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P i t c h  W a r s  2 0 1 8  -  W i s h  L i s t

Hi there, thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re new to Pitch Wars or a returning hopeful, welcome to my wish list.☺️

I’m mentoring in the Adult category this year, accepting fiction in the genres of Magical Realism, Low Fantasy, or Mystery/Suspense/Thriller. (SFF writers, I’m interested in select sci-fi elements too, but grounded in the genres I’ve listed above.) As I’m requesting more than one genre, please read all my specifics below; that way you can best assess whether we might make a good team!



S t u f f  A b o u t  M e

I love crafting deep, layered narratives with strong settings that breathe and become characters in their own right.

I’m a cross-genre reader/writer, essayist, and novelist with an interdisciplinary background in visual arts and philosophy. I've published scholarly essays on posthumanism and surrealism, (both topics that influence my storytelling), and most recently, short fiction in literary magazines. 


On the fiction side of things, I write mash-ups of noir suspense and gothic tales—think ghost stories. I love crafting deep, layered narratives with strong settings that breathe and become characters in their own right. My novel, The Maddening of Holly Robin, centers around a haunting in a sleepy subarctic hamlet. It was selected for Pitch Wars last year and also landed me my wonderful agent, Ann Leslie Tuttle at DG&B.


I have a PhD in Social and Political Thought from York University and am currently a professor in the School of Media Studies at Humber College, Toronto. I have years of experience teaching a diverse population of adults, and love doing it—especially when it’s about writing. I also belong to several close-knit critique groups, the members of which I met through writing programs, conferences, and contests like Pitch Wars. In fact you may have seen my recent tweet about meeting some lovely writers at the Writer's Digest

Conference in New York this past weekend—including Pitch Wars hopefuls, eep! Long story short, I nerd out when it comes to connecting and working with other writers. 


Otherwise, when not reading or plotting murder, I enjoy crispy stationary, cheesy puns, show tunes, and the smell of fresh vinyl. I’m a fan of squishing my offspring, too.


W h a t  I  W a n t
(Two-Part Checklist + Visual & Bonus Wish List)


I’ll be selecting an Adult manuscript that is grounded in one genre I list and at least one element outlined below.

i.e. At minimum you’ll want a check in each list—one genre and one element or more—to ensure a strong match with my interests and editing strengths. 


If you find yourself thinking your novel fits into more than one genre I list, excellent! I love and welcome mash-ups. In fact, “fitting” your genre-blended novel into the market is something I can help you with. 

1.  Genres wanted

Would you categorize your manuscript in one of the genres below? If yes, great! Please move on to part 2 of this checklist as you still need one additional check for a potential good match…


  • Magical Realism

  • Low Fantasy

  • Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

  • Upmarket that encompasses any of above

  • Literary that encompasses any of above


2.  Elements wanted

If you answered yes to a genre above, does your manuscript *also* include one or more of the elements listed below? 


  • Surrealism; I love anything uncanny; give me unconscious layers and eerie dreams à la Inception or Twin Peaks

  • Noir mood/aesthetic 

  • Romantic subplot; I’m not requesting genre romance, however, I love to champion romantic tension as an added layer when it’s not the main story conflict

  • Trapped settings or small towns with dark secrets; hook me with a good, twisty mystery like The Dry by Jane Harper or In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware 

  • Gothic settings

  • Historical settings
  • Sci-fi elements when paired with contemporary world/realism and thriller genre; feel free to upload my brain somewhere—I’m game! 

  • Dark elements or light horror; e.g. director Guillermo del Toro incorporates light horror in his films, Pan’s Labyrinth or The Shape of Water

  • Alternate earths/dimensions; give me the Upside Down world! (Dystopian elements are also okay but only if they blow my socks off like an adult equivalent of The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon)

  • Otherworldly encounters, especially ghosts and doppelgängers

  • Folklore or fairy-tales for adults (the darker the better); retellings welcome

  • Themes of feminism, body politics, and alternate definitions of beauty; give me an inwardly strong female protagonist who subverts or usurps social stereotypes any day

  • Themes of belonging

  • Themes of what it means to be human… or not human



3.  Visual Wish List*














Now that you’ve considered points one and two above, I’ve made an additional visual wish list for you to browse. *Some images may contain nudity and dark subject matter; you may want to avoid clicking the link at work. 


