Friday, October 30, 2015

My Pitch Wars Inspiration Story

When the Pitch Wars mentor picks went live, I was sitting on my couch frantically refreshing my browser along with the rest of the mentee hopefuls who had (naturally) broken Brenda's site the moment she hinted at posting the list. My husband very calmly asked me what the website was and proceeded to look it up on his iPad.

Me: "C'MON! LOAD!"
Husband: "Honey, I've got the list."
Me: "I've almost got it! It's loading!"
Husband: "HONEY, I'VE GOT THE LIST."

As soon as I looked up and saw his face, I knew what he was going to say next. (Although it took me a whole heck of a lot longer to really believe it.)

"Your name is on it!"

And thus began two of the coolest, craziest months ever. They've gone something like this...



I've learned so much from my mentor, Kara Seal. (Seriously, you guys, she's the BEST EVER.) And I've gained the most incredible community of writers, ready and willing to lend encouragement and support every step of the way. This experience is something I will never forget, and I know I will continue to reap the benefits of what I've learned and the people I've connected with for years to come. 

On Tuesday (which, by the way, also happens to be my 30th birthday) all our super-shiny, newly polished novels will get their first peek at the world when our pitches and excerpts go live on Brenda's blog. To distract ourselves from the looming agent-round jitters, some of us mentees are doing a blog-hop to share our experiences and the inspirations behind our novels. In my middle grade novel, FOLLOW ME, twelve-year-old Alivia Hart searches the woods for her missing mother and finds a family tree full of secrets that lead to a place called Wonderland. And here's how it started...

The idea for FOLLOW ME began with a setting. I had just finished watching the movie EPIC with my kids and as the credits rolled, I couldn't stop thinking about the magical world inside the forest, where good battled evil and a darkness threatened to destroy everything from the inside out. I knew I wanted to write a book with a setting like that--dark and mysterious, with just a bit of creepiness around the edges. When I'm planning a novel, flashes of scenes play in my mind, like clips from a movie trailer. I kept picturing a girl, standing in front of an open window, shivering in the cold while she waited for something...

A wind from the woods. 

Carrying a voice. 

A mother's voice. Whispering, "Follow me..."

When I first started plotting the book, I had no intention of connecting my story to Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. But then I had an idea for a scene that required my main character, Alivia, to have the same first initial as her mother. The first A name that popped into my head was Alice. And then I thought...

"What if her mother is THE Alice?"

I love Alice's adventures--they were the start of my classic children's books phase as a preteen--so it was easy to get excited about the direction that idea took me. And the rest of the pieces fell into place from there! (Okay, so there was a lot of hard work and crying and pleading and it felt more like forcefully jamming the pieces into place at times, but it's all good now and if I've gone a little mad in the process it's okay, because all the best people are, right?) 

So that's the story behind my story! You can find links to some of the other mentees' posts here

To all my fellow mentees: You guys are an amazing group of crazy talented people and I can't wait to have a whole bookcase full of your stories! I'll be cheering on each and every one of you in the agent round!

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