The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we celebrate Judy Roberts and her Pitch Wars mentor Kate J. Foster! Judy signed with Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger. We couldn’t be more thrilled for her. So without further ado, please meet Judy and Kate as they recap their Pitch Wars success story.
Judy, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Kate?
I learned about Pitch Wars only three days before the entry deadline. I knew it was exactly what I needed, so I dropped everything and spent hours learning about the middle grade mentors. I made lists with stars and checkmarks, crossing off anyone with the slightest reason to reject my manuscript. Kate’s name stayed. She had a great bio filled with enthusiasm and her own list that ranged something like- “I’ll take a look” to “grabby hands.” I found three things on the list that fit with Delayed. Her book blurb on Amazon didn’t hurt either!
Kate, what about Judy’s application made you choose her?
Quite honestly, it was the only book I couldn’t stop reading, and actually sat up into the early hours desperate to get to the end. It had everything I love in mid-grade fiction; edge of my seat thrills, a colourful cast of characters and a dark and dangerous layer that ramped up my intrigue. I also knew immediately how, by working together, Judy and I could make it so much better.
Judy, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars.
I didn’t consider the fact that Kate and I are in very different time zones, so she had to wait something like ten hours for me to respond to her email saying she’d chosen to mentor me. When she sent me the first revision notes, I was thrilled because she completely understood my characters. I responded with my ideas and we agreed I should revise before she did the first line edits. After that I think she read it three more times. All of her suggestions were spot-on. She’s a rock star!
Kate, tell us about your experience with mentoring Judy.
When I first chose Judy’s entry and emailed her the good news (obviously after the announcement), I didn’t hear anything back for over a day! I remember panicking to the other mentors that maybe she’d changed her mind and didn’t want to be mentored by me after all! But thankfully Judy contacted me full of excitement and off we went. We brainstormed a few ideas, and then Judy just got straight to work, no messing around. She took on board all of my suggestions, and even if some didn’t work for her, she understood what I was trying to say in terms of how to lift her book to a new level. She was a pleasure to work with and wasn’t afraid of either edit I returned to her.
Judy, after Pitch Wars you signed with Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, tell us about “The Call.” Can you tell us the details about the offer: How long were you on submission? What did you do to distract yourself? How did Sara contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
I only got one request during Pitch Wars, but I was so excited about the changes to my manuscript that I wasn’t very disappointed. I started querying right away, so I was on submission for about five and a half months. I worked on a new book to keep myself busy. (It’s the only way, right?)
Sara’s email came only three weeks after she requested the full, so I was sure it would be a rejection. Instead, she actually said “I loved this story—didn’t put it down!” I made my son read it to prove it was real. 😉 I was so nervous before the call that I couldn’t sit still or eat. On the upside, my house was super-clean that day and handled the elliptical like an athlete! Sara was great on the phone. She answered all of my questions (which I was reading from a list because my mind went completely blank when the phone rang). I tried to be professional but my mind was just screaming “OMG you’re talking to Sara Crowe!” the whole time.
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
Pitch Wars is an incredible opportunity. Kate showed me exactly what my novel was missing and how to make it great. She’s been a wonderful cheerleader and advisor the entire time, even helping me with the query process all the way up to the call. It’s so much more than a contest.
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)?
Judy: Gallagher Academy: A spy school for girls? Yes, please!
Kate: Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches.
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Judy: Ally: Johanna Mason from Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire- She’s a little rough around the edges, but you know when she’s got your back.
Idol: Dicey Tillerman from Cynthia Voight’s Homecoming- She’s just awesome. You totally get it if you’ve read it.
Confidante: I’d have to go with Cinderella’s fairy godmother. She could handle pretty much anything 😉
Enemy: Annie Wilkes from Stephen King’s Misery- That lady has her own special kind of crazy!
Kate: Confidante: The Giver / Enemy: Shere Khan / Idol: Aslan / Kick-butt ally: Four (and obviously he would look EXACTLY like Theo James)
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Judy: If there’s to be fictional food, I’ll have to invent it. I want something that tastes like cheesecake but has the nutrition of broccoli!
Kate: White Witch’s Turkish Delight!
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
Judy: Whatever kind of sword Michonne carries in The Walking Dead.
Kate: Invisibility cloak
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
Kate: Biscuits. Any variety.
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
Judy: Definitely the greats like Beverly Cleary and Cynthia Voight. As a teenager I read a lot of horror like Stephen King and Dean Koontz which I think is good for learning suspense.
Kate: Enid Blyton originally, and later on Liz Jensen.
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
Judy: I’d definitely like to give an enormous thank you to Brenda Drake and to Kate and the other mentors who make this contest possible. It’s a wonderful opportunity for unpublished authors!
Kate: Erm…I love Pitch Wars.
Thank you for sharing your success story. We couldn’t be happier about it – CONGRATULATIONS!
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Growing up, I was the girl who was always reading. I had a book on the bus, in the lunchroom, in all of my classes, in the gym, and yes, on the playground too. Sometimes you really HAVE to know what happens next. Writing was the natural progression for me. I hope I can give other kids the happiness I’ve always found in books.
Kate J. Foster
I write books. I can’t help it. And actually, I rather love it.
It hasn’t been easy getting my books from brain to bookshelf, but I like to win, so I have worked hard and persevered.
I live on the Gold Coast in Australia, but originally I’m from a small village in Kent, England.
I have a husband, three sons, and a spoodle.
I read LOTS. My favourite authors are Enid Blyton and Jez Alborough.
As a kid, I rode horses, did gymnastics, and I wrote.
As a teenager, I slept a lot, and I wrote.
As a grown up, I look after my family, help other authors write their books, and I write.
I’m pretty good at Mario Kart and Lego games, and I like playing soccer with my sons.
I like photographing beautiful views and eating, particularly cakes, and often both at the same time.