Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jay Z and Dr Seuss

A few weeks ago my fairly eloquent five-year-old was babbling away nonsense word after nonsense word. All of a sudden, my almost two-year-old was repeating every nonsense word she heard. The two of them were having a great time. Harmless enough right? My first reaction was to shout out something like:

      "We only use real words in this house. How is your little sister going to learn the right words for things if she only hears babble?"
     "Only babies use babble words - are you a baby?" 

But before I could spout out a single brilliant word of parenting frustration, my husband cut in.
"Only Jay Z was able to make millions off of nonsense words.  Do you think you're Jay Z?" 

For those of you who may not remember this gem:
        H to the izzo-O V to the izz-A
        Fo' sheezy my neezy keep my arms so freezy
                                    -Jay Z

yup. made him millions. 

Of course my daughter had no idea what her father was talking about and went back to singing her nonsense song, but it got me to thinking. Is there something to the nonsense words in life? 

Dr Seuss definitely thought so.  

     Did you ever have the feeling there's a WASKET in your BASKET? 
     Or a NUREAU in your BUREAU?
     Or a WOSET in your CLOSET? 
     Sometimes I feel quite CERTAIN there's a JERTAIN in the CURTAIN. 
     Sometimes I have a feeling there's a ZLOCK behind the CLOCK. 
     And that ZELF up on the SHELF! I have talked to him myself. 
                                   -Dr. Seuss  from There's a Wocket in my Pocket.

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities. 
-Dr. Seuss

My personal favorite is definitely the tweetle beetles. 

And shockingly enough, I am not the first person to ask this question. Here's a great blog post about how nonsense language helps increase reading comprehension. If you don't want to read the entire (very intersting) post, here's a bit stolen from the middle:

...The point is that creating nonsense words in verse is FUN while being an excellent exercise in language, sentence structure and comprehension. This is particularly important as kids are developing vocabulary and comprehension skills.  So often, when they come to words they can't read or don't quite recognize, readers can use context to help them.  This is the power of playing with nonsense words.  By understanding how the location of a word in a sentence can tell readers if it is an action, a name, a description can help them better figure out its meaning.  Nonsense can be used to teach kids the power of context, rhyme, alliteration, and sentence structure. 
It also makes language learning more fun and less intimidating.

The #1 thing that is great about made up language:
Read that last sentence again - it makes language more fun and less intimidating. 
Let's face it - language is hard. It's so unfortunate that something so necessary is so much work to learn. I would love to speak ten languages, but let's be honest. That sounds like a lot of work so I probably never will. 

The #2 thing that is great about made up language:
 For all you writers out there, nonsense words can help build the world that your
characters live in. Just think of Harry Potter - how many made up words, names, sports, etc. are included in the crazy world of Hogwarts?  I would guess thousands.
These words help help define the magical space that is not initially familiar to readers. But once defined, you are transported into that world and part of the "secret club" that is Hogwarts. 

Or Star Trek - anyone out there speak Klingon? Yeah, that's not a real language... or at least it didn't start out as a real language.

Language created for a fantasy world can help break your reader out of their daily reality and into the "reality" of your story. It helps your readers accept the otherwise unexplained.

Still not buying it? Consider the made up words to be a foreign language. There are thousands

of books that use foreign words throughout a text to help bring the reader into the country or time that the story takes place in.  These are not made up words, but are still initially unfamiliar to the reader and serve the same purpose as the made up words of the wizarding-world.  
Shakespeare did it, and so does Dora the Explorer.

So I guess the lesson here is: babble away my child, babble away!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

...unless you're donating blood.

While looking for an agent or publisher, the most repetitive thing I read is to “…only submit to people who are looking for your type of work.” Only submit your story to people who will care about the story you are telling. Which logically begs the question...
why should anyone care about your story?

Hopefully all authors think they have something to say. Unfortunately many of them just like hearing themselves talk (write) and don’t have much to say at all. It’s easy to tell who these authors are because when (and if) you finish one of their books, you are disappointed. You feel cheated out of your valuable time. 

For me it’s even worse because no matter how bad the book, or how bad the movie, I feel the need to finish it. I hear my mother saying, "Finish what you've started!" That's usually great advice. Thanks, Mom.  
I can count on one hand the number of movies and books that I've started, but never finished. It's much more likely that I will force myself to sit and waste countless precious hours just to see if it gets better, or if the ending will be worth my time.  It rarely is.

I like to give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that it's not them, it's me. That this particular author does actually have something great to say, but I was not the target audience. There are likely hundreds, nay, thousands of people who, unlike me, loved the book.

Or, perhaps I was not in the right place in my life to enjoy such a book – in which case I'll try again 5 years ago.  I bet the five-year-ago me would have loved some of these books.

As an author, how do you make sure that your story is getting into the hands of the right people?
  • You get the best agent and/or publisher you can for your book.  (see how we've come full circle?) 

In order for you to know who the right agent/publisher is, you first need to understand why your story matters.  You can't sell your story if you don't know why it's amazing.  And if YOU don't know why it's amazing, then how will anyone else? 

Who is going to care about your story? 

Don’t waste your time on everyone else. (There are a lot of everyone-elses out there)

Think of it like picking a new friend – you need to have things in common.  You need to enjoy each other’s company and have things to talk about and experiences to share. These agents are real people trying to make a living, just like you.  (or so I keep telling myself)  If your agent/publisher doesn't believe in you, you’ll have a much rougher go of the whole experience, why would you willingly put yourself through that?

Step 1. Decide why your story is an important one and write that reason down. 
Step 2. Tell everyone you know about the very important message behind your story. Why is your story is going to change the world? How many lives are you going to impact? What makes your message unique?
Step 3. Assess the reactions to your message. If your friends and family agree that this is an important and missing piece of the literary industry, then woo hoo! Start counting the millions that are coming your way (soon, I promise).

Understandably this is tough – what message does the newest vampire/zombie/pre-teen thriller have that is so important to the world?  That is a fair question.  All I can say is hopefully the vampire/zombie/pre-teens are evolving characters and through their trials and tribulations they teach other pre-teens life lessons about personality and personal character and gumption and young love… or something.

Step 4. Don't pick an agent who doesn't understand you!  easier said than done, I know. Once an agent wants to sign on the dotted line, how could you possibly ever dream of telling them no...?!    
I'll leave that moral dilemma up to you.

The other important piece to this puzzle is the following:
Only send out work that you are proud of. 

Even the revisions that you are sending out for critique, should be the best rough drafts that you can put together. If you only send out revisions that you are proud of: 
  • You will get better feedback, 
  • you will be able to take those critiques more seriously, and 
  • you will be more well respected. 

Ultimately, you will have a better platform on which you base your skill as a writer. 
If you only send out your best, then people can only judge you on your best. 

This is true of anything in life.  If you think you are a great chef, but you only ever cook Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, how will anyone else ever be able to say, "hey, I know this great chef..."

If you think you are an amazing photographer, but you only ever use a disposable camera, how is anyone ever going to be able to say, "hey, I know this amazing photographer."

Do your best, be proud of the work you do, and the world will reward you. 

Good luck.

Friday, September 5, 2014

How are you creative?

Just over a decade ago I went in for a job interview. In the end it was down to me and one other person who I knew was far more qualified. Although I would have loved to work for this organization, I did not have high hopes. I'm convinced this fact alone made the interview
more relaxing than it probably should have been. I walked out feeling great about the conversation I had just had with a couple of higher-ups except for one less-than-shining moment.  They asked the best question that I have ever been asked in an interview. A question that I believe tells you volumes about a person and how they view themselves. If we all asked each other this question on a first date, we'd save so much time trying to figure out if we were compatible or not... okay, maybe that's a little extreme, but you see where I"m going with this...

Unfortunately I'd fail at my own quiz because even after a decade, I still don't have a good answer. 

