Notes from the Query Trenches


As even my time is valuable, I research potential agents like I’m in query grad school. It’s impossible to find a perfect agent, but I rarely find one who dwells on the planet, “Are You Kidding?” So I offer you today’s rare find, who shall reman unnamed.*

She wants info on your social media platforms, AND how you personally will market and promote your book, AND she’s only sold 5 in seven years, AND four of them were self-help books for improving dental hygiene.**

*If you guessed “Voldemort,” I can’t blame you, but…no.

**Ok, not actually dental hygiene, but close enough.



So here’s my new idea for my synopsis. “CHLOE wants something. Many characters with their names in all caps help her, get in the way, or both. In the end she gets what she needs,” Cue Rolling Stones music. That’s it. That’s the whole synopsis.

All reactions:

1Amy R EM



I don’t write Own Voices fiction, because unless “Fallen Away Actor/Director” qualifies as one, it would be a poor choice.

However, my novels have diverse casts. Luckily for me, I have the perfect critique partner. She’s Bi and her spouse is Trans, making her my own personal sensitivity reader.

It’s amazing how much a writer can miss without that kind of help, whether it’s the simple use of pronouns or more complex emotional issues and life experience.

An Elf is Living in my Computer


So I’m working on a paragraph in my current WIP. The scene is set on the Carnegie Mellon U campus (I’m an alum). I get the following text.

Carol, What are we grateful for? You! Thank you for being part of the CMU alumni community. Click to view a special Thanksgiving message from CMU Advancement:

I’m not making this up. I must remember not to set scenes in a cemetery or a prison.



Search ArriveCan. No, seriously do. I mean really seriously. Don’t wait until you’re 30 minutes from the bridge and then freak out and have to get off the highway so you can freak out some more while you download the app and then fill it out and freak out some more. But it all worked out and the Canadian woman who admitted us into Ontario said she was proud of us for doing it right.*

*Apparently, lots of people don’t know about it and they yell at the poor woman, who didn’t do anything, and hates it as much as they do.



When you fill out the “Do you have a blog?” box on an agent’s submission form and realize your last post was slightly before the War of the Roses.

The Times They Are a Changin’


Revising a novel I put away for a few years, I realized that some scenes/subplots have to change. Does anyone under 50 ever have an actual phone conversation anymore or do they just text?

But there are much more serious issues. The metoo movement has brought into sharp focus a lot of formerly acceptable/ignored behavior. A gesture that once passed for charming or romantic comes off as creepy or hostile.

I’ve sent a few of my favorite characters for a bit of sensitivity training so they can be genuinely charming and romantic. So far, so good.