Nuance

Twitter is a very angry place today.

It’s a nuanced issue and I have words. I’ll do my best to lay my very complicated thoughts and emotions out in a reasoned fashion.

Here’s the reason twitter is angry today. Vulture published an article that… was rather skewed in its perception. (It’s the politest way I can say that.) I knew about the person writing the article months ago, they were going around asking for interviews. Thank goodness Nicky provided screenshots so Vulture doesn’t get any more clicks than necessary. (Shared with Nicky’s permission)

I don’t suppose twitter being angry again is anything new, at all.

Over the weekend, I had to block a bunch of angry people who preach the same, sad, angry speech over and over and over again with regards to aroace issues. I’m done listening.

Blogged about it here.

And today, we’re back to (re: race issues, YA book twitter and reviewing) seeing the same people performing the same ridiculous performative activism. No, I ain’t gonna link them. They’re already on my publishing blacklist anyway. You’ll see a lot of them who look/claim to be white shouting that it’s wrong to want ‘old twitter’ back.

Today’s anger is in relation to race, reviews and the above linked article.

Over the weekend it was aroace.

Before that is was neurodiversity, before that it was queerphobia, before that mental illness/psychiatric disorder and I’m seeing inklings that it’s going to be transphobia next.

The problem is so nuanced and multifaceted that I wonder if maybe I’m one of the few seeing it? I mean… I’m so intersectionally diverse it’s almost impossible to believe. I’m plugged into a lot of communities just by virtue of being who I am.

I’m queer as fuck, I’m autistic, I’m mentally ill, I’m chronically ill with a chronic pain condition, and I’m mixed-race. (Mostly First Nations, Spanish/Portuguese and Mixed white European, but I have quite a few black ancestors too.)

The problem with twitter that is ruining ‘book twitter’ and why braver people are saying they miss the old one is this: It’s the anger people.

Not about the subject matter.

It’s about what makes REAL activism, and the ‘performing for ally cookies’ sort of activism.

I ask, in the light of all that’s going down, who are you shouting for? Why are you shouting?

If it’s the YA book twitter group, you’re very likely doing it wrong, cause they’re afraid. More on that later.

Several threads shared on twitter offer VERY salient point.

We don’t have people in their own communities (ANY of the diverse communities I’m part of) coming to collect the pretenders and me-too-ists and harmful (possibly well meaning?) people. We also don’t have people in our own communities willing to collect the loud, angry, confrontational, or outright dangerous people.

I tried, with the aroace discussion recently. I ended up having to block people because they were interested only in being angry, not in actually listening or in working for change. They wanted to shout, and flail and have things EXACTLY AS THEY WANTED IT.

They weren’t interested in working for change. They were interested in shouting until *I* backed down. Because I didn’t agree with them.

I got called names, gaslighted, and ganged up on. BY PEOPLE IN (one of) MY OWN COMMUNITIES!

So I ended up blocking.

I’m older, I remember a time when I was young and fired up and thinking the only way to make my voice heard was to shout and demand things.

Change needs to happen. YES. In SO MANY areas of publishing, in book twitter, in life. Change NEEDS to happen. I need it to happen, not just for me, but for my kids. Mixed race, autistic, possibly queer, likely… after the world gets done chewing them up and spitting them out… mentally ill adults they’ll someday be… and for my grandkids too, if I have any. All of the children and grandchildren of those generations. Those are the people *I’m* fighting for. Future generations. Not me, so much as the ones who will come after me.

Seven generations. A bastardized quote, but one worthy of thought in this context.

“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”

The seventh generation principle comes, we believe, from The Iroquois Confederacy.

I do know it’s a very important part of my life-path. To think ahead to future generations in all that I do.

Environment, relationships, all of it.

Because THAT is who I’m fighting and educating for.

Not me.

It’s also a principle I try to follow that I need to have peace in my heart and a thick skin, so that I don’t act unwisely.

You may have heard me use the phrase “I need to sit with this”.

That usually means I’m angry, and I need to step back and away, to ‘sit with it’ until I can respond or speak in a way that won’t negatively impact others.

For reading, if you’re so inclined. Do a search for ‘seven’ and read those passages.

