Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Steven Carman and his mentor Stefanie Wass
Jul14

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Steven Carman and his mentor Stefanie Wass

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Steven Carman and his Pitch Wars mentor Stefanie Wass! Steven recently signed with Gina Panettieri of Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for him. So please join me in congratulating Steven and Stefanie as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Steven, what was it about Stefanie that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? I pitched THE WINDUP to Stefanie because her wish list included “heartfelt, realistic, coming-of-age middle grade.” And I was like, okay, she could be a good fit for my book. When I read the glowing praise her previous Mentee heaped on her in a Pitch Wars Success story, I was sold. At that point, I hoped that Stefanie liked baseball—or at least that my story’s baseball angle wouldn’t be a deal breaker. Stefanie, what was it about Steven’s THE WINDUP that hooked you? The Windup was full of heart, and action, and tension from the get-go.  From the opening scene, it felt like I was in good hands. All of the elements were there—a main character I could root for, a compelling conflict, and a setting I knew kids would love. (Baseball fields galore!) Steven, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Stefanie sent me an editorial letter and a marked-up manuscript right away. I was blown away at the time and thought she put into a stranger’s project—especially considering she wasn’t earning a dime for her efforts. Her comments resonated with me and I was eager to get to work on the revisions. Stefanie went above and beyond, and ended up reading multiple rounds of revisions—offering encouragement and valuable feedback at each pass. No doubt, she helped me become a better writer and helped make THE WINDUP a winner. Stefanie, tell us about your experience mentoring Steven. It was a wonderful experience! Steve was open to my suggestions and ready to dig in and work hard.  When he didn’t end up with any agent offers immediately following Pitch Wars, he remained positive, stayed in touch with me, and kept the faith. Steven, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Gina Panettieri of Talcott Notch 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. Gina Panettieri kindly expedited her review of THE WINDUP after I informed her that I received an offer from another agent. When I received Gina’s...

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Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Jennifer Camiccia and her mentor Kristin B. Wright
Jul13

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Jennifer Camiccia and her mentor Kristin B. Wright

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Jennifer Camiccia and her Pitch Wars mentor Kristin B. Wright! Jennifer recently signed with Stacey Glick of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, LLC, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating Jennifer and Kristin as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Jennifer, what was it about Kristin that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? I researched all the mentors representing YA contemporary, and Kristin definitely moved to the top of my list once I read her favorite books and movies. Since her taste was so similar to mine, I hoped she would connect with my book. And she did! Kristin, what was it about Jennifer’s BIRDY’S SONG that hooked you? I read the first chapter of BIRDY’S SONG in a Chipotle, delicious burrito in hand. Her story starts with a terrifying car ride that ends in tragedy, and I was so gripped I forgot to eat my burrito. I don’t remember her query, which is why I always tell people that the query, while important, isn’t as important as pages that hook from the first lines. I could not put it down. She rose to the top five contenders before I left that Chipotle. Jennifer, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Kristin sent me an extremely detailed letter with suggestions on making my story stronger. I took a day or two to mull it over, and then I went to work. I wrote every day for a month before sending back my manuscript for line edits. It was exhausting but, ultimately, extremely satisfying. My characters were more vivid, the pace quicker, and the ending more dramatic. Kristin, tell us about your experience mentoring Jennifer. She was a dream. I sent her a super scary letter that suggested a title change, losing a character or two, changing the ending completely, and a dozen other things that probably made her wish she’d never heard my name, but she took it like a champ. Her writing was so beautiful and assured, and I knew she could do it. And she did. I remember reading her revised ending and actually cheering. Jennifer, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich. 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. Stacey sent an email to say how much she was enjoying my...

