Pitch Wars 2020 Wishlist

I’m so excited to announce I am a Pitch Wars mentor (in the Adult Category only) this year! (Don’t you love Poe the Owl’s mask in the picture above?)

What is Pitch Wars?

Pitch Wars is a mentoring program started by Brenda Drake. 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 see a pitch/first page and can request to read more. If you are not interested in applying to Pitch Wars, please feel free to ignore this post (but don’t leave me completely!). If you are thinking of applying, read on!

Who am I?

My name is Lyn and I write multicultural fiction (book club fiction, women’s fiction). I signed with my wonderful agent, Rachel Brooks of BookEnds Literary Agency in January of 2019, and she sold my debut to Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House, five months later. My debut, THE TIGER MOM’S TALE will launch on July 6, 2021, with a second book coming out soon after that.

Other interesting (or not) facts about me: I’m a certified personal trainer and fitness and yoga instructor. I am also a purse designer with an Etsy shop. I live on a lake in the suburbs of New York City with my FDNY fireman husband, our eight year old son, and our dachshund Lokie. We started fostering dogs during the pandemic because we lost our first dachshund, my beloved Pinot in February (hint, hint: I love stories with dogs in them, but not if they die!).

What I’m Looking For

Contemporary Fiction (Literary, Commercial, UpMarket, Book Club), Domestic Suspense, Women’s Fiction, Rom-Coms, Contemporary Romance and Memoir

Contemporary Fiction

It can be literary, commercial, upmarket, book club, etc. as long as it’s contemporary, I want to see it. I especially love “secrets and lies” stories, so if your book has any of that, I want to read it. I also love books set in other countries, or in the US, but about a culture or heritage that has been underrepresented. Travel, food, dogs are also big yeses for me. But above all else, I want a story with an amazing voice I can fall in love with. I especially love sarcastic voices, witty banter and clever plot lines that haven’t been overdone.

Books I love: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, Stay by Allie Larkin, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Domestic Suspense

I love domestic suspense in the vein of Liane Moriarty, Gillian Flynn, Samantha Downing and Mary Kubica. Something that will keep me on the edge of my seat. I want the book to keep me guessing. And if it has a character driven plot, even better. Meaning it’s not just a suspense for suspense sake. I want to get to know the lives of the MCs, know what drives them and what makes them make the choices they do. Most of all, I want to be surprised, or at least say, I didn’t see that coming. I am a huge fan of Liane Moriarty, which I categorize as a cross between women’s fiction and domestic suspense. Cross over books like that will pique my interest.

Women’s Fiction

It can be light or dark, with suspense or romantic elements, commercial or upmarket. I love humor in women’s fiction, even with serious or deep topics. If I can laugh with the MC (and even cry), I’d want to see more. I’m mostly looking for contemporary fiction, but in women’s fiction, I will also look at historical fiction. As long as the focus is on the main character’s emotional journey and how it changes them, I am open to it. I especially love sisters or mother/daughter stories, estranged families, family secrets and lies that impact someone’s life. And if someone dies in it, even better!

Books I love: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim, The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin, Well Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave, You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer

Rom-Coms and Contemporary Romance

I love a good rom-com and contemporary romance. I enjoy sarcastic wit, rather than cheesy humor. Heat level should be appropriate for the book and work into the story. I’m open to all relationships (not just female/male), as long as it has a HEA. I want to root for the main characters to get together, even if there are obstacles in the way. I’d love to see something different – a situation that is true to life but not overdone yet. But again, voice is what matters to me. I want a voice that will pull me into the story and make me care what happens to them. The MC can be unlikeable, as long as I can get into their head and understand why. Anything with food, dogs, secrets, beaches, lake life, small towns, travel, yoga, fitness and other countries shoots to the top of my interest pile.

Books I love: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez, The Bride Test by Helen Hoang, Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho, books by Nancy Thayer and Susan Wiggs


Anything goes in memoirs. I love reading about subjects/lives I know nothing about. There’s no specific thing I am looking for in memoir. I want to be transported to the writer’s world and be immersed in it.

What I’m NOT Looking For

I will not be taking Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thrillers and Mysteries. While I love all these books, I don’t know enough about them to mentor them. But in any of the categories I listed above, if there is some element of SFF, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery, that’s fine. Magical Realism like Alice Hoffman in any of the categories listed above is also fine.

I will most likely pass on books with on the page pet deaths, abuse against children or helpless people, and overt racism. If any of these are referred to or is something that happened, it’s fine-I just don’t want to read about it as it’s happening. Other than that, I’m pretty open to any tropes, themes and topics.  They can be heavy or light, funny or sad. As long as the voice and concept draw me in and make me want to read it, it will pique my interest.

Sometimes, I don’t know I want something until I see it. If you’re not sure based on what you read above, feel free to ask in the comments or on twitter.

My Critique Style

I am here to help a mentee get the most polished manuscript they can, and will always be honest if I think something’s not working. That being said, I would never force my opinion on someone. Ultimately, this is your book and story and I can only offer my advice and why I feel something needs to be changed. If you don’t agree, I would never force you to change it.

