Triggers. (not guns, but still bad)

Thanks so much to everyone who helped erica with her first page this weekend. Pop on over to Shelley Watter's blog to see what she's got cooking this week! (psst-erica's entered)

May is almost over. But our hiatus continues through this week.  Man, May was busy. did anyone notice I forgot to post this yesterday? that's how this months' gone for us! Baseball, soccer, students, OH MY!!! We're digging our way out and WE ARE SO SORRY THAT WE MISSED YOU LATELY!!! We're on our way back - thanks for waiting, truly!! we also wish to thank our laundry, dishes, floors, and dogs for waiting so patiently. we wish you were clean, too


What you do when you sit at the computer to write, except for actually writing.

This post is brought to you by erica, the Queen of Triggers. Okay, that's a bit melodramatic. But yeah, triggers hurt my writing. My first book was written mostly longhand and I really thought that by buying my laptop, I'd be churning out books left and right. Umm, not so much.

I open my laptop and while it's loading, I check to see if I have any split ends (I always do - the curse of long hair). Or any gray hair (yep - the curse of being *cough* years old). Maybe I need something to drink (usually true). Honey roasted cashews might be in order (they always are). Did anyone "like" my comment on Facebook (maybe, let's check, it's been like six minutes). I might've gotten an email, so let's keep that page open. Shucks, I just closed it. I'd better open it again...

Triggers = time drainers triggered by a certain thing. (a friend of mine can't open her laptop without lighting a cigarette lately. so triggers can be way worse than the ones I have, I know!!)

Then again, what about GOOD triggers??!! Open the document and drink a cup of coffee and WRITE. Pick up a purple pen and write thousands of words! Turn on music and exercise and let the words flow...please let us know in the comments how you turn these things into your friends!!

Now, on a much more somber note:

This week, I read about a remarkable YA author named Bridget Zinn, whose debut novel comes out in 2012. She's also a young woman who lost her life to colon cancer. Whenever I think I just can't write, I hope I remember that Bridget not only found the strength to do it in the face of unsurmountable odds, but also that she did it with grace, tact, and enthusiasm. The world is a sadder place without her, but heaven has a beautiful new angel. Go with grace, Bridget, and know that we remember you.

And we don't want to forget our veterans and current soldiers.  Erica and Christy hope you had a glorious Memorial Day weekend. If you aren't in the US, well, we still hope you had a glorious weekend. It's time for the sun to shine, the plants to grow, and the ideas to FLOW!! YAY SUMMER!!


It's AND again! (a contest first page entry)

I know some of you have seen this before, but here it is again - my first page of my completed, 67,000 word YA contemporary romance, A New Day (aka AND, because I love acronyms). I've been hard at work on Coyote Hotel (aka CH, of course), but it isn't done and isn't eligible for Shelley Watters awesome contest. Any comments you leave will be used to improve my entry, which will be posted over at Shelley's blog on Tuesday and be eligible for an agent critique. Thanks in advance and if you're here by hopping through the linky, I'll get to yours soon as well!

I slammed the car door and rushed past the men putting pieces of my life into a big white truck. I stopped right between my mom and the two movers she was leading toward our house.

"What are you doing? It isn't time yet! Get my stuff out of there!" My hair hit my shoulders as I pointed and turned my head to see what everyone was doing all at the same time. I resisted the urge to climb into the truck and push my things back out. Barely.

"Not now, Kenz." We watched our couch emerge through the front door. "You have two nights left to mope around. They're only here for the big furniture."

"I'm not going, Mom. I hate it there and I’m not going." I crossed my arms and blinked back tears. Embarrassing, yes, but nothing else had worked and I was desperate.

"We've discussed it a hundred times. This life isn't for us anymore and we're going back home." She turned toward me and put one finger in the air when my mouth opened for another protest. "Spend tonight with your friends. Tomorrow will be busy and we leave first thing Sunday morning. Both of us."

My original plan was to give one last rational argument for staying in Missouri until I went to college. Seeing the moving van in my driveway a day earlier than expected pushed all those rational thoughts to the side. I left without saying another word.

