Meet My 2016 Pitch Wars Mentors: Abby Cooper and Gail Nall

Ever since I started writing, I’ve had the chance to meet some amazing people. Today I’m going to share an experience I had meeting (in a virtual, online sense) two talented authors, thanks to the Pitch Wars online contest. I’m going to share brief reviews of two of their books, and will also share a couple of recipes to make a meal inspired by those books.

The authors in question are Gail Nall, who lives in Kentucky, and Abby Cooper, who lives in Minnesota.  They were my Pitch Wars mentors last fall. (For information about this online contest, go to this link and learn all about it.) This contest gives writers a wonderful opportunity to revise and improve an entire novel while working with guidance and input from published authors. I was thrilled when Abby and Gail chose to be my mentors, and they were fantastic! I can’t say enough about how much I loved working with those two. I’m so honored and grateful that they chose to work with me.

Gail Nall
Abby Cooper


Abby and Gail were positive and supportive, and had such great insights into what I needed to change, what I needed to keep, and how I might make my story better in so many ways. I learned to tighten my writing, watch for repetitive actions (apparently my main character did a whole lot of staring), to cut scenes or subplots that weren’t necessary, a lot about writing for a slightly younger audience, and so much more.

Long story short, I received a few agent requests when the contest was done. While I haven’t yet signed with an agent, the contest was overall an incredibly positive experience for me. I got acquainted with my two wonderful mentors, I learned a ton, and by the deadline, I ended up with a novel I was proud of—whereas before I had a novel I kinda liked, but knew needed work. A definite win!

One more thing that’s great is that I’ve found new names to add to my “favorite authors” list. I can sincerely say that I love the books Abby and Gail have written!  Their main characters are spunky and courageous and the stories are humorous, thought-provoking, and lots of fun to read. I’m going to briefly mention two:  Sticks & Stones and Out of Tune.

In the book Sticks & Stones, by Abby Cooper, 12-year-old Elyse has a rare genetic disorder in which words can literally hurt. Words that anyone uses when talking about Elyse appear on her skin. Kind words leave a pleasant, tickling sensation, whereas mean words will cause uncomfortable itching—the worse the words, the more severe (and horribly distracting) the itching. Middle school is hard enough for anyone, and I couldn’t help wondering how in the world Elyse was going to get through her 6th grade year! The messages in this book are important and powerful, and shared in a such an imaginative way that I think both young and older readers will appreciate the story. I was cheering (and tearing up a bit) for Elyse at the end.

In the book Out of Tune by Gail Nall, twelve-year-old Maya is dismayed when her dad brings home an old RV and tells the family that they are going to live on the road for a while. Maya is determined to be a country singer and doesn’t want to leave Nashville or lose her chance to audition for “Dueling Duets,” which could be her big break. While upset at what her parents have chosen to do, Maya remains dedicated to her dream and tries to scheme her way back home, while visiting some beautiful places along the way (Yellowstone and Teton National Parks, two of my favorites), making new friends and dealing with life and all its quirks and frustrations.  This book reminded me of how little freedom kids sometimes have, being bound by the choices their parents make. However, just like Maya, in dealing with our challenges we find that we grow in unexpected ways.

Both books made me think about life, my own experiences growing up, and they made me smile more than once. Share them with the kids in your life!

You can find more about Abby and Gail on their websites, here:

And now, please check out the Cooking by the Books section on my website for two recipes inspired by Abby’s and Gail’s books. Though food wasn’t a major focus in these books, two things mentioned in these stories stuck in my head and I decided they’d make a great meal together: homemade lasagna with triple chocolate cupcakes for dessert.  ? Happy reading and bon appétit!

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