Is it cold where you live? A hot romance will fix you right up, and Eliza David has a whole collection to entice you. She does it all. Board member, blogger & contributing writer, moderator for the Writers’ Rooms, headlining author at the Iowa Book Festival, plus wife & parent. And, she finds time to tickle your erotic fancy. Lucky you!
I managed to snag Eliza for a few questions about her recent experience as a Pitch Wars 2018 mentee. For those not in the know, this is a competition to get your manuscript polished to a shine for an agent showcase. During the 2016 showcase, more than 50 authors were offered representation! Getting chosen is a win, and Eliza did the work and showed up. I’m really tickled for her.
PersephoneKnits: You’ve written and self-published eleven novels, including the Cougarette series. These are all have highly-starred reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Your work is clearly a success. Talk to me about why you decided to enter Pitch Wars.
Eliza David: A year ago, I wasn’t even sure what Pitch Wars was. I had a vague idea having participated in #PitMad [on Twitter] for a couple of years, but not a solid idea about the mentoring contest. It wasn’t until after my last novel was published in February (The Follow 2) that I decided I needed to take the next step in my literary career.
I went to the Pitch Wars website and read up about it. I participated in #PWPrompts leading up to the submission window and just really ingrained myself in the Pitch Wars community. Being selected for the 2018 mentee class was the thrill of my year – I’ve learned so much from the experience.
PK: I’d love to hear your biggest lesson so far. I know the process isn’t over. Your mentor has read the original manuscript, offered edits, and you’ve done the revisions and submitted them. Was there anything they suggested that was completely new to you? For instance, one of my first sessions with a writing coach taught me I was burying my characters emotions in the ends of my paragraphs. He suggested leading with those sentences. It was a revelation!
ED: I think the biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from my Pitch Wars mentor so far is the use of the scene map. I’m #TeamPlotter so I love any device that helps me plan out a richer story. Mary Ann’s scene map is EVERYTHING and was a big help when I was adding the point of view chapters of my main character’s love interest. Here’s a post on the scene map from my mentor’s blog. All writers should use it!
PK: No joke, I agree with your mentor: the idea of outlining in a spreadsheet like that makes this pantser look for the nearest fire exit. I’m trying to do better with planning at least a beginning, middle, and end, but it is absolutely contrary to my nature. I do agree I get faster results if I put the time in at the start, though. Did you find the scene map helped you be more efficient? And, speaking of time – what are some tricks you have for time-management?
ED: Oh, the scene map was a lifesaver for me, especially with adding another character’s POV into my story. I’ll be using it for future writing projects, for sure.
As for time management techniques, I am a huge fan of the Passion Planner (Team #pashfam!). I’ve used one to manage my personal, professional, and creative lives for the past two years. Having the visual of blocking off time for writing/editing makes me more likely to stick to it. With Pitch Wars, it’s really a glimpse into the life of an agented writer — deadlines, editing, the waiting. Managing your time is required!
PK: Let’s talk about the manuscript. What’s the story and how has it changed in the edits?
ED: My Pitch Wars story is a m/m romance entitled The Lamar St. Jon Experience.
Lamar, is a 24-year-old A-list actor/model who decides to step out of the limelight at the height of his career to privately come out of the closet. Before he finds the courage to come out, he meets Giovanni (Gi) Hughes – a 25-year-old strip club bartender who moonlights as a poet/performance artist. It’s a story of two men finding peace with their respective pasts to build a future together.
The biggest change my story went through during the first round of Pitch Wars edits was adding Gi’s point of view to the draft. There’s a level of surgery involved with adding 20,000 additional words – a second character’s own story – to a novel. It took me 9 weeks, some of the hardest work I’ve done on a novel thus far.
PK: Oh, yes! I know that pain well. I removed an entire character’s chapters and POV in my revision of my middle-grader manuscript. It was a third of the book I had to replace. This story sounds good. Emotional. What’s your favorite part about writing romance?
ED: I think my favorite part about writing romance is getting to know the layers of my characters, especially when I touch on any personal triggers that could enhance the conflict of the story.
With LSJ Experience, I spent hours dissecting Lamar and Gi. I thought about the stark contrasts of their upbringing, the child star from Midwest vs. the biracial kid raised on the East Coast. Digging deeper in my characters, finding out why they are who they are – that gives me a writer’s thrill!
PK: It sounds fabulous! I can’t wait to see how it does in the showcase. When does that happen, and what’s next on your plate after Pitch Wars?
ED: Thank you! February 6th is the Adult agent showcase. Right now, I’m working on small pesky little edits that I keep catching during my re-read and working on building my pitches with my mentor.
Next up for me after Pitch Wars is to go back to a project I started two years ago: the sequel to my novel, Savage. Laney Townes, the MC of the story, was a character in my first self-pubbed series, The Cougarette (can you tell I love a good spinoff? LOL!)
My readers LOVE them some Laney and have been begging me to finish the sequel so that should keep me busy for the remainder of the winter. I also have another celebrity-civilian trope project I want to finish. It’ll be a novella about two actors who fell in – and out – of love on the set of a 90s rom-com. Twenty years later, they are forced to reunite for a remake of the classic film, except this time around, she’s a huge star, and he’s happy he walked away from fame. But does love still remain between the bickering former sweethearts?
PK: Ah! That novella with the actors forced to reunite sounds brilliant and hilarious. What a great concept! Thank you, Eliza, for filling us in on the Pitch Wars experience. I’d love for you to come back and tell us how things turn out. Plus, I want to know more about Laney Townes and your other books.
ED: Sounds great – thanks again for having me on your blog, Julie!