I entered #PitchWars in 2014 with another manuscript, and, while I wasn’t selected, I learned a lot. I let all the lessons percolate for a bit and then worked very hard to complete another manuscript last year, and have it ready for Pitch Wars, which (for those who don’t know) is a contest hosted by the American writer and Twitter contest organizer extraordinaire, Brenda Drake
Mymanuscript for this year’s contest is called A Fractured Land, and it has been professionally edited by the lovely Amelia Meyer over at Voxate Writing and Editing
It has also had another fresh set of very clever eyes fly over it, the fabulous published author and scriptwriter, Pamela Power , for which I am super grateful. I am scrambling to get all her excellent suggestions in place by the #PitchWars submission window next week.
I live in Cape Town, South Africa, with my husband and two little girls. My mother is from the United States and my father is South African. I grew up in the Eastern Cape. It’s a beautiful, diverse part of the country and while it sometimes gets overlooked (just like my manuscripts) it is really an undiscovered treasure (also just like my manuscripts (: )
It’s the only place I know where people have farms dotted with African scrub that border on wild, deserted beaches.
In fact, you can go to Addo Elephant National Park and see lions at one end and watch whales off the beach on the other.
Anyway, about three hours drive from Addo you’ll reach the Southern Karoo Basin, an arid but picturesque semi desert. It is alive with birds and wildlife, but if feels vast and desolate. It is home to people of Khoi and San descent as well as those South Africans who descended from the British and Dutch settlers. There is not much wealth or water, it is a land of itinerant sheep shearers and remote sheep farms. The little town of Graaff Reinet is near the Valley of Desolation, a place of sheer dolerite cliffs that frame a view of the desert plains. Nearby, at the foot of the Compassberg you will find a quaint but semi-spooky little town called Nieu-Bethesda
The Karoo Basin has been earmarked for fracking and it is here, in these small towns, amid this confict, that I have set my story. It is the story of Lexi, who has returned home to Graaff Reinet to live with her mother after she loses everything, and the imminent arrival of Steve, an angry American geologist, whose future is in jeopardy if he does not succeed with exploratory fracking. While the people of the Karoo fight the Texan Oil and Gas company, and anyone who sides with them, Lexi and Steve are drawn together, first in an innocuous little conspiracy against the extreme greenies, and then in a fight for their lives as it becomes clear that someone has more than just environmental protest on the agenda.
The story is partially set in Austin, Texas, and partially in the Karoo, because they are both places that I love and have visited often. I like to write about places where I can feel the atmosphere on my skin if I think about it hard enough. I believe we underestimate the environmental toll taken by human activities and, while I haven’t preached an environmental agenda, I do hope that the peripheral themes will raise awareness around the consequences of hydraulic fracturing.
A Fractured Land falls into the category of Adult fiction (Not because it’s rude, people who don’t understand #PitchWars categories, but because the characters are all grown up. They’re adults. ) And, while there is a strong romantic element (because I am all about the love) it does not fall into the genre of Category Romance. There is an element of thriller and mystery, but the real genre here is Women’s Fiction. My happy-go-lucky Lexi grows into a stronger person in her personal journey through the manuscript. I did have a lot of fun with the geologist, though. It’s not all about him. But he did remind me of this character from Hawaii 50.
(Pretty sad when Imaginary People remind you of other Imaginary People. But anyway. Writer’s life, right?)
I am a beauty/massage therapist by occupation, but I love to write, so I blog over here at missmelissawrites.com and also at Sunrise Beauty Blog , when I am not writing novels. I also love to read. You can see all my faves on Goodreads , but here are some highlights:
Disclaimer – Renee Knight
Girl on a Train – Paula Hawkins
The Last Letter From My Lover – JoJo Moyes
The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton
I like biographies, adventure stories, overcoming difficulties and anything about climbing mountains. (Touching the Void, Endurance, Unbroken, On Writing, No Shortcuts to the Top, Stoked and many more. )
And The Cat in the Hat. I love that cross fish. (But our fish said, No No. Make that Cat go Away. Tell the Cat in the Hat you do not want to play…)
My biggest obstacle to writing is the beautiful ocean 15 minutes from my doorstep. I SUP surf and it’s so hard to ignore the sea when the wind is light offshore and the waves are clean and small. So hard to ignore.
So save me from myself, mentors. Pick me, pick me! Put me under pressure, keep me out of the surf, give me deadlines and corrections, give me rewrites and edits. Let’s make my book sparkle, let’s make it irresistible and compelling. You know you want to.