Pitch Wars Interview with Amanda Rawson Hill and Heidi Stallman and their mentor, Jessica Vitalis
Sep29

Pitch Wars Interview with Amanda Rawson Hill and Heidi Stallman and their mentor, Jessica Vitalis

Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews by Marnise Nicole Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project. Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.   Meet Amanda Rawson Hill, Heidi Stallman, and their mentor Jessica Vitalis Team: Operation Magic Jessica Vitalis (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself. Eight years ago, I made a commitment to get serious about the one activity I’ve always loved (but was too scared to pursue): writing. Since I had no idea how to go about making up book-length stories, I decided to start with a YA memoir about my bizarre childhood, which was spent living on the fringes of society. While the story was unique, my writing was not. The good news is that by the time I had the sense to tuck the manuscript away in the desk drawer where it belonged, I’d learned a great deal about how to write a novel (and how not to). Armed with that knowledge, I wrote a second YA. It wasn’t until I turned to my third novel, a middle grade, that everything I’d learned over the years came together, sparking a passion for middle grade literature. (Fun fact: I’ve read every Newbery Medal winner for the last 20 years) Along with my knowledge of craft, my writing style has evolved over time. I’ve tried writing a novel with no pre-planning, I’ve tried writing from an outline, and I’ve discovered that a combination of both works best (for me). I like to start with a MC and climax in mind and let the character reveal how his or her story is going to unfold. After I complete the first draft, I outline the story to highlight weaknesses and give me a roadmap for the revision process. Amanda Rawson Hill (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself. Hi, I’m Amanda Rawson Hill. Three and a half years ago I couldn’t sleep because the words of a picture book kept running through my head. I’ve been writing ever since. (And yes, the picture book was awful.) Since then I’ve traveled every inch of I-80 over the course of three moves and written almost every night while my kids tried to escape their bedtime prisons. I really love to read anything that sticks with me long after it’s finished. For me, those are usually stories with bittersweet endings. So I’m kind of a downer-reader. If it’s sad, I probably love it. Of course, I can’t only read sad books because I do occasionally like to enjoy life. So I break them up with contemporary fantasy and retellings. My writing style is…evolving. Is that...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Courtney Leigh and her mentor Summer Spence
Sep29

Pitch Wars Interview with Courtney Leigh and her mentor Summer Spence

Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews by Marnise Nicole Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project. Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.   Meet Courtney Leigh and Summer Spence Team: TeamEmotionsss Summer Spence (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself. I read EVERYTHING. No, really. I’ve been obsessed with George R.R. Martin since 1999 (waaaaay before it was cool), grew up reading Nancy Drew, love detective novels like Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, Harry Potter quotes will be engraved on my tombstone, and love love love ALL Young Adult – contemp, fantasy, historical, suspense and everything in-between. The Hobbit was the first “grown-up” book I read on my own, and I’ve always wanted to go on a grand adventure… which is probably why I couldn’t put down Choose Your Own Adventure books! My writing style tends to be lyrical with a ton of literary influences, but I’m pretty grounded in the real world. I like to see how contemporary characters deal with fantastical problems. When I write, it’s all about the character — I studied classical acting in college and have learned to tumble deep into the rabbit hole of a character’s life. I like to understand WHY people do things and how that WHY changes the course of their life. And I fully believe that fictional characters can change a reader’s life. That’s why I write. Courtney Leigh (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself. As far as reading tastes go, YA (any genre) and memoir are my two faves, but I try to throw in a factual but interesting nonfiction and an adult novel every once in a while. Also, MG is fun! My favorite YA authors are people like Nova Ren Suma, John Corey Whaley, Cat Winters, Megan Abbott (IMO, her last few books count as YA), Garth Nix, and many others. If I could write a book that captures the wit of 10 Things I Hate About You, the Texas grit of Friday Night Lights, and the epic yet tragic love of Moulin Rouge, I would die happy because that there would be a perfect book, y’all. Summer, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars? I had such an AMAZING experience when I participated in Pitch Wars, and I knew that if I was ever in a position to be able to help a fellow writer that way, I would be all in! The community I gained has been my life-support in an industry where it’s so easy for the passion and focus on creating worlds out of words can get crushed and die. I learned...

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