Lisa Leoni

Romance writer and rad humanoid

Category: Pitch Wars

Pitch Wars mentee giveaway

In honor of the conclusion of the agent showcase, and the upcoming season of gratitude, the 2017 Pitch Wars mentee class would like to thank our mentors and the Pitch Wars staff team for creating this incredible opportunity. Below you’ll find a list of giveaways, from Amazon gift cards in honor of the contest organizers, to mentors’ books, to favorite books of the mentors.

We encourage you to enter as many giveaways as you would like! And please spread the word with #pw17gives and #pitchwars.

Click on the mentee’s name to look for giveaway details on their Twitter account.


To recognize the Pitch Wars organizers, who selflessly dedicate enormous amounts of time to manage this massive contest, the following mentees are giving away Amazon gift cards of varying amounts. Click each mentee’s name to enter their giveaway.

In honor of Brenda Drake:

Audra Atoche
Carolyne Topdjian
Krista Riccioni
Mia Manansala
Neicole Crepeau
E. Chang-Gibson
Michelle Mason (giving away Thunderstruck)

In honor of Heather Cashman:

Julie Ditchburn Patton
Karah Sutton
Isaac Fitzsimons
Em Shotwell

In honor of Nikki Roberti:

Rajani LaRocca
Karen Chow
Vernon Hedrick
Kristy Gillespie

In honor of Monica Hoffman:

Christina Wise
Robin St. Clare
Colleen Bennett
Shelly Steig

In honor of Joy McCullough:

Andrea Contos
Valerie Pepper
Jennifer L. Brown
Remy Lai (giving away Blood Water Paint)

In honor of Yamile Saied Mendez:

Natalie Vanderheydt
Julia Christensen
Melissa Hed
Neicole Crepeau
E. Chang-Gibson

In honor of Leigh Mar:

Ipuna Black
Kimberly F.
Julie M. Mulligan


Mentee: Adelle Yeung
Mentor: Laurie Dennison
Giveaway: Amazon gift card

MenteeAdrianna Cuevas
MentorJessica Bayliss
Giveaway: Broken Chords

Mentee: Aishah Dawood
Mentor: Kip Wilson
Giveaway: One of Kip’s favorite books, Salt to the Seaand an Amazon gift card

MenteeAlexandria Bellefleur
MentorsLayla Reyne and Victoria De La O
GiveawaySingle Malt and Tell Me How This Ends

Mentee: Allison Dillon
Mentor: Nikki Roberti
Giveaway: Amazon gift card

MenteeAmelia Denyven Ross
Mentor: Amelinda Bérubé
GiveawayThe Dark Beneath the Ice

MenteeAnna Mercier
MentorLyndsay Ely
Giveaway: Gunslinger Girl

Mentee: Arianne Costner
Mentor: Shari Schwarz
Giveaway: Treasure at Lure Lake

Mentee: Aty Behsam
Mentor: Kelli Newby and Mary Anne Marlow
Giveaway: Cover art/character design (two winners)

MenteeAudra Atoche
MentorErin Latimer
GiveawayThe Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray

Mentee: Bethany Hensel
Mentor: N.K. Traver
Giveaway: Duplicity and an Amazon gift card

Mentees: Brooke Salesky & Holly Rizzuto Palker
Mentor: Melissa Marino
GiveawaySo Twisted, So Screwed, and So Wicked.

Mentee: Caroline Flory
Mentor: Jenny Lundquist
Giveaway: Either The Charming Life of Izzy Malone or The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby

MenteeCarolyne Topdjian
MentorDerek Chivers
GiveawayDarkness Shifting: Tides of Darkness Book One

MenteeCarrie Pulkinen
MentorCaitlin Sinead

MenteeChristina Wise
MentorMarie Meyer
GiveawayLive Out Loud

MenteeChristine Adler
MentorJenni L. Walsh
GiveawayBecoming Bonnie: A Novel or Side by Side (two winners)

MenteeColleen Bennett
Mentor: AEConran
GiveawayThe Lost Celt

MenteeCori Vella
MentorNatasha Neagle
Giveaway: Natash’d debut, The Body Paradox, is not yet available for pre-order, so Cori is giving away the first three Outlander books for Kindle (three of Nat’s favorite books!

