Pitch Wars Interview with Ernie Chiara and his mentor, Kristen Lepionka
Sep22

Pitch Wars Interview with Ernie Chiara and his mentor, Kristen Lepionka

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . . Ernie Chiara – Mentee Twitter | Website Kristen Lepionka – Mentor Twitter | Website   Ernie, why did you choose Kristen? Narrowing down which mentors to sub was excruciating. After reading through their bios and wish lists I narrowed it down to six, all of whom had their own qualities and qualifications I felt might be able to help my manuscript. Kristen listed things like character development, dialogue, setting, overall structure, plot untangling, and identifying inconsistencies as some of her strengths. Since those are a few of my many trouble areas, adding her to my list was a no-brainer. She also mentioned wanting to see “smart, gorgeous lit fic.” She added, “If it’s strange, experimental and/or gritty in some way, I’m there! Give me your troubled characters, [and] family secrets…” While I’m not sure about smart and gorgeous, I’m pretty sure I had the strange, experimental, and gritty parts nailed! Kristen, why did you choose Ernie’s manuscript? The premise grabbed me right away–a drug-dealing museum cafe waitress? That’s a story made for me. As I continued to read, I was moved by the narrative and the way it explores important social issues. I had a very clear vision for what I thought the manuscript needed, too, and I knew I could make a big impact on it. Ernie, summarize your book in three words. Poignant. Gritty. Heartwrenching. Kristen, summarize Ernie’s book in three words. Life imitates art. Ernie, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique? Growing up in the inner-city neighborhoods around Boston, I spent quite a few late nights doing graffiti art, where I witnessed first hand the plight of the homeless in and around the back alleys where I painted. I grew to see them not as indolent bums to be walked past and ignored, but as people with unique stories who had fallen on hard times, who might just have talents of their own that were going unnoticed as they faced their difficult personal issues. CHASING TRISTESSE is about just this kind of person. Tristesse, the protagonist, is a young man from a broken home, struggling with addiction while living under a bridge along the Charles River, who also happens to be one of the greatest artists of a generation. He’d always used art as a private...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Yael Mermelstein and her mentor Jessica Vitalis
Sep22

Pitch Wars Interview with Yael Mermelstein and her mentor Jessica Vitalis

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . . Yael Mermelstein – Mentee Twitter Jessica Vitalis – Mentor Twitter | Website Yael: Why did you choose Jessica? Jessica listed four things she’s looking for in a book and it felt like she’d listed all of my particular strengths as a writer. On top of that, I incessantly read MG and YA until way too late at night (Kindle rocks for those of us overseas) and Jessica’s list of favorite authors included SEVEN of my favorites too. And I loved her confidence – she’d written that she loves to critique and that she’s “darn good at it”. Everyone has their weaknesses but I enjoy people who aren’t shy about their strengths either. But the clincher was watching her on the live interview segment – her passion and personality oozed out of the screen. That’s when I decided I desperately wanted her to pick me! The funny thing is, while all of those things are still true, right now my enthusiasm for Jessica is amped up by much more than her professional expertise (which is EXCELLENT) – she’s a really special human being with a beautiful heart. And though we come from different walks of life – I think we have a lot of commonality and connectedness. Jessica: Why did you choose Yael? Yael is a talented writer with an outstanding voice. The themes in her manuscript resonated deeply with me and I couldn’t get the story out of my head. Plus, our early communications left little doubt that she’d be a dream to work with: she’s enthusiastic, dedicated, thoughtful, and an all-around great person. Yael: Summarize your book in three words. Heart. Mind. Journey. Jessica: Summarize Yael’s book in three words. Mystery, Neurodiversity, Road trip (that’s one word, right?) Yael: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique? My home is nestled in the undulating Judean Hills of Israel, where I wake up some mornings to the bleating of the sheep as they’re shepherded through the valley outside my window. I live here with my husband and our SEVEN superlative and complex children. My husband and I met while working with the special needs population – one of our super-special charges introduced us! Today our home has a revolving door for all sorts of gorgeous kids with varied handicaps and our kids do most of...

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Pitch Wars Interview with Dana Kramaroff and her mentor, Melyssa Mercado
Sep22

Pitch Wars Interview with Dana Kramaroff and her mentor, Melyssa Mercado

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 3rd-9th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2016 Pitch Wars Teams. And now, we have . . . Dana Kramaroff- Mentee Twitter | Blog Melyssa Mercado – Mentor Twitter | Blog Dana: Why did you choose Melyssa? There were so many things that my MS and I connected with when I read Mel’s wish list, too many to write down so I just wrote FUN next to her name because, well, she sounded so fun! Plus, she loves roller skating and as fate would have it, my book has a roller skating par-TAY in it, so of course we were meant to be! Melyssa: Why did you choose Dana.? Wow, the first reason was that I saw potential for a storyline I haven’t yet seen in middle grade, a missing mirror for some very special MG readers. There were some really fun dynamics all throughout the manuscript, cool sub plots, and an adorable and passionate voice just waiting to be heard. The more I thought about Dana’s story, the more excited I became about getting it out into the world. I was all, ooooh, I can help with this and that and this and that (yup, totally brought out the visionary mentor mama in me). When I hinted at a full re-write to switch a sub plot to the main storyline, Dana didn’t flinch. In fact, I could practically feel the wheels turning in her head, even before she knew how passionate I was about her story. Great voice, important story, and an enthusiastic and willing writer? What more could a happy mentor ask for? (-: Dana.: Summarize your book in three words. Normal is overrated. Melyssa: Summarize Dana’s book in three words. Unique. Enlightening. Needed. Dana.: Tell us about yourself. What makes you and your MS unique? I was voted Miss Congeniality once and try to live up to that title every day. I want the people around me to feel cared about. My story is unique because it deals with a juvenile knee condition that keeps twelve-year-old, Natalie, from doing all the things she loves to do—well, her knee pain and the pain of an ex-BFF middle grade Nemesis, which no amount of physical therapy can cure. My MC’s knee issue is the same one I had, when I was her age. I wanted to tell this story because I felt so alone back then. The feeling of not being able to play sports, be in gym class, jump, run, and roller...

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