In the sixth episode of This Podcast Needs a Title, Peter and Erica chat with author and attorney Shelly Page about querying, rewriting, and diversity in publishing. Come for the insights on the drafting process, and stay for Erica's abject resignation that not everyone snacks while writing.
Corrections coming soon:
Hey everyone, welcome to this podcast needs a title. I'm Erica Davis. And I'm Peter Malone. Eliot. And this is real talk about writing, publishing and everything in between. In just a few moments here, we're going to be talking to our amazing guests. Shelley Paige, who's a writer, Attorney, and wow, a homeless youth advocate. How cool but first, Erica, how are you? I am okay. I'm good. Like I feel like the decibel your voice I'm okay. exclamation voice. That is fair.
Okay. My brain right now is in the back of my cheek on a sore that I keep biting. I bit my cheek a couple days ago and I did it twice again. And I just I it it's like tricking me into thinking I have a sore throat and that's that's the worst my Achilles heel so I need some good distractions. So I've got Shelly. I guess I've got you. I guess Friday. It doesn't feel like Friday. I missed part of Pipeline Arthur's chat yesterday because I was that Monday holiday threw me off and I thought it was Wednesday. Right? Completely dropped the ball. So Jeannie, I know you're listening. I do I owe you 75 minutes of friendship or feelings. I don't know.
75 minutes of feelings. feel like that's the title of a really shitty love song from the it will be 90s
Yeah, probably seconds or
minutes of love God, guys. You see what I put up with everybody? How are you Peter?
I'm good. I'm good. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, the I took the the holiday off, which was nice. Good. But yeah, also like you kind of did throw them off my internal clock. So like today doesn't quite feel like a Friday either. No, it does not. I got the last two things my apartment delivered today. So now my apartment is efficient. Well, officially 100% done now. Because Holy cow, what were those two things. The two things were really getting into the weeds here about my apartment. But so I needed a tiny little small side table that fit into my dinky little New York City bedroom nerd. And I also needed something to go on one of my walls in my bedroom because I had a framed piece of art. That was Frank Sinatra's mug shot when he was a young guy. He got arrested for infidelity. He slept with a married woman. That was a crime, but it kept falling down because I can't nail things in. So I go command strips and they kept going. So not a ghost. I ordered a tapestry that is Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart kissing from your window. So that's how I'm good.
That's pretty cool. You should have just asked me for a headshot I would have gone to glamour shots and got anyone. Yeah. No, but you know what glamour shots is? Like a fancy headshot. That's overstating it. Yeah. Why don't you do later after we hang up? Why don't we Why don't we go ahead and do a Google search of glamour shots. You will be pleased. Okay, I always say used in what way? visually? I could go in a lot of different directions. Hey, Erica. Moving on, buddy. How did you do on your accountability goal? Technically, I haven't missed it yet. Because I give myself two weeks for the goals for accountability stuff. And mine was to write the two chapters so he had nothing
yet. Right. Okay. How about you? How did you do on your goal?
Similarly, because of the compressed timeframe, I didn't quite hit mine. My goal was to complete chapter 12. I have re I'm currently rewriting chapter 11. So I'm like you. I'm still working. But I because we I kind of overshot the goal kind of like you did. So yeah,
I think that might be an overstatement only because we didn't know we hadn't scheduled with Shelly. And it just happened to happen quickly. Maybe for starting today. We have a just in case a one week away goal and then a two week wait.
Yeah. Cool. That sounds good. Sounds nice. Yeah, we'll circle back to that when the time is right. Yeah. Should we bring in Shelly? Yeah, I really can't wait to talk to her. I know. Shelly Paige
is a writer, Attorney, and homeless youth advocate. She lives in Los Angeles where she dreams up grand adventures for queer characters. And she draws inspiration from the hundreds of books in her home and from our own experiences as a black queer woman, Shelley Paige, my friend, my writing, buddy, please come in. Please. Shelly welcome. Thank you so so much for being here today. Welcome, Shelley. Thank you for having me. It's good to see you. I know. I don't know. I just I feel it too. I'm excited. I kind of want to dive in and Shelley. You know, I think I approached you and asked you to be on the ship. You'd be interested in being on the show like probably four days after we got the green light to do the show. But we already had a couple of guests lined up so like you've been my long awaited. Well, I don't know. Gold Star. I don't know how to say star. Yeah, I just remember when we connected maybe a year or so ago and I got to read your stuff and it was before You are hating it. And I remember thinking like, she's not agent. It was pretty clear as an outsider looking in that you were good to go, your your work was good to go. And thank you. Oh, you're so welcome. And I can't wait to hear a little bit more. We talked about it yesterday, I've talked, I've picked your brain about it, I think in our writing buddies group and everything, how you found your agent. And I know that you have a really great blog post up on your site. So for anybody who's interested, it's Shelly page comm if you click on her blog, the most recent post is literally it says my journey to agent ID. I did read it before we started recording just now. And there's a couple of gold nuggets in there that I'd love to kind of pick your brain specifically about. Yes, definitely. Because you have this this 12 item list the last item, which is repeat, which I love, because that's very true. But the specific thing that I wanted, like, give you kudos for, for pointing out his item number five on your list of how to get an agent or like the steps that you took, because you like lists, number five reads send to at least three beta readers who are at your writing level or higher. That never occurred to me, that's and that gave me chills, like, that's something I've never done yet. We've never really vetted a critique partner to make sure we'd be that good of a match. Or it's somebody that I can reach up to kind of can you talk a little more about how you came to that conclusion?
