Hello, Pitch Wars hopefuls! I’m Marcia Hoehne. I was mentored in Pitch Wars 2016 by fellow MG writer Ellie Terry, and am now represented by Melissa Jeglinski of The Knight Agency. I’m happy to be part of #menteeshelpingmentees and will be giving away 2 critique packages (query + 10 pp.) for MG. I’m excited to see what you’re working on!
How/Why did you decide to enter Pitch Wars?
Well, the still, small voice said, “Enter Pitch Wars.” I mean this. It was May, 2016. I had recently become dis-agented and had spent 2.5 months bawling my way through a new manuscript. I could say I don’t wish this writing method on anyone, and would mostly mean it, but to be honest—effective, much? Time and again, sentences ended up on the screen that I barely knew where they came from—sentences that for me nailed the emotion of a scene. In slightly under three months, I had not just a first draft, but a very decent draft. And the impression came to mind clearly, and was so not my idea: “Enter Pitch Wars.”
“What?” I said. “That’s awfully, er…out there.” I’d been agented twice, published, I’d taught writing—and I suspected I was on my way down in this industry, not up. I’d had my day; my time was up; my goose was cooked. But I read the rules, and there was nothing there to disqualify me. Still, I was bothered by how public PW was. I wanted to fly under the radar. I sent my new MG novel to beta readers and set the voice aside. May turned to June, beta feedback came in, I started revisions, June turned to July. And the voice spoke again: “Enter Pitch Wars.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m not ignoring the voice twice. I checked the PW calendar and found that the mentor wish lists were going live. I started researching the MG mentors, and at that point I knew I was going to go for it. I had to. I wanted to. The voice had spoken.
What was something that surprised you about Pitch Wars?
The power of the hive mind and hive-bank of data and experiences.
I have belonged and do belong to other wonderful writing communities. But a Pitch Wars class is a group of which every single member is a crackerjack writer, and I wouldn’t even want to try to count the collective writing- and industry-years amassed by such a group across all genres and age categories from MG on up. In short: we know stuff. We share stuff. We empower each other. Add in our mentors’ expertise, and the wealth of information available to us and among us is mind-blowing.
And here’s a great thing: this starts pre-Pitch Wars, among the hopefuls. The truth is, hundreds of excellent writers with fantastic manuscripts and impressive industry experience will enter and not get in, because the contest just doesn’t have the capacity to grow that large. They, too, can find each other. I found a great new CP among the entrants (and she, too, though she didn’t make the contest, got an agent—before I did!).
What was your favorite part of Pitch Wars?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say getting a wonderful agent was my favorite part. I did and it was.
But not everyone gets an agent at this time, or with this manuscript, and even some of those who did sign during the six months following PW did so with a different manuscript, or through a different contest. The community is so worth it, no matter what else does or doesn’t happen, and one aspect of the community that I’ll point out is that it never quits. Sure, the actual contest runs from early August through early November, but then you have the querying period and the signing period and the rejection period and the waiting period and the book-deals period, and there’s a lot of celebrating and supporting and commiserating, and while this is still going on it comes time for next year’s hopefuls to think about entering Pitch Wars. And then some generous and visionary members of your PW class start thinking up ways to help them, and provide chances for the rest of us to do just that. And that brings us to right now. And to what’s just around the corner.
What is one gif that represents your Pitch Wars experience?