Pitch Wars mentee bio — I’m a writing weather geek

Welcome, potential Pitch Wars mentors and fellow mentees! (This blog hop makes me so happy.)

I’m an assistant professor who teaches undergraduates and graduates about weather. Okay, that statement doesn’t do my enthusiasm for the weather justice, so have a GIF:

Believe me, that’s not far from the truth when it’s storming outside. Like right now. I may be writing this while facing a window and frequently glancing at the radar…

Back on topic! My research keeps me in front of a computer most of the time, but I’ve also traveled to Asia and Europe to present at conferences and workshops. Fun fact: I’ve flown through a hurricane. On purpose. And I want to do it again and again.

One thing I’ve noticed since I began studying the atmosphere is that people get weather facts wrong all the time. Though they’re interested in what I have to say a little more often now that “Dr.” precedes my name, most of the time I try not to say anything:

(I’m a proud Browncoat!)

I’ve been writing since I was about six or seven. I recently moved, and during the packing process I stumbled across a bunch of three-ring binders full of random ideas, short stories, fan fiction, and unfinished novels I’ve attempted over the decades since then. Some thoughts had been scribbled onto gum wrappers and the paper we used to cover our temporary textbooks back in middle school.

I’m a little more sophisticated now, relying on OpenOffice and frequent backups of every writing document I create. (I haven’t tried Scrivener yet… and I’m afraid that I’ll fall in love with it if I do.) Also, I’ve exported copies of my two completed manuscripts to .epub format to read on my Nook, and holy crap did that make me feel like a real author. Thanks to that, I convinced a friend to beta read because she hates to read on her computer.

Right, on to my Pitch Wars manuscript. It’s an adult urban fantasy about a half-human woman who, after spending years and years evading the paranormal clan she escaped as a teen, decides to take control of the elements of her life she can control. It’s about a detective who resigned himself to fight supernatural creatures most believe are myth after the death of his mentor, who now believes the only good monster is a dead one. It’s about their relationship, about them coming to terms with each other, with themselves, with the world around them.

I wrote this novel for a lot of reasons: to survive grad school, to feature a strong female character with struggles and weaknesses, to show a character’s acceptance of herself (and to help me do the same), to emphasize the connection that can develop between two people regardless of sexual orientation or prejudices.

I want a mentor who supports me, who believes in the story I’m trying to tell, who makes me a better writer. Feedback from people I’ve met and connections I’ve made through Twitter-based contests have transformed The Measure of a Monster from a completed draft to a pretty good manuscript. Now I want a mentor to push me the remaining distance from “pretty good” to “amazing.” I want a mentor unafraid to rip my writing apart because he/she knows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I can improve.

I’m going to “win” whether or not I get a mentor thanks to the writer community participating in Pitch Wars. But of course I want a mentor! I want to wow you with my novel, and I want you to wow me with your ability to push this novel to become the best it possibly can be.

So, without further ado…

If you do, I’ll react like this:

And we’ll be awesome together!

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busy times

I’m moving to a different state tomorrow, so this post is brief by necessity.

I can’t speak highly enough of critique partners and feedback. It is TERRIFYING to put yourself out there. Even if it’s just a query or the first 250 words of your novel. But it’s so worth it. I’ve done many revisions of both my query, my first 250 words, and by extension the rest of my novel because of the wonderful comments I’ve received (most public, but some behind the scenes from my CPs as well).

Not wonderful because they made me feel good. Wonderful because they were honest, forthright, and helpful. I needed to hear about what I was doing wrong, where I was unclear, how my characters’ voices weren’t coming through, how my POV was inconsistent.

I took a chance by posting to the New Agent Query Critique blog hop, and I’ve reaped so many rewards I don’t know how I’ll ever pay back the writing community. So my IWSG advice is to take a plunge, find someone who’s willing to critique your writing, and become a better writer for it.

(Just keep a few friendly beta readers in your back pocket for the hard days. I got feedback from a friend who loved an earlier, less polished version of my novel, and that made me walk on air for a while.)