Interview with Veronica Bartles

Interview:

 

Ali:  You are a Pitch Wars Mentor for the second time. What is your favorite thing about Pitch Wars?

Veronica: The absolute best thing about Pitch Wars is the way relationships form around the contest. I have been on both sides (I entered two years ago, though I didn’t get in), and I’ve made so many friends along the way, with other mentors and fellow contestants! The awesome community is definitely the biggest thing that keeps drawing me back time after time.

Also, even though I didn’t get into the contest, I consider myself one of the success stories from that first Pitch Wars. I want to pay it forward and help others.

I had been querying my first manuscript for nearly two years, and I was getting several requests and very positive rejection letters, but no offers. The agents were sending me loads of encouragement, but no suggestions on what to improve. Just “it’s not for me.” Of course, I believed that meant my story wasn’t really good enough, and they were all just too nice to tell me what was wrong. (Really, folks, that’s not true. Sometimes, a story can be fabulous, and still just not be the right fit for a particular person. It really is a subjective thing!) So I decided that Pitch Wars was my one and only hope. I needed a mentor to walk me through another round of revision and find that elusive something that was holding me back. And when I didn’t get in, I told myself that it was a sign. I should just give up on the manuscript, and maybe even writing, because it would always be almost good enough, but not quite there.

Except, I couldn't give up on these characters who had become so real to me. So as my "final goodbye" to the story, I sat down and wrote the story of the little sister from that first manuscript as my "just for me" NaNoWriMo project. (I’d wanted to write it for a while, but I kept telling myself that I couldn’t write the sequel until I sold the first book.) And eight months later, I accepted an offer of publication for TWELVE STEPS.

It didn't play out the way I wanted it to. The path wasn't easy. But I became a Pitch Wars success story simply because I didn't make it in. Because the process gave me the push and the courage I needed to take a path I was scared to attempt otherwise. I want to be able to remind all of the people hoping for an elusive slot in this year’s contest that success comes in learning and growing from the experience, no matter how many “yes” or “no” responses you may get.

 

Ali:  Which book conference is your favorite or is there one you haven’t attended that you would like to?

Veronica: Oh, goodness! I don’t know if I could choose a favorite. I’ve found something to adore in every single conference I’ve attended. I love smaller, regional SCBWI conferences (the MD/DE/WV region always has amazing events!), and I have a goal to attend conferences in as many regions as I can. And I dream about going to the big, international SCBWI conference in LA one of these years, although I haven’t been able to afford it yet.

This year, I attended the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention, and it was so packed full of amazing that I barely slept all week long. And I spent a week in New York for BEA, which was equally amazing and jam-packed with awesome. (The best part was meeting so many of my online writing friends – and even a few fans of TWELVE STEPS – in person!)

One of these days, I’m determined to make it to Midwest Writers, because I’ve heard great things about it, and I would love to attend ALA as well, because Wow!

Confession: I’ve had so much fun talking about my novel and my writing journey in school visits and online panels this year. I didn’t realize I would enjoy the public speaking part of the job as much as I do. I would love to someday be invited to speak on a panel at one (or more!) of these amazing conferences. ;)

 

Ali: What is your current writing project?

Veronica: Currently, I’m writing another YA contemporary romance that’s still in the super-secret (aka first draft) stage. I can’t say too much at this stage, but I will admit that I’m pulling in my love of food and simple gourmet recipes on this one.

 

Ali: Are you going to stick with writing Young Adult novels or are you going to try different genres?

Veronica: Oh, I’m definitely sticking with Young Adult, because I have so many YA stories in my mind, begging to be written. But I also write Middle Grade and Picture Books. In fact, I caught my agent’s attention with an MG manuscript called LETTERS FROM HEAVEN, which may have been the most personally important book I’ve ever written. And I’ve also written a few picture books, including one inspired by the title of the first novel I ever wrote (the one that didn’t make it in to Pitch Wars two years ago).

Ali: If you could write a story with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?

Veronica: Rachel Harris and I have joked around about writing a crossover novel to combine the characters of her upcoming YA contemporary novel, THE FINE ART OF PRETENDING with my characters from TWELVE STEPS. I’d love to make that happen for real one day, just for kicks and giggles, because I definitely believe that our characters would be great friends if they ever met. And they would have some epic double dates!

 

Thank you Veronica for taking the time to celebrate the 2 year blogiversary for Dazzled by Books. It was a pleasure having you.

 

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