Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Marilyn Chin with mentor Joanna Hathaway and M. Lyzabeth McGee with mentor Susan Crispell

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Marilyn Chin – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Joanna Hathaway – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Marilyn, why did you choose to submit to Joanna?

I was looking for mentors that fitted my categories – YA fantasy with lots of world-building and elements of steampunk, scifi and a Mad Max-esque, post-apocalyptic setting. I was actually starting to panic because it felt like there didn’t seem to be much call for these genres – or if the mentor wanted one, they didn’t want the other! At that time, Joanna was in a team with Kristen Ciccarelli and when I read what they were looking for, it felt like everything fitted. Plus, it also helped that they had expressed interest earlier in seeing my MS! I feel so extremely lucky to have Jo as my mentor – we click so well and it feels like she knows exactly where I’m coming from in my MS. I feel like I’m in really safe hands with her!

Joanna, why did you choose Marilyn?

Kristen Ciccarelli was originally co-mentoring with me, and we were both captivated by Marilyn’s opening pages! Kristen emailed me and said, “You have to read this one RIGHT NOW.” After Kristen sadly and regretfully dropped out as mentor, I continued reading Marilyn’s manuscript, becoming more and more excited about her characters and world. It’s big! It’s dazzling! The Rascals tug perfectly at your heart strings. I was also smiling non-stop because Marilyn’s lines are just so dang witty and clever! When I asked Marilyn what she felt needed work in the manuscript, the struggles and concerns she shared with me were all things I’ve grappled with in my own writing and storytelling. It felt like a match made in heaven! In short: Marilyn is an incredibly talented writer and I’ve been so thrilled to see her go deeper into her own story and uncover the gems that are already there. She’s a lovely and kind spirit, filled with positive energy. Humble, brave, and ready to work. I adore her!

Marilyn, summarize your book in 3 words.

Scrappy, reckless racers!

Joanna, summarize Marilyn’s book(s) in 3 words.

Apocalyptic Burning Man

Joanna, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I grew up in Malaysia, and have lived in Western Australia for well over the last 10 years. When I was a little kid, my parents used to take me and my sister to libraries and rent-a-book stores all the time (did anyone else have those rent-a-book stores? It was like an amazing library/bookstore!!). Reading was always a big thing in my family and I’ve always known since I was a little kid that I wanted to be a writer and have been working on that journey ever since!

I’ve always loved fantasy/scifi stories, adventure stories, and stories about mad characters and strong females which I’m happy to say is pretty much what my MS is all about! I had two cult classics from my childhood which I just couldn’t get out of my head – the Wacky Races cartoon and the Cannonball Run – and I decided to mesh the two into a gritty, fun adventure world. Throw in a dash of Mad Max (hey, you can’t live for over 10 years in Australia without loving Mad Max), a handful of spunky and tenacious characters on a hovership, and a sprinkling of romance – and you have the Scrappy Rascals and the Great Apocalyptic Race!

Marilyn, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I love going horseback riding when I travel. So far in my life, I’ve galloped through Spain, Jordan, Ireland, Costa Rica, and the Azores. If you know of any other cool or unique horse experiences, please let me know! I’ll add it to my ever growing Horse Holiday Bucket List. 🙂

And next, we have  . . .

M. Lyzabeth McGee – Mentee

Twitter

Susan Crispell – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Megan, why did you choose to submit to Susan?

First, I loved Susan’s picture. Honestly, she looks so darn friendly! Second, her relatable bio, easy-going voice, and in-depth mentoring/critique style immediately resonated with me. Third, I got to the nitty-gritty details of her story preferences, and that’s when I knew we’d be a good Pitch Wars team:

• The beach (my MS takes place on an island in the Pacific Northwest)
• Food as a theme (my MC is Italian and cooks ALL the Italian things)
• Layered friendships (cross-generational and childhood bff’s)
• Small Town (there’s only one quaint, waterfront town on the island)
• HEA (because, duh)
• Relatable characters in difficult emotional situations (there’s a devastating death and a big inheritance)

And then there were the personal connections, such as our mutual appreciation for good beer, Creative Writing majors, baked goods, and Rainbow Rowell. I just knew that if it weren’t for the fact that we live on opposite sides of the country, we’d kick back at a brewery with a couple pints of saison!

