Pitch Wars Interview with Jennieke Cohen and her mentor, Tobie Easton
Nov02

Pitch Wars Interview with Jennieke Cohen and her mentor, Tobie Easton

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 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . .  Jennieke Cohen – Mentee Twitter | Website Tobie Easton – Mentor Twitter | Website Jennieke: Why did you choose Tobie? I was really hoping Tobie would pick my manuscript! On Tobie’s wish list, she mentioned some novels that I really love (Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball series and Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily mysteries), in addition to saying she loved historical fiction and romance, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, and Downton Abbey, all of which have influenced my writing in general and Dangerous Alliance in particular. Oh, and she also wanted beautiful gowns, gardens, and kissing, which again, are all major elements of my manuscript (and a well-lived life, in my humble opinion)! The fact that she described herself as a positive person but honest in her critiques also sounded right up my alley. In short, she sounded like the perfect mentor and I feel so lucky that she chose my manuscript! Tobie: Why did you choose Jennieke? First of all, I was instantly drawn in by the premise of Dangerous Alliance. I loved the idea of a YA Downton Abbey, and the angle of the protagonist’s sister dealing with domestic abuse during the 19th century really felt fresh because I read a lot of historical, and it was something I hadn’t seen before. I was excited to read more about the sister relationship as well as the romantic plot line with the main character, Lady Victoria. When I started reading the pages, I loved the witty voice and that Victoria really cared about the estate. Often we read about members of the British aristocracy and their estates, but they don’t really seem to care about the running of those estates. The fact that Vicky does care made me really want to get to know her. Out of all the partials I requested during Pitch Wars Dangerous Alliance was the one I couldn’t stop thinking about during the entire selection process. It wouldn’t let go and it still hasn’t. Jennieke: Summarize your book in three words. Ballrooms, Intrigue, Love Tobie: Summarize Jennieke’s book in three words. Pitch Wars Winner #KiddingNotKidding Family, Romance, Gardens Jennieke: Tell us something about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique? I’ve been a classic film lover since I was a kid, which partially explains my Master of Professional Writing degree from USC...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Ariane Felix and her mentors, Cat Scully and Kim Graff
Nov02

Pitch Wars Interview with Ariane Felix and her mentors, Cat Scully and Kim Graff

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 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . .  Ariane Felix – Mentee Twitter | Website   Cat Scully – Mentor Twitter | Website Kim Graff – Mentor Twitter | Website   Ariane: Why did you choose Cat and Kim? Their blog posts resonated with me. They love the same weird, creepy stuff I love, and I felt they would get me. And obviously I think they’re awesome. Both of them are skilled editors, and I know I’m in great hands. It still feels surreal that they picked me. Cat and Kim: Why did you choose Ariane’s manuscript to mentor? Cat: I fell in love with this book as I was reading it. I found myself hopping between fulls while I read and I kept coming back to Blue Waters. I couldn’t get the voice out of my head and the way she used sweeping metaphors coupled with science fiction mystery. It reminded me a great deal of Donnie Darko and the Matrix, two films I adore. I also felt like I was the right mentor for the weakness of the books as the portions that needed help were my particular strengths as a mentor. Kim: The voice and writing was what drew me to Blue Waters. I was blown away by Ariane’s beautiful prose, and the twisted sci-fi horror element to it. I’d been craving sci-fi horror since I finished watching Stranger Things and Blue Waters really delivered. Ariane: Summarize your book in three words. Stars, meat, and duality. Cat and Kim: Summarize your mentee’s book in three words. Lavish, time rift, obsession Ariane: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique? When I was a kid, my brother put me in bed every night and told me the stories of a game called StarCraft. It didn’t take long for me to start playing it, and my “Disney” princess is Kerrigan (pictures below). I grew up watching anime, making origamis, reading weird stuff, and obsessing about The Matrix (OBSESSING). All of these elements somehow translate into my book.       Cat and Kim: Tell us about yourselves. Something we might not already know. Cat: Neil Gaiman once asked me to help wash his black shirts. Kim: I watched my first horror movie when I was five, and have never looked back.   Check out Kim Graffs’ Short Story: Corrupt inside Horrors: Real, Imagined, and Deadly...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Kara McDowell and her mentors, Brenda Drake and Heather Cashman
Nov01

