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Pitch Wars Success Stories with Vaishnavi Patel and Her Mentor, Sarah Remy

Thursday, 23 July 2020  |  Posted by Rochelle Karina

Illustration of PItch Wars owl mascot saying "mentee graduate"

We’re back with another Pitch Wars Success Story! Please join us in congratulating Vaishnavi Patel and her mentor, Sarah Remy! Vaishnavi signed with Lucienne Diver at The Knight Agency. We’re so excited for them!

Category: Adult

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Vaishnavi, what’s your favorite tip you learned from your mentor/s?

Create a basic style sheet! At a surface level, it’s helpful for keeping characters and relationships straight. But it’s also helpful for solving deeper problems. For example, I generally under-describe my characters, so putting together a sheet I could refer to for descriptors was game changing for me.

Tell us about the revision process during Pitch Wars.

I did a couple rounds of revisions with Sarah. The first involved big picture edits for pacing, world development, etc. We then did another pass based on those revisions to address some remaining high-level items along with line edits. Sarah also helped me with another round of revisions post-PW based on agent feedback—they were truly amazing!!

Please tell us about The Call. We’d love as many juicy details as you’d like to share (e.g. how they contacted you, how you responded, celebrations, emotions, how long you had to wait, anything you’d like to share)!

I participated in DVpit (thank you, Beth Phelan!!) in mid-April and very quickly after that got an offer from an amazing agent. I had just started querying again, so I sent out nudges and waited. Lucienne emailed me over the weekend to let me know she was reading and loving it, and then reached out a couple days later to schedule a call. We talked later that week—I was so nervous, but she immediately put me at ease. I knew right away that our vision for the story aligned and felt like she really understood my book and what it was trying to say.

After the call, I texted Sarah right away and freaked out some more. Even though I was in the middle of finals, I took a long walk and then played some online pictionary with my siblings to celebrate. I was (and still am) so excited!! I had a few days left in my offer period and talked to two more great agents. But in the end, I knew Lucienne was exactly who I was looking for—passionate about the story, incredible at agenting, and a longtime champion for #OwnVoices story.

How do you feel Pitch Wars helped with your success?

So first of all working with Sarah has been absolutely invaluable for GODFORSAKEN. They know what makes a story tick, and they have passed on so much wisdom and helped me polish this story to a shine. They even helped me with a post-Pitch Wars round of edits. Sarah has also been there for me through every part of the querying process, responding to my texts at all hours whether I’m looking for advice or a pick-me-up or celebration.

The Pitch Wars community and my fellow mentees have also been incredible. The community is so supportive, willing to share their time and knowledge, providing celebration and commiseration whenever it’s needed. My PW friends pushed me to put myself out there and not self-select out of querying certain agents or participating in events like DVpit. I wouldn’t be here without Pitch Wars!

Do you have advice for people thinking about entering Pitch Wars?

If you have a full MS and you think you have the capacity, don’t let fear of rejection stop you! It’ll be an amazing experience if you get in, but you’ll grow so much even if you don’t. The Pitch Wars community is so helpful and giving, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll learn something new and improve your craft in some way. Of course, Pitch Wars can be an intense commitment at times, so keep that in mind. But if you’ve got the time and a completed manuscript, put yourself out there! You might be surprised 🙂

Sarah, tell us about working with your mentee.

Vaishnavi was an amazingly easy mentee, always ready to work hard and always excited about how her manuscript was changing and growing. She handled the ups and downs of the Agent Showcase with grace, and when we realized post—PitchWars that her manuscript needed just a little more work before a second round of queries, she dove right in. Vaishna really didn’t need a ton of guidance—She’s so talented!—and it was enjoyable watching her shape GODFORSAKEN into the manuscript it is today.

We’d love to hear about something amazing your mentee did during Pitch Wars.

Vaishnavi won’t brag about herself, so I will. She tackled the PitchWars experience while in the middle of law school. She had two rounds of finals in the time between becoming a mentee and signing with Lucienne! But she never complained about the amount of extra work. She simply concentrates on finding solutions to whatever problem she encounters, whether it’s a question of tension in her plot line or a question of legislative failure in Mississippi.

