The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we are so happy to have Rosalyn Eves and her Pitch Wars mentor, Virginia Boecker here for a little Q and A. Rosalyn recently signed with Josh Adams of Adams Literary. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview.
Rosalyn, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Virgina?
Looking at the Pitch Wars mentors was a little overwhelming at first–there were so many good options! But Virginia was at the top of my list from the beginning because of her love of YA fantasy, particularly historical fantasy (she has a HF coming out in the spring). Plus, the twitter stalking I did revealed Virginia to be a funny, smart individual who would be a pleasure to work with.
Virginia, what about Rosalyn’s application made you choose her?
Rosalyn is a beautiful writer. The phrasing and choice of words in her first page alone hooked me right away. And I’m a sucker for historical fiction, of course!
Rosalyn, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
I generally like revising–there’s something about seeing my words actually improve that is deeply satisfying. But when I got Virginia’s edit letter (it was several pages long!) I had this moment where I was like: why did she pick my book if this much was wrong with it? Then I read through her comments and realized they were spot-on and I could feel the excitement coming back–if I could pull it off in two months, this was going to make the book so much better. The revision period was a little insane for me–I cut something like 28K from the book and added 25K. I revamped a lot of the timeline, cutting six months from the plot. I think I finished my read-through the second day of Pitch Wars. I’m convinced those revisions made a difference to my getting an agent–the few queries I’d sent prior to Pitch Wars mentioned the pacing as an issue, and the tightening I did for Pitch Wars dramatically improved that. Virginia deserves a lot of credit for motivating me to do that overhaul!
Virginia, tell us about your experience with mentoring Rosalyn. How was mentoring your other team members?
I’ll admit, I was a little nervous sending off my edit letter to her. It was my first time as mentor, so I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe some shouting, perhaps a voodoo doll or two. But Rosalyn’s a professional. She was so courteous and lovely (if there were voodoo dolls, I didn’t know it. :), and better than that, she was enthusiastic. Oftentimes people ‘tinker’ when they revise, and you wind up with more or less the same story you started with. Not Rosalyn. She revises like a pro: she really opened her story up and made it even better than it was. She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. It bodes well for her career!
Rosalyn, after Pitch Wars you signed with Josh Adams of Adams Literary, tell us about “The Call.” How long were you on submission? What did you do to distract yourself? How did Josh contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
I submitted my MS to a contest at the end of July and wound up with two full requests. That motivated me to start querying (though honestly, it was a little early), so I sent out a few queries in August. I had some interest based on the query, but I’d only heard back from one agent when I decided to apply for Pitch Wars. When Pitch Wars happened, I was blown away by the interest in my MS. I sent off those materials, and a few others who’d requested during Pitch Wars (from the earlier queries and another earlier contest) and were waiting for the revision, and settled in for the long haul. When I got the first email just a little over two weeks after Pitch Wars from an agent asking if she could call to talk about representation, I was shocked. I honestly hadn’t expected *anything* to happen so soon–though I was thrilled to see it happening to others in the Pitch Wars group. I talked to the agent, she seemed terrific, so I sent out nudges to all the agents who had my MS (even just to open queries). A few more requests came in–and a bunch of rejections.
Because of the timing, my waiting period fell over Thanksgiving and very little happened for about a week and then everything seemed to happen all at once. I had two calls on the day I was supposed to give the offering agent a decision! Needless to say, that was stressful. Josh was one of the agents I talked to on the last day, though he had emailed me a little earlier to schedule the call. I had met Josh at a conference in the spring and had been impressed with the rapport he had with his clients, so I was thrilled that he liked my manuscript. I’m also friends with one of his clients, and that made a difference in my ultimate decision, because I had a pretty good idea how he worked with his clients and I liked his approach. The decision was really tough, though–I genuinely liked all of the offering agents and could have had a good career with any of them. Afterwards, I think I was honestly so relieved to have the decision behind me that I spent that evening watching something mindless with my husband! I didn’t really get to celebrate until a few days later, when my critique partners and I went out for lunch. (Yeah, I celebrate hard like that).
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
Pitch Wars was an amazing experience all around. Virginia was incredibly helpful in revising my manuscript and later, with giving me advice while I queried and tried to decide which agent to go with. I’m convinced that it was the strength of the Pitch Wars revision that got me offers–I’m pretty sure the pre-Pitch Wars draft wouldn’t have made it this far! Oddly enough, while I had a lot of requests from Pitch Wars, none of those requests turned into offers (though I did have a couple offers to R&R). But the community support has been invaluable: I have LOVED getting to know other Pitch Wars contestants. It’s been so wonderful to have them commiserate with rejections and to celebrate requests and offers. I had no idea when I got in quite how big the impact of Pitch Wars would be. But I don’t think I wouldn’t be celebrating my current success without it.
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)?
Rosalyn: We just watched the first Harry Potter with my kids for the first time, so I’d have to go with Hogwarts.
Virginia: A full immersion program at Beauxbatons so I can learn magic AND improve my French.
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Rosalyn: For confidante, Cassandra from I Capture the Castle. She’s charming and delightful and interesting. For enemy, the Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, because I like my villains swoon-worthy. My fictional idol is Cazaril from Lois Bujold’s Curse of Chalion–he’s smart and strong and has a rare kind of persistence and integrity. And for a kick butt ally, I’d go with Verity from Code Name Verity–she’s strong and brave and loyal (and maybe a little terrifying).
Virginia: Confidante: Gansey from The Raven Boys. You can kiss your confidante, right? Excellent. Enemy: Brody from Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. That guy is scary. Idol: Daisy from How I Live Now. Is there anyone cooler than Daisy? Kick-butt ally: Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass trilogy. She’s awesome.
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Rosalyn: I’ve always wanted to try Turkish delight, though I’ve heard mixed reports on how delightful it actually is.
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
Rosalyn: Wand. I’m afraid I’m too squeamish for anything else!
Virginia: Dagger. Always a dagger.
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
Rosalyn: Chocolate (the darker the better).
Virginia: Pressed juice. Beet/apple/lemon/ginger with a pinch of cayenne is my favorite. I have it almost every day.
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
Rosalyn: Patricia Wrede has long been one of my favorite authors: I love her blend of magic and adventure and interesting worlds. Most of the authors I now look up to weren’t published when I started, way back in elementary school.
Virginia: Phillippa Gregory. To me, no one does historical fiction like she does. There’s something really compelling to me about her viewpoint and the unique way she combines modern language, humor, suspense, and emotion that makes history feel very real and immediate and — even in the case of stories you already know — new.
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
Rosalyn: Just that I’m incredibly grateful for Pitch Wars–for the mentoring, camaraderie, and opportunities! It was a fantastic experience, and I hope I get a chance to pay it forward some day.
Virginia: Pitch Wars was such a fun, rewarding experience and I’m so happy I had a chance to take part. I look forward to mentoring again next year!
Thank you for sharing your success story. We couldn’t be happier about it – CONGRATULATIONS! Everyone, go and say hello and follow them or something …