Pitch Wars 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 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. You can learn more about it at www.pitchwars.org

Since Denise is in the US and Charish is in Sweden, we don’t get to hang out in person, but we’re pretty sure when we do, it will look like these photos. Look at us pretending to enjoy this tandem bike ride!

Hello! We’re Denise (she/her) & Charish (she/her) and we’re so excited to form #TeamLeo as Pitch Wars adult mentors in 2020.

Why Team Leo? While Di Caprio and Da Vinci are dope, we’re both July babies and try to bring big Leo energy to everything we do. Go big or go home, right? Below, we’ll share our writing experiences, dream manuscripts as adult mentors, and mentoring style.


🚨🚨Some of this also may reference topics that are NSFW, so take care from here forward🚨🚨

Give us your adult CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE manuscripts. We love love stories!
*A romance should center the relationship between two or more people and end in a happily-ever-after or a happy-for-now.

We are NOT a good fit for:

  • Other sub-genres of romance (i.e. historical romance, romantic suspense, inspirational romance, paranormal romance)
  • Science Fiction or Space Operas
  • Fantasy
  • Historical
  • Literary fiction
  • Inspirational
  • Erotica (we’re good with high heat romance, though!)

What are we looking for?
We love a wide variety of things in our romance novels, so this is not an exhaustive list, but we hope it gives you ideas of the kinds of projects we’d be excited to see.

At the top of our list: We’d love to see OwnVoices stories from People of Color, especially stories that include intersectional identities (i.e. LGBTQIA+, disability, neurodivergence, body size, etc.)

We think this is what we’d look like seeing manuscripts that include these. Cinnamon roll nerd meets bad ass fighter pilot? Here for it. Sexy banter between two chefs competing to make the perfect halloween meal? We’re in. Literally any other combination of these? CHEERS!

Tropes We Love:

  • Enemies-to-lovers
  • Friends-to-lovers
  • Forced proximity/Only one bed
  • Workplace romance
  • Vacation
  • Next door neighbors
  • Marriage of convenience
  • Found families
  • Small town (but make it multicultural)
  • Comedy-of-errors

Things that leave us tickled:

  • Swoony moments–is there a confession of love that makes our hearts burst into glitter? We want that.
  • Heroines (if the stories feature women) who have agency. We ❤ feminism.
  • Cinnamon roll main characters
  • Stories with meaningful stakes/realistic conflict
  • We prefer to read Medium to Spicy heat level or sensual closed door (that’s what we write). If the physical intimacy is closed-door, we want to feel the heat on the page, even if we don’t see the act.
  • Consent is sexy.
  • We are here for fat main characters and body diversity!
  • “Get stuff done” main characters
  • Holidays (and not just Christmas and Valentine’s Day)
  • International travel/Interesting locations
  • Interesting occupations
  • Sexy banter
  • If you make us laugh, that is huge.
  • Nerds. The more the merrier. We love them. We write them. We married them.
  • FOOD- We love reading about different cuisines. If your book makes us hungry for Ethiopian food, Charish is gonna be mad (because her town doesn’t have a decent restaurant) but DELIGHTED.
  • Comedy. We don’t only want RomComs, but if you pitch a RomCom, it should make us laugh and the story should be rooted in a comical situation. RomComs Denise has watched on repeat during the pandemic: Always Be My Maybe, You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Love Birds (which is maybe more suspense than romance but their swoons are serious swoons and I’m counting it)

Things we are NOT seeking:

  • Secret babies. They are some people’s catnip, but not these lions.
  • Dubious consent
  • On-page sexual assault
  • Bully heroes/Alpha-holes
  • Major age gap or minors involved as heroes or heroines (this should go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway)
  • Helpless/damsel heroines

Mentoring Styles

Okay, we’re leaning into a Point Break vibe… Publishing feels a little like jumping out of a plane and free-falling. Who who have with you when you jump is important!

We both have enough teaching experience to know how helpful office hours are for our own students.  We want to have regular and consistent check-ins with our mentee to discuss progress, questions, or talk through roadblocks. We also want to celebrate wins, be they busting through a difficult scene or managing to write during a hard day.
We’re likely to assign my mentee “homework” in the form of beat sheets or character questionnaires (if needed). We don’t plan to micro-manage because the story ultimately belongs to you, but we’ll be there with plenty of suggestions.

We are really good at pep-talks. Self-confidence is necessary in the publishing industry and we want our mentee to know we believe in them every step of the way. Denise started an empowerment and personal development program for womxn that includes silencing the inner critic and harnessing the inner mentor—we would hope to bring those conversations to mentoring in terms of writing and revising.

Like Patrick Swayze in Point Break: We’ll take you to the edge…past it.

