A Little About Me:

Hi and welcome to my bio/wish list! I’m Sonia, I write YA contemporary and mystery, and I’ll be mentoring YA this year. YAY! I’m represented by the fabulous Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency, and my work has appeared in several publications, including The Writers Post Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, and the anthology Bearing North. When I’m not writing, I’m wrangling my two kids, trying out new restaurants, or relaxing on my porch with an Oberon. This is my second year as a mentor, and I couldn’t be more excited!


Why You Should Pick Me:

I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2013, and it was an amazing experience (Dannie Morin was my mentor and she likes super dark and gritty contemporary and is the actual best, just sayin'). I learned a ridiculous amount, and since I’ve been there too, I know what it feels like and what to expect. I will work hard to help you whip your manuscript into shape while still respecting the vision you have for your story. Last year I gave personalized feedback to everyone who submitted the genres on my wish list, and will try to do the same again this year, because I know how valuable feedback can be when you’re getting ready to march into the query trenches. (For those who send me things not on my wish list, I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to give feedback. I’m not as familiar with those genres, so I fear I might hurt more than help in those areas). Most of all, I really want to give back and find a manuscript that’s almost there, but needs just a little bit of love. And I will continue to support you on your journey long after Pitch Wars is over.


What I’m Looking For:

I’m mentoring YA this year, and I’m looking for anyone who is willing to work hard and is able to process feedback with an open mind. I’d love to see any of the following in my inbox:

Contemporary (especially LGBTQIA+)


More specifically, I’m all about strong female friendships (must pass Bechdel test and must not call other girls sluts and whores), complicated sibling relationships, and swoon-worthy romance. I’d love to see MCs with interesting hobbies, something they’re really passionate about. Fire eating, scuba diving, owl figurine collecting. The stranger, the better. Anything with a circus or carnival setting would be amazing. Also, I’d trade a kidney for an updated YA F/F A League of Their Own, or F/F Empire Records, or F/F 10 Things I Hate About You. Bring me all the F/F romances! And I really, really, really want HEA (or HFN) intersectional queer stories. I love friendship stories, especially love to see girls championing each other. Contemporary retellings are fun, and would love to see one in my inbox. I also love blackmail and scandals, anything that would make proper old ladies clutch their pearls. I have a special place in my heart for thespians, artists, dancers, athletes, and musicians. And road trips, bucket lists, scavenger hunts, and love letters. And if your MC has ever been described as ‘unlikeable’ there is a solid chance I’m going to love them.

As for mysteries, I’ll fall for anything that can keep me guessing until the end. Setting is pretty much everything to me. I love the kind of setting that’s like another character. Old money families rotting away from the inside, dark secrets, and creepy ass attics full of dusty clothes and heirlooms. I wouldn’t mind a ghost story. Actual ghost is cool, but ambiguous ghost is cooler. Make me question whether or not the haunting is real or all in your MCs mind. A mystery with a gothic atmosphere would be awesome! Same for suspense, that slow building sense of danger with a thick atmosphere is my favorite. For thriller, anything with a fast pace that keeps my heart racing would be excellent.

I’m not looking for any speculative fiction (unless it’s a ghost story with a mystery at its heart), but I know Kim Graff really wants LGBTQIA+ spec fic, Jessie Devine would love dark fantasy and sci-fi with queer rep, and anything contemporary that isn’t on my list should definitely go to Phil Stamper because he’s awesome.

My absolute favorite YA books I’ve read in the last year or two (and if you can comp any of them to your ms, I will love you forever and ever):

I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson, IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES by Rebecca Podos, FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD by Emily Henry, WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart, POINTE by Brandy Colbert, SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli, FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley, THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner, BONE GAP by Laura Ruby, FIRST AND THEN (and THIS ADVENTURE ENDS) by Emma Mills, GET EVEN (and GET DIRTY) by Gretchen McNeil, MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick, UNDER A PAINTED SKY (and OUTRUN THE MOON) by Stacey Lee, THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST by Emily M. Danforth, OPENLY STRAIGHT by Bill Konigsberg, ALL THE RAGE (and SOME GIRLS ARE) by Courtney Summers, NONE OF THE ABOVE by I.W. Gregorio, SUFFER LOVE by Ashley Herring Blake, LUCKY FEW by Kathryn Ormsbee, THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU by Lily Anderson


I’m NOT the best mentor for the following:



Paranormal other than ghosts (vampires, werewolves, zombies, angels, etc.)

And I really, really do not want to see the following in my inbox:

Graphic on-page rape

Anything related to medical stuff or diseases, I’m a huge hypochondriac and just can’t

Queer kids dying, I’m 110% over that trope

Racists, like those who try to go after a teenager on Twitter with some bullshit racist rhetoric, get dragged, then try to claim they were hacked

Hardcopy manuscripts sent through snail mail

I will be requesting a synopsis if the query and pages catch my eye, but don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be full of voice or contain every detail. I just want to see if your plot architecture holds up. If you have any questions about specifics, feel free to @ me on Twitter: @SoniaHartl1

For submission guidelines, please refer to Brenda Drake's website. And please consider donating to keep Pitch Wars running, and receive extra entries!

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Pitch Wars 2016 Mentor Bio/Wishlist

Sonia Hartl