Announcing Queer Girl Cafe and Call for Contributors

Hello!

So if you all followed my cryptic tweets yesterday about a “queer* girl project,” this is it!

1.) What Is Queer Girl Cafe, Anyway?

Glad you asked! So if you’ve been following me for awhile you know I have a lot of feelings about queer girls in YA, how we treat queer girls, and the values we place (or don’t place) on their stories. And it bothers me that so often, queer girl’s stories are seen as unimportant, or not marketable; that they make up a small percentage of YA stories because who wants to read about two girls in love?

I’m frustrated, as well, with the lack of queer women in the writing world, the ways gatekeeping and other factors can contribute to that. I’m frustrated with the lack of older role models for queer girls, particularly queer girl writers.

That’s where Queer Girl Cafe comes in. Queer Girl Cafe is going to be a weekly segment on the blog, a space for queer women to share their stories and experiences, whether personal or book-related, in interviews or essays or narratives. What I’m aiming for with this series is to create a space where queer girls can read and see themselves validated, a space where they can read stories from queer girls their age or older queer women who’ve been there, a place to discuss queer books or life in general.

This Sounds Amazing! When Does It Begin?

The first post goes live on February 29, and will continue every Monday after that for as long as I have contributors.

Who’s Going to Be Participating in This Thing?

Again, glad you asked! I’ve already reached out to a few fantastic women I know will be great to head this off—Camryn Garrett, Kayla Whaley, Meagan Rivera, Katherine Locke, Cam Montgomery, and Tristina Wright. They’re women I know personally who I thought would be interested in the project, and I’m super excited to have them onboard.

HOWEVER.

I am actively seeking submissions from queer women for this project. I know the scope of queer women I know is only a small representation of the population, and I want a variety of stories. I am particularly interested in and seeking stories by disabled queer women, queer WOC, trans women, and women whose identities aren’t often talked about as much (asexual, pansexual, etc.)

Hey, That’s Me! How Can I Participate?

If you are interested in participating with Girl Talk, shoot me an email at girltalkproject2016@gmail.com and we’ll work something out!

I’m Not Interested In Participating But I Still Want To Help!

Wonderful! The best thing you can do right now is spread the word about Girl Talk and talk it up! (I know that was a terrible pun I’m so sorry). If you know women you think would be interested in helping with this project, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Will There Be A Hashtag or Discussion?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: This is something I’d really like to do but haven’t quite ironed out all the details of yet, so I’ll be announcing this later.

I think that about wraps it up! I’m super incredibly excited about this project and the chance to give queer girls a space to share their stories and experiences.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at girltalkproject2016@gmail.com, or @ me on Twitter @NitaTyndall

*Please note, I use “queer” in the encompassing, umbrella-term sense, as I feel the acronym doesn’t fully encompass the range of experiences I’m hoping to show here.

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Top Ten Non-Bookish Things I Loved in 2015

So looking back there are a LOT of things I adored in 2015, and surprisingly (or maybe not), not all of them were books! So I present to you my top ten non-bookish things I absolutely adored in 2015.

1.) Lore
What Is It?: Podcast
Where Can I Listen: iTunes, or lorepodcast.com

2015-08-14-10-02-56One thing I wanted to do more of in 2015 was listen to podcasts; I like them when I’m at the gym or driving, and was hoping to find something to fill the Serial-shaped hole in my heart. I found Lore browsing iTunes, and it’s one of my new favorites–historical facts of urban legends and spooky creatures, tied in with the history behind each and told in Aaron Mahnke’s soothing voice. If you’re a fan of urban legends, The X-Files, or ghost stories, definitely check this out.

2.) Undertale
What Is It? Video Game
How Can I Play It? Through Steam, or the Humble Bundle Store.

