Friday, September 11, 2020

Rachel Howzell Hall’s 2020 #PitchWars Wishlist
Hi! I’m Rachel Howzell Hall, and this is my first time serving as a mentor in the Adult category for Pitch Wars! WoOt!
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. 

So, what do I want to read as a mentor? Crime fiction and mystery—love, love, love this genre. No rapists, though. No porn. No pedophilia. I like dark, but I don’t get down like that. Other than that, what else? Hmmm… 

Right now, it’s hot and muggy in Los Angeles, and so I’ve been hydrating a lot. With nothing but drinks on my mind, here is my wish list as beverages: 

WATER. The essence of everything. Flexible and revitalizing. I want writing with refreshing ideas. Sure, you can have a tropey detective who drinks whisky and listens to jazz but have the whisky come from Costco and the jazz be sung by Celia Cruz. Hells yeah, I like the unexpected, but I have to say, ‘Aaahh’ after putting down those pages. Think: Pete Fernandez, Lou Norton, Juniper Song, Dayna Anderson, Mas Arai, Bug Montage, Grayson Sykes, Gethsemane Brown, Roxane Weary, Isaiah Quintabe 

BEER. Don’t like it. Never drank it (unless you count Zima, which… no one should count Zima). But it’s the WHY people like beer. There’s a feel-good dopamine released in our brains with beer. It’s also accessible—anybody can afford it. So, I’m looking for writers who are EXCITED about writing and revising and editing and writing some more. The thought of this entire process makes you BOOZY.

WINE. I love Bordeauxs and Cabs. They help me to relax. Talking on the phone? That keeps me from relaxing. I’m the one who bankrolled research and development for Caller ID. Facts. So, if you don’t mind texts, Messenger, Gmail Chat and revising over Google Docs, then get to submitting. We may actually talk-talk once or twice, but that every week thing? Nah, I’m not about that. 

SANGRIA. Takes planning and steeping. A… recipe. I’m all out that planning life. Outlining is how I’ve been able to writing so much. Yes: I know stories fluctuate as your write but outlines keep your safe—there’s a roadmap even as you wander off the trail. Besides, you’re gonna need an outline anyway—from submitting on proposal to writing your synopsis. And we don’t have a lot of time, so seeing what you’re planning will help me to WINE and BEER so that we can create a WATER. 

COFFEE. Keeps you awake. You’ll need that shot of caffeinated adrenalin because we’re gonna be revising. An overall read of the outline first, then you’ll go off to write. You’ll send me sections that correspond to the writer’s journey so that we sure the structure is sound. While I’m editing that section, you’ll start on the next. Then, in the end, we’ll do another look-see. 

Who am I? And why do I have the nerve to ask so much from you? 

I’m the author of the bestseller and Anthony Award-, Lefty Award- and ITW-award nominated They All Fall Down (Forge). I write the acclaimed Lou Norton series, including Land of Shadows, Skies of Ash, Trail of Echoes, and City of Saviors. I am also the co-author of The Good Sister with James Patterson, which was included in the New York Times bestseller The Family Lawyer. I’m currently on the board of directors for the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America and I live in Los Angeles. My next novel And Now She’s Gone will be published in September 2020. I’ve been on NPR twice and I work full-time as a fundraising writing for Cedars-Sinai. My first novel A Quiet Storm (Scribner) was published in 2002. 

I’ve been around and seen a LOT of change in the publishing industry. I’ve also self-published two novels—A View from Here and No One Knows You’re Here because no traditional publisher wanted them. So! If you have any questions, please tweet me @RachelHowzell. 

I may not be your jam, but another mentor could be. Here's the gateway to other mentors:

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


  1. After reading Rachel Howzell Halls' entertaining blog on her background and things she likes (water, wine etc), her expectations of mentees, and authors she likes, I still don't have a sense of what adult genres she wants for Pitch Wars. Does she have a Wish List somewhere else, not linked to the Pitch Wars blog page?

    1. Hi, Leslie. Yes, AJ down below is spot on - crime fiction and mystery. Right up there at the top along with protagonists I love.

  2. She states it at the stop: Crime fiction and mystery—love, love, love this genre. No rapists, though. No porn. No pedophilia. I like dark, but I don’t get down like that.

  3. Hi Rachel. When you say "no rapists", do you mean no rapist story line or no rape scenes at all? My manuscript has an on page rape scene.

    1. Hi! I'm not interested in the thoughts of a rapist - so nothing from their perspective. Nor am I interested in reading vivid, brutal rape scenes. Hope that helps.

  4. Hi, my novel is a thriller, but is also crime and mystery, if you see what I mean...could be classed as either I think

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