Interview With #PitchWars 2018 Mentee, Lorelei Savaryn

The 2018 PitchWars season was an absolutely wild ride. My co-mentor, Lacee Little, and I were incredibly lucky to work with the author Lorelei Savaryn. We had 4 months to work, this year, and we used up every single minute allotted to us. We were able to multiple rounds of revision simply because Lorelei might be the hardest working writer I’ve ever met. She cheerily headed into incredibly difficult edits, where she re-structured, re-outlined, re-worked character arcs and world building and sentence structure. And the entire time, she soaked up every bit of knowledge and craft advice Lacee and I could offer. Lorelei wrote an in depth post detailing her PitchWars experience that I highly suggest checking out.

The most incredible part of all of this though is that just two months after agents made requests on PitchWars material this year, Lorelei was offered representation by the wonderful agent, Chloe Seager from Madeline Milburn Literary for her novel REVERIE. Lacee and I couldn’t possible be prouder or more happy for her. We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.

Onto the interview!

There are a few parts to PitchWars, the first of which was deciding which mentors you wanted to submit. How did you decide who to send to?

This was my second year entering PitchWars, so I had some familiarity with how the process went, though this was my first time entering a MG novel. I looked really closely at mentor wishlists, followed potential mentors on Twitter, and I ended up asking Juliana and Lacee a clarifying question on the AMA forum. After that, I narrowed my choices down and ended up with the four mentor picks that I thought might be most interested in my story. When I got the partial and then the full request from Juliana and Lacee, I was over the moon, but still worked hard to manage my expectations. I knew they not only had to love my story, but also had to have ideas on how to make it better. The wait was still hard, even though those things were out of my control.

For the 2018 PitchWars hopefuls, what was it like to have me (and Lacee Little!!) as your mentor? (Feel free to be honest :P)

It was AMAZING. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better support team to help me bring the most out of REVERIE. I knew from the follow up email Juliana and Lacee sent during the consideration period, that they would be asking me to do a lot of work, but I also saw that they had ideas on how to help me. The kindness and care they put into their edit letters immediately made me feel like they believed I could accomplish all that needed to be done, and that I was going to have immense support through every step of the journey. That proved true time and time again when I messaged them with questions, or needed a brainstorm, or sent back ideas, all the way through to line edits. They believed in me and my story, and pushed me to become better in the best of ways. My writing will never be the same.

What was your overall experience with the editing/revising process? Was there a certain part that was particularly difficult or rewarding?

Now that we’re on the other side of the revisions, I’m almost surprised at everything we were able to do in the 4 month revision window! I’m always up for rolling up my sleeves and working hard, but I’ve become especially fond of revising after the Pitch Wars experience. There were definitely some times where my brain hurt from thinking through the best path forward, but whenever I got overwhelmed I had my mentors there to help walk me through until I had arrived at clarity. In the end, I went from having a story that had the potential to be something really cool, to having a manuscript that I’m proud of. I would have been proud of it either way, but my manuscript also ultimately landed me my agent.

One of the things I learned the most during revision was how to develop the theme of my story and tie it in to character arc, as well as how to make plot decisions that served both of those things on deeper levels.They also helped me become more intentional with the words I choose, and to remove things like filtering words that create distance for the reader. I came into Pitch Wars with a decent grasp on plot points, but my characters were rather flat and I didn’t have an overarching theme woven into the threads of the story. Bringing those things out and seeing it all come together was almost magical.

Were there any parts of PitchWars that you were surprised at? Submissions? Edits? The agent round? Post-agent round?

The most, most surprising part of PitchWars for me was finding out I got in! My only request was from Juliana and Lacee, and I knew they would have many amazing stories to pick from. I actually missed my name on the first time looking through the list of mentees and thought I hadn’t been chosen for a second year in a row. My shock at finally finding my name on that list is a moment I’ll remember for a long time to come.

I think the next most surprising part of PitchWars for me was the transition from the agent round to querying. During revisions, you are in a bubble of support and encouragement, which helped me push through the tougher parts of the work that had to be done. The agent round was exciting, and it was fun to see the different agents interested in reading my story. But then, when your heart is out in the world in the form of a manuscript and you start hearing different versions of the word ‘no,’ that can be very discouraging. You want someone to fall in love with this thing you’ve poured yourself into, and the reality is that not every single person is going to do that. It’s a matter of finding the right match, and the time between sending out that first query and matching with an agent feels long and hard, no matter how long you are in the ‘querying trenches.’

And finally, I am a bit pleasantly surprised at how much support there still is after our round of PitchWars is officially over. I’ve gotten to know some of Juliana’s previous mentees, keep in touch with my mentors regularly, and have a Facebook support group with many of the writers from this PitchWars class. I didn’t know I’d be getting a whole team on my side, and that’s been a wonderful bonus.

If you could choose to do PitchWars all over again, would you? Why?

I would. Hands down. The reality of my situation was that I wasn’t quite ready for an agent before PitchWars as far as the quality of my writing and ability to execute a concept well enough to attract someone’s attention. Putting myself out there for rejection at any stage has been scary. But PitchWars accelerated my growth as a writer so much, and everything I write will be stronger now for it. Even though there were moments that were intense, and the transition to querying had me feeling extra vulnerable due to how public the process was, in my heart I knew I was now putting out a story that had the potential to find an agent match. And even if it hadn’t, I knew my next books had a better chance of success than if I had continued to go it alone.
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