Susan received many brilliant manuscripts, and I’m thrilled and honored that she chose to work with me on mine. I couldn’t be happier with her patient guidance and insightful suggestions. 

Susan, why did you choose Megan?

Megan’s submission had so many things I was looking for: beautiful writing with a killer voice, a whimsical setting, characters I cared for from the very first page, and so much heart. The query for TWO-BUCKET HEIRESS hooked me with a jump-off-the-page voice and the pages more than delivered. When I finished the first chapter, I was desperate to read more (and so sad when I realized I didn’t have more immediately!). I knew then, it would be in my top picks. But it really came down to me seeing concrete ways to strengthen the story as I read more. I couldn’t stop thinking about this book and what it could be with the right revision. And Megan seemed more than willing to tackle big changes to take this book–and her writing–to the next level.

Megan, summarize your book in 3 words.

Delicious Island Windfall

Susan, summarize  ’s book(s) in 3 words.

Love. Self-discovery. Rebuilding.

Megan, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

In a nutshell, I’m an average gal who writes long stories! I toggle between Women’s Fiction (with a strong romantic element) and Young Adult (both contemporary and fantasy/paranormal). In my pre-kiddo days, I worked as a copywriter for ad agencies. Now, I work as a freelance writer and copy editor. And when I’m not typing, I’m hanging out with my husband and our four kids.

My family settled in the Pacific Northwest back in the 1800s, and this region is as much a part of me as my writing. Most of my stories are based here, and JANE DARLING’S RULES FOR INHERITANCE is no different.

This story takes place on my favorite, local getaway: San Juan Island, a dollop of green in the Salish Sea. Isolated and rough around the edges, the island is a lot like my MC, Serafina (Serie) Little. She loves cooking, cussing, microbrews, and a quiet island life. When her beloved friend and employer, Jane Darling, dies, Serie is devastated, but that sadness quickly turns to shock when she inherits a very large sum of money. This epic windfall comes with time-sensitive strings, and it turns her life upside down. Suddenly, she’s juggling a fling-turned-boyfriend, renewed friendships, a sex life, her best friend’s wedding, a boatload of Italian food, and the construction of her very own B & B. In other words, all the things, all at once.

Susan, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I’m the author of magical Southern fiction, including THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES (Sep 2016) and DREAMING IN CHOCOLATE (Feb 2018). This confession might get me banned from, well, everything writing related, but I hated to read when I was a kid. I was much more into art and listening to music and daydreaming. I didn’t really fall in love with books until in my late teens. And then I only stumbled into writing because I needed another class for my fall semester of sophomore year in college and Intro to Fiction was available. Writing was never part of my plan (working with killer whales was the plan, but that’s a whole other story!) But going to college where I did led me to writing–and to my husband–so there’s definitely a reason why most of my books revolve around fate.

Our mentors’ latest releases…

                      

Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway releasing May 8, 2018

Pre-order on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Powell’s

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

 

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Crispell

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Rachel Monroe, 26, can make wishes come true just by thinking about them. But it’s a gift that has caused more harm than good. And after her mother’s death, which Rachel blames herself for, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown—and her past—behind.

But when Rachel gets stranded in small-town Nowhere, NC—also known as the town of “Lost and Found”—she realizes she can’t escape her past, or her gift. In Nowhere Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who binds the townspeople’s secrets by baking them into pies, and who has an uncanny ability to see exactly what Rachel is trying to hide. She also meets Ashe, Catch’s neighbor with southern charm and a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after.

