We’re back with another Pitch Wars Success Story! Please join us in congratulating E.E. Adams and her mentors, Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie! Erin signed with Kerry D’Agostino at Curtis Brown Ltd., and we’re so excited for her!
About the Team…
I’m an NYC based writer and performer. (I’ve been on TV a few times, most recently I was on “Succession” for like two seconds.) Most of my writing experience is in Playwriting. My plays have been performed and developed with New Light Theatre Project, Second Thought Theatre, Fresh Ground Pepper, AMiOS, Brown University and the University of San Diego. I’m still that kid who checks out no less than five library books at a time. My written work often lives in the worlds of myth, tales of fantasy, horror and science fiction. I’m currently pursuing my M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing at N.Y.U.
Sonia is the author of The Lost Girls, Not Your #Lovestory, and Have a Little Faith in Me (Page Street), which received a starred review in BookPage and earned nominations for the Georgia Peach Book Award, YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, and ALA’s Rise: A Feminist Book Project List. She’s also the author of an adult romcom, Heartbreak for Hire (Gallery). When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys playing board games with her family, attempting to keep her garden alive, or looking up craft projects she’ll never get around to completing on Pinterest. She’s a member of SCBWI and was the Managing Director for Pitch Wars 2020. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two daughters.
Annette is a Canadian-American hybrid with a BFA in Theatre and a history of very odd jobs. She’s had articles published in various online magazines, including HelloGiggles and The Guardian. The back of her head is featured prominently in the film Mean Girls. She currently resides in Alberta with her husband and two children. Her Audible Originals YA novel, LOVE LESSONS (which she also narrated), is available now. Her Adult debut novel, THE REHEARSALS, will be published July 2021 through Little, Brown (US) and Hodder & Stoughton (UK).
Genre: Upmarket Thriller
Erin, what’s your favorite tip you learned from your mentors?
My favorite tip I learned from my mentors was to take revisions one step at a time. I know it sounds simple, but it really makes a difference. Focusing on one thing in each pass of a chapter really helped me dig in. Also, I found it easier to focus because breaking things apart meant that I wasn’t overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to do!
Tell us about the revision process during Pitch Wars.
I really enjoyed the Pitch Wars revision process. I got my first ever edit letter and was a little overwhelmed. I read it immediately and then let it sit in my inbox for a day. The next day I printed it out and went over each of the points of revision. Gradually, I built a revision spreadsheet of everything I had to accomplish. Then I dug in! The draft I submitted to Pitch Wars was underwritten. Most of Sonia and Annette’s notes were “MORE!” so, I really took my time to insert more character backstory, development, world building and plot in my first revision. I did come up against a few difficult moments where I would get stuck. Sonia and Annette were there to help every time as brainstorming buddies or cheerleaders, they were great. I never had writing partners like that before and it was so so helpful in staying motivated and meeting my goals.
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 got an offer pretty quickly, so I was in that “everyone has two-weeks to read” window the right after showcase. Kerry was one of the agents I queried who did not attend the showcase. I nudged her and she requested my full manuscript. When she followed up a few days later for a phone call I was ecstatic. Also, at that point, I was feeling a ton of emotions because my Pitch Wars experience really compressed the querying process for me. Talking to Kerry on the phone, she really took her time to get to know me as a person and as a writer. Her vision for JACKAL was spot on. She was totally onboard with my ideas for my next book and the path I have in mind for my writing career in the future. At the end of my two week reading period, my conversation with Kerry still really stood out to me. It was so so excited to tell her that I was going to accept her offer! It all really came down to the fact that she’s someone who I’m really excited to work with and who’s vision of my work aligns with mine.
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped with your success?
My revision would not have been what it was without the Pitch Wars process. My mentors helped me so much with the revision itself. I truly could not have done it with out them. My Pitch Wars classmates were great. Knowing that there would always been someone to do writing sprints with was crucial for me. There were many times where I came in for just one sprint and ended up staying for many more. Having a community of other writers going through the same process has been invaluable. I came into this knowing nothing about publishing and now I feel like the curtain has been pulled back and I have more confidence moving forward.
Do you have advice for people thinking about entering Pitch Wars?
Something I do for every project is write a letter to it before I start. It’s a love letter to the project itself. That way when things get tough and I want to give up, the letter reminds me why I need to tell this story. The Pitch Wars application is tough and the process is tough. You will want to give up on your manuscript at some point. Having a reminder of why you need to keep going is crucial.
Sonia and Annette, tell us about working with your mentee.
It was such a pleasure to work with E.E. She is incredibly smart, talented, and thoughtful. We just can’t gush enough about her. And we’ve made it clear she’s not getting rid of us any time soon.
