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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: query, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 43
1. Can You Kill a Query in 5 Words? Winners + Hilarious Tweets!

killaquerySo the other day my husband Eric, who’s the news editor over at BoardGameGeek, told me about a board game publisher that created fun Twitter games like #BoardGameBand, where tweeters would come up with fun mashups of board game titles and band names — like “Frankie Goes to Hollywood Blockbuster” or “Dungeon Petzshop Boys.”

“Why don’t you do that?” Eric said.

Ding ding ding!

Together we came up with the hashtag #killaqueryin5words, and the premise was simple: I wanted writers to offer up five-word phrases that would cause an editor to trash their magazine query.

I launched the game on Monday morning, seeding my feed with such 5-word screw-ups as “I never read your magazine,” “You don’t publish poetry, but…” and “Google says you like chocolate.”

#killaqueryin5words took off! Writers around the web got a good laugh reading hilarious (but sadly common) query snafus. (In fact, contributions are still rolling in!)

Then I had another brainstorm: Why not pick my favorite #killaqueryin5words tweeters and offer prizes?

The #killaqueryin5words Winners

Here are my top picks. If you’re listed as a winner, please choose any e-book from the Renegade Writer Store that you’d like to receive for free (yes, even the $29.99 one!) and email me your choice at [email protected]

Most Prolific

I have to give props to @GiulianoDebra because she contributed more posts than anyone! (I think someone was procrastinating on their work yesterday. :) ) Congrats, Debra!

Most Creative

Next, I was super impressed that @NewJerseyWriter created the graphic you see at the top of this post just for the game. She used morguefile to find the photo and Canva to create the image. She also gave me permission to use her graphic on the blog. Thank you, and please choose your prize!

Most Insightful

Another winner is @justinrbannon for his insightful tweet about the game: “Perhaps the most concerning thing about #killaqueryin5words is that it’s provided more than one actual tip.”

Most Hilarious (But Sadly True)

Finally, I had trouble choosing just one most awesome #killaqueryin5words tweet, so we have five winners:

1. @danielcasciato: I’m giving you first dibs. #killaqueryin5words @LFormichelli

2. @BretteSember: “you’re probably not interested but…”

3. @sharonnaylorwed: #killaqueryin5words “my writing group loved it!”

4. @RitaMailheau: #killaqueryin5words To Whom It May Concern

5. @BillDavisWords: I’m here in your lobby #killaqueryin5words

These tweets showcase five fatal query flaws:

1. Arrogance.
2. Under-confidence
3. Unprofessionalism
4. Laziness and lack of research, not to mention a stiff writing style!
5. Stalkerishness

Congrats to the five of you…please choose your prize!

One thing I discovered is that Twitter doesn’t seem to save hashtagged tweets for long, so if you want to check out the funny feed, do it now! It’s at https://twitter.com/hashtag/killaqueryin5words

I have a great idea for a new writer Twitter game for next week…stay tuned!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the #killaqueryin5words game. It’s been a blast!

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2. Since April 19, 2015...

After Easter and the jury duty kerfuffle...

...to which I didn't have to go!
Happy dance, happy dance, everybody happy dance!

... I got a rejection on a query I sent to an agent about a month before.  Technically, she never responded to the query, which per the guidelines basically meant the same thing.  No reply, no acceptance.
Tears may have been shed.

But that's okay.  I dusted off my poor weeping query, gave it a little spruce up and sent it bravely back into the big wide world of agents.  I may have whispered a prayer to send it on its way.

Then I had a wedding I went to, last week of April/beginning of May, wherein my sister Amanda (keeper of the blog, Hit and Miss) designed floral arrangements for the altar, and we cleaned bucketloads of roses, carnations, baby's breath and greens and I made 15 centerpieces in glass milk jars for the reception.
Or rather:  Design ALL the flowers!

Speaking of which, I don't think I want to go to weddings anymore.  Waaaaaay too many people!
Way too many people I don't know, and way too many random people wanting to talk to me.
Talk? Talk?!   What makes you think I'd want to chat?  I haz nothing to say.  Unless we speak geek.  Then perhaps we speak.

Then we got BACK from the wedding and the weather has been liek dis:

And liek dis:
*snarf, grumble, grouch

It hasn't been NICE.  It has been the opposite.  It has been DARK.  My mood goeth downhill.

Directly after getting back, we were into Mother's Day week.  Which made the flower shop a crazy busy place.  Which meant yours truly got to work a six-day work week, after a weekend filled with flower arrangements and wedding feels and socializing.

Socializing, for me, can be physically more draining and damaging than a solid week's work, so piling MOTHER'S DAY WEEK on top of that was... was...

Sorry, words fail.

However, good news.  Before driving back from the wedding in Bakersfield, we stopped at Target and all four of us who had attended the wedding picked up copies of the Target Edition of Josh Groban's STAGES, which contains 17 tracks and are all of them amazing.
Make sure you get the TARGET edition with 17 tracks! The normal version
only has 13, so make sure it 's the special TARGET edition you're getting!