However, I am looking for a mentee who is open to new ideas and perspectives. Someone who is willing to consider why I think something should be changed/deleted/added to. My ideal mentee would be someone who is willing and eager to work hard, to dig deep and listen to my critiques with an open mind. You need a very thick skin in the publishing business, and the sooner you can start building that skin, the better. Which means I don’t tend to sugarcoat my critiques (but I am never cruel or mean!). We probably wouldn’t work well together if you can’t take constructive criticism without being offended.

I also would like to point out that I’m not a magician. A lot of people have the mistaken idea that if they get into Pitch Wars, it guarantees that they will sign with an agent and get a publishing deal. This is not always true. Many mentors are writers just like you, just further down the journey than you are. I can only work with you to get the most polished manuscript you can, but I cannot guarantee that you will sign with an agent and get a deal. So if that is what you expect from Pitch Wars, I’m not the right mentor for you.

But if you are entering Pitch Wars to find someone to help improve your book, an ally who will support you, cheer for you and keep in touch with you after Pitch Wars is over, then I may be a good mentor for you. I learned so much from writers who are ahead of me and want to pass this along. And if you sign with an agent? Then, heck yes, I will be there to scream with you and cheer. And if you don’t right away? I will still be there to support you and urge you to continue working on your craft. Because a lot of what makes someone succeed in this business is sheer stubbornness not to give up and hard work.

If you want to learn more about me, I’ll be doing the #AskMentor Romance Chat on Pitch Wars’ twitter on Wednesday, Sept 16 at 8pm EST. I will also be taking over Pitch Wars’ Instagram account on Thursday Sept 24 all day, posting sneak peeks of a day in the life of a mentor.

Good Luck!

Good luck to everyone entering Pitch Wars, not just those submitting to me. Remember, even if you are not chosen, it doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer. Pitch Wars is a great way to make connections in the writing community. You can find critique partners and connect with writers who are further along in their publishing journey. They can help advise and answer questions.

Above all else, this should be fun. GOOD LUCK!


To see the other Adult Mentors’ wishlists, check out the links below.

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. […] Anna Kaling Gwynne Jackson (Accepts NA) Kristen Lepionka and Ernie Chiara Rachel Howzell Hall Lyn Liao Butler Michael Mammay and AR Lucas Paris Wynters (Accepts NA) K A Black (Accepts NA) Heather Van Fleet and […]

  2. My 2020 Pitch Wars Wishlist | Dreaming in Character on September 11, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    […] Lyn Liao Butler […]

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  4. Michael Mammay » Pitch Wars Wish List 2020 on September 11, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    […] Lyn Liao Butler […]

  5. Robert Turley on September 11, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    Whoever you select will be the luckiest mentee in the world, Lyn.

    • Lyn Liao Butler on September 12, 2020 at 9:31 am

      That’s so nice of you to say Robert! Thank you!

  6. […] Lyn Liao Butler […]

  7. Jackie Cloud on September 14, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Hi Lyn! Are you accepting literary fiction submissions with a young protagonist (16) that’s written for an adult audience? Thanks!

    • Lyn Liao Butler on September 14, 2020 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Jackie-

      As long as the book is not intended for YA audiences and you feel it is an adult book, that’s fine!

  8. Pitch Wars 2020 Wishlist - Keena RobertsKeena Roberts on September 16, 2020 at 10:14 am

    […] Lyn Liao Butler […]

  9. […] Lyn Liao Butler […]

  10. Rebecca E Treasure on September 24, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Hi, how do you feel about historical fiction? Female protag, underrepresented people of history, type historical fiction.

    • Lyn Liao Butler on September 24, 2020 at 11:20 am

      Hi Rebecca- I love historical fiction but don’t write it so not sure if I can mentor it. BUT for Women’s Fiction, I am accepting historical. If your story is driven by the MC’s emotional journey, then I would be able to mentor that, whether it’s contemporary or historical. If it’s more literary or relies heavily on the plot and time period, then I’m probably not the best mentor for it. I hope this answers your question! Feel free to DM me on Twitter or Instagram if you have more questions.

  11. Amy McFarland on September 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Hello, could you help me understand your conception of Women’s Fiction as opposed to Contemporary Fiction? I have a very strong female character POV, but also a strong male character POV (imagine a mash-up of Olive Kitteridge and A Man Called Ove). The focus is relationships/life journeys, fairly intimate/domestic. I had thought all along that this was Women’s Fiction, but now that I’m getting down to brass tacks, I want to be sure the reader won’t be surprised to read closely about a man.

  12. Lyn Liao Butler on September 28, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    Women’s Fiction, as defined by the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association is a story in which the plot is driven by the main character’s emotional journey. They are often layered stories about one or several characters, often multi-generational. So if the main focus is on the female character and her emotional journey, then it could be categorized as Women’s Fiction. But if you have an equally strong male POV character, that might just be Contemporary Fiction, but I couldn’t really tell without looking at your synopsis.

    You can always submit and put whatever category you think it is, and if a mentor asks for the full, you can explain at that time that you are not quite sure which yours is. If the mentor is interested in your concept, they could help you categorize it.

    Hope this helps!

    • Amy McFarland on September 28, 2020 at 6:45 pm

      Thank you! I appreciate that you have both genres on your wish list.

  13. […] Liao Butler is mentoring emerging writers this year via #PitchWars. See her wish list here. Way to go […]

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