What do you think??


and that's that.

oh, this bloggy posting break has been gloriously relaxing.  and yet we're still behind.

 we have a feeeew awards from weeks, maybe months, back to announce our gratitude for, and pass on, and we've also recently been tagged and need to fill out that post and tag a few more of you, but it ain't gonna happen today.  add those items to the "things to come in june once school is out and we are once again stress-free and sane".

we're also hoping for some uber exciting and largish give-a-ways this summer.  think books. and lots of them!  summer reading is SO important.  and necessary.  be excited.  be very, very excited!  think summer block blog party with lots of free food nourishment in the form of well-formed sentences and plots and characters.

other news.  there's a blogfest going on through rachel morgan right now.  you should check it out.  it runs through tomorrow.  go here to read some tense scenes!  (i would have participated, but... i just really, really want to finish my ms-es and get the queries done and get them out.  really, really.)

new topic.

i *christy) miss reading to read.   since i started reading as many YA novels as possible 1)because i love them 2) because i needed to brush up on my genre (since i only read adult novels prior to deciding to write YA), i've enjoyed almost all of the books i've read.  BUT i haven't lost myself in them enough to fall in love with them.  i think it's because now i'm always too aware of trying to learn from them.  i'm reading as a writer, looking at hook, plot, characters, and adverbs and i miss just reading to read, like i did before i decided i wanted to be a writer too.

do you need to turn off the writer in you in order to read a book?  if so, how?  maybe this is just some phase i'm going through as a "toddler writer" (only in my second year), and maybe once my confidence as a writer increases and i no longer struggle to get my words in my manuscript, then my writer mind will shut up when i'm reading. 

(also, watching a movie after reading the book so totally doesn't work for me.  can't do it.  the movie becomes a totally unenjoyable experience.  except maybe the davinci code.  i think i watched that movie without being annoyed.)

do you have any authors or books i should try that will just blow me away?  (this summer i plan to grab a bunch of my old adult books and favorite authors and just read without thinking writing.  i think that will help.)


Why do we do it, anyway?

There are a lot of excuses reasons not to write. Get almost any group of teachers together and you'll hear over and over again "I should write a book about that" but do they? No. Why? Let's count the ways, shall we? We shall:

1. I'm too busy actually teaching to write a book. Maybe over vacation. Or after I retire.
2. My husband/wife/kids/friends/sister/brother/parents think its a dumb idea.
3. This house isn't going to clean itself nor will its inhabitants feed themselves.
4. The kids/pets/spouse/etc. need my attention and writing a book would be selfish.
5. I just CAN'T MISS the next episode of *insert name of TV show here*, I'm invested in the series!
6. There are already too many books on the shelves to read them all, why do we need more?

You get the idea.

So, why do we do it? What makes us take time away from sleeping, cooking, exercising, our kids, our spouses, and the dust bunnies under our beds? If you're here, you're probably a writer and you know what a long road this is. If anyone here thinks that you can just slap some words on a piece of paper and wake up the next morning with a 6-figure deal, you should probably scroll through our archives a bit.

Also, read this post from my virutal-friend Jenny Milchman to see how long and heartbreaking - and then uplifting - it can be. Go ahead. We'll wait. (don't forget to come back, though!)

Just for fun, I emailed christy this week that I write so that I can have a book that goes to auction, get that elusive 7-figure deal, and then play Oprah for awhile. You know, stand around and point to people and say "You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!"

That's what this writing thing is about, right?? *cough*

Okay, fine, I DO want to do the Oprah thing. But there are a few other reasons I write, too. And they just about mirror the reasons above, which I didn't realize until now. Here they are:

1. I was planning on being Raptured on Saturday, but since that didn't happen, I have some extra time on my hands.

that was just a test to see if you were paying attention

1. As a teacher, I see inspiration every day at work. What better to do with that than turn it into a book? And then over vacation or after retirement, I can write MORE books!!
2. Everyone thinks having a published book is cool. They might think it's a weird idea if I do it for a few months and then let it go, but if I really stick with it, my family will understand why. If not, once I'm published, I can stick out my tongue and say nananabooboo.
3. It doesn't take long to spot clean and anyway, a messy house is a happy house. Also, if kids weren't meant to feed themselves, then I have no idea why they keep making Pop-tarts and Capri Sun.
4. I deserve to do something for myself. Writing a book keeps me in the house and gives me purpose. The relationships I have with my kids/pets/spouse/etc. will be better if I'm happy. Writing makes me happy. It's a glorious circle.
5. My life will be better if I give up TV. (Except baseball, and luckily, it's easy to write while baseball's on)
6. Okay, this one's sort-of true. But if the publishing world had stopped with Dickens, no one would go to the library. Just sayin'.

