#PimpMyBio from @GirlAlchemy for 2017 #PitchWars

Hello, new friends! I’m Holly (@GirlAlchemy), an Adult Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance writer and this is my first year as a #PitchWars hopeful. I’m excited to meet all the other writers (both mentees and mentors) who are participating this year and make some new writing friends (and perhaps some CPs, too!) Thanks to Lana Pattinson for starting #PimpMyBio!

Who the F is Holly?

Patronus

Hi! I'm your average 31-year-old gal straddling the fence between normality and nerdiness, extroversion and introversion.

When I'm feeling extroverted, I'm super down for stand-up paddleboarding, beer gardens, beach days, concerts, and hot yoga. When my introversion wins out, you might find me playing World of Warcraft (yes, I recently resubbed), reading interesting nonfic (I love to learn new shiz), listening to ASMR vids, obsessing over Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfumes, or reading (or writing) fanfiction in the HP fandom, where I've been active since 2005.  

I also really love research. It's the Ravenclaw in me (Thunderbird at Ilvermorny). I'm really into learning about world religions, quantum physics, and everything I can about "perfect" health. After researching things, I love applying them. I'm HUGE into self-improvement; recently I started taking singing lessons to improve both my singing voice and my speaking voice (for work). I do Project Management and want to move into a position that allows for more marketing and communications, and I've received feedback that my voice could be holding me back. (Feedback, you say? Yes, see the 3rd section for more on that!)

I am a Minimalist with a shoe problem. And maybe a coffee problem. I'm happy-go-lucky and I swear too much (trying to work out if I should work on that or not). 

TV: Ancient Aliens, Outlander, American Gods, The Great British Bake Off, Last Tango in Halifax (until they ruined it)

Music: Tool, Hozier, and everything in between; currently my favorite song is by POLIÇA and I've been seriously rocking out to Florence and the Machine; just waiting for the day JAY-Z's new 4:44 becomes available off Tidal.

Change Log: Born and raised in Alabama; 4 years in Atlanta; 4 years in upstate NY; 3 years in DC, and now 3 months in Southern California. I like to get around.

Books: Harry Potter (ofc.), Dune by Frank Herbert, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, anything Gail Carriger, but especially the Soulless series, Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley


My Novel: THE SEA AT MIDWINTER

A man falls in love with the last living descendent of the lost priestesses of Avalon. As climate change threatens the fate of both the natural world and the magical one underpinning it, he learns that only she can save both. But in order to do it, a great sacrifice will have to be made. 

My working query:

Julien Walker never expected to hear from Her again after the number she gave him that night turned out to be a fake. Delta Attwater might’ve been all he could think of for weeks after, but he still had a brand new brewery to get off the ground, and neither he nor his family could afford him losing it over a woman. Especially one who obviously wasn’t interested in seeing him again.
 
But then Delta’s father shows up at his brewery one morning, 3 months after That Night, looking for the man who got his only daughter pregnant. Delta’s family’s hiding something big: she’s the very last known descendant of all the lost priestesses of Avalon, and the only one with the ability to re-anchor magic to the earth before it’s gone forever. She just has to find a nascent magical wellspring first.
 
But in sunny southern California, a never-ending drought is just one hint of the climate change that’s pulling magic deep underground, out of the hands of humans forever. Hurricane season arrives, and with it, a surge of storms unlike any year before. The instability of the earth’s climate is making magic surge as it hasn’t done since the last days of Avalon, and if Delta can’t re-anchor it in time, it will dissipate from the world forever. 
 
Delta knows the ritual to anchor magic will require a great sacrifice, she just doesn’t know if it will be her life or her magic. But Julien does not know it will take a sacrifice at all, until the moment comes when he has to make one himself. He’ll have to give up everything that means anything to him to save his young family… and a world of magic he never even knew existed. In doing so, Julien will learn that the Attwater women are both more wonderful, and more terrible, than he ever imagined.
 
