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WWTS Update: Cassandra Federman

Cassandra was the lucky recipient of a Writing With the Stars mentorship with Melissa Iwai and her husband Denis Markell.  Here is what Cassandra had to share about the experience. 

I was the lucky WWTS winner to receive two mentors for the price of one! The husband and wife power-couple Denis Markell (primarily a writer) and Melissa Iwai (primarily an illustrator) were a mentorship dream team! I had a manuscript and dummy that was getting me close to being represented by an agent, but ultimately no one was pulling the trigger. It had already been through roughly a million rounds with my critique group and I needed a fresh pair (or two pairs) of eyes. Denis and Melissa were able to hone in on what my story was missing and I went through several drafts of the manuscript based on their suggestions. Once the manuscript felt finished, it was time to begin an entirely new dummy. Melissa and Denis provided invaluable advice there as well. They were always available when I needed notes, advice, or positive reinforcement. Once the mentorship came to an end, I set about querying with my new work and landed an agent that I couldn’t be more excited about. I can’t thank Denis, Melissa, Tara, and Becky enough for everything they have done for me!

Congratulations Cassandra on landing an agent! Success! Melissa Iwai’s new book, Pizza Day, will be released October 31. Also check out the great MG novel, Click Here to Start by Denis. 



  1. Denis Markell says:

    So I guess I’m second best? ? Oh well, Melissa is the one who’s good with words. I just sit next to her and nod. Seriously, cannot wait to let the rest of the world see Cassandra’s wonderful work!

    I even book talked it in Vegas, where it was great to meet you, David!

    • Cassandra Federman says:

      SECOND best?! Never! You married “the best,” which makes you “the genius.” Hope Vegas was fun! And thanks for book talking my work! ….Perhaps you are “the best” after all…

  2. David McMullin says:

    Congratulations! That is amazing. I’m so happy to see that this mentorship program is working out so well for everyone. I had the pleasure of meeting Denis this weekend at the the Vegas Book Festival and he was very happy about your success.

    • Cassandra Federman says:

      Thank you David! I’m so happy you connected with Denis in Vegas. Aside from his wife, he is the best! 😛 But seriously, he is an incredible person!

  3. melissa iwai says:

    So happy to be part of the experience! Cassandra was a dream mentee– we knew she had a winner of a story that just needed some tweaks. She was always so willing and open to hear what we had to say, at the same time, listening to her gut and following her own intuition. We’re very excited and happy for as she begins this new chapter in her life!!

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