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Mia and Kellye's 2019 #PitchWars Wishlist!

**We are open to reading NA. However, since NA isn’t really a thing in our genres, there’s a good chance that we might request that you simply pitch your book as Adult come Agent Showcase.**

Hello everyone! We're Mia and Kellye and we're back to co-mentor in the Adult category for Pitch Wars!

Mia and Kellye at Malice Domestic 2018

For those of you who are new to Pitch Wars, it is 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.

It's a fantastic program that has changed many lives and also introduced both me and Kellye to a wonderful writing community. For more info on the program itself, go to the website.

What are we looking for as mentors? Well, to follow in the footsteps of Sue Grafton, the GOAT, we want you to know: M is for MENTOR...


M is (also) for Mysteries!

Especially from writers who are part of a marginalized community (though you should feel no need to "out" yourself as part of the process). Of course, you don't have to be a marginalized writer to submit to us but your story shouldn't just be populated with straight, white cis characters.

We specialize in traditional mystery (stories featuring amateur sleuths as opposed to professionals solving the cases) and PI novels, but also love suspense and thrillers that aren't too dark. Look to N for our specific No's.

We love crime fiction that combines a great voice with a strong main character, doses of humor/wit and some amazing plot twists. For characters, think Stephanie Plum, Kinsey Millhone, Phryne Fisher, V.I. Warshawki, Detective Lou Norton, Roxane Weary, Elvis Cole, Cass Raines, or (a throwback favorite of Mia's) Jessica Fletcher.

For writers, think Laura Lippman, Amina Akhtar, Lori Rader-Day, Elizabeth Little, Naomi Hirahara, Louise Penny, Alex Segura, Agatha Christie, Alexia Gordon, Peter Swanson, Gigi Pandian, Steph Cha, and Robert B. Parker.


E is for Enthusiasm for the revision process.

Your story will always be YOUR story. We would never force our vision on you if you don't feel it's right. HOWEVER, you must be open to feedback and constructive criticism. We will explain why we're asking for specific changes, but you should always feel comfortable talking it through with us, asking questions, and also explaining your viewpoint. And don't forget, all writing is re-writing. (And re-writing, and re-writing...)


N is for NO extremely dark subject matter.

We are not the best mentors for anything involving serial killers, pedophiles, child rapists, and abuse of any kind. There is an amazing group of crime fiction mentors this year who are perfectly happy to tackle dark subject matter, and we wouldn't want you to waste an entry on us.


T is for Telephone calls are the worst.

Our communication style is very hands-on, but we prefer to chat online through Facebook Messenger or Gchat while revising in Google Docs. Text messages or other social media DMs are cool too, but Mia is a typical Millennial and phone calls give her anxiety. Kellye just hates the phone.

Mia channeling Mrs. Bennett whenever the phone rings


O is for Outlines, Outlines, Outlines.

However you feel about outlines, just trust us on this. Pitch Wars requires a very short turnaround time on your revisions, which means you need a tight game plan beforehand so you don't waste time slogging through the messy middle or get all the way to the end and realize it doesn't work.

Kellye has had five previous mentees (including Mia and current mentors Kristen Lepionka and Suzanne Park) and she has made them all turn into temporary plotters. So she totally expects that you'll hate her for it.

Which brings us to our final letter...


R is for Revision style.

You can expect editor-level big picture edits and detailed line edits that might make you want to *coughCURSEcough* totally love us. We’re especially strong with plot, dialogue, character development, and humor. We’ll start with your plot, including plugging in plot holes and developing say-what-now?! twists and reveals.

Once you’re happy with your story beats, you’ll be off to revise. While you’re revising Act One, we’ll be checking in with encouragement (AKA bugging you to chat about nonsense--but not on the phone!). Then we’ll line edit Act One while you work on Act Two. We’ll rinse and repeat the process for Act Three, then do another round of edits until your manuscript is shiny and agent-ready!!!!!


Now that you know what we're looking for and how we work, you're probably asking yourself, "Who the heck are Mia and Kellye? Why should I sub to them? How do they both have such fantastic hair?"

All very relevant questions!

To start with, we're both Pitch Wars vets.

