All posts by Maria Frazer

About Maria Frazer

Maria loves reading and writing kidlit, especially all things middle grade. Maria has a background in social work and is originally from San Antonio, Texas. She is represented by Lauren Abramo of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. Maria Frazer can be found on twitter and instagram at @kmariawrites.

Pitch Wars Wishlist 2018

It’s pitch wars party time!
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Hello #pitchwars people! I’m Maria, an MG writer from Texas! By day I am a social worker and work at a high school, and by night I read and write all things middle grade. I am mixed race (Mexican-American and white). I’m English/Spanish bilingual, with English as my first and primary language.
I write books about Latinx kids with interesting hobbies being their best selves (and let’s be honest, sometimes their worst selves too). I like fun hooks with big concepts, but the core of my stories are all about relationships. (Here is the podcast episode that helped me realize this about my writing)
I met my amazing agent through the contest #dvpit, and I am SO EXCITED to be a pitchwars mentor for middle grade this year! Are you ready!?!?!?
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Throughout my journey, there have been folks guiding me, lending me a hand, and cheering me on. I am incredibly grateful for that support. I want to do the same for other authors of color who are on their way up.
I have been consistently supported by authors of color, and I want to do my part to uplift voices of color in middle grade. As I move forward in this publishing journey, I want to bring as many other authors of color with me as humanly possible, especially in middle grade, where my heart lives. I’m here to support someone on their way, and to give a hand up to someone who is going to change the world with their words.
As someone with a lot of privilege, I see it as my duty to be opening doors for all POC, not just myself. Creating bookshelves with positive representation where kids can see themselves goes beyond just one author and their own books: it’s about all of us linking arms, bursting through those doors together, and creating a lasting change.

I love middle grade, and as a mentor, my goal is to champion books by other authors of color and to bring more diversity to this incredible category that is so dear to me. So I will definitely be on the lookout for that this year. 

If I decide to mentor your manuscript, it’s because I love it with all the fibers of my being, and because I have ideas of how we can bump it up to the next level. I’d like to be able to help a mentee to “level up” in their writing. I would like to work with someone willing to dig in and revise their manuscript, and who has things that they need to work on that are strengths of mine. And THEN I want to cheer you on for your entire career.
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This year I will be accepting ONLY middle grade submissions. For more info on the talented and lovely YA and adult mentors, check out their wishlists. Within MG, here are the genres I would be a good fit for, along with some of my favorite things.

Contemporary –

Please send it to me! Contemporary MG has my heart! This is what I write, and what I read and loved growing up. Send me all your books about friendships, sibling relationships, relationships with parents, school stories, dealing with crushes, and issue books! Some recent contemporary favorites I have are the Track series books by Jason Reynolds, Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya, Allie First at Last by Angela Cervantes, The First Rule of Punk by Celia C Perez, Stef Soto Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres, and Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopez. Growing up I loved Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time by Lisa Yee and Frindle by Andrew Clements.
Whether it’s light and fluffy, heavy and heart-wrenching, or anywhere in between, I’m all for contemporary MG!

Magical Realism and Contemporary with Magical Elements 

I’m also interested in magical realism! Some books I love in this genre are The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner, Bubbles by Abby Cooper, and Love, Sugar, Magic by Anna Meriano.

Contemporary Fantasy and Low fantasy in our world –

I will be on the lookout for light fantasy that has one foot still firmly planted in contemporary. Simple magic systems and “everyday magic” will be the best fits for me in this genre. I like mermaids and the show Supergirl (side note: tweet me if you want to chat about that show), if that gives you an idea of what I’m interested in here. In fantasy, I prefer slice-of-life stories to full on saving-the-world epics. Give me all the character relationships and humor.  If it reads like a contemporary, but there happens to be magic, I’m game! A favorite of mine is Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt.

Other stuff (Epistolary! Verse! Graphic Novels! Fun with format!) –

If you have a verse novel or graphic novel that fits one of the genres above, I’d love to see it! Some of my faves are All’s Faire in Middle School, Origami Yoda, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, and Forget Me Not. Interesting stuff with format is also my jam – epistolary, texts, alternating timelines, multiple points of view etc. My own books all do different things with format.
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An array of things I love and would love to see:

-#ownvoices, diversity, intersectionality
-cousins and extended family
-food (and desserts!)
-oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, pools, and other bodies of water
-awesome grandparents
-modern day princesses
-unique hobbies
-team sports and unusual sports (I was a high school mascot and a lifelong swimmer)
-stories that include code switching or language switching
-musicals
-traditions
-siblings
-anything set at a Title I school
-quirky town/neighborhood with interesting neighbors
-humor during hard times
-humor anytime, really. Love everything from laugh-out-loud fun to inner smiles and clever moments
-kids of color living their best lives

I’m not the right fit for (but there are others out there who are!):

-complex magic systems
-high fantasy
-horror/spooky/creepy
-portal fantasy (going into another world)
-saving the word as the main plot
-animal main characters
-foster or adoption narratives that aren’t #ownvoices
One last note: I entered Pitch Wars in 2016 but wasn’t selected as a mentee. I still feel like that experience helped me level up in craft, made me own my identity as a writer, and I’m so glad that I had that experience. My hope that this can be a positive experience for all of you.
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Happy pitching to all and to all a happy pitch wars 💚💚💚
If you want to stay in touch (whether you are subbing to me or not) here is where you can find me around the internet:
Instagram: @kmariawrites
Twitter: @kmariawrites
Pitchwars bio: http://pitchwars.org/mentor-profile/maria-frazer/
💚 HASTA PRONTO 💚

Back to the blog hop: https://pitchwars.org/pitch-wars-2018-mentor-blog-hop/

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Let’s Talk about Tacos

This past spring, I had the privilege of having one of my facebook posts featured in an honors thesis. Believe it or not, it came from a rant I had about tacos in January 2016. 

Here’s the post in question: 

“Random thoughts: This whole Austin ‘taco culture’ thing. Appropriation? One time I heard Austin called ‘the birthplace of breakfast tacos.’ Ummm not quite, unless you don’t think breakfast tacos existed until they got to Austin. Which they did… That’s as bad as saying the world didn’t exist before I was born. I like Torchy’s as much as the next person, but tacos are not some new hip thing. They are literally tacos.

One thing I read said ‘barbacoa got added to the dictionary, we do love our Chipotle.’ Eegads. I am so serious.”

While I have no idea why I used the word “eegads,” I still stand by this post. Of course, at the time, I was thinking about it as a commentary about breakfast food, not something that belonged in academia. 

(A little background: tacos are breakfast food in San Antonio. This concept is relatively new to Austin. When my parents lived in Austin, as recently as the eighties, breakfast tacos were still not a *thing* there. My experience from living in both cities was that when I lived in San Antonio, breakfast tacos were normal. A very typical breakfast food, though people from outside SA thought it was weird. When I moved to Austin, my perception was that breakfast tacos were viewed as trendy.)

In late February 2016, in response to a super awkward and problematic claim that Austin was the birthplace of breakfast tacos (no, no, no) reports such as this article and others like it started cropping up. 

On February 27, Austin Mayor Steve Adler declared a “taco war” on San Antonio. This was met with heavy criticism for many reasons, though the one that stuck with me most was from my father. 

He said that after decades of Austin ignoring its Hispanic population, after years of maltreatment to the Mexican-American community in the city, that it was not okay for the city to now turn around and take credit. That’s not how it works. 

And that’s heart of the problem of appropriation. You can’t just take someone’s creation, claim it as your own, and all the while be saying “I like this, but not you.” If the dominant culture is going to take over a marginalized culture’s food, music, garments, or history, but continue to oppress them, where does that leave us? These are my thoughts, what are yours?

 

 

Note: The honors thesis in question was presented in May of 2016 by a very talented friend of mine. I was honored (pun) to be included.