Give it up in the comments, friends. Why do you write? And what will you do when your "Oprah moment" arrives? (please, no nananaboobooing. That's just immature. :P)

a preview of erica's book launch



Sorry, Folks.  Posting for today crossed my mind for a second yesterday.  Then it slipped my mind the rest of the day!  I've been down and out with a sore throat and chest cold and have been sleeping every spare second. 

I have nothing writing-related to report, other than I DID write a chapter at some point this past weekend/week.  And my character ended up in the principal's office, which I totally did not see coming.  I'll have to see how that works out for her...but it might not happen until June, once school lets out.

I had fun with the joke blogfest on Monday and look fwd to visiting more blogs on the list.  I made it to 18 of the 70 in one day!  (Terrible for most, I know.  For, me it was almost a record.  I don't know how you all do it!) I have a feeling there are other bloggers out there still making the rounds on that linky?  (Or is the linky out of order now?)  This is what happens to procrastinators.

My hubby's been negative on the blogging thing again lately which doesn't help me.  He doesn't understand why I post and hop when I haven't even completed my two books.  Ah, well.  I won't quit.

Two colleagues who love to read passed along two books to me.  I hadn't planned to read again until my ms was done, but I'm not really cheating because what I really said was that I wouldn't buy and read Divergent until I'm done.  So reading Marked and A Discovery of Witches is so not breaking that meet-my-goal-before-reading-Divergent rule.  (Shhh. if you disagree!)

I've been considering buying an electrical device...for reading.  I will still totally always buy some physical books because I love them and need them to decorate my shelves so I can admire them.  Always.  However, I've been considering a nook or a kindle.  (I can't believe it myself.)  Do you have one? Which have you heard is better?  So far, I think they must be pretty comparable because all of my respsonses on my personal FB page have been split equally.  One person comments "nook" then next "i love my kindle".  Helpful.  :0)

Um, what else? 

I've forgotten.

Oh, and in response to Su's recent response to an earlier post, caffeine is a mom's best friend.  (At least in this mom's case.)

Yeah this post is just off the top of  my head. I'm  posting an hour late.  It's not scheduled ahead.  I'll get back in to the swing of things over the summer. (Promises, promises....)

This is Christy, btw.  Erica's home.  She's working on a pile of grading. I've missed her and have been thinking of her all week.  Thanks, on her behalf, for all of your kind words from Monday's post.

(so in trying to put my labels in....it appears they are still messed up from the blogger fiasco?)


Look! Shiny! Ooh, Squirrel! (and a joke blogfest entry)

Leigh T Moore and Lydia Kang are hosting a blogfest today!  The purpose? To laugh a little (or a lot)! 
  • Post a joke that pokes fun at yourself, or writing, or your job (including parenting, of course!), or anything personal. Or if that's too much work, any joke that you think is funny will do.
  • Visit all the sites on the linky (at each of their blogs) to get a good ab workout!
Here goes!  (This joke comes from a site I found and referenced on the A-Z challenge day J.  For more writing jokes go here!  It's worth another stop.)

There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.

When asked to define great, he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!"
He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.

(LOL. My (christy's) hubby is a software architect so I found this one particularly funny.)

**And now, for erica's planned Monday post.**

Bright, shiny ideas. They're the dream of every writer. They make it feel like you can do anything.

Switch genres? YES!!
Develop new characters? FUN!
Become a pantser? Of course, that's what bright, shiny ideas are all about!!
Complete, edit, and complete again in two months? HECK YEAH, THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN-

Wait a minute. I just got a new idea. This one is EVEN BETTER!! And it's way more fun than plowing through this tricky plot point. God, what was I thinking? My WIP sucks - it seemed like such a good idea at the time. Screw it, on to the next. Nobody ever gets their first second third book published, anyway.