For those who are fans of inspiration boards and aesthetics, this visual component to my wish list provides an idea of the affects and moods I love to experience in storytelling. If your novel “fits” one or more of these images, (plus a genre/element I’ve noted), then I’d be super excited to see your manuscript in my inbox!

+ Bonus List 


a) I’m partial to stories that include:

  • Misfits, outcasts, and wallflowers as main characters; send me the underdogs and unlikely heroes! 

  • Diversity in all its beautiful colours and shapes

  • Happy-ish endings; it’s okay to make me sad on and off over the course of your story, but good and love must prevail. If I need multiple tissue boxes while reading—or if I’m left with a doom and gloom conclusion—I’m probably not the best mentor for you.


b) What I Don’t Want 

There are amazing mentors this year accepting things that I’m not. As you only get four entries/mentor choices, this list is to help you decide what not to send me, since I won’t be the best fit for the following: 


  • Stories that are high fantasy: please no worlds with dragons, elves, goblins, warlocks with white beards, etc. 

  • Stories with vampires, werewolves, or zombies (mentors who are requesting urban fantasy are better suited for these)

  • Stories with any type of sexual abuse, on- or off-page

  • Stories with child abductions or child abuse

  • Stories where the family pet is killed off

  • Stories that are anything other than adult magical realism, adult low fantasy or adult mystery/suspense/thriller. (For example, if you’ve written a space opera or an urban fantasy, you’ll be better matched with another mentor who is requesting your subgenre.)


Questions on anything I mention in my many lists above? I’m happy to provide additional “wish” details. Feel free to send me a tweet @TopdjianC and I’ll do my best to clarify. E.g. Your Q: What are your feelings on warlocks with black beards? My A: Not good. 




M y  M e n t o r i n g  A p p r o a c h

As my mentee, you can expect to receive my direct, honest critique on your novel via a detailed edit letter, in-line comments, and ongoing communication over the course of the contest. 


I’ll offer at least two rounds of revisions on your manuscript, along with tips and consults into the publishing industry. We’ll also roll up our sleeves and dig into the pitching and querying process. Each time, I’ll guide you on what you’re nailing and more so, what aspects you need to improve to get your story spic and span for agents’ eyes.


Depending on the shape of your manuscript, (not to mention your query letter and pitch), revisions could entail anything from structural to grammatical changes. Maybe your pacing is off in the second act or you’re missing a major POV in the plot. Or maybe you lack transitions between ideas or overuse the word “totally.” Whatever the case, there’s a good chance my feedback will cover both your macro and micro writing habits. 


I’ll not only point out what needs fixing, but I’ll suggest proven methods for improvements. More importantly, this will be a two-way conversation. I’ll ask you plenty of questions to get a better sense of your vision. It’s your story, your career. I’m here as your enthusiastic guide/advisor, supporting you to achieve your short-term and long-term goals. So if you haven’t already picked up on this, I’m big on teamwork and open communication!

This is why you're here. To win. To work. To grow. And future mentee, I couldn't be more thrilled to help you achieve your dream.

Speaking of which, email will be our primary method for relaying feedback with an optional Google hangout to chat and brainstorm over “meatier” subjects. If the idea of video chats makes you break out into hives, however, no problemo. We can stick to written contact, DMs or whatever you prefer. The main point here is that I’m open and flexible to meet your needs.

Either way, once I know what you’re hoping to achieve, expect homework. I’ll encourage you to read. And I’ll encourage you to write and revise and revise some more.  


Hopefully, this is why you’re here. To win. To work. To grow. And, future mentee, I couldn’t be more thrilled to help you achieve your dream. 


Good luck all! Thanks again for reading. To quote somebody famous (David Bowie? 2Pac? Chester Cheetah?): “It ain’t easy.” So write on. I’ll be rooting for you, in my Pitch Wars inbox and beyond! 🙌

—>Return to Pitch Wars Blog Hop or select another Adult category wish list below

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