Tag Archives: women of color

Hitting send on the query…

It’s hard to believe that what started as an image I couldn’t shake would become this novel years later. Become STANDS ALONE.

They were feet. What I saw. What I felt were feet running. It was night and the ground was a tough terrain but these feet knew how to move over it. Through it. With it. They were women’s feet. Black women’s feet.

I didn’t who they belonged to, where they were running to or who they were running from, but they were running swiftly.

Then I had an image of tall prairie grasses that sway and dance in the wind. Walking through them, tenderly touching the wild flowers was a woman. Then she ran. She had long black hair flying out behind her.

These images stuck with me until I discovered my main character. Tanner Stands Alone. A Minneapolis detective. Half Black, half Native with warrior women for ancestors. And they rise from her body to fight a white supremacist who starts a race war.

As more images and scenes filled in the blanks, ya know the ones, in-between present and somewhere out there, where my imagination brews, I felt something stronger with this story. Something larger.

I sketched out a pilot for it and wrote it summer of 2017. It was okay. Just barely okay. But the story was big.  I hired the brilliant Jessica Blank to read it to help with some development. As we discussed it, she asked if I ever thought of writing the novel. This question made me look at the story in a different way. An even larger but glorious way. At the same time, I was itching to write a novel. I had some chapters of a different story. I had begun to work that prose writing muscle again but whenN November arrived, I did NaNoWriMo and started with a blank page, writing STANDS ALONE the novel.

So many drafts later, I’m here now. I have the query letter, the synopsis and the database.

I woke at 4 am with visions in my head of typing up the emails, of cutting and pasting in the pages, of hitting send. I got up and got ready. Which means I spent some time on Facebook. I played with a different TV project. I cleaned the bathrooms. I pulled weeds in my front lawn. I baked bread. I showered and made myself presentable…for…my computer??  I put on my power Parshall, N.D. t-shirt. (Yes, I’m related to the Parshalls the small town on the Rez is named after). I put on my power turquoise and some 80’s music (Blondie, The Cars, Madonna), lit some sage and a candle for my mom because I really want to call her and tell her what I’m doing with this story. With this novel. And I want to hear her voice tell me how excited she is for me. I want hear her wish me luck. So I’m gonna take a couple quiet minutes to hear her spirit say that. And then…here we go.

Pages to go…gulp!

I’m pages to go.  Just 20 or so to get to the end of this round of revisions for Stands Alone. I set a deadline for March 26th because the plan was to go to AWP with this novel ready. Tucked under my arm. Well, not really, tucked there but ready on my laptop and on multiple disc drives. But I got sick. Really sick and by Monday night, I was going down fast. I canceled my trip and hit my couch. I spent the next few days taking soaks for aches and pains, drinking tea, napping and bingewatching Tin Star. Both seasons. And of course, looking at photos and posts of friends in Portland at AWP, making myself feel worse.

AWP was not a golden ticket to landing an agent or finding a publisher. Not at all. There are none. This is hard work. Perseverance. It’s about the stars lining up AND talent AND determination AND craftwork AND networking AND AND AND…. I missed an opportunity. This time.

So this morning, as I opened up the word doc to go back to line edits and rethinking, rejiggering passages, and hopefully deepening my characters, I stopped to think about this journey. How far I’ve come from an image (yes, I’m still beginning stories with a Black woman’s feet running) to a pilot to a novel to multiple drafts to beta readers and now…queries for an agent.

I think about how much I’ve learned about myself, my skill and what continues to drive me to tell the stories that I do. I reread and rewrite painful acts of against women and let my weeping take me through to tell of their triumph, too.  I see the slivers of myself and my story in some of the women. I write their strength, their uniqueness, what makes them cry and shiver, what makes them run and what makes them fight. I am forever changed because of them.

Gulp.

Next step will be sending this story, these women warriors, out into the world.

I’m pages to go to let them fly.

Gulp. Sigh.

Chuckle and grin.

Yeah…  I got this.