Yeah, of course, I was querying a manuscript that was not ready. As I discuss in my blog. My first beta readers were just friends and family. And I was getting feedback from agents that was really positive. And, you know, was mostly focused on big picture edits structure, you know, character arcs and things like that. Not necessarily on prose or boys. Things that I have thought came naturally to me, but you know, don't make a book. Right. So I actually was speaking with another writer, that I met over Twitter, who has several book deals, and she was the one where I first realized, okay, I need to, like, be conscious of who's reading the manuscript, and what kind of feedback I'm getting. And I'm afraid that feedback into my story, because, you know, she read it, and she was like, this is a beautiful voice. But what is this plot? I was like, Okay. And, you know, we talked about it several times for several hours on how to streamline my plot, get to the heart of the story. And also, I started reading a lot of craft books, which I now use, always exclusively. Yeah. And, yeah, so then I noticed the writer that speaking with a Curie who's great. She said, there are Twitter events where you can find beta readers for your manuscripts. So cool. But to make sure that you're finding someone that is going to be helpful, because I found that Carrie was probably the most helpful, but she was obviously at a level higher than me because she had several book deals. Right? Right. So I found someone through the Twitter pitch, and we were both a good match. She writes, why fantasy, and is very character art driven? Oh, awesome. I think that I'm lacking in, she's actually a psychologist. So interesting. So she knows a lot about what makes people tick. And yes, just all of that good stuff, and what people sort of like habits that they develop from trauma and all that kind of thing that you want to have in your book. So she was great. And then just through that, I started meeting more people on Twitter. And, you know, now I have a group of beta readers that kind of fill in my areas of weakness, that are really helpful for me, because they'll be like, I know, you know, this, but you're lacking with some of these, you know, character relationships in the story, for instance, like, you need to delve deeper into these relationships. How does this you know, friendship, make the main character feel what does she do because of this thing that happens with the friendship? So like, that kind of thing? And it's really helped craft my writing, because I know what they're kind of going to say already when I'm writing. Oh, my gosh, yes. I like that. I know. They're gonna tell me that I need to like make this stronger. I need my internal thought here. Because that's another problem that I had was like, not enough internal thought. So I think everyone's going to have some sort of like writing weakness and sure, finding someone that is going to be compatible with you but then also have experience I guess, is super important. Yeah,
I think that's something that's not talked about enough. I mean, like, it just is the the the premise that I might catch some heat for this, but not all notes are good notes. We know that you have to sift through the notes and then figure out okay, this is like, actually what I'm going for this isn't, you know, a, you know, psychological suspense writer giving me a note on how to write away fantasy, right? It's another way a fantasy writer saying, Okay, this is what you're trying to do in this genre and age bracket, here's how I think you can, I can help you. So that's awesome. my mic my kind of like, adjacent question to that. And it's on the same thread here is what point going through those beta rewrites and rereads and everything. What At what point did you feel like you were ready to re query and what what point did you query your current agent? Rebecca POTUS at RISD? literary?
Actually, I had Quaid, Rebecca, in the first round of queries that I sent, which lasted for about four months, Rebecca was reading the full, and was one of the people that I one of the agents that I pulled the manuscript from, wow, in the midst of reading the full and I had several of those. I had several agents reading my full manuscript that I just pulled from them, because I knew it wasn't ready. And I, even if they were able to offer me on that manuscript, I knew I would still want to rewrite it. Sure. That was, that was when I was like, Okay, well, even if I get representation for this draft, I don't want this draft going on submission. So I'm going to have to fix it. And so I took about a month and a half. That's not that long. Okay. Yeah. Nine to two months. Sorry to revise. Yeah, I had all of my newly found beta readers reading it, giving me critiques. And honestly, it was the moment where my critique partner and beta reader, the psychologist, was like, and she has an agent already. And she's great. This is this is ready. So I was like, Okay, I think it's ready. Because she has an agent. She's like, Yeah, she was like, I would query this. And I did a little bit more after that, like a little tweaking here and there, and I'm sure you just picked it out. Well, I actually did DB pit ran, I sent the agents to lights my posts and mice. Rebecca was one of them. Do I only joined Twitter because I was right. I was writing and querying. And I Oh, yeah. Actually, it was I saw pitch events, just on the internet, realized that it was over Twitter. So I was like, Okay, well, let's see what this is about as one of the ways that you can find an agent is like, do pitch contest. So that's what I saw online. And I was like, Okay, well, I don't have a Twitter account, but I can make one. And I can try to see what these pitch events look like. And yeah, that was a year ago now. So
Oh, my gosh, was Devi pit the first event that you took part in? No, actually,
I was I the pitch events for the draft that wasn't ready. Like put mad s Fs pit. Oh, right is all fantasy, and dark, which is for Stark stories, horse thrillers cool, right? dark fantasy. I got a lot of agent likes, and I sent it and then I kept getting those comments like, you know, this out there.
What was I'm curious, then what was the that pivotal moment or the tipping point? Or the aha moment that you admitted it wasn't ready? Or that you knew it wasn't ready? Was there one in particular? Was it a gradual snowball of doom? Like I get?
I think it was a gradual snowball of doom. But there definitely was a moment where I had looked back at how many people I had queried. And I think I was reading a post on, you know, a good percentage of how many people you should query to get, like, you know, a good chance of finding an agent and I had gotten to like, 70 agents or something like that, that I had queried. And it wasn't there were a lot of great responses. But they're all similar comments from people that have requested the full about, you know, problems that they solve this with the story. So I think it was just me like trying to see if I was going to query any more agents, and then realizing how many I had actually created already just doing the math. Yeah, just doing the math and then being like, Hmm, maybe like, so we maybe this isn't working.
I'm assuming that novel that you query Rebecca with is now on submission. And so did you was there an additional revision process with her before she sent it out? Or Because of just Oh, yeah, that's cool. Yeah.
Definitely another revision around actually, too. Oh, yeah. And I think honestly, I knew it was going to need to be revised further because I just don't have a lot of experience. And from my friends over beta reading for me, they had to revise your manuscripts with their agents as well. Sure. I knew I wanted an editorial agent when I was querying. Yeah, that was super important to me and making my decision from the agent office that I had. I wanted an editorial agent, because I just don't know enough. I mean, I don't I need someone to, to help. Yeah, knowing that about yourself is a huge part of the battle. 200%. Yeah. So honestly, Rebecca, and I focused on the character journey a little bit, sort of weaving that character arc through the story. And you know, the character lie, which is like, what they're telling themselves versus like, what is actually happening. It was hard for me to grasp, because ultimately, in Rebecca helped me with this is that she could still have really strong relationships, people keep a part of themselves from everyone, right. So everyone has some part of themselves that no one has seen, but they still can have meaningful relationships. And that was actually Rebecca's comment, and I was like, wow, this is, that's so true. That's a really good note. Yeah, that's just an example. But we did that kind of like deep investigation of my main character, and also just sort of like tying in a bunch of loose ends. Okay, loose ends. But I mean, yeah, that's, that's normal, and then doing a few line audits, and you sent it off. Awesome. So I want to know now, what did you do when she made you an offer? Like, Oh, my God. And I had to send the email to everyone saying, you know, you have two weeks, I got an offer. Yeah. And I kind of had an inkling when Rebecca asked me for more time to read.
I was like, Oh, my God, of course. And there's several other agents that had to step aside because it was over Thanksgiving. Okay. Yeah. holiday period. Yeah. Tough. Yeah. It's hard to you know, just try to make a deadline and also have a bunch of family stuff to do. Yeah. So I understood that. But yeah, I was really excited. I took maybe a couple of hours to decide. Because it was the last day and then I caught it back up back. And I sent an email, I think, and I was like, Yeah, um, Yes, please. Great. Who's the first person you told? Probably my roommates? Nice. Yes. Who has been seeing this whole production? The whole journey? Wow. Oh, query? Yeah. Like, I don't know what to do. And then definitely my mom after that. Oh, sweet.
Something that is fascinating to me that you're in addition to being a from what sounds like a really awesome writer. You're an attorney and a homeless youth advocate. I mean, a Wow, good. Ray, we need more people like you in the universe. Thank you. Yes. Be how, how is it juggling those two very, you know, disparate, time consuming careers. I mean, I you must just have your schedule planned out like six months in advance.
I'm actually my job as a volunteer at the tiny is I work for a nonprofit, and we have pretty flexible hours. Even working from home because of the pandemic. Sure. So before the pandemic when I was writing my manuscript, I would write mostly after work and thankfully because you know, I work at a nonprofit hours are pretty much nine to five. So I have that I don't have to take my work home with me, which I love. I can just, like focus on whatever I'm doing when I get home. So I would write when I got home from work, or on my lunch break, sometimes it's like inspiration struck, right. So it kind of was like, my, my weekends tend to be consumed if I'm drafting with just drafting and I kind of and I don't get to do much else because I like to hyper focus and just get as much done as possible as fast as possible when our draft over the pandemic. You know, it's been harder to set that work life balance. Sure. And I did draft another story while being on San Jose, That you should. And I think when we're in our writer group, Erica, and when I read one whenever someone's like, is anyone writing? That's us? That was usually when I was drafting, like if I okay. Yeah, so drafting now but I usually can get away with scheduling like my meetings for word for instance like on one day and then like nice and like kind of have like a Friday to myself. That's amazing. That's great. That's so cool. Yeah, it's very flexible, which I appreciate. Yeah, I think that helps that's very conducive to the creative lifestyle.
