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Get to know the Pitch Wars Mentors Mini Interviews . . . No. 15 Young Adult

Wednesday, 6 July 2016  |  Posted by Heather Cashman

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From June 27th through July 18th, we’ll be posting mini-interviews with most of the Pitch Wars mentors so you can get to know them. Many of the mentors also hang out on twitter. Follow the links to their Twitter accounts and say hello. They’ll be on the #PitchWars hashtag tweeting advice and answering questions.

We will also host live chats from July 19th through August 2nd, and the Pitch Wars submission window will open on August 3rd!

We asked our mentors to answer these three questions …

1. What are you looking for in a submission and what would you forgive as far as issues in the sample pages? In other words, what do you feel is an easy fix and what would be a pass for you?

2. What is your editing style and do you have a game plan to tackle edits with your mentee in the two months given for the contest?

3. And lastly, what is your all-time favorite book and how did it inspire your writing?

And here are their answers …


Kelly Ann HopkinsKelly Hopkins

Twitter Website

Kelly has a Bachelor’s degree (Magna Cum Laude) in English/Secondary Education from Marywood University and a Master’s of Education degree in School Library and Information Technologies from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. She’s a Creative Writing teacher and school librarian.

She has lectured at Keystone College on Celtic Mythology and will be presenting a workshop on Perfecting Query Letters and Pitches at their Gathering Conference in July 2016.

Kelly lives in NE Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and three rescue horses.

Her fiction is represented by Sue Miller at Donaghy Literary Group.

ONE: I am looking for a hook that catches my attention right from the beginning. As a creative writing teacher, I hope to see a ms that is free of passive voice and has characters that I want to travel 200+ pages with. I have to care about your characters wants, needs, and desires from page one. If you are a master of visual storytelling, send me your ms!

A pass would be significant grammatical errors and opening pages that take too long to develop. Know your genre–YA is all about the pacing! Get into the story early, and make sure you know what that inciting incident is. Thread all the exposition in later.

TWO: I provide line edits in Word with embedded comments and suggestions. Sometimes, I will rewrite full paragraphs as examples.

It is my hope that the mentee can take direction in the first few chapters and carry it forward through the ms each week as we cut the task up into manageable chunks. We will set weekly goals for rewrites, with a goal of finishing the edits with enough time to do one last read-thru prior to the end of the contest.

THREE:This is tough! I remember reading Gone With the Wind as a teenager and just thinking “How did she do that?” But I think my favorite has to be The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It is a work of art in addition to being a phenomenal read. In YA, it has to be Mockingjay, although a lot of readers didn’t care for it. I think the book is brilliant and creates uneven footing for the reader, exactly the way Katniss is supposed to feel.

I read books that are well written, that use words the way artists use watercolors, blending nuance and narrative into a book that I can’t put down

Katie Bucklein and Co-Mentor Megan Lally

Katie BuckleinTwitter Website

Katie Bucklein started writing at the age of twelve, when a girl challenged her to a dare: who could finish writing a novel first? Spoiler: Katie won, and has since written contemporary, historical fiction, and dystopian, but found fantasy to be her true love. Now a student of history at Idaho State University, she spends her days researching stories of past civilizations and people, and her nights holed up in her writing cave, fueled by music and insomnia.

Megan LallyTwitter Website

Megan Lally is a YA author represented by Mandy Hubbard at Emerald City Literary. She loves to write about cannibals, and demon trains, and murder but always with a touch of love and the things that get in the way of love. Megan is also a freelance editor with Wild Things Editing and Author Accelerator and she’s the host/creator of the #CpMatch critique partner matchup party on Twitter.

ONE: We both want a manuscript that’s polished to a shine: we’re not here to fix grammar errors, since that’s a critique partner’s job. However, we’ll totally be willing to forgive surface-level errors if the plot, voice, and characters really grab us. On that note, what would be a pass for us is missing voice. It’s a hard thing to edit, because no one can help you find your voice. It’s something you have to discover on your own through trial and error.

TWO: Our edits will come in two parts: Part 1 will be working on big plot pictures and smoothing out any major issues. Part 2 will consist of going through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and magnifying glass, making sure plot issues match up, characters stay in character, and ensuring we can visualize everything in the manuscript. Basically, our mentee will get the best of what we can both offer, and we’ll be working together every step of the way.

THREE for Megan: Pride & Prejudice. It’s the one that taught me about the importance of characters in general, and how flaws and misunderstandings can really make them come alive within a story.

THREE for Katie: Asking me to pick a favorite book is close to asking the impossible. Picking favorites is something I rarely–if ever–do. But the book that came to mind is The Frog Princess by ED Baker. It was the first fantasy I ever read, and I still think back on it with fondness.


kip_avatarKip Wilson

Twitter Website

A young adult writer represented by Roseanne Wells of Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, Kip Wilson holds a Ph.D. in German Literature. She is the Poetry Editor at Young Adult Review Network, publishing new teen poets along with superstars like Jacqueline Woodson. Her own work has been appeared in the “Timeless” and “Spain from a Backpack” anthologies, as well as in several magazines for children.

ONE: I’m looking to be plucked out of my home in Boston and plopped into a very different world through your gorgeous, literary writing. My favorite beginnings tease and taunt, placing questions in my mind that compel me to turn the page (without making me confused). I love to experience vivid details (without drowning in description) from deep inside a character’s head. I’d argue that most things can be fixed, and that a pass would instead come down to a lack of a personal connection to your voice and characters. If I’m invested in your world, I’m willing to help you find solutions to any issues with plot, character, pacing, and the like.

TWO: I plan on providing my mentee with a full edit letter listing big-picture issues to consider, as well as whatever level of support you need to get through your revisions over email, twitter, gchat, whatsapp, and/or DMs. I would also love to read the manuscript again and provide line edits and any additional feedback, assuming there’s time after you complete revisions.

THREE: I have so many favorites (see my wishlist post for many more details!), but one I love and have already re-read is ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, a 2014 historical by Anthony Doerr that won the Pulitzer Prize. There is so much to love about this book: the gorgeous writing, the flawed but compelling POV characters, the QUESTIONS placed in my mind from the beginning, the unbelievably high stakes, and the non-linear timeline.

Thank you, mentors, for your marvelous answers. We appreciate you so much!

Pitch Wars Schedule:

June 27-July 15 Mentor Mini Interviews

July 19-August 2 Live Chats with Mentors

July 20-August 3 Mentor Blog Hop

August 3rd Pitch Wars Submission Window Opens

August 25th Mentees Chosen and Announced

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We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

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