Pitch Wars 2017: Adult Mentor Spotlights (Part 3)
We’re so grateful for our Pitch Wars mentors! They give so much to help other authors succeed, and we couldn’t have Pitch Wars without them. So please help me in thanking the mentors for all they do via twitter, the comments, or on the Pitchwars Proboards.
Pitch Wars 2017 ADULT/NEW ADULT Mentors
Co-Mentors Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla
Heather Van Fleet
Heather Van Fleet is stay-at-home-mom turned book boyfriend connoisseur. She’s a wife to her high school sweetheart and a mom to three little girls, along with her crazy Goldendoodle. In her spare time, you will always be able to find her with her head buried in her Kindle, guzzling down copious amounts of coffee.
Heather graduated from Black Hawk College in 2003 with an associate degree. She has been working in the publishing industry for over five years as author, editor, and agent intern. She’s represented by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary.
Reckless Hearts by Heather Van Fleet
“Sweet, funny, romantic and oh so very sexy! Prepare to swoon mightily.” –SAWYER BENNETT, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Cold Fury Hockey series
Between boot camp and two TOD’s in Iraq, my buddies Max, Gavin and me have been through some serious hell. So the last thing I ever expected was to find the biggest challenge of my life back home.
My girlfriend died. I couldn’t even attend her funeral, let alone tell her goodbye or that I’m sorry I wasn’t there like I should’ve been.
But she left me a gift. The best and scariest one I could’ve ever asked for. One I didn’t think I could handle…until the day I saw her tiny blues looking up at me in that airport. Chloe.
Now here I am, raising my baby girl-with the help of my two best friends. Things couldn’t be better. Until she walked into my life.
All I wanted was a nanny. Someone to take care of my girl when I couldn’t. What I didn’t count on was Addison, the brown-eyed temptress with a body of sin, and everything I didn’t need, but suddenly wanted.
Jessica Calla is a contemporary romance, new adult, and women’s fiction author who moonlights during the day as an attorney. If she’s not writing, lawyering, or parenting, you’ll most likely find her at the movies, scrolling through her Twitter feed, or gulping down various forms of caffeine (sometimes all three at once). She is a member of Romance Writers of America, involved in the Contemporary, Young Adult, and New Jersey Chapters, and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. A Jersey girl through and through, Jessica resides in the central part of the state with her husband, two sons, and dog.
SHE WANTS IT ALL (Book 3, Sheridan Hall Series) by JessicaCalla
Happy to sing cover songs with his band and float through New Jersey University with little to no effort, Dave Novak spends the first week of college partying. Then he meets Maggie Patrinski. Performing on stage in front of hundreds is easy for Dave, but the mere thought of Maggie sends his heart racing and turns him into a bumbling idiot. Even so, he can’t get her out of his mind.
Maggie’s not exactly thrilled when her roommate sets her up with Second Floor Dave, the hottie with a reputation. Not only has she just had her heart broken, but she’s vying for a competitive summer internship and studying to become a vet. She doesn’t have time for guys and isn’t interested in falling in love, especially when she may be moving across the country for the summer.
But as Maggie gets to know Dave, his charm wins her over and she falls hard and fast. The problem? Maggie has goals, Dave doesn’t. Maggie studies, Dave doesn’t. Maggie wants it all, Dave only wants her. With their summer plans up in the air and past mistakes creeping back into their lives, their future together is uncertain. The only thing they’re sure of is that when they’re together, they’re better.
Co-Mentors Jami Nord and K.T. Hanna
Jami Nord is frequently accused of having a TARDIS, because she gets so much done. Between a day job as a phone monkey, freelance editing at Chimeraediting.com, and the rest of life, she’s really just an expert at time management, hyper organized, and a very fast reader. She grew up reading mountains of scifi and fantasy, cut her professional chops on romance novels, and has a weak spot for GLBT*, disabled, and racially/ethnically diverse characters told with enrapturing style, where their identities are part of who they are, not just a plot thread. Someday, she’ll become an agent, or an editor, and help make dreams come true. In the meantime, she’ll settle for trying to make the industry just a bit more transparent, or at least her tiny corner of it. She tweets at @JamiNord and blogs at jaminord.wordpress.com. She lives in Philadelphia, having finally escaped the clutches of south Texas, though she still favors margaritas and good queso. #Pitchmadness reader and industry advisor, #pitchwars mentor to several wonderful writers, and former intern.
KT Hanna has a love for words so extreme, a single word can spark entire worlds.
Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically out to kill you.
When she’s not writing, she freelance edits for Chimera Editing, plays computer games, and chases her daughter, husband, corgi, and cat. No, she doesn’t sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, and beef jerky.
Parasite (The Domino Project, Book 2) by K.T. Hanna
With the Damascus closing in on the Exiled, Sai and Dom must put their grief and inner demons aside as they rush to free the people of the Protected Conglomerate from the influence of the psionic grid.
Chipped and placed under house arrest with a guard, Bastian’s only hope lies in reaching his core to disrupt Deign’s ruthless plan.
Intent on putting a stop to the Damascus and the GNW’s reign, Dom discovers the true extent of the parasite within. Just when Sai thinks the Exiled have a chance, their greatest weapon turns on them.
Jennifer Blackwood is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and poorly behaved black lab puppy. When not chasing after her toddler, you can find her binging on episodes of Gilmore Girls and Supernatural, and locking herself in her office to write.
The Rule Maker by Jennifer Blackwood
Laura Brown lives in Massachusetts with her quirky abnormal family, consisting of her husband, young son, and three cats. Hearing loss is a big part of who she is, from her own Hard of Hearing ears, to the characters she creates. She’s represented by Rachel Brooks of L. Perkins Agency. Her NA, SIGNS OF ATTRACTION, released by Avon in June of 2016.
FRIEND (with benefits) ZONE by Laura Brown
I’m ridiculously attracted to my best friend.
Today is a bad day. The worst actually. After dealing with the constant manhandling that comes with being a cocktail waitress at a dive bar and surviving a date from hell, I see an eviction notice slapped on the door of my sketchy basement apartment. Great.
When my best friend Devon shows up at my door and uses his stubborn charm (emphasis on stubborn) to get me to move in with him, I give in. We’ve had about a million sleepovers since we met in the kindergarten Deaf program, but this time it’s different because I can’t stop thinking about his hard body covering mine, every single night.
I know Devon would do anything for me, but I’m afraid what I want to happen will ruin our friendship forever. And the more time we spend together in close quarters, the harder it’ll be to resist the spark of attraction I’ve always felt. But maybe it’s possible to have the best of both worlds: keep the one relationship I can’t live without and indulge in an attraction I can’t deny.
I guess the only thing we can do is try…
Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off: AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, the first book in the REALITY STAR series, is coming from Kensington’s Lyrical Press in March 2017. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.
Some of Laura’s favorite things include goat cheese, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, the Oxford comma, and ice cream. Not all together. The best place to find her is usually on Twitter, where she spends far too much time tweeting about writing, Canadian chocolate, and reality TV. Follow her @LH_Writes.
Laura is represented by Michelle Richter at Fuse Literary.
America’s Next Reality Star by Laura Heffernan
SEEKING THE SMART ONE
Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.
Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .
Co-Mentors Layla Reyne & Victoria De La O
2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs. Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its San Francisco, Kiss of Death, and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. She is represented by Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency.
Cask Strength by Layla Reyne
Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.
Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer’s radar. They’re assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie’s home state, where Jamie’s past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.
As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner’s world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.
Victoria De La O
Victoria De La O is the 2017 RITA®-nominated author of the Tell Me romance trilogy, including Tell Me How This Ends. A California native, she spends time hanging out with her family, arguing about films, and practicing Wonder Woman spins.But mostly, she enjoys making her readers cry. Victoria belongs to the Silicon Valley Romance Writers of America chapter and is represented by Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency.
Tell Me Not to Go by Victoria De La O
Jeff Price is tired of being dependable. Suffering from long-term relationship burnout, he leaves his life in Utah to start over in California. And runs smack dab into Samantha Cavallo, his sister’s fiery best friend.
Sam wants nothing to do with love. She’s leaving for med school in a few months, and her last relationship could optimistically be called a catastrophe. A man–especially the kind she usually ends up with–will only slow her down.
But the fierce attraction between Jeff and Sam is crumbling their determination to stay single. The answer is simple: a ninety-day, no-strings-attached affair to get each other out of their systems without risking their hearts.
Except Jeff might be the solid foundation Sam’s never had. And she’s the breath of fresh air he’s always needed.
What can possibly go wrong for two people determined not to fall in love?
Co-Mentors, Kelli Newby and Mary Ann Marlowe
By day, Kelli works as a part-time English Professor, teaching composition, dramatic lit, fantasy lit, and fantasy writing. By night, she writes novels, though she’s occasionally waylaid by bouts of theatre.
She has an MFA in fiction from Bennington and have been published in The Mind’s Eye (Spring 2006 and 2015). Her short plays have been produced by Main Street Stage in North Adams, Massachusetts; Berkshire Theatre Festival’s Late Night Story Time; and WAM/MOPCO’s 24 Hour Theatre Project. She also works as a playwright for Barrington Stage’s Playwright Mentoring Project.
Her novel EX, EX, OH (recently retitled to THE GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO FANTASY AND ADVENTURE) is a finalist in the Joyce Henderson RWA Contest and was chosen for #PitchWars 2016. Other 2016 accomplishments include her contemporary romance MOUNTING THE MARQUIS winning Fire and Ice and finaling for The Molly.
Mary Ann Marlowe
Mary Ann lives in central Virginia where she works as a computer programmer/DBA. She spent ten years as a university-level French professor, and her resume includes stints as an au pair in Calais, a hotel intern in Paris, a German tutor, a college radio disc jockey, and a webmaster for several online musician fandoms. She has lived in twelve states and three countries and loves to travel.
Some Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe
In this sparkling debut novel, Mary Ann Marlowe introduces a hapless scientist who’s swept off her feet by a rock star—but is it love or just a chemical reaction?…Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed
Suddenly Eden, who’s more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn’t being honest. She can’t bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn
Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.
USA TODAY bestselling author Melissa West writes heartfelt Southern romance and teen sci-fi romance, all with lots of kissing. Because who doesn’t like kissing? She lives outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.
CHASING LOVE by Melissa West
Farming family land on sunny Crestler’s Key, the sweet, sexy Littleton brothers are notorious bachelors. But all that will change when the right woman comes along . . .
There aren’t many things Charlie Littleton values more than his lifelong friendship with his buddy Lucas, currently home from a tour in Iraq. But when he discovers that Lucas’s younger sister, Lila, is back to assist the town’s overburdened veterinarian, Charlie is torn. She’s no longer the skinny, awkward kid he remembers, but a gorgeous woman—one Lucas would never approve of him dating. When Lucas asks him to watch out for Lila when he’s called to duty again, Charlie can’t say no—but he can’t pretend it’s easy to ignore his feelings either.
As a teen, Lila crushed on Charlie—hard—and the man he’s grown up to be is even more wonderful than she dreamed. Relationships are a tricky business, though, and too much history is at stake to risk one now. But every moment they’re together is heated by their simmering attraction—and one day an impulsive kiss leads to much more. What’s tangled in a matter of loyalty soon becomes a question of the kind of love worth chasing . . .
Sandi Ward grew up in Manchester-by-the-sea, Massachusetts. She went to Tufts University, and then received her MA in Creative Writing at New York University. She is an advertising copywriter and lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband, teenagers, dog and a big black cat named Winnie.
Sandi is represented by Stacy Testa of Writers House.
THE ASTONISHING THING by Sandi Ward
In her inventive, sometimes bittersweet, ultimately uplifting debut, Sandi Ward draws readers into one extraordinary cat’s quest to make sense of her world, illuminating the limits and mysterious depths of love . . .
Pet owners know that a cat’s loyalty is not easily earned. Boo, a resourceful young feline with a keen eye and inquiring mind, has nonetheless grown intensely devoted to her human companion, Carrie. Several days ago, Carrie—or Mother, as Boo calls her—suddenly went away, leaving her family, including Boo, in disarray. Carrie’s husband, Tommy, is distant and distracted even as he does his best to care for Boo’s human siblings, especially baby Finn.
Boo worries about who will fill her food dish, and provide a warm lap to nestle into. More pressing still, she’s trying to uncover the complicated truth about why Carrie left. Though frequently mystified by human behavior, Boo is sure that Carrie once cared passionately for Tommy and adores her children, even the non-feline ones. But she also sees it may not be enough to make things right. Perhaps only a cat—a wise, observant, very determined cat—can do that . . .
Wonderfully tender and insightful, The Astonishing Thing explores the intricacies of marriage and family through an unforgettable perspective at the center of it all.
Tracey E. Wood
Tracey Enerson Wood has been writing daily since childhood, publishing primarily non-fiction magazine columns and features during her career in health care, as well as travel and restaurant reviews, and humor. She has written several plays which have been staged, and two screenplays, currently unproduced. After receiving advice from several Hollywood producers, she wrote a novel based on one of these screenplays, A BRIDGE BETWEEN US. The historical novel centers on Emily Roebling and her family, who built the Brooklyn Bridge.
Ms. Wood belongs to several writers groups, both online and in person, and attends writers’ conferences, where she was fortunate to workshop pages with Andre Dubus III, Lori Roy, and John Searles, and received outstanding advice from best-selling author and former Random House editor, David Ebershoff. Later this year, she plans to attend an intensive workshop in Italy hosted by Ann Hood, featuring facilitators Laura Lippman and John Searles.
She is the co-author of HOMEFRONT COOKING, Recipes, Wit and Wisdom from Veterans and their Families, a cookbook, and anthology/memoir hybrid. The book will feature a recipe from television star and celebrity chef Robert Irvine, and a story and recipe from best-selling author Ann Hood, among many others. HOMEFRONT COOKING is due out from Skyhorse Publishing in Spring, 2018, with all author profits to be donated to a veterans’ charity. In addition, she is drafting a contemporary Women’s Fiction novel, and another historical fiction, this one with magical realism.
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