What is Pitch Wars?
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. The mentor also helps edit their menteeā€™s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents. Mentors can participate solo or pair up and co-mentor. For more information about Pitch Wars please visit the website here.

What am I looking for:


Horror! Mystery! Thriller! Suspense! Or, better yet, can you bend genres? Horror & Mystery? Horror & Thriller? Horror & Suspense? I love a master of genre, but I particularly love a master of genre bending.

When I think of the elements of horror that I love I think back to the original The Twilight Zone, or how Agatha Christie made me feel reading And Then There Were None, how Edgar Allan Poe made me terrified in the night reading his poem “The Bells.” When I think of horror, I think of the human condition, of how Guillermo del Toro weaved us a dark fairy tale with Pan’s Labyrinth, of how Paul Tremblay completely spun an old tale with A Head Full of Ghosts, and how I felt confused and dizzy after reading Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. I want to feel the terror Agent Starling felt walking through that house at the end of The Silence of the Lambs, but if you can make me heave and cry the way the ending of The Orphanage/El Orfanato did then I know you are not only a master of mystery, horror, and thrill, but of emotion as well. I want that. I want a horror story wrapped in mystery, with a thrilling pace, and suspense that keeps me reading through the night.

Again, I am looking for horror – mystery – thriller – suspense, and a plus if your manuscript has some genre bending. Major plus if your manuscript includes folklore, legend, or myth.

I am a Fiction Adult mentor, but also accepting works considered NA – New Adult within my genre.

I am NOT looking for science fiction fantasy, science fiction traditional, or traditional works of fantasy.

What I am NOT looking for:
No sexual violence
No erotica
No child rape
No pedophilia
No extreme violence, excessive gore or splatterpunk
No hateful or harmful language of groups, people, or belief systems

Why do you want to work with me?

I am your cheerleader. I am here for you. I want to support you and get you the best agent possible. Trust me, I know that writing is frustrating. I know the business of writing is heartbreaking. I want to champion you and your work every step of the way. I am a huge believer in positive psychology (See note below. I’m even getting a PhD in psychology). So, I want you to believe in you, and I will make you believe in you, because you are amazing and we are going to do great things together.

What do I expect?
I expect you to do the work, and that means you are going to re-write, outline, and re-write some more. I will of course be here guiding you with recommendations. We have a very tight timeline and so we have to keep to a schedule. A schedule means regular check-ins. We will find the rhythm that works best for us, whether that is text, Skype, email, and/or working in Google docs. I know life is busy. I know busy, trust me. So, we will find a process that is beneficial to both of us and most importantly to your manuscript. So, what I expect is work, dedication, and commitment.

Why you may not want to work with me?
I am very flexible and relaxed. So, that personality type just does not work with some people, and that is quite fine. I approach all of my writing and critiques by first using the asking method. I will ask you questions about your work and expect you to think about it. I want this to be a positive experience and so it is very important to me that you are happy with your manuscript. This is your work. I want you to think about it, what you want it to say, and I will help guide you there with structure, plot, character, and your voice.

Writers I enjoy


Agatha Christie, Angela Carter, Edgar Allan Poe, Jorge Luis Borges, Raymond Chandler, Carlos Fuentes, Tananarive Due, Ania Ahlborn, Josh Malerman, Kathe Koja, S.A. Cosby, Daniel Kraus, Paul Tremblay, Alma Katsu, John Langan, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Stephen Graham Jones, Robert McCammon, Caroline Kepnes, and so many more.


Recent favorite reads
Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia
Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
The Living Dead by Daniel Kraus
Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
Dear Laura by Gemma Amor

Movies I enjoy

El Orfanato/The Orphanage
Aterrados/Terrified
Tigers Are Not Afraid
The Changeling (1980)
The Woman in Black
Pan’s Labyrinth
Carnival of Souls
The Babadook
The Exorcist
The VVitch

Who am I?


My name is Cynthia Pelayo. My friends and family call me Cina (See-na). You can call me Cynthia or Cina. Either works. I live in Chicago with my family. I have a lot of college degrees; Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Fine Arts in Writing and I am completing a PhD in Psychology. I wrote a lot in high school, winning my high school some city and state wide awards. I majored in journalism in undergrad and worked as a freelance journalist for many years, never really making any money, so I worked full-time in marketing research, where I still work. I am what you may call an indie or a hybrid author. I have self-published and been published with indie presses. I have an agent with a boutique press based in the Midwest. My earlier works include Santa Muerte, a young adult horror novel and The Missing – its sequel. Both were originally published by Post Mortem Press, and nominated for International Latino Book Awards. They are both out of print since the original publisher closed. I am working on re-releasing them independently this year. I also wrote Poems of My Night, a poetry collection published by Raw Dog Screaming Press, which was an Elgin Award Nominee. I also wrote Loteria, a collection of short stories, which was my MFA thesis, and is also out of print, but I am working on re-releasing it this year as well. I also recently released Into the Forest and All the Way Through, a collection of true crime poetry of missing and murdered women in the United States. Finally, my adult horror debut, Children of Chicago will be released in 2021 by Agora/Polis Books. A second book in this Chicago series will be released by Polis Books in 2022.

I am active on Twitter: Cinapelayo and Instagram: Cinapelayoauthor

Head back to the Pitch Wars post to see the complete list of mentors and include this link:  https://pitchwars.org/pitch-wars-2020-mentor-blog-hop/

Pitch Wars 2020 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists


    Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists