A Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Carrie Ann DiRisio and her mentor, Rebecca Yarros
Aug01

A Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Carrie Ann DiRisio and her mentor, Rebecca Yarros

  Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Carrie Ann DiRisio and her Pitch Wars mentor Rebecca Yarros! Carrie Ann recently signed with Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary Agency, and she already landed a book deal with Sky Pony Press. So please join me in congratulating Carrie Ann and Rebecca as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story. Carrie Ann, what was it about Rebecca that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application? Rebecca’s honesty, sincerity, and dedication to her craft really impressed me. Plus, not only does she write swoonworthy heroes, she has great taste in music! Rebecca, what was it about Carrie Ann’s BROODING YA HERO that hooked you? Carrie’s voice hooked me from the start. Within the first page, I knew she was going to be my pick. The concept was great, of course, and I really felt that in just those few pages, Carrie gave her heroine the feel and depth of such a real person, a girl I’d love to be friends with. Carrie Ann, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? It was awesome and intense. I worked harder and faster in those edits than ever before. Rebecca helped me hone my voice and taught me a ton about plot structure. I’m still learning when I re-read her notes or recall those late night talks! Rebecca, tell us about your experience mentoring Carrie Ann. Carrie definitely had a vision for how she wanted her manuscript. It was fun to see her passion and commitment to her work! We had tons of late night skype calls (with wine of course), and she never ceased to amaze me with her dedication to her story and craft. Carrie Ann, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary Agency. 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. After Pitch Wars, I queried Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary Agency. I knew we were going to be a great fit, because she has an honesty and a focus to her that, I, as someone who works in business in my day job, really appreciated. Also, I will always consider san pellegrino limonata to be my lucky drink, cause that was what I was nervously sipping when she called! I celebrated by going out to my favorite diner with friends, where we ate mac&cheese and I babbled incoherently. After her agent experience,...

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A Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Sarah Van Goethem and her mentor, Jenni L. Walsh
Aug01

A Pitch Wars 2016 Success Interview with Sarah Van Goethem and her mentor, Jenni L. Walsh

Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Sarah Van Goethem and her Pitch Wars mentor Jenni L. Walsh! Sarah recently signed with Dorian Maffie of Kimberly Cameron and Associates, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating Sarah and Jenni as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story.   Sarah, what was it about Jenni that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application? The minute I read Jenni’s wish list I knew my MS was a great fit as she listed that she was most drawn to historical and fantasy. As well, her own book, BECOMING BONNIE is set in the late 1920’s and mine is a time travel to the mid 1930’s. I thought she would have fabulous advice and have a great grasp on the era. Plus, I did mention her book right? Who doesn’t love a high-concept like that? Who wouldn’t choose to submit to Jenni? Jenni, what was it about Sarah’s manuscript that hooked you? First, it was the concept: THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE meets THE NOTEBOOK. I knew I had to read it, but I had my fingers so, so crossed the execution would live up to the hype I created in my mind. It did. Sarah is an extraordinary writer. Now, this is a bit of a unique success story because the MS Sarah and I worked on together during Pitch Wars wasn’t the one to get her an agent (even though she got an astounding 18 requests during the Agent Round); it was the MS that followed. But, I remember telling Sarah, “This industry can be wonky, but your talent will get you an agent, whether it’s this book (referring to our Pitch Wars MS) or the next.” I knew it was simply a matter of timing. Sarah, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars? Jenni initially sent me an edit letter that encompassed plot details, things to watch for (filter words), areas to cut, and what to expand on. I will say here, that I was entirely new at this. Unlike some people who had a handful of ms’s under their belt, this was my first one. And I had no idea how to edit or do it well. Jenni sent the ms back with more ideas, and I knew I would have to work harder. Eventually we got to line edits. Jenni, tell us about your experience mentoring Sarah. Like I said, Sarah’s an extraordinary writer. She strings words together with a beautiful cadence that sucks ya into the pages. That sound writing ability is definitely...

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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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