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 . . .
Samantha Eldon – Mentee
Kristin Lambert – Mentor
Sasha Peyton Smith – Mentor
Kristin and Sasha, why did you choose Samantha?
Kristin: Samantha’s language is so lush and the fantasy world so complete that it felt like she was weaving a spell around me as I read. I forgot where I was, forgot there was a pandemic happening, just fell into this world and breathlessly followed along on princess Friede’s journey and her growing romance with the mysterious swan-girl in the wood.
Sasha: Samantha’s book manages to be sparkly and dark all at once. It’s both a sweeping fantasy and a very personal portrait of a girl figuring out what it means to be in power. Plus I’m a sucker for a love story, and this book has a great one. Swan Lake has always been my favorite ballet and seeing it re-imagined like this blew my mind.
Sparkly and dark together are always a good aesthetic. OK, Samantha, why did you choose to submit to Kristin and Sasha?
Sasha and Kristin’s enthusiasm is infectious! From the very first email, they were so thrilled about working collaboratively with me on my Swan Lake retelling. I could tell even before the edit letter that they understood what my book was about and knew exactly how to nudge it to make it sing. I also appreciated how much room they’ve given me to come up with my own solutions to trouble spots and incorporate their notes into my own vision—the revised draft still feels very much like *my* book, only better.
Sounds like great teamwork. So, Kristin and Sasha, summarize Samantha’s book in 3 words.
Glittery, dark, romantic
Samantha, summarize your book in 3 words.
Sapphic Swan Lake
Yes, please! OK, Kristin and Sasha, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.
Kristin: I once created a Labyrinth-themed birthday party for my child. My sister and I made an elaborate maze and a goblin army, served peach punch and masquerade mask cookies, and even hired a dude to dress up like the Goblin King.
Sasha: I was The Belk Department Store spokeschild in the late 90s. I remember filming a lot of commercials for pillow pets.
My kinda birthday party! And, Samantha, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
So, there are two things that I know, objectively, make me better at writing: reading a ton, and laser-specific bits of feedback from discerning readers. And it can be really hard to find that second one. I figured that if a mentor selected my book from a huge pile, they would have that perfect advice to improve this book and all of my writing going forward, and I was right! Also, of course, the community has been a blessing too. Everyone says it, but I’ve gotten so much advice, encouragement, and support from my fellow mentees, it’s unreal.
It can’t be said enough – the community is the greatest prize here! Welcome to the Pitch Wars family, Samantha! Now, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?
I’ve recently gotten into rapping as a hobby. I’m terrible at it, I have zero flow, it’s sad, but I’m obsessed with poetry and lyrics. Every time I see words put to rhythm, it’s like how some people feel about computers, I have to tear it apart and see how it works. The other part of it is giving myself permission to enjoy doing something I’m bad at. It’s liberating to suck at things, sometimes!
But on to the book, which doesn’t suck. It’s a retelling of the ballet Swan Lake, which is such a timeless story with beautiful imagery and themes… but the ending always bothered me. The swan dies in the end just because the prince couldn’t tell the difference between her and an OBVIOUSLY different girl? Not cool. So not only did I want to fix that in a retelling, I also wanted to turn it into a f/f love story, a story of self-reclamation for the human princess as well as the swan princess. Also, I wanted to tell a story about all different kinds of girls working towards a common freedom, which I always saw as the heart of the ballet.
Thank you all for taking the time to complete this interview and share a bit about yourselves and your work.
Check out (Mentor name)’s (latest or upcoming) release, TITLE OF BOOK.
Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.
Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?
New Year’s Eve, 1929.
Millie is running the show at the Cloak & Dagger, a swinging speakeasy in the French Quarter, while her aunt is out of town. The new year is just around the corner, and all of New Orleans is out to celebrate, but even wealthy partiers’ diamond earrings can’t outshine the real star of the night: the boy in the red dress. Marion is the club’s star performer and his fans are legion–if mostly underground.
When a young socialite wielding a photograph of Marion starts asking questions, Millie wonders if she’s just another fan. But then her body is found crumpled in the courtyard, dead from an apparent fall off the club’s balcony, and all signs point to Marion as the murderer. Millie knows he’s innocent, but local detectives aren’t so easily convinced.
As she chases clues that lead to cemeteries and dead ends, Millie’s attention is divided between the wry and beautiful Olive, a waitress at the Cloak & Dagger, and Bennie, the charming bootlegger who’s offered to help her solve the case. The clock is ticking for the fugitive Marion, but the truth of who the killer is might be closer than Millie thinks.
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.