What the Heck is Pitch Wars?
From the Pitch Wars website: For those unfamiliar with Pitch Wars, it’s a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer edits on how to make the manuscript shine. The mentor also edits his/her writer’s pitch and query letter to get it ready for the agent round. Those entering Pitch Wars submit applications (query plus first chapter of manuscript) to their chosen mentors. The mentors then read all their applications and choose the writer they want to mentor for two months to get them ready for the agent showcase.
I participated in Pitch Wars last year and it was, hands down, the best thing I have ever done for my writing. I met fellow writers, made some great friends, had a lot of laughs, and learned so much about my craft. And now I’m back, ready to do it all over again!
Hello! My name is Lonna. I’m a writer. I also love to read. I adore children, animals, and bugs. Autumn is my favorite season and windy days are my favorite days. Polka dots are kind of my signature thing. My favorite holiday is Halloween. I play a mean game of jacks. I’m an expert at parallel parking, which is weird because my spatial awareness is terrible. I will go out of my way for miniature golf, a good ice cream cone, used book sales, and steamed crabs. Beach over pool. Forest over mountains. Fish over meat.
I would love some help with showing versus telling, active versus passive voice, head hopping, and maybe some assurance that my story isn’t a terrible bore. As a writer what I fear most is indifference and being called self-indulgent.
I am an incredibly hard worker and will never balk at criticism or shut down in the face of constructive feedback. In fact, I crave feedback, even harsh feedback, because I want to know what’s working, what isn’t, and what to do about it. I make a conscious effort to practice gratitude at all times. I strive to have a positive attitude and an open mind. My life’s philosophy is to have as few regrets as possible and to never wish anything away.
In a less imperfect world (one that took place prior to our most recent presidential election, for example) I wouldn’t feel the need to include this section in my bio. I am a Christian. I have been a Christian all my life and my relationship with God is incredibly important to me. I don’t name-call, or point fingers, but I don’t want to be lumped in with the people who call themselves Christians but support ideologies that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus. I don’t like everyone, but I try to love everybody, and when the love doesn’t come easily, I look for ways to empathize. As much as possible, I try not to judge but I am human and I am not perfect.
I believe in marriage equality. I believe it is a woman’s right to make her own, private decisions regarding her body. I believe that people should be able to use any bathroom they want to. I believe that children deserve parents who love them and that families come in endless combinations. I believe that all races, genders, sexual orientations, and varying levels of physical and mental ability are equal and equally important. I believe that everyone has a story to tell. I believe that God loves everyone.
I do not believe in bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, trans-phobia, body shaming, racism, or using God to advance personal or political prejudices. I do not support invoking the name of Jesus to lend legitimacy to hate campaigns or exclusion. And I do not believe in “love the sinner, hate the sin,” because it’s a lazy way of cloaking ourselves in goodness and mercy we don’t really feel for the purpose of judging another person. We are all sinners. If God wrote an eleventh commandment, it might have been, “Thou shalt get over thyself.”
What Else I Do
I’m an archaeologist and a museum professional. I am a wife and mother. With young children at home, I spend most of my time teaching: preschool, Sunday school, ballet, creative movement, and how to wipe one’s own bottom.
Books I Love
I grew up in a house filled with books. Some of my favorite children’s books are Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, Leaf Magic by Margaret Mahy, The Secret of the Sachem’s Tree by F.N. Monjo, Teeny-Tiny and the Witch Woman by Barbara K. Walker, Nate the Great and Lost List by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, One Bright Monday Morning by Arline and Joseph Baum, Someday by Charlotte Zolotow, and all the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel.
When I got a little older my favorites included My Side of the Mountain by Jean George, The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, Homecoming and Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt, and The Ghost of Windy Hill by Clyde Robert Bulla.
Adult books I love include The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Return to Treasure Island by John Goldsmith, Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, My Antonia by Willa Cather, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates.
I also love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, especially The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Deathly Hallows while Ms. Rowling’s Coromoran Strike books written under the name of Robert Galbraith have become a recent obsession.
My Pitch Wars Manuscript
I believe in this story with all my heart. I love my characters, the settings are among some of my favorite places on earth, and the plot and themes are very personal to me. I am passionate about telling this story and will do everything I can to make sure that other people have the opportunity to read it. Trowel and Error is a contemporary romance. It takes place in the mid-1980s in Washington, D.C., a fictional town called Mockingbird Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and an 18th century Spanish mission in California’s Valley of the Oaks. It is . . .
Trowel and Error
Eleanor Blake is an archaeologist who needs only a trowel and a dig site to excite her and make her feel fulfilled. She came of age during the tug-of-war over the Equal Rights Amendment and considers herself a feminist. But she must confront stereotypes and outdated notions of what is suitable work for a woman.
Nevertheless, she persists.