As she settles into the small town, she hopes her own secrets will stay hidden—especially the one about how she wished her little brother out of existence when they were kids. But starting over is harder than she thought, and when her wish-granting secret is revealed, the town people’s wishes begin popping out of thin air everywhere she goes. Scared the wishes will go wrong like in the past, she tries to ignore them, which only makes the wishes more determined to get her attention. Then when Rachel is forced to confront the truth about her brother, she must accept her magical ability or risk losing those she has come to love—and a chance at happiness—all over again.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!

 

Pitch Wars Webinars: Avoiding Social Media Snafus with Literary Agent Natascha Morris

 

Pitch Wars Webinars presents . . .

Avoiding Social Media Snafus with Literary Agent Natascha Morris

Have you ever seen an editor or agent tweet about something and you are dying to respond? BUT WAIT. You want them to respond and like you. If you’ve ever found yourself recomposing tweets constantly, this webinar is for you. See real world examples of what not to do and get some advice on how to engage with publishing professionals on social media.

The Details…

When: Wednesday, November 1

Time: 8:30 pm ET 

Cost: $25

Please note: Registration is limited to the first 50 participants.

Pitch Wars Webinars: Avoiding Social Media Snafus with Literary Agent Natascha Morris

 

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About Natascha Morris…

Natascha spent most of her childhood in a leather chair with her nose in a book. Formerly an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster, her passion for books across genres and her desire to finding amazing talent drove her to make the transition from editorial to literary agent. Natascha is primarily looking for picture book, middle grade and young adult manuscripts across most genres, including contemporary, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, historical fiction, and narrative non-fiction. She is also looking for artists that speak to her creatively.

About Pitch Wars Webinars . . .

The Pitch Wars webinar series was developed to help writers at every stage of their careers. Mentors and industry experts will host webinars focused on pitching, publishing, developing craft, and more.

Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors work with their mentees for two months before an agent round. Learn more.

Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Marisa Kanter with mentor Rachel Lynn Solomon and M.D. Thomas with mentor Clarissa Goenawan

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Marisa Kanter – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Rachel Lynn Solomon – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Marisa, why did you choose to submit to Rachel?

Honestly, I knew I wanted to work with Rachel as soon as I decided to enter Pitch Wars. Her debut sounds amazing and has been at the top of my to-read list since it was announced! Also, based on following her on twitter and the few interactions we’d had, I’d gotten the sense that we had a lot in common and our personalities would mesh well. So basically, I crossed my fingers and waited for her wish list, hoping it would be compatible with my MS. I’d heard nothing but amazing things about Rachel from CP friends and former mentees—so after confirming that my MS lined up with her interests, I knew I had to submit to her. I’m so glad I did!

Marisa, why did you choose Rachel?

Marisa’s book made me laugh, warmed my heart, and nourished my soul. She has one of the most authentic YA voices I’ve ever read, and the book feels very fresh and modern. Her MC, Halle, is socially anxious and incredibly relatable. Finally, I’ve never seen Judaism in a YA novel that’s so similar to my own upbringing. 

Marisa, summarize your book in 3 words.

Book Nerd Love

Rachel, summarize Marisa’s book(s) in 3 words.

book blogging mayhem

Rachel, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I’m a college senior, publishing intern, and chai latte enthusiast. I attend New York University, where I’m pursuing a degree in Media & Communications, with a minor in Creative Writing. I’ve held internships-a-many, including an editorial position at a small publisher in London and a year-long gig at MTV News (before they “pivoted to video”). While at MTV, I covered “buzz-worthy” YA books and had the pleasure of interviewing some of my favorite authors! It was amazing and fulfilling work—but it also confirmed that I didn’t love online journalism as much as I loved working with books and authors. Now, I’m interning in the publicity department at Random House Children’s Books and it’s a perfect fit. When I’m not writing, I’m reading all the YA, attending all the book events, watching Netflix, and exploring my new neighborhood.

