Journey to Pitch Wars 2017!!

“I am a mentee.”

I find that I keep repeating this to myself at random moments. I am a mentee. Like, I have to say it over and over again for it to be true, because I still can’t believe it’s true. I am a mentee.

So now I’m going to do one of those cheesy posts where I lay out my Pitch Wars journey.

First, let’s rewind to 2016.

2016 was the first year I had a manuscript that might be Pitch Wars worthy. It was a YA contemporary road trip novel that I had been working on since high school – just about four years of drafting, revising, stepping aside, revising, and revising some more. I was proud of that book. Confident. Maybe just a tad overconfident, in retrospect.

I submitted my materials within minutes of the window opening.

Then I waited…and waited…and waited some more. I got zero requests on that manuscript, and while in my head I knew that this wasn’t a commentary on my skill as a writer, my heart was crushed. During the sub window, I had begun working on a new YA contemporary. New characters were forming and a new story was being built – but I couldn’t let my Pitch Wars manuscript go.

October came around, and I decided to give Nightmare on Query Street a try. To my surprise, I actually got into this contest and was lucky enough to be able to whip my query and first 500 words into shape with the help of the lovely Peggy Rothschild. From Nightmare on Query Street, I got agent requests! I was ecstatic! I had all my pages ready to send. All rejected with the vague, “the voice is great but I didn’t quite love it enough to take it on” or something along those lines.

I tried not to be discouraged, and I was still working on something new.

Then in December, I learned of Author Mentor Match. I thought, hey! This is perfect! There’s no agent round like there is with Pitch Wars, but I had wanted to be a part of Pitch Wars for the mentorship anyways. Something wasn’t clicking with this MS, and I needed to figure out why.

I entered AMM. I wasn’t matched.

With that rejection, I took it as a sign that it was time to shelf road trip book. I had entered numerous competitions. I had queried with little request success. I decided that road trip book was just another manuscript on my journey to publication. It was a book – not the book.

So in February 2017, I got serious about the manuscript I’d been working on on the side. I trashed the old beginning I started over the summer and began it from scratch – and man I fell for this book hard. It’s so corny to call a manuscript the book of your heart, but as I was writing this one I just knew something was different. The words came so easy. It was bookish. It was anxious. It features my brand of Judaism – something I never attempted to write about before, but something I promised myself I would try after the 2016 election. It’s basically the most personal, the most me book I’ve ever written.

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That book, in case it’s not obvious by now, is TO BE MISREAD.

I thought it would be impossible to have a draft ready for Pitch Wars this year. It was wishful thinking. But I finished drafting in June, sent it to my CPs (shout out to Rosiee and Alec), and crossed my fingers and waited for their notes to come in. I had prepared for the worst.  

When they expressed how much they loved it, my first reaction was shock. What? No, it’s terrible! It’s not even close to ready, nope, no way! But their notes and enthusiasm convinced me that okay, maybe I have something here, maybe I can do this.

So I took their feedback and spent the entire month of July deep in the trenches of revision. I knew the manuscript still wasn’t perfect – but I was proud of what it was and ready to submit it with a week to spare.

I held my breath and pressed submit.

And within 72 hours, five out the six mentors I submitted to requested. I honestly couldn’t believe it, every time a new email from a mentor arrived in my inbox. It was surreal, to be honest.

It was even more surreal to learn that I got in. Three weeks after submitting, I got the results while on vacation with my family at Niagara Falls. I’m honestly lucky I didn’t drop my phone into the falls when I got the news!

I am so, so excited to be a mentee. I’m even more excited that Rachel Lynn Solomon is my mentor (Hi, Rachel!!). I’d gotten a sense via twitter that we had a lot in common and I was super duper hoping she’d connect with my MS…but not gonna lie, Rachel was totally the mentor I thought was “too cool for me.” I tried not to get my hopes up every time she replied to one of my tweets.

And then she picked me. And then I started jumping up and down.

I am already sooooo excited to dig into revisions under Rachel’s mentorship, and I cannot wait to see how TO BE MISREAD evolves in the next two months. It was definitely a journey to get to this point, but it really feels like everything ended up exactly how it’s supposed to be!

So let’s do this, Pitch Wars. 

I am a mentee.