2020 Pitch Wars Wishlist

Hi, I’m Rochelle Karina, a 2018 Pitch Wars mentee, 2020 PW mentor, and former magazine and newspaper editor now working as a freelance writer in the heart of Baltimore. When not at my desk coming up with new ways to torment my characters, I can often be found in the kitchen, glass of wine in hand, cooking a meal for friends.

I’m repped by Jana Hanson at Metamorphosis Literary Agency. Currently on submission.

I can’t promise no gifs…

Pitch Wars 2020 Adult Mentor Banner

HI! Welcome and thanks for checking out my wishlist! I’m mentoring Adult (yes, I’m open to New Adult, but I may ask you to change that).

Since I like my blog all dark and inky… if you’d rather see this list in plain text, with zero gifs, you can head here (highly recommended if you’re viewing via phone & having trouble).

If, somehow, you’ve landed on this page and you’re still wondering what Pitch Wars is all about, well… 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.

OK… as my enby oldest would say… ladies and gents and everyone in between and otherwise, let’s do this! 

Greatest Show Opening Routine PT Barnum Top Hat GIF
This is the Greatest Show!

I promise, I don’t bite and I’ll try to make this fun and easy to figure out if we might be a good fit. I am an editor, so brace for details and facts, and strap yourself in, it’s a wild ride! I’ll even try to keep cussing to a minimum here (don’t get used to it. I’m usually very NSFW).

Important note: everything here is my opinion. I do not believe you or your work is bad or wrong if we strongly disagree. It just means we may not be a great mentor / mentee fit, and that’s OK!

In general in ANY genre I’m taking…

  • Emotionally satisfying endings—that can mean a lot of things, but let’s just say: I didn’t like the ending of Gone Girl, m’kay?
  • Twists have to have a reason, and make sense for that world / character / etc.
  • Unreliable narrators are a tough sell for me. I can buy into them, but they have to hit it out of the ballpark.
  • Flawed characters are my catnip. Perfect people are boring. Give me characters who have scars and baggage and history! (Sense8 may be the most amazing example of this ever)

Heavy emphasis on romance coming up because that’s what I write (mostly), and it’s the genre where I’ve got the clearest likes and dislikes. The other genres I’m open to are all a lot more broad.

Genres I wanna see…

  • Romance
  • Women’s Fiction

  • Thrillers/Suspense/Mystery
  • Horror

What makes me all grabby hands… or not…

Beauty and the Beast Belle on ladder sliding across bookcases GIF
So many books! (Belle on a library ladder)


HEA or HFN 100% required for me. That doesn’t have to mean marriage or even proposal, but there must be (at least) two people who fall in love with each other and are in some form of a committed relationship with a forward-thinking and positive future outlook. And it must happen in this book. No cliffhangers for an HEA in Book 2 for me. Period. No exceptions.

If you’ve got some other genre that has a romance as part of the story, that’s a different critter and that HEA / HFN becomes less of a big deal to me. A lot less.

And note I didn’t say it has to be a guy and a girl. It just has to be two (or more) people, in whatever configuration works for you and your story.

Don’t let the minimal use of classic romance hero looking dudes discourage you… I’m all about the hot and sexy. I just happen to have a wide range that I consider hot and sexy.

Personally… equally drool worthy… 

Old Guard Charlize Theron eating baklava GIF
Charlize Theron and baklava – it’s an experience!
Shirtless man eating ice cream GIF
This guy makes eating ice cream absolutely sexual.
Yes to…
  • suspense / thriller (murder mysteries more than international espionage)
  • contemporary
  • rom-com
  • erotic and erotica (inc poly, kink, etc)
  • seasoned romance
Open but limited…
  • paranormal
  • fantasy
 Not the best match for…
  • historical
  • sweet or inspirational
  • western
  • motorcycle club
  • mafia

Grabby hands…
  • homecoming
  • second chance / reunited
  • friends to lovers
  • brother’s hot friend
  • friend’s hot brother
  • rivals / enemies to lovers
  • secret babies
  • marriage of convenience
  • boss / employee
No, thank you…
  • soul mate / fated mates
  • billionaire
  • kidnap (where the LI is the kidnapper)

Seriously, I have broad reaching tastes in romance and I’m frequently surprised at loving something I didn’t think I would. So… try me. Or ask. Angsty or dark or edgy? I’m there! Romantic and sexy? Oh yes! Small town or big city or middle of nowhere—it’s all good!

Women’s Fiction…

Why Women Kill Beth Ann Shot him dead. He was executed last year. So sad. GIF
No grieving here. And she planned his death.

I am open to WF…

IF it has a positive and emotionally satisfying ending. I can totally wrap my head around that.

It does not need to be a romance HEA type positive, but I don’t want anyone grieving at a grave at the end.

Note the “grieving” part here.

That last part is important.


