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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Rena Barron and mentors M.K. England and Jamie Pacton & Robin Fritz and mentor Leonie Kelsall

Friday, 20 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 . . .


Rena Barron – Mentee



M.K. England – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Jamie Pacton – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Rena, why did you choose to submit to M.K. and Jamie?

Another pair of mentors passed my manuscript along to M.K. and Jamie. I immediately read their manuscript wishlist when they emailed me. It turns out that we’re into a lot of the same books and have similar revision styles. Their writing strengths complement each other so well, and matched up with areas I wanted to work on within my manuscript. After Jamie and I ended up geeking out over N.K. Jemisin, I knew I had found my dream team.

M.K. and Jamie, why did you choose Rena?

Rena’s pages grabbed us right from the start with her chilling concept and lush prose. She has a unique hook with compelling stakes and horrifying villains that will absolutely grab readers and never let go. She’s a smart, hardworking writer with a whole lot of story to tell, and we’re so excited for this one to get out there.

Rena, summarize your book in 3 words.

Delightfully. Wicked. Witchdoctors.

M.K. and Jamie, summarize Rena’s book in 3 words.

Lush spine-chilling witchiness.

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

When I’m not writing or talking about my stories, I’m living them out in my head. I enjoy hiking, running, traveling, and staying active. I took a French class in the spring and I start another one this fall. I am also not so secretly a wine and cheese aficionado.

Growing up in rural Alabama, “voodoo” was a mystical, dark thing that we all feared. In studying my ancestry, I started to understand not only the origin, but also the cultural significance and richness of West Africa. I became frustrated with it being seen as dark or black magic. I wanted to write a book inspired by West African culture that celebrated its beauty and complexities.

M.K. and Jamie, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

M.K. England: I grew up on the space coast of Florida, and watching space shuttles and rockets go up from my back yard had a HUGE impact on me. I used to design pretend space ships at the kitchen table with my dad, and my childhood reading was almost exclusively nonfiction about space and Star Wars extended universe novels. My sci-fi love runs deep!

Jamie Pacton: I’m the oldest of ten kids and my childhood was basically a Choose-Your-Own Adventure novel! (M.K.: I can only imagine the kind of trouble you could get into! And so many siblings to blame it on, too. :P)

And next, we have  . . .

Robin Fritz – Mentee



Leonie Kelsall – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Robin, why did you choose to submit to Leonie?

I loved that in her “other life” Leonie Kelsall is a professional counselor, and I plan to mine her education and experience for nuggets of living, breathing, writing gold. My manuscript is a romantic comedy, but my main character is dealing with some of the harsher realities of life *insert cheating husband here*. I want my portrayal to be funny, uplifting, bright and sunshiny, but I also want it to feel real, not superficial. I know Lee will help me maintain that sweet balance between humor, romance, sex and life that will help readers relate to, root for, and cheer on my main character, Ro Andrews. Also, I need to add more sizzle and burn, and who better than a fun Aussie author like Lee to help throw a little heat on the old barbie, right? Plus, now I’m a part of #TeamFineWine so enough said. *pulls cork*….*pours a glass*….*pours another glass*….

Leonie, why did you choose Robin?

Robin’s book is laugh-out-loud funny, yet also tells a fantastic story with surprise twists there’s no way the reader could anticipate. I believe humor and story can be incredibly hard to marry together successfully, yet Robin certainly achieves!

Robin, summarize your book in 3 words.

Funny shit happens.

Leonie, summarize Robin’s book in 3 words.

Hilarious and heart-breaking.

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

If Erma Bombeck, David Sedaris and Dave Barry had a torrid three-way affair, the resulting love child would be my manuscript. At least, that’s what I’m going for. And my apologies for the mental image you’re now grappling with. But my personal belief is that, while humor won’t heal all wounds, it sure does get you invited to a lot more parties. And no one likes a whiner.

I majored in journalism decades ago, and have worked as a journalist, speech writer, and freelancer, but primarily for the last 24 years I’ve worked as a full-time financial writer for an investment consulting firm. I’m also adjunct faculty for Indiana University, teaching writing classes at one of its satellite campuses, and I was a contributing editor for a cookbook published in 2015 by HNE Media, The Hoosier Harvest Cookbook, so come see me if you’re into pumpkin fritters and beer bread.

In short, I have decades of non-fiction writing experience (with the exception of my years as a political speech writer, of course ;). My manuscript, Some Assemble Required, is my first full-on foray into fiction. And I’m LOVING the road trip this has become. Pitch Wars is my Route 66, and everyone’s invited to join me on the ride – sexy hitchhikers too…. 😉

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to hop. My edit letter is calling and the MS won’t revise itself. …*tosses glass*…..*tips wine bottle*….

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

Unable to source cows and magic beans, I traded my kids for a menagerie of rabbits, cats, chickens and fish. Well, not exactly, but it’s a long story…

Our mentors’ latest releases…



Pitched as The Breakfast Club meets Firefly, five teenagers who consider themselves to be galactic failures have to use the qualities that flunked them out of Ellis Space Academy to prevent a series of intergalactic attacks.

Publication is planned for fall 2018.





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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