Who knew an 8-bit RPG about humans and monsters could make me feel so many things? My girlfriend kept pressuring me to play this after she finished hers, and I finally bought it on Steam and played it in a whirlwind eight hours. It’s a beautiful throwback to classic games, though even if you didn’t play those (I didn’t,) it’s still a gorgeous story that changes every time you play it. Without spoiling too much, I do want to say play this if you have the chance, but be wary of the choices you make.

 

3.) The X-Files
the-x-files-the-x-files-19911103-2560-2522
What Is It? Sci-fi TV Show
Where Can I Watch It? US Netflix currently has all nine seasons streaming.

Okay I’m late to the party, but with the revival happening this year and the fact I was a baby when the show originally aired means there’s no time like the present for me to start watching The X-Files, the classic ’90s sci-fi show starring  David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Varying between classic monster-of-the-week episodes and an overarching mythology about conspiracies and what exactly our government is hiding from us, The X-Files feels even more relevant today. But though the monsters and stories are great, it’s the relationship between Mulder and Scully that keeps me watching (that and Gillian Anderson’s gorgeous face), so if you have any interest in character-driven amazing sci-fi and you haven’t started this series yet, give it a go.

4.) Brooklyn
What Is It? Movie starring Saoirse Ronan as an Irish immigrant in the 1950s
Where Can I Watch It? Might have to wait until it comes out on DVD, though it’s playing in some theaters still.

A lot of movie critics have been raving over this movie and it’s easy to see why. Saoirse Ronan’s turn as an Irish immigrant in early America is beautiful and moving without being too heavy-handed, and the story is complex and beautifully paced, not to mention gorgeous on its own.

5.) The Shootist
What Is It? John Wayne’s final movie.
Where Can I Watch It? Buy the DVD from Amazon

My dad loves Westerns. I love Westerns because of my dad, and John Wayne’s last movie before he died of cancer—about an old gunslinger also dying of cancer—makes me cry every time I watch it. With Lauren Bacall and Ronnie Howard rounding out the supporting cast, it feels as much of a sendoff  and tribute to Wayne as it does to his character J. B. Brooks.

alan_wake_by_gzaba6.) Alan Wake
What Is It? Video Game
How Can I Play It? XBox, PC

I honestly have no idea why my writer friends who play video games aren’t talking more about this (thank you, Courtney Summers for reintroducing me to this game). It’s a third-person horror-but-not-horror game where you play as thriller writer Alan Wake, whose wife has gone missing under mysterious circumstances, and a horror story you wrote is coming true and may be the cause of her disappearance. Armed with a flashlight and a gun, you go in search of your missing wife. The game is atmospheric, but other than that, it’s got one of the best stories in a shooter I’ve played in a long time.

7.) Fun Home
What Is It? Musical based off of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir.
Where Can I Listen? You can stream the OCR here. Best way to listen is to sit there for a full two hours and listen all the way through, preferably with a box of tissues.

I know the big show this year was Hamilton, but I had the privilege of seeing Fun Home on Broadway this year and Alison Bechdel’s graphic-memoir-turned-musical was the first time I saw myself as a queer woman onstage. The music is absolutely gorgeous, and the last half of the show—in the round, with no intermission—is an emotional roller coaster that absolutely isn’t to be missed.

8.) Mozart in the Jungle
What Is It? TV Show
Where Can I Watch It? Amazon Prime, or you can find it streaming.

Amazon Prime’s fun new show about the scandal behind the scenes in classical music is absolutely delightful (and season 2 just premiered, so if you need me I’ll be watching that). Based on Blair Tindall’s memoir (I’m sure we’re related somewhere since she’s also from NC) of the same name, it’s a fun, debauchery-filled romp backstage in the classical music world. If you like Smash or Flesh & Bone, it’s a better version of the former and a (much) lighter version of the latter.

life-is-strange9.) Life is Strange 
What Is It? Video Game
How Can I Play It? PC, XBox, PlayStation

Square Enix’s story-based episodic game concluded this year, and reads like a beautiful, darkly paranormal YA novel. While I have a lot of feelings about the ending (and they aren’t always positive), Max’s journey of discovering she has the power to rewind time and change the course of her actions was a beautiful, powerful one that tested the choices we make and how they can affect everyone else.