Josh has this superpower that never fails to make me marvel at how PERFECTLY he sings.
IMHO, he sings the only acceptable version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
*Oh Groban!

Speaking of Superheroes and Marvel, I also watched the first two episodes of Daredevil on Netflix during that wedding weekend, so when I got back from the wedding I proceeded to watch the other 11 episodes.

Matt Murdoch is the best!  I refuse to say anything, because, as Yoda say, "If Netflix you have, Daredevil you should be watching."  Seriously, he's a new favourite Marvel superhero.  He is so amazing and cool!  Unfortunately, now that I'm done with those 13 episode, the next season won't be up until 2016!  Netflix, why? Why? Whyyyyy?

Then I saw Age of Ultron.

All I'm going to say about THIS is, OH MY GOSH! HAWKEYE!! TONYSTEVETHOR! QUICKSIIIIIILVER!  JARVISJARVISJARVIS!! And never, ever, ever have I let a ship sink as fast as I let Black Widow's and Hawkeye's.  I was surprisingly okay with it.  I waved a hand and thought, I don't mind Natasha and Clint being friends.

After this, Teresa and Jack and I started watching Harry Potter.  I have never really watched Harry Potter.
I know, right?

I had read up to the fourth book (which *I* thought was horrifying) and then watched the fourth movie which, IMHO, did NOT live up to the fourth books horrifyingness (which is not a word, but I don't care.  I'm a writer.  I do what I want).  Frankly, the fourth movie rather bored me, so I gave up on the series.

Then, I dunno, after the final book had been published and was no longer talked about, I thought I might as well finish the book series, and while I thought J.K. Rowling did a fine job with writing, I wasn't entirely sold on the series.  I don't know why.  I just wasn't a fan.

So I have had no urge to watch the movies until after Valentine's Day, when after a long grueling day at work I came home, ate something fortifying and turned on the TV, and discovered The Chamber of Secrets was playing.  Having nothing better to do, I watched it.
I mean, after all, why not?

Since then, I've been off again, on again wanting to watch them, and we started our sporadic marathon about two weeks ago.  While the first four were nothing special (for me, anyway - and btw, the fourth movie is NOT as boring as I remembered it being.  Perhaps one needs to have been away from books and movies for a significant amount of time or something), we just finished Deathly Hallows part 1, and I'll admit the 5th, 6th and 7-1/2th movies engaged me more and made me feel a bit more connected to the characters.  (Though, and I'm speaking from my experience of having read the books YEARS ago, I am pretty certain the scriptwriters could have clarified Harry as being The Chosen One.  That shtick sort of makes an appearance in the Half Blood Prince, and while I *think* it was clear in the book, it was NOT AT ALL CLEAR in the movie(s), and I honestly can't remember how or why or who or when Harry became this Chosen One or even what it has to do with the plot.)
I feel ya, Minion

I don't think I'm still (yet) techinically a fan.  I haven't entirely finished the series, after all.  Deathly Hallows part 2 will possibly (probably) happen tonight, but now that I've watched the movies I can see why people have become fans.  I will be honest even more and state that I do have a bad tendency to quote HISHE or Honest Trailer lines during crucial moments of the movies (such as, Wizzzzard lightning battle! or, Look out, Harry, he doesn't have a nose!, or, "Just saving your life.  And countless others.  In the future.  It's a long story.")  But overall, my favorite characters are Snape, Professor McGonagall, George and Fred, and Harry.  I like Ron and Hermione, but those first five are my favorites.

Lastly, to bring my month to a close, the query I'd dusted off and sent back out came back with a request for the agent to see the full manuscript.
I may or may not have woken up my sister at the obscene
hour of 5:00 a.m. to show her the joyous news.

So I sent the full manuscript to the agent, and now I must wait up to 60 days to see what she thinks.  It's a bit torturous, but she was nice enough to admit that it was torturous, which was good to hear.  Empathy, empathy.  So all I can do now is pray... and hope... and pray... and, you know, hope.

So, that's been my month!  I hope yours has been just as exciting and eventful as mine, albeit less gloomy.  *Rain, rain, go away, come again some OTHER day.*

Until next month...

Cat! :)

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3. Now what?

You’ve just spent the last umpteen months pouring your heart out, bringing life to a main character, giving them purpose, and perfecting the wording. Where do you go from here?

Personally, I want to write some more. I enjoy the process. Except for the frustrations that melt away upon completion of a piece, it is a satisfying endeavor. I’m on a roll. I’ve got more story left in me. I don’t want to stop and try to sell the thing. I want to write.

But sell you must if you want to see it published. Stage two of book writing is not nearly as enjoyable as the initial creation phase. The business end of it is a different animal. You’ve got to convince someone your work is publishable. You know it is. Can’t they just take your word for it?

Not that I speak from experience. Rather, it is where I now find myself. I’ve been here before. I finished one story and jumped right into the next. I made only a heartless effort to push that story because I write. Sales is not my thing.

