Monday, August 28, 2017

#PitchWars, All the Words, and HELLO

HELLO BLOG. YOU LOOK SO PRETTY. A little dusty and creaky in the joints and I--stop looking at me like that--I know I've neglected you, but that shall all be rectified. Look, I brought presents!

I got into on Twitter why I've been mostly absent from the interwebs this year (go HERE if you want to read a v personal thread full of OPTIMISM and POORLY TIMED JOKES) but needless to say, I have very much missed the book blogging community and yammering on about books--and about myself. (We are the solipsistic millenial generation, embrace it and keep talking about yourself because you are FASCINATING and there is seriously no sarcasm here, I for one am fully interested in exactly what you had for breakfast). Because, speaking of myself, very exciting things are going on in Gillianland!

Most of you probably don't know that in addition to writing strangely rambly, gif-heavy blog posts full of dad jokes and far too much capslock, I also like to write books. Now, I think I'm pretty okay-ish at it, but I've never had the courage to eeeever submit my stuff anywhere--that, and I knew nothing I'd yet written was ready. Well, over this difficult year, I finished up a draft of a thing that I could tell was the most ready-ish thing I'd ever written. I polished it, and edited it in my own lackadaisical way, fixing the weak ending and clarifying a certain character's plotline (that is still giving me hell, ugh). Well, it still wasn't COMPLETELY ready, but it was far ready-er than it was before!

Maybe I should....qUeRY itTtttT?!????


But, like, I wanted my book to become a THING, and that's how it happens, right? So I needed to pull on my big girl pants and actually do the thing. But I knew--I knew--my book needed wiser people than I to give it one more ruthless shredding. I was way too close to it, and I had been working on it way too long, and I loved it dearly but also a little bit wanted to set it on fire. (Normal creative people stuff.)


To paraphrase my eventual mentors (I just spoiled the plot of my own blog post, oops), finding out about the imminent Pitch Wars submission window was like Hagrid busting down the door on my eleventh birthday and handing me a letter from Hogwarts. I WAS A WIZARD. I MEAN, ER, A PITCH WARRIOR. OR I COULD BE. IF I PULLED ON THE AFOREMENTIONED BIG GIRL PANTS (sweatpants, because honestly) AND SUBMITTED.

Now, what is Pitch Wars, you ask? I'm going to copy and past from Brenda Drake's website, aka the brilliant mind behind Pitch Wars, and have her explain, because when I tried to tell my mom succintly and coherently about how it worked, I rambled for five minutes and made a lot of confusing hand gestures.

Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors also critique the writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round. Writers send applications (query and first chapter of manuscript) to four mentors who best fit their work. The mentors then read all their applications and choose the one writer they want to mentor for the next two months.

One mentee is chosen by each mentor or set of co-mentors, and they spend two months revising the manuscript and pitch. In November during the agent round, each mentee is featured on a post that includes their pitch and the first page of their manuscript. Participating agents view the posts and make requests.

The submission window was from August 2nd to August 6th. I had heard of Pitch Wars floating around in the Twitterverse, but I only vaguely knew what it was. I stumbled upon THIS Pitch Wars wishlist post from (my eventual) (spoiled you again) mentors, Tomi Adeyemi and Kit Grant, on July 18th and felt like it was describing my book almost EXACTLY. I decided right then and there I would enter. So I spent the next two weeks feverishly polishing my query, fiddling with my manuscript, and putting together an utter trainwreck of a synopsis seriously throw it into the sea and let the radioactive jellyfish have it

I always assumed I'd never try any kind of pitch contest, because I am a bundle of jumping anxious beans cleverly disguised as an adult human, and the idea of putting my work out there--particularly as a Twitter pitch--made me feel physically sick. But this was not Twitter! If I fell flat on my face no one would know, and I need never tell the world (and this is a TERRIBLE way to live your life, don't follow my example, be brave and fail bravely for you are awesome and perseverence and woo team)! And it would be good practice for the eventual carousel of terror and anxiety that is querying! I HAD NOTHING TO LOSE. So I did the thing.



All the way at the bottom is MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

Cue a lot of happy sobbing and happy anxiety and holyshitholyshit and IS THIS THE REAL LIFE IS THIS JUST FANTASY and basically A LOT OF THIS

I'm so grateful to my mentors I don't even have the words. The day of the announcement was just a blur of emotions and excitement and I STILL feel a bit like I'm dreaming?? Like???? Is this really happening??? OH MY ACTUAL WIZARD GOD.

(BTW if you don't know Kit and Tomi, first of all, rethink your lives, and second of all, CHECK OUT THEIR BOOKS BECAUSE THEY SOUND UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING. Tomi's upcoming Children of Blood and Bone is a Nigerian fantasy that's ATLA + Black Lives Matter. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Kit's upcoming A Court of Miracles is a retelling mashup of Les Miserables and The Jungle Book set in an alternate Paris of hedonistic nobility and seedy criminal underworlds STARRING EPONINE GETTING THE JUSTICE SHE DESERVES. I MEAN. I. MEAN.)

