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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Sofiya Pasternack with mentor Alexandra Ott and Stefanie Wass with mentor Julia Nobel

Tuesday, 24 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 . . .

Stefanie Wass – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Julia Nobel – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Stefanie, why did you choose to submit to Julia?

Julia was interested in a middle grade contemporary manuscript that included friendship, music, and riddles. Since REACHING FOR STARLIGHT includes these elements, I thought we’d make a great match.

Julia, why did you choose Stefanie?

Stefanie’s concept resonated with me right off the bat. Music and mystery is the perfect combination! Her query showed that she’s a really strong communicator, and her writing sample was incredibly strong. As I read the full manuscript, I kept getting all these ideas of what we could work on, and how we could make this book even stronger. I knew we were going to be a great match!

Stefanie, summarize your book in 3 words.

Music. Mystery. Mini-donuts.

Julia, summarize Stefanie’s book in 3 words.

Music. Mystery. Life.

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

I am a three-time former Pitch Wars mentor, so I know how helpful it is to have another set of eyes on a manuscript. I also know how much a manuscript can improve as a result of mentoring. Besides working with my awesome mentor, Julia Nobel, I am lucky to have the support of the MG Beta Readers and the Northern Ohio SCBWI, which I have belonged to for eight years. REACHING FOR STARLIGHT, my middle grade contemporary PW ms, will appeal to fans of COUNTING THYME and LIKE MAGIC. It’s unique in that it includes puzzles and riddles that kids can solve as they read. It’s a story about unexpected friendships, the love of family, and reaching for the stars, no matter what. Plus, there are all-you-can-eat donuts, a trunk steeped with old diaries, and an attic scavenger hunt. It’s my 8th middle grade manuscript, and honestly, it’s been the most fun to write!

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

Tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know. I spent nine years working in a pie shop in my city’s British Quarter (yes, we actually have a little British Quarter in Victoria!). I became obsessed with baking, and my collection of cookbooks takes up an entire bookcase. My family doesn’t complain about this too much….

And next, we have  . . .

Sofiya Pasternack – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Alexandra Ott – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Sofiya, why did you choose to submit to Alexandra?

I made a spreadsheet of all the MG mentors (seriously, I love spreadsheets), color-coordinated it based on the mentors’ MSWL and what they DIDN’T want, and cross-matched with elements of my own MS. Of the twelve or so mentors that I thought would be interested in my MS, I checked them out on their websites and Twitter to see what their personalities were like. The four I thought seemed compatible with my personality and writing process were the four I picked!

I almost didn’t go with Alexandra because she said she didn’t want horror. My book has some horror elements in it, and I didn’t want to sub to someone who would take one look at a rusalka or bukavac and shut it down. So I sent her a message on Twitter and asked if just a liiiiittle bit of horror would be okay. She said yes, and now she’s my mentor!”

Alexandra, why did you choose Sofiya?

Alexandra Ott Sofiya Pasternack @Alexandra_Ott  Why did you choose mentee(s)? I loved ANYA KOZLOVA AND THE DRAGON as soon as I started reading it. The attention to historical detail is truly incredible, and I love the way Sofiya mixes elements of Russian folklore with her own unique spin. As if all that weren’t amazing enough, the story also features a protagonist I adore. Anya is headstrong and smart, and I immediately fell for her voice. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop!

Sofiya, summarize your book in 3 words.

Friends, family, goats

Alexandra, summarize  Sofiya’s book in 3 words.

Magic. Folklore. Adventure.

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

I love Russian folklore and for a long time I waited for it to become more mainstream. But alas! It never really did. So I thought, well why don’t I take a stab at it? I put together a compilation of my favorite stories (plus one non-Russian story that is my ultimate favorite of all time!), added in a sprinkle of Judaism, and I swirled them together to make a kind of creepy, kind of historical, totally magical story.

I’m a Neuro-Trauma ICU nurse, which means I’m a little bit twisted to begin with. I grew up with goats (my favorite animal), I love playing DnD, and obscure history tidbits are my favorite.

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

I danced ballet for most of my childhood, and it was after learning about Russian ballet that I developed an interest in Russian history and folklore. So when I discovered Sofiya’s manuscript, it felt like the perfect fit!

Our mentors’ latest releases…



This middle-grade mystery follows 12-year-old Emmy as she investigates the disappearance of her father nine years earlier and its connection to a secret society when she’s shipped away to a remote English boarding school. Publication is set for spring 2019.

RULES FOR THIEVES by Alexandra Ott

AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks-A-MillionIndieBoundGoodreads

Twelve-year-old Alli Rosco is smart, resourceful, and totally incapable of keeping her mouth shut. Some of these traits have served her well during her nine years in Azeland’s orphanage, and others have proved more troublesome…but now that she’s escaped to try her luck on the streets, she has bigger problems than extra chores to contend with. Surviving would be hard enough, but after a run-in with one of the city’s Protectors, she’s marked by a curse that’s slowly working its way to her heart. There is a cure, but the cost is astronomical—and seems well out of her reach.

Enter Beck, a boy with a gift for theft and a touch of magic, who seems almost too good to be true. He tells Alli that the legendary Thieves Guild, long thought to be a myth, is real. Even better, Beck is a member and thinks she could be, too. All she has to do is pass the trial that the King of Thieves will assign to her. Join the Guild, collect her yearly reward and buy a cure. Plus, Alli hopes the Guild will be the home—the family—that Alli has always wanted. But when their trial goes wrong, innocent lives are put in danger, and Alli has to decide how much she can sacrifice in order to survive.

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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