• melissamcolasanti


Updated: Sep 13, 2021

Hello and welcome to my 2021 Pitch Wars Wishlist! If you aren’t familiar with Pitch Wars, it’s a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to mentor. Mentors read the entire manuscript and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch and query for an agent showcase in February 2022.

This year I'm focusing on ADULT manuscripts.

For a plain text, accessible doc, see here:

What I’m Looking For:

I’m looking for ADULT SUSPENSE this year!

  • I love thrillers/ mysteries/ domestic suspense of all types, with an emphasis on character-driven, voicey books. I love lyrical prose, gorgeous atmosphere, and characters with big secrets. Female-driven psychological thrillers are my jam.

  • I’m also open to edgy women’s fiction, in the vein of Liane Moriarty.

  • BONUS POINTS for queer manuscripts!

  • Diverse casts. I'm interested in neurodivergent characters, and characters who have mental or other invisible disabilities. A note on own voices: I'd love to work with and uplift marginalized creators, but please don't feel pressured to self-identify in any way that makes you feel uncomfortable.

  • If your style comps to Ruth Ware, Megan Collins, Kimberly Belle, Rachel Howzell Hall, Tana French, or Gillian Flynn, I want to see it!

  • I love juicy domestic suspense that leans upmarket and is laden with family drama.

  • Books where setting is its own character, especially if it's creepy and atmospheric.

  • I am a sucker for unique premises and new twists on age-old suspense themes.

  • I am also interested in literary fiction and family drama with a suspenseful premise. For example, Celeste Ng's EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU or Liane Moriarty's THE HUSBAND'S SECRET.

  • I have no problem with profanity, violence, and a sex scene that serves the story.

  • Above all, I want rich, diverse casts of characters. I am always drawn to stories where there is a focus on relationships between women, whether mothers and daughters, friendships, lovers, family. I especially love it when women come together to save each other.

  • I‘m open to NA, but I might suggest changes that move the manuscript in the direction of adult fiction.



I’m not the best fit for:

  • While I love all crime fiction, I’m a better fit for darker, atmospheric suspense versus humorous cozy mysteries. I’m also not the best fit for hard-boiled detective novels—I enjoy reading them, but there are other mentors who write them and would be a better choice.

  • Category Romantic suspense.

  • Elements of sci-fi/ fantasy/ dystopia. I love to read these, but I’m a better mentor for stories grounded in our world.

  • Rape as a plot device/ child sexual abuse/ animal abuse

  • Mental illness as plot device—i.e., the antagonist is a “madman” or has a diagnosable psychiatric disorder as a reason for committing heinous crimes. I will DEFINITELY consider manuscripts with well-done, non-stereotypical portrayal of mental illness, as long as they build character or serve a purpose.

  • Misogyny. This goes for stereotypical female characters, too.

  • Horror

  • Erotica

Some of my favorite books:

  • BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty

  • THE TURN OF THE KEY by Ruth Ware

  • THE WINTER SISTER by Megan Collins

  • THE GOLDEN COUPLE by Greer Hendricks; Sarah Pekkanen

  • BEHIND HER EYES by Sarah Pinborough


  • MY SISTER THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite

  • GONE GIRL and SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn

  • WAYWARD PINES by Blake Crouch

As you can see, I love a HUGE range of styles in the suspense genre--from very literary and atmospheric, to fast-paced and twisty, to relationship driven. I might not know what I love till I see it.

What I’m Looking For in a Mentee

I‘m seeking a mentee who can handle criticism, even if I feel the manuscript needs a big overhaul. The ability to receive criticism is huge in this industry—I personally had to remove an entire POV and change a major plot point for my debut. Revise, revise, revise is the name of the game, and something a mentee will need to do when they get an agent and book deal. Of course, this is ultimately YOUR book, and I will be sensitive to that. But be prepared to roll your sleeves up and work!

My Qualifications

I’m an agented and traditionally published author. My debut, Call Me Elizabeth Lark, was released in March, 2021. It’s character-driven domestic suspense. I have a BFA in creative writing from Boise State University. I learned so much about giving and receiving criticism throughout my education. I was the Stephen R Kustra scholar in 2019 and have won multiple awards for short stories. I’m also a developmental editor, with experience working with authors on everything from in-depth substantive changes to line editing.

My mentoring style

I will do an in-depth read of your manuscript with in-line notes. I will then write a multi-page edit letter addressing issues like plot, character, structure and pacing. This is intended to mimic the sort of edit letter you’d receive from an agent or editor, hopefully preparing you for your career. Above all, we’ll have fun doing it, and you’ll come out of the process with new skills! On my second read through, we’ll address any other issues and polish the book on the line level. I’ll help you through every step of the way!

Communication style:

This is a collaborative endeavor! I’m responsive and would love to walk you through any challenges you’re having during the revision process. I prefer to chat via FB messenger, Zoom, email or text.

I can't wait to see your manuscripts!

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