I'm also wondering, I mean, there's such two seemingly different careers. I mean, one, so left side of the brain one is kind of right side of the brain. It I feel like it's not that common for attorneys to also be authors. How do how does one influence the other? Like, did you find your Lawyer Attorney background influences your writing? And vice versa?
No, not at all. I actually think a lot of lawyers are writers. I know like a lot. Even in law school, a lot of people were writing. I was writing like fanfiction all the time in law school as like an outlet I just I've always written and actually learning is a lot of writing. That's fair, and a lot of motions if you're doing litigation, and then if you're doing contract law, then it's a lot of contracts. It is more structured. Sure. But I think the main concept is getting across your position. And that's very similar with writing a novel. Right? It's getting across what what you're seeing in your head like point of view, yeah, you're learning you what you're trying to, to say. And I think that's a sign of a good writer is when you can when someone can read it and know what you're what you mean. And 100%
Yeah, Peters Peters neck is about to snap, because he's so hot right now. Shelley that striking such a chord, because when I remember reading your pages, that was one of my takeaways from your work was, I'm all like, I don't need to know anything else about this character. I'm in here already. Like, I know what this person it's not like, Oh, she's got an easy she's an attorney. Like Of course, she's a career. I know. It's not like that. But that this makes so much more sense cuz I was of Peters, ignorant mind just now where like, they can't possibly be connected. But I mean, I come from academia, and so that my technical writing skill is there. All I need to do now is get better at story. You see the inside stuff, like you're talking about? Yeah.
Yeah. I mean, they teach you the shorter the sentence, the better. you convey as much information as possible in a paragraph? How are you going to do this? choosing your words, wisely. You know, using one word that could be condensed from three words, you know, you know, just that kind of thing. And all you do in my school is just read a bunch of court opinions and pick apart like the rules and the analysis and the holdings and all that thing. Oh, that's good stuff that school but anyway, rice, wheat, analyzing text. Yeah. And that's every class for three years. textual analysis, and I think I just haven't lost that training. And it's having now where I read anything. And I'm like, they said this. And how did they say this? And why did they say this? Right?
I picture you. I picture you reading with, like, surgical tools in your hand. I guess. It strikes me as is perfect for definitely read with, with my pencil. It's okay. As a scalpel. I want to know which did you want to be first a writer or an attorney? Definitely a writer? Yeah. 100% How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Probably when I could start writing early. So around eight 910. I had a little journal. And I would just like, right in the car while my mom was in the grocery store, or while my grandma ran errands and I didn't want to do them. Like sparkly notebooks like, like, kids have. And I would just like, write stuff I would. My brain was just going 100 miles an hour. I think I was a lot more creative back then, too. It was just easier for me to like, come up with like ideas and just write everything. I feel like you're still pretty damn creative. Yeah, I was gonna say, Okay, fair enough. All right. You know your work. Yeah, I don't know. Or I guess I overthink now, but I actually did like a law camp one summer.
I think I can log in What what? I'm so intrigued what is okay, yeah.
Basically, where it took a summer camp, and I spent it in Washington, DC, and we, it was for like aspiring lawyers and I think I was 16. And you basically just lived in the dorms at Georgetown. And yeah, and we studied this case from Abraham Lincoln, actually, because Lincoln was a lawyer. And and we studied one of his cases, and we did everything that you would do if you were, I guess, going to go to trial. And you like put on this trial for this. Judge. I'm not sure if he was like a district judge or what but like a real a real job, like a real a real job. While a man like Little Timmy was dressed up with Jimmy gown. No, no, a real God. Yes. Learning all this stuff. And I was like, This is amazing. I'm doing this. Really.
you clicked with it? That
guy like went home? My mom's like, Did you like enjoy camp? Like, how was it? And I was like, No, this is great. This is it. This is it. And they were really supportive of me. But they're also like, I don't know, they had very, like corporate jobs. And yeah. That's just kind of like the unspoken thing. Yes. That's for sure. Sure. Um, well, I
think you mentioned that you did tell your mom when you were agent and she was one of the first people. What was her reaction when you told her?
Yeah, actually, my mom was the one that was like you need start writing again. Oh, because I've always been super supportive of me being whatever I wanted. And she's a an accountant. And like, a CPA. She didn't like that. So she was always saying, you know, I don't want you doing something that you don't like. And I wanted to be a writer. Like I was saying, When I was younger, my mom knew that I loved that camp. I knew that I loved writing. So she was the one that was like, you should start writing again and probably wouldn't have done it if she didn't tell me that. You know, this is a prime time. So yeah, she was the first one I told. I mean, I talked to her every weekend. And Shree has been with me through this journey of querying. And she's been reading all my manuscripts since. Wow. 10. Sweet. Awesome. So when I told her she was like, I knew lit excited. Oh, that's now what do we do? What's next?
