My Author Mentor Match Experience and why YOU should enter Round 4 Tonight

First, let me start off by apologizing for the delayed posting of this. I thought it was set up to go right on the 16th but it didn’t for some reason… Oh well!

Moving on, let’s get into it. Author Mentor Match is an AMAZING program that pairs up-and-coming novelists with agented and/or published authors to help them get a manuscript into shape and hopefully secure an agent. I discovered it on October 2nd last year during the #DVpit event. That same day I also realized I shouldn’t be querying that manuscript based on feedback I received from a friend after pitching my manuscript. Ten hours EARLIER and that friend would have saved me that embarrassment…

Anyway, I found out about AMM and decided to enter it. Some of you may recall that I hadn’t gotten into Pitch Wars. As such I was desperate to try one last time on my THE LITTLE MERMAID retelling. This was going to be my last attempt. I’d already determined that if I didn’t get into Author Mentor Match then I would take a break from writing and Twitter for at least six months. Ultimately, I felt it was the right one to make. If I didn’t get in, then I should focus on school and everything related to ASL so I could write more stories with Deaf characters and Hearing teens interacting and dating them at a later date.

So, I decided to take a chance. I entered. And then I forgot about it, which I wasn’t able to do with Pitch Wars because the period for AMM deliberations is a month. The very week that results were going to be announced, LITERALLY two days before the scheduled day I got an email with a request for my full manuscript!

Of course fate would have it that I was out of town, so it would have to wait. I let them know and they were fine with it, just wanted me to get it in as soon as possible. When I got home two days later, at like 12:45 PM or so, I rushed to my computer and opened up my document to make sure everything was okay… It wasn’t. See, I had two identical flash drives. The one the completed full was on was in storage because I’d moved the month before.

So, I emailed them, letting them know. And the response? Whoever requested the manuscript still wanted it and understood that shit sometimes happens. This proved that miracles existed! Obviously I sent it in. But at 1:06 AM the day of announcements.

I was certain I wouldn’t get chosen. The request came so late in the consideration phase. I couldn’t get it in right away because I can’t drive due to my epilepsy and was out of town. The manuscript I had to send it wasn’t the fully finished version. My list of reasons went on and on…

I felt like Mulan trying to catch the lucky cricket. Nothing had gone right in the process. And come that night, the results went up. I didn’t get an email so I assumed I wasn’t chosen. Of course the site crashed due to traffic. Then a friend sent me a tweet congratulating me on getting in!!!

Not only was I chosen, but my mentor was the first one I chose, the one I absolutely wanted to be mentored by the most! I was elated and felt wonderful. Mum found me crying. A lot. Like uncontrollable sobs. From shock, relief, disbelief, and a myriad of unnameable emotions. My last attempt and I made it in!!!

But Mum legitimately thought somebody had died and was trying to console me and ask who it was then was super happy, but also confused when I told her what was up. Then my mind began whirring with how to fix my manuscript as I got an idea for some major changes.

So, the moral of this story? Miracles can happen. I took a chance, a wild, wonderful, whim of a chance and it paid off. The mentor of my dreams (not in a romantic way) chose me. He believed in my manuscript, in me, and my plans for my career. And now I’m about to get my edit letter and his in document critique this weekend! I’ll be ready to pitch my Bi Deaf contemporary fantasy retelling of THE LITTLE MERMAID set on the Jersey Shore for #DVpit come April 25th.

Tonight the entry period closes at 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time. Do yourself a favor and enter. Who knows? Maybe YOUR wildest dreams will come true and we can welcome you into the #AMMfam!


2017 Recap

As we near the end of this year, I cannot help but remember all the things that happened this year. This post is to commemorate all these amazing things. Fair warning, it’s link heavy for those who aren’t familiar with everything and everyone I’m talking about.

The first day of this year I started it off watching THE LITTLE MERMAID. This is important for multiple reasons that you’ll see later on.

In March I got into Query Kombat and had a few requests come from that. Obviously that didn’t pan out, but it’s okay! I learned a lot and am thankful for it. I also made some amazing friends and was able to cheer on my friends who also placed.

May this year I finished my first year studying to become an American Sign Language Interpreter in the state of Texas. Hopefully by the end of 2020 I’ll actually have this degree and be working in the field. I’d love to actually get a degree completed after all.

I got an internship with Entangled Teen. They are the phenomenal imprint that published the breakout novel of Tristina Wright, 27 Hours. Be sure to check out her Twitter and look into the other things Entangled Teen has published!

In June I got a new psychologist who decided an ESA is exactly what I need… Still working on that.


