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Results 26 - 50 of 14,063
26. Successful Queries: Agent Sara Megibow and “Falls the Shadow”

This series is called “Successful Queries”

and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting these query letter samples, we will also get to hear thoughts from the writer’s literary agent as to why the letter worked.

The 66th installment in this series is with agent Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary) for Stefanie Gaither’s young adult novel, FALLS THE SHADOW

(Sept 2014, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). Kristi Helvig, author of BURN OUT, said of the book: “[It's] a smart, futuristic thriller that grabs you and doesn’t let go until the very last page. This is a fantastic debut.”

(Agents share their query letter pet peeves.)


Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 10.09.36 AM



Dear Ms. Megibow,

I’m currently seeking representation for my YA novel, FALLS THE SHADOW. Given your interest in science fiction, I thought it might be a good fit for your list.

When Cate Benson was twelve, her sister died. Two hours after the funeral, they picked up Violet’s replacement, and the family made it home in time for dinner and a game of cards.

It’s the year 2055, and Cate’s parents are among the wealthy elite who can afford to give their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth. So this new Violet has the same smile. The same laugh. That same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all the same memories as the girl she replaced.

She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.

Or at least, that’s what the paparazzi and the crazy anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that, though. She’s used to standing up for her sister too, and she’s determined to do it now—even if proving Violet’s innocence means taking on those protestors and anyone else attacking her family. But when her own life is threatened—not by protestors, but by the very scientists who created her sister’s clone—Cate starts questioning everything she thought she knew about the cloning movement. About herself. About her sister.

And the answers she finds reveal a more sinister purpose for her sister’s copy—and her own replacement—than she ever could have imagined.

FALLS THE SHADOW is complete at 80,000 words, and is the first in a planned series. The manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. Thanks for your time and consideration!


Stefanie Gaither




(Query letter FAQs answered.)


Need help crafting an awesome plot for your
story? Check out the new acclaimed resource
by Ronald Tobias, 20 Master Plots.


Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:How NOT to Pitch Your Book.

  • Examining an Excellent Pitch.
  • Genre Author Taylor Stevens Explains “How I Got My Agent.”
  • How I Got My Agent: Oksana Marafioti, Author of AMERICAN GYPSY
  • .
  • Sell More Books by Building Your Author Platform
  • .
  • Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter
  • or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.


    Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
    Create Your Writer Platform

    Order the book from WD at a discount



    Add a Comment
    27. Have a blessed Holy Week

    I'll be off work from Thursday-Sunday. I'm hoping the Lamb of God thing remains a metaphor, cause I've already had a problem with sheep in church.

    0 Comments on Have a blessed Holy Week as of 4/17/2014 7:15:00 AM
    Add a Comment
    28. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

    Yesterday afternoon, I posted about the value of poetry (at least in my eyes). Spoiler alert: It’s more than just publication credits and rolling around in hundred dollar bills. In fact, it has nothing to do with either. Click here to check it out and share your thoughts


    For today’s prompt, write a pop culture poem. I guess I broke out the Bon Jovi a day early, eh? But hey, write a poem about Bon Jovi or Van Halen; write a poem about the Kardashians (or don’t–and say you did); write a poem about a popular SNL skit; write a poem about Dr. Who or Downton Abbey; write a poem about any kind of popular culture thing-a-ma-bob you wish. In fact, write three! (Just kidding; you only need to write one poem–but seriously, write three and be sure to add a little more cowbell.)


    Workshop your poetry!

    Click here to learn more



    Here’s my attempt at a Pop Culture Poem:

    “Much Ado”

    I wanted to write a poem on James
    Franco, but it turned out too obvious,
    because he writes his poetry the same
    as Jewel, and I’m not the fool who’ll discuss
    what is or is not good poetry. My
    poems have their own flaws and unspoken
    laws of engagement. Shia LaBeouf cried
    in his paper bag over Miley’s tongue–
    they’re both young, and I do not understand
    kids these days [or adults, for that matter
    (like I fell asleep and a complex strand
    of the '80s took hold--but it's sadder,
    more self-aware)]. I miss all the good times
    when poems were filled with funtastic rhymes.


    Today’s guest judge is…

    Mary Biddinger

    Mary Biddinger

    Mary Biddinger

    Mary is the author of multiple collections, including Saint Monica and O Holy Insurgency. Her collection A Sunny Place With Adequate Water

    is due out in May. She’s also the founder of Barn Owl Review.