Pitch Wars Interview with Kara McDowell and her mentors, Brenda Drake and Heather Cashman

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 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . .  Kara McDowell – Mentee Twitter | Website Brenda Drake – Mentor Twitter | Website Heather Cashman – Co-Mentor Twitter | Website Kara: Why did you choose to enter Pitch Wars? Publishing is a very competitive business, which can make it feel isolating and discouraging. Once you’ve been in the query trenches, it can be hard not to feel like you are competing with other writers. When I discovered the PitchWars community on Twitter, I was amazed to find a group of writers that were eager to cheer each other on and help newbies like me through the process. I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I was also eager to gain insight on how to properly revise and edit a manuscript. Before PitchWars, I had been editing my manuscript on my own for several months, and I was desperate for a fresh perspective on how to further tighten it and turn it into the book of my dreams! Mentors: Why did you choose to mentor in Pitch Wars? Heather: Brenda and I tend to get into some crazy moods/discussions when talking on the phone. On one such occasion, we noted that everyone needs help, not just those authors who have the best or most finished manuscripts. So the idea of a Scavenger Hunt with winners was hatched. And here we are. We’re so happy to have Kara as the winner of our scavenger hunt prize in the YA category! Brenda: What Heather said. And mentoring gives me the opportunity to give back to the community that had embraced me when I was a new writer. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from helping others. It’s exciting to see already a good story become great and know that you had a help in it. There are so many reasons it’s hard to list them all. Kara’s story really grabbed my heart and I love it. Being a random pick, we were so thrilled the fates chose her for us! Kara: Summarize your book in three words. Fame, Family, Secrets Mentors: Summarize Kara’s book in three words. Betrayal, Romance, Discovery Kara: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique? I am a writer, a mom, and a YA junkie. I live in Arizona with my husband and our two (soon to be three) little boys. For several years, I...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Andrea Kjaer and her mentor, Heather Cashman
Nov01

Pitch Wars Interview with Andrea Kjaer and her mentor, Heather Cashman

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 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . .  Andrea Kjaer – Mentee Twitter Heather Cashman – Mentor Twitter | Website Andrea: Why did you choose L.L. McKinney? I pitched to LL McKinney because I loved her bio and her voice. I knew I wasn’t a great fit for what she was looking for, but I couldn’t pass up a chance (however small) to have her as a mentor. I am equally excited and very thankful Heather Cashman was able to take me on! Why I chose Andrea and Brightest Shade of Flame? I was sad to hear that Elle McKinney wouldn’t be able to mentor this year, but when I read Andrea’s query and manuscript, I was excited to fill in for her. I love the way Andrea weaves various mythologies and legends into her novel. Her world building is gorgeous.  And her manuscript was formatted correctly with decent grammar. Gotta love that. What really tipped the scales for me was the Pitch Wars bio she posted on her blog. Fun. Interesting. Dedicated. Smart. Amazing. Andrea: Summarize your book in three words. ViQUEEN not Viking. My summary of Andrea’s book in three words. Feminist forging destiny. Andrea: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique? I’m a Utah native tramping around the red clay soils of Georgia. A recipe for my perfect day goes something like this: 2 playful children, 1 amazing husband, a heaping scoop of peachy dessert with some melty vanilla ice cream, and a few hours to write. My great-grandfather was a blacksmith from Denmark and the stories about the magic of his smithy inspired me to write this novel. I’ve spent some time with a hammer and anvil, but my preferred method of smiting is Goju Ryu karate. Something about myself I doubt you know. I have a habit of taking spontaneous trips and to date have gone on road-trips with my kids through 38 states. When my kids were about 6, 8, and 10 years old, we headed to the zoo in our town. They had closed because of the heat, and we ended up at the San Diego Zoo (400 miles away). Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! And don’t forget to stop by the Agent Showcase starting November 3rd to see how our teams do in the final...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Sarah Allen and her mentor, Ellie Terry
Oct29

