Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews by Marnise Nicole
Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their projects.
Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.
Meet Monica Hoffman and Wendy Spinale
I am a die-hard, avid YA reader of any sub-genre. Love, love, love YA contemporary, but still can’t deprive myself of a swoon-worthy romance novel. Give me shape shifters, vampires, or werewolves and I drool. My heart still aches for dystopic and darn it…it shouldn’t be out of trend. Ironically, I ended up with a Sci-Fi for Pitch Wars.
I currently am writing fairy tale retellings, but I have a contemporary that I think (hope) will make even John Green cry his eyeballs out. <psst John Green, I’m a fan girl> As a mentor I’m very hands on. My mentee is receiving line-by-lines (at a very slow rate because I’m that detailed oriented). She’s currently squirming because I’m making her change a lot…hell, I’m squirming for her. Yet, while she’s editing, recreating, etc…I am also. So I feel for her while I am doing the same with my own manuscript. Writing is so fulfilling, but incredibly hard.
Fun facts about me: I know sign language (I have deaf brother), I am a former Disneyland actress, I taught group fitness classes for over 10 years, and I married a Disneyland Matterhorn Climber.
Yo! I’m Monica. Yes, I’m the girl who enjoys way too many gifs on Twitter (you know how I said I may need an intervention…I do) and who loves to laugh and uses the word ‘fantastic’ like it’s my name. I was born in Salt Lake City, UT and I’m Air Force brat. I’m also a former Disney Cast Member who bleeds all things Disney and if you met me in person, you would know instantly why I worked there. I’m bubbly (*points to self*). Anyways…I’m paralegal who married an attorney and quickly realized how much I do not like working with attorneys. Living with one is where I draw the line. In 2013 we relocated to Virginia Beach from Richmond for the hubby’s job, and I took a needed hiatus to focus on my writing. Fast forward one year later we are now in Charlotte, NC and loving it! I’m an enclitic reader. I read adult to MG and everything in between. However, I think I enjoy speculative fiction most in young adult and mystery/suspense novels in adult. Overall, if it has a catchy premise, I’ll devour it. As a young kid, I read every Sweet Valley High book known to man. Before that, anything by R.L Stein. But my first love was in fact the Harry Potter series. I’ve never been so excited for a book release in my life! My writing style is all over the place. I try to plot out where the story should go. But there are times when the pesky pantster side swipes me and drives me off course. At times, pushing me off my carefully laid out path saves the story, but sometimes it thrusts the story into a road block or tree. Revisions ensue and more times than none, I discover something delightful that I wouldn’t have found without the tragic collision. So I guess I say I’m a bit of both. I try to stay on course, but I’m flexible. I allow the what ifs to flow without hindrance.
Wendy, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
I decided to participate in Pitch Wars because that’s really where I got my start…my big break! My entire critique group submitted manuscripts and all of them got requests for pages or were picked as mentees/alternates except me. I felt like the biggest loser of the bunch. But I tried to make it a positive experience and interacted with the mentors. Pitchwars mentor Dannie Morin was so sweet to me on Twitter and eventually suggested that I query her agent. That one kind private message was what launched my career. I ended up being offered representation by Thao Le from Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, followed by a publishing deal by Scholastic. One conversation can change everything for an aspiring writer and I’m forever grateful to Dannie for her kindness. I hope to pass along the love.
Monica, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
I didn’t participate in Pitch Wars because of the agent round. I participated because I wanted to work with an agented author and gain hands on experience. To see firsthand what it takes to make a good story, great. The mentors are more knowledgeable about the publishing process and I wanted to be able to tap into their knowledge. And something wonderful came out of this experience, even before I found out Wendy (A.K.A. Fairy Godmother) had chosen me. I found a writing community that I love and would do anything for. I found wonderfully talented critique partners that I can’t wait to work with more in the near future. Despite what may happen during the agent round, I’ve won in my mind. Finding people who are as passionate about writing as I am, I’m content! A shiny MS is the cherry on top!
Wendy, what are you most excited for?
