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Pitch Wars 2017: Middle Grade Mentor Spotlights (Part 1)

Wednesday, 26 July 2017  |  Posted by Heather Cashman



We’re so grateful for our Pitch Wars mentors! They give so much to help other authors succeed, and we couldn’t have Pitch Wars without them. So please help me in thanking the mentors for all they do via twitter, the comments, or on the Pitchwars Proboards.

Pitch Wars 2017 MIDDLE GRADE Mentors



Alexandra Ott

 Website | Twitter

Alexandra Ott writes middle grade and young adult fiction. Her debut middle grade fantasy novel Rules for Thieves was published by Aladdin/Simon and Schuster in June 2017. A sequel will follow in 2018.

Alex graduated from the University of Tulsa, where she studied English. She is currently an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing. In her spare time, she plays the flute, eats a lot of chocolate, and reads just about everything. She lives in Oklahoma with her tiny canine overlord.

RULESFORTHIEVESfinalRules for Thieves by Alexandra Ott

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Simon and Schuster | Target.com | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play

After twelve-year-old orphan Alli Rosco is cursed with a deadly spell, she must join the legendary Thieves Guild in order to try and save herself in this high-stakes debut.

Twelve-year-old Alli Rosco is smart, resourceful, and totally incapable of keeping her mouth shut. Some of these traits have served her well during her nine years in Azeland’s orphanage, and others have proved more troublesome…but now that she’s escaped to try her luck on the streets, she has bigger problems than extra chores to contend with. Surviving would be hard enough, but after a run-in with one of the city’s Protectors, she’s marked by a curse that’s slowly working its way to her heart. There is a cure, but the cost is astronomical—and seems well out of her reach.

Enter Beck, a boy with a gift for theft and a touch of magic, who seems almost too good to be true. He tells Alli that the legendary Thieves Guild, long thought to be a myth, is real. Even better, Beck is a member and thinks she could be, too. All she has to do is pass the trial that the King of Thieves will assign to her. Join the Guild, collect her yearly reward and buy a cure. Plus, Alli hopes the Guild will be the home—the family—that Alli has always wanted. But when their trial goes wrong, innocent lives are put in danger, and Alli has to decide how much she can sacrifice in order to survive.


amanda conran

Amanda Conran

Website | Facebook Twitter

When A. E. Conran (Amanda) is not writing her own children’s books or working as a freelance editor, she is a children’s book specialist, school book fair book talker and children’s book club facilitator at the renowned Bay Area independent bookstore, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA.

The Lost Celt (Gosling Press, 2016) her first middle grade novel was awarded a gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America. Originally from Leicestershire, England, Amanda now lives in the Bay Area with her husband, son and daughter. She is a co-founder of the Better Books Marin workshop and is represented by Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary Agency.

THe Lost CeltThe Lost Celt by Amanda Conran

Goodreads | Amazon

Primed by their favorite video war game pitting Celts against Romans, Mikey and Kyler are convinced that they’ve seen a real live Celtic warrior. Has the Celt time-traveled as part of a secret defense project? In tracking him down, the boys solve the biggest mystery of their lives.

“THE LOST CELT is the best kind of children’s adventure story, full of taut suspense, riveting action, and, most importantly, humor and heart. Not to be missed.”
—Katherine Applegate
Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal

“Mikey is trying to solve the most amazing riddle of his life in this fun ride with rich, real characters and high stakes.”
—Eric Elfman

“A. E. Conran mixes schoolyard drama, family interactions, and heroes’ tales in a sensitive book that leaves us cheering for veterans of all generations and their families.”
—Suzanne Morgan Williams
Author of BULL RIDER


Co-Mentors Amanda Rawson Hill & Cindy Baldwin


Cindy Baldwin

Website | Twitter

Cindy Baldwin is a Carolina girl who moved to the opposite coast and is now gamely doing her part in keeping Portland weird. As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of someday writing just that kind of book.

Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin . . .

Add it to Goodreads

HarperCollins has acquired Where the Watermelons Grow, a debut by Cindy Baldwin. In this middle-grade novel, 12-year-old Della will do anything to cure her mother’s schizophrenia and keep her family together – even if it means asking for help from the eccentric Bee Lady, and making up from her worst-ever fight with her best friend. Publication is slated for summer 2018.

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Amanda Rawson Hill

Website | Twitter

Amanda Rawson Hill grew up in Southwest Wyoming with a library right outside her back gate (which accounts a lot for how she turned out.) After graduating high school, she attended Brigham Young University where she recieved both her MRS degree and her bachelors degree in chemistry. Today, Amanda lives in the central valley of California with her husband and three children. She loves to homeschool, garden, knit, play the piano, sing, and embarrass her family when she dances.

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill


THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC follows Kate, who is starting to believe in what her grandmother calls “everyday magic”—she just hopes it can bring back her estranged father or her erstwhile best friend. Publication is set for fall 2018.



Ashley Martin

Website | Twitter

When all the other kids still wanted to be zookeepers and astronauts, Ashley dreamed of being a writer. (Okay, so she had her days of wanting to be a zookeeper/veterinarian/any job involving animals, but books were always her best friends.) When she’s not engrossed in the world of her next middle grade novel, you’ll find her drinking copious amounts of tea while hanging out with her husband, two kids, and their aggressively affectionate cats.


Co-Mentors C.B. Catalano & Shauna Holyoak

C.B. Catalano

C.B. Catalano

Website | Twitter

After C. B. Catalano realized she spent more time daydreaming than living in the real world she decided to finally write those dreams down, and is now ready to share them with everyone. C.B. writes MG and YA and is represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media. She can be found wandering around the Pacific Northwest with her 3 kids, husband, and beastly muppet puppies. After moving 21 times over the span of 7 states and 18 years she thinks she may have finally found a place to call home (for now) and aims to explore all that Washington has to offer.



Shauna Holyoak

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Shauna received a master’s degree in English Literature with an emphasis in creative writing from Brigham Young University, but more importantly, frosted sugar cookies and movie popcorn make her heart sing. She was a humor columnist for more than ten years, but quit when it stopped being cool for her children to read about themselves in the paper. Fiction, apparently, is safer. So Shauna writes middle grade and young adult novels which are happily critiqued by her first beta readers–The Offspring. Currently she lives in Idaho Falls with her husband, six of her children and two naughty dogs. And more books than will ever fit in their house.



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Caela Carter

Twitter | Website

Caela Carter writes books about kids and teens. She is a graduate of The New School’s MFA program in writing for children. She has been teaching children and teenagers for ten years. Her books for middle grade readers include My Life with the Liars and Forever or a Long, Long Time. Her books for teens include Me, Him, Them and It; My Best Friend, Maybe and Tumbling.  Caela lives in Brooklyn with her family. You can visit her online at www.caelacarter.com 


Forever or a Long Long Time by Caela Carter

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

From rising new talent Caela Carter, author of My Life with the Liars, comes an achingly beautiful and endearing story about two foster children who want desperately to believe that they’ve found their forever home. Perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, Leslie Connor’s All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, and Sarah Pennypacker’s Pax.

Flora and her brother, Julian, don’t believe they were born. They’ve lived in so many foster homes, they can’t remember where they came from. And even now that they’ve been adopted, Flora still struggles to believe in forever. So along with their new mother, Flora and Julian begin a journey to go back and discover their past—for only then can they really begin to build their future.


E. Latimer

Twitter | Website

E. Latimer is a young adult fantasy writer and literary intern who was born and raised in Victoria, BC and recently moved to Vancouver. She`s had her work published in Chicken Soup For the Soul: Reboot Your Life, and most recently, the Imagines anthology, published by Simon and Schuster.

In her spare time, she writes books, makes silly vlogs with the YA Word Nerds about writing and reads excessively. She`s also one of the hosts of the Wattpad4, a weekly twitter chat which features awesome guests like Lauren DeStefano, Leigh Bardugo and Victoria Aveyard.

Her middle grade gothic fantasy, The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray is coming out from Tundra Books in Spring of 2018.

