My Pitch Wars Wishlist
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
I am a 2020 Adult Mentor - www.pitchwars.org
Hi!! I’m Taj McCoy, and I’m so excited to serve as a 2020 Pitch Wars mentor! This will be my first time participating in Pitch Wars, but I’m no stranger to mentorship or meaningful critique. I can't wait to get started!
Tracee Ellis Ross waving hello
About Pitch Wars:
If you haven’t heard about Pitch Wars, this page is full of information for you! In a nutshell, Pitch Wars is 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 for the agent showcase.
Get to Know Me!
Taj making a kissy face.
I am a cis, straight, Black, multiracial, plus-size #OwnVoices writer, and I endeavor to support and champion stories of marginalized writers.
My debut novel--a body-positive adult rom-com--THE BLUEPRINT, will be published by MIRA Books of Harlequin HarperCollins in Fall 2021 or Winter 2022 (TBD). I got to announce my book deal soon after my Pitch Wars bio posted.
I’ve worked for the past 11 years in law school administration after obtaining my law degree. Most of that time, my work focused on admissions and diversity work, but I currently work on the career services side. I also taught undergraduate honors students as an adjunct professor. I produce the Fat Like Me Podcast and serve as one of the co-hosts of the Better Than Brunch Podcast. I co-host a local Shut Up & Write chapter for writers looking to have some weekend productivity.
In the last year, I've served as an alpha, beta, and/or CP for twelve different manuscripts. I didn't always enjoy revisions, but I've grown to appreciate that revisions are where all of the magic happens--it's where you really see everything become cohesive and really start to shine.
I am a foodie to my very core. I love to cook and bake. Cooking for others is my love language--it feeds my soul--while baking is my therapy. Over the years, I’ve been a private chef, owned an Etsy store, formatted closed captioning for TV shows and recorded conferences, worked in insurance, hosted a private supper club, and done a lot of other random things. I'm a firm believer that you can do anything you set your mind to, and I love to cheer for others.
What I’m looking For
Man leans close to woman, both smiling. "You are unbelievable."
Funny Contemporary Fiction
Women’s Fiction (especially stories with a funny central romance)
I want romances that are fresh, funny, and current, which give me ultimate heart eyes. I am particularly interested in stories by BIPOC authors and/or #OwnVoices stories with HEAs. Body diversity is a plus. I love a book filled with witty banter that makes me laugh and swoon.
I love tropey stories that highlight intergenerational family connections, foodie moments, culture, strong friendships, and body positivity. I like steamy-level intimacy, but it has to fit the story, and consent is a MUST. I love strong female leads who aren't looking to be "saved" or "completed" by their partner.
Woman flexing her bicep.
Give me strong female main characters and sweet, cinnamon roll love interests. Love protagonists over the age of thirty. LOVE a diverse cast of characters and vivid settings.
For women's fiction, I'd love to see a female lead go on a personal journey with a strong support system. Bonus if she has a funny meet cute with a potential love interest she encounters along her journey. This doesn't have to end with a HEA, but maybe a HFN.
I am open to NA stories, though I may recommend aging the story up depending on content.
A man and woman cooking together in the kitchen.
To give you a sense of what I’m into, whether on the screen or in print, I love:
Four Weddings and a Funeral (TV)
The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger
The A.I. Who Loved Me - Alyssa Cole
Living Single (TV)
The Undomestic Goddess - Sophie Kinsella
Year of Yes - Shonda Rhimes
The Wedding Planner
The Real Housewives franchise (TV)
I’m Judging You - Luvvie Ajayi
The Right Swipe - Alisha Rai
Milk in My Coffee - Eric Jerome Dickey
I Almost Forgot About You - Terry McMillan
Playing with Fire - Tess Gerritsen
Married to Medicine (TV)
Love and Basketball
Hearts on Hold - Charish Reid
How to Fail at Flirting - Denise Williams
Queenie - Candice Carty-Williams
Pitch Perfect 1-3
The Wedding Date - Jasmine Guillory
The Sophie Katz series - Kyra Davis
Always Be My Maybe
Pretty much the entire catalog of Jill Mansell novels
Here's the hard part...
Perplexed woman thinking
What I’m not looking for
No historical romance
No literary fiction
I do not want to receive stories that contain domestic violence or sexual assault on the page (though it can be alluded to as a part of a character’s past), nor do I want stories with an aggressive alpha male.
No books that have already been published.
No stories from friends--I love you, but this would be inappropriate.
No exceptionally long word counts. If your work is 100,000 words or more, I strongly recommend taking another pass through your manuscript before you submit. Ideally, your word count will be between somewhere between 75K-95K.
Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory tossing a thick stack of papers into the air.
My ideal mentee
My ideal mentee will be positive, funny, open to feedback, a good communicator, and ready to put in the work. This process will be challenging at times, but it should also be fun. It will help you feel more prepared and confident in the work and polish you've put into your manuscript. If you've read through this wishlist and I sound like a good fit for you, please submit to me! I'm excited to dig in!!
My mentoring style
Kamala Harris shares an encouraging high five with a young woman.
I’m an extremely collaborative person by nature--I love working with people. My ideal mentor/mentee relationship would be one of support, encouragement, honesty, and collaboration. I communicate most in writing (email, text), but I'm open to a Zoom call once in a while. I would like to have a conversation with my mentee to understand their vision for the story--their central themes and where they feel like they need help--so that I can better tailor my feedback to them. I want them to trust that any feedback I provide is theirs to digest and determine what resonates, as it would never be my intention to overstep or rewrite the story from my own lens. That being said, I will provide the reasoning behind my suggestions, and point out the areas where a reader would have questions, where more structure is needed, or where pacing is off. Throughout the process, I am happy to be a sounding board, to help brainstorm, and to share my experience. I would love for this relationship to be one that extends beyond the showcase.
To be clear, I don't mince words, and I will ask hard questions. I don't believe that I'm doing you any favors if I'm not completely honest with you, and if you're not ready for honesty, I'm not going to be the best fit for you.
If you have questions about my wishlist, please leave them in the comments below! Wishing you the very best on your submission!!