PitchWars Hard Work: “Killing” Mrs. Krimble


Mrs. Krimble hanging strong in Chapter 1

“Kill your darlings,” they say. But Mrs. Krimble? I was so resistant to the idea. Austin Aslan, my PitchWars mentor was wise to introduce this murderous concept to me only a little bit at a time. “Killing” Mrs. Krimble was a concept I was slow to warm to. But, when I opened the email with my second wave of edits and I was forced to ask myself  again if I was willing to strike her from my story, I was surprised by my own enthusiasm. Oh heck yes! The woman has to go.

You see, ladies and gentlemen, my current young adult manuscript had entirely too much adult in it. No, I don’t mean racy-type content! I mean honest-to-goodness grown ups. Austin has been gracious enough to point this out to me before my book got laughed out of every opportunity in its possible future.

So the question I was left asking myself was Why? Why on Earth did I feel it was necessary to include so many adult figures in my novel about, and for, young adults (it was actually laughable when I read through the comments of a chapter where Austin pointed out their EVERY occurrence!)? I have (currently) come up with two working theories: 1. Nostalgia and/or 2. Need.


One of the things I loved about Mrs. Krimble and her presence in the novel was how much it reminded me of the stories I enjoyed when I was younger. Of course, this is ridiculous, because when I actually try to remember an ADULT from one of the stories I enjoyed in my youth I CAN NOT THINK OF ONE. So, perhaps, I should chalk up this one to DELUSION. The fact is Mrs. Krimble didn’t remind me of stories I read when I was younger, she reminded me of the life I had when when I was younger. This leads me to theory #2.

The second theory holds a lot more weight. A lot.


I drafted this story in 2012. At that time in my life I wanted nothing more than an adult to swoop into my life and take over. Since my mom’s passing in 2006 (my dad had passed away long before in 1988), my life had taken a more insane turn for the worse. image

I lost numerous health battles and, in turn, my career. My independence was gone — I was physically and financially dependent on others for a number of years. Everything about my life screamed childhood except for the expectations of the society around me. The world saw a thirty-something and expected me to behave that way, meanwhile, I was busy trying to learn how to walk again, how to see, read, and cope. I felt like an infant finding her way into the world, but the bills kept coming, the decisions still had to be made, I still had a husband, and a house, and all the grown up things that came with them. Life kept moving forward. I took baby steps forward, but I was always looking for the missing component: where were the grown ups who would take the lead? Where were the people who knew what to do? I craved their authority. Reading my manuscript now, that is glaringly obvious. If I couldn’t ride out my life trauma under the protection of my grown ups, well, at least I could give that gift to my protagonist.

I do believe we writers write what we need to. Our stories, either directly or indirectly, tackle the issues that plague us individually. This is why fiction resonates with us so deeply — why it makes us empathetic — because as fictional as the tale may be the truth that simmers beneath sings from the author’s soul to the reader’s.

The Ultimate Conclusion

My grown ups aren’t coming back. Living without them forced me into every raw, jagged edge life had to offer. I tripped. I fell. I scraped my knees and my soul. I lived. I became stronger. I redefined who I was.I — gasp! — grew up.

And you know what I realized? I owe all of this to my protagonist and my future readers. Here’s hoping I succeeded.

Now back to my writing…



PitchWars Step 1: Acceptance

I wrote the following post the moment I realized I was picked as a 2016 PitchWars Mentee. I was so overwhelmed with all the feels that I actually forgot to press publish at the end of writing it.
I am going to try to keep everyone updated as much as possible here on my progress, but, being realistic about things, there is a lot to do and my WIP will take precedence while I have this opportunity before me. For real time freak-outs, distractions and probably lots of pics of what I’m doing, feel free to follow me on Twitter @nv_rivera and Instagram @nv_rivera.


Fourth name down.

Terri-happy? Happified? No. Maybe Happy-terror. I don’t know that there is a name for this feeling, but this feeling is real. It is reserved for the really big moments in life. The one most recent in my life was when I realized I was pregnant with my son. But there were others. Getting hired as a high school math teacher and getting married both come to mind. The commonality in all of these moments is that they were monumental, they were dreams realized, they were accomplishments in their own right, but they were not destinations. Every single one of them was a dream of mine and each one represented the moment those dreams were realized, but every single one signified an enormous amount of work in front of them.

Today is another one of those days. Today I became a mentee in PitchWars. In entering this contest and winning a spot I accepted an offer to work on my novel to take it to the next step on the publishing trail. Today I must accept the fact that someone saw potential in my words. Today I have signed up for an enormous amount of work.

I am ecstatic.

I am horrified.

I am ready.

And I am completely unprepared, just as unprepared as I was for parenthood. I brought a baby home with no idea what came next and, once again, I stare – optimistically – into the void and tell myself ONE STEP AT A TIME.

The tears flow for every reason tears ever flow and what’s wonderful is that one of those reasons is joy.

I find myself saying this a lot, but I am one lucky girl.

Much love and gratitude goes out to Austin Aslan, author and hiker extraordinaire, who picked me to be his mentee in PitchWars. I’m sure you will be hearing a lot more about him as I continue on this journey.


Main Character Role Playing

Particularly when writing novel length works, role playing with your characters is an incredibly useful tool. I have not done it often enough and, when given the opportunity to last weekend during the #STORYCRAFTER Twitter chat hosted by Faye Kirwin (@Writerology), I nearly missed it!