    Mary has received two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards in Creative Writing for her poetry: one in 2010, the other 2007.

    In addition to all this, she also edits the Akron Series in Poetry and the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics for the University of Akron Press.

    Learn more here: http://www.marybiddinger.com/




    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue



    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . He writes by the motto: When in doubt, write a sonnet. Learn more about Robert here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.


    Get more than pop culture here:

  • What Is the Value of Poetry
  • ?
  • Heather Bell: Poet Interview
  • .

    Add a Comment
    29. What Is the Value of Poetry?

    In the opening poem (“matters of great importance”) of my collection, Solving the World’s Problems

    , I ask a simple question: what’s more important / writing a poem / or building a bridge…

    At least, the question starts off simple enough, but then it continues to spiral out into giving thanks, stocking chairs, delivering chairs, managing systems, and so on. But there are times when I waste time worrying about which really is more important. There are times when I wonder, “What am I doing here?”

    Here being writing poems and devoting a tremendous amount of time and energy to a poetry blog. After all, there’s not a lot of money in writing poetry–even for a publisher like Writer’s Digest Books. But there’s more to measuring value than dollars and cents, isn’t there?

    Why Am I Saying Any of This?

    Every so often, there’s some kind of “death or uselessness of poetry” post or article that runs all viral on the Internet. So I’ve been meaning to write a post on why I think there’s value in poetry for a long while, but it was still simmering in me until I received this message on Facebook from Aleathia Drehmer, a poetry advocate who lives in New York:


    I just wanted to say thank you for everything you do with the PAD challenges. The one in November helped me get over the death of my cousin and brought me back to writing after a year of near silence. This challenge is helping me get over the death of my mother. She passed in January and this is her birth month.

    I actually don’t care if I ever get published again. Life has taken on a new meaning now and I honestly am getting back to the roots of writing when I was a little girl. Just writing because my heart says so, because it is a way I can communicate my little slice of the world with my dad and any friends that care to read.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me back something I had lost and thought I would not find again. Grief can be a great eraser sometimes. I’m just glad it hasn’t erased me yet.

    Have a great day.


    Robert Lee Brewer

    Robert Lee Brewer

    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. In addition to editing Poet’s Market, he manages the Poetic Asides blog, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, edits a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter, and more. He’s married to poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys  and one princess). He’s given up trying to figure out which is more important between writing a poem and building a chair; it’s really a chicken-egg argument, because both are necessary and valuable. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer



    Get published!

    Learn how to get your poetry published with the latest edition of Poet’s Market. It’s filled with articles on the craft and business of poetry. Plus, it contains hundreds of listings for book publishers, online and print publications, contests, and more!

    Click to continue



    Find more poetic posts here:

  • Thomas Lux: Poet Interview
  • .
  • Somonka: Poetic Forms
  • .

    Add a Comment
    30. Comment on 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 15 by Funkomatic

    My heart, the maple tree
    Home to wrens in their afternoons
    Revel with chirping esprit
    My heart, the maple tree
    Still green though you’re absentee
    Knows too many winter tunes
    My heart, the maple tree
    Home to wrens in their afternoons.

    Add a Comment
    31. Comment on 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 2 by Snow Write

    She’s on her way
    not sure where she’s going
    knows she has to get away
    find a new place
    determined now
    to set out on the journey
    yet finding herself
    going back

    Add a Comment
    32. Comment on 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 16 by Monique

    To An Old Friend

    It started at a salad bar
    And a book lying on the counter
    I knew you were friends with the book’s owner
    You promised to return it
    And waited with me while I waited for the bus

    For four years, you were the grandfather I never had
    I knew I could always sit with you
    I would laugh at your jokes
    And tell you about my day
    Thinking that things would never change

    Then you had to move away
    Around the same time I did
    We celebrated your birthday in the summer
    Then you moved north and I moved south
    Still thinking things would be okay

    It ended with a sleepless night
    I turned to my computer to find comfort
    Instead I find the worst news I could hear
    I found myself holding onto a rope
    Hanging over a deep dark pit

    I pushed my memories of you away
    Trying to hide from my sadness
    Wondering how no one else was crying
    I was in a dark tunnel
    Waiting for a train to hit me

    Finally, I found someone who would listen
    I let my tears out
    I found others who also missed you
    Embraced the hope that you were at peace
    And found happiness that pulled me from the pit

    Add a Comment
    33. Comment on 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 14 by Andrea Heiberg

    Oh, yes, Ina. That’s the core of it. We, I, seldom know where our limits are.Thank you.

