Monday, February 28, 2011

Query Letters

You’ve done your research. You’ve polished your manuscript. Now you’re ready for that query letter to be sent out to editors. Most of us struggle with those query letters. For me, they take much thought. It is not easy. How can you catch that editor or agent’s eye with a one-pager? You’re limited on your word count and are only supposed to include the essentials. Ouch! Query letters are like drafts. They need to be “revisited” and revised until you have it just right. Maybe even run it through your critique group. I do. Here is a link that will provide information on this topic, “Query me crazy,” by blogger YA author Corrine Jackson. She offers tips offered by an agent assistant. She even shows an example of a before-and-after query, which I found super helpful. So if you’re about ready to write that all-important query letter, you might want to visit her blog.

Mission Window
 A few days ago, I got a nice surprise. Criticas Connections, of did a review of my book, The Battle of the Snow Cones, in their February blog.

"Professionalism is an attitude. For a writer, this means professional presentation of queries and manuscripts, a thorough study of the market, and the ability to deliver assigned work on time." --Writing Tip from Writer's Digest Weekly Planner

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


If you have a children’s story ready to go, my suggestion is that you enter it in the Kindergarten Story Writing Contest sponsored by Children’s Writer. Visit their Website for further details. But hurry. The deadline for entries is February 28, 2011. Good luck!

Whenever I do school visits, part of my presentation is on the writing process. I stress revision, revision, revision. Revision is “revisiting” your draft, I tell students. It’s taking a look as to whether you want to change the point of view, add a section, delete a part, change the tone, change the tense, change the beginning or the end. In your messy first draft, you were just brainstorming and composing, writing text down. In revision, you’re getting to the final part before editing. It’s all a process to make your final piece the best that it can be. Chuck Sambuchino’s article, “Revisions: What Every Writer Should Know,” on the Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog, also links to other blogs on the same topic.

Pinatas by the roadside

"Great stories give us metaphors which flash upon the mind the way lightning flashes upon the earth, illuminating for an instant an entire landscape." -- Paula Fox

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Illustrator Perspective

If you’re thinking about writing a picture book, here are a couple of great blogs that address this topic. They are both from an illustrator’s perspective. The first one is Ingrid’s Notes, where blogger Ingrid Sundberg summarizes briefly what author/illustrator Adam Rex, of Tree Ring Circus, and many other books, shared about the picture book layout.

Another excellent blog is Et Tu Journal, where writer/illustrator Carolyn Flores shows step by step the creation of a dummy book. I found this fascinating. As I’ve mentioned before, a picture book is a collaboration between the writer and the illustrator. The more you know how an illustrator works behind the scenes and the guidelines required for a picture book, the better for you as a writer.

Now get to work on that picture book you’ve been wanting to write. Best of luck!

Touch magic — pass it on.” – Jane Yolen

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The writing life

If you’ve ever been frustrated as a writer about getting your work published, here is a message of hope from YA author Sara Zarr who was one of the keynote speakers at the 2011 SCBWI winter conference. Her inspirational speech is written in an article by Candy Gourlay on the blog Notes from the Slushpile. Zarr offers hope and encouragement for writers and the waiting game we all go through. “There is going to be a lot of waiting and you are going to have to decide what you are going to do while you are waiting. It is not about a book deal, a good review, a big advance. It is about a life,” she says. In the article by Gourlay, Zarr offers advice on how to nurture a creative life. Great article.

And, I just had to stop and take a picture of this Styrofoam-cup Valentine message on a fence on a busy local street. You can bet there is a story behind this. 


Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day!

Well what do you know! It did snow here. Okay, okay. So it was more like snow dust, barely covering the ground, more like patches here and there, but it was SNOW! I hadn’t seen the powdery stuff in years. We’re too far south for that sort of thing.

In 1985, we did have about 13 inches of the white stuff. It paralyzed the city. We’re not used to that kind of thing. So every now and then when it does happen, we go crazy. The locals were busy sending in photos to our TV station. The kids were out making snow angels. By noon, the snow was all gone. But for a few hours, it was fun.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Night of typhoon

Reading this article, “Igloo Reading,” by Elizabeth Bluemle, in Publishers Weekly Shelf Talker, about “ … a fourth grader reading a book in an igloo … oblivious to the outside world,” triggered a memory of when my then third-grader daughter did something similar.

We were living on Okinawa Island when a typhoon hit. It was the middle of the night and sheets of rain pounded our house, the shutters on the windows rattled, and water seeped right through the walls. I kid you not. The power went out and we were in total darkness until we lit candles, always handy to have during times like that.

For what seemed like hours, my husband and I mopped up water from the floor as the rain kept seeping in. My daughter, feet propped up in an armchair, was deeply engrossed in a book she was reading, her only light the flickering flames of a candle. She was completely oblivious to the raging winds howling right outside our door. A simple typhoon never stopped her from enjoying one of her favorite books.

New Mexico
By the way, we're supposed to get some snow here in southwest Texas tonight. Will keep  you posted to see if we really do. Took the picture above a few winters ago in New Mexico.

The young child’s mind is very much like a poet’s mind.” – Charlotte Zolotow