A Pitch Wars Success Story with Helen Hoang and her mentor, Brighton Walsh
Jan13

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Helen Hoang and her mentor, Brighton Walsh

Having our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal is one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Helen Hoang and her mentor, Brighton Walsh. Helen signed with Kim Lionetti of BookEnds Literary Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Helen and Brighton on their Pitch Wars Success. Helen, what was it about Brighton that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? To be honest, I didn’t originally plan to send Brighton my application. Her mentor bio basically said, “I will hate you if you make me cry,” and I thought my manuscript was angsty. But she was so very nice and approachable on Twitter, and I really liked her, so I figured I’d give her a try anyway. If I tore her heart out, I was hundreds of miles away, and it’s hard to hunt people down when you’re bleeding profusely from your chest. I was completely surprised when she picked me as one of her mentees, and even more surprised when she said my manuscript made her laugh. I guess I’m funny. Who knew? Brighton, what was it about Helen’s RELATIONSHIP ON RETAINER that hooked you? Helen’s voice. It’s so real and charming it immediately drew me in. And the humor is what pushed her MS over the edge into the MUST HAVE pile for me. Helen, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Working with Brighton was a dream come true. She’s amazingly generous with her time, caring, super funny, and easy to talk to. Her guidance helped me find the missing half of my manuscript (the hero’s arc; look at that, it takes two people to have a romance), and my writing improved by leaps and bounds. I’m so grateful for this experience and even more grateful that I’ve made a great friend. Brighton, tell us about your experience mentoring Helen. Helen was amazing. She worked relentlessly on editing and revising based on my notes and suggestions, inhaled every bit of information I passed on, and diligently implemented them into her work. I truly lucked out with mentees this year as they were both an absolute dream to work with. Helen, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Kim Lionetti of BookEnds. Please, tell us about “The Call.” We love all the details about the offer, how they contacted you, how you responded, celebrations, emotions . . . How long did you have to wait and how did you distract yourself? Anything! We love hearing about all of it. I was lucky enough to...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Heather Elliott and her mentor, Charlie Holmberg!
Jan11

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Heather Elliott and her mentor, Charlie Holmberg!

Having our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal is one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Heather Elliott and her mentor, Charlie N. Holmberg. Heather signed with Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Heather and Charlie on their Pitch Wars Success. Heather, what was it about Charlie that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? Her amazing accomplishments, her familiarity with some of the historical/cultural background I had in my novel, her favorite books list, and her novel Followed by Frost, which I wish I had written. Charlie, what was it about Heather’s Song of Suleiman that hooked you? It was different. It was in a historical setting you don’t usually see on the bookshelf (ancient Israel) and the premise was new and clever—using clues found in the Songs of Solomon to uncover a hidden treasure? It stood out to me right from the beginning. Heather, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Charlie sent me an edit letter the same night the contest results were announced. I took just under a month to work through it, and then she reread the MS to give me line edits. I’d already put three years of drafting, revision, feedback, and more revision into the book, so most of what we did was fine tuning. The biggest change was creating more consistency in the protagonist—something my beta readers had mentioned before, but I hadn’t known how to fix until Charlie helped me out J. Charlie was extremely easy to work with—almost every change she suggested made complete sense to me and fit with my vision of the book, which confirmed for me that we were a great match. She was also speedy and generous in her responses to other questions I had along the way about the query and publishing process. Charlie, tell us about your experience mentoring Heather. Ha ha, yeah, I sent the letter the night of because I had written it before actually having Heather confirmed as my mentee. I was ready to fight tooth and nail for her and wouldn’t take no for an answer! And I’m glad Heather thinks I’m speedy, because I actually had deadlines overlapping with Pitch Wars this year and worried I was taking too long! Heather was great to work with, though. She wasn’t afraid to ask questions if I confused her and she kept an open communication, which I love. She’s also awesome in general, so… 😉 I didn’t have to do a lot...

