We’re back with another Pitch Wars Success Story! Please join us in congratulating Katie Bohn and her mentor, Kate Lansing! Katie signed with Jessica Watterson at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. We’re so excited for them!
Category: New Adult/Adult
Genre: Mystery/Women’s Fiction
Katie, what’s your favorite tip you learned from your mentor/s?
Kate helped with a lot of big-picture plot points, but she also helped me fine-tune my dialogue, from spacing issues to varying my action beats.
Tell us about the revision process during Pitch Wars.
Kate sent me an initial edit letter shortly after mentees were announced, along with a marked-up version of my manuscript. I work best with a lot of deadlines, so we came up with a schedule to turn in a chunk of chapters every Friday. While Kate took a second pass, I would work on the next chunk. Then, I would make her secondary edits as she got them back to me. Kate’s mentorship style was the best I could have asked for: tough but with lots of humor and compassion along the way!
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)!
It was late at night a few days after the showcase, and I noticed I had received an email from one of the requesting agents. I opened it quickly, eager to rip off the rejection band-aid. To my shock, it was a request to set up a phone call! I immediately woke up my husband to tell him and then emailed my mentor freaking out. The Call happened two days later (on Valentine’s Day!), and even though I was sick with nervousness, Jessica was SO nice and immediately put me at ease. Our personalities clicked, and I knew I wanted to accept her offer immediately, even though I did wait the customary two weeks to alert other agents.
How do you feel Pitch Wars helped with your success?
How DIDN’T Pitch Wars help with my success? Not only did my mentor help me improve my manuscript and my writing immensely, but also connected me with a wonderful community of fellow writers that I didn’t have before. And of course, it got my manuscript in front of my now-agent, which may not have happened with the showcase!
Do you have advice for people thinking about entering Pitch Wars?
Don’t self-reject. If you have a completed manuscript, apply! I was sure I wouldn’t get into Pitch Wars. I did. I was sure I wouldn’t get any requests in the showcase. I did. And I was DOUBLY sure I wouldn’t get an agent, but I did! Don’t listen to the voice in your head saying you don’t have a chance.
Kate, tell us about working with your mentee.
Katie was an absolute dream to work with! Early on we discussed how she worked best, which was by breaking revisions down into smaller chunks. This was actually ideal for her dual-timeline mystery since we basically alternated timelines each week. Every Friday she’d send me her revised chapters and I’d add any follow-up notes. In-between, we also brainstormed major plot changes and/or chatted industry!
We’d love to hear about something amazing your mentee did during Pitch Wars.
What amazing thing did Katie NOT do?! Seriously, not only did she challenge herself and take my suggestions one step further, but her new chapters were chock-full of such beautiful and poignant writing—and done so quickly—she simply amazed me!
How can mentee hopefuls prepare themselves for Pitch Wars?
Read a lot, write a lot, engage in the writing community, be ready to put the work in, and be positive!
How about some fun questions for Katie and Kate.
You only have two hours to finish some edits. Where do you go for quiet time?
Kate: My home office. It’s tucked away upstairs in a quieter corner of the house. Plus, the knickknacks and craft books on my desk, and artwork adorning surrounding walls, always help inspire me!
Katie: I’m currently in lockdown due to coronavirus, so in a house with two other people and three pets, quiet time doesn’t really exist. But I would probably convince my husband to watch our four-year-old while I squirreled away to the bedroom for a bit.
What author would you like to spend the day with? What would you do with them?
Kate: Dame Agatha Christie! I would love to go on an archeological dig with her and inquire about what really happened during those 11 unaccounted-for days…
Katie: I’m going to cheat and give two answers. First is my mentor! We hit it off throughout the revision process (in my opinion) and I’d love to meet up for a play date with our little ones. Second would be Emily Bronte, because I would die for the chance to talk to her about her process writing Wuthering Heights
What fictional character would you most like to meet? Why?
Kate: Aelin Galathynius from Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series. She’s a complete badass and I have a hunch she’d be fun to hang out with, too. Goodness knows she’d have some entertaining stories to share!
Katie: Cathy from Wuthering Heights. It’s my favorite book of all time, and even though Cathy is kind of terrible in a lot of ways, she’s also strong and unapologetic for who she is. Emily Bronte was ahead of her time writing unlikeable women.
If you could only be in one fandom, which would you choose?
Kate: Harry Potter. No question.
Katie: Harry Potter, of course!
What inspired you to start writing?
Kate: I’ve always enjoyed reading and creative writing (fun fact: I actually wrote Onion-style horoscopes for my high school newspaper!), so eventually decided to try my hand at writing a novel. I haven’t looked back since.
Katie: I’ve been a reader and a writer for as long as I can remember, scribbling stories in a special notebook since I was six years old. But as I got older, I started appreciating books for their ability to help people feel less alone in what they’re going through. No matter what my current project is, my ultimate goal is to make readers feel less alone.
Share with us your writing process (e.g., routines, tools you use, time of day you write, go to inspiration, etc.).
Kate: Voice always comes first for me (which was one of the first things I noticed about Katie’s writing—her superb voice!). When I’m dabbling with a new project, I usually start with a stream of consciousness to help me really get into the head of the MC. What’s she thinking at the beginning? What does she want? How do I say it in a voice-y way? Once I’ve got that—and usually an opening line to boot—it’s full steam ahead! And by full steam, I mean months of slowly tapping away at my keyboard.
Katie: I tend to be initially inspired by setting, so I start from there. For my Pitch Wars manuscript, it was a used bookstore, for my next WIP it’s an Appalachian bar frequented by gravediggers. From there I move to my main characters, followed by an outline with major story beats. I build a master outline spreadsheet with high-level scene information (chapter/scene number, date, setting, plot) coupled with a more in-depth text outline where I can brainstorm what happens in each scene. Then I move on to the first draft.
About the Team…
Katie has been a writer all her life, since she wrote and produced her first series of books about an enterprising duck at the age of five. She’s also been attracted to the creepy and weird for nearly as long, so that’s what she tends to write about. Located in central Pennsylvania, she spends her days writing about scientific research and her nights writing stories about things that go bump in the night.
Kate lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, two-year-old daughter, and a chair-napping tabby cat named Maple. Her love for mysteries began when she devoured From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as a young girl, and has grown from there.
An award-winning short story author, her work has appeared in the Brave New Girls Anthology and the Crossing Colfax Anthology. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and is represented by Pamela Harty of The Knight Agency. Her debut, KILLER CHARDONNAY, will be released this year with Berkley.