The first step is to find an agent or editor that prints the kind of stuff you write. Gone are the days when writers sent out willy-nilly to any and every publisher. One should study what kind of stuff they prefer. If a house specializes in YA romance, don’t waste their time with an MG boy story. Research publishers until you find a list of houses that would likely be keen to your work. Find out if they even accept un-agented stories. If they don’t, repeat the vetting process with agents. Investigate the guidelines a particular house has for accepting work.

With a target in mind, create a query letter for that publisher or agent. A query is a business letter asking permission to send a manuscript. You’ve got only one chance to make a first impression and the query letter is it. Agents and editors receive hundreds of requests and have figure strategies for navigating through them all. They will look to see if its something they normally publish and check that you’ve followed their guidelines – where your research pays off. They’ll look at grammar and spelling and conciseness of writing. A mere ten seconds is all that is needed to reject months and months of hard work.

The first line of your story should entice the reader to read more and likewise, the query letter is should hook the agent/editor to read on. It should be written in the same tone as the manuscript itself. You’ve got a few sentences to reveal the plot and full disclosure is what they want. You’re not writing the jacket blurb to draw the reader in. The agent/editor wants to know precisely the story you want them to take on. Tell the genre, word count, and target audience of the reader and why you chose them. Finally, a query should reveal a little about yourself, especially of anything you’ve published. There is Internet and hard copy resources to better acquaint with how to write a query letter.

Pushing your work is an unfortunate necessity. After you’ve written those magical words, “the end,” you’re not really finished. But before you can quit your day job and stay home and write, you need to venture into sales.

1 Comments on Now what?, last added: 9/9/2012
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4. Why Must Queries be as Hard as Hunting Vampires

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You guessed it! Another WHY post.  Sure there are some Buffys and Van Helsings out there with uncanny query writing abilities who make it look easy, but for some it's tougher than writing the book. So why is it that writing queries has to be so darn hard?

There are good reasons for this, my friends.


  • There has to be a way for agents to sort through the multitude of manuscripts they receive on a daily basis. By doing the hard work, and writing a great query, you can set yourself above the rest and get a request for a full or partial.
  • If you have trouble summarizing your book, it may be a sign that you need to look at the plot again before it's ready to send out.
  • First impressions mean everything. It's cruel in a way, but true. When you go on a job interview, you strive to make a good impression. Well, your novel is making that impression, and if it wasn't hard to do, everyone would do it. Of course, it seems that everyone does do it, but the truth is that many people never even finish one draft of a book, let alone revise until their eyes bleed and research and agonize over the query letter.
So there you have it. Anything to add? Pat yourselves on the back if you've struggled with the query letter, and remember it's tough, but tough is good. And now you know why.

23 Comments on Why Must Queries be as Hard as Hunting Vampires, last added: 11/16/2011
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5. A Creative Approach to Writing

I have been using creativity to dive deeper into my stories, characters and novels for most of my life. I've learned that imagination and inventiveness can be used in all aspects of writing, regardless of what kind of a writer you are - whether you're currently writing or not. Using creativity as an aid to the writing process helps to “unblock” your mind and get to the heart of your projects... and it's fun!

This weekend I am hosting a workshop called, "A Creative Approach to Writing," at The Boulder Writers Workshop where I'll be sharing the various ways I've learned to infuse creativity into all facets of writing.

For all of my blogging buddies who aren't able to attend, I've included links in the list below to give you a taste of what I'll be sharing.

2 Comments on A Creative Approach to Writing, last added: 9/22/2011

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6. Should You Re-Query?

In a recent blog post, author Allison Winn Scotch tackled one of the toughest questions facing aspiring writers: should you ever re-query after an agent?

Here’s an excerpt from her blog post: “if in your heart of hearts, you think that Agent X will fall in love with it and may have overlooked it in her slush pile, I suppose it doesn’t hurt to retry. (But I would do so with very few agents.) As for those you never heard back from? Well, I’d just query them as if it’s your first time. They may not have really read your query very closely, and I doubt that it will be remembered such that they’ll find you annoying or pushy.”

Scotch (pictured, via) also suggested that authors don’t attempt to re-query an agent if the first was sent less than six months before–because revisions require a lot of time and effort. What do the agents in the audience think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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7. Queriers: Send the flippin' writing sample!


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8. Writing Contests and Grants: Why They're Worth It

This post originally ran October 2009

I've entered in and applied for roughly a dozen writing contests and grants over the years. In one contest I finished first. With another I got an honorable mention. I didn't place in the others at all. Still, every contest was worth experiencing for a number of reasons:

1. Working with a deadline: By signing up for a contest, you have committed to finishing and submitting your writing by a certain time -- great practice for future deadlines once your work is sold.

2. Reviewing your writing: Whether applying for a grant or entering a contest, you'll need to carefully study your work, looking for ways to strengthen it and examining why your writing deserves to win. Filling out an application and following the contest's guidelines will bolster your ability to write a strong, concise query.

3. Getting read: Some contests/grants offer feedback for those who place. Authors, editors, and agents often judge these contests, putting your work front and center. 

