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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Ian Barnes with mentors Michelle Hauck and Carrie Callaghan & Jaime Formato with mentor Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Tuesday, 3 October 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 . . .

Ian Barnes – Mentee



Michelle Hauck – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Carrie Callaghan – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Ian, why did you choose to submit to Michelle and Carrie?

 Michelle’s the fantasy queen of Pitch Wars. If you’re writing fantasy, you cross your fingers, make the necessary ritual offerings, and sub to her. That’s just how it works.

Carrie was another with epic fantasy near the top of her wishlist. She seemed to veer more historical in her tastes, and while my book is firmly fantasy, one of the cultures has a very 1800’s Americana bent to them. Wasn’t sure if it’d be enough to interest her, but I figured if anyone could help me make that angle shine, it’d be her.

Plus, I’d seen how much their mentees from last year adored them both. Hard to go wrong with endorsement like that!

Michelle and Carrie, why did you choose Ian?

Michelle: Godbreaker was impossible to pass up or put down. My only worry was that this epic fantasy featuring middle-aged protagonists was already in such great shape that it didn’t need me. It’s really hard to find an epic fantasy that’s got a unique magic system and this book has three! Plus, like my other pick, the personality jumps off the page and it’s damn funny.

Carrie: Ian’s manuscript GODBREAKER leapt off the page from the very beginning. Kastien is a veteran of an earlier war freeing humanity from the so-called Divines, magical beings who enslaved humans. When Kast, his wife Val, and a group of other “Anchoreds” gained magical powers after they received stones anchored in their hands, they were able to break free from the Divines and forge their own path. That is, until a mysterious plague threatens to cripple the newly-independent nation. Ian began his story with characters who had a believable history and a compelling quest, and I wanted to keep reading so badly I actually had a dream about how I needed to get back to his manuscript. It’s a fantastic story, better than I can do justice in this short summary, and I’m excited to work with Michelle to get it in champion shape.

Ian, summarize your book in 3 words.

Spouses punching gods

Michelle and Carrie, summarize Ian’s book(s) in 3 words.

Michelle: Older MCs rock!

Carrie: Mature hero changes.

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

I am a vast repository of nigh-useless geek and pop culture references. I’ve been obsessed with all things SFF and gaming-related as far back as I can remember. Doubt that makes me unique, but it does make me weird. That’s close, right?

GODBREAKER started with the thought, “”What if the young punks who fell in love and saved the day had to do it again 40 years later?”” Enter my middle-aged married assassins who must try to kidnap a god in order to stop a plague. All in an Industrial Revolution-style tech vs magic setting. Humanity versus divinity! Weird, shadowy tricksters! A dash of steampunk, a pinch of Stargate, and a lot of snark. Shake well, bring to a boil, then duck and cover.

Michelle and Carrie, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Michelle: I’m afraid of heights.

Carrie: Carrie loves to send fan mail to her favorite authors. And her friends. Because who doesn’t need some positive vibes in their life?

And next, we have  . . .

Jaime Formato – Mentee



Miriam Spitzer Franklin – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Jaime, why did you choose to submit to Miriam?

Miriam is an amazing author. When I was researching mentors, I pulled up her book, Call Me Sunflower, on Amazon. By the time I had finished the “Look Inside” sample, I knew two things. One, I had to buy this book. Two, I really wanted her as a mentor. She has such a compelling middle grade voice and vivid writing style, I knew I could learn a lot from her.
Also, she mentioned on her Pitch Wars wishlist that she was looking for contemporary middle-grade that is character-driven and full of heart, and I thought my manuscript would be a good match. I’m so glad I was right– she’s very insightful and great to work with!

Miriam, why did you choose Jaime?

I loved this upbeat story about a girl who wants to follow her dreams to become an actress. Jaime introduces a cast of likable characters and writes with an authentic MG voice that pulled me into the story and made me want to keep reading!

Jaime, summarize your book in 3 words.

Bring it, snobs!

Miriam, summarize  Jaime’s book(s) in 3 words.

Determination overcomes obstacles.

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

A couple of years ago, I moved from Tallahassee to a small, rural county nearby. Dirt roads, well water, and random wayward pigs became the norm. I love it here, but it is very different from living in town. The idea for DIRT ROAD DIVA came from my experiences teaching the incredible kids that live out here—the ones that have to work harder for their opportunities, the ones that are fighting stereotypes, the ones that refuse to give up on their dreams. Plus, I’m a huge theatre geek, so it’s been a great outlet for my own pent-up dramatic energy.

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

As an introvert, I was surprised when my fourth grade teacher chose me to play Alice in the class play, Alice in Wonderland. (I was a good reader, after all!) I came down with a bad case of laryngitis the week before the play, and my mean-girl rival performed in the dress rehearsal. Luckily I recovered enough for the school performance the next day and was able to perform, raspy voice and all.
And that was the end of my acting career!


Our mentors’ latest releases…

STEADFAST (Book 3 in the Birth of Saints Series) by Michelle Hauck (Release Date: December 5, 2017)


Against an angry god whose only desire is to wipe out all life, what hope is there to survive?

The army from the north has left a trail of burned and captured cities. In trying to stop them, Claire and Ramiro unleashed the northern god, Dal, but now they face two monstrosities and no amount of honor or hope can stop the killing as Dal grows in power.

Searching for a miracle, Claire finds the elders of the Women of the Song, who might teach her a thing or two about using her voice magic to fight back—if they can put aside their own problems first—while Ramiro searches for truth in his dreams, leading him to the northern priestess Santabe, the only one who could share her knowledge of Dal and the mysterious magical Diviners.

Claire must unite the Women of the Song in the face of utter destruction, and Ramiro must decide how far he will go to get the answers he needs to defeat the rampaging god.

It will take nothing less than a saint to rise and face the leviathan before they all become martyrs.


Self portrait by Judith LeysterA LIGHT OF HER OWN by Carrie Callaghan

. . . is forthcoming from Amberjack Publishing in November 2018. The novel is based on the life of 17th-century Dutch artist Judith Leyster, whose ambition and passion for painting put her at odds with a dangerous conspiracy, one that will threaten those whom she loves.



CALL ME SUNFLOWER by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Eleven-year-old Sunny comes up with a “super stupendous” plan to get her parents back together, but in the process she discovers a photo that changes everything. When her new plans end up hurting the people who care about her the most, it’s up to Sunny to make things right again and to accept her future, even if it’s different from the one she imagined.


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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