I’m all for most horror, though violence and gore have to be justified. If they’re there for shock value—no thanks.

Keifer Lost Boys Carousel GIF
Lost Boys will always be one of my fave vamp flicks.

Anything from old school pulp monster horror to supernatural / paranormal. I do love psychological horror as well. I’m not the best match for sci-fi horror (though I love the Alien universe).

Thriller / suspense / mystery…

Phryne Fisher Men... can't live without them, you can't hit them with an axe. GIF
Phryne Fisher on men.

I like a whodunit, and can get into a cozy if it’s got a good voice and compelling story (OK, I love Miss Fisher).

Murder mysteries are awesome.

Gritty crime is cool.

Bring on the serial killers! PLEASE!

Paranormal thrillers? Psychological thrillers? Yep and yep! Political or spy thrillers? Less so.

In all genres…

I’m totally down for a romantic story arc in ANY genre. Or sexy times in ANY genre. Or not. People are people. Give me that slice of life for YOUR character. I will hold to genre standards (see Romance and HEA) but outside of that, I’m wide open to bending rules and blurring lines.

Heat levels…

Bring it on! In any genre. From mild and euphemistic to wild and explicit.

Riding crop sliding over hand GIF
Who says a riding crop is just for horses?

And yes, bring on the kink. Caveat: I know a thing or three on that topic, and while fiction is fantasy, I prefer to keep sex scenes in the world of reality. 

Consent is sexy. As hot as some elements of 365 dni were, they were kinda ruined for me by the overarching lack of consent that started it all (see my thing about kidnapping and love interests). I can get behind pushing boundaries (under the right circumstances). And silent consent can be a thing (enthusiastic participation on the part of everyone involved kinda goes a long way towards that).

Main Characters…
Good Omens Crowley and Aziraphale toasting chapmpagne GIF
Crowley and Aziraphale – is there a more perfect couple?

Let’s get this outta the way:

As far as I’m concerned, Good Omens was a romance and those characters are damn near perfect.

These are my attitudes about characters in any genre, and yes, some elements are defined along gender lines, because that reflects most (not all) of what I write, but I am open to breaking the binary.

The things I love apply across the board, so… Pick your traits. It’s all good!

Kate McKinnon Ghostbusters Jazzed to Meet GIF
I’m with Kate. Jazzed to meet you!

I like a heart of gold. No matter what’s on the outside.

Gritty and unlikeable? OK—so long as there’s a reason. 

Sweet and charming? Great—so long as they have depth.

Gruff and rough or as smooth as silk and as polished as silver.

Emotionally vulnerable? Bring it on! 

Strong woman and / or sensitive man? Hell yes!

Afraid to commit or ready to jump in—it’s all good.

Rich or poor. Educated or blue collar. I don’t care.

They can be any size, shape, build, whatever—so long as that isn’t the only thing that defines them. (OK, if we’re talking straight romance, I do have a soft spot for men with nice… assets.)

Sass is a bonus. A big bonus.

Alphas = hot / Alphahole = not.

Got a cinnamon roll? Gimme!

But… above all… they have to feel real and be true to themselves.


I love them complex.

I love them smart.

I love them when they’re attractive, or sexy, or compelling.

I love them when they give you pause. When you can almost see their side of things.

But also love them when they’re pure unadulterated evil.

They have to be well developed and three dimensional. They have to be believable.


Bring. It. On.

#ownvoices? Yes please!

Sense8 all 8 blowing out birthday cake candles GIF
I love these characters so much! (Sense8)

In any and all varieties. I welcome stories that represent the amazing array of humanity that I know, love, and see around me every day. And those that I am not fortunate enough to know personally—yet.

For what it’s worth:

I am hard of hearing and have chronic pain, mom to LGBTQA+ kids (all ADD and/or ASD), ADD and PDD-NOS myself, not Christian, and a few other modifiers I prefer to keep between myself and my close friends and family. I’m unapologetically feminist.

I will call out problematic elements if I see them, and will strongly suggest sensitivity reads if you’re writing outside of your own experience. 

Black lives matter. Trans lives matter. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Don’t even get me started on why it should not be necessary to say these things.

I see you. I hear you. And I’ve got your back.

Beyond that?

Surprise me!

I want to be able to talk about your characters as if I know them.

If I have not specifically said “no” to something and it falls into one of the genres I’ve listed—I may be interested.

If you have any questions @ me on twitter to clarify.

What about you…

I don’t think there is such a thing as an “ideal mentee”. However, I can call out traits I know I work well with, or that I feel are important going into Pitch Wars. 

A sense of humor is damn near a requirement for working with me. Ideally, my future mentee should also have a solid sense of self that enables them to not only accept kind feedback but to also work it into their own style / voice. 

The time, availability, desire, and ability to put in the effort and do the work ahead. And the willingness to discuss any disagreements we may have and find the right path for YOU.

