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Get to know the Pitch Wars Mentors Mini Interviews . . . No. 22 Young Adult

Monday, 11 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 …


Summer Spence

Twitter Website

Summer Spence is a YA author living in scenic Utah (and always pining for California, her true home), with degrees in English Literature and Theatre. She began her storytelling career on stage as an actor, where she fell in love with words and the beautiful challenge of creating human beings out of them. Then she figured out she could do that without changing out of her pajamas, and she became a writer! Summer is represented by Heather Flaherty at The Bent Agency.

ONE: I want to see someone’s soul spilling onto the pages. For me, that means the VOICE of the character has to be true — honest. And not just voice as in word choice – I want the character to be ACTIVE. ALIVE. UNFILTERED. I want a world that unfolds and lets me in, makes me feel like a participant, not an observer. I’m also looking for something with a great hook and BIG conflict. I want STAKES that will break your heart or your world. What can I say, I’m a bit dramatic. 😉
I can totally forgive things like starting in the wrong place (OMG how many times have I done that!?!) or needing help with structure. If the heart of a great story is there, it’s easy to work on structure. Deal breakers are finding a lot of sentence-level work that needs to be done on a writing craft level, poor grammar, or overuse of tropes and clichés. I want a new, fresh, unique view of the world!

TWO: My editing style is to go in sweeps. First look at the big picture – nail down the plot and character arcs, make sure the setting/worldbuilding makes sense and adds to the story. I’m big on making sure everything has a sturdy foundation and that the author understands the WHY behind their story – motivations have to make sense or the reader won’t invest. Then we move on to structure and scene-level work. I’m a stickler for pacing and tension to pull the reader through the story. Finally, we line edit and polish, making everything as perfect and pretty as possible!

THREE: This is the most IMPOSSIBLE question ever!!! It depends on my mood and the weather and if I’ve eaten recently and, and, and… My earliest book memories are of my dad reading THE HOBBIT to me. That lit the fire of discovering new worlds through books. So that will always have a special place in my heart. My love of fantasy adventures with unlikely heroes continued with the HARRY POTTER series. I will treasure those books ALWAYS. But recently, the book that’s stayed with me the longest is I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. The pages practically hum with life and made me feel like the whole world was inside me, ready to burst out of my chest as I read. It gave voice to something unspoken in me and made me realize I want to write about hard things, about things that are quieted, about the voices that might otherwise not be heard.


tabitha martinTabitha Martin

Twitter Website

YA writer, slytherin, queen of the names, part-time hipster, full-time nerd, classy but sassy, repped by Penny Moore of FinePrint Literary.

ONE: I’m willing to fix pretty much anything except something I feel needs a major overhaul or a complete rewrite.

TWO: I’m great with line edits and story and detail continuity. My game plan would be first round of edits – overall story arc, character arcs, i.e. big things, and then a second round of line edits (if I don’t line edit during the first round)

THREE: There’s too many answers! But as far as my favorite book that has inspired my writing, it would be Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, because it wasn’t until this book that I became desperate to write contemporary, because I love the darker, more emotional contemporary.


Trisha Leaver & Co-Mentor Kelly Calabrese

Trisha Leaver

Twitter Website

Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather disobedient black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life. She writes Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. Her works have been translated in five languages. Her most recent release, THE SECRETS WE KEEP, was named one of the best YA novels for summer by Teen Vogue and received starred reviews from VOYA Magazine and School Library Journal (audio).

Kelly Calabrese

Twitter Website

Kelly Calabrese is a writer, actor, and creative junkie. She’s been a proud member of SCBWI since 2002, serving on the NJ SCBWI Conference Planning Committee and as the Kidlit Social Coordinator. She’s represented by Sarah LaPolla at Bradford Literary Agency. WHOOP!

ONE: We are looking for character-driven, young adult fiction with rich settings and characters who draw you in. We have an affinity for anything psychological based…the more twisted the better! Magical realism, psychological horror, thrillers, emotionally driven contemporary YA and historical fiction…we love them all! Although we love a little romance in our YA, light and fluffy is not the best fit for us.

TWO: This is Trisha’s forth year as a #Pitchwars mentor, Kelly’s second so we’ve had some time to figure out what works and what doesn’t in terms of revisions. Our game plan involves two rounds of edits. First up will be general, over-arching notes to tackle the big picture stuff: pacing, plot holes, character development, dropped threads etc. Once those have been tackled, we will make a second pass through your manuscript, looking for smaller inconsistencies. Our notes will be color coded so you can see who is suggesting what, an as always, we encourage out mentees ONLY to make changes that resonate with them. This is their manuscript, their visions. We are there to guide, support, and cheer you on, not rewrite you story.

THREE for Trisha: Hands down THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy. His ability to intertwine hope and desperation in the same sentence inspires me to dig deeper and writer harder than I ever though I was emotionally capable of.

THREE for Kelly: FAHRENHEIT 451 is a top love of mine. Bradbury’s profound prose, dark suspense, and innovation inspire me to think beyond the ordinary.


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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