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 . . .
Damara Allen – Mentee
Shannon A. Thompson – Mentor
Website | Twitter
Sandra Proudman – Mentor
Shannon & Sandra, why did you choose Damara?
Shannon: Damara’s story had everything we love: horror, parallel universes, family, and friendship. A great friendship story always pulls me in, and there was just so much heart in this book. Particularly how her main character, Sam, is coping with his parents’ impending divorce. That is such an important topic to show in middle grade fiction, especially since it affects so many families. Damara’s excitement to work on it was really clear, too. Her protagonist Sam is infectious and so easy to cheer on. I know others will love him, too.
Sandra: I’d read a query letter of Damara’s for a previous project when she won a critique from me. I knew that I wanted to work with a writer this year that had already queried a project or more and I had loved Damara’s last idea, so I was excited to read this one. It ended up being a perfect Freaky Friday type of story that was gripping from page one. Damara is a phenomenal writer and I’m thrilled she’s entering the world of middle grade horror.
Damara, why did you choose to submit to Shannon & Sandra?
I submitted to Sandra and Shannon because my manuscript checked boxes for so much of what they were looking for in their mswl—a diverse cast of characters, stories about found family and friendships, witty banter, and horror with twists and turns. I hoped they would fall in love with my main character Sam and his new friend Lena as they searched for answers and tried to figure out why their worlds were turned upside down. Additionally, I loved the idea of them being very hands-on, ready to help me put in hard work, and whip my manuscript into shape.
Shannon & Sandra, summarize Damara’s book in 3 words.
Shannon: Spooky, brave, fun.
Sandra: You’ll love it.
Damara, summarize your book in 3 words.
Spooky, adventure-filled, fun.
Shannon & Sandra, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.
Shannon: Though all of my published novels are young adult sci-fi/fantasy, my writing concentration in college was poetry. I love writing and reading verse novels, and I hope to publish one in the future!
Sandra: I’m an avid photographer and have a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism. Before I decided to focus on writing, I sold photography prints worldwide and it was one of my favorite things.
Damara, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?
I’ve already jumped headfirst into revisions and I’m seeing my manuscript through an entirely different lens now that I have Sandra and Shannon’s guidance. They’ve provided a way of looking at my manuscript and making it better that I might not have come to without their help. This is exactly what I was hoping for with the Pitch Wars experience. The experience of my mentors who have been in the trenches and understand what it’s like and what agents are looking for is invaluable. I also hope to make lifelong friends both with other writers in the program and my mentors. Writer friends are the best friends.
Damara, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?
I like to tackle big subjects that other writers might shy away from when writing for kids. Kids are incredible and resilient and their lives aren’t perfect. My main character struggles to come to terms with his parents separating, which is something I think a lot of kids these days can relate to. Additionally, I highlight the diversity of the real world and mirror it in my manuscript with a diverse cast of characters. I grew up in a biracial home, in a very diverse city, and there wasn’t a lot of diversity in books when I was a kid. I think it’s important for kids to see themselves without necessarily focusing on their marginalization. To just be seen as normal, everyday kids going on adventures is everything.
Check out the latest news from Shannon & Sandra…
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.