Saturday, January 26, 2013

My PitchWars Journey

I thought I'd share how I came to enter PitchWars.
I was cruising along, surfing the web when I clicked on a link for the MidWest Writer's Convention.  There, I stumbled across a video of a real-life, bonafide sprite.Yep, I said it.  A sprite!  She was a bubbly little thing with a black (and touch of red) pixie bob hairdo, and she was shaking with excitement.  Actually, she looked like she was having a stroke.  Every time she opened her mouth, glitter poured out, spewing happiness.  No, really!  It was pure magic.  She was so cute and humble.  And that adorable little sprite's name was Summer Heacock
Immediately, I signed up on her blog and patrolled it, learning all about her fascinatingly foul language.  Holy Shit, Batman!  A sprite that drops F*Bombs! *sighs in admiration*
I don't really remember the exact timing (Nov. 26th!!), but soon after, I received my first Fizzygrrl post mentioning PitchWars.  My first thought was, "What the hell is a PitchWar?"  Needless to say, I clicked the link and found out.
It took me a good while to research all of it, clicking back and forth on mentor blogs and taking notes.  Then I realized something.  My manuscript was NOT ready to go.  I was in the middle of my own editing process and would've been ashamed to have anyone look at it in its current state.  No lie, people.  It was doggie-doo.
The entry deadline was Dec. 5th, and I had to put some serious pep in my step if I was going to enter this contest.  So what did I do, you ask?  I busted my ass, ladies and gentlemen.  I slept roughly four hours a night for about a week straight while preparing my manuscript.  (I have two young kids so this is not something I recommend.)  It was the first time I ever participated in this type of online pitching contest.  I didn't know what the heck I was doing.  Yet, I was doing it.
While working on my MS, I thought about which mentors I'd select.  Summer Heacock was a given.  Helloooo?  She was top of the list, for sure.  Then Nazarea Andrews, who wanted a gorgeous, sexy love story.  She seemed so nice compared to the one who spoke of ninjas and the other with the scary vampire picture (though i'm sure they were very nice ninjas and vampires)!  And then I found....wait for it!....wait for it!...Shelley Watters!  The clouds opened up.  The sun shined through.  Angels sang from heaven!  And something whispered to me, "This one! She's the one!"  I knew it had to be true.  I would've been happy with either Summer or Nazarea, but Shelley's strengths were my weaknesses and our critiquing styles were a match made in heaven.  (I know, stupid pun.)  Shelley wanted something with a heavy romantic element, the steamier the better, and I wanted to give it to her.  Yes, me!  Pick me.  Love me. 
The entry deadline was Dec. 5th, and although it wasn't the last day, it was damn close.  Miraculously, I sent my three entries in to Brenda Drake on the evening of Dec. 3rd and said a little prayer.  Not really.  I actually only pray for the good winning the lottery.  *smirk*
Then I did the smartest thing I've ever done in my whole life.  I started a Twitter account, where I could stalk all of you guys ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!  Shameful, isn't it?  But true, I assure you.  Shelley was added to my Twitter and my Facebook probably before she had even read my query.  When I got her request for the partial (fifty pages), I was stoked.  She liked it so far, right?  Maybe, just maybe, she'll like the rest of it, too.  To make sure of it, I left the fifty pages off at a critical part of a sex scene.  Seriously, people!  The guy had just taken off the girl's pants and the last line said, "Okay, what the fuck is that?"  *Set hook deep and reel in Shelley fish*
A week of wondering...and pacing...went by.  Why was it taking so freaking long????  I HAD TO KNOW!?!?!  Until the big day finally came!!!  No, not the apocolypse, goofy.  The PitchWars Team announcements.  And Shelley was my mentor!  She was mine.  All mine.  Yay!!  *throws confetti*
And then the real work began.  Crap.  What'd I get myself into?
I'm going to skip that scene, since it involves a lot of crying on my part, but needless to say, Shelley whipped me into shape.  Like a personal trainer, she gave me a kick in the ass and made me sweat blood, only cursing at me once.  *kidding*  It was more like twice.
She helped me transform my MS into a gem of a story by telling me some things I already knew, some things I didn't know, and some things I flat-out didn't want to know.  Yes, Shelley is a real peach!  By the way, that wasn't sarcasm.   I thought we worked great together and loved her fine mentor (not motor...mentor!, nevermind.)  skills.  Everyone should have a "Shelley" in their back pocket!  She was a handy little tool to carry around.
I don't have to tell you what happened next, right? 
I do?  Well, why the heck weren't you following PitchWars?  *sigh*  Okay, fine.  I'll tell you.  I won.  Well, sorta.  In fact, all of the mentees won...sorta. We are all walking away with some invaluable information and a polished manuscript.  Can't get much better than that, can it? 
Hmmm.  Well.  Actually it can.
In the past two days, I've received nine agent/editor requests!  One from a editor on Twitter who had nothing to even do with the contest.  She was doing one of those "ask the editor" tweets, and I "inconspicuosly" pitched to her.  Because I'm slick like that.  *grin*  She showed interest and asked me to query her with five pages of my MS.  I sent them immediately, and within eight hours, she asked for the full MS.  Awesome, right?
Another editor found me on #Pitmad.  She asked for 3 chapters, which I sent right away.  A few hours later, her executive editor (same publishing house) requested 3 chapters from me as well.  I told her another one of her editors had already requested the 3 chapters, but I'd be happy to send them to her, too.  She accepted and I hit send.  An hour later, the first editor emailed me back.  I thought it was a rejection, but this is what she said.
I enjoyed this very much. There were a number of things I felt you did well -- introducing the love interest in the opening scene, showing the conflict in the first chapter, original character voice, genre-appropriate heat level. The list goes on. Executive Editor, ******, and I would both like to see the full manuscript. Please send it over to me at your convenience and I will share it with her. We're both looking forward to reading it.
I did the snoopy dance for like ten minutes straight!  OMG, right? 
PitchWars is amazing stuff, even if it was a little crazy at times!  I was amazed at the mentor's generosity.  The time they spent helping their warriors polish their manuscripts in preparation for PitchWars was a selfless act.  They were helping other writers.  It didn't seem to matter to them that they don't know us personally. 
Shelley was my angel (I know, I know...I'm starting to sound stalker...ish, but I'm making a point here).  What I didn't realize was that all of the mentors are angels.  Caring, beautiful, sweet angels.  And such amazing people!  I hope it all comes back to each of you ten-fold.
Now, I have to single someone else out.  Because, let's get for real, this contest would've been nothing without her.  Brenda Drake...where are you?  Aha!  I see you ducking down behind that computer.  *drags Brenda out into the open*
I read a tweet earlier that said, "If you want to get published, then you'll follow Brenda Drake."  I don't doubt that the statement is anything but the honest-to-God truth.  But I hope people will follow Brenda for a different reason, a better reason.  Seeing her posts and how she helps other people (especially writers!), I know how kind, considerate, friendly, and truly inspirational she genuinely is.  The world needs to take lessons from someone like her! make a long story short (too late?):
I would like to say one last thing to all the mentors...


