A Pitch Wars Success Story with Wendy Roberts and Alicia Zaloga and their mentor Michelle Hauck
Mar01

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Wendy Roberts and Alicia Zaloga and their mentor Michelle Hauck

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 Wendy Roberts and Alicia Zaloga and their mentor, Michelle Hauck. Wendy and Alicia signed with Jaida Temperly of New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for them! Please, help me in congratulating Wendy, Alicia, and Michelle on their Pitch Wars Success! Wendy and Alicia, what was it about Michelle that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? We started by researching which mentors were interested in fantasy. From there, we did some light twitter stalking. Michelle had great taste in SFF titles, plus she already had an incredibly helpful blog with agent interviews, writing contests, and insightful advice pieces. After checking out her book GRUDGING, we knew we liked her writing style as well. She seemed like she’d be both encouraging and critical (spoiler: she was!), which is important when working on edits with someone. Michelle, what was it about Alicia and Wendy’s THE RESURRECTIONIST OF CALIGO that hooked you? The first chapter starts out with stealing a corpse. That’s a pretty unique opening and had the sort of voice you don’t find in a story everyday. On top of that Wendy and Alicia created fantastic characters and a complex world. It was for sure the depth and attractiveness of the characters that sold it to me, though! Wendy and Alicia, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? We count ourselves fortunate that Michelle didn’t make us rewrite our manuscript from scratch! Our plot, it turns out, though clear in our heads, wasn’t entirely explained on the page. Michelle pointed out various places for us to elaborate more: the origins of magic, the romantic history of our main characters and their falling out, and emotional beat after emotional beat. By then our manuscript was getting dangerously long so Michelle encouraged us to cut some scenes (and two entire chapters) to trim things down and speed up the pace. She also knows her way around query letters and helped us amp ours up with voice and stakes. Michelle, tell us about your experience mentoring Wendy and Alicia. Alicia and Wendy were a dream team. They were so keen to follow my suggestions and jumped right into the changes, whether they were big or small. I could really tell they were totally focused on making their manuscript top notch and full of their own ideas, even down to arguing about word choice to better fit the gas light time period. We had fun throwing the...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Judy Lin and her mentors Janella Angeles and Axie Oh
Feb13

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...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Rachel Griffin and her mentor Heather Ezell
Jan30

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Rachel Griffin and her mentor Heather Ezell

  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 Rachel Griffin and her mentor, Heather Ezell. Rachel signed with Melissa Sarver White of Folio Literary Management after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Rachel and Heather on their Pitch Wars Success!   Rachel, what was it about Heather that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? Heather was so approachable online, and when I read her mentor bio, I was sold. My initial reaction after reading Heather’s bio was, “I really want to be friends with this person!” It also didn’t hurt that the elements she was looking for lined up well with my manuscript. One of the things I love about Heather is that she’s so genuine, and that came through well before we started working together for Pitch Wars. Heather, what was it about Rachel’s SHADOWS CAST BY DREAMS that hooked you? Oh, it was absolutely Rachel’s premise. She basically had me at hello. A car crash + brain tumor leading a girl and a boy to fall in love in a dream? Yes, please. I’ve always been so compelled by dream stories and Rachel had clearly twisted the norm. Her query snagged me quick with what it promised and I knew I needed to read her manuscript ASAP. Rachel, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? It was intense! My first order of business was to rewrite my manuscript from third person past to first person present, then dive into everything else. It ended up being a massive rewrite, and Heather was such a dream to work with. I entered Pitch Wars because I felt that something was missing from my manuscript, but I didn’t know what – Heather helped me find the things that were missing. On top of providing amazing feedback, she was so encouraging throughout the entire process. Not to mention she read my manuscript THREE times in less than two months. My manuscript got stronger with each revision, and so did my writing. And on top of everything, I made a wonderful friend. Heather, tell us about your experience mentoring Rachel. It was an absolute delight. This was my first time mentoring in Pitch Wars (after being an alternate mentee in 2014) and Rachel made the process so incredibly rewarding. She spoiled me with her open mind and ruthlessness toward her drafts. I challenged her to take significant risks (hello, total POV change!) and, without fail, she went far beyond my expectations. She still inspires me with...

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Pitch Wars Success Story with Yael Mermelstein and her mentor Jessica Vitalis
Jan25

Pitch Wars Success Story with Yael Mermelstein and her mentor Jessica Vitalis

  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 Yael Mermelstein and her mentor, Jessica Vitalis. Yael signed with Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Yael and Jessica on their Pitch Wars Success! Yael, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Jessica? How do I choose thee, let me count the ways. Her ‘favorites’ reading list echoed my own, she planned on being highly editorial and I knew I needed/wanted that, she was already an experienced Pitch Wars mentor, and I really connected with her personality when I watched the mentors video chat. Jessica, what about Yael’s application made you choose her? That’s a great question! When I first reviewed Yael’s application, I couldn’t figure out what an award-winning author with several published books could possibly want from me. After skimming her application, I set it aside, assuming she was way overqualified. But as I read through my submissions, I kept returning to her material. Her writing was literary and gorgeous, but at the same time fun and quirky. Plus, I was drawn to the themes in her story. I emailed Yael and asked for her manuscript along with a synopsis and soon realized that Yael’s already incredibly writing would be a great match for my plotting skills. Her warm, down-to-earth personality sealed the deal. Yael, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars? Yael, tell us about what it’s like to feel like you’re wasting time because you’re breathing? Jessica is a perfectionist (in a good way), which is why she’s had so much success guiding her mentees in this contest. I knew she expected quite a big rewrite on the second half of my book as we had corresponded prior to her selecting me as her mentee. But I don’t think I fully grasped the enormity of the commitment. Being rather ‘type A’ myself, there was no way I was going to let her down and so regardless of all of my other commitments—family, work and otherwise, I was going to whip this MS into shape. Under Jessica’s expert tutelage, I did that. I can’t vouch for how well those other compartments in my life managed during this time period though! Jessica, tell us about your experience with mentoring Yael. How was mentoring your other team members? Working with Yael was intense. I asked her to rewrite an enormous portion of her manuscript, including the entire second half. Despite her other commitments...

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