It’s that time of year again, aren’t you excited? Team oMG is!
You can find team oMG on Twitter at @C_B_Catalano and @shaunaholyoak
Before we dive into our wishlist *rubs hands together* we’d like to tell you a little about ourselves, and why we can’t wait to pay it forward, and help a fellow writer out.
So, I’m Cass *wave* and this is, oh, possibly my 4th time revising this bio post. Revisions are crucial in all aspects of life, and most definitely in this contest, keeping this in mind, if you’re willing to get down and dirty with us, like kill your darlings –even the one you swore you never would– read on!
This is my first year as a Pitch Wars mentor. I am thrilled to be entering this new world with the most amazing, absolutely awesome, co-mentor Shauna Holyoak! We met a few years ago during another Twitter pitch event, and joined a group of similar contest hopefuls. And thank the stars I did because they are some of the most supportive, caring writers and CPs I’ve ever met in this journey!
PCC for life!
Let me say, (and I cannot stress how important this is), the friends you find in the writing community, especially from events like Pitch Wars, are worth their weight in gold.
If you manage to make even one friend during Pitch Wars, trust me when I say you are the ultimate winner already. Now, back to business 😉
My name is Shauna Holyoak, and I expend roughly 25% of my energy writing and 50% of my energy resisting the urge to hunt down and consume all the frosted sugar cookies. I made a chart.
Writing MG is my favorite. My debut novel MY PAPER ROUTE AND OTHER DEADLY THINGS will be published in spring 2019 by Disney-Hyperion. Half of my writing time is currently spent pinching myself about that last part (please don’t turn that into a story problem for me to solve—it will break my brain).
I live in Idaho Falls, Idaho with my game-board designing husband, six of our children and two naughty dogs. Amy Poehler makes me happy, and Leslie Knope makes me happier.
I grew up on Ramona and Fudge books, which instilled a love for spunky, strong characters (also, see above).
And then Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry taught me just how powerful middle-grade fiction could be. So I tend toward contemporary, but MG fiction with strong characters and all the feels is ultimately what gets me.
I am so excited to be co-mentoring with Cass (she is AWESOME!) for this year’s Pitch Wars. It was my entry last year to Brooks Benjamin and Caroline Thompson’s team (spoiler alert: I didn’t make it) that got me the feedback I needed to shine up my manuscript and win a slot in #PitchSlam. That led me to the best agent (shout out to CARRIE PESTRITTO!) and then a pinch-worthy two-book deal!
Pitch Wars is a tremendous opportunity, and I’m so grateful and excited to be a part of it. Also, I can’t wait to fight over entries!
Hi y’all! I’m Cassandra Newbould aka C.B. Catalano, and I cannot wait to read all your words. And fight over entries with Shauna. We will duel to the death for a book we love!
Back in the day I was that girl who enjoyed being sent to their room, because hey! extra reading time! Anything from Little Women, to the Black Stallion. If I could hold it, I was reading it. My lust for all the words continued on through teenage-hood. That’s when I fell in love with all things fantasy, and would dive head-first into the lands of The Tortall Universe, Shannara, and Darkover to name a few. *Sometimes* when my sis and bff would sneak out to go party I’d stay home to read instead. They’d laugh, but there was nothing better than curling up with a good book, a good blanket, and a good dog in my opinion.
*curling up with Jake Gyllenhaal wouldn’t be too shabby either 😉 *
When I had my kiddos, I would spend the evenings telling them the most outrageous stories I could make up in the hopes it would send them to sleep. Eventually, as they grew, they encouraged me to write them down and so my journey as a writer began.
Last year I entered another amazing Twitter pitch event called #DVpit and that is where I met my magnificent and stellar agent, Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media inc.
She fell in love with my MG retelling of Treasure Island: THE MISADVENTURES OF JEM HAWKINS: staring Kick-butt hacker girls, and lady pirates, and all the adventure a girl could want.
