Pitch Wars Introductory Bio

 

IMG_8168

Hi! I’m Hilary.

My manuscript, HERE AND THERE, is a YA-retelling of OTHELLO in the vein of TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. It’s told from a different perspective each of the four years of high school. Peter (Othello) shuns music and his girlfriend, Mona (Desdemona), when his best friend (Iago) tells him a lie. It’s a decision that leads him away from the things he loves and into a mental health battle.

HERE AND THERE includes:

  • Show choir drama
  • A love story
  • Swim meets
  • Mental health struggles
  • Awkward bus rides
  • Trailer parks
  • A controlling boyfriend
  • Water slides
  • Racial prejudice
  • An unabashed love for movie musicals
  • Quirky minor characters that one only finds in rural Indiana

Books that I think are similar:

  • Julie Murphy’s DUMPLIN’
  • Jennifer Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES & HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE
  • John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA
  • Rainbow Rowell’s FANGIRL

MS aesthetics:

2017-07-07

 

Information about me:

I aim to be myself even when it gets weird. I once put a joke in a cover letter about pooping my pants. That is the kind of person I am. At the risk of a major #humblebrag, my cover letter resulted in an interview for Conan, which only encouraged poop-joke behavior.

I also try hard. In 2013, I attended the Big Sur Writing Workshop. I was a second-year grad student in screenwriting, but writing a book still felt like an impossible task. When two friends and fellow writers convinced me to go, I did what any sane person would do: I wrote a MG book in five weeks. (I had no idea what I was doing.)

When the very kind agent who ran my workshop informed me that my first ten pages were total crap(!), I knew I had a decision to make: bring in ten other pages (that were largely written the same way as the total crap ones) or rewrite the beginning of my manuscript overnight. So I did something I never do: I stayed up late.

When I brought in my new beginning the next morning, the agent loved the pages, but she also loved that I tried something new overnight. I learned never be afraid of a revision just because it was going to be hard. I learned that I am a person who goes for it completely, fails big time (usually in memorable and embarrassing ways), and gets back up to try again.

Since that workshop, I’ve written four more manuscripts and several screenplays. Earlier this year I queried a YA manuscript that had several full requests from agents. I’m so close. But I’m not there, and I need a mentor’s help.

Even after five years of being critiqued in grad school and by my LOVELY writers group, getting my pages ripped apart isn’t my favorite thing. It sucks, but it’s also completely necessary. As a writer, I’ve learned to pick myself up again. I know that failing in front of people is survivable. I love writing enough to get better, and for that, I inevitably need help. That’s where a mentor comes in. I promise to be open and to work hard, to participate fully in making my manuscript as good as it can be, and to be the kind of mentee who isn’t afraid of a poop joke.

Oh, what? This was supposed to be ten words long and I just wrote seven paragraphs? Well, you see why I need your help then.

Advertisements

Day 10, 11, & 12: Omega

(Start at Day One?)

FullSizeRender 39

Day Ten:

Me leaving Edinburgh:

giphy (4).gif

I don’t know how I feel about that GIF since she’s leaving Ireland and not, erm, Scotland, but I think it’ll do.

Bad Things on Day Ten:

  1. We left Edinburgh.
  2. We spent the whole day on a train or in a train station, which isn’t as romantic as it sounds, especially after an hour.
  3. I came down with a cold.
  4. I had what can only be described as a total mental breakdown.
  5. The mental breakdown was induced by a rejection on my manuscript from a top agent. You see, I totally went for it and queried a bunch of literary agents before the trip, and THE DREAM AGENT requested a full of my novel. On day ten of the trip, I got a rejection from that agent, and it hit, hard. And maybe it was my cold and traveling too, but all I wanted to do was cry and eat and sleep.

Good Things on Day Ten:

  1. Mom discovered luggage trolleys, making us look more sophisticated and less sweaty.

IMG_8387.JPG

  1. Mom, sensing the total mental breakdown, brought us Chinese food.
  2. My mom makes everything better.
  3. Supervet was on television.

