Interview · Meet An Author · Uncategorized

Meet an Author: Anna Brittain

Meet author and past Pitch Wars 2016 mentee Anna Brittain.

Anna Brittain

You were a Pitch Wars 2016 mentee. Your manuscript FEMSLASH was a Contemporary LGBT own voices story. Do you plan to write more own voices novels?

Great question!! I think the thing about own voices for the people that are writing it is, it’s not just an identifier for our work – it’s a reflection of the world we particularly live in. I write to process things, so I can’t imagine not writing characters who share the same intersections I have.

In your Pitch Wars novel, by day, Iliana and Rhodes tear each other down to the studs as they compete for the same scholarship. By night, they unknowingly piece each other together again through their performing art school’s anonymous fanfic community. Do you have much fanfic experience and what made you decide to include the fanfic bit in the story?

Oh my gosh, yes. My first experience with fandom was Sailor Moon when I was 12-13. It was totally self-insertion Mary Sue shenanigans, but learning to draw anime and learning to write to contribute to fandom made Sailor Moon this completely immersive creative experience in my life during a particularly difficult period in my family’s history. Continue reading “Meet an Author: Anna Brittain”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Sarah Nicolas

Meet Sarah Nicolas, author and Pitch Wars mentor. Sarah Nicolas is a recovering mechanical engineer, library event planner, and author. She lives in Orlando with a 60-lb mutt who thinks he’s a chihuahua. Sarah writes YA novels as Sarah Nicolas and romance under the name Aria Kane. Sarah has published both traditionally and independently, and has also worked in the publishing industry as an editorial intern, editorial assistant, publicist, publicity director, cover artist, and art director.

When she’s not writing, she can be found playing volleyball or drinking wine. She is a contributor for Book Riot and at YAtopia. Sarah is represented by Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency.

Sarah Nicolas

For your latest book, what made you decide to write about something so different compared to your previous book about were-dragons? Your contemporary LGBTQ own voices book KEEPING HER SECRET has well, no dragons at all.

My publisher was looking for YA summer camp romances and I had been wanting to write a f/f romance for a while. I also write romance under the name Aria Kane, so I love it, but hadn’t written a YA romance yet. (DRAGONS has some romance in it, but it’s by no means a romance.) I love to read all genres so it’s no surprise I want to explore different genres in my writing.

Do you plan to write more own voices books about being bisexual?

Maybe? It’s hard for me because I was confused about it when I was a teenager. It took me more than twice as long as Riya (from Keeping Her Secret) to be comfortable with myself. The MC in the book I’m writing right now, I would call her bisexual, but I’m not sure she would identify that way – which, I guess, is even more accurate to my teenage experience, huh? Continue reading “Meet an Author: Sarah Nicolas”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Susan Gray Foster

Meet author and Pitch Wars mentor Susan Gray Foster. Susan is a YA novelist striving to spin words into magic. She also enjoys tea, songwriting, reading, and hanging out with her dogs. She believes in creativity and empathy. She’s represented by Caitlin Blasdell of Liza Dawson Associates

Susan Gray Foster

Tell us a little bit about the book that got you into Pitch Wars in 2014. What was it about and did anything specific inspire it? How to Make a Heartbeat is a YA contemporary-with-a-twist about a teen genius who brings his former best friend back to life after a prom-night accident, and then struggles with his feelings for her and with the consequences of what he’s done. Very few people know that it was actually inspired by a piece of choreography on the reality TV show, So You Think You Can Dance. The dance featured a beautiful girl raised from death, and I couldn’t get that image out of my mind! Continue reading “Meet an Author: Susan Gray Foster”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Lana Pattinson

Meet Lana Pattinson, a 2016 Pitch Wars mentee and a professional marketer.

Lana Pattinson

You were an unofficial mentee in Pitch Wars 2016 with Marty Mayberry as your mentor. Tell us a little about your book that got you into Pitch Wars, MOM, I MARRIED A HIGHLANDER.

I didn’t get into Pitch Wars in 2015. The manuscript was a Historical Fantasy, and I kept trying to describe it to people and they would say – Oh, It’s like a YA Outlander! And I’m like noooo…there’s no time travel etc. And then they’d make a sad face (seriously, this happened several times). So when I didn’t get in…I got mad. I revenge-wrote this book, LOL. It was fun.

I assume it’s a safe bet to guess your Scottish roots helped inspire your MS. What made you choose a cute Highlander as a love interest?

I met my Scottish husband over there when I was studying abroad. I lived there for about 6 years and loved it!

 Do you think you will write any other books that draw inspiration from Scotland?

Probably, but not always. My current WIP is Victorian Glasgow. But the next one is a space opera! Continue reading “Meet an Author: Lana Pattinson”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Samantha Joyce

Meet author and Pitch Wars mentor Samantha Joyce. Samantha is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her book DEALING IN DECEPTION is published by Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster and is out and available for purchase. When not writing or at her day job, Samantha can usually be found either singing and dancing on stage in local musicals, or at home watching geeky television shows with her husband.

Samantha JoyceDEALING IN DECEPTION (Love in Disguise #2) has a main character named Veronica who is an actress-for-hire. Have you ever wanted to be an actress?

