Tag Archives: manuscripts

Redrafting a Query Letter


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I’m often asked, “You’re so busy, when do you find time to write?”

Of course I reply with, “I find the time.”

I do have a full schedule, or a full plate, whichever way it’s put, I am quite the busy person. Single mom, work, college, plus a huge list of other things to add that I wish not to discuss publicly. I’ve often stated when I fit in my writing. It’s usually scribbling ideas down onto paper whenever I have a free minute, such as standing in the grocery store check out lines. Then late at night, or right before class, I’ll type them up. Usually, it helps to have a printed manuscript for me to scribble on, but I always have a notebook where I keep all my notes.

Currently, I’ve been adding the last pieces to my manuscript. A sentence or two here, cut and paste that over there… As I type this, I’m 200 words shy of making 60,000 words. Wow! Well, isn’t that enough? Apparently not! It is a young adult novel, so there is a minimum and a maximum amount of words required for a publisher to actually look into publishing an author’s book…so I’ve been told…by a couple of actual publisher’s.

I didn’t come up with that entire word count over night…I wish…It took me five, long years to come up with that amount. So, you can see, I may seem to have accomplished a lot, it just took me a long time to get here. I don’t spend all of my time on the computer, writing…though some of my relatives may think otherwise.

Honestly, after hearing other authors tell me how long it’s taken them to come up with their first manuscript for a full novel, I don’t feel so bad on how long it took for me to get this far.

I’m now at the point to where I should prepare a query letter. I have written and rewritten a query letter for this manuscript, though it just hasn’t caught an agent’s attention. It’s taken me five years to write a novel with 60K words, why should it take me so long or be so hard to write up a short professional letter? Well, it is a hard market for us authors. So hard in fact, that a query letter has to have the essentials, yet catch an agents eye for them to pick you and your manuscript. It has to be perfect.

I’ve had a few ‘maybes’, but they weren’t a definite ‘yes’. So, it was back to the drawing board, so to speak. I couldn’t understand what my query letter lacked. It had all the important details; genre, word count, title, synopsis, a little bit about me…yet, no yes’s. I had a hard time coming up with my query letter. I honestly didn’t know how to write one. I had to research and research this on the internet, through the writer’s digest magazine, even thumbed through several books on ‘how to get published’.

Until one day, I had stumbled upon a blog that proved most helpful in every way. Jane Friedman, a publishing consultant, with many years of experience, had written a ‘Complete Guide To Query Letters…’ After scrolling through this post, I finally had the understanding of how my query letter should read. It clicked. The part about her ‘Hook Instruction’ was proved most helpful to me. After having a few people read my query letter, it seems that’s what it lacked, a hook.

Now it’s time for me to go re-type my query letter, though with motivation and determination that I will have the perfect one written and sent out to all those agents I’ve picked to query.

Be sure to check our Jane Friedman’s post about, ‘The Complete Guide To Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests’. Also scroll through her other posts, you’ll find them all very helpful.

Happy writing!

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Winter Fever, Cabin Blues…


Or is it ‘Cabin Fever, Winter Blues’?

Either way, it’s another fine winter day, stuck indoors. I’m actually being a bit sardonic, but who wouldn’t be unless you could be outside enjoying the weather. Though there aren’t any slopes here for me to grab my snowboard and head out to. Nor is the ground covered in snow, for mini me to go sledding. Instead, the ground is covered in ice that has been melted and frozen, again, and again, over the past few days. Today, our forecast called for a snow and rain mix, which didn’t began falling until late morning. It just made everything that much more slippery. I decided to stay home with my daughter, since I have to drive North where the roads would be much slicker.

Though I have driven in wintry conditions, it is very different here in Arkansas, especially when you’re surrounded by drivers who cannot drive on ice and/or snow. Some cannot even drive when it’s raining, so I find it best to stay clear by staying home. My daughter finds serenity in watching the snow fall. We have a large picture window in the living room with a wide window sill for her to lean on and to also give her plenty of space to play with her toys.

