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Pitch Wars Interview with Amanda Donegan and her mentor, Sharon M. Johnston

Thursday, 1 October 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

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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 Sharon M. Johnston and Amanda Donegan

Team: Team Flamming Walrus


Sharon M. Johnston (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up on fables and fairytales. I used to snuggle on my parents bed with my sister while my dad read us amazing stories, captivating me, solidifying my love of the written word. I read horror then romances (because YA didn’t exist like it does nowadays) then fantasy (Oh Sparhawk!). I stopped reading fiction and switched to non fiction when I went to university, my university texts predominately. Because I had some literature electives I also read some short stories and plays. But barely anything for fun. When my oldest son started reading, I started reading MG books so I could share in the joy. Harry Potter got me hooked on reading again. I predominately read YA, but anything with a speculative bent really gets me going, like the Time Travellers Wife, the Curse Workers Series and Outlander.

I’m a ‘What if’ writer. A weird idea comes to me in the form of a ‘What if’ questions. Some times it’s the twist (so I can’t share those – like my story DIVIDED), but other times it’s the premise. For example my contemporary YA WIP is based around “What if my dad had died when I was in high school?” My short story Karma (which was runner up in the Australian Literary Review’s YA short story comp and I’m currently expanding into a novel) came to me when I was very, very pissed off. My dad was dying from cancer and I was really down. I received a rejection from an agent. When I read it I said out loud like “Come on, Karma. Don’t you think I’ve had enough?” Immediately followed by “Ping! What if there were people who were responsible for delivering karma?” I am a complete pantser, so the ideas take on a mind of their own after that.

When I’m not writing or reading (or listening because I’ve become addicted to audio books thanks to my long commute to work) I’m working my PR day job; wrangling guinea pigs, cats and my kids and husband, or working on creating a bigger and better Sugar City Con (my city’s Pop Culture Convention).

Amanda Christine

Amanda (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.

I enjoy reading (and writing) all the spooky spooks and anything that gives me the goosies in all age categories. I also enjoy complex love stories, stories with diverse characters, and stories that make me turn on a nightlight before I go to sleep. I just devoured ASYLUM by Madeleine Roux. (Loved it!). I also love me some gritty urban fantasy with kick-butt protagonists. The Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance is my all-time-fav, along with the Dorina Basarab series. Anything that breaks the third wall will be an automatic favorite of mine, too. Nothing like thinking the story might be real and it actually could happen… or already has. *evil cackle* I’ve been told my writing style plays heavily into voice—especially YA voice. I graduated just last year, so the YA setup is still pretty fresh in my noggin. I will never grow up. I win all duels at Mario Kart to prove it. *gets ready to throw banana peels at your tires*

Sharon, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?

I was already working with Brenda Drake for Pitch Madness when she invited me to be part of Pitch Wars. I was really nervous at first because I was unagented and unpublished – in the same situation as so many of the applicants. But Brenda convinced me I had something to offer and I’m so glad she did. I absolutely love reading subs. My dream job would be an agent and being part of Pitch Wars gives me the finest glimpse of what they get to experience. I love working through a manuscript I adore with authors. I love the idea that I can help connect them with agents and the chance at publication. Being part of Pitch Wars also helps me as a writer. I get to analyse all the subs and think about it in regards to my own writing. Editing other people’s work, makes me a stronger writer. It’s this amazing circle of writing life where we help each other and we all come out at the end better writers.

Amanda, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?

I decided to enter in Pitch Wars because my manuscript needed a little magic. I wanted to grow, work like crazy, and learn. I also entered to communicate with my fellow writers on the web—they are amazing! I jumped at the chance to submerge myself in the writing community and make friends. And I did. They are literally the nicest people I’ve had the privilege to meet.

Sharon, what are you most excited for?

The journey. From finding the one through to the agent reveal. It’s the reward for all the hard work Amanda and I have put into her novel. Every step is full of hope, anticipation and magic as we work together to make The Zer0 Maker shine.

But I definitely also love the relationship I develop with not only Amanda, but my other applicants and Pitch Wars applicants in general. I adore the relationships and sense of community that Pitch Wars encourages.

Amanda and I really get each other, and we are constantly squeeing at the new ideas generated from going through this process together. I know that her story is going to be amazing when we are done and I expect that we will be squeeing together like crazy at the bucketload of agent requests.

As Stacey (my co-mentor) is pointing out when she sends out feedback to our applicants, she applied to me for Pitch Wars and I didn’t choose her. But we’ve become close friends. We’ve roomed together for a writer’s conference. We blog together. We are co-mentoring together. And she’s now published by HarperCollins.

Amanda, what are you most excited for?

I am excited to see the final product after all the hard work my mentor and I put into my manuscript. Sharon is lovely and she has helped me grow and learn as a writer so much already. I am also excited to group with other writers, share our experiences, and cheerlead them onto victory! *fist bump*

Amanda, describe your novel in 3 words.

Spread The Virus…

Sharon, describe your mentee’s novel in 3 words.

Crazy Plot Twist


Check Us Out …

Amanda Christine

Amanda Donegan, Team Mentee 

Twitter | Website

Amanda lives right smack dab in the center of Tornado Alley in Oklahoma. She attends a state university full time (on campus) for a degree in English Literature. She’s also a part time computer technician and a part time barista. Cheers! *raises caramel macchiato*


Sharon M. Johston, Team Mentor 

Twitter | Website | Facebook

Sharon is an Aussie writer of weird fiction and soulful contemporaries across YA, NA and Adult categories. She works in PR during the day, and in her spare time games with her family and spends time with her fur babies.

Check out Sharon’s upcoming release …

DIVIDED full digital

Book Blurb

A new heart should mean new life, instead it’s a living nightmare.

Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, she has the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull her new dream world.

Yet, life starts to unravel when Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab, but she can’t ignore the strange instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed.

Torn between love and obsession, Mishca must unite her divided heart and decide between the two men. But when the truth about her weird powers comes to light, she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.

Praise for Divided

“DIVIDED is a fast-paced adventure filled with mystery, romance, action, and humor.

Mishca and Ryder rank up there with my favorite heroines and heroes ever!

Sharon M. Johnston is an author to watch out for.”  

  • WENDY HIGGINS, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author.

Preorder DIVIDED now!

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