Absolutely! I’ve wanted to be on Broadway since I saw Les Mis when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I have crazy bad stage fright—especially in auditions and that can be a real problem for a professional actor. So now I act on the side, in community theatre productions, when I have the time. The cool thing is, writing is a lot like acting. I get to be in different character’s heads and experience places and situations I don’t always go through in real life. So being an author helps fulfill that passion, too. Continue reading “Meet an Author: Samantha Joyce”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rachel Lynn Solomon is the author of YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE, out 1/2/18 from Simon Pulse. She’s represented by Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency. A former journalist, Rachel currently works in education and loves tap dancing, red lipstick, and new wave music. You can find her on Twitter @rlynn_solomon.
Rachel Lynn Solomon_photo credit Ian Grant

On your website, you mention the twin protagonists in YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE are “in many ways, similar to who I was in high school. Adina is everything I was too scared to be in high school. She’s all the thoughts I had but never acted on.” Do you think your personal connection to the girls made it any easier to persevere through finishing the book? Or did your closeness to them make edits harder?

This is such a great question. Each book I write feels more personal than the last, which is funny because whenever I finish a book, I’m like, “welp, guess I used up all my ideas and I have nothing else to write about!” Though none of my books have completely mirrored my experiences, all my characters have a slice of myself in them, and each new project allows me to learn something new about myself.

I think I was able to persevere through edits because, while these two characters each have a bit of me in them, neither is a clone of me—so that kept my interest while also enabling me to dig deep within myself for inspiration.

For YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE, my first nugget of an idea was that I wanted to write a sexually aggressive female protagonist because I hadn’t read very many of them in YA. That became Adina, the viola prodigy who owns her sexuality and is fully comfortable in her body. Her twin, Tovah, is ambitious too (in a different way—she wants to become a surgeon), but she’s much shyer about her body, and her arc deals more with the exploration of that.

Tovah is similar to the girl I was in high school—shy, embarrassed to talk about anything sex-related with even my closest friends, ashamed to acknowledge desire. Adina is who I wish I’d been: confident and in control. She acts on a lot of thoughts most of us probably wouldn’t, which made her extremely fun to write.

Other than novels, you’ve also written for newspapers. Has writing for newspapers helped your novel writing at all and vice versa?

I tend to throw myself into my hobbies a bit intensely, so while I was still in college, I also freelanced for The Seattle Times and a number of other outlets, including public radio stations. I loved to begin my stories with a person—some unique aspect of their experience that would provide a fresh angle to whatever I was reporting on. I really think all news stories are human stories, and I’ve always been drawn more to character-driven stories than plot-driven ones. Almost all my books begin with a character; I can’t start writing until I have a clear (or clear-ish) picture of my protagonist, her passions, her desires.

Before signing with Laura Bradford you parted ways with your first agent. Any advice for other authors who may find themselves back in the query trenches after their first agent?

The best advice I gave myself after I parted with my first agent was to not view it as a step backward. I only knew more about publishing after 2.5 years with my first agent, and I had absolutely become a stronger writer! It may seem like you’re going back to square one if you’re querying again after previously being represented, but I assure you, the opposite is true! Leaving an agent is so difficult to do; it’s not a decision anyone makes lightly. If you’ve made this choice, I’m positive it was the right step forward in your career. Not backward.

Switching agents is also much more common than I used to think—at this point, more than half of my friends are with second, third, or even fourth agents. It’s difficult to know who’s going to be your perfect agent fit—which is partially why I don’t believe in the concept of a “dream agent”—until you’ve spent some time working together. You may find your communication styles don’t mesh or you have different editorial visions—and that’s okay. If you’re back in the query trenches for the second or third time, I promise you aren’t alone, and you deserve a partner who is as passionate about your work as you are.

In your post about your journey to publication you advise writers to have an outlet other than writing. For you that outlet is dance. How does dancing help you deal with rejection and other writing struggles?

Because I work full-time in addition to writing, I need to occasionally turn off my brain. Dance is better at flipping that switch than anything else—when I’m focusing on choreography, I’m not thinking about a rejection or other writing-related stress. I’ve been tap dancing for nearly five years, and I perform annually.

As a mentor, how often do you communicate with your mentee during Pitch Wars?

Is constantly too much? Haha…somewhat kidding :). I approach Pitch Wars looking to find someone I can work with long term, not just during the contest, and so far, all five of my past mentees are people I communicate with on at least a weekly basis. I consider all of them friends and critique partners. (I love them all! So much!) So that should give you an indication of how communicative I’ll be during the contest: extremely, because I want this to be a lasting relationship. I want my mentee to feel comfortable talking to me about anything in publishing. It’s an impossible industry to navigate alone.

Finally, you are a fan of red lipstick. Do you have a favorite brand or shade?

I have about twelve, but lately I’ve been loving Stila stay all day liquid lipstick in the shade Beso, a true red, and Kat Von D everlasting liquid lipstick in Nosferatu, which is more of a crimson.

Thank you, Katelyn!


Continue reading “Meet an Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon”

Interview · Meet An Author

Meet an Author: Kellye Garrett

Meet Author and Pitch Wars mentor Kellye Garrett. Her first novel, Hollywood Homicide, will be released by Midnight Ink in August 2017. You can pre-order it by clicking here. Kellye Garrett spent 8 years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama Cold Case. People were always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people. A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company—while still happily brainstorming ways to commit murder.


Your book is inspired by your experiences working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. What made you decide to turn those experiences into a detective novel?

The initial idea for Hollywood Homicide was actually just a woman who decides to solve a crime for the reward money. But they say “write what you know.” And at that point, I’d been living and working in Hollywood for 8 years. I was semi-successful and mega-broke, so, of course, I created a character who was also semi-successful and mega-broke. I made her an actress so no one would accuse me of basically writing myself. 😊 Continue reading “Meet an Author: Kellye Garrett”