Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Submitting Electronically

Remember when we used to submit queries and manuscripts via snail mail? Well, in some instances, we still do. But more and more frequently, publishers, editors, and agents ask for queries and manuscript submissions via email. So what is different about submitting this way as opposed to the put-it-in-the-envelope with a stamp and send it on its way? 

If you're wondering on the correct way to submit electronically, I suggest you read Jan Fields’ “Postage-Free Submissions” piece on the Institute of Children’s Literature blog. From contact information, attachments, and formatting codes, this article will help you submit the right way. Also addressed are query and cover letters. Do we use the same format as we would for these in snail mail? This is an excellent article to bring you up to speed on the latest way to submit.

"Most editors do not like receiving more than one submission at a time from a writer--it's overwhelming. Limit yourself to submitting one idea, unless invited by the editor to do otherwise."-- Writing Tip from Writer's Digest Weekly Planner

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Writer & Illustrator Critiquenic

This coming weekend, our SCBWI local chapter is hosting a writer/illustrator “critiquenic,” where writers and illustrators get together in groups and critique each other’s manuscripts and portfolios. These manuscripts come in all genres, i.e., picture books, YA, middle grade, historical fiction, etc. Sometimes by meeting in such gatherings, critique groups are formed. We call it “critiquenic,” because it’s like a fun picnic, where we meet in a park, bring our sack lunches, critique, and then enjoy each other’s company and catch up on the latest writer/illustrator news.

 If you’ve been considering joining a critique group in your area, take a look at this blog, “How to Get the Most Out of a Writing Group,” written by Chuck Sambuchino on the Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog. 
Honesdale, PA
In case you’re interested, Cheerios is having a new author contest again. You MUST be unpublished to enter this contest. It is for stories of 500 words or less. There are several cash prizes.  Deadline is July 15, 2011. Entries must be submitted through online form. Visit the link above for more information.

"A writing group should share your goals -- whether it's getting published, getting critiqued, getting support, or getting out of the house. Avoid those that do nothing other than sit around and gripe." -- Writing Tip from Writer's Digest Weekly Planner

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Have you ever wondered how to end your chapters as you’re writing your story? Although I wouldn’t want a cliffhanger after the end of every chapter, I do want the reader to keep reading on to the next one.

Wikipedia describes cliffhangers this way:  a cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction. A cliffhanger is hoped to ensure the audience will return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.”

More definition: “The phrase is believed to come from the end-of-episode situation in adventure silent films of the early 1900s days, with the protagonist literally left hanging from the edge of a cliff, although the oldest usage the Oxford English Dictionary has is from 1937. Some serials end with the caveat "To Be Continued..." or "The End?"

Rio Grande Valley

I learned more about chapter structure when I went to the blog mentioned below. If you have any questions on this, I recommend you go to Aaron Elkin’s Writer’s Digest blog on this topic, 3Ways to Know When to End Your Chapters. He mentions that “chapter breaks lend continuity and pacing—both of which are essential for balancing suspense—to your story.” 

"Does your story contain character conflict, change, and growth? If you are just relating a series of events that involve one or more characters, your story is likely underdeveloped." -- Writer's Tip from Writer's Digest Weekly Planner

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Is it a picture book?

Are you ever confused as to whether your manuscript is a picture book or a magazine article? When I wrote my first story, Lupita’s Papalote, I was totally unfamiliar as to what constituted a picture book versus a magazine article. As I’ve mentioned before, that story was initially a poem. Once it became a story, I had no idea what to do with it. Then I attended my first writer's conference and learned the nuts and bolts of the writing and publishing process. If you’re struggling with the same question, I would recommend visiting Verla Kay’s blog, which addresses this topic.  

Homemade kite

Another question for you. Are you thinking of creating your own website for when that book of yours comes out? Or maybe it’s already out, but you’re not sure how to get started. Here’s a Writer’s Digest link that will be of help to you in that area. Starting a website is really very simple. See for yourself.   

"People often ask, 'How do you start a book?' Well, I've always started this way ...Chapter 1." --Paula Danziger