A Love Letter To My PitchWars Mentor


I am lucky. So, so very lucky. This August, I was chosen to be a mentee in the amazing PitchWars contest, run by the incomparable Brenda Drake.

Even luckier, though, is that I got chosen by an absolutely brilliant and generous mentor, Karen McManus.

A little background: I wrote my PitchWars book almost two years ago. I was represented by an agent, and this book was a huge departure from the book I signed with. It was much darker. It played with playwriting conventions. It wasn’t as feelsy (instead, I like to think it’s clever.) And, well, that agent sort of read it and gently said: write something else, this is way too problematic. So it got shelved. I shelved it despite having critique partners telling me not to.

It’s a bit of a scary book for me. I wrote characters outside of the gender binary. I wrote characters whose sexualities weren’t nailed down and certainly weren’t cookie-cutter hetero. And that took a lot of care. I hadn’t gotten it right when I sent it to my previous agent. But after time (and quite a few discussions with trusted friends in the LGBTQIA community) I dusted it off, reconsidered the tricky issue of pronouns, toned back the violence and tried to infuse a little more humanity.

And the reason I finally tackled the daunting revisions: I wanted to enter PitchWars.

The best thing was that when Karen got in touch with me to let me know I was her pick, she so clearly got it. She got the heart of the story, she got the weirdness, she got the humor. And after shelving it and leaving my former agent, just having someone get it was huge.

But more than just getting it, she saw how to make it better. She understood the parts of the book that were essential and couldn’t change and she helped me find the places where I had to push harder or dig deeper. She helped me look at so many things objectively. She helped me with pacing and with writing a more compelling first chapter.

I’m really proud of the work we’ve done. I’m proud to have worked with her. Because she’s awesome. And her book! Her book sounds amazing and I plan on buying a million copies and giving them all to my friends.

So, Karen, a million thank yous. I’m giving you a standing ovation and chucking flowers at your feet. You rock!

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