    Add a Comment
    34. Comment on Your Story 58: Submit Now! by JoseCordova

    The prompt says “YOU come home…”, but can the story be written in the third person, with myself not necessarily being one of the characters?

    Add a Comment
    35. Comment on 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 16 by derrdevil

    By Derryn Warwick Raymond

    This is the life, the song
    A story for the world to mourn
    Though it was still able
    They broke it, and left it unstable
    Pieces shown of the real scene
    Shattered dreams, they may seem
    Of a journey through torrential rain
    Extremes of the mentally insane
    Call it deranged,
    But I see it pained
    I see the strain, upon the soul
    In its twilight hours, the mortal toll
    Oh, how it hangs dear
    Clutching from fear
    For the world, that it gave
    Begged it never, for a save
    The incomprehensible life
    Of a mother,
    A sister,
    A wife.

    Add a Comment
    36. Comment on 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 16 by Domino

    By fate’s caprice, that awful day, and for no other
    reason we comprehend, they were at work
    when the fire started. How could they know that
    life as they knew it was about to change
    forever? It is a curious thing,
    that people replay over and over
    the day of a tragedy. They question.
    They doubt. Their minds continue to circle
    endlessly about the somehow morbid
    question: What could we have done differently?
    People say with satisfaction that no
    human lives were lost, but a family has
    been broken. The black smoke took not only
    all the things that made up their house, but a
    cherished furry friend that helped make
    it home. Broken hearts declare there is no
    healing, there’s no bringing back buried hopes.
    But at the foot of the stair to heaven,
    on the rainbow bridge, their best friend awaits,
    wagging tail, happy grin, til that distant
    day, to greet adored family once more.

    For Tina and Thomas Batt

    Diana Terrill Clark

    Add a Comment
    37. Comment on 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 16 by Domino

    By fate’s caprice, that awful day, and for no other
    reason we comprehend, they were at work
    when the fire started. How could they know that
    life as they knew it was about to change
    forever? It is a curious thing,
    that people replay over and over
    the day of a tragedy. They question.
    They doubt. Their minds continue to circle
    endlessly about the somehow morbid
    question: What could we have done differently?
    People say with satisfaction that no
    human lives were lost, but a family has
    been broken. The black smoke took not only
    all the things that made up their house, but a
    cherished furry friend that helped make
    it home. Broken hearts declare there is no
    healing, there’s no bringing back buried hopes.
    But at the foot of the stair to heaven,
    on the rainbow bridge, their best friend awaits,
    wagging tail, happy grin, til that distant
    day, to greet adored family once more.

    For my friends Tina and Thomas Batt

    Diana Terrill Clark

    Add a Comment
    38. Comment on 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 16 by Emma Hine

    Angels Do Not Live In Graves

    She was so young,
    too young to see the passing of her short years.
    I was young too…
    Too young to feel the pain of true loss tears.
    Sweet sixteen, world at her feet…
    Who could have predicted
    before a husband,
    her maker she would meet?

    She was so young,
    young enough to capture the energy of life.
    I was young too…
    Young enough to follow where mischief was rife.
    Inseparable then, two friends sharing fun…
    Who could have predicted
    that so soon,
    two would become one?

    So young, and yet
    not so young to understand that she was not in her grave.
    So young, and yet
    old enough to let her spirit, for me, a new path to pave.
    After a while, I stopped visiting…
    Who could have predicted
    that no bones in the Earth,
    would ever respite bring?

    Add a Comment
    39. Comment on 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 8 by LCaramanna

    Daffodil Bouquet

    A daffodil feels no peace,
    sunshine yellow face
    no opposition to flakes of swirling snow.
    Though the calendar marks spring,
    a daffodil feels no peace.
    scissors of good fortune shear her
    peaceful admiration
    in a coffee table crystal vase display.

    Lorraine Caramanna

    Add a Comment
    40. How to Write a Mashup Novel

    My fiction novel, Godsmacked, has been described by reviewers as the world’s first Christian mashup novel. Even though that is not specifically what I set out to do, I certainly welcome that analogy because, well, I like to fool myself into believing that I’m hip.