What's next? She's got her whiteboard out. She's like, let's do yeah, here we go. I love that. Like, you need me to have a meeting with your agents. Moms are amazing. That's so good. Yeah, she's so supportive. It's funny. Do you think your mom's day like as episode? Oh, oh, I probably was on the star. She'll love that. Hello. We're so happy that Shelley's
he's like my only subscriber to my website.
We'll make sure that changes once again, everybody. That's Shelly page. COMM subscribe today and join Mrs. Page as the second subscriber. I bet you have more than I bet you have more than that. Yeah. Yeah. I'll go sign up now. Big Picture. Can you tell us anything about either of the two works in progress that you have going on? I think you mentioned previously that one is with eyes on submission right
now with Rebecca. Yeah, so I have one that is on submission to publishers and one that is currently with Rebecca, and that is not on submission. I just just the first draft. Okay, so well, not my first draft. But first read your first reading of it. Okay. Yeah. And the one on submission is that was my first manuscript. I call it my first manuscripts because obviously, I've written other things before and all the books and fanfictions but this one I was serious about read. So I call it the first manuscript and it's been rewritten like seven times. And it is about a 16 year old girl Morgan and her journey to find her missing father in the town that she stumbles upon, and a dark energy that is plaguing this town. And her struggle to overcome that energy. That darkness. Wow, finding, oh God, wow, before it's too late. So I'm so good. There's Just huge metaphors and yeah, story. Yeah. And I love it because I think it's something that we can all relate to overcoming some sort of darkness that is in our path in our way of getting what we want. And from our again, that's she wants to find her that she can go home. But I guess the lesson is, you know, maybe you can't or maybe the darkness isn't what you thought it was. Oh, just very. I don't want to give anything away. Well, but really, teaser. Wow, that's awesome. Yeah, yeah. So sapphic. So there's romance in there. And ice Morgan finds her long lost best friend brand. And they have a little fling. Yeah, awesome. The other book is also contemporary fantasy. And it's more of a thriller, and is about a girl Sage with plant magic, and. And she lives in an arboretum with her grandmother, and founders in the town start acting strange. And they blame it on her because she is the only person in the town with magic. This weirdness that the founders are displaying is magical. So sure, it's basically her trying to clear her name, and figure out what actually is happening before it's too late. Wow,
I was gonna say it sounds really cinematic. I mean, like, and you mentioned a background in screenwriting. I mean, is that something you'd ever want to explore? I mean, writing the script.
So honestly, I liked writing scripts, but I think it's so pared down compared to its pay anything for writing sure that I kind of like the ability to like embellish. Sure, yeah. Okay. Well,
that's I'd love to I mean, this is kind of a tangent, but it's related to what we're talking about. I mean, now that you're, you've got your foot in the door, and you're, you know, sending things out and you've got an agent. So you've got your feet wet in the industry, is there something that you wish you would have known about the industry that you wish you could tell yourself, you know, say, a year and a half ago before you got your agent?
Yeah, there are many things, but before is the first one, it would be like how long it takes. Honestly, it takes long that long. Yeah, journey. So just that I'm gonna need patience, and you can't rush a good thing. So that's one of them. Also, I guess, kind of your people. I wish I had done them earlier, you know, I queried my earlier draft of my manuscript, without much like, other writers supporting me, right. And I think that was a mistake. And, you know, maybe if I had a community earlier, if I had on Twitter earlier, I don't know been more involved, I could have avoided some of the mistakes I made with querying a manuscript that wasn't ready. But now that I have them, I'm like, I don't I can't imagine going through this without
such great advice. and I are these people. Are you talking just your CPAs and beta readers? Or do you mean a bigger circle? Outside of that, even a bigger circle outside of that, I
would say, I have a lot of just writer friends that I've met over Twitter, and we've met in person. People that don't necessarily that are aren't beta readers for me, but that are just, you know, either in the same boat as me. So they're either on submission as well or are also right, you know, like why fantasy for instance, and just going through that process, other a lot of queer writers, I'm friends with because obviously, I'm queer, and I'm interested in connecting my community and I black writers. I'm also on a black writers group, where right now we're talking about, like diversity and publishing and just sort of things to look out for. So I would say that I think that is the way that I found the main person that told me to write my manuscript, to find the heart to streamline the story. And that story that got me my agent, this
is also something that doesn't get talked about enough because writing really is a solitary thing. It's very lonely. Yeah, it's, I mean, sometimes I'm just alone doing it. And other times I feel alone, like I feel I'm lonely and that's why I started our writing buddies group. Because I wanted to be like a social as you know, pick and choose social as I am on Twitter, without Twitter. So that's what that is for me. And it's actually pretty quiet in there. We don't ever have more than like four or five people chatting at a time if that. And but even if I'm screaming into the void on that Slack channel, it's it's still nice to feel like I'm venting it out somehow. This brings us to some a topic that I think we both wanted to talk about when we reached out to you first about diversity and publishing.
