We’re excited to share Anna Orenstein-Cardona’s success story today on the #LatinxPitch Blog. Anna answered some of our most pressing questions about her experience with #LatinxPitch and her amazing PB debut, THE TREE OF HOPE, which was acquired by Beaming Books after the 2020 pitch event, and will be published in summer 2022. Congratulations, Anna!
1) Tell us a little bit about your experience with #LatinxPitch – where did you hear about the pitch event from, how did you feel the day of the event in terms of expectations, and how did the event lead you to sign with your agent?
The summer of 2020 was very difficult because I lost my beloved Mamá, after a brave fight against cancer. It was a period of deep mourning, but also a time of reflection. A period of renewed appreciation that we must live each day to the maximum, follow our dreams, and consider the legacy we wish to leave in this world.
My mother’s legacy was her love of familia, culture, and having the courage to live our values. I was blessed to have a successful career in finance for more than two decades, but the cost of it was silencing my creativity. I had put my writing in the back burner for a long time. My soul was telling me that it was time to give it another go.
That’s why when I heard about #LatinxPitch via a group of writers on Twitter, I immediately penciled in the date of September 15th 2020 in my calendar. I didn’t want to miss it!
I also applied via #LatinxPitch & won a critique from the lovely Rene Beauregard Lute for my MG manuscript, which ended up being super helpful for both projects that I wanted to pitch that day – my picture book THE TREE OF HOPE and my middle grade novel BORICUACATS.
On the day, I was both nervous but also hopeful. My picture book received various likes from a mix of editors and agents.
Naomi Krueger, who is the acquisitions editor from Beaming Books, was amazing. She really loved the story from the start but suggested a few edits. So, I did an R&R (revise and resubmit). The process took almost a full year, but I am excited to share that my debut picture book will be published in August 2022. Wepa!
It’s been such an incredible experience and I am full of gratitude to Naomi and all those that championed this story. I am also hopeful to find an agent in the future who can represent my other work.
2) What is your recipe for the perfect pitch?
I really think there is no such thing as a recipe for the perfect pitch because at the end of the day it is very personal. However, my advice would be to get to the heart of the story in the simplest way possible.
The way to achieve this is by letting your creativity flow. Write numerous pitches without giving it too much thought. I even recommend using Post-it notes and placing them up on a wall. Then choose the ones that you believe stand out the best, read them aloud, and go with your gut.
I also understand that using book comparables (comps) is helpful, however I did not use them for my picture book pitch because my story is inspired by true events.
3)What would you say to writers who aren’t sure if they should pitch?
This reminds me of when I was 21 years old and received a job offer to move from New York City to London. I was excited and petrified at the same time. You see, I didn’t know a soul in the UK and the job was demanding.
My mother said to me, “echa pa’ lante”, which means just go for it. It was the best decision of my life, both professionally and personally. I’ve come to realize that by setting our fears aside and moving forward boldly that we can accomplish great things, for ourselves and for others.
So, that’s my advice for all those writers who may be hesitant, echa pa’ lante!
4) What does an event like this mean to you as a Latinx writer?
I have dreamed of not only becoming a published author, but also representing my beautiful Puerto Rican heritage through my writing. Thanks to #LatinxPitch my dream has come true.
I am deeply grateful to all the hard work that the #LatinxPitch team does. I am also thankful to the numerous agents and editors who participate and the writers who support other writers with their critiques and advice. Together, a more equitable world is being created. One in which children will find a reflection of themselves and their culturas. This is not only beautiful, but much needed in a world where demographics are rapidly changing. ¡GRACIAS!
5) Finally, tell us all about your PB, THE TREE OF HOPE!
When Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, jagüey blanco, the banyan tree that had stood guard by the historic San Juan Gate was uprooted and fell into the sea. For locals, the ancient tree, which weighed over 30,000 pounds and measured over 50 feet in height, symbolized the indomitable spirit of the Puerto Rican people and its fall was a shattering blow.
The TREE OF HOPE is inspired by the tree’s miraculous rescue and regrowth; a reminder of the power of community and the importance of never giving up.
Anna Orenstein-Cardona was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is an alum of Faber Academy (Writing a Novel and Writing for Children). She is active in the Society of Children Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI).
She is an NFEC-certified financial educator (CFEI) and coach with over 22 years of experience working in global financial markets. In 2020, she founded Wear Your Money Crown® to help close the gap in financial literacy.
Currently, Anna is working on developing various projects, including more children books. She lives in London with her two very special furbabies and her Southern Gentleman husband, although spends as much time as she can in Puerto Rico, where she regularly gets involved in rescuing abandoned animals and supporting local charities.