Pitch Wars Wish List!

Hey there! We’re Meryl (they/them) and Rosie (she/her) and this is our 2019 Pitch Wars submission wishlist! We’re so glad you stopped by. 

Below you’ll find information about who we are, what we’re looking for in submissions, what might not be the best fit for us this year, and links to our mentor profiles and social media handles where you can get to know us a bit further and ask specific questions. 

If you don’t know, 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 Pitch Wars at pitchwars.org. 

We encourage you to read our (and all mentors’ wishlists) carefully. Since you can only apply to four mentors (or mentor teams), you want to find the wishlists and mentors you think will best mesh with you and your MS.

Parts of the rest of this wishlist may not be safe for work.  


The Basics! 

Genres/Age Categories:


  • Women’s Fiction (w/ central romantic arc)

  • Adult

  • New Adult

Romance Subgenres: 

  • Contemporary

  • Historical

  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal

  • Western

  • Erotic

Not a good fit for: 

  • No HEA/HFN

  • On-page sexual assault

  • Alphahole MCs

  • Few/no female characters

  • Stories that heavily feature children

  • Romantic suspense stories (Though we will accept romantic suspense submissions if you are looking for another mentor team to submit to)

Still interested? Read on! We’ve got a lot more detail for you. 

Who We Are

  • We are critique partners who met as 2018 Pitch Wars mentees. It sounds cliche, but PW changed our lives and we’re so excited about this opportunity to give back to the community and see the other side of the process. We feel like rowdy campers recently promoted to counselors and it RULES. 

  • We learned so much as mentees and we plan to share all of that knowledge, not just about writing and editing but about publishing as a business and how to get the most out of this program—including navigating the highs and lows of a very public writing contest. 

  • Rosie was mentored by Heather Van Fleet & Lana Sloane, who taught her, among other things, that you actually have to show the main characters falling in love instead of just assuming everyone gets it because they’re obviously meant to be. 

  • Meryl was mentored by Farah Heron, who insisted Meryl’s characters have goals instead of just feelings.

  • In Harry Potter shorthand: Rosie is a Slytherin with a Ravenclaw rising and Meryl is a Hufflepuff with a Slytherin moon.

How & What We Write

  • Rosie is a plotting and spreadsheet nerd, a maestro of sexual tension, and a stickler for external conflict. Check out her articles and podcasts for an idea of her communication style. 

  • Meryl is obsessed with feelings and tears up at the drop of a hat (there’s even a twitter account about how often they cry). They’re better at coming up with solutions to other people’s plot problems than to their own. 

  • FUN FACT: We both come from fanfic backgrounds and remain avid readers in those communities, which influences the style of what we write and like to read. 

  • Meryl’s PW manuscript, SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, is a contemporary romance due out from Berkley in summer 2020. 

  • Rosie’s PW manuscript, NEVER HAVE I EVER, is a romantic comedy due out from Berkley in fall 2020. 

What We Want

Again, please note, we are mentoring adult romance! R O M A N C E! FOR ADULTS. That means your main characters are over the age of 18 and a romantic relationship is the center of the story with a happily ever after/happy for now. We are also open to women’s fiction with strong/central romantic elements and a HEA/HFN. This year we’re accepting both adult and new adult manuscripts. 

As two bisexual disasters, we like all combinations of romance and will accept manuscripts with any and all gender pairings. However, we are specifically looking to amplify marginalized voices and stories, and we have a particular love for f/f and f/nb stories.

Romance Subgenres: 

  • Contemporary: This is the subgenre both of us write in currently, so we’re most comfortable editing this kind of story. 

    • For this subcategory we’re looking for big hooks. If you can sum up your romance in one line and leave the reader going “WHOA” we totally want to see it in our inbox. 

    • We’re down for retellings or remixes of famous (or infamous) pairings, but we want to see a fresh spin that makes your story irrefutably modern. 

    • We love romcoms (though not all contemp can/should fall under that title). 

    • We gravitate to bold, voicey prose. 

    • Some of our favorite movies we’d love to see comped in this category are Never Been Kissed, 10 Things I Hate About You, Heartbreakers, and Imagine Me and You. 

    • Some of our favorite authors writing contemp today are: Helen Hoang, Ruby Lang, Kate Clayborn, Therese Beharrie, and Alexa Martin (we know Alexa is also mentoring but you should totally sub to us too).

