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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Marilyn Chin with mentor Joanna Hathaway and M. Lyzabeth McGee with mentor Susan Crispell

Wednesday, 18 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 . . .

Marilyn Chin – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Joanna Hathaway – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Marilyn, why did you choose to submit to Joanna?

I was looking for mentors that fitted my categories – YA fantasy with lots of world-building and elements of steampunk, scifi and a Mad Max-esque, post-apocalyptic setting. I was actually starting to panic because it felt like there didn’t seem to be much call for these genres – or if the mentor wanted one, they didn’t want the other! At that time, Joanna was in a team with Kristen Ciccarelli and when I read what they were looking for, it felt like everything fitted. Plus, it also helped that they had expressed interest earlier in seeing my MS! I feel so extremely lucky to have Jo as my mentor – we click so well and it feels like she knows exactly where I’m coming from in my MS. I feel like I’m in really safe hands with her!

Joanna, why did you choose Marilyn?

Kristen Ciccarelli was originally co-mentoring with me, and we were both captivated by Marilyn’s opening pages! Kristen emailed me and said, “You have to read this one RIGHT NOW.” After Kristen sadly and regretfully dropped out as mentor, I continued reading Marilyn’s manuscript, becoming more and more excited about her characters and world. It’s big! It’s dazzling! The Rascals tug perfectly at your heart strings. I was also smiling non-stop because Marilyn’s lines are just so dang witty and clever! When I asked Marilyn what she felt needed work in the manuscript, the struggles and concerns she shared with me were all things I’ve grappled with in my own writing and storytelling. It felt like a match made in heaven! In short: Marilyn is an incredibly talented writer and I’ve been so thrilled to see her go deeper into her own story and uncover the gems that are already there. She’s a lovely and kind spirit, filled with positive energy. Humble, brave, and ready to work. I adore her!

Marilyn, summarize your book in 3 words.

Scrappy, reckless racers!

Joanna, summarize Marilyn’s book(s) in 3 words.

Apocalyptic Burning Man

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

I grew up in Malaysia, and have lived in Western Australia for well over the last 10 years. When I was a little kid, my parents used to take me and my sister to libraries and rent-a-book stores all the time (did anyone else have those rent-a-book stores? It was like an amazing library/bookstore!!). Reading was always a big thing in my family and I’ve always known since I was a little kid that I wanted to be a writer and have been working on that journey ever since!

I’ve always loved fantasy/scifi stories, adventure stories, and stories about mad characters and strong females which I’m happy to say is pretty much what my MS is all about! I had two cult classics from my childhood which I just couldn’t get out of my head – the Wacky Races cartoon and the Cannonball Run – and I decided to mesh the two into a gritty, fun adventure world. Throw in a dash of Mad Max (hey, you can’t live for over 10 years in Australia without loving Mad Max), a handful of spunky and tenacious characters on a hovership, and a sprinkling of romance – and you have the Scrappy Rascals and the Great Apocalyptic Race!

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

I love going horseback riding when I travel. So far in my life, I’ve galloped through Spain, Jordan, Ireland, Costa Rica, and the Azores. If you know of any other cool or unique horse experiences, please let me know! I’ll add it to my ever growing Horse Holiday Bucket List. 🙂

And next, we have  . . .

M. Lyzabeth McGee – Mentee


Susan Crispell – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Megan, why did you choose to submit to Susan?

First, I loved Susan’s picture. Honestly, she looks so darn friendly! Second, her relatable bio, easy-going voice, and in-depth mentoring/critique style immediately resonated with me. Third, I got to the nitty-gritty details of her story preferences, and that’s when I knew we’d be a good Pitch Wars team:

• The beach (my MS takes place on an island in the Pacific Northwest)
• Food as a theme (my MC is Italian and cooks ALL the Italian things)
• Layered friendships (cross-generational and childhood bff’s)
• Small Town (there’s only one quaint, waterfront town on the island)
• HEA (because, duh)
• Relatable characters in difficult emotional situations (there’s a devastating death and a big inheritance)

And then there were the personal connections, such as our mutual appreciation for good beer, Creative Writing majors, baked goods, and Rainbow Rowell. I just knew that if it weren’t for the fact that we live on opposite sides of the country, we’d kick back at a brewery with a couple pints of saison!

