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Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Joanna Vitiello and her mentors, Michelle Hauck and Carrie Callaghan

Tuesday, 10 December 2019  |  Posted by Rochelle Karina

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 starting on February 5, 2020, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2019 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Joanna Vitiello – Mentee


Michelle Hauck – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Carrie Callaghan – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Michelle & Carrie, why did you choose Joanna?

Our writing might look different on the surface (historical fiction about a 17th century Dutch painter; epic fantasy about a Spanish-inspired kingdom), but we’re united by our love for transportive world-building and complex characters. Joanna’s novel is a captivating story about a vendetta that devastated a 14th century family, and the surprising ways the women in the family turned the vendetta on its head. She sets most of the book in a crumbling, gorgeous valley, and the subtle menace, romance, and adventure are fantastic. Really good stories are like your favorite food and the best stories leave a rich taste in your mouth. This story did that. Also, we saw just how we could nudge this book up to the next level, and we knew Joanna would be dedicated to taking the steps necessary.

Joanna, why did you choose to submit to Michelle & Carrie?

Michelle Hauck and Carrie Callaghan are extraordinary writers, and they know how to create worlds that are three-dimensional, believable, and irresistible. They are also both incredibly generous with their talents and their time. Michelle Hauck champions emerging writers, and she builds community among writers not only in her work with Pitch Wars, but also in the competitions she has created, like #QueryKombat and #NoQS. Carrie Callaghan combines her expertise in the craft of historical fiction with a holistic, caring approach to mentoring. Both Carrie and Michelle see Pitch Wars as a learning experience, not as a zero-sum game. I wanted very much to work with someone who is process-oriented, and who would help me address the issues in my manuscript and maximize its strengths. I’m so fortunate to have not one mentor like this, but two!

Michelle & Carrie, summarize Joanna’s book in 3 words.

Carrie: Lush renaissance drama

Michelle: Filial duty struggle

Joanna, summarize your book in 3 words.

Family, history, revenge

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

Michelle: I’m one of those who have trouble starting a new writing project. I tend to get too bonded to my most recent characters and find it really hard to move on with something totally new. Which is unfortunately where I am now…

Carrie: I have a mild obsession with the Spanish Civil War, and may be writing a book (or two) set there…

Joanna, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

I hope to make this story the best I possibly can. I am learning so much about the craft of fiction through this revision process. My mentors have already shown me new ways to think about writing the past.

Joanna, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?

The idea for this book came from a medieval murder trial that I once came across in an Italian archive. I’ve been fascinated with history all my life. For me, understanding the past is an intellectual exercise, but it is also an emotional experience that requires compassion and the willingness to look at the world through different eyes. This story takes place at the crossroads of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, in the violent, patriarchal world of late fourteenth-century Italy. A young woman searches for security and meaning as a long-simmering vendetta threatens to destroy her family.

Check out Carrie Callaghan’s upcoming release, SALT THE SNOW.

Coming in February 2020
American journalist Milly Bennett has covered murders in San Francisco, fires in Hawaii, and a civil war in China, but 1930s Moscow presents her greatest challenge yet. When her young Russian husband is suddenly arrested by the secret police, Milly tries to get him released. But his arrest reveals both painful secrets about her marriage and hard truths about the Soviet state she has been working to serve. Disillusioned and pulled toward the front lines of a captivating new conflict, Milly must find a way to do the right thing for her husband, her conscience, and her heart. Salt the Snow is a vivid and impeccably researched tale of a woman ahead of her time, searching for her true calling in life and love.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 5 – 10, 2020, and our next Twitter Pitch Party on #PitMad is March 5, 2020! Want to know more about #PitMad? Go here


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