She’s an unapologetic and independent woman and a role model for all the little girls who love books, history, and science.
Eleanor exists in a new reality where the fledgling MTV and other emerging media on cable television exploit women’s bodies and glorify sex even as the specter of AIDS looms. She struggles to define her own morality and to identify the risks that are worth taking. And while she longs to experience the sexual freedom of her mother’s generation, she has no intention of letting a man be responsible for her happiness. In 1985, an attempted sexual assault frightens her into giving up field work. She hides behind her desk job at the Smithsonian, unhappy with the limits she’s placed on her career, but unwilling to risk the potential dangers she perceives as lurking outside the museum.
Tom Gage is an actor who’s let his mother and father guilt him into giving up his love of stage acting for more lucrative and visible movie roles. He’s miserable but too afraid of disappointing the parents who worked hard and made enormous sacrifices to ensure his success. When Tom and Eleanor meet in the middle of a blinding thunderstorm on a Tennessee highway, a sense of connection over their shared struggles leads to a night of passion. When Tom tries to convince her to go back to field work, knowing from personal experience that she might regret her decision to quit, their argument blows up into the fatal words of “coward” and “hypocrite.” Eleanor returns to Washington, D.C. and Tom follows her there, hoping to repair the damage of their fight. She sees his grand gesture as creepy obsession and sends him away, expecting never to see him again.
Nearly a year later, Eleanor, determined that a past she can’t change won’t impact her future, is back at work, teaching a summer field school in California. When a chance meeting brings Tom back into her life she realizes she’s been lying to herself about her feelings for him. They make every moment count, and it’s easy for Eleanor to forget that her life and work are waiting for her in D.C., while Tom’s acting career anchors him to the west coast. When their summer to remember ends, she must decide between the career she’s fought for, and the only man she’s ever loved.
Well, that’s all for now. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading this. I want to thank Brenda Drake and her fantastic team for making Pitch Wars happen. Thank you to Lana Pattinson for Pimp My Bio. Thank you to all the mentors who work so hard to help other writers. You can always find me right here on my blog and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lonnaseibertwriter
Please follow me on Twitter at @lonnaseibert. I would love to meet you and I follow back.
Good luck, everyone!
Well look at that. Even Santa is subbing to #PitchWars!
‘Twas the night before PitchWars and all through the house,
My children were quiet, and so was my spouse.
(They all had their orders: Mommy is busy,
Don’t talk to her now or she’ll be in a tizzy.)
My notebooks and pens were piled high on my desk,
With soda and snacks, a disorganized mess.
The guinea pig was munching on leaves in her dish,
As I closed my eyes and whispered a wish.
My hair was dirty, my clothes were too,
Who has time to change, or even shampoo?
When from my computer there arose such a noise,
It was the PitchWars party, meant to encourage girls and boys!
Away to my monitor my gaze hurried fast,
I closed all my open tabs, got settled at last.
The Skype feed was choppy, the mentors sometimes muted,
But they gave great advice as they laughed and they hooted.
I knew that they cared about everyone’s books
It was obvious just from the way that they looked.
As the sub window opens, and then closes tight
We will hope for the best with all of our might.
And so we will wait, with a tear in our eye.
The lows, they are low and the highs are SO high!
We know that we owe all of you great thanks
For trying to help us rise up to your ranks.
Oh Brenda, oh Brighton, oh Heather and Nikki!
Oh Michael, Michelle, and L.L. McKinney!
We sub to you with great hope in our hearts,
We love your feedback, we’ll cut the dull parts.
We all look to you for your wisdom and your wit,
But you can only pick one, who you deem to be fit.
The party is over, the last advice given,
We’ve all done our best and must leave it to heaven.
Good luck and best wishes to all who have entered,
And many thanks to the mentors who try to keep us centered.
PitchWars will come and PitchWars will go,
But the friendship and support will linger on, so . . .
I spring from my chair, I know I am ready,
It is time now for sleep, my head is sure heavy!
PitchWarriors, don’t fear, we are already winners!
We have all written books, we are all yarn spinners!
I say to you now as I turn off the light,
Happy PitchWars to all, we have fought the good fight!
Hello! My name is Lonna. I’m a writer. My daughters told their teacher that their Mommy’s a writer so it must be true. Seriously proud moment there. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I am obsessed with polka dots. I am an expert parallel parker and I play a mean game of jacks.
I love to write, except when I hate to write, and I am so happy that I found out about the amazing opportunity that is Pitch Wars. I have spent a lot of time, I mean a lot of time revising, editing, slicing, dicing, adding and subtracting and I would love the chance to get some fresh new eyes looking at my work. That old truth that you can’t see what needs to be fixed in your own work is so true. How else could I have been on my fifth edit before I realized I used the same word twice in two sentences? I mean, really. I can definitely use help with showing versus telling, active versus passive voice, head hopping, and making sure that my story isn’t an unqualified bore. As a writer what I fear most is indifference and being called self-indulgent.