    And mashups seem to be one of the hip, ‘in vogue’ things these days, although in actuality the idea is not new at all.



    Godsmacked_cover_frontThis guest post is by Paul Cicchini. Cicchini is a nationally-certified school psychologist, humorist, sports journalist, coach, and specialist in character education. He was inspired to write while convalescing from being Godsmacked with kidney stones in the summer of 2009. Under the influence of major prescription painkillers and exposure to too many badly-coiffed televangelists on daytime cable TV fueled his already robust, imagination and over-torqued sense of humor to yield this work of farcical fiction, a humorous vehicle for spreading his message of integrity, responsibility, and hope.


    For the uninitiated, a ‘mashup’ is when you take two or more established styles of anything and mix them together to make something completely new and unique. The popularity of the mashup really exploded onto the American cultural scene a few years ago with the television show Glee. On the show they may mix a ‘70’s era rock song with, say, a ‘90’s pop song to come up with a surprisingly fresh sound.  Here’s the real surprise though:  creative artists of all kinds have been doing mashups for quite some time. Ever hear of fusion cuisine? Fusion Jazz? Yep, they’re mashups. Heck, even my son has been a mashup artist since the age of 8; especially when he’s at the local convenience store soft drink fountain: two splashes of Mountain Dew, three of Orange Fanta, a dash of blue whatever…violà, nasty mashup Slurpee.

    In writing, however, the concept is still fairly new. A mashup novel is when you get two or more different literary genres and mix them up for a fresh, entertaining story. Seth Grahame-Smith pioneered the style with novels like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the wildly popular Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter which was just made into a major motion picture. Even if you are into writing non-fiction, two story lines that intertwine can be also be in this genre. One of my all-time favorite books that I consider a mashup is Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. The chapters ingeniously alternate between the story of how the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was built, and the true-life story of a sociopathic killer who used the Fair to prey on victims.

    [Learn 5 Tools for Building Conflict in Your Nove


    I had never even heard of Grahame-Smith’s novels when I started writing Godsmacked,  but I knew that I wanted to write the way I thought, and the way I think is a lot like the way Robin Williams does comedy. He jumps hilariously from one topic to the next on stage, and a big part of his standup routine is built around throwing very different characters together in silly, improbable ways. Grahame-Smith mashed historical characters with horror to come up with page-turning thrillers. For my novel, I happened to mash up Greek Mythology characters with Sci-fi fantasy, popular culture, and even lessons from Christianity, to come up with a satire that hopefully makes you laugh and sparks your imagination while it also inspires you to think about moral dilemmas.

    If this style sounds intriguing to you, then good! I can tell you that I had a lot of fun with it and I think you can, too. It makes the writing go faster, and it actually made me *gasp* look forward to the revision and editing process, because I was constantly looking for ways to make more and more plot connections between these very, very different constructs.

    So, how do you write a mashup? Well, it helps to start with two genres or two topics that you love. For example let’s take, oh… stamp collecting and police dramas. Put them together and you have a story about a serial-killing philatelist. Tag line: He makes stamp glue from his victims!! Okay, that may not be a best-seller, but you get the idea. If you don’t have two pet subjects that mesh together well, then find two that you are at least dying to research.

    [Learn important writing lessons from these first-time novelists.


    With this genre, research is key. Examine your topics exhaustively until you are almost an expert in them. You should do this not only because your readers deserve good, reliable information (they do), but also because when you do the investigating you may be surprised at how much the subjects are truly interrelated.

    Because you want to give your readers your best, I recommend that you go the extra mile in fact checking, too. Don’t be lazy. Use several reliable sources, and don’t just limit your background reading and research to the Internet.

    Finally, read other books and novels for inspiration. Read a lot. If you want people to love reading your book, you have to love reading books, too.

    review a manuscript | writing a novel

    he Novelist’s Boot Camp

    Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here



    Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters


    Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlemsWD Newsletter

    Add a Comment
    41. “Publishing Agnosticism”—What It Is, Why It’s Important, and What It Means for Authors

    Eve Bridburg

    BY EVE BRIDBURG, Executive Director of GrubStreet

    The first time I heard the term “publishing agnostic” was in November of 2011 at the Park Plaza hotel in Boston.   Barry Eisler used it during a talk he gave to the GrubStreet community as part of our NEA-funded Publish it Forward series.   He had shocked the publishing world by turning down a very lucrative book contract from St. Martins arguing that he could do better on his own.  But by November he had decided to publish with Amazon instead.

