• Gina Denny

PitchWars Mentee Bio

About Me: 

I am a homeschooling mom. That takes up the bulk of my time. I have five children – all boys – two of which we just adopted from the foster system. Three of these children have special needs. Some of this is the natural result of two and a half years in the foster system, including five different placements, but the reality for us remains the same: The kids all need a ton of attention all day long. So that’s what I do. I teach. I do physical therapy. Speech therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy. And then I clean up afterwards.

Lest you think I’ve thrown myself to the wolves, I have a master’s degree in early childhood development and education, with a certificate in autism spectrum education. No. It did not all fit on my diploma.

I’ve been married to the funniest guy I know for eleven years. He’s awesome. He’s also an attorney, so a favorite game of ours is to watch TV dramas and yell about how inaccurate they are (Veronica Mars, we are most definitely looking at you).

Other than the mom-thing, and the wife-thing, and the reading-and-writing-thing, I really, really love to cook and bake. I don’t get to do it enough because life just gets in the way, but the kitchen relaxes me. As long as I don’t think about dishes.

I also eat a lot of burritos and wear a lot of really high heels.

My Writing: 

I write adult fantasy. I wrote one YA/NA romance (before NA existed as a category, really). It was cheesy and made me realize I really didn’t enjoy writing those kind of books, and I should leave it to the people who love them.

So fantasy it is. The novel I subbed to PitchWars is WAKING BEAUTY, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It’s part of a larger series of novels in which the traditional villains are actually the heroes.

This idea came around by combining two ideas:

1. History is written by the winners. Snow White “won” her battle, and so she tells the world what her stepmother was like, and we all believe her.

2. Every villain believes themselves to be the hero of their own story. Maybe that “evil” stepmother had a totally legitimate reason for trying to kill her stepdaughter… did you ever stop to think about her feelings in this whole thing?

WAKING BEAUTY is set in a desert kingdom, inspired by ancient Persia, but by no means is it actually ancient Persia. The characters are all dark-skinned, ranging from what we would consider Middle-Eastern to Sub-Saharan African skin tones. I did this because when considering the desert setting, I recognized that the indigenous peoples of hot desert climates are overwhelmingly dark-skinned. It would have been disingenuine to pretend otherwise.

The stories, from Snow White to Sleeping Beauty and all the others that are planned, are all part of a shared universe. The events intersect, but each book stands 100% on its own. You need not read Sleeping Beauty to understand Snow White, and vice versa, even though they share a continent.

What I’m Hoping For: 

I am hoping for that oomph. The je ne sai quois. My last manuscript (the second I wrote) received lots of full requests, each ultimately rejected for a different reason. There is no fatal flaw, except that nobody really connected with it. I want help figuring out how to fill that gap.

I’m willing to change just about everything. Pacing, specific events, characterizations, dialog, magic system, creatures, even the “twists” along the way. I’m willing to change it to present tense, if somebody really thinks that will work. Character names, the title, all of it is up for grabs.

I won’t consider changing the POV or format, even though it’s unusual. I won’t change my ending, even though it’s not a Happily Ever After. It has to be bittersweet. It won’t work any other way. I tried. Three times.

I’m hoping for a mentor that will read it, give me notes, and be willing to discuss them a little bit afterward. Then possibly read through a tricky scene or two when it comes time to actually, you know, pitch the darn thing.

What I’m NOT Expecting: 

I’m not expecting to get in, honestly. We have, what, a 6% chance of getting in? Them’s slim odds…

I’m not expecting someone to shower praise on me.

I’m not expecting a lot of feedback if I don’t get in. Crossing my fingers and hoping for a “I didn’t pick you because of this one thing you can fix, sorry”. That would be amazing.

I’m not expecting someone to hold my hand through these revisions. I’m not expecting someone to do a ton of copy-editing and proofreading for me. I’m not expecting someone to read my book four times between now and November.

So that’s it. That’s me.

Thank you for doing this, for giving of your time and your talent, for helping others get better. The hashtag has been exceptionally helpful, seeing tips and hints for how to improve. I’m so grateful to everyone who has put in their time to make this contest happen. Even with a 94% chance of not getting in, I’ve had one heck of a time thus far 🙂

#PitchWars #writing

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