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A Pitch Wars Success Story with Alex Reda and her mentor, Marty Mayberry
Jun28

A Pitch Wars Success Story with Alex Reda and her mentor, Marty Mayberry

  Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Alex Reda and her Pitch Wars mentor Marty Mayberry! Alexrecently signed with Natascha Morris of BookEnds Literary Agency, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating Alex and Marty as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Alex, what was it about Marty that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? 2016 wasn’t my first time in the Pitch Wars rodeo. I didn’t get in two years ago, but I’ve made some awesome friends along the way, and they all recommended Marty. Once I read her amazing bio (and stalked her on Twitter, like any good potential mentee), I knew we’d work great together. Her professionalism sang to me, and she had this very clear-cut way of saying what she expected from a mentee and what her strengths were (spoiler alert: she’s a super hero). I resonated with that, plus the fact that she seemed so passionate about writing and helping others. Subbing my manuscript to her was one of the best decisions of my life. Marty, what was it about Alex’s LOVE, LIES, AND THE OTHER TEAM DIES that hooked you? I was honored by how many authors trusted me with their words during the Pitch Wars sub window. Truly, I could’ve mentored any of them. I read through each entry, sorted them into folders, then stepped back and thought about all of them. Many had excellent hooks. Others had writing that pulled me into their stories from page one. It was a tough decision. Alex’s book is about a young woman who wins the chance to participate in a gaming competition with her best friends. Their biggest rival is a group of teens headed up by the boy she met and partly fell for at a conference. Add in a potentially haunted house venue, and I was in love. What great conflict! From chapter one, I was rooting not just for the main character to win the competition, but also wind up with the boy. When people say that this business is subjective, they’re right. There was something about Alex’s story I couldn’t let go of. I knew within a week that hers was the book I wanted to mentor. Alex, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Marty was super prompt and sent me an edit letter right away. When I read it and didn’t instantly want to shrivel up and cry, I knew we were on our way to success. Marty was always very patient with me, guided me through all the edits,...

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Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Sarena and Sasha Nanua and their mentor Stephanie Scott
Jun23

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Sarena and Sasha Nanua and their mentor Stephanie Scott

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Sarena and Sasha Nanua and their Pitch Wars mentor Stephanie Scott! Sarena and Sasha recently signed with Peter Knapp of Park Literary & Media, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for them. So please join me in congratulating Sarena and Sasha and Stephanie as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Sarena and Sasha, what was it about Stephanie that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? We loved Stephanie’s bio—she mentioned how she was looking for manuscripts about teens with unique and strong passions, which meshes with our main character’s love for cooking. We also tweeted her to see if she would be interested in reading our book (based on concept), and she said sure, so we went for it! Plus, we’re all #TeamGale 😊 Stephanie, what was it about Sarena and Sasha’s A TASTE OF DARKNESS that hooked you?  The pitch was Willy Wonka meets Chopped – a reality show cooking competition set at culinary institute that previously shuttered due to scandal. What hooked me more was the family dynamics, of a girl torn between her own culinary dreams and studying something more practical to care for her family. The character’s connection to her grandfather was sweet and added a mystery element with his connection to the institute. Sarena and Sasha, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? It was definitely a unique experience. Prior to this, only 1 other published author had read this book, and that was in its ugly 2nd draft stage. We were so thankful that Stephanie had a great vision for it. Mostly, we really had to “up” the stakes—make it bigger, both internally and externally for Tessa, our main character. We changed the book from 3rd to 1st person and changed a lot of the plot. Looking back on it now, it was a lot to do, but we’re both very thankful we had this experience. If it weren’t for Stephanie’s guidance, we would probably be lost tackling edits for our new book from our agent. Even though we had school, we were able to wrap up edits during the agent round. We would send out sections of the book as we edited it so Stephanie could give us her thoughts throughout the process.   Stephanie, tell us about your experience mentoring Sarena and Sasha. Sarena and Sasha were a dream to work with! Despite currently attending college, they turned in edits ahead of deadlines. They were eager to learn. Some decisions in editing don’t have a clear cut answer, and they both did really well...

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Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Hema Penmetsa and her mentor, Holly Faur
Jun21

Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Hema Penmetsa and her mentor, Holly Faur

  Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Hema Penmetsa and her Pitch Wars mentor Holly Faur! Hema recently signed with Jaida Temperly of New Leaf Literary and Media Inc., and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating Hema and Holly as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story.     What was it about Holly that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? The first time I read Holly’s wish list, I couldn’t believe my eyes—it was as though she was asking exactly for my novel. Then I researched her Twitter presence and author website, and like I mentioned in my previous Pitch Wars interview, I found that she was easygoing and had a wonderful sense of humor (two crucial qualities in someone with whom, with any luck, I’d be working closely for the next two months and hopefully developing a lasting friendship). So, Holly took the top spot on the list of my mentor choices (along with five other fabulous mentors who were also looking for themes like mine). As I began working with her, I realized that I couldn’t have chosen better, because Holly has this way of infusing you with self-confidence and a quiet purpose that helps you to keep moving forward. Holly, what was it about Hema’s BEYOND THE CARVED WALLS that hooked you? The query hooked me right away since it was filled with everything I wanted: places new to me, strong women, and diversity. Her pages proved she had an amazing sense of story and I was caught up with the MC on page one—and she hadn’t even tempted me with descriptions of Indian cuisine yet! But what I loved the most was the obvious care and respect in which she wrote about a difficult time in India. Tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Holly first sent me an edit letter with suggestions of over-arching changes and structural improvements. After she line-edited half of my whopping 400-page book (so that I could carry over the edits through the rest of the book), she sent me a second edit letter with detailed suggestions that were specific to scenes and individual character arcs. Once we discussed (over emails and phone conversations) our mutual vision both for the big changes and smaller tweaks, every time I added a new scene or made huge alterations, I’d send her the word file (with track changes on) at the end of the day. She’d read the additions and suggest tightening them in places. I believe this micro-critiquing helped the process of final line...

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Pitch Wars Success Story with Jenny Rosen and her mentor, Kim Graff
Jun19

Pitch Wars Success Story with Jenny Rosen and her mentor, Kim Graff

  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 Jenny Rosen and her mentor, Kim Graff. Jenny got an audiobook deal with Hachette Audio since being a mentee in Pitch Wars, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Jenny and Kim on their Pitch Wars Success! Jenny, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Kim? Kim’s love for dark and gritty storylines, complex characters, conflicted family dynamics, and unreliable narrators was right up my alley. I submitted to her immediately after I discovered her PW Mentor profile because I had a feeling that we’d work really well together if I was lucky enough to be her mentee. Kim, what about Jenny’s application made you choose her? I’m super into political thrillers and microtension is really important to me — Jenny’s PW manuscript really hit the sweet spot on both for me. There was great tension and voice, and it was a political YA thriller which you don’t see enough of these days.  Jenny, tell us about how your relationship has continued after Pitch Wars? Kim was incredibly supportive after Pitch Wars and encouraged me to continue querying. She read over a number of my revisions and recommended agents that I could submit to. When I ultimately decided to put querying THE RUNAWAYS on hold, she told me to focus my efforts on my second project (CHEATER, FAKER, TROUBLEMAKER) because she saw more mainstream commercial potential. Her belief in my writing ability propelled me forward in the years following Pitch Wars and is one of the reasons why I still keep pushing myself to improve. Kim, tell us about your experience during and after Pitch Wars with Jenny.  Jenny was great. She hit deadlines like a champ, and was always open to feedback which is REALLY important in Pitch Wars. Really. Important. If you can manage the deadlines of Pitch Wars, it can be really difficult — and no matter what was happening, Jenny managed with stars. Jenny, after Pitch Wars you got an audio book deal with Hachette Audio. Can you tell us about how that happened, the details about the offer? How did Hachette contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all. I’ve been a member of the Wattpad community since 2011, and after my YA Thriller THE RUNAWAYS, received over 2 million views, I was asked to be apart of the Wattpad Stars Program in 2014, which provides potential publication, film, and television opportunities to Wattpad’s...

