When our mentees land an agent or a publishing deal, it’s one of the highlights of being part of Pitch Wars. We’re so excited for Kit Grant and her mentors, Rosalyn Eves and Erin Summerill. Kit signed with Josh Adams of Adams Literary after Pitch Wars 2016, and we couldn’t be happier for her! Please, help me in congratulating Emma and Jennie on their Pitch Wars Success!
Rosalyn and Erin, what was it about Kit’s A COURT OF MIRACLES that hooked you?
Rosalyn: I was first drawn to the premise–Jungle Book meets Les Miserables. And then when I started reading, the story was so fast-paced and the world so fascinating that we both agreed we wanted to work with this story. Kit has a very distinctive, spare, lyrical style that I loved.
Erin: Hmm…good question. I don’t think there was one thing exactly, but the overall ring of A Court Of Miracles sounds nice. I’m drawn into any courtly settings.
Kit, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars?
We did 3 rounds of revisions. Two big picture and a line edit. I agreed 100% with their vision for LeBook. We removed a main character, changed the mushy middle, and added new scenes. They also worked on my synopsis, query and pitch. My favourite part of working with them was the hilarious swooning over my MC’s love interest that happened in the track changes comments.
I did get stuck for two weeks on 1st round edits that I agreed with but couldn’t fathom how to implement. I brainstormed, shared with my mentors, tried to write through the issues, had to trash newly written scenes. Finally I cornered my husband (who had never read LeBook) and threw the plot problems at him. As someone completely removed from it all, he was able in 5 minutes to solve my issues. I’ve decided to keep him.
I was finishing line-edits during the agent round which was a SUPER good distraction.
Rosalyn and Erin, tell us about your experience mentoring Kit.
Rosalyn: Erin and I took turns on various rounds. I took Erin’s notes and put together an edit letter of some big picture things we wanted to change, then Erin went through a second time to make comments on the drafts, and I did some final line edits/copy edits. Kit was a great sport about the edits–she took the comments seriously and worked hard to overhaul her story.
Erin: She was lovely to work with because she took our suggestions and gave them consideration instead of shooting our ideas down instantly. I like that she would think about the changes we wanted her to make and she would ask clarifying questions. Mostly I loved how quickly she worked and how dedicated she was to completely rewriting large segments if needed. Kit is one of the hardest workers I know.
Kit, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Josh Adams of Adams Literary. 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.
I sent my queries out the second we got the green light, I was a little frazzled after the agent-round so I didn’t batch query but sent everything to my top agent choices and PW requests in one go. Half an hour later I had full requests. I woke up to an offer call following an overnight read (from a cold-query) from an amazing agent. After nudging all the agents and setting a 10 day deadline for decisions I lived the highly stressful, emotional roller-coaster waiting game. Josh Adams mailed me to say he was excited to read the book but was going to YALLFest so he would take a few days, and to please make no decisions until he’d had a chance to talk to me. He kept me posted on his enthusiasm as he read and set up a call before finishing the book (which scared me to death – what if he finished it and hated it?!). On the call he was so excited about the book and made sure I knew it, it was legit agony not to accepting his offer there and then. But I managed to steel myself and ride it out.
That week was full of talking to; agents, writer clients, foreign sales reps, film people. Online stalking, and endless excel spreadsheets. Digesting agent offer passion and choking on critique laden pases. I was very lucky to have multiple agents offer. That said the emotions run very high and very low, and it is not a week I’d like to experience again. On decision day I called Josh to let him know I’d accepted and felt bone-crushing amounts of relief and exhausted delight. I was so glad it was over and I could throw myself back into what I loved most: working on the book as Josh sent me edits straight away. (I still don’t think its sunk in that Josh Adams is my agent!!)
Kit also got a book deal with Random house and we’re so excited for her!
March 3, 2017 – A COURT OF MIRACLES by Kester “Kit” Grant
Children’s: Young Adult
Kester “Kit” Grant’s A COURT OF MIRACLES, pitched as Les Miserables meets The Jungle Book, in which a young thief finds herself going head-to-head with the nobility as well as the leaders of Paris’s criminal underground to save the life of her sister in the dangerous days following a failed French Revolution, to Melanie Cecka Nolana> at Knopf Children’sa>, in a major deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in Fall 2018, by Josh Adamsa> at Adams Literarya> (NA).
