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Pitch Wars 2017 Team Interview: Bethany Hensel and her mentor N.K. Traver and Eliza Langhans and her mentor E.B. Wheeler

Friday, 8 September 2017  |  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 on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Bethany Hensel – Mentee

Website | Twitter


N.K. Traver – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Bethany, why did you choose to submit to Nat?

Nat is amazing. As I was reading over all of the wonderful mentor Wish Lists and bios, she was in my top ten, for sure. However, I thought maybe she was looking for a story a bit darker in tone than mine, so I didn’t actually end up submitting to her! Luckily for me, there was a ton of behind the scenes support for my manuscript and it was passed along to several additional mentors, including Nat.

I was ecstatic when I got her email asking for the full. She’s both an author and editor, so I felt like I was getting an incredible double-scoop sundae of awesome. But now, in the midst of working with her, I can honestly say it’s not like getting a double scoop of ice cream at all. It’s like having the whole damn parlor. She is such a champion for books and writers, for my story and for my success. And I’m so grateful she chose me.

Nat, why did you choose Bethany’s manuscript?

The premise of Bethany’s book promised loads of internal conflict, and boy did the pages deliver. Add to that her gorgeous voice, the humor trailed through the book, the tantalizing world of the Jewel Domain and a huge dose of feels, and I was all in. She had me laughing, gasping, tearing up, and wanting to reach through the pages to hug people – her characters really jump off the page, and the struggles they go through parallel a lot of what’s going on in the world right now.

Bethany, summarize your book in 3 words.

Live. Lie. Repeat.

Nat, summarize Bethany’s book in 3 words.

Exhilarating, absorbing, packed with heart

Bethany, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?
The Impostor is a high-stakes, fast-paced mash up of Moulin Rouge, Catch Me If You Can, Anastasia and even a bit of This Is Us. (Think fantasy + clever heists + non-traditional family + so much love and tragedy.)

The story was actually inspired by, of all things, a literary agent’s assistant asking for fairytale remixes. I immediately thought of the Anastasia fairytale (one of my favorites) though instead of a powerful family searching for a lost young girl, I’d have a powerful young girl searching for her lost family. That premise really spoke to me on a personal level because I was adopted as a baby and was asked ad nauseam (still am) how I feel about that and if I’d ever want to find my birth parents. To be honest, I never really thought about it. But suddenly…I couldn’t let go of the question.

And so The Impostor was born! Full of sacrifice and heroism and kissing! And Carys Vaeta was born! A girl who wears glasses and can wield a whip so fierce Catwoman would take a step back. And Leo Vallerin was born! A boy who steals so charmingly you don’t even mind the loss.

I’ve been writing professionally since 2007, where I was the head writer for a Pittsburgh-based magazine called Lux. Since then, I’ve worked with many other publications and I’ve interviewed many artists, actors, writers, musicians, agents, politicians and more. I’m originally from Seoul, South Korea and was adopted at nine months old. My family is huge; I’m one of fourteen (!!) and it’s the greatest blessing of my life. With their continual love and support, I’ve been able to pursue everything I’ve ever been curious about, including animal welfare and environmental studies. The Impostor is my love letter to those things.

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

I am a chocolate connoisseur, prior programmer, and most recently, a mom to a tiny human who I’m certain is part dragon. In addition to being published in 2015, I also edit on the side for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.

And next, we have . . .

Eliza Langhans – Mentee



E.B. Wheeler – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Eliza, why did you choose to submit to Emily?

Charm and Charity
My manuscript is a Pride and Prejudice retelling and Emily said in her bio that she rereads Jane Austen every year. So that was a good start! Even better, she seemed like the perfect combination of laid-back and incredibly knowledgeable. She mentioned being able to ratchet up tensions and help with historical detail, which were exactly the two things I needed. Also, even though she lives in the far-away land of Utah it sounds like we have a lot in common: young kids, living out in the country, a love of Indian food and . . . well, needless to say we both love to read and share a lot of favorite books.

So basically, as soon as I read Emily’s Pitch Wars wishlist I was seized with the conviction that I needed to submit to her and she would absolutely love my book. Of course, I’m seized with convictions like that all the time but for once I was right. And I’m so happy and excited and lucky and, well, you get it! Thanks, Emily, and thanks to everyone who organizes Pitch Wars. It feels wonderful to have your support.

Emily, why did you choose Eliza’s manuscript?

I love retellings that do something unique with the source material, and Eliza did a great job reimagining Pride and Prejudice while staying true to the spirit of Jane Austen’s writing.

Eliza, summarize your book in 3 words.

Kitty Bennet FTW!

Emily, summarize Eliza’s book in 3 words.

Austen fans rejoice

Eliza, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I started this book as a writing exercise — I had this idea that I was going to learn to write by shadowing Jane Austen, in the same way that a painting student might repaint a famous painting. As part of that I came up with a list of “Jane Austen Rules” which I followed obsessively the whole time I was writing. Later when I started on a new project I was like, wait, I don’t have to follow these anymore! But I still do a lot of the time. Jane Austen is a genius!

My reading tastes are pretty eclectic so other favorite authors include folks as far-ranging as Douglas Adams, Barbara Pym, and Hilary Mantel. Some recent favorites are Nathan Hill’s The Nix and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale. The book I’m most looking forward to this fall is Jonathan Stroud’s newest Lockwood and Co., though I expect after I finish I’ll be too terrified to sleep . . . ever again. I’m the director of a small public library, where the highlight of any day is whenever the UPS guy shows up with more books. My favorite way to brainstorm new ideas is to go for long walks in the woods with my puppy-at-heart, and my favorite recreational activity is a dinner party.

Emily tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I’m allergic to chocolate, but I love it and sometimes indulge anyway (followed by a Benadryl chaser to keep the itching to a minimum).

Our mentors’ latest releases . . .

DUPLICITY by N.K. Traver

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Pitched as BREAKING BAD meets THE MATRIX for teens, DUPLICITY follows seventeen-year-old Brandon, a computer expert who hacks bank accounts in his free time, through a downward spiral of events after his mirror reflection starts moving on its own.







I, Joan Pryce, was born to treason. If I did not choose between betraying my country and betraying my conscience, I would betray them both. Just as my father had.






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