Monthly Archives: August 2010

How NOT to Query

All virgin writers know that when crafting a perfect query it’s important to limit the information to the bare necessities.  This is a frustrating and difficult game in self-restraint.  How can an agent know just how awesome I truly am if I’m not allowed to tell them!  Believe me I’ve tried to justify a way to stick into a query letter the fact that I hold a Master of Science degree in Health Sciences (remember, I write teen fiction and picture books) and that I’ve run (and completed) 4 half-marathons, but alas, it has no place in my query.  I also struggle with the urge to beg an agent to give my story a full read before they hit the ‘auto query rejection response’ button on their email. 

With this in mind, below you will find the query letter that will never see the light of day:

Dear Mr./Mrs. Awesome Agent,

I humbly present to you my best attempt to get your attention.  Please, please, kindly consider representing my teen novel, Teen Novel Title

This is the paragraph where I mention my unforgettable protagonist that everyone will love and relate to.  I would ideally point out that my story has never been done this way before and that it’s funny and honestly, a story that you would recommend to your own teen.  The setting is strong without being overpowering and the plot has the perfect combination of tension and excitement to keep the reader engaged.  Each chapter is necessary and keeps the story moving forward at the ideal pace.

My novel is approximately 50,ooo words for ages 13 and up.  I believe in my story the way that I have written it but I am eager to make any revisions that you feel would make my story marketable.  Please shower me with your constructive criticism.  I am ready to work with you to make my novel even better.

I do not have a job outside of the home that involves teens but I am the mother of 4 children, including two teenagers, that has given me a valuable (and scary) perspective on today’s teens.  I know that you do not care to know but I worked hard to earn a Master’s degree and am state licensed and nationally certified in my profession and it kind of peeves me that I’m not supposed to mention it in a query because it doesn’t relate to my novel genre, but I understand that that’s not your fault, but rather an industry standard that has evolved to streamline the process of sorting through queries.  I am a current member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators as well as the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants, and the Tennessee Academy of Physician Assistants (again, more stuff you don’t really want to know…bear with me for a few more sentences).  I am a former member of the American College of Sports Medicine and a former certified personal trainer.  I have also been a professional volunteer of sorts devoting time to volunteer as a primary school mentor, a YMCA youth basketball and soccer coach, American Heart Association board member, YMCA board member and a junior service league member. I have also run multiple 10ks and 4 half-marathons.  In addition to that, I work out daily and I’m not too painful to look at.  In fact, my (digitally modified) photo would provide lovely decoration on a book flap. 

I hope that you will read the first chapter of my novel that I have enclosed and will consider contacting me for a look at my full manuscript and possibly consider representing my novel.

No pressure, but your response means a great deal to me.  Your feedback keeps me writing or depresses me for months.

I sincerely appreciate your time.


Back to It

Run around the house naked?  Take a long shower?  Go to the bathroom with the door open?  An uninterrupted workout? A nap? What shall I do now that the entire circus is back at school? 

Way too many mirrors in the house for the naked idea, a long shower after a good workout is a viable option, using the bathroom with the door open loses something when there’s no one else around to care, and a nap during the day is nearly impossible with a mind that cannot rest while the sun is up. 

Actually, I’m excited that with the kids back in school I will now have some time to devote to my next teen novel (as well as streaking through the house while carefully avoiding my own reflection on occasion).  I’ve got a rough outline and a memorable protagonist.  Now, all I have to do is find the energy to do what I love (writing!) when I’m not at the office.  Oh, how nice it must be to earn a living as a writer!


A Writer’s Vacation

It’s been hard to get my brain engaged while on vacation but in an effort to avoid complete brain stagnation I’ve been reading the writing blogs as I wait to hear back from queries on my completed novel, ponder my next novel, and decide if I want to expend any energy going back to re-visit any of the picture books I’ve written…yes, I’m on vacation but I’m not very good at relaxing, in fact, my brain would probably welcome a few hours of stagnation.

Nathan Bransford pondered the distinction between writing and storytelling on his blog today.  For me, ‘writing’ is pretty black and white.  It’s fairly easy to point out mechanical problems in a story, most of us remember diagramming sentences and conjugating verbs.  The correct answers were clear, there was no room for interpretation.  But do you remember the first time someone (probably a teacher) graded a story you had written?  Take out the mechanical errors and remember the frustration you felt because they simply didn’t like your story.  I remember. 

Injustice!  That’ s what it felt like.  I didn’t deserve a poor grade just because the teacher didn’t ‘get’ my story. The truth is, if you’ve completed a novel then you’ve probably come close to mastering the ‘writing’ part.  The magic is in the storytelling.  Virgin writers struggle with how to tell the story.  How do you convey the story in your head so that someone else can experience, and enjoy it, the way that you want them to?  We’ve all heard of writers that don’t get published until their second or third novel.  It takes practice to master the art of storytelling. 

Oh, how my stomach sinks at the idea that recognition as a writer won’t come until my third masterpiece!  I’ll continue to be an optimist and believe that an agent will recognize my talent with my first novel. 

For today I’ll come to terms with it on the golf course…

Keep writing!