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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Marisa Kanter with mentor Rachel Lynn Solomon and M.D. Thomas with mentor Clarissa Goenawan

Tuesday, 17 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 . . .

Marisa Kanter – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Rachel Lynn Solomon – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Marisa, why did you choose to submit to Rachel?

Honestly, I knew I wanted to work with Rachel as soon as I decided to enter Pitch Wars. Her debut sounds amazing and has been at the top of my to-read list since it was announced! Also, based on following her on twitter and the few interactions we’d had, I’d gotten the sense that we had a lot in common and our personalities would mesh well. So basically, I crossed my fingers and waited for her wish list, hoping it would be compatible with my MS. I’d heard nothing but amazing things about Rachel from CP friends and former mentees—so after confirming that my MS lined up with her interests, I knew I had to submit to her. I’m so glad I did!

Marisa, why did you choose Rachel?

Marisa’s book made me laugh, warmed my heart, and nourished my soul. She has one of the most authentic YA voices I’ve ever read, and the book feels very fresh and modern. Her MC, Halle, is socially anxious and incredibly relatable. Finally, I’ve never seen Judaism in a YA novel that’s so similar to my own upbringing. 

Marisa, summarize your book in 3 words.

Book Nerd Love

Rachel, summarize Marisa’s book(s) in 3 words.

book blogging mayhem

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

I’m a college senior, publishing intern, and chai latte enthusiast. I attend New York University, where I’m pursuing a degree in Media & Communications, with a minor in Creative Writing. I’ve held internships-a-many, including an editorial position at a small publisher in London and a year-long gig at MTV News (before they “pivoted to video”). While at MTV, I covered “buzz-worthy” YA books and had the pleasure of interviewing some of my favorite authors! It was amazing and fulfilling work—but it also confirmed that I didn’t love online journalism as much as I loved working with books and authors. Now, I’m interning in the publicity department at Random House Children’s Books and it’s a perfect fit. When I’m not writing, I’m reading all the YA, attending all the book events, watching Netflix, and exploring my new neighborhood.

I wrote TO BE MISREAD as a love letter to YA and online friendship. Thanks to the internet, I have made lifelong friends and have received so much support over the years, particularly from the YA community—so I really wanted to write a book about the validity of online friendship. It also features #ownvoices Jewish rep, which is really important to me. There aren’t enough Jewish characters and experiences in YA right now, and I’m super hoping that will change!

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

In high school, I sang and played keyboard/guitar in an all-girl band. All of our songs were about my ex-boyfriend. He attended all of our shows. It was awkward.

And next, we have  . . .

M.D. Thomas – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Clarissa Goenawan – Mentor

Website | Twitter

M.D., why did you choose to submit to Clarissa?

The first time I read the list of Adult mentors, I remember being about halfway and starting to worry I’d never find six that were right for me and my book. Then I read Clarissa’s blog post and knew right away she’d be perfect—she had a wishlist with seven points and my book hit five or six of them right on; there were a few books on her favorites list that I really loved; she had three kids like me; her mentorship style was exactly what I was looking for; and to top it off, I felt like I fit her ideal mentee profile.

Clarissa, why did you choose M.D.?

Matt’s thriller novel, ‘The Butterfly Tattoo’, stood out from the close to 150 entries I received. The story grabbed me right from the very first page and didn’t let go all the way until the last page. It has everything I want in a book: an intriguing premise, great writing, and characters I can connect and root for.

In addition, when I sent him some questions, Matt came across as warm and sincere, hardworking, and very easy to work with. We also have similar idea on which areas need more work.

And while this is by no means a requirement, he received a brownie point for being a hands-on father of three. I know first hand how challenging it is to juggle family and writing, especially in the beginning of our career, and I feel a strong desire to help other writing parents.

M.D., summarize your book in 3 words.

hit-and-run, justice, redemption

Clarissa, summarize  ’s book(s) in 3 words.

Family. Revenge. Sacrifice.

M.D., tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I’ve wanted to be a published writer since I was a kid, a dream that has survived earning a Ph.D. in Microbiology, having three children, and deciding to become a stay-at-home dad.

The Butterfly Tattoo is fast-paced and full of suspense, with an action-packed climax. But at its heart, the book is about the terrible decisions otherwise good people will make to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s about a woman involved in a hit-and-run, making her no better than the mother she detests. It’s about a man who’ll betray his profession to take care of his grandparents. It’s about the depths to which a mother and father will sink to gain revenge on the couple who injured their only child. In other words, it’s about people who cross the line and actually act on the worst thoughts that we all have at some point in our lives.

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

I was born and raised in Indonesia, and English wasn’t always my first language. In fact, when I first moved to Singapore in my mid-teens, I struggled with the language. But I work really hard to improve myself, and luckily, I have a few writing friends who help me and support my dream. I’m forever grateful to them.

So if you’re an aspiring writer who writes in a language that’s not your mother tongue, I want you to know that, “Yes, it’s possible.” If you continue to work hard and never give up, there is a very high chance that one day your dreams will come true.

Our mentors’ latest releases…

                                YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE hi-res final-smaller.jpg

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

January 2, 2018, Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse

An ABA Indies Introduce Pick for Winter/Spring 2018

A heartbreaking and lyrical debut novel about twins who navigate first love, their Jewish identity, and opposite results from a genetic test that determines their fate—whether they inherited their mother’s Huntington’s disease.

Preorder on Amazon Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound | Add on Goodreads



Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
“Luminous, sinister, and page-turning all at once. I loved it.”—Kate Hamer, internationally bestselling author of The Girl in the Red Coat and The Doll Funeral

Ren Ishida is nearly done with graduate school when he receives news of his sister, Keiko’s, sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to abandon their family and leave Tokyo for this small town in the first place.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up right where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at the wealthy Mr. Katou’s mansion, in exchange for reading aloud each morning to Katou’s depressed, mute wife. As Ren gets to know the figures in the town, from the mysterious Katou to fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, he replays memories of his childhood with Keiko and finds his dreams haunted by a young girl with pigtails who is desperately trying to tell him something. Struggling to fill the void that Keiko has left behind, Ren realizes that perhaps people don’t change, and if they don’t, he can decipher the identity of his sister’s killer.

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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