#PITCHWARS Mentee Bio!
For those of you who aren't familiar with #PitchWars, here's some information in a nutshell:
Each year, the wonderful Brenda Drake puts together a contest ( #PitchWars) which matches writers with mentors. Mentors review submissions and choose a person to work with for a few months on a completed MS. Following that, the mentees take their spit-polished, shiny works and pitch to a bunch of agents. And hopefully, some of those agents will love what they read. (Get more contest information at www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-wars.)
This year, I jumped in with my newly finished MG story, The Witch's Daughter. I know this ms will need a new title, but I've been using WD as title for about a decade... I recently read the adult novel of the same title (loved it!) and I haven't had time to think of a new title for my work yet.
Wow, I've been working on the same story for ten years? Ouch.
Well, yes and no. I wrote this story ages ago, when I first started writing for kids. I wrote an adult romance as, ahem, a practice novel... to prove I could write a novel. After sharing it with friends and family who assured me I was the next Danielle Steele-in-the-works, I wanted to work on something different. So I wrote this story, heavily influenced by one of my favorite childhood books: Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. I wrote it, rewrote it, and wrote some more. Sequels! Adventures for my m.c.! More! I was ready to quit my day job.
No, I really was ready to quit my day job. I am a pediatric nurse, and I was working with children in foster care. I loved them (still do!) but it was hard, frustrating work dealing with the system. But, instead of quitting, I enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program, in writing for children and young adults (http://www.vcfa.edu/wcya). Man, I love that place. It changed my life. I met great people and fell in love with every aspect of writing.
And... I didn't quit my day job.
I wrote, and worked, and wrote, and worked... and worked, and worked, and worked. It's hard to do both.
While I was at school, I worked on my WD story with all of my advisors. But, we agreed, the plot wasn't quite right. It wasn't coming together. I was proud to win the VCFA Marion Dane Bauer Scholarship with this story--Marion was one of my first workshop advisors and gave me great insight on it. It was one of a handful of fantasy stories chosen for critique by visiting author Jane Yolen the next year, and she gave me a glowing review. But still... the plot didn't shape up. Grrrrr.... stupid plot.
I went on to write other things: Angel, Baby is a MG/Tween story about a girl who has cancer and goes into foster care. Five Times Around is a MG ghost story that takes place on an island in the Chesapeake Bay. I have about 100 other stories started, but more than anything, I wanted to finish my WD story.
This year, I got a new job. I became a Pediatric Educator for a great program that teaches people about the importance of growth in children. I traveled extensively throughout my state... but, I traveled too much. I drove over a hundred and fifty miles every day (oooof). My family suffered, my house suffered, my pets suffered, and I suffered. But in those many hours of driving, my imagination soared. Finally, yes, finally, after a decade or more, I ironed out those plot wrinkles in my mind.
So I quit my day job. I wrote my book. In a week.
And then I was done.
Wait, what? I was supposed to take some time, write my book, and then look for a job. And I'm done writing that story? Already? How can that be? (Because I love to write and can do it for hours and hours if I have the time? No way! Really? I'm shocked... probably because I've never had this kind of time to write before.)
I've gone back to other stories that I started, and I'm working on something else, but my mind keeps wandering back to my WD story. I'm excited about it. I love the new changes. I want to share it with the world! But... not yet.
I need some fresh eyes on it. I need to share it with someone who hasn't seen in in 100 different forms (like my wonderful writing partners have). I want someone to pour over and nit pick it. So I joined #PitchWars! What better place to find that someone?
If I don't get chosen, then hopefully I'll find a critique partner. I'm enjoying all of my new Twitter friends, new opportunities (like #WriteOnCon and #BakersDozen2014 ) and just being a writer. And, to be honest, stress-free days and time with my kids. I'm reading, exercising, cleaning, baking... and all of the things I didn't get to do when I was on the road.
Here's me (in the flowered dress) with my famblers:
My husband and kiddos are great. When I told them I was resigning from my job, my kids gave me a standing ovation. It means the world to me that I have their support.
I know this bliss can't last forever, but I'm enjoying it now. I've learned a lot... I won't ever again commit myself to a job that takes me so far from home, or sucks up all of my time and freedom. I love this too much to give it up.
But today, I am free. Free to write, create, and enjoy.
Carpe diem! Today is my day!
|Me and My Baby|