Mentee: Dana Edwards
Mentor: Shanna Rogers
Giveaway: First five pages critique

Mentee: Daniel Best
Mentor: Kristen Lepionka
Giveaway: The Last Place You Look: A Mystery

MenteeDeanna Roy
Mentor: Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka
GiveawayAlways Never Yours

Mentee: Dianna DeBolt Johnson
Mentor: Kim Long
Giveaway: Amazon gift card

MenteesElizabeth Runnoe and Jade Hemming
Mentor: Cat Scully
GiveawayYou Can’t Play in Our Woods

Mentee: Ellie Firestone
Mentor: Laurie Dennison
Giveaway: Amazon gift card

MenteeEmily Thiede
MentorMolly E. Lee
GiveawayLove in the Friend Zone

Mentee: Em Shotwell
Mentor: Tracey Enerson Wood
Giveaway: Home Front Cooking: Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom from American Veterans and their Loved Ones

MenteeErica Waters
MentorLisa Amowitz
GiveawayUntil Beth

MenteeErin Cotter
MentorCarlie Sorosiak
GiveawayIf Birds Fly Back

Mentee: Gaye Sanders
Mentors: Shauna Holyoak and C.B. Catalano
Giveaway: Amazon gift card

Mentee: Geni Phipps
MentorCaitlin Sinead
GiveawayRed Blooded.

MenteeGia de Cadenet
MentorDiana A. Hicks
Giveaway: Diana’s upcoming release Love Over Lattes is not yet available, so Gia’s giving away Reckless Hearts by mentor Heather Van Fleet in honor of Diana.

MenteeGillian Berry
MentorsTomi Adeyemi and Kester Grant
GiveawayChildren of Blood and Bone. Kester’s book, A Court of Miracles, isn’t available for pre-order yet, but you can add it on Goodreads.

Mentee: Gina Urso
Mentor: JC Nelson
Giveaway: Four books in the A Grimm Agency series

MenteeIpuna Black
MentorJoy McCullough-Carranza
Giveaway: A pre-order of Blood Water Paint

MenteeIsaac Fitzsimons
MentorNatalka Burian
GiveawayWelcome to the Slipstream

MenteeJaime Formato
Mentor: Miriam Spitzer Franklin
GiveawayCall Me Sunflower

MenteeJanet Walden-West
MentorBrighton Walsh
GiveawayPaige in Progress

Mentee: Jason Hine
Mentor: Michelle Hauck
Giveaway: Grudging (to three winners)

MenteeJennifer L Brown
MentorJenna Lehne
GiveawayA Pizza My Heart

MenteeJessa Gwinn
Mentor: Brighton Walsh
GiveawayCaged in Winter: A Reluctant Hearts Novel

Mentee: Jessica Gorbet
Mentor: Emma Wicker
Giveaway: Fractured Immortal and Finding Immortal

MenteeJulia Miller
MentorKelly Siskind

MenteeJulie Christensen
MentorsKristin Bartley Lenz and Heather Smith Meloche
GiveawayThe Art of Holding On and Letting Go and Ripple 

MenteeJulie Ditchburn Patton
MentorsWade Albert White and Timanda Wertz
GiveawayThe Adventurer’s Guide to Dragons (and Why They Keep Biting Me)And winner’s choice of one of Timanda’s favorite books (either The Giver or A Wrinkle in Time).

MenteeJulie Mulligan
MentorLaura Heffernan
GiveawayAmerica’s Next Reality Star

MenteeJune Tan
Mentor: Akemi Dawn Bownman

MenteeKacey Vanderkarr
Mentor: Katherine Fleet
GiveawayThe Secret to Letting Go

MenteeKarah Sutton
Mentor: K.C. Held
GiveawayHolding Court

MenteeKimberly Fernando
MentorKate Foster
GiveawayWinell Road (paperback for US/Canada only)

Mentee: Kay McCray
Mentor: Kit Frick
Giveaway: Amazon gift card

MenteeKrista Riccioni
Mentor: Sandi Ward
GiveawayThe Astonishing Thing

MenteeKristin Walters
Mentors: McKelle George and Heather Cashman
GiveawaySpeak Easy, Speak Love and a query critique from Heather Cashman

MenteeKristy Gillespie
Mentor: Lindsey Frydman
GiveawayThe Heartbeat Hypothesis

Mentee: Kylie Schachte
Mentor: Amy Trueblood
Giveaway: Nothing But Sky

MenteeLana Pattinson
MentorsDiana Gallagher and Katrina Emmel
GiveawayLessons in Falling and choice of one of Katrina’s favorite books (Some Kind of Magic or America’s Next Reality Star).

