We’re so excited whenever one of our mentees gets an agent offer or a publishing deal. Celebrating these successes is one of our favorite parts of the Pitch Wars process. We hope you can join us in congratulating Elizabeth Chatsworth and her mentors, Marty Mayberry and Léonie Kelsall. Elizabeth signed with Natalie Grazian of Martin Literary Management. and we couldn’t be happier for her!
Elizabeth was the winner of the scavenger hunt! They didn’t get to choose one another, but worked together brilliantly.
Lee & Marty, what was it about Elizbeth’s THE BRASS QUEEN that hooked you?
Lee: THE BRASS QUEEN starts with an absolute bang (there’s a ‘in-joke’ there) and instantly provided flavor and color, as well as an intriguing question.
Marty: I was hooked on page one. Elizabeth’s writing is very creative and her storyline is so much fun!
Elizabeth, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars?
I received my initial feedback from Marty Mayberry and Léonie Kelsall (Lee) on the first fifty pages of my manuscript. The most comprehensive edit they suggested was to change the point of view from omniscient to third-person limited. I revised the entire novel over the next two weeks before submitting to Marty and Lee for line edits. They returned the manuscript to me promptly for a final polish along with suggestions on how to improve my pitch for the agent round in November. The entire process was straightforward, as the goals I needed to accomplish were clearly stated right from the start.
Marty & Lee, tell us about your experience mentoring Elizabeth.
Lee: Elizabeth was instantly open, communicative and incredibly eager. She actually provided us with her anticipated timeline which, as we were sharing four mentees between the two of us, was helpful with our scheduling. She took on board all of our suggestions, techniques and tips made on the first 100 or so pages, and then applied them to the rest of the manuscript before we did another read.
Marty: Elizabeth was a delight to work with. She’s quick, clever, and she was open to suggestions.
Elizabeth, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Natalie Grazian of Martin Literary Management. . 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.
I emailed my cold query letter to Natalie Grazian on Thursday, February 8th, and received a request for my full manuscript and a synopsis the same day. Within twenty-four hours, Natalie had read my entire novel! After a flurry of emails, we set up a call for Monday, February 12th. This gave me the entire weekend to research the best questions to ask prospective agents while pinching myself to test if this was really happening!
At 8pm EST, Natalie called me. We chatted for approximately forty-five minutes, but I knew early on in the conversation that Natalie was “the one.” She loved THE BRASS QUEEN’s characters, themes, and comedic touches, and suggested edits that could only make the manuscript stronger. I was impressed with her commitment to transparency and open communication, plus she shared my organizational leaning toward spreadsheets, charts, and Google docs!
Close to the end of the call, Natalie said, “I’d like to offer you representation.” It was as if time stopped still, as I heard myself say, “Thank you. Thank you so much!” Although my heart wanted to accept on the spot, I knew there was a protocol to follow with the other agents who were considering my manuscript.
We agreed upon a two-week deadline to allow the other agents a chance to respond to Natalie’s offer. Thanks to my success in Pitch Wars, and the Twitter Pitch contests #SFFPit, and #PitMad, I had an incredible twenty-two full and partial submissions under consideration. I had several lovely conversations with the responding agents, each with a different vision of how to shape the manuscript. Although all were perfectly valid, I felt Natalie’s vision resonated most deeply with me.
On February 27th, I accepted Natalie’s offer of representation, exactly nineteen days after sending her my query letter. On the one hand, it all happened so quickly, on the other, it had taken years of writing, editing, and polishing to create the novel she wanted to represent. I felt jubilant and more than a little stunned that I had found an agent so tuned in to my manuscript. My husband and I celebrated the signing of my agency contract with a night out on the town!
Elizabeth, how do you feel Pitch Wars helped with your success?
I’m beyond grateful to my tireless mentors, Marty and Lee, for their support during the editing process and beyond. The camaraderie of the 2017 Pitch Wars mentee group had been priceless. Pitch Wars allowed me entrance to a wonderful community, honed my editing skills, and provided me with the industry knowledge I needed to be ready when my agent called.
Now for some fun! The following questions are for you both to answer.
If you could live in any fictional world and take everything you love with you, where would you choose to live? What would you do there?
Elizabeth: I would move to Tolkien’s Middle-earth, specifically to Rivendell after the destruction of the One Ring. As the last Eldar leaves for Valinor, I’ll purchase this prime piece of real estate, negotiating for the undoubtedly enchanted library to be included in the sale. With my husband and Yorkshire terrier, Boo, I’d host fabulous parties to entertain the local populace of hobbits, humans, dwarfs and magical creatures, ending each event with wizard-worthy fireworks.
Lee: Narnia….largely because it was a childhood escape, though I suspect it would be rather overpopulated!
Marty: Anything by Robin Hobb. I love her vivid imagination.
Share with us your writing process. Do you write every day, in sprints, early in the morning, in the bath, pen and paper? What works for you?
Elizabeth: I write in one-hour sessions interspersed with a cup of tea and a short playtime with Boo. Taking regular breaks helps me to maintain focus once I return to my computer. I fit in at least one writing session per day, with more at the weekends.
I love my adjustable desk which allows me to sit or stand as I write. A treadmill desk keeps me active when I have books to read or Internet research to conduct. I use the time spent travelling to acting gigs or running errands to brainstorm my WIP, capturing ideas on a digital audio recorder or my phone. To track my writing tasks, I use Trello, an online planning board. My preferred drafting tool is Scrivener, and I use Excel to plot timelines and character arcs.
Lee: I write (or at least stare at the screen) every day, for hours. First couple of MS’s were done in longhand, multiple copies. Then, when the dinosaurs died, I swapped to a PC.
Marty: I’m best in the morning after a cup of tea. But most of my writing is done while walking in the park with a small pad of paper and a pen. I put my notes into my document after.
What or who keeps you motivated, inspired, or is your biggest support to keep writing?
Elizabeth: My husband is my rock. He encourages my creativity, critiques my final drafts, and best of all, laughs at my jokes. Even the bad ones! 😊
Lee: My 14-year old daughter will get writing credit on at least three of my books (2 xYA, 1 WF) as she helped plot them…though she’ll tell you she did ‘everything’ except the actual typing. She listens (or pretends to listen) to all of my whining and tolerates my sulking.
Marty: My awesome CPs. I wouldn’t still be writing without their support and encouragement.
What author would you like to spend the day with, and what would you do with him/her?
Elizabeth: I’d spend the day with Shakespeare to gain his insights into writing and acting. We’d eat breakfast at the Mermaid Tavern before attending rehearsals for his upcoming play. After readying the costumes and sets, we’d enjoy an evening performance of his current hit at The Globe. We’d spend the night carousing in London until dawn breaks across the Thames.
Marty: Stephen King. I’d love to hear more about his writing process.
Lee: Enid Blyton, we’d sit in the Magic Faraway Tree and have high tea with Silky. I’m quite certain we’d converse in plummy 1950’s British accents, and be terribly proper.
You only have two hours to finish edits, where do you go for some quiet time?
Elizabeth: If I could travel anywhere instantly, I’d go to the splendid Library of Trinity College in Dublin. If travel is out of the question, I’d don my noise-cancelling headset and settle down in my home office with a fresh pot of tea and a slice or three of cake (preferably Battenberg).
Marty: the library at our local college
Lee: Surprisingly, I’ve found balancing my laptop on my knee while sitting on the bench seats in the middle of shopping malls, surrounded by a constant flow of people, works really well for me.
Thank you for sharing your success story with us! We wish you all the best in your publishing journey and hope you’ll share your future successes with us. CONGRATULATIONS!
I was born and raised in Sheffield, an industrial city in the north of England. After earning a BA (Hons.) in English Literature and a Masters in Business Management, I decided to follow my heart and pursue a career as a voice actor. I emigrated to the US, where I (barely) survived intensive comedy training with the Upright Citizens Brigade. In 2010, I joined SAG-AFTRA as a professional actor.
My home in Connecticut is shared with my husband and our rambunctious Yorkshire Terrier, Boudicca (Boo). Boo is a registered Pet Partners therapy dog. We visit hospitals, colleges, and retirement homes to bring smiles to patients, students, and staff.
Writing is my passion. I’m a Pitch Wars 2017 alumni with my novel THE BRASS QUEEN. I’m a member of the Women’s National Book Association (NYC Chapter), the Authors Guild, and a PRO member of the RWA(Romance Writers of America).
I love to read all kinds of literature. Please feel free to connect with me on Litsy, a community for readers. My Litsy handle is Elizabeth_Chatsworth.
My other interests include archery, kung fu, horseback riding, cosplay, video games, and baking. I possess the world’s best scone recipe.
Marty Mayberry writes adult and young adult fiction. When she’s not dreaming up ways to mess with her character’s lives, she works as an RN/Clinical Documentation Specialist. She has a BA in International Affairs in German and an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. She lives in New England with her retired Seabee Chief husband, children, and three neurotic cats. She’s a member of SCBWI, YARWA, and a PRO member of RWA.
Her young adult sci-fi thriller, PHOENIX RISING, won the YARWA’s Rosemary Award for speculative fiction in ’15 & her UF won second place in the ’17 NA Rosemary Award.
She’s represented by Jessica Watterson of the Dijkstra Agency.
A Professional Counsellor, Léonie (Lee, because no one can pronounce her name and finding the correct key code to type é is even more difficult!) lives in the wilds of Australia. Okay, not so much the wilds, as in a country town…but it is inhabited by a generous mix of bitey, stingy, poisonous varieties of Australian wildlife, frequently featured on her Twitter feed.
Represented by Amanda Ayers Barnett of Donaghy Literary Agency, Lee evidently likes to have her finger in far too many pies, (though she has yet to pull out a plum) writing historical and contemporary YA, Women’s Fiction, Adult Romantic Suspense and Erotic Romance, and is big on extensive research, including archaeological digs, archery, quad riding and…ah, other stuff that shouldn’t be listed here, given that last genre. Being an Aussie, her spelling can be a bit off. A finalist in the YARWA Rosemary Award ‘17, and a #TeenPit mentor, she swears she duz no how too rite gud, though.
Drop by and say hi (you do actually need to say hi, she doesn’t auto follow!) on only of these SM sites, and she’ll follow back:
Can be found procrastinating on Twitter @leehotline
Or neglecting her blog at leehotline.wixsite.com/
Or having absolutely zero idea what she’s supposed to be doing with the Instagram account her kid set up for her at leoniekelsall.