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 Linsey Miller and her Pitch Wars mentor Jessie Devine for a Q and A regarding her recent success! Linsey recently signed with Rachel Brooks of L. Perkins Agency. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview.
Linsey, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Jessie?
I knew from the start I wanted to submit to mentors who mentioned wanting diversity. Then, while combing through all of the awesome bios, Jessie immediately stood out. He liked Scott Westerfeld, tough choices, and romance. I started following Jessie on Twitter and by the end of the week was hoping this cool person who liked all the same books I did and had great insights into publishing would like my manuscript. I really believed Jessie would like the concept and know how to help me improve, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. I tried to sleep through announcement night thinking what was coming would come, but woke up to read the list of mentees anyways. Pitch Wars excitement is probably a better pick-me-up than anything else.
Jessie, what about Linsey’s application made you choose her?
She sent me exactly what I asked for: YA fantasy with romance and a queer MC. Also: her voice is brilliant.
Linsey, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
It was great! Jessie sent me his notes within a few days: an edit letter and line edits. What blew me away was that Jessie did get the story and how I wanted to tell it, and he knew how to improve it. I treated revisions like a job and after completing Jessie’s revisions, worked on polishing the manuscript. A few weeks before the contest, Jessie and I worked on getting the pitch and first page ready for agents.
Jessie, tell us about your experience with mentoring Linsey. How was mentoring your other team members?
My mentoring experience was amazing. Linsey and Melody worked so hard, and they had the best attitudes. They were both totally willing and excited to gut the parts of their mss that needed work, and their perseverance impressed me. They’re both great at taking criticism in stride too. I’m not great at sugarcoating things, but they insist they still like me. 😉
Linsey, after Pitch Wars you signed with Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins Agency, tell us about “The Call.” Can you tell us the details about the offer: How long did you have to wait for the offer? What did you do to distract yourself? How did Rachel contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
I got zero requests in the agent round of Pitch Wars. Because I had another manuscript still out, my list of agents to query after the contest was a little slim. The month of November was an odd juggling act of emotions and agent lists. Getting no requests in Pitch Wars is always tough, but always a possibility. I spent November swapping manuscripts with Melody—Jessie’s other mentee whose story is amazing—and building a list of agents I wanted to query once my old manuscript was out of the query trenches.
I didn’t get to use that list.
At the beginning of December, I participated in #PitMad, #PitchMas, and #SFFpit. Two weeks after sending out those requests and two days before I flew home for the holidays, I got “that email.” I spent the day reading every possible blog post and article about “The Call” (Pitch Wars Success Interviews included!), and talked to Rachel the next day.
She answered every question I could possibly ask and was upfront about everything—the revision ideas she had, what working with her would be like, and her thoughts with how to proceed. I remember very clearly, in the midst of everything she said, she mentioned a minor character and what she liked about them. Combined with how enthusiastic and down-to-earth Rachel was, I was ecstatic.
Because it was the end of December, I had two weeks of decisions made more exciting by my lack of internet (bless you, wifi café down the road). Then, at the start of 2015, I was excited to accept Rachel’s offer! I celebrated with some new books and dug back into work the next day.
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
It definitely made me a better writer and critique partner. My drafts are tighter now, my pacing smoother, and I have a better grasp of how to read my partners’ works when we swap. Before Pitch Wars, I knew I needed something to kick my manuscript up to a higher level, and Jessie did that. The only thing as helpful as the revisions is the community. Most of my critique partners and friends I met through Pitch Wars in some way or another.
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)?
Linsey: Hogwarts! Unless Umbridge, Voldemort, and the Carrows are there.
Jessie: I just read RED QUEEN, and I don’t know if this counts as a school, but I want Arven (or someone nicer) to teach me to use my secret Silver powers.
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Linsey: Genya from Shadow and Bone for confidante (she’s spectacular). I’ve always loathed Leck from the Graceling realm. He’d make a formidable enemy. Minerva McGonagall for idol, always. I’d have to claim Daine from the Immortals quartet as an ally. I mean, zombie dinosaur army, anyone?
Confidante: Ingnifex, CRUEL BEAUTY
Enemy: The government, EVERY YA DYSTOPIAN EVER
Idol: Katniss, THE HUNGER GAMES
Kick-butt ally: Tally, UGLIES SERIES
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Linsey: Even though I know it will hurt, a ginger scald from The Lies of Locke Lamora.
Jessie: The November cakes in THE SCORPIO RACES sound delicious.
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
Linsey: Wand! My fighting abilities begin and end at running.
Jessie: Steel fighting fans.
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
Jessie: Coffee. Black.
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
Linsey: The Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce and The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix. I was lucky enough to live near a well-stocked library growing up, and I have read those series a dozen times from childhood to now. They hold a special place in my heart.
Jessie: Scott Westerfeld’s!
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
Linsey: Only that I adore Pitch Wars. I met my critique partners through Pitch Wars 2013, and working with Jessie and Melody helped me grow as a writer and reader. I hope one day I get a chance to give back to the amazing writing community that helped me these last few years. Thank you so much for organizing such a great opportunity!
Jessie: Mentoring was a great experience, and I was really grateful to work with such talented and dedicated writers. Thank you to Brenda for the opportunity, and I’m excited to do this again next year.
Linsey: I’m super proud of you. You’re going to go really far.
Thank you, Linsey and Jessie, for sharing your success story with us. We couldn’t be happier about it around here – CONGRATULATIONS! Everyone, rush off and go celebrate with them, and if you don’t already follow them, you totally should – they’re awesome!