During the 2016 Pitch2Pub contest, I came across a YA manuscript by Holly Hughes that I mostly loved. I was completely enthralled by about seventy-five percent of it and saw a lot of potential. The other twenty-five percent wasn’t quite ready for prime time, but I thought with some work it could be just as good as the rest of the book. I wrote a short editorial letter to Holly and invited her to do a revise and resubmit. We emailed back and forth a bit, she revised, and her new manuscript…was great! One thing that I like about the revise-and-resubmit process is that it shows me what kind of editor a writer is and how they take direction. Read on to learn more about Holly and her work.
I found your manuscript originally through a pitch contest. How did you get involved with that and who do you think could benefit from participating in one?
I really enjoyed my experiences with Twitter pitch contests. They fit well with my why not try it? attitude and they’re a great way to gain new perspective on a manuscript.
I think anyone who’s querying should try one. The worst thing that can happen is you get another no. And that means you’re one no closer to a yes!
By participating in my first pitch contest I learned my manuscript wasn’t ready, even though I was ready to submit. I wrote the book I wanted to write, but there’s more to story telling than that. I had to make hard edits, kill my favorite darlings to benefit the story. After editing based on feedback, I entered another contest, and that’s when I received your request. I also believe it’s important to enter contests with an open heart. For me, some of the best things that came out of the four Twitter pitch contests I was selected for were supportive friends.
I know that sounds easy for me to say because Carlie is my agent, but a few weeks ago she wasn’t. The friends I made are an integral part of my support system. They know how hard it is to pitch in 140 characters, subject themselves to public rejection, and obsessively refresh the feed to see if you caught an agent’s attention. One friend I made during a contest is Monica Hoffman. She’s represented by Tricia at Fuse and now we’re agency sisters!
- What did the revision process teach you about yourself as a writer?
I love this question. I think revisions taught me two things. First, I know my process. Each revision I do, I focus on specific story elements. I always start with plot, then move on to character development, and ultimately add in emotional layers. I save the emotional part for last because it takes so much out of me.
The other thing I know about myself is: even when the feedback from my critique partners is spot on, it hurts. I feel bad I missed something or I failed my story. My ego steps up, pouts, and says things like, “How did they miss it?” After my ego has its moment, the notes sink in on a deeper level and I get back to work. I dive headfirst into solving the problem. I pace, talk to myself as I type, write long hand, nap, take workshops, work with my critique partner, and push myself to do better. Once at a workshop an editor asked, “What’s your greatest strength as a writer?” My answer: “My persistence.”
You have a very cool job: intuitive healer. Tell us more about what that entails. What drew you to that line of work?
If you told me five years ago I’d have an office and be an intuitive healer and medium I would have laughed out loud. Really. Hard. But that’s the beauty of my life. It jumps and skips and takes me places I never thought I’d go.
I’ve always had the ability to see, hear, feel, and dream things. It’s my normal. If I went to tarot card reader I’d tell them what I saw for them. I’d see friend’s dead relatives standing next to them, and share the messages they wanted to give. My sensitivities were inconsistent and I got to a point where I wanted better control. So I studied, took classes, and practiced. I got better at discerning the messages I received and got comfortable with the idea I could help others. I visibly saw shifts in friends I worked on. I had another why not try it? moment. And here I am a year later, helping people. It feels good to bring goodness into the world. But don’t worry, if you meet me I promise not to read you unless you ask.
Follow Holly on Twitter: @hgirlla