In July I finally sat down and wrote the retelling of my favorite fairy tale that I originally started back on December 27th, 2013 without meaning to do so. See, I got inspired by this song I heard on the radio when running up to the WaWa up the street from my family in Bensalem, PA. That song? It’s called, yep, you guessed it, Siren. Based on it, I originally wanted to write a merdude meets gay guy story. Just about friendship and discovering ones self through that lens…

By the end of the first chapter I realized that it would be a retelling of THE LITTLE MERMAID that walks the knife edge between the original sea foam tale and the Disney version with some unique twists. Upon completing the third chapter, I realized I didn’t have the chops for it at the time and put that project aside. I then went back to my mages story and worked on revising it… and then rewriting it entirely. Honestly? I thank the God of my understanding that novel didn’t work out. Maybe someday it will, but not now.

Fast forward to this summer, where after a year of studying ASL I decided to go back to it for a month, to test myself. In doing so, I discovered that the human character is actually Deaf. He has cochlear implants, but he still is big D Deaf. This means that being Deaf is a big part of his identity and that he’s proud of it. And the merdude is bi, betrothed, and utterly obsessed with the Surface because it gave he and his Deaf twin sister a language with which they could communicate. Oh, and that betrothed I mentioned? She’s the Sea Witch’s niece and she has a faerie godmother on land… Hey, I said there were twists, didn’t I?

So, yes, I have a Bi Deaf retelling of THE LITTLE MERMAID that I’ll be querying sometime next year.


I’ll be like, “Oh hi agents with this criteria on your MS Wishlists!”

I entered Pitch Wars and got some great feedback, even though I didn’t get chosen.

Not getting in with the true novel of my heart absolutely gutted me, I allowed myself to grieve for a few months and then I discovered and entered Author Mentor Match. Somebody I follow retweeted a tweet from Sophie Cameron. I browsed the pages and interacted with a few of the mentors, three of whom were like, “Uh, yes! Send this to me.” Sophie was one of them.

I did just that in October and somehow the wait of over a month didn’t hit me with nervousness until reveal night. Come the end of November, when results were announced, I couldn’t get the website to load, and hadn’t gotten an email so I assumed I hadn’t. Then my friends started tweeting me. I actually DID get chosen for that by the AMAZING Kevin Savoie. I already freaking adore him and will finally admit publicly that I had a very short and minor crush on him when I first discovered this opportunity and read his phenomenally inspiring wishlist because I felt like I hit nearly everything on the head with my manuscript.

Once I got into AMM, I had a hard decision to make and had to make it on my own. What was this and how did I make it? I had to choose whether I wanted to leave my mages story out there with the agents who had it, or whether I wanted to run the risk of pissing them off and withdrawing it. This choice took me over a week to make. Pretty sure I annoyed some agented/published friends with asking what they’d do in my situation. When I did withdraw my manuscript I mentioned my retelling because I said I’d just gotten into AMM and felt that manuscript was already stronger than what I had and I wanted to show them my strongest work. Those agents who still had my mages novel not only congratulated me but asked me to query them with my retelling once it’s ready when I withdrew my mages manuscript!

Also, I did a research project in my Deaf Culture class that led to my finding out there is not an exhaustive list anywhere that I or Gallaudet University can find that features Deaf Protagonists in YA lit. So, I will be working with them to collaborate such a list. Yeah, I’m going to be contributing to their library’s resources by continuing research I started for a grade.

As this new year we’re about to enter begins, I’ll begin the revisions with Kevin. I’m super excited and honestly still in disbelief.

Oh, and somewhere along the way I realized and embraced that I’m genderfluid, so there’s that.

So, in summary, this was the year of magic and Merpeople. I hope the next year brings even more and that you all have an exceptional start! Stay wonderful, lovelies.


What’s an ESA and why do you need one, Shain?

So, first off, sorry for that this is a long post but there’s a ton of info here. Anyway, by now, some of you may have noticed my posts regarding my prescription for an ESA. I’ve had some people come forward and ask me to explain what an ESA is. Although I do on the page the link in my posts take you to, I felt it might do some good to have a separate post about it.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, an ESA is an Emotional Support Animal, also commonly known as a companion animal. A lightbulb just went off for some of you and you’re thinking, “Oh! So it’s a pet.”


No. Stop. You’re wrong.

ESAs are not pets. Again, they are not pets. They have a legal standing that is federally and state recognized.

ESAs are legally defined as, “an animal that helps provide needed companionship and emotional support to patients with mental health issues.” Under the laws pertaining to them here in the US, it is outlined that Emotional Support Animals are indeed not pets, but rather mitigators of various factors that inhibit a patient and make their lives harder by helping to alleviate the health issues facing them. They are therefore deemed necessary for a patient’s treatment, no differently than medications, a walker, or an oxygen tank. What those various factors might be is, of course, dependent upon a patient’s situation.

