I’m a little new to the world of pitch contests and have never even entered Pitch Wars, but I’ve seen the other side of it. Book deals, agent calls, the support, the camaraderie, being picked up when you think there’s no way to stand anymore. This is the best part, the most redeeming part of this community. Today we celebrate May B. Bridges and her Pitch Wars mentor Jami Nord! May recently signed with agent Kim Lionetti of Book Ends Literary.
May, what made you decide to send a Pitch Wars application to Jami?
She has amazing editorial experience, wanted romance, and didn’t seem like the type to shy away from something dark and gritty.
Jami, what about May’s application made you choose her?
I was deliberately looking for something I thought would have a strong appeal to a range of agents. I’d done wonderful SF/F projects previously, and KT and I co-mentored a great Urban Fantasy, but those are harder sells. I was interning for a very romance-focused agent at the time, and so I requested about 6 manuscripts from my slush that were all either romances or had significant romance/thriller elements. I kept jumping from MS to MS, but hers drew me back strongest. I narrowed it to a top 3, and the other 2 were wanted by other mentors as well. We sorted that out, and it made my choice easy!
May, tell us about the revision period for Pitch Wars?
I was lucky that I didn’t have a ton to do. Jami has a great mind for this business and before we stated revisions, we looked at where my book would fit best in the market and what publishers might have a place for it. With that in mind, we did revisions that moved the manuscript closer to those target audiences.
Jami, tell us about your experience with mentoring May.
She was really wonderful, both easy to work with and cheerful even when I was raking the MS over the coals. It straddled between romance subcategories, and there were places where the tension needed adjusted, things like that, but it was really already a pretty clean MS. We actually finished early, even with doing a line level pass on it to nitpick things like sensory details and flow. (She also sent me the most adorable notebook, with charms that fit her story after. Totally MADE my day!)
May, after Pitch Wars you signed with Kim Lionetti of BookEnds, 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 Kim contact you? How did you respond? How did you celebrate? Anything! We love knowing it all.
From sending my query, to offer was about 3 and a half months. I queried over the holidays, so luckily I had plenty going on to distract me. I sent the partial in January. I received a request for the full from Kim on Valentine’s day and we had “The Call” a few days later. Best Valentine’s present ever. The three months after the query went out were nothing compared to the one week wait between the initial call and me being able to accept. That week was seriously hard on my nerves. I was so excited after the initial call with Kim. I think I had those big emoji heart eyes when I got off the phone. Pretty sure I still have them. I wanted to accept right then! So waiting a week was torture.
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped in your success?
Pitch Wars was a great experience. Having Jami’s expertise was so valuable to me in this process. She gave me a new way of looking at edits, to really understand what my target was. After working with her I felt like my manuscript was so clean and focused. Having that kind of confidence in your manuscript helps a lot during the query process.
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)?
May: Xavier Institute for Higher Learning
Jami: Starfleet Academy. Far lower death rate than most of the other schools, all considered.
What fictional character would be your confidante? Enemy? Idol? Kick-butt ally?
Him and his dragon come as a package deal and who wouldn’t want a dragon on their side? I also suspect he has great abs… I’d have to go with Merlin as a confidante. I feel like if Merlin can’t council you through something, you’re screwed.
Idol, I’ve got to go with Magnus Bane. He is certainly at the top for my all-time favorite fictional characters. Hot as hell, bisexual warlock, rocks any outfit, answer for everything, and sarcasm like no other—Yep, doesn’t get much better.
The Lessening Society would have to be among my enemies. The Black Dagger Brotherhood (yes, all of them collectively) make up my book boyfriends. Gotta keep ‘em safe, so the Lessening Society has got to go.
Jami: Confidante-Deanna Troi-There’s something about someone who listens but doesn’t judge that’s reassuring. She also gives far more advice on situations, and in the later seasons, at least, learns to take command. Also: Chatting over chocolate sundaes=My kind of confidante!