The Great Binding Law GAYANASHAGOWA

It’s part of why I stick on twitter, because a lot of people say they learn things from me that they don’t learn from anyone else. I have a patreon, I could confine my education to that area only like some people have done. (If you find any of my blogs or threads helpful/educational, even a dollar a month can help me so much. You’ve no idea how badly I need the help!!)

I’m not going to.

The angry atmosphere on twitter is driving people away. That is fact.

It’s not helping to educate. Shouting angrily, bullying, gaslighting, and being harmful enough to drive people away is not going to cause that badly needed change. No matter WHAT the area you personally need to have change happen in, anger is not going to get you there.

People doing the actual work are. The ones who reach out to someone (again, NO MATTER WHAT THE TOPIC IS) and say the hard thing to them…

IE: That is racist, that is bullying, that is queerphobic, that is harming other aroace people and making us afraid to talk, that is (insert harmful behavior here).

I’ve seen so many white authors dashing off a quick tweet today parroting that it’s wrong to miss old book twitter because it shuts down the conversation. (I’d really love to know if they call-in other white authors when they’re being problematic, or if they just dash off those tweets when the marginalized communities are harmed.)

But you know? It’s not wrong to miss old book twitter. I disagree with everything in me. With anyone saying it’s wrong to miss the old book twitter. That’s… not how this is supposed to work y’all.

I’m marginalized.

And YES. I miss old book twitter.

I only caught the tail end of it, because I didn’t discover twitter until Jan of 2015. I still saw a much more uplifting, educational, and supportive atmosphere then than I do now.

When the atmosphere of twitter drives people TRYING TO DO BETTER away. When it drives the marginalized youth you claim to be fighting for AWAY… Then the atmosphere is the problem. Not ‘missing old book twitter’. Missing old book twitter is not about shutting down conversation and education. It just isn’t. I don’t know why I’m one of the few people who seem to feel that way.

If people can’t make mistakes, and earnestly apologize, try to learn better and do better… what the hell is the point of trying to educate at all?

If your only point is to sic your followers on an author who didn’t know better… welp, maybe the problem is as much YOU as the author.

If you’re called out for doing something wrong, (gods, I feel like a broken record here) you say “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I’m listening.” Then you sit the fuck down and you listen!

Then you try to do better with what you hopefully know.

I do notice who says they’re sorry and tries to do better, and who doesn’t. So does everyone else.

There’ve been threads (If you go to my twitter you can see which ones I retweeted, I’m not really a journalist, but considering the flagrant abuse of journalists that spawned these posts, I’m not going to link without permission. Sadly, I’m too afraid to ask for that permission of the two people I’d most like to link.)

I’ve also been bullied and harassed (through DMs, my blog contact form, and my email). I’ve had people lie to me, or subtly threaten to out my legal name and my husband’s and kids names as well if I don’t do what they want me to do. (To be clear, I don’t use my legal name cause it’s my dead name, so having it show up in an email hurt me. I don’t even use it in real life unless it’s on legal paperwork where I have to.) THIS name is my ‘real’ name. This is the real me.

Here is a thread I did for helping people consider if they’re being a bully or no.

Now, that vulture article that stirred up the hurt and rage on twitter today? It’s about the YA book community, and race, and attacking reviewers. I do suggest you read it in full and draw your own conclusions about it.

I’ll say something here I’ve been afraid to say elsewhere: I’m SO GLAD I don’t write YA. It’s not really in my skill set and I’m so grateful for that. I don’t even want to dip a toe in that shark infested lake.

I’ve got a partially finished YA memoir. I’ll never likely finish it because the very idea of swimming in the blood-chummed waters of YA twitter make me never want to consider it.

That has nothing to do with the young adults themselves. It has everything to do with adults and scary, noisy, angry saviors who purport to be defending and protecting the very people they supposedly write for.

Young adults are some of the most awesome people I’m privileged to know. They are much better people, by and large, than I was at their ages. The thing that keeps me from writing YA? (Aside from my lack of skill at it) Is that it’s not the Young Adult Voices who get listened to.

Nope. Not even close. It’s self-appointed ‘saviors’ of young adults (again, doesn’t matter the marginalization, I’ve seen it over and over again through many different diverse communities). They’re ANGRY saviors too.

