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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Piper Grayson with mentor Sarah Hawthorne and Rachel Simon with mentor Jenny Chou

Thursday, 19 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 . . .

Piper Grayson – Mentee


Sarah Hawthorne – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Piper, why did you choose to submit to Sarah?

I was drawn to Sarah after reading her biker romance series. I connected with her down to earth characters who don’t need a perfect life or a million dollars to fall in love. They make the best of their situations and love finds a way in. Her worlds inspire my writing.

My natural connection to Sarah grew once I reached out to her on Twitter. Our conversation was easy, almost like bursts of brainstorming on random topics. She fed my creative side and understood my sense of humor. When these elements were combined with the respect I have for her as an author, I knew she would be the perfect mentor for me. I am thrilled she picked me.

Sarah, why did you choose Piper?

I loved the voice in the MS.

Piper, summarize your book in 3 words.

Guitarists’ secret rhythm

Sarah, summarize Piper’s book(s) in 3 words.

Fun. Sexy. Saleable.

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

ALMOST ROCKED blends my passion of music and romance novels. The musicians in my story find joy, love, and humor in the small details of life.

Over the past year, two of my favorite musicians have taken their lives, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. In my head, my book hero’s deep, raspy powerhouse of a voice has always been a combination of these artists. Although my inspiration is serious, the tone is heartfelt and light. I hope the memory of these remarkable musicians and the spirit of their music lives on in my words.

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

I love using color coding and highlighters to look at my writing (or my mentees writing!). The colors allow me to see patterns and flow easily. If i have a passage that seems choppy or unstructured, I break out my highlighters to analyze why. I find this tactic especially helpful for sex scenes.

And next, we have  . . .

Rachel Simon – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Jenny Chou – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Rachel, why did you choose to submit to Jenny?

I didn’t actually submit to Jenny, though she was on my short list for our similar taste in books and her desire to see smart characters, but *sigh* we could only submit to a certain amount of mentors. I was passed to Jenny from another mentor I submitted to (thank you to whomever that was!), and I am so, so happy Jenny connected with my book the way she did.

Jenny, why did you choose Rachel?

I fell in love with the voice of Rachel’s main character, Penny, on page one. Penny is very self-aware, funny, and super smart. She’s on the autism spectrum, but that isn’t going to hold her back from going to a top college. She navigates a world that doesn’t always make sense to her, knowing that she is expected to adapt, not the other way around. I was also interested in Rachel’s manuscript as a mom who just sent a daughter off to her freshman year of college. The application process can be brutal, and I appreciated a YA novel that focused on the high expectations placed on high school students. All their lives they have been told “You can do anything” and then suddenly the college of their dreams says…NO. Penny’s senior year challenges will be a very relatable to teens, on the spectrum or not.

Rachel, summarize your book in 3 words.

College expectations. Senior year. Neurodiversity.

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

STEM – College – Neurodiversity

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

I am a graduate student getting two Master’s degrees at once (Library & Information Science…and Children’s Literature). I basically like a good challenge. Oh, and I was born on the first of the month, so I received a “”white rabbit”” item every year for good luck from my godparents as a child. I tossed most of them (after all, how long can pens work for?), but I still get something small in the mail from them that features a white rabbit.

My novel ASTRONOMY IN REVERSE was born from a conversation I had with Katherine Applegate. (pause) Yup. *That* Katherine Applegate. I was telling her that I wanted to see myself and other girls like me in books, but couldn’t find myself. And that I wanted the books to feature learning disabilities without it being the focus. Katherine suggested that I should write it, and I laughed, saying that it was much too personal to write about and I didn’t know where to start.

Flash-forward two years later, and while there are many neurodiverse books I love (Corinne Duyvis’s On the Edge of Gone, Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek, Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy, Rachael Lucas’s The State of Grace, to name a few), I *still* didn’t see me and my friends, who angsted over the college process and rejections. Like my main character, Penny, I was waitlisted/deferred from my top choice. though, eventually, I was accepted there and had a great time. But I remember the in-between — I thought for sure I was going to end up at my second “”choice””, a college my parents thought it would be good for me to apply to, even though I didn’t love it. (A bonus for them: it was 45 minutes from home, so my mom was trying to convince me I could come home and do my laundry.) I remember that I was about to say “”I accept”” to that second choice school when I got notice that I was accepted to my #1, and what a relief that felt like. The college process in senior year is often SUCH A BIG DEAL and we rarely see it in YA.

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

My first choice jobs are Bookseller (check), Writer (check), and Jewel Thief (Not telling), but my next choice is Neurologist because I’m fascinated by the inner-workings of the human brain. Latest release title + description + links (if applicable)

Our mentors’ latest releases…

Rebel Custody Romance Novel Book Cover                                      

REBEL CUSTODY by Sarah Hawthorne


A son in danger

The Demon Horde MC are no strangers to breaking the rules, but making a man pay to get his son back crosses one too many lines for Skeeter. He’ll do anything, including play by the book, if it means bringing his son home. Hiring straight-laced attorney Miriam Englestein is meant to solve his problems, not create new ones. One look at her and his good-guy facade goes out the window. He wants to throw his buttoned-up lawyer onto the back of his bike and make her his. 

A woman at risk

Miri wants nothing to do with the club. Her father may be in their pocket, but she’s on the right side of the law and she intends to stay there. But there’s something about Skeeter’s plea–something about him–she can’t walk away from. While she’s tempted to let him do unspeakably wicked and delicious things to her, she can’t risk her law practice and her heart.

A dangerous deception 

When Miriam agrees to pose as Skeeter’s woman to get details they need for the case, things heat up fast–and it’s not long before the lines blur and they’re both in over their heads[S1] . Lies have a way of coming back to you, and they put everyone at risk. 

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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