Enemy- Any of the girls who value appearance over substance, Mean Girl style.
Idol-Hermione. Not because I’m much of a Harry Potter fan (It’s ok, but it was overhyped to me before I tried it, so it didn’t live up to the unrealistic expectations people had set for it!), but because she’s strong minded, independent, an unapologetic nerd, and yet she lets herself be open.
Kick Butt Ally-Rose Tyler. Hands down, she pulls off some of my favorite last minute saves in Doctor Who.
What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
May: The feast in the movie Hook. All the goopy crazy colored foods with funny names. Best dinner scene ever.
Jami: Alien fruits. Any fandom, any kind (as long as they’re safe for human consumption!) I’ve always loved trying new fruits, and seeing what amazing flavors I can find.
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
May: Well, if I was a fictional character I’m sure I’d be a witch of some kind. Good or bad? I’ll let you figure that out. So in that case I’d either grab a wand or nothing at all. Let that green electric spark flow through my fingertips and an arsenal of spells at the ready, nothing else required.
Jami: I’ll take a sonic screwdriver! Never seen a problem in the universe that and some quick talking can’t get you out of.
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
May: I wrote my last book fueled on skittles and Grapefruit Monster energy drinks. I’ll need to find something healthier for the next few books, I think. I’m open to suggestions.
Jami: Monster too! Also cheese, popcorn, and quesadillas. But never popcorn quesadillas, that does NOT work.
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
May: A few people. I adored poetry by Rod Mckuen growing up. I owe my love affair with books to the stories of Courtway Jones and Mary Steward. And nothing inspires me to put a pen to paper like reading the beautifully crafted words of Cassandra Clare.
Jami: Madeline L’Engle. We read A Wrinkle in Time when I was in 5th grade, and had to write a short story afterwards about what we’d do with a Tesseract. I wrote one about using it to travel back in time to prevent my twin sister’s death that made the teacher (who was a hardass on me all year) cry! I realized that if something as simple as my story could affect her, then words might be the most powerful thing in the world.
Any last words you’d like to share or tell us that wasn’t covered in the questions above?
May: Just a huge thank you to Brenda and Jami. Pitch Wars is an amazing opportunity and I am blessed to have been a part of it.
Jami: Thank you Brenda for having us and hosting such wonderful contests (and for being one of my biggest believers!). And my fingers are SO crossed for May, readers who like steamy romances with dark, conflicted characters? Keep your eyes on this one! She’s AMAZING!
We couldn’t be more thrilled for her. CONGRATULATIONS to May and Jami for this great Pitch Wars success! Celebrate with them, follow them on Twitter, and say hello and let them know how happy you are for them!
Next time, it might be you!
May B. Bridges
Romance, Upmarket, Fantasy. Writing things you don’t tell your mama you read. Dedicated to writers helping writers. I promote and share news from other authors, gossip about all things romance, and bookish. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for updates on new content and share some reading recommendations. I love hearing what great books people are diving into.
Jami Nord is frequently accused of having a TARDIS, because she gets so much done. Between a day job as a phone monkey, freelance editing at Chimeraediting.com, and the rest of life, she’s really just an expert at time management, hyper organized, and a very fast reader. She grew up reading mountains of scifi and fantasy, cut her professional chops on romance novels, and has a weak spot for GLBT*, disabled, and racially/ethnically diverse characters told with enrapturing style, where their identities are part of who they are, not just a plot thread. Someday, she’ll become an agent, or an editor, and help make dreams come true. In the meantime, she’ll settle for trying to make the industry just a bit more transparent, or at least her tiny corner of it. She tweets at @JamiNord and blogs at jaminord.wordpress.com. She lives in Philadelphia, having finally escaped the clutches of south Texas, though she still favors margaritas and good queso. #Pitchmadness reader and industry advisor, #pitchwars mentor to several wonderful writers, and former intern.