Pitch Wars Interview with Lynn Forrest and her mentor, Julie Sondra Decker
Bringing you a closer look at each Pitch War Team and their project.
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Meet Julie Sondra Decker and Lynn Forrest
I’m Julie Sondra Decker. (Not Julia. Not Sandra.) I’m an editor and author who writes fairy tale retellings with obnoxious characters, fantastical scenarios with ridiculous word counts, and pieces of various lengths featuring queer characters and too much dialogue. I am constantly making content–how-to writing videos, webcomics, blog entries, stories–and I love helping authors with their work and beating up their punctuation errors. It makes my day when I get to punch commas in the face! I’m probably most well-known for my nonfiction asexuality writing (and I get interviewed on that topic all the time), but my passion is writing about extraordinary people doing ordinary things.
The everyday through a magical lens is so special to me, and I’m 100% a character writer–sometimes to the point where my settings can be a little sparse, but I’m working on it! I love reading gently magical fantasy with characters whose emotions and perspectives make sense in context. It’s not about THINGS HAPPENING (to people); it’s about PEOPLE (who do stuff or have things happen). Beyond that, I’m an unrepentant geek who likes Dance Dance Revolution, baking bread/cake/cookies, drawing cartoon people, and attempting to keep all my bloggery up to date.
I’m Lynn Forrest, an atmospheric science professor who geeks out over severe weather. At work, I teach students about meteorology and do research on hurricanes. At home, I write and run and bake and play video games and spend way too much time on Twitter. Somehow my husband puts up with all of this (though I think he’s more than happy to tolerate the baking). My dream home would have a huge writing desk, a hammock, and a library connected to a wine cellar.
I enjoy reading anything with characters who act like real people. I want to hang out inside another person’s head, see the world through their eyes, feel what they feel. I once claimed my favorite genres were all forms of fantasy and sci-fi, but I’ll happily devour others like contemporary YA or NA if the characters captivate my imagination and my heart. Oh, and give me strong female characters. And queer characters. And people of color. I could list more, but I’ll summarize by saying I will never call a novel too diverse. I will call out bad science, though.
When it comes to my writing, I want characters to talk and to act based on their personalities and convictions and instincts and backgrounds (even if one or more of those lead them to make poor decisions). Whether they’re in a fictional world or a version of the real world, I want you to read them and think “Oh, I could totally see so-and-so walking down the street one day.” Also, I want to make you react out loud. If you laugh or yell at one of my characters, you’ll make my day. I do like to play with sentence structure and rhythm, and I try to give each character a different voice in my head so that it can play out in my writing. (I’m not crazy, I’m a writer!)
Julie, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
My first Pitch Wars was 2013, when my first book went on submission and there wasn’t a lot to do besides wait (because I just wasn’t in the right head space for writing). I figured I might as well make myself useful, since I’d been told my advice for querying and writing was helpful, and it was also a nice community-building opportunity and a great distraction. I formed such a great relationship with my first mentee that I was forever sold on participating in the contest, and I love seeing people I coached go on to find happy agent matches and book deals.
And getting to interact with the other mentors is great too; we have such a supportive network and can help each other with advice or book releases or compare notes with others who are at similar phases of our writing careers. There are some rough aspects to the whole thing (like having to let so many people down and trying to come up with usable feedback for the folks I pass on), but I anticipate continuing to participate in Pitch Wars as long as I’m able.
Lynn, why did you decide to participate in Pitch Wars?
Oh, wow, I have so many reasons. First, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Pitch Wars since I waded into the Twitter writing community back in May. Second, I was rejected for multiple contests earlier this year, but those rejections helped me whip my query and my manuscript into shape. Third, they introduced me to the community that could grow around a contest, and I hoped to meet a bunch of other writers whether or not I was chosen for Pitch Wars. Fourth, did you READ those mentor bios? Whether or not I could submit to them, I wanted to get to know everyone. The thought of someone on that list possibly mentoring little old me just about blew my mind. (The actual mental explosion happened about two seconds after I realized I’d been picked by my amazing mentor.)
Julie, what are you most excited for?
I’m of course looking forward to the agent round and hoping Lynn gets lots of requests, but to be honest the thing I’m most excited for is cultivating a relationship with a talented writer who will be a close ally on this difficult, sometimes solitary writing road we’ve all chosen to travel. It can feel like you’re all by yourself sometimes when you’re in a room with your story and your thoughts. Having someone who’s been there and shared those struggles and triumphs–and wants the same things you do–is really just indescribably wonderful. I truly believe a mentee can help a mentor just as much as the reverse.
Lynn, what are you most excited for?
EVERYTHI—oh, you want me to pick one? I’d say gaining confidence as a writer. That might sound silly, but there is nothing like an experienced author getting excited about my book to light a fire under me to keep traveling this writing journey. I’m going to save comments and e-mails from Pitch Wars to read on the waiting days, the knee-deep-in-edits days, the days filled with writers’ block, the days I’m convinced nothing I write matters, the days I wonder why I’m pouring so much of myself into this for no apparent reason. I have a few such notes for teaching and research, and now I’m getting some for the writing part of my life. Because writing is and always will be a part of my life!
Lynn, describe your novel in 3 words.
Distrust. Defiance. Devotion.
Julie, describe your mentee’s novel in 3 words.
Convention done unconventionally.
Check Us Out …
Lynn Forrest, Team Mentee
I’m Lynn Forrest, an atmospheric science professor who geeks out over severe weather. You can find random thoughts on Twitter , longer thoughts on WordPress, and other social media links on my author website.
Julie Sondra Decker, Team Mentor
I’m Julie Sondra Decker, a fantasy/SF/nonfiction author, asexuality activist, jellybean consumer, and cartoon Internet nerd. I’m the author of THE INVISIBLE ORIENTATION: An Introduction to Asexuality, and I’ve published several short stories and articles. Please check out my work online or follow me on social media; ignore that “Beware of Author” sign on my office door, ’cause I swear I’m friendly!