Be honest - does this sound like you??!!
(because, well, it sounds a little like us, too)

I (erica) have lots of bright, shiny ideas. I'm trying not to let them distract me, but seriously, I have *pauses to check* 8 books started right now. That doesn't include my completed ms.


Is that normal? Do you come up with ideas easily and jot them down right away? Then what? Do you work on them for awhile? Or do you ignore them and keep plowing through bettering your WIP?

Okay, if you're interested, here's what I've got (word counts/progress in parentheses):

(my completed ms is a 67k word YA contemporary)
MG paranormal/ghost story (21k, then stuck, 4k into the rewrite)
MG contemporary/sports (2206)
YA sci-fi (bunch of research and 2 pages written)
YA contemporary "edgy" (2055)
YA dystopian (that is really just a horrible first page that will never see the light of day and I should delete it)
MG/young YA contemporary (10k) (I wrote this a long time ago and don't know if it will go anywhere)
PB (very rough draft)
Non-fiction for adults (roughly outlined, first chapter barely started)

Hmm, now that I look at that, I just had a great idea for a chapter book...

(I wrote this post last week. A few days later, I found out my grandfather had passed away. My husband, my kids, and I are taking a several days to be with my grandma, visit family we don't get to see often, and pay tribute to a wonderful man. Sometimes, no matter what, you have to do what your heart tells you to do. I am offline, but will return soon.)


check it out part 2

Hey all.  Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!  If you are hopping around (I'm still struggling with some aspects of blogger.  You?)  then please visit here.  Our friend from Team (Group) 3 from the crusade interviewed us @ her blog:  Nye Louwon - My Spirit:  a search for the writer in me.  I was unable to leave a comment as blogger doesn't seem to recognize me as a member of my own site, and yet I was able to log in here to post this....  I don't get technology.  So, I 'll just try again later. 

Off to buy cleats for my five year old.  Soccer starts this week!  I used to look at all of my colleagues who worked all day and then ran around with their kids to dance, soccer, baseball, church events, back home to do homework and think, "I'll never be able to do that."  Well, never has arrived and I guess I'm just going to have to be able to.  Life just keeps getting busier and I'm not sure how the time fits itself into days that I already thought were jam packed, but apparently there are always more minutes to be used up!  Don't get  me wrong.  I'm thrilled to be at this stage in life!  I love watching him play soccer and watching the kids grow up.  I just can't believe it's here already!!!  So this week we'll be at soccer twice, a baseball event with his school once and swimming!  I'm sure those of you with older children are laughing at me right now (erica included), thinking, "Just wait, Christy.  It'll just get worse better."

Yikes.  And have I mentioned there are only 3 weeks left of school?  You wouldn't believe the mountain of grading I have to do!!!  World's Greatest Procrastinator--right here.  So I foresee a week of all nighters ahead.  Procrastinating always catches up with me in the end.  And yet I never seem to learn.


But a summer of no work deadlines is just around the corner.  So, really.  I can't complain.


check it out!

I know.  I know.  We barely post at all and now I'm going to redirect you.  Today we are over at Abby Minard's blog!  She interviewed us aspiring authors.  Please stop over at her place to check it out!   Just click HERE.  Really.  If you don't already know Abby, you NEED to (follow her).  Her blog rocks (and so does she)!

I planned to blog about something else terrific too.  However, the post ideas came to me at about 3:00 Wednesday morning while I was in between a deep sleep and a not so deep sleep during which I had some brilliant ideas.  A few of the ideas were things I wanted to say here.  The others were ideas were for my ms, the one I'm furiously writing while taking this blog posting break. (uh huh)  And let me tell you it's not going well.  Especially since every one of those ideas flowed right out of my sieve of a brain as soon as sunlight woke my five year old up from his sleep, resulting of course in my being woken up too.

I did work through my plot issues (again) while running my whopping two miles today.  Yay (not the mileage, but the ideas)!  Only... after my morning of teaching (The kids are checked out...apparently they're counting down and we're at 17 days until summer.  And I'm playing catch up since I'm a few lessons behind in math.  So I'm going warp speed, totally high energy, to keep them engaged and soaking up the curriculum before the final field trips, pool day, picnics, room cleans, etc that close out the year, stealing any extra time I might have had to boost those few students who almost got it.) and grocery shopping and picking up the kids to feed them and running to church to sort the millions of items (thankfully) donated for our weekend rummage sale and dinner and laundry and baths and games, whew, the plot has vanished from my mind once again.  But hey, now that it's Wednesday night, I'm too tired to write anyways. 