Susan received many brilliant manuscripts, and I’m thrilled and honored that she chose to work with me on mine. I couldn’t be happier with her patient guidance and insightful suggestions. 

Susan, why did you choose Megan?

Megan’s submission had so many things I was looking for: beautiful writing with a killer voice, a whimsical setting, characters I cared for from the very first page, and so much heart. The query for JANE DARLING’S RULES FOR INHERITANCE hooked me with a jump-off-the-page voice and the pages more than delivered. When I finished the first chapter, I was desperate to read more (and so sad when I realized I didn’t have more immediately!). I knew then, it would be in my top picks. But it really came down to me seeing concrete ways to strengthen the story as I read more. I couldn’t stop thinking about this book and what it could be with the right revision. And Megan seemed more than willing to tackle big changes to take this book–and her writing–to the next level.

Megan, summarize your book in 3 words.

Delicious Island Windfall

Susan, summarize Megan’s book in 3 words.

Love. Self-discovery. Rebuilding.

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

In a nutshell, I’m an average gal who writes long stories! I toggle between Women’s Fiction (with a strong romantic element) and Young Adult (both contemporary and fantasy/paranormal). In my pre-kiddo days, I worked as a copywriter for ad agencies. Now, I work as a freelance writer and copy editor. And when I’m not typing, I’m hanging out with my husband and our four kids.

My family settled in the Pacific Northwest back in the 1800s, and this region is as much a part of me as my writing. Most of my stories are based here, and JANE DARLING’S RULES FOR INHERITANCE is no different.

This story takes place on my favorite, local getaway: San Juan Island, a dollop of green in the Salish Sea. Isolated and rough around the edges, the island is a lot like my MC, Serafina (Serie) Little. She loves cooking, cussing, microbrews, and a quiet island life. When her beloved friend and employer, Jane Darling, dies, Serie is devastated, but that sadness quickly turns to shock when she inherits a very large sum of money. This epic windfall comes with time-sensitive strings, and it turns her life upside down. Suddenly, she’s juggling a fling-turned-boyfriend, renewed friendships, a sex life, her best friend’s wedding, a boatload of Italian food, and the construction of her very own B & B. In other words, all the things, all at once.

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

I’m the author of magical Southern fiction, including THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES (Sep 2016) and DREAMING IN CHOCOLATE (Feb 2018). This confession might get me banned from, well, everything writing related, but I hated to read when I was a kid. I was much more into art and listening to music and daydreaming. I didn’t really fall in love with books until in my late teens. And then I only stumbled into writing because I needed another class for my fall semester of sophomore year in college and Intro to Fiction was available. Writing was never part of my plan (working with killer whales was the plan, but that’s a whole other story!) But going to college where I did led me to writing–and to my husband–so there’s definitely a reason why most of my books revolve around fate.

Our mentors’ latest releases…


Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway releasing May 8, 2018

Pre-order on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Powell’s

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.


The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Crispell

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Rachel Monroe, 26, can make wishes come true just by thinking about them. But it’s a gift that has caused more harm than good. And after her mother’s death, which Rachel blames herself for, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown—and her past—behind.

But when Rachel gets stranded in small-town Nowhere, NC—also known as the town of “Lost and Found”—she realizes she can’t escape her past, or her gift. In Nowhere Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who binds the townspeople’s secrets by baking them into pies, and who has an uncanny ability to see exactly what Rachel is trying to hide. She also meets Ashe, Catch’s neighbor with southern charm and a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after.

As she settles into the small town, she hopes her own secrets will stay hidden—especially the one about how she wished her little brother out of existence when they were kids. But starting over is harder than she thought, and when her wish-granting secret is revealed, the town people’s wishes begin popping out of thin air everywhere she goes. Scared the wishes will go wrong like in the past, she tries to ignore them, which only makes the wishes more determined to get her attention. Then when Rachel is forced to confront the truth about her brother, she must accept her magical ability or risk losing those she has come to love—and a chance at happiness—all over again.

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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