The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we celebrate Shari Green and her Pitch Wars mentor Stefanie Wass! Shari recently signed a publishing contract with Pajama Press and her book, ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES, will be published Fall, 2016. We couldn’t be more thrilled for her. So without further ado, please meet Shari and Stefanie as they recap their Pitch Wars success story.
Shari, was this your first PW experience?
Stefanie, what was it about Shari’s application that made you pick her?
Shari’s lovely, lyrical prose, coupled with the beachy, magical themes in her novel instantly made me fall in love.
I am grateful to another mentor, Joy McCullough-Carranza, for passing Shari’s novel to me. She thought we’d be a great fit, and she was right!
Shari, what made you decide to send an application to Stephanie?
I picked Stefanie right away – her wishlist included character-driven, realistic MG with heart, and light magic realism, which all fit my ms so well. But then I did some less-than-subtle twitter stalking and found out she didn’t think she’d be a good match for a verse novel. So, I actually didn’t apply to her! Crazy, I know. One of my other top choices was Joy McCullough, and when Joy read my submission, she thought of Stefanie and passed it on to her. I’m very grateful that Joy connected us, because it turned out Stefanie was the right match all along!
Stefanie, tell us about your experience mentoring Shari.
It was a delight to work with Shari. She was open to revision, punctual with deadlines, and willing to put in the hard work before the agent round.
Shari, tell us about your revision process.
I like revising way better than drafting. But with this book? It was my first verse novel, and I remember thinking, how on earth do I revise my carefully-polished verse without destroying the rhythm, the musicality, the images I worked so hard to create? It felt like baking a cake and painstakingly decorating it, only to have someone say I love it! Now could you add this egg to the batter, please? In reality, though, it wasn’t as bad as all that, lol. After mulling over Stefanie’s great feedback, I dove in, and I got into the groove of revisions. It went pretty smoothly once I got started! (Stefanie went above and beyond, reading the ms multiple times until we were both confident it was ready.)
Stefanie, do you have a standard process or is it more on the spot/intuitive?
The process with a verse novel was a bit different, in that I was able to read the entire manuscript multiple times, offer feedback, and then read it some more!
Honestly, I couldn’t stop reading. Shari’s work started out in great shape, so it was fun to help polish it to a shine.
Shari, what was it like waiting for the agent round?
It was a bit like this:
and a bit like this:
Stefanie, what was it like waiting for the agent round?
For me, it was a bit disappointing. Shari didn’t find an agent. But I also knew that Shari was a fighter. She’d keep writing and submitting and perfecting her craft. Shari’s Pitch Wars manuscript just needed time to find the perfect home.
Shari, after Pitch Wars did you sign with an agent? Tell us about “The Call.” Can you tell us the details about the offer: How long were you on submission? What did you do to distract yourself? How did your agent contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
At this point, my success story deviates from the usual PW success story. I didn’t sign with an agent. In fact, I had no requests during PW. Zero, zilch, nada. This was very sad…for an hour or two. Then I grabbed the proverbial bootstraps and gave ‘em a yank. I queried a publisher directly. They requested the full of my newly-revised manuscript. I sent it. I waited (again with the waiting!). I doubted myself. I doubted my story. I decided to research and query agents again, eventually resulting in three R&Rs but no offers. And then…
I got an offer from the publisher!!! Pajama Press makes absolutely lovely books – I leapt at the chance to work with them! I phoned my husband to share the news, messaged Stefanie, broke out into a happy-dance, and may possibly have shed a tear or two of joy. When I signed the contract, I had a celebratory root beer in honor of my book’s title, ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES.
Stefanie, does being a mentor help you as a writer?
Beta-reading, critiquing, and mentoring are wonderful ways to improve my writing. Plus, I get to meet amazing writer friends!
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)?
Stefanie: For me, it’s a tie between Eaton Academy for Girls from Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt and St. Edith’s Academy from Lee Gjertsen Malone’s The Last Boy At St. Edith’s.
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Confidante: Anne Shirley
Enemy: Dolores Umbridge
Idol: Luna Lovegood
Kick-butt ally: Katniss Everdeen
Confidante: Lily, from Cynthia Lord’s A Handful of Stars. We share a love of dogs, blueberries, and the state of Maine. J
Enemy: In Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s One for the Murphys, there is one character I clearly hate: Dennis, the abusive boyfriend of Carley’s mom.
Idol: Ava, from Kate Messner’s All The Answers. I want her magical pencil!!!
Kick-butt ally: Suzy, from Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish. Suzy has a thing for jellyfish, and let’s just say I am a tad obsessed with sea turtles. I think Suzy and I would get along famously.
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Shari: I’ve tried butterbeer (homemade…it was delicious!), so maybe something magical made by Clare Waverley (from Sarah Addison Allen’s books).
Stefanie: No question about it: Twinkie Pie! (Though some root beer candy would taste good right now.)
Now it’s time to dance!
Thank you for sharing your success story Shari and Stefanie. We couldn’t be happier about it – CONGRATULATIONS! Everyone, rush off and say hello, celebrate with them, and if you don’t already follow them, you totally should – they’re awesome!
Shari Green writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She’s in love with stories and the sea, and can often be found curled up with a good book and a cup of tea, or wandering the beaches near her home on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. In her non-writing life, Shari works as a Licensed Practical Nurse. She’s married to her high-school sweetheart and has four children. Her middle grade novel in verse, ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES, will be published by Pajama Press (Fall 2016).
Stefanie writes contemporary middle grade stories from her home in historic Hudson, Ohio, a town that was part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. When she’s not writing or reading, you can find her walking Cooper, her mini Goldendoodle, swimming laps, or spending time with her husband and two daughters. Follow her blog at Middle Grade Musings.