The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we celebrate Sarah Grimm and her Pitch Wars mentor, Molly Lee! Sarah recently signed with Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency, and we couldn’t be more thrilled for her. So without further ado, please meet Sarah and Molly as they recap their awesome Pitch Wars success story.
Sarah, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Molly?
She seemed awesome! Her bio was so open and friendly, yet she also made sure to state that she would be no-nonsense when it came to edits. I wanted someone who was going to tell me what was working in my novel, but also the parts that really needed to be fixed/cut/changed. When it comes to my writing, I like to be encouraged and pushed. Also, her taste in books seemed to be similar to mine and what I write, so I thought she might actually like my stuff. Plus, she loves dogs.
Molly, what about Sarah’s application made you choose her for your team?
Sarah’s concept was super compelling and her pitch showcased the stakes and characters well. Her opening pages hooked me instantly and the two main characters had great, unique voices. Also, one of the characters had a physical disability, which I believe is a voice/pov which needs more shelf-space in the market.
Sarah, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
After I got my edits back I didn’t have as much to be nervous about as I thought I might. Molly had this great ability to tell me when things were not working or believable in a nice way. She had a great eye for the overall flow of my story, and her critiques were spot on. That said, I worked my butt off.
Molly, tell us about your experience with mentoring Sarah. How was mentoring your other team members?
Mentoring Sarah was an awesome and fast experience! We actually had to get things done in a very short amount of time because I asked her on board very late in the game. She stepped up to the plate and knocked revisions out of the park! She was super easy to work with and it was really fun brainstorming with her!
And mentoring my other team members was a blast as well! With Sarah’s news, TeamLee actually had a full success rate! Both other team members went on to sign deals! It was a great year and there were a ton amazing stories to choose from. I got wicked lucky that so many talented authors wanted to work with me 🙂
Sarah, after Pitch Wars you signed with Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency, tell us about “The Call.” How long were you on submission? What did you do to distract yourself? How did Julie contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
Yes! Julie set up an appointment to call me and I sat at my dining room table holding my phone 10 min early like a freaking nervous wreck. But I really had nothing to be nervous about. She was very friendly—a real person, you know?—and she knew exactly what she liked about my writing, which was great to hear. I recommend having a list of questions ready for the agent. That really helped me.
After Pitch Wars, I was on submission for about 9 months. I could have had a baby, but I chose to start writing a new project and edit two older projects. The older one actually got picked up by a publisher!
Celebrating included going to Red Robin with the family because bottomless fries and deciding to go to another conference to continue bettering my craft.
Also I cried and squeed—a whole spectrum of emotions on repeat like a crazy GIF.
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
Pitch Wars helped me on so many levels. I was actually Molly’s alternate’s alternate because her original alternate got a publishing deal. So at first, I didn’t get picked but Molly gave me an awesome and encouraging rejection. So that kind of encouragement was something I needed. Once I entered the game, I got help with my pitch, query, and novel. That right there is priceless. I will never stop being grateful to Molly for her dedication and insight.
I also received ongoing encouragement and help not only from Molly but also from all of the other mentees and alternates. It’s like entering a community of other people who know and understand the struggles of being a writer. Some go through the whole getting an agent and publishing contract before you and give you advice (like what questions to ask potential agents). Some go through the process after you and you get a chance to pay it forward. It’s a wonderful, ongoing help.
I didn’t get any requests on the day our queries and first 250 words were posted. I wasn’t even first or second pick by my mentor. But I took what I learned about editing and story structure and voice and applied it. Pitch Wars took my learning curve to next level so much faster than if I was on my own. I am eternally grateful for the chance Molly took on me and my novel and to Brenda who takes her time to give authors this awesome opportunity.
Now for some fun! The following questions are for you both to answer:
You’re outnumbered by the bad guys, what mode of escape would you take? (ie a Tardis, a flying car, a flying carpet, something from your favorite food, etc.)? And why?
Molly: Millennium Falcon always and forever! One, it’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. Two, have you seen Han? I’m a Solo girl, then, now, and forever 🙂
What fictional character would you like to spend the day with, and what would you do with him/her/it?
