Welcome to the Pitch Wars Team Interviews
Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their projects. Be sure to comment with support, comments, and questions.
Rosalyn Eves, Anna Carew-Miller and Cindy Baldwin
Team:ARC (Anna, Rosalyn, Cindy–for our character arcs, and the ARCs of our future books)
Rosalyn Eves (Mentor), tell us a little about yourself.
Like Anna and Cindy, I have pretty wide tastes: basically, I’ll try anything if it’s good. (And I’m not even that picky: as a kid, I got in trouble for reading the back of the cereal box when I was supposed to be cleaning up.) I love stories with a good romance, including ninteenth-century AND YA contemporary. So Austen, yes, but also Elizabeth Gaskell, Georgette Heyer, Stephanie Perkins, and Kasie West. I also love a good cozy mystery that makes me think: I own all of Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries, and most of Agatha Christie’s. I enjoy sci-fi with a twist of humor, like Lois Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga and Connie Willis’ TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG.
But my heart is probably in fantasy, which was one of my first loves (Robin McKinley!), and which I primarily write. I like to think that my writing style reflects some of what draws me to the books I read: romantic, atmospheric, lyrical, smart. (The very best compliment I got while querying compared my writing to Neil Gaiman’s–I’m not there yet, but I aspire that direction!)
Anna Carew-Miller (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a huge book nerd. When my mom caught me reading Rosemary’s Baby in middle school, she said it was fine to read books like that only after I’d read ALL THE GOOD BOOKS. Determined to enjoy a future reading sexy thrillers, I devoured all the “good books” I could get my hands on. I can’t say I understood much of Anna Karenina in eighth grade, but I did read it. I still love nineteenth century novels (and re-read Dickens’s Bleak House almost every year) but my tastes are eclectic. I loved Where’d You Go Bernadette as much as Never Let Me Go. I’m a sucker for any coming-of-age story, which is probably why I’ve ended up writing YA. I definitely lean literary both as a reader and writer, but have no patience for pompous tomes; in the YA realm, I’m a fan of Gary Schmidt, Ruta Sepatys and Elizabeth Wein. Give me playful and dark stories or tell me about some moment in history that makes me rethink some period or historic event. My own writing style is … evolving. I’m so entranced by the spare language of Graham Greene and the use of detail and gesture in Hilary Mantel’s work: if I have a style, it’s my attempt to translate some of that potent writing for a YA audience.
Cindy Baldwin (Mentee), tell us a little about yourself.
I like to pretend that I lead a life of fabulous derring-do and am regularly required to use telescopes and code words. (Or, alternatively, that I’m a fabulously beautiful empire-waisted heroine surrounded by Knightleys and Darcys and Colonel Brandons.) In reality, I’m a stay-at-home mom to a spunky toddler who has inherited my imagination and, among other things, is terrified of the nightlight. I’m married to the love of my life, who unfortunately wouldn’t be caught dead in a cravat.
My reading and genre tastes are pretty varied, but YA and MG fiction are probably my deepest loves. I have read select Madeleine L’Engle books roughly 1,000 times. (My favorite is A RING OF ENDLESS LIGHT.) I adore anything with a strong voice and vibrant setting, and although I enjoy quests and battles as much as the next YA enthusiast I prefer to have fantastic characterizations and relationships giving the book a strong emotional heart. These things tend to be the ones I prioritize in my writing, too.
Rosalyn, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
I was a mentee last year and I found both the feedback I got and the community of writers to be so helpful that I wanted to pay it forward in some way. (Plus, the mentors all seemed so cool and I guess I was hoping I’d be cool by association . . . ). Really, I just love everything about Pitch Wars: the camaraderie, the enthusiasm, the wonderful writing.
Anna, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
My wonderful CP, Taryn Bashford (who is a mentee, too!), gave me the nudge to enter, following a tough pass on an R & R (that went two rounds with a very kind agent, who ultimately decided there were too many issues). I really thought I was done, that I had produced something vetted and polished after spending 2 years revising my original story and getting great feedback, but then those doubts starting creeping in, making me wonder if I was really ready to query with the absolute best version of this story.
Cindy, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
I entered last year and didn’t get in, but the feedback I received from one mentor team confirmed something I’d begun to suspect through my querying—that that book just wasn’t going to make it in the current market. I shelved that and have worked on several other projects in the intervening year. I’ve been revising an existing novel—A COAT OF FUR AND MOONLIGHT—since last winter, and began querying it this spring; it’s gotten some definite interest, but I’ve also had several agents comment that the voice was strong but the pacing lagged, or that they loved the premise but didn’t connect with the characters. (Ahem, there’s a reason I said above that I tend to prioritize voice over piddly things like pacing and plot.) I decided to enter Pitch Wars at the last minute this year, hoping that a talented mentor who hadn’t yet seen my MS could help me hammer out those weaknesses. I’ve also had many readers comment that this book seems to walk the line between YA and adult, and I’m hoping to make it more squarely YA during these revisions while still keeping the voice and depth of emotion.
Rosalyn, what are you most excited for?
I’m thrilled to get to work with TWO amazing manuscripts. Both have all the things I love: gorgeous voice, rich setting, complex characters with affirming growth arcs. But I’m particularly excited to help both of these manuscripts shine–In my day job, I’m a writing teacher, and I’m particularly passionate about the importance of feedback for writers. Already, I feel like I’ve been able to help, and since that was the whole reason I wanted to be a mentor, it’s already been worthwhile for me.
Anna, what are you most excited for?
And that’s what I’m most excited for, to bring my mss to the next level, with the support of a mentor who knows how valuable it is to say what doesn’t work (and support the process of figuring out what does work). What I didn’t expect and I’m getting more excited about is being part of the group of mentees. All of that great energy generated by the hive is going to be what carries me through working on my revisions and balancing the parts of my life that aren’t about writing (the full time job, kids … the works).
Cindy,what are you most excited for?
Chocolate. Wait… isn’t that part of this contest?!?! Okay, fine—I’m tremendously excited to be working with Rosalyn, who has some seriously impressive credentials and whom I’ve known and admired for a few years via social media. I’m also beside myself with excitement about the PitchWars writing community—my best friend and CP was an alternate last year and I’ve been wildly jealous when she’s told me about the wonderfully supportive and educational community the 2014 mentees created.
Anna, describe your novel in 3 words.
Atmospheric, voice-y, political.
Cindy, describe your novel in 3 words.
Ocean. Moonlight. Heartbreak.
Rosalyn, describe your mentee’s novel’s in 3 words.
Anna: Lyrical, Uganda, awakening
Cindy: Selkie, family, healing
Check Us Out…
Anna Carew-Miller, Team Mentee
Reader, writer, coffee-drinker
Cindy Baldwin, Team mentee
I’m a freelance writer, young adult novelist, and poet. I have a weakness for really, really dark chocolate and the sort of books that make you want to stay up all night reading. As a child I had about 50 careers I planned to go into, but writing and parenting were the ones that stuck. These days the bulk of my non-writing time is spent chasing my toddler around removing random objects from her mouth. Welcome to my little corner of the internet!
Rosalyn Eves, Team Mentor
Rosalyn Eves is a young adult writer of romantic, lyrical, atmospheric fantasy novels. Her first novel,THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, a historical fantasy set at the height of the Austro-Hungarian empire (with magic!) debuts Fall 2016 from Knopf/Random House.