4. Publishing opportunities: Winning contests/grants means a portion of your work is often published, allowing for other readers, agents, and editors to learn of your writing. In winning first place for a novel excerpt at the Jambalaya Writers' Conference in 2009, my work was included in an anthology put out by Nicholls University. At the same conference, I ha

8 Comments on Writing Contests and Grants: Why They're Worth It, last added: 2/15/2011
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9. Do you have a Writing Career Strategy?

I attended a work meeting today where the topic was strategy. Our speaker noted that 9 out of 10 times, we write down and design a perfectly great strategy. But here's the kicker, 80% of those strategies will fail.

Why? Why? Why?

You spent all that time writing down your strategy on pretty paper then hanging it on the refrigerator or you've created some nifty spreadsheet in Excel to manage what you want to accomplish. How could it possibly not work?

So why do most of our strategies fail? Because we fail to execute what we planned.

This got me thinking. As writers, should we have a strategy for managing our writing career? These strategies could even be broken down into mini strategies such as Strategy for Writing Book 1, Strategy for Revising, Strategy for Querying, Strategy for Marketing your book,etc.

From personal experience, I know I had a 'plan' of sorts in my head. Did I execute that plan? Hell, no. Not even close. Why? Because I let my emotions and the heat of the moment get in my way. This is why it would have helped to have a well developed, thought out, and written plan in place before I took the next step in my writing.
I would have created the strategy when I wasn't so emotionally invested in the outcome so logic and reason would have a stronger voice.

Most of us plan our careers, have an idea on how we want to parent, have a strategy to buy our first home, get our of debt, etc.
It seems reasonable that since we should be treating our writing career as a business, we should have a written business plan or strategy.

Here's an example of one that I just made up off the top of my head to get the juices flowing.


*Research literary agents and create a list of agents that respresent what I write and that would be a good fit for me
*Create a spreadsheet so I can track my submissions (Yes, I love Excel)
*Decide on the 6 agents I want to query first.
*Find out more about those 6 agents, read their blog, interviews, tweets, etc.
*Submit to 6 of those agents and wait for feedback/response.
*Promise not to check e-mail every 5 minutes looking for a response
*If I get no requests for a partial or full, revise query. Get some query critiques.
*When I get the first rejection, I will treat myself to something pretty then use the rejection letter as kindling.
*When I get my first request for a full, I will jump, sing, and tell all my writer buddies
*If fulls and/or partials are requested and I get the same consistent feedback such as Plot doesn't work, characters don't keep me interested, take another look at the novel and possibly revise
*Lather, rinse, repeat

So back to the example, if you had create a strategy before you start querying, you'll have an idea on how you want to handle the query process and how to best leverage the responses or non responses. It provides a back-up plan to help you handle the feedback/rejections and move on to the next step. It can help keep you focused and on track toward your end goal.

We all know rejections are hard and painful. They can send your day into a tail spin and plants the seeds of doubt. By having a written strategy, you've given yourself a way to move forward and tackle the next challenge without acting like a crazed serial querier.

So what are you waiting for? Get our pen, your Excel spreadsheet, your iPad and start creating strategies that will lead you toward your writing goal.

1 Comments on Do you have a Writing Career Strategy?, last added: 1/28/2011
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10. An Agent’s Inbox~Querying From An Agent’s Perspective

Imagine you are a literary agent. You’ve just battled the insane New York traffic, got through the ridiculously long security check in line in the lobby, fought for a space in the packed elevator, and made it to your office. You take a sip of your now lukewarm mocha and open your email only to [...] Related posts:

  1. TOPIC: The Do’s and Don’ts of Querying
  2. TRANSCRIPT: The Do’s and Don’ts of Querying
  3. TOPIC: Lit Agent Mary Kole at ABLA announces “Novel Beginnings” Submission Contest
  4. TOPIC: Writing a Breakout Novel in a Challenging Publishing Climate
  5. How To Submit

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11. What A Weekend!

Conner was nothing but smiles during the football game at Wildcat Hill!

Catie's favorite cheer: Our team is D-Y-N-A-M-I-T-E!

Carlie loved watching her big sister cheer for the Wildcats!

Carlie, Courtney, Catie, and friends from school giving each other manicures and pedicures!

After spending the majority of Saturday afternoon watching Catie cheer at Britton Field and then back home to a house full of rambunctious youngsters, I had every intention of mopping floors today and catching up on some much needed laundry. Unfortunately, due to a vicious stomach virus that crept into our safehaven, little Carlie is home from school with a terrible tummy ache.

When Carlie's symptoms began yesterday afternoon, I felt certain her loss of appetite and sudden fatigue was a result of intense play with her big sister and friends from school. But when I heard her feet scurry across the upstairs bathroom in our home, I knew it was something more. Throughout most of the night, Trae and I rotated shifts of being nurse-made to little Carlie, changing her sheets after an accident occurred and refilling her water cup in order to prevent dehydration. WHEW! This definitely brought back memories from years ago when the twins were infants. To this day, I'm still not sure how we survived those first months of sleepless nights and around the clock feedings.