I wrote TO BE MISREAD as a love letter to YA and online friendship. Thanks to the internet, I have made lifelong friends and have received so much support over the years, particularly from the YA community—so I really wanted to write a book about the validity of online friendship. It also features #ownvoices Jewish rep, which is really important to me. There aren’t enough Jewish characters and experiences in YA right now, and I’m super hoping that will change!

Marisa, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

In high school, I sang and played keyboard/guitar in an all-girl band. All of our songs were about my ex-boyfriend. He attended all of our shows. It was awkward.

And next, we have  . . .

M.D. Thomas – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Clarissa Goenawan – Mentor

Website | Twitter

M.D., why did you choose to submit to Clarissa?

The first time I read the list of Adult mentors, I remember being about halfway and starting to worry I’d never find six that were right for me and my book. Then I read Clarissa’s blog post and knew right away she’d be perfect—she had a wishlist with seven points and my book hit five or six of them right on; there were a few books on her favorites list that I really loved; she had three kids like me; her mentorship style was exactly what I was looking for; and to top it off, I felt like I fit her ideal mentee profile.

Clarissa, why did you choose M.D.?

Matt’s thriller novel, ‘The Butterfly Tattoo’, stood out from the close to 150 entries I received. The story grabbed me right from the very first page and didn’t let go all the way until the last page. It has everything I want in a book: an intriguing premise, great writing, and characters I can connect and root for.

In addition, when I sent him some questions, Matt came across as warm and sincere, hardworking, and very easy to work with. We also have similar idea on which areas need more work.

And while this is by no means a requirement, he received a brownie point for being a hands-on father of three. I know first hand how challenging it is to juggle family and writing, especially in the beginning of our career, and I feel a strong desire to help other writing parents.

M.D., summarize your book in 3 words.

hit-and-run, justice, redemption

Clarissa, summarize  ’s book(s) in 3 words.

Family. Revenge. Sacrifice.

M.D., tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I’ve wanted to be a published writer since I was a kid, a dream that has survived earning a Ph.D. in Microbiology, having three children, and deciding to become a stay-at-home dad.

The Butterfly Tattoo is fast-paced and full of suspense, with an action-packed climax. But at its heart, the book is about the terrible decisions otherwise good people will make to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s about a woman involved in a hit-and-run, making her no better than the mother she detests. It’s about a man who’ll betray his profession to take care of his grandparents. It’s about the depths to which a mother and father will sink to gain revenge on the couple who injured their only child. In other words, it’s about people who cross the line and actually act on the worst thoughts that we all have at some point in our lives.

Clarissa, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I was born and raised in Indonesia, and English wasn’t always my first language. In fact, when I first moved to Singapore in my mid-teens, I struggled with the language. But I work really hard to improve myself, and luckily, I have a few writing friends who help me and support my dream. I’m forever grateful to them.

So if you’re an aspiring writer who writes in a language that’s not your mother tongue, I want you to know that, “Yes, it’s possible.” If you continue to work hard and never give up, there is a very high chance that one day your dreams will come true.

Our mentors’ latest releases…

                                YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE hi-res final-smaller.jpg

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

January 2, 2018, Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse

An ABA Indies Introduce Pick for Winter/Spring 2018

A heartbreaking and lyrical debut novel about twins who navigate first love, their Jewish identity, and opposite results from a genetic test that determines their fate—whether they inherited their mother’s Huntington’s disease.

Preorder on Amazon Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound | Add on Goodreads

 

 

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
“Luminous, sinister, and page-turning all at once. I loved it.”—Kate Hamer, internationally bestselling author of The Girl in the Red Coat and The Doll Funeral

Ren Ishida is nearly done with graduate school when he receives news of his sister, Keiko’s, sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to abandon their family and leave Tokyo for this small town in the first place.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up right where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at the wealthy Mr. Katou’s mansion, in exchange for reading aloud each morning to Katou’s depressed, mute wife. As Ren gets to know the figures in the town, from the mysterious Katou to fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, he replays memories of his childhood with Keiko and finds his dreams haunted by a young girl with pigtails who is desperately trying to tell him something. Struggling to fill the void that Keiko has left behind, Ren realizes that perhaps people don’t change, and if they don’t, he can decipher the identity of his sister’s killer.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!

