Lee Gjertsen Malone

Pitch Wars Mentor Bio



Hello everyone, if you’re looking at this page it’s probably because you’re interested in submitting to the Pitch Wars contest. If you’re not sure why you’re here but this whole “Pitch Wars” thing sound interesting, please check out the rules and requirements at: Brenda Drake’s blog.

My name is Lee Gjertsen Malone and I’m the author of a contemporary realistic middle grade novel, THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH’S, which will be published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in February 2016. This novel was chosen as an alternate in a previous Pitch Wars contest, which is one reason I’m so excited to be a mentor this year.

I’m also a freelance journalist and have written about everything from wedding planning to the banking crisis to how to build your own homemade camera satellite. My interests include amateur cheesemaking, traveling, associating with animals, shushing people in movie theaters, kickboxing, and blinking very rapidly for no reason.

What you should absolutely pitch me:

Contemporary realistic MG with smart humor and real kids and an interesting, not-dumbed-down-for the audience voice.

Humor: Absolutely. Especially humor that comes from funny situations and characters. Send me a book that makes me laugh in public and I’ll love you for life.

Diversity: I’d love to see stories about kids from nonwhite ethnic or racial backgrounds, kids with physical and other disabilities, neurodiverse kids, and kids who are LGBTQ or have LGBTQ families.

Mystery: I love MG stories with a mystery or puzzle. If one of your comps is THE WESTING GAME, pitch me first!

Realistic books with fantastical elements: when it comes to “high” fantasy (think LORD OF THE RINGS and the NARNIA books) I may not be your best bet. The same for hard science fiction. But I love books that have a bit of fantasy or sci-fi woven into the story – like THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH. I enjoy paranormal MG too, but like a lot of people, I’m kind of over the “I woke up on my birthday and realized I’m a selkie/vampire/ghost/etc” books. Still, if you’ve written something fresh, please send it along!

Historical: As a kid I loved historical novels, especially those set in the United States (like THE GREAT BRAIN books) and I still enjoy that kind of story, but it needs to feel real and not forced, without too much world-building. I’d love to be surprised by this category.

What I’m not the right person for:

High fantasy and hard sci-fi (unless it’s super funny, then send it on); contemporary books with overly “tween” first-person voices (the ones that sound like most-annoying 12-year-old you know talking on the phone to a friend); books that talk down to kids or are overly-preachy; “issue” books; stories that present characters in ways that reinforce negative stereotypes; first person present tense (most of the time); and anything gory!

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