The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we celebrate Kris Hui Lee and her Pitch Wars mentors, Lori Goldstein and Chelsea Bobulski! Kris recently signed with Courtney Miller-Callihan of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates , and we couldn’t be more thrilled for her. So without further ado, please meet Kris, Lori, and Chelsea as they recap their epically awesome Pitch Wars success story.
KRIS, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to LORI & CHELSEA?
I actually didn’t originally sub to Lori and Chelsea, and I honestly have no idea how it wound up in their hands. (How did it, by the way?) But either way, I’m so so so so glad they picked it up because they are THE BEST.
Brenda’s note: Mentors passed manuscripts they loved but weren’t choosing on to mentors who they felt were a better fit during the selection round.
LORI & CHELSEA, what about KRIS ’s application made you choose her?
The first page won us over. It had everything we look for in a manuscript: good writing, humor, and an incredible voice. So much can be played with in revisions, but voice is the thing that is either there or not. With Kris, it was not just there, it hooked us instantly.
KRIS, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
It was insane. I pretty much rewrote the entire MS in one month—which was the most writing I’ve ever done in such a little time. I was writing before class, after class, between classes. Just whenever I had free time, I was writing. (And even when I didn’t have free time…) But it was so worth it. Chelsea and Lori gave me such great feedback, and I think after implementing a lot of what they suggested, my MS is infinitely better because of it. I’m excited to see how much it will change and grow in the coming revisions.
LORI & CHELSEA, tell us about your experience with mentoring KRIS. How was mentoring your other team members?
This was our first time co-mentoring, and it was a great lesson in how this entire business is subjective. While we both loved the manuscript, we each had slightly different notes for Kris on revision. Instead of trying to 100% merge them, we presented her with it all. Hopefully it didn’t overwhelm her! We hoped it had the effect of showing Kris that she is still the writer and the one in charge of her story. Feedback and critiques are important, but ultimately there is a subjective nature to all of this and it’s a good lesson for us all to learn and remember. That said, Kris was open to EVERYTHING and worked so hard so fast. We were immensely impressed and proud of her work ethic.
KRIS, after Pitch Wars you signed with COURTNEY MILLER-CALLIHAN from Greenburger Associates. Tell us about “The Call.”
Courtney was a ninja agent who requested my Pitch Wars post after the agent round. When she wanted to call, I pretty much melted of happiness. Courtney was super nice on the phone, and I could instantly tell that she was really attached to my MS, OUT OF LEFT FIELD. She had great suggestions for how to improve the MS and was very honest about everything. That’s what I really felt I needed—someone who loved my writing, but would be very honest with me.
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
Definitely none of this would have happened without Pitch Wars. Period. THANK YOU, BRENDA!!!!!!!!
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)?
LORI: Hogwarts, hands down!
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Confidante: There’s a character named Chet Duncan in this book called Flipped by Wendelin van Draanen, and he gives such great life advice. I would love to tell him all about my problems and hear what he has to say about them.
Enemy: Probably Big Brother from 1984.
Idol: HARRY POTTER!!!
Ally: I feel like I’d be very good friends with Cath from Fangirl.
LORI: Tyrion would be my confidante. How great would that be? My enemy would be the creepy clown from Stephen King’s IT. My idol is Professor McGonagall. My kick-butt ally is Brienne of Tarth!
CHELSEA: My confidante would be Hermione, and Voldemort will always and forever be my enemy. My idol would probably have to be Atticus Finch, and my kick-butt ally is Yael from WOLF BY WOLF.
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
LORI: Wow, I have no idea! Never thought about this. The only thing I can think of is butterbeer!
CHELSEA: Chocolate frogs.
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
CHELSEA: Introvert tendencies and awkward them to death *cough cough* I mean wand.
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
LORI: Tea in the morning, wine in the evening!
CHELSEA: Matcha green tea
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
KRIS: Wendelin van Draanen. The first series I remember reading and absolutely fangirling over was Sammy Keyes. It’s where I learned how to write voice, which has always been my writing-weapon-of-choice.
LORI: I’ve always written, but mostly in the nonfiction world as a journalist and then I transitioned into editing, which I still do on a freelance basis for manuscripts. I don’t have THAT person who inspired me to turn to fiction. But today, in the YA world, the author whose writing, books, and career inspire me is Rainbow Rowell. I was fortunate to meet her at a festival in Cincinnati this year and I embodied “fangirl.”
CHELSEA: There are really too many to list, but if I had to pick one, J.K. Rowling. I was eight when HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE came out, and getting to grow up with Harry was nothing short of magical. As an adult, I still re-read HP often and marvel at Rowling’s genius.
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
KRIS: I will never be able to properly express how thankful I am for Pitch Wars and for Lori and Chelsea. And I’m rooting for all my fellow mentees and writers out there—keep writing, keep being awesome!
LORI: Writing is hard—before, during, and after publication. I’m enormously grateful and thrilled to be here and the one thing that makes everything worth it are the people I’ve met. The Pitch Wars and YA community owes so much to Brenda Drake beyond “getting agents” (which is a fantastic bonus!). It’s a place to make great and supportive friends who “get it”. Thank you, Brenda and all the mentors and participants!
CHELSEA: Ditto what Lori said! Pitch Wars is such an amazing resource for writers to connect with both agents and the writing community, and it wouldn’t exist if not for Brenda and the tireless work she puts into it every year. So I also want to say a huge THANK YOU to Brenda and all of the mentors and participants for continuing to make Pitch Wars possible.
Thank you for sharing your success story, Kris, Lori, and Chelsea. 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!
Kris Hui Lee
Kris writes mostly contemporary YA, but she’s dabbled in fantasy, dystopian, and various other who-the-hell-knows-what genres. To be honest, she has lots of characters running amok in her head, and she just does what they tell her to do. Basically she’s all about voice and characters. Her favorite thing about writing is discovering a new character and learning what his/her voice is. Usually they’re sarcastic pieces of shit, because she loves, loves, loves writing them. Also, she’s a hopeless romantic. She needs some romance in her stories.
Lori was born into an Italian-Irish family and raised in a small town on the New Jersey shore. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Lehigh University and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before becoming a full-time author. She currently lives and writes outside of Boston. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 21, 2015, sequel, Circle of Jinn, May 17, 2016). You can check out her editorial services here.
Chelsea was born in Columbus, Ohio and raised on Disney movies, classic musicals (Anyone up for a Seven Brides for Seven Brothers sing-along?), and Buckeye pride (which is why you will always find her plopped down in front of a TV on football Saturdays). She graduated from The Ohio State University in 2010 and promptly married her high school sweetheart. As a writer, she has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and obstacles they must overcome for a brighter future. She’s represented by Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc.