Judges for Pitch Plus 1 Contest


Round One: Craft Bloggers

Claudia Arroyo Valdez:

Claudia Arroyo Valdez is a writer of realistic YA fiction and short stories, an English literature student at Cal Baptist University, and a fan of literature paired with indie rock (she blogs about it frequently). 

She can be found on Twitter as: @arroyoclau

Tracy Banghart:

Award-winning author, Army wife, and mom Tracy Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an unhealthy affection for cupcakes. Her quiet childhood led to a reading addiction, writing obsession, and several serious book boyfriends. She is the author of the Rebel Wing series (Alloy Entertainment).

You can also find Tracy on:

Twitter: www.twitter.com/tracythewriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tracytheauthor?ref=bookmarks

Kate Brauning:

Meet Kate Brauning.

YA author extraordinaire and a damn fine editor, too.
In her debut novel, How We Fall, Kate drives us through the scenic routes of a small town, focusing her keen eye on its passions, its friendships and the secrets that could burn it to the ground. She sees the subtleties that the rest of us often miss; the gradations of emotional color that can be so elusive to writer and reader alike. And she gets on a gut level the swollen, hammering hearts of the young, because her own heart continues to beat with the same relentlessness.
You can find Kate:
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateBrauning
FB: https://www.facebook.com/KateBrauningAuthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21865261-how-we-fall

Jake Kerr:

After fifteen years as a music industry journalist Jake Kerr’s first published story, “The Old Equations,” was nominated for the Nebula Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America and was shortlisted for the Theodore Sturgeon and StorySouth Million Writers awards. His stories have subsequently been published in magazines across the world, broadcast in multiple podcasts, and been published in multiple anthologies and year’s best collections. His debut novel Tommy Black and the Staff of Light is out now.

A graduate of Kenyon College, Kerr studied fiction under Ursula K. Le Guin and Peruvian playwright Alonso Alegria. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife and three daughters.

Connect with Jake:

Web: www.jakekerr.com
Series: www.tommyblackseries.com

Kimberley Griffiths Little:

When Kimberley was a kid she read a book a day, scribbled stories, and dreamed about having her very own book on the library shelf. She grew up in San Francisco, but now lives in an adobe house on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and three sons. She thinks she’s drunk so much Land of Enchantment water that some of that ancient magic got into her blood and now spurts out her pencil--she means ergonomic keyboard.

She adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell, and makes way too many cookies when she’s writing.

Awards: Southwest Book Award, Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel, Bank Street College Best Books of 2011 & 2013, Crystal Kite Finalist, and New Mexico Book Award Finalist.

Connect with Kimberley: Kimberley's Website / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Tumblr / Youtube

Must-see book trailer for FORBIDDEN. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3ncXetDyG8

Hannah Martian:

Hannah Martian is a reader, writer, blogger, and loves baseball. She plays on her school's Hi-Q and Knowledge Bowl teams, and is chock-full of lots of information on books and baseball. Her blog, The Perspective of a Drama Queen, is based on those two things.

Susan Sipal: 

Susan is a writer, editor, and speaker.  Best known as an analyst of the Harry Potter series, she's presented dozens of workshops based on her Writer's Guide to Harry Potter to help writers improve their craft.  Her next book, Southern Fried Wiccan, a YA contemporary, will be released from BookFish Books in March 2015.

You can find her on Twitter at @HP4Writers and at SPSipal.com

Victoria Strauss:

Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the Way of Arata fantasy duology (The Burning Land and The Awakened City), and a pair of historical novels for teens, Passion Blue and Color Song. She has written hundreds of book reviews for magazines and ezines, including SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer's Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards. An active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America,Victoria is co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that tracks and warns about literary fraud. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website, Facebook page, and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009.

You can find Victoria: Website: http://www.victoriastrauss.comWriter Beware: http://www.writerbeware.comTwitter: https://twitter.com/victoriastrauss

Kiki Sullivan:

Kiki Sullivan is the author of The Dolls series from Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins. Like the main character Eveny Cheval, Kiki used to live in New York and now calls the American South home. Unlike Eveny, she finds it impossible to keep her rose garden alive and has been singlehandedly responsible for the unfortunate demise of countless herbs. She may or may not have hung out with queens of the dark arts, strolled through creepy New Orleans cemeteries at night, or written the first book of this series with a red-headed Louisiana voodoo doll beside her computer.

