Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Pitch Wars Tale - This Could Happen to You!

It's Pitch Wars time, again, the contest sponsored by Brenda Drake where writers have the opportunity to find a mentor who'll help them polish their pitch, query, and manuscript for a chance in front of select agents. The competition is tough. Right now, there are over 1,200 writers waiting for September to see if they'll get that chance.

I participated for the first time last year, and although not chosen, I received great feedback and discovered new friends. As the deadline approached this year, I decided to test a different manuscript, so I'm one of the many waiting--a nerve-racking process. For that reason, I thought it might be encouraging to hear from one of last year's Mentees, my critique partner, Paula Garner. It was a contest that initially brought the two of us together, and one of the benefits of participation in contests--finding new writing friends.

Paula J. Garner
Pitch Wars Mentee 2013
Thank you, Paula, for agreeing to answer a few questions and share your experience. You steered clear of social media until I pulled you, kicking and screaming, into Pitch Wars last year, and then onto Twitter. I'm sure there may be participants this year new to both.

Before we talk about your success last year, let's talk about your first foray into social media. Any regrets?

PJG: I have found the most wonderful friends, critique partners, and mentors since joining Twitter. It opened doors I didn't even know were there. So no regrets! Not a one. 

How did it feel hearing you'd been chosen as a Mentee last year? Tell us about your experience.

PJG: I ended up being chosen by a mentor I hadn't pitched to. Lindsey Sprague emailed to ask if I'd be open to sending her a few chapters, and the rest is history. Talk about lucky for me! She read my novel, gave me great feedback, and worked on my pitch with me endlessly. And her hilarious sense of humor kept me laughing through the whole process. And I will never, ever stop singing praises for Brenda Drake, who is the most generous and good-hearted person you'll ever have the luck of knowing. She was so helpful to me through the entire process--all the way until I was signed, in fact.

You wound up with nine requests, and those requests turned into five offers of representation. I know how hard it was making that decision because you had some incredible agents to choose from. How did you decide?

PJG: Having to choose an agent was a little surreal. They were all amazing agents, and I would have been lucky to work with any of them; but in the end, I chose the one who was the best match in terms of personality/style and whose vision for the manuscript best matched mine. Molly Jaffa is brilliant and has a well-earned reputation for being a total class act, but I also love her for her warmth, her constancy, and her wicked sense of humor. Honestly, if I had the whole Pitch Wars thing to do over, I wouldn't have done one single thing differently.

As your CP, I'm familiar with your manuscript and dearly love your characters. You and Molly have been working hard over the last few months getting it ready for submission, and I can't wait to see PHANTOM LIMBS on a bookstore shelf! Could you share a bit about your YA novel?

PJG: How about my pitch from last year's contest? 

Sixteen-year-old Otis copes with grief by swimming, training to fulfill the lost Olympic dream of his tyrannical one-armed friend/self-appointed coach, Dara, but her hold on him is threatened when the only girl he's ever loved moves back to town, forcing Otis to face the tragedy that drove them apart.

Thanks, Paula, for sharing your Pitch Wars experience. Be sure and find Paula on Twitter: @paulajgarner

And a BIG Thank You to Brenda Drake and all the Mentors who volunteer their time and expertise for Pitch Wars!

UPDATE: I made the cut! FRAMED was chosen by Mentor Eden Plantz. The month of September and October will be full of hard work on edits and revisions. Agent round will be in early November. Fingers crossed it could happen to me, too!!