Sarah: I’m going to venture into another love of mine: comics. I would spend the day with Dick Grayson. He’s a superhero with no superpowers. If I want to make it in that field, I want to learn from the man who filled the shoes of Robin, Nightwing, and Batman. I’d get all the Martial Arts tips he wants to show me, share some quips, and learn detective 101. I see no downside.
Molly: This is SUCH a hard question! Can’t I have a bus full of characters to go on a field trip with? No? Okay…Professor Snape. We’d discuss duality, love that never fades, and how crazy our friends are 🙂
What fictional character(s) best describes your personality?
Sarah: I remember really connecting to Grace from Wolves of Mercy falls by Maggie Stiefvater and Jon Snow from Game of Thrones.
Molly: Another tough one! I’d say Maggie from The Walking Dead (show, since I haven’t read the comics) because she’s a badass who has an extreme love for her husband and family…not that I’m a badass…lol…but I’d do anything for my family and friends.
You just won an entry into a game show and you may only bring one fictional character with you to beat the clock. What show is it and who would you choose to join you?
Sarah: Probably Ender Wiggin because there’s nothing he can’t beat. Then we can take on anything.
Molly: Oh this one is easier. Jagger Bateman from Rebecca Yarros’ Flight & Glory series. He’s not only fun to look at! He basically has a photographic memory 🙂 We’ll take door number one and the brand new Harley, thanks!
You only have two hours to finish edits, what do you grab–coffee, tea, wine, hard liquor, or some fictional drink–to fuel you through the time crunch?
Sarah: Chai–hot or frozen, depending on the season. Preferably from Bigby Coffee.
Reality = Wine
Fantasy = Felix Felicis
Who is your biggest supporter of your writing? What fictional character would best describe this person?
Sarah: I have a fellowship: My husband–the loyal friend who would go this journey with me to the end(Strider). My dad–the one who reminded me that I wanted to be a writer and to go for it (Gandalf). My mom–the one who seems to know my characters as well as I do (Galadriel). And my sister–the friend who keeps it real, tells me what’s awesome and what isn’t, and who eats bacon with me (Samwise).
Molly: My husband is absolutely my biggest supporter (though I do have an amazing group of friends who help me more than they’ll ever know) He takes care of the babies so I can spend time with the voices in my head, buys dinner when I’m too exhausted to cook, and brings home wine when I get stuck in a plot-hole. He’s got Will Herondale’s confidence, sense of loyalty, and huge heart…and he also makes me swoon 🙂
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
Sarah: Yes! Not only did I get an agent by querying my Pitch Wars entry, I also got a three-book deal for my YA fantasy series, Children of the Blood Moon. The first book Scarlet Moon comes out October 2016! Don’t look for Sarah Grimm, though. My pen name is S.D. Grimm.
Molly: I’d like to thank Sarah for choosing me out of all the amazing mentors she could’ve pitched! I also want to give a huge shout out to you, Brenda, for all the incredible work you do to make this contest and community so welcoming and supportive! Also to all the other mentors who give their time to help…this group of writers inspires me every day and I’m beyond grateful to be part of it!
Thank you for sharing your success story. We couldn’t be happier about it – CONGRATULATIONS!
S. D. Grimm
Writer at heart, dreamer to the core.
I started writing when I was in elementary school. I wrote short stories about a girl with dozens of pets who could talk to animals. By the time I got to middle school, I couldn’t stop writing. I wrote about portals and magic objects, super powers and animals who could talk–yeah, I have a thing for talking animals.
I’m still writing about those things. I guess I just never forgot how to dream.
Molly Lee is an author, editor, and mentor best known from Pitch Wars, a program that connects promising writers to established authors in the community. She writes NA contemporary and YA urban fantasy with strong heroines who are unafraid to challenge their male counterparts, yet still vulnerable enough to have love sneak up on them. Throw in high-octane action or any kind of supernatural element and she’ll be hooked. A military spouse with two children and one stubborn english bulldog, Molly enjoys watching storms from the back porch of her Midwest home and digging for treasures at local antique shops.
Molly’s recent release Edge of Chaos is out now! Find it HERE on Amazon.