Monica Hoffman is a Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy author represented by Laurie McLean and Tricia Skinner of Fuse Literary. She is an active member of SCBWI and the writing community. She dislikes getting up early, but a good cup of coffee can usually motivate her. She enjoys any movie/book (particularly fantasy and Sci-fi) that can make her cry, laugh, or gets her blood pumping from an adrenaline rush. She’s a Trekkie, Dr. Who, and Star Wars fanatic, and a PC gamer when she’s not writing or reading. You can find her tweets about all things YA lit & entertaining GIFs on Twitter and Facebook. Oh and she’s a 2016 Pitch Wars mentor.
She and I became friends on Twitter during 2015 Pitch Wars. Her infectious joy and love for all things Star Trek, Halloween and GIF made her a fast friend. Then we realized we lived near one another and now I enjoy her company face to face.
I’m thrilled to share her Pitch Wars success story.
Q: What made you submit to Pitch Wars?
MMH:The success of the previous years drew me in. Pitch Wars is the contests of all contests created to help a writer advance in their skill level, gain knowledge about the publishing industry, and they get hands on guidance and the ability to work with a published/agented author or professional editor. Who wouldn’t want to attempt to get in? When I found out about Pitch Wars back in 2013, I wasn’t ready then. I had a broken manuscript that I couldn’t fix with the tools I had to my disposal at that time. But I kept my eye on the contest and started a new manuscript the following year. I knew if the timing was right, I would submit my new manuscript into the contest. There was so much to gain even if I didn’t get in!
Q: Was it your first time?
MMH: Yes, when I submitted The Atlantic Bond in the 2015 Pitch Wars, it was my first time. And I will say I had my expectation in check. Yeah, I was hopeful as any potential mentee is, but I knew the odds were not in my favor. And I was okay with that. I had met some wonderful people hanging out on the Pitch Wars feed and gained a few CPs. I had won already even if I didn’t get picked.
Q: How much did you stress out over your query and first pages?
MMH: I stressed a lot at first. But then I got help. I submitted my first page and pitch to a workshop called #YAYYA through Twitter where I critiqued 10 other writer’s first page and pitch. I received valuable feedback from them. Going in I didn’t know how solid my first page was. My first page was okay, but the feedback I got made it great!
Q: How long was it between querying your agent and her asking for a full? And then how long after requesting the full were you offered representation?
MMH: Not long. I thank #DVpit for snagging my wonderful agents. When I threw in a half dozen pitches into #DVpit, a Twitter event created to showcase pitches about and especially by marginalized voices hosted by Beth Phelan with The Bent Agency, I didn’t allow myself to hope too much. I was at the end of my query journey and this was my last pitch party I was going to do with this particular book. I’m so glad I decided to. Among the dozen requests, Tricia Skinner with Fuse Literary was one of them. And a Laurie had my full manuscript. So between Tricia’s request from my pitch to the email requesting the call, maybe three days!
Q: Why Laurie and Tricia? What did they say that helped you decide they were the agents for you? Was it something they said? How they communicated?
MMH: Fuse Literary has always been on the top of my list. They are forward thinkers in an industry that is pretty slow to change. I loved the fact they both are advocates for diversity not only for authors of color, but also diversity within my story as well. After my call, I knew I had found the perfect agents for me. And gushing over my book also helped a lot!
Q: After you had the call and were signed what was the first thing you did?
MMH: I did a happy jig around the house and then realized I had a lot of work ahead of me!
Q: How long have you been the GIF queen of twitter?
MMH: HAHA! Not long to be honest. Since last year’s 2015 Pitch Wars. I think I can account my success to the Dancing Dean GIFs during the dance gif parties!
Q: Okay, you signed with an agent. What happened next? Did you get notes? Did she ask you to revise? Did she have a particular topic, idea, or edits for you to make? How long did she give you to make them?
MMH: I got an edit letter from my agents and I had to plot out and write blurbs for books 2 and 3. Edits were light. I added a new chapters, increased the tension between my two main characters and general line edits to tighten and polish in some areas. I finished everything in just under two weeks.
Q: Was it easier to edit knowing you had an agents?
MMH: Yes! Their insight and vision for my manuscript was in line with mine so making the suggested changes was like taking direction from myself.
Q: How has your experience shaped how you plan to mentor during Pitch Wars this year?
MMH: Going through revisions with a published author and then two fantastic agents, I’ve learned more than I can say in a few sentences. I now know how to spot plot holes, trash/filter words, words I tend to overuse, dig deeper emotionally, and increase tension to the point it will make your head burst. There is a lot more, but I plan on passing my knowledge to my potential mentee. I will spread the revision/editing love and I hope to continue guiding/assisting my mentee even after Pitch Wars is over!
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Pitch Wars 2016 submission window opens August 3, 2016!
Coming this week- interviews with:
Tricia Skinner, Associate Agent, Fuse Literary
Betsty Thorpe, Editor Author
Karen McManus, PitchWars Mentor and Author