I'm sure they'll come back to me after a good night's sleep.

And so I sit here, trying to think  of just one of those ideas I had for you...and...nothing.

I'm sure it was somehow wonderfully connected to one of the blogs I visited yesterday.  I think one of them was about plot and how it's not just random events and actions that happen to a character or to tell a story, but a series of interrelated events that actually mean something and are caused by a domino effect, each event and each character affecting each of the others.  Nothing in your novel is random.  (ooh, look i found the link!)

Or maybe it had something to do with being a coward.  I read two blogs in which the writer confessed to having anxiety about sharing their work or receiving critiques.  I'm a coward.  I still need to gain confidence as a writer.  (Veronica Roth and Stephenie Messenger)

Maybe it was about how I need to quit comparing myself to other writers out there.  No, I don't view strangers on the street in terms of a thousand words waiting to be written on paper.  (@Tahereh Mafi) I stare at my ms without even ten words to write. 

Lately, words just won't come.  I freak out trying to figure out how to start a sentence.  It can't be with I.  How many "was" did I use on this page?  Holy moly.  Did I just spend three chapters telling?  Wait, the voice in this half of the book totally doesn't match the beginning half.  Who IS this character? 

So, maybe I was going to share another post I read about how we let rules get in the way of our creativity and totally stifle us with worry until we choke, afraid to make mistakes (found the link!). So instead we stare at pages and pages of white (or purple because I've recently changed my paper color in Word to lavender) waiting for the words to come. 

And when they don't, I take a break.  I go to sleep.  I watch a movie.  I read books.  (No words get written. That much is certain.)

Mostly what I need now is sleep.  My brain is mush.  No amount of wwnbd or music or writing letters to my characters or brainstorming or plotting can help me tonight.

I know that soon words will return and my brain will solidify.  Then I will write the final 10k of my second novel. 

Until then, I'm excited for our interview with Abby and hope you all go to check it out!


I have a new hero (er)

Okay, so you know how I'm a huge Nathan Bransford stalker fan? If you don't know, link here for proof - yes, I'm Erica)

Okay, so you know I'm not a stalker, right? I mean, I only watch, I don't, er, stalk. And I'm barely a fan, I mean, I don't, like, know where he lives or what his favorite color is or what he looks like standing next to a surfboard or anything.


Fine. It isn't a secret. I have admired Nathan Bransford for over a year. And today, he became the hero I always knew he could be. Laugh quietly and listen up. :)

Here is my link to his blog so no one can say I plagarized this because I'm being totally obvious that I cut and pasted (click here for proof):

This is how Nathan Bransford brainstormed Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow (click above to read the whole post, but this is the part I'm talking about now):

The idea for JACOB WONDERBAR started as an image of a kid trapped on a planet full of substitute teachers, and I let that basic idea guide the entire rest of the process. The idea felt middle grade, so okay, I was going to write a middle grade novel. How did the kid get to space? Well, he'd need a spaceship. How did he get the spaceship? Maybe he traded a corndog for it. Maybe his best friends tagged along, and maybe they accidentally hit a huge stumbling block on the way that was making it really difficult to get back home. Maybe that stumbling block was breaking the universe, and maybe there's more keeping him in space than breaking the universe, maybe the kid thinks he could find his dad while he's there.

And so, I (this is erica again) started thinking - I'm working on an MG. It isn't anything like Jacob Wonderbar, but this process could work for me. I've been stuck for months on a major plot point that keeps going nowhere. Then it hit me.


Well, let me tell you wnbwd (okay, this is getting out of hand), I mean what I should do. Take NB's post and do a little brainstorming me-self. Here's what I got (and yes, I'm unstuck - for now)!

