Dannie M Olguin (danniemolguin on QT) has signed with agent Tina Schwartz of The Purcell Agency, LLC.
Over the next several months, pieces of the story came to me. Zoe, my MC, told me her name and that she needed to tell her story of living in poverty with an abusive mother and an absent father. It's told in the form of two diaries, each with a different voice that tells different version of her day-to-day. Zoe knows Mama reads The Safe Diary, so she sugarcoats everything in that one. The Real Diary is where she talks about the real stuff that's going on with her. The more she writes in each diary, the less the line between what's a safe fabrication and a dangerous reality becomes, and she starts to question her own sanity.
This is the book I needed as a child. Like Zoe, I dealt with poverty, abuse, and fear. BETWEEN SAFE AND REAL is a complete work of fiction, but I did take inspiration from my own life.
My husband and son were rocks for me and gave me all the time I needed to write. And of course, my group of writing friends and critique partners. I'm lucky that I have people in my life who love me and were able to recognize the value and importance of my story.
I also queried agents I met and pitched in person at my local writer's conference. That's actually where I met Tina. I had a pitch session with her and she requested the full manuscript at that pitch session.
Dear [Agent's Name],
I've been a Twitter fan of yours for ages and have wanted to query you with my last two books, but never felt I was quite ready. After listening to your interview on [NAME REMOVED] Podcast, I decided it was time to put my silly fears to bed and query you already. Because you've said that you're interested in unusual books that make you cry, I'm hopeful you'll consider BETWEEN SAFE AND REAL, a contemporary YA that is told in the form of two wildly different diaries written by the same girl.
Fifteen-year-old Zoe Wilkes has ninety-nine problems, and a boring life ain't one. With two hungry siblings, an empty fridge, and a violent mother to tip-toe around, Zoe can't slow down enough to catch a breath. When she discovers Mama's been reading her diary, Zoe realizes she can never write her true thoughts in that book again. Trouble is, if she stops writing entirely, Mama's sure to think she's hiding something, and will tear through her room like a tornado—again—to find out what it is. Her solution: continue writing safe entries in the first diary, while writing her real thoughts in a plain-old composition book.
As she writes in each journal, Zoe questions her own perceptions, and it's not long before she fears she's just as unstable as Mama. After all, the apple never falls far from the tree. If there's even a shred of truth to her safe journal, then maybe her real journal's just hot mess of made-up horrors. Thankfully, Zoe's new friends, Cheryl and Nate, help her find her power and get in touch with her reality.
Complete at 72,200 words, BETWEEN SAFE AND REAL is similar in theme to Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman and Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow. It will appeal to readers who seek to make sense of their own difficult family situations. While I'm not certain this qualifies as #ownvoices, as a child abuse and childhood poverty survivor, it's the book I needed as a kid. I am a member of online and in-person writers and critique groups and attend conferences regularly. In 2019, I co-taught a class at Dallas Fort Worth Writers Conference. In 2018, I was chosen to share a narrative nonfiction piece in front of 500 strangers at a true storytelling event. As an introvert with a fear of public speaking, this tops my list of Scariest Things I've Ever Done—and I taught my kid how to drive in Dallas!
Per agency guidelines, I've pasted the first 25 pages below my signature.
Thank you for your time and consideration,