#PitchWars 2017: #PimpMyBio!

Hello, hello! Welcome writing friends, whether you’re a fellow hopeful or a potential mentor. I’m so excited about this year’s contest!
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About Me:

  • My name is Jenna DeVillier
  • I live in the woods in south Louisiana
  • I have a degree in English, and I’m going back to school this fall for my paralegal certification
  • I write YA dark fantasy, full of complicated relationships, blood, betrayal, and magic!
  • I’ve entered PitchWars 3 times already, with the same manuscript every time, but never gotten chosen as a mentee

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About My WIP:

  • Title: In the Shadow of the Necropolis,
  • Genre: YA dark fantasy
  • Word count: 84k
  • Set in a Mayan/Aztec-inspired world. I’ve always been fascinated with those civilizations, and I wanted a different kind of setting for my fantasy
  • It’s about magic, madness, how far you’re willing to go for the ones you love, with a healthy dose of fear. Being afraid and choosing courage anyway
  • F/F relationship
  • Pitch:

Eleuia was born for staying in the shadows. After her father’s death, her brother is crowned king, and everything is as planned. But when the land is plunged into total darkness, something many thought was only a legend, Eleuia is forced to step into the light. With her brother taken by the dreaded madness, and herself hastily crowned queen regent, she must find a way to save her brother and her country, before the madness takes her, too.

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Why yes, of course I have a Pinterest board for it 😀

In the Shadow of the Necropolis – Aesthetic Board

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About My Fandoms:

It’s not absolutely necessary for my potential mentor to share the same geeky loves I do, but just in case . . . I love:

  • Star Wars
  • Firefly
  • Doctor Who
  • Supernatural (met most of the cast; I’ve been to 3 conventions)
  • Harry Potter
  • Marvel
  • Lost
  • Downton Abbey (it totally counts)
  • Game of Thrones
  • Sherlock
  • The Walking Dead

I feel like I’m missing tons more, but these are definitely the main ones 😉

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Bonus: this guy. I love Chuck, and I’m happy to report the actor who plays him, Rob Benedict, is one of the best humans walking this planet. For real (met him 5 times now).

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What I’m Looking for:

All I want is a mentor who gets me and gets my story. I’m willing to work hard to make this story as polished and pretty as it can be! I tend to have a thin skin, so tell me what needs fixing and give suggestions, please! I need that. Just.. be gentle with me?

Line edit suggestions are fine, but I’m looking for big picture help. Does the main plotline flow well? Do any subplots clog up the story and need to be cut? That sort of thing is something I tend to struggle with sometimes, since I’m too close to the story by that point.

 

Well, I think that’s all about me! I’m looking forward to meeting new writing friends in this contest, if nothing else. If you’re interested in following my writing adventures, you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Best of luck to everyone!

You can check out the other hopefuls’ bios here!

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Writing Update, Life Update

I’m afraid I let this blog slide again. I started thinking about it the other day, so I decided to take some time out and update it. It needed it, badly. Some of my pages were bloated with projects I’m just never going to work on, so they’re not important anymore.

So, bit of a life update. It’s been . . . interesting since I last wrote. To make a long story short, I had surgery in December, which had complications. I didn’t fully heal until mid-March, which was incredibly annoying but typical for me. January was a fun month, despite the healing issues. I got to travel and have fun with friends twice.

Then February happened. I lost my job which had given me so much freedom, to be able to work from home, essentially choose my own hours, travel almost at will, and gave me time for my writing while paying me enough to be able to live on my own. To top it off, my depression/anxiety medication just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Maybe I did. Nothing requiring hospitalization, but I was probably lower than I’ve ever been for at least a month.

Thankfully, I found a new job quickly and got on a different medication that’s been a world of difference. The job wasn’t the greatest, but I enjoyed it and it was enabling me to pay my bills and start to think about a trip in October or November. Then, in mid-May, I found out I was going to be losing my job. For the second time in six months, I was going to be unemployed (through no fault of my own, either).

So here I am, still unemployed, but with unlimited time on my hands to work on revising IN THE SHADOW OF THE NECROPOLIS. I’m taking it a lot better than last time, but it’s still stressful, trying to figure out what to do. Especially when I’ve sent out over 20 applications and not heard back from a single person. But hopefully, things will work themselves out soon.

In better news, revision 1 for ITSOTN is going well! It will still need work after this draft, but I’m feeling very optimistic about it. I really think this book is The One. It might not be, but it feels that way. If it isn’t, then at least I know I’m getting closer. I’m currently on chapter 13 of 32. It’s been slow going, since this round of edits is essentially me going in and adding words to every scene, writing entirely new scenes, and shuffling things around, but it’s been fun. The last 10 chapters will have to be entirely rewritten, but I’m excited for the adventure!