The idea for Coyote Hotel started as an image of a kid living in a haunted bed and breakfast, and I let that basic idea guide the entire rest of the process. The idea felt middle grade, so okay, I was going to write a middle grade novel. How did the ghosts get there? Well, they'd need a vessel - haunted furniture. How did the kid get the furniture? Some shady guy sold it to the kid's parents in order to get it out of his own house. Maybe the mc's best friend tagged along, and maybe they accidentally invited an entire TV crew to show the world what was wrong with his house, even though his parents had no idea about any of it. Maybe the worst thing that could happen is making even more ghosts show up, and this time, mean ones. Maybe there's even more to those weird guys who are videotaping his house and now he has to protect his family, too.

Will I ever pitch it this way? No, of course not!! Even NB didn't pitch JW this way again, for proof, click here.

But hey, I needed a kick in the rear and I got it. Thanks again, NB!! yes, I get to call him NB, stop looking at me like that 

How do you get unstuck (you know, in case I, um, *cough* ever need to pass the advice on?)  also, if you steal my idea, could you please send me the completed ms? #pleasethanksbye.


how to avoid writing "the pizza query" and other query related advice

(fyi, for more query help, check out the auction being held for southern storm relief and see if you can win a critique!) (don't forget to read our post first!)

now that i'm only posting once per week the pressure is on.  i feel like i have to be really brilliant and/or helpful, like the whole week of writing, reading, and thinking should amount in my fingertips spewing all sorts of wonderful at you.

um, here goes spews.

in the past month it seems everyone decided to hunker down and write, write, write not only their wips but their queries.  apparently it must be query season.  am i wrong?  writing a query for some few is an easy peasy task.  for others most, it's daunting and nearly impossible.  maybe i can try to help.

your query:

write your query with only the first 50 pages of your story in mind.

i'd been told this prior to writing 87 versions of my own query.  i didn't listen, which is probably why my query was recently compared (by a (very nice) agent) to pizza.  i mentioned this in a blog post a week or two ago, but i didn't explain why at the time.  (you may have thought, "wow!  pizza is delish.  your query must be saucy/spicy/savory/a wower!") 

well...let me begin by telling you it wasn't because the agent loved pizza. 

(though to be honest it is one of my favorite meals.)  no, the agent's remark referred to the overabundance of plot in my query.  AND not only an overabundance of plot, but also a confusing amount of apparent genre jumping in my query.  (it seems my query makes my book out to be contemporary/dystopian/fantasy/sci-fi/romance...and of course the paranormal that i classified it as in the final paragraph.


only include the MOST important, MOST pressing plot points.

(see the explanation above.  avoid writing "the pizza query")

also, this makes sense.  think of all that should be revealed in the first 50 pages: 
  • the main character (age)
  • the setting
  • the event that changed his/her life from "ordinary world" to "just not anymore"
  • his/her goal
  • the antagonist and/or the "thing" keeping the protag from attaining his/her goal
  • an ally/love interest
  • and THE STAKES (you know, what will happen if the character's goal(s) are not attained.  why do they need to bother trying to overcome the obstacle(s)
put it all together in a hooky, well-written way to sell your story.

take those seven "items" of your amazing ms and sell it.  (to get inspired, listen to the radio for movie/tv trailers.  the reason i say radio and not tv is because sometimes flashy pictures get in the way of really hearing.  get the feel for how stories are sold.  mostly, doing this will help with your "hook", your "elevator pitch", something you may choose to use to start this "plot portion" of your query.)

decide how you'll organize your query. 

last summer, after visiting agent blogs and researching query writing, i thought that most (of the few agents i knew about at the time) seemed to like the writer to jump right into the "plot selling" (right after the salutation).  BUT, lately i've been thinking, "why?".  that's seems so informal and...wrong. (totally okay if you disagree with me!)

 i teach second grade (for the moment) and we teach how to write friendly letters.  whether it's a friendly letter or a business letter, shouldn't the writer always (after the salutation of course) begin with WHY they are writing the letter in the  first place?  i suppose MOST agents realize (especially when QUERY: TITLE is in the subject of the email) that it's a query for representation, BUT it still seems polite to let them know.  ESPECIALLY when a writer should begin by stating WHY they are querying THAT PARTICULAR AGENT (as opposed to the 97 other agents they truly plan to submit to afterward). 

