A Pitch Wars Success Story with Tobey Forney and her mentor Laura Heffernan
Apr14

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Tobey Forney and her mentor Laura Heffernan

  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 Tobey Forney and her mentor, Laura Heffernan. Tobey signed with Liz Parker of Inkwell Management Literary Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Tobey and Laura on their Pitch Wars Success! Tobey, what was it about Laura that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? I knew I wanted to submit to Laura immediately when I read her bio. Her energy and enthusiasm for writing, editing, and the Oxford comma jumped off the page. When I Twitter-stalked her, I found that she was very open, funny, and loves chocolate, so I knew we’d get along. We both love women’s fiction and time-travel books, and we’re fellow Mensans. It was meant to be. Laura, what was it about Tobey’s 101 NORTH that hooked you? The writing is so haunting and beautiful. I couldn’t stop reading. The entry actually came in fairly early in the submissions period, and I kept saying, “Well, I really want to pick something light and funny to work with… I’ll just read a few more pages.” Finally, I had to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to pay any attention to my other submissions until I finished 101 NORTH, and I devoured the manuscript in a couple of hours. Tobey, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? I was a Ninja-mentee, not officially announced until late October. Laura was incredibly supportive and helpful, and sent a long list of edits that I was eager to get to work on. I worked under the radar, trying to follow the same schedule as the other mentees. I kept up the pace for a while, but inevitably life intervened, and I wasn’t where I wanted to be when I got word that I would be participating in the agent round – excitement and panic set in simultaneously. I sent Laura my manuscript in chunks, working around the clock to incorporate her comments as I went along. I was changing tense and POV in one of the rounds, as well as story edits, so it was a huge challenge to get it all done without going cross-eyed. Laura was fantastic, always so quick to respond to my questions and giving me great advice on polishing my prose and my pitch. I thought I was the world’s biggest pedant, but Laura taught me a thing or two. She opened my eyes to things in my manuscript I knew were bad but...

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Pitch Wars Road Show … join us at the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta!
Apr10

Pitch Wars Road Show … join us at the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta!

Going to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Atlanta? Come meet many of our mentors at the Pitch Wars Road Show on May 3 from 11AM to 1:15PM in the Piedmont room. Bring your short pitch and the mentors will help you hone your pitch before presenting to industry professionals. Don’t know what Pitch Wars is? Check out this page for more information. Pitch Wars has garnered over 200 successful agent matches and many have landed book deals since 2012. Our mentors are amazing! We’ll be going over short pitches, queries, winning first pages, and synopses lead by Jennifer Blackwood, Elizabeth Briggs, Jen Malone, and Pintip Dunn. Don’t want pitch help? Everyone is welcome to come and watch and enter for a chance to win the mentors’ books and gift baskets/bags! What will we be doing during the event? Learn the key ingredients for a perfect pitch and more. You’ll team up with a mentor for a quick critique. We hope to get to everyone, but with not knowing how many will attend, we may be limited. We’ll be handing out critique coupons so arrive early to snag one. If we finish early, we’ll try to get to everyone. Win books, swag, and other prizes! What do you need to bring? A short pitch, notebook, & pen. Pitch types to bring (you don’t have to bring all of them): Conference pitch Elevator pitch 35-word pitch Twitter pitch The meat of your query (mini-synopsis pitch) The mentor can only help you with one pitch and it will be a verbal critique, so you’ll need to take notes. Our team … Brenda Drake, host Heather Cashman, MC (moderator) Monica M. Hoffman, co-host Jennifer Blackwood Elly Blake Elizabeth Briggs Erica M. Chapman Pintip Dunn Molly Lee Jen Malone Mary Ann Marlowe Sarah Nicolas (AKA: Aria Kane) Heather Van Fleet Amy Reichert Stephanie Scott Kristin Wright Rebecca Yarros Ashley Hearn Cole Gibsen Tomi Adeyemi Cat Scully Linsey Miller C.B. Catalano CM McCoy Melissa Marino Kristin Smith      ...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Rebecca Schaeffer and her mentors Stacey Trombley and Rebecca Sky
Mar29

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Rebecca Schaeffer and her mentors Stacey Trombley and Rebecca Sky

