Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews
Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project.
Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.
Meet Renée A. Price and her mentors, Erin L. Schneider and Veronica Bartles
Erin L. Schneider (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.
Over the years I’ve loved reading everything from Roald Dahl to John Grisham, but my true love will always be anything Young Adult! Some of my absolute favorite writers include: YA Contemporary authors Jandy Nelson, Sarah Ockler, and Courtney Summers and YA Fantasy authors Leigh Bardugo, Kristin Cashore, and Sarah J. Maas. For my own writing, I’ve tried my hand at a YA fantasy, YA paranormal, and a YA thriller, but it was my YA contemporary, SUMMER OF SLOANE, that landed my agent and eventually my publishing contract with Disney-Hyperion! When I sat down to write SOS, what transpired was something that felt true and real — and for the first time, not just what I thought others would want to read. I love stories that don’t have the shiny red bow / happily-ever-after ending — but instead, show the realistic ups and downs that happen in life. SOS reflects all of this, and while it went through several revisions and I ended up losing some of the darker scenes, I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out!
Veronica Bartles (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.
Mentor #2: Veronica Bartles I read a little bit of everything, but most of all, I love reading light-hearted contemporary MG novels, like YOU’RE INVITED by Jen Malone and Gail Nall, or YA contemporary romance (nothing too dark), like THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING by Rachel Harris, or BRING THE RAIN by Lizzy Charles. And of course, I love a good stack of picture books at bedtime! (No, I don’t have any pre-K children at home. Why do you ask?) I write a little bit of everything as well, and I simply can’t pick a favorite. Sometimes, I get carried away in a fantastic, twisted fairy tale picture book idea, and sometimes I dive back into those high school days with my latest YA project. Only two things are guaranteed, no matter what I’m writing. #1: I will write my first draft in a spiral notebook with one of the fun pencils in the collection I started back in second grade, when I decided I was going to be a famous author one day. And #2: No matter what category I’m writing, and no matter how serious the subject matter, my book will be a light-hearted version of the story. I can’t write dark and serious. Every time I try, the rainbows and bubbles creep in anyway.
Renée A. Price (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! My name is Renée and I write contemporary young adult with cultural references, passionate characters, some tears and lots of kissing. That last part is very important, because I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as too much kissing in life or books. Never! Of course this doesn’t mean I don’t respect and love stories with no kissing. For instance, I’m a huge fan of Gillian Flynn and we can all agree lip-locking isn’t Flynn’s priority when telling a story. But I always end up looking for romance in everything I read and I also make sure it’s there when I write. What can I say? I’m a romance addict. In all honesty, I’m a “feeling” addict. Some of my favorite books have made me cry, laugh, worry about my favorite characters or all the above. I’m always looking for books with characters that refuse to leave me for hours, days or weeks after I’m done reading, and those are the people I want to write too. When I’m drafting or editing, my characters become my best friends. They’re with me every minute of every day. Even when I’m busy at work, they’re still there waiting for my lunch break so I can finally give them enough attention. I know it might be a bit crazy to make them sound like real people living inside my head, but SURPRISE, that’s what they are. At least that’s how I see them. Hopefully, one day they’ll be real to other people, too.
Erin, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
Pitch Wars and everything Brenda has done to bring it to life, is such an incredible opportunity for so many writers — and I’ve loved watching it transpire over the years. I’ve wanted to be a part of this amazing competition for a long time now, so when Brenda approached me with the opportunity to take the place for a mentor that needed to step aside, I jumped all over it — and I couldn’t be happier! What an amazing environment for everyone involved – the writers, the mentors, the agents. Pitch Wars will truly change someone’s life and I’m thrilled to be a part of that!
Veronica, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
Mentor #2: Veronica Bartles I entered the very first Pitch Wars as a potential mentee in 2012, and my hopes were sky-high for the manuscript I was working on at the time. I’d been querying for a while, and most of my rejections were of the highly-encouraging variety (which was wonderful, don’t get me wrong). But without any “this is what didn’t work” feedback, I felt like I would forever be that girl who was *almost* good enough, but not quite. So a chance to work with a mentor to pinpoint the elusive “what went wrong” in my manuscript was too good to pass up. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it in. And ironically, the feedback emails sent by the mentors I’d applied to somehow got lost in cyberspace, so I still felt a little lost. I pored over the #PitchWars Twitter feed and latched on to every single piece of mentor advice that might possibly apply to my manuscript. And then I shoved that ms into the proverbial drawer and wrote something new, following that advice. (That “something new” became my debut novel, TWELVE STEPS, in March 2014.) In 2013 and 2014, I participated again, but this time as a mentor. And not only did I have the privilege of working with some super-amazing mentees and alternates, but I made some of my best friends in the Pitch Wars trenches. Not only are all of the other mentors totally amazing and wonderful, but the mentees (and potential mentees) that I met on Twitter and through email have become my daily support group. So this year, when I thought I wasn’t going to have time to be a mentor, it nearly broke my heart. I kept watching the Twitter feed and the private PW Mentor Facebook group, and chiming in probably more than I should. Because I didn’t want to let go of the chance to make even more amazing Pitch Wars friends this time around. Luckily, things in my life settled down just in time for me to jump in with both feet to join Erin in mentoring Renee’s amazing manuscript.
