Joyce Figueroa Contributing Writer
Eastern alumna, Nicole Panteleakos, returned to campus to speak to students about her debut novel, Planet Earth is Blue. Panteleakos attended communication professor, Dr. Chibeau’s Scriptwriting and Presentation class on April 16, where she spoke to and answered student questions surrounding her experiences in the world of publishing.
Panteleakos spoke about her time both at Eastern and beyond, and how she found success as a published author. While at Eastern, Panteleakos majored in performing arts theater script writing. She then went to graduate school where she received her MFA in children’s literature. Today, she writes for middle grade readers through Penguin Random House.
Her visit to Dr. Chibeau’s scriptwriting and presentation class served as way for Panteleakos to promote her book, reading an excerpt from the first chapter that captivated students. She used this time to talk to students about the process that goes into publishing, from the writing and editing process to the way designers created her cover art. She also gave the students insight into how she found her agent through pitch wars—a mentoring program where published or agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions on how to polish it to showcase to agents. Through this program, she found a mentor who helped her edit her book which led to several requests from agents to read her book. However, the editorial agent that she wanted, Wendy Lamb, was not part of pitch wars, but Panteleakos sent her manuscript and received a great offer. Now, as a published author, Panteleakos is a participant of pitch wars as a mentor.
Her middle grade novel, Planet Earth is Blue, follows twelve-year-old Nova Vezina, a nonverbal, autistic astronomy enthusiast. Set in January 1986, Nova counts down the days until the space shuttle Challenger launches and for her runaway sister’s return. The book is told through Nova’s perspective and shows the reader how she communicates and makes sense of the world around her that cannot seem to understand her. Her book will be published on May 14 under Wendy Lamb books through Random House publishing.