With less than a few hours of sleep, we rolled out of the bed this morning feeling as if a freight train had struck us during the middle of the night, while Carlie awoke in the best of spirits. She is definitely showing signs of improvement, cracking jokes with Courtney and keeping a birds-eye-view on her little sister as she put together a Dora puzzle on the floor nearby.

So as I look back on the past twenty-four hours with Carlie, I realize that even though my laundry pile has tripled in size, I'm so thankful for being able to care for my little munchkin.

Hopefully, if your Monday has kicked off to a crappy start, this post helps you see that it's best to find the good in times of distress than to dwell on the misfortune in our day! Happy Monday, everyone! Tory

Oh, one last thing before I go! Still no rejection emails from Dear Super Agents:) YEAH

3 Comments on What A Weekend!, last added: 8/31/2010
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12. Excitement In The Air!

After an adventurous (and a bit stressful) week of shuttling the older children to and from school, helping w/ homework, entertaining Courtney at home, cooking, cleaning, yadda, yadda, yadda, I have some pretty exciting news to share with all of you.

Over the past few days, I've been extremely busy preparing email submissions for my first young adult novel because TWO remarkable agents have taken interest in the concept and have requested the full of my manuscript! *squeals loudly and does a happy dance in the kitchen* This now brings the total of requests to 5 partials, 4 fulls, and plenty of rejections and no responses in between. But as the old saying goes, "It only takes one YES to become a published author."

Take the story of Theodore Geisel for example (used from Adventures in Agentland). Theodore had written a picture book manuscript called THE HOUSE ON MULBURRY STREET. He shopped it around. He sent it to twenty-two editors and, after that twenty-second rejection, Theodore decided he would go home, shred his manuscript, and give up his dream.

On the way home, he ran into an old friend of his, who had become an editor. His editor friend convinced him to let him see his manuscript. The editor changed the name of the book to THE CAT IN THE HAT, and Dr. Seuss was born.

Once again, thanks for all your support! In more ways than one, your kind words and encouragement have kept me chasing the dream of becoming a published author. I promise to update as soon as I hear from either agent. Have a great weekend, everyone! Tory

8 Comments on Excitement In The Air!, last added: 8/18/2010
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13. Query that

After my rather humbling experience recently, I realized I want more info on the elusive query letter.

Writing a query should be easy, right? You just scribble out a short cover letter introducing yourself and your work, cuz you know your work is marvellous and should sell itself.


Even if your work is bestseller material, a fumbling query letter is going to get you into the ‘rejection pile’ and no where near the bestseller list. This is your opportunity to sell yourself -- to make the agent sit up and take notice.

So, how do we write the most amazing query letter possible?

Let’s break it down.

First – research, research, research. Even though there’s a basic format to query letters, don’t write one generic query and send it to a bunch of different agents hoping to strike it lucky. That’s like playing Russian Roulette with your career. Read up on your choice of agents. Follow their guidelines to the letter. And don’t forget to browse their blogs – this is where the real nuggets of information are gleaned. Maybe they might even give you an example or two of what they consider a great query. (Yay!)

Next – write a query that’s tailored to the agent you are submitting to. What does that mean? Give ‘em exactly what they ask for; nothing more – nothing less. This can include attachments versus inserting manuscript material into the body of an email. Or, even a paragraph synopsis versus a full-page synopsis. Deviating from their provided instructions just tells them that you can’t follow directions. That’s fast-tracking yourself right out the door.

Another next – the query itself. I like the way writing-world.com sets it out. Though the author is referring to article pitching, I did find this site helpful. It talks about the five basic components of a query:

• The hook
• The pitch
• The body
• The credentials
• The close

Each component is crucial. The author at the above site breaks it down well and is a good read. She even includes links to related articles – check out the sample query letter.

Another site fictionwriters.com has some good do’s and don’ts.

This website charlottedillon.com has a bunch of examples that landed the authors agents. Note that they are all quite different.

What I find interesting is that the above samples prove that queries need to be agent-specific. Note that one letter may start out with a hook, while another starts with an introduction. It would seem that while there are rules, these rules can in some cases be bent a little.

This too can be said for the do’s and don’ts as well. During my research I came across an agent who actually liked a little butt-kissing. (Say what??) Yup, I kid you not. In this instance -- to submit or not to submit -- is the question. Remember, you need to comfortably work with this person. Do you wanna work with someone you have to brown-nose?

Nah. Gimme a professional any day.

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14. I DID IT!


What's a query letter you say? It's a letter that is meant to convince an editor that your story is the greatest story ever told and that they absolutely have to have it even more than chocolate. A query letter is your proposal of sorts, your calling card, you’re desperate plea to "PICK ME! PICK ME!" without sounding the least bit whiny or desperate.

I have been flying on Sparkin the dragon's noble back over Arizona for three years now and yet found the query letter about as much work. Wait a minute, hold the phone, and your horses or whatever it is you hold. I actually found the book an absolute delight to write. I love the characters, even the sinister ones and many times had to be called back to this planet to fix dinner, and attend to the worldly needs of my wonderful family. The query letter was more of a tear out your hair exercise that lasted through several months of research and 42 --not a typo --different versions, one to please each query letter expert. I studied the blurbs on the back of a gazillion books, and finally had an epiphany. Why not complete the exercise outlined by one of my most favorite agents that I was blessed to attend her presentation last April at the LDStorymakers Writers Conference?