You Don’t Have to Remember the Alamo – SA Tips Part 1

Me: “I’m from San Antonio.”

Person: “You’re from San Antonio? Remember the Alamo! Go Spurs go!”

Yes, that’s me. And if I’m talking to a super savvy Texan, they might throw in a mention to the river walk.  While the Alamo and the Spurs are definitely part of what makes up San Antonio, I find that if people visit San Antonio with the Alamo as the bright shiny star in their mind, they leave disappointed.

Here’s the thing: I’m obsessed with my city. OBSESSED. From the community to the grocery stores (I kid you not) San Antonio is an amazing place. So I don’t want people to head to San Antonio, hearts set on the Alamo, and then leave thinking that it isn’t as great as they thought it would be. You deserve nice things. You deserve the full San Antonio experience (or at least a GOOD San Antonio experience, you probably won’t be able to do everything in one trip).

Insider tip: The Alamo is the only mission that charges entrance. It is also the smallest. It’s in the center of downtown, so chances are you’ll see the outside of it. You’ll take your photo for Instagram and caption it “we remembered the Alamo” or something equally clever and it’ll be great. If you’re a true history buff who really wants to see the inside of the Alamo – go for it! You’ll see the spot where there used to be a picture of my grandpa’s hand! (That picture isn’t there anymore, but you can imagine).

Now, time for the other missions!

What!? There’s more?! NOBODY TELLS ME ANYTHING.

Relax. No worries. I’m telling you right now.

You have options.

Do you like to bike? Pick up a rental bike by Blue Star Brewery, or one of the several other rent a bike locations cropping up around the ~new~ part of the river. There is a biking trail that takes you to all the missions, and you get to ride alongside the beautiful river on your way there.

Here is a link for trail information: https://www.nps.gov/saan/planyourvisit/hikebike.htm

Want to go to just one mission? That works too.

Do you think bigger is better? San José would be a great fit for you.

Are you competitive, and all about coming in first? Check out Mission Espada, the oldest mission in Texas. (This was also the most popular mission in my 7th grade class, for reasons unknown)

Interested in paying a visit to mission San Juan? Go for it!

Do you want to go to my favorite mission? Head over to Mission Concepcion!

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Note: other than the Alamo, the San Antonio missions are all still active and have mass services for those who are interested.

 

For people interested in history and architecture, I recommend paying a visit to the missions while in San Antonio. They do have a very sad history, and it is part of what makes San Antonio what it is today.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours? Have you been to the Alamo or the other missions? What was that experience like?

More San Antonio advice to come in Part 2.

Baking vs. Cooking

Baking is a science, cooking is an art.

Baking is a science. In baking, you follow an exact formula to achieve exact results. You need to use the right measurements, the right ingredients. You can’t substitute baking soda for baking powder. You are probably also following a recipe, to the line, waiting to play around with it until after you know it works.

Cooking is an art.  Make sure you take care with that raw meat so you don’t get sick, of course. But generally speaking, your limitations for cooking are fairly loose. You can cook without following a recipe, or start with a recipe and end up somewhere else.

That being said, I tend to prefer baking, because at the end I get to eat a bunch of sugar.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

 

On E-Mailing Authors

Like many young readers, there was a time of my life when reading books meant that the teacher would read a picture book out loud to the class. The whole class would gather around, sitting cross-legged on the floor in a semicircle around the teacher.

Before we would get started on the book, the teacher would tell us the name of the author and illustrator and we would thank them by name.

“Thank you Dr. Seuss!”

“Thank you Marc Brown!”

“Thank you Diane Bertrand Gonzales!”

It’s doubtful that any of these authors, living or deceased, heard our shouts of gratitude from the colorful classroom carpet.  Of course, the point of this routine wasn’t to have a shout heard around the world. The teachers were showing us that the books didn’t come from nowhere: they were written by someone, they were illustrated by someone.

I’ve stopped thanking the authors by name when I read a book, but something about acknowledging that there is an actual human person on the other side of the book has stuck with me, and it has led to some awesome interactions: e-mailing authors.

E-mailing authors has been pretty wonderful. Even though I’m done with the story, it’s like there is something still alive about it… Oh yeah, I know who that is, the actual living person who wrote the book.

Thanks to modern technology, I’ve been able to reach out to the authors of the books I read. I thank them for writing the book, share my thoughts on the characters I liked best, and point out any cultural appropriation (because, well, you know, it happens).

And do you know what happens? They write back. It’s pretty awesome. These interactions add a whole new dimension of the books for me as a reader, and as a human. Plus – one time I even scored an advancedn reader copy of a new book an author was working on.

So that whole thing has been pretty cool for me, and I now encourage the people I know to e-mail authors as well. If you have questions, comments, congratulations, or concerns after reading, why not reach out to the person who brought that story to life?

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

Why “I Can’t Cook” is Baloney

Prodigies. You know ’em, you love ’em, you’ve seen them perform on Ellen. They dance, they sing, they play 13 instruments, they know the capital of every country in Europe, and this is before they start kindergarten. What we love about child prodigies is that we see these tiny little kids performing a skill 300 times better than we ever could dream to, and we’re adults!

There is at least one skill I can think of that doesn’t have prodigies, however. That, my friends, is cooking. Nobody is “born” a fantastic cook. Cooking isn’t something that you can be perfect at the first time you try it.

Why do I bring this up? Because so often I hear people claim they “can’t cook.” They explain they lack the talent to cook. They cite instances like the time they burnt water, or accidentally baked an egg on a batch of brownies, or used salt instead of sugar, and decide that these mishaps are “proof” of their inability to maneuver a kitchen. Well that is baloney. All that example proves is that they made a mistake. Congratulations. That just puts them in good company.

Cooking is an acquired skill. It takes practice. Patience. And lots and lots of trial and error. When I was young, my dad would explain this to me after I would half-destroy the kitchen in a cooking experiment. He would tell me that “there is no such thing as a cooking prodigy” (he would then have to explain what a prodigy was) and I would have to go back and try again.

The biggest culinary difference between me and people who consider themselves “bad cooks” is that I don’t consider myself a bad cook. And because I do think, and know, I can cook, I cook. And in doing so, I get better and better at it.

Those are my thoughts.  What are yours?

Glass Half Full about Pessimists

Pessimists are underrated. From Eeyore to Oscar the Grouch, pessimists have a reputation for being grumpy, gloomy and downright unpleasant to be around.

As the saying goes, an optimist says the glass is half full and a pessimist says it is half empty. My question is, why are we so down on the pessimists? If the glass is half full,  isn’t it accurate to surmise it is also half empty? Basic logic and second grade math will say it is so. Of course, where the issue lies is if one says that same glass is nearly full or practically empty. That is an imperatively false claim. But half full or half empty? It’s the difference between a buzzard and a vulture.

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Sometimes we need a healthy dose of pessimism, the same way we sometimes need optimism. And contrary to popular belief, there are times optimism is n o t helpful.  Yes, the sun most likely will come up tomorrow,  (yes, I’m talking to you, Annie) but that’s not always the right response to hearing about someone’s bad news. Yes, when  I’m telling you about my bad day, I know that things could be worse. I didn’t think that needed to be said. A pessimist lets you feel your feelings, and they validate them. “Yeah man, sounds like you had a rough day. That stinks.” Sometimes I’m not looking for someone to cheer me up. Sometimes all we need is some empathy, someone to sit with us through the pain.

Like most things in life, it’s all about the balance. I’m reminded of the movie Inside Out, where Joy learns that all emotions have there place and there value. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to think maybe everything isn’t going to turn out perfectly.

Wearing rose colored glasses can be just as harmful as full-on gloom and doom.

A little pessimisim and a little optimism, in harmony, can go a long way.

Those are my thoughts.  What are yours?