Before that, I interned for a NY literary agency for 8 months. Also, I know the ways of middle graders well. My middle son is in the 8th grade this year and my daughter made it through without too many battle wounds a few years ago 🙂
Did I mention I love to write and critique queries? Yeah, I know. But I do, I swear, and I’m happy to say my #NoQS mentee went on to get an agent 🙂 GOOO VALARIE!! so, if you have any questions about how I work as a mentor ask @ValBodden on Twitter.
My husband, a computer engineer who has run the gamut: from MySpace and creating its Open Social platform to autonomous cars for Ford, and I met as teenagers, and had our daughter when I was 22. We have been married 17 years, moved over 21 times together in over 7 states, and have 3 lovely children, 2 awesome cats, and 2 Muppet puppies, otherwise known as Newfypoos.
When I’m not writing, I’m probably playing with my children, playing poker (I want to be a professional poker player when I grow up) cooking with the hubs, painting, drawing, and/or drinking wine. I love everything Baz Luhrmann (he can seriously do no wrong) and am a die-hard *end of world genre* movie buff. For TV, I adore Outlander, Black Sails, Shameless and any and every cooking/baking show known to man. Also, I cannot stop watching the tiny houses shows. I’d love to, but I can’t bring myself to.
Now to the exciting part. DUN DUN DUNNNN
What we’re looking for in a nutshell.
Give us all the feels, all of them! While Shauna leans more towards contemporary and I, fantasy we both agree we’re down for either, and welcome them with open arms –with a few minor exceptions–
If your manuscript contains any of the following we’re probably not the best mentors for you:
Younger MG, sorry but upper MG is our jam
Novels in verse
Now, while we aren’t the best for these stories, as we wouldn’t be able to do them the justice they deserve, we are certain you and your amazing manuscript will be able to find another mentor who will help you achieve that next level of fantastic, and we wish you the best of luck!
So what else are we looking for? Well, if any of your books have the feel of these below send them our way. Please. Pretty please with a query on top?
A Snicker of Magic
The Girl Who Drank The Moon
A Wrinkle In Time
Counting By Sevens
The Thing About Jellyfish
When You Reach Me
Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events
Rules For Thieves
We joyously welcome diverse and own voices stories with open arms. *grabby hands*
Give us your girl mcs that aren’t afraid of what the world thinks of them. Both likable and unlikable. Give us Hermione Grangers stuck at sea, or Katniss with an obsession for oil painting. Give us your MG Inej Gahfas, Nina Zeniks, (and we can’t forget your Kaz Brekkers), all tied up in the ultimate group heist, if you please. Give us your STEM stories (please, pretty please?) Sibling stories or complex girl friendship stories are a quick way to our hearts! 🙂
We’re down for quiet stories that tug at your heart, or action packed fantasies where the world-building blows your mind. Re-tellings set in a modern world or contemporary dramas thrown back in time. Make us laugh. Or cry. Just make us feel like we never want to put your story down!
However, having said all that, if you have a story that doesn’t fit anything we’ve said above and you feel like you want us anyway, send your ms our way. We both love surprises and can’t wait to find out what we end up falling in love with!
What we can bring to the table for you:
Helping you find a killer voice, pointing out areas that could use work without taking over your story, tackling pacing issues, building complex and believable characters, DIALOGUE! and attention to detail, or lack thereof.
*warning* If you aren’t able to attack your ms with an open mind and willingness to rip it apart and build it back even stronger, perhaps we aren’t the right mentors for you. We will never demand that something be changed, it’s your story after all and you know it best, but you entered Pitch Wars for a reason and hopefully we can help you polish your shiny jewel even farther than it is now.
Good luck fellow writers, may the odds be ever in your favor!
Have you been sitting here wondering where you can find out more about Shauna? Well, here is the link to Shauna’s blog
Shout out to Brenda Drake for this opportunity for all of us, may your reign be long and fruitful!
Links to the other spectacular mentors below: