Another piece of advice

More query questions? You’re in luck. Heather Ayris Burnell of the Sub It Club has an excellent breakdown in today’s post. “Hook, book, and cook.” Catchy and concise! And if you’re not a member of the Club, well, what are you waiting for? 😉

Whether you’re drafting your first ever query letter or have written a whole bunch of them, the truth remains the same: query letters can be tough. Each manuscript is different. Heck, each query letter is a little different! Even when you’re querying the same manuscript to multiple people you still need to take the time […]

via How to Write a Query Letter – A Basic Breakdown — Sub It Club

More query quirks plus…

Spring is in the air, and so are the queries.

A few tips for getting your query out of the slush pile and into your preferred agent’s hands:

  1. Research, research, research. Make sure the agent is a good fit. Use multiple sources – market books, agency websites, query websites, social media. As much as you can find.
  2. Just saying “I found you in Writer’s Digest” doesn’t cut it. Unless you have strong reasons* for mentioning why you’re querying this agent, skip the “we should be a good fit” part & just cut to the query.
  3. Brevity is your friend. Your query should showcase your writing. As I’ve said before, if you have to explain too much, you’re not ready.
  4. Mind your manners. Please use a greeting, the agent’s name (correctly spelled!), a closing, and your name in your query letter.
  5. Follow directions. If we ask for 5 pages, and you’ve 0 pages, does that mean your query won’t make it out of the slush pile? No. But it would have to be one heck of a query. And I can assure you, most don’t meet that standard. Give us what we ask for – no more, no less. And no attachments unless we say so!

*Strong reasons = prior contact with an agent at a conference, workshop, mixer, etc. OR responding to a specific tweet or post OR a request from, say, #PitMad or the like. Not a strong reason? “You’re looking for [picture books].”

(That should be the least common denominator. Now, say, “You’re looking for wordless picture books that bring the relationship between children and their toys to life” – that’s a strong reason.)

Good luck and keep the queries coming! It keeps me employed. 🙂

And in case you find yourself on the Upper West Side and want a literary pick-me-up, Columbia University’s Kemper Gallery at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library is hosting an exhibition celebrating the 200th anniversary of HarperCollins. I’m adding it to my list of must-sees this spring!



Mapping it out

This should be a post on how to map out a novel. But it’s not.

(If you need that kind of article, may I suggest here ? Or for those with serious need to outline, here (Writer’s Digest) or here (Writer’s Bureau)? Or to turn your plot line into a subway style map, here?)

Earlier this week I found myself fascinated by this article from Book Riot: Emma Nichols’ map of ALL the NYC Bookstores.

Pretty cool, right? I’ve been to many, but not nearly enough. Guess I’ll be spending at least part of this rainy weekend tracking down some new places to feed the reading habit. 🙂

But how will I resist my favorites? Three Lives & Company, Books of Wonder, Book Culture, 192 Books, McNally Jackson, Bank Street Books… not to mention the Strand and Argosy and Book Court and the Corner Bookstore and the late lamented Rizzoli and Partners in Crime. Hmm. Maybe I’ll just go to The Mysterious Bookshop and treat myself to a few new mysteries…


Books For Readers – & more

SCBWI proudly announced its initiative, Books for Readers, earlier this week. BFR aims to collect books from SCBWI members to distribute around the world to worthy causes. Obviously, if you’re a published member, participation is easy: donate a signed copy or copies of your book to the SCBWI HQ starting July 12, 2017.

Other ways you can participate include nominating a cause , collecting ARCS, overstocks, and soon-to-be out of print titles from your publishers, or celebrating. Yes, SCBWI is planning a couple of gala celebrations!

I’d add publicizing. While the books to be collected must come from SCBWI members, if you know of an author who’d like to donate, encourage them to join SCBWI! Give your PAL friends a nudge to send in their books. 🙂

This venture seems like a win-win for all concerned. SCBWI members get their books in front of readers. SCBWI promotes its work and mission, and MOST importantly, young readers without books get books.

The worthy causes are intended to be local, so fill out that nomination form!

Want to help in other ways? Book Riot and HuffingtonPost and Bustle all have had articles listing bookish charities for children.



The Library Way

One of the cool things about NYC is that there’s always something fun, funky, or fantastic that you never noticed before.

Last weekend I was walking from the East Side over to NYPL – hoping to see their exhibition “Love in Venice,” but alas! I forgot nearly all NYPL branches are closed on Sundays, including the glorious main library – and I looked down to this:


How had I never once noticed that on both sides of 41st Street have bronze plates inset into the sidewalks, each with a wonderful design and quotation?

(Maybe because I always take the subway and exit at Bryant Park on the west side.)

It’s the Library Way.

NYPL is right – approaching from the east, with the light falling on the magnificent building is best. But, really, it’s like a bibliophile version of hopscotch. A few of my favorites:

Just a hint from a New Yorker: wait till there’s no foot traffic before stopping and staring at the sculptures below your feet and/or snapping photos. Otherwise, you’re getting mowed down by folks on their way to work. Or lunch.

I’ll leave you with a thought from Yeats:


May you have many moments of glad grace this coming week.

NYC notes

Three quick New York notes:

  1. Some look for treasure in the city’s bank vaults, museum vitrines, or auction houses. But the Municipal Archives are the city’s true treasure house, according to The New York Times. Definitely a vast resource for writers and researchers!
  2. But the best treasure might be a writer’s workspace that isn’t the local coffee shop. (And their patrons will thank you for leaving them your seat.)
  3. Love the smell of antique books? Libraries? Historic spaces? This project at the Morgan Library aims to recreate the 1906 aroma.

With my upstairs neighbors’ apartment undergoing renovation, I might have to take advantage of that workspace. Or finally join the New York Society Library, as I’ve been meaning to for some time now. Or take a chair in the recently renovated Rose Reading Room

Anyone have a recommendation for noise-cancelling headphones? 🙂

Just a taste

Looking for a quick read before bed? Need a short story for a read-aloud for the end of Black History Month? Want a literary palate cleanser after the news of the day?

Look no further.


This YA compilation of short stories is quite a treat. All are historical fiction or historical fantasy – some written by big names in YA (for example, Marie Lu, Marissa Meyer, Elizabeth Wein) and some by names that should be bigger than they are (likewise, J. Anderson Coats, Leslye Walton, Lindsay Smith).

The author’s notes at the end of each story -explaining their choice of historical era ranging from pirates to Black Panthers- are a wonderful feature of the anthology. Chock-full of diverse and delightful heroines, the book can be gobbled or savored as you choose.

While many reviewers on Goodreads lamented the shortness of the stories, I thought they were just the right size. Like a great piece of chocolate – wonderful, but leaving you wanting just a little more.

Might just have to buy this one for my shelves so I can re-read my favorites!