How I Got My Literary Agent

My friend Monica sat across the table from me. We noshed Cheesecake Factory bread and butter after having a few drinks during our 1-½ hour wait to be seated.

“I still haven’t written the how I got my agent blog post,” I said.

“You have to,” she said. Her hair was pulled up and she smiled.

“I know.”

 

I put it off because the superstitious part of me was afraid if I talked about it my agent would disappear.

Monica gave me a mischievous look. “You’re so honest,” she said. Like honest is a rare commodity.

“I know. Lying is a pet peeve of mine, I don’t lie.”

“No, you’re really honest.” She kept smiling. It was bright and shone with friendship.

We met on Twitter. Sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. 2 years ago during Pitch Wars, her GiFs made me laugh and she shared my affinity for Halloween. I liked how she represented herself to the world. She was a person I wanted to be friends with. I met Kristin during the same Pitch Wars. We 3 shared Twitterverse conversations, until one night I realized we lived in the same town. We agreed to meet.

We met at Amelie’s for coffee during the day. Never know whom you’re talking to on line, best for us all to keep it safe. I remember when I saw them for the first time I said, “You look like your pictures!”

If you’re reading this you may want me to get on with the how I got the agent part. The friends’ part of the story is important. Remember that. Twitter pitch contests can create real friends. Friends are vital because my journey to being represented was brutal. M & K introduced me to Jacy. We meet about once a month to swap stories about what we’re up to in the process of writing and publishing. We share ups and downs, very downs, some tears, and more laughs.

Okay– here’s where my path twists and turns.

I wrote and queried my first book and after a year I moved on to the story that was occupying all my thoughts, keeping me up at night, and made my fingers itch.

Six agents who passed on book #1 said, “Send me the next.” So I made an excel spreadsheet with their names on it and saved it on my desktop until I was ready.

Then I admitted I had to be a better writer.

Determined to cross the threshold and breakthrough the barrier that kept agents from signing me I went to workshops, worked with Lorin Oberweger, learned more about craft and storytelling. I recognized my writing weaknesses and worked hard to overcome them.

I wrote the first draft of DDDG in 3 months. I wrote it out of order. The story is non-linear, so I figured it didn’t matter what order I wrote in. I put the chapters in order and realized I left out half a book. I did revisions. I shared chapters with my critique partner, Nikki, who BTW is the BEST. My book wouldn’t exist without her. We talk practically every day and she pushes me when I need my butt kicked, listens to my neurotic whining, and helps me brainstorm ideas. She’s the best!

I revised. And revised. I printed my book out and made longhand edits. I realized the bad guy disappeared for 17 chapters. I changed tense. I changed the order of chapters (which in a non-linear book is MURDER! It affects every page after in a crazy mind-splitting ripple.) I sent it out and got feedback. Pouted, shouted, and plotted. I attended SCBWI conferences, Free-Expressions workshops, all to better the story, and my craft.

Finally after a year and a half DDDG was exactly the way I wanted it to be. I sent it to Lorin Oberweger to edit. She had it for months. She sent it back to me and when I read her notes my heart broke. I know she gave me thorough notes, but I resisted them. After making some of the changes she thought I should I decided I was ready to query!

First stop Pitch Wars. A mentor team requested my MS, but didn’t select me. I was heartbroken, but not deterred. Remember, I met Monica and Kristin. They were my Pitch Wars prize and helped me feel better.

Aligning with an agent became a scientific process. I wrote My Literary Agent Will: with the top 16 qualities I wanted in an agent and pinned it next to my computer. (It’s still there) I researched agents. I read the #MSWL, I used query tracker, watched them on Twitter, Googled interviews, researched if they represented any of my friends, I researched what they sold, their tastes and their on-line personas. I had a spreadsheet, was organized, and determined.

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I began submitting to the agents who said, “Send me the next.”

One requested a full, read it within weeks and sent a kind rejection letter. “You certainly know how to tell a story,” she said, “but this story wasn’t for me.”

A pattern emerged. Agents who claimed to like quirk, magical realism, darker subjects, and issue books, all passed on mine. Therefore didn’t actually want any of that. (This is what I told myself)

Agents who had a broader spectrum of likes, most often agents I never thought would like my book- requested it.