Yeah, I mean, like, what, what can the industry do better? Do you think? I mean, I know that's a really like, broad question, but like, Well, yeah, weird. Where would we go about starting? Do you think?
I mean, I don't know if any of you if either of you are particularly active on Twitter, but recently, for instance, there was two mix ups with the same. Yeah, I think you need to mix up with the same, the same book blackout, right, which is a novel written by six best selling black authors. And it hit the New York Times bestseller list this week. And they posted the wrong book on the list. It's disrespectful. A writer that contributed to the book is already famous, and they should know better. But also, prior to that two days earlier, there was a Barnes and Nobles that posted a photo of him one of the writers of blackout. And it was the wrong name. So he was taking Jackson who was holding her books. Yeah, but her names on the cover name is on the cover of like, the books that she's holding in the photo. Yeah. And I think they had done all instead, who's also right, or blackout, but definitely not in the photo. And it's just like it like two days later, you also have another mix up for the same book. And it's like, I don't understand, like, what's going on? I don't know if there's like, I mean, there's the awareness, because obviously, people are like, talking about it and reading about it. So it's not like, it's not known that like, these are clear mistakes, and like miscarriages of justice. I don't know what that's to be done. I mean, I have you noticed that there are a lot of more opportunities, I guess. So for instance, like, there's more black agents out there now. And there's more, you know, authors that are getting the list with their, with their books and right, you know, it looks to be improving. But also, then you have these like mistakes, if they're, if you can even call it that, where it's like, Is anything really changing? Right? How did you find your people tip? Yeah, for sure. I would say, being a black queer writer, there's not a lot of us in the industry. And sure, I'm fortunate enough to be in groups with or friendly with other black, queer writers on Twitter, where I feel like I could find support if I needed it. And I think that's super important. Especially if you're, you know, in the position I'm in where you're like, you ever Asian in your own stuff, even before then if you need help with query letters, and all that stuff there, there are people out there that can help you. And that can be that support, just because it can get lonely. Like you're saying, Erica, it is like, yeah, writing is a solitary craft. So finding just people that know the experience that you have, and that might be able to, like shed some light on other experiences you have during the process, not that I've had any negative experiences, but good to know some people have negative querying experiences, and even submission experiences. I've seen some black writers feel that that process didn't go the way they had hoped. So at least just having that support system and like kind of say, hey, do you think this is like temperature tracking? You know, like, Yes. Does it seem as bad as I think it is? Right? I don't tend to issue like, pieces, I guess. I don't talk a lot of in my books about any particular, like, anything that has to do with race or sexuality or anything like that. But occasionally I will mention it. And it's interesting, like when I have a reader that's like, I want more of this, I want you to like, explore this concept more. Or like, Can we really build around this instead of just saying this? Like, can we show that there's like racism in the community outside of just saying like, you know, the town's racist, right? Yeah. Which is, you know, obviously show don't tell that's Yeah, sure, man comment, but like giving examples and things like that, I think is like really helpful. If
something makes me want to ask you this. If a publisher came to Rebecca and Rebecca came to you with this offer, like Here's a million dollars to write whatever you want. And you know, it's due in six months or 12 months or whatever is comfortable one month, you seem to be a faster advisor and drafter. Anyway. Okay, what is there like a story out, like pressing it on your brain that you haven't tapped into yet that you've been wanting to?
There are many. Oh, yeah, how many? I have written a list of like, five that I want to write that. Wow. I usually only write if it's like, I have to like if the story just like grabs me. I was like, right. I need to be told right now. That's when I tend to draft and then I draft very quickly. Okay. What's quickly for you? What's quickly, draft quickly for a full draft? that will need to be revised as probably a month? Okay. It's fashionable. I've seen I've seen, you know, writers crank it out in like, five days. No, I
know. I know. Yeah. I'm guessing you. You type physically fast as well. Is that true type really fast. Yeah, that helps if you can tap into the story vein. Yeah. Carry on.
Right. Yeah. Something something that one of my writing mentors told me a while ago is that if an idea sticks around in your head for like, longer than like, a week, usually that's an idea that's worth writing, you know, but like, you have to kind of give it the the marination point, it's that and I found that to be the case, the stuff that I do the stuff that like won't leave my brain is this stuff like, okay, that's worth exploring, you know, that's worth spending X amount of time the Right, right.
Alright, sorry, I derailed us again. You said that it was a it's an idea that you'll do a quick draft on it. Maybe in a month.
That's feasible for me, like with my job, and with just anything that could come up. I tend to under write. I don't like over writing. I'm not like okay, yeah, I know, some people have like, 100,000 word drafts, and I'm like, barely pushing 60 Thank God. 45 is my cap so far? Well, I
mean, ya, I mean, for ya, around 60,000 is pretty standard anyway. I mean, let's, you know, above that would be pushing it a little. To be honest. Yeah. Right.
