Success is in the air! We couldn’t be more ecstatic to share this fabulous interview with Kristin Wright and her Pitch Wars mentor Kara Leigh Miller. Kristin recently signed with Sarah Younger with Nancy Yost Literary Agency, and we are beyond thrilled for her! So without further ado, enjoy this Q&A with Kristin and Kara as they recap their epically awesome Pitch Wars success story.
Kristin, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Kara?
Kara had asked for romance. Weirdly, and even more specifically, she’d asked for a romance set on a camping trip: and that was exactly what I’d written. I knew right away she was the perfect mentor for me. She had a lot of editing experience and was an agented, published author. My CP and I had agreed not to submit to the same mentors so as to maximize our chances of both getting in — and I begged her to let me have Kara. (By the way — this strategy worked. We both got chosen!) I should say, by the way, that my first CP would not leave me alone until I entered. Love you, Laura!
Kara, what about Kristin’s application made you choose her?
The very basic answer: She had something that had been on my wishlist FOR-EVER! I’ve been looking for a contemporary romance set at summer camp or during a camping trip. She had that. It really was a no-brainer. The moment I read her pitch and sample pages, I requested the full, spent an entire day reading it, and I knew she was going to be on my team. There was never any question about it. The fact she was really cool on Twitter was a big bonus, too!
Kristin, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
Kara chose me as an alternate, and under the requirements of Pitch Wars, that meant she was supposed to offer me a first chapter critique, but she went way above and beyond that and reviewed everything several times, and helped me with my pitch as well. She pointed out that I’d started in the wrong place. Though I hated to do it, I cut a whole scene and after that, the story took off like a rocket. I revise very very fast, so I had time, between the selection at the beginning of September and the alternate showcase at the beginning of November, to write another whole manuscript. This helped immensely with my nail-biting obsession: I can’t type and bite at the same time.
Kara, tell us about your experience with mentoring Kristin. How was mentoring your other team members?
As an editor for a small press, I work with a lot of authors, and it’s always a gamble in a way because you never truly know if you’re going to hit it off, if personalities will mesh, if edits / suggestions will be taken well… But lemme say… I hit the PitchWars jackpot with Kristen. lol. She was sooo easy to work with, eager to learn and work hard to make her book the best it could be. I can’t recall either of us disagreeing on anything, really. We did go back and forth quite a bit about the beginning and where was the best place to start. Obviously we nailed it considering we’re now doing this success interview. Ha!
My other team member, AB Sevan, was amaze-balls, too. She and I spent quite a bit of time on the phone, brainstorming, talking about her vision for the book, my thoughts for editing it. We bonded over our love for dogs and the unfairness of Pit Bulls being discriminated against. She’s also very hardworking and eager to learn.
Kristin, after Pitch Wars you signed with Sarah Younger with Nancy Yost Literary Agency, tell us about “The Call.” How long were you on submission? What did you do to distract yourself? How did Sarah contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
I signed with Sarah Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. I got four requests in Pitch Wars, which was a lot for an adult manuscript. None panned out, and I began querying. This was November, though, and things are slow in publishing at the holidays. While I queried, I polished the new manuscript I’d written during the revision period, and like always, fell in love as I edited. It’s the only way to go when waiting: write something else! I queried Sarah when she opened again after the holidays, and she offered to me in mid-February, after I nudged her with another offer on the newer manuscript. I loved her right away on the phone, and knew she was the one when several other clients wrote me long letters professing their love for her. My family and I went out for dinner afterwards. Two weeks later, my CP signed with an agent, and we met the next day for a celebratory drink (we’re fortunate enough to live only two hours apart), during which we interrupted each other by saying, “We have agents!” This must have happened at least nine times during the evening. The other patrons must have thought we were crazy. Love you, Mary Ann!
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
I think Kara really helped me look critically at my own writing. She spent an enormous amount of time and has been a cheerleader long afterwards as well. Also, I connected with another writer in my genre and gained a third amazing CP. Love you, Kelly! One of the best things has been that the 150 writers selected for Pitch Wars all formed a writers’ group on Facebook. This group continues unbelievable and constant support to this day, and I don’t know what I would do without that amazing talent and friendship. We cheer as requests and offers roll in, and blow raspberries when they don’t. Love you, PitchWars Writers!
Now for some fun! The following questions are for you both to answer: You’re outnumbered by the bad guys, what mode of escape would you take? (ie a Tardis, a flying car, a flying carpet, something from your favorite food, etc.)? And why?
Kristin: The DeLorean from Back to the Future. Though I would worry that I’d hit my head on that stupid door.
Kara: Bad guys? Yikes! I’m one of the least confrontational people ever. First, I’d freak out that I was even faced with bad guys, then I’d probably hide. lol. I’m awful in tense situations.
What fictional character would you like to spend the day with, and what would you do with him/her/it?
Kristin: Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables. We would sit and shell peas and exchange gossip. Then we would dare each other to do something stupid. Which we would do, because we are stubborn.
Kara: Napolean Dynamite! The dumbest things amuse me, and I adore his dry sense of humor. I’d make him quote my favorite lines from his movie, then I’d teach him some new skills because honestly, who needs nunchuck skills nowadays?
What fictional character(s) best describes your personality?
Kristin: Elizabeth Bennet. Not because I’m much like her except for being opinionated and not afraid of confrontation, but because I’d like to be.
Kara: Hmm, this is a tough one. I’m sure I’m going to catch a ton of flack for this, but please bear with me…. I’d say I’m a cross between Rosalie and Alice from Twilight. I’m easy going (like Alice), but determined and know what I want from life (like Rosalie). I can be serious when needed, but I also enjoy life.
You just won an entry into a game show and you may only bring one fictional character with you to beat the clock. What show is it and who would you choose to join you?
Kristin: Jeopardy. And Hermione Granger. I like people who swallow libraries.
Kara: Jeopardy and Sheldon Cooper because he’s a know it all. And if he lost, I could hold my superiority over him. Bwahahaha! Kidding! I’ve seriously always wanted to be on Family Feud though…
You only have two hours to finish edits, what do you grab–coffee, tea, wine, hard liquor, or some fictional drink–to fuel you through the time crunch?
Kristin: Coffee. I like tea, and Coke Zero, but they are just not up to that task.
Kara: Pepsi and chocolate, usually something with caramel in it. I love Rolos! I also put on my Luke Bryan CD and crank it up. That man is the best inspiration in the world. lol.
Who is your biggest supporter of your writing? What fictional character would best describe this person?
Kristin: Day to day, it’s my husband, who reads what I write, admires my brain, and gives me time to do it. I will compare him to Jamie Fraser, because he would be flattered. And because he’s awesome. Minute by minute, it’s my CPs. Together, we are like Scooby Doo and the Gang. Somebody always has an idea.
Kara: Definitely my husband. I mean, he does primarily support the family so I can stay at home with the kids and pursue my dream. I’d say he’s a lot like Captain America (in his role in The Avengers). He’s a good guy, funny when the occasion calls for it, able to step up and get things done, and oftentimes completely clueless about everything related to writing and this industry. Oh, and he loves to be in charge.
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
Kristin: If you’re on the fence about entering Pitch Wars, do it. Even if you don’t get in, you’ll improve your writing and meet other writers in your genre who may just become as valuable and necessary to your continuing function as my CPs are to me.
Kara: This was my first year as a PitchWars mentor, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had. Not only did I manage to help Kristin polish her MS and get an agent, I made so many new friends. I wholeheartedly support this contest and hope to be involved with it for as long as Brenda will let me. lol. Oh, and be sure to go buy Kristin’s book when it hits the shelves. There were some really intense scenes where I wanted to cover my eyes. In fact, I think I made a similar comment to her; that if this were a movie, I’d be covering my eyes right now and peeking through my fingers.
Thank you, Kristin and Kara, for sharing your success story with us. We couldn’t be happier about it around here – CONGRATULATIONS! Everyone, rush off and say hello, celebrate with them, and if you don’t already follow them, you totally should – they’re awesome!
Kristin B. Wright
Kara Leigh Miller