One agent who requested it read it quickly. She sent me a really kind and encouraging rejection letter. I rather liked her. I didn’t understand how she passed when she said so many nice things about my book and my writing. 2 weeks alter I read she left agenting to be on the publishing side of the industry.

The next agent who requested it, asked for an R&R. She gave me several bullet points to work from. She was brutally honest about what she didn’t like. Her notes cut deep. I prefer direct communication but not hot pokers in the eye. She was a poker in my eye. Her notes, unequivocally informed me the book I wrote couldn’t be sold. The voice was too drunk, I took too long to get to places, all the things I worked so hard to write authentically she wanted cut down.

I cried for a while. Then after a week I wiped my eyes and got to work. I did the revision. Then I paid and editor to make sure it was polished. It took 4 months. I had a miscarriage while I edited and learned I had a 9 cm fibroid growing in my uterus, and was scheduled for a hysterectomy at the end of August. I busted my ass on that edit so I could feel complete before surgery.

I queried at least 85 agents between the first full request and the R&R.

While I revised and queried I congratulated friends who got agents. I bought their debut books, showed up at every book signing I could to have them sign mine. I was so HAPPY they made it. They were proof talent and hard work paid off. It wasn’t difficult to be happy for my friends. I know how hard they worked, I kept telling myself with each no I got I was one step closer to my yes. Magical thinking is essential part of surviving a creative life.

A few months later I got an email from the agent with my R&R. She told me I did exactly what she asked, but no. I stared at her email. WTF?! I read it again and sent it to my CP, to make sure I read it correctly.

I did exactly what she asked but NO! I was pissed. I felt cheated and lied to. How could months of hard work, followed up by a paid edit (I paid an editor to read my work to polish it) end in a no.

I skipped Pitch Wars that year. I lost confidence in my work despite having success with personal essays. I didn’t understand how one aspect of my work found an audience while my book baby didn’t.

I’m not a quitter so I entered Pitch Slam. They had a cool Star Wars theme. I was drowning in writerly insecurities, not trusting the story I wrote, not trusting the edits, or my own voice, and submitted a page of bizarre deep POV for review and got good feedback on the hot mess they read.

I splashed cold water on my face and entered what I wanted as my opening. Kimberly picked me for her team. I cried. I felt seen. I felt understood. The feedback from those who ran the Twitter Pitch contest was all positive. They all got me. They got DDDG. It was a huge validation. I made another valuable friend. Kimberley became a trusted friend and query mentor. She is magic and hope, a swirl of dizzying words, and poetry. She’s now represented by Lorin Oberweger of Adams Literary. (2 friends connected <3)

Even more shocking was I received 7 requests from agents during Pitch Slam 2016. I remember opening my page and the utter disbelief. My fingers trembled. My insides floated. I’ve never received that much attention for my fiction. I jumped up and down. I called my husband over to read the requests with me.

Now, you’d think this is where my journey to getting my agent zooms up. Nope. This is where the GOT brutality really begins.

During this time, other agents began asking for my book.

One agent was a friend referral. I had an opportunity to meet her at a local SCBWI conference. It was one month after my surgery, I was held together with pain killers and the desire to introduce Monica and Kristin to all the Carolina writers I knew.

I introduced myself to the agent. She remembered my book and asked me to print it out for her to read on the plane ride home. I followed up with her 6 weeks later and she said, she read my book in one sitting and even shared marketing notes she made with me. Then she told me she’s considering it. Each contest I was accepted in to and every revision I did after, I sent her a note. She always responded she was happy to read it and was still considering it one year after her first read. She never made an offer.

In the fall of 2016 agents who had partials asked for fulls.

I thought I was getting close. I felt good about my work. I sold 8 essays and felt as if my dream of having a literary agent was days away. I began thinking about my next book. I tried helping other writer friends who were struggling with querying. I refreshed my inbox way too often. Every time it buzzed my heart raced. Waiting was a terrible addiction.

Then the rejections started coming. I always got a personal note with my rejections.

