Monthly Archives: February 2010

Repost about the oldest profession

Below is from a post I wrote about a year ago. I chose to repost it now because I’m in the middle of revising the new and improved, rewritten Kwizera, which now includes a character who made a choice that may seem quite foreign to many of us, and is related to what I wrote a year ago.

And since I’m in revision-mode, I’ve made changes to the post inspired by my new character, Odette.

Prostitution and AIDS

Well-dressed young women hanging out at bars and nightclubs frequented by foreigners. An English mechanic’s housekeeper-cum-girlfriend. What do they have in common? The foreign men who pay them for sex.

Oh, and did I mention that the mechanic had a wife and children back home in England? I don’t mean to pick on the English. I saw the same thing happen with Belgian men, and heard about plenty of other expatriates enjoying the company of pretty Rwandan girls, then paying for their clothes or food for their families.

So prostitution has been around forever, right? Yes, but now AIDS has entered the picture.

These girls know they could die of AIDS by the time they turn twenty-five. And they don’t care. For a few years they are taken care of, well-fed, well-dressed, and they don’t have to work in the fields. They would rather die young than work as farmers.

Add to this what many of these girls suffered or witnessed or survived during the war and genocide, and you have a mind-set of “Life is short”. Why not enjoy life while they can? Why work themselves to the bone at subsistence agriculture to live in mud huts on a hill and to marry a man with no further ambition than to feed his children?

The girls who choose prostitution also choose a life in the city of parties, dancing, restaurants, nice clothes and the dream of a better life. They hope that one of their foreign clients might fall in love with them, marry them and take them to Europe or North America where everyone is rich and always has enough to eat.

What did I learn by witnessing young girls trash every value they had ever learned from parents who are now dead or missing? What did I learn by administering a program that, among other things, poured money into a government agency designed to educate the Rwandan population about abstinence, protection and a disease without a cure?

I learned that the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa is the longest uphill battle you could ever imagine.

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GLA Agent-judged Contest

Instead of my usual post, today I will share some valuable contest information.  The “Dear Lucky Agent” contest is going on now at the Guide to Literary Agents blog, until February 21.

This second “Dear Lucky Agent” contest is for middle-grade and young adult novels and will be judged by Jennifer Laughran of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Submit the first 150-200 words and a tagline of your completed MG or YA book-length fiction, then post the information in two social media.

Find the rest of the details here.

Thanks to Chuck Sambuchino!

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Query Resources

Having just drafted a new query letter for the rewritten Kwizera, I thought others could benefit from the resources I used. When you get published, you can thank me in the acknowledgements.

*An agent rips apart, I mean, gently critiques query letters sent in by writers, on the Query Shark blog.

*Advice from the queen of query letter advice, agent Janet Reid.

*More advice from agent Janet Reid who spoke about queries at a conference. Thanks to Kathy Kulig for sharing.

*Even more advice, this time on writing a 250-word query, from Janet Reid.

*Agent Nathan Bransford’s blog is full of great information for writers, including this on the anatomy of a good query letter.

*Aspiring author, Elana Johnson, is the Query Ninja. Send her your query letter for the online ninja treatment or read her critiques of other writer’s queries.

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Rewrite Update

Kwizera is coming along nicely.  25,000 words and counting (as of 2/7/10 – 35,700).  I decided to start the story much earlier than in the original version.  Writing new stuff was easier than refining the old manuscript to fit the new plot. 

One friend described what I’m doing as mining the old manuscript for the appropriate details and bits of dialogue for the new manuscript.  That’s a nicer image than the massive dumping that’s going on of all the old stuff that can’t be used in the new version.  It’s really more like strip mining.  Yuck.

But I’m plodding along and hope to finish this draft well before the end of the month.  Hopefully the result will be interesting to American teens, saleable and true to the people I meant to honor.

Then I wonder how difficult it will be to go back to the Sophie manuscript and revise.  Good thing I compiled that list of online revision resources.

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