Thought experiment from sociology classes:

  1. The last time someone yelled in your face, did you *actually* hear the point they were trying to make?
  2. If someone bullied you, did you learn from them? Or did you try to get away?
  3. If someone has bullied or yelled at you more than once, will you EVER actually listen to them or their point?

No? Hunh. Imagine that.

Young Adults by and large (I follow quite a few now,  after a particular dust up where they came out in droves to shout down an angry savior. I’m following teens and young adults because I’M LISTENING TO THEM.) They are afraid to speak up on twitter because of the outraged adults.

The ones doing the harm here, it’s not the young adults. It’s the angry saviors and their hangers-on claiming (again, no matter which marginalized community we’re talking about) to be ‘protecting’ the ‘helpless young adults’.

Now, I don’t know about you? But I HATED to be talked over by adults when I was a young adult.

Seems to me, mourning old twitter isn’t about wanting the conversation to die so much as wanting a safe place for conversations and reviews to be shared. I want people on twitter to sit with it until they know their facts and their emotions well before they take to twitter and rant.

I want it to be a safe place for teens and young adults to share their thoughts and experiences without getting shouted down. I want it to remain a place where people can (if they choose to provide the free education) continue to share educational threads.  Where reviews can be shared. Where a well-thought out call-out can happen and where the one called out thinks and listens about the issue, then apologizes.

That’s what I want from book twitter.

But then, maybe I’m just too old, depressed and sad about seeing something that used to be really good going down the drain because of a few, angry saviors with huge followings.

Don’t, maybe… be that person who sees someone shouting about something (even if they’re shouting for a good cause, a needed change) and become a me-too-ist. There aren’t any ally cookies. There really aren’t.

There’s a distinct difference between educational threads, shared experiences and the angry saviorism. If you can’t recognize it… maybe think about that.

If you’re NOT doing the work to call-in problematical angry saviors AS WELL AS the problematic people who may be well meaning and who might make mistakes (again, no matter the marginalization) maybe just STFU and leave the work to those of us who do.

Consider this a call out to the angry saviors and the me-too-ists.

You’re not part of the solution. You’re part of the problem.

 

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New Book Review: ASSASSIN’S FATE by Robin Hobb

Dark Adult Fantasy

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BLURB

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The stunning conclusion to Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy, which began with Fool’s Assassin and Fool’s Quest

“Every new Robin Hobb novel is a cause for celebration. Along with millions of her other fans, I delight in every visit to the Six Duchies, the Rain Wilds, and the Out Islands, and can’t wait to see where she’ll take me next.”—George R. R. Martin 

More than twenty years ago, the first epic fantasy novel featuring FitzChivalry Farseer and his mysterious, often maddening friend the Fool struck like a bolt of brilliant lightning. Now New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb brings to a momentous close the third trilogy featuring these beloved characters in a novel of unsurpassed artistry that is sure to endure as one of the great masterworks of the genre.

Fitz’s young daughter, Bee, has been kidnapped by the Servants, a secret society whose members not only dream of possible futures but use their prophecies to add to their wealth and influence. Bee plays a crucial part in these dreams—but just what part remains uncertain.

As Bee is dragged by her sadistic captors across half the world, Fitz and the Fool, believing her dead, embark on a mission of revenge that will take them to the distant island where the Servants reside—a place the Fool once called home and later called prison. It was a hell the Fool escaped, maimed and blinded, swearing never to return.

For all his injuries, however, the Fool is not as helpless as he seems. He is a dreamer too, able to shape the future. And though Fitz is no longer the peerless assassin of his youth, he remains a man to be reckoned with—deadly with blades and poison, and adept in Farseer magic. And their goal is simple: to make sure not a single Servant survives their scourge.


REVIEW

First, I’ve been reading this series since not long after it first came out. Fantasy has always been my first and most enduring love. You do have to read the series to understand this book.

The blurb calls this a stunning conclusion to the series.

It’s right.

Robin Hobb is one of the very few (Less than five now) established authors I still auto-buy. Price of books and my anemic book buying cash and all. But I always buy the books about Fitz.

