Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Melissa Hed with mentor Kelly deVos and Peggy J. Sheridan with mentors C.B. Catalano and Shauna Holyoak

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 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Melissa Hed – Mentee

Instagram | Twitter

Kelly deVos – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Melissa, why did you choose to submit to Kelly?

The title of Kelly’s debut FAT GIRL ON A PLANE hooked me right away, as did the tag line – Big Dreams Come in All Sizes. We both write about larger than life characters and I hoped she could help me promote body positivity with sensitivity, sensuality, and a good dose of humor. Since we share a common interest in ghosts, tarot, and psychics, I felt comfortable knowing I wouldn’t be the only unicorn in the room. Plus, Kelly has a degree in Creative Writing. I respect that she’s focussed on improving craft and I’m thankful she’s mindful of marketability.

Kelly, why did you choose Melissa?

I was definitely on the lookout for submissions with plus-size characters as increasing representation of people with a variety of body types is something that’s really important to me. Melissa’s manuscript, while it acknowledges society’s fat phobia, delivers a really cool, complex, mostly confidant plus-size heroine. There was also something about the overall story of a girl so desperate to be Prom Queen that even death can’t stand in the way that really resonated with me. Melissa’s book is for everyone with a dream they can’t let go of.

Melissa, summarize your book in 3 words.

Life after death

Kelly, summarize Melissa’s book(s) in 3 words.

Bethany kicks butt!

Melissa, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I wanted to bridge the gap between the living and the dead by giving at least one perspective on why a ghost might stick around. Yeah, that sounds totally weird. Let me try again. I wrote The Other Side of Normal as a ghost story told from the perspective of the ghost because my protagonist insisted I do it this way. Now it sounds like I’m talking to fictional characters. I mean, I do that, but it’s not really something I want to admit to in an interview question. Okay, now I have the answer. What makes me and my MS unique? Answer: I’m dead serious. I wrote about a protagonist who is, too.

Kelly, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I collect scratch and sniff stickers!

And next, we have . . .

Peggy J. Sheridan – Mentee

Twitter

C.B. Catalano – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Shauna Holyoak – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Peggy, why did you choose to submit to C.B. and Shauna?

In their mentor bio, Cass and Shauna talked about how powerful middle grade could be and that spoke right to my heart. I believe middle grade books can and do change kids lives. They also said they were open to quiet stories with all the feels and a lot of their favorite books are mine, too. That gave me hope that, although they didn’t mention wanting historical MG specifically, my story stood a chance. Last but not least, Shauna’s Energy Breakdown pie chart matches what mine would look like if I made one (which is totally something I would do) and Cass shared pictures of her adorable dogs so I knew she would totally get me. I greet dogs before their people. I’m so glad Cass and Shauna chose me. As a team, they are oMG, awesome!

C.B., why did you and Shauna choose Peggy?

Because SUMMER OF ROCKS AND HARD PLACES pulls at your heartstrings. It’s a coming-of-age story that revolves around a family member having PTSD from being in Vietnam and how that affects the whole family dynamic. In this day and political climate we think it’s a very poignant story to tell.

Peggy, summarize your book in 3 words.

Grief. Friendship. Hope.

C.B., summarize Peggy’s book(s) in 3 words.

All The Feels

Peggy, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I grew up on the river in Texas but didn’t learn to swim until I was twelve. As kids, my friends and I had a lot of freedom–and we got into more than a few scrapes. I wanted to capture some of the fun and adventure of that time in a kid’s in life, but also honor the challenging family situations many face. Thematically, I wanted to explore the price of freedom on an individual, family and societal level. I thought examining the after-effects of war on one family as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy in the midst of an otherwise carefree summer created the right juxtaposition.

C.B., tell us about yourself and Shauna. Something we may not already know.

C.B.: I used to be a breakdancer. And I love all things related to dance and music. Then I got hit by a cargo van as a pedestrian, which meant no more dancing for me. Because of this accident, I suffer from PTSD, so when I read Peggy’s ms it hit me right in the gut. Which is one of the reasons it became my #1 choice out of all the amazing subs we received.

And on a lighter note, Shauna’s first job following college graduation was working 12-hour shifts at a pea-processing plant. Yep, she spent her days shoveling frozen peas into giant boxes 🙂 Which didn’t factor at all into why she picked Peggy’s ms, but it sure is a pretty epic first job 🙂

Our mentors’ latest releases…

Kelly deVos’ debut novel, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, will be published in 2018 by Harlequin Teen.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s postgraduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons School of Design and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin—and Cookie weighs in at over three hundred pounds. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.

Thanks to her work for a Scottsdale fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to meet her design idols—where she hopes to personally pitch her plus-size portfolio and appeal for a scholarship to Parsons. Her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat too fly. Forced to turn to her BFF, Tommy, for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane only to arrive in the city to find the blog is under new ownership. Cookie has been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Hurt and humiliated, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with Tommy and put her life on track.

Fast-forward two years. Cookie has dropped the weight—and won the attention of designer of the moment Gareth Miller. He offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York. Cookie expected nothing but sunshine and rainbows. But not only is she stuck with the same old problems, she has a big choice to make: achieve her old dreams…or dream new ones.

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Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!

 

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