A 2015 Pitch Wars Success Interview with Tracey Enerson Wood and her mentor, Alex White
The successes from last year are still rolling in along with our new ones! We’re so excited! Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests is being a part of a writer’s triumphs. Today we celebrate Tracey Enerson Wood and her Pitch Wars mentor Alex White! Tracey recently signed with Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency and Lucy Cleland of Kneerim & Williams Agency, and we couldn’t be happier for her. So please join me in congratulating Tracey and Alex as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story.
Tracey, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Alex?
I thought it would be interesting to have a male perspective on my manuscript, as all of my critique partners were female, yet my male beta readers did seem to enjoy it as well. Also, the numbers of mentors for adult manuscripts was limited.
Alex, what about Tracey’s application made you choose her?
Are you kidding? Who could say no to Emily Roebling and a romance with PT Barnum? In all seriousness, I was attracted to the brutality of old-school construction contrasted against the fight Emily faced. I really enjoyed Sara Gruen’s WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, so this book fell squarely into my wheelhouse.
Tracey, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
Alex would throughly critique a chapter or two at a time. Then we either went back and forth on email, or had a phone call. It was always exciting to get his feedback, and he shared insights which took my manuscript to another level.
Alex, tell us about your experience with mentoring Tracey.
Tracey was a pleasure to work with. Her ego never came into it, and she’s a consummate professional. I expect any editor who works with her to be similarly pleased.
Tracey, after Pitch Wars you signed with Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency, and Lucy Cleland of Kneerim & Williams Agency, tell us about “The Calls.” Can you tell us the details about the offer: How long were you on submission? What did you do to distract yourself? How did they contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
My experience was a bit convoluted, as I had an offer of publication for another project in the middle of my offers. I queried Jill Kneerim in June, 2016, with my PW manuscript, and a junior agent, Lucy Cleland, requested a full right away. A couple of months later Lucy sent an email, saying she loved it and requested a phone call!! In the phone call, she reiterated how much she loved the story, but she and Jill thought a sub-plot needed some revision. I started the revision, with some back and forth with Lucy.
Then, I received an offer of publication from Skyhorse for my non-fiction project, Homefront Cooking, which I had submitted un-agented. I advised Lucy of this, and she discussed repping it with others at her agency.
I notified all the agents who had my full, including the three I had just sent from a Women’s Fiction Writers’ Association pitch. I only gave them one week, as I was pretty sure I was going with Lucy, and because aargh, it’s a tough time.
Heather read my ms. in one night, and emailed me the next day, requesting a phone call. Her enthusiasm and knowledge of the ms. blew me away. She offered right away. But of course, I had also bonded with Lucy, who had put so much work into the cookbook negotiations, and her view of my novel was a bit different than I had envisioned, but still wonderful.
It was a tough decision, but in the end I chose Kneerim & Williams to represent my cookbook and any follow-ons, and The Bent Agency for my fiction. I feel I have the best of both worlds, and am ever so grateful to PitchWars and all the others along the way who have helped me get to this point.
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
Having someone who has recently gone through the process of revision successfully, looking for the more subtle, yet critical things that can be improved, is vital. It’s another set of eyes, keenly focused on not only the small details, but how they fit into the larger picture.
Now for some fun! The following questions are for you both to answer:
What fictional academy/university/school would you most want to attend? (ie Starfleet Academy, Hogwarts, Jedi Academy, Camp Half-Breed, Battle School in Space, Beauxbatons, etc)?
Tracey: No idea.
Alex: Hogwarts, hands down.
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Tracey: Atticus Finch
Alex: Steve Rogers seems like a good pal in a pinch
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Tracey: All my favorites, with absolutely no calories.
Alex: Turkish Delight. I know it’s a real food, but the real version isn’t nearly as tasty as the fictional version.
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
Tracey: Ability to disappear. I’m a wuss.
Alex: Debate tactics!
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
Alex: Whiskey and candy
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
Tracey: Herman Wouk, George Orwell,
Alex: Terrible movies in general.
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
Tracey: I am seeking submissions for my cookbook/memoir anthology, Homefront Cooking. If you have a story to share, please see guidelines at homefrontcooking.org. All author proceeds to benefit veterans’ organizations.
Alex: Tracey rocks!
Thank you for sharing your success story. We couldn’t be happier about it – CONGRATULATIONS!
Tracey Enerson Wood
Tracey Enerson Wood is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist. She has authored magazine columns and other non-fiction, written and directed plays of all lengths, including Grits, Fleas and Carrots, Rocks and Other Hard Places, Alone, and Fog. Her screenplays include Strike Three and Roebling’s Bridge, and are just awaiting the right production company and a few hundred million dollars to become major motion pictures.
She lives with her family in West Central Florida and loves to travel, so be careful giving out casual invitations, she will show up anywhere.
A BRIDGE BETWEEN US is her debut novel.
Alex White was born and raised in the American south. He takes photos, writes music and spends hours on YouTube watching other people blacksmith. He values challenging and subversive writing, but he’ll settle for a good time.
In the shadow of rockets in Huntsville, Alabama, Alex lives and works as an experience designer with his wife, son, two dogs and a cat named Grim. Favored past times include Legos and racecars. He takes his whiskey neat and his espresso black.