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On days like this, I find myself in the office, on the computer, trying to finish up homework, or work on the next research paper for a class or two, or do a bit of writing. I think if I redecorated this office, it would have more of a calm, soothing atmosphere where I can be more creative. I think it’s the only room that still has the fake wood paneling from the 1960’s, covering it’s walls. Plus, the photos that cover the wall space above grandpa’s desk are decades old and could be upgraded.

I think I may have found my next summer project…to redecorate and rearrange the office.

I mostly find my creative energy in a mixture of places, such as, bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, front porch. Sometimes, the recliner in the living room, next to our picture window is a perfect spot for writing, especially on days like today. Anywhere my mind can roam freely.

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Lately, I’ve been spending most of that free time between classes, in my college library. Just yesterday, I had my headphones on, music going, and I was able to finally finish editing chapter one of my young adult novel. This is the same novel I had tried querying agents last summer for, but without success. It’s a tough job, being an author. Tough market, actually. Some of them were very close in saying yes, adding tidbits of helpful info that would make the next round of querying a bit more successful.

So, I began working on it….again.

There was originally a prologue, but I had cut it out entirely. Now, I added it back into the novel, but instead of it being a prologue, I made it the beginning of chapter one’s story line. I then moved some of chapter three into chapter one, so the next on my to-do-list is to edit chapter three.

I’m coming up on 60K words total…on the manuscript that is. I’m going to make that a goal that I must achieve. Once that’s done, I am finished…I hope, cross my fingers and knock on wood. I’m looking forward to seeing it finalized once more and also hope that I can send it off to the publisher very soon. I think I’ll try querying agents again, if not, I know a few small publishers that wouldn’t mind publishing it for me.

A New College Semester Begins


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Last week I visited the college bookstore to pick up my books for class. This time I was stunned to see how many books I had ‘piled up’ for four classes; eleven in total. Unbelievable isn’t it? Two classes require four books each, one classes require two, and one class, that I’m taking online, thankfully requires one. Three of the four classes, as you would’ve guessed, require a lot of reading. Online articles and several pages of one of the books must be read before the start of the next class day. I thought to myself, Wow! If I didn’t have enough to do outside of college, I wouldn’t mind sitting back and reading a little. But, my plate continues to pile up.

I’ve signed up to intern at the Little Rock Zoo, in the large ape enrichment program, a program which I love, as I am not only an animal lover, but it’s part of the wide range of Anthropology. Last semester, I declared my major, Anthropology, physical anthropology to be exact. It took me a long time to narrow it down to that field as there’s so much in anthropology that I would love to do, cultural, archaeology, primatology, forensics, just to name a few that interest me.

The other day, someone from my college admin requested that I join their work study program. I had used up my entire GI Bill before I started last semester, without knowing. Plus, I didn’t sign up for any scholarships, as the GI Bill was covering all cost, so I was having to pay out of pocket for my classes last semester and this semester. Looks like someone saw this and decided to give me a little help in paying for college. This isn’t the usual work study program that students sign up for. It doesn’t have to do with financial aid. Instead, I am going to be working in the anthropology department, since that’s what I decided to major in.

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I continue my search for the right agent for my young adult fantasy novel. Several have said no, with a few that were so close to being a maybe. I stopped querying and decided to edit the first chapter, rearranging some paragraphs and adding more words here and there. I should have 60,000 words after I’m finished with the final draft.

It’s a start of a new year. I have three semesters left until I receive my bachelor’s degree. I continue to work on other writing projects in my spare time. And once I finish my final draft of my YA fantasy novel, I will begin querying again.

Wishing you all a happy hump day. Stay warm!

I’m still here


Hello readers! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been on here. I’m a junior in college and find it is quite harder than the last few semesters I’ve been through. I have at least two years left before I receive my bachelors degree in anthropology. I’m looking forward to that moment.

Meanwhile, I’m still looking for an agent or a publisher to pick up my manuscript – young adult urban fantasy novel. I had revised it once more, adding over 11,000 words, making it over 54,000 words total. I feel much better about it this time around, than when I thought I had first finished it.

I had started querying agents a few weeks ago and had received a few no’s, but a few of them were really, really good no’s, the type that keeps you motivated in pushing on, the no that makes you realize that agents really do read your query letters, the type of no that has you believe that you’re so close to getting someone to represent your work.

