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Get to know the Pitch Wars Mentors Mini Interviews . . . No. 17 Young Adult

Thursday, 7 July 2016  |  Posted by Heather Cashman

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 …


Linsey MillerLinsey Miller

Twitter Website

A wayward biology student from Arkansas, Linsey previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology coming in 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.

ONE: I’m looking for voice, polish, and a sense of place/character. It’s going to depend on the sub, but I wouldn’t pass for any one thing–it’s a combination of things that leads to a pass.
Voice and hook are nebulous things that are hard to pin down, but I look for books that get my attention (and keep it!) using situation and character.

TWO: I have a very intensive editing style. Typically, I’ll do an edit letter with some in-text comments, a complete rewrite to get the base set up, and then do line-edits until everything is consistent and clean. This can mean only doing two passes or doing five. Then the pitch and query.
And also track changes. Everywhere.

THREE: Straight to the heart! Just one? Lirael by Garth Nix is probably one of the most influential.


Lisa Amowitz

Twitter Website

Lisa is an award winning author of three fantasy/thrillers for young adults,
UNTIL BETH, VISION, and BREAKING GLASS. She is also a cover designer and
​Professor of Graphic Design at Bronx Community College.
She is represented by Shannon Hassan of Marsal-Lyon Literary Agency

ONE: I enjoy YA fantasy, mystery thrillers and magical reality. I’m looking for voice, atmosphere and a believable character. If the first chapter begins with action, a distinctive voice and makes me curious about what comes next, I could forgive problematic grammar and maybe a bit more telling then there should be. I can’t forgive work that is blatantly derivative, flat or lacking tension.

TWO: I like to work on everything— copy edits, streamlining slack passages, and plot/pacing issues. I’m a pretty tough editor so most likely not a good match for the faint of heart!

THREE: I guess that honor must go to THE BOOK THIEF. The brisk, blunt, and first person narrative completely changed my writing style.


Mara Rutherford & Co-Mentor Joan He

Mara RaeTwitter Website

A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara writes YA fantasy inspired by her travels around the world. Along with her diplomat husband and two sons, she currently lives in Lima, Peru, and can’t wait to find out where she’s going next.
Twitter Website

Joan is currently a Psychology major at the University of Pennsylvania. When not writing, she’s probably watching scary anime and cute cat videos. She’s represented by the impeccable John Cusick of Folio Literary.

ONE: We are looking for YA speculative fiction that stands out, whether it’s a unique concept, original world building, or characters we haven’t seen before. Strong writing is key. Issues that are fixable: pacing/tension, clarity, world building, character arcs, romance, word count. Things we’d have a hard time overlooking: poor writing, predictable plot, tired premise.

TWO: We are both skilled line editors who enjoy polishing a manuscript, and we both love world building. Mara is great with dialogue and Joan has a keen eye for plot. We will polish your pitch and first 250 to a shine. We plan to do at least two rounds of edits, but we would be less inclined to choose a manuscript with issues that are larger in scope, since they generally require more rewriting and time is limited.

THREE for Mara: This is a tough one, since my tastes range from Jane Austen to Stephen King. For YA, however, I think DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is probably the one that I fell in love with first. Laini Taylor’s writing and world building are so beautiful and unique, and I love that it’s set in Prague, since travel has such a huge influence on my own writing.

THREE for Joan: Can I list 3? The Winner’s Curse, The Hunger Games, and Ender’s Game. They taught me that “good writing” isn’t necessarily the most indulgent, but rather one that serves the character and the plot (which are all fantastic in these books). As you can tell, I tend to go for the darker, more serious stories as compared to the fluffier. I strive to read and write stories that make me think.


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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