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Pitch Wars 2017 Team Interviews: Amelia Coombs and mentor Jeanmarie Anaya & Judith L. Roth and mentor Shari Green

Monday, 11 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 . . .

Amelia Coombs – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Jeanmarie Anaya – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Amelia, why did you choose to submit to Jeanmarie?

Despite agonizing over my mentor picks (multiple spreadsheets were involved) Jeanmarie Anaya, a mentor I didn’t submit to, picked me! There was a lot of “behind the scenes” swapping this year, and as a result, my manuscript landed in Jeanmarie’s inbox. Jeanmarie was on my shortlist of mentor picks, but I was honestly worried my book wasn’t funny enough to fit her wishlist. I was thrilled at this turn of events, and I’m so excited to work with Jeanmarie. Wishlists are a microcosm of interest—you truly never know what’s going to catch a mentor’s eye.

Jeanmarie, why did you choose Amelia’s manuscript?

The voice in Amelia’s manuscript, BIGMOUTH STRIKES AGAIN, grabbed me with the very first sentence. Amelia’s writing has the perfect balance of vivid, lush emotional depth and laugh-out-loud humor. Plus, the concept is unique as hell. The stakes are high. And the hook as a whole just shines, shines, shines. I mean, when was the last time you heard of a book about a teen girl hustling grown-ass men for cash in action bowling games to save her family’s business? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Amelia, summarize your book in 3 words.

vintage hustling queen-pin

Jeanmarie, summarize Amelia’s book in 3 words.

Romantic. Thrilling. Strikes!

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

After college and grad school, I returned to my little hometown in Northern California, less than an hour north of San Francisco. One of my most “”unique”” hobbies is beekeeping. I’m a huge music junkie. (Pertinent fact: I saw Morrissey in concert when I was sixteen.) I’m a “repeat offender” and was a Pitch Wars mentee last year, in 2016.

BIGMOUTH STRIKES AGAIN is a YA Contemporary about a girl who tries saving her family’s business by entering the illegal world of action bowling and hustling. I absolutely love oddities, weird subcultures, and teenagers breaking the law. Set in San Francisco (one of my favorite cities on this planet) BIGMOUTH combines all these elements into one quirky, super-illegal adventure.

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

My family has been in the surf and skate business since the late 1960s. By the time I could read, I could also assemble a skateboard, wax a surfboard, and sell you a wetsuit. In third grade, for Show and Tell, I brought resin and catalyst to school and showed the class how to fix a ding in a surfboard. While other teen girls had posters of Nirvana and Bon Jovi and REM on their bedroom walls, I had surfing posters and autographs from pro surfers. My prized possession is an original Endless Summer movie poster from 1966, signed by surf legend Robert August.


And next, we have . . .

Judith L. Roth – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Shari Green – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Judith, why did you choose to submit to Shari?

She was interested in my genre (realistic contemporary); she liked and wrote verse novels; she seemed like a great person that I could connect with really well.

Shari, why did you choose Judith’s manuscript?

The concept and voice grabbed my attention right away, and when I got my hands on the full manuscript, I read it straight through — couldn’t stop! It didn’t disappoint. So full of heart, with lovely, lyrical writing, and I already had ideas how we could make it stronger. I felt like my strengths were a good fit for this one. After emailing Judy with a few “innocent” questions to suss out her feelings about potential revisions, I was confident she could handle what I was planning to throw at her, lol.

Judith, summarize your book in 3 words.

Grief, Home, Family

Shari, summarize Judith’s book in 3 words.

heart-felt, poignant, poetic

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

I’m a southern California transplant to the Midwest, which is a bit what this story is about. Only I didn’t come here against my will and not until I was grown. Emma is torn from her home because her mother is erratic with grief over her own mother’s death. The story started as a verse picture book, turned into a verse novella, turned again to a longer prose novella. Now Shari is going to help me turn it into back into verse, as a novel-in-verse . There’s a lot of me in this manuscript. Some of the Kentucky part is built from memories of a trip I took with my family when I was eight. Emma’s feelings for her little sister reflect my bond with my little sister. I was fortunate to grow up in a great family and now I have a great family of my own. Maybe that’s why this subject is so important to me. Or maybe because families are complicated and arresting.

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

Years ago, I lived in a tiny community in the far North. Because there weren’t many people, we all pitched in however we could…which is how I came to work as an occasional substitute teacher, despite having no training whatsoever. It was, shall we say, an experience. (Mad props to teachers who do that job for real!!)


Our mentors’ latest releases . . .


Pajama Press | Indiebound | Amazon

. . . is a middle grade novel in verse about a Deaf girl facing many unwanted changes in her life, and the unlikely friendship with her elderly neighbor that may turn out to be exactly what Macy needs to cope with those changes. Also, cookies…it’s about cookies. 🙂

Sixth grade is coming to an end, and so is life as Macy McMillan knows it. Already a “For Sale” sign mars the front lawn of her beloved house. Soon her mother will upend their perfect little family, adding a stepfather and six-year-old twin stepsisters. To add insult to injury, what is Macy’s final sixth grade assignment? A genealogy project. Well, she’ll put it off—just like those wedding centerpieces she’s supposed to be making.

Just when Macy’s mother ought to be understanding, she sends Macy next door to help eighty six-year-old Iris Gillan, who is also getting ready to move—in her case into an assisted living facility. Iris can’t pack a single box on her own and, worse, she doesn’t know sign language. How is Macy supposed to understand her? But Iris has stories to tell, and she isn’t going to let Macy’s deafness stop her. Soon, through notes and books and cookies, a friendship grows. And this friendship, odd and unexpected, may be just what Macy needs to face the changes in her life.

Shari Green, author of Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, writes this summer story with the lightest touch, spinning Macy out of her old story and into a new one full of warmth and promise for the future.

Digital review copies available now on NetGalley!


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1-7, and our next #PitMad is December 1st!



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