In my case, it’s that my anxiety and depression are getting worse, which causes a lack of sleep, all of which cause seizures. Then I have a seizure (or many), and there’s stress added to the situation which just makes the vicious cycle even more cruel because I start getting anxious about having one, which makes me stress more, which then impacts my depression, and then bada-bing, bada-boom, I’ve had another grand mal! Adding to this even more is that when I’m at home, I’m isolated because I can’t drive and all my friends from classes live at least an hour away. Since my neurologist won’t let me work, that just escalates this whole deal.


So, back to my psychologist. They prescribed me an ESA back on June 30th, as some of you may remember because I was nervous that whole week and then elated that day. But that very same day some things took a MASSIVE dive for the worse and they’ve only just this week begun to pick up. Everything isn’t coming up daisies, but things aren’t looking quite as bleak. Forgive me, but as those events involve others, I don’t feel I’m at liberty to discuss them publicly.

Despite seeing the sun again, my psychologist still feels I need to get an ESA. Some of you might be thinking I’d get a dog due to their being covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Unfortunately, I’m allergic. It’s crazy because the allergy—like my epilepsy—developed as an adult. But, due to this, I’ll be getting a kitty!


If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know that I’m gaga for cats anyway. No doubt Sailor Moon, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy, Charmed and many other shows are partly to blame for that. I’ve also never met a kitty that didn’t like me, whereas dogs are debatable—I’ve legitimately prayed that people’s dogs would like me before… Won’t ever date a guy who doesn’t like cats again.


Now, some of you may remember Elektra and Cleo, the two kittens I rescued last November and recall that my landlord made me get rid of them. Others of you may remember little Ollie, the kitten I rescued this summer and had for a few hours before taking him to the shelter because he was very sick and I wasn’t sure what was needed to help make him better. He sadly, didn’t make it…

Back to my point though: landlords cannot deny a person an ESA, charge them a pet deposit fee, add a monthly charge, or well, do much of anything against a patient once that tenant makes a request for the reasonable accommodation to have an ESA, as outlined under the laws regarding and protecting ESAs and their owners/the patients prescribed them. Landlords also cannot deny this request under the FFHAA and the Rehabilitation Act. There are a number of other things that these laws protect for patients and their ESAs and don’t let landlords do. So the above situations regarding the two times I rescued and had kittens won’t be an issue as 1). The landlord can’t do shit, and 2). Animals adopted from shelters are screened, current on vaccinations, dewormed, undergo vet exams, and all that is before you adopt them! Once you do, they’re spayed/neutered checked again by a vet, microchipped, and then you can finally take them home!



Also, small side note, I’m moving out of these apartments with the asshole landlord on September 30th. Our lease is FINALLY up on October 1st. We’ve been here a year and are almost done dealing with this jerk!


So, now you know what an ESA is and why I need one! You may recall that in my intro paragraph I mentioned posting about this on Twitter and Facebook. At the encouragement of a friend, I created a gofundme page. Adoption, as we all know, is a rather large one-time expense. I can take care of a cat. That I know I can financially do, either through my (hopefully) soon to be picking up editorial services, or with Mum’s help. I also have a bed, food bowls, dry food, cans of pates, toys, a scratching post, and all of that stuff that I bought a little at a time since finding out about ESAs this Spring. What I don’t have are the funds to overcome this one-time large expense hurdle.

If you can help me by donating, that’d be great! If you can help you spreading the word, that’s vastly appreciated, too. Click here to go to the gofundme page.

Should you be a writer needing help with your manuscript and feel the express need to help me reach this goal overnight, then please feel free to book me as your freelance editor! Compare my rates to others and you’ll see I mean it when I say I price things for students.

Thank you for anything you can do, and may many blessings come your way this week, Lovelies!



PS: if you have fur babies, give them some extra loving today.

PSS: I’m not a lawyer or any sort of legalese person. I’ll happily provide you with links to ESA laws and such here in the US, but please do not use my blog as some form of documentation to get an ESA yourself.

What’s Your Name? Dakota or Shain?

I was born on Friday, February 22, 1991 at 10:34 PM. My mother had toxemia extremely bad and the doctors performed an emergency Cesarian. As such, I was very premature, weighed only 1 lb, 6 oz, and was twelve inches long. The doctors told my family I wouldn’t live through the night, let alone ever reach adulthood.

Obviously, I just had to prove those all-knowing physicians wrong.

