Our favorite part of hosting pitch contests around here is hearing about successes. Today we celebrate Jennifer Camiccia and her Pitch Wars mentor Kristin B. Wright! Jennifer recently signed with Stacey Glick of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, LLC, and we’re so over-the-moon excited for her. So please join me in congratulating Jennifer and Kristin as they share with us their awesome Pitch Wars success story.
Jennifer, what was it about Kristin that made you choose to send her a Pitch Wars application?
I researched all the mentors representing YA contemporary, and Kristin definitely moved to the top of my list once I read her favorite books and movies. Since her taste was so similar to mine, I hoped she would connect with my book. And she did!
Kristin, what was it about Jennifer’s BIRDY’S SONG that hooked you?
I read the first chapter of BIRDY’S SONG in a Chipotle, delicious burrito in hand. Her story starts with a terrifying car ride that ends in tragedy, and I was so gripped I forgot to eat my burrito. I don’t remember her query, which is why I always tell people that the query, while important, isn’t as important as pages that hook from the first lines. I could not put it down. She rose to the top five contenders before I left that Chipotle.
Jennifer, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars?
Kristin sent me an extremely detailed letter with suggestions on making my story stronger. I took a day or two to mull it over, and then I went to work. I wrote every day for a month before sending back my manuscript for line edits. It was exhausting but, ultimately, extremely satisfying. My characters were more vivid, the pace quicker, and the ending more dramatic.
Kristin, tell us about your experience mentoring Jennifer.
She was a dream. I sent her a super scary letter that suggested a title change, losing a character or two, changing the ending completely, and a dozen other things that probably made her wish she’d never heard my name, but she took it like a champ. Her writing was so beautiful and assured, and I knew she could do it. And she did. I remember reading her revised ending and actually cheering.
Jennifer, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich. Please, tell us about “The Call.” We love all the details about the offer, how they contacted you, how you responded, celebrations, emotions . . . How long did you have to wait and how did you distract yourself? Anything! We love hearing about all of it.
Stacey sent an email to say how much she was enjoying my book and that she would be in touch soon. Needless to say, I was a tad bit excited (or hysterical, which ever you prefer). About a week later she sent a follow up email to schedule a phone call for after she returned from vacation. I did everything I could to distract myself during an extremely long week. Thank goodness for the 2016 Pitch Wars Facebook group! They were all there for me with equal parts encouragement and commiseration. There were also many dm’s from CP’s and Kristin that kept me grounded. Finally, the day arrived and Stacey called. She told me how much she enjoyed reading my book and…SHE WOULD LIKE TO OFFER REPRESENTATION!! I’m pretty sure I broke my daughter’s ear drums after I hung up. She still can’t hear out of her left ear…
Jennifer, how do you feel Pitch Wars helped with your success?
Having a mentor taught me how to revise a manuscript. My revisions in the past were minor, nothing big picture or structural. Now I have the tools to revise previous and future manuscripts. My writing improved immeasurably, and I gained a community of fellow writers that cheer me on. The people are truly amazing. So many offer their help reading new pages or with queries, or even advice on what questions to ask an agent.
Now for some fun! The following questions are for you both to answer.
If you could live in any fictional world and take everything you love with you, where would you choose to live? What would you do there? And why this world?
Jennifer: Pride and Prejudice. I know, I know… there isn’t plumbing or electricity, but you said I could take everything I love with me, so I’ll bring indoor plumbing to Pemberley – lol. I would learn to play the pianoforte and stroll through the beautiful English countryside with Mr. Darcy. P&P was my favorite novel as a young bookworm. It introduced me to a world I could only envision in my imagination (I was ten when I first read it). I wanted to drink tea in a beautiful dress and walk in a pasture reading a book…sigh. When I first saw the BBC mini-series, I fell in love all over again. Then, of course, the most recent movie (which I might have seen seven times in the movie theatre) and its stunningly gorgeous cinematography where I could, once again, watch Lizzie and Mr. Darcy fall in love.
Kristin: Jen will laugh, because we share an affinity for Anne of Green Gables, but I would live on Prince Edward Island with Anne and Gilbert and their family. I want to sit at quilting circles and gossip, and wander the shores, and make friends with the teller of tales who lives in the lighthouse. No matter how old I get, I still love those books like I did when I first read them at nine.