Day Eleven:

We go back to Raison D’etre. Why did we ever leave?

When we get there, the tables are full except for one that says it’s reserved.

“Hello, sweetie. Good to see you.” It’s good to be back with this charmer.

“Looks like you’re busy this morning.”

He points to the table. “No, reserved for you.”

The total mental breakdown is mostly forgotten.

Tube to King’s Cross. We’re actually pretty good at this whole metro system.

IMG_8445

King’s Cross Station.

Future job: running Platform 9 3/4.

FullSizeRender 36FullSizeRender 38

IMG_8391

Mom and I planned this really wonderful last day in London, which included a seeing a play at Shakespeare’s Globe. From what we’d heard (and read) seeing a play at the Globe was a harrowing experience. The seats are uncomfortable, and since it’s an open-air theatre, it’s super, super cold.

No fear! Mom and I packed layers for the occasion. I wore long underwear under my dress (see the photo above for evidence), and I brought my winter coat and scarf. Mom was dressed in a similar, multi-layered outfit. We spent the day being very hot in our multiple layers. No matter! We’d be warm during the play!

We arrived at Shakespeare’s Globe and were ushered into an adorable, quaint playhouse. An indoor playhouse.

Surely, we were in the wrong room.

It was supposed to be an open-air theatre.

Then, someone explained that this Jacobean-style, INDOOR theatre is used during the winter to avoid the weather.

Because we had non-adjacent seats, Mom and I had to endure the shame of this misunderstanding separately, sweating in our several layers next to perfect strangers.

Outside of this mishap, Othello was lovely. Emilia! The woman who played Emilia made Emilia the kind of character I always want to see in a play. Emilia!

Anthony Bourdain has a list of “13 Places to Eat Before You Die.”

Over a year ago, Jill and I ate at number thirteen, Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue in Kansas City. I didn’t know about the list until then. I still think about the food at Oklahoma Joe’s, so it made sense then, to spend our last night eating at Bourdain’s recommendation in London, the number one spot, St. John.

Unfortunately, we didn’t know all of the details before we made reservations. (Are you noticing a pattern? Is there some sort of diagnosis for being a slight idiot? I’d like to call it Bridget Jones syndrome if I could.)

You see, St. John is a “nose to tail” restaurant with an emphasis on offal. Sounds great, we–who suffer from Bridget-Jones-pox–said. We arrived to discover that “nose to tail” was less of a whimsical tagline, and more of a literal philosophy. We also found out that offal is another name for organ meat.

Basically, St. John believes in using every part of the animal, which is really great until your choice of starter is bone marrow or duck heart.

Despite this minor hiccup, Mom and I were able to find foods that we could deal with. I’m sure that in the world of St. John, we ordered the equivalent of chicken fingers and fries, but to us, it felt adventurous-ish. (Adventurish?)

IMG_8451IMG_8452

IMG_8455IMG_8456IMG_8454

(A note on offal. Please don’t misunderstand. I’d like to think I’d eat entrails if it were truly necessary, but aside from a bite of braunschweiger ball at Christmas to be polite, the occasion has never really called for it. Please see photographic evidence for braunschweiger here.)

Day Twelve: The Longest Day in the World

We fly into Chicago on a plane full of teen girls going on a ski trip to Colorado. Many of them have never skied before. I have a couple of things I want to say about this:

  1. Are the Rockies really the place to learn how to ski? As someone who couldn’t move her arm for four days after falling on a bunny hill in Southern Indiana, this concerns me.
  2. Aren’t the Alps a lot closer?
  3. That’s all.

We spend the next 26,000 hours trying to get back home. Eventually, we do, and I’m stuck between loving the feel of my own bed and missing someone asking me if I’m “in the queue” and answering back in a fake British accent. (I only did it once. Okay, twice. WHATEVER IT WAS VACATION.)

