Query Kombat 2017

I am honored to be a Kontestant in Query Kombat 2017. Honored, overjoyed, nervous, excited, a bowl full of jittery jelly…

Tomorrow, my entry: Perfectly Imperfect Princess goes head to head with another MG entry. One of us will move on to round 2. One of us will not.

Whether I move forward after this weekend or not, I’ve had a blast participating on twitter and meeting new writing friends. I’m excited to read everyone’s entries.

I’m so nervous, I’m at a loss for words.

Thank you to the hosts: MichelleLaura, and Michael!

I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to be on Query Kombat Team Rebel Scum!


Pitchwars 2016 Contestant Bio

Hello Mentors and Mentee hopefuls! Welcome, I’m glad you stopped by.

I’m Diana.

Haloween photos

Twitter                Pinterest               Instagram

I write MG and YA fantasy, adventure, fairytale retellings, mystery, and spooky stories. This will be my first time entering Pitchwars. I’m excited and nervous and hoping to gather more writer friends along the journey. Before I tell you all about myself, I’m going to jump right into my pitchwars submission.


Princess Penelope Charming should be a perfect Princess. Her mother is Cinderella, after all, one of the most famous princesses in all of Fablewood. But Penelope would gladly trade her glass slippers and puffy dresses for the chance at adventure. When someone poisons Cinderella’s glass slippers, it’s up to Penelope to save her. She teams up with her best friend Red and a mysterious new boy named Jack, whose mysterious heritage holds the key to saving Cinderella. They embark on a quest in search an antidote to wake the slumbering Cinderella.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, please send me a mentor to fix it all! 

The strengths of the book are definitely the world, the mystery, and the adventure. I am a pantser, and I’ve been struggling with where and when to make BIG DRAMATIC changes  to transform this fun story into a super duper funtastic story as touching as a PIXAR movie.

I love to brainstorm. To ask what if… I am ready to tear this apart by the seams and sew it back together into a beautiful tapestry. Step into Fablewood with me. Let’s play, and create, and laugh, and maybe cry.

My world awaits. I’d love to see you there.

About ME

I am married, and the adoptive mommy of an almost 3 year-old-girl with supermodel hair. My instagram account can attest to that. Currently, I am a stay at home mom

I studied illustration in college, landed a job as an artist at a baby clothes company, climbed the corporate ladder to a senior management level and loved and hated it at the same time. Think about the movie DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Yeah, the apparel industry is tough, guys, even when it involves teddy bears, kitties, and flowers. I wouldn’t trade the tears for anything, though. That twelve year journey taught me to separate myself from my art, how to receive and give feedback, and the value of mentorship, both as a mentee and mentor.

Fun Facts

I LOVE the Haunted Houses that pop up around Halloween. When I lived in Florida, I went to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios every year I could. Because nothing is more fun than being chased around a theme park by a gang of chainsaw wielding soldiers. The funny part is that I’m actually hard to scare. I blame my Dad, who tried to scare me so often I grew immune. Once, he frightened my entire slumber party by playing  a VHS of Dracula, sneaking outside, and pounding on the sliding glass door. All the girls ran screaming into my parents bedroom.

My husband and I throw awesome themed parties, especially for Halloween.


This is not how we looked on our wedding day. My husband is a photoshop guru.

For most of my childhood I dreamed of becoming a sea lion trainer. If I found a genie in a lamp, I’d still wish for this.

My favorite place to vacation is Yosemite, Mono Lake, and Mammoth Lakes, California. Elsewhere, I’ve camped in a lava flow, walked inside an earthquake fault, ventured into lava tubes, took a New Orlean’s bayou tour from the eccentric Voodoo Charlie, crawled through tight spaces on a wild cave expedition (perfect revenge for all my husband’s short jokes), but I’ve never been to Hawaii.


Fantasy landscape of Mono Lake 

I pretend played well into the “too old to pretend play” age. My desire to make believe clashing with a requirement to grow up morphed into a love of writing and reading. I remember when it happened. My mom bought my sisters and I dresses at the Renaissance Festival. The next day we time travel back to the 14th century. This pretend play became my first novel: a time travel adventure set in a future juxtaposed of 1989 and the 14th Century where people wear blue jeans paired with ruffled Renaissance blouses and tunics. Oh, and there’s a dragon in it.


Isn’t the cover fab?

I’ve attended 4 Harry Potter Midnight release parties. Book 4 as a Books-A-Million employee and 5,6 & 7 dressed up in my own t-shirt designs.


Someday I hope to write a Magical Realism story that draws from the loss of both my Father and Grandfather to Dementia. It’s a tiny spark of a story right now inspired by the aesthetic of Pan’s Labyrinth.

I love Siberian Huskies and would have an entire sled team if that wouldn’t require so much vacuuming.

Juneau, who I’ll never forget (she was my Toothless) and Luna my new rescue.

One of the baby clothes products I created the art for showed up on Dexter.


It’s blurry, but look, I drew that giraffe!

I was born outside Chicago, grew up in Arizona, college-d in Florida, and reside in a suburb of Atlanta.

