Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Meet Vanessa Barger: #PitchWars Winner!

Hello Mercedes, and thanks for inviting me to be on your blog!

First, for those of you who don’t know, #PitchWars was created by Brenda Drake, and is a contest designed to give the winners an opportunity to work with a mentor to shine up their manuscript to its best possible shininess. Then, during the agent round, mentees are given the chance to rise above the normal slush pile and get noticed.

I entered PitchWars last year with a YA thriller, but it didn’t win. There were a lot of entries, and not a lot of spaces, and the manuscript had been submitted everywhere on earth. So I stuck it in the proverbial drawer and let it go. Then, this summer, I marked the date for the submission window for 2015 PitchWars and made it a goal to finish my new MG manuscript in time to send it.

I worked and edited until I couldn’t edit anymore, and the window approached. I posted my query blurb on a couple of writers boards (Querytracker and the SCBWI BlueBoards) and got some great feedback from people to tighten the query. I was ready. I just had to wait for the window and pick the five mentors I would submit to.

I read all the blog posts. I watched all the chats, and I made a couple adjustments to my list. Finally, the day came, the window opened (early), and I hit the send key. And immediately started to try and NOT check my email a million times.

Its two weeks before you get the results of PitchWars. I was on twitter a few days before the actual announcement date, and saw there was a chat planed, with a possible surprise! I tuned in, anxious to see what the surprise would be. It had been a rough week, so I wasn’t expecting anything. And when they said they were posting the winners early, I clicked the link, fully expecting nothing.

I had to read the website twice to register that my name was actually there! I called everyone, most of whom were happy for me, but had no idea what it was so I had to explain, and then I cried a little, and did a lot of tweeting happiness.

And then I’ve spent the last two months working on edits from my mentor, Sarah Cannon, who is amazeballs.

She’s made it really easy, giving me edits in small chunks, and that has helped. Instead of being overwhelmed, it’s in easy bites. I love her for that.

Now we’re a month to the agent round. We’re working on line edits, and at some point I suppose I have to get a pitch together. (Not looking forward to that. I suck at those)

I’m nervous, but I’m hopeful. I love this story, Sarah loves it, and I hope someone else will love it too! Stay tuned. If anything good happens, you’ll see me tweeting it from the rafters!

And if you’re interested in PitchWars, head to Brenda Drake’s website. She does it every year – so get those manuscripts ready. It’s always worth a try!

Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), the Virginia Writer's Club, and the Hampton Roads Writers. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She is married to a fabulous man, and has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

Check Vanessa's super website!

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