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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Em Shotwell with mentor Tracey Enerson Wood & Emily J. Taylor with mentors Joan He and Mara Rutherford

Wednesday, 4 October 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 . . .

Em Shotwell – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Tracey Enerson Wood – Mentor

Website | BlogTwitter


Em, why did you choose to submit to Tracey?

So many reasons! Tracey was one of my very top picks. She loves Women’s Fiction, as well as stories that can make your laugh and cry. She also likes strong friendships and stories about families. WORN OUT WISHES has all of these things. Also, some of Tracey’s favorite books are on my own bookshelf, and one of them was even a comp title for my entry!

Tracey, why did you choose Em?

I chose Em because I was immediately captured by the voice in her manuscript. No matter how many other (great!) entries I read, I just kept coming back to hers. Her feisty protagonist stole my heart, and the quirky, dynamic cast of characters kept me hooked. It looks at the question: what if the people you love the most have secrets so large, and a history so notorious, that you have to escape?

Then, through a little bit of twitter chat and stalking, I discovered she was a really hard worker, and even supported a veterans’ organization with her books, just as I will. Karma.

Em, summarize your book in 3 words.

Tasseography & Scrappy Women

Tracey, summarize Em’s book(s) in 3 words.

Overcoming Family History

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

I am a cancer survivor and foster-turned-forever mama. My kids trump everything else in my life. I love doing anything outdoors, as well as reading and playing music with my family. I have a series out via small press and write free-lance for local and online publications.
My book, WORN OUT WISHES, is truly the book of my heart. I love my MC so much, and with Tracey’s eyes and input, it is really turning into something I love even more. The story begins on the day that a single act of violence changes the course of a family’s life forever. My MC, Milly, is tough and is a protector. She doesn’t let her circumstance define her and is fiercely loyal to those few she considers friends.
With hill-billy Aunts who read tea-leaves, a genius little sister, and a Mama in prison for having enough of being a man’s punching bag, Milly’s life has more than a few bumps. As an adult, she feels she finally has things under control, until a late night visitor with an urgent requests sends her back to the past she’s worked so hard to put behind her.

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

I’ve done quite a bit of public speaking, and won first prize in a local Toastmasters International contest. I also started a small business, (interior design) and was a finalist in a business plan contest, so I guess I’m multi-talented.


And next, we have  . . .

Emily J. Taylor – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Joan He – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Mara Rutherford– Mentor

Website | Twitter



Emily,why did you choose to submit to Joan and Mara?

I was looking for mentors who would fall in love with my crazy idea and I found them a thousand times over in Joan and Mara. Specifically, they asked for new worlds and a never-seen-before magic system, so I knew they would perk up at my premise. Then their wishlist read like a checklist for my story. And two mentors for the price of one? Sold! Lastly, and probably most importantly, they seemed like nice people who would be tough on the work, but also a treat to work with. So far, this process has been a lot of work, as well as a total joy, because my story is in their stupid talented, plot-whispery hands.

Joan and Mara, why did you choose Emily?

Emily’s book stood out immediately for both its brilliant concept and gorgeous writing.

Emily, summarize your book in 3 words.

Glamorous. Prison. Elsewhere.

Joan and Mara, summarize  Emily’s book in 3 words.

Magical traveling hotel

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

I’m half-Israeli. My dad’s family lives in Tel-Aviv. I grew up traveling to visit them when I could and never as often as I liked. For better or worse, my family instilled this bug inside me that wouldn’t allow me to stay put. Since then, I’ve lived in countless zip codes across four states and two continents, working as a creative in advertising. Packing and unpacking suitcases became part of my DNA. HOTEL MAGNIFIQUE is inspired by my home-hopping. It’s about the mystery and temptation of seeing the world for the first time, and the dangerous paths it could lead you down. It’s utter wish-fulfillment gone wrong, set against a sweeping and magical backdrop.

Joan and Mara, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Joan: I college counsel high school students because helping them figure out their lives keeps me from stressing over mine.
Mara: I started writing 13 years ago, when my then-fiancé was in flight school in south Texas. I’d just been laid off from my job and I’d already taught myself how to knit, paint, bake, and make beaded flowers. The book was awful, but once I realized I was capable of writing a novel, I never looked back.


Our mentors’ latest releases…

HomeFront Cooking: Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom from American Veterans and Their Loved Ones by Tracey Enerson Wood

(All author profits benefit veterans’ charitable organizations.)


Food brings families and friends together, providing not only nourishment for our bodies, but also the glue that holds our families and society together. It is around the dinner table that we interact and important announcements are made―it was chow time in the foxholes when soldiers came to know each other, forming bonds so strong they would risk their own lives for one another. Remembering the smells and tastes of home support many in difficult times, those memories captured here in photographs and recipes.

Home Front Cooking brings you a collection of treasured family recipes and photographs from military service members past and present, and their loved ones. Recipes are accompanied by brief stories and memories related to the recipe, military service, and/or lifestyle.

The stories range from anecdotes passed down from great-great grandfathers who served in the American Civil War, to tales of terrified family members caught in a foreign country when John F. Kennedy was shot, to the stories of service members serving in Afghanistan and Iraq today. Many are heartwarming, some are humorous, most are bittersweet. All are written with a sense of pride and passion, and offer a glimpse of a lifestyle that is as unique as it is challenging.


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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