My parents named me Dakota Shain. Dakota was chosen because they just liked the name after discovering it because of Dakota Johnson. Yes, Dakota Johnson of Fifty Shades of Grey fame. My parents were freaks who both have admitted to knowing the exact night I was conceived. So between them and being named after Dakota Johnson, it’s no wonder my mind is always in the freaking gutter.

Shain, I’ve been told, was chosen because my Mum wanted to name me Dakota James but my Dad wouldn’t let her, so they found Shane, which means “God saved,” totally felt it appropriate and self-fulfilling, and changed the spelling to reflect the spelling of my Da’s middle name, Dwain.

I went my whole life as Dakota, correcting the teachers and all the other people who mispronounced my middle name. Fast forward some odd years, and I get the same thing in my college classes. Only, this time it felt extra important to me. Why?

Because it was Hearing ASL interpreters who were mispronouncing it. My middle name isn’t pronounced Shawn. Don’t try and call me Cheyenne or Shania either. It’s Shain, emphasis on the ai, kinda like you’re telling somebody to shut the fuck up and listen to the rain.

That bugged the shit out of me. We’re in college and I know Shane is a common enough name that people know how to say it. And I’ve gotten plenty of people throughout my life who’ve asked if I spell it with an E. Naturally, I corrected them, just as I informed the interpreters of the correct pronunciation. This time things changed. Everybody took it as my wanting to be called Shain over Dakota. Even my Hearing professors. I shrugged and rolled with it.

After all, as interpreters, we’re told to make things as easy as possible on our clients, and since that resulted in less confusion and having one less letter to fingerspell, I didn’t figure it was a problem. Now, being a part of the Deaf Community, I’m introduced as Shain, it just sticks. When somebody from my Hearing ring who isn’t a part of the Deaf community meets somebody from the Deaf community, I have to clarify things. With y’all though, I couldn’t do it as easily, hence this post.

So, what’s my name? Byrd. Dakota Shain Byrd. And don’t give me a beard either, because I’ll flip you the bird, which is exactly how you pronounce my last name, not beard. Byrd. Like the crazy hyper, sometimes annoying animal. And yes, Potterheads, even my patronus is a bird–a Magpie.

Hope this helps clarify things. Y’all have a great day!

Furiously Fast Fingers Sprint


So, lately I’ve been focused on editing, like, apparently, the majority of my friends and fellow writers. I’ve decided to change that up a bit. So, tomorrow, July the 12th, I’ll be hosting the first ever “Furiously Fast Fingers Sprint.”

What the heck is that?

It’s a word sprint. From 10 AM Central until 2:45 PM, writers from all over (I hope, since I kinda just decided to do this), will be writing. Together. Like not the same story, but in spirit… You all understand what I mean! 😝

What’s the catch?

NO editing. We want to add those words, not delete them. (But don’t worry, there’s be an Enlightened Enviroment Edits Spriny come July). Who’s in?

Want to take part but can’t do it at that time? It’s okay! Just use the hashtag below and write for as log as you can. We want to encourage everybody!

Spread the word! Use the hashtag #FuriouslyFastFingers on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr! We want as MANY people as possible to do this event.

The Exciting Importance of Failing

Pitch Wars is over, loves. It was an absolute rush! Sadly, I wasn’t chosen, which kind of sucked.

We will be better soon.

We will be better soon.

In fact, that day kind of sucked overall. My emotional outlet is dance. I can usually lose myself in the movements, captivation and drive to perfect the movements and be beautiful. So, that day, in pushing myself I made a novice error: I pushed myself too hard, without fully knowing the combination and I sprained my right knee, which happens to be the knee I injured at some forgettable point in the past. So now I can’t dance for at least a week, my right leg is restrained in a knee immobilizer, and I have to do a conditioning/strengthening program.


Yes, this is EXACTLY how I look when I trying to put on a sock.

But you know what? I’m okay with that. Granted, I didn’t like the fact that I sprained my knee, got the news about Pitch Wars, and my inbox was flooded a stunning amount of agent rejections ALL on the same day, but that’s life. Even though it wasn’t my ideal situation, I am happy to report there is good that came from Pitch Wars, and I know some good will come from my situation.

Firstly, I was able to make my opening chapters and synopsis shine. In fact, in the email I got from Dannie telling me why she couldn’t take me on, she said my first chapter was in fantastic shape. Dannie Morin also gave me unfiltered feedback, for which I’m glad, and it honestly opened my eyes to some things I didn’t realize. Secondly, Stacey Lee and Stephanie Garber both gave me a shout-out on their lists of “Official Pitch Wars Picks,” and Stacey said they’re watching me (in a good way). Rebecca Yarros–I think I chatted with her the most–gave me some awesome feedback as well and is now a friend. I’m awaiting feedback from Virginia Boecker (her last name is pronounced Baker), but am excited to see what she has to say. Thirdly, I got some amazing new critique partners! Go check out, Tiffany Rosenthall and Natasha Raulerson. Also, everybody has really liked what they read.