How can mentee hopefuls prepare themselves for Pitch Wars?

Just remember publishing is a rollercoaster ride, and some writers are stuck on that rollercoaster longer than others. In my opinion it always works out in the end. If you’re serious about being a published author, you’ll get there eventually. Pitch Wars just helps make the journey a little more enjoyable.

How about some fun questions for Vaishnavi and Sarah.

You only have two hours to finish some edits. Where do you go for quiet time?

Vaishnavi: I write in my apartment! I’d definitely get some hot chocolate from the café across the street and then settle at my desk and get to writing.

Sarah: In the old normal, I’d take my laptop downtown. I love working in a space surrounded by the sounds of the city, by other people going about their day. There’s an energy to a city that keeps my head in the game when I need that extra push. I hope we’re able to get that energy back.

What author would you like to spend the day with? What would you do with them?

Vaishnavi: Wow! There are so many authors I think are absolutely incredible and would love to meet. Right now, I’d definitely lean Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson was such an important series to me as a kid, and Rick Riordan has only gotten better with time—his level of support for OwnVoices authors and commitment to including diverse perspectives in his stories just blows me away. As someone who loves writing about myth, I’d want to just chat with him about how he comes up with his stories and what myths he’s eyeing next.

Sarah: The answer changes daily, but today I think I’d love to spend an afternoon with Seanan McGuire, complimenting her writing and her cats.

What fictional character would you most like to meet? Why?

Vaishnavi: Again, there are so many characters I absolutely adore. But I think I would really enjoy meeting Phryne Fisher (from both the book series and the show). She’s a total badass who’s sharp and funny and does it all with style. I’d like to just bask in her glow and hope a little bit of it rubs off on me.

Sarah: Sherlock Holmes, always and forever. A detective who plays the violin, why not?

If you could only be in one fandom, which would you choose?

Vaishnavi: I don’t know if this is an official fandom, but the Terry Pratchett fandom. I love pretty much all of his books, from the Sam Vimes series, to Going Postal, to anything with DEATH, and of course Good Omens. All his books hold up on reread and never fail to make me laugh out loud. The other Pratchett fans I’ve met are so kind and funny too.

Sarah: See above. 🙂

What inspired you to start writing?

Vaishnavi: I actually can’t remember. I’ve been writing little stories since I was really young, and I just fell in love.

Sarah: In third grade, I wanted Sam and Frodo to go on having adventures together, so I wrote them doing so.

Share with us your writing process (e.g., routines, tools you use, time of day you write, go to inspiration, etc.).

Vaishnavi: Pretty much everything I write now is inspired by Indian myth. I love exploring that aspect of my heritage and then building on it to create something new. It means that I do quite a bit of pre-research before I go into drafting mode. When I’m drafting, I write every day for an hour or more until the draft is complete. I don’t use chapters, so I just write one continuous document and then my first pass of editing involves (in part) adding chapters. It helps me not to have to think about how to start/end chapters because otherwise I get hung up on it. I find that when I go back and review what I’ve written I end up with natural chapter breaks. If there’s a long stretch with no proper stopping point, that’s generally indicative that a part of the story isn’t working. I’m pretty simple in terms of writing tools: it’s just me and Word, and sometimes some chocolate.

Sarah: On good days I write a little bit in the early morning, and more in the afternoon. Probably three hours total, and that doesn’t REALLY get me a lot of words. I write slowly. I’ve learned that’s okay. No matter the time of day I usually have a mug of tea by my hand and an elderly dachshund at my side. I’m a pantser, so I keep only a very general outline and style sheet going. When I get stuck on something I get up and walk away instead of trying to force it. Usually my subconscious comes up with a solution within the next several hours. That sudden lightbulb going off always feels like magic.

About the Team…

Vaishnavi Patel is a law student originally from Chicago. She writes stories, long and short, about Indian myth and its intersections with feminism and decolonization. When she’s not studying or writing, she likes to knit, read, and ice skate.

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Sarah Remy/Alex Hall is a nonbinary, animal-loving, proud gamer Geek. Their work can be found in a variety of cool places, including HarperVoyager, EDGE and forthcoming at NineStar Press.

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