Pitch Wars is just around the corner and I’m thrilled to be a returning mentor this year!
If you’re new to Pitch Wars, it’s a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for an agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents.
I’ll be mentoring an adult entry this year, but will not be accepting "new adult" content, with my specific wishlist to come. First, here’s a bit about me!
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ALL ABOUT ME
Considering you’re on my website, you know I’m Kelly Siskind. I write fun, sexy romance and have published eleven novels over the past five years. Four of those novels have been traditionally published and seven have been self-published.
Thanks to my amazing agent and agency, some of my novels have sold to Italy, Germany, and Poland. I was even lucky enough to visit Rome for a book signing!!! Hello, bucket-list item.
I also work as a freelance editor with a variety of writers, from those starting out to more established authors, many of whom have gone on to sign with agents and publishing houses. This will be my fifth year (when the heck did that happen?) mentoring in Pitch Wars, and I’m also a former mentee. I couldn’t be more grateful to Pitch Wars for helping kick-start my writing career.
MY EDITORIAL STYLE
I’ll be diving head first into editorial work with my mentee, from big-picture feedback to detailed line edits. Plotting, pacing, character arcs, descriptive settings, grammar issues, query letters, the dreaded synopsis—we’ll tackle them all. Expect me to be brutally honest, but I’ll also tell you what I love and when I’m dying over your awesome words.
Most importantly, I’m looking for a mentee willing to take criticism and do the work necessary to improve their novel, including slashing scenes and/or characters, as well as adding sections as necessary.
I know how grueling Pitch Wars can be, but I also know how rewarding the journey is. I’m happy to communicate as often as needed in whatever form serves my mentee.
Caption: excited woman.
Give me all the adult romance!!
I will fight for your steamy contemporary romances! If you have a high-concept/hooky premise with characters who will burn up my kindle, slip that baby into my inbox. Raunch-coms are a huge YES PLEASE for me.
I also enjoy sweeter romances dripping with sexual tension. Whatever the heat level, consent is a must.
I’d love to see romances from diverse authors of all backgrounds. I'm here for hard-hitting subject matter, but I don’t believe these romances need to be issue driven. For me, it’s equally as important to read characters pursuing love for love’s sake.
I’m desperate for feel-good romantic comedies exploding with banter. If there’s travel or far-flung locals in your manuscript, sign me up!
I love the tension in workplace romances. Enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers are two of my favorite tropes. I’m also a sucker for second chance romances filled with history and bad choices, as well as small town romances with vivid settings and hilarious side characters.
If you have a scene where your MCs have to share one bed, GIVE IT TO MEEEEE.
Basically, kissing books and well-integrated tropes are my catnip.
Caption: Woman kissing man's cheek.
I'm here for your romantic suspense too. Sexual tension interwoven with heart-pounding action will have me on the edge of my seat, BUT romance has to drive these stories. If you have a suspense novel with just a romantic element, that's not for me. If your romantic suspense has laughs and you can comp it to Romancing the Stone, I'll be giddy!
I’d love to see Neuro/Dis, body diversity, and LGBTQIA+ rep sent my way! Add in a wanderlust, travel element, or complicated family dynamics, and I’m your gal.
Historical romance, please! The tension! The longing! I want your dukes and class struggles. I’d particularly love to see a strong heroine flipped into a less traditional role.
Caption: Man gesturing wildly.
If you’ve written paranormal awesomeness with vampires and/or werewolves intertwined in a heartbreaking off-limits romance, I will swoon my face off. I'd particularly like to see a paranormal with diverse characters and culture infused into the world building. I'm also open to paranormal romantic comedies, with bantery vampires who add some fun to their bite!
Regardless of the romance genre or trope, I love sassy, strong heroines who know what they want and aren’t afraid to ask for it. Bonus points for smart romances that challenge established hierarchies and our perceived views of the world.
Caption: Confident woman staring at you.
Give me heroes with depth and quirks. Alpha or Beta boys don’t matter, as long as they’re well developed on the page. If your hero can be compared to Ted Lasso's Roy Kent, I will fight tooth and nail for him.
I’m also a huge sucker for nerdy heroes who bumble their way into the heroine’s heart. I’ll go gaga for your Gamma guys: the men who know what they want in life (and the bedroom), but they have a soft, gooey center. Speaking of soft and gooey, if you have a cinnamon roll hero he better land in my inbox.
Caption: Cinnamon bun being iced.
I want women's fiction with romantic elements, please! If there's no romance, I'm not the mentor for you. I love diverse stories of personal growth, woven with complicated family dynamics and/or workplace shenanigans. The stresses of big city life and corporate injustice are high on my YES list.
I also adore stories set in small-towns, especially if they're loaded with quirky charm. If your heroine is revisiting her hometown (and an old flame!) due to family upheaval, I'll be all over your MS.
If your women's fiction transports me to a past era and leaves me gasping at the evocative scenery, while gripping me with a high-stakes (maybe off-limits) romance, I'll be hungry for more.
In particular, I want books that leave me feeling uplifted and happy. If your women's fiction manuscript is dark and heavy, I'm not the best mentor for you at this time.
A HANDFUL OF (the many) AUTHORS I ADORE
Penny Reid, Evie Dunmore, Talia Hibbert, Christina Lauren, Alexis Hall, Helen Hoang, Sally Thorne, Kennedy Ryan, Trish Doller, Alyssa Cole, Sarah Hogle, Emily Henry, Chantel Cleeton, Suleikha Snyder, Mia Sosa, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Alexis Daria, and Beth O’Leary are just a sampling of the many authors I love.
If you don’t think your book can be comped to these authors, or if I haven’t described your exact book in my wishlist, DO NOT PANIC. Voice and plot trumps everything.
WHAT I DON’T WANT
No New Adult entries.
No bully romance or mafia romance or harem romance.
No sexual assault on the page.
No fantasy or science fiction novels, even if they are romance driven.
No mysteries or thrillers.
No inspirational romance.
No dark/heavy women's fiction.
No literary fiction.
No previously published work.
No mentor can guarantee you’ll walk away from this experience with an agent or book deal, but I can guarantee I’ll help you grow as a writer.
If you want a better handle on my writing style, read one of my books! My latest novel is THE KNOCKOUT RULE. You might get a sense if I’m the right mentor for you. And feel free to @ me on Twitter (@KellySiskind) or pop a question onto my thread on the Pitch Wars discussion board: CHAT WITH ME