Saturday, June 18, 2016

#Pitchwars #PimpMyBio Blog Hop: In Which I Introduce Myself

Welcome! I'm Leanne (@lifebreakingin/YA Fantasy), and you probably found this through the Pitchwars blog hop (thanks, Lana!). Thanks for hopping by; keep reading for a little background and info on what kind of mentee I'd be (spoiler: open-minded, kind, and possessing a killer work ethic). And don't forget to check out the other entrant posts!

I'm a cloud-lover living in sunny San Diego. I grew up in Davis, California, where books and theater were my passions. I loved stories!

Yup, that's me crossing my arms like I was wayyyy hipper than I'll ever be.

Theater allowed me to explore the world even though my family wasn't terrifically well-off.

Why, we could barely afford a full costume! Look how scandalized I am, second from the right. Still haven't improved my posing game much.

I lived through different times, places, and lives each show, as long as I worked hard, connected with others, and used my imagination--something I still love to do while reading and writing.

Connecting with others.
I could be an Argentinian aristocrat (center)--or even wilder: someone who can stand Andrew Lloyd Weber!

I learned the incredible value of having a community of artists and friends to lean on and support, especially when tragedy strikes or things just get extra-challenging. Loving encouragement, trust, open and respectful communication, and constant hard work towards an artistic goal were all things I learned from theater and use in my work with teens and my writing.

We lost a cast member to suicide just before the opening of Emma's Child.

And I got to ride in the local parade with a giant Jelly Belly!

My love of books won out enough so that I went to the California State Summer School for the Arts for creative writing (about 70 of us got in from all of California) and chose, when I attended UC Davis, to major in English. I graduated a Regents' Scholar, on the board of the women's honor society, with High Honors, as well as with the top award in the College of Letters and Sciences, and went on to get my masters before starting a career teaching high school English. Working with teens as they find themselves and their own way in the world is wild and rewarding.

Same goes for raising Owl.

When we read Romeo and Juliet, I love to tell my scholars--always hungry for respect for themselves and their feelings--that I found my true, lasting love as a teenager. (No, it wasn't the Jelly Belly.) But when I was a teen I could have really used some more feminist voices giving me the language I needed to express how I felt about the world as I grew into it. Books were where I turned. I'm grateful for the stellar YA out there, and strive to join the conversation. The Schwartzkins (Owl, 9, and Rookie, 5) always encourage me (they mostly wag a finger and say, "Get back to work, young lady!") and I often write after bedtime or at the park, beach, or botanical gardens while they play.

Or, you know, this works.

I write YA fantasy. I like mythic stories peopled with realistic characters, and I enjoy turning fairytale tropes on their head. My manuscript is Into the Woods fed to a white cow/cooked up in a magical cauldron with The Chronicles of Prydain, plus a few other magical ingredients. "Unlikable" heroines? Sure! Being a strong female in LOTS of ways? Yup! Longing-filled romance? Oh yes.

Where the magic happens.

Here's just some of the stories and storytellers I've been enjoying lately, or lifelong favorites.

TV & Movies:
Person of Interest, 12 Monkeys, Buffy, Fringe, Gilmore Girls, Agent Carter/AOS, Elementary, Alias, Brooklyn 99...
Labyrinth, Stardust, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Much Ado About Nothing...

Books & Authors:
Uprooted, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Passenger, The Lunar Chronicles, Lock & Mori, A Study in Charlotte, Sabriel...
Libba Bray, Malinda Lo, Rainbow Rowell, Nicola Yoon, Barbara Kingsolver, Laurie King, Shakespeare, Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Connie Willis, Bill Bryson, Robin McKinley...

Writing soundtrack for this book:
Sara Bareilles (feminist, emotive, SMART!), along with some show tunes, Vanessa Carlton, Loreena McKennitt...

I'm not freaking out! I'm excited!
Why I'm excited about Pitchwars: I'm already thrilled with the community--finding others who are at a similar place in their writing journey, as well as those who are so amazingly urging us along. I've always been one to encourage others (students and fellow members of writing groups) to tackle a story and to push themselves to revise. I'm blown away by how much the comments from CPs and those who have been generous enough to offer query critique giveaways have helped me take my craft so much further.

I'm also at the point with my manuscript, after my own revisions and feedback from CPs and betas, where I crave more input. Would this narrative arc work for a fresh reader or should I try this revision I'm contemplating? I'm ready for expert insights! And I'm ready to work hard tearing it apart if need be, or precisely, relentlessly improving key points. If I'm fortunate enough to get that feedback through Pitchwars, you can count on me to work as hard as I always do, grateful for the criticism and ready to have a ball improving my book.

My true love.
Oh, who am I kidding?


Unknown said...

Ah, another SoCal writer! I was a theatre major as an undergrad and loved it. Good luck in PW!

A. Benedetti said...

You're a brave girl. The Jelly Belly guy is kinda freaking me out. Good luck in Pitch Wars!

Zach J. Payne said...

Another theatre lover! Excellent! And another SoCal writer. My story takes place in a fictional analogue of Cardiff-on-the-Sea. I'm getting excited for PW, glad to meet another awesome writer!

Jonathan Peto said...

I was too self-conscious for theatre. Too bad. I can see now that it would've been great background for writing characters. Good luck with PW, Leanne!

Christy C. said...

Oh hey! I was born in Davis!! Grew up there for few years before we moved to San Diego where I did the rest of my growing up haha :P
Nice to meet you and good luck! :)

Unknown said...

I'm excited and freaked out, too. Good luck to you!

Bokerah said...

Good luck to you in PitchWars. (: Such a fun bio <3

Leanne said...

It's so cool to find authors who are familiar with Davis and north county SD! Thanks to all for stopping by! :)

Unknown said...

Good luck with PitchWars!