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A Pitch Wars Team Interview with Lyssa Mia Smith and her mentor, Hoda Agharazi

Friday, 1 February 2019  |  Posted by Brenda Drake


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 starting on February 6, 2019, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2018 Pitch Wars Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Lyssa Mia Smith – Mentee


Hoda Agharazi – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Hoda, why did you choose Lyssa?

Lyssa’s story had me hooked from chapter one and I could not put it down. STAR SHADOW had everything I was looking for, including gorgeous writing, high concept, flawed but relatable characters, swoony but forbidden romance. Also – mermaids in space! Body doubles! I just fell in love with her story, and Lyssa herself was lovely. I couldn’t wait to start working with her to make STAR SHADOW shine.

Lyssa, why did you choose to submit to Hoda?

From the moment I read Hoda’s wishlist and experience, I was thrilled by the prospect of working with her. Once I received her edit letter, I knew I’d been picked by a mentor who truly understands my book! Hoda leaves no stone unturned. She has challenged me to examine elements of STAR SHADOW I’d been blissfully ignoring. She has a keen eye for detail, extensive editing knowledge, and a warm personality that makes her approachable and supportive.

Hoda, summarize Lyssa’s book in 3 words.

Space. Secrets. Romance.

Lyssa, summarize your book in 3 words.

Forbidden space romance 😉

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

I speak three languages – English, French, and Farsi.

Lyssa, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

Above all else, I’m excited to make my manuscript the best it can be! I want to learn as much as I can from Hoda, from my talented fellow mentees, and from the Pitch Wars community. I love a challenge, especially one that furthers my craft as a writer. And of course, the ultimate reward for absorbing all I can from Pitch Wars would be helping my feminist space opera get closer to publication!

Lyssa, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I’m a native New Yorker raising two curly-haired toddlers on Long Island with my hockey-playing husband. I earned my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and work primarily with teens and young adults. As a psychotherapist, my job is to help teens tell their stories; however, STAR SHADOW is the product of my own emotional journey. Over the last few years, I’ve faced some hard truths about friendships I’ve had, and ways I’ve shrunk myself in an effort to be accepted by people who weren’t cheering for me. I had to let go of the urge to be liked by everyone (thanks, therapy!). I’ve poured that struggle into my MC, who dims her sparkle to placate her best friend. As the story progresses, she struggles to listen to her own voice and let herself stand tall without feeling selfish for doing so. Of course, my MC’s predicament is far more interesting than my life: she’s a patriotic body double who falls for her dangerous target. With torn loyalties, it’s even harder for her to trust herself.


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 6 – 11, 2019. If you’re an agent and would like to participate, you must register here: https://pitchwars.org/info-for-agents/. We hope you’ll join us to support our teams on the Twitter hashtag #PitchWars.


Filed: Interviews

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