Tuesday, July 18, 2017

2017 Pitch Wars Mentor Blog Hop!

This post is specifically for the many talented authors entering Pitch Wars this year. I'm so excited to be a Pitch Wars mentor for the first time ever. I'm only accepting middle grade entries. But I can't wait to read them!

About Me:

I spent more than a decade as an aspiring author before finally getting an agent in 2009. My first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, debuted in 2014, followed by my second book, 25 Roses. In August, my third middle grade will debut--a novel I co-wrote with six other authors called Best. Night. Ever. I also write the Piper Morgan chapter book series. In addition to writing children's books, I'm also a freelance branded content writer, so basically I write all the time. I worked in information technology for 13 years before leaving to be a full-time writer.

What I'm Looking For:

  • Fun contemporaries--I'm a sucker for a girly-girl heroine who loves fashion and hanging out with friends.
  • Comedies--I don't have to laugh out loud (although that would be great), but a fun, lighthearted read gets me every time.
  • Spooky tales--I live for spooky stories, especially if they involve ghosts.
  • Magical realism--Contemporary stories with magical elements also draw me in.
  • Suspense/mysteries--When I read adult books, I love Gone Girl-type suspense novels. I'd love to see a more innocent version of this in a middle-grade format.
Here are some of my favorite middle grade books:


Check out the other Pitch Wars mentors below:



































Introducing Princesses, Inc. by Mari Mancusi

Mari Mancusi isn't new to publishing. In fact, before her first Aladdin M!x novel hit the market, she already had a full backlist of books for adults, young adults, and children. And she recently sold a three-book deal to Disney Hyperion...so wow! This month, she's celebrating the release of her second Aladdin M!x novel, which has a cover that no tween could resist. Scroll down to read all about it!


Twelve-year-old Hailey and her BFFs are all big fans of Collin Prince, a YouTube star, and swoon-worthy crush. So when the opportunity to meet him at a local Comic-Con comes up, the girls jump at the chance. The problem? The convention isn’t cheap—and the girls don’t have the money to go. But Hailey isn’t ready to give up just yet. In addition to meeting Collin at the convention, there is a young writer’s competition that she is determined to enter—and win.

The girls dream up Princesses and Pirates, Inc., a babysitting service where the girls will dress up in costume to entertain their charges. Of course, they aren’t as prepared as they thought they would be to deal with bratty kids, scheming older siblings (who are less than thrilled that their own babysitting jobs have dried up), and trying to balance their new “jobs” with school. And more responsibilities means less time for Hailey to work on her contest entry. Will their plan to make it to Comic-Con pay off…or could their business end up as shipwrecked as the pirates they portray?

Buy Links:


Mari Mancusi grew up in New England where she spent her winters snowboarding in the mountains of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Today she resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband and young daughter, writing snowy stories to stay cool. A graduate of Boston University and a former Emmy Award–winning TV news producer, Mari has written numerous books for children, teens, and adults. When not writing, she enjoys traveling, cosplay, watching horror movies, and her favorite guilty pleasure—video games.

Author Links:

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mystery Monday: Madeleine McCann

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

There aren't many mysteries that make it across the vast ocean to the U.S. After all, America has enough horrible stories of our own. But the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann broke hearts across the world.

Madeleine Beth McCann was born in 2003 in Leicester, England. She had younger siblings who were twins. In May of 2007, Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, took the three children to a Portugal resort called Praia da Luz. They were joined by seven friends and their five children. 

The seven adults have been nicknamed the "Tapas Seven" because each evening at around 8:30 p.m., the group would meet up with the McCanns in a tapas restaurant at the resort after putting their children to bed. The rooms were across the pool from the restaurant, as evidenced in the below diagram from the U.K.'s Daily Mail. See the caption for a description of each numbered location.

1) Tapas restaurant 2) front of McCann apartment 3) Rear of McCann apartment 4) stairs to the rear patio doors
On the evening of May 3, the McCanns left the apartment for the tapas restaurant around 8:30 p.m. They left the patio doors unlocked. The group of adults say they always took turns checking on the children throughout the night.

Gerry made the first check on the children at a little after 9 p.m. All was fine. He did mention the bedrooom door being wide open when he was sure he'd previously left it only slightly ajar, but it wasn't enough to alarm him. He says he pulled it back to the slightly ajar position. Around 9:30, friend Matthew Oldfield checked in on them while he was checking his own children. He claims the door was once again wide open. Neither of the two men looked into the bedroom to see the children.

Madeline's bed (left), the twins' cribs, and an empty bed.

At 10 p.m., it was Kate's turn. She walked back to the apartment to check on the children. Madeleine's bed was empty.

Kate rushed back to the restaurant, where she yelled, "Madeleine's gone! Someone's taken her!" A few minutes later, Matthew Oldfield went to the resort's reception desk to have them call the police. Unfortunately, the crime scene was not preserved as the police did not take the situation seriously. They believed Madeleine had simply wandered off.

As of this date, Madeleine's disappearance is still a mystery. Police reportedly believe the McCanns, who are both physicians, medicated Madeleine in order to keep her asleep while they dined with friends, accidentally giving her too much. The cover up then began, the theory goes.

Madeleine's parents

Part of this theory comes from the fact that police dogs smelled traces of a decomposing body inside the apartment. Traces of DNA matching Madeleine were also found in the couple's rental car. Of course, experts debunk this, saying that her DNA would have matched the rest of the family and since they'd all been using the rental car, the finding made sense.

Of course, the McCanns uphold that a stranger abducted Madeleine. Suspects include a pedophile who lived an hour away and a convicted burglar and drug addict who had been fired from the tapas bar in 2006. He was reportedly in the area that evening. But experts say that the 30-minute checks on the children would likely have deterred anyone thinking of breaking into the apartment.

What do you think happened to Madeleine McCann?