  • Historical: Rosie especially has a soft spot for historical. We’d love to see:

    • Under-represented time periods (i.e. outside of Regency) 

    • Under-represented characters (for example, we love Felicia Grossman’s regencies featuring Jewish characters, Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series, and Olivia Waite’s f/f debut). History wasn’t all white allocishet and we’d love manuscripts that celebrate that fact! 

  • Scifi/Fantasy/Paranormal: These subgenres are totally making a comeback in romance right now and we love them for their potential for sky-high stakes. 

    • We’ll look for strong world-building, intriguing magic systems, love that can conquer death, and fresh takes on who gets to be heroes. 

    • We like action where the hero is not a cishet white man. We would love a sexy, grown-up, Nancy Drew, for example. 

    • For an idea of our taste in these subgenres, we recommend checking out Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn, and anything by Kresley Cole or Nalini Singh. 

  • Western: Look, if you have queer cowgirls falling in love? Let us read it immediately. Rosie just spent two years living in Texas and so is overdue to fall in love with someone tall and dark with a gravel voice and strong thighs. 

  • Erotic: We’re a better match for erotic romance than erotica, but are accepting both. Our favorite authors in this subgenre are Charlotte Stein, Sierra Simone, Jane O’Reilly, and Dakota Gray. 

In women’s fiction, we want strong romantic elements with a HEA/HFN. We’re big fans of Leesa Cross-Smith and Taylor Jenkins Reid. 

Favorite tropes: 

  • mutual pining 

  • slow burn

  • angst

  • forbidden romance

  • basically we want you to make us hurt before we get our super satisfying HEA

  • rivals to lovers

  • enemies to lovers

  • age difference

  • fake dating

  • friends to lovers

  • lessons in seduction

  • marriage of convenience

  • there’s only one bed!

  • opposites attract 

Other good stuff to know about us: 

  • We’re suckers for competitive environments—sports teams, cooking competitions, Survivor-style reality shows!

  • Any and all heat levels are fine! We love butt touching, but we accept it’s not right for every story. (Meryl’s MS didn’t have any butt touching when they did Pitch Wars!) (It does now tho 😏) (Butt touching means sex) 

  • Consent is a requirement regardless of heat level.

  • We’re looking both for stories by marginalized authors and those that empower marginalized characters, regardless of marginalization. While #ownvoices manuscripts are preferred, prospective mentees will not be asked to disclose their marginalizations.

  • WE! LOVE! WOMEN! We want stories that celebrate women, not that pit them against each other or characterize someone as “not like other girls.” 

What We’ll Do

  • Our editing process will be shaped from our experiences in Pitch Wars as well as with our shared editor at Berkley.

  • We will flail about how much we love your work, but…

  • That doesn’t mean we’ll pull punches. We want to make your manuscript the best it can be. Critique can be hard. We won’t be mean, but we’re not going to go easy on you either. 

  • We’ll talk through edits with you. There is nothing Meryl loves more than brainstorming and talking out potential solutions to issues with a manuscript. Rosie attests that Meryl is very good at this and she strives to live up to their example. 

  • We won’t make your story ours. It’s your book. We will point out our concerns and suggest ways to fix them, but we will not dictate what you do with your story. 

  • Our communication style will rely heavily on twitter DMs, but we’ll also be available for video calls if desired.

A brief and incomplete list of ways we could help you

  • Beefing up the chemistry between your characters (including your supporting cast)

  • Ironing out issues with pacing

  • Organizing and streamlining your writing process 

  • Mining your characters’ internal lives

  • Sharpening your dialogue 

  • Strengthening your conflict—internal and external both

If you’d like to learn more about us, check out our mentor profiles and/or follow us on social media. If you’re so inclined, you can also add our books on Goodreads. Thanks for reading and best of luck on your writing journey!

Twitter: @merylwilsner, @rosiedanan

Instagram: @merylwilsner, @rosiedanan

Goodreads: Something to Talk About, Never Have I Ever

tl;dr - well first of all, go back and read bc you shouldn’t be wasting a mentor pick without reading the wishlist, but actual tl;dr is if you have a f/f adult or new adult romance, send it to us. 

Check out the other adult mentors below!