You can find Kiki:
Web: www.KikiSullivan.com
Twitter: @sullivan_kiki

Ellie Sipila:

Ellie Sipila attended Ryerson University for copy, stylistic, and substantive editing. She has a specialization in editing books intended for young readers (picture books, middle grade, young adult, and new adult...if such a genre really exists). She is a member of the Editors' Association of Canada and SCBWI. She has edited the work of scholarly writers, fiction and nonfiction novelists, short story writers, nonfiction essayists, and bloggers. Ellie is currently an in-house editor at BookFish Books LLC., where her primary tasks include acquiring fiction (she has a special interest in middle grade stories) and line and copy editing all upcoming releases. She is a mother, a wife, and a mega book and music nerd. When she is not reading or writing, she can usually be found playing her cello or sleeping (likely dreaming about reading, writing, or playing her cello). To learn more about Ellie, visit her website at www.movetothewrite.com.

Round Two: Book Bloggers


My name is Amber, I’m an avid reader and participator in the book community. I run a book blog called Cosying Up With Books where I talk about and regularly review Young Adult and New Adult books.

Find Amber:

Hafsah Faisal:

Hafsah Faizal is the founder of IceyBooks, a young-adult book blog that features reviews, interviews, exclusive reveals, and blogging tips and tricks. In 2013, she released her debut, UNBREATHABLE, a YA space opera. She's also the designer behind IceyDesigns, where she primarily focuses on designing and branding personalities online—author websites, book covers, blogs, social media, and more. Last May, she spoke at the BEA Bloggers conference about the importance of good design and taking your blog to the next level.

Jennifer Bardsley:

Jennifer Bardsley is The YA Gal on Facebook and the "I Brake for Moms” columnist for The Everett Daily Herald. On November 11, 2014 Publishers Marketplace announced Jennifer’s two book deal with Georgia McBride at Month9Books. BLANK SLATE will release in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The sequel will come out in 2017. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @JennBardsley.

Kristie Matheson:

Lost in Ever After is a blog owned by Kristie, you'll find book tours, concert posts, reviews with other music and book related news. Host of Music Monday.

Liz Maguire:

Liz Maguire is an avid reader, marshmallow enthusiast and is known by her close friends as an "amused romantic". She is always looking for something new and different to add to an ever mounting T.B.R. pile by her bed. Operating from her Twitter and Tumblr accounts, Liz regularly shares reviews and publishes once monthly "Interview with an Author" posts with her followers, other bookish sorts.

Nicole Brinkley:

Nicole Brinkley has blonde hair and a love of dragons. The rest changes without notice. She is the editor of YA Interrobang and a part-time bookseller. You can find her on Twitter or Tumblr.


My name is Nori and I have been blogging at ReadWriteLove28.com for over 6 months. I started my blog because I wanted a place where I could share my passion for reading with the rest of the world. In addition to blogging, I also am a beta-reader and offer developmental editing services. I love reading Young Adult and New Adult books, especially fantasy and contemporary. My dog Ellie Mae is the mascot of my blog!


 Quite simply I’m Octavia. I speak fluent sarcasm, am a renowned smart ass, and here’s a surprise, I worship books. I wish I was joking but I seriously have a bit of an unbalance and possibly disturbing love of books. Three in my purse (always), one under my pillow, two on my nightstand, one in my desk at work and on my dinning room table. See what I mean? But it doesn’t end there. I love reviewing books almost as much as reading them. I’m not a literary genius but I can get a tad carried away with my reviews and I can’t think of a better way to spend my spare time.

Octavia blogs at Read Sleep Repeat

Sofia Li:

Sofia Li is a teen-aged Book Blogger and YouTuber that has been avidly reading since Kindergarten. Blogging and YouTube allow her to discuss her passions with other people and allow her to put her introvert qualities to good use. She enjoys having a place to be heard as well as all of the friends, and additions to her TBR she has gotten out of blogging. In her free time, she enjoys writing Young Adult Fiction (surprise surprise), cross country, and photography.

You can find Sofia:

Blog | http://lovingthelanguageofliteracy.blogspot.com
YouTube | https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCodtdymv5Nv0xUZHZefwShg
Twitter | https://twitter.com/sslluvsbooks
Goodreads | https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6724989-sofia-li


When she's not formatting the lovely interviews hosted here, she can be seen blogging at Read.Sleep.Repeat. , reading, writing and goofing off on the internet.

You can find her on twitter @shellysrambles. She is usually found yelling at her friends to read her favourite books and flaunting her Hufflepuff pride.

Round 3: Author Judges

Cindy Callaghan:

Cindy Callaghan grew up in New Jersey and attended college at the University of Southern California before earning her BA in English and French, and MBA from the University of Delaware.

Cindy is the author of JUST ADD MAGIC (2010), LOST IN LONDON (2013), LUCKY ME (2014), LOST IN PARIS (2015), and LOST IN ROME (2015).  All of Cindy’s novels are published by Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin M!x.

In January, Amazon Studios released the pilot for a live-action series based on her debut novel, JUST ADD MAGIC.

