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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Taylor Gates and mentor, Susan Bishop Crispell

Monday, 27 December 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 9, 2021, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2021 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Taylor Gates – Mentee



Susan Bishop Crispell – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Susan, why did you choose Taylor?

I loved Taylor’s book from the initial submission. It had everything I was looking for: humor, romance, beachy setting, killer voice. I saw her aesthetic on Twitter leading up to submissions and thought “if she doesn’t submit this book to me I will cry.” Luckily she did! I fell in love with Summer at Cece’s so quickly and could see exactly where I could help take it to the next level. The writing was already strong and the characters are ones I want to be friends with so I knew I would love working with Taylor and this absolute delight of a book. I laughed out loud–literally–multiple times. It also made me teary and want to hug it at the end. All the best things in a good read for me. And her responses to my initial questions aligned with my vision for revision. Taylor is so willing to learn and takes ideas and runs with them. We’re turning into a great collaborative team and I cannot wait to see where this books goes from here!

Taylor, why did you choose to submit to Susan?

Her “Random Things I Love” section on her wish list truly scared me a little because it felt like she had somehow hacked onto my computer and read Summer at Cece’s! Love of food? Check! Musicians? Check! A sibling relationship, small-town setting, and the beach? Check, check, and check!

She said she was looking for a voice that jumped off the page, which I believe is one of the strengths of my writing. She also mentioned she could offer advice on stakes and consistency — two big things I knew I wanted to improve. (And am actively working on improving during this revision! Particularly the stakes. They’re much higher — and more compelling — now thanks to Susan’s help!)

She has already proven herself to be the perfect match. She knows this book inside and out, and her passion for it is unparalleled. Pitching ideas to make the story even stronger with her has truly been one of the most creatively rewarding experiences of my life. I feel so humbled and grateful for all her support and expertise!

Susan, summarize Taylor’s book in 3 words.

Delightful. Swoony. Heartfelt.

Taylor, summarize your book in 3 words.

Witty. Heartfelt. Authentic.

Susan, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

What don’t you already know? 😉 Here’s something. I’m not one of those write-every-day kind of writers. When I’m writing, I’m all-writing-all the-time. So I tend to put if off as long as possible so I have time to read other books or binge-watch TV shows and, you know, have a life. Otherwise, I’m in work mode and nothing else penetrates. It’s a weird tick I’m trying to balance better, but for now I’m either writing or not writing. There is no in between for me. Ha!

Taylor, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I hope to take my writing to the next level and get it ready for querying. Revising has always felt trickier and less straightforward than plotting and drafting for me, so I would love to learn tips and techniques for implementing notes. I would also love to learn more about the publishing industry as a whole and how to position my work (and myself!) for success along with meeting new friends at a similar place in their careers!

Taylor, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I am an LGBTQ+ creative who has written several screenplays and directed a few short films! This is my first foray into novel writing, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. I’m passionate about using humor and heart to tell relatable and refreshing coming-of-age stories.

My goal, whenever I write anything, is to make people feel less alone. Growing up as a lesbian at a small, Catholic high school, media was crucial for me to understand (and feel comfortable about) who I was. This manuscript is near and dear to my heart, as it shows two young queer women who are not defined by their sexuality or traumas and find a sense of love and healing with each other and their families — both blood-related and chosen.

I often feel that there is a lack of positive familial relationships in the YA genre. While this story is centered around a romance between two teens, having a focus on supportive, multi-dimensional adult characters is important to me, too. Intergenerational relationships can be some of the most important in our lives (they certainly have been in mine!), and I want to explore and celebrate that.

Check out Susan’s upcoming book releasing June 7, 2022, THE HOLLOWAY GIRLS …

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-MillionBook Depository | Indie Bound

As a Holloway girl, this book is your legacy. You must agree to follow the rules, binding both Holloway girls and those you choose to kiss to the luck of the kissing season. Your kissing season will begin with the summer solstice that follows your sixteenth birthday. For that year, everyone you kiss will be granted a stroke of good luck.

During the kissing season, one kiss from Remy or her older sister Maggie will give the boy—or girl—good luck. Or so it has been for all the Holloway girls before. But this year, Remy’s first season, she doesn’t follow the rules, dooming the boy she kisses to bad luck that almost kills him and leaving Remy with a cursed kissing season.

Now Remy is adamant about keeping her lips to herself. But the new boy in town is making it hard to keep her promise. Especially because he seems to really want to get to know her, and isn’t just using her for the Holloway luck. But before she can even think about kissing someone else, she’ll have to find a way to fix the curse, or else her family’s legacy will be tainted forever.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 9-14, 2022. Make sure to stop by then and check out all our mentees’ entries when it opens. 


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