Kit, how do you feel Pitch Wars helped with your success?
I came at writing as a newbie. A COURT OF MIRACLES is my first novel. I learnt so much even in the run up to submission because so many amazing mentors were blogging about editing. I had never heard of crutch & filter words, or how to use adverbs. Even for those that don’t get in, Pitch Wars is an editing master-class.
If I hadn’t gotten a place, I would have queried a sub-par book and probably gotten a lot more passes/rejections. I credit every agent offer I got to the strength of my novel thanks to the deep edits that my mentors put it through. I had a good story, but it needed work. I just sort of wrote intuitively. I wasn’t aware of my MC’s agency or motivations and how they need to burn clearly on every page. And its not a one-off, what I learnt with my mentors has forever changed my writing, I know my next book will be all the better for it! So getting into Pitch Wars was a deep training in revision and working with editors to deadlines, its training for my future writing career, and a testament to any editor considering our books, that we are hardworking, driven, capable and willing.
I also believe the buzz of the Pitch Wars agent round can be a definite XXXX in querying. The agent round is a mini query session where you can gauge whether your query / pitch is working, and building on that momentum if you get an offer. Plenty of agents I spoke to were excited about Pitch Wars even though they didn’t participate in the agent round.
But another gigantic success of Pitch Wars is being suddenly exposed to 140 other writers who are as driven and hardworking as you. CP’s are found, Queries are ripped apart and made 1000% better, you make friends and cheerleaders. You build a support group. That’s priceless.
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?
Kit: Narnia, because the animals talk and I LOVE ANIMALS, also I hear someone’s handing out Turkish Delight… Or the Tardis with the 11th Doctor. Because you could go ANYWHERE at ANYTIME PERIOD.
Rosalyn: This is a hard one! Most of the fictional worlds I love (like Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse) I would not want to live in, because I would not survive long. Maybe Lois Bujold’s Barrayar? Enough futuristic tech to be comfortable, and enough old world politics to be interesting.
Erin: Such a hard question! The problem is most of my favorite books have horrific worlds that I would never want to live in. So to go with a safe answer, I would say the earlier Harry Potter books. I would love to spend a few days at Hogwarts.
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?
Kit: I constantly have dreams like this, usually I have wings and am flying, with mysterious people trying to catch me and pin me down. No idea who is with me, they’re weird dreams.
Rosalyn: I’d be running from some sort of crime ring after accidentally stumbling across incriminating information (no way would it be intentional!). I’d hope to have Veronica Mars with me, because she’d know how to actually save us!
Erin: I’m most likely running from shoe-stealers. I have this recurring nightmare that some villain is trying to pull me down by my ankles to steal my shoes. And of course, I’m trying to fly away. So if that is the dream, then of course my side-kick would have to be the good luck dragon from The Never Ending Story. Remember that 80’s movie? It’s such a classic. Who doesn’t want to be carried away on a fluffy dog-dragon?
What do you think is the most fascinating invention from fiction and what book is it from?
Kit: I have literally no idea so I’m going with the Tardis, hahaha I cheated.
Rosalyn: I’m fascinated by the uterine replicators in Lois Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan books–a device that grows a baby so you don’t have to. (Though I have to admit I’m not sure I’d use it even if that technology was available.)
Erin: Hmmm…the remembrall!!!! I need one in my life badly.
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?
Kit: I don’t have a routine yet! Pitch Wars was a fever-dream of writing all day, sometimes till late at night before various deadlines. When I write I go for it and have to force myself to take breaks every hour or so to stretch. I can easily write for 4-8 hours a day because that’s what I needed to do to have the book ready in time. I’m hoping to build a nice writing routine now, with time allocated for reading and other tasks as well.
Rosalyn: I try to write every day, in the afternoons when my youngest is in preschool or at night when he’s in bed. My schedule has pretty much always been dictated by when my kids are otherwise occupied! Someday I hope to have a better schedule.