Renée, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
I finished my final edit right before Pitch Wars, but I knew I still needed help before sending it to agents. I wanted to work with someone who would help me take my story and my writing to the next level. My critique partners are phenomenal (thank you, ladies! I love you!) and they’ve helped me shape this manuscript into what it is now, but I believed some key aspects of the story needed to be further developed. Getting one of the extremely talented writers to mentor me was everything I needed, and choosing only five potential mentors wasn’t an easy task. I honestly believed any of the talented writers volunteering their time and knowledge could help me, so you can only imagine how thrilled I am that both Jennifer and Erin decided to give me a chance. And guess what? Another surprise. Veronica Bartles is joining our team as a co-mentor! So, guys, I’m one of the lucky writers getting two mentors!! And you’re still wondering why I decided to participate, huh?
Erin, what are you most excited for?
I’m so happy to be working with Renee and her story! I love that both of the MC’s in WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN have this deep passion for not only soccer, but for what they believe in. Watching Renee navigate the feedback we’ve given her has also been such a wonderful experience and she hasn’t backed down from any of the challenges we’ve thrown her way! It’s been such a pleasure mentoring Renee — I couldn’t have asked for a better mentee and I can’t wait for the world to read her story!
Veronica, what are you most excited for?
I love the way Renee’s main character is extremely grounded in her faith, without making this “the issue” for the manuscript. I love well-rounded, multi-faceted characters, where things like religion, socio-economic status, and family dynamics make up parts of a whole instead of becoming the entire focus of the novel. I also write about characters with strong faith in non-“Christian fiction” books, so I love seeing other writers who can pull it off. I can’t wait to see how Renee brings her main character’s rich cultural heritage to life in her fabulous book about family and love and reconnecting with long-lost friends at a prestigious Brazilian soccer camp.
Renée, what are you most excited for?
Everything. I want to enjoy every second of this experience. Being a part of Pitch Wars is much more than just a chance to work on this manuscript –don’t get me wrong, making my manuscript shine is already a pretty spectacular opportunity. But I also see this as a way to connect with writers who are going through the same thing as I am, and I have yet to meet a more entertaining, talented and excited group of people. From what I’ve seen so far, we are all willing to work hard to make our mentors proud, but we still want to have fun and support each other while doing it. I’m also extremely excited to get to know and learn from Erin and Veronica. They’re both wonderful writers. Erin’s young adult debut is exactly the kind of book I’d buy, and I can’t wait to read it when it comes out next year. Plus I remember reading about Veronica’s picture book a few months ago and wishing to read her story to my nephew and niece. I can barely believe I have these talented ladies as mentors.
Renée , describe your novel in 3 words.
Funny. Cultural. Heartwarming.
Erin, describe your mentee’s novel in 3 words.
Soccer! Possibilities. Beliefs.
Veronica, describe your mentee’s novel in 3 words.
Soccer. Friends. Promises.
Check Us Out …
Renée A. Price, Mentee
Renée is a lawyer by day. A writer by night (early morning, weekend, lunch break). She writes young adult, new adult, and adult novels. And is a Brazilian always.
Erin L. Schneider, Mentor
Erin is a native to the Pacific Northwest, attended college in Honolulu – and although Hawaiian – should never be allowed on a surfboard. With more than twenty years in corporate merchandising, she’s now a full-time writer living in Seattle with her husband, Neal; their baby boy, Kellan; a rowdy German shepherd named Ronin; and two crazy cats, Ono and Poke. She’s a member of both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and SCBWI, and is also co-founder of the YA Buccaneers. SUMMER OF SLOANE is her debut novel, out May 3, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion. Erin is represented by literary agent Lisa Grubka of Fletcher & Company. Check out her upcoming release …
SUMMER OF SLOANE releases May 3, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion and is available for pre-order:
Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.
These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.
Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.
But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.
Veronica Bartles, Mentor
Veronica grew up in Wyoming and currently lives in Maryland with her husband and children. As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. She uses this insight to write stories about siblings and friends who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy. When Veronica’s not writing or lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, she enjoys creating delicious desserts, exploring new places, and knitting with recycled materials, like plastic grocery bags and old video tapes. TWELVE STEPS is Veronica’s first novel. Her debut picture book, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROGS will be coming in fall 2016 from Balzer & Bray (Harper Collins). Check out Veronica’s book …
Second born does not mean second best.
Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. The only thing Andi’s sure she has going for her is her awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina’s perfect everything else.
When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough, and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and get the guy.
Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks.
Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities. She MUST have more than just great hair, right?
Step 7: Demand attention for more than just the way she screws things up.
When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi realizes that her twelve-step program isn’t working. Her prince isn’t as charming as she’d hoped, and the spotlight she’s been trying to steal isn’t the one she wants.
As Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.