Our mentors are mentoring, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase starting on February 10, 2021, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2020 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.
Next up, we have . . .
Lyz Mancini – Mentee
P. J. Vernon – Mentor
Kelly J. Ford – Mentor
P.J. and Kelly, why did you choose Lyz?
PJ: It was the easiest call in the world for this mentor! Somewhere between her very first words and the end of her very first chapter, I’d fallen hard for her manuscript. No matter where her propulsive voice led, I was down to follow. And holy hell did it take me places. From the high-stakes, trauma-riddled world of a Tent City to the vapid, predatorial waters of LA influencers, Lyz crafted a glittery and palpably dangerous undertow that never lets up. Her protagonist, Gia, drives the narrative engine with the gas floored from start to finish.
Kelly: Lyz’s manuscript has voice for days and a level of specificity (which I’m a huge sucker for) that absorbs the reader in the fictional dream she’s created. I was absolutely mesmerized by her protagonist, the setting, and the situation. I had to have it, and I would have drugged PJ into agreeing with me that this was The One if he hadn’t (thankfully, he did).
This sounds like a wild ride. So, Lyz, why did you choose to submit to P.J. and Kelly?
When I was researching mentors, #KillerQueers Kelly and PJ just felt like the total package — I think they asked for something “twisty as fuck,” and I said aloud “ME.” Then I read their books and stalked their Twitters and had a feeling we would connect, and that they’d each bring different aspects of expertise to my book — Kelly with her gorgeous emotion-packed prose and PJ with his nail-biting, fresh as hell plots. I still can’t believe how lucky I am that they chose to work with me.
It’s so awesome when teams just click. OK, P.J. and Kelly, summarize Lyz’s book in 3 words.
PJ: Glitter. Syringes. Piranhas.
Kelly: Drugs! Glam! Danger!
Lyz, summarize your book in 3 words.
Drugs. Glitter. Secrets.
Glitter and glam, I’m so down! Now, P.J. and Kelly, tell us about yourselves. Something we may not already know.
PJ: I would commit murder if Sally Field asked me to.
Kelly: My naturally low singing range affects and upsets small children and animals.
Good thing Sally Field is too sweet for that? And, Lyz, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
My biggest dream (that I only allowed myself to take seriously a few years ago), is to write books and be surrounded by writers. Pitch Wars is truly this supportive and creative community that I feel incredibly lucky to have a part of. And to have two writers help me make my story the best it can be?!? Having Kelly and PJ cheer me on, share feedback and thoughts and ideas, give me pep talks, and help me dive back into the world of my story feeling ready to take it to the next level — has been just an incredible experience. I hope to annoy them about my writing for many years to come, and cheer on their successes.
Love to see that dream come true, Lyz. Now, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?
WHAT’S BETTER THAN GARBAGE is an amalgamation of so many things I am obsessed with — subcultures and fandom has always fascinated me, so my book has YouTube content houses, cam girls, beauty bloggers, and musicians in Los Angeles — and then Tent City gutter punk runaways, all while dealing with addiction, codependency, and recovery. I’m a beauty copywriter by day, so there are also a lot of good makeup looks and outfits. I want to write thoughtful, educated stories about addiction, sexual fluidity, and the search to find your place in the world — but with glitter and snark and razor-sharp eyeliner. PJ called my MS “sour candy and Skittles crushed and smashed,” and…yes, that.
Yep, it sounds like a wild ride for sure! Welcome to the Pitch Wars family. And thank you all for letting us get to know you a little bit.
Check out the upcoming release from P.J. and Kelly’s latest.
BATH HAUS by P.J. Vernon
Bath Haus follows a young gay man in a perfect marriage who will do anything to keep a dangerous indiscretion from his loving husband.
Oliver Park, a young recovering addict from Indiana, finally has everything he ever wanted: sobriety and a loving, wealthy partner in Nathan, a prominent DC trauma surgeon. Despite their difference in age and disparate backgrounds, they’ve made a perfect life together. With everything to lose, Oliver shouldn’t be visiting Haus, a gay bathhouse. But through the entrance he goes, and it’s a line crossed. Inside, he follows a man into a private room, and it’s the final line. Whatever happens next, Nathan can never know. But then, everything goes wrong, terribly wrong, and Oliver barely escapes with his life.
He races home in full-blown terror as the hand-shaped bruise grows dark on his neck. The truth will destroy Nathan and everything they have together, so Oliver does the thing he used to do so well: he lies.
What follows is a classic runaway-train narrative, full of the exquisite escalations, edge-of-your-seat thrills, and oh-my-god twists. P. J. Vernon’s Bath Haus is a scintillating thriller with an emotional punch, perfect for readers curious for their next must-read novel.
Coming June 2021 – Indiebound
From a compelling new voice in LGBTQ and Southern fiction, a gripping tale of crime and desire amid small-town America’s meth epidemic.
This was Drear’s Bluff. Nothing bad happened here. People didn’t disappear.
College was supposed to be an escape for Emily Skinner. But after failing out of school, she’s left with no choice but to return to her small Arkansas hometown, a place run on gossip and good Christian values.
She’s not alone. Emily’s former best friend—and childhood crush—Jody Monroe is back with a baby. Emily can’t resist the opportunity to reconnect, despite the uncomfortable way things ended between them and her mom’s disapproval of their friendship. When Emily stumbles upon a meth lab on Jody’s property, she realizes just how far they’ve both fallen.
Emily intends to keep her distance from Jody, but when she’s kicked out of her house with no money and nowhere to go, a paying job as Jody’s live-in babysitter is hard to pass up. As they grow closer, Emily glimpses a future for the first time since coming home. She dismisses her worries; after all, Jody is a single mom. The meth lab is a means to an end. And besides, for Emily, Jody is the real drug.
But when Jody’s business partner goes missing, and the lies begin to pile up, Emily will learn just how far Jody is willing to go to save her own skin—and how much Emily herself has risked for the love of someone who may never truly love her back.
Echoing the work of authors like Daniel Woodrell and Sarah Waters, Cottonmouths is an unflinching story about the ways in which the past pulls us back . . . despite our best efforts to leave it behind.
Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 10-15, 2021. Make sure to stop by then and check out all our mentees’ entries when it opens.