Pitch Wars 2017: Young 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 YOUNG ADULT Mentors
Jenny Chou was a 2015 Pitch Wars mentee and is excited to be a 2017 mentor. A writer of YA mysteries and thrillers, she is represented by agent Steven Chudney. Jenny can tell you how disable a complex cellular alarm system or crack a thirty-year old combination safe, though she swears she learned from Google, not real-life experience. For seventeen years she held the world’s best job (besides writer or jewel thief): Indie bookseller. In the not-so-distant past, she read manuscripts as an intern for a literary agent, but to add intrigue to her life she keeps his name top-secret. Rumor has it she is packed and ready to leave for Hogwarts. If you happen across her missing owl, direct it to Wisconsin, where Jenny is waiting along with with her husband, two teen daughters, and a black lab named Dylan. She is certain she will be sorted into Ravenclaw.
Judi Laruen is a copy editor and editorial assistant to Lydia Sharp at Entangled Publishing. She also works as a freelance editor and proofreader. Even though she became an official “adult” five years ago, she’s still drawn to writing realistic books for teens that explore a darker side to the teenage years. She has an unnatural obsession with Chicago, Dean Winchester, and Friends (the TV show).
Co-Mentors Kate Karyus Quinn and Mindy McGinnis
Kate Karyus Quinn
Kate Karyus Quinn is a chapstick addict with a love for live theater and a BFA from Niagara University to prove it.
After growing up in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, Kate left her hometown for Southern California and film school, where she earned an MFA in Film and Television Production from Chapman University.
After finishing her degree, she moved with her husband to Knoxville, Tennessee. However, she recently made the move back home, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would… build character.
Kate is first and foremost an avid reader and unapologetic booknerd. Although, she mostly reads YA and romance, she often samples different genres in her constant search for the next great read.
Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
There’s a reason they say “be careful what you wish for.” Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for “balls of steel” and got them-literally.
These are things Lennie only learns when it’s too late-after she brings some of her uncles’ moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.
Lennie didn’t mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles’ moonshine toast was just a tradition.
As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.
Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…
Mindy McGinnis is an Edgar Award-winning author and assistant teen librarian who lives in Ohio. She graduated from Otterbein University with a degree in English Literature and Religion, and sees nothing wrong with owning nine cats. Two dogs balance things out nicely.
Mindy runs a blog for aspiring writers at Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, which features interviews with agents, established authors, and debut authors.
Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis
Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.
Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.
Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.
Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.
The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.
Originally from Newfoundland, Katherine Fleet gave up the cold winters of Eastern Canada for the year round warmth of the Caribbean. The slower pace of island life has given her time to pursue a long-time goal—becoming an author. When she’s not writing, she spends her time baking, chauffeuring her three amazing, talented kids around, and having sun-filled adventures with her husband and wonderful friends in Curaçao. She is also a very thankful breast cancer survivor. In 2007, she joined RWA and has enjoyed the support and camaraderie of the YARWA and OIRWA writing communities. She’s participated in NaNoWriMo since 2012 and is an active supporter of the associated Young Writers Program. She is represented by super-agent Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency. The Secret to Letting Go is her debut novel.
The Secret of Letting Go by Kathrine Fleet
One summer can change everything…
Haunted with guilt after his girlfriend’s death, Daniel Hudson has no interest in committing to anyone. At the end of the summer, he’ll be leaving Florida for a new start in college. If only he could avoid the mysterious new girl in town, who seems every bit as naive and eccentric as she looks. Trouble is, she’s hard to ignore, with her beautiful piercing eyes, pitiful-looking dog, and unsettling tendency of finding trouble.
Clover Scott lived her whole life off the grid and arrives on the Gulf coast in search of her grandparents. She never expected to nearly drown, or get caught in a hurricane, or fall in love with the boy who rescues her. Now, she has a chance to rewrite her life’s story, to finally fit in somewhere, but Daniel wants answers about her past. When the police start asking questions about the disappearance of her parents, she must make a choice: go to jail or confess her secrets—even if they might destroy her chance at a happily-ever-after.
A third generation native Arizonan, Kelly deVos can tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cactus, cattle and climate. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. Her debut novel, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, will be published in 2018 by Harlequin Teen and her work has been featured in Normal Noise and 202 Magazine.
Fat Girl On A Plane by Kelly deVos
High school senior Cookie Vonn’s postgraduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons School of Design and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin—and Cookie weighs in at over three hundred pounds. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.
Thanks to her work for a Scottsdale fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to meet her design idols—where she hopes to personally pitch her plus-size portfolio and appeal for a scholarship to Parsons. Her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat too fly. Forced to turn to her BFF, Tommy, for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane only to arrive in the city to find the blog is under new ownership. Cookie has been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Hurt and humiliated, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with Tommy and put her life on track.
Fast-forward two years. Cookie has dropped the weight—and won the attention of designer of the moment Gareth Miller. He offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York. Cookie expected nothing but sunshine and rainbows. But not only is she stuck with the same old problems, she has a big choice to make: achieve her old dreams…or dream new ones.
Kelly Hopkins has a Bachelor’s degree (Magna Cum Laude) in English/Secondary Education from Marywood University and a Master’s of Education degree in School Library and Information Technologies from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. She’s a Creative Writing teacher and school librarian.
She has lectured at Keystone College on Celtic Mythology and will be presenting a workshop on Perfecting Query Letters and Pitches at their Gathering Conference in July 2016.
Kelly lives in NE Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and three rescue horses.
