The best part of the contests for us around here is when we hear about successes. Today we celebrate with Kelly Garcia, her mentor Diana Gallagher, and her agent Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management. We couldn’t be more thrilled for her. So without further ado, please meet Kelly, Diana, and Terrie as they tell us about their Pitch Wars success story.
Kelly, tell us about your exciting news.
Yes! I am now agented by the wonderful and gracious Terrie Wolf.
Congratulations, Kelly! Tell us about the book that got you agented.
The project that got me agented is called ACING ATHERTON. It’s a young adult romance about a seventeen-year old computer whiz who uses her hacking talents strictly for legitimate purposes. Most of the time, anyway. When she uncovers a secret about a rich, but very bad boy from her school, she’s tempted to the dark side, only to learn blackmail is harder than a perfect SAT.
Excellent! Where did you get the idea for the story?
I wanted to write something with romance, comedy, and lots of action. Lindy, the main character, is a teenage, female Mr. Robot, put in a situation with Pretty Little Liars drama, and written with a big helping of Monk-like quirk.
Kelly, what were your previous experiences like in the query trenches?
I won’t lie. It’s tough. I’ve heard more than once that being a writer means getting thick skin. Necessary, sure, but not a fun experience until I discovered Pitch Wars.
We love Pitch Wars! Tell us about your experience with Diana.
It was amazing. Diana Gallagher, (Twitter) my mentor, will always be one of the greatest influences in my writing life. She helped me polish my story and my query and continues to be there for me. We were both a little sad when my story didn’t get a ton of attention on the day of the war, but I soon found out that didn’t matter. A lot of good stories were pitched over a relatively short period of time. Many received only one or two requests. Some received none at all. However, at least half the participants have gone on to find agents. The process, getting the stories ready to fly, turned out to be at least as important as the contest. One great perk from participating in Pitch Wars is being a member of a closed online group of past-mentees. This group offers an incredible amount of support and advice.
Diana, what about Kelly’s application made you choose her?
Kelly’s application had several components that caught my eye: a tightly-written query, as well as crisp writing and humor right from the first page. She also noted her writing achievements in her query that displayed her successes without overwhelming the book’s pitch. I could see immediately that she wrote confidently and engagingly.
Diana, tell us about your experience with mentoring Kelly.
Kelly was the perfect blend of confident in her writing yet completely fearless about working hard and digging in deep to overhaul sections of the book. She was extremely responsive to receiving input and also knew her characters intimately, which helped to make the process collaborative. She maintained enthusiasm and a positive attitude throughout revisions and the agent round, which is so vital. She was a blast to work with!
Diana, can you tell us about the revision process you and Kelly used for ACING ATHERTON.
I made Track Change comments throughout the book and wrote up a detailed edit letter where I noted what was working and what could use revisions. Kelly dove straight into the revisions, and due to how fast and efficient she was, we were able to review particular chapters or sections several times before the agent round. Kelly was really open to using my suggestions as a springboard to come up with creative solutions, and the final product was outstanding!
Kelly, tell us about “The Call.” We want to hear all of it!
I was excited, not scared. My agent, Terrie Wolf, has been very involved with Pitch Wars and the writing community. She has the reputation of being the nicest agent out there. So, I expected a warm phone call, from a genuinely kind person, which is exactly what I got.
We’re so happy you were able to find Terrie Wolf as your agent!
Now, some questions for Terrie . . .
Terrie, what made you decide that ACING ATHERTON was the one?
This story made me think and kept me guessing. Just about the time I knew what would happen, it didn’t happen! It’s different than anything I’ve read and it made me ponder deeper issues. I think we might one day compare this work to classics like The Breakfast Club. So smart, so fun, and those characters created by the one and only Kelly Garcia shine like stars. There is nothing typical about this work and I’m so excited to be working with Kelly!
Can you tell us if your list is full? If not, what sort of projects would you like to see?
Thank you for asking. I’m not sure an agent’s list is ever completely full. I always dare authors to thrill me, and I’m so honored when they rise to the call! As you know, coloring books have been a mighty presence in my life for about a year. When I was approached to represent what is now the bestselling independent line of coloring books for adults (Blue Star Coloring), I never knew where that opportunity would lead me. The process has changed the way I view possibilities. At this point, I’m very open to similar projects which offer participants the chance to create, involve, and enjoy. I’m less concerned about the genre of a work and more concerned with its effect. I’m most pleased with works that engage, provoke, excite and illuminate. I truly want to acquire works that remain unforgettable. I will tell you, I am intrigued by the way Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness have affected the quality of submissions. Keep up the great work!
Thank you and CONGRATULATIONS!
K. D. Garcia
K. D. Garcia writes stories about teenagers and believes the lives of young adults are filled with possibilities. She lives in the Chicagoland area with a typically tolerant husband, usually wonderful children, and mostly well-behaved dogs. She is an active member of the Windy City Chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is represented by Terrie Wolf at AKA Literary Management.
She went to college long enough to earn the title doctor, not the type that sees patients, the type that studies things. She is passionate about science, education, reading, writing, and the ability of all people, no matter their background, to bring joy to the lives of others. She believes that good stories come from bad experiences, and the best come when people triumph over adversity.
Though Diana Gallagher be but little, she is fierce. She’s also a gymnastics coach and judge, former collegiate gymnast, and writing professor. Her work has appeared in The Southampton Review, International Gymnast, The Couch Gymnast, and on a candy cigarette box for SmokeLong Quarterly. She holds an MFA from Stony Brook University and is represented by Tina Wexler of ICM Partners. Her contemporary YA novel, Lessons in Falling, lands on 6/21/16.
Terrie’s goal is to utilize more than 25 years of the experience she has gained to further your literary career. Positions in publishing, international media, government, and education have bolstered the groundwork for a solid network of connections in print, television and film.
Encouraged from a young age to seek, to climb, to forge, to discover and recover, Terrie developed an insatiable curiosity that led to positions within the international media and several award winning writing and promotions teams at venues including CBS, NBC, Penguin UK and USA and Hobson’s Press, now known as Cambridge University Press. She has been awarded the Queen’s Service Award (UK), La Voz y Papel (Spain), Emmy, and Young Journalist of the Year (Colorado). Terrie read English Literature at Cambridge, studied Creative Writing at SUNY (University of New York), and Journalism at the University of Colorado at Denver. She is equally proud of the “Master of Mirth” status awarded by Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.