Q: How are you creative? 

If you're first reaction is, "I'm not.", you are wrong.  Everyone Is Creative. 

Some people are artistically creative; they draw, they paint, they sculpt.
Some people are musically creative; they play, they sing, they dance.  
Some people are creative with words; they are writers, they are public speakers.

Those are the obvious ones.

I'm pretty sure my answer in the interview consisted of something along the lines of, 
      "I am very visual. um, I am kind of an artist, I guess. I can take colors and put them together... Oh and also I am a creative problem solver."  
I should have ended the statement with something like, "Was that the right answer? are you happy? did I do a good job? can I call my mommy now and ask her to tell me I did a good job?"   

Not the most eloquent moment of my life to be sure. 

As the years go on, and the more people I meet, the more I realize that the world needs creativity of all kinds.  
Some people are the most creative child care givers I have ever met. As a mother, I really, really (really, really) love those people. I know stay-at-home moms who teach and occupy their children 365 days a year AND they love it.  I will be very honest here and tell you that as much as I love my kids, I am a better person because I leave them at daycare every day. I am NOT that kind of creative.

Some people are creative with electrical innovations.  I work with some incredibly smart people who could spend 10-12+ hours a day tinkering with electrical bits and pieces trying to turn them into the next big thing that will make us all a ton of money and put our kids through college. I am NOT that kind of creative.

Some people are creative people-people. I know salesmen, for example who can talk anyone into buying anything. They know how to read people, how people think, how they reason and then, those salesmen present a creative and surprisingly personal sales pitch.  I am NOT that kind of creative.

My suggestion to each of you is to figure out how you are creative and use that to your advantage in life. 
A wise man once said, "If you are going to be a dig ditcher, be the best dig ditcher you can be!"  
And although that's not exactly the message I'm trying to get across here, it is still relevant. 

Find something you are good at, find something you love, and do it to your full potential. This however is not a self help blog. 
                      So writing junkies (whoever you may be) 
                                                                     how does this pertain to you? 
Well, the easy answer is, you are a writer. You are creative with words. Once you acknowledge that you are a writer (often easier said than done), you're there! Nice work. 
Feel free to call it a day, go buy yourself something nice. 

Another possible answer is: when you are creating your characters, consider how THEY are creative. If they are creative problem solvers, use that to help resolve physical conflict. (Think Macgyver, a toothpick, a green banana, and half a fanny-pack.) 

If they are creative people-readers, use that to build and break relationships. (Think Frank Underwood manipulating the world to get what he wants.)

If they are creative artists, use that to help inspire other characters to be more artistic, well rounded people (or dogs, or monkeys, or trolls... whoever your characters may be.) 

My point is: creativity is a powerful personality trait that often goes un-analyzed. 

Unfortunately, a decade later I have yet to come up with an answer for myself that I am personally happy with.  Maybe I'll make that a New-Year's resolution for 2016.  (2015 is already booked with things like, exercise more and be more patient.)

Good luck recognizing your personal creativity!

Thanks for reading

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Conflicting Conflictions

  • Insanely long book finished (check!)

  • Veggies growing in my garden (check!)

  • Camping trip a success (check!)

  • Various other fun summer activities (check!)

It is absolutely time to get back to this blog. 


  • When a tornado rips through the town mere miles from your house in the middle of the night, memories are created that last for years.

  • When your friends go on vacation without you, then you later find out they took two other couples in your place, you feel hurt or maybe a little jealous.
  • When your four year old comes home crying because she wants a swimming suit just like LuLu’s even though there are already three perfectly good swimming suits in her drawer…  well, you roll your eyes for a moment and remember when you were a child and only had one swimming suit that was getting too small because you had already worn it for three summers.   
But that is not the point.  She’s sad, drama has entered her life and she will need to decide how to deal with these uncontrollable feelings.  Just like you with the tornado, and you with your former friends – conflict happens. Conflict keeps our lives interesting

We would have far fewer conversations if there were no conflict in our lives. Our lunch time stories would be boring and our friends would get bored with us.  (and us with them)

For better or worse, conflict (and conflict resolution) keeps our lives interesting. 
Perhaps this is why so many American’s love reality TV.