She recently exited corporate America after nearly twenty years, and is now fully entrenched in business consulting, writing, and family.  She is very involved with her children’s activities, including coaching the occasional soccer team. Cindy lives, works and writes in Wilmington, Delaware with her family and numerous rescued pets.

Website - http://www.cindycallaghan.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cindycallaghanauthor
Twitter -  https://twitter.com/CindyCallaghan

Sarah Fine:

I’m the author of several books for teens, including Of Metal and Wishes(McElderry/Simon & Schuster) and its sequel, Of Dreams and Rust (coming in August 2015), and the Guards of the Shadowlands YA urban fantasy series (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing). I’m also the co-author (with Walter Jury) of two YA sci-fi thrillers published by Putnam/Penguin: Scan and its sequel Burn (which will be published in 2015). My first adult urban fantasy romance novel,Marked, will be published in January 2015 by 47North/Amazon Publishing, with the sequel, Claimed, coming in March 2015. When I’m not writing, I’m psychologizing. Sometimes I do both at the same time. The results are unpredictable.

Lori Goldstein:

Born into an Italian-Irish family (hence the short temper and the freckles), Lori grew up on the Jersey Shore and now makes her home outside of Boston in a place close enough to the ocean that on the right day, she can smell the sea from her back deck, and yet it still takes an hour to get to the beach. Having earned her bachelor's degree in journalism, she worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before embracing her love of fictional people.  Her debut novel, the YA Contemporary Fantasy BECOMING JINN, releases April 21, 2015 (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan). When not writing or reading (preferably from a sandy locale), Lori can be found chatting books and perfecting the art of efficient writing through Twitter. Find her at @loriagoldstein.

Find Lori here:

Web site: www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com
Twitter: @loriagoldstein
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LoriGoldsteinAuthor
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/LoriGoldstein
Tumblr/Instagram: lorigoldsteinbooks

P.J. Hoover:

After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer, P. J. Hoover started writing books for kids and teens. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her middle grade novel, Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life (Starscape/Macmillan, September 2014), tells the story of a young immortal King Tut, who's been stuck in middle school for over 3,000 years and must defeat an ancient enemy with the help of a dorky kid from school, a mysterious Egyptian princess, and a one-eyed cat. Her first novel for teens, Solstice (Tor Teen/Macmillan, June 2013), takes place in a global warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website www.pjhoover.com.

Lydia Kang:

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her debut YA novel, CONTROL, was a Top Pick by RT Book Reviews and a YALSA 2015 Quick Pick. The sequel, CATALYST, releases on March 24, 2015.

Find Lydia:
Website: http://lydiakang.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LydiaYKang
Instagram: http://instagram.com/lydiakang

Nikki Kelly:

NIKKI KELLY was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. Lailah was first launched to wattpad, an online readers and writers community. Within six months, the novel had over one million reads. Lailah is Nikki’s debut novel, and the first book in The Styclar Saga. She lives in London with her husband and their dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a Chihuahua).

Catherine Linka:

Catherine Linka is the author of A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS, winner of the SCIBA Young Adult Novel Award 2014, and an Indie Next Pick. A frequent speaker at writer and teen conferences, Catherine received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. During the seven years she worked as a YA buyer for an indie bookstore, Catherine read and evaluated hundreds of young adult novels. A GIRL UNDONE will be published in June.

You can find Catherine:

twitter: @cblinka
FB: catherinelinkaauthor

T.A. Maclagan:

T.A. Maclagan is a Kansas girl by birth but now lives in the bush-clad hills of Wellington, New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, a little hobbit and four fur babies. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer.  It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. They Called Me Alexandra Gastone, a YA spy novel, is coming June 2015 from FFF Digital. 

Find her on her blog at tamaclaganwriting.wordpress.com.

Gretchen McNeil:

Gretchen McNeil is the author of YA horror novels POSSESS, TEN, and 3:59, as well as the new mystery/suspense series Don't Get Mad, beginning in 2014 with GET EVEN and continuing in 2015 with GET DIRTY, all with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins.  In 2016, Gretchen will publish two novels: RELIC, a YA horror novel, and MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL, her first YA contemporary.  Gretchen also contributed an essay to the Dear Teen Me anthology from Zest Books.

Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Find Gretchen:


Laurisa Reyes:

Laurisa is the author of four novels, including The Crystal Keeper, Contact, and The Rock of Ivanore. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Middle Shelf Magazine and the Senior Editor/Publisher of Skyrocket Press. She lives in Southern California with her husband and five children.

