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A Pitch Wars Interview with Kamerhe Lane & Jim O'Donnell and their mentors Mindy McGinnis & Kate Karyus Quinn

Wednesday, 16 September 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

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Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews

Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project.

Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.



Team: TeamDude

Mindy McGinnis (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.

Mindy: I’ll read anything, absolutely anything (although I freely admit to avoiding romance – something Kate says does not behoove me). My writing style is that I sit down and write – seriously. I am a complete pantser and let the story tell itself.

Kate Karyus Quinn (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.

Kate: I’ll read anything and especially love a good romance novel (seriously Mindy, you’re missing out). My writing style tends to be on the verbose side, which is why I often have trouble with Twitter and keeping myself to the pithy format enforced there. Over time I’ve become more of a plotter, as I’ve found that pantsing generally means that I write myself into corners that I then have a hard time getting out of.

Kamerhe LaneKamerhe Lane (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Kamerhe. I’ll read anything, unless the story centers on animals. As a kid, I hated Where the Red Fern Grows and The Incredible Journey. Insert your gasp here: _____ I admire and try to emulate writers with bold, surprising voices, like Sandra Cisneros, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, Isabel Allende, and Ani DiFranco. I love a good turn of phrase and an authentic voice and hope my writing has that. In YA, I like authors whose styles challenge the expected; I’ve learned so much from A.S. King, Rainbow Rowell, and Andrew Smith.

Jim O'Donnell

Jim O’Donnell (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Jim and I enjoy reading everything except romances. Yeah, but those romances came preloaded on my kindle. It was a special edition! I don’t know, it’s probably a glitch in the system that put all those highlights, notes, and bookmarks in there. I don’t read romance. I like contemporary, just not contemporary romance. Unless there’s like a strong love interest. And like kissing and sex and stuff, but you know, just those rare ones. I’m a pantser who tries to plot, but I usually end up drawing a dragon that looks more like a snake and a dog attempting sex. I tend to form better relationships between my characters if I let them develop as I write. It’s kind of like my favorite roma- I mean… I don’t read romance. I don’t read them. I’m a man. A manly fucking man. Never.

Mindy and Kate,  why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?

Mindy: To give back. I had people ahead of me in the game that were invaluable to me when I started out.

Kate: This is my second year as PitchWars mentor. Honestly, my first year I didn’t know what exactly to expect. But this year I was really looking forward to it because the whole thing is just nerdy writing shananigans fun and I love the shit out of it.

Kamerhe and Jim, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?    

Kamerhe: To grow as a writer and get my MS in agent-ready shape; also pre-Pitch Wars, the start date of the contest provided a good deadline to keep me motivated as I finished my MS.

Jim: I joined Twitter shortly after PitchWars started last year and was so jealous of all the lucky mentees and alternates who had fellow writers helping them. I decided then that if I wasn’t agented by the time the next one rolled around, I would have to do PitchWars. And every [replacement word for rejection] letter I got, I thought, at least it means I can still do PitchWars. Sounds silly, but it got me through a lot of the word-which-must-not-be-said. Can we call them Voldemort letters from now on?

Mindy and Kate, what are you most excited for?

Mindy: To see the excitement of the mentees! I remember that rush – it’s good to be near it again.

Kate: ALL OF IT! Seriously, I think every stage is the best. The excitement of the bio hop and getting to interact on Twitter with all the potential mentees. And then when all the queries and first chapters start landing in our inbox, it’s like Christmas morning, shaking presents to figure out what’s inside. Finally, there’s picking a mentee, getting to know them, their MS, and helping them make it awesome. The agent round is really just the cherry on top of the PitchWars sundae.

Kamerhe and Jim, what are you most excited for?

Kamerhe: Tearing apart my MS in order to build it back up…only better 🙂

Jim: Having my amazing mentors help me figure out what’s wrong so I can fix it. All of it.

Kamerhe and Jim, describe your novel in 3 words.

Kamerhe: uh…… Really, really not-bad. (1. Mindy made me say that, 2. Yes, “not-bad” can be .)

Jim: Nearly A Romance

Mindy and Kate, describe your mentee’s novel in 3 words.

Mindy: For both- Really, Really Good. Yep I’m a smartass.

Kate: I can’t do 3 words. But I’ll keep it short.

  • Kamerhe: What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?
  • Jim: Gone Girl mixed with Winger mixed with Requiem for a Dream.


Check Us Out …


Kamerhe Lane

Kamerhe Lane, Mentee


Kamerhe is a former-teacher-turned-study-hall-monitor-slash-writer. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOAN is her second complete manuscript for young adult readers.

Jim O'Donnell

Jim O’Donnell, Mentee

Website | Twitter

Jim is a cop and a lawyer, but he hates those jobs and wants to be a writer full-time. LONG SLEEVE LOVE is the first YA Contemporary manuscript he has written.


Mindy McGinnis, Mentor

Website | Twitter

Mindy is a YA author who has worked in a high school library for thirteen years. Her debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, a post-apocalyptic survival story set in a world with very little freshwater, has been optioned for film by Stephenie Meyer’s Fickle Fish Films. The companion novel, IN A HANDFUL OF DUST was released in 2014. Look for her Gothic historical thriller, A MADNESS SO DISCREET in October of 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books. Mindy is represented by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary.

Pre-order Mindy’s upcoming release …

A Madness So Discreet releasing October 6, 2015

Available for Pre-Order:

Mindy McGinnis, the acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, combines murder, madness, and mystery in a beautifully twisted gothic historical thriller perfect for fans of novels such as Asylum and The Diviners as well as television’s True Detective and American Horror Story.

Grace Mae is already familiar with madness when family secrets and the bulge in her belly send her to an insane asylum—but it is in the darkness that she finds a new lease on life. When a visiting doctor interested in criminal psychology recognizes Grace’s brilliant mind beneath her rage, he recruits her as his assistant. Continuing to operate under the cloak of madness at crime scenes allows her to gather clues from bystanders who believe her less than human. Now comfortable in an ethical asylum, Grace finds friends—and hope. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who will bring her shaky sanity and the demons in her past dangerously close to the surface.


Kate Karyus Quinn, Mentor

Website | Twitter

Kate is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict. She has lived in California and Tennessee, but recently made the move back to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would… build character. She is the author of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, (DON’T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME, and the upcoming DOWN WITH THE SHINE (April 26th, 2016) all with HarperTeen. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary.

Pre-order Kate’s upcoming release …

 DOWN WITH THE SHINE will be available April 26th, 2016 from HarperTeen

Add DOWN WITH THE SHINE to Goodreads.

Pre-order on Amazon

There’s a reason they say “be careful what you wish for.” Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for “balls of steel” and got them-literally. And never wish for your party to go on forever. Not unless you want your guests to be struck down by debilitating pain if they try to leave.

These are things Lennie only learns when it’s too late-after she brings some of her uncles’ moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.

Lennie didn’t mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles’ moonshine toast was just a tradition. And when they talked about carrying on their “important family legacy,” she thought they meant good old-fashioned bootlegging.

As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.

Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…



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