I am an incredibly hard worker and I will never balk at criticism or shut down in the face of constructive feedback. I am an eager student and I will not only be open to suggestions and commands, I will go out of my way to make sure I understand what is being suggested or commanded, so I can do it better next time. I make a conscious effort to practice gratitude at all times. I strive to have a positive attitude and an open mind. My life’s philosophy is to never wish anything away.
I have been a writer for a very long time. Like, most-of-my-life long time. I wrote my first story when I was six, about a little girl who stops to help an elephant who hurt his elbow when he fell off his skateboard. It was called “The Hurt Funnybone.” Boy, was I surprised and embarrassed when my classmates laughed and laughed at my title. Peasants! When I was a high school freshman I entered a “scary story” contest my local newspaper was running. My story was called “All in a Day’s Work,” after a phrase in a Sidney Sheldon book, thank you very much, and I thought I was all that when I won second place in my age group.
What Else I Do
I am an archaeologist with about two decades of professional museum work under my belt. I worked at the Smithsonian for more than ten years (some of those years in anthropology and others in public affairs) and I have put in more than my share of volunteer and paid hours at a number of historic house museums—my first love. I’ve been a tour guide, educator, and curator, done first-person historical interpretation, demonstrated needlework, butter making and hearth cooking, but I was never able to master spinning and weaving. Lately I am a mom and a preschool teacher.
I have a unique perspective for writing historical fiction because I know lots about actual history! Here is Elizabeth Hager (it’s really me) in her husband’s frontier trading post (historic house museum) in 1739 (but really 1992):
GIFs? What GIFs?
Giff? Jiff? I have no idea. I am not technically savvy at all. The fact that I have a blog is a minor miracle. That I am on Twitter is still a source of amazement to me. Computers were not a big part of my childhood. I wrote my high school, college, and first semester of graduate school papers on an IBM Actionwriter-One typewriter. I first used e-mail around 1995. I am a hopeless romantic, lover of history and used to wear Laura Ashley dresses with petticoats under them and cameos pinned to the oh-so-modest necklines. I was brought kicking and screaming into the digital age and I’m still not sure I’m happy to be here. And is it even called that anymore?
Books I Love
I grew up in a house filled, and I do mean filled, with books and I am a voracious reader. My favorite children’s books are Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, Leaf Magic by Margaret Mahy, The Secret of the Sachem’s Tree by F.N. Monjo, Teeny-Tiny and the Witch Woman by Barbara K. Walter and Nate the Great and the Lost List by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. I love children’s books so much that I often write about them on my blog.
When I got a little older my favorites included My Side of the Mountain by Jean George, The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, Homecoming and Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt and The Ghost of Windy Hill by Clyde Robert Bulla.
Adult books I love include The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Cannery Row by John Steinbeck and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
TV? Not Me!
I don’t have time for TV, but after stopping to watch Andrew Davies’ War and Peace earlier this year I make it a point to see BBC’s The Musketeers whenever I can. Because Tom Burke. Right?
My Book. My Book. (I typed that twice because it looks so very lovely!)
River Farm is an historical romance. A beautiful young indentured servant and wealthy doctor living on an idyllic Virginia farm fall in love on the eve of the American Revolution. Their love must survive the ravages of war, and triumph over the battles they are fighting in their own hearts.
Catherine Abbott arrives in the Virginia colony in 1774. Recently orphaned and reeling from a suitor’s betrayal she is determined to build a new life. As an indentured servant for hire she unwittingly draws the attention of a dangerous man with a frightening reputation. When the wealthy and handsome doctor, James Craig, rescues her from this situation they discover an overwhelming mutual attraction. Catherine falls hopelessly in love but the doctor, himself the victim of a difficult past and haunted by his memories of the battlefields of the American Revolution, cannot make a commitment. Together they must survive the return of Catherine’s dangerous admirer, overcome the ravages of war, and triumph over their personal demons before they can find true happiness. With appearances by George Washington, the irresistible romance of Colonial dancing and holiday celebrations, glimpses of Continental Army encampments along the banks of the Delaware and at Valley Forge, and a Potomac River setting of dazzling natural beauty, River Farm is the story of one couple’s winding and unlikely path to love.
That’s the name of the last chapter of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, another book I absolutely adore. This is where I should just wrap everything up. Okay. This was my Pitch Wars bio. If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for reading. If you’re a mentor, I would be honored if you would pick me. If you’re a potential mentee, I wish you the best of luck in this competition and with your writing. I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to be friends. You can find me right here on my blog, on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/lonnaseibertwriter and on Twitter @lonnaseibert
Please visit http://www.lanapattinson.com/pitchwars-2016-pimpmybio/ to see all the mentee-hopeful bios!