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Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Barb Hopkins and her mentor, Jessica Bayliss

Friday, 22 November 2019  |  Posted by Rochelle Karina


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 starting on February 5, 2020, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2019 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Barb Hopkins – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Jessica Bayliss – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Jessica, why did you choose Barb?

There were several things to love about Barb Hopkin’s MG manuscript, MURPH MEETS A DEMON. First off, her MS has fabulous voice, which is really hard to accomplish. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good demon story, so that was an easy match, but her book also has a lot of fun and humor, and creepy + funny is one of my favorite mash-ups. She managed to capture that feeling you get when watching BUFFY, and her character’s world was just one I enjoyed spending time in. I had no doubts from our interactions that we could totally collaborate. Finally, I had some clear visions of things that would enhance MURPH, and I couldn’t wait to jump in and help make her shine.

Barb, why did you choose to submit to Jessica?

When I read Jessica’s Pitch Wars Blog Hop page, everything clicked. She seemed like the perfect fit for “Murph Meets a Demon” and for me as a writer. What first caught my eye was her response to what a mentee could expect from her: kindness and honesty. That is something I want from from a mentor and something I strive to give as well. I also loved her voice, the comments from previous mentees, and the way she described her process. She specifically said she was interested in upper middle grade, contemporary stories with some thrills, and anything a bit creepy, which defines my story. And demons. She said to bring on the demons, and that was something I definitely had.

Jessica, summarize Barb’s book in 3 words.

Fresh. Demons. Cookies.

Barb, summarize your book in 3 words.

Demons. Friends. Family.

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

I love to sing. I did choir and glee club all through school, and until I started writing more seriously, I was in a community choir. Now, just for fun, I’m trying to teach myself how to do the metal growl. I think I’m scaring my neighbors.

Barb, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

This is my second time entering Pitch Wars and though not selected the first time, it was great meeting other writers and finding critique partners. That positive experience was a catalyst for wanting to submit my middle grade this year. I’m passionate about my book and want it to be the very best it can be when sent out into the world. I believe, with Jessica’s mentorship, and the Pitch Wars community, I can achieve that. I hope to forge friendships with writers, at all stages of their careers, improve my ability to edit/revise, and make my book all I know it can be.

Barb, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?
I have been a freelance writer for several years, writing everything from local radio commercials to product descriptions for national retailers and online content for a range of clients. Freelance has been great, there is always something different, but I love writing for kids and now want to pursue that dream.

I lived in central Illinois for more than 20 years, several of those in and near Normal, which is the town where “Murph Meets a Demon” is set. The town is dear to my heart and I have always wanted to write a story set there. When the first pages of “Murph” developed, I loved the idea of three generations living and working together in Normal while they fought demons.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 5 – 10, 2020, and our next Twitter Pitch Party on #PitMad is December 5, 2019! Want to know more about #PitMad? Go here


Filed: Interviews

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