The enthusiasm of the Pitch Wars community is so contagious that I had to join in the fun this year. It’s awesome to see mentors, mentees, and all of us wannabes engaging in some good old-fashioned literary citizenship. I already got my first mentor in the form of Colleen Halverson, who critiqued my query and first 250 words just because she wanted to help me put my best writing forward. Seriously, with her notes I’ve already improved. Yippee!
I’d love to connect with more writer friends as a result of this experience. If you can see yourself chilling with me, please reach out on Twitter. Thanks!
A Day in the Life
- Sitting in bed, writing urban fantasy. If it was good enough for Truman Capote, it’s good enough for me!
- Blowing bubbles, coloring, and spinning. I’ve got a toddler, and I agree with Amy Poehler that any book written by a parent should come with a sticker on the cover advertising that it was written while parenting so people appreciate just how exhausted the author was.
- Reading. I have The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas on my nightstand, The Round House by Louise Erdrich on audio, and Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews on my Kindle.
- Watching. I’m all up in Game of Thrones, iZombie, and Big Little Lies right now.
Very soon this oh-so-chill lifestyle will be replaced with the chaos of the school year. I teach language arts and coach group improvisation at a high school.
- Dialogue (I learned from Tom McAllister while he was at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I’ll always be thankful for his lessons on this topic.)
- High-concept premises (Most of my books start with a what-if.)
- Discipline (I write every day.)
- Creating diverse casts while respecting #ownvoices and avoiding cultural appropriation (While my MC is always a white female (because that’s what I am), I intentionally cast my books so they are representative of the setting’s actual demographics. To promote authenticity, I have multiple characters of the same ethnicity with differing viewpoints, I read widely from authors of color, I get sensitivity readings from persons of color, and I read Writing with Color.)
- Dark humor (This is how I’ve been since forever.)
- Listening to critique without making excuses (Two undergrad semesters at The University of Iowa trained me to do this.)
- Trusting my critique partners and applying their feedback (In addition to my college experiences, I practice this with my CPs.)
- Leaning in to the writing process (I live it. I teach it.)
- Creating scene arcs (Part of this is my training as an improviser, but the real growth came after I read Those Magic Words by Cheryl Klein.)
- Trope subversion (especially when it comes to women)
- Pacing (my work is plot-driven, so I struggle to let readers catch their breaths)
- Interiority (it ends up as authorial telling as often as it ends up being legit)
- Fresh descriptions (seriously–how many ways can I say that it’s cold outside?)
- Magical systems building (this is my first urban fantasy project–I’ve written two horror, two YA, and a contemporary novel before)
- All the other blind spots in my writing that I fail to see.
When a truck-driving witch finds out she’s pregnant on the same day her sister becomes the coven’s first abduction, she must use her trucker network, enlist the help of her baby’s possible daddies, and work with the coven that resents her blue-collar magic before there’s no coven left.
Two great questions from Eric Smith at P.S. Literary:
Why tell this particular story?
What if a small number of women were born witches, and they were out from the very beginning? This story answers that question. At its core, this book explores how someone balances and embraces her sense of power and vulnerability.
Why is this my story to tell?
- My mom’s partner for almost twenty years was a truck driver. I fell in love with the trucker life when he took us with him to deliver cookies in Ripon, Wisconsin.
- I’ve been pregnant, and I remember being treated as if I were vulnerable in spite of the fact that I felt more powerful than ever.
Best wishes to all who are entering Pitch Wars. As I recently heard Gabriela Pereira say in a webinar, “Focus on learning and becoming the best writer you can be.”