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Pitch Wars Interview with Jenny Chou and her mentors, Erica M. Chapman and Brenda Drake

Thursday, 15 October 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

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Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews by Marnise Nicole

Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project.

Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.


Meet Erica M. Chapman, Brenda Drake, and Jenny Chou

Team Heist

scare-ica m. chapmanErica M. Chapman (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.

Hi! I’m Erica. I love to read and write YA. I think there’s something so special about that time of life and I love to capture that for readers. As a reader I love that feeling in my stomach when the MC and her LI connect and finally kiss or proclaim their love. No better feeling! My writing style is pretty plantser. I’ve been working hard to get more organized when it comes to writing and have started including a scene chart in my beginning writing process. I was a die-hard pantser and still like to write my first drafts that way, but revision has become a lot more organized for me ;o)

Brenda Drake (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.

This is my blog and I run Pitch Wars, so it feels odd to talk about myself here. Let’s see what else could I add that isn’t already on the blog. Hmmm … I love the color red. I eat way too many Goldfish crackers and drink a ton of coffee. I like to do plot graphs before writing, but I hate outlines. You know, the kind they used to make you do in high school. My brain shuts down when I have to do one. I prefer drawing pretty graphs. Also, I use tiny colorful post-its with dates and number of pages I must write for the day or my world with blow up. I line them up beside my computer and remove each one as I finished the writing for that day. It keeps me on goal, or completely stresses me out when I fall behind. It’s madness.

Jenny ChouJenny Chou (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.

I worked as a bookseller for seventeen years in three different Independent bookshops. Selling books is the best job ever, but we don’t just stand around reading all day! I met with publisher’s sales reps and ordered new books for the following season. Books are ordered about 3-5 months before publication. I also reordered books that sold to restock the store. My last book selling job was part-time because by that point I had two kids. For that job I handled about 100 special orders every week, and also worked on the sales floor hand selling my favorites.

The best part of being a bookseller was all the free ARCs. We had so many stuffed into our back room that you’d have to shift them around to find a space to eat lunch. Paradise, right? When the store went out of business I decided to devote myself to writing full time, but recently I became a lit agency intern, too. I’m having a fabulous time getting to read client manuscripts. I enjoy reading fiction, mostly YA, though I will read the occasional nonfiction title, usually about medicine because that interests me.

I admire Atul Gawande’s work. I read all genres of YA from Fantasy like A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC and Robin LeFever’s HIS FAIR ASSASSIN series to Contemporary titles. Recently I loved SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, MORE HAPPY THAN NOT and LIARS INC.

I also really enjoyed RED RISING, and the sequel, GOLDEN SON, which are great crossover YA/Adult titles. I have never been able to write an outline. I just start writing with Chapter One and let the characters lead me where they will. Often I am surprised by where they end up, and I love that! I do keep an Excel spreadsheet of names, places and other details.

Erica, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?

I love helping writers. That’s really the main reason. I mean when my mentees/alternates have something great happen to them it makes me smile so hard. Because I know (I KNOW) how hard they’ve worked to get there. I know how difficult it can be to get an agent, book deal, whatever the goal, and if I can help another writer achieve any of that, I’m going to be there every step of the way ;o)

Brenda, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?

Well, since I host the contest and I love to mentor. Pitch Wars was something I wanted for writers who needed guidance to get their manuscript the best it could be, and for agents to have manuscripts that not only had polished first chapters, but also that were fully polished throughout the entire work and that they would be eager to offer representation on.

Jenny, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?

I decided to participate in Pitch Wars because I’d had several full requests that ultimately led to rejections, and I knew I needed help ripping my MS apart and stitching it back together.

Erica, what are you most excited for?

I LOVE meeting new people and getting to go on that journey with my (our) mentee. Jenny is such a talented writer and I’m so excited to see where she takes the edits we’ve given her. It’s already a really strong story and we just want to enhance what she already has. I’m also looking forward to the agent round! I think I get just as nervous as the mentees. I see so many familiar names in this year’s list and can’t wait to cheer everyone on ;o)

Brenda, what are you most excited for?

To see how all the mentees in the contest do, as well as Jenny. She’s been working hard and is an amazing writer, so I’m excited to see how her story turns out after all the revisions. I’m excited to see the successes roll in. Every mentee in this contest are kind and I’m just cheering for them. I hope they all realize their dreams. This business is tough, full of highs and lows. I want to celebrate the highs and send out hugs for the lows.

Jenny, what are you most excited for?

I’m most excited to make new writing friends! Also, I can’t wait to see how my MS looks after Brenda and Erica have helped me revise, revise, revise.

Jenny, describe your novel in 3 words.

Heists. Siblings. Liars.

Erica and Brenda, describe your mentee’s novel in 3 words.

Adventure. Mystery. Intrigue.


Check Us Out …

Jenny Chou

Jenny Chou, Mentee


Jenny is YA Writer. Former Indie bookseller. Daydream believer. Still watching the skies for her owl. You can find her on twitter @JennyC2323. She also blogs for Writing The Next Chapter – a collection of writing cartoons. Stop by if you need a laugh!

scare-ica m. chapman

Erica M. Chapman, Mentor

Twitter | Website |

Erica an is a young adult author who writes dark emotional novels with a burst of humor and dry honesty, and lighter contemporaries with smart-ass protagonists. Her first novel, TEACH ME TO FORGET will be published by Merit Press in the Fall of 2016. Her writing is represented by the lovely Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis. She’s a member of SCBWI and a lifetime Lions and Michigan football fan who loves alternative music. In addition to her blog, she contributes posts to the YA Misfits and All The Write Notes. She lives in Michigan where she sits quietly typing her next story on her macbook in a Detroit Lions Snuggie.

Brenda Drake, Mentor


Check out this blog to learn more about Brenda.

Filed: Pitch Wars

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We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

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