10.) Jessica Jones
What Is It? Marvel TV Show
Where Can I Watch It? Netflix

I know everyone else is talking about Jessica Jones but HOLY SHIT y’all Jessica Jones. Everything I never knew I wanted from marvel in a glorious, twisted, female-centric TV show. In the male-dominated world of comic books this noir thriller stands out and Krysten Ritter is an absolute gem. While it’s not perfect, if this is the direction Marvel is heading, sign me up.

That about wraps it up! I’m so excited for new media to devour and love in 2016 (and, obviously, the revival of The X-Files). If there was a piece of non-bookish media you loved in 2015, OR if you have strong-but-non-spoilery feelings about Mulder and Scully, OR a weird urban legend to share, please share them with me!

Top Ten Best Books I Read in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is from The Broke and the Bookish!

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday and it’s one I’m super, super excited about mainly because I read SO MANY damn good books this year. I was going to try to limit this to 2015 releases but then I just said “screw it” so here we go!

*Books are in no particular order*

tumblr_nk97njUSNY1s5fywio3_12801.) Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Yes, there are technically two Hannah Moskowitz books on this list, what can I say, she’s a damn good writer. Not Otherwise Specified was one of the most realistic, heart-rending portrayals of intersectional diversity I read this year, and Etta’s voice is amazing and jumps off the page.

2.) The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
I had the absolute pleasure of hearing Nova speak at Salem College this year and she’s every bit as wonderful as this book was, a chilling ghost story that beautifully weaves in feminism and heart.

3.) All the Rage by Courtney Summers
I read this book in two days, and Courtney Summers continues to prove why she’s an absolute master of contemporary YA—and why we need more stories like Romy’s and more stories about “difficult” girls.

4.) Second Position by Katherine Locke.
Full disclosure here: Katie is my CP BUT even if she weren’t I would have loved this book. Ballet, disability, romance, and some of the best damn therapy scenes I’ve ever read in literature.

230159485.) A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith
This is probably the book I wish more people had been talking about, because damn what a gorgeous book. Smith’s sophomore novel handles tough situations with difficulty and offers a realistic, heartbreaking look into a friendship falling apart.

6.) Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
Toxic homoerotic friendship. That’s all I have to say.
Except seriously, this was a compelling, twisted book and what I wish more contemporary could be.

7.) George by Alex Gino
Not only was George super adorable and fun, but it’s a super important #ownvoices novel with a trans MC, and one that’ll change the face of middle grade books.

8.) Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
2015 was a seriously good year for hard-hitting, debut contemporary books. Gilbert’s debut tackled faith and abuse in a way I haven’t seen in YA before, and was an extremely compelling and amazing read.

9.) Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson
I have more to say about this book (since it’s not out til 2016) but hot damn not since Cameron Post have I read a book more that validated my identity as a queer teen involved in fandom. Seriously be on the lookout for this one.

last-years-mistake10.) Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca
I adored this book. It was a fun, adorable read that had me rooting for the romance from start to finish (and I’m not typically a romance girl).

So that’s my top ten books this year! It was super hard to narrow them all down, but if you haven’t read any of these, please check them out.

Cautionary Tales: Being A Queer Girl in YA Lit

My mom figured out I was queer when I tried to sneak a Julie Anne Peters book past her at Barnes and Noble.

I’ve told this story before; it’s one I bring up when asked about my representation in YA lit. It’s relevant again today, since there’s been a fantastic discussion over on Twitter (that @dahlelama​ is Storifying if she hasn’t already) about how we treat queer girls in YA lit.

I read a lot of YA as a teenager. As I’ve written before, when I was trying to figure out my sexuality, I turned to media. I snuck Geography Club in the library, I stayed up til 3am trying to catch The L Word at my grandma’s because her house was the only one that had LOGO. I was desperate for representation, desperate to see myself.