I bought this one release week and I’ll be completely honest, I had trouble getting into it. Passive voice. It’s my Achilles heel in reading and it will always throw me out of the story. So when I first picked up this story, hoping to escape, it irritated me enough to put it down when I caught several instances of passive voice in the first few pages.

I’m glad I finally got around to picking it back up again.

Man, when it finally grabbed me by the throat it pinned me down and held me almost unable to breathe for an entire weekend.

By that I mean I got NONE of my chores done, my hubs brought me dinner because I kept forgetting to eat and I forgot to make coffee one day because I was SO ENTHRALLED by the story. COFFEE people, I forgot COFFEE!

Now. I read fast, but this book is almost 900 pages long, I started it late at night on Friday and just finished it. A little before midnight on Sunday.

I didn’t do much of ANYTHING except read all weekend because I had to know what happened to Fitz and Beloved.

Had to.

It’s really good. I cried. A lot. Ugly, messy, cry, and I’m still content with how the story ended. I wish it hadn’t HAD to, because these were the only characters by this author that I connect with, but it’s still a fantastic conclusion. Even though my heart aches.

I’ll miss these characters, miss looking forward to new books with them. Badly. Sadly, Bee doesn’t do it for me as a character.

Somehow, I had also missed that Beloved is gender-fluid throughout the whole series, and though they aren’t named that way, it’s quite clear when I think about it. I suppose I could be coding it, but I really doubt it. Probably one of reasons I’ve loved these books, and reread them so many times for so many years.

I will say: Content Warning on a deliberate mis-gendering by Fitz for Beloved. That stung a bit to read. It worked for the characters, story, and world though, so it’s not a complaint. Just a warning.

SCORES

Readability: 5/5 star-1586412_1920 It’d be around 9 or 10 if I could rate that high on my system. I didn’t quite drop my tablet on my face, but that’s only because I’m trying to discipline myself into actually SLEEPING at night.

Arcs: 5/5 star-1586412_1920As I finished this last installment, I have to wonder if Ms. Hobb had this entire series planned from the get go. The series arcs, relationship arcs, and multiple trilogy arcs are so masterfully done. SO well done. It’s amazing. Truly.

Craft: 4/5: star-1586412_1920 I wish I could give it a full on five-star rating, but I did have trouble getting into it because of the passive voice. I found a couple of sections dragging and would’ve advised the author cut a few scenes to speed pacing. Still loved the book and the sheer scope of this story… it’s freaking phenomenal. Hobb carries well her laurels of being one of the best fantasists in the genre.

 

 

Work/Life balance as a writer/editor/publisher.

I want to say something snarky here, like… I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

But…

I’ll admit. It’s a struggle to find some sort of balance while being an author, an editor AND running a boutique publishing house.

I often feel like I need to work ALL the time.

It doesn’t help that this is my calling. Anyone with a calling will tell you it’s often harder to make yourself STOP working than it is to make yourself start.

I work far more than I should because I enjoy my work.

Whether it’s the act of writing, the act of reading potential books sent by hopeful authors, or whether it’s deciding how best to market stuff, I love it all. The only thing I don’t love is wrestling with contracts, but I feel like I’ve been given a gift to HAVE this wonderful calling. That of words.

As far as the balance part, that’s where it gets a bit murkier.

I try to stick to eight-hour workdays for the press/editing side of the business. It’s hard, especially when the book I’m reading for that aspect of my life is a good one.

I care, too, about the authors waiting to hear back from me on whether it’s a yes/no on the eternal question of do *I* love their book enough to publish it. I don’t like to make people wait too long. It bothers me. I’m picky, so I often don’t love the books enough. That’s because it’s a freaking nightmare to wrestle with the publishing process, and I only want to do it for books I LOVE.

I tend to read for pleasure only after I’ve written my daily word goal (if I’m drafting, if I’m in the editing phase for my own books after I’ve hit my daily editing goals).

I’m trying to read more for pleasure lately. I miss it terribly, but I find it incredibly hard to do of late because I haven’t quite figured out how to turn the ‘editor’ part of my brain off so that I can just read a story.

I mean, it has to be freaking amazing these days to suck me in and let me just read.