THE SEA AT MIDWINTER is an adult urban fantasy romance and complete at 88,000 words. It will appeal to readers who loved the deep lore and romantically magical atmosphere of authors like Diana Gabaldon and Libba Bray.

This novel comes from 3 major passions for me:

  • the women of Arthurian legends and goddess-forward religions in general,
  • climate change (which is totally shitty and makes me feel helpless),
  • and the sea (which is always beautiful, even when it's terrible)

I love fantasy novels with beautiful magic, and I particularly love novels with sisterhoods in magic. As you might imagine, The Mists of Avalon was one of my very first loves (let's ignore for a moment the things that came out after-the-fact about MZB). Since then, I've been searching for something that gave me the same feeling, but never found it again. So I wanted to write it, and perhaps make it more approachable to more people. I wanted to show the majesty of the sea and the magic of a goddess, all from the perspective of someone experiencing it at the same time as the reader. I wanted that wonder to be apparent throughout. 

Here's my aesthetic and here's the full Pinterest board.

The Sea at Midwinter Aesthetic

I'm white, but my main characters are both mixed (Delta is half Irish and half Chumash & Julien is half French and half African American).

That being said, I didn't set out to write characters of color just to write characters of color. In both cases, their heritages tie in with the story in integral ways, and it would not work as well without them.

This is something I've really struggled with because I do believe diversity should be in 'own voices' — but I also believe that white authors shouldn't write casts full of white people if it's not relevant because that's just perpetuating all the already whitewashed media (books, TV, movies). My world and my family has diversity in it, this is what I see—especially when I was living in Alabama, Atlanta, and DC—so I hope to present the characters in a natural, positive ways.

I'm taking a lot of care in representing my characters in respectful and true ways, but I know I'll make a mistake or several, and I'd love to get feedback from writers of color who may be able to find problematic elements that I never would have caught on my own. If you're that person, and the story seems interesting to you, please feel free to reach out! I hope I am doing this right, and if I'm not I welcome constructive criticism.

This is my second original fiction novel. My first, Gloaming, was queried (unsuccessfully) and is now in a drawer (zip file, actually) until I feel it's the right time to revisit it. I've also written 7 novel-length fanfictions which have all received acclaim in fandom. I know fandom's a controversial subject in the writing world, but it's something I love and I'm happy to claim it and meet other fandom nerds.


Me + Criticism + Writing Process

I started life as a delicate flower who took everything personally, and I hated that about myself. I set out to purposefully thicken up my skin, especially when it comes to my writing. I still have my 'darlings' but I'm also good at listening to other points of view, especially when those POVs come as "This sucks BECAUSE x, y, z." The because really helps me grow as a writer.

I don't flounce at criticism, and in fact, welcome it. As a fanfiction writer of over 12 years, I've put out more than 1 Million words and if you've ever been in a fandom at all, you know that people don't mince their words there. I've been flamed, and actually still get comments to this day about how I chose to end one particular story over 5 years ago. I take all of them in stride, correcting and improving where I can, and ignoring where I can't. And also, I figure if it's causing that much angst in people this many years later, the story did its job.

I am an outliner who goes off the rails as I write. Things get added, subplots especially. A story I plan to be 40,000 words often ends up as 80,000 because of all the subplots. I edit a lot out afterwards. I also spend way too much time researching elements of the story before and while I write.

I work from home so my schedule is flexible. I'll take quick action and be grateful for every moment of your time you share with me. 


A Perfect Mentor...

I'm hoping to find a mentor who's both chill and serious because life is like that. I thrive off squeals of delight and "omgs!" and I'd really love to get some of those, but I'm also hoping that at least half of feedback will be "girl, this needs to be reworked because blah blah blah."

My perfect mentor would be able to see the things I miss, tell me what's up, tell me what they love, tell me what loses their attention, and be approachable if I have follow up questions.


That's it for me! If I seem like Your People, please reach out! I'm new to making friends and CPs/beta readers outside of fandom writing, and who wants to be an island? Notttttt meeeee. :D

Holly Ostrout