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Howdy! Welcome to my #PimpMyBio page for #PITCHWARS 2016. Woot woot! Writers from all over the world enter their works for a chance to win the help of a mentor. Why is that awesome? Because these amazing mentors whip a mentee’s manuscript into tip top form for the Agent Round. Hello? Awesome opportunity? You betcha! (I swear I’m not related to Sarah Palin). Anyway, learn more about it from the incredible Brenda Drake’s website here. Also, give some love to the other bios at Lana Pattinson’s how to page here.


silly me
G’day! >>>> My writing face. >_<

Call me Samantha. Born and raised in Boston, I attended a small Catholic school in Dorchester called St. Kevin’s. In third grade, I wrote a story about a bunny detective trying to save the world from an evil mastermind. My teacher, Ms. Bess, loved it and read it aloud to the whole class. My fellow classmates clapped and cheered, and thus began my lifelong journey of writing, books, and chasing dreams.


I’ve failed countless times in publishing my stories, but I’ve never given up because writing is my world, my passion, my life—everything. I’m serious. Writing helped me survived high school, college, graduate school, and post-school life. Writing is how I survive every day. When I’m depressed, I write. When I’m happy, I write. When I’m excited, I write. I think you get the picture.


With writing, I’m unstoppable, like a Shinkansen (high-speed train from Japan) rocketing to her dreams.

When I’m not swimming in books and writing, I’m Netflixing, playing story video games, teaching (my second love), traveling, and talking to my little brother about everything. He’s my hero. I’d do anything for him. My relationship with my brother is why I enjoy writing and reading stories with strong sibling relationships, biological or not. I’m also a big fan of stories with friendships, and I blame anime for that—we can do it, together! Ganbatte! (Japanese: Do your best!) *friendship hugs*


This is my third time entering Pitchwars! YAY!

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD BOOKS: His Dark Materials series, The Giver, Bridge to Terabithia, the Secret Garden, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and Narnia Chronicles. I also read a lot historical MG/YA fiction about the Civil Right movement and Holocaust in middle school. I always loved history as a kid. Still do sometimes.


It’s five years ago. I’m in grad school in NYC, Columbia, studying sociology of education. One strange night, I have a horrible nightmare. I’m in a different body. My lips are sewn shut so I can only moan. My surroundings are a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I’m wandering around, scared as hell, and I find a small boy. A voice from nowhere says: protect him. The boy turns around and stares at me with these shining silver eyes. And then I wake up. Seriously. True story.


What do I do? I jump to my computer and write out everything from the nightmare. I turn it into a story and get five pages. I stop there and eventually forget about it.

It’s last summer. I finished watching Mad Max: Fury Road, and I absolutely loved it! And for some strange reason, I’m reminded of this old story I started back in grad school. I get an incredible rush to write it, to finish the story. After three rewrites and revisions, I get the story down and a title: THE MOON’S EDGE.

So what’s it about?

Alyssira Beaulieu goes from high school senior to soldier when forced to survive in a post-apocalyptic Boston. She might have to cross a dangerous wasteland to retrieve a journal capable of dismantling the evil Moon Empire and thwarting their plans to sell Earth to an alien race. That is unless she chooses to fight an equally dangerous battle with her fellow soldiers instead.

WISHES: I would really love a potential mentor to help me with plotting and pacing, along with word economy and choice. I can be wordy sometimes, and it can be hard for me to catch that on my own. I’d also like help with whether my characters’ actions/reactions are logical. My brain works differently in what I think would be an appropriate response to some things.



First: If you love sci-fi stories about queer kickass heroines who mess up big-time, heroines that are stubborn, frank, and humorous (some humor is important to me so let me know if I’m funny or not ^^), then you’ll enjoy MOON’S EDGE. Also, I have a great cast of supporting characters: love interests, friends, a hot dude who bakes pies, and a growing sibling relationship.

Group dynamics are really important to me in a story, so if you could help me improve that, I’d be forever grateful. Also, my story has a BIG fantastical element, so it’s more like SF/F. If you don’t mind or rather enjoy the two together in one story, then I think you’ll enjoy my manuscript.


My story takes place in noir type cyberpunk city.


Second: I work hard. I’m not sensitive. I take critiques and use it to turn whatever I have into gold. With the right mentor, I know we can make gold. Rip me to shreds, and I’ll do everything I can to show you how much better I can be. I’m an Aries, we love challenges. MISSION: ACCEPTED.


Proud to be an Aries. Go Team Valor!

Third: Despite all the passion, I’m really chill and love cracking jokes, even if they’re bad or corny. So if you have a good sense of humor, then let’s make bad jokes together. 😀

All right, let’s get this started!



Featured image by Marek Okon @ Sci-fi Fantasy Horror


Review of Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith

Welcome to the Future

Stranger is a YA sci-fi novel that features the voices of five distinct teenagers living in a post-apocalyptic town called Las Enclas. The book starts on an exciting note with Ross Suarez, one of the main characters, running away from a bounty hunter who is after a book in Suarez’s possession. The primary villain, Voske, hired the mercenary to get this special book, which is described as being quite important. Although I got echoes of the Book of Eli in these scenes, I found the chase to be quite entertaining.

Without spoiling too much, Suarez finds himself in the tight-knit, structured community of Las Enclas where like every fort trying to survive in a new harsh world has citizens with specifically assigned roles: rangers, teachers, farmers, sentries, engineers, etc. Also, some people have mutant abilities due to radiation from past nuclear wars and are called Changed. An X-Men theme surfaces where a group of people dislikes the Changed and others defend them. The Changed, however, are an integral part of the town.

Aside from Ross, we get to intimately know the four local inhabitants of this city such as Mia, the incredibly intelligent but socially awkward engineer; Yuki the cool and collected ‘prince’; Felicity, the haughty, brownnosing scribe; and Jennie, the smart and strong ranger. I think it’s important to note that all of these characters are young people of color. I can’t remember the last time I read a YA science fiction novel that featured so many distinct voices from different backgrounds. And Yuki is gay, so the book scores high on diversity overall without making a big deal about it. As a person of color myself, I found it pretty refreshing.

We jump from one POV to the next as Stranger unravels the daily on goings of Las Enclas. I found the middle to be quite weak in terms of conflict and tension. I kept waiting for something to happen, which I rightly predicted would have something to do with some big confrontation with Voske, a powerful man fond of overtaking cities and putting people’s heads on spikes as a warning to outsiders.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy learning about each character individually; usually I’m all for strong character driven stories, but conflict plays an important part as well. We don’t see much happening until the final arc of the book when war breaks out between the people of Las Enclas and Voske’s army. Stranger shines in these final scenes because you care very deeply about these characters and don’t want to see them to lose.

Overall, I enjoyed Stranger, despite the lagging middle, and look forward to reading the next book in the series. However, this novel is a stand-alone. If you’re looking for a diverse book that mixes post-apocalyptic survival with X-men themes, then this book is for you.


Stay Amazing,