A brief tale about my near failure:

It was Sunday, 3:30PM Eastern time when I checked into twitter and noticed that the #STORYCRAFTER chat had begun. It was a half hour in, but I decided to play catch up – i.e. scroll through and answer the three missed questions and then tune into the rest of the chat live. In my rush I missed all the tweets that came before Q1, most notably this pretty clear one from John Cordial (@john_cordial):

Role Play_CpRypLCUAAAV9Ju

It is for this reason that

  1. I was very confused by everyone else’s responses once I started to catch up, and
  2. I nearly missed the value of this exercise.

After coming to my senses (Q5!!), I tweeted Faye to ask her if it would be okay if I “stole” her questions to do a blog post with the answers from my character. She happily agreed, so here we go.

(Note: All pictures from this point forward are from Faye Kirwin’s twitter stream. The #STORYCRAFTER chat is beautifully presented each week with pictures just like this. It is an added perk to the overall experience.)


To begin I will give you a very brief intro to the character whose “voice” you will be reading from this point forward.

16 year old Natalie Turner never knows what to say. Talia Turner, on the other hand, is an incredibly popular blogger who’s witty, insightful, and trending. You’d never know they were the same person. She is the protagonist of my WIP that I submitted to #PitchWars last week. The book is currently titled GIRL UNPLUGGED. It is a YA novel.


Twitter @Writerology Aug 7, 2016

A1: After seeing so many people lose everything when the hurricane hit, I learned that my home is just a place. My deep connection is to my peeps – my online peeps (Check out my blog – TURNER’S TALES after this chat!) and my IRL peeos: my mom, my dad, lil’ bro Roger, and my bestie Amy.


A2: The only move I’ve had to deal with was Amy’s. When Hurricane Imelda hit Staten Island, her house was destroyed. She lives in south Jersey now, but me? Still in the house I was born in.


A3: I’d love someone to invent some sort of house-wide volume control or something. I love my fam and everything, but I am NOT a morning person and these people start every day with a bang – blow dryers, TVs (yeah, that’s plural), radios, and beeps all over the place. It’s a complete sensory overload.


A4: It’s gotta be the time during the hurricane when Amy and her mom stayed with us during the evacuation (her dad stayed behind). After Amy and I got over our devastation that we were missing the back-to-back season premieres of Wolf Nights and Barista Boys due to the blackouts, we found some fun. Me, Amy and Rog spent the days staying up late and hanging in the backyard. I have never seen the stars like that!


A5: Right now? I don’t want to sound like a complete dork, but I wish Amy and I could just live closer together again. I’m sort of hopeless without her. Amy was the people-person out of the two of us. Brace yourself for this , peeps, I am super shy in real life. Since Amy moved it’s been weird, or maybe I’ve been weird, I don’t know…

Anyway – back on topic – I’d really hate to leave Staten Island, but maybe I could get used to another place too. As for the future, Amy and I have dreams of getting a cool loft in Brooklyn when we graduate.


A6: Lol! This is hilarious – all I can think of is how it should be a quiet place where someone could sleep in if they wanted to!

But seriously… home needs to be safe. I’m all for the nice views and being close to the beach and all, but people need to stop building houses where they know they are in danger. Amy’s entire neighborhood was under water during Hurricane Imelda! People can’t say they didn’t know, either, the same thing happened with Hurricane Sandy! I didn’t lose anything with Hurricane Imelda, but I saw the horror of Amy’s loss. And, you know what? I did lose something. I lost my best friend. No one should have to go through that.

And that’s it from Natalie! If you have any more questions for Natalie, please feel free to ask in the comments, I’m always curious to find out more about her.

Also, if you have your own main character you’d like to role play with in a blog post, go for it, just tweet a link out to @Writerology with the #STORYCRAFTER hashtag, so the community can check it out.

Finally, if Sunday afternoons are free for you, do yourself a favor, follow @Writerology and check into the #STORYCRAFTER chat on Twitter. Always great questions and a great crowd.

#PitchWars – Let’s DO This!

Okay. I need a moment. I’m about to submit my application to #PitchWars.


What is Pitch Wars, you ask? In short, it is an insanely cool contest for writers who are ready to seek representation for a work in process. But, for all the nitty-gritty details, please see Brenda Drake’s post all about the contest. Brenda hosts this contest, as well as many others throughout the year. (If you are a writer and you are not familiar with the name Brenda Drake yet, I highly advise that you change that immediately!)

I made a promise to myself New Year’s Day. I promised myself that I would take my novel GIRL UNPLUGGED to the next stage. 2016 was going to be query-year. I found beta readers, I did rewrites, I took a webinar on queries, went to a one-day conference on pitches, and I wrote my letter. I even purchased The Writer’s Market for agents. I was holding to my promise, I was going to send at least one query before 2017.

Then I stumbled across the hashtag #PitchWars while on Twitter. I investigated and found it was a contest to win a mentor — a live human being, who’s a published author — to spend TWO MONTHS working WITH ME on my book, my pitch, and my query letter. I have no idea if I will win a spot, but lord knows I had to try.

So here it goes.

I’m about to hit send. and I’m nervous as hell.

Wish me luck. Send the good vibes.

#PitchWars Let’s DO this!