For all those writers out there, looking for someone to represent your work, don’t give up, no matter how many emails you send out. There’s someone out there waiting for you, you just have to keep searching for them.

Four more weeks left in this college semester and I’ve started working on my next writing project.

The Query Letter


You spend months…years, writing your manuscript (novel). Then you spend weeks…months, editing, editing, and editing some more, until it is finally perfect. Now comes the hard part, yes, the hard part. All that time spent writing a book was the hard part, so you thought. To me it was hard finding the time to write. And though it took me four years to complete just one manuscript, I have finally, successfully finished it, edited, and polished it, so that it is ready to be published. And that hard part you ask, that’s called the query letter.

I don’t know why, but I had a hard time coming up with the words to put into a query letter. I think it’s because it’s a formal letter that goes out to someone who has the power to either reject your manuscript or accept it. You spend all that time writing one manuscript for someone to just say, “We’re not accepting that genre as it isn’t what’s trending right now.” But how did you get their attention to begin with?

You need to know who you’re sending your query letter out to for starts. Most agencies have a webpage you can go to and they have a list of agents and their bios, which will tell you what they’re looking for. That’s the crucial part of the query letter. You don’t want to send out a query letter about your fiction novel to an agent that only accepts non-fiction. It’ll just end up in the trash and no one will see it.

You start your query letter addressing that agent. Then you tell them what genre your novel is, as well as the word count. Then you write a synopsis (a short description of your book; what you would normally find on the back cover of a book). Then you end your letter with sincerity. Some agencies want you to paste the first chapter, or the first ten pages into the email, right after your query letter. If you went to their website, each agency will have a tab called ‘submission’ to which will instruct you on what they want you to send them and who to address it to. Following directions is very important.

I did it, it’s done!


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I have finally added the finishing touches to the rough draft version of my Young Adult manuscript, polishing it to the best of my abilities. I have finally made it to, a hair over, 41K words. I feel excited and yet, very accomplished. I set a goal for myself and have reached it.

I printed out my manuscript and handed it over to the one who is editing it for me. I told her to be very critical, as it is expected from real editors, agents, and publishers these days. I have two weeks left of school and will be spending it wrapped up in completing last minute essays and studying for finals.

As soon as I’m done with this semester i’m going to be working on my query letter and searching for agents. Quite a few people have asked me, “What about the using the publisher you already have?” I used them for my children’s book, due out next month. They are a Christian based company and probably won’t accept my manuscript as it is Fantasy-Fiction. I will ask them though.

It took me three years to write this novel, but I had many road bumps that prevented me from completing it sooner. I cannot wait to read my edits and get to work on them already. Since it is book one I’m already feeling itchy to begin working on book two.

I have at least fifteen chapters of written out in notes on how the book will be written and at least seven of those chapters have already been written. Yes, I’ve started this one long ago as well, when book one was a rough draft of a rough draft. I did not know how I wanted the story to end in book one. I then changed it many times, until I finally found the ending that worked best.

I’ll keep everyone posted on what I’m working on and my progress. Cross your fingers that I do find the right agent for me.

Wishing everyone a blessed day!

Creating My Characters


Some authors say that they add a little bit of themselves into their work, I tend to agree with that as I myself do the same. A few of my characters have a little bit of myself as well as their own qualities. In a way I think this helps build that character because you the author know that specific quality as it is a part of yourself. One of my characters is an avid runner. Before I injured my back I was an avid runner. I use this specific quality not only because I know it well, but it also becomes an important part of who she becomes later on in the series (yes, I have at least 3 books that will be in this story-line).

Another character in my novel is a die-hard fan of classic movies. I took this quality from myself. I love classic movies, Cary Grant, John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart. I love Gene Kelly more than I do Fred Astaire. I have a huge collection of Humphrey Bogart movies and a huge crush too. I also have Bela Legosi’s Dracula and several other Dracula movies; I love old horror films. I could leave the TV on TCM all day and be completely satisfied, but our network doesn’t pick it up.

Not all of my characters have all or part of my qualities though. Most of my characters are their own uniqueness. I enjoy creating each one of them. At first I had to write a list to tell me who is who and who does what, but after a while I get to know them really well.