Meet Charish

Charish Reid currently lives in Sweden with her professor husband, who enjoys walking and biking way more than she does. While he walks and bikes, she writes contemporary romance featuring sexy academics, who are trying to find love and adventure from under stacks of student papers. After earning her Masters in Literature, she went on to teach English and Rhetoric at several universities before penning her first book. When she’s not writing or teaching, Charish enjoys watching movies and talking to folks in other countries. Travels to Thailand, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, and Sweden will probably find their way into future books.
 A few authors whose books are insta-buys for me:

  • Katrina Jackson- “high heat, diverse and mostly queer erotic romances and erotica.” (lgbtqreads.com, 2/6/20) Pink Slip, From Scratch, Room for Three, Office Hours, Neighborly. LGBTQ characters, menages, and characters who “get shit done.”
  •  Tessa Dare (historical) I’ve read almost everything Dare has written. I know she’s a Historical Romance author, but her characters and tone are what really shine for me. The characters usually feature intellectual curious women who are strong-willed and passionate. The novels are steamy and humorous rollicking good fun, and low-ish angst.
  •  Alyssa Cole- The first Cole books I read was A Duke by Default and whew! It involved everything I love: #ADHD rep, Interracial, interesting occupation, international travel, found family, workplace (competence porn)
  •  Sierra Simone- Priest and Sinner were steamy and angsty as hell. This series feature brothers and their respective romances. Taboo-ish, religion, and steamy scenes. Sinner made me cry and swoon and hot.
  •  Sarah Smith- Faker and Simmer Down. Phillipina main characters who “get shit done.” Smith knows how to do great enemies-to-lovers. High steam and fantastic stakes, Simmer Down has food, comedy of errors, international travel, multiculturalism, and workplace competition

 Other authors I love:

  • Rebekah Weatherspoon
  • Jodie Slaughter
  • Melissa Blue
  • Sarah McLean
  • Zaida Polanco
  • Robin Lovett
  • Suleikha, Snyder
  • Alisha Rai

Meet Denise

I wrote my first book in the 2nd grade. I Hate You and its sequel, I Still Hate You, featured a tough, funny heroine, a quirky hero, witty banter, and a dragon. Minus the dragons, these are still the books I like to write. After penning those early works, I finished second grade and eventually earned a PhD in education. I’m represented by Sharon Pelletier at Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret who I connected with through DVPit in fall 2018 and I was a 2019 finalist for the Golden Heart award though Romance Writers of America. My debut novel, HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING is out December 1, 2020 from Berkley.
 A few authors whose books are insta-buys for me:

  •  Charish Reid, but maybe that’s a given! I could re-read Charish’s books over and over again because of her strong and soft heroines, sexy and vulnerable heroes, and S-E-X-Y scenes. Hearts on Hold is in my top reads of 2020.
  •  Mariana Zapata – The queen of the slow burn, the contemporary romances always feel rooted in real world problems and the slow burn leads to delicious heat and lots of pining. The Wall of Winnepeg, Dear Aaron, and Kulti are some favorites.
  •  Christina Lauren – This duo has written too many books to list, but a few favorites are Dark Wild Night (high heat + nerds? YES!), The Unhoneymooners, and My Favorite Half-Night Stand.
  •  Olivia Dade – Swoony moments, cinnamon roll heroes, fat heroines, sexy times? Here for it. Olivia writes big-hearted, realistic books that always leave me smiling. Teach Me is in my top ten romance novels of all time.
  •  Kennedy Ryan – Beautiful prose, unflinchingly realistic, and always featuring women of color taking the world handed them and molding it. Kennedy writes eloquent, descriptive prose and love scenes that make me blush. Queen Move and the All The Kings Men Duo were recent favorites.

Other authors I love:

  • Priscilla Oliveras
  • ​Talia Hibbert
  • Rebekah Weatherspoon
  • Helen Hoang
  • Katee Robert​

We’re so excited to meet your characters!


The field of Adult mentors is wide–please visit the other mentors’ pages.

Pitch Wars 2020 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Mia P. Manansala and Kellye Garrett (Accepts NA)
  2. Rochelle Karina (Accepts NA)
  3. Ren Hutchings (Accepts NA)
  4. Mary Ann Marlowe
  5. Rachel Lynn Solomon
  6. Anna Kaling
  7. Gwynne Jackson (Accepts NA)
  8. Kristen Lepionka and Ernie Chiara
  9. Rachel Howzell Hall
  10. Lyn Liao Butler
  11. Michael Mammay and AR Lucas
  12. Paris Wynters (Accepts NA)
  13. K A Black (Accepts NA)
  14. Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla (Accepts NA)
  15. Hudson Lin (Accepts NA)
  16. Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie (Accepts NA)
  17. Taj McCoy (Accepts NA)
  18. Ian Barnes (Accepts NA)
  19. Keena Roberts (Accepts NA)
  20. N.E. Davenport (Accepts NA)
  21. Elizabeth Little
  22. Anne Raven and Janet Walden-West (Accepts NA)
  23. Charish Reid and Denise Williams
  24. Kalyn Josephson and Kat Enright (Accepts NA)
  25. Gladys Qin (Accepts NA)
  26. Tanen Jones (Accepts NA)
  27. Clay Harmon (Accepts NA)
  28. Jake Nicholls (Accepts NA)
  29. Layne Fargo and Halley Sutton
  30. Denny S. Bryce and L. Penelope
  31. Roselle Lim and Farah Heron (Accepts NA)
  32. Morgan Rogers (Accepts NA)
  33. Samantha Rajaram
  34. Rob Hart
  35. Damyanti Biswas (Accepts NA)
  36. Maria Heater
  37. Cynthia Pelayo (Accepts NA)
  38. Gia de Cadenet
  39. Nicole Glover (Accepts NA)
  40. Rosie Danan and Ruby Barrett (Accepts NA)
  41. Cole Nagamatsu and Sequoia Nagamatsu
  42. Carly Bloom and Sam Tschida
  43. P.J. Vernon and Kelly J. Ford (Accepts NA)
  44. Matthew Quinn Martin (Accepts NA)
  45. Stephen Morgan (Accepts NA)
  46. Alex Segura and M. J. Soni
  47. Roma Panganiban (Accepts NA)
  48. Tricia Lynne (Accepts NA)


Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists

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