But Pitch Wars is not just celebrating on Twitter and being like OH YEAH SURPRISE I WROTE A BOOK, THAT HAPPENED, no there are no gifs in it, yeah I was surprised too. What it really is--and why I was so eager to get in--is a mentoring and revising program. Tomi and Kit are helping me whip my manuscript into shape through arduous efforts, and it's the best homework this Ravenclaw has ever had. And they're also helping me figure out the wild jungles of publishing, for which I could NOT be more grateful (seriously, this post could easily be a couple thousand words of me extoling the virtues of Kit and Tomi, but I'll just send you to Tomi's preorder page instead 0:) HERE)

Zelie could rip my still-beating heart out of my chest and I would thank her

Right! My book! What's my book about? *shuffles like the nervous kid at the front of the class who just got asked what fun thing he did over the summer* Wellllll, it's a reimagining of Anastasia, the greatest film of our time, but with a TWIST. Like if you blended it with some Six of Crows and maybe seasoned it with a sprinkle of Truthwitch and then threw the whole thing into the Wood from Uprooted. There are lost princesses, lying liars, and bottled memories! There's banter! Bi boys! Ships! Murderwitches! Lots and lots and lots of snow! Girls who just want to sleep and eat, stop making them do things! Tragic backstories! Tragic nowstories! Tragedy galore!


I'm so excited to work on this booook, and I'm soooo excited to be part of the Pitch Wars community. No matter what comes out of it, agent or no, submitting was the best life choice I've ever made. 

I'll be spending the next two months deep in the revising cave, but I am DEFINITELY planning to fling up some book reviews, because I've read a whole bunch of excellent things in the last few months, and there are some books I absolutely MUST shove upon all who make the grievious mistake of wandering into my vicinity. So look out for that! 

Now it's time for me to get back to work.


  1. GILLIAN!!!! Congrats again, I'm so thrilled for you!! And thank you for including the Pitch Wars... pitch haha because I couldn't remember exactly what it was. It sounds amazing! AND YOU GOT PICKED!! So proud of you for doing something scary and entering! I am absolutely dying over your book description and comp titles, I mean!!!!!! Our reading taste is so similar and I love the way you write posts so I know I'm going to love your book too. Good luck with revisions! And maybe keep me in mind if you need another set of eyeballs at some point?! Kthxbai ;)

  2. Bless you for this description of exactly what the Pitch Wars contest was. I did a bunch of Twitter searching, and I figured out most of it, but I wasn't completely sure. But YAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!! I hope they give you oodles of amazing feedback, and you will be shocked to hear that I want your book desperately. Bantership and random bears and bi boys and murderwitches and hungry girls YES YES YES. Are you in my head? Maybe.

    I also didn't know what Kit's book was about but EPONINE, QUEEN OF LES MIS. Every time I watch Les Mis, I want to shake that dude for not being head over heels for Eponine because DUDE WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

    *returns to making googly eyes at your book and also the Anastasia gifs*

  3. Gillian!! I'm so happy to see (new) words from you and the fact that there are more forthcoming in the shape of a DOUBTLESSLY EXTRAORDINARY BOOK!!!! I'm so excited for you and your eventual spot on bestseller lists all over (whoops, guess I spoiled that one too. It's 100% factual information btw I can look into the future now). Okay, pressure off.

    I just read your thread and I'm so very sorry for the tough year you've had. Sending you all the hugs and cupcakes and pickle chips in existence. People absolutely want to read about depression, loneliness, and carrying on, and I'm so proud of you that you were able to channel it all into your manuscript.

    EEP THIS IS SO GREAT. Okay, so when I first saw the list I thought you were the first Tomi Adeyemi mentee (super excited for her book btw) but then I was like WAIT that and/of phrase cannot possibly be a Gillian title. (Officially interested in that MS though the limit for witch books does not exist. That Life Stealer book is also on my wishlist. Pitch Wars: good stuff!) I kinda want to keep shrieking about how amazing this is, but that might get old, so:

    "Anastasia, the greatest film of our time" --> super agreed. I also recently rewatched the Swan Princess after watching the ballet and it still holds up (no surprise there). Anastasia-like content is so perfect for you and vice versa. SO EXCITED.

    BOTTLED MEMORIES I AM SO CURIOUS THIS SOUNDS INCREDIBLE (and like prime maximum tragedy content aka my fave)

    Murderwitches --> y e s

    "Girls who just want to sleep and eat, stop making them do things" --> repping the quiet badasses I see. Important question though: what is their relationship to the murderwitches. ARE they the murderwitches? I feel like there's an opportunity* here.

    *for hilarity

    "Tragedy galore!" heyooooo this is what I like to hear

    But seriously, Gillian, I'm so so so happy this is all happening for you and wish you all the luck (getting targeted feedback is the. best.) and for serious, let me know if you need that pickle chips writing fuel.









  5. I have two running feeds of sound in my head right now:




  6. Hearty congratulations, Gillian! I wish you the best in your quest.

    OMG the author of CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE is mentoring you!!!! AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!


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