Some of My Favorite Things


  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
  • A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Inkheart Trilogy by Corneila Funke
  • Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
  • The Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffery
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stievfvater
  • Christopher Pike
  • Rick Riordan
  • Dean Koontz

Movies & TV

  • The Goonies
  • The Dark Crystal
  • Labyrinth
  • Inside Out
  • How to Train your Dragon (Toothless is mine don’t even try to take him)
  • Faerie Tale Theater (from the 80s)
  • Jurassic Park
  • Poltergeist
  • The 100 (my absolute fav right now)
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Face Off (the SYFY makeup challenge)
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Firefly
  • Game of Thrones
  • So You Think You Can Dance
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Murder She Wrote
  • Wicked the Musical

Music & Miscellaneous

  • Oldies from the 50s and 60s
  • Soundtracks
  • Brad Paisley
  • The Monkees
  • Board Games, especially CLUE
  • Nintendo – Zelda, Mario Kart, and Splatoon

Favorite Disney Princess and Prince

  • Anna from Frozen
  • Aladdin

Book Boyfriend

  • Troy Tatterton from V.C. Andrews Dark Angel

Thank you for reading! Thank you to Lana Pattinson for hosting the blog hop. Be sure to check out all the other wonderful contestants on the blog hop! A Great BIG thank you to Brenda Drake, the genius behind Pitchwars.

You can find me on twitter and pinterest, where I dedicate boards to all my WIPs.





A month ago, I came a cross a fun art challenge on instagram called #12monthsofpaint. Each month has a theme. March is GREEN. I painted with my daughter’s Crayola paints because the set has the most fabulous greens, no mixing required. I didn’t allow myself to sketch this owl first, which was fun and freeing.


Last month, the theme was portraits. I approached that loosely, pretending that animals could have portraits, too.




This last Super Girl was created for a friend battling cancer. I hope she gives her strength.

Mommy Daughter collaboration

My grandpa used to draw funny cartoon faces from my sister’s and I to color. It’s one of my favorite memories from childhood, and it’s made even sweeter now that I can pass it on to my daughter. We collaborated on these two pictures t cheer up a friend who lost her father and a goodbye present for her preschool teacher. It’s been a great way to find time to draw and involve a 2 1/2 year old!



Learning a Valuable lesson

Probably my biggest weakness as a writer is the constant worry of originality or lack there of. Generating ideas and being swept away by characters as a story unfolds is my favorite part of writing. Of being a creative being, really. Then, the discovery of SOMETHING SIMILAR, can bring that creative ride to a jarring halt. For a long time.

In 2011 I finished a MG manuscript that I’d been writing for a few years. Hooray! After a long stint of wanting to write, talking about writing, thinking about writing, but NOT writing, I’d finally reawakened a dream that started in ninth grade.


Yes, 2011!


Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 10.38.23 AM

So, what happened to that manuscript? At first I did what a writer does with a new MS. Revised. Revised some more. Sent it out to beta readers. Searched for critique partners. Revised. Revised…

Then, SOMETHING SIMILAR happened that shook my confidence in the story. That first road block was ONCE UPON A TIME on ABC. A mash up of fairytale characters living in the same place was a similar premise to my manuscript. Here is a short pitch I’ve used for PENELOPE CHARMING: THE RELUCTANT PRINCESS:

Princess Penelope Charming should be a perfect Princess.  Her mother is Cinderella, after all, one of the most famous Princesses in all of Fablewood.  But Penelope would gladly trade her glass slippers and puffy dresses for the chance at adventure. When someone poisons Cinderella’s glass slippers, it’s up to Penelope to save her. Penny teams up with her long time best friend Red, whose great-great-great-great-grandmother is the famous Little Red Riding Hood, and a mysterious new boy named Jack, who holds the key to saving Cinderella. They embark on a quest in search of the ingredients to make the antidote to wake the slumbering Cinderella.

Fairytales and retellings bloomed in the market. Awesome! Who doesn’t love fairytales? It’s the perfect time! Then that thing called life butted in and writing took a back seat. In the basement. Under the couch collecting dust bunnies made of collie and husky fur.

Fast forward through years of wondering, worrying, and avoiding most of the fairytales, then shelving PENELOPE because I’d been away too long. Plus life changes, big ones.

Inspiration struck during Nanowrimo 2015. I wrote another book and won Nano for the first time with a YA urban-isa fantasy called MAGGIE ROSE AMONG MONSTERS. (I’m still struggling to categorize it correctly. Magical realism, maybe?) Knowing that I’d never get anywhere if I didn’t put it out there, I popped my shyness safety bubble and searched for writing buddies, got back on twitter, and stumbled upon #PITCHWARS, a twitter contest hosted by Brenda Drake. I tried my best to revise the YA novel in time to enter the contest, but alas, the last half remained a messy first draft. I was winning without entering, anyway, ’cause I had found a super supportive writing community. After a time I found the critique partner match up hosted by Megan Grimit. I posted a couple twitter pitches for the YA novel and found potential critique partners interested in both YA and MG. And guess what happened?

You’ve probably figured out that I sent pages from PENELOPE CHARMING to those interested in critiquing MG. And guess what happened?

PENELOPE CHARMING received the most positive response. Hm. I never could give up on the story, despite the influx of similarities in the market. Really, I never should have given up on the story. Similarities will always be there. My story isn’t like any of the others, it’s an intricate, one of a kind snowflake that formed in my imagination. Sure, similarities will happen. The worst one I need to address is the concept of all the Villains in my fairytale being locked away in the Isle of Exile. You may have heard about this book Isle of the Lost where, you guessed it, the villains are locked away on the Isle of the Lost.


And this brings us to the Valuable Lesson I Learned. I tried to read this book. No offense meant to the author since it’s meant to fit a specific Disney purpose, but I couldn’t get through it. I was happy I didn’t care for it and that the only thing my manuscript shared with this book was that concept of the villains being exiled on an island. That’s it. I’d been afraid for nothing. I need to find SOME PLACE DIFFERENT to banish my villains, but you know what? I’m excited about PENELOPE CHARMING again. I don’t care if there’s a flood of fairytales in the market. I’m gonna give this book the chance it deserves. Maybe it won’t be THE ONE that helps me break into the business, but it will be the one that helps introduce me to the business.

Thanks for reading!