Hello mentors and aspiring mentees!
I’m Bronwen, host of this-here blog. I write YA that typically falls in the realms of contemporary, fantasy or historical, nearly always centering around a strong female lead. I volunteer with my local writing communities as an organizer because I believe in giving back, and in creating the things you want rather than waiting for them to happen.
I’ve been writing seriously since I was 12 (fanfiction is serious, right?) and my degree is in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Creative Writing. My writing education was much more about workshopping than learning craft, so I think I’ve learned far more in the years since I graduated.
This is my second attempt at Pitch Wars. This year I’m submitting a YA fantasy romance. It’s inspired by the ballet Giselle, which was an original story when it debuted in 1841. I wanted to do a fairy tale retelling, but didn’t want to retread well-covered ground. (I love a good Cinderella retelling but I swear if I ever do one it will break as many rules as possible.) It’s a story about true love outlasting death and the need for revenge. I’ve always been intrigued by it, so I jumped into this with great enthusiasm.
Here’s a brief rundown of the ballet: Giselle is a villager with a weak heart, in love with a man from out of town. He is secretly a prince in disguise, Albrecht. When Albrecht’s identity is revealed it’s also made known that he’s engaged to marry a princess. Giselle is so shocked and heartbroken that her heart gives out and she dies. Her soul is taken in by a cadre of ghost women who were all betrayed by their lovers and now spend their eternities wreaking vengeance on men. They attempt to kill Albrecht but Giselle prevents them from doing so–for she still loves him, despite everything.
Ballets don’t tend to be strong on plot. That gave me plenty of room to play and adapt the story to a contemporary setting. Don’t worry, I kept the really creepy parts.
How I Work
I am a planner. I have tons of notes, thick Scrivener files, and detailed timelines to refer to. I hash out as much as I can before I start to write. I don’t want to be thinking about how the story goes while I’m writing, I only want to think about the best way to tell it. I can focus solely on the words.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t missed things, it just means I’ve tried to anticipate as much as possible. I’m sure there’s extra polish and glitter that can be added. Do please help me add it! The trouble with all that up-front planning is that by the end of the draft I’m often left wondering what else there is to look at. I need fresh brains. Braaaaaiiiiins.
When I get feedback, I fall into a certain pattern. First, I read it all. Then I leave it alone for a day or three and let it all sink in. I need time to process and strip the emotional reactions out. Then I go back to the work, reread, and start making the more straightforward changes–typos, something changed color, excessive use of the word hippopotamus, etc. By this point I’m familiar enough with the work and the comments to tackle the larger issues.
I am not afraid to make changes. This novel is important to me but it is not my precious darling, never to be meddled with. I have another book that I have sliced, diced and rearranged so many times I can barely remember how it started, and that one is my baby. All in the pursuit of a better end product.
In My Downtime
Honestly, a lot of my downtime is spent writing or plotting, because it’s enjoyable and energizing.
Right now my big time-waster project is rewatching Gundam Wing, an anime that first aired in the US in 2000. It’s about 26 hours of content, and I intend to enjoy every one of them. I’m having far too much fun with old tropes and in-jokes. (Of course, this will go on hold for Pitch Wars.)
It’s not a complete waste of time, because I’m also analyzing as I watch and blogging about it. It’s a complex story, with layered characters, so worth looking at from a craft POV. It also reminds me of all the fun I had pantsing fanfiction back before I started taking craft seriously.
I read, too!
Of course I read. And no, I can’t pick favorites. So I’ll just pull some selections from what GoodReads says are my faves:
- Works of Tamora Pierce, particularly the Alanna books
- Sharon Shinn’s Archangel books and Summers at Castle Auburn
- Bridget Jones (not so much the third one)
- The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
- Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
- The Georgia Nicholson books by Louise Rennison
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- A Great and Terrible Beauty and most everything else by Libba Bray
- Works of Anne Bishop
- The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
- The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks
- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (my copy is signed!)
- Works of Kate Forsyth
- Merry Gentry books by Laurell K Hamilton
- Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward
Thanks for reading!
If you’re still curious, you can check out last year’s mentee bio, my About page, How I Became a Writer, and my Seeking Critique Partners page, which is always applicable. Here’s to an amazing Pitch Wars season!
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