I couldn’t find me. At best, I found Peters’ books which my mother wouldn’t let me read; I found Alex Sanchez’s books which were about beautiful queer boys so I couldn’t relate; I found David Levithan’s books, which were about queer boys so I couldn’t relate; I found Malinda Lo’s books, which were set in fantastic societies, so I couldn’t relate. I was/am a huge lover of contemporary YA, but as a teen there were few contemporary stories about queer girls.

There were plenty about queer boys.

So the message I began to receive from queer YA, over and over and over, was this: Queer boys are a tragic love story; a swoonworthy ship. You are a cautionary tale and gossip in a locker room. Your story is not important.

I began to distance myself from queer media and queer YA towards the end of high school, because it was all the same, swoonworthy boys and cautionary tales. It was Kurt and Blaine getting fanart and cute songs and an arc spanning… six seasons. It was Santana being outed by a straight boy who was praised as a hero, and not getting a multi-episode arc dedicated to her coming out or her relationship with Brittany. It was queer women, again, fighting for representation. It was being told, again, that queer girls don’t get to be difficult or complex, not in contemporary settings. We don’t get to be the best friend, even. We don’t get to be anything at all.

I turned to fandom when I stopped reading queer YA. I stayed up late and wrote fanfiction about queer women that were already canon–Maureen and Joanne from Rent, Elphaba and Glinda from the Wicked book (if you squinted and looked at it sideways, which I did). But even in fandom the message was the same–boys kissing boys is swoony and cute and omgperfect. Girls kissing is “wait I’ve read all the f/f fics in this category surely there have to be more.”

If girls couldn’t be given space to be queer in fanfiction, where you could bend the rules and write what you wanted, where women wrote most of the stories, then where could we be queer?

(There’s an excellent discussion @jhansenwrites​ tweeted about M/M in media and fanfic and how women fetishize gay men which you should also check out, as he says it better than I could).

Which brings me to today’s discussion, because I’m worried we’re still sending this message.

The first time I saw myself as a queer woman represented wholly, authentically, and respectfully on the page was in e. m. danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which I almost didn’t pick up because I was afraid it’d be like all the other contemporary queer girl YA I’d read. It’s also one of the only times I’ve seen myself, and I read that book three years ago.

We’re getting more stories about queer girls, but not all of them are in realistic settings, and they aren’t as pushed as heavily as stories about queer boys are. We are not National Book Award Finalists. We are not Starred Kirkus Reviews. We were a Morris Finalist three years ago. We are not best-of-2015 lists in mainstream publications. We’re not cautionary tales anymore, thank God, but we’re still not important enough to get recognized.

Others have discussed the reasons behind this. Internalized misogyny, how m/m books are “safe” for teen girls because there’s no pressure for them. These are valid and important discussions, and I think there’s truth in them.

But we owe it to queer girls to publish and write stories about them. We owe it to them to say “You are not a cautionary tale. You are complex and messy and confused and happy and your story is valid and you are important, your story is important. You get to be the protagonist or the best friend, you get the girl, you are deserving of space.”

We’re failing our girls if we don’t.

The Part Where I Give Up on NaNoWriMo

In retrospect, I knew this was coming. Maybe that’s defeatist, maybe it’s realistic. But it’s November 29 and my word count is 26,503, where it’s been stuck for the past week. Middles are always hard, worse this time because I’m trying to Frankenstein together a draft of #sadbisexualbook from a first draft I wrote before I got an agent.

So I think I knew I was going to give up on NaNoWriMo this year. Maybe in the back of my mind, I knew. Because the sun sets at 5pm now and because finals fell right at the middle of November and because during Thanksgiving I went home and did nothing and because again, the sun sets at 5 and I kind of do, too. Between classes and work I don’t get home until it’s dark, and with SAD that’s really kind of awful for my productivity.