Mia was a 2017 mentee (her mentor was none other than the amazing Kellye Garrett) and 2018 mentor. Kellye was a 2014 mentee who has mentored every year since then and was also last year's Managing Director. (She's also mentor liaison this year where she kinda mentors the mentors.) So we know how it feels to be in Pitch Wars from both sides.

We're extremely hands-on.

Seriously, got a question? Don't hesitate to ask. The world of publishing can be so confusing (and frustrating and a few other choice adjectives) and part of our job as mentors is to help you navigate through it.

We're both mystery writers!

Mia’s Pitch Wars novel DEATH COMES TO COMIKON also won the 2017 William F. Deeck – Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy Scholarship.

It’s about a Filipino American amateur sleuth who solves crime in geeky pop-culture settings. She’s also working on a Filipino-themed culinary cozy whose opening chapters recently won her the 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award and the 2018 Hugh Holton Award.

Kellye’s Pitch Wars novel HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE (formerly called IOU) was published by Midnight Ink in 2017. It won the Anthony, Agatha, Lefty, and IPPY awards for Best First Novel. It’s about a mega-broke, semi-famous black actress who takes on the deadliest role of her life: Homicide Detective. The second in her Detective by Day series, HOLLYWOOD ENDING, came out last year and was named one of the TODAY show's "Best Summer Reads for 2019!" It's also up for an Anthony Award for Best Paperback so wish her luck!

WE EVEN KNOW HOW TO WRITE BIOS THAT MAKE US SOUND SUPER FANCY, SCROLL DOWN FOR PROOF! Pitch Wars is amazing and, honestly, you’ll be in good hands no matter which mentors you submit to. Of course, we’d love for you to love pick us!



Mia P. Manansala is a writer from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad ass women.

She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture.

She is the winner of the 2018 Hugh Holton Award, 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, the 2017 William F. Deeck - Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy Scholarship. She's also a 2017 Pitch Wars alum and 2018-2019 mentor.

A lover of all things geeky, Mia spends her days procrastibaking, playing single-player video games, reading cozy mysteries, and dreaming of becoming best buds with Wonder Woman and Kamala Khan.

Learn more at her website,


Kellye Garrett’s first novel, Hollywood Homicide, was released by Midnight Ink in August 2017 and was named one of BookBub’s Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time. In addition to receiving starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, it won the Agatha, Anthony, Lefty and Independent Publisher “IPPY” awards for best first novel. It was also nominated for the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel and Barry award for Best Paperback Original. Hollywood Ending, her second book in the Detective by Day mystery series, was chosen a best mystery of 2018 by Suspense Magazine, Book Riot and CrimeReads, which called it the most fun book of the year. In addition to being featured on the TODAY show’s Best Summer Reads of 2019, it was nominated for an Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original and a Lefty Award for Best Humorous Novel. In addition to writing, she currently serves on the national Board of Directors of Sisters in Crime as its Publicity Liaison.

Kellye previously spent 8 years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama Cold Case. People were always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people. A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company—while still happily brainstorming ways to commit murder.  You can learn more at


If you’re nosy like us, you can find Kellye’s 2014 Pitch Wars entry here and Mia’s 2017 Pitch Wars entry here.

And if you’re super-nosy (also like us), you can find Kellye’s previous mentees' entries by clicking the following links:

Kristen Lepionka (2015) (This awesome book was published as Last Place You Look in 2017 and won a Shamus Award!!)

Mary Keliikoa (2016) (This amazing book will be published by Camel Press in 2020!)

Suzanne Park (2016) (Suzanne has not one, but two books coming out next year!)

And Mia and Kellye's previous mentee:

Meg Long (2017) (Meg just signed with agent Alexandra Machinist for her YA Fantasy she wrote after Pitch Wars!)

If you have any additional questions, please hit us up on Twitter:

Kellye: @KellyeKell

This site also has some additional Pitch Wars resources, including Mia's Success Story interview where she explains exactly what it’s like to work with Kellye, and more cool stuff. Click here!

Go to the main site for the full PitchWars 2019 Mentor Blog Hop or check out the rest of the Adult Category Pitch Wars Mentors below:

(Make sure to scroll down to see them all since the list is in a separate box. There should be 42 Adult mentors.)

-- Mia

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