Hilary Harwell

YA Contemporary

In revisions! With secret projects!

Hi y’all! I’m Erin and I’m living in Austin, Texas. When I’m not writing I love to snuggle my cats and dog, eat breakfast tacos, and search for the elusive Golden-cheeked Warbler in the Texas Hill Country.

I have written my entire life by myself and for myself. It wasn’t until I was in a really sticky place in my PhD program and started writing a book (for fun) to cope with the stickiness that I realized that maybe this book could be for more people than just myself. This was a few years ago now I’m working with my agent to sell books and writing everyday!

While I haven’t mentored before I’ve been teaching writing at the college level for five years and working one-on-one with writers at the university’s writing center. I’m used to providing feedback on many different aspects of writing all while making sure that the writer is in control of their vision.

I was a mentee in a different contest (shoutout to Pitch Wars 17 crew!) and, I am not exaggerating, it literally changed my life. I went from writing in my own little bubble and being too afraid to call myself a writer to having this giant supportive community that has always been willing to hold my hand through publishing’s ups and downs. I wanted to give back the kidlit mentoring community by becoming a mentor myself and helping a new writer find their people and their confidence.

  • Contemporary
  • Historical
  • #ownvoices
  • Romance

I’m looking YA contemporary and historical in all genres. While light magical elements are fine, if your book is fantasy heavy I am probably not the best mentor for it.

In particular I like to read. . .

Character driven stories. While I enjoy a fast hooky plot, my favorite books are ones that are propelled by their characters and their inner lives.

Romance. I LOVE romance, whether it’s part of the main plot or an important subplot, I’m here for it. Lgbtqa+ is always welcome in my inbox.

Humor. For me books are often about escape; if a book can make me laugh or smile I’m into it.

Settings. Whether it’s in our time or way in the past, I love reading stories where the setting is gorgeously rendered and almost a character itself.

I want all the smartly done romance!


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat

As a mentor I’m encouraging, honest, and available. I excel at big picture stuff like pacing, upping romantic tension, deepening character arcs, and brainstorming solutions to make the plot bigger and louder. I’m less strong with sentence level revisions–especially nitty gritty things like grammar–but I’ll do my best to mark these issues as I spot them. We can email, video chat, and text our way through your thoughts and concerns. I’ll read through your manuscript twice: once for big picture revisions and once more afterward.

My ideal mentee has a strong sense of their book’s vision and feels like they’re so, so close to finishing their book but isn’t sure quite what’s still missing.

Romance, ensemble casts, animals, friendship, family, ambitious protagonists.

I’m not into stories with lots of violence, stories where animals are injured/hurt, suicide, or stories which feature medical procedures or body horror.

Some of my current YA favs are WILD BLUE WONDER by Carlie Sorosiak, OUR YEAR OF MAYBE by Rachel Lynn Solomon, EMERGENCY CONTACT by Mary H. K. Choi, PRIDE by Ibi Zoboi, AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao, AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS by Margaret Rogerson, and THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black.