I’ve been considering starting a blog and figured this is the perfect opportunity. So, #PimpMyBio is my first post! My FIRST POST…so, please excuse the fact that this blog is such a mess. I’m still getting used to this!
I’m Whitney! I write #ownvoices historical YA featuring biracial protagonists growing up in the 1960s. This is my first time entering #PitchWars, and, so far, the experience is better than I ever imagined!
The manuscript I’m entering this year, FOLLOW THE SUN, is coming-of-age historical YA with a romantic subplot and strong crossover appeal. It is the fifth novel I’ve written, and the third I’ve queried.
I guess you could describe my book as the sisterly connection of THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF SISTERS, meets the sarcastic narration and setting of THE WONDER YEARS, meets the peace, love and music vibe of ALMOST FAMOUS.
Two things really inspired this story: first, my experiences searching for an accurate diagnosis for my daughter, who has Rett syndrome, but was originally misdiagnosed with autism. Rett syndrome is a rare and extremely debilitating neurological disorder that impacts mostly girls and affects their ability to use their hands, talk, walk, swallow, and breathe, among many other things. I had never heard of Rett syndrome prior to my daughter’s diagnosis, so I’m dedicated to spreading awareness about the disorder.
Second, my experiences growing up as a biracial child. My parents (an interracial couple; white mom, black dad) started dating in 1971 in their small, West Virginia town. They experienced a ton of racist crap, as expected, and moved to Ohio after getting married in 1976. Growing up in a predominantly white suburb of Columbus, I was the only biracial kid. The only one. I’ve taken my experiences of “otherness,” and stepped things back a couple of decades, placing my protagonist into the late 1960s.
FOLLOW THE SUN
In 1969, Rett syndrome is unheard of. But come hell or high water, Jackie is determined to discover the reason why her four-year-old sister, Evie, suddenly lost the ability to speak and control her hands. Jackie’s the only one in her family not willing to simply accept their small West Virginia town doctor’s diagnosis that Evie was born with physical and mental impairments. Evie wasn’t born that way, she regressed; and Jackie will move Heaven and Earth to find the truth, even if it means defying her parents and secretly contacting every specialist she can find.
That’s a lot to handle for a seventeen-year-old, though, and no amount of getting drunk and listening to music with her flower child friends or flirting with, Eddie, a guy who’s caught her eye, keeps Jackie’s mind from straying to Evie. When Evie has a seizure, their self-absorbed parents decide to institutionalize her in another state. There’s no way Jackie’s sticking around for that. She’ll split. Skip town. If her parents have made up their minds to send Evie away, then Jackie has no desire to stay. Given days to agonize over her decision, though, she sees the error of her ways, but it may be too late. If Jackie can’t convince her parents that Evie deserves the same opportunities as any typically developing child and belongs at home with her family, she will lose her parents, Eddie, and the person she loves more than anyone in the world.
What You’ll Find in FOLLOW THE SUN:
- A snarky, sassy, delightfully flawed main character
- Sister Relationships
- The Generation Gap of the late 1960s
- The Vietnam War
- Flower Child/Hippie Culture
- Interracial Family Dynamics
- Interracial and Forbidden Romance
- Small Town Life
- And Amazing, Amazing Music
Why I’m entering #PitchWars:
I feel like I’ve taken this novel as far as I can on my own. I’ve polished, revised, polished, revised, polished, revised, gotten feedback from other writers…and now I’m at that point where I’m wondering, “Is this ready?” If not, I would love the help of a mentor to push this book to the next level and make it ready.
What You’ll Get From Me as a #PitchWars Mentee:
- Passion: I’m dedicated to someday becoming a published author. I accept critiques and criticism well and look forward to the opportunity to improve my writing through the guidance of an experienced mentor. I’m of the opinion that writing can always improve, and I approach my revision process with this in mind.
- Speed: I write fast, simply put. I spend A LOT of my non-writing time thinking up new ideas (you might call this daydreaming, but no way, it’s totally writing related). I’m able to quickly come up with ideas for revisions.
- Flexibility: I understand that the purpose of #PitchWars is to REVISE, and I’m open to that. I’m ready to make changes to my work!
Random Facts About Me:
- I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and I still live there. Therefore, I’m a HUGE Ohio State Football fan! O-H!!
- My two favorite foods are cake and cheese, but I don’t care for cheesecake.
- I was born at exactly midnight during a storm. That’s creepy, right?
- I was on a competitive dance team in high school (think Dance Moms, but not as good), and we danced on ESPN
- I have a deep, passionate obsession for all things 1960s. This began when I discovered a love for The Beatles in my mid to late teens, which made me wildly popular with my friends because what eighteen-year-old doesn’t love constant pressure from their friend to listen to more Beatles???
- I’m REALLY into movies (especially classic films) and music (mostly ‘60s and early ‘70s tunes)
- I love trivia. Love it.
- I got a degree in business with a minor in music with the intent of working in the music industry, but that didn’t happen. So, I went back to school and became a teacher. Now, I teach sixth grade literacy and social studies, so I get to talk about books, reading and writing every single day!
Favorite Movies (in no particular order):
- Forrest Gump
- Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version – that’s right)
- Star Wars – all of them (yes, I’m allowed to include all of them as one movie)
- Anne of Green Gables (the Sullivan movies)
- Splendor in the Grass
- Night of the Hunter
- East of Eden
- Phantom of the Opera (the one with Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler)
- The Aviator
- Dances with Wolves (but I can’t watch the ending – too sad; I also LOVE the musical score, so beautiful)
Favorite TV Shows (again, in no particular order):
- Downton Abbey
- The X-Files
- The Twilight Zone
- The Big Bang Theory
- Road to Avonlea (the Sullivan series based off Anne of GG that aired on Disney – it’s fantastic)
- Dance Moms
- Little House on the Prairie
- Parks and Rec
- The Office
I’ll be honest, I don’t really have favorite books, but here are some I really like:
- Tuck Everlasting
- The Giver
- The Wednesday Wars
- Never Let Me Go
- The Harry Potter Series
- The Twilight Series (yes, I like Twilight)
- The Notebook
- The Paris Wife
- I don’t even know where to start…I don’t think I can do this. I’ve already expressed my love for The Beatles, so we’ll leave it at that!
I guess I’ll end things with this: please, if you have the time, take five minutes to read more about Rett syndrome. I’ll even include some links below to make it simple!
Thank you for taking the time to read about me! Good luck to everyone entering #PitchWars this year!