MenteesLana Sloan and Allison Barnard
MentorsHeather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla
GiveawayReckless Hearts and The Love Square

Mentee: Laura Seabaugh
Mentor: K. Kazul Wolf
GiveawaySacrifices of Shadow

MenteeLisa Leoni
MentorJennifer Blackwood
GiveawayThe Rule Book and The Rule Maker

MenteeLorraine Goddard
MentorRhiannon Hart
GiveawayBlood Song

MenteeM.D. Thomas
MentorClarissa Goenawan

MenteeMarilyn Chin
MentorsJoanna Hathaway and Kristen Ciccarelli
GiveawayDark of the West and The Last Namsara

Mentee: Megan Starks
Mentor: Emily Colin
GiveawayThe Dream Keeper’s Daughter: A Novel

MenteeMelanie Pendleton
MentorK.A. Reynolds
Giveaway: Pre-order for The Land of Yesterday

MenteeMelissa Hed
MentorKelly DeVos
GiveawayFat Girl on a Plane

MenteeMia P. Manansala
MentorKellye Garrett
GiveawayHollywood Homicide

MenteeNatalie VanderHeydt
MentorAimee L Salter
GiveawayEvery Ugly Word

Mentee: Neicole Crepeau
Mentor: Erin Foster Hartley
Giveaway: Amazon gift card

MenteePeggy J. Sheridan
MentorShauna Holyoak and C.B. Catalano
Giveaway: The winner will get their choice of one of Shauna and C.B.’s favorite books: A Snicker of Magic, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Counting by 7s, The Thing About Jellyfish, or When You Reach Me.

Mentee: Piper Grayson
Mentor: Sarah Hawthorne
Giveaway: Enforcer’s Price and Rebel Custody

MenteeRajani LaRocca
MentorJoy McCullough-Carranza
Giveaway: A pre-order of Blood Water Paint

MenteeReese Eschmann
MentorsJulie Artz and Jessica Vitalis
Giveaway: A query critique and Story Genius

MenteesRemy Lai and Karen Chow Hsu
MentorsCindy Baldwin and Amanda Rawson Hill
GiveawayThe Three Rules of Everyday Magic (when it’s available for pre-order) and Where the Watermelons Grow

MenteeRheea Mukherjee
MentorKristen Lepionka
GiveawayThe Last Place You Look (open to contestants in India)

MenteeRobin Lemke
MentorRebecca Petruck
GiveawaySteering Toward Normal

Mentee: Robin St Clare
Mentor: Katrina Carrasco
Giveaway: When available, a pre-order of Cipher

MenteeSarah Kapit
MentorMike Grosso
Giveaway: I Am Drums

MenteeSasha Smith
MentorsMcKelle George and Heather Cashman
GiveawaySpeak Easy, Speak Love and a query critique

MenteeScott Rhoades
Mentor: Neal Chase
GiveawayWorthy of Song and Story

Mentee: Shelly Steig
Mentor: Niki Lenz
Giveaway: Thunderstruck by Pitch Wars creator Brenda Drake in honor of Niki

Mentee: Sofiya Pasternack
Mentor: Alexandra Ott
Giveaway: Rules for Thieves

Mentee: Stacey Goldstein
Mentor: Caela Carter
GiveawayForever, or a Long, Long Time

Mentee: Stephanie Willing
Mentor: Hannah Karena Jones
GiveawayByberry State Hospital

Mentee: Valerie Pepper
Mentor: Ashley Martin
Giveaway: Amazon gift card

Mentee: Victoria Lee
Mentor: Emily Martin
Giveaway: A signed copy of The Year We Fell Apart

The writing community got me through the worst year of my life

This past year was significantly shitty. On a scale of “I stubbed my toe” to “my nosehair is growing at lightning speed,” I’d say it was “I’ve had hiccups 24/7 for three months.”

The reason I’m here today with a smile on my face and joy in my heart is in large part to the writing community, and the friends I’ve made here. Starting with Pitch Wars.

