We are joined today by middle grade authors Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo and Kit Rosewater. They were both 2016 PitchWars mentees and each received about a zillion requests during the agent round (27 each, to be exact––which is pretty darn close to a zillion in the writing world).
Jeanne and Kit, welcome to The Winged Pen and congratulations on your PitchWars successes! Our readers are eager to hear about your experiences, so lets get started.
Please tell us about the process you went through to get your manuscript ready for the agent round.
Jeanne: I was so lucky to have two incredible author-mentors, Laura Shovan and Tricia Clasen, who brought so much expertise to the process. They read my manuscript and provided both big picture and detailed line edit suggestions. But it was our personal conversations via skype that made the hugest impact. They helped me find the real heart of Ruby’s story and that made all the difference.
Kit: During Pitch Wars, I went through five rounds of revision. In the first round I rewrote the MS completely, for the next two rounds I revised, then I went on to line notes, and then polishing. It was a lot of hard work, and for a good portion of the time I was convinced I would never finish PitchWars and that I was a terrible writer. Luckily, I pushed through those feelings and kept on writing.
What is the most important thing you learned from participating in PitchWars?
Jeanne: The most important thing I’ve learned from PitchWars is the meaning of community. The writing process is so difficult. First, you pour your heart onto a page, then you ask people to critique it. Having been through the process, Laura and Tricia provided such thoughtful feedback. Even beyond the agent round they have been there for me. I also got to know other wonderful mentees. I felt like we were all on this roller coaster ride together!
Kit: Ooh, it’s tough to pick one thing, because I learned so much. How to trust and listen, how to properly outline based on theme, how to persevere in writing, how important community is… Can I say all four of those things tied?
Jeanne, you are now represented by the illustrious Stacey Glick, VP of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. Tell us more about receiving “the call.”
Jeanne: I first saw Stacey speak at the Rutgers One-on-one plus conference last year. I was so impressed with the passion she showed for her work and her clients. When we spoke on the phone, I felt like all the stars in the universe had lined up. I am so thrilled to be working with her!
Kit, you received a slew of agent offers (12!); tell us how you made your final pick.
Kit: The week of offers and decisions was ridiculously hectic. Every offering agent was amazing. I would have been happy with any of them. When I talked to Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency on the phone, I felt a strong initial connection to her. That connection grew from further conversation and emails, and by the time I was ready to announce, I was more than confident with my decision!
What’s next for each of you?
Jeanne: A project I love! In 1991, just a year after the fall of Communism, I taught English in Nitra, Czechoslovakia. I am now poring through letters, journals, and photographs to write the story of American-raised Petra (13) who returns to her homeland to reunite with her father. When, he suddenly goes missing, Petra finds herself travelling the Bohemian countryside with a Romani boy in search of family.
Kit: I’m taking a break from my PW manuscript this month to work some extra hours at my bookselling job and get some distance and insight on the project, then I dive into revisions in January. With any luck, we’ll go out on submission in February or March!
Finally, a fun question: What was your guilty pleasure during PitchWars?
Jeanne: Each morning, my writing pal, Meadow and I hike the Sunset Trail. When I have a million things waiting for my attention, stepping into that forest as it breathes silently around us, feels like a guilty pleasure!
Kit: Oh man, for a lot of the PitchWars process, I didn’t really engage with anything except for writing. However, I would sometimes sneak away to watch ten minutes of Gilmore Girls, then crawl back to my computer. I’d like to think those breaks gave me some inspiration for the witty banter between my middle school characters
Readers, if you’d like to stay in touch with Jeanne and Kit, you can reach them here:
Posted By: Jessica Vitalis
A jack of all trades, JESSICA VITALIS worked for a private investigator, owned a modeling and talent agency, dabbled in television production, and obtained her MBA at Columbia Business School before embracing her passion for middle grade literature. She now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she divides her time between chasing children and wrangling words. She also volunteers as a Pitch Wars mentor, with the We Need Diverse Books campaign, and eats copious amounts of chocolate. She’s represented by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch and would love to connect on Twitter or at www.jessicavitalis.com.