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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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Mary C. Dunbar and her mentor, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Feb03

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Mary C. Dunbar and her mentor, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

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 Mary C. Dunbar and her mentor, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn. Mary signed with Rebecca Podos of Rees Literary Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Mary and Laurie on their Pitch Wars Success. Mary, what was it about Laurie that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? I knew Laurie was looking for YA contemporary manuscripts, and she had recently had her debut with Firsts. My manuscript touched on some of the notes that Laurie is great at dealing with in her writing – such as strained friendships, sex, and the MC facing his/her past. I tried to talk with all of the mentors I was considering on Twitter, and I really enjoyed interacting with Laurie. She seemed interested in my pitch, and I was excited to send her my application. When she asked to see the full, I was so excited I couldn’t send it fast enough. Laurie, what was it about Mary’s THE WRECKAGE OF US that hooked you? For starters… I had interacted with Mary on the #PitchWars Twitter hashtag, and checked out (ahem… stalked) her #PimpMyBio entry. I was so intrigued by her pitch and really, really hoped she would sub to me! When I saw her entry in my inbox, I did a little happy dance. I requested the full and the more I read, the more I absolutely knew I had to work with Mary. She is fantastic at showing the stakes in a pitch and also really understands the importance of voice. I appreciated that she took chances with her writing, and her style was so evocative and honest and real. Mary, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Laurie sent me a very thorough edit letter addressing the areas that she felt that I could work on to make my manuscript stronger. She was so insightful and addressed everything from how to make my first scene pack a stronger punch to character motivation. I think she really liked the core of my story, and she had excellent ideas for making my chapter endings more powerful and ramping up the tension between characters. I tend to be a very character-driven writer, and Laurie showed me how I could have the characters carry more of the weight of the plot without losing any of their unique qualities. I did several rounds of revisions with the edit letter in hand and with her in-document notes, and I sent...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Christine L. Herman and her mentor, Amanda Foody
Feb01

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Christine L. Herman and her mentor, Amanda Foody

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 Christine L. Herman and her mentor, Amanda Foody. Christine signed with Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Christine and Amanda on their Pitch Wars Success. Christine, what was it about Amanda that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? It was really hard to narrow down the field of awesome Pitch Wars mentors to just a few candidates, but Amanda’s profile stuck out to me immediately. It wasn’t just that she was looking for a book that sounded like the one I’d written. It was her obvious work ethic, her sense of humor, and her taste in other books that clinched it for me. I knew in my gut that her strengths as a mentor matched up with the weaknesses in my manuscript — and, most importantly, that she would understand how to work with me to fix it. I was beyond thrilled when I saw her name next to mine on announcement day! Amanda, what was it about Christine’s manuscript that hooked you? On a pitch-level, I loved the concept of a New England small town with magical secrets, and I could tell within the first page that Christine had an extremely developed writing style. After requesting, I finished the whole manuscript in a sitting. I was totally drawn into the characters. I found myself squealing at all the right moments and laughing at others. It’s just a really fun and haunting read, but with eloquent, atmospheric writing to match. Christine, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? It was intense, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Amanda refused to let me finish Pitch Wars with a product that was anything less than my best work, which meant that I pretty much spent every free moment from the end of August until early November revising my manuscript. We did one round of big-picture revisions, then a line-edit that smoothed out my prose and polished my scenes, while also addressing a few lingering loose ends from the first round. Amanda and I had a very collaborative mentor-mentee relationship, so I felt fully comfortable asking her for advice and clarification whenever I had a question or a concern. Amanda was really great about telling me when something wasn’t working, but allowing me the time and space to develop my own solutions to fix it. She always knew exactly how much to help...

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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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A Pitch Wars 2015 Success Story with Emily Ungar and her mentor, Stefanie Wass
Jan23

A Pitch Wars 2015 Success Story with Emily Ungar and her mentor, Stefanie Wass

  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 Emily Ungar and her mentor, Stefanie Wass. Emily signed with Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency after Pitch Wars 2015, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Emily and Stefanie on their Pitch Wars Success. Emily, what was it about Stefanie that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? This was my third time applying to PitchWars and my second time applying with a middle grade book. I read Stefanie’s bio in previous years and thought she sounded wonderful—warm, engaging, and incredibly supportive. When I applied in 2015 with a contemporary heartfelt novel, I instinctively thought about Stefanie but then second-guessed myself. This was a lesson for me in learning to trust my gut. But luckily another mentor to which I had applied passed my submission to Stefanie, and a match was made! Stefanie, what was it about Emily’s SCARLET RUNNER BEAN that hooked you? I was hooked by the authentic characters, pitch-perfect middle grade voice, and the amazing premise. Emily, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Stefanie is so amazingly organized and efficient that she had notes for me right away. I was able to use the excitement and momentum of being chosen and channel that into getting a head start on revisions. She made incredibly thoughtful suggestions and comments. I’m a spreadsheet lover, and I organized each suggestions into a row in an Excel document and tackled them one by one so it didn’t seem so overwhelming! I took several weeks to tackle the first pass and then Stefanie read my revisions quickly and got back with me with notes for the second pass. She was encouraging through email and Twitter and I knew she was with me every step of the way. It’s been a year and a half since we began working together and we still check in with each other. I’ve found a writing mentor and friend for life, and I feel so incredibly thankful for her. She is truly my writing guardian angel! Stefanie, tell us about your experience mentoring Emily. Emily was a dream mentee! She was open to feedback, timely in revisions, and ready to push her writing to the next level. She never complained about my nit-picky revision notes, either! Emily, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. Please, tell us about “The Call.” We love all the details about the offer, how they contacted you, how you...

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