Pull up a chair because I’m going to tell you a word vomitty story. May 2016, my uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The same cancer that killed his (and my mom’s) mom. We don’t like that brand of cancer in our house one bit. I was in a rocky place, and I kept writing and writing until I finished my book. My parent’s pet died that month as well. Terrible month for our family.

Mid-July 2016, I learned of Pitch Wars. I had just finished my first complete book and some revisions. A social media manager by day, I took to Twitter to connect with other writers. And holy moly did I meet them. I met people to swap queries with, first chapters, brainstorm, commiserate, cheer each other up, talk about regular life stuff. This was ALL through #pitchwars and the #pitchwarriors Facebook group (and an adult romance group a few of us made). This community was EXACTLY what I needed to cope with caring for my terminally ill uncle (and my parents, who were also caring for him).

Meanwhile, my darling nugget of a dog took a turn for the worse and I realized I needed to put him down. I made the vet appointment for the day before I entered Pitch Wars. The community (and the contest) were the distraction I needed, and gave me focus instead of becoming a sobbing vegetable. The love, support and gifs got me through. Most of these folks didn’t know me, but they helped me more than I can ever explain.

I miss waking up to that face.

I didn’t get picked for Pitch Wars, but I got one hell of a community out of it. Sure, I was bummed, but that was just one bump on a long road. A road that also included my own three-year cancer remission scans (that ended up all clear, woop! My four-year scans are approaching as I write this. Gulp). Through Pitch Wars, Twitter, contests, CP matching events – I made more friends and CPs and built a network.

Labor Day 2016—my uncle died. I was devastated. My parents were devastated. My new writing friends (and CPs <3) were there for me. Strangers were there for me when I tweeted about my pain.

My uncle and I were adorbs a few decades ago.

In late October 2016, I realized an immediate family member was in the midst of a major manic episode due to bipolar disorder, which led to a psychotic break and hospitalization. Even as a writer, I don’t have the words to explain what last fall was like. I didn’t interact as much on Twitter because I was barely hanging on, but lurking gave me such an escape. To see people celebrating finishing books, signing with agents, publishing deals, new pets, getting out of bed in the morning—it helped so much. Seeing life continue as normal while mine felt like it was falling apart? Friends, it was amazing.

Eventually, my loved one got better (so much better!!!!!!!). I returned to the land of writing and Twitter early this year. I did further revisions on my book thanks to my incredible CPs and beta readers. I strengthened friendships and met new people. I made it back to an RWA national conference after a decade away. I made it through losing a job and a home to finding a better place to live (still working on that replacement second job).

I’m stronger and happier thanks to the people I’ve met through writing and the Pitch Wars community.

Part of why I wrote this way-too-long blog post is to encourage others to engage with the writing commmunity (whatever form that means for you). Right now, for many, that’s the Pitch Wars community on social media. Make friends, find CPs, use the amazing new Pitch Wars forum. Put yourself out there and remind yourself this doesn’t have to be a solitary journey. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

I also wanted to write this as a thank you to all the people (whether you realize it or not) who got me through this past year. Massive hugs to you!! Yes, you!

Here’s hoping this next year is better (and my cancer scans come back clear in a couple of weeks, eek!). If I can gather the funds, you’ll find me celebrating my five-year remission (the year they deem you cured) in Scotland.

Me at my favorite place in Scotland – Bostadh Beach.

Round-up: Pitch Wars mentor blog posts

Anyone familiar with Pitch Wars certainly knows by now how incredible this community is. One of the reasons can be credited to the mentors who give of their time and knowledge. This post is a round-up of craft/advice/cheerleading blog posts by the 2016 mentors. If I’ve missed one – please post a link in the comments or let me know on Twitter.

