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An Interview with Shannon Doleski upon receiving an offer of representation.


Shannon Doleski (shannonnora on QT) has signed with agent Veronica Park of Fuse Literary.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
It is a YA realistic about a teenage girl who builds and pilots a submarine across the Chesapeake Bay to escape her abusive family. John Mayer has a song about a man who builds a submarine and pilots it. I thought, why can't a teenage girl do that?
How long have you been writing?
I first wrote country music songs when I was seven. First full-length story in seventh grade. One about bandits and another historical fiction set in Boston.
How long have you been working on this book?
I started it in 2012 and wrote for a few months, giving up at 13,000 words. I restarted it on Valentine's Day 2015 and finished it at the beginning of April, six weeks later.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Definitely. I was pregnant with my third child, sick, and couldn't find my way out of a tough scene. I gave up. When I revisited the manuscript three years later, I decided I was just going to do it, writing every day.
Is this your first book?
Yes, this was the first novel I finished.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I was a high school English teacher for eight years. I took a bunch of literature and writing courses during my undergrad.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I have three little kids, so I write when they are sleeping. I brainstorm during the day, usually when I'm in the car.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
In the first round of querying, an agent suggested changing from third to first person. I rewrote it all over in first person in two weeks. I did two other revisions based on beta readers and agent feedback. I like to revise as I go too. I can't move on if I know a scene can be changed.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I did. A former college professor of mine. An English teacher friend. A published friend. And my mom. I read each chapter to my husband every night as I wrote, too.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I like to do both. A general outline and then mini outlines as I go. I like to make the characters help me out a bit. I make a loose list called "Other Things That Can Happen."
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I sent my first batch of queries April 28th and got an offer in November.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I sent out about 100, in groups of ten or so. I had 14 requests. Veronica favorited my tweet in #pitmad.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I used #mswl and Twitter. I also love the member feature on this site where you can see agents who have requested similar work. I entered PitchWars and Pitmad too.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
If I could, if I thought we'd be a good fit because of #mswl. Most of my requests were because of that.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Keep going! It's hard and soul-crushing. But you can do this! Do your research on agents and your genre.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Mary Murphy talks to Joan of Arc, is failing Science, and might lose her scholarship to Our Lady Star of the Sea. Her abusive father wants to send her away to live with an aunt she’s never met, and the social worker is suspicious of her black eye.

Mary doesn’t want to be a victim anymore. Gaining courage from her heroine, through her love of the water, Mary decides to build a real sub like the model she’s been making with the class clown and her maybe boyfriend, Kip. On a summer day in 1978, she pilots the sub across the Bay. Will she survive the journey in a homemade, propane tank submarine?

A complete manuscript at 58,000 words, USS MURPHY is a young adult coming-of-age novel with a STEM focus that will appeal to fans of An Abundance of Katherines and Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature. This is a simultaneous submission.