But now I’m accepting it. It’s okay to give up on winning NaNoWriMo. It’s better for me, too, if I don’t put that pressure on myself to write 24k in two days. I have 26k more words than I would have if I hadn’t tried NaNo this year. Just changing my Scrivener deadline from November 30 to December 30 and watching my daily word count go from 5000 to 600 is a relief.

I’ll keep writing for the next few days; I’m not giving up that. I’m just giving up the pressure I’d put on myself to get to 50k before then. I’m just circumstantially not capable of finishing NaNo this year, and that’s okay. Because I did write. I got together with friends and wrote, and I fell back into a story I’m excited about.

So if you’re giving up with me for whatever reasons, I’ll have a bottle of wine with you. If you’re winning NaNo or have already won NaNo, congrats! It’s a difficult achievement and I’m proud of you.

And hey. There’s always next year.

Sometimes I Forget Who I Write For

Sometimes I forget who I write for.

I know why I write—for myself, because I have a story to tell, because like a shark if I stop writing I die.

I know what I write: dark contemporary YA, if we’re being specific; books and plays if we’re not.

I know when I write: in the morning with a cup of coffee, between classes if I can.

But I forget who I write for, ultimately. It’s shamefully easy to forget when I’m caught up on Twitter or what’s happening in the industry or feeling jealous over this person’s cover or that person’s sales or that person’s deal announcement. I would be lying if I said these things didn’t matter to me, if publishing at all didn’t matter to me. It does.

But that’s not who I write for. I don’t write for other authors on Twitter, nice as they are. I don’t write for Kirkus to someday review my book, I don’t write for a large advance as nice as that someday may be. I don’t write for bloggers, wonderful as they are. I don’t write for my agent, as amazing as she is.

I write for teenagers. And it is astonishingly easy to forget that. But that is my audience, they are ultimately who my books are for–not other authors, not reviewers or bloggers or Booklist. I write for teens, for the stories I needed when I was one. For the queer girl in the rural south who had no friends except literary characters, for the teens I know and don’t know who might need the type of books I write.

They are who I write for. Often I forget that because adults run the conversation, because we barely let teens into YA to begin with.

And this post isn’t to say that I’ll never be caught up in Goodreads reviews or the excitement of other authors reading my book for the first time or for the awe of someday getting a deal, because I will be.

It’s to say in all of that, that I need to remember who I write for. Who I tell stories for.

And I don’t tell stories for a Goodreads review.

 

On Fear

As marginalized people, we say over and over: if you’re going to write about us, learn, respect, if/when you screw up try again, do better do better do better next time.I don’t want to tell you not to try, dear writer. But the fact of the matter is, if you screw up in your portrayal, you may hurt someone. Your hurt will be small in return. It will be sharp words and criticism. To the person you’ve hurt, to marginalized people, to us, it is continual, it is a compound on top of years and years of harmful portrayals. And it hurts. God, it hurts.
Reading a book where a queer girl is predatory, where she is laughed at, a caricature, where she is attacked, where—this hurts. Reading this hurts.
I cannot guarantee my response to this kind of rep, born out of hurt, will be kind. I’m sorry. I cannot. But please, dear writer, listen. And I know it’s scary, I know it’s hard because I’ve been there and because I write outside my own experiences. I write this way to reflect the world I live in.
And I am scared. I am scared of getting it wrong because I know how much it hurts to get it wrong. I know if I am called out it will sting. But I know it will hurt more to those whom I portray inaccurately, even offensively.
But I will do better. But maybe we as a community need to do better, too. Because when I see people say they are too scared to write outside their own lane because of criticism, some of that is on them, absolutely, but some of that—some of that is on us. When more than one person says it, when marginalized people say how afraid they are of writing even their own experiences because they’re afraid of their experience being “wrong”–then it’s time for us to do better. I’m not saying don’t criticize. I’m not saying we must coddle all authors who screw up.
I’m saying do better. I don’t know if I have an answer as to how. This isn’t an individual issue. This is a community one.
Maybe a little fear is healthy in writing. Maybe it helps you not screw up portrayals. But fear that stops people from writing altogether, fear that we as a community may cause?
We need to look at that.