  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 Rebecca Schaeffer and her mentors, Stacey Tombley and Rebecca Sky. Rebecca signed with Suzie Townsend with New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Rebecca, Stacey, and Rebecca Sky on their Pitch Wars Success! Rebecca, what was it about Rebecca Sky and Stacey Trombley that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? Pretty much everything. They were looking for dark, morally ambiguous anti-hero protagonists, which I most definitely had. Their list of favorite books was full of books I loved, so I knew we had similar tastes. And their strengths and the way they edited seemed like a really good fit for me, and covered all the things I wanted. Basically, they were perfect. Rebecca & Stacey, what was it about Mentee Rebecca Schaeffer’s Not Even Bones (formerly Queen of Parts) that hooked you? Rebecca Sky: Right away I was intrigued by the concept and I was hoping the pages held up. Which they did, actually they were better than I’d hoped. Rebecca has a killer dark atmospheric voice. During Pitch Wars, Stacey and I would message each other as new submissions came in and we’d talk about if we loved or liked it, and which folder to put it in (Not for us, Maybe, Strong, and LOVE). We messaged each other right away and were like, “Have you read the new entry? It’s amazing.” So we kinda both had that, this is the one feeling. Stacey: the concept of her book drew us in first—with a tad bit of hesitancy, Ha! I remember when Rebecca first messaged me about this new submission and if I was okay with a bit of gore. I was like, uuuhhh, I don’t know. But, no, guys I was. I was okay with gore with the right story. We both love the out there creepiness, the anti-hero aspect and it’s done so well we just couldn’t say no! Rebecca, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? I got my edit letter shortly after my selection was announced. It was six pages long, mostly full of structural changes. The comments were spot on. There was a section in the second act climax that had been seriously bugging me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it, and they nailed it. I ended up expanding the second act climax about 5k, moving a twist to a little later in the story, and shifting and...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Astrid Scholte and her mentors, Joan He and Mara Rutherford
Mar15

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Astrid Scholte and her mentors, Joan He and Mara Rutherford

  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 Astrid Scholte and her mentors, Joan He and Mara Rutherford. Astrid signed with Hillary Jacobson of ICM Partners and in February you announced your two-book deal with Putnam after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Astrid, Joan, and Mara on their Pitch Wars Success! Astrid, what was it about Joan and Mara that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? I read Joan and Mara’s Wishlist and felt as though they’d already read my manuscript and described the main elements of my book and what I wanted to develop further. They also seemed really lovely and easy to work with. And I liked the idea of having two mentors—twice the feedback and fun! Joan and Mara, what was it about Astrid’s FOUR DEAD QUEENS that hooked you? Joan: Oh gosh where to start? The premise was already amazing, but once I got into reading, I couldn’t pull away from Astrid’s masterful pacing and feisty characters. Then the big twist pretty much sealed the deal. I’d read the synopsis, so I knew what was coming, but had I not, I could have sworn that I wouldn’t have seen it coming, which is very rare for me. Mara: I thought the combination of sci-fi and fantasy elements was really fresh and well done. I could tell this was a book with a lot of commercial appeal, and I thought the unique concept would help Astrid stand out from the crowd. Astrid, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? I received my edit letter soon after the Pitch Wars Mentee announcement and got straight to work. Joan and Mara were fantastic at respecting what I’d already written while questioning certain character motivations and plot points. Most of my notes were around fleshing out the world, which was something I already wanted to focus on, so I knew we were on the same page. I started with big picture edits and delivered the revised first half of the book for Joan to read about a month into Pitch Wars. She gave me a few final notes and then I dove into revising the second half. Once that was done, Mara concentrated on line edits to make the manuscript really shine. She also helped me put together a kick-ass pitch for the agent round! Overall, I found the process really enjoyable. Mara and Joan were such professionals and were always there for any questions, brainstorming sessions or...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Kit Grant and her mentors, Rosalyn Eves and Erin Summerill
Mar13

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Kit Grant and her mentors, Rosalyn Eves and Erin Summerill

  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 Kit Grant and her mentors, Rosalyn Eves and Erin Summerill. Kit signed with Josh Adams of Adams Literary after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Emma and Jennie on their Pitch Wars Success! Rosalyn and Erin, what was it about Kit’s A COURT OF MIRACLES that hooked you? Rosalyn: I was first drawn to the premise–Jungle Book meets Les Miserables. And then when I started reading, the story was so fast-paced and the world so fascinating that we both agreed we wanted to work with this story. Kit has a very distinctive, spare, lyrical style that I loved. Erin: Hmm…good question. I don’t think there was one thing exactly, but the overall ring of A Court Of Miracles sounds nice. I’m drawn into any courtly settings. Kit, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? We did 3 rounds of revisions. Two big picture and a line edit. I agreed 100% with their vision for LeBook. We removed a main character, changed the mushy middle, and added new scenes. They also worked on my synopsis, query and pitch. My favourite part of working with them was the hilarious swooning over my MC’s love interest that happened in the track changes comments. I did get stuck for two weeks on 1st round edits that I agreed with but couldn’t fathom how to implement. I brainstormed, shared with my mentors, tried to write through the issues, had to trash newly written scenes. Finally I cornered my husband (who had never read LeBook) and threw the plot problems at him. As someone completely removed from it all, he was able in 5 minutes to solve my issues. I’ve decided to keep him. I was finishing line-edits during the agent round which was a SUPER good distraction. Rosalyn and Erin, tell us about your experience mentoring Kit. Rosalyn: Erin and I took turns on various rounds. I took Erin’s notes and put together an edit letter of some big picture things we wanted to change, then Erin went through a second time to make comments on the drafts, and I did some final line edits/copy edits. Kit was a great sport about the edits–she took the comments seriously and worked hard to overhaul her story. Erin: She was lovely to work with because she took our suggestions and gave them consideration instead of shooting our ideas down instantly. I like that she would think about the changes we wanted her to make and she would...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Kara McDowell and her mentors, Brenda Drake and Heather Cashman
Mar09

