The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today I am so beyond excited to introduce you to Destiny Cole and her Pitch Wars mentor Trisha Leigh for a Q and A regarding her recent success! Destiny recently signed with Kirsten Carleton of Waxman Leavell. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview.
Destiny, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Trisha?
When I first got a glimpse of the long list of Mentors, the first thing that popped in my head was, RESEARCH TIME! I love any opportunity to pull out my inner analyst and so I started going through the mentors and charting by hand which ones were looking for what I had written and ranking them. When I clicked on Trisha, I immediately knew I wanted to send to her because her about me blog post was titled something like, “more about me than you ever wanted to know.” As a consummate over-sharer I knew I had found my patronus. Then I read about her incredible and diverse publishing history and all her success and I was sold. PICK ME! PICK ME!
Trisha, what about Destiny’s application made you choose her?
I initially wanted to read beyond her summary because the premise was just so unique! It really caught my attention and forced me to look twice. Once I read her first pages (and more) I wasn’t disappointed – and I knew she had a wonderfully marketable, timely idea that would be sure to attract agents once we worked out the kinks.
Destiny, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
I was Trisha’s alternate, but she went way above and beyond for me. She gave me a very detailed edit letter that was about 7 pages and then did edit notes inside the manuscript. I had never revised on that level before and she taught me so much about writing. I had never even heard of the concept of “Deep POV” before! Between work, kids and moving the weekend before the showcase, it took me to the very last minute to finish my revisions. She then helped me hone my query. Really, she was just amazing!
Trisha, tell us about your experience with mentoring Destiny. How was mentoring your other team member, if you had one?
I really got so, so lucky in the mentee department in this, my first year as a mentor. My mentee and my alternate, Destiny, were both handed some pretty heavy revision suggestions that went way in depth and asked for massive changes and overhauls. I was nervous sending those letters, as I always am the first time with someone new, but they both took all of the criticisms in the spirit in which they were intended, which was of course to improve their work before it was in front of agents. Destiny and Anna were both a dream to work with, and I know that means they’ll be successful authors in the long run. Anyone would be lucky to work with them.
Destiny, after Pitch Wars you signed with Kirsten Carleton of Waxman Leavell, tell us about “The Call.” How long were you on submission? What did you do to distract yourself? How did Kirsten contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
First off, I think it’s important to figure out what you want out of your career before you begin querying and to know the type of agent that can help get you there. Your priorities will be different than mine, but I think actually writing it all out really helps hone your focus in what can be an overwhelming bombard of MSWL and Query Tracker searches.
Kirsten requested a partial during the alternate showcase and upgraded within about a week. I actually did not receive her first email for the upgrade and so she emailed me again to make sure I received it. I’m so glad she did that because she had emailed from a different email and it went to spam. Who knows when I would have ever found her email in my spam folder! For some reason, I was just SURE I was going to hear before Christmas, which is silly because it was only four weeks and the holidays, but I just had it in my head (don’t do this people! It will make you cray-cray).
So when I hadn’t heard from her by the new year, I started getting anxious. I had a lot of other requests out, but Kirsten was always on the top of my list because she met everything I had previously written on my “wish list.” My fellow PW mentees can attest to my consistent pestering of, “Has anyone with requests out to Kirsten heard back?” so I could try to figure out where I was in her “To Read” pile. The day I got an email from her, my stomach just dropped. I wanted to work with her so bad, that I knew if that email was a rejection, it was going to send me into an epic pity party. But then it wasn’t! Our call was so relaxed and we clicked so well and I totally agreed with her revision ideas. I ended up with multiple offers, but I kept referring back to my list of what I was looking for in an agent and stayed true to that. I am so beyond thrilled to be represented by Kirsten!
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
My revision period with Trisha was essential to my success. I added almost 20k words, combined characters, changed plot points, etc. She helped me add setting (which I didn’t realize was severely lacking) and deepen my characters. There is no doubt in my mind, that without Trisha’s notes I would not have an agent today!
Now for some fun! The following questions are for you both to answer: What fictional academy/university/school would you most want to attend? (ie Starfleet Academy, Hogwarts, Jedi Academy, Camp Half-Breed, Battle School in Space, Beauxbatons, etc)?
Destiny: I know I echo probably 90% of the population, but there’s no doubt Hogwarts would be my alma mater, but I would want Hogwarts University. Can that exist? Kind of like Brakebills (The Magicians), but with Dumbledore and McGonagall.
Trisha: I’m also going with the same – Hogwarts, for sure. I mean, what would be more awesome than that place existing for real? I’d totally immigrate to England just for a chance at acceptance!
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Destiny: Calaena Sardothian would be both my confidante and ally! My enemy would be Madison from The Duff and my forever boyfriend is Four (as long as he did indeed look exactly like Theo James with all the tats)
Trisha: I would choose Luna Lovegood as a confidante, Dawson Leery as an enemy, Alina Starkov as an idol, and Lyra Belacqua as a kick-butt ally. And even though you didn’t ask, Mal Oretsev as my fictional boyfriend. 🙂
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Destiny: Lembas – one tiny piece of bread that is like an entire meal? No wonder Elves are so skinny! (I wonder if they have a chips and salsa flavored one?)
Trisha: I’m pretty adventurous, so I’d say the mystery food and drink that Alice stumbles across in Wonderland.
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
Destiny: Wand. I will go all Hermoine on them and attack with my skills and rhetoric!
Trisha: Wand, for sure. After I ask Hermione for lessons.
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
Destiny: Diet Coke and TexMex
Trisha: Coffee, tea, Hershey’s kisses. The original. All others are abominations.
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
Destiny: One of my best friends got me the first three books of the Twilight series and I read them and loved them. It made me fall in love with reading again and when I found out she was a mother of small kids (as I was) it put this thing in me that said, “I can do that too.” I wanted to write books and create worlds. So thanks Stephanie!
Trisha: Madeleine L’Engle and Suzanne Collins
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
Destiny: This was such a fantastic experience working with Trisha and then, thanks to Brenda, being able to showcase my work to a lot of top agents (one of which is now MY agent! Ahh!) but one of the absolute best parts of this experience has been a certain “secret” Facebook group of the 2014 PW Mentees/Alternates. The writers I’ve met have become friends, critique partners, confidants and unfailing supporters. Having a group of writers in the same stage of their careers as you to celebrate the peaks and valleys of this industry/querying is essential and I could wax on and on about their camaraderie and support. I love you guys!
Trisha: Thank you, Brenda, for all of your hard work putting this together. I feel like I’ve made new friends in the other mentors and my mentees, and it’s going to be so great to cheer everyone on as their careers flourish. I’m so proud of Destiny!!
Thank you for sharing your success story with us. We couldn’t be happier about it around here – CONGRATULATIONS! Everyone, dance off and say hello, and if you don’t already follow them, you totally should – they’re amazing!