Monthly Archives: May 2010

Read (other people’s) Successful Queries

I have yet to meet a writer that loves to compose query letters. And for a good reason. It’s painful to summarize a 60,000 word novel in a paragraph or two. Knowing the “ingredients” of a query letter makes the task only a tad less daunting.

Never fear, though. Help is at hand. You can read 35 successful query letters HERE, including commentary from the agents who accepted them.

Nothing compares to reading these in the flesh. Successful letters have rhythm and style. You can write one, too!

Categories: How to get published | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Are you always good?

Jennifer Hubbard, deep thinker and the talented author of  THE SECRET YEAR recently asked me a most excellent question: What’s your philosophy on good and evil in character development?

I love hard questions! Hmmmm.  After much pondering I figured out a few things.

1. I believe that everyone on the planet is capable of good, and everyone is capable of evil.

2. I love reading about flawed characters who (at least somewhat) overcome their glaring imperfection to fulfill a dream.

3. If a character is too perfect, I assume he or she is hiding something.

4. The road to hell is paved with good intentions stupid proverbs. Good intentions are worth a lot!

5. Writing complex characters doesn’t mean you’re providing bad role models. Readers learn just as much from anti-heros as from heros.

6. When a flawed character succeeds, it gives hope to the rest of us.

You can read my answer to Jenn’s question here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Categories: Author Interviews, My Invented Life, the love of writing | Leave a comment

Heck is where you go if you don’t believe in Gosh.

A writer friend of mine recently received a nasty letter from a Texas librarian about a “bad” word she used once in a beautiful, heartfelt and otherwise “clean” middle grade novel.

What the … ?

I don’t swear much.  [Except when my life is threatened by a bad driver] But the very existence of this letter warrants a string of expletives.


Contemporary realistic novels, by necessity, reflect the world back at itself. And the world swears. A lot. I’m not saying books need to imitate reality word for word. Yet, a well placed “bad” word can show character, make the drama in a scene believable, or deepen a revelation.

And do teens or even pre-teens really learn these words from BOOKS?  Don’t be a boil-brained clotpole! My two pre-teen sons know every word imaginable. Which they learned out in the world. They also know they can’t use them around me. I’m a huge advocate of polite discourse.

And a huge advocate of discourse period.

Which is why books should not be banned.

Categories: the love of writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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