Friday, July 31, 2015

My Pitch Wars Wish List!

What I'm looking for in my Pitch Wars inbox this year:

1. Middle grade, realistic contemporary

2. Heartfelt, classic, coming-of-age middle grade (Again, realistic contemporary!)

3. Literary writing. Attention to craft.

4. Music stories: band, orchestra, or choir

5. Dogs. Dolphins. Save-the-animals rescue stories.

6. A hint of magical realism, but nothing heavy-handed.

7. Spot-on MG voice

8. Characters who struggle with faith, or spirituality, or belief in something greater than themselves.

9. A story where the setting is almost a character in itself. Bonus points for a beach setting!

10. Verse: Lovely and lyrical, with tons of heart. (Last year I selected a novel-in-verse!)

Still wondering what types of books I love?  Check out my Pinterest board: (I read and LOVED every one of these titles!)

What I am NOT looking for:
Fantasy, Historical, Science Fiction, Mystery, YA

Here's more info about me: (You can also visit my website: or find me on Twitter: @stefwass)

Stefanie Wass writes middle grade novels from her home in historic Hudson, Ohio. A member of SCBWI and finalist in the 2012 National Association of Elementary School Principals Book of the Year Contest, her nonfiction credits include the LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, Seattle Times, The Writer, Cleveland Magazine, Akron Beacon Journal, This I Believe, Cup of Comfort, and 15 Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. This will be Stefanie’s second year serving as a Pitch Wars mentor.

2015 Pitch Wars submission window will open August 17. Brenda Drake will announce the mentors’ picks on September 2. The agent round is November 3-4.

More info on how to submit:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Northern Ohio SCBWI Conference

It is almost registration time for the Northern Ohio SCBWI Conference, coming this September to Cleveland, Ohio!

This is my home SCBWI group...the writers that first nurtured my love of all things literary.

For the past 13 years, this group of talented children's writers and illustrators has hosted a fabulous fall conference.

Here's the scoop:

THE MAGIC OF 13 - SCBWI: Northern Ohio 13th Annual Conference
Friday, September 18, 2015 2:00 PM -
Saturday, September 19, 2015 5:30 PM (Eastern Time)

Sheraton Cleveland Airport Hotel
If you want a spot in the intensives, be sure to register early.
Registration opens July 6, 2015 at 10:00am for SCBWI members. 
Hope to see you in September!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Once upon a time, I cut out (with scissors!) photos of my characters, along with symbols that reminded me of them. (Track shoes, a broken heart, a winding road, musical notes.)
This process involved plenty of scotch tape and way too much printer ink. If I rethought my characters, I had to rip everything up and start over. 

But one day, I discovered Pinterest!  It's an online bulletin board where I can search photos, paste and drag them to "secret" boards only I can see, and delete the images as needed. I love this visual collage. It's fun to see how things change over the course of many revisions. Here is a board I created. (I changed it to a public board so you can see it!)
I also use Pinterest to keep track of my favorite middle grade books.  You can check it out here:
For me, Pinterest has definitely helped my writing.
Such a great tool! 


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Five Reasons Why You Should Read

A Handful of Stars,

by Newbery Honor Author

Cynthia Lord:

 1. Setting It’s summer in Maine, when the blueberries are ripe for picking, school is out, and it’s almost time for the local blueberry festival. What’s yummier than a blueberry enchilada topped with whipped cream?!
  2. Friendship: Lily and Salma are the kind of friends who believe in each other when nobody else does—Salma, in Lily’s plan to save her dog’s eyesight, and Lily, in Salma’s hope to become the first migrant worker to enter (and hopefully win) the local Blueberry Queen pageant.

3.  Diversity:  Salma is a migrant worker. She looks different than the other girls entering the pageant, plus her talent is unusual. The message? Change is hard. But with courage, bravery, and help from friends (see #2), it’s possible to stand tall in front of an entire town.
4.   Heart:  Lily, earning money for a sight-saving operation for her dog. Salma, working the blueberry fields, yet hoping for a better life. Two friends, joined together by their love of painting, shared loss, and belief in change.

5.  Voice:  The spot-on middle grade voice  grabbed me from the first sentence. (“The only reason I ever spoke to Salma Santiago was because my dog ate her lunch.”) Here is one of my favorite passages from the book:

“Today I’d only felt a little bit braver than I was scared. Just enough to tip the scales. But that was all I needed. I’d done brave and big-thinking things. I’d rented a booth. I’d gone to the camp by myself. I’d made a star friend, and I was swinging like I could fly. I imagined that little bit of extra brave as a beach stone, small and hard and smooth-worn. I wrapped my hand around that pretend stone to hold it tight and swung up again and again.

            Until my toes touched the sky.”

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I'm off...

To the New England SCBWI 2015 Spring Conference!
Can't wait to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and most of all, improve my craft.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Great Opening Lines
Recently I've turned to some of my favorite middle grade books for guidance in revising the opening sentence of my work-in-progress. Here are a some awesome openers with killer voice and an amazing hook, right from the get-go. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments box, below!

ALL THE ANSWERS, by Kate Messner: "The pencil didn't look magic."
BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE, by Kate DiCamillo: “My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.”

HOLES, by Louis Sachar: “There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.”  
THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY, by Tracy Holczer: "All I had to do was walk up to the coffin."
WISH GIRL, by Nikki Loftin: "The summer before I turned thirteen, I held so still it almost killed me."



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Okay, so this book isn't middle grade, but I ventured into YA territory, and boy am I glad I did.

What will you find inside the cover?

Lyrical, literary prose. Heartfelt, well-developed, flawed characters. A sit-on-the-edge-of-your-chair fast-paced plot that left me breathless, wanting more.

At the end of this story about faith, friendship, and finding one's true voice, I cheered and cried, all at once.

I can't wait to share this novel with my teen daughters and their friends.