Pitch Wars 2017

Pitch Wars 2017 is upon us! A big thanks to Brenda Drake for extending me an invitation to be an Adult mentor this year. It’s my first time participating in the contest, but I’ve seen enough as a spectator to be excited for what’s to come. Read on for my bio & wishlist for Pitch Wars 2017!


Who Am I?

I’m David Mealing, author of SOUL OF THE WORLD, published by Orbit books in June 2017 as the first book in The Ascension Cycle trilogy. This is my first year mentoring for Pitch Wars, though I’ve been around the literary block so to speak, both in learning from my wonderful agent Sam Morgan of Foundry Media, and in looking over Lindsay Mealing’s (my amazing wife’s!) shoulder in her work as a literary agent for Emerald City Literary. My day job background is as a product & project manager in the tech world, so consider yourselves warned: I don’t mess around when it comes to deadlines, scheduling and hard work.


What am I looking for?

Adult Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I’m pretty wide open as far as subgenres, with some exceptions.

Do send me: epic fantasy, swords & sorcery, historical fantasy, grimdark, space opera, cyberpunk, hard SF, military SF, contemporary fantasy.

Don’t send me: romance-first fantasy romance (though I’m A-OK with romantic elements in fantasy books), spec thrillers, steampunk, magical realism, urban fantasy, PNR.

My ‘don’t’ list is really there for your protection. I can fall in love with anything if the storytelling is tight, but I haven’t read enough in these spaces to be a good guide for which tropes to hit, which to avoid, and what’s most likely to sell and capture an agent/editor’s interest. That said, one of my favorite books I read last year was THE DUCHESS WAR by Courtney Milan, so if you want to send me something out of my comfort zone, you just might capture my attention anyway!

I do have one *big* pet peeve though: please don’t send me anything with ‘stock’ fantasy races. Fae, werewolves, vampires, elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls, goblins… nothing against writers who work with these, it’s just not for me. I want to read something new.


A word on wordcount

I thought this deserved its own section.

I don’t care about wordcount at all.

My debut was 210,000 words. I have nothing but empathy for those poor foolish souls who, like me, opted to write giant doorstop epics. Just be sure you need every scene. The worst sin of storytelling is being boring.


What will working with me be like?

Well, as I mentioned, I was a product manager in a past life. I’m big on setting strict deadlines and measuring progress to make sure a project stays on track. I can be a great resource for you to improve your work habits, and I will be something of a brutal taskmaster when it comes to getting work done. Brenda has done a fantastic job of making Pitch Wars mirror the sort of timelines you’ll get from professional editors, and that means you can expect to be working *hard* for the next few months revising your project and getting it ready. Your book should be in a state right now where it’s as good as you think you can get it, but you should also be humble enough to trust we can work together to make it even better.

Methodology-wise, I’m a pure discovery writer, so although I respect the benefits of planning & outlining, I’m also huge on creativity and letting the story surprise you. As a mentee, you can expect long and in-depth brainstorming sessions where we try to soak problems and find unexpected, creative solutions to improving your story.

And finally, it is *your* story. As much as I want to help find the best version we can find, I recognize that my way isn’t always right, and that you have the final say. Just be prepared to fight for every idea. I’m a mean negotiator and I will grill the hell out of you to make sure you can defend every arc, every plot twist, every character defining moment. If there’s a better idea waiting to be found, I will push hard for it, even if it means rewriting large chunks of the book.

This process hurts sometimes. But my goal isn’t to give you a decently polished manuscript – it’s to get you an agent and put you on track to publishing your work. In a world where perfect sometimes isn’t good enough, I will feel like I’ve failed you if I haven’t driven you to pour everything you have into making your manuscript great.


Final thoughts

Best wishes to everyone involved in Pitch Wars 2017. It’s going to be a fun few months. I’m far from the most active person on social media, but feel free to connect with me on Twitter (@ddmealing) if you have any questions about me, my writing, or what I’m looking for. Good luck to everyone and, no matter what happens, keep writing!


Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets — Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.

Three must fight. Three must die. Three must rise.

I have a cover!


Seeing my book in a visual medium somehow makes it more real. I’m not an artist. But then I’m not an editor, a production designer, a copy editor, an agent, a marketer, a publicist, or a publisher either. One of the more surprising things I’ve learned in my journey from novice to author is how much of a team effort books are. When I queried my manuscript I’d already written eight drafts and gone through multiple beta readings. I was sure it was as good as I could make it – and it was. Orbit made it better.

SOUL OF THE WORLD is my first ever attempt at a novel. I wrote it, rewrote it, and found the story along the way. Now it has a face. I hope you love the cover as much as I do. It’s big, dark, and a little bit mysterious. It captures SOUL’s feel perfectly. At its core the book is about heroes, both likely and unlikely, thrown into situations that far exceed their understanding. You’ll recognize the girl on the cover from the first page, and right away you’ll see she is a very small person in a large, intimidating world. But, in her own words: she is not powerless. Even at her lowest point, she has teeth, and she knows it.

I see that struggle mirrored in my journey. Life in general – and publishing in particular – can and will throw unfamiliar situations at you that you’re not at all equipped to handle. I wish I was always so fortunate as to have people on my team whose strengths complement mine. This time I got lucky, and I’ve got a fantastic cover to show for it.

96 Books Sci-Fi & Fantasy Editors Can’t Wait for You to Read in 2017

Soul of the World listed as one of Barnes & Noble’s picks for SFF books to read in 2017!

96 Books Sci-Fi & Fantasy Editors Can’t Wait for You to Read in 2017


The Soul of the World, by David Mealing (June 27)
Much like in Texas, everything is bigger in fantasy. And my favorite fantasies are HUGE—massive worlds, epic stakes, bloody battles, intricate magic systems, and a cast of characters that will make me fall in love. Soul of the World has all of that plus monsters, murderers, and an invisible dragon who sits on one character’s shoulder… which is pretty much all I needed to know in order to pick up and then become obsessed with this book. With his debut, David Mealing has crafted an inventive and propulsive fantasy that reminds me of writers like Brandon Sanderson and Brian McClellan. In Soul of the World, the wild lands of the new world are filled with mythic beasts and every inch of territory is being fought over in a vicious campaign between the colonists of the north and the mysterious golden-eyed soldiers of the south. Meanwhile unrest and revolution threatens the very monarchy that made the colonies possible. And that’s just the beginning. We follow a military general, a street artist, and a tribal warrior as they uncover secret magics and discover a plot that could threaten the entire world. Now that’s big. – Brit Hvide