Erin: I write in random spurts. I’ll spend two weeks binge reading books from my to-read list and then I’ll write everyday for 8 hours a day for a week. I do all my writing on my laptop that goes everywhere with me. Sometimes I write in the van while waiting for my kids. Sometimes I write at the library. Sometimes I just sit on my bed and write.
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?
Kit: Helmut Newcake in Paris. Gluten free French patisseries… their salted butter caramel religeuses are TO DIE FOR. Second place goes to Carluccio’s in London for their gluten free tiramisu and third to any supermarket in FL, USA for Udi’s gf cinnamon rolls to be followed by SMACKS sweet potato fries which I sneak into Starbucks with a refillable chai tea latte
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Rosalyn: I’d go hide out at my friend’s cabin, where we had one of my favorite writing retreats. Too far away for internet access, but close enough to get home in case of an emergency. I think I’d pretty much subsist off of chocolate and cereal because I wouldn’t have time to cook.
Erin: Hot tamales. Coke Zero. The corner nook of my public library.
What or who keeps you motivated, inspired, or is your biggest support to keep writing?
Kit: I’m pretty motivated and goal driven in my character. Once I have a goal in mind, I’m calculating the work it will take, the hours, the chances of success, and even if the shot is slim I tend to still take it. Pitch Wars brought the best of that out in me. My goal was to finish my book before submission deadline – then to edit it before the agent round – then to query effectively… I might otherwise has languished for months writing the book in dribs and drabs.
My best support is 100% my husband. Who has put up with endless book conversations, supported my late-night writing binges, read and been a sounding board. He is the delight of my eyes and I couldn’t have done it without him.
Rosalyn: I’m very goal-oriented, so I do pretty well pushing myself. But there are lots of days where I lack faith in myself, and my writer’s group has been wonderful for encouraging me to keep reaching for my goals (and my other writing communities too–I’m still close to my Pitch Wars ’14 group). My husband is a great support to–he loves me and wants me to succeed, but he’d love me whether I was writing or not. 🙂
Erin: I have a handful of writing partners that I love for their support. I check in with them often. Then I also like to compete against myself. I keep track of how much I write each day and try to beat it the next day.
Please, share any last words you would like to add.
Rosalyn: Persistence. 🙂 I feel like it’s true for writing and politics right now.
Thank you for sharing your success story with us. We wish you all the best in your publishing journey! CONGRATULATIONS!
Kit Grant – Mentee
Kester Grant is a British-Mauritian writer of color, and author of A Court of Miracles (Fall 2018, Knopf, Random House). Her debut novel, a Young Adult reimagining of the Jungle Book and Les Miserables, is the first of a trilogy. She was born in London, grew up between the UK, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the tropical island paradise of Mauritius. As a wanton nomad she and her husband are unsure which country they currently reside in but they can generally be found surrounded by their fiendish pack of cats and dogs.
Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah, where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle.
She has a PhD in English from Penn State, which means she also endeavors to inspire college students with a love for the English language. Sometimes it even works.
Rosalyn is represented by Josh Adams of Adams literary.
Her first novel, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, first in a YA historical fantasy trilogy, debuts Spring 2017 from Knopf/Random House.
After completing a B.A. in English, I had aspirations to knock out the next great American novel. Mom always taught me to dream big. Well writing proved tougher than I first thought. Tougher than chewing on a two-year-old gummi-worm that’s been hiding under a car seat. Plans changed. I didn’t write the next great American novel. No, I grabbed a Nikon and became a professional wedding photographer. During the day I posed brides and in the evenings I put scenes into action. Word by word. Manuscript by manuscript. I kept on writing.
The scenic detour of photography took me across the United States and even over to Australia and New Zealand, where I picked up world-building inspiration. After seven years, eight failed manuscripts, and a life-altering kidney donation experience, I finally had the vision to draft my debut young adult fantasy, EVER THE HUNTED.
When I’m not writing or shooting, I’m chasing my 4 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 4 chickens around the state of Utah. This is probably why I’m seriously addicted to Coke Zero and Hot Tamales.