Jenny Howe

The Make-Up Test (2022)

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Pitch Wars 2021: Welcome to the Wish List for Team Hot Chocolate and Donuts (Jenny Howe and Courtney Kae)  

**Courtney and Jenny are co-mentoring in the Adult category**

An accessible version of this wish list is available HERE.

A copy of this wish list can also be found on Courtney’s website!

About Pitch Wars

Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to spend three months with, 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.

Team Hot Chocolate and Donuts!

Why submit to us

  • Jenny and Courtney met in 2015 and instantly bonded over writing and chocolate, so our team name of #TeamHotChocolateAndDonuts is quite fitting! We’re both former Pitch Wars mentees (Jenny in 2016; Courtney in 2020), so we understand the excitement, pressure, and expectations involved in participating in this contest. 
  • Combined, we have extensive experience with all aspects of traditional publishing, such as querying, selecting an agent, being on submission, and working with editors. We’re happy to answer your questions and cheer you on in your goals!

A little more about Courtney (she/her)

My writing journey began with writing Fantasy, but over the past decade, I have truly found my home in Adult Romance. As a bi person, my favorite stories to write feature queer characters getting their HEAs with LOTS of emotions and joy along the way. I also love to play with cinematic settings and world-building (thank you, Fantasy roots:).

I LOVED being a Pitch Wars mentee under Rachel Lynn Solomon in 2020, and mentoring in Pitch Wars has always been a dream of mine! Mentoring alongside my dear friend and incredible CP Jenny, makes this better than I could have imagined!

My debut adult romcom, IN THE EVENT OF LOVE, comes out in September 2022 with Kensington in the US & Canada and Headline Eternal in the UK.

I have years of experience critiquing, beta-reading, and alpha-reading for incredible writers, many of whom have now been published and hit bestseller lists. Seeing fellow writers meet their goals, whether they involve finishing a chapter or querying, is my bread and butter! My feedback is aimed to be uplifting, constructive, and clear. I do well with sharpening emotional arcs, digging into character motivations, and strengthening plot threads and world-building. 

A little more about Jenny (she/her)

I write in multiple age categories and genres but my work is all linked by strong romance plots and body inclusiveness. I believe deeply in the importance of positive fat rep, and you can probably find me yelling about it on Twitter.

I’m SO excited to mentor Adult Romance/Contemporary alongside Courtney this year! My debut adult romcom, THE MAKE-UP TEST, comes out with St. Martin’s Press in Winter 2023.

I have a Ph.D. in literature and have been teaching and tutoring writing for over a decade. I also have a baker’s dozen of wonderful CPs/writers for whom I beta read. I have a strong understanding of the ins and outs of narrative, know how to assess a story for strengths and weaknesses, and I have been trained in giving feedback in ways that encourage a writer rather than discourage them.

I’d say my biggest strengths as a mentor are helping with character development, addressing issues with pacing/plot, and strengthening voice. I really like to ask how your characters are FEELING and help get that on the page in engaging ways. Also, as someone who writes LOOONNNNGGG drafts, I am very good at slicing word counts and refining prose. I have mastered the art of turning four words into one! lol

What you can expect from our mentoring style

  • Our desire is to provide support, whether it’s through brainstorming zoom chats, collaborative documents, or sharing revision hacks, craft resources, and notes of encouragement.
  • ALL THE CHEERLEADING! We want you to feel inspired, motivated, and pumped up about your amazing book!
  • Spreadsheets, outlines, and all kinds of other organizational tools (if you need them).
  • Our preferred form of communication is through email, text, or a group chat, but we would also love to set-up zoom calls during specific milestones in the Pitch Wars process.
  • This is YOUR book and YOUR creative process. You make the decisions. If suggestions we make do not resonate with you, it is well within your right to voice that. We are happy to brainstorm with you. This is a collaborative process and we are here with you through it all.