I mean, I think for like contemporary why for sure. But like, I would say for like fantasy. Why? Like, yeah. Fair enough. Yeah, fair enough. I usually get there because all of my beta readers are like, excuse me, we need more. There. What is this person doing? Are they doing this? So yeah, I have so many ideas. I want to write middle grade, honestly.
I haven't drafted since two months. It's been two months of non drafting. So I'm taking a break. I try not to do too much because I don't want to get burnt out.
That's so awesome to hear you and attorney say Yeah, seriously. I have heard rumor that that's a very high stress job. And can be it can be Yeah, absolutely. Um, you genuinely seem to love the work that you do it both creatively and professionally. Oh, and let's plug the name of your nonprofit.
Yes. I work at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. It Angeles elzar. The largest LGBT centers in the country. We serve a ton of LGBT people. We have a lot of homeless youth that stay at the center. We have programs and there's a theater. There's our there's an AI program. There's just so much for them to do there. So yes, the Los Angeles LGBT Center. That's awesome. Yeah, I've been there for a year and a half. Cool. Awesome. I like it.
You've had a busy year. Yeah, no kidding. He's very active for you. Yeah. If there is a black queer writer listening right now, any advice for them?
Yes. I love that question. Yeah, I would say don't give up. That is something that I struggled with in my journey. You know, I don't know if I'm good enough for this. There's always the sort of imposter syndrome poking its head and saying, you know, this isn't for you like you just think you're good enough but you're not definitely don't give up we need more black queer writers and writers of color and just keep keeping on and you know, if you are stuck, you can visit my blog where I have a lot of things you should do. Shelley page comm slash blog. Yes. And connect on Twitter. your Twitter handle again is Shelley underscore p
underscore rights. And I can vouch for her as an amazing Twitter buddy. Awesome. Awesome. Fair. He could be nice. I can't, ya know, stop the show. Like we're done. I couldn't think I'm like, how do we stop the microphone? Mic drop? I was trying to say like, oh my god.
Then I will say, Shelly. I do have one final question. Peter. You know what it is? huddle. JOHN. Everybody who's listening who's been on the show. Die. Never Dies because you've heard me. Shelly, do you snack while you write? No. Okay. I am losing battles like oh 466 not because I have to admit Shelly, I no longer snack while I write because our second guest john Cosgrove pointed out, I actually also had all I love you had also pointed out, I had a levani also pointed out that it's, it interrupts the flow of the process, and also gets the keyboard sticky. And I'm like, our keyboards are not supposed to be sticky. Like, it's coffee, and there's like grapes on it and everything like sorry, I'm sorry. So I'm babbling. But what I'm saying is, so can you tell us why you don't snack while you write?
When I'm not hungry. I just like I'm like, in the zone, like, alright. So I'm like, yeah, I'm in the flow. My fingers are flying. There's no time to like, grab some chips, I guess. But like, I also don't want my keyboard to be sticky. And you drink coffee?
Yeah, I'll drink coffee or tea or like water. How much coffee do go through in a day? Asking for a friend. Her eyes got so big just now. Two cups, I would say to. All right, I try not to do too much. I drink I drink way too much. I drink like three double espressos a day. It's It's nice.
Two or three episodes ago, we had Stacey Graham of three C's literary on and prior to recording with her. I had had maybe 19,000 cups of iced coffee climbing the walls. And I have worked on just focusing on water ever since. Yeah, there was another thing. I mean, we have to do accountability. We
do have to do accountability. So shall we do this thing on our show where we were Eric and I and our guests if they want to have an accountability goal for the next week, you know, targets that they would like to hit in their writing and or personal life. So would you would you care to join us? Oh, yeah. Oh, awesome. Awesome. We're
actually starting to get close to like a week week, excuse me a week by week schedule. Yep. So call it seven days from now. Or by the next time we record with our future guests,
which is Wednesday of next week. So ECP So what we'll do is we'll call it a week would you say
you know, a writer's week five days. And Peter Shelley or Erica, anybody want to start with your the goal that you want to be held accountable to for five days from now?
Yes, Shelley? Is it a writing goal or is it just like, all the above right
above anything goes just saying it out into the universe? It ramps up that guilt meter and it helps. Whenever it
is? Yeah, I want to finish one last stop, which is the book I've been reading. Oh, yes, by Casey McClinton. I want to finish it. And I'm almost done. So nice. Five years from now. It will be finished. How how's the book so far? Amazing. No. Awesome. That's good.
And to that end, carving out reading time has been pretty difficult this last year. The attention span wise, crazy life stuff wise. So that's a strong goal. It's attainable, but it's not super easy. And I get that I feel that for you. Yeah, we will hold you accountable Miss Shelly Paige.
Thank you. Absolutely. I can do it. I think we believe in you. We believe in Oh, yeah. J Samia soda pop right Shelly soda pop What do you call it?
Okay, well in Chicago we call it pop but I have lived in LA for long enough that I call it soda. Peter accountability goal.
