The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today I am so beyond excited to introduce you to RuthAnne Snow and her Pitch Wars mentor Emily Martin for a Q and A regarding her recent success! Jennifer recently signed with Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary. So as to not make this post a novel, we’ll jump right into the interview.
RuthAnne, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Emily?
As silly as it may sound, her website. It is seriously the most fun thing ever! Then when I clicked on her bio, I was immediately like, “We’ll get along.” (Who doesn’t like recycling?!) When I was reading her wishlist (alternating POVs, unreliable narrators, books that can make you laugh and cry), I was like, “She’s perfect!” And then during one of the Twitter Q&A sessions, I asked a question of all the mentors and she was the first person to answer and she was so nice, which just confirmed my initial gut suspicion. So it was a combination of instinct and logic.
Emily, what about RuthAnne’s application made you choose her?
Voice! And conflict! And VOICE!!! Structurally, RuthAnne’s story isn’t an easy one to pitch—it’s told in four alternating points of view, over the course of one night. But right from the query these four girls felt so real to me, and I had such a clear picture of what was at stake for each of them. Her sample pages definitely held up, and I was blown away by the unique (and hilarious) voices she’d crafted for each of her characters. RuthAnne’s writing has that perfect balance of humor and heartbreak and I was immediately smitten with her story.
RuthAnne, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
Emily had the best ideas for my revisions. She sent me notes basically hours after the list went live. The biggest issue was that my story has four alternating points-of-view, and one of the points of view was coming off as really disconnected. The majority of my revision time was rewriting those chapters and trying to make Elin come across as strongly as the other three girls. The only hard part was realizing I was halfway through my revision time and I had only made a dent. Emily sent me an email to see how things were going, and I admitted I felt kind of like a dud because I couldn’t seem to figure out the best way to fix my problem. She was super encouraging and eventually I figured it out. I swear, there’s something about a deadline that just makes you smarter.
Meeting deadlines is something Pitch Wars helps you prepare for when you get signed. They’re beasts. And Emily, tell us about your experience with mentoring RuthAnne. How was mentoring your other team members?
RuthAnne was a dream mentee. Her manuscript was already in great shape, so we were able to focus in on a few key places that needed work. RuthAnne was so receptive to feedback and thoughtful in her approach to revisions, which I really think is the key to success in Pitch Wars. I’ve loved getting to know her better and see her story evolve, and can’t wait for the day I see her book on the shelf!
My team also included Emily Marquart, who was equally wonderful to work with. Both of these ladies are so incredibly talented and hardworking, and it’s been awesome seeing them support each other both during and since the contest.
I love how lasting relationships come out of the contest! So RuthAnne, after Pitch Wars you signed with Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary, tell us about “The Call.” How long did you have to wait to hear from agents? What did you do to distract yourself? How did Maria contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
Maria emailed me a few days before, letting me know that she loved the book and wanted to talk about it, so we set up a time. The call was awesome! I had done a lot of research on what sort of questions I should ask (including bothering Emily about that). Maria had great comments about the book and suggestions for more revisions (it never ends …) that I knew immediately would make the story stronger. And the best part was, I could just tell she was a super chill person and would be really easy to work with.
We’re so thrilled for you RuthAnne. How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
Pitch Wars was amazing. I made a great new friend in Emily who helped take my book to the next level, and is always willing to gchat with me even when we should be working. (Shhh.) I met tons of other writers, all of whom are fantastic people. And it also gave me a lot of confidence, knowing that Emily liked my book enough to pick me as her mentee, so the later rejections in Query Land didn’t sting as badly. I knew my book was good, so the trick became finding the right person for 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)?
RuthAnne: Definitely Hogwarts! It still makes me a little sad that I am too old to go.
Emily: My love of French pastries runs deep, which makes Beauxbatons a tempting choice, but… I have to go with Hogwarts. Always Hogwarts.
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
RuthAnne: I’d want to be friends/allies with Maddie and Julie in CODE NAME VERITY because they’re both badasses and their friendship is perfect.
Emily: I’d love to spend the day with Luna Lovegood. I just want to make her a cup of tea and discuss Nargles at length.
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
RuthAnne: I really want to try that plum stew Katniss and Peeta kept going on about in The Hunger Games.
Emily: I would love to visit the bakery run by the Roux-Lavender women in Leslye Walton’s THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER. The breads! The napoleons! The apple tarts! Omnomnom! (Have I mentioned how much I love French food???)
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
RuthAnne: Am I allowed to say Dany’s dragons from A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE? Because dragons, definitely.
Emily: Throwing knives!
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
RuthAnne: I drink an absurd amount of Diet Coke, but my goal is to stop at some point before my insides calcify. I like Jolly Ranchers because they last so long, and Australian red licorice.
Emily: Tea and hot chocolate and oodles of cereal straight from the box.
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
RuthAnne: Stephen King, hands down. I always loved writing stories, but I always kept them to myself. But I was obsessed with Stephen King in high school and always wanted to be as good as him. When I read ON WRITING, it was like the first time I was like, “Oh gosh, I could really write and let other people read it!”
Emily: In a way, every book I’ve ever read has fed my need to write. That said, the work of YA authors like Jandy Nelson, Melina Marchetta, and Sarah Dessen absolutely inspired me to actually sit down and put pen to paper.
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
RuthAnne: Just that this contest is awesome and Brenda and her team are the best. Everyone who is interested in writing should seriously make it a goal to have a polished manuscript to enter the next time Brenda hosts it.
Emily: Thank you thank you thank you for running this amazing contest! It was so much fun participating as a mentor this year, and such a rewarding experience. You’re the best!!
Thank you for sharing your success story with us. We couldn’t be happier about it around here – CONGRATULATIONS! Everyone, go say hello and follow them because … why wouldn’t you?