Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

QUITE THE QUERY – Samira Ahmed and Swimming Lessons April 1, 2016

Filed under: Blog,Inspiration,Literary Agent,Publishing,Query — chasingthecrazies @ 6:48 am
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If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few authors say writing their query took them almost as long as drafting their book!


Some people have the talent of being able to summarize their book in a few sentences, but for those who don’t, I wanted to provide a resource so writers could learn what works, and what doesn’t, in a query.


With that in mind, I’m pleased to share today’s successful query from Samira Ahmed. This great query connected her with her agent, Eric Smith.



Seventeen-year old American-born Maya Aziz lives between worlds. Between the proper world her parents expect for their good Indian Muslim daughter and the one she envisions for herself. Between her small Midwestern town and her dream of going to film school in New York. Between the mundane reality of her every day and her imagination where she gets advice from Ilsa Lund and Holly Golightly. Between her conflicted longing for the Homecoming King and the Suitable Boy.



With the help and humor of her two best friends, Maya navigates a senior year that’s enlivened by teen angst, romance, a bit of magical realism, and swimming lessons at a secret pond—but a suicide bomber disrupts it all.



Told via brief inter-chapters, the aftermath of this act of domestic terrorism has repercussions in Maya’s small town, changing her life forever. This intercalary story builds to the bombing and delves into its genesis and aftermath in ways both intimate and profound.



SWIMMING LESSONS, complete at 80,000 words, was one of three finalists for the 2015 Sheehan YA Book Prize. It is a contemporary young adult story, with a whiff of The Love That Split the World meets Quantico, set in a space where cultures collide, where the definitions of self and other are blurred, and where last names can be a threat.



Fun Tidbit:


Eric and I were matched in #PitMatch (a collaboration b/t #MSWL & #PitMad). Here’s the Twitter pitch: She wants to make films & kiss boys–her Muslim parents forbid both. Will a terrorist & Islamophobia shatter her dreams? #pitmatch #YA #CON


Eric liked my tweet, I sent him my pages and 4 days later he offered to represent me. Social Media for the win!




SAA profileSamira Ahmed was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in a small town in Illinois in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri.  She’s lived in Vermont, New York City, Chicago, and Kauai, where she spent a year with her husband and two young children searching for the perfect mango.  A graduate of the University of Chicago, she taught high school English for seven years, helped create over 70 small high schools in New York City, and fought to secure billions of additional dollars to fairly fund public schools throughout New York State. She’s appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Fox News, NBC, NY1, NPR, and on BBC Radio.  Her creative non-fiction has appeared in Jaggery Lit and Entropy. You can find her on Twitter: @sam_aye_ahm


5 Responses to “QUITE THE QUERY – Samira Ahmed and Swimming Lessons”

  1. So insightful. Thanks for this post.

  2. Suja Says:

    Sounds like an amazing concept. I want to read this book. Congrats, Samira. Hope this gets published fast 🙂

  3. dickgrimm Says:

    That sounds like a really interesting book! Very nice pitch/query.

  4. Awesome query! Bookmarking for future reference 🙂

  5. Karen Mahara Says:

    Ah! It’s so exciting to see you on here, Samira! What a cool query/agent story and intriguing premise to your novel. Best of luck to you! ~Karen

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