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Pitch Wars 2017 Team Interviews: Anika Fajardo with mentor Jen Vincent & Tera Pruitt, also with mentor Jen Vincent

Monday, 18 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 . . .

Anika Fajardo – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Jen Vincent – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Anika, why did you choose to submit to Jen?

I was looking for mentors who were invested in #ownvoices and that’s how I chose those that I pitched to. Little did I know when I submitted my full manuscript to several of them that a Secret Mentor was lurking. When I first saw the Pitch Wars results, I had to Google Jen Vincent. It turns out that Jen is a perfect match for my novel and I am so lucky to be working with her!

Jen, why did you choose Anika’s manuscript?

I was lucky enough to have two mentees this year! Their manuscripts are so different from each other but I loved the writing in each and I saw how I could be helpful. Anika’s book is close to my heart because I’m Latina and I could relate to her protagonist who lives in the US but loves his family in Columbia. It reminded me of my family in Guatemala and knew it was a book readers need.

After I fell in love with their books, I paid attention to what advice I would give and I felt like their writing, the voice and great description, was there but I saw how I could offer support in thinking about big picture themes, character agency, and overall plot progression. Knowing I loved the books and had a clear vision of how I could help was what made me choose my mentees.

Anika, summarize your book in 3 words.

Pursuit. Family. Identity.

Jen, summarize Anika’s book in 3 words.

My Colombian heart

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

I grew up in Minnesota as an only child with a single mom. But when I was twenty-five, I found out that I had a secret half-brother. And like all the men on the Colombian side of my family, my brother has the same name as my dad (not to mention my great-uncle, cousin, and nephew). It occurred to me that if I had been born a boy, I might have had the same name as my brother.

The idea of siblings with the same name kept nudging me until I had to write the story of Little Eddie and Big Eddie. I’ve always been fascinated by “what-ifs” and this manuscript has given me the opportunity to explore family and identity.

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

I love to make playlists for my books! I have Prince Royce and Camila Cabello on my current playlist as I’m getting ready to dive back into revisions of a YA ms.


And now, we have Jen’s other mentee. . .


Tera Pruitt – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Tera, why did you choose to submit to Jen?

My mentor was a Secret Mentor (which was super sneaky). I remember reading Jen’s bio when Secret Mentors were revealed only a few days before the announcement and thinking, “Wow, she seems amazing.” I found Jen’s blog that describes texts teachers/mentors can use to impact writing, and I really enjoyed it. I was thrilled when mentees were announced and learned she was my mentor!

Jen, why did you choose Tera’s manuscript?

Tera’s main character is hard core but also fun at the same time. She’s a female protagonist who likes clothes and shopping but also is into STEM. There are robots, people!

Tera, summarize your book in 3 words.

Vigilante robot hacker.

Jen, summarize Tera’s book in 3 words.

Buffy meets robots

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

I’m an archaeologist (got the PhD and everything), which usually means I’m your go-to girl for excavations, radiocarbon dating, ancient cities, looted artifacts, diseases unleashed from mummy dust, and shrunken heads…

…except I also have intense passion for all things futuristic, geeky, and speculative. The archaeologist in me is blown away by our high-tech world, which makes me want to dig deeper and find the stories in everyday life.

For example, I started reading about Walt Disney’s original vision for an experimental prototype community of tomorrow (E.P.C.O.T.), and I became obsessed. Instead of the theme park we have today, Disney envisioned a living, breathing city of tomorrow where residents would test out the latest and greatest technology. It was fascinating. I HAD to write a story set in this innovative town.

Meanwhile a friend confided how, when she was a child, her upper-middle class family descended into poverty when her dad lost his job. Incredibly, her parents sold furniture and cut meals to afford their mansion’s mortgage, instructing their kids not to tell anyone and pretend they were still rich. Hungry and angry, my friend became a horrible bully at school. The only reason she wasn’t expelled was because a teacher discovered what was happening and came to her aid.

The day I heard her story, I stumbled across two scientific articles about robots. One described how bots automate thousands of jobs each year and speculated the future impact on families. The second study described how little kids tend to attack and bully robots when their parents aren’t around.

The archaeologist in me was hooked – my brain began putting these orphaned pieces together to form a story, like a broken pot that needed to be whole. My novel EVIE ZIMMER, ROBOT KILLER was born.


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!



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