So, in a nutshell, I try to stick to a 9-5 schedule for the press, then switch to my own writing ’til I hit goal, then read for review/pleasure (pretty much only reading review books that ARE a pleasure to read these days, life is far too short to read books I don’t want to or that don’t catch me up).

Is it any wonder I have no idea who movies stars are and what TV shows are current? I live within the pages of books.

I’m happy there.

 

 

 

Selling a book is hair-raising.

Selling a book, or rather… the rights for someone else to publish a book, is a rather hair raising process.

I got the offers late last week. I sat and read/reread the contract of the pub I wanted to go with over and over again, hoping I wasn’t too much of a newb that I’d get tripped by something I shouldn’t sign.

I’ve had to sign plenty of contracts over the course of my 40 years. I had to develop contracts for my own press… But… this was different. I was signing away my brain baby.

I asked questions, I nagged (thank you so much for putting up with me!) my friends who had contracts with pubs/agents etc.

I angsted soooo much. (I’m autistic, obsession is my middle name) I talked to authors with the pub I went with to see if they were happy.

I then put it down and did something else for the weekend.

I signed it this morning after receiving clarification on terms.

I’ve been over the moon happy and overwhelmed since. I can’t say thank you to every single writer friend who has congratulated me. My fingers would fall off in typing.

The ironic thing is?

It was the very last book I’d be querying.

I was done. I almost didn’t send these queries to these presses, and when I got the rejection I did a couple of weeks ago from one I was sure would want this title… well, I almost pulled the rest of the queries.

But. I promised myself I’d finish querying out Bloodbound before I went full indie. Because my hopes have always been to be a hybrid-author, with some series with presses, some indie-self.

So I stuck the course. I wouldn’t ever have queried a book after this one, but it turns out, not pulling those queries was the right choice, because I finally got a yes (more than one).

Rhian, my Demisexual Assassin. Touch Averse, Gray-Aro, kinky, polyamorous assassin and Kai, my hot AF bisexual, kinky, Welsh Vampire (they really had them in folklore, and my goodness the amount of research I had to do to find info!) Are coming to you from NineStar Press May 07, 2018.

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That thing we say about not giving up? I’m rather glad, right now, that I didn’t. I’d completely lost hope, but I hadn’t, yet, given up.

 

 

 

 

Ingrained Elitism and Ableism in Publishing

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I’m pretty much beyond the point of no return with regards to publishing with a big 5, or even being represented by an agent, (lol, unless my very outspokenness nets me one or the other, and yes, I’ve seen that happen, recently) so I think it’s safe enough for me to speak out about what so many of us are thinking and feeling.

There is a fuck ton of elitism and ableism within the glorified walls of traditional publishing and larger small press.

I’m not going to call out any one person (though I do have a few saved tweet threads about it).

Usually, it’s editors or agents (though I’ve seen authors say it too) who say things like:

“Keep trunking novels.”

“Keep working.”

“Write the next thing.”

You get my drift, right? If you’ve been around the publishing industry on twitter for a second you’ll have seen the types of threads and comments I’m talking about.

Authors and writers will talk about it privately (which kinda says something all by itself), but most won’t say boo about the publishing industry in public for fear they’ll lose their shot at publication.

Happened just last night.

Firstly. I say publishing has a problem with elitism, and it so does. It comes from all levels too, it comes from big 5 pub, agents, editors and agented/published authors (not all, of course).

The idea that you can *ONLY* be an author if you’ve pubbed with a big 5, or if you have an agent or if you can bootstrap yourself to write another book while one is out on query or submission. It’s so freaking elitist that I can’t even wrap my head around it.

There’s a helluva lot of elitism going on.

Secondly: It’s ABLEIST to say keep working, keep trying, write the next thing to people, especially marginalized people, many of whom have Mental Illness/Psychiatric Disorder. MANY writers do, so that very concept really needs to die by fire.

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Not everyone is as open as I am about their mental illness… for stated reasons. They’re afraid they won’t get picked for publication/mentorship if it’s perceived that they can’t do the work due to mental illness. This fear is so common it’s mindboggling.

I did a thread about this last night, so I won’t repeat myself.

