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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Anna Collins with mentor Vanessa Carnevale & Emily Paxman with mentor Lianne Oelke

Tuesday, 19 September 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Anna Collins – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Vanessa Carnevale – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Anna, why did you choose to submit to Vanessa?

Why did you choose to submit to your mentor(s) Vanessa Carnevale Oh so many reasons! Vanessa is super engaged in the writing community, hosting writing retreats and podcasts to help writers find their true writer selves. This, in addition to her being published and agented, really spoke to me, and I just knew she’d be able to help me take my writing to the next level. I also got the warm and fuzzies from the tea and jam in her blog header photo, which naturally sealed the deal!

Vanessa, why did you choose Anna’s manuscript?

Anna’s query for THE RELUCTANT TRAVELER, a story about a pregnant woman who takes on her dying mother’s bucket list, piqued my interest right away and the sample pages did not disappoint.

I was utterly drawn in by Anna’s voice and tight writing that immediately gave me a sense of the characters. I was moved to tears one minute and laughing the next. This book kept me up at night and I simply couldn’t stop thinking about it.

As I read through the manuscript I started making lots of notes on how Anna might be able to evolve her story. I felt that there was a lot of potential for her to beautifully balance the emotion and humour to make for a truly memorable and page-turning book club read.

Anna is a supremely talented writer and I’m so honoured to be mentoring her. I love this book, and I can’t wait to see how bright her future becomes!

Anna, summarize your book in 3 words.

Humorous, poignant awakening

Vanessa, summarize Anna’s book in 3 words.

Female relationships. Motherhood. Self-discovery.

Anna, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I was always the most unadventurous of homebodies, yet, after spending my first 20 years as a socially awkward Swedish introvert, I found myself moving internationally three times, marrying an American, and essentially reinventing myself into someone more open to the possibilities of life. I still enjoy couching as much as the next nerd, but, you know, people are all right, too.

Similarly, Kristin, my MC, is 35 and merely going through the motions of life. I’d like to think what makes THE RELUCTANT TRAVELER unique lies in the intersection of humor and sincerity in Kristin’s awakening, and also in the juxtaposition of affection and contention in the mother-daughter relationship portrayed. Profound questions of life and death, love and identity are brought to the surface when Kristin, a bona fide travelphobe and worry wart, tries to complete her dying mother’s bucket list with many stumbles along the way. She also falls for a woman, which adds another layer to her self-discovery.

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

I’m the author of THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE published by MIRA in ANZ and available in the US as an audiobook. My second book, THE MEMORIES THAT MAKE US will be released in ANZ in March 2018. I live in Melbourne, Australia, and when I’m not writing I love to travel.


And next, we have . . .

Emily Paxman – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Lianne Oelke – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Emily, why did you choose to submit to Lianne?

When I was going through the mentor bios, I was looking for two words – FUNNY and CONTEMPORARY. I knew my goofy book needed someone who wanted to laugh more than they wanted to cry. Laura Steven’s wishlist matched my manuscript perfectly, so I submitted to her without realizing she’d stepped down. Lianne took over her inbox, and from the moment she requested my manuscript, I knew I wanted to work with her. She zeroed in on the things that mattered the most to me about my book and plus, she was from Vancouver! I still can’t believe I’m getting the chance to be mentored by a writer who lives so close by, when I’ve struggled for years to get to know my local writing community. While I’m sure I would have loved Laura too, Lianne is a perfect match and I feel so lucky to have her.

Lianne, why did you choose Emily’s manuscript?

Emily writes with incredible voice! I can’t count the number of times I laughed while reading her manuscript. Her supporting characters are also great- fresh, unexpected, and complex.

Emily, summarize your book in 3 words.

madcap diabetic romance

Lianne, summarize Emily’s book in 3 words.

Wingwoman gets guy.

Emily, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I’ve been writing and honing my craft for a number of years now. I completed my MFA in creative writing in 2014 and I’ve been chipping away at new manuscripts since then, always eager to improve.

SWEET PEE focuses on Lizzie Logan, a comics enthusiast/Type 1 Diabetic teen, who finds herself embroiled in a Betty and Veronica style love triangle when she and her best friend both fall for the new guy at school.

Probably the greatest strength I bring to the manuscript is my commitment to the ridiculous. I have a strong belief in the importance of funny stories. So often, humor is what makes it possible for us to swallow the difficulties of life, and I want my book to be a part of that tradition that makes the terrible feel a little more manageable.

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

When I’m not working in the film industry, I love camping, exploring, and hiking in British Columbia (where my mentee also happens to live ;)). Even though I read and write YA contemp, I’ll always be a fantasy girl at heart. Also, I’m a huge cat person.


Our mentors’ latest releases . . .

THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE by Vanessa Carnevale


Young Australian artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. But her battle with the illness has taken its toll, leaving her depressed and tormented by overwhelming fears. What’s more, she can’t seem to paint anymore. Mia needs a fresh start so when a surprise opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself, she takes it. With any luck, this trip will help her find whatever it is she needs to open her heart and start painting again.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic. With his smile, his warmth and his inspirational outlook on all the good things life has to offer, he sweeps her off her feet. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, will a tragedy threaten her new life with Luca?

Full of heart and hope, a love story about la dolce vita in Tuscany.



. . . will be published by Clarion Books on January 9, 2018.

Goodreads | Amazon

Recently expelled from high school, Jane Sinner grudgingly enrolls in community college, a situation made slightly more bearable when she joins a student-run reality show. House of Orange is her chance to start over—and maybe even win a car (used, but whatever)—and no one there knows what she did in high school. What more could she want?
Okay, maybe a family that gets why she’d rather turn to Freud than to Jesus. But she’ll settle for using HOO’s growing fanbase, and whatever Intro to Psych can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!







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