I’m thrilled to be working with Monica Hoffman. I’ve been putting her through the ringer with requesting changes. While she’s been adamant about the things she loves and wants to keep, she remains flexible and is willing to take suggestions. That is what I think agents are looking for in an author. I think they want someone who will stand up for their stories, but will be equally flexible and open to change based on what is marketable. Not only am I coaching her on her manuscript, but also testing her to see if she’s willing to trust input given to her. Monica is all that and a bag of chips! She’s willing to work hard, is open to changes (even when they’re daunting), but yet able to fight for the things in her manuscript she believes in. I think that makes her a valid contender when it comes to the agent round and I’m thrilled to be a part of her journey.
Monica, what are you most excited for?
I think one of the most exciting things is receiving my mentor’s suggestions in how to improve my MS and revising. Pushing myself to work harder and write stronger. Also coming out in the end of the two months more knowledgeable about the writing processes and what it truly takes to make it in publishing. And let’s face it, having your entry read by forty plus agents in one place is pretty awesome, too. However, overall, I more excited about collaborating with like-minded people.
Monica, describe your novel in 3 words.
Pilot. Android. Aliens.
Wendy, describe your mentee’s novel in 3 words.
Romance. Girlpilotinaboysworldwithasexyloveinterest. ThesexyloveinterstisanAndroid. (Yes, I’m cheating)
Check Us Out…
Monica M. Hoffman, Team Mentee
Monica M. Hoffman is an aspiring writer, focusing on young adult speculative fiction. She is originally from Salt Lake City, UT, but being a military brat, she relocated the east coast where she has remained for the last twenty years, and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and two Golden Doodles. Prior to college she was a band geek and drum major in her high school marching band. She even toured Europe for an entire summer playing the Bassoon with a regional orchestra. She graduated from Radford University with a degree in Criminal Justice, and received her Paralegal Certificate from George Mason University. She worked at Walt Disney World for several years, but finally got a job as a paralegal for a top international law firm. The day she felt like pulling her hair out due to the stress of her job, she realized she wasn’t happy. She needed to do what was always in the back of her mind. Write. From the day she could read, she buried herself in stories, dreaming of magical places beyond this world. Now she writes about them.
She doesn’t enjoy getting up early. She enjoys any movie (particularly fantasy and Sci-fi) that can make her cry, laugh, or inspires her to run out and beat the living crap out of something after the credits from an adrenaline rush. She’s a closet PC gamer when she’s not writing or reading or hanging out with her family. And she doesn’t enjoy long walks on the beach, traffic, or hurricanes!
Wendy Spinale, Team Mentor
I must admit, I have lived an extraordinary life and will forever be grateful for the opportunities I have had. I was the middle of three kids, my older brother being deaf for as far back as I can remember. At the time, I didn’t realize how much that would later impact my life. I was a sign language interpreter for a short time (although I’m extremely rusty now), taught my kids to sign as infants, and now am using that experience in my current manuscript. During college I was living in southern California working for Disneyland as a Cast Member in the Entertainment Department. I met my husband there who was also a performer. After four incredible years of working with the Mouse, we moved to his hometown in the Bay Area and were married. I eventually got my Bachelor’s in Kinesiology and worked in the fitness industry for ten years before a knee injury ended my career. Not sure what to do with my time, I applied to a job posting to be an online journalist. I loved writing, but had no experience. I didn’t hear back so I wrote up a review about a local restaurant and sent it to them to prove I could do the job. Twenty-four hours later, I was a journalist with AOL Media/Pleasanton Patch.
I spent three great years with them before cut backs forced me without a job again. That’s when I started writing my first novel, which went nowhere. Dozens of rejection letters later. I started a second book, EVERALND. A year later I was offered representation by Thao Le from Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and within another six months I was offered a book deal. EVERLAND (Scholastic, 2016) is scheduled to debut Summer of 2016! Today I live in the Bay Area with my husband and three sons who are my biggest fans. While they’re off at work and school, I bounce ideas off my four-legged, furry family members, Odie and Sammy.