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Pitch Wars 2017 Team Interviews: Ellie Firestone and mentor Laurie Dennison & Ellie Luken and mentor Rebecca Schaeffer

Tuesday, 12 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 . . .

Ellie Firestone – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Laurie Dennison – Mentor

Website Twitter


Ellie, why did you choose to submit to Laurie?

I was a TeenPit mentee, so I didn’t get to choose — I simply got assigned to a mentor. Fortunately, Laurie is totally amazing, and I’m so lucky I ended up with her!

Laurie, what do you love about Ellie’s manuscript?

There are so many things that I love about Ellie’s manuscript The Dreamon. I love the main character Lucy’s voice and her quirky sense of humor. I love how quickly Ellie describes a scene to pull the reader into the moment. I love the friendships among characters and the unique touches that make it great for middle grades. Ellie is a talented and dedicated writer with a bright future ahead of her, and she was willing to take big chances with this revision. I am so excited to see them pay off!

Ellie, summarize your book in 3 words.

Nightmares. Lies. Monkeys.

Laurie, summarize Ellie’s book in 3 words.

Dream. Demon. Journey.

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

Well, I’m younger than most of the other mentees (I just turned 17). My age was pretty helpful while writing my book, since it wasn’t that long ago that I was the same age as my characters. As for what makes the story itself unique, I think it’s a combination of various concepts (dreams, demons, gadgets, characters with something to hide, bending reality), along with a quirky MG voice. My mentor has been absolutely amazing about honing all those things into a cohesive story, and I’m so excited to see how everything turns out!

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

I live in a house that was built in 1908 in a small town in north Florida. I watched HGTV all the time before I moved here. After my husband and I completed a major renovation, mostly ourselves, I’ve gotten my fill of sanding and staining floors, patching plaster, and a over a dozen gallons of paint! It’s not as easy as it looks on TV!


Next up is . . .

Ellie Luken – Mentee



Rebecca Schaeffer – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Ellie, why did you choose to submit to Rebecca?

There were a lot of mentors interested in YA Fantasy this year, so it was tough to narrow down! I looked for mentors who seemed like they might be interested in a smaller scale (no sweeping epic here) fantasy with a dark edge. (Although, funny note: I wasn’t completely sure my manuscript would be dark enough for Rebecca!) Mentors who were excited about diversity was a must, since the main character in the manuscript is bisexual. And once I had that list, I looked for mentors whose strengths would match my weaknesses. I hoped for someone who’d be able to help me fix up my character arcs first and foremost, and pump up the worldbuilding second, and Rebecca is all that!

Rebecca, why did you choose Ellie’s manuscript?

Ellie’s book was everything I was looking for in Pitchwars. It was creepy and haunting and gorgeously atmospheric, the writing was top notch and gripped and held me all the way through. And I mean — magic and masks and creepy islands? All with a morally ambiguous con artist main character? Everything about this book felt designed to appeal to me. I loved it! And I knew exactly what it needed to become even better!

Ellie, summarize your book in 3 words.

decaying people-eating magic

Rebecca, summarize Ellie’s book in 3 words.

haunting. masks. magic.

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

I’ve held several different jobs in my few years of working: teacher, receptionist, and am now super proud and excited to be working as a computer systems engineer and representing women in tech. I love travel and adventure and lived abroad for a couple years.

I always prefer reading books with a little darkness and went through a phase as a teen where I’d read nothing but horror. I aim to write YA novels that I think teen-me would’ve enjoyed, so this manuscript hopefully blends my love for horror and fantasy together, with some ambitious, vicious girls who make bold decisions as the main characters.

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

I love masks. I have a mask collection picked up from the various places I travel. Painted wood, molded metal, plaster. Some are creepy and make you shiver and some are so beautiful you can’t stop staring. I hang them all around my room and they watch for intruders and then possess those who dare cross the threshold into my domain. I mean, uh, they look pretty on the walls. Definitely no possession involved. Nope. None at all.


Our mentors’ latest releases…

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer (HMH Fall 2018)

Nita doesn’t murder monsters and sell them online.
Her mother does that.
Nita just dissects and packages their bodies. But when her mother brings a live one home, Nita decides to follow her conscience and help him escape — and ends up sold on the black market in his place.
DEXTER meets THIS SAVAGE SONG in Rebecca Schaeffer’s dark debut, sure to appeal to readers who love morally grey characters, mythical monsters, criminal underworlds, and fast-paced action.



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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