2018 Pitch Wars Mentor Wish List

Update: This is a post about the 2018 Pitch Wars program. Please note that I’m not currently a Pitch Wars Mentor. But it’s a great program you should check out!

I'm excited to be joining you this year as a Pitch Wars mentor in the adult category. (New to Pitch Wars and wondering what I'm talking about? Here's a great overview.)


About me

The basics: I'm a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, breast cancer survivor, and accidental almost-vegan. A more detailed bio can be found here. My publishing story: I've been both an indie author and traditionally published. I currently write two mystery series, the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries with Henery Press, and the Accidental Alchemist Mysteries with Midnight Ink. You can read more about my publishing journey here and here.I've benefitted so much in my writing career from the generosity of other writers, so I'm thrilled to join the Pitch Wars team this year to pay that generosity forward 😀

What I would LOVE to see from you

  • Novels aimed at adults that fall into mystery genre. Your book can be a mash-up of genres (e.g. a fantasy cross-over or a historical mystery), but for us to be a good fit you should be feeling that your book is at its heart a mystery.

  • Mysteries from cozy to thriller, as long as you'd consider your book lighthearted and fun as opposed to dark and depressing.Good examples of the types of books I'm talking about:

    • Elizabeth Peters's adventure mysteries. Are you a fan of Egyptologist Amelia Peabody? Art historian Vicky Bliss? Librarian Jacqueline Kirby? I still haven't been able to bring myself to read the final book in the Amelia Peabody series, because then it will be OVER. Sniffle. These books transcend genre, because the main characters are larger than life. If you have a character like this, fair warning I might have to arm-wrestle other mentors to get your manuscript for myself.

    • Juliet Blackwell and Victoria Laurie's cozy paranormal mysteries. These two brilliant women show how to push the boundaries of the cozy genre with page-turning stories. The circles of friends in these books show the important things in life worth fighting for, and Victoria has got page-turning tension down to an art form.

    • Andrew Mayne's Jessica Blackwood thrillers. An FBI agent from a family of stage magicians solves baffling crimes in this Edgar-nominated series. Some of the most clever puzzles I've ever read are in the pages of Andrew's books, and he's created an utterly unique main character.Those authors above write in different mystery sub-genres, but all have terrific mysteries along with main characters you'd like to be friends with. Is your mystery cleverly plotted? Will I want to be BFFs with your protagonist? Please send your manuscript my way!

    • Diverse casts of characters. #ownvoices stories are welcome, but not necessary. I write them myself—my character Jaya Jones is a mixed-race Californian with one parent from south India like me.

    • Unique mysteries outside the box. Have you had trouble figuring out what mystery sub-genre your book falls under? You're not alone! My debut novel, Artifact, is a cozy international adventure, a cross between Indiana Jones and Agatha Christie, so lots of agents and publishers didn't know what to do with me. And for my second series? A gargoyle chef is one of the characters in the Accidental Alchemist mysteries. Yeah... I didn't make life easy for myself. But once I found my team, that uniqueness helped the books stand out. I'd love to help yours do the same.

But please do NOT send the following

  • Anything too dark.

  • A main character who's not likable.

  • Manuscripts riddled with typos.

  • An awesome book that doesn't fall into the mystery genre.

  • A manuscript that you're not willing to work hard to revise.

My mentor superpowers (i.e. why you'll want to work with me!)

  • My editing superpower: I'm great at big picture plotting and story development (not copy edits). I have critique partners I've worked with for years, including bestselling authors, and this is the area where they come to me for help. I LOVE helping shape stories to bring them to the next level. I will recommend you read a writing craft book by Donald Maass if you haven't done so already, and tell you about why I believe in the Three Act structure of storytelling.

  • My mentor superpower: I won't lie to you. I'll be there for you to answer your questions about your book and the publishing industry truthfully. Together, we will get your book through the last push to being awesome.

  • My author superpower: I've found my passion writing mysteries, and apparently I'm doing something right. I've won several awards (the Agatha, Lefty, Malice Domestic Grant), been short-listed for several more, and hit the USA Today bestseller list. With eight books out, I have a handle on what makes successful book.

  • My human superpower: I believe in people fiercely. I survived aggressive breast cancer, so I care about the important things in life and don’t sweat the small stuff. Yes, I will make you work hard to make your book as good as it can be, but I will also be your biggest advocate.

Your mentee superpowers (i.e. why you and I would be a good fit)

  • You're willing to work HARD.

  • You have a positive attitude. This is hard work, but amazingly fun! Why else would we be doing it?These past few years of being a published author have been the best of my life, but also the years in which I've worked the hardest.

  • You have a cleverly plotted mystery on the more lighthearted side of the genre that you’re excited about sharing with the world.

Contact style—make sure this is a good fit for you:

  • Email. I'm on California time, and responsive a lot of the day, but I'm not someone who has my phone with me every waking minute.

  • Skype. I'm not a phone person, but love video calls.

  • Twitter. For fun conversation, not for direct messaging.

If you think we'd be a good fit to work together, I look forward to hearing from you! Questions? Send me any questions on Twitter. And everyone: Best wishes on your publishing journey!Want to keep in touch? You can sign up for my email newsletter, find me on Twitter to chat, check out Goodreads for what I'm reading, and follow me on Instagram for travel, writing, and gardening photos.