I’m thrilled to start up our blog posts again now that our new committee is settling in with their roles and are gearing up to announce 2018 Pitch Wars mentors in a few weeks. It’s a little emotional for me too, since I miss working with Heather. But she’s doing great with her new exciting publishing adventures. Make sure to say hello to her on Twitter. I’m sure she’d love to hear from you!
Anyway, we’re so excited whenever one of our mentees gets an agent offer or a publishing deal. Celebrating these successes is one of our favorite parts of the Pitch Wars process. We hope you can join us in congratulating Nova McBee and her mentor, Pintip Dunn. Nova signed with Amy Jameson of A + B Works, and we couldn’t be happier for her!
Nova, what was it about Pintip that made you choose to send them a Pitch Wars application?
First, Pintip’s accomplishments and experience astonish—second, the premise of her YA novel series, Forget Tomorrow sucked me in instantly along with her writing; third, her multi-cultural/international background gave me great confidence she would understand my book on a deeper level. (And, I was right! She was the perfect mentor, superbly professional, incredibly wise, and extremely relational. Jackpot!)
Pintip, what was it about Nova’s CALCULATED that hooked you?
Her voice! From the very first page, the very first sentence even, I was entranced by her writing. I knew that I was reading something really special, and I so hoped that the rest of the manuscript would hold up. To my delight, it did! CALCULATED is such a complex, layered, and emotional story, and I’m so proud of Nova and so honored to have been a mentor to a writer with so much talent!
Nova, tell us about the revision process for Pitch Wars?
Pintip was surprisingly fast and thorough. First, she encouraged me in all the areas I was strong, then moved into where I could strengthen the MS. We didn’t need to change anything major, but Pintip gave me invaluable lessons on creating more mystery and tension in the areas that need it most and also where I could cut and trim. Her insight was incredible. You could tell she had been around the block more than once. After a couple back and forths, she read my MS one last time before the agent round, and even shed tears! (Major score!!)
Pintip, tell us about your experience mentoring Nova.
I’ve told her this before, and I’ll say it again here, that Nova is a dream mentee. She was receptive and open to all my suggestions, but more importantly, she took my ideas and really ran with them. I’ve always thought that a writer shows his or her depth by the way he or she responds to revisions — and Nova is a true champ. What’s more, I love the bond that Nova and I developed throughout the process, and now, she is not just my former mentee, but also a a dear friend.
Nova, after Pitch Wars, you signed with Amy Jameson of A + B Works Literary. Please, tell us about “The Call.” We love all the details about the offer, how she 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.
Ok, here’s my chance to tell querying peeps not to totally give up on agents because of time or what they hope to find in an agent! In October, I received an offer but didn’t alert Amy because she’d had my MS for a while. I thought the long silence meant a pass. However, I turned the first offer down and keptquerying. (Read more about that HARD CHOICE here.) Whilequerying, I really wanted an agent to be experienced, editorial, have the same vision, and even be a mom! But I also had one secret wish – that my agent would read my novel in one sitting. (It’s silly (and not easy to do with busy lives!), but I really hoped for an agent to be so captivated with my Characters and MS that they just couldn’t stop! I knew that kind of agent would be an amazing advocate.) A month later, Amy’s intern requested a partial. I was shocked! She wasn’t even on my radar anymore! But, I was pumped and sent the partial. Then, in February, I gotmy second offer. I alerted all the other agents reading, Amy included. A couple of days before my deadline, she emailed. She had read my novel in one sitting and loved it and wanted to talk. She didn’t hesitate that I was in China, and Face-timed me the next day. After chatting for while, (and losing connection once!) I felt very confident in her. She was everything I hoped for in an agent and basically excitement took over and I knew I had to sign with her. (Still bursting.)
Nova, how do you feel Pitch Wars helped with your success?
Oh my, I could go on and on… PitchWars basically launched me so much farther than I could have gone on my own. It set me up for success by inviting me into a place where I could bechallenged and learn about the industry. It showed me the ropes. Best of all, it gave me a whole community of authors (published & not) who support and encourage each other along the journey; critique partners; open doors; knowledge of the industry; friendship. I have no idea where I would be without it!!! (*Sobs with joy!)
Now for some fun! The following questions are for you both to answer. What fictional food/beverage would you most want to try?
