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TRANSFORMATION (Memoir--New Version)

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#61 marisajane

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 01:57 AM

 

Here's a new version drawing on rose77's great suggestions. Note that I've left out the completed author bio and personalization parts so folks can focus on the rest. Memoir is treated like fiction, so you don't have to be a memoirist to comment. I'd be interested in any comments to help improve the query, as well as any thoughts about whether I should reveal the secret mentioned in the third paragraph. i'm okay without the reveal Thanks in advance for any comments you might share. I greatly appreciate it, and I will pay it forward!

 

 

Faced with racist war cries <from who? i think i remember this phrase from an earlier version, in the context of your childhood? not sure it's as effective without that context and lost job opportunities, I struggled to follow my Native American culture and spirituality. The one thing I never expected was that doing so could land me in prison. Solid opening! That first bit with the war cries just gave me an image of people randomly screaming at you, which could be the intended thing? I'm left wondering who these people are. What if it was just- Faced with blatant/glaring/outright racism and lost job opps..
 
As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and drive by shootings. My mother was soon forced to take me and flee when my stepfather transformed <so this is also the title of your book, yes? I thought the transformation was yours, not stepfather's? Both? If the title points to both you and stepfather transforming, maybe relate/parallel the two somehow.. otherwise, keep this verb for you and your closing paragraph. Your stepdad can morph/change/become into a drug-abusing adulterer and stalker. When my stepfather he came after me <with what intention? or with what object? late one night, high and out of control, it seemed like not even the police outside the door could save me. This is a very strong image- can it be more vivid? I don't know the specifics of this incident of course, i just threw some drama in as a try
  
After losing my stepfather, the only father I'd ever known, I yearned to reconnect with my birth? father and to become an enrolled member of my tribe. Only that would enable me to legally participate in Lakota? ceremonies and keep the eagle feathers with which I prayed. But after a chance reunion in Las Vegas, I returned home to a letter <from who? that revealed a startling family secret that would cost me my family, change my ethnic identity, and put me at risk of imprisonment for following my faith. 
  
Complete at 94,000 words, TRANSFORMATION is a story about resilience, family, and identity. It is a story that reveals how we not only survive unexpected life changes but emerge from them utterly transformed by the  that find us all. It will appeal to readers who loved the haunting candor of The Other Side and the moving triumph of The Glass Castleemerge/from only because you have the transform/life changes thing going on that reminded me of butterflies? but perhaps that's too image-y

 

 

Really seems like it's getting there! I can definitely hear more of your voice coming through. 


TRUE NORTH ​query

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#62 Mezzanine

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 07:45 AM

Here's a new version, trying to convey more of my style and voice, to make the imagery more concrete and vivid. I've left out the completed author bio and agent personalization so folks can focus on the rest. As always, memoirs are treated like fiction, so you don't need to be a memoirist to comment. Feel free to shred it to pieces, or to chime in to say if something works for you. Thanks in advance for any comments you might share. I will repay the favor and pay it forward!

 

 

Faced with racist war cries at school and lost job opportunities as an adult, I struggled to follow my Native American culture and spirituality. The one thing I never expected was that doing so could land me in prison.
 
As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and drive by shootings. My mother was soon forced to take me and flee when my stepfather became a violent drug-abusing adulterer and stalker. When he came after me one night, threatening to break the door down, it seemed like not even the butcher knife in my hand or the police outside the door could save me.
  
After losing my stepfather, the only father I ever knew, I yearned to reconnect with my father, to become an enrolled member of my tribe. Only that would allow me to legally participate in ceremonies and keep the eagle feathers with which I prayed. But after a chance reunion in Las Vegas, I returned home to a letter from my grandparents. In it, an off-hand remark revealed a shocking secret that would cost me my family, change my ethnic identity, and put me at risk of imprisonment for following my faith.
  
Complete at 94,000 words, TRANSFORMATION is a story about resilience, family, and identity. It is a story that reveals how we not only survive unexpected life changes, but emerge from them utterly transformed. It will appeal to readers who loved the haunting candor of The Other Side and the moving triumph of The Glass Castle.


