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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Aty S. Behsam with mentors Mary Ann Marlowe and Kelli Newby & Bronwyn Deaver with mentors Allison Ziegler and Juliana Brandt

Monday, 25 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 . . .

Aty S. Behsam – Mentee

Website | Twitter


 Mary Ann Marlowe – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Kelli Newby – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Aty, why did you choose to submit to Mary Ann and Kelli?

I looked through the mentors’ bio and bookmarked those who accepted New Adult and Romance. I prioritized the mentors who mentioned LGTB+ themes in their wish list. I found Mary Ann Marlowe and Kelli Newby soon after I started my research. Lucky for me, ‘Coup de Grâce’ fit their wish list, so I stalked— I mean, um, I checked their twitters and I genuinely loved how friendly they are. So when I wrote their names in my notebook, I had the biggest grin on my face. Dream mentors!


Mary Ann and Kelli, why did you choose Aty?

We were both immediately intrigued by the pitch–two men falling in love during a refugee crisis, plus an #ownvoices Iranian MC. We dove into her pages praying her writing would be solid–and it was even better than we could have hoped, combining tense action with moments of serene poetry. We fell hard for her romantic heroes and wanted to make sure her book would get the attention it deserves.

Aty, summarize your book in 3 words.

Love vs. War

Mary Ann and Kelli, summarize Aty’s book(s) in 3 words.

Refugee Love Poetry

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

I’m a twenty-eight year-old writer, artist, and translator/interpreter living in Tehran, Iran. I have a BA in English Translation, and have been writing and drawing/painting all my life. I’ve always wanted to become a writer. I love ‘learning’ more than anything. Ten years ago I taught myself English and started writing English novels. Through my stories I’ve tried to celebrate diversity in different ways; to remind myself that I must see people beyond their race, sexuality, and gender.

We are all stories that matter. Wherever we live, as long as there’s a fixed mindset for race, sexuality, and gender that discriminates variety, we have a problem, and as long as we see the problem, there’s hope for a change.

The world of ‘Coup de Grâce’ is cruel. People are struggling to survive the war. Arash, the main character, isn’t the most hopeful person in these desperate times. He doesn’t believe in miracles, but he does fall in love in a miraculous way. Arash is quiet and stubborn, so it wasn’t easy working with him, but he reminded me the importance of having sharper ears—some stories are not cried, but whispered.


Mary Ann and Kelli, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Mary Ann: I’m a sucker for foreign languages and cultures, and I love to travel above all else. In reading, that translates to wanting to experience the world through the eyes of as many different people as possible. I loved hanging out with Aty’s characters who come from all over the world.

Kelli: I love Romeo and Juliet, which I argue (with anyone who wants to argue about R&J, and some people who don’t) is a story about the senselessness of violence. In that play two kids find a connection that transforms them both, and eventually transforms the people who started the fighting (though it’s too late). Aty’s story also has love blossoming despite–or maybe in spite of–war, but the violence in hers is not theatrical and the lovers are adults, so it packs a power and a beauty that no one is going to disagree with me about (unlike R&J).


And next, we have #TeamBadPrincess . . .

Bronwyn Deaver – Mentee



Allison Ziegler – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Juliana Brandt – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Bronwyn, why did you choose to submit to Allison and Juliana?

Easy question to answer – I adore them both!

I submitted to Juliana last year, and she gave me really helpful feedback on my manuscript and connected me with a CP. I became a devoted fan of hers from then on. She has an incredible heart and editorial brain. I knew with her on my side, my novel could reach its potential, and I would be a better writer.

With Allison, all I needed to do was read her Twitter feed to know she was a good match for me. She’s all about empowerment. She believes in REAL females in children’s literature – girls with torn dresses and baseball bats wearing crowns – hence our team name #TeamBadPrincess. I knew my main character would be safe in her hands.

After reading their wishlist, I crossed my fingers and hoped they would love my manuscript. It took me a few hours to actually believe they had chosen my story when the selections were posted. I feel extremely fortunate to be their mentee!

Allison and Juliana, why did you choose Bronwyn?

Bronwyn’s book stood out for it’s warmth, heart, and ambition. We so wanted to mentor a fantasy writer, and we loved that her world building is grand while remaining very modern. She also writes her characters with unfailing compassion, and that combined with her lovely, effortless prose made her a perfect choice for us!

Bronwyn, summarize your book in 3 words.

Magic. Relationships. Self-acceptance.

Allison and Juliana, summarize Bronwyn’s book(s) in 3 words.

Friendship Betrayal Magical-Auras

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

I work with children and feel blessed to get to see the world through their eyes. They have a knack for seeing magic all around them. I strive to capture that wonderment in my writing.

This manuscript is my heart wrapped into a novel. I wanted to give children a story full of beautiful Wild Magic that mimics their imaginations. My main character can see feelings glow, but has to keep her gift hidden in a world that doesn’t value that part of her. I think a lot of children are feeling similar feelings of rejection about themselves or their families with America’s political climate being the way it is right now.

#TeamBadPrincess is the perfect team for my story because it’s all about a girl getting to decide for herself whether the part of her others reject is something to be ashamed of or if it’s something to be claimed and celebrated.

Allison and Juliana, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Juliana just bought a new white water kayak, and Allison hates being out of doors–but she loves flannel.


Our mentors’ latest releases…

Some Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe


Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed

Suddenly Eden, who’s more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn’t being honest. She can’t bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn

Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.


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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