The best novels, like our lives, are filled with conflict.  What the characters do with their conflicting situations is what makes them relatable. We want the characters in our books to grow and change and evolve by the time the book is done.

There are two kinds of conflict: Emotional and Physical.
Physical conflict is created by the uncontrollable, or unknown world. A tornado, a forest fire, a car that has run out of gas, a relative that is late to dinner.  

Emotional conflict is created by the character’s emotions and how they relate, respond, and react in a given situation?  Who is oblivious? Who is deceitful? Who is overly dramatic? Who gets angry and reactive?
Relationships are misunderstood, situations become overly dramatic, feelings are hurt. 
This is the best kind of conflict to present to your characters. 

Emotional conflict opens up a world of possibilities for the growth of your characters.  Will they learn and grow from their situations? Will they retreat and hide?  Will they refuse to take responsibility for their reactions? Will they swear off coconut and volleyballs forever just to be stranded on an island for 15 years?

It’s not who your characters are at the beginning of a story that makes them interesting, it’s who they are at the end.

And although this individual journey is easier (not easy, but easier) to convey over 300 pages, it can also be done over 30.

As a children’s book author you have to keep in mind that the drama in our kids world is much smaller and simpler than it is in our adult world.  The drama that might take 6 months to unfold and resolve itself my world might only take 6 hours in my daughter’s. 
Use that perspective when helping your characters grow and change. 

Instead of an Ebola outbreak in the US keeping our kids up at night, it’s a lost shoe or the fact that; “mom made mushrooms again with dinner even though she knows I hate mushrooms!”
Check out this link to get a better idea of the kinds of things that create conflict for our kids… and for a good laugh.

and although there are a few overlapping photos...

Use these dramatic, mundane events as inspiration and remember:

  • Kids are scared by things that may seem funny or unimportant to adults
  • Kids worry about things that may seem trivial
  • Kids are just starting to learn about human interaction and relationships.

Your children’s story conflicts do not need to be deep or involved, but they do need to exist to make your story memorable.

Go forth and make your stories memorable!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Take a look, it's in a book...

...a Reading Rainbow!

Like most American kids growing up in the 80s, my family had a TV in our house that was on most evenings after school. In my house however, there was no cable. Ever. My parents were very diligent about monitoring what we watched and, this may come as a shock to some of you, but that meant no PeeWee’s Playhouse and no Simpsons - oh the horror! 

What it did mean however was a lot of PBS. 
There was Sesame Street, there was Mr. Rogers Neighborhood… do you remember Square One?  By far one of my favorites.

And then there was Reading Rainbow.

I knew every episode by heart. I could have taken LeVar Burton’s job with an instant’s notice – assuming I would only be reenacting existing episodes. As a kid I spent hours a week in the library, but my world of books and reading was only magnified by Reading Rainbow.  I cannot imagine what life changing effect it had on kids who weren't as lucky as I was to have such a magical library just a short bike ride away.

Over the course of my childhood I'm sure I checked out every single book that was available for ages 0-14...twice. When my dad and I discovered that there were huge holes in the Nancy Drew offerings, we decided that our only option was to buy the missing books, read them cover to cover several times and then donate them so no other kid in my hometown would ever have to go through the nightmare of not having a full collection of Nancy Drew at their fingertips.

