂

  4. Hi there! Love your chatty, friendly bio here. This will be my second time participating in Pitch Wars, and my current ms has the f/f you are seeking (queer protagonist + love interest) but it’s not fantasy (contemporary fiction). Would that be a no from you? Thanks!

      *clears throat*
      I mean.
      Please sub me if you think I’m a good fit! Just know my strength lies in fantasy and I don’t know what my blindspots are in contemp. But I do read contemp and enjoy it, so. 🙂

  5. Fir a secondary world fantasy, would alternate history earth be okay? I find I have a lot of elements in my story that I think would appeal, but I don’t know if dwarfs native to the US mountains and a magic system connected to a symbiotic relationship with those mountains would be enough of a secondary world for you.


    1. Yes! I count alternate history Earth as second-world enough (I should add Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker to my list, because it’s exactly that). It mainly differentiates itself from historical fantasy and urban fantasy, but if there are dwarves and mountain magic I’m here for it.

  6. I was planning on submitting to you, but I realized my main characters suffer violence at a young(ish) age. What is considered a child? My characters are 12-year-old slaves at the time. This is older than Harry Potter was when he suffered violence at the hands of Quirrel/Voldemort and the same age as in Chamber of Secrets when he also suffers physical pain (violence?).

    1. It kinda depends on how gratuitous it is. If it’s handled well enough, it should be fine. I was mostly trying to avoid violence against much younger children (0-5) just because I can’t handle that right now, but older should be all right.

  7. Hi! I’m really excited to submit to you after reading your bio, but want to make sure I don’t cross any of your boundaries with regards to violence. The protagonist is a pregnant warrior being pressured into abortion for the sake of her duties. She has a very near miscarriage, but there is a happy ending for and her baby. Late in the story, there is also a short (2 pages) scene where the protagonist is tortured, but I am completely open to removing this if you can help me find other ways to accomplish what the scene accomplishes now. Thanks so much for taking the time to mentor!

    1. Sorry for the late reply –
      That is very close to my personal cut-off, but it sounds like it should be all right. Sorry I’m so squeamish about some things!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s