Our mentors are mentoring, 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 9, 2021, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2021 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.
Next up, we have . . .
Alysha Dominico – Mentee
Eric Bell – Mentor
Eric, why did you choose Alysha?
Alysha’s story resonated with me for its exploration of complex themes…packaged in this goofy story about a meatball who doesn’t want to be eaten. It tackles big ideas in a hilarious package. There is so much meat to this story (pun intended): taking charge of your own destiny, fighting bad actors who want to box you in, living an authentic life in the face of inevitable destruction, the legacy of your own kindness, a positive depiction of queerness. There’s also so much funny stuff, because George is literally a meatball. What kid can’t empathize with food that wants to escape the cruel fate of digestion?
I’ve tried to incorporate some of these big ideas into my own writing in the past, so I felt a kinship with George the meatball and his existential crisis.
Alysha, why did you choose to submit to Eric?
I’m a proud member of the LGBTQ2+ community and really wanted a published member of the queer community to mentor me in my writing. There is so much to unpack and repackage about your experience. I felt someone who held similar experiences to me would help me see and articulate elements I wanted to develop around the “Coming Out Story” (like how our community can grow up to lead successful lives). That shared existence felt really important – and Eric has validated and echoed perspectives I wasn’t sure about.
I was also delighted and admiring of what his previous mentees said about him. At times he speaks about the soul of my book like he has scooped it right out of me and he remembers things I’ve written even better than I do: which is really handy when you’re doing a rewrite and trying to figure out what to keep and what to cut! I could see he has an eye for story and structure and that was the support I needed.
Finally, our genres were a match. He writes with great humour in his MG books so having his comedic knowledge would help me deepen and shape the hilarity of a book with a Meatball for a main character.
Eric, can you summarize Alysha’s book in 3 words?
Existentialism for kids!
Alysha, summarize your book in 3 words.
Meatball thrown away.
Eric, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.
Fun fact: I have spent more time on this question than all the others, maybe combined. Though if you know me, maybe that’s not so surprising…!
Brenda: Is this because you’ve been a mentor forever and we never change this question? Ha!
Alysha, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
One really well edited breakout novel!
Alysha, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?
I am a gay woman who has a wife and kids, I’m always writing for the LGBTQ2+ space. THE EXISTENTIAL CRISIS OF A MEATBALL is a MG Contemporary Fantasy I wrote for four children in bunkbeds who then woke up reenacting, illustrating and re-telling the jokes. I wanted to tell my kids a story about how every kid struggles with community and navigating complex relationships. So I gave them a character anyone could morph themselves into – hence the meatball MC. I also wanted to share with them that no matter how lost you feel, you can find empowerment by helping others – kindness is a superpower we can all wield and it gets you to Goal.
I have written for multiple LGBT+ magazines – North America’s CURVE and Australia’s LOTL and MVC. My LGBT+ family has been featured in multiple newspapers and magazines. I am also Co-Founder & CEO of award-winning growth agency, Tangible Words.
Check out Eric’s latest release, TITLE OF BOOK.
Alan Cole is not a coward…right?
He can’t stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can’t escape the wrath of his demanding father, who thinks he’s about as exceptional as a goldfish. And — scariest of all — he can’t let the cute boy across the cafeteria know he has a crush on him.
But when Nathan discovers Alan’s secret, his older brother announces a high-stakes round of Cole vs. Cole. Each brother must complete seven nearly impossible tasks; whoever finishes the most wins the game. If Alan doesn’t want to be outed to all of Evergreen Middle School, he’s got to become the most well-known kid in school, get his first kiss, and stand up to Dad — and all with the help of only two friends even less cool than he is.
Giving up is for cowards, and Alan’s determined to prove — to Nathan, to the world, to himself — that this goldfish can learn to swim. May the best Cole win.
Eric Bell’s debut novel is a smart, hilarious, and poignant coming-of-age story about trust, family, and learning to stand up for yourself, no matter how many times you have to dive into the deep end.
Reviews for Alan Cole Is Not a Coward:
“Alan Cole starts out as a coward but doesn’t end as one in this harrowing but inspiring debut…The intensity of the family relationships is so effectively rendered that this book has the potential to appeal to older teens as well as a middle school audience.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“With its well-developed characters, juxtaposition of supportive adult educators and aggressive parents, and message of hope, this novel feels like a contemporary version of Gary D. Schmidt’s The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now. A strong debut.” (School Library Journal)
Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 9-14, 2022. Make sure to stop by then and check out all our mentees’ entries when it opens.