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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Krista Riccioni and mentor Sandi Ward & Lana Pattinson and mentors Diana Gallagher & Katrina Emmell

Thursday, 12 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 . . .

Krista Riccioni – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Sandi Ward – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Krista, why did you choose to submit to Sandi?

In her bio, Sandi says she’s looking for a story that “will get the adults in a Book Club talking, laughing and/or crying–preferably all three.” Hooray, I thought, that’s my story! Sandi enjoys a romance threading through the larger narrative, something mine has too. And then the kicker, “I am looking for the next unexpected, breakout bestseller!” She has a U.S.S. Enterprise blueprint in her office, which aligns with my wish of owning a replicator and a holodeck. And of course there’s her debut book, THE ASTONISHING THING, coming out Oct. 31 that I can’t wait to read. It explores the themes of family and marriage that I enjoy exploring too, and her next book project sounds just as compelling. Sandi’s reading list includes titles that I also love. Overall, Sandi is the perfect mentor fit for me, not to mention someone I could consider a friend.

Sandi, why did you choose Krista?

Krista’s novel contains one of the most compelling characters I’ve read in a long time—a difficult, cranky, manipulative, (and long-suffering), trouble-making older woman named Leela. I fell in love with Leela before I reached page 2. I think readers will recognize her and want to hear her story. We all know someone like Leela.

Krista, summarize your book in 3 words.

Cantankerous widow rises.

Sandi, summarize your Krista’s book in 3 words.

Surprising, charming, compelling.

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

My favorite way to write is in a beach chair, whether it’s in the back yard or by a winter window here in Maine. I also love nature walks where there aren’t any bears. I’m drawn to stories that explore family dynamics and how we’re most vulnerable with those we love. I also believe there’s fertile ground to explore life experiences through an older person’s viewpoint, particularly someone who’s blunt, inappropriate, and willing to do anything to achieve her dreams. I’m honored that ON THE VERGE OF BREATHING is a WFWA 2017 Rising Star Finalist–I cried buckets of happy tears when I found out!

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

I’m a medical writer at an ad agency, and I sometimes get ideas for my fiction at work. I’ve come to recognize how much drama, stress and conflict an illness or accident can bring to a family—and to a dynamic story.

And next, we have  . . .

Lana Pattinson – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Diana Gallagher – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Katrina Emmell – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Lana, why did you choose to submit to Diana and Katrina?

#TheSquad sounded awesome. Diana mentioned The Office and tacos, and I was hooked. Katrina was a mentee-turned-mentor and knew exactly the challenges I’d face. Both Diana and Katrina came with personal recommendations (a former mentee and another Pitch Wars mentor). I figured I’d be in good hands, and I was right. They’ve both been enthusiastic and so supportive.

Diana and Katrina, why did you choose Lana?

ENGINEERING KIT SINCLAIR caught our attention with its fresh take on the girl-disguises-herself-as-a-guy trope, convincing historical setting, and spunky protagonist with a passion for distilling. We really enjoyed that KIT’s arc focuses not just on romance and intrigue (of which there’s plenty!), but on the main character’s journey to self-actualization. In addition, Lana presented herself as professional, fun, and eager to work hard. She also made it clear that she was receptive to revisions, and her goals for the manuscript aligned with our revision ideas. Not only did we feel we could help her manuscript, but we felt working with Lana would be enjoyable and rewarding.

Lana, summarize your book in 3 words.

Victorian, Girl, Power.

Diana and Katrina, summarize Lana’s book in 3 words.

Secrets, ballgowns, whisky.

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

In my former pre-writing life, I worked in global marketing. One of my favorite jobs was marketing Scotch Whisky (while living/working in Scotland). To this day, females working on the technical side of the whisky industry is still rare. I wanted to tell Kitty’s story of following her dreams, at the risk of ruining her reputation and her future, set in the conservative Victorian time period.

Diana and Katrina, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Diana: Diana enjoys teaching The Hunger Games in her Intro to Lit courses, also fears raisins, and aims to conquer the Adirondack High Peaks (only forty-three more to go!).

Katrina: Katrina has a PhD in Chemistry, fears raisins, was named after the main character from The Taming of the Shrew, and loves to travel.

Check out our mentors’ latest releases . . .



In her inventive, sometimes bittersweet, ultimately uplifting debut, Sandi Ward draws readers into one extraordinary cat’s quest to make sense of her world, illuminating the limits and mysterious depths of love . . .
Pet owners know that a cat’s loyalty is not easily earned. Boo, a resourceful young feline with a keen eye and inquiring mind, has nonetheless grown intensely devoted to her human companion, Carrie. Several days ago, Carrie—or Mother, as Boo calls her—suddenly went away, leaving her family, including Boo, in disarray. Carrie’s husband, Tommy, is distant and distracted even as he does his best to care for Boo’s human siblings, especially baby Finn.

Boo worries about who will fill her food dish, and provide a warm lap to nestle into. More pressing still, she’s trying to uncover the complicated truth about why Carrie left. Though frequently mystified by human behavior, Boo is sure that Carrie once cared passionately for Tommy and adores her children, even the non-feline ones. But she also sees it may not be enough to make things right. Perhaps only a cat—a wise, observant, very determined cat—can do that . . .

Wonderfully tender and insightful, The Astonishing Thing explores the intricacies of marriage and family through an unforgettable perspective at the center of it all.

“A beautiful and touching look into the intricacies of marriage and family life, all seen through the loving and unique perspective of the family pet.”
–Modern Cat (My second novel for Kensington will be titled SOMETHING WORTH SAVING; visit my Web Site for more info!)

LESSONS IN FALLING by Diana Gallagher

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads

LESSON ONE: Playing it safe beats taking chances. After an injury ends Savannah’s dream of a college gymnastics scholarship, she quits despite her parents’ protests. She won’t risk breaking her body—and heart—again. LESSON TWO: Catch your best friend when she falls—or regret it forever. Rules are meant to be broken, according to Savannah’s best friend, Cassie—and it’s more fun to break them together. But when Cassie attempts suicide, Savannah’s left wondering how well she really knows her. ​LESSON THREE: Learning to leap forward, not knowing where you’ll land, is the hardest of all. Falling for Marcos wasn’t part of the plan. Not only did he save Cassie’s life, he also believes Savannah can still achieve her dreams. Except Cassie thinks Marcos and gymnastics will only break Savannah’s heart. As Savannah tumbles and twists through toxic friendships and crushing parental expectations, she realizes you never know who will be there when you fall.



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