They’re all encouraging me and saying I’m good!

So, that kind of explains why I’m okay with what happened in Pitch Wars, but not really… And you’re probably like, “Get to the damn point already!”

Sailor Jupiter agrees with you.

Sailor Jupiter agrees with you.

I’m okay with all this because I can now grow. My novel is in excellent hands with readers who so far love my work, but aren’t afraid to give feedback, so I can focus on writing something new. I’ve been wanting to work on my flexibility and my understanding of the language of movement, so now I’ll be able to accomplish those goals. I can now immerse myself as deeply as I want to in the things I already love. I’ve failed at what I set out to do, but in doing so, have been reminded of the importance of growth.

Failure does not mean the end. It is simply a point at which you recognize the possibilities for yourself. Failure allows for creativity. Or to put it more correctly, as Scott Adams said,  “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

#PitchWars Critique Giveaway!

Girls wanna have fun


So, y’all know what #PitchWars is, and if you don’t then CLICK ON THAT LINK.

In preparation for that, I am offering a critique. But this isn’t just ANY critique. Because I’m giving away 50 query and first page critiques! I’m currently critiquing multiple first chapters of people right now, hence why this is limited to your query and first page.

And to make it fair, I’m using Rafflecopter. They are an amazing group and help make things more fun and less intense for me.

I will say I am most comfortable critiquing YA/Genre works, but this contest is open to ALL categories, barring anything where you hurt animals, babies, pregnant women, or the elderly. Additionally, no rape, gore for the sake of being disgusting, or similar such instances. Feel free to ask any questions below!


The Confused by Kylamay

The Confused by Kylamay

The Specifics:

  • The first page of your ms HAS to be double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font. This is a personal thing as for my eyes, as I wear glasses. Also, this formatting is industry standard so you should get used to using it.
  • Your query should be limited to one page, approximately 250 words.
  • If I’m already reading your work, you are NOT eligible to enter this contest.
  • If I know you in real life, you are NOT eligible to enter this contest. Both this and the previous eligibility requirements are in the sense of fairness.

I will contact the winners once the contest ends. I will then ask for the winners to email me their queries and first pages as Word documents and will provide full feedback/critiques using the Track Changes feature in Word.


Looking forward to this you guys and I wish you all luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Silver Linings


Life is a bitch sometimes. Things are going great and then something comes along and just about everything goes to hell in a hand basket–just like the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz with her bicycle and the basket on the back when the tornado hits. I’m very experienced in shit hitting the fan. I may not have had the worst life, but I could write a best selling series based on all the FML events I’ve been through in only twenty-three years. Maybe someday I will, but I don’t want to talk about that today. I want to talk about the silver linings those twister storms carry. We need more of these stories anyway.


So, those silver linings I mentioned, they can be as elusive as rainbows and fade just as fast too. Why should we even look for them if they are fleeting and easy to miss? Well, because you need them. Life is hard and you’ll be kicked on your ass and beaten down more times than you can count. Sorry, this ain’t a magical picnic where faeries feed you and you drink pure ether from unicorn horns, or whatever. That’d be nice, but the truth is life will test you. It will ask the tough questions.

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How badly do you want something? What are you willing to do in order to get it? How far are you willing to travel? These are the things life will ask you. But don’t look at them in the negative, because life is all about living.

So, you got kicked out? Okay, that sucks big time. I experienced that, too. Now you have the opportunity to learn how to be independent, how to make a living, and you have the opportunity to travel, get away from what you’ve always known. It’s fucking terrifying, but the most helpful changes tend to be.

You lost your job? Ouch. It’s gonna be hard to make it, but you can. You’ll learn how to budget better, how to compare prices, clip coupons and how to get the best deals. And maybe now you can go back to school, or start that dream job you always wanted.

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There’s a saying I love that states, “God doesn’t close a window without opening a door. He just forgot to tell you about the Hell in the hall.” Basically, with every opportunity there will be setbacks. For every tragedy, you’ll have to work to find the good. But that’s the beauty of being Human–we are resilient. It’s in our DNA, a desire to never give up. So, seize the moment, find that silver lining and fight your fight.

It may be as simple as you’re alive. Or that you have certain freedoms your ancestors didn’t. It could be the house over your head or the annoying birds waking you up this morning. But find your silver lining today, then find it again tomorrow. Seize the positives in your day and your life will absolutely change.

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