Here's a fun bit of history. Reading Rainbow started on my first birthday – June 6th 1983 – and ran until November of 2006 (23 years! Wow!) And although it is no longer on PBS, Reading Rainbow continues on through an app created by LeVar Burton. And in the future we can expect a web-based library of Reading Rainbow books and videos organized as a KickStarter Project by your friend and mine, LeVar Burton. Although the average Joe will have to pay for a subscription, the plan is that many underprivileged class rooms will have the option of a cost-free subscription. Once again, helping the kids who need it most.  Read more about it here:

During this May's Children's Book Week celebrations, LeVar Burton was honored by the Children's Book Council with the Impact Award for children's literature. 
"We are honored to present this year’s award to LeVar Burton in recognition of his longstanding commitment to connecting children and books and for promoting the joy of reading through the Reading Rainbow television series and the Reading Rainbow app". Much deserved, Congratulations Mr. Burton!

In one interview Burton says, "There is no system that can imprison you or dominate you with darkness or ignorance if you have the capacity to read..."   That's so true, the more you know, the more questions you are able to ask and the more answers you are able to comprehend. Think back to the days pre-internet. What did you do when you had a question about something? Your options were Encyclopedia Britannica or the Library.  Now you can Google anything from almost anywhere! I know I am a lot smarter now that I have Google in my back pocket all the time. There's so many crazy little facts that I never would have learned without Google. Did you know that a giraffe does not have a voice box? 

Old McDonald Had a Farm E-I-E-I-O. and on that farm he had a giraffe with a .... and a.... here a.... there a.... everywhere a.... Silence.  Complete silence. 

Am I a better person because I have random fun facts in my head about giraffes? Probably not. But now let's relate the same idea to, well, anything else. Politics, health care, the legal system. The world would be such a better place if we could all read and more importantly, comprehend what we are reading. We could all argue and debate intelligently. We could make better informed decisions we could question authority with some intelligence. It's a REVOLUTION!!!

I'm getting a bit long winded, I'll wrap this up. 
Congratulations to one of my role models, LeVar Burton. Your successes are much deserved. 
Here's hoping another generation can be exposed to a new era of Reading Rainbow.

And now, here’s an episode of Mathnet for all of you fellow PBS watchers from the 80s.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Now What?

I sent in my book manuscript to a couple of agents who had requested it. 

Revised, polished, good enough.          

                                                                                        So now I'm waiting. 

I may hear back in two weeks, 
I may hear back in 5 months, 29 days and 23 hours. 
I may not hear back at all!

                                But for now, I'm waiting.

Maybe I'll pick up a new hobby while I wait.

How long does it take to become a train engineer? underwater basket weaver?

I've never been on a long fishing weekend...

...but then again I don't really like fish. 

None of those are any good, and here's why. 
In six months when I get an agent (insert dream sequence music here) and start revising my manuscript and then six months later I'll get a book deal and become a published author, I'll have spent all of this money on a hobby that I'll never do again because I'll be far too busy with the first hobby that I actually enjoy. Writing children's books.
Some might say that I should start writing another book. That's not a bad idea but perhaps I should see if someone else in the world is willing to validate my current efforts.  And not just any someone (hi Mom) but a certain someone who has some knowledge of the industry (hello future agent). Otherwise what am I left with... a possible misdirected self analysis.

I hear you yelling little-league-moms of the world. Just because the world doesn't think you're good at something should you stop doing it? Maybe not...  but then again, maybe so. 

If we'd all find something were good at and focus on that, then we could stop giving away so many participation trophies for successfully dressing yourself this morning.  
But that's a rant for another day.

The better idea here is to: Read a book

What a great idea. Brush up on the competition. Analyze other's success stories of today. 
(get it? it's funny because the success stories are actual stories.)

Here are a couple that I am reading now.

The Passage - although a great read, it's only about a million pages and therefor not conducive to a mom with kids. I'm guessing I'll wrap that one up in about 2 years. 

Then there's one of the most touching children's books I've read in a long time:
Sit Still!  Is a story about Patrick who cannot sit still. And although his mom pursues medical reason (never called out as ADHD, but one can assume) that is not confirmed by his doctor.  This is the point where Mom and Dad decide that they can step up as parents and help Patrick direct his constant energy in useful ways. They start walking with Patrick to school every day. Patrick gets a hobby or two. His teachers start asking him to help in the classroom so he can be up and moving around.  It's a wonderful way to present an often overlooked solution to kids who just can't sit still.  We all know plenty of adults who just can't sit still, and the world deals with them just fine. So thank you Nancy for bringing such a refreshing perspective to parenting!