They loved my writing but:

  • they wanted more time in heaven
  • they wanted less time in heaven
  • they wanted more agency in the first chapter
  • they wanted dueling POVs
  • they wanted Mary more drunk
  • they wanted Mary less drunk
  • they didn’t understand the magic
  • they wanted it more like Elsewhere

Every agent had the opposite opinion of the previous agent. It felt as if they were reading my book in search of another book instead of reading the book in front of them.

Next came the Twitter Pitch contest P2P16. I entered that. The editors I wanted passed my work to another editor, Alana Saltz. Alana picked me. I shared a note I got from an agent who would accept an R&R from me. I revised and polished my book in one month. I spent ten hours a day working on it. I made more amazing friends. (Shout out to my P2P16 friends!)

Carlie Webber, who requested my book during Pitch Slam, requested my work again. I sent the revised manuscript.

I pitched PitchMass in December 2016, PitMad in the new year, and got requests. I didn’t submit to everyone who requested my work. Some were small publishers and I wasn’t emotionally exhausted enough to give up on getting an agent.

IN Feb 2017 Carlie and another agent wanted me to do yet another R&R. They agreed to share it. Both sent me notes. Again the notes were diametrically opposite from one another. I didn’t know what to do. I sent emails with follow up questions so I could figure out how to handle the situation.

I sent emails to the agents letting them know I had an R&R. More agents requested the full. I wanted one of them to just say, “I WANT YOU!!!!”

I didn’t understand why I got R&Rs and friends got agents, even when they had to revise the whole book. The notes I received weren’t major. I was tired of being tested. I wanted someone to just accept me. My emotional reserves were spent. Everything I’m made of went into the book and still it wasn’t enough.

Until…

In February 2017 a new agent requested a phone call. She loved my book and wanted to move forward. We spoke for an hour. She said she had one thing she wanted me to change. She said, “You can’t scare me. Go further than you want. Write something outrageous. You can’t go too far.”

“Are you testing me?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

I did what she asked. Wrote something I never considered for the book. I read about this agent and knew she did this to her clients, made them write something crazy to test of they trusted her. I stopped mid-way through the revision I toiled over and took a flying leap into the trust abyss.

Two weeks later she wrote back, (paraphrasing) “You did what I asked, but it doesn’t work. I love your voice and writing, but don’t know how to sell this book. So it’s a pass. I hope you learned something from working with me. Please send the next book.”

That email broke me. I fell into a depression. I still can’t fathom anyone doing that to a writer. I sent her email to my CP to make sure I read it correctly. She was outraged for me. I told my trusted Twitter friends. I didn’t write for a while. There was no story left in me.

In March my dad had a heart attack and needed a triple by-pass.

A month later I took Carlie and the other agent’s notes back out. I studied them. I went back to work. I knew I could never make both of them happy so I did what I could to make myself happy. During the process of doing all these R&Rs I learned I couldn’t please an agent by doing what they asked. I had to use their notes, but trust my story instincts.

Two months later I sent my last R&R out. I knew it was the last one I’d do. If they rejected the edits I resolved to explore self-publishing. The process won. It kicked me in the head and left my brain splattered on the curb. My heart was cut out and eaten by circling vultures. It was hard to be happy for friends because depression pressed down heavily on my chest.

Carlie and the other agent requested an exclusive. 6 weeks went by and no word from either. I nudged. I was entering Pg70Pit and needed to know if I was free to send the revision they had.

Carlie said, “I want to have a call.”

The other agent wanted a call, too.

I withdrew from the contest.

I had my calls and I knew immediately Carlie and the Fuse Literary team were my people.

I sent emails to the 6 other agents who still had my book. I received kind step asides and congratulations. One agent regretted never having time to finish my book. Two others said if by some odd chance I wasn’t picked up after the R&R to contact them. 4 agents with my full never responded.

We publicly announced I was represented by Carlie Webber at Fuse Literary on July 10, 2017. I appreciate her communication style and how she accepts mine.

When I heard her speak about my book, how it’s a story about sisters, the details she remembers, and how her voice carries support and dreams of our success my heart stitched back together. My agent gets the story I wanted to tell and is working with me to make it flawless. She’s smart and articulate. She’s no bullshit and she’s mine! I feel so lucky!

Did it take longer than I wanted? HELL YES!