    Some fellow writers and pundits criticized this move to Amazon.   “What gives? “ They asked.  “We thought you had defected to the self-publishing club.”   It was by way of explaining his move from St. Martins to self-publishing to Amazon that Barry described himself as agnostic.

    As one definition goes, an agnostic is someone who holds neither of two opposing positions.   I think that’s how Barry was using the term.  He was making the point that his decision to self-publish in the first place wasn’t about his endorsement or love of self-publishing, but rather about choosing the best way to reach his goals.   When a new pathway emerged which better served those goals, he felt no conflict about changing tactics.

    But Barry, whether he realized it or not, in using a term with deeply religious connotations, was also asking us – a room full of believers – to be doubters.  He was asking us to question our blind faith in what almost every serious writer we’d worked with up until that point had ever wanted:  a book deal with a traditional publisher.  The bigger the publishing house, the better.

    And it wasn’t just our writers.  It was us, the teachers at and leaders of a major independent writing center.  Having existed in the margins in our early years, we were understandably hungry for a track record, for evidence that our work mattered.   And so we celebrated hugely when one of our flock got a story in the Atlantic Monthly or a book deal with Simon and Schuster.   In 2003, we launched our first Muse and Marketplace Conference and soon began inviting literary agents and publishers to Boston to meet our writers.  Many book deals followed.

    After Barry’s talk, I started to wonder what being publishing agnostic might mean to us as an organization, and to writers everywhere.   When the world is changing fast under your feet, you need to find your footing before you can decide where to go.   We therefore started articulating our values and principles.

    Here’s where we landed:

    1. Writing excellence is paramount because it is “good” writing that transforms lives and the world and entertains at the highest level.  We can debate what “good” means, but for us it’s about the search for truth, hard work, and dedication to the craft no matter the genre.
    2. We are grown-ups. It’s up to each of us as writers and as the professionals supporting writers to understand and own the entire publishing process. It’s incumbent  on each of us to engage in honest self-assessment to determine goals and objectives, strengths and weaknesses.
    3. Community is the glue.  Writing is a lonely, difficult pursuit.  Finding your people and being as generous as possible with them is key.
    4. Success in this space isn’t just measured monetarily.  Money is nice of course when it means book sales for authors and the ability of a place like GrubStreet to provide more jobs, scholarships and free programming, but it’s not the only or most important measure.
    5. Choice is good, especially choice which respects the central role of writers and places control and financial equity in their hands.

    These are the things we think about now when evaluating what kinds of programs to offer or who to invite to our Muse and Marketplace conference. This year, we’ll be welcoming A-list literary agents, editors from Random House and Penguin, along side e-publishers like Vook and Amazon.  We’ll have an editor from Ploughshares and another from Electric Literature.   As we always do, we’ll have a bookseller on hand selling the books of our visiting authors, but we’ll also be running an independent author shop for any participant or small press attending the conference.   In short, we’ll be hosting a hybrid conference, inclusive of the many choices and pathways available to authors today.

    Most of our writers seem to want the traditional path and that’s great, but it’s our responsibility as a professional development organization for writers to educate them about all pathways, especially since the industry is changing before our eyes.  In our own work and what we bring to writers we now preach agnosticism and save our blind faith for the power and necessity of words.


    Eve Bridburg is the founder and Executive Director of GrubStreet, one the country’s leading creative writing centers.  A former literary agent, Eve developed, edited and sold a wide variety of books to major publishers before returning four years ago to GrubStreet to oversee an expansion in programming designed to better equip writers to thrive in the digital age.  She has presented widely about publishing at conferences and writes a monthly blog post called Publish it Forward which can be found at Grubdaily.org


    Add a Comment
    42. Query Question: can I lie about the book in my query?

    How close must the query match the manuscript? I know this must seem like a stupid question, but I've been receiving query assistance from a literary intern (1), and he gave advice that I haven't seen elsewhere. I need to confirm it before I start sending out my query.

    My manuscript mostly stands alone, but is the first of a potential series. Because of this, the plot of the sequel is *vaguely* hinted at in the stakes of the query. I asked the intern if an agent would be PO'd if something I mention in the query doesn't show up in the manuscript. He told me that things can be fudged in a query,(2)  and mentioned that one thing in his own query was an outright lie(3). He had revised and didn't bother to fix the query to match (he was signed by an agent). He said if the query is good and clearly for the same book, and if the book is good and similar to the query, no one cares about specifics. I'm hoping his advice is correct.

    Can you "fudge" a few specifics in a query?

    you can do anything you want in a query up to and including query for a fiction novel. The real question is what's at stake when you do something idiotic like...lie?

    The purpose of a query is to entice the agent to read the manuscript. If an agent reads the manuscript thinking one thing is going to happen, and it doesn't, that's a pretty big thud.  Is that something you want to risk?

    On the other hand why are you vaguely hinting about anything in a query? The stakes in your query are the stakes in this novel, the one you're querying. Not any other.

    If you think you need to fudge a few specifics in your query, you need to fix the novel or the query or both. 

    And I've got a few questions for you:

    (1) what the hell is a literary intern? An intern at a literary agency?  This is the least informed and experienced person at an agency. I'm pretty sure it's the least right person to be asking for advice.

    (2) Unless he's making the decisons on what's signed to the agent's list, he's not in a positiion to tell you this.

    (3) oh great. Insert image of eye-roll here.  Even if this is true, it's absolutey TERRIBLE advice. He's mistaking HIS experience for the universal norm.  Well, that's typical of interns which is why (see #1)

    0 Comments on Query Question: can I lie about the book in my query? as of 4/16/2014 7:55:00 AM
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    43. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 16

    I can’t help it. Days 15 and 16 of these challenges always gets a certain song stuck in my head. You know, this song by an American rock band from New Jersey that used to be kinda cool in the ’80s. You know, that song, “bada, bada, whoooaaaahhh, we’re half-way theeeerreee; ooooooo, livin’ on a prayer; take my hand and we’ll make it I sweeaaarrrr; oooooo, livin’ on a prayer (livin’ on a prayer).” If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry; it just means you’re either older or younger than me and haven’t fully enjoyed Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” yet. Click here to watch the video on YouTube


    For today’s prompt, write an elegy. An elegy doesn’t have specific formal rules. Rather, it’s a poem for someone who has died. In fact, elegies are defined as “love poems for the dead” in John Drury’s The Poetry Dictionary. Of course, we’re all poets here, which means everything can be bent. So yes, it’s perfectly fine if you take this another direction–for instance, I once wrote an elegy for card catalogs. Have at it!


    Workshop your poetry!

    Click here to learn more



    Here’s my attempt at an Elegy:


    i began collecting things
    foil and pizza boxes and
    country western vhs tapes
    and lighthouses and native
    american figurines and i
    piled them up beside your
    grave that grew less fresh
    every day and still i ran
    out into the street asking
    for donations at red lights
    and bringing treasures to pile
    up in the elements and then
    i climbed to the top of this
    massive mound to proclaim
    myself king and to pray and
    to sacrifice and to feel winds
    weather me but i’ve come
    to realize the days begin and
    end the same the trees still
    blossom and birds arrive and
    depart and nothing i can do
    will bring you back to me


    Today’s guest judge is…

    Bob Hicok

    Bob Hicok

    Bob Hicok

    Bob is the author of several poetry collections, including This Clumsy Living, Words for Empty and Words for Full, and most recently Elegy Owed

    . He teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech and before teaching owned and ran a successful automotive die design business.

    His poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, and Best American Poetry. His collections Elegy Owed and Animal Soul have been finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

    Learn more here: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/1126




    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue



    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . That book includes a poem titled “betty,” which is about the same person, but it’s a different poem (or Robert’s discovered the secret of time travel and has just kick-started a complete unraveling of the time space continuum). Learn more about Robert here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.


    Console yourselves with these poetic posts:

  • Sara Tracey: Poet Interview
  • .
  • Triversen: Poetic Form
  • .

    Add a Comment
    44. New Release - GAIJIN: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner

    "Amazing art and a moving story drew me into this compelling, historically important graphic novel." -- Graham Salisbury, author of Under the Blood-Red Sun, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

    "Matt Faulkner has crafted a beautifully drawn novel that simmers with rage."  -- Matt Phelan, author/illustrator of The Storm in the Barn, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

    "Powerful. . . Matt Faulkner tells his tale with fierce graphics and moving delicacy." -- George Takei

    Based on an episode of Matt Faulkner's own family history, GAIJIN tells the tale of a half-Japanese boy in the 1940's who, along with his white American mother, is sent to an internment camp in Northern California after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 

    The internment of Japanese-Americans is one of those things we don't really learn enough about in school. . . and it wasn't that long ago. Despite the fact that many of the people affected by the internment had been in America for generations, were home-owners, had businesses and were upstanding members of society, they were thrown into makeshift "camps" with very little warning, their homes and rights stripped from them, and they had no recourse. Could such a nightmare scenario happen TODAY? Spoiler alert: Yeah, absolutely. 

