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Pitch Wars Interview with Jen DeLuca and Helen Hoang and their mentor, Brighton Walsh

Tuesday, 18 October 2016  |  Posted by Heather Cashman

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 #TeamBrightOnes . . . 

Jen DeLuca

Jen DeLuca – Mentee

Twitter | Website


Helen Hoang

Helen Hoang – Mentee

Twitter | Website


Brighton Walsh – Mentor

Twitter | Website


Mentee Jen De Luca . . .

Jen: Why did you choose Brighton?

So many reasons. When I was checking out potential mentors during the blog hop, her wishlist checked a lot of my boxes (TWSS): stories that take place in the 80s/90s, stories that take place in another country, her fondness for nice guys and tattoos. Secondly, ummm, have you ever interacted with her on Twitter? She’s amazing. When I tweeted out teasers about my story during the pre-submission period, she kept throwing gifs of Flynn Rider at me left and right, so I was pretty sure she at least wanted to take a look. (I take hints well.)

But above all, I was really drawn to her experience as a mentor, and I loved the idea of getting “homework” if I was chosen as a mentee. I’ve been writing for a while, but never really learned much about the “craft” of it until recently. One thing on her bio hit me: she said she knows romance, and she knows how to make them good. This book has been through a few revisions, not quite making it, so I really wanted to know if someone could help me put it over the top.

Brighton: Why did you choose PEACE, LOVE, AND ROCK & ROLL?

I chose Jen because I fell in love with her characters. Nikolai and Miranda haunted me from the first chapter I read. I could not get them out of my head, no matter how many other fantastic manuscripts I read, and no matter that I knew I’d have to war for it. It’s the kind of book I honestly didn’t think I’d pick, but I couldn’t put it down. I wanted funny and light and happy, but instead I got beautiful, soul-wrenching angst and yearning. It was the only manuscript I cried while reading—and I cried multiple times.

Jen: Summarize your book in three words.

Swoony. Sexy. Slavic.

Brighton: Summarize Jen’s book in three words.

Lifetime of yearning

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

I’m a Floridian by way of Virginia, and a paralegal by way of the theatre. I live with my husband and a house full of rescue pets, and when I’m not writing I like to read, knit, take naps, or play Dragon Age: Inquisition for the millionth time.

As far as my MS: I grew up in the 1980s, when the Cold War was coming to an end. As a teenager, I took an intensive Russian language program, where I learned how rock music in the Soviet Union was government controlled, and heard my first album of underground Soviet rock. That led to this story, which I then carried in my head for more than 20 years. When it was finally time to write it down, I thought about close friends who married young, got divorced, and found their happy ever after the second time around. That made me want to give an HEA to characters who were older than the typical romance hero and heroine.


Mentee Helen Hoang . . .

Helen: Why did you choose Brighton Walsh?

In the tense days leading up to the PitchWars submission deadline, one mentor consistently stuck out to me. She wanted to know if we had questions. Could she help clarify anything? She’s written blog posts on basically every imaginable PitchWars topic, but she was also happy to talk. To anyone. After I womanned up and tweeted her, I learned she’d even talk to me. She sent me one of my first GIFs.

Perhaps it was impulsive and unmethodical, but I chose Brighton because I liked her. She’s the kind of person who goes the extra mile to make people feel at ease and help them–precisely the kind of person I want to learn from.

Brighton: Why did you choose SAY EVERYTHING?

I chose Helen for lots of reasons. This book is so fun and funny and unexpected, and the voice is completely fresh. I laughed out loud so many times. Plus, a gender flipped Pretty Woman? How could I say no to that? I’m also very interested in supporting #ownvoices authors. I think the call for diversity is important, and if I’m in a position to help get these important stories in the public eye, I’m going to do so.

Helen: Summarize your book in three words.

Self-acceptance, Strength, Love

Brighton: Summarize Helen’s book in three words.

Unexpected, refreshing comedy

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

I’m that shy girl who never talks. Until I do. And the most shocking, inappropriate things fly from my mouth. Discovering romance novels in middle school did not help with this problem, but it did introduce me to the escape of shedding my awkwardness and walking in someone else’s imaginary shoes. For this manuscript, I did the reverse. I took all the things that I struggle with—my Asperger’s Syndrome, my mixed race, and my personal experiences—and I put them on the page. It is my hope that the representation will give others the courage to live better inside their real shoes.

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

I’m not sure there’s anything people don’t know—I’m not exactly shy. LOL Let’s see…I’ve only been to a handful of concerts in my lifetime, and three of them have been the same artist. I didn’t read my first adult romance novel until I was 29 (and then all hell broke loose). And I worked in lingerie stores for about six years, and I have a 100% success rate of guessing women’s bra sizes. It’s my party trick.


Check out Brighton Walsh’s latest release . . .

Our Love Unhinged

Release date: 08.20.2016
Series:Reluctant Hearts #4
Publisher: Bright Publishing, LLC

Despite everything she thought she knew, Winter fell in love, and she fell hard. Living with the security of Cade’s unconditional devotion for the past two years has been a welcome reprieve from the decades of loneliness that came before him.

So when he pops the question, she says yes. Of course she does. But two years isn’t long in the grand scheme of things, and certainly not enough time to erase the memories of the past.

Sometimes, even the greatest love can’t silence fears.

Our Love Unhinged is the final novella in the Reluctant Hearts series, and is best enjoyed after reading books 1-3 in the series.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks


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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