A Pitch Wars Success Story with Meghan Scott Molin and her mentor, Kelly Siskind
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 Meghan Scott Molin and her mentor, Kelly Siskind. Meghan signed with Joanna MacKenzie of Nelson Literary after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Meghan and Kelly on their Pitch Wars Success!
Meghan, what was it about Kelly that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application?
Kelly’s personality jumped off the page when I read through her bio. I could tell she was fun, spunky, a Grade A Nerd, and knew her way around a comic book…all things that were important to anyone working with Drag Net. I can’t even tell you how perfect Kelly was for my book.
Kelly, what was it about Meghan’s DRAG NET that hooked you?
Her voice. Bang. From the first line. It was fun and fresh and dropped me right into her main character’s world.
Meghan, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars?
It nearly killed me. (I kid! … sorta!) Kelly warned me that if she took me on as mentee that my book needed _a lot_ of work, but that if I stuck through we’d have an amazing book on the other side. I promised to work hard and boy did I! We did three revision passes. One huge one after a telephone call where we re-plotted the mystery, changed the antagonists identity, and rolled a 30 year old murder into the plot (my brain literally hurt trying to figure it all out), One more minor plot revision after I’d re-written half the book, and then a huuuuuuge set of line edits. Her revision notes were so FUNNY though, I’d literally be in the pit of despair, and then I’d flip a page, read her note about how hot my MMC was, and I’d laugh and have a new wave of energy. It was so perfect.
Kelly, tell us about your experience mentoring Meghan.
Aside from a few times I had to pull out my trusty whip, Meghan was a wonderful mentee. She did a lot of work restructuring sections of the manuscript, as well as delving into the characters, their motivations, and developing a more intricate plot. It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hours on her part, and some back-and-forth chatting, but she pulled it all together by the end. She’s also a doll, so working with her was always fun.
Meghan, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Joanna MacKenzie of Nelson Literary. 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.
My first offer came on the one day of the week when I’m trapped in an office… I didn’t have anyone to tell, and I CERTAINLY bailed on being productive at work that day. I had to excuse myself to go outside, jump up and down, cry a little, and then leave my husband a frantic voicemail before I went back inside to pretend I was working (spoiler alert: I wasn’t. My hands were shaking too hard). Joanna was actually my third call, and it was like fate had stepped in. I’d loved Nelson Literary for years, and when they brought on new agents, I literally counted down the days until the new agents opened for queries. Joanna’s vision for my book, and my career just hit home with me. Up until that point (I’d talked to two other agents), I’d been so anxious I couldnt’ sleep–weighing pros and cons, worrying about what-ifs. After talking with Joanna and Kristin (Nelson), I felt a great sense of relief! It was like a wave of peace came over me, and I just felt like if they couldn’t usher my book into the world the way I’d dreamed, no one could. It was like I just knew my book had found its home!
Meghan, how do you feel Pitch Wars helped with your success?
As much as I hate to admit this as a writer, I wouldn’t be here without PitchWars. Definitely not with DRAG NET. It was a fabulous concept but it had some fatal flaws that had earned it query rejections. It’s all well and good to read craft books, but until someone takes the time to walk you through YOUR entire book, and point out the pacing errors, the grammar errors, the parts where the book falls flat, where the stakes aren’t clear (can you see I had a lot to work on? haha), you just can’t GET it. I’d like to think I’d have eventually been agented, but I also wasn’t querying as well or as widely on my own. Pitchwars gave me a mentor to help me edit and support me, gave me a community of likeminded writers to support and bounce ideas off of, and it gave me a peek into how querying *should* be done. It was like a writing miracle in my life, and I’d never in a million years have gotten here any other way. Who wants to roll into a party alone when you could be bringing 100 awesome friends and fellow professionals with you?!
Now for some fun! The following questions are for you both 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?
Meghan: this is tough. I’m such an avid reader. I think I’m going to let my horse-nerd flag fly and say I’d love to live in Maggie Stiefvater’s Scorpio Races world. Crazy ocean-horse racing? YES PLEASE. I’m an adventure girl (and an avid equestrian)… pretty much right up my alley.
