It’s that most wonderful time of the year: PITCH WARS! It’s an awesome, amazing mentorship program designed by the incomparable Brenda Drake. Seriously, check out the site and become a part of this community.

I had the tremendous honor of being a Pitch Wars mentee in 2017 and it was incredible. I loved my mentor, Natalie Mae, loved the community and met some of my best writing friends during the competition. I had a blast during the agent showcase and it was just such a learning experience and one I’ll cherish. 

So in honor of Pitch Wars being right around the corner, I’m going to have a bit of a party here on the site and feature past mentees to share how they got ready for submission, revised, and survived this crazy lil’ thing called PW. 

Read on, friends!

Next up, Anna Mercier!

Thanks so much for chatting with me today. Alright, let’s start from the beginning!Tell me about your Pitch Wars PRE experience. How did you find out about it,and what made you decide to enter? 

Back in 2015, a friend who was also a mentor (Hi, Cat Scully!) told me about the contest and encouraged me to enter. I’d been writing on my own for a few years, but she was really the person to give me the push I needed to do something with my writing. Plus, everyone posting on the Pitch Wars hashtag convinced me this was a community I wanted to be a part of! I kept trying and trying until I was chosen in ’17.

I know it can seem like a super long wait between submission window and actually seeing if you were chosen. How did you stay sane? 

Oh boy! I DON’T do well with idle time, ask my friends, husband, and the billions of craft projects I have around the house. I focused on finding critique partners,reading craft books, and brainstorming a new project.

Once you were chosen, what happened from there? 

I sobbed. Haha! It’s true! I sat on the floor in front of my couch and cried at my laptop because it’d taken three long years for me to reach that point. Afterward, Lyndsay Ely (my STELLAR mentor) told me to celebrate for a few days because work was coming. It came in the form of an 11 page edit letter which only covered act one.

After you got all your notes or phone calls from your mentor, what was your game plan? How did you take all of your mentors advice and boil it down into doable steps? 

I sorted all her advice into layers and ordered them by vastness. Characters came first because they’re the most important element of story. Plot second because it changed based on character motivations. Worldbuilding came last, but it took me longest to figure out. I brainstormed while working on the other components.

From there, I worked linearly because my brain functions best that way. I reworked characters, plot, and worldbuilding in act one, sent to my mentor, and moved onto the next. Chunk at a time, the work got done!

Alright! The fun/agonizing part! The agent showcase! How did that go for you and what did you do to pass the day? It can definitely be a whirlwind!

You know that gif of Andy Samberg playing guitar and screaming? That was me. Luckily, I had to work and my internet at school didn’t have access to the Pitch Wars website. It saved me from refreshing every five minutes. Lyndsay and my CPs kept me updated via Google Hangouts. Seriously, they’re all the best.

The PW community is one of the best, most generous writing communities out there! I highly encourage everyone to enter and be a part of the community. How was your experience with all the writers in PW? 

P H E N OM E N A L. As someone who finds it impossibly difficult to talk to others,reach out, and converse easily, the community has always been welcoming. It doesn’t matter if you become a mentee or not, this community is accepting,helpful, and simply the best. As for my ’17 class, they’re some of the mos hardworking and encouraging people I’ve ever met. If you have a question,they have an answer. If you need help, they’re right there with advice and a cup of warm tea (preferably prepared by a kettle). I’m grateful for each and every one of them.

Finally, what advice would you have for someone thinking of entering this year’s Pitch Wars? How can they best go about it, increase their chances of success, and overall have a great time participating? 

DO IT. Whether it’s entering the contest, joining the conversation, or wanting to approach someone you think is neat on the tag, DO IT. Don’t be afraid to be seen and heard. Make relationships, learn from everyone you meet, and pull every last morsel of excitement and energy from this event. Carry it with you throughout the year.