Sarah and Kellye’s 2016 Pitch Wars Wishlist

Hi there, Pitch Warrior! Your armor looks quite shiny today. Yes, very lovely.

Welcome to the joint mentorship of Kellye Garrett and Sarah Henning! We’re glad you’re here and we hope you’ll want to curl right up and stay (might want to remove your helmet and dagger, though, just so it’s a little more comfortable for all of us).

We’re both Pitch Wars alums who found our agents through the contest. (And we are really excited to have our first novels coming out next year! Sarah’s debut SEA WITCH will be published by Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen in Fall 2017. And Kellye’s mystery PAY DAY, which was actually her Pitch Wars entry, will be out with Midnight Ink.)

We’ve been in your boots, we’ve succeeded in them and we’re ready to show you the way. So let the fun begin…

What do we want? It’s simple.

Mystery. Voice. Humor. Preferably all rolled into one.

So, basically Idris Elba in book form.

You can do that, right? Yeah, totally.

Let’s break it down:


Luther Idris 2
Give us your Crime Solving Idris like in “Luther.”
Our shared first love is the mystery/thriller/suspense category. Your manuscript doesn’t necessarily have to fit any of these—we love commercial and women’s fiction too—but we’d prefer to have some sort of mystery driving the plot or in the case of commercial and women’s fiction books, the subplot. We love twisty plots, thrilling concepts and just a general hint of the unknown. If everything is laid out on the table for us, we’ll be bored and start shipping your MC’s BFF as Jack Reacher’s next girl-I-met-while-stopping-the-bad-guys.

We also tend to prefer contemporary manuscripts, though zippy historical works are also uber attractive to us as well. There are several other extremely talented mentors out there who are better suited for sci-fi and heavy fantasy.

Idris Thor
Don’t give us your Sci-Fi Idris like in “Thor.” We’re sure another mentor would be quite happy to take him though.
Have a funny crime novel stashed on your hard drive and think you’ve GOT this in the proverbial bag? Well, know that we have some specific caveats to our murder-mystery love. Things we don’t want: extremely dark subject matter involving rapists, pedophiles, child abusers, explicit drug use and the like. We will make an exception if the concept is ridiculously clever, like Jeff Lindsay’s “Dexter” novels, though. After all, Sarah’s Pitch Wars novel back in the day was described as “Dexter” meets “Top Chef.”


Beasts Idris
Don’t give us your Super Scary Idris like in “Beasts of No Nation.”


Voice is the way to our hearts. Both of us love sassy, sardonic, unforgettable voice. This can come in first person, third person, or from space—if it feels fresh and fun, we’ll be all over it. Both of us have a background of being mowed over by voice. Impress us there and everything else—plot, characterization, pacing—can be taught during the revision process.

Bonus points if that fantastic voice of yours steals Idris’s delicious accent.

OK, not really, but here’s how you will get extra attention with WHOM you’ve cast in your awesome voice. You will get definite bonus points if you have characters of color. And triple super-duper bonus points for characters of color who are women. Any sexual orientation need apply.


The Office Idris
Give us your Funny Idris like in “The Office.”
Make us laugh, and we can’t NOT love you. The type of manuscript that has us grinning to ourselves like mad women is a definite plus. Think about that old dating adage, “I want a guy who makes me laugh.” Yeah, it’s trite and sounds like a “Bachelor” line at this point, but it’s true that the way to our hearts is through busting our guts.

Adult: Reminder, your MC has to be of age, or we’ll card you. (The NA market right now is heavily geared to contemporary romance. So if you write mystery/thriller/suspense or another non-romance genre, you might want to consider categorizing your MS as Adult or, depending on the age, YA.)

Make sense? We hope so. But, as always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment here or ask us on Twitter (@kellyekell and @shhenning). We’ll do our best to answer you.

Now, why would you want us? Besides the fact that we want to elevate you to Idris Elba-level greatness?

