As you may know, I've had to put The Highway Woman on hiatus because in October I was accepted into Pitch Wars.
What Is Pitch Wars?
Ummmm. Only the coolest, most exciting, hardest thing I've ever done (other than like, pushing a baby out of my vagina, housing that baby for 37 weeks inside my body, and then keeping it alive after it escaped).
But seriously Pitch Wars is a mentorship program where published or agented authors or industry professionals mentor writers. To enter this program I had to submit:
my finished manuscript (not The Highway Woman but another manuscript called Choose You - a contemporary, enemies to lovers, office romance that gender bends the executive-intern trope)
a query letter (which is sort of like a cover letter that writers send to agents, summarizing their novel, in the hopes that agents will offer representation)
a synopsis (I think that's fairly self-explanatory...)
...to 4 different mentors and my literal dream come true happened. Helen Hoang CHOSE ME. You may recall my feelings about Helen and her debut contemporary romance novel, The Kiss Quotient, but if not you can find out more here.
Helen has read my manuscript, given me her feedback and I took 6 weeks to get my revisions to her. Soon she'll be finished her second pass of the manuscript and then she'll send it back to me for cleaning up before the Pitch Wars Agent Showcase, where participating agents get to see pitches of the mentees' polished novels and make requests to see more.
What's the Goal?
In my wildest dreams, the agent of my dreams chooses my manuscript and is immediately able to sell it to a publisher and the publisher can't wait to publish my book and I get to see my book IRL.
But I can honestly say if that doesn't happen that's alright . The goal of Pitch Wars is to get better, become a better writer and storyteller. And I already feel like I've done that so I feel like I've already won.
What Has Pitch Wars Taught Me?
Since the purpose of this mentorship was to learn, here's what Pitch Wars has taught me:
1) The importance of community: Pitch Wars has a mentee Facebook group where everyone can commiserate, stress, and support each other. Us Pitch Wars Romance Writers have also created our own sub-group. Both have shown me the value of a writing community. Writing is such a solitary activity but it truly can't be done without a community of other people who are going through the same things you are. To help you celebrate your wins, cry over your losses, and to support during their own journey.
2) You can't write a book without support from family and friends: Okay, maybe YOU can but I can't. I knew Pitch Wars would be hard work but I truly didn't comprehend the impact it would have on my family. My husband had to take on a lot of solo parenting so that I could get in extra writing time. My child had to spend a lot of time away from her mom and we both felt the impact of that. Without the support from my husband, my parents and in-laws, and my friends who didn't mind when I kept saying no to social events so I could write, I wouldn't have been able to do this.
3) You have to be okay with change: This probably seems really obvious but I think it's still something that needs to be said. My mentor asked me to do something I was previously uncomfortable with: adding a new POV to the manuscript. This resulted in 20,000 new words written but more importantly, it required me to immerse myself in a character I'd closed the door to since I'd first started writing this novel. It was 100% worth it because in the end I think it made my manuscript better but it still required me to step way outside of my comfort zone and get okay with the change, fast.
So, What's Next?
The Highway Woman will remain on hiatus. I have another round of revisions to complete, I have to write a pitch and a new query letter and synopsis before the Agent Showcase in February. But then I can refocus on THW and hopefully bring that story to life in 2019.
Wish me luck!