Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Meet My Pitchwars Mentee -- Jenni Walsh

This is my first year as a Pitchwars Mentor, and I can honestly say, I learned as much from my mentees as I hope they learned from me. Their passion for writing, their perseverance in a publishing world that is often fraught with long waits and "close-call" disappointments is truly inspiring. I am honored to have each and every one of them representing #TheFearlessFive.  

With less than a week to the #Pitchwars Agent Round, I thought I would introduce you to my amazing team – the insanely talented and fearless writers who have put their heart and soul into perfecting their craft. 

Jenni Walsh, YA Historical CAPTIVE.
CAPTIVE begins where other Anastasia Romanov stories end: the assassination of the imperial family of Russia

Jenny and I got off to a rather comical start. Two different authors, both YA, both with the exact same title pitching me led to a bit of confusion when the time came to pick teams.  But alas, a couple of frantic emails later (mostly on my part) and all was settled.  That night, sitting in my inbox, was the most beautifully written re-imagination (for lack of a better word) of the Anastasia Romanov saga I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  Although technically I was only required to read the first three chapters of her manuscript, let’s be honest…there was no way in hell I was putting it down at chapter four. It was just that good!

Before we get started with the questions, let’s learn a little bit about the uber-talented Jenni Walsh.

Jennifer Walsh resides in the NYC suburbs with her husband, newborn daughter, and goldendoodle pup, Zoey. Her earlier (childhood) works always followed the same storyline: girl meets boy, girl marries boy, girl and boy have baby. Now, Jennifer likes to think she's graduated into more sophisticated young adult plots, where, of course, girl still meets boy.
Jennifer credits Villanova University for her education in Marketing and also for a great four years of her life. After entering the real world, she put her degree to use as a copywriter, winning national awards for recent campaigns. Crafting advertising messages is like a puzzle begging to be solved. For Jennifer, writing a novel is quite similar. She loves digging into a topic and bringing it to life on page.
On a side note…she is also extremely adept at responding to crazy emails form her *cough* mentor at all hours of the night which is a key skill set when working with me :)

Why did you enter Pitchwars?
Quite simply (and I'm not afraid to come out and say it), I want an agent and I want to be published. The process of finding, acquiring an agent, making edits with said agent, then subsequently working with an editor is extensive. The idea of gaining insight with a mentor who's gone through that process is drool-worthy. Then you add in the notion of working hand-in-hand with and receiving a pubbed author's feedback on your story, and, wow, sign me up.

What did you find most valuable about the whole process?
My mentor (Trisha Leaver) knows her stuff. When she picked me, she probably didn't realize I'd be an endless stream of questions. Add in her amazing input on my manuscript, and I found it invaluable to pick her brain.

What was the most unexpected thing (good or bad) that came from the whole you Pitchwars experience?
It may sound corny, but throughout the process Trisha morphed from pubbed author to awesome mentor to welcomed friend.

 *Ditto!!! That is the one thing I value most about Pitchwars, the amazing friendships and shared support and encouragement that ensues J

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers thinking of entering Pitchwars in in the Spring?
I count my blessings that I was chosen as one of Trisha's alternates. But, I also think I put in the work ahead of time to catch her eye. For my manuscript, I worked with critique partners and beta readers. Trisha didn't see round 1 of my manuscript by any stretch. Then for my query letter (that's part of the PitchWars application), I spent a lot of time in Query Letter Hell and also won an agent critique. You gotta prepare, aspiring authors!