You can also add another constantly rotating pile of 8-12 children's books from the library to this list. 

And last but not least, there are the various magazines that keep showing up at my house. 
  • Country Living - why can't my house be all classy and earth friendly and full of refurbished, re-purposed items?)
  • Rachael Ray - yes your 30 minute meals are awesome, but who keeps three kinds of fish oil and seven kinds of red wine vinegar in the house all the time? 

So, until my million dollar book deal works it's way thorough legal, I'll keep reading and I suggest you do to.  

See you're already off to a good start - you just read my blog!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Indie Publishing - again...

I know, talking about this is verging on beating a dead horse... what a horrible expression that is.  I appologize.  Try 2: Talking about this is verging on being redundant and loosing the couple of loyal readers I have. (Hi husband, hi Mom!)

      (Note to self: look up origin of horrible expressions such as the horse thing and include in a future blog.)

Indie vs Traditional Publishing

Here’s a link to another view on traditional vs indie publishing.  This is a hot topic right now, and I think it's definitely worthwhile to read another perspective on it.

Dear Nathan Bransford, thank you once again for supplying a great blog post that I can pass on to my loyal readers. 
Hello loyal readers! (i.e. my husband and mother).

The conference I recently attended this was a topic that dominated the break-out sessions. The masses tended to lean towards self-publishing and for reasons mentioned in a previous post, I’m a little surprised. see post here

I fully understand that there are thousands of great writers out there who have little to no luck getting their books published, and to that I say, great! You now have an alternative – I’m so glad there is a way to get your art out there and share it with the world. You are the exception to the rule.

I maintain that traditional publishing has great advantages over indie. Especially for you first and second time writers who are very very green to the business (just like me)

Whether you agree with me or not, I suggest reading the article. Who knows, you may learn something. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What are You Trying to Tell Me?

You write and write and write...

You end up with 3000 words when in reality you need to have 500 or less. Clearly you are in need of a MAJOR edit. 
Major Edit

There are two possibilities:

  • You have far too much information (too much junk) in your story and need to do some real soul searching to decide what can be cut.
  • Your target market has changed and you should consider writing for an audience that will accept a higher word count.

Let’s first explore the “junk option”.

Let me start by saying editing from 3000 words to 500 words is going to be painful. 

There is no getting around it. The more junk you have, the more junk you have to get rid of. Also the more junk you have, the more likely it is that your objectives are getting lost.

i.e.This is a very necessary step.

People can only retain so much information, keep track of so many characters, relate to so many relationships… your goal is to make the stuff in your book all important stuff.

When I got stuck in the editing process, the most helpful exercise for me was to write my query letter.  I talked a bit about query letters last time, but they are a necessary evil if you are going to get an agent; so let me expand on it a bit.

The first paragraph of a query letter: write a description of your entire book using no more than a sentence (maybe two, if you must). 

This is a great way to pair-down what is really important.  It is very likely that you won’t be able to include all of your characters, all of your plot twists and all of the wonderful, magical, details and nuances that you spent so much time perfecting… that’s the point. If nothing else, that sentence will help you decide what the essence of your story is and what to absolutely, without a doubt, unarguably you need to keep. Think of what you read on a book jacket cover. 

Here are a couple of examples:

When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson's farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever. 

A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.

As you can see, not all characters and plot lines are included, however, the main objective is made clear. If these sentence don’t interest you, then you will most likely not be interested in the rest.

Next you get to turn that magical sentence into an entire paragraph.  Wow! An entire paragraph!  Three to five sentences! Oh, the luxury.

Finally, a bit about you. What makes you qualified to write this story. Have you won any awards? Have you been published anywhere ever before?