 

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Pitch Wars Webinars: Moving Past the Slush Pile with Editorial Assistant Judi Lauren

 

Pitch Wars Webinars presents . . .

Moving Past the Slush Pile with Editorial Assistant Judi Lauren

How do you stand out in a slush pile of hundreds of queries? Learn new ways to shape your query and first pages into an opening that’ll make agents and editors take notice. We’ll discuss common mistakes in queries and first chapters, as well as goals, motivations, and conflicts, that can further be used in edits on the rest of your manuscript.

The Details…

When: Friday, November 3

Time: 8:00 pm ET 

Cost: $20

Please note: Registration is limited to the first 50 participants.

Pitch Wars Webinars: Moving Past the Slush Pile

 

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About Judi Lauren…

Judi is a copy editor and editorial assistant to Lydia Sharp at Entangled Publishing. She also works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and specializes in YA, MG, and Adult.
Oxford comma for the win.

About Pitch Wars Webinars . . .

The Pitch Wars webinar series was developed to help writers at every stage of their careers. Mentors and industry experts will host webinars focused on pitching, publishing, developing craft, and more.

Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors work with their mentees for two months before an agent round. Learn more.

Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Lana Sloan with mentor Heather Van Fleet & Jessica Calla and Layne Fargo with mentor Nina Laurin

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

First up, we have . . .

Lana Sloan – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Heather Van Fleet – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Jessica Calla – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Lana, why did you choose to submit to Heather and Jessica?

All things romance! It was refreshing to find mentors who are as obsessed with romance as I am. From their wish list, you could really tell that they love the genre, and there were several things they were looking for that I had in my story. They also promised to make their future mentee work hard, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since I was picked. When I found out, I was at home trying to feed my kids. Let’s just say that feeding a six-month-old sweet potato puree is nearly impossible when your hands won’t stop shaking.

Heather and Jessica, why did you choose Lana?

 We loved Lana’s concept and her friends to lovers romance! She writes with a sexy, romantic vibe that we couldn’t resist.

Lana, summarize your book in 3 words.

Friends. Chocolate. Orgasms.

Heather and Jessica, summarize Lana’s book(s) in 3 words.

Steamy contemporary romance

Lana, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I read my first romance novel before I hit my teens, but it wasn’t until I was in college and working at an independent bookstore that I realized that was what I was writing. Whatever I write, and whatever I consume as a reader, I’m always looking for a romance angle. If you threw a geometry book in front of me, it wouldn’t be long before I’d be convinced that the parallelogram has been making eyes at the isosceles triangle. Bottom line, I live for love stories, whether real or imagined.

My manuscript begins with an impromptu birthday gift—an orgasm for each year of a friendship. The story is my take on the classic friends to lovers trope, but with added structure. My couple seek to compartmentalize their relationship as friends, business partners, and now, lovers, and only enter into their new special compartment with the use of a secret word.

Heather and Jessica, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Heather Van Fleet is stay-at-home-mom turned book boyfriend connoisseur. She’s a wife to her high school sweetheart, a mom to three little girls, and in her spare time you can find her with her head buried in her Kindle, guzzling down copious amounts of coffee.

Heather graduated from Black Hawk College in 2003 with an associate degree and has been working in the publishing industry for over five years. She’s represented by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary.

Jessica Calla is a contemporary romance and women’s fiction author who moonlights during the day as an attorney. If she’s not writing, lawyering, or parenting, you’ll most likely find her at the movies, scrolling through her Twitter feed, or gulping down various forms of caffeine (sometimes all three at once).

Jessica is a member of Romance Writers of America, involved in the Contemporary, Young Adult, and New Jersey Chapters, and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She is a mentor in the PitchWars contest, helping new writers improve their manuscripts. A Jersey girl through and through, she resides in the central part of the state with her husband, two sons, and dog.