Here is exactly what you can expect:

  1. A welcome letter. 
  2. An introductory chat (video, phone, or whatever works for you) where we can talk about your writing process and what will best help you as we prepare your edit letter. We are happy to provide resources, strategies, or anything else you might need to get started.
  3. An edit letter and all the support that goes along with that. We’re here for you throughout the revision process. 
  4. A second pass of your revised draft. This may include line edits or overarching feedback—we will accommodate where you’re at and what you need.
  5. Assistance with crafting your pitch and opening lines for the showcase, and real time communication as we submit your finalized pitch to Pitch Wars.
  6. Support before and during the showcase. We’re here to answer all your questions.
  7. Assistance with finalizing your query and synopsis as you prepare to query and send out materials to agents. We’re also here to answer any industry questions you may have.

Our Ideal Mentee

  • has a willingness to dig into the story to make it as strong as it can be. We’re looking for a mentee who is excited to do the work of revisions, from developmental edits to line edits. Sometimes big changes might be necessary to make the story shine, and we’re here to support you through it!
  • is open to honest discussions about representation and other potential issues, should they exist.

Wish List Wants

  • VOICE, VOICE, VOICE! Smack us in the face from page one!
  • Contemporary Romance, Romcoms, or WF with a strong romantic hook
  • Sapphic, LGBTQ+, or Queer-friendly 
  • Body-positivity for all genders. We’d love to see a fat MC with a happily ever after that doesn’t include weight loss and/or love interests who are hot without idealized bodies
  • BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, neurodiverse, body diverse, and other marginalized characters written by writers who share those identities
  • Any steam level (from 0-100)
  • ALL THE SWOONS. All of them. Give them to us. Make us need to lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling as we pine away.
  • Light magic/fantasy/whimsy  (think Roselle Lim, Tara Sheets, ONE LAST STOP)
  • Cinematic settings–TAKE US SOMEWHERE NEW AND EXCITING–beach resorts, hollywood sets, college campuses, tiny towns with their own personalities, snowy mountains, European villages, yachts stranded at sea, wherever, make us escape into your story and setting.
  • We’d love to see explorations of other forms of happily ever after besides marriage and children. What can that look like? Surprise us!
  • ANIMALS. We love stories with animals (as long as none get hurt).
  • Characters that break or challenge stereotypes
  • Fun jobs. Make us an expert in what your MC does! 
  • We’re happy to accept New Adult, but please know we may ask you to age it up to Adult.

Wish List Don’t Wants

  • Anything with extreme content warnings (rape, child loss, hate crimes, suicide, etc.)
  • Any animal violence 
  • Any stories that do not center consent or have problematic power dynamics–for example, student/teacher romances, romances where one person is underage or cannot consent, romances with gaslighting or grooming
  • Plots centering pregnancy or childbirth

We aren’t the best match for:

  • Stories that focus more on sex than plot or emotional connections between the characters. We like heat, but we need intimacy.
  • Stories where the central romance involves infidelity (i.e. one of the MCs is cheating on someone with the LI). 
  • Stories that center around terminal illness 
  • High Fantasy, SciFi, Thriller, Horror, or Historical Fiction–we love all these, we just aren’t looking to mentor these genres right now.
  • Anything outside of the the Adult audience

Extra things we LOOOOVE in stories

  • Hot Chocolate and Donuts, lol. Really, we’re here for any kind of breakfast. BREAKFAST ALL DAY. THEN ADD KISSING.
  • Any stories that can be comp’ed to David and Patrick, or anything from Schitt’s Creek
  • Awkward encounters that make us laugh but also cringe!
  • Unique or hilarious meet cutes
  • Fake dating
  • Forced proximity
  • Enemies, rivals, dislike, whatever to lovers
  • Grump and sunshine
  • Second chance romance (or third, or fourth….)
  • Messy characters in all the ways people can be messy–raw, vulnerable, uncertain, gritty, clumsy, rash and impulsive….
  • Dogs. Cats. Goats. Ducks. Dogs. Dogs. Dogs.
  • Excellent first kisses
  • Retellings/reimaginings in a contemporary setting
  • Intersectional feminist books

Here’s a list of some authors and media we love!