    GAIJIN is a beautiful graphic novel, and an important one. If you (or the kid in your life) are at all intrigued by history, this is a must-add to the library. Ages 9+

    Buy the book at your local independent bookstore, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold.

    0 Comments on New Release - GAIJIN: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner as of 4/14/2014 8:17:00 PM
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    45. 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 15

    Want to learn more about me than you thought you could possibly handle in one interview? Great! One of my favorite poets, Nin Andrews, interviewed me over on the Best American Poetry Blog. The interview shares so many secrets that somebody will probably make a movie based off the interview. Okay, maybe not, but still, it’s a good read (I’ve been told by someone who’s not related to me). Click here to read


    For today’s prompt, we actually have a Two-for-Tuesday prompt:

    • Write a love poem. Love, it’s such a big 4-letter word that can mean so much to so many for a variety of interpretations. Friendly love, sexual love, dorky love, all-encompassing love, jealous love, anxious love, love beaten with a baseball bat, hot love, big love, blues love, greeting card love, forgiving love, greedy love, love in a music video, and so on and so forth.
    • Write an anti-love poem. Well, kinda like love, but take it back the other way.



    Become a Writing VIP!

    Give yourself the VIP treatment with Writer’s Digest’s VIP program. It includes a one-year subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine, WritersMarket.com, a webinar, and more.

    Combine the expert instruction on the craft and business of writing with thousands of publishing opportunities for writers trying to get publishedClick here to learn more



    Here’s my attempt at a Love and/or Anti-Love Poem:

    “first sight”

    i surrender you render me
    as a fragile kite on your string
    or as some flashy one-night fling
    choose me use me baby bruise me
    if that is what you want to do
    to me i see where we are gone
    begin the night don’t leave ’til dawn
    amaze me crazy make me blue
    but honey please don’t make me guess
    let the sun rise let the sun shine
    tell me sugar that you are mine
    as i am yours yes i confess
    if this is love let it be true
    i’ve surrendered myself to you


    Today’s guest judge is…

    Barbara Hamby

    Barbara Hamby

    Barbara Hamby

    Barbara is the author of five books of poems, most recently On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems

    (2014)  published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, which also published Babel (2004) and All-Night Lingo Tango (2009). She was a 2010 Guggenheim fellow in Poetry and her book of short stories, Lester Higata’s 20th Century, won the 2010 Iowa Short Fiction Award.

    She teaches at Florida State University where she is Distinguished University Scholar.

    Learn more at: www.barbarahamby.com



    Poem Your Heart Out

    Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

    Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

    Click to continue



    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems

    . He’s fascinated by the constant balance (or lack of) between violence and peace. Learn more about him here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.


    Here are some poetic posts you may love:

  • Beth Copeland: Poet Interview
  • .
  • Gwawdodyn: Poetic Forms
  • .


    Add a Comment
    46. Query Question: My comp is DaVinci Code

    I'm querying a mystery/thriller MS and I'm having trouble finding comps because my real comp is The Da Vinci Code. I bet you just cringed. But the truth is that I was inspired to write my MS after reading Da Vinci Code.

    Specifically, I loved the chase through Vatican City, Rome, and the surrounding countryside. I loved solving the clues and exploring the merits of a conspiracy theory. I wanted to mirror these same aspects in my MS. So I found a different conspiracy theory and spent several years researching it. I've made up my own math and science clues and run them past multiple co-workers who hold PhDs in math. I set my story in a foreign country and traveled there myself as well as spent days researching satellite maps and interviewing people from that country.

    Knowing we aren't supposed to compare our work to a bestseller like Da Vinci Code or Twilight or Harry Potter, I searched high and low for a different comp. I've spent days on Goodreads creating shelves and looking for recommendations that are similar to Da Vinci Code. I've gone through half a dozen library sites where librarians suggest books similar to Da Vinci Code. I've ordered and read books that seem like a promising comparable because it was a thriller set in modern-day with realistic historic/scientific clues to solve, but inevitably find the book is derivative of other Templar/religious conspiracies (my MS's conspiracy is neither) and/or the quality is just not as good as Da Vinci Code.