I queried over 140 agents. Some agents I queried more than once because of the revisions I made. My spreadsheet is color coated for the responses I got. I know who sent personal notes, who ghosted, and who sent form letters. I know the dates I queried and when I received responses. It’s all there. I want to delete it and put querying in my past. But part of me wants a keepsake of the hard work it took. Another part of me wants to print it out and burn it. I suppose one day soon, I’ll simply hit delete and walk away from the past few years of querying. I spent enough time doing it, I’m quite over it.

“TRUST THE TIMING OF YOUR LIFE” is pinned at my desk in front of my computer screen so my eyes can’t help see it when I look up. There are days I hated that message. Days I was comforted by it, too. In the end, I had no other choice.

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So if you’re looking at your spreadsheet and you’ve hit 100+ queries, I say don’t give up. You may have to walk away from the work for a bit, recalibrate the story you want to write with the version that may sell, but don’t give up. I believe we each have stories to write. Keep writing yours.

And here’s a last shout out to all my friends I’ve made because of Twitter and writing conferences. I wouldn’t have kept plugging away if you didn’t support me. Thank you for always reading my emails and being wonderful.

How’d I do Monica?

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NY Times Bestseller List

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One of the things I LOVE about kid lit is how tight and cool the community is.

I’ve emailed, interviewed, and am actual friends with (some all 3 others not) 3 authors on this list of 10.

I’ve read books written by most of the rest. I’m not bragging, I want you to know even if you’re not published yet, it doesn’t mean you’re not a fantastic writer. It doesn’t mean you can’t have the support of other writers. It means you’re not alone in your creative endeavor.

Now go forth and work your ass off and let’s everyone get on this list!

 

I covet things.

I covet things.

And when I finally buy the thing, I don’t read it or wear it right away.

I enjoy knowing I have it. I see how it looks hanging in my closet or sitting on my bookshelf or resting on my bedside table.

My husband thinks I’m weird. He doesn’t understand why I don’t jump in and enjoy the thing I wanted so much. Why do I wait to wear a dress? A pair of shoes? Why not immediately crack open the book and plunge into the story?

I can’t remember a time when waiting to enjoy something wasn’t part of my enjoyment.

I really wanted a white summer dress. It’s in my closet. It’s so cute! I want to wear it, but not yet. I want to wear it for something special and sitting at my desk isn’t special enough. Neither is grocery shopping or running my child back and forth to camp.

There’s one book I’m dying to read, but won’t pick up because I know I won’t be able to put it down and it’s gonna break my heart. Okay, you caught me, it’s like four books, but you know what I mean?

Anyone else do this?

#70Pit17

There’s a great twitter pitch contest happening now called #70pit17. Lara Willard is hosting. She’s a freelance editor and story consultant.

According to Lara’s website, this is her third annual pg70pit, a totally unique type of contest and pitching opportunity for writers with complete, polished novels (Middle Grade, YA, or NA/Adult) in any genre except erotica. #70pit17 is this year’s hashtag. Enter on JUNE 7, 2017. The lottery winners and Twinners will be announced on the 17th of June, and the top 7 entries of each category will enter the agent round on July 7, 2017. See what else is new this year.

I want to give her, the slushie readers, and everyone else who helps or entered a shout out.

THANK YOU!

My personal favorite part was having to use 7 words to describe my main character.  I used: Brutally honest, terribly flawed with boundary issues.

Everything about these words is accurate and funny— if you know anything about my story DEAR DEAD DRUNK GIRL.

To find out more about the contest here. Wishing everyone luck.

Why I Will Never Wear a Jewish Star *trigger warning graphic Holocaust images

I will never wear a Jewish star around my neck. It doesn’t matter if it hangs on a glittering 14-karat-gold chain or sparkling sterling silver one. I won’t wear the one I inherited from my father’s father, the only member of his family to escape the Holocaust Nazi Germany, and I refuse to buy one for my daughter.

All I see when I see a person wearing one is the tattered woven gold fabric of a German Nazi Star of David, and the crude letters J-U-D-E. I see a brand. And I will not brand myself or make myself an easy target for hate.

