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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Isaac Fitzsimons with mentor Natalka Burian & Hoda Agharazi with mentors Sharon M. Johnston and Stacey Nash

Monday, 16 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 . . .

Isaac Fitzsimons – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Natalka Burian – Mentor

Website Twitter

Isaac, why did you choose to submit to Natalka?

Natalka’s wish list checked all the boxes: marginalized voices—yes, activist characters—yup. Then I got to the second to last paragraph where she said she wasn’t looking for sports stories. Luckily, everything worked out. I could tell straight away that she got my book, loved my characters as much as I do, and had a clear vision for what my manuscript could become. She’s also a bar owner, which is cool, even though I don’t drink. And we’re both from Maryland.


Natalka, why did you choose Isaac’s manuscript?

There is so much to love about Isaac’s work, but the most exciting thing I saw was the opportunity for growth and expansion. I knew instantly that this novel was brimming with potential, and that I could help to fulfill that potential. It doesn’t hurt that Isaac’s writing is beautiful, and, that the story hit me pretty squarely in the heart department. This book has so many facets, but I’ll try. I guess, at its heart, the story is about building your best team.

Isaac, summarize your book in 3 words.

Soccer, Courage, Justice

Natalka, summarize Isaac’s book in 3 words.

So, Building Your Best Team, even though that’s four words.

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

My manuscript is about a fifteen-year-old soccer player named Spencer. When he gets benched from games after the league director finds out he’s transgender, he has to choose between coming out and fighting for his right to play or staying stealth. Like Spencer, I’m made up of multiple identities, many of them conflicting. To this day, I’ve never seen myself in a book or movie. I hope that my manuscript gives people with equally complex identities a mirror to see themselves in.

Two random facts about me: 1) I have an almost paralytic fear of worms that comes from watching Tremors when I was six, and 2) my dream vacation is traveling around Europe via sleeper train to see every top-tier soccer team play a home game.

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

I am a formidable Trivial Pursuit opponent.

Next up is . . .

Hoda Agharazi – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Sharon M. Johnston – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Stacey Nash – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Hoda, why did you choose to submit to Sharon and Stacey?

I knew I’d love the opportunity to be mentored by two mentors if possible. When I came across Sharon and Stacey’s profile, I noticed we liked a lot of the same books, and my MS had a lot of what they mentioned in their wishlist. Also, their areas of strength when it came to editing were exactly what I felt my MS needed. I thought we’d be a good fit, and even more so when Sharon reached out to mention she’d like to see my submission after seeing my #pimpmybio. I was super excited when they chose me.

Sharon, why did you and Stacey choose Hoda’s manuscript?

A female Sherlock Holmes retelling is a fantastic concept, and Hoda was so open to the TeamOz suggestions. It was a story that made many mentors drool. What more could you ask for, a high concept story, with a mentee who was ready and willing to do the hard work!

Hoda, summarize your book in 3 words.

Feminist. Friendship. Murders.

Sharon, summarize Jason’s book in 3 words.

Clever Analytical Girl-power

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

My parents are from Iran, but I was born in Canada. I’ve always loved stories – reading, writing, movies, acting, directing… Anything remotely related to storytelling, I adore. After getting my law degree, I decided to take a break from the field and pursue my true passion. I recently moved to Montreal to do my master’s in English Literature. I’m also an editorial assistant at Entangled Publishing. My Pitch Wars MS is a YA retelling of Sherlock Holmes with female leads a la Veronica Mars. I’ve had a blast writing a Persian Sherlock and being able to write about my culture and experiences through her.

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

I used to breed guinea pigs.


Our mentors’ latest releases…

Pretend… (Oxley College Saga) by Stacey Nash

iBooksAmazonBarnes & Noble

Savannah West had it all: popularity, good grades and a family who loved her, but how quickly things can change. Living half a state away doesn’t stop the painful memories of her past ripping her heart in two. And sometimes lies are easier than coping with the truth.

The thing she didn’t bank on was Dane Beaumont. A blast from her horrendous past, he’s the last person she expected to run into at college … and it’s not just because he knows the truth. Hot as sin, he’s more off limits than generic brand clothing, but staying away isn’t easy when he insists on looking out for her. Dealing with the reality of idea of her place in the world, Savvy must face the guy who tears down all her carefully placed walls and pull herself together. It’s time to grow up.




Simon Pulse (June 6, 2017)


Seventeen-year-old Van and her peripatetic lifestyle-loving mom move to Las Vegas. Van’s mother, Sofia, has been hired to helm the Silver Saddle, a crumbling casino off the strip. In Vegas, Van makes new friends, and is even invited to join an all girl, Sleater-Kinney-style band. Van–and the Silver Saddle–are left in the lurch when the brilliant but unstable Sofia disappears on a vision quest. Van buys a bus ticket, setting off into the desert to track Sofia down and bring her home.


Shattered: An Open Heart Novel by Sharon Johnston


Mishca needs to save her sisters, but only Ryder can save her.

The truth about Mishca’s past shattered her heart. She deals with the pain by focusing on a new mission: saving her newfound family from their creator. With her sisters scheduled for termination, Mishca and her friends set out on a journey up the North Queensland Coast to save them before someone else dies.

Ryder understands the need driving Mischa. It’s in her DNA. But he’s not giving up on the chance they can still be together. She’s the only one to have seen him levitate. The only one to watch the sparks dance across his skin. The only one he trusts enough to know what is in his heart. And now, he might be the only one who can stop Mishca from losing her humanity.

Driven apart by secrets, will they come together in time?


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

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