Once you have that query letter finished, you should have a better grasp on what is most important and what information you need to support that "most important". You are able to better edit your manuscript. 

Still struggling?  

  • Try this – First, go through and get rid of everything that you know can go.  Individual words, entire sentences, whole paragraphs.  
  • Second, highlight anything that you might be able to get rid of if someone made you; if someone came and said – get rid of this stuff or I will steal your dog, dye all of your shoes hot pink and put a sign in your yard that says “I love Scott Walker!”
  • Third – get rid of that stuff.  You’re at 2000 words. Nice work!

You are now in a good place to move on to: 
  • Step four. Put the manuscript down for a few days.  Not hours, DAYS. 

There’s no need to rush this. There is a very (very, very, very) good chance that once you have been separated from your story for a bit, you will see it with fresh eyes and it can only get better.
  • Step five: Whittle away word by word until you are at 1500 words. 
  • Step six: Repeat step four.
  • Step seven: Repeat step five. (you’re at 1237 words)
  • Step eight: Repeat step four.
  • Step nine: Repeat step five. (you’re at 989 words)
  • Step ten: Repeat step four.

You see where I’m going with this.

You will eventually get to a place where you absolutely cannot get rid of anything else.
Your story is only wearing underwear at this point. Getting rid of any more will make your story cold and hard to look at and fairly awkward. 
That means you are done! Yea!  Even if you didn’t make it all the way down to 500 words, you have made it through the hardest part.

Now, let’s consider option #2. 
A true story: After getting my story to a place I was fairly happy with, I was close to 4000 words. I was shooting for a max of 2000 words. Well darn-it all… After going through the previously mentioned (painful) process, I settled at 2300 words. I was running out of time before this self-inflicted date of “local writers conference weekend”. I hesitantly took it to pitch to a couple of agents. After convincing them this was the greatest book ever, we talked a bit about some of the challenges I was having with word count. They both (as if it were the obvious solution) told me that instead of a children’s picture book (a very long winded and possibly unsellable picture book)  I should ADD words and turn it into an early reader’s chapter book.

So, that is exactly what I am doing.  I do not at all regret the deep edit that I did however – my story is much more readable. My characters are much more believable. I was forced to take a good look at the story's main objective and realy dig deep and decided what it was really about.

So, without stalling for another paragraph, here’s an example of the query letter that I wrote for my upcoming children’s book:  

The Beautiful Weeds

A Harvest Hollow Tale
As told by me, Pumpkin Lou 
(a small sprightly fellow)

(Addressed to specific agent)
Getting lost in the forbidden fields was admittedly not a well thought out plan. But in a twist of fate, Pumpkin Lou’s adventure yields an unexpected encounter with a smelly ally and an intriguing new world among The Beautiful Weeds.

Harvest Hollow is an idyllic place for a young garden sprite like Pumpkin Lou to grow up, but being volunteered for some unwanted responsibility is the corn kernel that pushes him over the edge. In a snap-pea decision, he decides to run away but soon finds himself lost in a world that has only been seen in his nightmares. While trying to get his bearings in this strange place, he meets The Beast. Although a smelly, unsightly lady at first glance, she teaches him that things are not always as they first appear. Lou learns new details of his homeland and his family’s past. He realizes that what is considered beautiful and useful in life will change depending whom you ask. And he learns that a new view on the world is sometimes exactly what you need when you are feeling stuck.

This easy reader, picture book is 2300 words for children ages 6-10. An engaging story with thoughtful characters and a roller coaster of emotions, The Beautiful Weeds is the perfect book to introduce children to the magical world of a garden. It creates intrigue for the possibility that other tiny worlds live and thrive among us.

I am a technical writer by day and a creative writer by night. I have been drawn to the small, hidden details in nature my entire life and am no stranger to gardening. I strive to write stories that challenge the imagination while teaching something new. A full copy of my manuscript is included. I appreciate your time and consideration.
(closing and signature)

Thanks for reading and happy Easter!