Next, we have  . . .

Layne Fargo – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Nina Laurin – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Layne, why did you choose to submit to Nina?

Nina specifically asked for dark stories, and her wish list called out a bunch of elements that matched up with my manuscript – antiheroes, sociopaths, the arts, downward spiral narratives, etc. Plus she included a GIF from The Craft, so I figured we’d get along.

I didn’t pick up Nina’s debut novel until after I sent in my submission, but once I read Girl Last Seen, I was even more thrilled about the prospect of working with her. I finished it in less than 24 hours, and days later I was still obsessing about the characters.

Nina, why did you choose Layne?

Layne’s book jumped out at me immediately! Books that deal with the art world (in this case, theater) were on my wish list, and I ended up getting only a few. I love a good tormented artist tale, and I think this element will make Layne’s book stand out in the world of psychological thrillers. Plus, it helps that Layne’s writing is extremely polished, and the voice of every character is spot-on perfect.

Layne, summarize your book in 3 words.

Drama turns deadly

Nina, summarize  ’s book(s) in 3 words.

Theater Black Swan

Layne, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I live in Chicago with my partner and our small zoo of two cats and the world’s sweetest pit bull. I’ve dabbled with writing since I was a kid, but I didn’t start pursuing it seriously until about five years ago, after my first stab at NaNoWriMo. The main character of my Pitch Wars manuscript is actually a version of the MC from that first (trunked forever) novel. She works way better in this book!

Victim Control was inspired by a real scandal at a theater here in Chicago, though all the characters are 100% fictional. I’ve been involved in theater most of my life – no acting since high school (let’s just say I’m better at writing…), but I have a graduate degree in theater history, and most of my social circle is involved in the performing arts in some capacity. One of my best friends is a professional fight choreographer, and as part of my research for the novel, I took her out for fancy afternoon tea and interviewed her about stage combat. We got some super weird looks, especially when she was showing me the safest way to strangle someone. 

Nina, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I went to seventh and eighth grade at a theater-specialized school. Yes, that means I was in the end-of-the-year play, on the stage of a real theater! I remember how nerve-wracking it was, but it also made me understand why people are so drawn to this art form.

Our mentors’ latest releases…

Reckless Hearts by Heather Van Fleet

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Between boot camp and two TOD’s in Iraq, my buddies Max, Gavin and me have been through some serious hell. So the last thing I ever expected was to find the biggest challenge of my life back home.

My girlfriend died. I couldn’t even attend her funeral, let alone tell her goodbye or that I’m sorry I wasn’t there like I should’ve been.

But she left me a gift. The best and scariest one I could’ve ever asked for. One I didn’t think I could handle…until the day I saw her tiny blues looking up at me in that airport. Chloe.

Now here I am, raising my baby girl—with the help of my two best friends. Things couldn’t be better. Until she walked into my life.

All I wanted was a nanny. Someone to take care of my girl when I couldn’t. What I didn’t count on was Addison, the brown-eyed temptress with a body of sin, and everything I didn’t need, but suddenly wanted.

She Wants It All by Jessica Calla

Amazon | B & N

Happy to sing cover songs with his band and float through New Jersey University with little to no effort, Dave Novak spends the first week of college partying. Then he meets Maggie Patrinski. Performing on stage in front of hundreds is easy for Dave, but the mere thought of Maggie sends his heart racing and turns him into a bumbling idiot. Even so, he can’t get her out of his mind.

Maggie’s not exactly thrilled when her roommate sets her up with Second Floor Dave, the hottie with a reputation. Not only has she just had her heart broken, but she’s vying for a competitive summer internship and studying to become a vet. She doesn’t have time for guys and isn’t interested in falling in love, especially when she may be moving across the country for the summer.

