I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey to completing my first novel. To those of you who don't know me or my work and are visiting this page for the first time, welcome.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to share with you a little of my progress as I begin research on my new book -- a yet-to-be titled historical novel, set in the 1920s and involving the founding and establishment of The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the predominently African-American labor union, led by A. Philip Randolph. Sleeping car porters worked on the railroads, cleaning and preparing sleeping cars and acting as valets and waiters for passengers. The union struggled for more than a decade before they received recognition and equity from the Pullman Company.

As part of my research, I'll be traveling by train from Oakland to New York City, following the path of those porters from years ago. This trip will include a visit to the A. Philip Randolph Museum in Chicago. Along the way, I'll be sharing with you what I learn and experience. Thank you for coming along.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Follow-up to #PitMad

I apologize for taking so long to follow-up on my last posting.

I wish that I could say that it was due to a deluge of interest but ... no.

I found about Pitch Madness through one of the many newsletters I subscribe to. I discover many great programs, workshops, residencies this way. Sometimes not for me, but for other creative friends. Anyway, I was excited. I thought I had a great pitch. My only concern was the timing.

Pitch Madness lasts from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. You can repeat your tweet twice every hour and hope that some literary agent who happens to be online will take notice, choose you as a favorite and invite you to query. But how to update that Twitter feed when you are a single mother, have an hour commute and you teach back-to-back classes? Hmmm...apparently, there's an app for that.

So I download this app, Hootsuite, which (in theory) should allow me to schedule tweets throughout the day. I spend all night scheduling the tweets to go live every thirty minutes. I even vary them slightly so that they won't get rejected. I'm thrilled that I figured this all out after my son went to sleep.

The next morning, I check my phone. Two tweets have posted on schedule around 8 a.m.  and 8: 30 a.m. EST and I have two favorites already. YES!

I can't investigate more. I'm off to work. In between classes, I try to discreetly check my progress. Nothing. Then I worry.

Is it my pitch? Is it my idea? Is this book dead before it reaches the light of day?

I check the Twitter feed. None of my scheduled tweets have posted. For some reason, I can't post from my phone and since I still have another class to teach, I don't have access to a computer for, at least, eighty-five minutes.

When I do get to a computer, I have only a few minutes to post before I'm off to pick up my son. I think about my favorites and console myself with the thought that it only takes one. That's all I need -- the one good agent who really cares.

Well, turns out, I didn't have two favorites. I only had one. The same person choose me twice. Well, great, she's enthusiastic.

Well, turns out, she wasn't an agent. She was an intern. But that makes sense, since agents are so busy.

Well, turns out, she didn't work for an agent. She works for a publisher -- who was looking for people to enter their writing contest.

So that was ... disappointing. My sister says that one day this will all make me laugh.

You know, it's been a while and it's still not funny.

I will say this. There were quite a few writers who got interest from agents, so it's legit. I checked out their websites. I think Pitch Madness is probably great for writers of children's books, anything from picture books to young adult. Most of the categories and the agents cater to a younger audience than I am seeking. Perhaps, it isn't right for me.

Doesn't look like there will be some magical happy ending or fairy godmothers helping me to find an agent at the moment.  Just some hard work and a thick skin.  Perhaps, one day, my sister hopes -- a sense of humor. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


So, this is unexpected. Fresh from the inbox -- Twitter is hosting a pitch-a-thon, of sorts. For about twenty-four hours, you can pitch your manuscript two times per hour for every completed manuscript while literary agents monitor the feed.  If interested, an agent will favorite the pitch, which is considered an invitation to query.

Here's my pitch:

Sons of Promise is a Civil War era ghost story about one family's legacy of sacrifice and silence as they try to define what it means to be free.

Tell me what you think.

Oh, and wish me luck. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Novel

Several years ago, I came across an interesting fact in a book called The Black Book -- slaves in Washington D.C. were emancipated in 1862, almost an entire year before slavery was abolished nationally. It stated that, at least, seven black men claimed compensation for a total of 28 slaves that they had owned. It was strange fact that stayed with me for a long time. 
As an undergrad at the University of California, Berkeley, I had the opportunity to participate in many long discussions about race and race relations. What has always interested me was not only how African-Americans relate to America but how they relate to each other; so my novel, Fruit of the Seed, examines the question, what are the bonds that keep a growing diverse community together. Fruit of the Seed is a historical novel about a family of free blacks who owned slaves at the beginning of the Civil War. It is the story of the ties that holds a family together --of history, of faith and of memories.
I am seeking representation for Fruit of the Seed; however, you will be able to preview excerpts sometime this year. I hope that you enjoy it.

Challenge Accepted

I'm mostly challenging myself -- to get a publisher within a year. The urgency has less to do with my ego than inertia and my own inability to "get my head out of my ass."

 I've been sitting this novel for over a decade now and haven't made single stride towards getting published. Due less to a lack of skill than commitment.I just haven't tried hard enough. I've been too scared, I suppose. Rejection. Criticism. You all know. The novel is as finished as its going to get. Time to get it out of my dusty drawers (The kind you open, not the kind you wear) and drop kick it into the world.

But today, I'm putting that all behind me. I'm going to document, as much of this as I can possibly stomach and see what happens. You can watch and cringe. I know I will.

DailyLit: What I'm Reading Now


© 2008 L. Rebecca Harris