Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist 2017

It’s that time of year again, aren’t you excited? Team oMG is!

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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.

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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 😉

Meet Shauna:

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.

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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.

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I grew up on Ramona and Fudge books, which instilled a love for spunky, strong characters (also, see above).

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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!

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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.

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*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.

Seriously, Muppets.

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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.

Middle Grade.

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

Sports

Horror

Hard Sci-fi

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

Monstrous

Counting By Sevens

The Thing About Jellyfish

When You Reach Me

Mockingbird

Holes

Percy Jackson

Wonder

Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events

The Gauntlet

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

Shauna’s amazingly awesome blog

Shout out to Brenda Drake for this opportunity for all of us, may your reign be long and fruitful!

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Main Blog Link

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The Day The Laundry Won. A Poem (of sorts)

As daylight broke across the sky, in the laundry room there was a cry.

For the basket had spent its night alone, without a friend to call its own.

Bereft of companionship, it sobbed and sighed.

I want a friend, the basket cried.

And as the sun reached for the clouds, the door opened.

And one single, mismatched, little sock claimed the basket for a home.

The lonely basket cheered with glee. Than one friend turned into two.

Than three.

And as the day progressed, the pile grew.

from thirteen-and-a-half garments to twenty-two.

A ketchup-stained blouse from Sunday brunch.

Some ripped up jeans, nice and scrunched.

A soccer jersey followed next, a romper, and some grass-stained pants.

With ants.

Five dresses wrinkled, but not stained.

Some sweats that had seen better days.

Bathing suits, sizes 10 and 16, warmed by the sun

and some underclothes came in.

One by one.

As the day progressed, the pile grew.

In twos, and threes, until twenty-two became forty-five-and-3/4s.

So many friends did the basket make.

It cheered inside. Life was great!

Until the door opened once more.

A hand reached in and grabbed one of its pals.

Than four.

Five, six, seven and eight.

Some overalls, a polka-dot dress for an evening date.

A peas-and-carrots-stained bib.

Some trousers, inside the pockets-a pencil with a chewed up nib.

And as the pile decreased in size, the basket once again did cry.

It knew soon it would be alone again.

Without so much as a single friend.

But, for as quickly as the hand did work, taking away each friend- denim jacket and checkered shirt.

Smaller hands did slip inside, adding to the pile so fast it multiplied.

Until the basket was fully stocked again.

Plus some for good measure.

It held them close, its own dear treasure.

The night fell across the room.

To the basket’s surprise, the human did not come back.

And so the basket thanked the stars and the sky for hearing its dear wish and cry.

And in days to come when it was empty in the light of the shining sun.

It would never forget the day the laundry won.

So next time you’re fed up with washing clothes and would like to burn them all.

Consider the lonely basket.

And then burn the clothes anyway.

You’ll feel better.

I swear.

Once upon a time a single sock made its way into a lonely basket.

 

Signal Loss (or, my apocalypse now! flash fiction entry for terribleminds.com)

My finger ached from pressing the refresh button so often.

It was a sickness, I was sure of it, but I couldn’t keep away from watching the President’s newest word vomit as it projectiled across my screen. For the last 3 days I’d been glued to my computer. Every single post killing me a little more inside.

Who would have thought 140 characters would have such devastating impact on humanity? I held my breath with the rest of the world as we waited. It’d been half an hour since his last post. We all knew a new one was coming any second.

5. 4. 3. 2. 1.

Refresh!

:The dishonest media claims I’m poisoning the ocean with nuclear waste from my latest attack on the bigly continent of my Yuge Kingdom. LIES!

Bile burned my throat. I choked on it’s bitterness as I wiped away tears free-falling from my eyes. I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking when I stood. A silent scream filled the air with its empty voice when I crossed the living room to pull back the curtains.

For the first time in my life I wished I didn’t live on the coast. Having the ocean as your backyard had always felt like a gift. I was special. Any day I could look outside and bam. Paradise, there for my taking.

But today it would be different. And I didn’t know if I possessed the power to face what was out there now.

The scream that managed to evade my voicebox for so long finally made its way out in full force as I took in the catastrophe before me now.

The ocean, once so eloquent in its opulent hues of blue, was now  a sickly, toxic neon green.

I fell to my knees. Not to pray, I’d given up on that concept from day one. No, I fell because I didn’t have the strength to stand anymore.

Somehow, the President had been granted the power to voice his wishes and turn them into reality. Any time he posted, within moments, his words changed the world.

So far, the world had lost half its population. Of course, that was just hearsay due to the fact that with his very first decree, a 700,000 foot wall magically appeared around our country, so it was hard to know for sure. But after what else had come to pass, I believed it heart and soul.

I was one of the lucky ones, as least I liked to tell myself that. At least there was still half a mile’s worth of the sea before the monolith came into view. Not that that mattered anymore.

Wonder what kinda dress matched radiation green? Mom always told me to dress for the occasion. To be honest, I think I’m screwed.

The ringing of the phone pulled me out of my breakdown. With trepidation I answered.

“Yeah?”

“Dude, what in the fuck of fucks?” Sammy never bothered with small talk. I loved her for it.

“I know, I’m staring at it right now. I can’t believe this is happening.”

“Oh, come the fuck on, Leena, seriously? I mean seriously. You can’t believe this after what happened 2 hours ago?” She paused, letting me remember. As if anyone could ever forget.

At 8:56 am on Jan 23rd (only two hours ago, even though it felt like a lifetime) Mr. Prez made the impossible, possible.

:The dishonest media are ZOMBIES. Brain-sucking, Life-taking ZOMBIES. LIARS. The lot of them.

At 8:57 a new breed of monster was set upon the world. Hordes of brain-sucking zombie journalists roamed the streets. Thank fuck I’d gone grocery shopping yesterday when our Ruler Supreme only wished the world into a tropical heatwave with his proclamation that global warming was a hoax.

Note to self, never use the words, if global warming is real than show me. Prove me wrong. Thanks, universe, we really appreciate it. I mean, 123 degrees in winter, in the Pacific Northwest, in winter, is like totally normal. Right?

Sammy’s voice as she cleared her throat in satisfaction grated on my very last nerve.

I answered, wondering when she’d make it home from work. Hopefully she watched the How To Kill A Zombie In 5 Easy Steps tutorial I’d sent her earlier. Who could work in this mess of a life? “Okay. I get your point. But still, this. I can’t . . . I can’t even right now.”

I’d never ever been one of those people unable to finish a sentence before, but I finally understood the meaning behind the phrase, and for the life of me, I don’t think there’s anything more succinct.

“Oh, hun. I know. At least we have each other right. I mean nothing will be able to tear that apart. Our love can overc–”

A sharp beeping noise replaced Sammy’s voice and my body stiffened. No. No!

The phone fell from my hand as I raced to my laptop  and hit refresh again.

My stomach made a home somewhere around my ankles as I scrolled, hoping and praying I was wrong.

:As of now, only the sanctity of marriage as between a man and woman will be acknowledged. Those of same-sex will be as if they never were.

Never were.

Sammy.

No . . .

This was the last straw. I clicked on a link, knowing once I hit enter there was no turning back. The time had come. I’d never been a revolutionary before. But my life, my love, my reason for being were all now a thing of the past.

A large ad glared at me, bright, screaming. I inhaled. The air hit my taste buds with a staleness I would never be able to swallow. So this is what freedom smelled like?

Do You Want To Join The Resistance?

With lightning-fast fingers I typed three simple words that would forever change my life.

Oh, Fuck Yes!

The End