A native of Los Angeles, Kes Trester’s first job out of college was on a film set, though the movie’s title will remain nameless because it was a really bad film. Really.
As a feature film development executive, she worked on a variety of independent films, from gritty dramas (guns and hotties) to steamy vampire love stories (fangs and hotties) to teens-in-peril genre movies (blood and hotties).
Kes produced a couple of independent films, both award-winners on the festival circuit, before seguing into television commercials. As head of production for a Hollywood-based film company, she supervised the budgeting and production of nationally broadcast commercials (celebrities, aliens, talking animals!) and award-winning music videos for artists such as Radiohead, Coldplay, and OKGO (more celebrities, aliens, and talking animals!).
In an attempt to raise kids who could actually pick their mom out of a line up, Kes turned to writing fulltime. Her contemporary novels for young adults are cinematic, fast-paced, and above all, fun. Add an understanding husband and pack of rescue dogs to the mix, and that’s also an apt description of life in the busy Trester household. Kes is the YA author of A DANGEROUS YEAR coming out in September 26, 2017. She is represented by Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary.
A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester
Seventeen-year-old Riley Collins has grown up in some of the world’s most dangerous cities, learning political strategies from her ambassador dad and defensive skills from his security chief. The only thing it didn’t prepare her for was life as an American teenager when she finds herself at an elite Connecticut boarding school charged with watching over a billionaire’s daughter with a target on her back.
Kip Wilson is a YA writer represented by Roseanne Wells at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. She has a Ph.D. in German Literature and is the Poetry Editor at YARN. Her work has been published in the TIMELESS and SPAIN FROM A BACKPACK anthologies as well as BLACK FOX LITERARY, COBBLESTONE, and FACES magazines. Her work has won several awards, including the 2017 PEN New England Discovery Award. You can find her on twitter and on her website. Kip Wilson RecheaPoetry Editor and Acting Editor in Chief, YARN.
Kit Frick is a novelist, poet, and MacDowell Colony fellow. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, she studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA from Syracuse University. When she isn’t putting complicated characters in impossible situations, Kit edits poetry and literary fiction for a small press, edits for private clients, and mentors emerging writers through Pitch Wars. Her debut young adult novel is See All the Stars(Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2018).
See All the Stars by Kit Frick
THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. (Venus. Earth. Moon. Sun.) Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.
NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.
THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.
NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.
The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the ones Ellory’s been telling herself.
Co-Mentors Kristen Ciccarelli & Joanna Hathaway
Kristen Ciccarelli hails from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula where she grew up on her grandfather’s grape farm. She’s made her living as a baker, a bookseller, and a potter, but now writes books about bloodthirsty dragons, girls wielding really cool weapons, and the transformative power of stories. She wrote her debut novel, THE LAST NAMSARA, for the girl she used to be (and sometimes still is). You can learn more at www.kristenciccarelli.com or by following @kristenciccarelli on Instagram.
The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Joanna Hathaway owes her love of books to her great-grandfather. His poignant memoirs about life as a teenage soldier in the First World War inspired her, at a young age, to enter the complex and provocative realms of history—and she hasn’t left since. Born in Montréal, Canada, Joanna grew up on the doorstep of New York City, then spent her teen years riding horses through the forests of Southwestern Ontario. She currently resides in the American Midwest.
The Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway
YA fantasy called Dark of the West is the first in a planned series set in a realm similar to 20th-century Europe. Dark of the West, told from dueling points of view, follows a pair of star-crossed lovers: an idealistic princess trying to suppress an impending uprising, and a young fighter pilot who has been given the job of spying on her.
Co-Mentors Kristin Smith and Beth Ellyn Summer
Kristin Smith is the author of the best-selling young adult novel Catalyst and its sequel, Forgotten. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five sons. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com.
Catalyst by Kristin Smith (Book 1 of The Deception Game)
In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teens, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she’s ever known and loved changes in an instant.
With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy she’s falling for as bait.
In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.
Catalyst is a thrilling adventure of danger, romance, intrigue, and deception.
Beth Ellyn Summer
Beth Ellyn Summer writes contemporary young adult fiction that always includes the following elements: fame, makeup, and television. She graduated from Long Island University with a degree in print and electronic journalism, but the real highlight of her college years was interning for Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon.
At First Blush by Beth Ellyn Summer
Who would have thought that a teenager could have a successful career creating makeup tutorial videos on YouTube? For Lacey Robbins, this dream has been her reality. An up-and-coming YouTuber, she has thousands of fans and can’t wait for the day when her subscriber count reaches the one million mark. And when she is offered a high school internship at On Trend Magazine, she figures that this could be the make it or break it moment.
But sometimes your dream job isn’t all that it seems. Her editor is only interested in promoting junk products, and her boss in the Hair and Makeup department introduces her to the larger world of makeup artistry, making her wonder if making tutorials online is all she is meant to do. To top it all off, when the magazine’s feature subject , musician Tyler Lance, turns his broodingly handsome smile her way, falling for him could mean losing her fans, forcing her to make a decision: her YouTube life or her real life?
Fans of Zoella’s GIRL ONLINE will fall right into the world of this YA DEVIL WEARS PRADA and stay hooked from the first blush to the last glossy kiss.
Laura Pohl is a YA writer and the creator of #PitchAmérica. She likes writing messages in caps lock, quoting Hamilton and watching old movies. When not taking pictures of her dog, she can be found curled up with a fantasy or science-fiction book. Born in Germany to Brazilian parents who love to travel, she makes her home in São Paulo.
Thank you to our 2017 Young Adult Mentors!
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