  1. I just want to say that I loved your pitch so hard I was squealing ALL over it. But alas, Shelley saw it first, and being the lady that I am, and knowing she would be a FABULOUS mentor for you, I stepped aside, crying glitter all the way.

    But seriously, you totally deserve ALL these amazing requests, and I can't wait to read about your AWESOME NEW AGENT some day soon!!!

    PS: I want to read the rest of it and you should TOTALLY send it to me. *bats eyelashes*

  2. Awww, thanks! I appreciate that! And thanks for leaving a comment. It's my first, you know! Oh - and, by the way, it's in your inbox!

    Enjoy! :)

  3. Great post! Congrats on all the requests and good luck. :)

  4. Lovely post! And like Dee says, CONGRATS! Hope we get to read that "I got an offer post" soon too! <3

  5. Thanks so much! I appreciate that. I hope I get to write that "I got an offer" post soon! ;)

  6. Congratulations on the requests, and thank you for the mention! I hope to hear about your book deal soon. Shelley Watters rocks the steam! Just remember that she's MINE, so please return her. She's one of my favorite people, one of my besties, and one of my talented critique partners!

  7. Congrats Alison! I loved your pitch and I'm so happy for you on all the requests :)

  8. Ah, man. I don't get to keep her? I thought that WAS the prize?!! Alright. I guess I'll return her. Should I take her to customer service or just put her back on the shelf?

    Thanks, Brenda...for all you do. :)

  9. Thanks, Heather? Which is actually your real name? (LOL) I loved yours, too! And you were rocking the alternate site. Good for you!! I wouldn't be surprised to see you published before me! Good luck with your agent requests! :)