Find Laurisa:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laurisa-White-Reyes-Author/148553665188339

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lwreyes
Blog:  http://laurisareyes.blogspot.com
Website: http://www.laurisawhitereyes.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/lwreyes

 Round 4: Agents

Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency:

Jordy Albert is a Literary Agent and co-founder of The Booker Albert Literary Agency. She holds a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University, and a M.A. from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She has worked with Marisa Corvisiero during her time at the L. Perkins Agency and the Corvisiero Literary Agency. She enjoys studying languages (French/Japanese), spends time teaching herself how to knit, is a HUGE fan of Doctor WhoSherlock and Supernatural (#Superwholock)!!! And loves dogs.

She is looking for stories that sink their teeth in, leave the reader wanting more, and gives her all the feels. She loves books that make her laugh out loud or tear up (or in some cases wanting to throw the book). She is interested in Middle Grade contemporary or action/adventure (think Indiana Jones, Goonies, Labyrinth and other awesome 80s movies). In YA and New Adult, she is looking for sci-fi/fantasy (romance), contemporary romance. She’s also always looking for characters with strong, authentic voices. Jordy loves an awesome kick butt hero/heroine, especially when they have to work their way out of a tight spot. While it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, she tends to shy away from novels with trigger topics, such as suicide and any type of abuse. As for adult works, Jordy is looking for smart, sexy contemporary romances that leave her breathless, and where the chemistry between the characters sizzles right off the pages. She is also looking for Historical Romances (she definitely has a soft spot for Regency). Like Brittany, Jordy is a sucker for a HEA! Some favorite authors include Sabrina Jeffries, Teresa Medeiros, Karen Marie Moning, Kresley Cole, Lauren Layne, and Gena Showalter.

Danielle Barthel of New Leaf Literary:

Following her completion of the Denver Publishing Institute after graduation, Danielle began interning at Writers House. While there, she realized she wanted to put her English degree and love of the written word to work at a literary agency. She worked as a full-time assistant for three years, and continues to help keep the New Leaf offices running smoothly in her role of Coordinator of Team and Client Services.

In her downtime, she can be found with a cup of tea, a bar of chocolate, or really good book...sometimes all together.
Follow Danielle on twitter!

Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis:

Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade, and young adult projects.

She is a fan of young adult novels with a romantic angle, and strong, quirky protagonists. Within YA, Christa is especially interested in contemporary fiction, horror and thrillers/mysteries. As for middle grade, Christa enjoys contemporary, humor, adventure, mystery and magical realism for boys and girls. For picture books, she’s drawn to cute, funny, character driven stories within fiction and is open to non-fiction with a unique hook.

Victoria Lowes of The Bent Agency:

Victoria was born and raised in Queens, New York and graduated from the City University of New York, Queens College. Before joining the Bent Agency, she completed internships at Serendipity Literary and the Carol Mann Agency. In her spare time she can be found teaching dance classes for young students or watching re-runs of The Office. She loves books that teach her something, whether it be about a culture she doesn’t know, event in history or about the dynamics of a tumultuous young romance. She wants to root for your characters -- connect with them and the problems they face. She’s looking for characters as complex and interesting as those she meets in real life.

Melissa Nasson of RPC:

Melissa Nasson is an associate agent with Rubin Pfeffer Content. She is also an attorney and contracts director at Beacon Press, an independent publisher of non-fiction. Melissa is currently accepting submissions, and she is actively seeking MG, YA, and NA fiction in all genres (though she has a soft spot for fantasy and sci-fi). She will also consider fiction intended for the adult market, particularly edgy speculative fiction and gothic/horror novels. She is not considering non-fiction at this time.

Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown:

Kelly Sonnack is a Literary Agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, living in San Diego. She works with illustrators and writers of all areas within children’s literature (picture books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels). Some of the YA and middle grade novels she represents include Steve Watkins’ Golden Kite Winner DOWN SAND MOUNTAIN (Candlewick); Sharon Cameron’s debut novel THE DARK UNWINDING and her upcoming novel ROOK (both Scholastic); and Gordon McAlpine’s middle grade trilogy THE MISADVENTURES OF EDGAR AND ALLAN POE (Viking/Penguin), with illustrations by Sam Zuppardi. Picture books she represents include Bridget Heos and Joy Ang’s MUSTACHE BABY (Clarion/HMH); Diane Adams’ TWO HANDS TO LOVE YOU (Chronicle); Jessica Young’s MY BLUE IS HAPPY (Candlewick); Elizabeth Rusch’s ERUPTION! THE SCIENCE OF SAVING LIVES (Houghton Mifflin/HMH); and Sam Zuppardi’s THE NOWHERE BOX (Candlewick). She is a frequent speaker at conferences, including SCBWI’s national and regional conferences, is on the advisory board for University of California San Diego’s Writing and Illustrating for Children Certificate, and can be found talking about all things children’s books on Facebook (agentsonnack) and Twitter (@KSonnack). You can also learn more about her at www.kellysonnack.com or at her agency’s website, www.andreabrownlit.com.

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