And that folks is the end of my vacation, posts. A little–cough–late on updating (considering we got home in April and it’s July), but we got there.

For never was a story of more hysterical laughter & people acting a bit dumb 
Than this of Hilary and her mum.

Arthur’s Seat Hike

IMG_8325

I never imagined that hiking would be my sport of choice.

I’m still not sure it is.

But if there’s a place where I can go and be still and come back a different and slightly better version of myself, that place is on a hike.

I’d rather have my place be a Chipotle, but some things choose you, you know?

Hiking chose me in California. Before then, hiking was most definitely not my place. Hiking in girls scouts meant me at the back of the pack, struggling to keep up, and generally tripping over my own feet. Hiking as a young adult meant fearfully clutching my shaking legs and saying, “No, you guys go on. I’m good here.”

Then, I went hiking by myself in Malibu, and it was wonderful: peaceful, relaxing, exhausting, and life-giving.

Other people are the problem is what I’m saying.

When we planned our trip to the UK, I knew I wanted to do some munro bagging. If you don’t know what munro bagging is you obviously haven’t been doing your civic duty–that duty being following Sam Heughan on Instagram.

I built it up in my head that I was going to go to Scotland, be a badass, and bag myself a munro. (I’m slightly confused on the nomenclature.)

But time constraints meant that I had to settle for a large hill instead. I’m sorry, Sam!

So on a morning when I reaaaaaally didn’t want to go to “my place” and become a better person because I was pretty good with being the person who slept in, I strapped on my sports bra and… realized I did not bring appropriate footwear. No matter, I was going on a hike.

The hike was lovely. At first.

The grasses and hills distracted me from the sense that I was quite possibly on the brink of dying due to my general (and surprising) lack of physical stamina and the steep edges of the trail. I took as happy of a selfie as I could manage in case I died, so my mom could have one last picture of me, forever etched in her mind:

IMG_8326

Close to the top, I slipped, and this gentleman–who was not struggling–stopped to watch me scramble up the rock face. When I got to the top, he said, “Well done.” I’m mostly indifferent about this encounter… I should probably delete this paragraph because who cares if a guy watched me scramble and I’m so boring boring boring.

(I’m just going to leave all of that messy editing business there because guys, sometimes we are just not very nice to ourselves. (And also, it makes me laugh, even if it only serves to confuse you. #PersonalBlog))

And then, I was there. At the top.

IMG_8336

I think something really wonderful happens when we do something we don’t think we can do. We get to be a little better than we are, even if it’s just for a moment.

But not so much better than we’re above asking someone to take our picture.

I stared out at the waking city and the sea and the hills, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my life, for that moment. I got to be here. I’m quite often not thankful for where I’m at. I’m usually too obsessed about where I’m going to be thankful for where I am. I fill out my planner and set goals and troll social media and I fantasize. I wish I were somewhere else most of the time. Wouldn’t it be great if…

I love that about myself, just to be clear. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to set goals and go after them. I love imagining possibilities.

But I also think that spending my time without any thankfulness for where I’m at equals a life that’s a lot less joyful than it could be, than it should be.

In that moment, I was really, really thankful for my life. And it wasn’t just because I was in Scotland (though, okay, duh, a little of that). It was because my life really is pretty great, warts and all, and I like it.

There. I said it. Doesn’t that seem almost a foreign attitude? I like my life.

I like my life now as I sit on an old couch in Indiana with seemingly few hikes to conquer. I still want so many things in the future. I could get lost thinking about them, but I’m also content right here. I’m thankful for right here.

IMG_8351IMG_8341

So I left the hill with a shot of the medicine that is gratitude, and this enormous joy overwhelmed me. So much so, that I had to dance:

Walking down the mountain like a lady

A post shared by Hilary Miller (@miller_hilary) on

Well, how do YOU walk down a hill?

A post shared by Hilary Miller (@miller_hilary) on

Hiking. I think it’s my place.