This is the PitchWars Mentor You’re Looking For….


 ABOUT ME: (The official bio)

Laura Heffernan is a California-born women’s fiction writer, represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary.  One Saturday morning when she was four or five, Laura sat down at the family’s Commodore 64 and typed out her first short story. She’s written both fiction and non-fiction ever since. 

When she used to have spare time, Laura enjoyed travel, baking, board games, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and new experiences. She lives in the northeast, with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts. 

You can find me on Twitter far more often than I should be there.

This is my first year mentoring Pitch Wars, but far from my first contest experience. In the past year, I have served as slush reader and mentor for Nightmare on Query Street, slush reader and host for PitchSlam, slush reader and mentor for NestPitch, mentor for Sun vs. Snow, slush reader and judge for Query Kombat, and romance/women’s fiction expert for New Agent. I’ve read well over a thousand queries and first pages. On top of that, I’m currently interning for a literary agent. I have a good idea of what works, what doesn’t work, and what agents are looking for. 
Why You Should Submit Your Adult MS to Me:
  • I’m super smart. Ah kin fynd misstakes en ur manyouscript reel gud.
  • I can also stay on a mechanical bull for close to 90 seconds. That’s a really, really long time (I think). 
Yes, that’s me!
  • Everyone who I request pages from and is not picked will get feedback. If you’re chosen by another mentor, assume I fought hard for you but the other mentor left me a bloody heap on the floor, and I sobbed as they waltzed away with your entry, cackling. At the very least, I’ll say when I stopped reading and why.
  • I can hang upside-down by my ankles. Really, what more do you need in a mentor? 
  • If I don’t get any submissions, I will be very, very sad. 

You don’t want to give me Dawson Cry Face, do you?

  • Adult fiction. That’s non-negotiable. Any non-adult or non-fiction submissions will be deleted.
  • Women’s fiction is my first love. If you’ve got something in the vein of Erin Emerson’s What Would Oprah Do?, I will shove other mentors out of the way to read it. I know it’s not PC, but I adore chicklit (and am not bothered by the name at all. It’s light and refreshing, like a tiny bite of gum). Still, I read (and write) more serious women’s fiction, too. 
  • Send me unique concepts or new spins on old tropes. 
  • Commercial/upmarket fiction. 
  • Magical realism.
  • Romance.
    • I prefer historical to contemporary, although I’m not a fan of recent historicals (really, if you call something set during my lifetime “historical,” I’ll be crying too hard to read it). 
    • Make it sexy. If your characters never get it on, I will be frustrated and sad for them. 
    • BDSM is fine, as long as it’s done right.
    • I’m not a fan of dirty talk. 
    • Romance other than M/F is very much welcome in my inbox. 
  • Show me a heroine with a unique job/interests. Make her an assassin, a pilot, a porn star, ice cream truck driver, archaeologist, garbage truck driver—anything but the basic lawyer, party planner, advertising you tend to see in most women’s fiction.
  • Give me smart people! Nerds, geeks, gamers, LARPers, puzzle enthusiasts, whatever you’ve got. Just know that this is my tribe, so the details have to be spot on. 
  • Edited, polished manuscripts. I’ve posted about a jillion blogs with writing tips over the past year, many after reading contests entries. Read through them with an eye toward how to improve your manuscript before submitting. (You’ll find them here.) Grammar counts. I will fix problems as I see them, but I can’t afford to spend 100 hours moving commas, deleting participles, and removing filters. That’s your job, before you submit. 
  • Make sure you know appropriate word counts for your genre. If you send me a 400,000 word manuscript, or a 40,000 word manuscript, we’ll never know how much I might like it, because I’m not reading it. Agents want books they can sell, and mentors want entries that appeal to our agents.
  • Diversity! I am likely to pick a manuscript with diversity over a homogenous one if all other things are equal.
  • I am ALSO looking for people who are easy to work with, positive, upbeat and who genuinely want help. If you want someone to tell you the book is perfect, call your best friend or your mom. That’s not what this contest is about.
  • Anything that’s not adult fiction: NA, YA, MG, chapter or picture books. Non-fiction. Memoirs.
  • NO science fiction or fantasy. That includes dystopian, post-apocalyptic, steampunk…There are some excellent mentors who do SF/F. I am not one of them.
  • NO paranormal, including paranormal romance. That means: No demons, vampires, angels, were-creatures, fairies, ghosts, Sasquatch, mermaids, mind-readers, lake monsters, Yeti, witches, etc. If you’re not sure, ask yourself, “Are my characters human?” Humans only.
  • NO horror.
  • NO spy novels.
  • NO Westerns. Historical romance set in the Old West does not count as a Western. 
  • NO dual first-person present tense POV. It’s just not my thing.
  • NO books that glorify rape. I want to read consensual encounters. This also means no romances where one of the characters lacks the ability to consent: prisoner, slave, etc. 
  • NO romantic heroes who “happen” to be Nazis. Or KKK members. Racism and genocide aren’t sexy, y’all.
  • NO child abuse, beastility, or torture. If you do not know the difference between BDSM and torture, figure it out.
  • NO inspirational or religious-themed manuscripts, although I could maybe be sold on a retelling of some of the Old Testament stories, if it was done right. I am a big fan of the seven deadly sins….
  • Do not send me anything that portrays being LGBT* as a bad thing. 
  • If your MS involves sportsball of any type, I am probably not the right person to read it. 
  • I’m open to stuff with legal themes, but if you do not want a mentor to point out inaccuracies, or aren’t going to make changes when I do, please save us both a lot of banging our heads against the keyboard. 
  • With that said, if you’re only looking for a fact-checker, that’s not my job. Find some good critique partners and submit when it’s ready.
  • I’m not interested in writers who bash agents or traditional publishing on Twitter, who vent negativity toward the process or complain about contests/mentors. There’s a time and a place for venting, and that place is not the internet. 
  • If I’ve mentored/read part of your manuscript before, you’re better off getting a new set of eyes from other mentors. You’re welcome to submit a different manuscript to me.
  • The purpose of this contest is to take polished manuscripts that are ready to be queried and help make them even better before agents see them. If you’ve already queried 50 or 100 agents, or if you’ve submitted to small presses, consider entering a different manuscript. Agents rarely request entries they’ve already seen.
My favorite adult authors include: Sophie Kinsella, early Emily Giffin, early Jane Green, Kristin Hannah, Tana French, Lianne Moriarty, Allison Winn Scotch, and Renee Bernard.

My favorite books are all things by Tamora Piece (I can’t pick one—I re-read her entire oeuvre about once a year) and the Harry Potter series. My favorite TV shows are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica. A Tardis was involved in my wedding ceremony (as was The Princess Bride). I watch The People’s Court every day. Shows I never miss include UnReal, Nashville, The Flash, and Scandal. I’ve seen every superhero movie that’s come out in the past several years, I saw Rent! live seven times, I like Playstation Lego games, board games, yoga, chocolate, and going places with my husband. There are more gay romances than straight on my DVD rack. I never got used to saying Blu-ray instead of DVD.

So, essentially, I have varied tastes. Unless I say I don’t like it, there’s a chance I will. Bring on the submissions! And good luck to everyone!

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