In Pitch Wars 2021, what I’m ultimately looking for will be adult mystery/crime and thriller/suspense. I’m also open to NA, although I might ask you to change it to adult.

I am not the best mentor for anything involving serial killers, pedophiles, rapists, and gory violence. If your manuscript is void of those items, then please read on!

Aloha and Welcome to my Mentor Wish List! Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months with revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more! I can tell you from personal experience how this contest can change your life. Especially if you are coming in with the right expectations.

In 2016, I was a Pitch Wars mentee and had two fabulous mentors that I stay in touch with even today. To say that it was a lot of work to break my story down, rework it from the bottom up, add words, rework it again and shine it until it glowed for agent rounds, is a bit of an understatement. But the skills I learned have led me to succeed in the journey that followed. That journey has included signing with an agent, signing a three-book deal, and being nominated for a Lefty, Agatha and Anthony award, as well as being a Shamus finalist.

But it’s also inclusion in an incredible writing community and that is worth every ounce of hard work in and of itself.


I’ve written 9 novels, 5 of which are under contract. What does that mean for you? I have done a lot of editing and I understand how to build a book, chapter by chapter, scene by scene. In addition, I’m a beta reader and critique partner to several published authors. My experience in those areas has helped me develop skills in character development, dialogue, setting, structure, and identifying plot inconsistencies. 


  • Mystery/crime for dayzzzz pleazzze! I’m drawn to contemporary, character-driven stories where the relationships and motivations are as developed as the mystery. I am not picky on the main character—whether they are a police officer, or a person in the wrong place at the wrong time, an amateur sleuth, a crime fighting duo--I’m in if they’re trying to figure out a crime!
  • I do love a good cozy as well (and bonus points if there’s a cute dog or cat in the mix), and stories with an element of paranormal are right up my alley, but I’m not the best mentor for historical mysteries.
  • Some of my influences and favorite mystery authors are Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, JA Jance, Faye Kellerman, Agatha Christie, Sara Paretsky, Matt Coyle, Tracy Clark and Kellye Garrett.
  • Thriller/suspense for dayz too! I love suspense and thrillers of all kinds and, in particular, domestic, psychological, legal and medical thrillers. That said, I’m not a great fit for serial killer stuff, as mentioned above.
  • As for authors, think Shari Lapena, Lori Rader-Day, Harlan Coben, Mary Higgins Clark, Lisa Unger, Laura Lippman, Dan Brown and John Grisham.



Did I mention a lot of work? Yeah – it’s A LOT of work! When I was a mentee, I wound up rewriting about ½ of the entire manuscript during the contest for my mentors, adding over 10,000 words, and before that even started, I had to break down the entire book into beats. In addition, I changed character names, relationships and even the title.

The good news is I know that changes, big and small, are possible—if you are willing. And that is a key trait for me. I will be looking for a mentee who is open to making major changes, if necessary.

If you think your manuscript is perfect already, or if you have a long list of things you absolutely will not change about it (no matter the reason) then I’m not the mentor for you. I want to work with someone open-minded, someone humble and cool. Someone who likes to leave drama at the door and has a killer sense of humor. Equally important—you must be willing to work hard. Otherwise, this amazing opportunity won’t help you and I truly want the person I mentor to benefit. That being said, this process is supposed to be fun, and it will be!


Because I was you and I get you! I’m also hands-on. While Zoom calls versus phone chats are more my thing, you can DM or email me with questions any time. Except, you know, don’t expect an answer at 3am. I do like my sleep!

But other than that, I’ll be there for you. Even more importantly, I’m a mystery writer with quite a few mystery novels under my belt.

I’m the author of the Shamus finalist and award nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series. In addition, my Portland homicide detective turned small town sheriff novels will be out with a new publisher in September 2022. Two recent standalones straddle the suspense genre.

Pitch Wars 2021 Adult Mentors' Wish Lists

  1. Anna Kaling (Accepts NA)
  2. Ian Barnes (Accepts NA)
  3. Jackson Ford
  4. Jake Nicholls (Accepts NA)
  5. Jesse Q. Sutanto and Grace Shim
  6. Charish Reid and Denise Williams
  7. Saara El-Arifi (Accepts NA)
  8. Rosie Danan and Ruby Barrett (Accepts NA)
  9. Carolyne Topdjian
  10. Falon Ballard and Brooke Abrams
  11. Mary Keliikoa (Accepts NA)
  12. E.A. Aymar
  13. Amanda Elliot (Accepts NA)
  14. Kelly Siskind
  15. Vaishnavi Patel and Sarah Mughal (Accepts NA)
  16. Mary Ann Marlowe and Laura Elizabeth (Accepts NA)
  17. Mia P. Manansala (Accepts NA)
  18. Peggy Rothschild (Accepts NA)
  19. Natalka Burian
  20. Courtney Kae and Jenny L. Howe (Accepts NA)
  21. Rochelle Karina (Accepts NA)
  22. Swati Hegde (Accepts NA)
  23. Nanci Schwartz and LL Montez
  24. Paris Wynters
  25. Hudson Lin
  26. Sarah Remy (Accepts NA)
  27. AM Kvita (Accepts NA)
  28. Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla (Accepts NA)
  29. Melissa Colasanti (Accepts NA)
  30. J.A. Crawford (Accepts NA)
  31. Michella S. Domenici
  32. Yvette Yun and Marith Zoli (Accepts NA)
  33. Sari Coritz and Rosalie M Lin (Accepts NA)
  34. Stephenie Magister and Noreen (Accepts NA)
  35. Regina Black and Nikki Payne (Accepts NA)
  36. Farah Heron and Namrata Patel
  37. Alicia Thompson and Amy Lea (Accepts NA)
  38. Lyn Liao Butler
  39. Preslaysa Williams (Accepts NA)
  40. Keena Roberts and Molly Steen (Accepts NA)
  41. Alexandria Bellefleur (Accepts NA)
  42. Samantha Rajaram
  43. Ashley Winstead
  44. Clay Harmon (Accepts NA)
  45. Rob Hart
  46. Cole Nagamatsu and Sequoia Nagamatsu
  47. N.E. Davenport (Accepts NA)
  48. Katherine Lim
  49. Alexia Gordon
  50. Cynthia Pelayo (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2021 Mentors' Wish Lists. To view the wish lists by genre, visit this link.