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Pitch Wars Interview with Erin A. Tidwell and her mentor, Hayley Stone

Monday, 24 October 2016  |  Posted by Nikki Roberti

PW Interviews

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 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . . 


Erin A. Tidwell – Mentee




Hayley Stone – Mentor

Twitter | Website

Erin: Why did you choose Hayley?

It was love at first sight.

I learned about Pitch Wars on a writing forum and I almost didn’t apply. I was in the middle of a different novel and I wasn’t sure I ought to switch projects. Then I came across Hayley’s bio. She had great experience as a writer and an editor. She was humorous but also included some serious warnings about what her mentee was committing to. And her list of wants was a really great match for the novel I was thinking of pitching. I knew immediately that I wanted to work with her.

I did apply to 4 mentors. Hayley wasn’t the only mentor I thought would be a good choice. But I thought she would be the best choice for me and my novel, and I’m delighted that she agreed.

Hayley: Why did you choose Erin?

From the beginning, Erin’s manuscript subverted my expectations at every turn.

The first chapter opens with a familiar character and situation to fantasy readers: an assassin has come to take out a political threat to his employer, an ambitious duke. That was enough to get my attention, but the MC must accomplish this murder in a way that does not threaten the psychology of the duke’s daughter who is present. Along the way, he shows compassion and concern to the servants of the estate, going so far as to give them money and put them out of harm’s way.

Even more, the duke’s daughter, despite her young age, is not an angsty ingénue but a young woman struggling to figure out what she wants, and how to escape what she doesn’t. The end of this chapter concludes in a twist that I did not see coming, and delighted me immensely.

Beyond the manuscript itself, I was impressed by Erin’s reception to my proposed edits (which, among other things, involve adding a second POV), plus her commitment to making her ms the best story it can possibly be. Talent is nothing without a positive attitude and strong work ethic—I’m pleased that my mentee has all three in spades!

Erin: Summarize your book in three words.

Magic, betrayal, trust

Hayley: Summarize Erin’s book in three words.

Spells, politics, family

Erin: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique?

I’m a writer and full-time single parent. I work as a technical writer for a software company, so I make my living as a professional writer of non-fiction. I wrote my first complete novel for NaNoWriMo in 2001 and attended Viable Paradise a couple years later. The height of my career thus far was 2009; also the same year my 2nd child was born. In the five years after that, I lost my job, went to grad school, got divorced, moved, both kids were diagnosed with disabilities (one is on the Autism spectrum), got my dream job in tech writing, and thanks to the younger child, didn’t sleep more than 4 hours in a row for 5 years. I attended my weekly writing group when I could, but I wrote almost nothing.

Last year I just sort of hit a wall. I decided I was going to sign up for NaNoWriMo, and would write 50,000 words in November or kill myself trying. I pulled out a chapter from a novel I’d abandoned a few years before and blasted out an outline. I started writing on November 1 and hadn’t stopped since.

For Pitch Wars, I’m working on a high fantasy novel I wrote before my second child was born. It’s about the evil sorcerer’s head evil minion and what happens to him when the spell that made him utterly, ruthlessly loyal to his master breaks. And it’s about the sorcerer’s daughter– the one the sorcerer planned to use as a pawn in his political machinations– who isn’t nearly as biddable as everyone thought.

Hayley: Tell us about yourself. Something we might not already know.

Hmm. Something you might not know… okay! I’ve been a huge fan of video games ever since I was little, and continue to rely on them for story inspiration even now. Little known fact: most of my novels were conceived in relation to some game or the other.

Machinations, for example, involves a character coming back to life as a clone, an idea I originally became curious about through Commander Shepard’s “resurrection” in Mass Effect 2. A western fantasy that I’m currently seeking publication for was partly inspired by Red Dead Redemption, which was my first introduction to a Western that featured a main character who wasn’t all gunslinging machismo, but rather an honorable family man. And so on.

I remain a strong believer in the capacity of video games to tell stories in ways that are unique and intensely personal due to their interactive nature. BioWare is my favorite gaming company, and in hindsight, I think interacting with their lovingly crafted secondary characters—each with their own backstory, fears, and goals—is how I learned to write fully-realized minor characters who leap off the page.

Check out Hayley Stone’s Machinations series . . .

The machines have risen, but not out of malice. They were simply following a command: to stop the endless wars that have plagued the world throughout history. Their solution was perfectly logical. To end the fighting, they decided to end the human race.

A potent symbol of the resistance, Rhona Long has served on the front lines of the conflict since the first Machinations began—until she is killed during a rescue mission gone wrong. Now Rhona awakens to find herself transported to a new body, complete with her DNA, her personality, even her memories. She is a clone . . . of herself.

Trapped in the shadow of the life she once knew, the reincarnated Rhona must find her place among old friends and newfound enemies—and quickly. For the machines are inching closer to exterminating humans for good. And only Rhona, whoever she is now, can save them.

Machinations | Counterpart


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! And don’t forget to stop by the Agent Showcase starting November 3rd to see how our teams do in the final round.


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