So my accountability goal is going to be I'll continue writing on my novel obviously but like my accountability goal for a week for five business days, whatever. We'll be seeing the show. As part of my my book pipeline job. I'm lucky enough to get the right reviews of current books. Nice. So I'm going to start the next book that I'm going to read for review the disappearing act by Catherine Steadman. Oh nice yeah, so I want to my goal is to to get cracking on that. Another reading goal.
None other these are first two first reading goals ever. I think so. Yeah. That's really cool. My dad that's my list this week. Next week. drumroll. Erica from off Erica. It's very anticlimactic. But it's to continue the goal from Episode Five which is write the next two chapters of the ya horror that I'm working on. horror. Thank you, Peter. It's parallel to the pilot episode that I'm working on as well, in a limited series pitch, but the stories are completely divergent. And it's so much easier for me to tap into writing a script right now than it is the novel. So it Okay, yeah, I'm speaking to the right people here. They're both nodding everybody. But we'll keep watching. But I counted. I was stretching. Yeah, it feels lofty to me, but I know I can physically do it. It's just, you know, button chair. And that reminds me of the other question, I had forgotten you. Twice. In this episode, you've referenced tapping into hyper focus. And yes, our other guests, I think referring to a similar thing called flow or like, you know, deep focus is what I call it. Do you have you found your secret formula for doing that? Yes. So do you I'm so excited. I know. Are you comfortable sharing that formula with us? Yes.
Well, for me, I have anxiety and being on top is a very anxiety inducing process. And I need an outlet. I guess for that a lot of people like work out or like, No, do a hobby. I like to paint, but oh, I wanted to, I guess do like kill two birds with one stone. Okay, right. And, um, get rid of some of the anxiety. So I, but draft and I think hyperfocus comes with once I have the outline, I like to outline but the loose outline. And then my character wants and needs and all the characters going to be in the story, and maybe like a few scenes. So I think it's easier for me to draft when I have an idea which scenes I need to happen. Not all the scenes, but just like, at least a list of like 20 scenes that have to be in the story, right? I can hyper focus if I'm writing one of those scenes, so and usually I'm better writing either early in the morning or late at night. So before I do it knows, like, I just sit down and I start writing like I don't check my email, you know, I don't get distracted. Yeah, doing other things. Yeah. Okay. or, or, like, at night after I've already done everything I needed to do for the day. So I'm not distracted with work emails, and I'm not like, you know, trying to like, see if this Amazon delivery came. When there's a quiet period after dinner, that's also a really good time for me to write to you. I think it's kind of just like, a signal to the brain that like, okay, like, you don't have to be doing anything. And it's good for for me because like, I'm always thinking like, Oh my gosh, I should be doing this, this, this, this this. And that's just like very like anxiety, anxiety. just totally. Yeah. So like, if it's if it's at night, and I'm just like, you know it. The only thing you have to do now is go to sleep. But it's like eight o'clock, and so you have a good two hours that you can just do something for you can do it then. Thank you, Shelly. Thank
you so much. This was so good. Thank you so so much for letting me talk you into this Really? Having me? Have you been on a podcast before?
No, this is my first time. Okay, don't not just say yes in response.
Okay, well narrate the nods later. No, you did awesome. And I'm I'm going to make the prediction right now. This is the first of many podcasts you're probably gonna end up being on
calling. With best selling Queen of the universe. universe would be a title truly, truly. Hey, well, I think that's gonna be it. I think that's it. Yeah. Just I'm, I'm tapped and just the best way possible. Yeah, Shelly. Thank you. Thank you, Shelly. Now she's the best. She's
just she keeps me grounded. She's the one who recommended story genius to me. That Changed my writing game. She hates everybody. Yeah,
I haven't read her writing. But from what you've told me and from that interview we just had I bet you she is going to be very, very successful. Chefs kiss Yeah, yeah. Seconded. You heard it right, Shelly and Shelley's mom. And that's it for Episode Six. I now six, six whole big ones. Our podcast is in middle school. Is sixth grade Middle School. Is it? My was the eighth. Alright, Episode Seven. We've got Natalie Kimber, who's a literary agent at the rights factory. I'm very excited to chat with her. She's very cool.
That's awesome. I can't wait to meet her. Yeah, and if any of you have any questions, rants raves about writing or you want to learn more about us or pipeline, please visit Pipeline Artists. Start calm. And feel free to follow us on Twitter at the podcast title, or on Instagram and Facebook at this podcast needs a title. That's it,
do it. Do it. Do No, I didn't need to do that in the deal. I wouldn't have remembered to do that if you hadn't just said it.
You know why subconsciously I did that because let's give away another mug. Okay, feeling crazy. Yeah, let's give away. What's the passcode gonna be this time for Episode Six. Please pass the pie. Please pass the pie. So if anybody the first person to DMS please pass the pie. You'll get a mug. Now instantaneously, it doesn't work like that yet
sliding in the d phi t. Yeah, very much. So the Bebop boop boop ah Papi la Pura Pura Papa understanding the Glendale Miller now