Anti-Semitism has been building for years and it doesn’t seem to bother many people. The news rarely covers it. Yet anti-Semitic groups are gaining support and using social media to their advantage.

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The Boycott Divest and Sanction, BDS, movement has grown like wildfire on college campuses convincing young people Israel is an apartheid state.

Rabbis were stabbed and murdered while praying in France and the world didn’t condone it as a terrorist act against Jews. Cemeteries are vandalized and centuries old propaganda is delivered via flashy digital content and my very own Jewish Community Center has received bomb threats. It feels as if the world believes Jews are expendable.

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What makes people who never met me hate me? Is it how I pray? The day of the week I observe Shabbat? My nose? Is it my New York roots or my Eastern European ancestors? Is it my Chinese food on Christmas tradition?

I don’t hate other faiths. I believe we are all praying to the same G-d, but in different ways. I’m proud to sit side-by-side with my friends at mass, Christian weddings, and baptisms. As I traveled through Italy, Spain and even Egypt people there accepted me as one of their own until they asked, “Where are you from?”

“America,” I said.

“No what religion”

“I’m Jewish.”

When I proudly name my faith I watched their eyes shift from welcoming to distant. I imagine the Jewish brand emerging on my clothes, changing my worth to them and all the things they may have liked about me disintegrate.

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I’ve always been envious of people who wore crosses. They belonged to a larger more accepted group. They seemed to draw strength from each other and the cross. I’ve seen the delicate symbol worn on women’s décolletage and believed they felt empowered and protected by it. They showed no fear of persecution.

But when I look at a cross I see brutality. I see how a man who shared a message of love and acceptance was so feared it incited men to publicly torture and kill him to silence him.

How did the depiction of a man being nailed to a wooden cross evolve into a symbol that brings comfort? Maybe because the symbol for my faith is a target, I’m conditioned to see yours as one, too.

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I wonder what you see when you notice a Jewish star around a neck? Do you see a death sentence, too?

When I see men with tattoos of the holy cross and I think they feel safe, as if the cross protects them. I imagine they have no fear of being herded into cattle cars and murdered. No fear that their possessions will be taken and they will be made sub-human, gassed in a room with others, butchered in front of their children, stabbed at a check point, bruised with stones, and killed by bombs. I learned about the Holocaust when I was eight-years-old. I was taught from a young age to never forget.

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My Jewish heritage taught me to value human life, education, and the humanitarian spirit. Jews are the first to stand side-by-side with other people being persecuted. We were in the front lines on the Civil Rights and yet Black Lives Matters movement is anti-Israel. And still American Jews march with BLM (this article depicts BLM splitting over their views of Jews), because Jews know the value of life and how it feels to be pre-judged.

Jews contributed from two-thirds to three-quarters of the money for civil rights groups during the 1960s.The AJCongress, the AJCommittee, and the ADL worked closely with the NAACP to write legal briefs and raise money in the effort to end segregation.

Despite my fear of wearing a Jewish star I belong to a Jewish Community Center. When I go, my routine includes noticing if a police car is parked in front. I look around the parking lot on my way in to see if anything looks suspicious.

When I walk in the doors I’m greeted by friendly faces of different races and religions that choose to exercise, educate, and worship on the same campus despite our differences. How can we spread the love and eradicate the hate?

In a world where the loudest voices are angry and garner the most attention, how do we assemble the quiet voices of reason to help all of us feeling threatened feel safe?

I know Jews are not the only ones being persecuted. I know Christians are being killed in the Middle East. I know black Americans are fighting for their rights, as is the LGBTQ community. It breaks my heart that so many of us feel threatened.

I don’t want to be afraid of showing my faith and I don’t want to feel branded.

I want America to be the melting pot of people with different ethnicities, cultures, faiths, and identities I believe we are meant to be.

 

resources:

http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/jews/

http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world-jewish-population.htm

http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/new-york-city-population/: The estimated population for New York City in 2016 is 8,550,405.

https://bdsmovement.net

A Good Beginning

I have 3 book ideas taking up space in my head, along with a plethora of essays, and several short stories. I’ve wanted to dive into my new book for a while. But querying and life got the best of me, I slipped into a deep funk, and am finally appreciating the sunshine promising me warmth at the end of my dark tunnel.

