A Pitch Wars Success Story with Judy Lin and her mentors Janella Angeles and Axie Oh
When our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal, it’s one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Judy Lin and her mentors, Janella Angeles and Axie Oh. Judy signed with Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Judy, Janella, and Axie on their Pitch Wars Success!
Judy, what was it about Axie and Janella that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application?
Judy: When I first read Axie and Janella’s bio I thought they both sounded like they would be a lot of fun to work with. Originally I wasn’t even sure my book was going to appeal to them because it’s not an epic fantasy! But I decided to take a chance and submit to them because they love a lot of the same books & media that I love. I felt they would understand my book on a deeper level because of my MC’s experience growing up in an Asian household and they also had non-western settings on their wishlist (my book is set in Taiwan).
Janella and Axie, what was it about Judy’s HUNGRY GHOSTS that hooked you?
Janella: The most important and hardest thing a writer can nail—a killer voice. Judy’s leapt off the page from the first chapter, and kept me reading and laughing all throughout. Even though our wish list seemed to skew toward the epic and lush fantasies as Judy had mentioned, we instantly connected to the voice and knew right away that this was something special. Along with connection to voice, I also felt close to the characters and the project in general, being an Asian writer myself who yearned for more Asian stories as fantastic and genuine as Judy’s.
Axie: Yes! The protagonist in HUNGRY GHOSTS had me laughing, crying, nodding along when she’d opine about cute boys and good food. Like Janella, I felt like the project’s original and real voice spoke to me on a personal level. It was also such a page-turner. I breezed through the book the first time, and then had to go back and re-read for all the subtle nuances woven in about culture, tradition, love and family.
Judy, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars?
Judy: I received a detailed edit letter from my mentors, and then separate comments on my MS. Janella and Axie both had strengths that complemented each other. I worked on character development, pacing, and tightening up plot holes. We also had a few long skype calls where we talked about my revisions and chatted about the dramas they assigned me as homework (See! They are awesome mentors). I completed my revisions and they generously provided me with a second read to make my manuscript the best that it can be.
But that wasn’t all they helped me with! They helped me work on my opening pages, brainstormed various ideas for my pitch, and tore apart my query until it was better than I ever expected. They were with me every step of the way!
Janella and Axie, tell us about your experience mentoring Judy.
Janella: This was my first time mentoring in Pitch Wars, so being able to join forces with Axie in mentoring Judy was the best first experience ever! Judy really was our dream mentee—because of our love for her story, and because of her work ethic, independence, and openness to our feedback. I was constantly impressed by Judy’s dedication, and her ability to stay focused no matter how goofy we all were with each other! By the end of this experience, not only did we gain an awesome mentee in our first go at Pitch Wars, but a wonderful friend for life.
Axie: #TeamRocket forever! I second everything Janella said above! I love my J’s (Judy & Janella).
Judy, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Rachel Brooks of L. Perkins Agency, 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.
Judy: Even thinking back on it now it was a whirlwind. I sent out my Pitch Wars requests and a few queries and prepared myself to wait. But then after the weekend, I woke up to an e-mail from Rachel requesting a call. I felt so unprepared when we talked that afternoon and she probably sensed my nervousness, but she was wonderful to talk to and quickly made me feel at ease. We talked about the Pitch Wars experience, about how she enjoyed my book, and then her suggestions on how to make the book even better. I knew her revision ideas clicked with me because after hanging up the phone my mind was already racing with possibilities of how to tackle those suggestions. I gave 2 weeks for other agents to respond because of American Thanksgiving, but I felt Rachel and I would be a good fit. I’m so happy with my decision!
Judy, how do you feel Pitch Wars helped with your success?
Judy: I’m grateful that I was part of Pitch Wars because of the community around it. Even before being selected as a mentee I loved getting to know the mentors on twitter and also other potential mentees. Working with my mentors took my writing to the next level and I loved that I had my fellow mentees to stress out over revisions with. But in the end, Axie and Janella truly worked with me above and beyond what I had hoped for in a mentee/mentor relationship.
Now for some fun! The following questions are for you all to answer.
If you could live in any fictional world and take everything you love with you, where would you choose to live? What would you do there? And why this world?
Judy: I can’t think of anything other than the Harry Potter universe. All other fictional worlds seem too miserable to live in!
Janella: Ooooh yes, the Harry Potter universe would be my pick. I grew up reading that world, and always daydreamed about being a student at Hogwarts! I would also really love to tour the world of Avatar: the Last Airbender and be a firebender.
Axie: Well, now I just want to go to the wizarding world because Janella and Judy are already there. But – to choose differently – I want to visit Lyra’s Oxford and see what my soul/daemon would be (most likely, a flying squirrel).
Somewhere in the (known or unknown) universe, you’re in a high-speed chase and have to escape the bad guys. Who are you running from and what fictional character is your side-kick?
Judy: I believe the best sidekick would be Buffy, because she would be super kickass and also make me laugh while saving the world. If we have to run from vampires then I hope it’s the Salvatore brothers from the Vampire Diaries!
Janella: Haha I’m with Judy, if I had to run from anything, it would be hot vampire brothers. But my pick for sidekick would definitely be Veronica Mars, whip-smart detective who has snark for days. Her cleverness and attitude would get us out of any scrape, and her cool level of chill would balance my goofy awkwardness.
Axie: I want a badass lady side-kick too! Since I didn’t go to the Harry Potter universe in the above question, I choose Hermione because she can just disapparate us away from any danger!
What do you think is the most fascinating invention from fiction and what book is it from?