So after the "why did it take you so long to figure it out?" moment, I finally hit upon what the heart of this book is about and what makes it unique. I realized it is a story of youth learning that they can do hard things, and learning that it is okay to be yourself even if you are different than others.

As Sparkin of the amazerful Stoneloch Dragon Clan would say, "It is ever so sweet" to have it complete.

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15. What do you say to an agent or editor when you don't have credentials?

First of all . . . we must have our priorities. Critter is in the Virgin Islands. He's traveling for the sake of St. Jude, so please follow him during his travels and let others know about Critter's cause. He'll be auctioned for St. Jude when his adventures are complete. Did you know that St. Jude operates mostly on donations alone. And that their DAILY operating costs are 1.5 million dollars per day!!!!! Yowza Yikesers!!!! So . . . spread the word about Critter and his cause so that we may be more likely to reach those who have the heart plus the resources to help the children of St. Jude.

In other writerly news . . . this is an awesome blog re: what to include in a query if you lack credentials. http://askaliteraryagent.blogspot.com/

2 Comments on What do you say to an agent or editor when you don't have credentials?, last added: 6/30/2010
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16. Is It A Good Idea To Post Your Story Synopsis Online?

Recently, after visiting different writers' blogs, I noticed several authors had posted their story summary in hopes that followers would provide feedback. For the majority, the responses were great. There were even a few that received comments from bestselling authors.

But I have mixed feelings on this (Yes, I'm a scaredy cat when it comes to posting details about my story).

1.) Is it safe to put your synopsis online (before landing an agent), exposing it for the world to read?
2.) What if someone steals your plot? *gasp and cry for hours/days...*
3.) But what if an agent stumbles across your blog and falls in love w/ your synopsis? *happy dance* Isn't this worth it?

I'd love to know your thoughts! Have a great Friday, eveyone! Tory

9 Comments on Is It A Good Idea To Post Your Story Synopsis Online?, last added: 6/6/2010
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17. Amazing Contest & Humpday Reads!

As of 8:03 P.M. last night, I officially landed a spot at Querytracker's agent-judged query contest in which the super talented literary agent, Kathleen Ortiz, volunteered to critique the first 100 entries received.

Phew...I'm still stoked about this one!

You see, from countless hours of stalking Ms. Ortiz' blog (www.kortizzle.blogspot.com) and other social networks, I knew this contest would fill within minutes. So, with help from my ever-so-patient husband, I was able to sneak to my mom's house and complete the online form with nothing more than seconds to spare before the contest filled. Seriously, I barely had time to verify if I'd cut and paste the first chapter of my YA novel successfully to the contest form.

But I did!!! *Cue confetti falling from the ceiling*

Now, to some of my friends reading this post, you may not understand what all the hoopla is about. Let me explain!

Anytime an aspiring writer *imagine ME waving a huge, red flag* receives feedback from a top-notch agent, the effort is worth this and so much more! As brutal as Ms. Ortiz' critique may be (she seems super sweet and very professional), I'm still hopeful she connects with the first chapter of my YA novel and asks for more. At this point in my writing career, any feedback is good feedback.

Okay, given that I hear little footsteps running around upstairs I'm going to quickly switch gears and list my book recommendation for this week's version of Humpday Reads.

I suggest: The Wicked Lovely Series by Melissa Marr All her life, Aislinn has been able to see faeries, and they are everywhere, invisible to mortals except for her. And these are not your average cute Disney pixies -- they are the same size as humans, and can be very nasty, especially to those mortals who can see them. To survive, Aislinn has had to learn to pretend not to see them, and to live behind steel walls, which keep them out.
All Aislinn wants is to explore her growing relationship with Seth, finish high school, go to college, and lead a relatively normal life. But now she's being stalked by the faeries, especially one, Keenan, who is the Summer King and wants her for his Queen. Keenan is able to endure steel, and will have Aislinn whether she agrees or not -- if she doesn't, the power of his mother, the Winter Queen, will be unchecked, and winter will descend on the earth forever. (www.commonsensemedia.org)

I hope you enjoy! Tory

11 Comments on Amazing Contest & Humpday Reads!, last added: 6/5/2010

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18. Welcome Screen

Now Playing - Crazy In Love by The Puppini Sisters Life -  Hello everyone out there in World Wide Webville. My name is Kristopher, and I want to be a blogger. Well, actually, I want to write kid's mystery books, sixties crime pulps and run a motel in Oregon. But for now, blogging! That's right, it's been so long since I've written a post that I feel obligated to reintroduce myself.

7 Comments on Welcome Screen, last added: 5/7/2010
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19. Final Stages of Self-Editing Part 2

In Monday's post we covered Steps 1-5 of Final Stages of Editing; today we'll finish up and focus on the remaining points. 

Final Stages of Self-Editing Steps 6-10:

6. Check formatting
Now it’s time to check the formatting of the manuscript.

Are your paragraphs all indented with proper punctuation?