Kelly: I would live in the board game Candyland. Because candy. There would be gummy-bear-eating contests and chocolate slip N’ slides. It would be glorious.
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?
Meghan: I have dreams like this _all_ the time. Quite often I’m “saving Harry Potter” while I “sleep”, so I guess my subconscious thinks I’m constantly running from Voldemort. He’s the proverbial big bad, so it works! I’d love to have a really kick-ass lady by my side. Maybe Cercei Lannister. I don’t think even Voldemort could handle her. Or maybe Sabriel from Garth Nix’s universe, she’s quieter but sometimes sneaky is more powerful!
Kelly: I am running from Ronan in a Galaxy far, far away, and I have Star-Lord (aka Peter Quill/hot-funny-sexy-best-hero-in-a-movie-ever Chris Pratt) as my ever-constant companion. We fight bad dudes. We celebrate our wins. We then fade-to-black in a super smexy scene.
What do you think is the most fascinating invention from fiction and what book is it from?
Meghan: I love the knife from Pullman’s Golden Compass series. I often dream about being able to slip in and out of worlds and dimensions!
Kelly: Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak would come in handy.
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?
Meghan: I have a toddler, and a small “zoo” of animals so as much as I strive for a set schedule, they always have other ideas. Usually I LOVE to write first thing in the AM, and ideally that’s what I do. But usually it’s nap time, and then once baby is in bed. I usually think about the scene I’m writing (the shower is my best thinking spot), and then by the time I sit down and write I know exactly what happens.
Kelly: I write most every day, particularly first thing in the morning. Even if I can only squeeze in an hour here or there, I revise or edit or write daily. It’s my happy place.
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?
Meghan: Since this is fantasy, I’d say: shady poolside at a luxury ranch resort deep in the Utah mountains, with a pleasant nanny who will bring my kiddo and corgi to me for invigorating hugs and snuggles when I need! I’m a foodie, so it’d be ridiculous if my imagination planned the menu: antipasto, chicken saltimbocca, fresh berry soup with whipped cream, and … Trader Joe’s molten lava cakes. Those things are magic 😉 OH and sour patch kids.
Kelly: I would get gummy bears and lock myself in a quiet room that faces a brick wall. No beautiful views for this author. The fewer distractions for me the better.
What or who keeps you motivated, inspired, or is your biggest support to keep writing?
Meghan: This is hard, because it’s so easy to lose heart on this journey. I write because these stories ache to be told. To immerse someone else in my immaginary world and have them laugh, cry, yell, curse, celebrate… it’s amazing the power of story! Stories have helped me through my life, comforted me, helped me to have adventures when I’m stuck behind a desk, helped me meet friends, helped me with problems, given me ideas and inspiration…I want to do the same for others. My family has been amazingly supportive of my writing, as have my close group of best friends. And now, after this survey, my biggest motivation to keep writing is to someday have that day poolside with awesome food at a mountain resort, penning my last lines to a best-selling book! haha.
Kelly: I have one writing group in particular that has become a lifeline. We chat every single day. We ride every high and low together. They make all the struggles more bearable and lift me up when it’s needed. I can’t stress enough how important it is to find your people in this community.
Please, share any last words you would like to add.
Meghan: Keep going, keep going, be kind to others, and supportive of their journey, keep going keep going keep going. Read all you can, Research all you can. Listen to podcasts, read craft books, write, look for honest critique, revise, plot, write again.
Kelly: “I’m going to the bathroom to read.” Technically, those were Elvis Presley’s last words, but I’d be happy to kick the bucket while reading on the bucket.
Thank you, Meghan and Kelly, for sharing your success story with us! We wish you all the best in your publishing journey and hope you’ll share your future successes with us. CONGRATULATIONS!
Meghan Scott Molin
Kelly is the author of CHASING CRAZY, MY PERFECT MISTAKE, A FINE MESS, and HOOKED ON TROUBLE, the latter three being part of her Over the Top series, all published through Grand Central’s Forever Yours. A small-town girl at heart, she moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—gummy bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.