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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Pitch Wars Success Story with Annette Christie and her mentor, Sonia Hartl
Feb28

Pitch Wars Success Story with Annette Christie and her mentor, Sonia Hartl

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Annette Christie and her Pitch Wars mentor Sonia Hartl! Annette recently signed with Jess Dallow of Brower Literary Management, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating Annette and Sonia as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Annette, what was it about Sonia that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? In the weeks leading up to Pitch Wars, I learned Sonia is the perfect combination of approachable and intimidatingly knowledgeable. When I read her bio, I could see we have overlapping tastes and senses of humor. I knew I wanted to learn from her and connect with her. Sonia, what was it about Annette’s FLORENCE LEARY’S THEORY OF FLIGHT that hooked you? It was so fun and fresh! I love characters with interesting hobbies, it was one of my top wishes, and Annette’s ms about a girl who games the reward points on credit cards to fly everywhere for free was so intriguing. I’d never seen anything like it before. I checked out her pimp my bio and began stealth stalking her before the submission round, keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that the writing would hold up. When her ms landed in my inbox, I fell in love with her voice right away and I jumped on the request before I even finished the first chapter. Annette, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Sonia’s notes made so much sense. She had a really clear vision for where my manuscript needed to go, which made my job a lot easier. Revisions started out just swimmingly. And then I hit a wall. I remember the day I spent hours tweaking one chapter and still couldn’t get it right. I was so frustrated I wanted to cry. That’s when I remembered writing isn’t meant to be a solitary vocation. I reached out to Sonia and to my critique partners. They helped me take a sledgehammer to that wall. Everyone who’s ever been involved with Pitch Wars says the community is the best part. It truly is. Sonia’s been my cheerleader and sounding board through this whole process—and she’s not going anywhere now. She’s a fiercely loyal person, someone you definitely want to have on your side. The class of 2016 is comprised of creative, intelligent, and hilarious people. My book, and my writing in general, is so much better because of this community. Sonia, tell us about your experience mentoring Annette. Annette was an absolute dream to work with. She took tough critique like a...

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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 Tosha Sumner and her mentor, RuthAnne Snow
Feb09

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Tosha Sumner and her mentor, RuthAnne Snow

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 Tosha Sumner and her mentor, RuthAnne Snow. Tosha signed with Jennifer March Soloway of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Tosha and RuthAnne on their Pitch Wars Success. Tosha, what was it about RuthAnne that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? RuthAnne’s Pitch Wars wishlist mentioned she’d love a sports book. She also listed one of my comps as a book she enjoyed. Then in her mentor bio, she mentioned some strengths that were items I needed help with. After watching the mentor video chat and doing a teeny bit of Twitter stalking, I just knew she was someone I’d get along very well with. RuthAnne, what was it about Tosha’s manuscript that hooked you? First, I did love Tosha’s comps! Then I was immediately hooked in by the main character’s voice. Picking one mentee was so hard because I had so many great manuscripts to review, but there was something about Callie Whitfield’s voice and her problems that spoke to me more strongly. Tosha, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? RuthAnne was a fabulous mentor! First, she sent me an editorial letter a couple days after the mentee list went public. She pinpointed exactly what my manuscript was lacking!! Most notably, I need to change the romance centric story to a contemporary with a strong romance subplot. We exchanged TONS of emails and shot ideas back and forth.  She was always so willing to help me when I needed it, but she also let me take ownership of the revision process.  I’d give her updates as to how it was coming, or ask her advice and run scene ideas by her. She was always so very supportive of me and my work and my ability to get the revision completed on time.  I loved the entire Pitch Wars revision process. Although 3 months sounds like a long time, it flies by, but it’s enough time to tackle both big and small issues with a manuscript. It was great having someone who got my book and my vision and could help me take my story to the next level. RuthAnne, tell us about your experience mentoring Tosha. Tosha was great, she took suggestions and ran with them. Her manuscript was great when I read it in my slush, and then she just took it to a higher level through her revisions. I was very impressed...

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