#63 jbodd

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 03:51 PM

 

Here's a new version, trying to convey more of my style and voice, to make the imagery more concrete and vivid. I've left out the completed author bio and agent personalization so folks can focus on the rest. As always, memoirs are treated like fiction, so you don't need to be a memoirist to comment.Thanks in advance for any comments you might share. I will repay the favor and pay it forward!

 

 

Faced with racist war cries at school and lost job opportunities as an adult, I struggled to follow my Native American culture and spirituality. The one thing I never expected was that doing so could land me in prison.
 
As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and drive by shootings. My mother was soon forced to take me and flee when my stepfather became a violent drug-abusing adulterer and stalker. I'd rearrange this sentence: My stepfather became a violent drug-abusing stalker and my mother was forced to take me and flee. When he came after me (us?) one night, threatening to break the door down, it seemed like not even the butcher knife in my hand or the police outside the door could save me. What happened next? Did he go to jail?
  
After losing my stepfather (Was he killed by police in the altercation above? I'd like more of a connection between the paragraph above and this one), the only father I ever knew, Maybe start the second paragraph here:  I yearned to reconnect with my father, to become an enrolled member of my tribe. Only that would allow me to legally participate in ceremonies and keep the eagle feathers with which I prayed. But after a chance reunion in Las Vegas, I returned home to a letter from my grandparents. In it, an off-hand remark revealed a shocking secret that would cost me my family, change my ethnic identity, and put me at risk of imprisonment for following my faith. Forgive my ignorance, but I'm left wondering what it is about following your faith that would put you at risk of jail time – religious freedom and all that. You don't tell us the location, other than not in Las Vegas. You might include something that explains that a bit better. Maybe. I'm new to all this. : )
 
Complete at 94,000 words, TRANSFORMATION is a story about resilience, family, and identity. It is a story that reveals how we not only survive unexpected life changes, but emerge from them utterly transformed. It will appeal to readers who loved the haunting candor of The Other Side and the moving triumph of The Glass Castle.

 

Sounds like a very compelling story. Good luck to you!

 

My query: Cleaning House - Revision 1


JBodd ~

 

If you have time, please take a look at my first paragraphs, Cleaning House  http://agentquerycon...market-fiction/

 

Or my title hunt [http://agentquerycon...omething-else/]


#64 Mezzanine

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 07:50 AM

Really seems like it's getting there! I can definitely hear more of your voice coming through. 

 

I think some of what you said do help with the new version. thanks for your help!



#65 Mezzanine

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 07:59 AM

Thanks for your help, jbodd. I think your suggestion about connecting better between the second and third paragraphs is a good idea and fairly easy to do. I may just add in something like “After my mother divorced my stepfather, I yearned…” 

 
I’m glad to see you wondering about what it was about following my faith could lead to jail time. Having the reader wonder this is intentional; it’s meant to be part of what draws interest in reading more. It’s also something I allude to in the previous sentence when I mentioned how only connecting with my father and getting enrolled would enable me to legally keep my eagle feathers. So, too, was the ending of the second paragraph. It’s meant to leave the reader wondering and wanting to know what happened next.


#66 jbodd

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 10:40 AM

Gotcha! Thought that might be the case. But perhaps you could include the location? Or not. Is it Las Vegas or elsewhere that this transpires? On a reservation? But perhaps that's meant to be part of the mystery. You've got my interest piqued.


JBodd ~

 

If you have time, please take a look at my first paragraphs, Cleaning House  http://agentquerycon...market-fiction/

 

Or my title hunt [http://agentquerycon...omething-else/]


#67 Mezzanine

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 12:22 PM

Gotcha! Thought that might be the case. But perhaps you could include the location? Or not. Is it Las Vegas or elsewhere that this transpires? On a reservation? But perhaps that's meant to be part of the mystery. You've got my interest piqued.

