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A Pitch Wars Team Interview with Susan Vizurraga and mentor, Nicole Panteleakos

Sunday, 3 February 2019  |  Posted by Lisa Leoni

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 starting on February 6, 2019, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2018 Pitch Wars Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Susan Vizurraga
Susan Vizurraga
Nicole Panteleakos
Nicole Panteleakos
Website | Twitter

Nicole, why did you choose Susan?

Susan’s historical novel-in-verse captured me right away. The underlying elements about feminism, seeking justice versus comfortable complacency, military-related PTSD, and STEM importance for girls still resonate today, and her creative format – splicing in collages to give readers a literal picture of the headlines, fashion, and life during the Nixon administration and Vietnam War – was fascinating.

Susan, why did you choose to submit to Nicole?

I discovered Pitch Wars just 2 days before the submission deadline, so I didn’t have time to research much other than the mentor blogs. Lucky for me, Nicole’s wish list included novels in verse and American historical novels, and tween protagonists struggling to stand out or fit in. I also liked the other items she had on her wish list; she seemed open to the same sorts of writing that I lean toward (writing and reading), and I loved her clever voice and approach to editing!

Nicole, summarize Susan’s book in 3 words.

Engaging, historical, feminist

Susan, summarize your book in 3 words.

awakening feminist 1969

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

I name my cats after writers: Shakespeare, Poe, (Mary) Shelley, Dickens, and Beckett… and I dress them up for Halloween.

Susan, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I was hoping to get a mentor who would help to shape up my manuscript as well as advise me on what I dread most: writing an effective query letter for it. What I’ve discovered is that I have found someone who has great ideas for improving the story while keeping it my own, and who promises that she LOVES writing queries! Even more, I’ve found a supportive group of hopeful, emerging, and accomplished writers, and scores more books to read and look forward to.

Susan, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?

While I’m new to writing middle grade novels, I did write 2 picture books that were published about 20 years ago. They were quiet, rather poetic books, with great illustrators, but picture books were changing and becoming bigger, brighter, more art- and character-driven. I had children, I went back to work as a teacher, I got another degree in English Ed, I read a lot more middle grade novels, and when I finally got back to serious writing, I found that my writing style, and now my interests, were better suited to middle grade. What’s more, I realized that my childhood memories could now be fodder for historical fiction.

My manuscript, Collage, is a novel in verse about a girl who turns 13 during the 1969-70 school year. Like me during that time, Jane is immersed in the popular culture of music, fashion, film, and TV. Also like me during that time, Jane struggles to assert her place in a culture that she gradually realizes is unjust. Like me and like older middle grade readers today, Jane experiences the heartbreak and happiness of family, friends, and finding what you love.

Check out Nicole’s upcoming release, PLANET EARTH IS BLUE!

Planet Earth is Blue book cover
Pre-order now on Amazon

A heartrending and hopeful debut novel about a nonverbal girl and her passion for space exploration, for fans of See You in the Cosmos, Mockingbird, and The Thing About Jellyfish.

Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger–it’s the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event on live TV in their classrooms. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home.

While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands how intelligent and special Nova is, and all that she can’t express. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova’s new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she is making friends without Bridget. But every day, she’s counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she’ll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, “No matter what, I’ll be there. I promise.”

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 6 – 11, 2019. If you’re an agent and would like to participate, you must register here: https://pitchwars.org/info-for-agents/.

We hope you’ll join us to support our teams on the Twitter hashtag #PitchWars.

Filed: Interviews

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