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Pitch Wars Success Story with Adalyn Grace and her mentor, Brian Palmer
Jun12

Pitch Wars Success Story with Adalyn Grace and her mentor, Brian Palmer

  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 Adalyn Grace and her mentor, Brian Palmer. Adalyn signed with Hillary Jacobson of ICM Partners after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her. Please, help me in congratulating Adalyn and Brian on their Pitch Wars Success! Adalyn, what was it about Brian that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? First of all, Brian is just so stinkin’ nice. I could tell how enthusiastic he was to be mentor, and how much he truly wanted to help whoever he ended up picking. I stalked the heck out of his twitter, and we actually talked back-and-forth several times (mostly going over questions) before he thankfully chose me! I could tell he was super serious about finding a story he enjoyed and thought he could really help, which is obviously what every mentee wants. While he didn’t necessarily mention wanting something that screamed, “Hey! That’s my book!” I loved his bio and many of the “favorite books” he had listed. Something in my gut said that I needed to take the risk and sub to him. I would have been honored to work with any mentors, but my instincts told me that, if I were to be chosen, it’d be by Brian. And I sure lucked out! Brian, what was it about Adalyn’s DONOR that hooked you? Adalyn’s novel proved to me that the unexpected can grab your attention because, as she noted, there wasn’t an obvious connection between her story and many of the elements I had said I was looking for in my wish list (though it was worth noting there was nothing in DONOR that made it onto my auto-disqualification list either). I really was drawn in by the sinister premise (growing humans in a facility specifically for the purpose of harvesting their organs for those in the outside world who needed them because they lived in a society that did not have to be held accountable for their actions and life choices? Holy cow!), but even more than this I was intrigued by the subtle yet profound social commentary that was woven throughout the story and how it shone an uncomfortably plausible light on where we as a society might be headed in the coming decades if we aren’t careful. Add to this the fact that these “humans” were viewed by the world as mindless drones, only to have one of DONOR’s POV’s be from one of the donors themselves, and to see how just how wrong the outside world...

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Pitch Madness Success Story with P.J. Switzer from Team Ice Cream Sea with Monica Hoffman and Brenda Drake
May10

Pitch Madness Success Story with P.J. Switzer from Team Ice Cream Sea with Monica Hoffman and Brenda Drake

  Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate PJ Switzer who signed with Kari Sutherland with Bradford Literary Agency after Pitch Madness 2017! PJ was part of Monica M. Hoffman and Brenda Drake’s #TeamIceCreamSea, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating PJ as she shares with us her awesome success story. So let’s get this party started. PJ, what made you decide to enter Pitch Madness, and how did you feel during the contest? Actually, I entered Pitch Madness because of dumb luck and my husband. I just happened to be on Twitter and saw the deadline was midnight that night. I thought about it then decided not to do it. I’d received so many rejections that I’d reached the, “What’s the point?” stage of querying. But my husband pushed me to enter. He used the tried and true logic of, “What have you got to lose?” And, as the saying goes, the rest is history. I’m not going to lie, I took stress eating to a whole new level during the contest. The first round was hard. I was absolutely convinced my entry wasn’t going to make it. I soothed the worry with lots of chocolate cake. It helped. When my entry was selected I practically danced with joy. But as hard as the selection round was, the agent round was worse. I read the other contestants entries, which were amazing, and knew no agent would want my manuscript. So, I decided to quit writing and become a cocktail waitress in a Venezuelan nightclub. Before I got the chance to buy my airline ticket the agent round ended and something wonderful happened. Which blog were you on and what was the title of your entry? How many requests did you get? Any other details you’d like to share? I was on Brenda Drake’s blog with my manuscript, The Cold Place. I received 4 requests for the full manuscript and 9 requests for partials, which, if I do my math right, equals 13 total requests. Brenda and Monica, what made you choose Pj’s entry to host on your team? Monica: What made THE COLD PLACE stand out from the rest was the voice and narrative style. It immediately got my attention. When I got to the end of the 250-words, I not only wanted more or it, I needed it. I needed to know what happened to her main character. I instantly connected with her MC even within the first page! Brenda: That VOICE!! Hooked me right off. Plus the premise was so intriguing. PJ is a wonderful writer and her prose and...

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