Monday, June 24, 2013


Yes, folks, those words are that loathed. Well, at least they were/are for me. How is it that we can birth an entire novel but find it laborious to produce 250 words that describe our manuscripts? It’s almost funny.


But the query letter is serious business. Serious Business. Business - being the operative word. Not an opportunity for you to chat with the agent/publisher. It is an opportunity for you to make a great first impression. It is an opportunity for you to showcase your skills as an expert orchestrator of words. It is not the time for you to tell the agent/publisher how great you are. They can glean that information from how well you’ve written the query.

Show, don’t tell. Remember?

What are the keys to a great query letter? Gosh, that’s a hard question and I’m not an agent. But if I take into account what I’ve learned, the following list would be what I would include or not include in a solid query letter:

Query written in the voice the manuscript is written in. What I mean is it is not too safe. An agent doesn’t want to read a boring list of events.

·       Don’t list every major plot in the story…only the most important plot details. Remember it is a “letter” not an essay. So keep it to 200-350 – I think 350 is the higher range but every agent is different.

·       Don’t get bogged down by the details. Make sure to list the most exciting, interesting aspects of the plot - something that will make the agent want to actually read the story. The agent could care less that the MC had a pretty little dog…unless the dog dies then comes back from the grave and terrorizes the MC throughout the manuscript. No reincarnated Cujo – no mention in the query letter.

·       Don’t creep out the agent/publisher. How do you creep them out? By offering to babysit their children for a chance at representation…  By offering up your first born as a sacrifice for publication…. By cyber stalking their every keystroke…

·       Do list why you are seeking representation from this agent. Offer up why you choose this particular agent over the many others you could have chosen. Make sure to list a specific agent/editor when you query – no “Dear Agent/Editor” allowed. The query fairies will find you and sprinkle “you’re an idiot” powder over you as you sleep. People will begin to laugh at you for no apparent reason…but the fairies and the agent/editor will know…

·       Don’t get too gimmicky. Fun and quirky is good. But if you’ve written a children’s story don’t write the query from the perspective of your three year old MC… “Me want you to pick me… UM… not cool. If I were an agent I might recommend a good, tight, straight-jacket.

Have I left off any really great query writing tips? I was certain I would. Share your tips in the comments.




Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Monday, June 17, 2013


I dragged the hubby out on Saturday to the movies to see the highly anticipated, Man of Steel. I have been so stoked for this movie it’s almost comical. I love action movies and superhero movies even more. Initially, critics were saying the movie would be a flop. The wrote it off, said it would be horrible and wasn’t worth the time to see it. Of course, I never listen to the critics and couldn’t wait to see the movie myself.
I must admit a part of me, initially, at the very beginning, doubted I’d like it. Why? I enjoyed the Brandon Routh movie and couldn’t understand why they changed the character of Superman to this new guy. Plus, let’s be honest ladies…Routh is a hottie. But I saw this movie called, Immortals and was blown away by the lead in that movie, Henry Cavil. His acting was good and his abs were superb. So were his sculpted arms, chiseled face…okay, I’m married. You get it. He’s hot!
When I realized this guy would be playing Superman, I rethought my stance on the movie. I’m so glad I did. I really enjoyed it. *Plus he had a shirtless scene that made my mouth hang open.*  Unlike the previous movie, which I also enjoyed, this movie had buckets of action. It also did something I had never seen any of the previous movies do, it told the backstory. The time, before The Daily Planet, position.  It showed his struggle to become a man but not just a super being, but as a human. I don’t want to give anything away but I enjoyed it. The hubby not so much. His reason: it was too slow in the beginning. But that was fine with me. I loved the story and there is one scene that nearly drove me to tears. I hope you check it out for yourself.

Have you seen the movie? Did you enjoy? Why or why not?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I'm certain it will come as no surprise that I love YA literature. I write for the YA audience, after all. But, this cannot be stated enough, we should read and practice writing outside of our normal/comfort zone parameters. I write science fiction and fantasy but I have written poems, short stories, a novella...all for the sake of practicing. But also as a tool to learn. The more you do something the better you'll get at it. Right?

Some of my favorite literature isn't found in the YA section at the library. I thought I'd share some of my literary favorites that aren't YA. Maybe you've heard of a few. If you haven't, you could check them out for yourself. They are rich with symbolism, uncommon/ingenious metaphors, and some are a bit satirical.

Short Story/Essays:

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Lagoon
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
The Canterbury Tales - The Wife of Bath's Tale


Daddy by Sylvia Plath
The Flea by John Donne
Lord Randall by Anonymous
The Ladies Dressing Room by Jonathan Swift
We Wear the Mask by Paul Lawrence Dunbar


Greek: Herakles - Hercules
Greek: Theseus
Greek: Daedalus and Icarus


The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

Did I list any of your favorites? Did I leave your favorite off my list. Please let us know in the comments.

Have a great day! Read a book and laugh.

Monday, June 3, 2013


As I sat talking with my daughters, I realized that though pop culture changes constantly there are some things that remain the same. I write young adult fiction and though many of my tales are not based in reality, I write fantasy and science fiction, my stories and characters do have to be grounded in a real world. A part of creating this real world entails me making their make-believe world as real to the reader as possible.

How do I do this?

Though there are many fantastical elements to many of the stories I write I ground the story from the beginning using our natural laws or natural order. For instance, in the natural world it is strange for a character to have the ability to move objects with their minds. It is the same in my stories, unless the character is a Peacekeeper sent to protect the earth. They will have this ability.

Another way I make my imagined world more believable is by making my characters more believable. Though my characters sometimes have extraordinary power, are different in appearance and/or can travel through space and time – they are no different than regular teenagers.

How do I know what teenagers are like or what they want?

Well, duh! I was one once. Plus, my daughter says all the time.

This is how I break it down:

In 9th grade (between 14 and 15): OMG! I cannot believe I’m in high school. I’m so scared. I’m so excited. This is going to be the best four years of my life. I’m going to make a lot of friends and my life will be completely different.

In 10th grade (between 15 – 16): I’m still super excited about high school. This year will be different than last year. I can do this. I’ve got this. Parent’s always tell me I can do anything so I know I can do this.

In 11th grade (between 16 – 17): I can’t do this. Help!!!! I’m so freakin’ lame. My parents are ruining my life and school is a joke. I’ve got to get a good score on the SAT. I’ve got to pass physics. I’ve to get a good GPA or else its McDonald’s instead of college. I absolutely hate my life.

In 12th grade (17 – 18): I’m so badass! I’ve got this. No problem. I’m outta here…good riddance. Can’t wait to leave this god-awful place. College here I come. My life will be so much better once I leave this place.

This is some of the emotions my daughter says she had (she’ll be a senior next year) and this is how I felt at times. This cycle doesn’t change too much. So even if you write that your protagonist is a 16 year-old serial killing mermaid, they’ll most likely exhibit some of the emotions above. Your readers will appreciate the fact that though the main character is different from them physically, they do share some similarities. This will add empathy for your character. And empathy is definitely a good thing.

Can you think of behavior you or a friend exhibited in high school that you incorporate into your writing to create empathy and believability for your characters?