Maggie Soares-Horne (Maggie_Soares on QT) has signed with agent Claire Friedman of InkWell Management.
HAZEL was very much inspired by my own experiences!! When I was in middle school I was always annoyed when I would read middle grade books because they never felt like they actually mirrored my life. It was a lot of whimsical sleuths and rag-tag adventures, which is great, but that's certainly not what my life looked like at 12! I wanted to write a book that kids could relate to without making it too pedagogical or heavy-handed.
I also think that a lot of marginalized writers struggle with this in ways non-marginalized authors just don't. When all of your rejections start to amount to "I love everything about this... but no" it can be so difficult to want to stay in the game. When I was on submission with my previous agent, we got a lot of rejections that complimented my writing, the plot, the voice... but ultimately the editor "just couldn't connect" with my lesbian MC. Now, writing queer middle grade, I had similar worries that I wouldn't be able to "get away with" certain things in the category. It definitely helped to remember that I, also, was a 12-year-old lesbian at one point, and people connected with me just fine!
PLEASE don't think that means I was phoning this in or I expected things to move quickly!! Last time I queried successfully it took about four months after a major re-write and two different R&Rs for the first offer to come through, and before that I'd been querying unsuccessfully for six years.
Beyond that, I'd say my biggest piece of advice is to never take anyone's advice as gospel! What works for someone won't necessarily work for you, even if they're telling you it's the One True Secret To Success. I think that's especially true now that there are so many authors and aspiring authors putting out content about their processes and successes — their career won't be your career, even if you do everything they say to do!
12-year-old Hazel Hayes doesn't have time for friends. No, really. Friends would just get in the way of her plan for the seventh grade: beating her nemesis Ella Quinn at her school's speech competition and putting her failure last year behind her. It's bad enough that Tyler Lewis, the most popular boy in school, is always bugging her about the endless line of girls he has crushes on. Friends would waste too much of her valuable time.
Until she hears Tyler's latest secret – his long-standing crush Ella Quinn likes girls like that. Hazel never thought there'd be another girl like her at their school, but now that she knows, maybe she and Ella don't have to be enemies. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have a friend that really understands her. But when Ella admits that she only said that to get Tyler off her back, Hazel sees what life is like on the other side of Tyler's crushes. No one would believe that a nice boy like Tyler would harass and intimidate a nice girl like Ella, but Hazel knows the truth – and she's the only one who can prove it.
Now she and Ella just need to find someone who'll believe them – which, as it turns out, is much easier said than done. With Tyler's messages getting more abusive by the day, Hazel has to choose between winning and standing up for what's right.
HAZEL HAYES IS GONNA WIN THIS TIME is an #ownvoices contemporary middle grade book complete at roughly 30,000 words. I wrote HAZEL as ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD meets DRUM ROLL, PLEASE. I was previously represented by (Old agent) at (Old agency), but we've recently parted ways. My writing has appeared in Catapult and on Medium's LGBT and Mental Health pages.