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Pitch Wars Success Story with Christy Goerzen and her mentors, Helene Dunbar and Beth Hull
Jan09

Pitch Wars Success Story with Christy Goerzen and her mentors, Helene Dunbar and Beth Hull

  Having our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal is one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Christy Goerzen and her mentors, Helene Dunbar and Beth Hull. Christy signed with Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Christy, Helene, and Beth on their Pitch Wars Success.   Christy, what was it about Beth and Helene that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? Beth and Helene were top choices from the very beginning, from the first day that I read through all the mentor bios/wishlists, I had read Helene’s novels and loved her beautiful sense of voice and character, and on their wishlist post they both mentioned books/authors that I also love (Stiefvater! Flynn! Perkins! Levithan! Yes!). What they were looking for seemed to resonate with what my MS had to offer, so I submitted to them and crossed my fingers, toes, eyelashes, hair and whatever else you can cross. When I got the email from them that said “Congratulations, you win us!,” I ran out the door, shouting and screaming to my husband, who was chatting with a few of our neighbours. The neighbours all thought I was crazy, but in my haze of euphoria, I didn’t even notice! What was it about Christy’s Love and Other Sharp Pointy Things that hooked you? Beth: It wasn’t just the voice of her main character, Mercedes, but the way Christy deftly wove humor with tragedy. I’m usually the last person to want to read, much less work with, a sad story, but LAOSPT grabbed me from the start and wouldn’t let me go. Helene: Christy has a wonderful ability to make every word count, which is crucial in verse. I was massively impressed with the way she chose her words for maximum effect. Christy, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? I’ve had three novella-length books for reluctant reader young adults published previously, and the editing process for those (line edits, mostly) didn’t even hold a candle to the in-depth revision process for Love and Other Sharp Pointy Things. The revision process truly made me a better, more aware writer. I never had the confidence to rip my work apart before and sew it all back together into a more fashionable, better-fitting, more innovative garment before (sorry, I think I’ve been watching too much Project Runway), but the whole process made me feel much better about digging into big revisions with my next WIPs. The first revision was more exploratory, I...

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Pitch Wars Success Story with Jen DeLuca and her mentor, Brighton Walsh
Jan06

Pitch Wars Success Story with Jen DeLuca and her mentor, Brighton Walsh

Having our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal is one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Jen DeLuca and her mentor, Brighton Walsh. Jen signed with Taylor Haggerty of Waxman Leavell Literary Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Jen and Brighton on their Pitch Wars Success. Jen, what was it about Brighton that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? I’d been following Brighton on Twitter for a few months before PW, so I already loved her. During the blog hop, the thing that stood out was when she said that she knew romances, and she knew how to make them good. This novel of mine had been through a lot of querying and 2 revise & resubmits at that point, and I felt if anyone could help me figure out how to put it over the top, it would be Brighton. Thankfully, my novel had a lot of elements on her wishlist! Brighton, what was it about Jen’s ONCE WHEN YOU WERE MINE that hooked you? The yearning. SO. MUCH. YEARNING. When I was reading her MS, I had a night in Milwaukee planned, but I couldn’t bear to be away from the MS, so I bought a program that would read it to me on the drive. I knew then I was hooked. Jen, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Insane! I did so many things to this book that I’d never imagined doing. We cut close to 10,000 words from the middle, in order to make the pacing work without sacrificing plot (and yearning. This book is all about the yearning). The other major revision was adding a new ending, which was frankly a little terrifying. All the revision I’d done to that point were within the four corners of my very original first draft, so to suddenly add about 14,000 words past my current “The End” was crazy to me. I felt like I was writing fanfiction for my own story! But it was also exhilarating, and as the new ending came together I knew it was exactly what the book had been missing all this time.  And Brighton was incredible, not just in helping me understand how the story needed to fit together (No, Jen, the black moment can’t come at the 50% mark), but in her enthusiasm. She loved my book and my characters as much as I do, and as we brainstormed plot points she never suggested anything that wasn’t true to them, and I loved that. The process itself was...