We’d love to hear about something amazing your mentee did during Pitch Wars.
JACKAL was already a compelling book when we first read it. But after we gave E.E. her edit letter, she went above and beyond. She weaved and tightened all of the threads, changed up the villain(s), and the result was very much a masterpiece.
How can mentee hopefuls prepare themselves for Pitch Wars?
Polishing up your manuscript as much as you can is a given. It’s also helpful to come in with an open mind. Know what is at the heart of your story–what you don’t want to compromise on–bult also be willing to take feedback and run with it.
How about some fun questions for Sonia, Annette, and Erin
If you could only be in one fandom, which would you choose?
Erin: Star Wars!
Sonia: Small town contemporary romance fandom. Is that a thing? I’m going to say that’s a thing. Please let me live in an adorable cottage in a beach town and have one of the local hot brothers keeping me warm at night.
Annette: As a kid, I had recurring dreams I was one of the X-Men. Put me in the Marvel Universe, please. I’ll become best friends with Storm and Captain Marvel. I’ll date Professor Hulk. It’ll be great.
What inspired you to start writing?
Erin: I first started writing because I loved reading so much that I wanted to tell my own stories. I went over to acting for a long time, but after doing that for years, I really wanted an additional outlet. I started writing again seriously about three years ago and things have just taken off ever since.
Sonia: I always wrote, funny little stories as a kid, angsty poetry as a teen, short stories in college, and eventually novels in my 20’s. It’s just always been a part of me.
Annette: I don’t remember ever not writing. But I started pursuing a writing career when I got pregnant and quit acting. I realized writing scratched all my favourite acting itches and, if I worked hard, I just might be able to make a career out of it.
Share with us your writing process (e.g., routines, tools you use, time of day you write, go to inspiration, etc.).
Erin: My writing process is really rooted in my love of stories. So I find it important to keep my creative well full. When embarking on a project I like to envelope myself in research, sometimes historical, sometimes visual. I’ll listen to podcasts, go to art museums, watch movies, fall down YouTube spirals. Then, I’ll start mapping out some broad story beats, so I have an idea of where I’m going, but, for me, so much comes out in the writing. I’m definitely a “planster”! I love writing in Scrivener. I like how I can go back to previous drafts, how it keeps a daily word count, and how you can organize your work. Something I’ve started doing recently is writing about my writing, and I’ve found it really helpful. I’ll ask myself questions about my story and journal my answers. Questions like, “What is the core relationship between these two characters? ” “What is the problem that must be solved in this chapter?” and, my favorite, “What is this book about?”. It really helps me take a step back and get clear about what I’m writing.
Sonia: My only process is to sit down with a very loose premise, write as fast as I can before I lose interest, and figure out the story as I go along.
Annette: Before I start drafting a new book I need to do three things: 1. Buy a new notebook. 2. Paint my nails. 3. Make a playlist to inspire me (though I can’t actually write while listening to music). And then I usually get overly excited about how it’s going, followed quickly by self-doubt and tears. Then the excitement comes again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Check out Sonia’s upcoming book, HEARTBREAK FOR HIRE, releasing July 27, 2021 …
A smart, sexy, and witty romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne—about a twentysomething who lives out every woman’s fantasy: getting paid to give men who do us wrong a taste of their own medicine. But when a previous target unexpectedly shows up at her office, she’s forced to rethink her life as a professional heartbreaker.
Brinkley Saunders has a secret.
To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.
In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.
But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be.
With Sonia Hartl’s “bitingly funny” (Publishers Weekly) prose, Heartbreak for Hire is a clever romcom you and your girlfriends won’t be able to stop talking about.
Check out Annette’s upcoming book, THE REHEARSALS, releasing July 13, 2021 …
Fans of Josie Silver and Rebecca Serle will delight in this romantic debut novel–that has a Groundhog Day twist–about a couple who call off their wedding after a disastrous rehearsal dinner, only to wake up the next morning trapped in a time loop. Together.
Two people. One wedding. No end in sight.
Megan Givens and Tom Prescott are heading into what is supposed to be their magical wedding weekend on beautiful San Juan Island. But with two difficult families, ten years of history, and all too many secrets, things quickly go wrong. After a disastrous rehearsal dinner they vow to call the whole thing off—only to wake up the next morning stuck together in a time loop. Are they really destined to relive the worst day of their lives, over and over? And what happens if their wedding day does arrive?
A funny, romantic, and big-hearted debut novel, The Rehearsals imagines what we might do if given a second chance at life and at love—and what it means to finally get it right.