The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we celebrate Sheena Boekweg and her Pitch Wars mentor, Megan Grimit! Sheena recently signed with Jessica Sinsheimer with Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, and we couldn’t be more thrilled for her. So without further ado, please meet Sheena and Megan as they recap their epically awesome Pitch Wars success story.
Sheena, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Megan?
On Megan’s Mentor post she said she was a romance ninja who was looking for dark, twisty, and weird stories. My novel The Waxling is about a girl made of wax who was created to die, so it’s about as weird as it gets, and I knew it needed help with the romantic progression. It was a no brainer really. And Megan seemed really fun on Twitter.
Megan, what about Sheena’s application made you choose her?
Sheena’s application was actually one of the first ones that made me stop and say, “Wait, WHAT?” and read it again. And then her pages were phenomenal, creepy, interesting, and there was just something so original and spunky about her premise. Plus, once I started talking to her, I knew right away that she was the kind of person I’d love to work with. She’s a wonderful person.
Sheena, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
Megan gave me a nine page long edit letter that was pure gold. We also video chatted once a week, and Megan was always available for questions. On my end, it involved a lot of furious rewriting. Megan suggested some big changes that I fell in love with, but it meant essentially rewriting the entire book in two and a half weeks, and then revising that brand new book until it was agent ready in another two – three weeks. I couldn’t have done it without Megan, and the support of my family, and a buttload of candy.
Megan, tell us about your experience with mentoring Sheena.
Sheena’s the kind of person where I can say “What if we ripped ALL of this to pieces and changed everything?!?” and she says “OKAY! SOUNDS GREAT!” and pulls it off in two weeks. She’s incredibly hard working and when she believes in the changes she executes them flawlessly. We had so many conversations, on the phone, on G-chat, over video, where we just threw around ideas until something clicked, and they were so much fun. Pitch Wars was tough, and the time limit was hard on both of us sometimes, but it was completely worth it in the end. I’m so SO proud of her.
Sheena, after Pitch Wars you signed with Jessica Sinsheimer with Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, 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 Jessica contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
Oh gosh I was so nervous. Jessica emailed me the day before so I didn’t sleep much that night at all and I was wired and anxious and sure it’d be a really personal rejection. It wasn’t. The call was set up for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, so we gave the other agents two weeks to decide. There were eleven other agents who wanted to consider it, and those two weeks were really emotionally taxing. A lot of brilliant screaming around the room highs, and some crushing lows. I didn’t realize that those two weeks after the offer would be so hard, or else I would have just asked for a single week. I read a lot to distract myself. (Wrath of the Dawn, Red Queen, Mosquitoland, Never Always Sometimes, A Court of Thorns and Roses) and I kind of threw myself into Christmas shopping. My kids and my credit card company will be very happy this year. The day of the call itself was pretty great though. My husband took me out for sushi, and I was so overwhelmed and nervous about it all that I kept thinking about everything I still needed to do until my husband grabbed my shoulders and made me stop and appreciate this amazing moment. I cried and I cried such happy tears.
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
Pitch Wars took publishing my book from a distant dream to an actual possibility. Megan was an incredible mentor. She gave so much of herself to us both. The Mentee group on facebook has been awesome. Everyone is so supportive and funny and real. I can say that I would not be signed right now if it wasn’t for Pitch Wars. It taught me so much, and it really fast tracked the process.
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)?
Sheena: I grew up with Harry Potter, so I feel like I did attend Hogwarts along side him, but I would like to go back and do it again, maybe this time as a Hufflepuff. They clearly would be the best roommates.
Megan: I don’t know… probably Hogwarts too? Anywhere that I could get broom flying lessons and then possibly be attacked by a giant tree is probably the perfect mixture of adrenaline and danger to keep things interesting. 😉
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Sheena: Confidante — Egwene from the Wheel of Time. I feel she’d be the one best able to handle the information I’d give to her. Enemy – The Darkling from Shadow and Bone. I’d like to be against him. *Groucho Marx eyebrow wiggle* Idol—Molly Weasley. Most realistic mother ever written. Kick-butt ally—Also Molly Weasley, or if that doesn’t count, Helene from Ember in the Ashes
Megan: Hmm, my confidant would definitely be Jane Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice. She’s the kind of person you know your secrets are safe with. My enemy would probably have to be President Snow, from The Hunger Games, because he’s awful and creepy and heartless, but he also doesn’t have any magical powers or anything, so I feel like my chances of offing him are probably better. Ha! Lets see, my idol would be Puck Connolly from The Scorpio Races, and my kick-butt ally would definitely be Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy. She’d be snarky while kicking butt, which is the best kind of combo.
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Sheena: Well in theory fictional food has zero calories, so all of it. But probably the Turkish Delight from Narnia.
Megan: Ooh, hands down, November cakes. There’s actually a recipe out there for them too, so I really need to get on that…
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc.)
Sheena: four-year-old and high tail it out of there.
Megan: Throwing knives! I got a set for my birthday a few years ago. Now I just have to figure out how to throw them straight and I’ll be sixty-two inches of don’t-mess-with-me.
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
Sheena: Candy, sugar cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles, etc), and Dr. Pepper. Not all together, although I feel like that wouldn’t be a WRONG choice. Per say. My dentist might disagree.
Megan: Gummy bears! I’m obsessed with gummy bears. And Goldfish crackers. And sour straws. Can I just say sugar and cheese and call it good?
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
Sheena: Tamora Pierce.
Megan: The first YA book I ever read was Twilight actually. It introduced me to the genre, and I was hooked after that. And then later I discovered Maggie Stiefvater and I feel like she taught me about the kind of writer I want to be.
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
Sheena: Jessica favorited a tweet during #PitMad, before Pitch Wars, so I’d really like to thank you, Brenda, for all you do to help up and coming writers get discovered. You were instrumental in my story and I really appreciate it.
Megan: I’d like to say one more time how incredibly proud I am of Sheena. She’ll try and tell you all day long that it was me, and I was the influence that got her to where she is, but don’t believe her. I gave her a few suggestions and she took them and made them into something so much more than I could have ever imagined. She deserves all the success in the world, and thanks to Brenda’s amazingly giving mind, and this contest she created, Sheena now has an agent who loves her book as much as I do, and I couldn’t be happier.
Thank you for sharing your success story, Sheena and Megan. 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!
Sheena writes YA because it’s fascinating. she loves the fear, the heartbreak, the decisions, the fakeness, the truth, and the brokenness of being a teenager. She writes YA, because YA books made her who she is and saved her life when she was living in the trenches of fear, heartbreak, decisions, fakeness, truth, and brokenness. She writes YA because she doesn’t want to read or write anything else. She forces herself to read beyond that definition, but always comes home to YA. Her first published novel, Funny Tragic Crazy Magic has sold more than 15,000 digital copies. Her second novel, Alchemy (Cowritten with Melanie Crouse and Sabrina West) made Amazon top 100 Hot New Releases, and was voted #42 (Don’t Panic!) of Indie Authorlands top one hundred Self-Published books worth reading.
Megan loves to write about cannibals, and demon trains, and cute boys stuck in purgatory. She loves to write about love and the things that get in the way of love. She contributes to the YA Misfits. Along with being a young adult Pitch Wars mentor, she’s also the host of the #CpMatch critique partner matchup party on Twitter. She’s represented by Mandy Hubbard at D4EO Literary.