A year ago I wrote the outline for my next book. It doesn’t have a title. I felt really good about the outline. If I ever write that story it’ll be cool.

But the story has matured, risen you could say if comparing it to dough, and the outline doesn’t apply.

I wrote a few pages with 2 new characters. One male. One Female. Dueling perspectives and I fell in love with them. Both of them are complex and interesting and I can’t wait to hang out with them, make them suffer, fail, and fall in love. Then I’ll probably destroy trust and find a way back to reconciliation.

I’d tell you the mash-up except I’m superstitious and I don’t want anyone stealing my idea. People do that sunconsciously sometimes, they don’t mean to hijack an idea, but they read something and forget they read it and the idea becomes theirs.

Anyway, I’ve been rereading the pages I wrote, and looking at the monitor and thinking, Well, what are waiting for? Get cracking.

NOTHING CRACKED. NO WORDS MAGICALLY TYPED. NO STORY DEVELOPED.

I grew sadder. My story was neglected and the voices in my head grew silent.

This pissed me off. I’m a goal oriented woman. So last night I wrote a few trusted writing friends and told them I wanted to complete a first draft by the end of summer. I counted the days, subtracted the weekends, and came up with this scary fact:

I have to write 1,000 words per day for the next 65 days.

Then I spent today feeling buried by the idea. I wrote emails and calculated the words thinking – do they count?

No, they don’t.

So this is what I realized. I don’t know my main characters well enough. I haven’t explored their flaws or fears. Their desires, wants or needs. I haven’t sunk into them. I don’t knowhow they define themselves verse how the world does.

I need to fix the problem. I began working on back story, character development and trigger points. I’m exploring the female’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing her to introduce herself to me. Fully forming her before I get deep into the story. It feels really good and I believe will help me crank out the draft in a much more meaningful way.

I wrote 1110 words- about her- about her trigger points, and made notes about which of her issues will make good plot points, highlighted what will make good conflict. I’m sinking into her skin so I can write about her and make her real to anyone reading her story.

It’s a good beginning.

 

 

Freedom

Picked a book off my bookshelf and randomly opened a page. I was looking for a sign, confirmation from the universe, an I believe in you from G-d.

This is was what was written on the page:

As we begin to transform our lives and experiences true fulfillment, we are tested again and again. Each test of our ego injects doubt. The optimism and excitement we felt at the start of our journey vanishes, we start to complain, the ego is back.

Along with this name of G-d.

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And this is the meditation that is linked to these thoughts.

You perceive the balance and harmony that fills all Creation, especially in the hardships, challenges, and tests that you must fact throughout life. With the power of this name, you arouse strength to pass all those tests, to rise to a higher level of being, and to gain the joy and fulfillment that accompany transformation. you unlock the chains of ego and achieve freedom.

 

*this information cay be found in the 72 Names of G-d, Technology for the Soul by Yehuda Berg. 

 

