I was lucky enough to be selected as a 2016 Pitch Wars Mentee by the wonderful Judi Lauren. The experience has been a lot of things - some I expected and some I didn't.
Let's go back about 2 months before the submissions opened. I was hoping to finish my WIP in order to enter. My awesome CP Katie insisted I could do it. I tried. (I really did.) But I hit a brick wall with that MS and discovered my plot holes were too big to fix in time for Pitch Wars. Then Katie said, "Well, you still have that other MS..." She was referring to my YA sci-fi romance, PROJECT A.I.D.E.N. "Ha!" I said to her. "There's no way." This MS had been shelved 3 years ago, after 6 months of querying and a publishing deal that later fell through. (That's an entirely different - and long - story.) But anyway, I didn't plan on letting this MS see the light of day ever again.
"You could fix it, you know," said Katie. "Why not?"
Okay. She had a point. Plus, I couldn't come up with a good answer for her why not question.
So I pulled out the dusty old thing. Cue this reaction:
Yep, it was pretty bad. After all, 3 years had gone by, and I've become a much better writer since then. (Guess time really does make a difference!) But I figured I didn't have anything to lose, so I sent the MS to another CP and focused on editing the first chapter and query. (Since that was all the submission required.) This other fabulous CP, Amelia, helped me fix up my first chapter. She pointed out my 15 uses of the word smile as well as all the other crap I had in there.
And then I decided on 4 mentors to submit to. This was harder than I expected. I was actually on the fence about subbing to Judi - only because I wasn't sure she'd pick me. Of course I wasn't sure any of the others would pick me either, but their bios stated they were looking for things I knew my MS fit. However, Judi's bio mentioned a love of Supernatural and I was sold. (Just kidding! But it didn't hurt.) What truly sold me was her statement that "basically when the picks are announced, you may just meet your next best friend". I don't know about you, but THAT is the kind of person I want in my writing corner. I just had this "feeling" about Judi, so I submitted to her and waited in eager anticipation.
Honestly, I didn't expect anyone to pick me. So I did something SUPER stupid. I didn't get much further into my edits aside from that first chapter. But when 3 of the mentors requested more material from me, I was floored. Ecstatic. Over the moon. Then the dread consumed me.
Because that meant I needed to finish the rework of my crap MS before I could send it to them. After the panic settled, I sat down and opened up my document. I spent 2 whole days editing. Seriously, I woke up at 9 am (waaaay too early for me) and edited until 4 am. Yes, I took small, necessary breaks for sustenance. But I did nothing else, thought of nothing else aside from my edits. My boyfriend thought I was insane. He doesn't exactly "get" the whole writing thing, and sure, maybe I was a little insane at that point. (By the way, I DO NOT recommend waiting to edit a MS like this. For real, don't do it. You've been warned.)
Somehow, I managed to finish my edits and send off the MS to the requesting mentors.
Days passed as all the Pitch Wars hopefuls waited. Thankfully, the CP who helped me revise my first chapter (Amelia) had entered too, so we stressed out together.
Then the day of the announcement arrived. I was at work, begging Amelia to keep me posted. She did, and many agonizing hours later, her text arrived. "JUDI PICKED YOU!" My response? A whole lot of OMGs and exclamation points. (And she got picked too!) I was so happy, I could never find the right words to express just how happy. Not even this Gif could sum it up:
And Judi has been everything I could've hoped for in a mentor. She's read PROJECT A.I.D.E.N. 3 times and helped me fix all the things I couldn't fix on my own. And her best friend quote in her bio? That's totally what's happened. We've skyped and emailed and texted. Nearly every day. We've fangirled about other books, Supernatural, and all kinds of things. She is seriously a freaking rock star.
Not only that, but Judi was one of the mentors with 2 mentees. And on top of that, she worked with a few other writers behind the scenes. What's better than a rock star? I'm not sure, but whatever it is, that's what Judi is. Basically, this:
As Pitch Wars comes to a close, I've been amazed at the fun and awesomeness of it all. The writing community has always been my favorite and always will be. Writers support one another, and in a world that's so competitive, there's something truly magical about that support.
No matter the final outcome of the agent showcase, I've gained loads of new friends, bonded with my awesomesauce mentor, and now have a shiny new MS I'm proud of. (Plus, a new best friend!)
No amount of thanks would be enough. For my critique partners, for Judi, for Brenda Drake, or for the writing community as a whole. I sincerely adore you all. <3