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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Kristin L. Walters with mentors McKelle George and Heather Cashman & Amanda Donegan with mentors Brenda Drake and Heather Cashman

Monday, 30 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 . . .

Kristin L. Walters – Mentee

Website | Twitter

McKelle George – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Heather Cashman – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Kristin, why did you choose to submit to McKelle and Heather?

McKelle and Heather sounded fabulous and smart, and like they would be interested in my type of story. They’ve been so great, and excellent at noticing all the things I couldn’t step back far enough to see for myself. I LOVE THEM!

McKelle and Heather, why did you choose Kristin?

McKelle: This was an instant hook for me. A 1930s New Orleans SPEAKEASY during the Pansy Craze (drag queens) and THERE’S MURDER? Sign me the hell up, right? Also Kristin nails the historical voice of her mc. Historical is actually really tricky to get right in first person. Either it sounds as if it’s being told through a modern lens–or the historical slang and lines come off slightly false and campy. This feels natural and it’s humorous and sharp. I love the diverse LGBT elements in this book . . . and I may or may not be partial to speakeasies (ahem). I love that Kristin has clearly done her research and wants do justice to something she loves and is passionate about. I’m so excited to see what happens with this one.

Heather: Voice! Her MC had me from the first page. I loved how easy it was to read. She’s already a master at grammar and her characters all have diverse motives and a history woven in skillfully. And I love the early 1900’s setting. The dialogue and character of Millie reminds me so much of my late Gram–a dancer in New Orleans in the the 1930’s who went to a few speakeasies herself and had many friends who struggled with gender issues in the days it was illegal. I fell in love.

Kristin, summarize your book in 3 words.

1930’s Veronica Mars

McKelle and Heather, summarize Kristin’s book in 3 words.

McKelle: Glamour, murder, The Big Easy (Still bad at counting.)

Heather: Finding real family

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

I’ve always loved fiction that took me to another time and place and taught me something about humanity. I am also dangerously obsessed with old newspaper archives and census records. My history geekery extends to old houses, old hats, old clothes, old cars – you know what, just assume if it’s old, I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I’m a Slytherin, a mom of two girls, and a fan of red lipstick, live music (especially if it’s Brandi Carlile or Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires), Pilot G-2 07 pens, and British TV shows about baked goods and/or unusually attractive vicars or time travelers.

My manuscript, THE BOY IN THE RED DRESS, is a Jazz Age Veronica Mars set during the so-called “”Pansy Craze”” of the early 1930’s, when drag queens and kings enjoyed an all-too-brief surge of popularity as nightclub entertainment around the U.S.

When her drag queen best friend is accused of murdering a socialite, seventeen-year-old Millie Coleman searches for the real killer in the seedy underbelly and glittering upper crust of 1931 New Orleans. Street-smart and quick with a convincing lie, Millie teams up with her bootlegger pal (and crush, if she’d ever admit it) to sort out the diamond thieves from the murderers and clear her best friend’s name.

McKelle and Heather, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

McKelle: I once skinny-dipped in the English channel, and I’m fluent in Hungarian.

Heather: I’m old, so I’m hoping that makes me one of the things Kristin loves.

And next, we have  . . .

Amanda Donegan – Mentee


Brenda Drake – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Heather Cashman – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Amanda, why did you choose to submit to Brenda and Heather?

Brenda and Heather were very enthusiastic for Willow Hills and had a perfect a vision for it; for pacing, plot, style, and everything under the sun to make my novel better. Not only are they awesomesauce–and fun–to team up with, but they’re also awesomesauce for allowing a Slytherin into their Ravenclaw ranks. *evil cackle*

I’m excited to see not only how much I learn from this journey, but from how much my novel changes for the better in the process. Brenda and Heather are truly some of the coolest cats around, and I am very positive I am in good hands!

Brenda and Heather, why did you choose Amanda’s WILLOW HILLS?

Heather: The premise! Because Brenda and I took over for Natasha Razi only a few days before the mentee reveal, I didn’t have time to read the full. But I loved the first few chapters, and the idea of a Guardian of Stone wishing she could come to life and feel human emotion juxtaposed with the bipolar spirit she was guarding, who feels so exquisitely, it was too beautiful to pass up. The passages where Amanda uses her own experiences make this novel rich and poignant.

Brenda: I want to ditto everything Heather said. I will add that when we were reading through the submissions, I kept coming back to Willow Hills and bugging Heather about it. I just loved the premise and the voice in the opening chapter. My daughter is bipolar and I thought I’d be a good match for Amanda’s story.

Amanda, summarize your book in 3 words.

Enchanted. Haunted. Cemetery.

Brenda and Heather, summarize Amanda’s book in 3 words.

Deliciously haunting friendship.

Heather: mind at war

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

Willow Hills has always been a story that stuck. Initially, I wrote it for me, to help me through a time when my mental illness was suffocating me. But it grew, and I fell in love with the characters and its themes. And before I knew it, I was writing it seriously. Then, I was hitting ‘send’ on the Pitch Wars submission page.

I’m so happy I’ve gained the courage to talk about it. And I’m so happy I hit ‘send’.

I’ve always wanted to read stories featuring protagonists with bipolar disorder (in my case, rapid cycling)–especially as a teen. Then, I wanted to  write them. I wanted to write stories that proved we could kick butt and be heroes too, which initially led me to Willow Hills!


Our mentors’ latest releases…



Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer.

Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother, John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.



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


We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

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