Simply put, I’m never going to say “it’s my way or the highway.” This is a partnership. By the same token, PW is about learning, growth, and improvement… Be ready to look critically at your manuscript and consider what it might need to take it to the next level.

If I have worked with you on your Pitch Wars manuscript and you have not drastically changed it since, please submit to a different mentor.

Me and what to expect from me…

I’ll skip the bio here and jump into the how-I-work stuff…

One of the first things I’ll ask a potential mentee is: how do you want your feedback?

Everyone has their preferences from sugar-coated to blunt as a spoon. I fall in the middle—I WILL tell you what I like and love, but that alone isn’t going to bring about improvement. So I will also tell you where I feel changes can be made.

If you need that fully sugar coated—I’m probably not the right choice. Anything else—we’re good.

While I will comment on grammar, syntax, word usage, punctuation, etc—that is not my focus. Yeah, I will do the whole editor thing, but my real passion is the STORY! 

My strengths are overall character arcs, plot lines, continuity, and general tightening and / or fleshing out. I’ll spot the places where there’s excess baggage and places that could use a bit more oomph. I’ll call out inconsistencies in character or plot and really dig deep into what works for a character—and why (I love the why).

I’ll also happily flag all the points that made me laugh, or cry, or gasp, or that got my heart up in my throat—because those are things that are working and you should know that!

I’m a semi-plotter, so I’m not likely to pull out a beat sheet unless I really see some major pacing issues, missing elements, or the tension is just off.

I don’t have a set “homework” plan because I feel that each person and each book will have different needs.

I work in Word, using comments and track changes. Google docs is an option, with some caveats.

Oh, and I am a fan of the Oxford comma.

Communication with my mentee…

I am hard of hearing and prefer text, IM, and email—it’s just easier and I feel it gives you the ability to pay full attention rather than trying to take notes. Plus gives you the written messages to refer back to. Sure, I’ll do a call or video if someone needs that connection. But it’s not my primary way of communicating.

I plan for weekly “official” check ins, but more frequent is fine and I’m always open for questions or help. Bottom line—if you’ve got a question, hit me up. Don’t wait for the weekly check in.

And I’ll be honest… I’m a big cheerleader, so I’ll likely be sending or posting little encouragements to my mentee more than weekly.

And some final notes…

What? I’ve got more? Only a little. I’ve got a great big Mom streak to go along with the cheerleader side.

Fire spinning congratulations!

You’ve written a book. Pat yourself on the back. That’s a huge accomplishment! And now you’re taking the step of putting your creative baby out there for someone else to see—even if you’ve done that before, it can be scary.

And if you’ve made it this far, and you think your manuscript fits, and you like the way I think… Gimme! I want all the pretty things. And scary things. And sexy things. And…

Hey, I made it through this without any profanity! That may be a record.

Scroll past the pics here to the bottom of the page to find links to the other Adult mentors.

And since a CP suggested I share some of my food pics… Here’s my Insta feed. It’s MOSTLY food… (and bonus points if you read that & conjure up your best Miracle Max voice saying, “your friend here is only mostly dead…”)


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. Hi Rochelle, I am wondering if you would be interested in a piece that is sports centered? Specifically a piece that partially takes place at the Olympics? Thanks! — Madeline

  2. The story I’m thinking of submitting is a sci-fi dystopian universe. Futurist with steampunk elements. However it has significant adult related sex scenes. I mean they fit with the plot they aren’t there for no reason but wondering if you’d be opposed to something like that?

    1. Hi and thanks for reaching out.
      Sounds like an interesting story, but I am not really the right person for Sci-Fi – it’s not something I read currently in.

  3. I was wondering if you think you’d have difficulties working with someone who’s visually impaired and uses accessible software? You seem awesome but I don’t want to assume, given both our disabilities, it wouldn’t be an issue. THanks!

  4. Hi Rochelle,
    You say–and I totally agree–that trans men are men and trans women are women. My question: I have a character (based on a friend) who cross-dresses on weekends because of his weekday job (auto-mechanic) and prefers people use “he” and “she” pronouns depending on the situation. Would you have any issue with this, as long as the character’s preference is spelled out clearly in the manuscript? Nancy

    1. Hi and thanks for asking!
      It would really depend on how it was handled. It’s not an auto-no, but I’d be looking very carefully at character, language, etc.
      Characters who reflect those we know in life can be wonderfully nuanced, but also unintentionally problematic.

  5. In my psychological thriller a boy is kidnapped. It’s not a sexual thing and he does get home safely. I just wondered if there is a point choosing you as one of my 4 as I notice you mentioned no kidnapping. It was the housekeeper and her lover who organised the kidnapping -purely motivated by money

    1. Thanks for asking!!
      No kidnapping is specific to between the love interests in romance.
      Anything else – it’s fine!

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