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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Nicole Magoon and mentor, Sabrina Lotfi and Carrie S. Allen

Tuesday, 19 January 2021  |  Posted by Brenda Drake


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 . . .

Nicole Magoon – Mentee



Sabrina Lotfi

Sabrina Lotfi – Mentor



Carrie S. Allen – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Sabrina and Carrie, why did you choose Nicole?

Carrie: Laugh-out-loud humor, incredible romantic tension, and STEM joy!! Anika’s character arc is a find-your-voice/find-your-power journey and it is SO SATISFYING. I knew from my first read that I would love this manuscript through multiple rounds of edits– and I do! I still laugh out loud and swoon and feel the need to punch bad dudes.

Sabrina: Is it cheating to say EVERYTHING ABOUT SIDEKICK? Because seriously…EVERYTHING. And also because Nicole is an absolute DELIGHT of a human being who just so happens to be one of the funniest writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. She had me laughing at her too-cute-for-words “content warning” in her query, and that was just the beginning of my giggles. But SIDEKICK and Anika, Nicole’s 16-year-old BADASS protagonist, aren’t just funny. Anika is brilliant, and fun, and kind. It’s full of heists, superpowers, an Evil Genius, and is totally STEM-tastic, and omg I can’t even with the swoons. I mean…you’re asking the wrong question here. Who WOULDN’T choose Nicole and SIDEKICK? Agents, editors, readers…I promise you’re going to want to clear your calendars for this one.

Well, you have me wanting to read SIDEKICK. Sounds like a fun read! And Nicole, why did you choose to submit to Sabrina and Carrie?

There were about 80 reasons (which I summarily detailed when they requested my manuscript), but one of the biggest was how much their wishlist overlapped with my manuscript—they wanted YA with feminist themes, humor, romance, tropes, STEM themes, character-based soft Sci-Fi, and joyful ownvoices. So I was like, oh, hi, my book. The other big thing was that Sabrina and Carrie just came across as delightful, thoughtful people. Their enthusiasm and desire to support a mentee shone through their bio pages, and that has subsequently shone through in the care they’ve put into the incredible feedback they’ve given me, as well as every e-mail/message/GIF exchange!

They are so generous! We are lucky to have them as mentors. So Sabrina and Carrie, can you summarize Nicole’s book in 3 words?

Sabrina: Not! Your! Sidekick!

Carrie: My kinda superhero! I wasn’t into superhero stories as a kid or teen. Superheroes were “for boys”– much as I hate that distinction, it is/was a fact of life. This is reflected in Nicole’s brilliant manuscript as well; a boy who OF COURSE deserves to be the superhero and the girl is OF COURSE his spandex-clad sidekick. I’m grateful my own daughters get to have superheroes like Anika!

Nicole, summarize your book in 3 words.

Girl Defeats Boy

I love superhero stories and Anika sounds like an awesome character! Now Sabrina and Carrie, tell us about yourselves. Something we may not already know.

Sabrina: I am a master at fiddling. Not like, with a fiddle…that’d be way too cool. Cross stitch. Crochet. Knitting. Puzzles. If my hands are busy and my mind is engaged, I will SLAY. (Also, yes, I AM your grandmother, thank you for asking.)

Carrie: My superpower is that I can pick the absolute slowest line at the grocery store. By standing in it. Every. Time. But if I could pick my superpower, I’d like to talk to animals. I would totally be Bio Girl, in an environmentally-friendly uniform, kicking poacher butt. Or it would be nice to drink caffeine in the afternoon without being up all night.

Ha! I bet you’d make a cool grandmother, Sabrina. And Carrie, standing in the slowest grocery store line is my superpower too. I’m happy to be your sidekick someday! Now back to Nicole. What do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I hope to polish SIDEKICK, because I’m completely obsessed with it, and I want it to be the best version of itself when I put it in front of agents. I’m also hoping to learn more about how to go through a rapid revision and editing period and strengthen that muscle for the long term. And I want to build my writing community. The people in the PW community (and especially my mentors!) have been incredible so far, and it’s such a gift to have that support and camaraderie in this industry.

The Pitch Wars community is a gift. I’m so happy to hear you’re making connections. And Nicole, can you tell us about yourself? What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I wear many hats! (Except actual hats, because I have naturally curly hair, and ‘curly-haired person who can remove their hat and look not ridiculous’ is a figment of the hat industry’s imagination.) I’m a mom of two tiny humans, who are objectively the best humans. I work in a super corporate job, and I have an MBA, but I’m also an MFA student at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where my creative side gets to breathe. I’m half-Indian Guyanese, half-white American, but I grew up between the US and the UK and have a British husband, so that dual citizenship is a big part of me as well. And I live in LA, but I have an East Coast heart (sorry, LA, it’s not you, it’s me). I’m really into very gooey cheese.

My MS is unique because it’s all about twisted tropes. My hero is the sidekick, not, well, the “hero”. It has the slow-burn romance and the lols and the fun superpowers, but every character twists to be more than they seem, and the story is fundamentally about a girl who must learn to claim her own worth. Despite the incredible advances in feminism that our society has made, there is still so much pressure for women to quiet their power in the face of men, particularly when egos are threatened. I wanted to write a book that breaks that, but in a way that was funny and swoony and full of tropey delights, because that’s what I love to read. I also wanted to give my half-Indian girl protagonist a superhero story arc, because we don’t have THAT many half-Indian female superheroes running around trope canon, and I thought we deserved one.

Ha! Love it all. I’m in the southwest and my extended family is in Massachusetts, so I have an East Coast heart too. I totally get you there. Thank you Sabrina, Carrie, and Nicole for the interview!

Check out Carrie’s latest release, MICHIGAN VS. THE BOYS.

When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it’s time to even the score.

Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls’ hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there’s still one team left in town …

The boys’ team isn’t exactly welcoming, but Michigan’s prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up — even if it means putting her future on the line.

Order Michigan vs. The Boys on Amazon

Order Michigan vs. The Boys on Barnes & Noble

Order at my fave local indie, Tattered Cover

Order on IndieBound

Add Michigan vs. The Boys on goodreads


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.


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