Free Query Help at Query Swap

Query Swap Twitter event Coming June 1, 2017
Your hook is your selling point. It has to be perfect. But getting good feedback can often be difficult or expensive. That’s why M.L. Keller—The Manuscript Shredder—is organizing the #QuerySwap Twitter party, an all-day event for people seeking critique partners to participate in feedback exchanges on query letters or back cover blurbs. The query swap Twitter party is designed to help writers connect with other writers. And since this is an exchange, both parties will benefit.
Query Swap is happening from 8am-8pm EST on June 1, 2017.
Query Swap isn’t a contest. It’s an opportunity for writers to help other writers. There won’t be mentors, or agents. This is for writers only. Each participant will have the opportunity to find a new critique partner and exchange feedback on queries. Everyone gets feedback. Everyone’s query improves. Everyone wins.
How to participate:
  1. Tweet a brief pitch about your MS with the tag #QuerySwap include genre and age category hashtags. (They might look familiar; they are the same as #Pitmad) No need to tweet multiple times since you can search the feed and look for a match too.
  2. Watch the feed and find someone with an MS in a similar genre, category, and tone
  3. Ask him/her to swap
  4. Exchange queries
  5. Give constructive feedback to your new Critique Partner.
Can I just recycle my #pitmad pitch?
Maybe, but it might need tweaking. In this swap, genre, category, and overall MS tone will be more important than plot in finding a good match. Someone with a snarky sensibility might be less suited to selling your Anne of Green Gables retelling, so make sure you look for a person who writes in a similar style.
example pitches:
#LGBT historic retelling of Frog Prince set in Polynesia also dragons #YA #F #R #QuerySwap
or
Dark portal fantasy with family drama and talking cats #MG #F #DIS #QuerySwap
Obviously, these won’t work for #pitmad, but they convey the necessary information for this event.
Hashtags … (These are the same as #pitmad)
Age Categories:
#PB = Picture Book
#C = Children’s
#CB = Chapter Book
#CL = Children’s Lit
#MG = Middle Grade
#YA = Young Adult
#NA = New Adult
#A = Adult
Genres/Sub-genres:
#AA = African American
#AD = Adventure
#CF = Christian Fiction
#CON = Contemporary
#CR = Contemporary Romance
#DIS = Disabilities
#DV = Diversity
#E = Erotica
#ER = Erotic Romance
#ES = Erotica Suspense
#F = Fantasy
#H = Horror
#HA = Humor
#HF = Historical Fiction
#HR = Historical Romance
#INSP = Inspirational
#IRMC = Interracial/Multicultural
#MR = Magical Realism
#M = Mystery
#Mem = Memoir
#LGBT
#LF = Literary Fiction
#NF = Non-fiction
#R = Romance
#P = Paranormal
#PR = Paranormal Romance
#RS = Romantic Suspense
#S = Suspense
#SF = SciFi
#SPF = Speculative Fiction
#T = Thriller
#UF = Urban Fantasy
#W = Westerns
#WF = Woman’s Fiction
Some tips:
  1. Don’t flood the feed with pitches for the same book. Pitching multiple books is ok
  2. Pitch only books you are querying
  3. Don’t just wait for someone to ask you first. Be proactive.
  4. Use the hashtags to simplify your search.
  5. Be polite.
  6. Remember this is a swap. Both parties must give feedback
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Rape Survivor

I write about alcoholism and rape in my young adult fiction.

I have experience with both.

These things are part of what shape me and my world view.

Today I was asked about a fictional character in another book, and how she may react to being taken advantage of. I shared my real-life story.

I think it’s worth sharing here, too.

 

Rape

by Holly Raychelle Hughes

 

 

15 years old.

Raped

On my parents bed.

Raped

While I lay still and thinking

“This is it? This is sex?”

Raped

Staring at the blue fern patterned wallpaper

Raped

Bleeding in the middle of the bed.

Popped.

Raped

How do I keep this secret?

Raped

What did I do to cause this?

Rape.

How old is he, 20?

Raped

My parents aren’t home.

Raped

My friend (?) Tina playing pool downstairs

in the living room with this guy’s friends.

Raped

15 years old and confused.

Raped

My voice is small and coming from a transistor radio across the room,

“No, stop.” the signal consumed by white noise.

He’s done.

Raped

He gets up . He’s wearing a condom, where did it

come from? When did he put it on?

Raped

He walks away and down the stairs.

 

Raped and sitting in my blood.

Raped and standing next to my parents bed,

looking at the bright red blood in the middle of the bed.

Raped

 

In the afternoon.

Raped

and cleaning up the mess on my parent’s bed.

Raped

The dog jumps up and begins licking the bloody sheets.

Raped

and not understanding sex or why

he wanted to have sex with me.

Raped

15 years old

 

I stand at the top of the stairs leaning over the black banister

and call him back upstairs.

Everyone in the pool room cheers.

Raped

He complies.

He walks upstairs and I lead him to my bedroom.

Four purple walls covered in Duran Duran posters.

Stuffed animals bear witness to my platform bed.

Raped

I lay down again,

there’s another condom.

I try to learn what he is doing.

Raped

 

I try to pretend it’s my choice.

Raped

 

It’s over again.

Raped

He goes back downstairs,

Raped

I clean myself off.

I put all the sheets in the wash.

Raped

I bleed for one week from the wound.

Raped

He said he couldn’t believe it was my first time

Raped.

 

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