Judy: The alethiometer is the most interesting invention to me. Something that is capable of answering any question would be a great thing to have! From The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.
Janella: Some of the most fascinating inventions that have stuck with me were pretty much everything Violet Baudelaire created from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. You could probably lock Violet in a room with only a rubber band, and she’d devise something brilliant to get herself out. She had the ability to make the most amazing devices out of the smallest things to save her and her siblings from every troubling situation they found themselves in. Along with the inventions themselves, just seeing an older sister assume the role of resourceful inventor was everything to me back when I read those books.
Axie: I’m a huge fan of mecha anime (giant human-piloted robots), so maybe that would be my choice? Although, they’re war machines (ack!). Perhaps the pokeball. I like to think that inside pokeballs is like an all-service spa for pokemon.
Share with us your writing process. Do you write everyday, in sprints, early in the morning, in the bath, pen and paper? What works for you?
Judy: I have a toddler daughter so I write after her bedtime in the evenings or I write during her naptime on the weekends. I write everything on the computer but I like to draft on Evernote and then move things around on Scrivener.
Janella: I do write everyday, or at least try to create in some way to keep the juices flowing. I write mostly on my computer, but journal and brainstorm by hand when I can! My must-haves when I’m writing are definitely my story playlists, hot beverages, and my Pinterest story boards open when I need the added visual inspiration.
Axie: I try to write everyday too, most of the time on my computer. Sometimes, when I’m on the plane or in the car (not driving), I like to outline in Notes on my phone. I also like to brainstorm while driving around listening to music (this might not be safe), but something about movement and music gets my creativity going. I also love hot beverages and Pinterest!
You have one day to finish the last pages of your next bestselling novel. What food/drinks do you get and where do you go hide out to meet the deadline?
Judy: My favorite local coffee shop! I love their chai lattes. I would devour a nice bowl of potato bacon soup and a cheese bagel.
Janella: I’ll most likely be hiding like a hermit in my room, filled with an outrageous amount of empty tea mugs and coffee cups that need constant refilling as I get those words out! Not a pretty picture, I know.
Axie: BOBA TEA! And I’d probably hide in my room. I used to live in a building that had a library and I would go there for eight straight hours some days to write when I was drafting. Maybe I’ll sneak back in…
What or who keeps you motivated, inspired, or is your biggest support to keep writing?
Judy: I remember as a teenager reading all of the books on the YA shelves but never finding any books with teens who looked like me or had the same lived experience as me. I always felt disappointed by that. Becoming a writer was never an option in my community, because you don’t see many Asian Canadian or Asian American writers who are well-known. Now that I have a daughter, I hope I can write books she can relate to and I would love to one day inspire a teenage girl to write her own stories.
Janella: Ever since I was young, reading had always been my go-to outlet when I felt like no one could hear me, while writing was the outlet that helped me discover my voice. I’ve always known for certain that I wanted to write YA because those books were what saved me when I was a young adult, and I’ve only ever hoped to give back to young readers what was so significantly given to me by authors. I want to write the stories that can help others, as well as the stories that I yearned to see myself in and read when I was growing up. So much of those hopes keep me going back to that desk and writing, a hard task at times that’s also made easier by the incredible friendships I’ve made on this journey and the support of my family.
Axie: Reading books has always inspired me to write books – I’ll read a book, and it will make me feel a certain, indescribable way – and I’ll want to write a book as a sort of catharsis for all my feeeelings. But also, writing has brought me so many wonderful friends (*cough Janella and Judy cough*). My biggest support, though, is my mother – she is my first and last reader.
Please, share any last words you would like to add.
Judy: Thank you to Brenda and to the Pitch Wars team for the encouragement and the fun for the past few months. This was a great experience and I hope Pitch Wars will be around to support many writers in the years to come! Can’t wait to meet other #TeamRocket mentees and I look forward to giving back to the writing community in the future.
Janella: Yes, thank you to Brenda and her amazing team for everything! For as long as I’ve been a part of the writing community, I’ve always felt like I was on the sidelines of Pitch Wars, yearning for a way in. I didn’t make it in as a mentee the year I applied—however, that manuscript still got me my agent, and helped me become a mentor. I’m grateful to have had the chance to participate in such a wonderful program, and I truly can’t wait to see Judy take the publishing world by storm!
Axie: Thanks so much to Brenda and the Pitch Wars team for bringing together this wonderful community and giving such an empowering platform to writers. So, so grateful to have met such awesome people, and will continue to support Pitch Wars until the end of time! #TeamRocket Blasting Off At The Speed of Light!
Thank you for sharing your success story with us. We wish you all the best in your publishing journey! CONGRATULATIONS!
Judy Lin – Mentee
Judy Lin was born in Taiwan and moved to Canada when she was eight years old. She grew up with her nose in a book and loved to escape to imaginary worlds. She now divides her time between working as an occupational therapist and creating imaginary worlds of her own. She is represented by Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins Agency.
Janella Angeles – Mentor
Janella Angeles is a YA writer represented by the amazing Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, and is currently a team member of the Boston Teen Author Festival. When she’s not reading or writing like a fiend, you’ll most likely catch her laughing or fangirling over everything.
Axie Oh – Co-Mentor
Axie Oh is a graduate of the University of California-San Diego where she studied Korean history and creative writing. Her debut novel, REBEL SEOUL, will be released Fall 2017 from Tu Books. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Lesley University in Writing for Young People and is represented by the fabulous Patricia Nelson of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her obsessions include: her new puppy, Toro, stationery supplies and milk tea.