How I Got My Agent

All right, y’all. Buckle your seat belts because you’re in for a very, very long post about how I got my agent.

And we’re gonna start at the beginning. The very beginning.

I wrote the first draft of the book that would become Strung Along in 2009 for NaNoWriMo. I was 15.

It was a hot mess. But I couldn’t let go of the story. I believed in it, and I believed in my characters.

I got a subscription to Writer’s Digest for Christmas. I joined a now defunct website called inkpop (that turned into Figment) and made it to the top 5 in July of 2010. I went to a creative writing summer camp that same summer, and in the fall I sent out maybe… six queries to agents, and then high school caught up with me and I gave up.

(Also those first queries were horrible, but I digress).

I didn’t query seriously until 2013. A lot happened in the three-year span between those times, with me and the book, but I’ll cover that in another post (maybe a book deal one hopefully!). Because this isn’t my “how the book came to be” story. Not yet.

This is how I got my agent.

So I started querying in fall 2013, and had a few full/partial requests but nothing was sticking. So I decided to enter #PitMad that January, a Twitter pitch contest. And I had a few favorites on my pitch, including one from an agent named Emily Keyes who I’d actually queried two days before.

I shot her a quick Twitter message (or maybe it was an email) saying I’d queried her and she’d favorited my pitch, so should I still submit since she already had my query?

She said yes! And I sent her my full manuscript for Strung Along on January 6, 2014, and that’s how we began.

She emailed me back a week and a half later saying she liked the concept but she thought the MS needed some work, and would I be open to doing revisions?

Heck yes I was open to doing revisions.

So Emily sent me her notes, I sent her a revised MS back a month later, and then proceeded to fret and worry about my manuscript and worry to pretty much everyone within earshot/on Twitter DM about how it was going.

(Here’s where I’m going to pause and thank three fabulous people: BreeKatie, and Rachel, for putting up with my anxious self for more than a year and keeping me sane. Y’all rock.)

And I got another email from Emily in May–she liked my changes but she still thought the manuscript needed more work, and would I be open to a phone call to discuss revisions?

(Heck yeah I was open to a phone call).

So I had my phone call with Emily and even though I was a complete nervous wreck beforehand, talking to her immediately put me at ease. She was super friendly and wonderful on the phone, and all her notes felt so true and spot on to the book. We ended up talking for an hour and a half about stuff that wasn’t even related to writing. And somewhere in the back of my mind I started thinking that Emily might be a really good fit for me as an agent.

I left that phone call feeling good about revising and got to work. I was working as a camp counselor for most of the summer, so after midnight when my kids were asleep, I’d work on the book. And in the mornings when they were doing activities, I’d work on the book.

I sent the second revised version back to Emily in August, and prepared to leave to study abroad in Wales for three months. Fortunately for me (and Bree and Rachel and Katie), I was too busy preparing for Wales to think about the waiting around a lot.

I made it to Wales. I only had internet on campus since I hadn’t bought an international plan for my phone, which was good because it kept me from obsessively checking my email wondering if Emily (or any other agents, as I was still querying), had responded to my manuscript yet.

And then one night in October I came back from a local pub and saw I had an email from Emily.

She liked my latest version, but she thought the voice still wasn’t working (which I wholeheartedly agreed with), and if I wasn’t sick of her, was I open to doing more revisions?

This time I actually had to pause, y’all. I was getting to a point of being sick of the manuscript. It felt okay and the plot and everything was there, but something was missing in the story, and Emily was right–my character’s voice was totally off. I couldn’t get a good handle on her, and I knew this was going to be the hardest revision to do.

But I said yes, I was open to one more round.

