Diana Sousa was born in the small kingdom of Portugal, a little over two decades ago. She grew up reading books, playing the cello, more video games than she should, and patiently waiting for her Hogwarts letter. The time has come, Diana, the time has come. During her free time, she wanders through the mysterious fields of the internet, using chocolate as fuel, a book as a shield, and a pen as a weapon. Maybe a wand? Follow her at @DianaSousaBooks and email her at diana(at)pitchslamcontest(dot)com.


Jim O’Donnell Jim O’Donnell is a young adult writer, represented by Vicki Selvaggio at The Jennifer DiChiara Literary Agency. He is also a father of three, an attorney, a retired police lieutenant, and a former congressional nominee. He is currently in Buffalo waiting for you to bring him coffee. For the fastest directions, tweet him @JD_ODonnell. Email Jim at jim(at)pitchslamcontest(dot)com.


Angela Cappillo is a YA author who lives in a small town in Northeastern Ohio with her husband, four children, and a multitude of pets. When she’s not busy shuttling around children and writing, she enjoys reading everything she can and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Follow her at @AMCappillo and email her at angela(at)pitchslamcontest(dot)com.


CIndyCindy Wilson began creating worlds as a kid, entertaining her siblings with spontaneous ghost stories before bed. She filled notebooks with novels and ideas and realized quickly she wanted to be a writer as an adult.

Now Cindy lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and loves using Colorado towns and cities as inspiration for settings in her stories. She’s the mother of three girls who provide plenty of fodder for her YA novels.

Cindy writes speculative and contemporary YA fiction, filled with a healthy dose of romance. She’s represented by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary. Follow her at @CindyRWilson.

Brandi Lynch writes YA paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary. She’s an anime fan and a casual gamer—she loves an RPG, but wouldn’t dare put her skills up against someone else. In games and books, fantasy and science fiction steal her heart every time. A Halloween fiend, she loves to create her own Halloween costumes. Follow her at @Branwrites and email her at brandi(at)pitchslamcontest(dot)com.
Rebecca Waddell writes Young Adult and Middle Grade novels set in the real world or places born in her brain. When not petting wolfacorns or eating chocolate with her family, she blogs poetry. Rep’d by the completely awesome Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Lit. Follow her at @GloWolf143 and email her at rebecca.w(at)pitchslamcontest(dot)com.


Aften Brook Szymanski is a children’s book author who hopes to inspire youth to embrace their own quirks and pursue their individual talents. She has written O. Postmus, a picture book, and the Lindly Brandt series starting with Liar Lindly Brandt.

Aften is a happily married mother of three wonderful children who inspire her everyday. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a post graduate of University of Utah. Education and goal setting are a huge part of joy and personal fulfillment in her life. It doesn’t matter what you pursue, just dedicate yourself to the things you love. Follower her at @aftenbrook.



Kelly deVos is a Young Adult writer living in Gilbert, Arizona, represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She has a degree in Creative Writing from Arizona State University and currently serves as an intern to Entangled Senior Editor, Kate Brauning. She is a contributor to the YA Buccaneers and YAgabonds, and her debut novel, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, will be published in August 2017 by Harlequin Teen.


J. Elizabeth Hill was born in Toronto, Ontario, and exported herself to Vancouver, British Columbia after many years of staring longingly at the map following every snowfall. For as long as she can remember, she’s been making up stories, but it wasn’t until high school that someone suggested writing them down. Since then, she’s been hopelessly in love with story crafting, often forgetting about everything else in the process. Follow her at @jlizhill and email her at liz(at)pitchslamcontest(dot)com.

Originally from the Midwest, Caitlyn McFarland currently lives in Utah with her husband and three young daughters. She has a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Brigham Young University. When she’s not writing about dragons or running around after her daughters, she can be found hunched over a sewing machine making elaborate princess costumes. Caitlyn is represented by Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary Agency, LLC.
Jay Coles is a MG/YA author and a composer with ASCAP. He is represented by Lauren Abramo of the Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Born and raised in the corn state of Indiana, Jay has grown very fond of what the state has to offer, and still lives in between Muncie and Brownsburg, where he enjoys teaching, writing, and watching Netflix. He holds an associates degree as well as a bachelors of science in English and education. Jay is also the father of two pups that will forever have his heart. Follow him @mrjaycoles.
 Rowan (Erin) Hall is an adult speculative fiction writer who frequently wakes in the middle of the night to write down dramatic elements for her novels that mostly end up being bunk by morning. She enjoys dry English humor, over the top YA paranormal angst, and thrilling international espionage, but mostly she just enjoys really good stories. Eventually setting up shop in the Pacific Northwest, Rowan raises kids and fights for educational justice. She has the sense of humor of most teenage dudes and chases radioactive tumbleweeds in her spare time.

Carey O’Connor is a writer of MG stories, advertising copy, and (ambitious, always unfinished) to-do lists. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, she has a wanderlust that’s led her to explore five continents (and temporarily settle in Texas). Carey loves stories that allow her to explore interesting places with fascinating people and voices with a hint of poetry. For #PitchSlam, you can count on a star from Carey if you make her laugh, check under the bed, or want to research some element of your manuscript. Follow her at @OConnorCarey and email her at ck(at)pitchslamcontest(dot)com.

Kimberly Ito writes realistic contemporary fiction for teens and adults, and reads just about anything, from steamy romance to hard sci-fi. Her favorite stories are character-driven, with unforgettable voices and settings—bonus points if you can make her cry. She lives outside of Tokyo with her family and in addition to writing, works as a freelance editor, proofreader, translator, and part-time EFL teacher. Follow her at @KimberlyIto and email her at kimberly.i(at)pitchslamcontest(dot)com.


Kara Reynolds is a stay-at-home mom of three who likes to spend her nearly-non-existent free time writing novels. Her weaknesses include James T. Kirk, lightsabers, and anything TARDIS-blue. She writes contemporary and light speculative YA novels. She is clearly a gigantic nerd, and if she could go back in time, she would tell her teenage self to embrace her inner geekiness. While Kara lives in Wyoming, she is not of Wyoming. But it’s growing on her.

Kara is a weekly contributor to writing blog Operation Awesome, where she runs the Tuesday Museday feature, providing query critiques twice monthly for blog readers. Follow her at @reynoldstribe.



Elizabeth Leis Newman is a long-term care magazine editor (ask her anything about Medicaid or dementia!) and a women’s fiction writer. She has a goal to read 100 books a year. A Virginia native, she lives in Chicago with her husband and four cats. No, they don’t know how they ended up with that many felines either. Follow her .