Somewhere in the (known or unknown) universe, you’re in a high-speed chase and have to escape the bad guys. Who are you running from and what fictional character is your side-kick?
Jennifer: Ever since I watched the television show Firefly, I’ve been terrified of Reavers. And, of course, I would need the whole gang on Serenity to help me evade capture. I would feel completely safe with Mal and his crew by my side.
Kristin: Oh. I’m not good at action. Hmm. Well, in a car chase (oh, wow, I hope I’m in a car because there are few humans I can outrun on foot), I guess I want a pretty amazing car. I’d take the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and I’m fine with running from whoever those bad guys were. They seemed pretty bad.
What do you think is the most fascinating invention from fiction and what book is it from?
Jennifer: I’m not sure this an actual invention, but I’ve always love how the grandfather in The Princess Bride reinvented the bedtime story he read to his grandson. He turned a boring book filled with lists of what Princess Buttercup wore, to a hilarious story his grandson loved.
Kristin: To me, fictional invention = Harry Potter. I love the time turner, but it probably wouldn’t be good for me. I’d use it just like Hermione intended: to get more work done.
Share with us your writing process. Do you write everyday, in sprints, early in the morning, in the bath, pen and paper? What works for you?
Jennifer: I write every day when I’m drafting or revising. When I’m in between projects, I use the time to read voraciously and catch up on whatever I’ve neglected with my marathon writing sessions.
Kristin: I wish I were as disciplined as Jen! I write in spurts whenever I can. A lot of the time that means behind my steering wheel in a soccer field parking lot or staying late at work. I’m drafting now and super busy: I wrote 3000 words on Monday, nothing at all on Tuesday or Wednesday, another 2400 on Thursday, etc. That is my “process.”
You have one day to finish the last pages of your next bestselling novel. What food/drinks do you get and where do you go hide out to meet the deadline?
Jennifer: Pistachios and peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s. I write at home on the dining room table, and I usually beg my husband to take the kids to my in-laws. I can write with noise, but I write much faster when it’s quiet 🙂
Kristin: Coffee. More coffee. If I had a deadline, I’d have to get my husband to take the boys hiking so I could write without The Simpsons on in the background.
What or who keeps you motivated, inspired, or is your biggest support to keep writing?
Jennifer: The writing community is a huge inspiration and encouragement. I love seeing other writers get to live their dream. It’s already happened to several 2016 Pitch Wars mentees. Some are even mentors this year! I also have my CPs that are honest and generous with their critiques.
Kristin: I have a tight writing group of six other writers, who range from unagented to NYT bestsellers. They are all equally talented and way beyond supportive and they remind me every day that to succeed in this business you need talent, persistence, AND luck. Also, see above: husband taking kids hiking.
Please, share any last words you would like to add.
Jennifer: I want to thank Brenda, Heather, Nikki, and all the other writers that donate their time as mentors. I truly appreciate all you do for the writing community.
Kristin: Pitch Wars and its community is an invaluable resource for writers. Everything good that’s ever happened to me and my writing has its roots in Pitch Wars. I got my agent with my own PW book and my writing group from my 2014 class, and then mentoring has expanded that universe in all good ways. Thanks, Brenda.
Thank you for sharing your Pitch Wars Success Story with us! CONGRATULATIONS!
Jennifer Camiccia was born in Southern California in the same town and year, nearly to the day (one day after to be precise) as Gwen Stefani. Coincidence? She thinks not. The first few years of her life were spent in sunny, beautiful Tehran, Iran. She still has faint memories of camels and pistachios.
When she was five years old her family moved to the island of Kauai, Hawaii where she grew up on the North Shore. Thanks to frequent power outages, entertainment often took on the form of her father reading the classics out loud. His favorite: Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. Her favorite: Jane Eyre. A love affair with books was born.
Jennifer cannot imagine a better job than wrangling her daydreams and putting them down on paper. Thanks to the best cheerleaders in the world, her four children and her wonderful husband, she is finally living her dream to write full-time.