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Pitch Wars Interview with Kara McDowell and her mentors, Brenda Drake and Heather Cashman

Tuesday, 1 November 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 . . . 

Kara McDowell

Kara McDowell – Mentee

Twitter | Website

Brenda Drake – Mentor



Heather Cashman – Co-Mentor

Twitter | Website

Kara: Why did you choose to enter Pitch Wars?

Publishing is a very competitive business, which can make it feel isolating and discouraging. Once you’ve been in the query trenches, it can be hard not to feel like you are competing with other writers. When I discovered the PitchWars community on Twitter, I was amazed to find a group of writers that were eager to cheer each other on and help newbies like me through the process. I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I was also eager to gain insight on how to properly revise and edit a manuscript. Before PitchWars, I had been editing my manuscript on my own for several months, and I was desperate for a fresh perspective on how to further tighten it and turn it into the book of my dreams!

Mentors: Why did you choose to mentor in Pitch Wars?

Heather: Brenda and I tend to get into some crazy moods/discussions when talking on the phone. On one such occasion, we noted that everyone needs help, not just those authors who have the best or most finished manuscripts. So the idea of a Scavenger Hunt with winners was hatched. And here we are. We’re so happy to have Kara as the winner of our scavenger hunt prize in the YA category!

Brenda: What Heather said. And mentoring gives me the opportunity to give back to the community that had embraced me when I was a new writer. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from helping others. It’s exciting to see already a good story become great and know that you had a help in it. There are so many reasons it’s hard to list them all. Kara’s story really grabbed my heart and I love it. Being a random pick, we were so thrilled the fates chose her for us!

Kara: Summarize your book in three words.

Fame, Family, Secrets

Mentors: Summarize Kara’s book in three words.

Betrayal, Romance, Discovery

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

I am a writer, a mom, and a YA junkie. I live in Arizona with my husband and our two (soon to be three) little boys. For several years, I wrote about my family on a lifestyle/mommy blog, until one day I asked myself… what if my blog had millions of readers? And what if my babies grew into teenagers and I never stopped writing about them?

I immediately hung up my mommy blogger hat and wrote a YA book instead. (And it was so much more fun!) My manuscript has a hook and a concept that I have yet to see in YA. My main character deals with the realities of growing up with a large social media presence that was crafted by someone else. I think these are topics that are relevant today and will become even more pertinent in coming years.

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

Brenda: I’m more of a goofball than you’d think. I eat way too many Gold Fish crackers. And I never sleep.

Heather: Brenda Drake is my girl crush. 😉


Check out Brenda Drake’s upcoming release . . .

cf_500Cursing Fate

There’s something strange about the Layne sisters, and Wade Diaz wants nothing to do with them. Especially the one who ripped his heart out and set it on fire before tossing it in the garbage several months ago. Iris. He can’t even think her name without unconsciously rubbing the spot in his chest where she left a gaping hole. But now her sisters are claiming some evil spirit is after his soul, and Iris is the only one who can save him. Well, at least his heart would stop hurting, right? Didn’t sound so bad.

Iris Layne has always been the sweet sister. She’s kind to everyone, including her best friend Wade… Until she makes a horrible mistake and breaks his heart. All she wants is to go back to before ‘the dumping’. Of course, Wade would rather see her in hell first. But then Iris touches her sister’s tarot cards and unleashes an evil curse intent on playing a deadly game where no one Iris loves is safe, especially Wade.

How do you convince someone they need your help when you’re the one who hurt them most?


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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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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