 

I could, though I'd be concerned if that'd require adding in that I moved to another state. That's not really an important detail for the query and I wouldn't want it to interrupt the flow. I think it'd probably be easier just to remove "in Las Vegas," so that it would read "But after a chance reunion, I returned home..." Or I could just say "But after a chance reunion, I received a letter from my grandparents..." thereby omitting any reference to location. Your thoughts?



#68 JohnPansini

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 06:30 PM

I really like your opening line (the hook). It says to an agent, "This guy is a professional." As for the rest, I think Jbodd nailed it.

 

One thing that confused me: "... racist war cries..." I associate war cries with Indian braves. Were the Indians in your school racist towards others? Or are war cries a metaphor for the racism against Indians? Not clear to me.

 

Hope this helps. Good luck,

JP



#69 dnogy

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 07:01 PM

 

Here's a new version, trying to convey more of my style and voice, to make the imagery more concrete and vivid. I've left out the completed author bio and agent personalization so folks can focus on the rest. As always, memoirs are treated like fiction, so you don't need to be a memoirist to comment. Feel free to shred it to pieces, or to chime in to say if something works for you. Thanks in advance for any comments you might share. I will repay the favor and pay it forward!

 

 

Faced with racist war cries at school and lost job opportunities as an adult, I struggled to follow my Native American culture and spirituality. The one thing I never expected was that doing so could land me in prison.
 
As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and drive by (drive-by) shootings. My mother was soon forced to take me and flee when my stepfather became a violent drug-abusing adulterer and stalker. (there is something weird about using soon. Maybe give a time, "When I was young boy, my mother was...   Or when I was twelve, my mother was.... Or whatever age or general age he was.) When he came after me one night, threatening to break the door down, it seemed like not even the butcher knife in my hand or the police outside the door could save me. (When did this happen? Is this what caused Mom to flee? Or did he chase you down?)
  
After losing my stepfather (did he die or did you lose him because your mom took you away from him?), the only father I ever knew, I yearned to reconnect with my (real? biological?) father, to become an enrolled member of my tribe. Only that would allow me to legally participate in ceremonies and keep the eagle feathers with which I prayed. But after a chance reunion in Las Vegas, I returned home to a letter from my grandparents. In it, an off-hand remark revealed a shocking secret that would cost me my family, change my ethnic identity, and put me at risk of imprisonment for following my faith. (Sounds intriguing!)
  
Complete at 94,000 words, TRANSFORMATION is a story about resilience, family, and identity. It is a story that reveals how we not only survive unexpected life changes, but emerge from them utterly transformed. It will appeal to readers who loved the haunting candor of The Other Side and the moving triumph of The Glass Castle.

 

 

Sounds great!!


Dagny

 

instagram: www.instagram.com/dagnynogy


#70 jbodd

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Posted 03 December 2015 - 07:36 PM

I like "after a chance reunion, I received a letter from my grandparents".  I think that will help with the location issue I had. 

 

I also like “After my mother divorced my stepfather, I yearned…” to connect the paragraphs above. 

 

 

Will look for the next draft!


JBodd ~

 

If you have time, please take a look at my first paragraphs, Cleaning House  http://agentquerycon...market-fiction/

 

Or my title hunt [http://agentquerycon...omething-else/]


#71 Mezzanine

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 07:43 AM

I really like your opening line (the hook). It says to an agent, "This guy is a professional." As for the rest, I think Jbodd nailed it.

 

One thing that confused me: "... racist war cries..." I associate war cries with Indian braves. Were the Indians in your school racist towards others? Or are war cries a metaphor for the racism against Indians? Not clear to me.

 

Hope this helps. Good luck,

JP

 

Thanks for your kind words, and for your help. My hope is that most people will understand by my saying the war cries were racist that they came from people who were not Native American (though it is not impossible for Native Americans to internalize anti-Native American racism and to express that as war cries against other Native Americans. That particular scenario just doesn't match anything I've ever seen or heard of myself).

 

Thanks again!



#72 Mezzanine

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 07:44 AM

Sounds great!!

 

Thanks for your help and for your kind words!


I like "after a chance reunion, I received a letter from my grandparents".  I think that will help with the location issue I had. 