A Few (of MANY) Authors We Love

  • Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Talia Hibbert
  • Sonia Hartl
  • Annette Christie
  • Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • TJ Klune
  • Julie Murphy
  • Olivia Dade
  • Alexa Martin
  • Helen Haong 
  • Casey McQuiston
  • Jesse Q. Sutatno
  • Kerry Winfrey
  • Tessa Baily

TV We Love

  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Shadow and Bone
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • The Witcher
  • Parks and Rec
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Ted Lasso

Other Media We Love

  • Animal Crossing
  • BOTW
  • The Witcher
  • WOW
  • Diablo
  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Flynn Rider
  • Disney Movies
  • Hallmark Movies

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by!

We wish you all the best with your Pitch Wars prep! If you need a list of resources, you can find a great one here:

If you want to say hello or ask a question, we can be found on Twitter and Instagram at: 



You can also catch #TeamHotChocolateAndDonuts at the following:

Pitch Wars Live! Mentor Video Chat – Adult on Friday, 9/17 from 8-10pm Eastern on YouTube

The #AskMentor Adult Mentor – Romance Twitter Chat on Monday, September 20 from 8-9pm Eastern. 

Check out the wish lists for the other Pitch Wars 2021 Adult mentors below!!

Pitch Wars 2021 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Anna Kaling (Accepts NA)
  2. Ian Barnes (Accepts NA)
  3. Jackson Ford
  4. Jake Nicholls (Accepts NA)
  5. Jesse Q. Sutanto and Grace Shim
  6. Charish Reid and Denise Williams
  7. Saara El-Arifi (Accepts NA)
  8. Rosie Danan and Ruby Barrett (Accepts NA)
  9. Carolyne Topdjian
  10. Falon Ballard and Brooke Abrams
  11. Mary Keliikoa (Accepts NA)
  12. E.A. Aymar
  13. Amanda Elliot (Accepts NA)
  14. Kelly Siskind
  15. Vaishnavi Patel and Sarah Mughal (Accepts NA)
  16. Mary Ann Marlowe and Laura Elizabeth (Accepts NA)
  17. Mia P. Manansala (Accepts NA)
  18. Peggy Rothschild (Accepts NA)
  19. Natalka Burian
  20. Courtney Kae and Jenny L. Howe (Accepts NA)
  21. Rochelle Karina (Accepts NA)
  22. Swati Hegde (Accepts NA)
  23. Nanci Schwartz and LL Montez
  24. Paris Wynters
  25. Hudson Lin
  26. Sarah Remy (Accepts NA)
  27. AM Kvita (Accepts NA)
  28. Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla (Accepts NA)
  29. Melissa Colasanti (Accepts NA)
  30. J.A. Crawford (Accepts NA)
  31. Michella S. Domenici
  32. Yvette Yun and Marith Zoli (Accepts NA)
  33. Sari Coritz and Rosalie M Lin (Accepts NA)
  34. Stephenie Magister and Noreen (Accepts NA)
  35. Regina Black and Nikki Payne (Accepts NA)
  36. Farah Heron and Namrata Patel
  37. Alicia Thompson and Amy Lea (Accepts NA)
  38. Lyn Liao Butler
  39. Preslaysa Williams (Accepts NA)
  40. Keena Roberts and Molly Steen (Accepts NA)
  41. Alexandria Bellefleur (Accepts NA)
  42. Samantha Rajaram
  43. Ashley Winstead
  44. Clay Harmon (Accepts NA)
  45. Rob Hart
  46. Cole Nagamatsu and Sequoia Nagamatsu
  47. N.E. Davenport (Accepts NA)
  48. Katherine Lim
  49. Alexia Gordon
  50. Cynthia Pelayo (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2021 Mentors’ Wish Lists. To view the wish lists by genre, visit this link

Pitch Wars Important Dates

September 11-25 – Mentor Wishlists Posted

September 26, 12:01am EST – Submission Window Opens

September 30, 10:00pm EST – Submission Window Closes

November 6 – Mentees Announced

February 9-14 – Agent Showcase

Pitchwars 2021

I am so excited to announce that I am going to be a Pitchwars Mentor for the adult age category for 2021! Pitchwars is a mentoring program that matches published and agented authors with querying writers to help revise their work for submission to agents.

I was a mentee in Pitchwars 2016 and it helped me so much to hone my craft and create my own community of writers. I can’t wait to help someone do the same!