Pitch Wars

#Pitchwars: Quick thoughts before you submit (Jami Nord)
Cheat Sheet for my Future PitchWars Mentee (Michelle Hazen)
Answer to Random PW Questions (Michael Mammay)
#PitchWars Submission Window Advice (Mary Ann Marlowe)
How Does #PitchWars Work Exactly? (Mary Ann Marlowe)
How to Increase Your Odds of Getting into Pitch Wars (Leigh Mar)

#Pitchwars: What I saw in the submissions (Jami Nord)
It’s Almost #PitchWars Decision Time (Brighton Walsh)
Good News & Bad News: Trends in Pitch Wars submissions (Michelle Hazen)
Stats on Pitch Wars Submissions & Requests (Michelle Hazen)
Notes from the PitchWars Slush (Michelle Hauck)
The Awful Truth About Being A Mentor (Mary Ann Marlowe)
Pitch Wars Update (Michael Mammay)
Pitch Wars Questions & Answers Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 (Michael Mammay)
More About that #PitchWars Spreadsheet (Mary Ann Marlowe)
Thoughts (and some stats) from a PitchWars Mentor (Laura Brown)
Pitch Wars Pep Talk (E.B. Wheeler)
Etiquette and Survival in Pitch Wars (Amanda Hill)
Pitch Wars Mentor Musing (Sharon Johnston)
Confessions of a PitchWars Mentor (Carrie Callaghan)
PitchWars: Behind the Scenes (Judi Lauren)
More PitchWars Stuff (Judi Lauren)


Polishing & critiquing

Is This Any Good? (Michael Mammay)
How to Find a Critique Partner (CP) (Michael Mammay)
Critiques and Cultivating Self-Awareness (MK England)
The Importance of Critique Partners (Kelly Siskind)

Your 8-Step Plan Before Diving Into Edits (Kate Foster)
Final Editing Checklist (Kim Long)
F Words and Other Writing Mishaps (Jeanmarie Anaya)
Self-Editing Checklist (Brighton Walsh)

A Behind the Scenes Look at Pitch Wars (Michael Mammay)
More Pitch Wars Behind the Scenes Truth (Michael Mammay)
Pitch Wars Behind The Scenes Part 2: The Mentors Strike Back (Michael Mammay)


The business side

Writing a Synopsis with Voice (Laura Brown)
Pitch Wars: The Query…Simplified (Brenda Drake)
Pitch Wars: The Synopsis…Simplified (Brenda Drake)
Pitch Wars: The 35-Word and Twitter Pitch…Simplified (Brenda Drake)
Taking Your Query from Good to Great Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 (Amanda Hill)
Synopses are Actually Awesome (MK England)
Pitch Wars query critiques Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 (Kim Graff)

Being a Prolific Writer Part 1 | Part 2 (Lynnette Labelle)
Do you Want to Become a Prolific Writer? (Lynnette Labelle)

An Agent’s Perspective on Pitch Wars and Other Contests (Laura Heffernan)



Characterization-More than Paper Dolls+A peptalk for #pitchwars (Jami Nord)

Make Me FEEL It: Internalization (Amanda Hill)

Writing Sex and Violence: What your action scenes can teach your “getting action” scenes (Michelle Hazen)

Once Upon a Time…Opening with a BANG! #Pitchwars (Jami Nord)
Middles-Or how Point A gets to Point Z #Pitchwars (Jami Nord)
#pitchwars – THE END! (Jami Nord)
Tips on Strong Endings (Laura Brown)


Perseverance & inspiration

The Power of Perseverance (Brighton Walsh)
In Publishing, No News is Good News (Dan Koboldt)
What to Do if You Don’t Get Selected for Pitch Wars (Michael Mammay)
10 Things About Pitch Wars You May Not Know (Michael Mammy)
Why Pitch Wars? (Laura Brown)
On Rejection and Time Spent (Machinations) (Hayley Stone)
Hope in Careful Doses: Or (What I Didn’t Expect on the Path to Getting an Agent) (Margarita Montimore)
How to Deal with Frustrated Writers (1, Stop Saying “It Only Takes One Yes”) (Margarita Montimore)
A Message to the Incoming Pitch Wars Mentees (Michael Mammay)
Pitch Wars: What will you give up? (Elizabeth Leis-Newman)
Pep Talk: You Are More Than This Moment (Cindy Baldwin)
The Truth about #PitchWars Slush (Kim Graff)
Monday Musings: On #PitchWars and Why You Should Always Keep Writing (Amy Trueblood)
#PitchWars: The Window Closes PSA #1 All My Dirty Secrets Revealed… (Lisa Amowitz)



Writing Tips & Tricks Catch-All (Brighton Walsh)
How to Turn a Partial MS Request into a Full (Michelle Hazen)
Assortment of #PitchWars and Writing Advice (Mary Ann Marlowe)
Pitch Wars Homework Assignments (MK England)


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