Pitch Wars Interview with Sarah Allen and her mentor, Ellie Terry

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 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . . Sarah Allen – Mentee Twitter | Website Ellie Terry – Mentor Twitter | Website Sarah: Why did you choose Ellie? All the mentors were so fabulous! Ultimately though, only a few mentors were accepting contemporary middle grade and were also not averse to some magical realism or fantastical elements mixed in with the contemporary. Ellie was one of those. Not just that, but she was willing to take on middle grade that dealt with some heavier issues. Her comments and responses on Twitter made me think she would be a perfect reader and editor for my book, and be able to really dig into how to make it work. In the video chats she seemed very kind and unassuming and someone with whom I could work well. Also she had The Wednesday Wars on her favorites list and that made her an automatic yes in my book. Ellie: Why did you choose Sarah and BREATHING UNDERWATER? I had read Kate Messner’s THE SEVENTH WISH about a month before the Pitch Wars submission window opened. I loved everything about it. I loved that it dealt with a difficult issue, but handled that difficult issue in a gently, understanding manner that is appropriate for the middle-grade crowd. One of my biggest struggles in life (at the moment) is depression, so when Sarah’s BREATHING UNDERWATER fell into my inbox (a story akin to THE SEVENTH WISH, but deals with depression, instead of drug use) I was quite interested and knew I’d be a good mentor for the story. Sarah: Summarize your book in three words. Long. Road. Sister. Ellie: Summarize Sarah’s book in three words. Help. Family. Issues. Sarah: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique? I am currently getting my MFA at Brigham Young University, and having a great time doing it. I’ve had a couple short stories published, and I’m working on more. I know every Broadway musical and every Billy Joel song ever written. I was born with a rare genetic disorder called Turner Syndrome. I’m the oldest of eight kids, and I am obsessed with Pixar, leather jackets, and Colin Firth. There have been so many incredible and beautiful books about teens dealing with depression, anxiety, suicide, mental illness, and other really difficult things. We need these books. However I wanted to write about those kinds of experiences from...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Julie Clark and her mentors, Karma Brown & Susan Bishop Crispell
Oct29

Pitch Wars Interview with Julie Clark and her mentors, Karma Brown & Susan Bishop Crispell

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 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . .  Julie Clark – Mentee Twitter Karma Brown – Mentor Twitter | Website Susan Bishop Crispell – Co-Mentor Twitter | Website Julie: Why did you choose Karma & Susan? Karma and Susan jumped out at me from the very beginning as an almost perfect match for my manuscript and what I hoped to do with it. They both write women’s fiction, so I knew they’d understand the specific rhythm and pacing I was hoping to accomplish with THE ONES WE CHOOSE. I was also very drawn to their commitment to their mentee. They warned potential mentees of “the most thorough critique of your life”, and that appealed to me. I needed people who write within my genre to take a close look at my manuscript and tell me what was still not working. Finally, like me, they are both avid readers who read across genres and age groups in order to inform their own writing – and they listed several of my favorite books and authors. But it wasn’t until I read their books – Karma’s COME AWAY WITH ME and THE CHOICES WE MAKE as well as Susan’s debut THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES that I knew they would see exactly what I wanted my manuscript to be, and what I needed to do to get it there. I have not been disappointed! Karma & Susan: Why did you choose Julie and The Ones We Choose? We loved the premise of THE ONES WE CHOOSE—it’s bang on for an emotional women’s fiction story–and were impressed by how polished the novel was when it landed in our Pitch Wars inbox. It was clear Julie had done a lot of work to the manuscript already, and our instincts told us she was ready and willing for more hard work ahead (we were right). Julie: : Summarize your book in three words. Genetics. Motherhood. Forgiveness. Mentors: Summarize Julie’s book in three words. Motherhood. Forgiveness. Transformation. Julie: : Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique? I’m a fifth grade teacher, so I had to do a lot of research on genetics in order to make the science work. But I know about motherhood – specifically single motherhood – as I have two young sons and know what it’s like to be the sole parent at home, ping-ponging...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Amaris Glass and her mentors, Mónica Bustamante Wagner & Kerbie Addis
Oct29

