So, August in writerTwitter means #PitchWars and I’m going to participate this year! (An improvement over last year when I was too intimidated to even tweet on the topic, but that’s all water under the bridge.)

So, along the lines of what our mentors have provided us, here’s my ice breaker post! Everything you never knew you wanted to know about me.


  • Lana rhymes with banana. Yes, that means Brits and Americans pronounce my name differently, but I’ve discovered a mnemonic is easier than forcing someone to make vowels go a way that they haven’t. (This, of course, doesn’t stop ME from trying to learn Korean.)
Milly (Mildred) is the creepy staring one in the doorway, and Archy (Archibald) is the lazy one on the couch.
  • I spent the first 20 years of my life in Iowa and, while I graduated from High School in Des Moines, I am from Webster City, about an hour north of Des Moines. I’m so FROM Webster City that my ancestors first bought land in the town in the early 1850s.
  • I live in Minnesota now because, well, I mean, Iowa’s nice and all, but Minnesota has my husband and the Cities, and suchlike. Also my dogs!
  • In the grown-up professional world I do a lot of work with wireless technology and process development. I spend a lot of time making databases that let people access the information they need wherever they need it.


The book I’ll be submitting to PitchWars is entitled CLANDESTINE MENAGERIE it’s about a girl who is a shapeshifter and spends most of her time changing into animals for the Big Top shows when what she really wants to do is help the rest of her circus troupe as they act as the Sky King’s secret police. It’s set in a world of floating cities on a train that flies through the air and circles up in each town to form their impromptu circus lot.

But there’s a few more facts you should know:

  • I am a worldbuilder. I’ve been building fantasy locations for 20 years as part of the MUSH community, specifically shadows in AmberMUSH, but also a few more that no one has ever heard of.
  • I write YA. The stories I want to tell explore identity and finding oneself, particularly in the greater context of life. While my stories have the framework of fantasy plots, they also are highly focused on the main character exploring who they are and what kind of person they want to be. Often with messy consequences.
  • I have a plan! My hope is that I’ll be able to write stories that can stand on their own, but when you read them all together you end up with a more epic story, in this case, the generation that will take over after the old gods duke it out in Ragnarök.
  • My stories are always diverse. CLANDESTINE MENAGERIE specifically has an assortment of genderqueer, (mostly gender fluid) characters.  My Light Elves are black, my Dwarfs are disabled, my characters have a tendency to reflect neuro-divergence. These are story and world decisions I made not just because we need diverse books in YA, but because they’re decisions that people haven’t made before, and that makes them new areas to explore in stories.
  • My stories mess with tropes! I do not believe that tropes are evil, what they are is shorthand, they help writers establish a certain set of expectations with the reader that make the ending more satisfying and comfortable. They give us the framework to thwart or uphold those expectations but in unexpected ways.


So, as a Mentor who may be interested in working with me, here’s what you can expect out of me:

  • A desire to make an amazing story. I want to make my story the best it can possibly be, to do this I need to see the things in other perspectives.
  • An interest in making my story stronger. For as much as I want and need advice to make it amazing, I don’t want to compromise on the story I’m telling. Focusing the adventure on Rhee, her journey, who she is and who she becomes are the story I want to tell and I want a mentor who wants me to tell her story.
  • I won’t be watering down my diversity. Nyt, Tom, and the gender-fluid characters will not be going anywhere. If you feel they’re not necessary to the story, you’re not actually reading my story.
  • I want to know what’s wrong. I want to know what isn’t working, what doesn’t ring true, what hasn’t landed just right. As hard as this kind of feedback is to hear initially, it’s by far the best!

Hopefully this gives you an idea of what it’s like to work with me, who I am, and what I’m trying to accomplish.

I’m super excited for PitchWars and whether I get chosen as a mentee or not, I’m excited about the whole experience!