Have questions about submitting to Pitch Wars or just want to know what it is? Start here!


Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Maria Linn and mentors, Rajani LaRocca and Remy Lai

Thursday, 23 January 2020  |  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 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 . . .

Maria Linn – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Rajani LaRocca – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Remy Lai – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Rajani and Remy, why did you choose Maria?

Rajani: I absolutely love Maria’s writing — the humor, the heart, and the southern sensibility shine throughout her story.

Remy: Maria’s story is fun and has a lot of heart, and also, so many hilarious puns! Her writing is fantastic, and she’s been a joy to work with.

Maria, why did you choose to submit to Rajani and Remy?

I actually won a #MenteesHelpingMentees contest for a critique from Rajani a couple years ago, and my Twitter feed immediately blew up with people telling me how lucky I was. Boy, were they right! Rajani’s editing eye is razor sharp and her feedback was amazingly helpful. On top of that, she was kind, supportive, and encouraging. I knew Remy would be the same way (and she is!). I submitted a different manuscript to Team PITA last year. I wasn’t sure this one fit their wishlist and was absolutely over the moon when they picked me this time!

Rajani and Remy, summarize Maria’s book in 3 words.

Rajani: Beach, Family, Spirits

Remy: Talking hot dog

Maria, summarize your book in 3 words.

Sun, sand, spirits

Rajani and Remy, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Rajani: I grew up in Kentucky and still love Derby Pie.

Remy: I love boba tea minus the boba.

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

Even before I was selected as a mentee, Pitch Wars gave me so much: wonderful critique partners, connection to a community of supportive writers, tons of excellent recommendations for my TBR list. My experience as a mentee has already done two big things I hoped it would: proved to me I can do hard things (spoiler alert: we all can!) and taught me how to identify what works in my writing and what doesn’t without turning it into any kind of emotional judgment. No need to cling to words that don’t serve the story, and no need to beat myself up over my “mistakes.” Writing is rewriting.

Maria, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?

My writing origin story goes way back to when I was a kid, getting creative writing lessons through the mail from my grandmother, who was a well-published short story author. She would urge me to see the stories all around me, but I remember being baffled, thinking my life was way too boring to write about. In hindsight, I can finally see what she meant. Just a few of those unique things made it into my Pitch Wars book, which was inspired by my experiences growing up in the tourist town of Myrtle Beach with my adopted sister who, like my main character’s sister, is Korean.

Check out Rajani’s latest release, MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM.

Available NOW at your local bookstore or from these online booksellers!


Eleven-year-old Mimi dreams of winning a baking competition judged by her celebrity chef idol. But she loses her best helper when her food writer father returns from a business trip mysteriously unable to distinguish between delicious and disgusting. Mimi follows strangely familiar music into the woods behind her house, meets a golden-eyed boy, and bakes with him using exotic ingredients they find in the woods. Then everyone around her suddenly starts acting loopy.

Squabbling sisters, rhyming waitresses, and culinary saboteurs mix up a recipe for mayhem in this Indian-American mashup of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and competitive baking.

★Kirkus, Starred Review
An Indies Introduce Selection for Summer/Fall 2019
A Kids Indie Next Summer 2019 Selection
A Kirkus Best Middle Grade Book of 2019
A 2019 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner
A Mighty Girl Best Book of 2019

Check out Remy’s latest release, PIE IN THE SKY.

PIE IN THE SKY — Henry Holt BYR (Macmillan)
A middle-grade graphic novel/prose hybrid. When Jingwen moves to a new country where everyone speaks English, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. To cope with his loneliness, he sets out to make all the cakes on the menu of the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly died—that is, if Jingwen and his brother can find a way to hide the act from their mother, who has forbidden them from baking while she’s at work.

“A perfect balance of flavors.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A first purchase for all libraries.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“An undeniable sweetness.” —The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books, starred review
“A delight.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review
“Heartbreakingly honest; in equal parts funny and poignant.” —The Horn Book, starred review

Parents Magazine Best Books of 2019
The Horn Book’s Best Books of 2019
Kirkus’s Best Books of 2019
NPR’s Best Books of 2019
Centre for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Books of 2019

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 March 5, 2020! Want to know more about #PitMad? Go here


Filed: Interviews

Comments are closed.
We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

Pitch Wars takes a stand. ANTI-BULLYING. Click here to review our policy

Pitch Wars 2021

Blog Archives

Blog Categories

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.