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Kara McDowell and her mentors, Brenda Drake and Heather Cashman

  Brenda and I have extra cause to celebrate this success story! Kara McDowell was our very own mentee! And we love her bunches and bunches. Kara signed with Kristy Hunter of The Knight Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help Brenda and I to celebrate Kara’s Pitch Wars Success! Kara, what was it about Brenda and Heather that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? Because I was the scavenger hunt winner, I didn’t get to choose my mentors. That said, I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. I consider myself so lucky to be mentored by the people who make Pitch Wars possible. Brenda is so sweet and supportive, and Heather’s edits were amazing. Brenda and Heather (yep, that’s me), what was it about Kara’s NOT HER STORY that hooked you? She won the scavenger hunt drawing! And we are so happy she did. Kara, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? I never told Brenda this, but when I first read her edit letter, I cried. I’d never received an edit letter before, so it was a very new experience for me. I’d also been hearing stories about mentors sending 15 page letters with instructions to cut characters or rewrite entire sections of the manuscript. Brenda’s letter was not like that, and it threw me for a loop. She focused a lot on the characters, and suggested that I find ways to help them connect better with each other and the reader. At first, I thought her minimal changes meant that my book was beyond saving. Over time, I realized that she was letting me take ownership of my revisions so I could keep my story and my voice intact. We planned that I would spend the month of September working on those big picture revisions, and October would be dedicated to line edits. I finished my first round of edits a few days early, and sent my final pages to Heather with a note telling her I was going to try to give birth to my baby that weekend. That kind of thing rarely goes according to plan, but my baby did end up coming that Friday! I took a week or so off while Heather worked on line edits, and then jumped back in as soon as she got the pages to me. (I’m honesty not sure how I did this. I was so tired the entire month of October.) Line edits were a lot more work than I was expecting, but it was so encouraging to see my manuscript transforming before my eyes. I...

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A Pitch Wars Success Interview with Emma Nelson and her mentor, Jennie Nash
Mar08

A Pitch Wars Success Interview with Emma Nelson and her mentor, Jennie Nash

  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 Emma Nelson and her mentor, Jennie Nash. Emma signed with Amanda Ayers Barnett of Donaghy Literary Group after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Emma and Jennie on their Pitch Wars Success!   Emma, what was it about Jennie that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? When I decided to apply to Pitch Wars, I spent several hours obsessing over each of the mentors. I checked out their mentor bios, websites, and social media. I was so drawn to Jennie because of her online presence and the fact that book mentoring was literally what she did for a living. I loved that she seemed so disciplined and structured and successful at helping many books come together. I wanted to be part of that! Jennie, what was it about Emma’s manuscript that hooked you? Emma’s manuscript had something about it that just kept calling to me. It had a very ambitious concept, a fun plot, great characters and all kinds of action — which are all great things — but a lot of entries had those things. Emma’s writing had something else that was special about it — a kind of pizazz. I could tell I was in the presence of a real storyteller. Emma, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? The first thing we did was have a long call, I think it was almost two hours, where we talked about things we needed to nail down. They were big questions like genre, age category, MC’s internal goals, stuff like that. It felt like the most work was in the weeks before I actually started revising, because Jennie was adamant that I had to solidify the underpinnings before I could do anything with the plot or characters. After that, we did a few rounds of big content edits, and then some line edits/minor tweaking. We worked big to small, and it was a really great process that improved the book tremendously. Jennie, tell us about your experience mentoring Emma. She was the dream writer because she did a TON of hard work BEFORE we even started doing revisions. It was all the work she needed to do to answer who her main character really was, and what was actually happening to her on a soul level. It was the hard stuff, and Emma never complained or balked or said there wasn’t time. Plus in the middle of it she has...

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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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