And then I got stuck. I tried to go back into my book but every time I did I felt a sense of dread because nothing was working and it all felt so completely overwhelming.

So I talked to Katie (really seriously Katie talked me down off so many writing ledges it feels like). And I decided to put the book aside for two weeks and just enjoy my study abroad experience.

I did enjoy it. I traveled to London, saw some West End shows. Took a week with a few other students and went to Prague and Berlin. Tried not to think about the book. Didn’t think about the book. Listened to Wintergirls on audio because I had long bus rides and because if anyone is a master of voice it’s Laurie Halse Anderson. Watched a lot of psychology videos for research trying to get inside my MC’s head.

And something really cool started happening–I started hearing my character. This character who’d never really opened up to me before. I got snatches of her voice while walking around Berlin or visiting the zoo in Prague, and I’d make notes of certain lines on my phone.

When I got back to Wales after my two-week self-imposed hiatus, I knew what I had to do: I had to start over and rewrite the entire book.

So I did. I threw out everything except maybe 5% and started from page one. I wrote in a frenzy. I stayed in the local coffee shop from pretty much 9-4 every day and ordered a giant pot of tea (we won’t talk about how much I spent on tea) and rewrote Sarah’s story.

I finished the rewrite in a month, and something felt different. The story felt fuller and better. I sent it off to CPs, and they agreed with me. I revised with their notes, and this January, an entire year after we’d first started, I sent my third revised manuscript back to Emily.

I crossed my fingers. I let my mom read the book for the first time. I agonized over waiting and I hoped something good would happen because the book felt like it was finally right this time, or close to being right. I messaged Katie a lot. I texted Bree all the time, and I brought up revisions at least once a day to Rachel.

And then, two weeks ago, my university closed for snow–because NC shuts down for one inch of snow.

And I got an email from Emily asking if we could call and discuss my manuscript.

I may have shrieked. I definitely jumped up and down and messaged all my CPs and my parents because even though I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high I had a feeling this was “The Call” that I’d read so many blog posts about and seen so many other newly agented writers talk about.

I emailed Emily and scheduled a time for our phone call for the next day at 10 a.m. I didn’t really sleep the night before. I scoured blog posts about other people’s calls and I took notes of questions I wanted to ask and made a list of qualities that were important to me.

And the next morning, Emily called. And she offered representation, and we talked about the book and I tried to keep my cool even though I was totally flipping out on the inside.

I asked for ten days to think about it. (I know you’re totally thinking WHAT?! right now but trust, you don’t want to make a super important career decision while still riding the emotional bliss high). Even though I had a really good feeling Emily was a good fit for me.

I talked to some of Emily’s other clients on the phone and through email. I nudged the other agents with my MS and waited for responses from them. They withdrew with congratulations, and by last Friday I’d heard from every one and knew what my decision was going to be.

And after a year of working and waiting and querying, I accepted Emily’s offer of representation. I knew she was a great fit for me–she completely understood my book (and at this point, my revision process), our communication styles totally mesh, and I know it’s totally cliche to say this but we really clicked. And I’m glad we went through so many revisions because I don’t think I or the book were ready beforehand.

So yeah. My process to getting an agent was super long and I may have drank my weight in tea during it, but it was totally, totally worth it and I’m so happy to have Emily as my agent.

Some fun query stats for you:

Number of queries sent: 76
Number of query rejections: 53
Number of partial/full requests: 22
Submissions: 22
R&Rs: 3
Months spent querying: 18

I Am Not My Coming Out Story: Deeper Representation in YA Lit

There’s been a lot of discussion these days about YA–about girls in YA and about diversity in YA made by people who are far more eloquent and well-spoken and informed than I am, at least on those topics. But I wanted to throw my two cents in, because I’m tired of sitting back and watching these discussions and reblogging and never saying anything. So this is me trying to articulate the jumble of thoughts in my head in a hopefully relevant way.

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