Pitch Wars Interview with Amaris Glass and her mentors, Mónica Bustamante Wagner & Kerbie Addis

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 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . .  Amaris Glass – Mentee Twitter Mónica Bustamante Wagner – Mentor Twitter | Website Kerbie Addis – Co-Mentor Twitter | Website Amaris: Why did you choose Monica and Kerbie? My mentor-choosing strategy was super scientific: basically, once I narrowed the list down to those who wanted my genre and whose editing style sounded awesome and workable with my brain, I looked for people I wanted to be friends with. Monica has chickens so obviously we are a match, and Kerbie’s lipstick, I mean, come on, a girl who can pull of such bold lip color is a girl I both envy and want to hang out with. (plus my scientific/shallow criteria totally paid off in that they are editors extraordinaire and fantastic champions of my book [especially when I want to chuck the whole thing and start from scratch]) Mónica & Kerbie: Why did you choose Amaris’s ABOVEWATER? We couldn’t get Amaris’s book out of our heads. That’s how we can always tell we love a manuscript, when we can’t walk away! Kerbie read the first draft Amaris sent us half-starved because she couldn’t leave the book long enough to cook! Amaris: Summarize your book in three words. Outcast. Legends. Curse. Mónica & Kerbie: Summarize Amaris’s book in three words. Oceans. Myths. Secrets. Amaris: Tell us something unique about you and your manuscript. Growing up, a writer is the first thing I can remember wanting to be, but it took me a while to get here. After a silly number of odd jobs (nanny, ropes course instructor, bridal gown salesperson, costume shop assistant, more I can’t remember) I finally made a decision: I will go to school for photography! It will be great! Of course, halfway through I took a Children’s Literature course and decided I wanted to write instead. And then somehow as soon as I graduated I got a job in tv animation (as you do). But it kinda works out, as I loooove my job to pieces and I get to learn about storytelling. My job (animatic editor) deals with the timing of the show; the pacing of the action and the order in which the story is told. I have gotten to work with some pretty amazing storytellers (Legend of Korra, anyone???), so really my main goal is to soak up the genius that just...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Adalyn Grace and her mentor, Brian Palmer
Oct29

Pitch Wars Interview with Adalyn Grace and her mentor, Brian Palmer

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 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have #TeamSinisterEyes . . .  Adalyn Grace – Mentee Twitter Brian Palmer – Mentor Twitter | Website Adalyn: Why did you choose Brian? I completely lucked out with being able to choose Brian. His wish list for Pitch Wars was actually unavailable to me when I initially picked and submitted to mentors. I couldn’t get his page to load to save my life! The day before submissions were due, I won two bonus entries and had to go scavenging through the mentors’ wish lists one more time. This time, Brian’s page loaded for me, and I’m so, so glad I won those extra mentors and didn’t miss out. I loved Brian’s bio. For starters, he seemed so stoked to be a mentor, which is fantastic because I am SO stoked to be his mentee. Secondly, I really resonated with his described editing style. I was looking for a mentor who wanted to do more than one pass with my manuscript, and Brian gave me the impression that he was willing to donate so much of his free time in order to help his chosen mentee. He had so much experience that I thought would be so beneficial in a mentor, and I felt like my book child would be in good hands. Eventually, I knew it was time to stalk his Twitter. I asked a few questions and read a bunch of his answers to other potential mentees. While he didn’t necessarily mention wanting something that screamed, “Hey! That’s my book!” I loved his bio and many of the “favorite books” he had listed. Something in my gut said that I needed to take the risk and sub to him. I would have been honored to work with any mentors, but my instincts told me that, if I were to be chosen, it’d be by Brian. And boy did I luck out. Brian: Why did you choose Adalyn’s manuscript? I got a really good vibe from Adalyn when I was checking out her Twitter presence. I enjoyed seeing how supportive she was of others and how she had inserted herself into thr Pitch Wars and online writing community on Twitter, so I knew she was something I could work well with because her sensibilities were outward focused. Reading her pimped-out bio helped too, as it gave me a...

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