 

I also like “After my mother divorced my stepfather, I yearned…” to connect the paragraphs above. 

 

 

Will look for the next draft!

 

Thanks again!



#73 Mezzanine

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 07:52 AM

Here's a new version, drawing on some of the great comments I've gotten. I've left out the completed author bio and agent personalization so folks can focus on the rest. As always, memoirs are treated like fiction, so you don't need to be a memoirist to comment. Feel free to shred this to pieces, or to chime in to say if something works for you. Thanks in advance for any comments you might share. I will repay the favor and pay it forward!

 

 

Faced with racist war cries at school and lost job opportunities as an adult, I struggled to follow my Native American culture and spirituality. The one thing I never expected was that doing so could land me in prison.
 
As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and drive-by shootings. My stepfather became a violent drug-abusing adulterer and stalker and my mother was forced to take me and flee. When he came after me one night, threatening to break the door down, it seemed like not even the butcher knife in my hand could save me.
  
After my mother divorced my stepfather, I yearned to reconnect with my father, to become an enrolled member of my tribe. Only that would enable me to legally participate in ceremonies and keep the eagle feathers with which I prayed. But after a chance reunion, I received a letter from my grandparents. In it, an off-hand remark revealed a shocking secret that would cost me my family, change my ethnic identity, and put me at risk of imprisonment for following my faith.
  
Complete at 94,000 words, TRANSFORMATION is a story about resilience, family, and identity. It is a story that reveals how we not only survive unexpected life changes, but emerge from them utterly transformed. It will appeal to readers who loved the haunting candor of The Other Side and the moving triumph of The Glass Castle.
 
_____
 
NOTE: I've left this version up for comparison to the latest version at post #78, here: http://agentquerycon...at-78/?p=308330


#74 marisajane

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 06:28 PM

 

Here's a new version, drawing on some of the great comments I've gotten. I've left out the completed author bio and agent personalization so folks can focus on the rest. As always, memoirs are treated like fiction, so you don't need to be a memoirist to comment. Feel free to shred this to pieces, or to chime in to say if something works for you. Thanks in advance for any comments you might share. I will repay the favor and pay it forward!

 

 

Faced with racist war cries at school and lost job opportunities as an adult, I struggled to follow my Native American culture and spirituality. The one thing I never expected was that doing so could land me in prison.
 
As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and drive-by shootings. My stepfather became a violent drug-abusing adulterer and stalker and my mother was forced to take me and flee. When he came after me one night, threatening to break the door down, it seemed like not even the butcher knife in my hand could save me. Suggest cutting adulterer bc all the great words that follow pertain to him being a stalker. Also 'adulterer and stalker and' throws a bit of complication in the syntax
  
After my mother divorced my stepfather, I yearned to reconnect with my birth? father, to become an enrolled member of my tribe. Only that would enable me to legally participate in ceremonies and keep the eagle feathers with which I prayed. But after a chance family? reunion, I received a letter from my estranged? grandparents. <I know exactly what you intend here bc i've read your previous drafts, but if i pull back from that it isn't immediately clear who the reunion is with and why it triggers a letter from your grandparents, and if those grandparents are your father's parents? Maybe get some other eyes on this, i'm just not totally sure In it, an off-hand remark revealed a shocking secret that would cost me my family, change my ethnic identity, and put me at risk of imprisonment for following my faith.
  
Complete at 94,000 words, TRANSFORMATION is a story about resilience, family, and identity. It is a story that reveals how we not only survive unexpected life changes, but emerge from them utterly transformed. It will appeal to readers who loved the haunting candor of The Other Side and the moving triumph of The Glass Castle.

 

 

This looks pretty much good to go. Good luck!