  1. We’ve been there. As we mentioned, we both found our agents in this contest. In fact, Sarah was Kellye’s mentor in 2014! We have a combined two years of mentee experience, we have a combined five years of mentor experience and we also have way too much fun together. We’re also both happy to say that two of our own mentees have come aboard as mentors this year: Sarah’s former mentee Dan Malossi and Kellye’s former mentee Kristen Lepionka!
  2. We both have journalism/writing backgrounds. Kellye has been both a magazine editor and a TV drama writer, while Sarah has worked as a writer and copy editor at various newspapers.
  3. We both teach craft. Kellye has been involved in Gotham Writers Workshop, while Sarah has given presentations on editing for Madcap Retreats and the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation conference. Moreover, Sarah freelances as a copy editor and developmental editor for various private clients who are either self-pubbing or wanting to polish before seeking a traditional publisher.
  4. We are very editorial and very hands-on. If you’re good at foreshadowing, you probably saw this coming, but we’re going to give you editor-level notes, both big picture and line edits. Our diverse backgrounds make us great at collaborating with other writers to make their writing better while still keeping their own unique voice. Expect us to ask a lot of questions and get you thinking. Plot. Dialogue. Pacing. Characters. We’ll focus on exactly what your book needs and then develop a game plan to fix it. 

If that’s not enough to sell you, here’s some fun little bio info, because we are cool, even if we’re total pros:



With degrees in both journalism and Spanish, Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who managed to work for the Palm Beach Post, Charlotte Observer, Kansas City Star and Associated Press before the Internet ate the traditional model for financial solvency in print media.

Though she has spent far too much time happily brainstorming ways to commit fictional murder, her debut novel is not a thriller. Rather, SEA WITCH is the origin story of the sea witch from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” (Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen, Fall 2017). She promises definite mystery in her debut but, unfortunately, no Idris Elba (a major oversight, obviously).

When not hunched over her computer, Sarah runs ultramarathons, forces kale smoothies upon her husband and goes on absurdly long walks with her two tow-headed kids. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas, home of Langston Hughes, William S. Burroughs and a really good basketball team.


Me Airbrushed

Kellye Garrett spent 8 years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama “Cold Case.” People were always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because, much like Sarah, she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people.

A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M University and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company. Her first novel will be published by Midnight Ink in mid-2017. You can learn more about it here.

Her all-time favorite TV series are “Veronica Mars,” “The Closer,” “The Wire,” “The West Wing,” and the first two seasons of “Alias.” She also may be the only black woman in America who does not watch “Scandal” or “Empire.”

We’re so excited to co-mentor this year and we can’t wait to meet Idri’s, umm we mean you! Yes, you!

**As we mentioned, we’re both editors. So if you’re scavenging around our Wishlist and see a typo, it just might be something else. And if it is something else, you might also need the apostrophe! Just saying…**

You’ll be in good hands no matter which mentor you pick, but pick us! We promise we won’t send you a bunch of Idris Elba pics (unless, of course, you want us to). Now back to the Blog Hop…

You can find Brenda’s Wishlist post here.

































Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

16 thoughts on “Sarah and Kellye’s 2016 Pitch Wars Wishlist

  1. You had me at Idris Elba. I think we might be a great fit, but would you turn away something with a bit of a dystopian society in a suspense novel? I’ve got a MC with more fun-loving sass than she knows what to do with!

  2. Hi! Glad you love all the Elba. We aren’t super sci fi inclined but if you have a great voice and idea, then we definitely wouldn’t turn it away!

  3. Thank you for the feedback. It’s definitely something to consider. Per the rules, I won’t pitch you here and now, but I might submit to you and hope the plot, characters, and writing wins you over!

  4. I love the fact that you say “the first two seasons of Alias.” My exact feelings on the matter. 🙂 Do you watch the Blacklist? If you don’t, you should at least try to catch the two-parter season finale from May. I HOWLED laughing at some very well-placed lampshades.
    I hate the fact that my MS in no way resembles your wishlist. SIgh. West Wing, The Closer, and Veronica Mars are also three of my favorites! Ah well.

  5. I watched the first season and loved it…then didn’t watch anymore. Don’t ask me why. Lol Her wig game was not as good as Sidney’s. Good luck with Pitch Wars. All the mentors are awesome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s