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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Erica Waters with her mentor Lisa Amowitz & Gaye Sanders with her mentors C.B. Catalano and Shauna Holyoak

Thursday, 28 September 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Erica Waters – Mentee


Lisa Amowitz – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Erica,why did you choose to submit to Lisa?

Several months ago, I won a Rafflecopter Pitch Wars First Page Workshop. Lisa was the mentor who offered a critique of my first page. She loved my writing and encouraged me to submit to her once the contest opened. However, once Pitch Wars rolled around, I had decided to submit a different book. I already knew Lisa liked my style and that I would enjoy working with her, so I crossed my fingers and hoped she’d love my new manuscript, too. She’s a kind, tough, and very fun mentor, and I’m so grateful to have her on my team.

Lisa, why did you choose Erica?

I was first introduced to Erica’s writing when she won a critique in the PitchWars crit contest. It was for a different manuscript, but the voice was so incredible I took notice and asked to read the whole thing. I was surprised when she subbed me with her very different ms, and when I read her submission a deep thrill shot up my spine. This is it, I thought—this woman’s writing flows straight into my veins. I had a lot of other wonderful subs, but in the end, Erica won me over with her amazing voice. I tell her, she plays words like a fiddler and I am her conductor.

Erica, summarize your book in 3 words.

Murder, ghosts, bluegrass

Lisa, summarize Erica’s book(s) in 3 words.

 Ghost raising fiddle

Erica, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

SHADY GROVE, MY LITTLE LOVE is a YA Southern gothic contemporary fantasy about a girl with a ghost-raising fiddle. Bluegrass, murder, and teenage love keep the story moving along, but it’s also about growing up poor, the grief of losing a parent, and the struggle to make a new life for oneself—all topics that are dear to me. The story’s set in rural north Florida, where I grew up, and it’s full of pine trees, natural springs, and creepy critters. Bluegrass music is at the heart of the novel, so I’m lucky to live in Nashville and have a bluegrass-loving spouse who’s making a valiant effort to teach me to play banjo even though I can hardly clap in rhythm.

Lisa, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

I love figs. No seriously–I guess most people know that I am also a professor of graphic design and designed my own book covers. Also, this summer I fell in love with a tree–an odd trait I share with my mentee. We both tend to write a lot about trees.

And next, we have  . . .

Gaye Sanders – Mentee

Website | Twitter

C.B. Catalano – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Shauna Holyoak – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Gaye, why did you choose to submit to Cass and Shauna?

I won the Scavenger Hunt, and am so grateful for this opportunity.

Cass and Shauna, why did you choose Gaye?

We were lucky enough to win Gaye as a mentee when she won the Scavenger Hunt!

Gaye, summarize your book in 3 words.

Hurricane. Walls. Hope.

Cass and Shauna, summarize Gaye’s book(s) in 3 words.

Hurricane, friendship, and healing.

Gaye, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I have spend the last 35 years teaching 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders, the last 10 of those years in 4th grade. I have had the chance to learn much from them, as I listen to what they hope for, and what they love. I get to teach them to love reading and writing as much as I do!

Cass and Shauna, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Shauna: She nearly had to join a 12-step program to quit her obsession with celebrity gossip.

Cass: She learned to surf before she could walk.

Cass is currently preparing to go on sub with her middle-grade adventure THE MISADVENTURES OF JEM HAWKINS, and Shauna’s middle-grade adventure, MY PAPER ROUTE AND OTHER DEADLY THINGS, will be published in spring 2019 by Disney-Hyperion.              

Our mentors’ latest releases…


She doesn’t just play—she kills it.​

Talented rock guitarist Beth Collins has been barely holding herself together for months, ever since her boyfriend and bandmate became the latest victim in a string of suspicious disappearances. When her brother is injured an accident and she sees something dark billowing around him as he hovers close to death, she’s convinced her sanity is collapsing for good.

Then she’s accepted by a boarding school for the musically gifted. All of her new friends are bursting withtalent, but they’re also keeping secrets. Can she trust Vincent, who’s so sweet that his very touch makes her fears melt away? Or Xavier, who’s trying to tell her something but is hiding even more?                         

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!




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