Pitch Wars Mentorship Program
Pitch Wars is just around the corner and I’m thrilled to be a returning mentor this year, along with the talented Heather Van Fleet at my side.
If you’re new to Pitch Wars, it’s a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months with, helping to revise their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more.
Heather and I will be mentoring an adult entry this year, with our specific wishlist to come. First, here’s a bit about us!
WHO WE ARE
If you’re on my website, you know I’m Kelly Siskind. I write fun, sexy romantic comedy and have published eight novels over the past three and a half years. Five of those novels have been traditionally published and three have been self-published. Three of my books have been translated and sold in Italy, and I’m actually headed to Rome for a book signing at the end of September!!! Hello bucket list item.
My most recent release, NEW ORLEANS RUSH, is slated for release in both Germany and Poland. I also work as an active critique partner with some amazingly talented authors. This will be my fourth year (when the heck did that happen?) mentoring in Pitch Wars, and I’m a former mentee. I couldn’t be more grateful to Pitch Wars for helping kick-start my writing career.
Heather Van Fleet
Hey all! I’m thrilled to be back mentoring this year for the fourth time. Though I was never an actual mentee, I’ve made so many amazing friends throughout this process (including Kelly) and I absolutely love being a part of this community.
I’m a former foreign rights agent, have interned at multiple agencies, and I’ve also edited part time through several small presses. I am as much in love with the backstage of publishing as I am with writing myself. In other words, I know the ins and outs of this business fairly well.
I write angsty, sexy contemporary romances, as well as angsty, sexy romantic suspense. Three of my books have been traditionally published through Sourcebooks, while my suspense books are forthcoming through Bookouture. I also have an addiction when it comes to creating alpha boys with soft, gooey centers and have zero shame about it.
You can find more details about me and my books at: www.heathervanfleet.com
OUR EDITORIAL STYLE
We’ll be diving head first into editorial work with our 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 us to be brutally honest, but we’ll also tell you what we love and when we’re dying over your awesome words. Most importantly, we’re looking for a mentee who is willing to take criticism and do the work necessary to improve their novel, which includes slashing scenes and/or characters, as well as adding sections as necessary. We know how gruelling Pitch Wars can be, but we also know how rewarding the journey is. We’re happy to communicate as often as needed in whatever form serves our mentee.
Give us all the adult romance!!
(Couple on a romantic date)
The sexier the better. We’re not against closed door intimacy, BUT it has to have that thick, sexual tension that gives us goosebumps and warm feelings in our bellies. If you write closed door romances and want to open them, but you don’t know how, then send it our way! We’d love to give you a lesson on how to “make it happen.”
We are desperate for feel-good romantic comedies. Workplace romance. Enemies-to-lovers. Second chance romance. Brother’s best friend. Small town romance. Sports romance. You get the drift.
We’d love to see romances from diverse authors of all backgrounds. We want a story that will make us hold our breath. A story that will make us think and swoon. A story that will grip us by the heart, whether with fun banter or tough lessons learned, as your MCs navigate their lives.
Strong heroines who know what they want and aren’t afraid to ask for it are our jam. If you tend to write meek heroines, we’ll take a look at those, too, but we’ll likely ask you to push her more, give her a huge character ARC as well. Not all heroines have to be tough, but we want them to have backbones, so they’re standout characters just like their love interests.
(Confident woman walking along the beach)
Give us heroes with depth who have their own demons. Alpha boys or Beta boys? We love them both. If you have billionaires, we want them. If you have badass motorcycle dudes, we’re all in. But we’d also love to see regular people trying to make it in the world. Teachers, firefighters, scientists, police officers, engineers…the list is endless. If your guy has calves that look like this, we won't complain.
(Athletic man running)
We also want romantic suspense or romantic thrillers: if you have us on the edge of our seats, we’ll gobble it up.
We’d love to see m/m romance or f/f romance where the characters propel the story and sexuality isn’t the driving theme. Add in a wanderlust, travel element, and we’re your gals. Extra points if it’s romantic comedy.
If you’ve written the next J.R. Ward paranormal awesomeness with vampires and lots of kissing, hell to the yeah. Give us your witches and warlocks, too! Spells and passion and badass seances? Double hell to the yeah…BUT we like our witches and vampires set in contemporary worlds. You’ll notice below we aren’t looking for fantasy.
(Woman holding sparkler)
We’d absolutely love to see women’s fiction that explores the emotional highs and lows of life. We love uplifting themes that leave readers feeling as though they’ve been through a journey and have come out stronger at the end. We particularly adore romantic elements in our WF: the overlooked best friend, the old flame re-encountered, the wild and unexpected fling. If you have witty banter, we’ll be begging for it.
If your WF is dark and/or heavy, make the mood count. If you open our minds by tackling hard-hitting topics, we’ll be all in. Did we mention we love a little romantic angst in our WF?
If your manuscript doesn’t have a strong romantic element, you’ll need to draw us in with a unique hook and exceptional writing. Voice trumps everything.
We love reading NA and would adore seeing it in our inbox, but the traditional publishing market is still in a downswing. As such, if we find a NA book and voice we love, we’ll likely ask the writer to age the characters up to Adult.
AUTHORS WE ADORE
Kirsten Ashley, Penny Reid, Alyssa Cole, Christina Lauren, Brittany Cherry, Sally Thorne, Kennedy Ryan, J.R. Ward, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Sophie Kinsella, Kevin Kwan, Kristan Higgins, and Jodi Picoult are just a handful of the many authors we love. If you don’t think your books can be comped to theirs, PLEASE DON’T WORRY. You know how that old saying goes: you don’t know what you’re looking for until it’s right there in front of you. That’d be us.
WHAT WE DON’T WANT
No mentor can guarantee you’ll walk away from this experience with an agent or book deal, but we can guarantee we’ll help you grow as a writer. If you want to understand our writing styles, read one of our books! You’ll get a sense if we’re the right mentors for you.