Did you use the Show/Hide function in your word processor to check the inner workings. For instance, years ago the proper spacing between sentences was two spaces. Now, the protocol is one space between sentences. The Show/Hide function displays a dot for each space.

Is your manuscript double spaced?

Did you use the correct formatting for dialogue?

7. Get your manuscript edited
When you think it’s perfect, have it edited before you start submitting it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, you think this step is overkill, and it will cost money. You’re right on the second part, it will cost money, but it will be money well spent.

No matter how many times you self-edit, and how many times your critique group goes over your manuscript, there will be errors. Ask around for a reputable editor.

8. Create a log line

A log line or pitch line is a one sentence description or your manuscript. This may take a bit of trial and error.

9. Create a synopsis

A synopsis is a short description of your story. Your writing should be tight and focused--leave out the fluff. The content should be self-edited and proofread before sending it off to an agent or publisher. You are trying to grab the reader's attention and let the reader know that you are grammar literate.

Basically, the synopsis should briefly let the editor know what the book is about: the beginning of your story, your main character/s needs or wants, how he strives to reach his goals, the obstacles/conflicts in his way, and how he overcomes the conflicts moving forward to the final outcome.

I read an interesting article recommending that your synopsis should be created using your detailed outline.

10. Create a query letter or proposal

 A query is a sales pitch. It should be three paragraphs and only one page long. The first paragraph quickly and interestingly describes the story; it’s the hook. The second paragraph tells a bit about you, your qualifications for writing the book. And, it’s a good idea to include a bit on how you intend to help market the book. The third paragraph is the conclusion; keep it short.

11. Final Step: Submissions

Okay, your manuscript is polished and shiny, now it’s time to submit. But, hold on . . . check each publisher’s guidelines before you submit.

In fact, don’t just check the guidelines, you need to study them, and follow them implicitly. If a publisher asks for submission by mail only, don’t email your submission. If the word count on an article or story is up to 1000 words, don’t submit a story with 1150 words.

There is just so much involved with self-editing, and as I keep learning new tricks I'll pass them along.

Related Articles:

2 Comments on Final Stages of Self-Editing Part 2, last added: 4/21/2010
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20. Wonderful Secret Agent has a BLOG! Let the stalking begin!

I'm ashamed to admit that I'm officially a stalker of Wonderful Secret Agent's blog in hopes that she will update today with something I can squeal about.

Let me explain. Last week, after e-submitting my manuscript to a fabulous agent in New York City, I stumbled across her blog and have since become obsessed.

By far, she is the coolest literary agent, and I would be knocked off my feet with enthusiasm if she were to connect with my YA novel.

It's funny because I'm not alone on the stalking issue. My mom, husband, and oldest daughter are also obsessed with checking out her blog for updates.

Given that Wonderful Secret Agent usually posts the number of manuscripts she has requested in a day, I know that mine was one of eight from a pile of 63 query letters (OMG!).

I wish you could hear my mom and I analyzing each of her posts. We have disected each phrase in hopes of finding something promising (maybe even a secret code or hidden message saying, "Yes, Tory, I want to represent you!").

She hasn't updated in a few days, so needless to say, I'm anxiously awaiting her next post.

So, to all my writing buddies out there, I'd love to know if any of you have ever stalked the Internet for information regarding the agents you've queried. Thoughts, please!

Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone! Tory

9 Comments on Wonderful Secret Agent has a BLOG! Let the stalking begin!, last added: 4/20/2010
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21. I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Now Playing - City Of Ember DVD Life -  My wife finally found a job out here in Maine! Hooray! And when I say finally, I mean she waited until we had two cars, chose one place that she was excited by, went in, talked to someone for 20 minutes and had the job a couple of days later. Freakin' show-off. I think she'll like it. The job is night audits for a fairly swank hotel/spa/wedding

6 Comments on I Love It When A Plan Comes Together, last added: 4/10/2010
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22. The Dreaded Query

by Cindy R. Williams

I finished what I thought was the first book of my Thundertail's Tale Series. It came in at 200,000 words. YIKES! I immediately found a good halfway point, and it divided it into two books. I did have to beef up the climax battle scene, and then spin some new threads but it works great. I also chopped words because I'm not of the mind that I will be able to publish a 100,000 first book in a series. In fact, I don't really have much of a mind anymore, but back to the topic at hand. After writing essentially two whole books why in the world can't I write a dazzling one page single spaced query?

I have agonized over this query for three weeks. I have research and printed off and studied blogs and articles on queries from successful authors, agents, and writing friends.

I have woken up in the middle of the night with what I thought were brilliant ideas for my query only to jot them down and read them in the light of day to find they were horrid.

Why in the world is this sooooooo hard? I have my two protagonists, one, a 10 year old boy with acrophobia who loves dragons, and the young dragon with his own issues of being the only dull dragon of the clan. The boy rescues from the sinister, bad guys. There are fairies, mermaids, goblins, shibber goyls, bodochs and cyclops. He and the dragon must forge a friendship and go on a quest to battle the bad guys and save the world. Now why can't I write a brilliant pitch that will impress an agent and convince them that I am the next big thing?
I'm going around and around in "Query Nightmare Circle" where it has all become a blur and I just want to go for a walk around the block, eat chocolate, take a nap, preferably all at the same time and just plain forget about it.

