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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Sarah Taylor with mentor Susan Gray Foster and Shelby Mahurin with mentor Jamie Howard

Monday, 23 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 . . .

Sarah Taylor – Mentee


Susan Gray Foster  – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Sarah, why did you choose to submit to Susan?

As I was researching mentors prior to Pitch Wars, I kept returning to Susan’s website and wishlist over and over again. Her editing style resonated strongly with me, and I felt that we might have a similar approach to the writing and revision process. It also didn’t hurt that she’s had lots of experience with the Pitch Wars process as both a mentee and a mentor. I read Susan’s blog posts on writing, stalked her a little on twitter, and then crossed my fingers and toes in hopes that I’d have the opportunity to work with her!

Susan, why did you choose Sarah?

Sarah’s manuscript grabbed me on the very first page, and held me captive right through to the end. Her stellar writing takes readers right inside the main character’s heart so that they feel and experience the story along with her. Also, she actually creates sparks of romance in a scene in which the love interest’s little sister clogs a toilet–that’s talent! I’m honored to work with Sarah.

Sarah, summarize your book in 3 words.

Feminism. First love.

Susan, summarize Sarah’s book in 3 words.

Escape from patriarchy.

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

I’m just a girl from Ohio who often feels compelled to write about fundamentalist religion, patriarchy, and feminism. In my spare time, I love drinking coffee, listening to music, reading, and traveling to new places.

AND THERE WAS LIGHT is about a young woman who decides to go to college even though she has always been taught that higher education isn’t God’s plan for girls. It contains a little bit of sweet, forbidden romance and a lot of true-to-life religious dystopia.

Like my novel’s main character, I was homeschooled and raised in a conservative Christian setting, so I feel that I can approach the characters with nuance and compassion.

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

I studied at University College-London for a year, and returned to London for another year after graduating. London has a very special place in my heart!

And next, we have  . . .

Shelby Mahurin – Mentee


Jamie Howard – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Shelby, why did you choose to submit to Jamie?

I think it was the pictures of her dogs she included in her mentor bio. 😉 I knew we’d connect on a spiritual level because I too am a dog person. What’s more—we’re both photographers! More seriously, though, my manuscript checked many of the boxes on her wish list. Morally gray characters? Check. Twisty, complicated relationships? Check. Unique magic system? Check. Witches? DOUBLE CHECK.

Most importantly, Jamie included this little gem in her bio: “I definitely see the editing process as a collaboration and ongoing discussion. I’ll give you suggestions, probably a lot of them, but ultimately I want to work *with* you to take your book to the next level.” LOVE. This was music to my ears! And I’m pleased to report this is exactly what Jamie has done. It’s been a truly collaborative process working with her, and her suggestions have been pure gold. If you’re reading this and thinking about entering Pitch Wars next year, SUB TO HER. She’s fabulous, and I am beyond honored she believes in me and my little book.

Jamie, why did you choose Shelby?

Shelby’s manuscript, La Dame Blanche, grabbed me right from the start. From the unique magic system, to a subject matter I’d been dying for (witches!!), to the Claire/Jamie style romance–I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Every page I read drew me further in, and I was hooked.

Shelby, summarize your book in 3 words.

Witches. Romance. Sacrifice.

Jamie, summarize Shelby’s book in 3 words.

Forbidden. Magic. Captivating.

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

Ah, this is the million dollar question, isn’t it? At the heart of my manuscript are a witch and witch hunter who fall in love despite a war between their peoples. They’re forced to examine everything in light of that love—who they are, what they believe, and who they will become. This transformation of beliefs through new relationships and experiences has been a personal journey for me. My hometown is incredibly small, rural, and conservative. Things here tend to be black and white. After going away to college, however, I realized there are so many shades of gray in between. That’s what this story explores—those shades of gray. And what better way to explore them than with a forbidden romance? Set within a French-inspired fantasy kingdom, of course. With patisseries and sticky buns and feu follet and magic rings. 😉

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

At one point in my life, I had three heads, thirty fingers and toes, and three heartbeats.


Our mentors’ latest releases…

All the Ways You Saved Me by Jamie Howard

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo

Bianca Easton is the perfect senator’s daughter.

Law school? Check.

Camera-ready smile? Check.

A dull and boring existence? Double check.

But that was before. Before she lost her best and only friend in a tragic accident. Before she found that friend’s unfinished bucket list. Definitely before she turned her life upside-down by deciding to stay in New York for six months to finish it.

It’s while she’s checking off her first item on the list–buy coffee for a stranger–that she meets Ian Mathis. Between the tattoo sleeve curling up his right arm, his guitar-roughened fingertips, and the secrets shadowing his past, he’s a complication Bianca doesn’t need but desperately wants.

With every item they cross off the list together, Bianca uncovers a piece of herself that she’s buried under what’s expected, all the while breaking her own rules by falling hard for Ian. But when her six months run out, Bianca has to decide if she’s willing to risk her empty but picture-perfect life for a chance at real, messy love.

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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