There have been panels and discussions at cons about why there is STILL so little diversity in fiction.

The answer has always been that the people who buy/produce/market books don’t resonate with diverse voices.

I hope to see change in the near future, so that new authors (or even, hell, salty old curmudgeonly authors like me) don’t have to fear not being picked because we speak out about problems we see or things we experience.

I won’t be holding my breath, though.

There’re are very valid reasons so many marginalized writers are self-pubbing or going with boutique presses.

It’s the only way we can get our stories out.

Another thread that may be of use to any of my marginalized readers.

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Wondering

I really wonder why agents act like they’re the be all and end all of publishing? Of course, it’s not ALL agents.

I just closed out a bunch of queries after they hit the 90 day mark. Sure, I might still hear back on some of them, but at that point it’s unlikely.

I happened to read the note one of the agencies had (that I copied into my query tracker private comments section) and it said something along the lines of, don’t send multiple queries, it can take years and we might contact you later when markets shift… basically a don’t call us, we’ll call you sort of thing.

Years.

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Are they that out of touch with how much easier it is for an author to go with indie small-press or with indie self-pub?

This isn’t the same market as it was 29 years ago when I started writing.

It’s not even the same market it was 10 years ago.

I’m the one with the product here (and a good one, based on my stats and reviews) so, what gives?

Seriously. I’m asking the question, because some of my friends are agents, and they’ve been very supportive of the indie market and my choice to go indie.

So obviously it’s not ‘all’ agents.

Another thing I wonder… do the ones who do the whole ‘no response means no‘ thing realize that in any other industry that’d be a firing offense? Not to mention they’d be a laughing stock in any other professional field with that kind of policy.

Why is it de rigeur in publishing and other creative fields like acting?

That makes no sense to me, at all. I really do NOT understand how it’s even remotely okay.

Just ’cause they’re busy?

Yeahhhhnope. That doesn’t work for me. *I’m* incredibly busy between running the press and writing.

Everyone gets a response, and usually a reason if it’s a rejection or revise/resubmit. Even if it’s just an… I’m sorry, it’s subjective and I didn’t love it enough… people get something. It’s basic politeness as far as I’m concerned.

So why is it okay? Why do writers… the ones with the product, the ones who pay the agents in the end of things… why do we put up with it?

Especially when indie is so much easier in a lot of ways, especially if you’re marginalized.

I think this is one of those questions I’ll never get an answer to.

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Breaking a Habit

They say it takes 21 days to truly break a habit.

I’m not sure how true that is, but I do know that I just had to stop myself from sending out another query.

I got yet another rejection, and I had to stop myself from sending a query to another agent at that house.

I could, I guess… I did say that I’d query everyone possible on BLOODBOUND, my fifth and last heavily queried title. But when I poke at my heart it hurts so damned badly at even the idea of putting another query letter together that I know I can’t do it.

That I shouldn’t do it.

That I’d be damaging myself further by doing so and that no, really, it’s not worth it.

So many people say… it only takes one yes! With regard to attracting an agent.

Not even a yes is going to be worth the pain I’ve self-inflicted by continuing to query in the face of 5 books worth of rejections.

Especially when readers love my stories.

Even if I DID get an offer of representation, AND chose to accept it… it still wouldn’t heal the damage.

I don’t know how people can think it would. Only one yes?

Sure, it only takes one.

But it’s one that I feel isn’t likely to come for me, and I’m just too tired to keep slogging through these trenches.

I tried to write yesterday, I found 560 or so words. It was like pulling teeth and does not at all feel like writing usually does for me (a joy). It felt painful and made me unhappy with myself.

Querying has taken my joy of writing from me. So no, I won’t send that query. There are 5 other agents at that agency I could query, that I had listed as being potentially interested in my work.

But no. I’m done. I have to be.

I don’t have joy in life for many reasons I’ve already discussed on my blog, but a large portion of that ability to feel joy has been bled away by querying, so yeah. I have to be done.

If that means I fail to query the ONE agent who might give me that ONE yes? Unfortunately, that’d be another cost of what querying has done to me.

The broken system has broken me. I’m not the only marginalized writer who has been broken by it all.

I’m just the latest.