Thursday, September 26, 2019

New Story out for Banned Books Week!

It's Banned Books Week, where we celebrate freedom of information and books that have been banned by libraries, schools, etc. in an effort to suppress ideas and identities.

Since it's 2019 and we're living in divided times, I just feel that I need to point out that I feel strongly that schools, libraries, and society itself should not tolerate hate speech or books that perpetuate hate speech, nor should they give white supremacists a platform in any way. The celebration of Banned Books is meant to uplift everyone, especially the marginalized. It should not be twisted to mean that those who want to dominate society should be given more of a platform than they already have.

Historically, books have not been banned because of hate. They've been banned to suppress marginalized identities, ideas that critique governments, or speak to uncomfortable subjects such as sexual assault or even positive stories about sex. Those stories need to be told, because they are truth and because they represent real people, and they are meant to give everyone an equal footing. THOSE are the stories we are celebrating this week.

So with that in mind, I'm thrilled to share that my flash fic story "Weeds" is live on the Cast of Wonders podcast this week. It is included in a bundle of three flash stories of hope and resistance, in episode 375. I was thrilled to be featured in the company of amazing authors Joyce Chng and Innocent Chizaram Ilo.

"Weeds" is a prequel to my short story "Princess" which appeared in issue 03 of Foreshadow: A Serial YA Anthology. Together, they represent a mother/daughter duo with wildly divergent relationships to technology.

Get ready for subtle censorship, inherent biases, rogue algorithms, and making love in the garden between the cilantro and the sweet bay!

Many thanks to rockstar editor Julia Rios, the team at Cast of Wonders for a fantastic production, and the teen writer who narrated my story, Athena Haq.



Saturday, September 7, 2019

Choosing a Second Agent

The Gulf Islands, British Columbia
Ah, it's been a busy summer of writing! I'm working on a YA rom-com that I hope to share more about when the time comes. For now, let's just say there's a lot of PNW love and a lot of island love, since it's set in the San Juans.

I also signed with my second agent over the summer! It turned out that my short story "Princess" from Foreshadow: A Serial YA Anthology opened some doors for me, paving the way for new opportunities and catching my agent's eye to boot.

I was honored to receive multiple offers, and since this was my second time selecting an agent, I had a better handle on what I really wanted and needed from one. I did some things differently than last time, which I thought I would share here in case it's helpful for anyone. (Dahlia Adler also had a great post about how the process of selecting an agent had changed for her too, which I encourage you to check out.)

1. Connection

I really wanted an agent that I could connect with on a personal level. So how do you know?
Simply put, I wanted to see if we were able to talk, if I had the feeling I could be free and honest with them, if we connected on a gut level. If I felt like they understood how heartbreaking it was when my book with my first agent never found a publishing home, and if they could offer me the emotional support I craved. In essence, someone who was real but kind, decisive and knowledgeable, someone I felt confident could help guide me through this career.

To make sure we could easily carry on a conversation, I decided to forgo a scripted list of questions on my phone calls this time. (If you're nervous, having this list to fall back on is great. You should totally use the list!) But I'd done this once before, and I felt that it led to a stilted conversation. I also knew I'd end up asking for a second call to tie up loose ends with my top choice agent (and I did) so it didn't matter if I forgot something in the initial call. Sidenote: a lot of those internet lists of "Questions for the Call" are answered via the contract, so it might be best to hold off on those until you've had a chance to look through it.

More Gulf Islands
2. Reaching out to clients

Last time, I skipped this step because I figured nobody was going to say anything bad about their agent, and I wasn't sure what the purpose was. But I'm really glad I decided to go for it this time! More information is always better. Janet Reid's blog post was super helpful for this because she clarified that you should not expect phone calls. So I reached out by email with 5 questions + a general spot for any other comments or tips.

Everyone I spoke to adored their agent, but a lot more comes through than just that. You can definitely get a better sense of the agent's style, and how the agent works in practice. How editorial are they? What strategies do they employ in guiding your career? How do they feel about working with small presses? What are their preferred methods of communication?

The best part of these references was both the connection and encouragement from experienced writers and the really fantastic tips that everyone offered. I learned a lot from them! When I asked if the clients had tips on building a good relationship with the agent, I received some really great advice (most of which would apply to any agent). Also, someone encouraged me to ask a lot of nitpicky questions about the contract, and pose different scenarios, e.g. "What would happen if X?" I ended up doing this, and was very glad I did. Thank you, lovelies who were so generous with your advice!


Is there such thing as too many sunsets over the water?
3. Breathe, and give yourself time to choose.

When you've been waiting so long to sign with an agent, it can feel like an offer can slip away at any moment. We're all terrified of taking too long to decide, or saying the wrong thing, and the offer being rescinded. Even if we know rationally that if an agent rescinds their offer arbitrarily, they're probably not that great of a human being.

The first time around, I allowed that pressure to push me into making a faster decision than I was ready for. But this time, I promised myself that it would be okay, that I could take my time. The agent I ended up signing with assured me that she'd still be there if I needed a few extra days. Even though I'd already decided this for myself, I was grateful to have her reassurance.

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With all that said and done, I am very excited to share that I'm now represented by Penny Moore at Aevitas Creative Management!

PS: If you like my pics, please follow my recently created Instagram account!