in case this (WHY) part is hard for you, here are a few of the reasons you might like to highlight in the opening para of your query: 
  • you recently met them at a conference or heard them speak (and felt a connection to them because yadda yadda yadda),
  • you read an interview they did and especially liked their philosophy on blah blah, you frequent their blog and find them helpful, witty, enlightening, friendly, a go-getter, etc (especially in their post blah blah blah),
  • and you feel they would be a perfect fit for you because they are a) a hands-on editorial agent b) a hands-off agent c) familiar with/has connections to such and such publishing houses d) they rep books x,y and z which are similar to your project, e) interested in/knowlegeable about blah blah, etc.
refrain from telling them they will love your book.  let them decide that for themselves.  refrain from telling them readers will love your book.  what they want to know from your query and pages is CAN THEY SELL YOUR BOOK.  they may like your book.  BUT if they don't think it's marketable, they'll turn you down.  also, don't tell them it's marketable.  it's like telling them you know their job better than they do.  JUST tell them about your book.

also mention the title, word count, genre, audience, that it's complete and ready for them if they'd like to see it (debatable...some agents think this is a "no duh" and doesn't need to be included-if they want to see it, they'll ask), if it's a multiple submission, or if you've already been offered representation by someone else (if so, give them one week to decide if they'd like to offer you representation).

and on to the most important part, selling your story.

start with the "hook" (if you so choose) or a really strong sentence.  then INPUT the seven story items mentioned before (in that creative and unique and voicy way you have) and voila!  other than your "I look forward to hearing from you" and closing YOU'RE DONE!

see?  i told you it was totally not easy peasy!!!!

be confident.  no worries.  okay?  strong writing will result in the agent looking at the sample pages if you included them (BECAUSE THEY ASKED, otherwise just don't!) as long as they rep the genre you wrote.  the query will not make or break you (although it IS a strong foot in the door, even moreso if they met you at a conference).

sometimes an agent will LOVE your story and your writing, but just doesn't feel they can sell this particular story or maybe he/she doesn't think that you and he/she connect on a personal/professional level.  Think about it, if you want an editorial agent who gives input on plot and pacing and is excited beyond imagination to flesh out your newest wip idea, but the agent you've queried just wants your work to be impeccable without their help, then do you really, really want them to rep you?  or if the story you are querying is a contemporary romance, but your newest wip is sci-fi and the agent you're querying doesn't want anything to do with sci-fi...do you really want to make a change (either in representation or your own genre interest) down the road?

i know in the beginning, some of us might think just getting any agent, ANY agent sounds so much better than writing for just ourselves and our cps, BUT down the road YOU WILL CARE.  getting it right the first time may take more time and lots and lots of waiting, but it will be SO worth it in the end.  don't you think???? 

keep it to a cheese only pizza...save the smorasboard of ingredients (no matter how much you LOVE and are proud of your pepperoni, anchovies, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and bacon) for the pages of your novel. a pizza query will only overwhelm the agent and result in a "pass to slush pile".


go on.  put your query together and send out 101 of them.  BEST OF LUCK WRITERS!


It's May. Hope you enjoy it!

It's May. Breathe deeply and enjoy the spring.

Lilacs don't exist in Wisconsin yet, because Mother Nature forgot that it's May and sent snow instead, so we're focusing on a random picture of them. Could someone please remind her to show up here soon? Also, if you were breathing during this picture and you're allergic to lilacs, don't worry, these are the non-allergenic kind. :)

We're writing this spring month. Erica on her MG paranormal and Christy on her YA contemporary. (We'll post on Mondays and Thursdays this month on our blog and hopefully visit you often!)

We promise that not all of our May posts will be pictures and videos. But it's spring and a time of hope and renewal and vows and writing. We wish you all the best of luck and (huge) publishing contracts as soon as possible. Also, gardens. To tide you me over, here's a picture of my erica's garden on May 22nd of last year with some seedlings popping up. I won't post a picture of what it looks like now, because it's too depressing.


Wow, I can make a short story long, can't I?? It's christy's influence, btw

What about you? Got any spring plans? And what are you writing??

(edit - I had this scheduled to post before the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Truly, we're proud to be not only Wisconsinites, but also citizens of the United States. We pray that the world is safer now.)