TRUE NORTH ​query

BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BUTTERFLIES 250


#75 Mezzanine

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 06:33 AM

thanks for your helpful comments, marisajane. if i follow your meaning, you're saying 'adulterer' over-complicates the sentence? that makes sense, though i fear losing the deeper complexity, conflict, and tension that gets at (and which was a major reason my mother left him). i'd be very interested to get more thoughts and comments on this. with the part about the reunion, i could perhaps say "But after our chance reunion, I received a letter from his parents." That would clarify, i just fear it might seem awkward (and raise questions as to why i'm referring to them not as 'my grandparents,' but rather as 'his parents,' which though is more accurate as it's how i actually thought of them, i don't want to over-complicate the query). thanks again for your help. i greatly appreciate it!



#76 KellyS

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 11:54 PM

Suggest cutting adulterer bc all the great words that follow pertain to him being a stalker. Also 'adulterer and stalker and' throws a bit of complication in the syntax

I agree that it makes the sentence a bit wordy. Violent and drug-abusing gives enough reason to flee for the sake of the query--even if there are more reasons in the memoir.



#77 KellyS

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Posted 06 December 2015 - 12:03 AM

I agree w/ marisajane here too. I think the encounter w/ the father and the letter don't connect clearly. What if you don't reveal the chance encounter? It might leave the agent w/ more curiosity if he or she wonders if you will connect with your birth father.

 

So maybe...

 

 

 

After my mother divorced my stepfather, I yearned to reconnect with my birth father, to and become an enrolled member of my tribe. Only that would enable me to legally participate in ceremonies and keep the eagle feathers with which I prayed. But after when I received a letter from my estranged? grandparents (did you have a relationship w/ them? had you ever met them. Perhaps it could be, "When i received a letter from his parents", or... "the grandparents I'd never met..."),  In it an off-hand remark revealed a shocking secret that would cost me my family, change my ethnic identity, and put me at risk of imprisonment for following my faith.



#78 Mezzanine

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Posted 06 December 2015 - 08:11 AM

Hi everyone. I really appreciate all the great comments and suggestions. People here are awesome! Here is what I hope will be the final version. In addition to any other thoughts you might have, I'm very interested to hear 1) if you feel it works better with my saying my grandparents were "estranged", 2) if it works better with not indicating that I reunited with my father. I've left up the previous version in post #73 (here: http://agentquerycon...at-73/?p=308220) for comparison.

 

I plan to leave the author bio basically as is, but with platform being important for memoir and non-fiction in general, I'm also interested to hear if you feel my being about to complete my doctorate in sociology is an important part of my platform that I should include (e.g., something like "I am currently wrapping up my doctorate in sociology, have over 2,000 Twitter followers, and write for The Huffington Post").

 

As always, memoirs are treated like fiction, so you don't need to be a memoirist to comment. I will repay the favor and pay it forward. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Faced with racist war cries at school and lost job opportunities as an adult, I struggled to follow my Native American culture and spirituality. The one thing I never expected was that doing so could land me in prison.
 
As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and drive-by shootings. My stepfather became a violent drug-abusing stalker and my mother was forced to take me and flee. When he came after me one night, threatening to break the door down, it seemed like not even the butcher knife in my hand could save me.
  
After my mother divorced my stepfather, I yearned to reconnect with my birth father, to become an enrolled member of my tribe. Only that would enable me to legally participate in ceremonies and keep the eagle feathers with which I prayed. But when I received a letter from my estranged grandparents, it revealed a shocking secret that would cost me my family, change my ethnic identity, and put me at risk of imprisonment for following my faith.
  
Complete at 94,000 words, TRANSFORMATION is a story about resilience, family, and identity. It is a story that reveals how we not only survive unexpected life changes, but emerge from them utterly transformed. It will appeal to readers who loved the haunting candor of The Other Side and the moving triumph of The Glass Castle.
 
I am a writer, speaker, and commentator known for my work advancing civil rights and social justice. I have spoken at national conferences, have been an invited college speaker, and have appeared on many television and radio programs, including NBC, CBS, and MSN.com. My story has been featured on the front page of The Huffington Post multiple times and has formed the basis of many of my public appearances as well as dozens of articles I’ve published in The Advocate, Indian Country Today, and Diverse, among others. I have over 2,000 Twitter followers and I write for The Huffington Post
 
I would be pleased to send you my complete manuscript. Having read your online profiles, your interview with XYZ, and the glowing comments your authors have said about you, I think we could be a great match. Your expertise and taste for distinctive voices and strong character development will help my work find its place with audiences that love gripping literary memoirs. Thank you for your time and consideration. 
 