But as Maggie gets to know Dave, his charm wins her over and she falls hard and fast. The problem? Maggie has goals, Dave doesn’t. Maggie studies, Dave doesn’t. Maggie wants it all, Dave only wants her. With their summer plans up in the air and past mistakes creeping back into their lives, their future together is uncertain. The only thing they’re sure of is that when they’re together, they’re better.

cover latestGirl Last Seen by Nina Laurin

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Indigo 

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Olivia Shaw has been missing since last Tuesday. She was last seen outside the entrance of her elementary school in Hunts Point wearing a white spring jacket, blue jeans, and pink boots.

I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can’t bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to thirteen years ago.

If you have any knowledge of Olivia Shaw’s whereabouts or any relevant information, please contact…

I’ve spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, the right look, the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.

Whoever stole me was never found. But since I was taken, there hasn’t been another girl.

And now there is.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!

 

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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Erin Cotter with mentor Carlie Sorosiak, Dana Edwards & Dan Lollis and mentor Shanna Rogers, & Deborah Falaye and mentors Claribel Ortega and Kat Cho

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Continue reading Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Erin Cotter with mentor Carlie Sorosiak, Dana Edwards & Dan Lollis and mentor Shanna Rogers, & Deborah Falaye and mentors Claribel Ortega and Kat Cho

Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Isaac Fitzsimons with mentor Natalka Burian & Hoda Agharazi with mentors Sharon M. Johnston and Stacey Nash

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Continue reading Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Isaac Fitzsimons with mentor Natalka Burian & Hoda Agharazi with mentors Sharon M. Johnston and Stacey Nash

Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Kirk Kraft with mentors Amanda Rawson Hill, Ashley Martin, Kate Foster, and Cindy Baldwin

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Kirk Kraft – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Amanda Rawson Hill – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Cindy Baldwin – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Ashley Martin – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Kate Foster – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Kirk, why did you choose to submit to Kate?

I chose Kate because she’s awesome! 🙂 She has a great personality and we’ve connected over the prior two PitchWars. I chose her this year because she was open to any genre and I felt this might be the last gasp attempt for my story. Might as well take a shot with her, right?

Ashley, Cindy, Kate and Amanda all chose ME! I’m over the moon about that. I’ve always enjoyed watching Cindy and Amanda interact with potential mentees on Twitter. Ashley was one of my mentor picks last year and provided loads of (great) advice. I still think this is all a dream and can’t believe they picked me. I admire all four ladies’ desire to help other writers. They’re amazing and are just tremendous people. Really.

Amanda, Cindy, Kate, and Ashley, why did you choose Kirk?

Kate: Kirk’s query stole my heart. Simple. The minute I read it, I couldn’t wait to dive into the pages. Kirk’s been a great support to not only the Pitch Wars community but also the writing community in general for years now, so when he chose me as a suitable mentor I was honoured. And, it was overwhelming just how many other mentors were asking about his submission behind the scenes – most notably Ashley, Amanda, and Cindy. Team Krafty rules!

Amanda & Cindy: Kirk didn’t actually sub to us. But we saw early on in the spreadsheet that he had received several requests and were so happy to hear it. Then when Brenda announced the opportunity to enter the drawing for a wild card, Kate mentioned that she was trying to get one for Kirk. We (along with Ashley) approached Kate about possibly going in on the Wild Card with her to try and improve her chances of winning. She sent us Kirk’s manuscript and the rest is history! Kirk has a great voice and a fun sense of humor. We knew from prior experience that he would be a great mentee, work hard, and be a wonderful part of Pitch Wars. So we were so, so pleased when we got the Wild Card. Keeping it a secret was the hardest part!

Ashley: (Since there are four mentors answering these questions, I’ll keep mine short and sweet.) One word: HEART. Of both the book and the author!

Kirk, summarize your book in 3 words.

Change is inevitable

Amanda, Cindy, Kate, and Ashley, summarize Kirk’s book in 3 words.

Kate: Change, Friendships, Family

Amanda & Cindy: Change is good.

Ashley: Change is hard.