I looked up Query: It's both a noun and a verb. It says: query is a request for information, a doubt or criticism, same as a question mark, to express doubt or objections about something, to ask something or ask a question. Okay, my question is "Will you please represent my novel about a boy, a dragon, magic and choices." There, I said it, now I'm done right? Wrong!

Jeff Savage, or J. Scott Savage as he's known to his fans, told us at our ANWA Writers Conference to make a list of 20 agents, then send your query to the bottom five. When you get responses back, tweak your query, then send it to the next five. Keep it up until you have a compelling query to present to your top five agents. Novel idea, pun intended, but I'm afraid you have to have some kind of a coherent query to start this process. If you read this Jeff, HELP!

I have come up with ten different versions of my query, and am not completely happy with any of them. I'm going to send them into the query boot camp at LDStorymakers Writer's Conference in April to be analyzed and shredded. I am actually looking forward to this and I'm willing to shelve my ego, or what is left of it for the sake of making some sense of my query. One good thing has come of this. One of my queries was so detailed and so long that I think I have my synopsis, or at least the first full draft. Uhgggg, my synopsis. That's another can of worms

0 Comments on The Dreaded Query as of 4/1/2010 1:51:00 AM
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23. The Agent Hunt

I have never consistently looked for an agent. Every couple of years I'd send a few queries, but I mainly subbed to editors. Why? Because in the children's market, you can sell without one.

Four years ago, I sent a dozen queries. One resulted in a full request, another in a partial. The full came back with a handwritten page gushing about how great my manuscript was for young girls and how someday I'd sell this and have to let her know, but, you guessed it, it wasn't right for her. That manuscript has since been through three major overhauls, changing it from a multi POV to first person, from a journal format to straight narrative, and from a three-year time frame to one.

The partial was returned with "I think I'll pass."

I got caught up in revision, other manuscripts, and the lure of conference one-on-ones that lead to full requests. The agent search never really got off the ground.

Until this year. I've had to be honest with myself. If I want to look at my writing as a business, I've got to be doing some serious planning. No more hoping the next editor will snatch up this manuscript or that. No more waiting on fulls eleven plus months with no word. If I was going to walk away from the classroom and write full time, I needed to be acting like a professional. I needed an agent.

So, mid-spring I started subbing in earnest while my students were off at Spanish and PE (thanks to all who now take e-queries!). I'd send about three at a time, submitting between twenty and twenty-five total. By May, I'd gotten my first full request. In June I got two. In July two more. In September another two.

The thing is, I've been querying agents with my mind in matchmaker mode: I pick the manuscript that seems to best fit the agent's interests, query, and hope Mr. Agent will fall so in love, the other manuscripts will be loved, too. So, these seven full requests have been for four different manuscripts. Evidentally, this isn't the normal way to do things, I've been told, by an agent who requested a read.

More tomorrow.

10 Comments on The Agent Hunt, last added: 9/24/2009
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24. A fly on the wall in the slush pile: Thoughts from agent, Elana Roth

Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall as a editor or agent goes through their query stash? Just to get a glimpse into what they are thinking . . . now that would be good info to possess. If only I had enough of this inside info I could be like . . . like a writing Jedi; enlightened, wise, and my likeness could be cloned into a pointy-eared action figure.

One nice thing about twitter is that you can "follow" agents and editors without looking like cRaZeD stalker. Sometimes you get a glimpse into what they are looking for or other nuggets of info that might make you a better writer or query-ster or you can get a better idea of what is going on in the world of publishing.

Yesterday Elana Roth, Agent at Caren Johnson Literary Agency, tweeted some of her "realizations" about her thoughts as she went through her query stash. I found them interesting, so I thought you might too. I've quoted a few of them, but you can head on over to the agency blog where she compiled her entire list. Click-ity, click right here to swoosh on over to Elana's post.

A few of Elana's Query Realization "Tweets"
  • Slush Realization #1: I guess I'm just not a fan of non-human characters and narrators.
  • Slush Realization #2: I really hate e-stationery.
  • Slush Realization #3: If you hire someone to query on your behalf (don't), wouldn't you want them to have read my submission guidelines?
  • Slush Realization #4: Sometimes people make up things so strange that classifying them as "fantasy" still doesn't help me understand them.
  • Slush Realization #5: Apparently just saying "no thanks" can equal feeding the trolls. A rejection letter does not a dialogue opener make.
  • Slush Realization #9: If an email doesn't LOOK cleanly formatted, I tend to think words-on-a-page might not be your thing.
A big thanks to Elana for allowing me to quote and link her tweets!

11 Comments on A fly on the wall in the slush pile: Thoughts from agent, Elana Roth, last added: 7/10/2009
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25. The Query That Got Me An Agent

Here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/rcbzg4

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