Frost by Erin Latimer

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Book Depository

Megan Walker’s touch has turned to ice. She can’t stop the frost, and the consequences of her first kiss are horrifying.

When her new powers attract attention, Megan finds herself caught up in an ancient war between Norse giants. One side fuelled by a mad queen’s obsession and an ancient prophecy about Ragnarök, the other by an age-old grudge. Both sides believe Megan to be something she’s not. Both sides will stop at nothing to have her.

Fire or frost. It’s an impossible decision, but she’ll have to act soon, because the storm is coming.



Gabrielle K Byrne

Gabrielle Byrne

The Winged Pen | Twitter | Instagram

Gabrielle lives in the rainy wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where she writes fantasy for middle graders. Gabby studied opera in Philadelphia, medieval studies in New York, literature in Scotland, and marine biology in the Pacific Northwest, but writing stories is the common thread that ties all her interests together. She has a degree in literature and another in environmental studies. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her fishing spineless critters out of the Salish sea with her husband and two daughters. She is represented by Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management.

Co-Mentors Gail Villanueva & Isabelle Adrid


Gail Villanueva & Isabelle Adrid

Find Gail:Twitter | Website

Find Isabelle:Twitter | Website

Gail Villanueva is a Filipina author based in the Philippines. She runs a design studio with her husband in the outskirts of Manila, but also does freelance copywriting on the side. When not in front of her computer coding a website or writing a story, you’ll find her in the backyard, playing with four dogs, five ducks, a chicken, a turtle, and a cat. Gail writes upmarket MG, both historical and contemporary, and with elements of magic. Her fiction is represented by Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group.

Isabelle Adrid is a YA author who writes contemporary fiction with speculative elements. She is also an avid reader of MG books. She was born and raised in San Diego, and she currently resides in the Philippines. When she’s not writing or reading books, you’ll find her binge-watching TV shows, movies, and Korean dramas. Her work is represented by Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary and Management.


Hannah Jones

Hannah Karena Jones

Website | Twitter

Hannah Karena Jones has dual degrees in creative writing and history from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and a certificate in publishing from New York University. Serving as managing editor at Running Press by day and merrily scribbling middle grade novels on nights and weekends, Hannah has a combined passion for both the craft of writing and the publishing industry. Arcadia Publishing released her non-fiction pictorial history book, BYBERRY STATE HOSPITAL, in May 2013. She is represented by Kira Watson at the Emma Sweeney Agency.


heidi stallman

Heidi Stallman

Twitter | Facebook | Website

Heidi Stallman lives in Columbia, Missouri, where she writes and lives for middle school readers. Her heart got stuck in those awkward years, so she’s trying to spread a little magic through the power of a good book. Heidi coaches little league baseball; rescues kittens and German shepherds; loves hiking, bird watching and all things outdoors; and is still a faster swimmer than her twin 8 year-old boys (barely). She spent the summer of 2006 in Uganda building houses with Habitat for Humanity, and has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics with an emphasis in sustainable agriculture. She is represented by Lisa Rogers of JABberwocky Literary Agency.


Jenn Brisendine

Jenn Brisendine

Website | Twitter

Jenn Brisendine, a secondary English/Language Arts teacher, writes middle grade and is repped by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media. She currently enjoys writing historicals with elements of magic, but loves reading a variety of genres in middle grade. She was a Pitchwars ’15 mentee and can be found at @jennbrisendine on Twitter and @jennbrisendinewrites on Instagram. She’s happy to have recently joined the ranks at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors – http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2017/03/umbrella-raining-overarching-conflict-mg/ .  Check out her site https://jennbrisendine.com/  for free teacher printables on great MG novels and for reviews of great books on writing.


Thank you to our 2017 Middle Grade Mentors!

If you want to find out more about what they’re looking for in the submission inbox, you can find them in the 2017 Pitch Wars Mentor Wishlist Blog Hop!

Here are some other quick links to find out all about Pitch Wars . . .

Agent Posts:Meet the Agents Part 1 and Meet the Agents Part 2

Pitch Wars Instructions:All the Details

Donations: Thank you for supporting Pitch Wars!

Discussions and community: Pitchwars Proboards

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