Nova: I’m willing to bet that a Hobbit or Elvish banquet would be a good choice. (No lembras bread—I’d need more than one bite for this to be satisfying! 😉
Pintip: Oh my gosh, I would love to try any of the luscious food described in the Hunger Games! If I had to pick one meal, it would be the lamb stew with prunes that so enamored Katniss, as well as the rolls that arrived by way of the silver parachute!
You are faced with your nemesis! You instantly grab your trusty __________. (lightsaber, phaser, wand, mace, girly scream, katana, broadsword, etc)
Nova: Light saber. And the force. J Always.
Pintip: Wand. Particularly Hermione’a wand, which I was lucky enough to pick up from Harry Potter World!
What is your work fuel of choice? (food-wise)
Nova: Home made granola bars (recipe found off a body building website, lol) OR chai & samosa/curry.
Pintip: Starbucks instant coffee, vanilla or caramel flavored. I didn’t start drinking coffee until recently, but now I sip at a cup every morning.
Whose work inspired you to start writing?
Nova: Apart from my dad, the storyteller–the very first author who made me want to write books was CS Lewis, then Alexander Dumas, then Suzanne Collins was some kind of adrenaline shot into those writing dreams. I spent a long time studying the craft of many authors both contemporary andclassic, and writing story after story…then one day, I had my first contemporary novel idea, and it was like, “Ok, you’re ready. GO!” 10 months after I finished my first novel, I was selected for PitchWars. Sidenote: Don’t be in a hurry, practice your craft!
Pintip: I think it was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I was NOT happy with the way it ended, and so I rewrote the true ending, where Jo and Laurie end up together.
What fictional character(s) best describes your personality?
Nova: I feel like I’m very much a blend of Anne of Green Gables and Trinity from Matrix.
Pintip: Katniss, for her love of her sister and desire to protect her at all costs; and Eleanor, from Eleanor and Park, for how she feels like an outsider.
Thank you for sharing your success story with us! We wish you all the best in your publishing journey and hope you’ll share your future successes with us. CONGRATULATIONS!
Nova McBee is a helpless nomad and culture nerd. The world is her living room. Her (not so) top secret reason that writing is one of her great loves is that… she can do it anywhere. Even in a yurt!
She writes YA/MG contemporary and fantasy books. Why? Words are powerful. They move across borders. They make us brave. They change our lives. At least, they have hers. She’s represented by Amy Jameson of A + B Works. She’s also a PitchWars Alum & the founder of the YA reader & writer blog – The Spinning Pen.
Social Media Links:
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Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School.
Pintip’s novel, FORGET TOMORROW, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. In addition, SEIZE TODAY is a 2018 RITA finalist. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have also been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, and the upcoming STAR-CROSSED and MALICE.
She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.
Social Media Links:
Website Facebook Twitter Instagram Goodreads
I miss working with you and all the mentors and mentees, too, Brenda! Thankfully, we still get to chat. 🙂
And I’m so happy for Nova! Congrats on signing with Amy! Pintip is an amazing mentor.
I just want to step in to say congratulations, but also to speak up a little about the idea of waiting for an agent who is so enthusiastic about your book that he/she reads it in one breathless gulp. I understand the impulse, and I did the same thing. We writers are so desperate for someone to appreciate our hard work in a world that usually doesn’t, that this can seem like an excellent litmus test for an agent. It isn’t. An agent is there to be the person who makes you money, not to be your fan. If someone takes six months to read your book in dribs and drabs but has a good history of selling books in your genre for a “good deal” (ie six figs) then go with that person over the one who inhaled your book in one setting but who doesn’t. I am speaking generally, NOT about the agent in the blog post above, whom I don’t know. I had an agent who read my book in one sitting, offered rep the next day. How could I turn that down? I didn’t do my due diligence. My agent, while very nice and she did sell my book, also sold off world rights for nothing, and quit the biz a couple of years later. As a one person operation, this left me back in the query trenches. Sometimes we writers are so desperate for approval that we forget that this is a business and we should get paid for our work.
Again, this is NOT a judgment on how you chose your agent, just be careful out there, everyone. Buy a subscription to Publishers Marketplace and look at an agent’s history of sales. You’d be surprised to see how many of them have sold one or two books in five years, and this is actually their side job. Once your book has been touched by an agent, no other one will touch it. Be discerning.