After I finish this round of revision (I was hoping by the end of the month, but that might be pushing it now), it’s off to my critique partners/beta readers! Once I get their feedback (terrifying), I’ll put it through another round of edits, then line edits/spelling check. I’m hoping to have it ready for querying by the end of summer! August, September at the latest.

In the meantime, while ITSOTN is with my CPs, I’ll probably start working on my spec scripts for the Warner Bros. contest they hold every year. They’re looking to hire new writers, so every May they have a contest. You have to submit one spec script for an existing show, and one original pilot. I’m really excited to try it, especially now that the backdoor pilot for Wayward Sisters has been announced! If I ended up writing for that show . . . it would be a dream. No question. But I don’t want to look TOO far ahead 😉 Things are complicated enough as they are now.

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Progress? Or the Snail’s Pace That Is My Style Lately

I haven’t written up an update in a while, so I thought I would. I haven’t made much progress since my last one, unfortunately. I finished up my scene synopses for Scrivener (forgot to write the full synopsis though!) and read through the first chapter, taking notes for revision, but I haven’t read any more since. I really need to focus and make myself get into the habit. I’m hoping to read through a few chapters tonight, either before or after American Horror Story.

Also, NaNoWriMo is coming up! I had to drop out fairly quickly last year, but I really want to win this year. Of course, it’s less than a week away now and I have absolutely no idea what my story is about. . . I’m pretty sure I want to try my hand at a YA (or even Adult) Horror! So over the next few days, I’m planning on researching some scary prompts and sketching out a rough outline for a story. I think Horror as a genre works better when you don’t plan it out much, anyway. But I always work better with an outline, so I don’t know! I guess we’ll see . . .

My personal life is going . . .okay, I guess? I’m back on my medication, so that’s helped. I’m also going in for surgery in the next 2 months sometime for something that probably should have been taken care of years ago. It’s okay. It’s getting done now! And the recovery is really easy, from what I’ve been hearing, which is a relief. As someone who had 6 surgeries in high school/college, with complicated and painful recovery periods, a relatively simple surgery sounds amazing. And it’s going to change SO MUCH.

I’m pretty optimistic about the near future. I hope everything I’m wishing for and planning works out in one way or another. ❤

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What Comes Next?

I just can’t resist those Hamilton puns 😉 It’s been a little over a week since I finished drafting In the Shadow of the Necropolis now, and progress is a little slow. I have been working on it, so that’s a plus, but not as quickly as I had hoped. I transferred the entire document into Scrivener last week, and right now I’m working on typing up scene synopses for the scene cards in Scrivener, so I can see what’s going on and also hopefully write up a working full synopsis sometime soon. I’ve gotten 19 of the 33 chapters finished, so I’m hoping to finish that up today or tomorrow.

What I really need to do is sit down and make a working editing schedule for myself, to keep on track. Getting a polished draft to my CPs by the end of the year is a tall order, but that’s what I want to do. I think I can do it, if I focus. So, here’s a checklist of what needs to be done in the next 3 months:

  • Finish typing scene/chapter synopses
  • Write full synopsis for book
  • Read through manuscript, taking notes on changes to be made
  • Compile list of edits
  • Write draft 2 of book
  • Send draft to CPs for review

Now that I’m looking at it, it doesn’t seem so bad. If I finish the scene synopses tomorrow, I can write the full synopsis over the weekend. Then I could take next week to read through and take notes on the full manuscript/compile a list of edits. After that I still have almost the full 3 months to write the second draft! I can definitely do this. And, in the meantime, I can be thinking of ideas for my next book and either continuing to query Soulreader or shelving it for good. I don’t think it’s any fault of the book’s; it’s just that the market it burned out on assassins and I didn’t realize that before I wrote it. There’s no real way I can change Petra’s profession, either, without substantially changing the whole story. She has to be an assassin. Sigh; oh well.

The thought of pulling Soulreader might make me more upset, but I’m too excited about In the Shadow of the Necropolis to think much about it. I’m teetering on that edge of not wanting to be too excited, because what if this one doesn’t get an agent either? and not caring and being super excited anyway. To be perfectly honest, the last 8 months have been pretty rough on me, for no particular reason other than my anxiety and depression deciding to ramp up again like they did in high school. I think I’m going to choose to be excited, because I haven’t allowed myself happiness in a long time. There were 3 brief windows this summer, on my trips, but it’s been pretty dark besides that.

And I guess we’ll see what comes of this story . . .

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Victory at Last

I know this post is coming a little late, but better late than never I guess. Besides, I have amazing news.

I finished draft 1 of In the Shadow of the Necropolis at 10pm last night!! It feels so good to be finished after a long year of starts and stops (more stops than starts, to be honest). I couldn’t wait a second longer – as soon as I finished, I stayed up late to format it (it got a little screwy somehow along the line) and print it out. I love the visual of a completed manuscript that I can hold in my hands, and to use for marking up in edits. Just look at it!

