Don’t know what Pitch Wars is? Neither do I, really… But from what I have gleaned, it seems to be an awesome annual contest where aspiring authors compete to catch the attention of published authors. Those authors then mentor their chosen mentees- polishing their manuscript and query letter. In the end, all mentees parade out their queries in front of agents who are looking to sign new clients. Some get signed and others don’t. That’s a writer’s life, I suppose. If you read my blog for updates on the kiddos then you can probably skip over this post (Or don’t- I’ll put in some cute kid picks). If you are a fellow PitchWars mentee or mentor, you’re welcome to read on to take one of those awkwardly voyeuristic glances into my life that the internet allows.
I am taking a break from writing a YA dark psych-thriller and listening to Party in the USA at full volume while I make googly eyes at my 6-month old. I am not ashamed of any of this, and that should tell you something about me.
What else can I tell you about me? I am a 33 year old American living in Bulgaria. I am currently on maternity leave from my job as a content creator and business manager for my husband’s web development company. In Bulgaria, maternity leave is 2 years (paid), and I decided to take these two years to launch my career as a novelist. That is, in between snuggling, breastfeeding, and walking my growing-like-a-weed daughter.
I have considered myself a writer since second grade, but somewhere along the way I decided I didn’t want to deal with the publishing industry. It was too stressful and subjective. I wasn’t in a place to put my energy into a career that would not support me. But I have been given this absolute gift of focusing on my writing since I moved to Bulgaria, and I am taking full advantage of it. Now the stakes are not quite so high. Publishing would be great, but I won’t go hungry without a contract, and that puts me in a mental state where trying to find an agent and publish is fun rather than stressful.
My Work Style
I am a late night, obsessive, always ahead of the deadline kind of writer. Before becoming a mother I would write until the story was out. We are talking 2-3 days, little or no sleep, fueled solely on coffee-shop pastries, lattes and passion. Now that I am a parent, I’ve had to find a balance and I write in scheduled blocks, which is rough for me. I also have started outlining more. <GASP>
I generally write my first draft in a notebook, then switch onto Scrivener for the second, third, and fourth drafts. I do initial critiques on scribophile and then do deeper crits in closed novel swap groups. I don’t mind “homework” on my WIP, but I usually do it either before or after the first draft, not during.
My Biggest Challenges As a Writer
- Being an immigrant. I no longer feel comfortable writing about the modern American kid, because I have not been there for 7 years, but I also feel like I can quickly overstep my place as a foreigner writing about Bulgarians. That being said, I don’t want all of my books to be about immigrant life, so I try to balance my American and Bulgarian settings (as well as a few made-up worlds).
- Finding time to write. When creativity strikes I can get cranky if I am not allowed to write immediately.
- Commas. I hate the dang things.
The Work In Question
I am still debating which MS I will enter in PitchWars. I have a complete and polished contemporary MG with fantasy elements. I’ve sent it on its first round of queries and gotten some interest from agents. However, I have not been offered representation on it yet. MG is NOT my natural category. I am a YA or literary adult writer. But after the birth of my son I was inspired to write a MG story for him.
This is my son, the inspiration behind Tuck Friday:
The novel is entitled TUCK FRIDAY AND THE GOLEM MASTER. It is 39,000 words and follows a socially awkward Bulgarian girl, Sylvia, while she tries to help the new boy fit in at school. The boy can draw pictures that seem to move and communicate telepathically with animals. He befriends her enemies and may have stolen her grandmother’s jewelry, but he always seems friendly and open when he is with Sylvia. Sylvia navigates her new friendship, bullying at school, and a blossoming relationship with her parents, who are starting to see her as a young woman instead of a child.
If I finish it in time, I would like to enter my YA psych-thriller that I am currently working on. But I am afraid I will not get the revisions done in time to submit it. Plus, I feel like there are more resources out there for YA writers, so I might benefit more from a MG mentor.
What I Hope To Get From the Experience
An agent? I kid… kind of.
My current MS has been through two rounds of intensive crit, and it is rather polished. But the crit came from unpublished writers. I would love to get a better perspective on its marketability (and what changes might make it more marketable) from someone who has published in the genre. I would also love advice on how to make my query letter shine. As someone with no writing credentials, a lot of weight is on the book and so I recognize the importance of really nailing that three-paragraph beast.
But really, more than anything, I am interested in the writing community that PitchWars appears to draw. I want to get to know other people who are writing- especially parent-writers who have to balance the needs of a child with the call of the muse. I want to find people who are looking to publish and celebrate with them when they succeed. On the flip side, I want to find people to commiserate with when the writing gets tough.