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Pitch Wars Success Story with Kaitlin Hundscheid and her mentor, Ashley Martin
Jan04

Pitch Wars Success Story with Kaitlin Hundscheid and her mentor, Ashley Martin

Having our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal is one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Kaitlin Hundscheid and her mentor, Ashley Martin. Kaitlin signed with Catherine Drayton of InkWell Management Literary Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Kaitlin and Ashley on their Pitch Wars Success. Kaitlin, what was it about Ashley that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? Ashley’s wish list specifically asked for anything to do with classic children’s literature, and I knew that could be a swaying factor in whether someone liked my story about book characters coming to life in a library. And from stalking her twitter and blog, I could tell that we had very similar tastes in other areas and thought she seemed like a kindred spirit––and I was right! I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor for my story. Ashley, what was it about Kaitlin’s THE CURIOUS CURSE OF THE LONELY LIBRARY that hooked you? The book opens with the MC, Theodore, wandering through the grocery store, his nose in a book. As someone who often brought my books to the dinner table as a kid, I immediately felt a connection with this lovable bookworm. As I continued reading, I found everything I was hoping for: A vibrant, beautifully described setting, a cast of supporting characters I adored, and a connection to classic children’s literature that made me swoon. The moment one of my favorite literary characters of all time showed up, that was that. I knew this book was the one. Kaitlin, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? After the OMG I WAS CHOSEN euphoria passed, I was left with the OMG WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO panic. After processing Ashley’s initial suggestions, I word vomited my reactions (mostly variations of “you’re so right”) and brainstormed ideas until the line edits came. From there it was a month of intense revisions, splicing, dicing, and murdering chapters as I sped up the pacing (9k words cut!) and strengthened character arcs. And, of course, lots of laborious polishing, marveling at how many times I could mention shadows in one scene. Ashley, tell us about your experience mentoring Kaitlin. It was a dream! Kaitlin and I connected immediately, forever bonded by a mutual love of books and tea (go #TeamEarlGrey!). She was eager to learn and didn’t hate me for suggesting some big changes (phew!). She really went above and beyond to dive deeper into her story, and she absolutely slayed her revisions. I couldn’t have asked for a...

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NYT Bestseller THIEF OF LIES by Brenda Drake, Out in Paperback Today!
Jan03

NYT Bestseller THIEF OF LIES by Brenda Drake, Out in Paperback Today!

TITLE: Thief of Lies: a Library Jumpers novel AUTHOR: Brenda Drake GENRE: YA Fantasy PUBLISHER: Entangled Teen Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Amazon UK Summary : Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound. Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.       Save...

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Pitch Wars Success Story with Cory Leonardo and her mentors, Amanda Rawson Hill and Cindy Baldwin
Jan02

Pitch Wars Success Story with Cory Leonardo and her mentors, Amanda Rawson Hill and Cindy Baldwin

  Having our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal is one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Cory Leonardo and her mentors, Amanda Rawson Hill and Cindy Baldwin. Cory signed with Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Cory, Amanda, and Cindy on their Pitch Wars Success.   Cory, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Amanda and Cindy? I fell in love with them after reading their Pitch Wars interview. They were smart, funny, and heartfelt. Plus, we adored the same types of books, and honestly, I just felt this magical pull. I knew it would be a dream to work with them. Amanda and Cindy, what about Cory’s application made you choose her? Amanda: It’s funny, when I read Cory’s query I thought, “Yeah, no way.” But I read her first pages and was blown away by her voice and poetry. So I texted Cindy and was like, “I really like the parrot book. Am I crazy?” She quickly assured me I wasn’t. It was strange because Cory’s book was so many things we had said would be a hard sell for us, but she had such a perfect blend of humor and heart and there was something so human about this parrot. We spent the next two weeks just texting back and forth about her book and our plans for it. Cindy: Amanda read Cory’s opening pages first, and immediately texted me telling me that I HAD to go read the parrot book to see if she was going crazy. We’d said no animal stories on our wishlist, and hadn’t imagined that we’d be drawn to one. As soon as I read the opening chapters, though, I was right with Amanda—Cory’s witty prose and sublime verse had drawn us both in immediately. CALL ME ALASTAIR is one of the most unique and poignant middle grade novels I’ve ever had the pleasure to read! We really worried that by choosing Cory we’d be setting her up for disappointment, as animal stories can be a tough market to find an agent with… but clearly, we needn’t have been anxious on that score! Cory, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? Grueling. And amazing at the same time. Amanda and Cindy helped me see my book in ways I hadn’t considered before. They were amazingly able to pinpoint weaknesses in a way that made me excited for the next round of edits. They were cheerleaders, teachers, counselors; they were...

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