Just skimming over it last night as I formatted it, I got very excited to continue working on this book. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I really believe this manuscript is The One. I need to work on world building (as always – I get lazy when I write the first draft and make it up as I go along instead of planning. I nail down the specifics of location in subsequent drafts. Backwards, I know), characterization issues, things like that. But the writing itself? There’s a few rough sections where I either wasn’t feeling it or hadn’t written in a long time and was struggling to get back into it, but overall . . . not to sound conceited, but it’s good. Better than my last novel, and that’s gotten some agent requests (though nothing has come of it).

I’m going to try not to get too excited as I work on polishing the draft up, but I’m cautiously optimistic. After all, I can only get better, and in my personal opinion, Soulreader got pretty good by the sixth draft, even though I’m probably going to end up shelving it. ITSOTN has the potential to be even better (and I think it kind of already is, in some ways).

But most importantly, I’m proud of myself for not giving up. This past year has been one of the most stressful, poor mental health years of my life, but I wrote anyway. And now I’m going to edit anyway. And I’m going to get a polished draft to my critique partners before the end of the year. If I’m lucky, I’ll be querying shortly after the New Year. Those are my goals. And I think, if I stay focused and shut out the negative voices in my head, and with your help, I can make it.

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[Hamilton voice] Let’s go

On the writing front, things could still be better, but I’m actually trying. I wrote 400 words 2 nights ago, and over 1,000 last night. It seems like every time I sit down to write, I invent a new scene that I hadn’t planned on that drags the ending out a bit farther. That’s okay. I’m still almost finished! I think, unless more scenes come to me between now and then, that I have 2 1/2 chapters left to write, so maybe about 5,000 words? That will put this first draft at around 64000, which isn’t bad at all! I think that’s about the length SOULREADER’s first draft was (now 83000).

I think the main issue I’ve been having with sitting down to write is my frame of mind. I may have mentioned this in previous posts, but I haven’t been doing well mentally at all this year. I’ve gone to some pretty extremely dark places, but I’m trying to get out of that. It actually kind of works for the dark fantasy I’m writing, but when I’m at my lowest, I can’t even bring myself to open the laptop, much less my manuscript document. I look at the words I’ve written already and get overwhelmed with 1 of 2 emotions:

  1. this is really good. no way am I going to write anything this good to close out the book, so why bother?
  2. this is terrible. whatever I write today will be just as terrible, if not worse, so why bother?

Like I said, it’s getting better, but most of this summer was spent running away from writing because of those things. I’m finally coming back to a place where I’m excited about my writing, and I can almost feel things beginning to turn around. I think I’m ready to finally become a published author, something I’ve been seriously working on for years now. How long has it been since I first sat down to write SOULREADER. . . 3 years, I think. I wrote the majority of it in the back of the library at school, between classes. I loved that experience. It’s more difficult to carve out the time to write now, with all of my other responsibilities, but I realize now that I don’t want to give up.

That being said, I did not get chosen for PitchWars, which is unfortunate, but still okay. I didn’t receive feedback, either, which made me a little sad since I was asked for a full by one mentor, but I understand. They devote so much time to this as it is, and they have to prep their mentee for their edits. I don’t want to give up on SOULREADER, because I spent 2 years of my life on it, and it’s become a much better book than it started out as, but . . . I may have to shelve it soon. I’m going to get to at least 75 queries, possibly 100, before I do, but it may be what’s best for the manuscript (and my sanity). Besides, it’s not as though I’ve been very regular about sending queries lately, with all of my (limited) focus on drafting IN THE SHADOW OF THE NECROPOLIS.

I’m just excited about what the future has in store, and that hasn’t happened for me in a while. Not to sound morbid, but it’s true. I want to be a published author. I want to hold my printed book in my hands. That’s all I want. And I’m not going to stop until I get there.

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Currently Slamming My Head Into the Wall

I wish I had better news in this update. I’m still avoiding my writing. I should have been done with this draft by now, but every time I sit down to write, I do other things instead, because I’m too afraid to write anything down. But the more time I spend away from it, the harder it is to pick up where I left off. It’s a vicious cycle.

PitchWars picks are announced tomorrow night, so hopefully no matter what the outcome of that is, it will motivate me to finish this draft. I want to be finished. I want to import everything into Scrivener, print out my draft, and edit! That’s when I really start enjoying what I do. But I’ll never get to that point if I don’t finish the first draft.

So, yeah. I’ve done nothing since last week’s update. To be fair, I’ve been visiting my parents every weekend, and I could use my weekends for writing. I don’t get anything done when I’m up there because I’m trying to spend time with them. But this weekend I’m staying home, so maybe I’ll focus on sitting down for a few hours and hammering out the last 5000 or so words.

I just really need someone to keep me accountable, I think. I can’t make myself write on my own. I’m going to really try today, though. I’m so close…

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