    So for the sake of having a newer, not-as-popular comp, do I compare my work to a substandard derivative? I've sent out a dozen queries that uses the Da Vinci Code comp, and gotten 6 rejections within a week. I'm afraid agents are writing off my query as soon as they get to that comp.

    Your problem isn't that your comp title is The DaVinci Code. It's that your book sounds like a knockoff of one of the biggest bestsellers of all time from TEN YEARS AGO.  Agents were looking for DVC knockoffs in 2002, when the publisher was inundating the world with advance reading copies of DVC and everyone knew it was going to be huge.

    Two years ago everyone wanted the next 50 Shades of Gray.

    Two years from now everyone will want the next Patrick Lee. (I devoutly hope!)

    In other words:The DaVinci Code ship has sailed and you will never row fast enough to keep up.

    The good news for you though is that you are no longer limited to the narrow visioned agents and editors who want the Next Big Thing.  You can publish this on your own, find an audience and make us all look shortsighted.

    Or you can write your next book, pop this one in your steamer trunk for later when you're a famous writer and your publisher will be glad to publish it.

    0 Comments on Query Question: My comp is DaVinci Code as of 4/15/2014 8:27:00 AM
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    47. A Mind of its Own

    Your computer won’t shut down when you are getting ready to leave work at five. Instead, it is looping a message, and then attempts to tell you something. What is your computer doing? Write this scene.

    Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

    Want more creative writing prompts? Consider:

    Add a Comment
    48. Live Near Little Rock, AR? Come See Me Speak on May 3!

    I am speaking at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR, on May 3, 2014. It’s the Arkansas Writers MFA Spring Publishing Conference

    . The university was nice enough to invite me down to speak for a day. It’s a quick, simple day of sessions that can help writers, and includes my talks on:
    • How to Get Published: What Writers Can Do For Their Career Right Now
    • Everything You Need to Know About Literary Agents and Query Letters
    • Book Publishing Options Today: Your Paths Explained

    Register here!


    Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 12.28.11 PM

    I Will Speak At These Great Writing Events in 2014:Capitol City Writing Retreat (Lansing, MI)

  • Feb. 1, 2014: Pennwriters Pittsburgh Chapter Event
  • (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • March 28-29, 2014: Northern Colorado Writers Conference
  • (Fort Collins, CO)
  • March 30 – April 4, 2014: Worship Write With God: Christian Writers Retreat
  • (Asheville, NC)
  • April 11-13, 2014: Missouri Writers Guild Conference
  • (St. Louis, MO)
  • May 3, 2014: University of Central Arkansas MFA Literary Event
  • (Little Rock/Conroy, AR)
  • June 6-8, 2014: Wyoming Writers Conference
  • (Sheridan, WY)
  • July 13-16, 2014: Southeastern Writers Conference
  • (St. Simon’s Island, GA)
  • Aug. 1-3, 2014: Writer’s Digest Conference
  • (New York, NY)
  • Aug. 5-10, 2014: Texas Writing Retreat
  • (outside Houston, TX)
  • October 2014: Books by the Banks Book Festival
  • (Cincinnati, OH)
  • November 2014: Atlanta Writers Fall Conference (Atlanta, GA)

    Add a Comment
    49. Pinkwater Backlist Bonanza!

    I'm delighted to announce that a whole bunch of Daniel Pinkwater books that have never before been digitized are now available in DRM-free electron versions for reading on your magical device. No more will you be forced to suffer the indignity of touching paper to get your Pinkwater fix!

    In alphabetical order -- choose your favorites (or heck, buy them all for the low-low price of $2.99 each, I mean really, what a bargain):

    Young Adults


    0 Comments on Pinkwater Backlist Bonanza! as of 4/15/2014 4:47:00 PM
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    50. AND SPRING IS…..

    Wanting to wish EVERYONE a very happy Spring/Easter week and weekend! Do believe it Spring is finally here…. in most places anyway.  (sorry Cleveland!)  Even The Cat has his ears on for the occasion!

    easter blast

    1 Comments on AND SPRING IS….., last added: 4/16/2014
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