Kirk, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

As the father of four kids, ages 9-15, potential story fodder runs rampant in my home. I’ve learned the lesson of perseverance through trials by way of our youngest daughter, who was born with a life-threatening liver disease that required a transplant at seven months old. This experience defined a “new” normal and flowed over to my writing life. Living through difficult times has no doubt helped me work harder, learn continually and strive to be a positive force wherever I can.

I actually share a lot in common with my main character, Jared. We were both short kids in 7th grade, have had to deal with, at times, more than our fair share of change in our lives and both learned they had scoliosis at thirteen. We’re also very alike when it comes to our understanding of girls. We are clueless! I had to wear a Milwaukee back brace for the better part of four years, 23 hours a day. By the time I started weaning out of the brace, I had my driver’s license. Jared must learn to navigate his own “new” normal, dropping unnecessary baggage along the way and learn all change doesn’t have to be bad.

Amanda, Cindy, Kate, and Ashley, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Ashley: I didn’t start out writing children’s books. My first three attempts at novels were one YA and two adult, which are now safely locked away on a hard-drive somewhere, never to be seen by anyone ever. 😉

Kate: I used to be a gymnast, incredibly fit and bendy, but one day whilst lying on my back and lifting a leg in the air I tore my abdominal wall muscle. Mysterious.

Amanda and Cindy: Amanda left a dental mold she accidentally stole from her husband in hers and Cindy’s shared hotel room at a conference last spring. Cindy grabbed it and mailed it back to her (after dropping it in the airport and getting some weird looks.) That’s an unbreakable bond right there.

 

Our mentors’ latest releases…

WINELL ROAD by Kate Foster

Amazon | Goodreads

Living on Winell Road is hardly fun, not when your neighbors are weirder than your own parents. But the road has a secret that few people know. And Jack’s about to uncover it. Mystery, action and adventure. This award-winning sci-fi series is “highly recommended” for middle grade readers. For fans of Men in Black and Zac Power, Winell Road is jam-packed with “loads of twists and turns” that will keep you guessing to the end.

 

 

 

THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC by Amanda Rawson Hill (releasing from Boyds Mills Press fall 2018)

Goodreads

THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC follows Kate, who is starting to believe in what her grandmother calls “everyday magic”—she just hopes it can bring back her estranged father or her erstwhile best friend.


WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW by Cindy Baldwin (HarperCollins publication planned for July 2018)

Goodreads

Twelve-year-old Della Kelly has lived her whole life in Maryville, North Carolina. She knows how to pick the softest butter beans and sweetest watermelons on her daddy’s farm. She knows ways to keep her spitfire baby sister out of trouble (most of the time). She knows everyone in Maryville, from her best friend Arden to kind newcomer Miss Lorena to the mysterious Bee Lady.

And Della knows what to do when the sickness that landed her mama in the hospital four years ago spirals out of control again, and Mama starts hearing people who aren’t there, scrubbing the kitchen floor until her hands are raw, and waking up at night to cut the black seeds from all the watermelons in the house. With Daddy struggling to save the farm from a record-breaking drought, Della decides it’s up to her to heal Mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville for generations.

She doesn’t want to hear the Bee Lady’s truth: that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain than with healing Della’s own heart. But as the sweltering summer stretches on, Della must find a way—with the help of her family and friends, plus a finger-ful of watermelon honey—to learn to truly love her mama, sickness and all.

 

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!

 

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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Landon Spencer and mentor Mae Respicio and Laura Lashley and mentor Heidi Stallman

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Continue reading Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Landon Spencer and mentor Mae Respicio and Laura Lashley and mentor Heidi Stallman

Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Julie Ditchburn Patton with mentors Wade Albert Wade and T.J. Wertz and Margie Fuston with mentor C.M. McCoy

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Continue reading Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Julie Ditchburn Patton with mentors Wade Albert Wade and T.J. Wertz and Margie Fuston with mentor C.M. McCoy