UPDATE: I am currently sending my new query around to different agents (no need to comment on this latest version). Thanks for everyone's help!


#79 marisajane

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Posted 06 December 2015 - 10:36 AM

These edits really work! It reads much stronger with them, i feel. The birth father + estranged sentence is now clear to me, i connected the two and my brain didn't pause at all when i read it, and i def think it's best without the reunion part.

 

And hell YES say you're getting your PhD in sociology

 

Best of luck sending this around!


TRUE NORTH ​query

BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO BUTTERFLIES 250


#80 Bill in Memphis

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Posted 06 December 2015 - 03:29 PM

 

Hi everyone. I really appreciate all the great comments and suggestions. People here are awesome! Here is what I hope will be the final version. In addition to any other thoughts you might have, I'm very interested to hear 1) if you feel it works better with my saying my grandparents were "estranged", 2) if it works better with not indicating that I reunited with my father. I've left up the previous version in post #73 (here: http://agentquerycon...at-73/?p=308220) for comparison.

 

I plan to leave the author bio basically as is, but with platform being important for memoir and non-fiction in general, I'm also interested to hear if you feel my being about to complete my doctorate in sociology is an important part of my platform that I should include (e.g., something like "I am currently wrapping up my doctorate in sociology, have over 2,000 Twitter followers, and write for The Huffington Post").

 

As always, memoirs are treated like fiction, so you don't need to be a memoirist to comment. I will repay the favor and pay it forward. Thanks in advance!

 

 

Faced with racist war cries at school and lost job opportunities as an adult, I struggled to follow my Native American culture and spirituality. The one thing I never expected was that doing so could land me in prison.
 
As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and drive-by shootings. My stepfather became a violent drug-abusing stalker and my mother was forced to take me and flee. When he came after me one night, threatening to break the door down, it seemed like not even the butcher knife in my hand could save me.
  
After my mother divorced my stepfather, I yearned to reconnect with my birth father, to become an enrolled member of my tribe. Only that would enable me to legally participate in ceremonies and keep the eagle feathers with which I prayed. But when I received a letter from my estranged grandparents, it revealed a shocking secret that would cost me my family, change my ethnic identity, and put me at risk of imprisonment for following my faith.
  
Complete at 94,000 words, TRANSFORMATION is a story about resilience, family, and identity. It is a story that reveals how we not only survive unexpected life changes, but emerge from them utterly transformed. It will appeal to readers who loved the haunting candor of The Other Side and the moving triumph of The Glass Castle.
 
I am a writer, speaker, and commentator known for my work advancing civil rights and social justice. I have spoken at national conferences, have been an invited college speaker, and have appeared on many television and radio programs, including NBC, CBS, and MSN.com. My story has been featured on the front page of The Huffington Post multiple times and has formed the basis of many of my public appearances as well as dozens of articles I’ve published in The Advocate, Indian Country Today, and Diverse, among others. I have over 2,000 Twitter followers and I write for The Huffington Post
 
I would be pleased to send you my complete manuscript. Having read your online profiles, your interview with XYZ, and the glowing comments your authors have said about you, I think we could be a great match. Your expertise and taste for distinctive voices and strong character development will help my work find its place with audiences that love gripping literary memoirs. Thank you for your time and consideration. 
 

 

 

Hi, I'm new here so please don't take what I say as the final word.

 

Perhaps the sentence "As a child growing up in Las Vegas, I was surrounded by gangs, drugs, and drive-by shootings." could have more immediacy written as "Growing up in Las Vegas, drugs, gangs and drive-by shootings were as common as eating breakfast or watching T.V."

 

Hope that helps?


Follow me on twitter @jointhebrigade1

 

Please visit my website and blog at: http://thelastbrigade.com/

 






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Non-Fiction, Multi-Cultural

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