The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we celebrate Becky Dean and her Pitch Wars mentor Marty Mayberry! Becky recently signed signed with literary agent Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary. We couldn’t be more thrilled for her. So without further ado, please join Becky and Marty as they recap their Pitch Wars success story.
Becky, how did your Pitch Wars application end up with Marty? Did you send it to her or was it passed on to her by another mentor? What was your response when you found out Marty would mentor you?
To my great embarrassment, I didn’t submit to her! Another kind, helpful mentor passed it on. There were so many great choices for mentors, I had trouble narrowing down my selections. I had considered Marty because she said she liked books in exotic settings, but I convinced myself that England wasn’t exotic enough and she wouldn’t pick me! I was so happy to be wrong. There may or may not have been gleeful jumping around a hotel room when I saw my name next to hers.
Marty, what about Becky’s application made you choose her?
Because I absolutely loved her story. Her voice is fun, and her writing is beautiful. I was really blown away by CHASING CHAUCER. I also looked for a manuscript I thought I could help. While Becky’s MS didn’t actually need lots of work, I got excited when I could see places I could help enhance.
Becky, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
I know it was stressful and intense for a lot of people, but I actually had a lot of fun. Marty helped me see areas for improvement in my book, and then helped me brainstorm ways to address them in a way that felt right to me and natural to the story I wanted to tell. It was a busy two months, but not overwhelming. And I found it exciting, because all the changes I made improved my book so when we were finished, I loved it even more.
Marty, tell us about your experience with mentoring Becky.
Becky was a pleasure to work with! I felt like we were a team working through her MS to make even better.
Becky, after Pitch Wars you signed with Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary, 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 Christine contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
My phone rang late on a Monday evening, but it was bedtime and I didn’t recognize the number so I didn’t answer. The next morning I had an email from Christine saying she’d tried to call and asking to set up a conversation. We talked the same day. I was a little nervous, but I had my list of questions ready. It turned out, though, that Christine is amazing and answered almost all of them without me even having to ask!
I queried some before Pitch Wars, and during that time I distracted myself by writing a new book. After Pitch Wars, though, I needed a short break so I recharged by catching up on reading!
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
Before Pitch Wars, I already loved my book and felt it was the best one I’d written, but Pitch Wars made me much more confident with it. I had sent a good number of queries before Pitch Wars, and gotten requests but no offers. But after polishing up my book, and especially after improving the opening chapters, I felt good about querying widely and not stopping until I either got an agent or ran out of people to query. I’m also so thankful for the community I’ve found, both with Marty and with the other mentees. Their support has been incredibly helpful when I have questions or just need someone who knows what the writer’s life is like!
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)?
Becky: Any of them! But if I had to pick, probably Hogwarts.
Marty: Yeah, Hogwarts for me, too!
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Confidante: Sam Gamgee
Enemy: The White Witch in Narnia
Ally: Vin from the Mistborn trilogy
Confidante: Jack Skellington, because he’d keep me on my toes
Enemy: Scar from Lion King, enough said.
Idol: Hermione Granger. Who wouldn’t admire Hermione?
Kick-butt ally: Daniel Craig, because he’s the coolest Bond.
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Becky: Anything from Honeydukes
Marty: Custard-filled Pastry Horns (from Daughter of Smoke & Bone)
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
Marty: Hey, that’s my crossbow!
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
Becky: Iced tea, especially if it’s flavored. Or iced chai lattes.
Marty: French vanilla iced coffee
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
Becky: Honestly, I can’t think of one, single writer. I read a ton as a child, and I started writing stories in elementary school. Maybe the Trixie Belden stories , because as a kid I mostly wrote mysteries. But I’ve wanted to write for so long, I can’t point to one influence!
Marty: C.S. Lewis
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
Becky: Nitwit. Blubber. Oddment. Tweak. Oh, real words. A huge thanks to Brenda for all she does to support authors!
Marty: Thank you so much, Brenda! I can’t wait for PitchWars 2016!
Thank you for sharing your success story, Becky and Marty. 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!
Becky is a writer of young adult novels currently pursuing publication. She loves stories of characters on epic quests or grand adventures, tales of good and evil and regular people doing heroic deeds. Many of her stories involve elements of the weird or out-of-the-ordinary, because space travel, dragons, mysteries, and magic are just plain fun. She believes stories can transport us, change us, and make us smile. She writes stories about journeys, both physical and internal.
Marty 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 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 2015 YARWA’s Rosemary Award for speculative fiction. She’s represented by Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency: http://dijkstraagency.com/